Just before going to see the show, I quickly did some research to see what I was in for. I’d never heard of Homemade Fusion until tonight, which made the secret musical-lover in me feel a little bit embarrassed. Just So previewed their production with a few simple lines that promised a ‘modern musical song cycle’ with tales of ‘love, loss, and candy bars’. Candy bars? Sold.
While the show had a rocky start (which can be written off due to ‘opening night anxiety’), by the third song “Oh Henry!”, performed by Milly Clover, both the audience and the stage were warmed up for the evening. Clover set the bar rather high for the rest of the cast, as her performance of a love song for a chocolate bar stood out both vocally and theatrically. Just a few songs later the energy set by Clover was picked up and doubled by Jonathan Hewitt and his incredibly creepy yet surprisingly endearing rendition of “To Excess” – a song about a stalker and his uncomfortably excessive love for Clare. The audience’s genuine laughter reaffirmed Hewitt’s talent for characterisation as well as his impressive vocal skill. Other noteworthy performances include Fiona Yelland’s endearing and beautifully sung “I Think That He Likes Me”, Stephen Quinn’s delicate “Walking Without You” and Clare O’Sullivan’s “Sherman and Madeline”. The latter left the audience wondering whether any of us would indeed do the things to Madeline that Sherman refused to. The undeniable highlight of the show, however, was Hannah Risser’s soulful and comically genius performance of “Random Black Girl” as well as her duet with Elliot Douglas in “The Temp and the Receptionist”. After seeing Risser’s choreography-focused involvement with Just So in the past few years, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a voice that finally stood out among others in tone, technique and character but I was confused – why had her talent not been brought into the spotlight earlier?
Although it is natural to assume that the fragmented nature of Homemade Fusion would not possess an obvious link between the songs, it’s fair to say that some of the more heart-felt performances would have benefitted from bolder direction. This would have added to the overall energy, which seemed to fluctuate due to the performers’ under-commitment to their characters. My nit-picking side also compels me to note that while most of the solos were carried out with good intonation, duets and songs performed in ensemble suffered from lack of pitch.
I would have to agree that Homemade Fusion fulfilled its promises – some love, some loss and, most importantly, some candy bars. However, I would like to add to their promise, and say that Homemade Fusion is also an evening of great comedy and surprising performances.
Featured images courtesy of Tommy Rowe