Review: Hayley Sproull

Last updated 10:32 17/05/2012

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Bad news. By the time you read this, everyone who was at Hayley Sproull’s Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues last night will have raved to their friends about how fantastic it was, and any tickets that were left will probably have been snatched up.

REVIEW: But if you do manage to lie, cheat or steal your way into Sproull’s show – my pick of the festival so far – you’ll be amply rewarded.

First of all, it’s not stand-up – more of a cabaret performance, without the bad jokes and so-so singing.

Sproull is Miss Fletcher, a well-meaning, but slightly unhinged high school teacher who treats an unwitting geography class to a surprise music lesson.

Over the course of the hour she tries valiantly to connect with the class through a series of musical numbers, touching on everything from the trials of puberty to her own insatiable lust for moustachioed men.

Sproull was equally at ease on the piano and behind the microphone.

In one song, an instructional number on how to fake singing talent, she flew through about half a dozen imitations – from Creed to the Cranberries – at dazzling speed. It was masterful.

Sproull is a recent graduate of Toi Whakaari drama school, and her training shows. Her characterisation was impeccable, and she didn’t drop it for a second.

Every gesture, every word and every vocal feat was perfectly controlled and delivered for maximum comic effect. With just a well-timed lift of the eyebrows, she could send the crowd into hysterics.

While she had a style all her own, some aspects of her show reminded me of Flight of the Conchords – not just the musical stylings, but the way she nailed a ‘type’ we all know (the trying-too-hard teacher) with such uncanny accuracy, in the same way Rhys Darby nailed the inept manager in FOTC.

Will Sproull find the same level of success they have? Based on last night’s performance, I’d lay my money on it.

Hayley Sproull performs May 15 to 19 at BATS Theatre, Wellington.
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