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Review: Gospolation

Adelaide Fringe

Gospolation, presented by Adelaide choir the Gospo Collective, is a pure display of unbridled enthusiasm for singing. ★★★

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Directed and produced by the talented Charmaine Jones-Devasagayam, the show pushes vocal boundaries by pairing Aretha Franklin with Rihanna and everything in between.

There’s a massive cast, with 14 members of the Gospo Collective, a backing choir of around 40, a six-piece band, a troupe of tiny tykes and Jones-Devasagayam out front conducting and singing. The plain staging is quickly enlivened by the silver sequins and a sea of smiling faces.

Jones-Devasagayam’s composition is exciting, blending secular and sacred music with captivating twists. And she is a true performer with a star-quality that makes her engaging and enigmatic.

On opening night, she spoke of the cathartic joy and uniting spirit of singing. After dividing the audience into sopranos, altos and tenors, she created a joyous moment as everyone in the big-top venue joined together in singing Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”.

Perhaps the curse of Jones-Devasagayam’s star shining so brightly is that the choir is left somewhat in her shadow – with the exception the standout solos by singers Laura Knowling and Amanda Parry.

The “Jones Juniors”, aged four to 12, were a hit with the appreciative crowd as they grooved, and a cameo by vivacious cook and choir-enthusiast Maggie Beer was a treat for the first-night audience.

Gospolation was at its finest when stripped down for the closing song. Without the backing choir, the Gospo Collective honed in on the soulfulness of true fospel with sensual Motown vibes.

Three stars

Gospolation runs until February 26 at the Cirque Africa Big Top in Hindmarsh Square.

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