The lives of all legendary entertainers eventually seem to become a basis for stage shows, whether they be expensive Broadway musicals or simple cabaret interpretations. It has taken some time and the distance of Australia, to begin to scratch the sequinned veneer of the life and glittering times of Liberace. Wunnerful Liberace is being presented by the Sydney Theatre Company as part of the 20th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Directed by Richard Wherrett, respected as one of Australia's most talented directors, Liberace attempts to celebrate the showman's flamboyance but also search for a person beneath the dyed- black pompadour hair and flowing minks. Faced with the challenge of portraying a performer resolutely determined to keep his public from the realities of his existence, even through a death from AIDS, leading player Phil Scott has recieved admirable reviews for his characterisation. He is popular in Australia through his work in the hit musical revue Three Men and a Baby Grand. Scott also collaborated on the script with Wherrett.
Wunnerful Liberace is production supported by the Mackintosh Foundation that was founded by Cameron Mackintosh to develop new Australian music theatre works. It opened at Wharf 2 on February 5, and will play there until February 28.
--By Peter Ford