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REVIEW: "Mayhem in June" - Beenleigh Theatre Group 

A heartfelt exploration of adolescent challenges wrapped up in an original musical!


I recently had the pleasure of attending the BTG's production of "Mayhem in June," a heartfelt musical written and directed by Nicholas Hargreaves. This original production, featuring a cast of six budding young actors, explores the turbulent world of high school dynamics against the backdrop of the game of chess. The story follows Peter as he navigates his way through Grade 11 at a new school, aiming to climb from chess captain to choir leader. Throughout the school year, we witness the ups and downs of teenage life - from unrequited crushes, friendship conflicts, misinformation, and self-discovery. The simple set design with scattered chess pieces and chess-themed costumes cleverly reflected the musical’s themes of strategy and interpersonal dynamics. 


One of the highlights of "Mayhem in June" is the incredible original score. As a recent high school graduate himself, Hargreaves has shown impressive talent in crafting memorable tunes with intricate orchestral arrangements. While the vocal performances could have been a bit more polished with extra rehearsal time to refine articulation and ensure confidence in delivery, the cast did an admirable job given their age and experience levels. I also appreciated that the orchestra was placed on a raised platform at the back of the stage, allowing the audience to fully appreciate their skills. 


Lead actor Harrison Port gave a captivating performance as Peter by truly embodying the character's mix of social anxiety, people-pleasing tendencies, and struggle with decision-making. The number “I Wanna Be Somebody" that appears repeatedly throughout the show perfectly sets the tone for Peter's character development, conveying his introspective nature and his desire to leave a lasting impact in his new surroundings.


A few songs really stood out to me, like the clever “Expectations” duet and the catchy “Eight Years Old” tune that even taught me a thing or two about chess! “The Crab”, the chess-competition group number, emerged as a standout with its captivating energy and creative execution. While the lyrical content was brilliant, there were challenges where clarity was compromised and plot points obscured. While the layered vocals in pivotal moments, like "Did You Hear?” added the desired angst to the scene, they sometimes made it hard to follow the storyline – for example, the accident was unclear to me until the actor appeared onstage with a cast on their arm.


Rowan Eastgate as Tristan was the standout vocal performer of the show for me. His powerful rendition of "Trick of the Mind" demonstrated Eastgate's impressive vocal tone and developing stage presence. Cody Hargreaves, in the role of Cam, gave a brilliant acting performance in his portrayal of a complex and troubled teenager; his heightened emotions palpable through nuanced acting skills; plus a terrific performance in "Unrequited Amends”. Zara Lassey was equally impressive, showing off her versatility in transitioning between different roles and vocal styles. Her bluesy solo as Cam's mother in “Tough” was a distinctive moment that showcased her upper vocal range and natural stage presence.


Anika Jocumsen and Harrison Port really excelled together as Mal and Peter in some beautiful duets. The song "Choices" poignantly portrayed the shared inner struggles that their characters were facing, and their duet in Act 2 “I Wish I Could Tell You” was powerful in exploring the unspoken feelings and complexities of their relationship. Kira's solo, "Complicated," performed by Brooke Garwell is such a well-written piece with so much potential. I really think a studio recording of the soundtrack would truly enhance the appreciation of these songs, although I know that is not always be possible. But I can't help but wish I could listen to them again!


“Mayhem in June" is a promising musical debut that really highlights Nicholas Hargreaves' budding talent as both a composer and storyteller. Although there were a few vocal challenges and technical glitches with the projections, the musical offers a relatable story that will definitely connect with high schoolers and musical theatre fans. It's clear that this show is a testament to the creative skills of its young creators and performers. With a bit more polishing, this musical has the potential to really shine. We can't wait to see what future productions come from this talented young team!


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