Happy As Larry is an energetic, playful and sophisticated exploration (at times an exposé) of what it means to be a child, channelled through the art of dance.
The audience enters while a cast member draws figures (representations of the audience itself) on a blackboard which strides the length of the stage.
More than just a prop, the blackboard itself is a huge, rotating, pivotal part of the overall framework, which provides an effective segue to the changing narrative throughout the show.
Artistic Director Shaun Parker has achieved something very special in casting this show – not only are the dancers supremely talented but the ensemble is a diverse range of race, gender and body types. The only thing they seem to share is a superb ability for dance and a common joie de vivre. Parker’s choreography is based on clinical models of human personality types but no one needs a degree in psychiatric psychobabble to understand the show or its message.
Of the nine dancers it’s impossible to choose any standout performers but Josh Mu was given some plumb vignettes and performed them with an athletic grace. Libby Zyrel Montilla did things with a basketball on stage that The Harlem Globetrotters would envy. Jana Castillo’s ballet was a sight to behold. The audience laughed along to local dancer Lewis Rankin who delivered some roving comic relief throughout the show on a pair of 1970s style roller skates. Dancers Toby Derrick, Sophia Ndaba, Timothy Ohl, Marnie Palomares and Joshua Thomson all performed with professional poise, equally entertaining and enthralling the audience both young and old.
Co-composers Nick Wales and Bree Van Reyck provide a diverse and suitably vibrant accompaniment to the changing episodes. Lighting Designer Luiz Pampolha is entirely worthy of nominations in 2006 and 2007 for ‘Best Lighting Design’ from the Sydney Theatre Awards.
Even if you’re not an aficionado of professional dance, you would be well advised to see Happy As Larry (with or without your whole family) and let jocundity reign supreme in all its forms at any age.
You won’t be disappointed.