Where’s the beef(cake)? ‘Thunder’ hunks back at Lyric

Friday, September 1, 2017

St. Lucie Voice News, September 1, 2017.
By Shelley Koppel, Staff Writer

As an entertainment reporter, I have the opportunity to interview people in all genres of the performing arts. One week, it could be jazz, another week Broadway and a third Shakespeare. There are band and choral concerts, classical artists and people I’ve loved and admired for many years.
One of the sub-genres I cover I call scantily-clad Australian men.

Thunder from Down Under is the Australian male revue that has been performing on the Las Vergas Strip and internationally for years. Their location on the Strip is the perfect marriage of artists and venue, and they are great representatives of their genre.

The boys return to the Lyric, where they are always well-received, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Stephen Morris, a dancer and the group’s company manager, spoke to me, unfortunately by phone, about the show. He is the third member of the group I have interviewed and I am going to do my very best, for the edification of my readers, to work my way down the line. When I told Morris that, he corrected me.

“It’s ‘up the line,’” he said. I say, ‘Tomato, tomahtoe.’

One of the things all of the dancers stress is how much work they put in, both to keep in shape and learn the routines.

“There’s a big stigma that it’s all glamour,” Morris said. (Not to mention scantily glad men.) “It takes hard work and dedication. We rehearse for hours and hours and train to keep in shape while traveling the world.”
I noted to Morris that he was unlikely to get a lot of sympathy.

“We’re constantly changing the routines,” he insisted. “We have to learn new routines and nail them.”(No, dear readers, I am not going to say anything about that. It’s almost too easy.)

In fact, they are always working to keep the routines fresh, often tweaking them. When a new dancer comes in, roles may change.

“We’re always trying to make each week better,” he said.

One of the things audiences love about Thunder from Down Under, in addition to the obvious, is how interactive it is.

“The crowds feel they know us on a personal level,” Morris said. “We get the ladies involved on stage or in the crowd. It lifts the energy of the show when the audience is engaged. It’s a good Ladies Night Out. Lots of people come with their mothers, daughters, grandmothers and husband or partner. It’s comedy. My friends have come, both gay and straight. My parents have come. Everyone that comes will have a good time. It’s cheeky and entertaining.”

Morris said that his parents have always been supportive, but that once they saw the show, they were even more so.

“They didn’t realize how much of a production it was,” he said. “It’s a world-class Vegas show. I like it when friends and family comes. It breaks the stigma.”
Morris said that Stuart’s Lyric, with 500 seats, is a perfect venue.

“Smaller venues are sometimes even better because there’s more engaging with the crowd,” he said. “Five hundred-1,000 is my favorite. They’re not too far away and we feed off their energy.”

Morris, who hails from the Gold Coast of Australia, had no experience as a dancer when he joined the group, although he was a fitness buff. (See how easily I work those words with two meanings in?) He used to go to Vegas for vacation and he saw billboards for the show.

“They were paid to be in shape, travel the world and dance for thousands of ladies,” he said. “It sounded like a dream job.”

A friend of a friend got him to send in modeling photos and a couple of weeks later, he was on a plane to Vegas. He’s never looked back or down. OK. I did it. This can still be printed in a family newspaper!

Thunder from Down Under comes to the Lyric Theatre, 59 SW Flagler Ave., Stuart, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $42 and $47. Call 772-286-7827 or order online at www.lyrictheatre.com.