Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision

"Eurobeat" dazzles with kitschy brilliance and beguiles with its spoofy, all-embracing multicultural humor. Auds are lapping up this interactive piece, inspired by the already hilarious Eurovision Song Contest, an elaborate annual competitive popfest telecast to millions of international viewers (but, as yet, not Stateside), including ethnically diverse Oz.

With:
With: Julia Zemiro, Jason Geary, Lisa Adam, Francesca Arena, Louise Bell, Clare Chihambakwe, Charmaine Gorman, Scott J. Hendry, Matt Heyward, Megan Hoult, Melissa Langton, Phillip Lowe, Archer Lyttle, Dom Phelan, Jeremy Powell, Cole Rintoul, Angela Stapleton, Luke Taylor, Tanee Van Zyl, Zoe Ventoura, Nathan Wright.

Destined to become this year’s major Australian cult musical, “Eurobeat” dazzles with kitschy brilliance and beguiles with its spoofy, all-embracing multicultural humor. Auds are lapping up this interactive piece, inspired by the already hilarious Eurovision Song Contest, an elaborate annual competitive popfest telecast to millions of international viewers (but, as yet, not Stateside), including ethnically diverse Oz.

Last seen (in far less lavish form) at the 2004 Melbourne Comedy Festival, Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson’s affectionately targeted satire has been steadily gestating over the past few years, coming into its present, revamped glory under the aegis of popular comedian-director Glynn Nicholas’ production company.

Despite the slick makeover process, the wittily conceived piece has lost none of its original glitzy charm. Gaudy costumes, daffy dance routines, seriously dotty ditties and outrageously over-the-top performers all contribute to a heady Continental song ‘n’ dance mix.

Central to both steering and verbally stirring the effusion of 12 European countries’ crazy contributions is the resplendently begowned, acerbic Bronya (the beautiful and funny Julia Zemiro), reigning multimedia queen of the evening’s host nation, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Not so ably assisted by lecherous co-compere Sergei Puukolisto (a nicely sleazoid Jason Geary), the bright, bouncy, occasionally bitchy Bronya segues through the presentation of a truly astonishing array of direly distinctive contestants.

Against Richard Jeziorny’s garish backdrop (featuring not one but two tinsel-toned stairways) framed by three giant sliding screens (showcasing panoramic motifs), we witness everything from Iceland’s Bjork-barking grump, Gert Grollmersdetter (an outlandishly outfitted Louise Bell), to Estonia’s straw-blond cowboy Toomas Jerker (goofy Jeremy Powell) and his ineffable Stone Hard Boys. Ireland offers a fog-challenged faux-Bono (played with riotously intense clumsiness by Scott J. Hendry), while Liechtenstein is represented by a trio of po-faced postmodern minimalists.

Throughout the prodigiously tasteless proceedings, spectators wave their allocated country’s national flag and, during intermission (according to authentic Eurovision protocol), participate in preferential voting for “best” song.

A countdown of the tabulated results fills the second act, itself kicking off with a memorable musical effort, headlined by Bronya, in jet-black latex and chains, singing “I’m Sarajevo (Come Taste Me!)”

With its sweetly naive take on national stereotypes, “Eurobeat” is an epically delirious hoot, equally engaging for those unfamiliar with the subject it’s lampooning and for those merrily in the know.

A national tour of the show is imminent, with overseas export a definite option.

Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision

The Palms at Crown Entertainment Complex, Melbourne; 800 seats; A$65 $49 top

Production: A Glynn Nicholas Group/No Mates Prods. presentation of a musical in two acts with original music, lyrics and book by Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson. Directed by Glynn Nicholas. Musical direction, Patterson. Choreography, Grant Dale, Andrew Hallsworth, Natalie Marsland.

Creative: Sets and costumes, Richard Jeziorny; lighting, Trudy Dalgleish; production stage manager, Sara Holt. Opened May 16, 2006. Reviewed June 10. Running time: 2 HOUR, 40 MIN.

Cast: With: Julia Zemiro, Jason Geary, Lisa Adam, Francesca Arena, Louise Bell, Clare Chihambakwe, Charmaine Gorman, Scott J. Hendry, Matt Heyward, Megan Hoult, Melissa Langton, Phillip Lowe, Archer Lyttle, Dom Phelan, Jeremy Powell, Cole Rintoul, Angela Stapleton, Luke Taylor, Tanee Van Zyl, Zoe Ventoura, Nathan Wright.

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