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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Amazing Grace: New York, New York

A hybrid musical with dance and calisthenics, Amazing Grace: New York, New York has many moments of exhilaration and others that don’t work quite as well.

Photos by Jodie Hutchinson

The positives are the strength of the vocalists, the quality of the 11-piece band, the energy and nimbleness of the 40 plus performers and the surfeit of colourful, pretty and elegant costuming.

The chorus numbers work a treat and two singers – Stephanie Wall and Nigel Huckle – stand out for the purity of their voices. A couple of their solos are breathtaking.

I wasn’t as sold on the choice of music as a whole. It is a combination of older and more modern Broadway, some of which I wasn’t familiar with or didn’t warm to the arrangements. Nor could I understand the apparent random nature of when the tunes appeared on the program.

There were a few flat patches in the show, where those on stage didn’t appear to have enough to do. At these junctures I found there wasn’t ample variety in the calisthenic routines. So, some of the choreography was inspired, but not all.

It may be a tool of the trade, but a couple of baton twirling numbers left me cold ... and one started the second act. Not the greatest choice, in my eyes. I say ditch the batons altogether. Add more tap instead.

Overall, while – make no mistake – there is a lot to like and celebrate, the show struggles to sustain its 100-minute running time (plus 20-minute interval).

It is simply not consistently engaging enough. Mind you, if everything was as dynamic and assured as the final two numbers that would be a different story.

Directed by Karen Jemison, Amazing Grace: New York, New York is playing at The National Theatre in St Kilda until 2nd February, 2020.

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