Reviews

Dirty Dancing

Music & Lyrics: Various. Book: Eleanor Bergstein. Director: James Powell. Music Director: David Skelton. Choreographer: Michelle Lynch. John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCallum, Joye Entertainment in association with Lionsgate, Magic Hour Productions. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 28 May 2015.

When Dirty Dancing the movie opened in 1987 it drew mainly adult audiences, but between then and now somewhere along the way the story was hijacked by girl-power and today it’s recognised as being No. 1 on “Women’s Most Watched Movies”. This inbuilt fanatical acceptance by the female audience has meant that from its first production as a stage musical in Australia in 2005, Dirty Dancing has had a head start in the popularity stakes. Like Wicked, it’s a licence to print money.

The Who’s Tommy

Music and Lyrics by Pete Townsend. Book by Pete Townsend and Des McAnuff. Blue Mountains Musical Society. Evan Theatre, Panthers, Penrith. May 27 – 31, 2015

Tommy is a ‘sensation’-al high energy, multi-media rock’n’roll celebration at BMMS.

Live theatre, music video and rock concert ambience meet in two pacy hours of high-energy fun, rating very high amongst rock musicals I’ve seen on Sydney’s Community Theatre circuit over the years.

The Book of Everything

By Richard Tulloch, from the novel by Guus Kuijer. Directed by Chris Proctor. 1812 Theatre (Vic). 28th May – 20th June, 2015.

Though it may seem a long way to Ferntree Gully, it’s always worth the effort to visit 1812 Theatre. For this, their third season of the year, Director Chris Proctor has pulled out all the stops for an ambitious production of The Book of Everything – a deceptively simplistic play that gives a child’s perception of a complex and multi-layered adult world. It’s a charming and beguiling play…but nowhere near as easy as it seems.

Glengarry Glen Ross

By David Mamet. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Kate Cherry. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth WA. 23 May - 14 June, 2015

David Mamet may be one of the world's most respected living playwrights, but for me, as a story Glengarry Glen Ross doesn't really resonate. Having said that, Black Swan State Theatre Company's latest production is a quality show in many other ways.

Iolanthe

Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan; Libretto by Sir William Gilbert. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Tasmania. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Robet Manion. 21 – 30 May 2015

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Tasmania presented Iolanthe, in a “pared back”, but high standard, entertaining production, which could be used as an introductory G&S for newcomers to the genre. Staunch G&S buffs may need bigger, fuller casts and ensembles and the full-blown G&S operetta/light opera experience to get their fix, but the whimsical, fast, jolly production, under the tight direction of Robert Manion, was just the ticket for this theatre-goer.

Home Invasion

Written and directed by Christopher Bryant. La Mama Theatre, Carlton. May 27 - June 7, 2015

This hard hitting play examines the ways in which our homes are invaded not just by violent intruders, but also by cultural products that make us cringe because of their cruel ability to damage our self esteem. It is no wonder that this play is populated by mental health professionals and consumers who are in dire need of such services.

Rhymes with Silence

Nine writers, twelve directors, twenty seven actors and five crew. Artistic Director: Joy Roberts. Producer: Glenn Groves. 107 Projects (NSW). 16 - 24 May 2015

Artists Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

This show is comprised of thirteen short plays on the subject of domestic violence by men against women. There are just six performances over four days and the venue is small, which makes this show difficult to access by a larger audience. This is a shame, as these are important issues to address in a clear and intelligent manner.

Chess

Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Manly Musical Society. Star of the Sea Theatre. May 22 – 30, 2015.

Chess was a popular pop / rock concept album, penned by Tim Rice, with Benny and Bjorn of Abba fame, which many of us loved (and probably knew by heart) prior to it becoming a stage musical. Based on Cold War diplomacy as played out across two consecutive World Chess Championships in cities on two continents, there’s a love triangle (albeit with a second act fourth corner) thrown in for good measure. It has a to-die-for score, though its stage career has been a checkered one, through various incarnations and re-writes.

Mary Poppins

Music & Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, George Stiles, Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Stray Cats Theatre Company. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre. May 21-24, 2015

Mary Poppins is a huge show and a massive undertaking for any theatre group. Stray Cats Theatre Company attacks this production with enthusiasm and energy.

Big Maggie

By John P. Keake. Irish Theatre Players. Directed by Brian Dennison and Mary Murphy. The Irish Club, Subiaco, WA. May 20-30, 2015

Visiting the Irish Theatre Players (ITP) feels a bit like visiting an (albeit very competent) amateur theatre company in rural Ireland. ITP embrace the community aspect of community theatre. They are wonderfully friendly and beautifully atmospheric.

ITP has made Big Maggie a complete experience, creating an Irish village in the foyer and bar area, with signs in Gaelige and English and serving Irish snack food at the bar which becomes Maggie's "Siopa" (Shop) a tie-in to the play.