I was a week late to the game on seeing this one, as I was overseas during opening week, and try as I might I couldn’t help watching as the glowing reviews went up one by one. I mean really, with the likes of Hayden Tee and Matthew Backer I knew Hayes was on another winner, but Only Heaven Knows is quite simply a real beaut (translation from Aussie: a really fantastic musical).
At the heart of it all is that they’ve managed to assemble the most perfect cast. These five actors seem to be made for their roles- the honesty and emotion that comes out of their performances, and the raw power in their voices, is something else. Hayden Tee dazzles as the “drag queen draw card” Lea Sonia in some truly fabulous costumes, and packs a powerful punch as straight talking hilarity Lana. Matt Backer, as with all his performances, brings with him such an ability to pull on your heartstrings till you can feel Alan’s distress as if it were your own. Blazey Best holds the stage as Guinea, and what a fatale to the audience she is- belting out solos and taking us right inside the female experience of the 40s and 50s.
But this stage belongs to Tim (Ben Hall) and Cliff (Tim Draxl) and boy, these two. Both come with the most incredible voices, Hall’s all eager and innocent, Draxl’s raw and weighty, and in the moment each begin to sing they whisk you away to drown in emotions again. Perhaps my favourite scene of the entire musical was Cliff’s wistful appearance at the deli, the honesty and longing in just those few moments conveyed some of the most beautiful moments of new love that I could feel everything slow down and sparkle. Gah, it was so romantic.
The music does such perfect justice to the story as well- the harmony as all five sing “Night Time in the City”, and the heartbreak of “Without Him” were amongst my favourite of the pieces. The Hayes a perfect venue, as it so often is, for being right amongst the sights and sounds of the stage. Never a bad seat in the house. Director Shaun Rennie has once again managed to touch at the heart of a beautiful work and deliver it straight to us.
Only Heaven Knows is an iconic Sydney musical. It feels so real, too often do we hear of the trials of Broadway or London etc etc, but here is a musical which brings some of the closer-to-heart aspects of our own history to bright and beautiful life. Truly a musical for Eternity- Sydney, you’re wonderful!
Only Heaven Knows will be showing you the love at the Hayes Theatre for an extended season to July 1st. Tickets are selling out fast, so to book head on over to hayestheatre.com.au