The Greatest Show?

Pimlico Presents 2018 will showcase to sold-out crowds at the Civic Theatre tonight and tomorrow. IMAGE: Julie Coutts

I would like to preface this review by stating: being a reviewer is the most difficult thing you will ever do. Be unbiased. Be constructive in your criticism, but don’t pretend everything was perfect; because people will go to a show on your recommendation and if there’s a slip-up, they won’t trust your words again. Even if you do nothing but praise a show, you will forget to mention someone. No matter how hard you try, there’s always someone.

And when you’re reviewing Pimlico State High School’s annual showcase, often there’s 300-odd people who miss out on a mention. Pimlico Presents is back, and is bigger than ever. While I could attempt to gush about every member of the show’s cast and every jaw-droppping performance they produced, this show is something that needs to be seen to truly be appreciated. That, and I’m trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s 3,000-word review of PimPres 2017. Every single member of the Pimlico Presents cast and crew is worthy of mentioning though – because once again, they have produced a show that is bursting at the seams with talent. So here I am, apologising in advance to the many many people who put in countless hours for this sold-out show, but who don’t get a shoutout in the following paragraphs. The fact you made it into a show as prestigious in Townsville as PimPres and the fact it was sold out a week before you opened should say enough about your talent: this city knows this show. They know the calibre of the performances within it year after year. So please, look out on that full auditorium tonight and tomorrow night – because I can guarantee you that will be a better feeling than any words I would ever write.

Pimlico Presents isn’t your ordinary school production. IMAGE: Julie Coutts

As always, Pimlico Presents began with a themed opening number. It’s the one item in the show anyone in grades 10-12 at the school can be a part of, with no audition required, and is always a true celebration of how much students at Pimlico value opportunities like this: because the stage was completely packed. This year’s theme – ‘The Greatest Show’ – was definitely fitting, and opened the show with a bang, showcasing not just the cast’s voices and moves, but talents that wouldn’t normally get their time in the spotlight of a school production. Everything from juggling to gymnastics and aerial silks was on display, and left you with the feeling that the rest of this show would be something special. Which it absolutely was.

The beauty of this production is that it is a talent show in overdrive – you’re treated to performances from the widest spectrum of disciplines and influences, but somehow they flow to create one giant masterpiece. This year’s instrumentalists highlighted this perfectly. We’re treated to everything from percussionists covering Darude and Bruno Mars to the grand Symphony Orchestra (plus a very special guest) bringing new life to an iconic Vangelis track, and it really showcases that these artforms can be suited to anyone. You can go classic, contemporary, be on a construction site, or in the backstreets of Jaipur – there is something in this show for everyone, no matter your taste.

The drama acts were also a highlight. There are the usual laugh-til-you-pee-yourself skits, interspersed with a couple of sombre performances from Juele Pagán and Michael Morrison. Michael in particular needs to be commended: he is one of the faces you will spot multiple times throughout performances, jumping from ringleader to percussion extraordinaire to Shakespeare mastermind without blinking. A couple of the skits, while starting and finishing strongly, lost some momentum in the middle – so could use a bit of tightening to keep the audience on the hook.

Kayla Conyers performing ‘You are the Reason’ accompanied by Pimlico Voices and the Pimlico Junior Choir. IMAGE: Julie Coutts

It’s pretty safe to assume that if you run into a Pimlico student on the street, they have an insane singing voice. Everything from Khyle Tabaniag opening with A Million Dreams to Kayla Conyers closing the show backed by the Pimlico choirs with You are the Reason was goosebump-inducing, with other mentions to Hayley Gomes for her rendition of Titanium and Small Stage favourites Lily Hunt and Charlotte Tobin with Boom Clap.

Dance, again, showed the diversity of Pimlico’s arts and culture scene. We were treated to a reminder to step out from behind the screens by X Dance, some pumping tap from Amy Minogue and Romi Sato, a powerful solo by Dane Reid fresh back from Aberdeen Youth Arts Festival, and more. The loudest cheers of the day were for two groups: the Spice Girls, with a performance that you won’t expect but which you won’t stop raving about afterwards; and the group of dads who were just trying to help a mate get back with his missus (hot tip: a brand new Nissan Pulsar won’t help).

Tech runs are always difficult: it’s hard to perform with the same energy you would during an actual performance. But if you aren’t rehearsing it a certain way now, you won’t do it that way when it counts. The shifts in energy levels were most obvious in larger group numbers. One person would be on cloud nine, with the expression on their face telling you there’s nowhere they’d rather be; but the person next to them, while still following all of the choreography, may as well be sleep walking. Performances are more than vibrating some air with your mouth and moving your arms and legs where Ms Davies and Mrs Page told you – they’re about emoting so that audiences want to come on the same journey as you. Singing some Hugh Jackman songs does nothing – but conveying that energy and emotion is what makes it The Greatest Show. Grin uncontrollably like Chase Pontifex; make people laugh with body language like Conal MacGregor; or give people goosebumps like Kayla Conyers. There is a reason that Pimlico Presents is high on my list of favourite productions every year, and this year I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. This is the greatest show.

Pimlico Presents is sold out, however to be placed on a waiting list for tonight or tomorrow night’s performance, contact the Civic Theatre

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