Reviews

Into the Woods.

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim, Book: James Lapine. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Joshua McCann-Thomson. February 2 – March 2, 2013.

This inspired interpretation of the classic was very well received by both the Sondheim devotees and those audience members not familiar with the piece.

Joshua McCann-Thomson had assembled a talented ensemble cast, well versed in the art of performing Sondheim’s unique style and they carried it off perfectly.

Under the Musical Direction of Ethan Jones, the cast ensured that the lyrics were never sacrificed throughout the fast pace of the show, and what a hectic pace it was.

Shakespeare in Hollywood

By Ken Ludwig. Castle Hill Players at the Pavilion Theatre (NSW). Feb 1 – 23, 2013.

Remember the 1935 movie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?  Max Reinhardt directing (in German) for Warner Brothers? Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, Joe E Brown? Now imagine that Oberon, the fairy king, and his offsider, Puck, have transmogrified onto the set and been cast to play themselves.

Fidelio

By Beethoven. Melbourne Opera. Director: Hugh Halliday. Musical Director: David Kram. Athenaeum Theatre. February 2 – 10, 2013.

There was a lot to like about Melbourne Opera’s production of Fidelio. After a few shaky entries in the overture, the orchestra under David Kram hit its stride. The Leonore Overture at the start of Act 2 Scene 2 was a highlight with well-deserved prolonged applause. David’s influence could also be seen in the ensembles, which, with a couple of exceptions, were well-balanced.

The Magistrate

By Arthur Wing Pinero. National Theatre Live. Rosebud and other cinemas nationally. Encore performances week of Feb 4th, 2013.

Seated in the comfortable Cinema 4 at Rosebud on a Sunday afternoon with fellow theatre lovers, it’s easy to believe that you’re actually in the audience at the National’s famed Olivier watching a superb cast bring to life Pinero’s 1865 play The Magistrate.

Pinero’s play is more comedy of manners than Feydeau farce, and he doesn’t have the biting wit of Oscar Wilde, but The Magistrate is still a joyful romp and well worth seeing for the performances alone.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Music and Lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman. Adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams and Ray Roderick. Directed by Roger Hodgman. Her Majesty’s Theatre. Melbourne Opening Night: 2nd February, 2013

If Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is more a delightfully fluffy and well decorated confection than a sumptuous feast, it’s certainly not the fault of this production, which started its official Melbourne run last night. Director Roger Hodgman has maximised the delights for children while still maintaining adult interest, no mean achievement. But, put simply, there’s a fabulous car, and it floats, and it flies; and once you’ve seen that (and it truly is spectacular), the rest of the show no longer seems that important.

HAIR

Book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Music by Galt McDermott StageArt. Directed by Robbie Carmelotti. Chapel off Chapel. February 1 – 17, 2013.

When live theatre really works it is the most joyous and uplifting experience in the world…and this latest production of the 1968 Tony Award winning musical really works. Despite abysmal sound problems (feedback and booming. Guys…I know you rehearsed it, but stop patting each others faces and hair when the radio mikes are on, or reposition the mikes) nothing could dull the sheer exhilaration of this marvellous psychedelic celebration of life. It should feel dated, but instead it feels fresh, and raw, and passionate, and NOW.

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Shakespeare Festival. Bicentennial Park, Glebe Foreshore. January 17 – February 24, 2013.

There are a lot of ways a person can spend their Friday nights in summer in Sydney. One that I highly recommend is to spend it watching a Shakespearian comedy: outdoors, atop a picnic blanket, champagne in hand.

The Other Place.

By Sharr White. Directed by Nadia Tass. Set Design – Shaun Gurton, Costume Designer – Edie Kurzer, Lighting Designer – Nigel Levings, Composer – Paul Grabowsky, Sound Designer – Russell Goldsmith, Voice and Dialect Coach – Suzanne Heywood. Melbourne Theatre Company. The Playhouse, Arts Centre, Melbourne. 26 January – 2 March, 2013

Catherine McClements’s work as Juliana, a convincingly dynamic and successful woman in her early fifties, is remarkably strong and rich in this beautifully complex work by American writer Sharr White.  It reveals as it unfolds in twists and turns, by degrees - in a seemingly effortless manner due to Nadia Tass’s directorial precision.

The Other Place is presented on a neutral, uncluttered set by Shaun Gurton and lit to create various and varied atmospheres by Nigel Levings.

The Dead Ones

Written & Performed by Margie Fischer. Directed by Katherine Fitzgerald. Designer Kathryn Sproul. Theatre Works. 29 January to 3 February, 2013.

The Dead Ones is a moving work about sorting the goods, chattels and memories of deceased parents. It is about what to keep, and what to dispose of, and how. In a way it is the reconciling of a daughter with the memory of her childhood, youth, history and strong, hardworking and determined Jewish parents and paternal grandparents. It is a solitary journey by an only child, due to the premature loss of her brother from a rare illness in his early twenties.

Salome

By Oscar Wilde. TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst (NSW). January 28 – February 3, 2013.

Courage, mon brave!” was my first response to a production of Salome. The biblical language, the difficult phrasing, a plethora of ‘extras’ (soldiers, pages) not to mention a decapitated John the Baptist – all would tend to deter one from a production of this very un-Wilde-ish play.

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