Terrence McNally’s Masterclass, currently showing at the Sydney Opera House is a poignant show about the craft of making it in showbiz.
Performed in a very fitting venue for the play, Masterclass is the true story of famed opera singer Maria Callas. The play focuses on her later years, after her career as a performer, where she taught at the Julliard School in New York. It was here that she ran a season of exclusive sessions with hand-selected students, the play giving us an insight into how a star is truly made.
This is not only a master class for her students, but for the audience alike. The play begins with Maria (played impeccably by Amanda Muggleton) having a comedic banter with the audience in a perfect example of “immersive theatre”. You can’t help but laugh at her digs at audience members (such as lecturing those who walked in late to the theatre and taunting a modestly clad woman who didn’t “have a look”) and only pray that you aren’t the victim of her next jeer. She is the ultimate diva; intimidating, hypocritical and fabulous. She imparts her wisdom to us, preaching to not just do your art, but to feel it, to live it.
Muggleton owns the stage and captivates each and every audience member, completely losing herself in the role. In her flashback sequences, which detail the hardships and heartaches Maria endured to get to the top, Muggleton’s portrayal is nothing short of bewitching, compelling the audience to hang on to every word she utters, every silence she leaves lingering. Dobbs Frank does a marvellous job as the accompanist Manny, bringing life to the arias sung by students Sophie, Sharon and Tony (played brilliantly by Kala Gare, Jessica Boyd and Tomas Dalton respectively).
Masterclass is a treat for fans of theatre and music, and is a must see for anyone trying to get their big break, who are suffering the trials and tribulations of an unforgiving industry just as the students are. Also for those who like a little behind-the-scenes sneak peek, make sure to stick around after curtain call for some encore performances from the cast.