Discover more from Overthinker
Review: Bloom (Melbourne Theatre Company)
A heartfelt and funny Australian musical
Bloom is a heartfelt, funny and brand new Australian musical comedy about the lives of residents and workers in an aged care home with music by Kate Weston and book and lyrics by Tom Gleisner. It is always a joy to see a new musical on the stage of an Australian theatre.
After uni student Finn gets kicked out of his sharehouse for not paying rent, he takes up a job at aged care home Pine Grove in exchange for room and board. As he clashes with the aged care workers over his lazy attitude, he starts to form a bond with several of the residents.
Bloom’s strength arises from its heartfelt premise and fantastic performances by its cast.
Bloom is a story of love, care, music and the power of building cross-generational friendships. Finn’s friendships with the residents, such as equally rebellious Rose, shy Doug and stoic Sal, grow and thrive over the course of the story as he learns more about them.
While the story takes a while to find its purpose, it eventually settles into its pace and accelerates towards a satisfying third act. Given that it runs closer to two hours than ninety minutes as a one-act show, a shorter and sharper beginning may have better suited the story.
Vidya Makan and Christina O’Neill give outstanding performances as aged care workers Ruby and Gloria. Hailing from the original Australian cast of Six the Musical, it is no surprise that Makan’s vocals are stunning and showcase her clear star power. O’Neill’s quieter character of Gloria is a great complement to Makan’s determined Ruby. With a similarly impressive musical theatre track record, O’Neill also brings such a rich display of character to her vocal performance.
As is the case with any musical, it was fantastic to hear the live orchestra performing along with the actors and, in a few moments, to be able to see them sitting behind the set at the back of the stage.
While Weston’s original score had its moments, overall it was lacking in the stylistic consistency or boldness which would have made it more memorable.
Bloom is a great addition to the Australian musical theatre canon. In particular, it is fantastic to see a show with such a variety of characters from different generations, an excellent line-up of roles for different genders that does not relegate its female characters to outdated stereotypes and with such a well-balanced dramedy feel. Hopefully there will be further productions of Bloom beyond its current Melbourne Theatre Company run.
Writer: Music by Kate Weston, Book and Lyrics by Tom Gleisner
Theatre: Melbourne Theatre Company
Director: Dean Bryant
Starring: Anne Edmonds (Mrs MacIntyre), Frankie J. Holden (Doug), Evelyn Krape (Rose), Vidya Makan (Ruby), Maria Mercedes (Betty/Chef), Eddie Muliaumaseali’i (Sal/Inspector/News Reporter/Trev), John O’May (Roland), Christina O’Neill (Gloria), Jackie Reese (Lesley) and Slone Sudiro (Finn)
Dates and venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse, 18 July to 19 August 2023