There’s something really refreshing about Underdogs. Maybe it’s that it’s unabashed entertainment. Maybe it’s that it’s entirely unpretentious. Or maybe it’s the joy of the show; a celebration of slapstick, song, and dance.

Presented by: Glen St TheatreVenue: Glen Street Theatre, Sydney Wednesday, 07 September 2011

UnderdogsThere’s something really refreshing about Underdogs. Maybe it’s that it’s unabashed entertainment. Maybe it’s that it’s entirely unpretentious. Or maybe it’s the joy of the show; a celebration of slapstick, song, and dance. Of broad Australian accents and even broader comedy. Underdogs is so enjoyable, in fact, that I didn’t see a single person leave the theatre without a smile on their face – and that includes those women targeted in the dreaded ‘audience participation’ section of the show.  When was the last time you were simply charmed by a show? Maybe if you caught Jive Junkys, that would be your answer; Underdogs is a re-developed, new production of the 1999 show, conceived by lead actor and Australian stage vet Wayne Scott Kermond. The premise is delightfully simple: four song and dance men, the men you never noticed up the back row in every show you’ve ever seen, score a job as an entertainment act on a cruise ship. Everything is all fun and games until the bomb is dropped that they have to write the show they’ll be starring in. With a forty-eight hour deadline.  The first act of the show introduces us to the four mates, led by Wayne Scott Kermond and featuring Andrew Marshall, Dale Pengelly, and Rohan Seinor, and takes us through the rehearsal and brainstorming, process. And it is one hell of a process. Dale Pengelly out-Marias even Natalie Wood with his absolute verve in performing ‘I Feel Pretty’, and you really haven’t lived until you’ve heard an Also sprach Zarathustra/Popcorn/Ma Na Ma Na mash-up that is performed entirely clucked. Yes, clucked. Like chickens. If that’s what it takes to make magic, who are we to judge? By this time we’re laughing far too hard to do anything but love each bizarrely hilarious second of it.  The humor is fantastic, consistent, and inoffensive. (“That’s a bit fowl” is casually remarked to the rubber chicken, proving that dad jokes actually really do have a place in theatre, and that they really do land with a satisfying chuckle). But it just gets funnier in the second act, when our Underdogs have made it to the cruise ship and are debuting their under-rehearsed show against such barriers as blackouts, tumultuous waves, a snarky musical director, and indulging in a little too much alcohol. And if you thought the chicken-clucking instrumental mash-up was a classic, wait until you hear the sea-faring medley (keep your eyes peeled for the homage to Jon English’s memorable Pirate King from Essgee Entertainment’s Pirates of Penzance – it was my favourite moment of the entire show).  The cast is flawless, the characters are lovable, the tap dance breaks are spectacular (want to see a little ‘Moses’ from Singin’ in the Rain? You do, you really do, and they will delight you with it), and you could take your parents or your siblings and afterwards, I bet they’d even thank you for it. It’s simply irresistible.  Book online at www.glenstreet.com.au or call 9975 1455 Until 17 September 2011 

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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