Reviews

War Horse

Written by Nick Stafford from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. National Theatre of Great Britain, Handspring Puppet Company and Global Creatures. Directed by Drew Barr (Australia) from Original Direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. December 31, 2012 - March 3, 2013, then Sydney and Brisbane.

Live theatre has the power to suspend disbelief and nurture evocative imagination. It can create magic. We should always be grateful for that. Last night a huge chestnut hunter called Joey was caught in barbed wire and his legs were being cut to pieces. I was crying into my partner’s handkerchief, unaware and uncaring that this was theatre and I wasn’t even crying for a horse – I was crying for a puppet. That, in itself, is magic.

Snow White: The Untold Story

By Karl B. Peterson. Presented by Heidelberg Theatre Company’s HTC Youth. Director: Christian Dell’Olio. December 19 – 22, 2012.

To an entranced, captive audience nine youthful, engaging and lively actors, with lashings of potential ‘strut their stuff’ in a mildly spoofed up version of that old favorite fairy tale Snow White.

The production is opened strongly with the Queen, played boldly by Elizabeth Dingle, in conference with the Magic Mirror, a fabulously costumed and glitzy character well interpreted by Ian Robertson.

After Hamlet

From the play by William Shakespeare. Adapted and Directed by Trent Baker. December 3 – 8, 2012.

This production is beautifully edited from the original by the director Trent Baker (assumedly with the assistance of Dramaturge - April Albert), expressively lit by Doug Montgomery and atmospherically underscored with richly evocative music by James McGauran.  The initial scenes in After Hamlet introduce Trent Baker as director/auteur who one senses would tightly arrange and coordinate everything to an exacting standard if he had the required time.  As it progresses it melds, perhaps inevitably, into something of an actor’s showcase.  However it begins artisti

How to Make Snow

By Daniel Evans. The little red company & St Laurence’s College (Qld).20-22 December 2012

The cast of over sixty-five all-singing, all-dancing energetic teens and tweenies, and featuring stars Luke Kennedy, Mirusia Louwerse and Bryan Proberts, made this much more an entertainment spectacular than just a family Christmas show.

It launched a talented-beyond-his years Marco Ghikas as the pivotal Otis. With his potential, influenced by his three role models, who knows where he could end up in this industry - if he aspires to it.

Grease

By Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Redcliffe Musical Theatre. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. 12-16 December 2012

From the pit band’s first flash of Greased Lightning to the stunning finale this show was electric! The talented six-piece combo of keyboards, lead and bass guitar, drums, saxophones and clarinet established the mood and rock’n’roll style for this production. Congratulations to the musos!

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

Book, music & lyrics: Meredith Willson based on the story by Valentine Davies and the screenplay of George Seaton. S.Q.U.I.D.S. Production, Queensland Conservatorium. Director: Deanne Scanlan. Musical Director: Kendal Alderman. 15 December, 2012.

At the end of SQUIDS Australian Premiere performance of Miracle on 34th Street, the cast sang Christmas carols for encores. There was more melody in any one of them than in any song we had heard in the show.

Morning Star – New Day, New Spirit, New Life.

NAISDA Dance College. Directed by Patrick Thaiday Laycock Street Theatre, North Gosford. December 6, 7 and 8, 2012.

For 36 years NAISDA Dance College has been teaching Contemporary Australian Indigenous Dance on the Central Coast of NSW: the land of the Darkinjung people. The genre is a fusion of Traditional and Western styles, which transcends both - taking physical story-telling to a vividly accessible level.

Managing Carmen

By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 6 December, 2012 – 26 January, 2013

Last Christmas David Williamson brought joy and full houses to the Ensemble Theatre with the world premiere of his Nothing Personal, starring Greta Scacchi. This Christmas it’s his Managing Carmen, though not quite a world premiere — the Queensland Theatre Company did that a few weeks ago — and the advertised star name, Garry McDonald, had been replaced somewhere along the way. No problem, no danger: this looks like being a monster hit for Williamson and for the Ensemble, his ‘spiritual home’.

Genesis to Broadway

Written and directed by Frank Howson. Chapel off Chapel. 11th-16th December, 2012.

Back in the 80’s Melbourne had a large number of theatre restaurants and cabarets where a show like this could sit comfortably and be aided by the addition of a glass…or several bottles…of something alcoholic. Now, cabaret shows are largely pushed into spaces like the terrific Chapel off Chapel, and it’s not the venue’s fault that the change doesn’t always work.

Les Misérables (The Film)

Directed by Tom Hooper. Opens Australia wide on Dec 26, 2012.

It seems odd that there was an embargo on full reviews for the film in Australia, whilst we could all use the internet to read reviews in other countries. But now at last we’re free to talk about one of the most awaited movies of the decade. I won’t waste time explaining the story, you all know it by now.

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