Melbourne, Australia

  • Date
  • 24 May 2001

Graeme Murphy’s ‘Tivoli’ spectacle, combining the Sydney Dance Company, Australian Ballet Company and about a dozen members of the symphony orchestra, lived up to Murphy’s renowned reputation for combining music, scenery and dance into a smashing production Australia will be talking about for years. The Tivoli song and dance scene that flourished during the first half of the 20th century is the setting for the story that unfolds of a male dancer working his way from a stagehand, to dancer and then to the big time – the ‘entrepreneur’ of a Tivoli Theatre. Ultimately, the woman he loves, who is killed in a hilarious scene where an old guy rollerblades through the bar, haunts/visits him for the rest of the performance. The lead male’s deceased love helps him to understand, in the end, that Tivoli too is dead.

But the production isn’t heavy. It’s funny. When one non-dancing male performer spent five minutes popping balls out of his mouth, the audience laughed uncontrollably. And, of course, women with long, slender legs, with scores of costume changes, grace the stage doing can-can kicks, and lavish scenery, which is both creative and functional, adorns the set. I found the performance extremely entertaining and even educational for a non-Australian. Jim enjoyed it tremendously, but wasn’t wowed like me. I think the production – with a few changes – would do well in New York or London. From Melbourne, the production will travel to Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and perhaps a couple of other Oz towns. Don’t miss ‘Tivoli’ if it’s in your town.