Review: Dubbo Championship Wrestling – Hayes Theatre Co (NSW)

Music by Daniel & James Cullen, Book & Lyrics by Daniel Cullen, Directed by Sheridan Harbridge

Review by Charlotte Smee

A musical worth seeing for the title alone, Dubbo Championship Wrestling is packed to the teeth with slapstick comedy, Aussie rock belters, hi-vis vests, and knee-high wrestling boots. The most impressive thing about the show is its bravery in mixing musical theatre, bogans, and choreographed wrestling – an unlikely combination carried by the charisma of the cast and fabulous band.

In a story that is at times important and most of the time not, King and Queen of the Dubbo Dome (Terry Serio and Bishanyia Vincent) produce an heir in the form of brooding teenage girl Rose (Zoe Ioannou). Between the opening number and the second song, ‘Any Other Home’, we find out that Rose has moved to the city and then been brought back to “the pimple on the buttcheek of the arse end of the Earth”, Dubbo, to serve out her probation after suplexing (wrestling speak for throwing) her PE teacher. A series of wrestling shenanigans ensue, Rose’s Mum is inexplicably and delightfully a campy villain who brings American Perfect Ten Ken (Aaron Tsindos) to challenge the Dubbo Championship Title and in the end Rose eventually figures out she’d rather live in the Great Western Plains with her rag tag family.

Despite plot points that are lacking complexity or proper resolution, the show is certainly not lacking in spectacle. Set and costume design by Ella Butler features a wrestling ring that takes up most of the stage, and corrugated iron shed making up the fabulous Dubbo Dome. Neon lights frame the back of the stage, and a curtain reveals the band when they need to shine. Costumes are the perfect amount of bogan and camp, with even the techies dressed in black shirts embroidered with “DUBBO TAFE”. Lighting design by Trent Suidgeest makes you feel like you’re in a large stadium, with reds, blues and every other colour you can think of elevating the unreality of it all.

Choreography by Ellen Simpson and fight direction from Tim Dashwood, in tandem with Sheridan Harbridge’s direction, bring glorious moments like a mid-fight make out session between Rose and Mr Multicultural a.k.a Ron (Luke Leong-Tay) and a full ensemble synchronised freak out to ‘Ten Outta Ten’. Special mention goes to Tsindos as Perfect Ten Ken who did not stop thrusting almost the entire way through the show; I couldn’t keep my eyes off him even as he stood behind the ridiculously talented Vincent. Ioannou was suitably brooding, and her precision during wrestling scenes was a wonder to watch. The Tradie Ladies (Genevieve Lemon and Noni McMallum) were consistently hilarious and had the crowd going with their rough and ready commentary of wrestling scenes.

Besides every single Dubbo-esque bogan joke that had me cackling like a hyena (F**CK ORANGE!), the backbone of Dubbo Championship Wrestling was its’ band. Musical director Glenn Moorhouse lead a four piece ensemble that sounded like an entire rock orchestra, playing everything from rock ballad, to blues, to country-esque ‘It’s Still Real to Me’.

A rollicking good time, especially when you sit next to someone from Narromine who keeps telling you Glenn McGrath isn’t really from Dubbo, this is a promising new musical from the the Hayes’ development program. Take your bogan friends, take your pub-rock-loving-Dad, and take your Mum who loves a good mushy musical where the story isn’t so important.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dubbo Championship Wrestling is playing at the Hayes Theatre Co now. Find tickets here.

It then moves to Riverside Theatres, Parramatta from 16 – 25 June. Tickets here.

DCW is part of our May cheap thrills.

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CAST & CREATIVES

Director Sheridan Harbridge

Musical Supervisor & Co-Arranger Joe Accaria

Musical Director & Co-Arranger Glenn Moorhouse

Assistant Director & Stage Manager Daniel Cottier

Choreographer Ellen Simpson

Fight Director Tim Dashwood

Set & Costume Designer Ella Butler

Lighting Designer Trent Suidgeest

Sound Designer David Bergman

Costume Associate Sanica Holden

Orchestrator Cypress Bartlett

Assistant to the Choreographer Gelina Enriquez

Assistant Stage Manager Nathan Sandy

Production Secondment Melita Vertigan

Executive Producer Michelle Guthrie

Starring: Zoe Ioannou, Genevieve Lemon, Luke Leong-Tay, Noni McCallum, Terry Serio, Justin Smith, Aaron Tsindos, Bishanyia Vincent

Musicians: Nathan Barraclough, Cypress Bartlett, Sam Blackburn, Damon Wade

Swings: Billie Palin, Berynn Schwerdt, William Tukia-Edwards

Production Images Phil Erbacher

About Charlotte Smee

I'm Charlotte and I write poetry and theatre reviews. You can find me in any theatre wearing something pink, with some kind of gin in hand.

View all posts by Charlotte Smee →

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