Reviews

Grease

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Presented by The Q, Queanbeyan Arts Centre. Directed by Stephen Pike. The Q, 253 Crawford Street Queanbeyan. 29 July – 15 August 2015

Director Stephen Pike triumphs again with a bright and brash take on this 70s-come-50s nostalgia classic. To sum it up, fabulous! The costumes, the singing, the choreography, the set design, the great use of LED lighting panels, and use of a largely young, enthusiatic cast all adds up to a vibrant experience. I can remember asking Mum what the phrase “a bun in the oven” meant after seeing Grease in Year 6, a class excursion the teachers had to fight to get past the P & C.

Anything Goes

Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter. Book: Timothy Crouse and John Weidman based on the original by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse. Producer: Opera Australia & John Frost. Director: Dean Bryant. Musical Director: Peter Casey. Choreography: Andrew Hallsworth. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. July 25 – Aug 16, 2015

I don’t know what we’ve done to deserve it but with Anything Goes the musical gods have sent us the most glorious musical-comedy package in years. A perfect cast bring Cole Porter’s quintessential piece of 1930s fluff brilliantly to life.

Mary Poppins

Based on the book by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film. Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B Sherman. Book by Julian Fellows. New Songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Packemin Productions. Directed by Neil Gooding. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. July 26 - August 8, 2015.

There were many stars in this production but one was not able to take a bow. This was because they were thousands of kilometres away in Melbourne.

The set and costume team at CLOC have put together a chocolate box of delights. First the double storey foyer of the Banks home, which comprised a box that rolled onto the stage, could spin around and opened up. It included a hydraulic lift, used only once, to elevate Mary up the stairs to the first floor.

Legally Blonde The Musical

Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin, Book by Heather Hach. Directed by Danny Ginsberg. PLOS. Frankston Arts Centre. July 24 - August 1, 2015.

Oh My God, I adored it, I have to say

Oh My God, It’s a Triumph in every way

Oh My God, and you really must see it just ‘cos

It’s a brilliant production from PLOS.

When I had the chance to attend rehearsals a few weeks ago and write an article on this new production of Legally Blonde, I knew that it would be excellent in all respects, but nothing prepared me for the dazzling excitement of last night’s opening.

Reckless Valour

QL2 Dance. The Playhouse, Canberra. 29 July – 1 August, 2015

Revisiting the original, 2005, production of Reckless Valour, QL2, its artistic director, Ruth Osborne, and four more of the original roll of choreographers —Natalie Cursio, Jodie Farrugia, Fiona Malone, and Rowan Marchingo — as well as James Batchelor, a young dancer in the original work, have choreographed the work anew, with fresh restructuring under the guidance of dramaturg Paschal Danto Berry.

The Untouchable Juli

By Brenna Lee-Cooney, adapted from the novel by James Aldridge. Elysium Theatre presentation of a Fractal Theatre Production. Director: Brenna Lee-Cooney. Sandgate Town Hall, Brisbane. 30-31 July 2015

Outcasts or social misfits have never fared well in Australian society, or any society for that matter, and even worse in small-town Australia of the 1930s. This is the setting of Brenna Lee-Cooney’s play based on James Aldridge’s The Untouchable Juli, one of his six St Helen’s novels that include My Brother Tom and A Sporting Proposition which became the Disney movie Ride a Wild Pony.

The Last Five Queers

Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, adapted and with a new story by Adam Noviello & Madi Lee. For the Midwinta Festival, Butterfly Club, Melbourne CBD. 28 July to 9 August 2015.

Five performers and a pianist present a radically reimagined version of Jason Robert Brown’s original music theatre show, The Last Five Years.  Adam Noviello and Madi Lee have taken the music, adapted some of the lyrics and ‘repurposed’ others, roped in a song or two from elsewhere (you’ll recognise a few) and created a very different scenario: the interwoven stories of five characters, three men and two women.  The performers and director Leanne Marsland make clever use of the club’s bare and tiny stage; the only props are five stools.

Happy Days

By Samuel Becket. Queensland Theatre Company. Billie Brown Studio, Brisbane. Directed by Wesley Enoch. 18th July - 15th August, 2015

QTC's version of Becket's famous play is in town, this production having an interpretation with a distinctively Australian feel. First impressions to set the mood are an eerie score in the foyer by Alan Lawrence followed by a design by Penny Challen with, firstly, a stage curtain depicting the Australian landscape, a painting by artist John Glover, followed by a surreal set influenced by contemporary artists like Drysdale and Nolan: all combined to create an expression of the bleak and desolate 'entrapment' of the central character, Winnie.     

Women in War

Composer: Tassos Ionnides. Librettist: Deborah Parsons. Artek Productions Pty Ltd. Director: Alkinos Tsilimidos. Venue: Arts Centre, Melbourne. July 30 to August 1, 2015

Numerous theatrical events have commemorated this year’s centenary of Gallipoli. New Australian contemporary opera Women in War takes quite a different tack, showing how World War 1 affected women, through the eyes of three contrasting characters.

Medea

By Euripides. Complete Works Theatre Company. Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne. 28 – 31 July 2015.

The character of Medea will be known forever as ‘the woman who killed her children’.  Of course, it’s more complicated than that.  A despised outsider – a ‘barbarian’ - in Corinth, driven mad (or is she?) when she is dumped by her opportunist, social climber husband, Jason, for a younger model, and she and her children by him are about to be sent into exile…