The Stage Musical
Book & Lyrics: David John
Music: Kevin Lynch
In 1862 the Otago goldfields were a savage and unforgiving environment. Duncan and Sarah McKenzie arrive in the ‘new country’ when Jackie O’Fea brings news of the gold strikes. Leaving his family for the diggings with a promise to return, Duncan seizes his chance for freedom from the near-slavery of the 19th century working class life. He is joined by his friends Nathan and Millie Hall, who along with O’Fea and his nephews, the Lomax brothers, head off to seek their fortune. At the diggings, tragedy strikes. Nathan is drowned in a massive flood on the Arrow River leaving Millie a widow. She is cared for by the camp and particularly by Joe Lawson who cuts her wood for the coming winter. But Millie’s winter comes early when she is assaulted by O’Fea with only the Lomax brothers as witnesses.
Meanwhile Sarah thinks of what could have been. She reflects on her childhood as she struggles to support her children.When Duncan strikes gold, his euphoria is short lived as a young miner Dan Nolan is murdered by the Lomax brothers. Duncan is accused of the crime, and after an absurd trial, he is sentenced to hang. Sarah tries for an appeal but fails.
After Duncan’s death a bond develops between Millie and Sarah. She tells Sarah of her ordeal with O’Fea and the Lomaxes. As the Lomax brothers sleep a woman enters the cabin and shoots them both. O’Fea fights her and with some help from the ‘spirit of the times’ O’Fea meets his end. Love has blossomed between Millie and Lawson who decide to leave the goldfields together as Sarah considers her past and looks to the future.
The gold rush in New Zealand may not be quite as well known as the Californian gold rush but exactly the same dreams, desperation and desires happened there as in California.
David John’s true-to-life script and lyrics coupled with the rich and varied music of Kevin Lynch greatly inspired the previous casts with an enthusiasm which was seen and felt by the audience. The newspaper reviews and letters of praise stand testament to this impressive musical which is as loud, large and feverish as its name would suggest.
Larger amateur groups need not fear for their audience numbers – this has all the musical power and feel of ‘Oliver!’, ‘Paint Your Wagon, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘The Pirates Of Penzance’ all rolled into one. Gearge Balani, the Managing Director of New Zealand’s CHTV in 1999 said of Rush!, “.. .the only thing preventing it from being a similar worldwide hit to ‘Cats’ and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ is that it wasn’t written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber …”.
Complete with all marketing and promotional artwork and images, as well as comprehensive staging details, ‘Rush!’ fizzes with energy, and has both a wonderful, warm richness which fills the soul, coupled with a rawness as cold and spectacular as hoar frost.
What a rush … a show to rival the best. My only regret is that not everyone could have seen this visual and musical spectacle for themselves.
… you travel at top speed for almost two hours, hitching an irresistible ride on its energetic journey.
Sinister show is pure gold … high, compelling drama.
With a plot moving between high drama, heart-wrenching melodrama and vaudeville-style song-and-dance routines, Rush! dishes up theatrical flavours for everyone.
Members of Theatre Hawke’s Bay had a great time at last night’s opening performance. The cast of the vibrant musical… took the audience through a range of emotions… They’ve struck gold with this one.
After two standing ovations and a rollicking encore the curtain went down at the St James theatre in Gore on Saturday night on an opening night to remember. ….Pure 18 carat… There was a richness which filled the soul while at times the rawness was as cold and spectacular as a hoar frost.
David John, who wrote the book of Rush! offers hope but no sugary sidestepping …. has not hesitated to portray the grim side of life in the diggings. The staging of the prison sequences, abetted by Lynch’s score riveted the large audience…..it’s true gold.
Rich in frontier romance and brimming with exuberance, Rush! delivered everything a keenly supportive audience at Dunedin’s Regent theatre had hoped for.
Full houses, standing ovations, clapping, laughter and tears are just some of the things audiences can expect when they see this show.
The musical Rush!… loud, large and altogether as feverish as its title implies, went gangbusters at the box office. …….. the night itself fizzed with energy and there were some stunning songs, notably ‘The Ballad of Millie Hall’.
The audience fled through time, hope, joy, sadness, anger, tears, and romance and at the end of the show found itself on its feet cheering the settlers, the miners, the murderers, the makers and the musicians.
Somebody threw my heart on to a horse when the opening curtain came up for Rush! Before long it was off at a gallop. It was a world class journey. One you ought to make before the season ends.
There will surely be a rush for tickets for this musical once the opening night audience spread the word. A delighted audience gave the cast a standing ovation.