Reviews

Saturday Night Fever

Music and lyrics by The Bee Gees and others. Book by Robert Stigwood, with Bill Oakes. Matt Byrne Media. Arts Theatre Adelaide, July 6-11, 2017 and Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth, July 21-29, 2017

Matt Byrne is never afraid to bring big musicals to the Adelaide Community Theatre scene. Aware of the success of Matt Byrne Media’s past musicals, such as Mary Poppins and Wicked, I expected Saturday Night Fever to be a feast of energy, fantastic singing and dancing, a strong storyline, memorable performances and the disco beat of the iconic Bee Gees’ songs.

On the show’s opening night some of my expectations were realised, namely in key performances, but various elements outside the cast’s control let the production down.

All My Sons

By Arthur Miller. Directed by Chris McLean. Presented by Heidelberg Theatre Company. 6 Turnham Ave, Rosanna, Melbourne. 7 – 22 July 2017.

All My Sons may seem like it is a play about a bygone era, yet many of the themes that were highlighted in this production were relevant to a contemporary context. Miller’s text is intriguing in the way it shows how the personal cost of war also transforms to a wider loss that is felt in broader society.

The Marriage of Figaro

By Mozart. Opera Australia onTour. Director/Adaptor/Translator: Michael Gow. Conductor: Simon Kenway. Geelong Performing Arts Centre on July 8, 2017, then touring.

I encountered this production in Dandenong last year, at the start of another tour of the country. With another invitation to review, I thought it might have been a new production, but it wasn’t, and many of the performers were retained.

It worked very well with an Australian translation and scenery. The period costumes didn’t quite fit, but no one minded. I don’t recall Cherubino rifling through love letters from his girl-friends to find his commission last time, so that was a welcome innovation.

Little Borders

By Philip Kavanagh. Old 505 Theatre (NSW). July 4 – 15, 2017

Adelaide’s Philip Kavanagh won the Patrick White Award in 2011 for this, his first full length play, which in Sydney is finally getting its first production.  Little Borders traces the chasms of anxiety dividing a privileged middle class couple from their neighbours.

Eclipse: An Illusion and Dance Spectacular

Base Entertainment, directed by Anthony Street. Canberra Theatre, 7 July 2017, and touring

Anthony Street has mastered at least two major art forms — Irish dancing, and stage magic — and in 2011 he married the two in a show called Celtic Illusion.  Eclipse, a brand-new show that is touring from Townsville to Victoria, features similar dancing but almost entirely new magical illusions.

 

The Rover

By Aphra Behn. Directed by Eamon Flack. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. 1 July - 6 August, 2017

For a 1677 play, The Rover feels very modern. Written by Aphra Behn, one of the first women in England to make money from writing, this is a comedy that’s brave, brash, and very funny. On top of that, Eamon Flack has given the look, feel and many of the lines in this production a contemporary edge. Together with a wonderful cast, he’s done a brilliant job.

Disney High School Musical On Stage

Book by David Simpatico. Directed by Lys Tickner and Brogan Smirke. Musical Direction by Tyler Eldridge. Roleystone Theatre, Brookton Hwy, Roleystone, WA. June 30 - July 15, 2017

It is refreshing to attend a packed house matinee, full of excited young people, many presumably having their first live-theatre experience, and to see an energised, enthusiastic young cast on stage.

High School Musical is based on the Disney Chanel Movie of the same name. The characters are familiar to many in the audience and the kids in the crowd also clearly knew the songs. 

The Golden Dragon

By Roland Schimmelpfennig. Bakehouse Theatre Company (SA). The Bakehouse. July 8th – July 22nd, 2017.

Set in a Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai restaurant, ensemble piece The Golden Dragon shows a small slice of life centred on a restaurant and the people within and around it.

While there are moments of humour, this play is not a comedy. Written by Roland Schimmelpfennig, there is a series of random events about the myriad of characters, some of whom work in the restaurant and others who live in the flats above.

An Evening of Unearthly Encounters

By John Lewington. KADS. Directed by Anita Bound and Alexis Marr. KADS Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda, WA. June 30 - July 22, 2017

An Evening of Unearthly Encounters is exactly as described. This presentation of two ghostly plays, both by John Lewington, explores visits from the ‘other side’ in a rather eerie little compilation.

In the first play, Portrait of My Love, directed by Anita Bound, a young Australian woman returns to take possession of her inheritance, her deceased father’s home in the United Kingdom, with frontage to the sea.

The Adventures of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell

BBonnie Lythgoe Productions. State Theatre, Sydney. July 7 – 16, 2017.

The old grandeur of the State Theatre is the perfect venue for this holiday time production, conjuring as it does the past theatre ‘glory’ of the old London theatres where ‘pantos’ still bring cheer to wintery London Christmases.

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