The Best of the Best showcases more than 50 songs from award-winning musicals

THE BEST OF THE BEST: The cast of the musical extravaganza that features 50 songs from award-winning stage shows.
THE BEST OF THE BEST: The cast of the musical extravaganza that features 50 songs from award-winning stage shows.

AUDIENCES at the musical revue The Best of the Best are unlikely to query the title. The show includes more than 50 songs from 16 musicals that won Tony Awards, New York theatre’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Tony Awards for Best Musical have been presented since 1949, and the musicals represented in The Best of the Best range from the 1951 winner, Guys and Dolls, to the 2005 recipient, Spamalot. And, while audiences may not be familiar with shows such as the 1955 victor, The Pajama Game, they could recognise songs from them. The three Pajama Game songs featured – Hey There, Steam Heat and Hernando’s Hideaway – are frequently included in radio and TV programs.

The Best of the Best is being presented by Theatre on Brunker at St Stephen’s Church Hall, Adamstown, from August 17 to September 8, with a 16-member cast that includes long-established musical theatre performers and rising young actor-singers.

The show has been put together by director Lyndel Elsley and musical director Mathew Gallimore following the success of Something Wonderful, a musical revue staged by Theatre on Brunker in 2016 that featured songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Lyndel Elsley was the musical director of that show and Mathew Gallimore one of the singers. 

While this show has no Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers, there is a big variety of songs, including five by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe from My Fair Lady, among them On the Street Where You Live and I Could Have Danced All Night, four by Stephen Sondheim  from his first hit show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, including Comedy Tonight and Everybody Ought to Have a Maid, and four by composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyricist Herbert Kretzmer from Les Miserables, including Master of the House and Stars. The other musicals represented are The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, Hello, Dolly, Man of La Mancha, A Chorus Line, Company, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Phantom of the Opera, The Producers, and Hairspray.

The cast members are Hannah Buck, Megan Connelly, Alison Cox, Robert Gray, Bren Hanson, Jenni Hayes, Brooke Littlewood, Stephanie McDonald, Freya Meredith, Jon Murphy, Cory Newman, Luke Power, Georgia Taylor, Andrew Trigg, Anousha Victoire, and Brian Wark.  

The Best of the Best has Friday and Saturday shows, with audience members having a choice of dinner and show at 7pm ($45) or show only at 8pm ($22, concession $18)), and 2pm show-only Sunday matinees on August 26 and September 2. Bookings: 4956 1263.

CONDA MANIA

CONDABALOOZA, an annual fund-raising night of musical performances, fun and games, began several years ago to help CONDA Inc, the organisation which was established in the early 2000s to run the City of Newcastle Drama Awards, pay off debts. It is now the finance source for the annual CONDA Summit, which is a weekend day of theatre workshops for people of all ages.

The 2018 CONDABALOOZA will be held in the Gallipoli Legion Club, in Beaumont Street, Hamilton, on Saturday, August 11, at 7pm. It will celebrate the 40 years the awards have been presented with musical numbers from shows staged in that time. And, as the CONDAs began in 1979, audience members are invited to wear 70s outfits. A large birthday cake will be in the performance room, and the event will include a silent auction, a raffle, stories about people who have gone on stage in embarrassing rigs, suggestions of silly categories for awards, and a “wonky” misshapen CONDA trophy will be on show, with a prize given for the best story about breaking or damaging CONDAs after winning a trophy. CONDABALOOZA tickets are $20 and can be booked through trybooking.com.

This year’s CONDA Summit will be held in the St Philip’s Theatre and adjoining rooms at Waratah’s St Philip’s Christian College in September. The keynote speaker will be a Newcastle-raised performer who has had a professional career in Australia and abroad. There will be acting and voice workshops, theatre forums, and a Q and A involving the keynote speaker. Details will be announced soon.