Reviews

The Nutcracker

Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, based on ETA Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816). Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Queensland Ballet / Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor / St Peters Lutheran Church College Choir. Playhouse, QPAC. 9-23 December 2016

Although The Nutcracker was first produced by the Imperial Ballet at the Marinsky Theatre in Russia in 1892, its popular staging at Christmas dates from when the New York City Ballet mounted a lavish production of it in 1954. Since then it has become an annual tradition throughout major American ballet companies who use the proceeds of this reliable blockbuster to subsidize the rest of the season.

The Night Before Christmas

By Kirsty Budding. Budding Theatre, Directed by Kirsty Budding. Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. 13–17 December 2016

Relatively new playwright Kirsty Budding has turned out a few full-length stage plays in the past couple of years, and many shorter ones.  Her latest to hit the boards is an hour-long tale… of Christmas tales for children.  Jaded teenagers whose only exposure to life has been via their gadgets find themselves welcoming an opportunity to hear some stories, the entry point for Budding’s modernised retelling — or rather rewriting for the stage — of several classic Christmas tales.  With story piling upon story, I lost all track of how many cas

The Screwtape Letters

Adapted from the book by C S Lewis by Hailey McQueen. Clock and Spiel Productions. Chapel off Chapel, Loft. 13 – 17 December 2016.

Screwtape (Yannick Lawry) is a Senior Devil, a bureaucrat responsible for the administration of junior devils’ mission to turn human souls away from ‘The Enemy’ (God – the Christian One) and land them safely in Hell.  But he seems to spend all of his time on replying to letters from his incompetent devil nephew, Wormwood, with forceful (here, very forceful) advice on how to capture the soul of his human target, known as ‘the Patient’.  His secretary cum manservant, Toadpipe (George Zhao), serves tea, fetches slippers, retrieves Wormwood

Porter & Piaf

Dunstan Playhouse, Festival Centre, Adelaide. Saturday 10 December, 2016

An evening with Cole Porter and Edith Piaf – yes, please! Being a big fan of both I was very much looking forward to this show – and I was not disappointed. Porter and Piaf is actually two separate cabaret shows, Cole and Exposing Edith by local award winning cabaret artists Michael Griffiths (Porter) and Michaela Burger (Piaf). Burger is accompanied by the equally talented Greg Wain.

The Mikado

By Gilbert and Sullivan. The G&S Society of South Australia and Co-Opera. Flour Shed, Harts Mill, Port Adelaide. 9-11 December, 2016.

The ‘Savoy operas’ of W.S. Gilbert and A.S. Sullivan - particularly The Mikado - have endured down the generations as bright, witty, colourful entertainments, and will probably continue to do so as long as they are subject to quality productions that preserve the ageless aspects of the text while being prepared to modernise when necessary. This one should fit the bill for fans, being extremely well-sung, skilfully designed, and impressively costumed, with musicians (under MD Brian Chatterton, OAM) as accomplished as they are supportive.

Girl Asleep

By Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Belvoir, Sydney. 2 – 24 December 2016

Matthew Whittet’s Girl Asleep has recently made its mark as a wacky Australian film. The play that it’s based on is now being staged at Sydney’s Belvoir, two years after premiering at the Adelaide Festival. I haven’t seen the film but I trust my young co-critic, who informs me the play is probably better.

A Very Kransky Christmas

The Kransky Sisters. Space Theatre, Adelaide. Dec 8th – 10th, 2016

The Kransky Sisters are a macabre looking trio from Esk in rural Queensland. They travel Australia in their Morris Major entertaining with songs they have learnt from listening to the ‘wireless’. This time around we are privileged to share Christmas songs and stories.

Bachelorette

By Leslye Headland. Twelve Angry. The Stables at The Meat Market. 6 – 11 December 2016

Director Matilda Dixon-Smith and the team that have worked on and produced this show have much to be proud of.  Bachelorette is well managed, beautifully realized, flawlessly put together, finely tuned and smoothly presented.   As the successful outcome of the conscientious work of a skilled youthful team the generous Pozible donors can certainly congratulate themselves on their foresight in supporting this production.

Scrooge the Musical

By James Leisy, adapted from the 1970 film Scrooge. Directed by Justin Friend. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. 2 - 16 December 2016

This was the second stage-version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol that I saw within days. Although family-friendly, this was not a production that shied away fro the darker themes, while still allowing for light and fun.

Barry Park was an excellent choice in the title role. Strangely likeable, even when being mean and miserly, he was an excellent protagonist who trod this character tight-rope beautifully.

bare

By John Hartmere and Damian Intrabartolo. Supply Evolution. Director / Choreographer: Hannah Barn. Musical Director: Matt Reid. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville. Nov 30 – Dec 17, 2016.

bare goes boldly where most other high school musicals fear to go; it’s a thought-provoking piece dealing truthfully and edgily with gay sexual identity in a co-ed Catholic boarding school, throwing body image issues, peer pressure and bullying into the mix for good measure.

Teenage rites of passage play out in tandem with rehearsals for a musical version of Romeo and Juliet, balancing the angst, hormones and emotional drama with lighter moments. The predominantly rock score integrates rap, soul and Broadway-style ballads effectively.

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