Review: Mettle, Moxie & Melody (Etch Events)

Mettle, Moxie & Melody is a brilliant original musical that follows three fierce leading ladies as they confront and conquer the metaphorical dragons in their modern-day fairy tales and seize control of their own destinies.

Evie is moving to the big city to find herself and explore her sexuality away from her conservative mother. Stella is a talented songwriter exhausting her energy on a sales job she hates while her friends find fame. And Renae is a young mother caring for her baby daughter as well as her unreliable partner, who is glued to online gaming. Their struggles with motherhood, marriage, ambition, relationships and family follow three parallel storylines with equal attention and empathy.

The book, music and lyrics of Mettle, Moxie and Melody were written by local Brisbane composer, Anina-Marie Warrener. She has adapted the conventions of the genre enough to create something wonderfully and importantly different, but still working within the recognisable and beloved framework of musical theatre.

The women who played Stella (Merilee E), Evie (Zoe Lee-Archer) and Renae (Courtney Farrar) brought realistic characterisation and intensity of emotion to their roles, as well as incredible vocals – Zoe Lee-Archer’s singing voice, in particular, gave me goosebumps and the vocal harmonies used throughout the production were stunning. Lawson Schafer, Clarise Ooi, and Taylor Jean Day also did an excellent job in a variety of supporting roles.

In the small space, the music occasionally overpowered even the strongest voices, and I’d recommend getting a front row seat to catch all the action – it can be tricky to see some spots onstage from the back row.

The quality of this production, from its performers to the catchy and emotive original songs, was exceptional – so well developed that it wasn’t difficult to see how this could be (and should be) a mainstage production.

The song Janine (played by Juanita Van Wyk, who also provided the production’s musical direction) sang to her daughter Evie had me in tears, and I saw others wiping their eyes as well. The ending has all the hallmarks of a good musical, and the finale song was stuck in my head all the way home.

Review of May 15 performance.

Etch Events will perform Mettle, Moxie & Melody at Concept, Fortitude Valley, on May 15-19. Read more and book tickets on the event page.

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