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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

John Foreman’s Aussie Pops Orchestra New Year’s Eve & The Night Before Gala Concerts, at Hamer Hall – 2 hours 30 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

Goosebumps!

 

That is what I had while watching and listening to three of Australia’s preeminent musical theatre performers on stage with the Aussie Pops Orchestra.

 

The occasion was one of three New Year’s Eve & The Night Before Gala Concerts at Hamer Hall (included amongst them was a matinee).

 

Complete with a 60-piece orchestra, the mastery of their craft was sublime.

Photos by Heidi Victoria


I speak of Australia’s first lady of song, Marina Prior AM, who is celebrating 40 years on stage.

 

Cream rises to the top and her first professional audition resulted in her first lead role, that of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance.

 

I have kept a close eye and ear on her career and those mellifluous vocals have not dulled one iota since.

 

She remains at the top of her game. When she opens her lungs, it is positively angelic. Such poise, polish and precision.

 

Today’s point of difference was a magnificent Celtic medley, pointing to her roots.

Leading the next generation (excuse me for saying so) is the sultry voiced majesty and power of Jemma Rix.

 

She, who starred as Elsa in Frozen and Elphaba in Wicked, continues to take all before her. Her vocals, too, are rich and redolent. Intoxicating, actually. Like Marina, I never tire of hearing her. In fact, I feel privileged to be in the theatre with her.

 

At the gala concert, it was Let It Go and Defying Gravity in particular that saw her soar to stratospheric heights.

 

The timbre and range in internationally renowned singer Michael Cormick’s voice is matched with his assured performance style.

 

He is Mr Smooth, with his extensive career seeing him take lead roles in the likes of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera.

It was only apt that he kicked off his solo endeavours in the New Year’s Eve concert with This is the Moment and Feeling Good. He is certainly sounding as great as ever.

 

In addition to individual numbers, Marina, Jemma and Michael also performed duets and as a vocal trio.


All three were dressed to the nines. Sumptuous gowns, tuxedos and tails were the order of the night. There is still nothing quite like kitting up to give a production such as this a memorable edge.

 

But my plaudits for a grand evening of song do not stop there.

Maestro John Foreman OAM not only wielded the baton with relish, but set the tone with a series of delightful one liners that drew howls of laughter.

 

He is a showman par excellence, who knows how to engage an audience and keep the entertainment flowing.

 

Also part of the repertoire were dozens of members of The Camberwell Chorale, resplendent in black with striking red ties and scarves.

 

Conducting them was a man who had done so for 50 years and who has also been the conductor of the Carols by Candlelight Choir since 1988.

 

Doug Heywood OAM clearly delights in his role. The broad smile on his face spoke volumes.

And to top everything off, the prowess of eight Dana Jolly Dancers added extra colour and spice.

 

Light on their feet, with costume changes aplenty, they appeared regularly in a series of spirited routines that moved from waltzes to tap and jive and much more.

 

John Foreman’s Aussie Pops Orchestra New Year’s Eve & The Night Before Gala Concerts were wonderfully sourced and executed.

 

They showcased a diverse range of music, from orchestral classics and anthems to Broadway hits. Simply breathtaking and a wonderful way to bring in 2024.

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