Reviews

The Drover’s Wife

By Leah Purcell. Belvoir in association with Oombarra Productions. Belvoir Street Theatre. September 17 – October 16, 2016.

Leah Purcell here ambitiously reworks Henry Lawson’s famous 1893 short story about the drover’s wife left alone in the Alpine country to fend for her children.  The biggest action in Lawson’s yarn was the snake in the woodpile; Purcell paints a far broader canvas.

Singin’ In The Rain

Music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Screenplay: Betty Comden & Adolph Green. Lunchbox Theatricals, David Atkins Enterprises, Michael Cassel Group, Teg Dainty Production. Director: Jonathan Church. Musical Director: Adrian Kirk. Choreographer: Andrew Wright. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 23 Sep 2016

Phantom has a crashing chandelier, Miss Saigon has a helicopter, and Singin’ in the Rain has, well, rain - buckets of it. When the orchestra strikes up that well-known classic riff and Don Lockwood starts humming “dum, de, dum, dum” a frisson of excitement tingles the audience and we’re in musical comedy heaven. The classic scene where the character splashes through the pouring rain closes the first act on a high.

Annie

Music by Charles Strouse. Lyrics by Martin Charnin. Book By Thomas Meehan. Western Arts Theatre (Vic). Director: Chris Anderson. Musical Director: Minna Ikonen. Choreographer: Kai Mann-Robertson. Maribyrnong College. September 23 – October 2, 2016.

Western Arts Theatre (WAT) is a relatively new group operating in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Apart from Altona and Williamstown, who are much further south, there are no other music theatre groups in the area, so they are filling a great need.

I hadn’t attended the theatre at Maribyrnong College before, but found it to be a nice intimate theatre. The lack of an orchestra pit was overcome by having the band in an adjacent room, but I detected no problems with this. The band played well and there were few problems of the balance with the singers.

Our Country’s Good

By Timberlake Wertenbaker. The Stirling Players. Stirling Community Theatre. September 23-October 8, 2016.

Rehabilitation or the gallows? When dealing with serious felons, it’s a question pondered by far more civilised and recent societies than that of early Australian penal colonies.

Timberlake Wertenbaker’s 1988 play Our Country’s Good is set in Governor Arthur Philip’s penal colony and poses the execution vs rehabilitation dilemma through a familiar theatrical device, a play within a play.

Bunny

Daniel Kok & Luke George. Nexus Arts. OzAsia Festival. 23-24th September. 2016

“Bunny” is the name given to a person tied in rope bondage. This bold collaboration by Singapore dancer Daniel Kok and Tasmanian-born Luke George captivates and pushes the boundaries of trust. Erotica bubbles under the surface of this theatre piece, with the audience as much a part of the presentation as the artists themselves.

Boeing Boeing

By Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverley Cross. Castle Hill Players. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Holl Showgrounds. Sep 23 – Oct 15, 2016.

If you love a good farce, especially one that’s done well, then this production of Boeing Boeing will be just your ticket - and despite the fact that the plot might seem  politically incorrect, it’s not impossible that you’ll get lots of laughs.

Grease

Book, Music & Lyrics by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Toowoomba Philharmonic Society. Director/Vocal Coach: Cherie Vera. Musical Director: Joe Goodman. Choreographer: Daniel Erbacker. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, Qld 23-25 Sep 2016

Daniel Erbacker’s choreography was the star of this production. The first act finale “We Go Together” had the entire company of 36 dancing in synchronisation and it was euphoric with the energy levels off the charts. Every musical number was enhanced by Erbacker’s movement, which captured the 1950’s era to perfection, as did the wailing tenor saxes in Joe Goodman’s pit band, and Emma-Jane Apsey’s leather jackets, bobby-sox and pedal pusher costumes.

She Stoops to Conquer

By Oliver Goldsmith. Canberra Repertory. Directed by Tony Turner. Theatre 3, Acton, Canberra. 22 September – 8 October 2016

Goldsmith’s classic comedy, commissioned to revive a dying genre and completed in 1771, takes a couple of love matches and throws in their path obstacles arising chiefly from the human need to be sure of the suitor’s suitability.  In this universality of motives, it translates successfully as comedy for modern audiences.  Relying less on linguistic cleverness than on straightforward deceits of universal application, the tale leads seemingly inexorably to disaster and disownment before resolving with a satisfying twist.

Deckchairs

By Jean McConnell. Ipswich Little Theatre. Directors: Ann Collyer, Aaron Evans, Chris Austin-Greenhill. Incinerator Theatre, Ipswich, Qld. 21 Sep – 8 Oct 2016

These days, one-act plays are the domain of community theatre with most companies programming a season of them each year. Ipswich Little Theatre’s 2016 offering took three stories from British playwright Jean McConnell’s Deckchairs series of 16 one-act duologues for women.

Not Another Indie Cabaret

Written & performed by Jessamae St James. Directed by Steven Gates. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne CBD. 20-25 September 2016

Jessamae St James, in a spangled frock and platforms, plays piano, kazoo, electric ukulele and some kind of weird electric keyboard on her knees.  She claims that she cannot play any of these instruments very well – but, hey, it’s cabaret – right?  - and a kind of rambling, confessional address is integral.  She also uses an electronic ‘effects station’ to make loops of her own voice.