TALENT RAW YET ITíS IMPRESSIVE
The ImpoSTAR: Who Does He Think He Is?
Written by Jason Chasland with Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Starring Jason Chasland
at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
From 6 Dec 2012 to 15 Dec 2012
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 10 Dec 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post
Jason Chasland has a cult following of hysterical screamers who were out in full force for the opening night of his The ImpoSTAR as they whooped, hollered and screeched with laughter throughout his seventy minute show.
I lost count of how many songs he sang in which he presentedhis impressions of mainly female performers who range from the inevitable and boringly over parodied Judy Garland to Lady Gaga and a gaggle of other Broadway divas and pop stars in between.
It is stressed in the programme that he is an impressionist not an impersonator. I'd say he's a clever cartoonist. Unlike a performer such as Jane Horrocks who can faultlessly imitate numerous singers, he exaggerates the stars' vocal inflections and by using to good effect his comical facial expressions and his highly flexible mouth.
There is no doubting that he has an amazing voice and an impressive stage presence but it is a talent that at the moment is raw and undisciplined. He could be a Kiwi Nathan Lane; he has a similar chubby, camp and cuddly persona as the Broadway star in the movie The Birdcage.
He also uses a microphone which may be necessary but he has a voice that does not seem to need any help at all with amplification in a theatre the size of Bats. His current microphone seems to muffle his words and some of his occasional adapted lyrics seem to be clever and amusing. I think I heard a reference to the Chapman Tripps in Everything's Coming Up Roses from the musical Gypsy but most of the other lines were lost.
His performance takes place in a drab setting which is made up of some suitcases and a trunk out of which he pulls the occasional prop and tatty wig after wig for each singer. There's also a lot of stage smoke and some tame lighting. It's a Brechtian threepenny opera production that needs some glitz and glamour.
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Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] (The Dominion Post);