Blake Bowden & Phil Scott: Mario – Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2014

The loss of young artists before their time is certainly not a modern phenomenon – Mario Lanza, the American-Italian tenor superstar, passed away at the age of just 38. In Blake Bowden & Phil Scott: Mario, the tale of his meteoric rise to fame, and his mysterious demise, is explored with sweeping brush strokes.

Blake Bowden and Phil Scott
Blake Bowden and Phil Scott

From theatre to opera, and film to obscurity, Mario Lanza (born Alfred Arnold Cocozza) was a man always on the move. In Blake Bowden & Phil Scott: Mario the story begins with singing lessons (Caro Mio Ben) before proceeding through recitals, the war, movie contract negotiations, stardom and beyond.

Each phase of life is punctuated by mixed genre music. Blake Bowden, who plays Mario Lanza, has one of the most amazing voices of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival. His tone and musicality are engaging and endearing, and it appears effortless as he manoeuvres between the intensely operatic Nessun Dorma and the classic We’ll Meet Again. The humbly under-filled auditorium would have been happy with a simple Blake Bowden concert, but thanks to the creative prowess of Phil Scott, the audience received much, much more.

While Bowden portrayed Mario Lanza, Phil Scott was everyone else. From music teacher to MGM boss (with a little pianist and cabaret critique on the side), Scott was the driving force in Blake Bowden & Phil Scott: Mario. His accompaniments were seconded only by his comedic timing.

The direction by Chris Parker allowed a smooth progression through a complex narrative, and ensured that nothing ever distracted from the important part – the music. Lanza’s legacy lives on – he inspired Pavarotti to become a professional tenor – but his demise is still shrouded in mystery. Thankfully Blake Bowden & Phil Scott: Mario did not attempt to solve the mystery.

The demolition of the 4th wall is always fun in cabaret and in Blake Bowden & Phil Scott: Mario it worked wonderfully. The combination of Phil Scott’s creativity and Blake Bowden’s voice is destined for success, and the story of Mario Lanza lives on.

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