Reviews

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Book by Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. Directed by Julie Black. Metropolitan Players. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. August 28 – September 7, 2013.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical about a scarred genius’s love for a young opera singer receives splendid treatment in this production. Indeed, this staging, the first by a non-professional company in NSW, is far superior to the work’s first professional Australian production that I saw in the 1990s.

That did little for me and accentuated the writing weaknesses, but this one kept me engaged – indeed, enchanted – throughout its two acts.

RUPERT

Written by David Williamson. Directed by Lee Lewis. MTC. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. World Premiere. 24th August – 28th September, 2013

Halfway through Act One of Rupert, Murdoch says – in defence of one of his tabloids – “It’s entertainment, not in depth analysis.” That might be the only time we hear playwright David Williamson’s “voice” in the entire evening. Williamson is our best known and most prolific playwright. He may have started out as a bolshi liberal at La Mama, but in later years he became the voice of the middle class; smart, literate, witty and able to afford theatre tickets.

The Good Doctor

By Anton Chekhov and Neil Simon. Villanova Players. “The Theatre”, Seven Hills TAFE, Morningside, Q. 30 Aug – 14 Sept 2013

Director, Maria Plumb, chose this play after its success in an earlier production for this theatre.

Whistle Down The Wind

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics: Jim Steinman. Director: Andy Fahey. Neptune Productions. Tweed Heads Civic Centre. August 16th to 25th, 2013

Whistle Down The Wind is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser know works but, none the less, it abounds with memorable music one expects from this icon of musical theatre.

Based on a book by Mary Hayley Bell and film directed by Richard Attenborough, ALW collaborated with Patricia Knopp and Aussie Director Gale Edwards in adapting the story to the stage, changing the location from the UK to the US state of Louisiana along the way.

Miss Julie

By Simon Stone after August Strindberg. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Leticia Cáceres. 29 August – 6 October, 2013.

Simon Stone rewrites theatre classics, freely setting them in modern day Australia. He’s done aWild Duck ‘after Ibsen’, aCherry Orchard ‘after Chekhov’ and now here’s his Miss Julie ‘after Strindberg’. You’ve got to admire his chutzpah and his keen theatrical brain.

Molly Sweeney

By Brian Friel. Directed by Fiona Blair. Lighting Design – Danny Pettingill. Operator – Chris Young. Costume Designer – Fleur Thiermeyer. Presented by Footscray Community Arts Centre. The Old Van. 15 – 25 August, 2013

Brian Friel ‘s wonderfully crafted play Molly Sweeney is certainly done justice in Old Van’s ‘less is more’ production.  Nothing is out of place, extraneous or unnecessary.

Molly Sweeneyis the story of an Irish woman who had sight for the first eleven months of her life then became blind.  Through the love and care of her father she was truly integrated into her close-knit small town community and lived comfortably in her own skin.  That is until she met a man who wooed and married her. 

The Little Mermaid

Directed by Ian Sinclair. The Blue Room, Northbridge, WA. Aug 20-Sep 7, 2013.

This production of The Little Mermaid is at least seminally linked to the Hans Christian Anderson story of the same name, and the Disney incarnation, but it has developed into a story that is quite different. Reminiscent of other fairy tales, most noticeably Snow White, this short play appears to draw on influences as diverse as manga and ballet.

GREASE

Book, Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Additional songs: Barry Gibb, John Farrar, Louis St. Louis, Scott Simon. John Frost / David Ian Production. Director: David Gilmore. Musical Director: Stephen Amos. Choreography: Arlene Phillips. Opening Night - Lyric Theatre, Brisbane, 25 August 2013. Then Lyric Theatre at the Star, Sydney from 13 October and Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne from 2 January 2014.
This was the best production of Grease I have ever seen - fast, funny, and massively entertaining.  

David Gilmore’s direction, based on his long-running West End revival satisfied on every level. From Terry Parsons’ ablaze with neon set, Arlene Phillips era inspired dance routines, to Stephen Amos’ kick-ass band, 1950s Rydell High was brought brilliantly, if garishly, to life.

Double Think

Force Majeure. The Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre, Sydney. August 21 – 24, 2013.

Force Majeure's new offering Double Think is a duet which sits on opposite ends of the creative spectrum.

The first piece Gogglebox is a testament to our relationship with the humble television. It is a humorous and quirky exploration between the viewer and the viewed. It gives the audience the opportunity to examine what television really means to us. Is it a friend, foe, entertainer, informer or companion - or is it all of these combined.

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Therry Dramatic Society. Director: Barry Hill. Arts Theatre, Adelaide. 22nd - 31st August, 2013

There was no great passionate love scene in Therry Dramatic Society’s production of Noël Coward’s Private Lives, no leaving us with evidence of divorced couple of five years, Elyot and Amanda’s, great desire for each other.

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