There’s just no other way to describe “The Australian Bee Gees Show,” which opened at Centennial Hall on Tuesday for an eight-show run.
Now before you go gettin’ all mad at me, know this: I am a tad embarrassed to admit it, but I like the group’s music. It was guilty pleasure in my younger and less tame days (the earlier Bee Gees, that is; disco, thankfully, never took with me).
And this road show, brought here courtesy of Broadway in Tucson, did an admirable job of replicating the sweet harmonies and disco beats that the Bee Gees became famous for.
The cheesy part wasn’t the music. It was in the tame light show. And in the strained narrative that tried to turn this concert show into a theatrical one with an actual story about the brothers’ up and downs (it failed at that). It was also in the videos on the big screen at the back of the stage, which often showed the performers on stage singing the same song but clearly shot at an earlier time. And it was slightly out of sync. It was perplexing as well as cheesy.
It was also in the constant thumbs-up gesture (somehow, when the Bee Gees did it, it seemed so much more organic) and in the costume changes — from ’60s garb to disco whites to cool casual, depending on the era the trio was referencing.
But it was easy to forgive all that cheesiness when the music played. Matt Baldoni as the taller, handsomer Barry, Jack Leftley as the keyboarding Maurice, and Paul Lines as the thin-as-a-rail Robin replicated the group’s sounds with some accuracy.
The two-hour show was broken up into eras — rock, disco, the ’90s. They crooned some big hits — from earlier tunes such as “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and “Stayin’ Alive” to the 1989 hit, “One.” They also went through tunes the Bee Gees had written for others, such as “Islands in the Stream,” a hit for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, and Dionne Warwick’s “Heartbreaker.”
By the second act, the audience — mostly baby boomers — was up on its feet, clapping and singing along. No one seemed to mind that the sound was so muddy at Centennial Hall that it was difficult to make out most of the lyrics. That’s probably because almost everyone knew the lyrics already.
Sure, it was cheesy. But that music was packed with melodies and memories. That’s what the audience came for, and that’s what it got.