At The Crossroads (120 minutes, including a 20-minute interval)
Dale Burridge has a sensational voice and is a big talent.
He received the shock of his life after reaching the pinnacle of his career, namely starring in the sold-out, premiere Melbourne season of The Phantom of the Opera, alongside Anthony Prior and Marina Prior.
Burridge’s contract was not renewed for the Sydney season … and that devastated him.
That is just one of the stories he relays in the autobiographical musical show At The Crossroads.
Written by Martin Crewes and Burridge, the latter goes back to his childhood, which involved bullying, and speaks of the loves of his life.
He was born into a family of builders, but it quickly became clear that that wouldn’t be his strong suit.
Embracing Shirley Bassey, the die was cast and it was then merely a question of how and when Burridge would get his big break.
He reveals much of the highs and lows – which included a productive stint in the West End – in At The Crossroads.
And then, later, when things were far from rosy, it was an animal – which, like him, was seen as damaged goods – that helped him cope.
Snappily dressed in a black velvet dinner jacket, Burridge weaves a compelling narrative through the soundtrack of his life.
There are numbers from many of the big shows in which he has appeared.
The musical arrangements are by Lindsay Partridge and Bev Kennedy, with musical direction from Kennedy on a baby grand, accompanied by bassist Nathan Post.
It is a production with pathos and much more. There is laughter, cheers and tears.
For the most part, I was utterly absorbed, although I felt the second act was a tad too long.
Burridge has an uncanny ability to stop a song mid-stream, and without missing a beat, give us another snippet about his life, before resuming his exceptional vocalisation.
His voice is so rich and powerful that it doesn’t need a microphone and yet centre stage in a small space there was a mike.
Often that made him – literally – ear-piercingly loud, which simply wasn’t necessary.
One component of the production I found particularly odd.
After interval, we have the moving title song from Phantom.
Burridge, naturally reappears on stage, before taking leave again for a minute or two seemingly moments later, allowing musicians Kennedy and Post to have their time in the sun.
Why? He could just as easily have stayed out there and appreciated the music like we did, especially as through the show he appropriately heaped praised on both.
And a final slightly troubling note. Clearly Burridge has a good sense of humour. He also swears like a trooper and while I don’t mind a bit of blue language, a few times I felt he went too far.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of love in the room for a performer of such rare quality and ability. Dale Burridge is a fine showman with golden tonsils.
At The Crossroads is testament to that and it will play at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney in 2023.