Attention focuses on the delicate, awkward budding romance between nerdy architect Miles (Tom Green) and his new neighbour Madeline (Madeleine Featherby), a cellist rebounding from heartbreak. Their friends Frank (Stephen Mahy) and Millie (Angela Scundi) egg them on, but it’s an accident that brings them together.
When Miles spills champagne on his new computer, it becomes sentient and the new AI, known as Edgar (voiced by Owen James), not only connects with Madeline through music but, in a quest to discover the meaning of love, becomes Miles’ romantic adversary. (It’s a crowded field: he already has a human rival, in the form of dreamboat musician Bill (Anthony Scundi).
The show tends to work best when it embraces camp with open arms. An upbeat lust anthem called Classical Hasselhoff invokes the Baywatch star with frivolous zest, and there’s a roof-raising power ballad, Now That You’re Gone, sung in honour of a broken cello.
Less successful are a few Broadway boilerplate numbers that sound melodically interchangeable, like an echo of every show tune you’ve ever heard. And there are some less than stellar lyrics in the mix.
Yet the show does achieve the hardest thing in musical theatre – a natural flow between action and song, so the music becomes an inevitable extension of the dialogue.
Unfortunately, that dialogue needs all the help it can get. The best friends’ subplot could use elaboration, and a framing narrator – Edgar unplugged, perhaps – might be deployed as an expositional device to anchor, and to provide ironic distance on, the coming-of-age story.
Still, new Australian musicals are rare and it’s good to see one staged with a talented ensemble. Electric Dreams remains a bubbly homage to a classic ’80s cultural moment, despite the odd bug in the coding.