Rob Mills is “Surprisingly Good” – Hayes Cabaret Season 2015

Rob Mills, or ‘Millsy’, has been in the public eye since he made the top 5 of Australian Idol back in 2003, and since then his life has been pulled apart by critics and the overly opinionated public – who often overlook his hugely successful career in both television and on the stage.

In his raw and honest cabaret, Mills gives the audience some insight into the pain and shame he has experienced at the hands of the media, and shares how he has overcome this scrutiny and proven himself time and time again to be ‘surprisingly good’.

Rob Mills
Rob Mills

Mills opened the show in the suave, even pretentious, style of so many of the characters he has played, but quickly shed the character to reveal the friendly, down to earth, hilarious guy beneath the persona. Mills took us on a journey from the young, ambitious boy who starred as an air guitarist in his air John Farnham tribute band with his brothers, to his first role in his primary school play, to the first time he sang in public.

The audience was in stitches for most of the first half of the show, as Mills shared his hilarious reflections on his childhood, including ridiculing his first public performance at age 14, of which, fortunately, he screened exclusive footage.

Through a cleverly arranged ‘Dancing Through Life,’ Mills took us through some of the highlights of his adolescence through to young adulthood. We were privy to some touching moments of raw emotion as he discussed his parents’ divorce, but were never left to get too down as we were quickly brought back to uncontrollable fits of laughter through another hilarious, self-depreciating, anecdote.

Mills even allowed the audience into the intimate details of that incident with Paris Hilton, followed by an hysterical, and highly pertinent, performance of Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ featuring screaming goats and all.

Although Mills’ patter and anecdotes had the audience in stitches most of the show, Mills was never disingenuous or showy. There were some real moments of sincerity and vulnerability, including a moving moment with Mills on the guitar performing ‘Say it to me now’ from Once.

The book (by Natalie Garonzi and Mills) showcased Mills’ charming personality and self-effacing humour, whilst also demonstrating the real emotional highs and lows Mills has experienced throughout his career.

The show flowed impeccably, thanks to the writing and the clear vision by director Tyran Parke. Each moment of dialogue was there for a clear purpose, and each song seamlessly connected the different stories to each other. There was never a moment of stilted or forced dialogue to bridge a transition.

The musical arrangement by Andrew Worboys contributed greatly to this. Each song was perfectly timed, so there was nothing that dragged on beyond the audience’s interest; Mills’ stunning vocal performance and impeccable acting, too, kept audiences captivated. The band was also incredible; matching Mills’ contagious energy and talent with their own.

The lighting and staging were the perfect finishing touches on a superbly directed and performed show. The lighting was simple and provided an intimate feel in the more sincere moments, and washed the stage in colour in the more impressive songs. Moreover, the slight costume changes were a clever touch; symbolic of Mills shedding his irreverent persona and allowing an insight into his real personality. Until finally in an unexpected, yet brilliant finish, Mills ripped off his clothes to reveal his Fiyero pants.

Mills stunned the audience with his great vocals and superb acting, and charmed us with his open, funny and easy-going nature. An unsurprisingly well written, well directed and wonderfully performed show, Rob Mills is most definitely, and expectedly far better than ‘good’.

Bec Caton

Bec has a diploma in musical theatre and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English. She is a freelance theatre writer in Sydney.

Bec Caton

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