Calvin Berger

By Barry Wyner. Directed by Tyler Eldridge and Madeleine Shaw. Roleystone Theatre, WA. 10 – 25 March, 2017

Calvin Berger, by Barry Wyner, makes its Western Australian premiere at Roleystone Theatre, with first-time directors Tyler Eldridge and Madeleine Shaw steering a very impressive production.

Loosely based on the play Cyrano de Bergerac, it takes the original story, sets it in a high school and makes the most of teen insecurity, angst and first love. It features four extremely capable teenaged performers who work beautifully together. 

Calamity Jane

Adapted by Ronald Hamner and Phil Park. From the Stage Play by Charles K Freeman after the Warner Bros Film. Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Music by Sammy Fain. One Eyed Man Productions in association with Neglected Musicals and Hayes Theatre Co. March 8 to April 9, 2017.

This is a rip-roaring production of a creaky musical which has some surprising resonance to today. Members of the audience immediately felt they been transported back to the Deadwood Saloon, by being led through the side of the venue directly onto the stage, before being seated. It gave the production the feel of an immersive theatre event, with audience participation one of its cutest features.

The Japanese Princess

By Camille Saint-Saëns. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Director: Miki Oikawa. Conductor: Pat Miller. Chapel off Chapel. March 11 – 18, 2017.

Lyric Opera continues to challenge the box office by performing little known operas, in this case an Australian premiere. Camille Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson et Dalila is well known, but I had never heard of this delightful one-acter.

More of an operetta than an opera, with quite a bit of dialogue spoken in English, this was a light weight comedy with a flimsy plot. Written some fifteen years before Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado, it reflected the fascination at that time with everything Japanese.

The Motherf**ker with the hat

By Stephen Adly Guirgis. Live on 5. Adelaide Fringe. The William Magarey Room. Adelaide Oval 10-11 March, 2017

The title of this play is simultaneously shocking and intriguing. Laced with high octane, machine-gun style profanities, what could have turned out to be quite hateful, proved to be a ‘hatful’ of surprises.

Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play The Motherf**ker with the Hat premiered on Broadway in 2011, starring Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale.

The current production is directed by Nick Fagan and Matt Houston and to quote Fagan, it is “raw, real and wickedly funny”.

Pretty Boys

Adelaide Fringe. Tandanya Theatre. 8-12 March 2017

Pretty Boys is a new A Capella ‘juke-box’ musical from Adelaide’s Festival Statesmen Chorus.  It concerns the fortunes of a local ‘white’ boy band and their disastrous involvement with the overtly ‘gay’ recording industry and the Russian Mafia.

Whilst some of the singing is good, the acting and movement is not. There is a lot of over-acting, needless shouting, incompetent staging with ridiculous scene changes, and stereotypical characters.

Attack of the Emotional Pygmies

By Peter Maddern. Adelaide Fringe. Star Theatre. March 9-18, 2017

The intimate performing space of the Star Theatre is perfect for this slice of family life.

Set in Adelaide, husband and wife Alistair and Georgia are expecting family for the weekend. As Georgia sets the table, her narcissistic spouse announces his return from work. Todd Gray portrays Alistair as larger than life. Self-centred and obnoxious in his manner, he is quickly disliked by the audience. Cassandra Scalzi does well in the part of the obedient wife Georgia.

Not Another Indie Cabaret

Written and Performed by Jessamae St James. Directed by Steven Gates. Adelaide Fringe Festival. The Henry Austin. 7-11 March, 2017.

Deconstruction of the cabaret form can potentially result in a clever and daring presentation, but it can also be leaned upon lazily as the ticket to ‘hipster credibility’. Jessamae St James’ show doesn’t quite rise or sink to either of these extremes; what we get with Not Another Indie Cabaret, is, sadly, just another indie cabaret - albeit one with appearances by an Omnichord and a trumpet kazoo, which are not enough to make this show a special experience.

Diva Moments

Christina Bianco. Alex Theatre St Kilda, March 8 & 9, and Hayes Theatre Sydney, March 12, 2017.

People go to the theatre for a variety of reasons – but the majority go to be entertained.

Anyone who is NOT entertained by the extraordinary talents of Christina Bianco is, to put it succinctly, already dead.

Livvy and Pete

La Cascadeur. Adelaide Fringe. 6-19 March 2017

Well I have to say, any show that has my very quiet ‘plus one’ clapping and singing along must be an amazing one. Livvy and Pete is a joyful ride - some of which is even on roller skates! Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan demonstrated yet again why they are so loved by Adelaide audiences. Their chemistry and team-work, coupled with buckets of talent, make for a fun night out at the Fringe.

G’day Habibi

Danielle Faour. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. 7 to 12 March 2017.

A lively, fun-filled show full of heart.

Danielle Faour shares anecdotes about growing up Lebanese-Australia with pride and humour. She touches on a range of issues from arranged marriages to unwanted body hair, speaking frankly about her own experiences.

Audience participation is strongly encouraged, with plenty of opportunities to practise your “Leb-clap” and sing along to daggy pop songs. We even got to play “Lebo Family Feud” with the coveted prize of wax strips.

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