theatre

Review: Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude

12 April 2018

Based on the long running cartoon strip by Jim Davies, this playful production directed by Luigi Lucente offers younger and older audience members a lighthearted caper enhanced by the energy and characterisation of its cast.

This show provides entertainment through its simplicity of plot and production elements, the audience is encouraged to focus on the performers. The performance follows Garfield on the day of his birthday, an event which everyone else seems to have forgotten. With a minimal set including a few movable cubes, subtle yet colourful lighting choices, and mundane costumes and make up choices with character flourishes like Garfield’s tail—the performers are left to shine.

The cast itself is a strong ensemble who bring commitment and enthusiasm to their roles. Each character was portrayed with specificity that captured the spirit of their cartoon counterparts whilst also making them accessible for those unfamiliar with the source material.  Andrew Warrender is particularly fun to watch in the role of Odie the Dog, as he brings charisma and agility to the character, who gallops around stage and communicates through a series of ruffs and grunts. This was offset well by Lachlan Graham’s portrayal of Garfield as a languid cat who prone to melodramatic outbursts.

The cast is also accommodating of their younger audience members when breaking the fourth wall and more unscripted moments. This was prominent during during one scene where Garfield slowly traverses the stage to hug his beloved teddy Pookie. At this time several members of the audience chatted about the show as well as having something to eat whilst the cast maintained the scene’s comic tension.

The show also makes a number of fleeting and playful references to the musical genre. After the first song Garfield enthusiastically enquires if anyone else likes to start their morning off with a musical fantasy sequence. These included allusions to Singin’ in The Rain, Les Misérables as well as a dazzling mini burlesque solo from Arlene as played by Grace Browne. Despite the thoughtfulness of these references the script displays an inability to be at ease with Garfield being fat which results in a few dull and unnecessary jokes.

Overall this musical offers a tale that doesn’t stray too far from home and is accommodating of audience members of all ages. A jaunty musical open to those with varying knowledge of Garfield and Friends, audiences are well catered to by an impressive cast and focused production design.

 

Garfield the Musical is currently running at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran and will close on Friday the 13th


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