REVIEW: Impostar (Auckland Pride)

Review by Tim George

Jason Chasland

[Over the Rainbow and Around the Bend]

A show for anyone who grew up watching Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music till the VHS tapes wore out, Impostar: Who does he think he is? is a funny, heart-warming showcase for the extremely talented singer-impressionist Jason Chasland.

A mix of cabaret and autobiographical monologue, Impostar is a blast from start to finish. Charting our hero’s life from child to man through the discovery of his musical inspirations, Impostar is far more than just another tribute act.

The first thing to note is just how fast it moves. The pace never lets up — the show is a whirlwind of costume changes and songs. We get Judy Garland, Cher, Elvis, John Rowles, Macy Gray, Elmo and a cast of other familiar voices. It is never boring, and the autobiographical moments are never maudlin — there’s just no time.

If this sounds a bit chaotic, never fear. Chasland and co-writer/director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford keep the set pieces firmly anchored to his relationship with his beloved Nana Missy — the person who triggered his love of music, and spurred him to try and become an (impo)star.

Set in the intimate space of the Q Vault, the set resembles a night club with tables and chairs. The stage is made up to look like Chasland’s parents’ old attic. The place where our hero first discovered his love of music with his beloved Nana Missy, it’s an effective juxtaposition that — if one were to get pretentious — illustrates the ways in which the memories of that old attic continue to influence Chasland, on and offstage.

Impostar could have been a disaster — an overly earnest jukebox musical at half the runtime — but by making it so visually intimate, and basing it in his personal story, Chasland and his collaborators wind up creating something with a real emotional heft and dramatic punch.

Impostar plays at Q Vault until 18 Feb. Details see Auckland Pride

SEE ALSO: review by Nik Smythe

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