Solomon and Marion

By Lara Foot. Director: Pamela Rabe. MTC. Australian Premiere. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. June 7 - July 20, 2013

We are no strangers in Australia to the difficulties, sometimes traumatic, of reconciliation between indigenous and settlers. However, we cannot even begin to understand, even in these last days of Mandela, what the African continent has gone through in its attempts to redistribute power. Lara Foot is a fine playwright, but violence is merely back-story in this exquisite and delicate play about grief, healing, surrogate love and reconciliation between an aging white South African Woman and a young native boy.

Herding Cats

By Lucinda Coxon. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Red Stitch Actors Theatre. June 5 - July 7, 2013.

This is a disturbing play about three people linked to each other but failing to connect, at least in a healthy way. Set in the intimate Red Stitch theatre, and with the distant sound of a jackhammer filtering in from roadworks outside (on the night this reviewer attended), Herding Cats presents a bleak picture of modern England. Perhaps it's a timely one, given that country's economic strife, and the recent shocking outburst of violence against a soldier on the street. There is a sense of chaos, despair and desperation in parts of England's population.

Genesis to Broadway

Director/Writer: Frank Howson. Musical Director/Arranger: Warren Wills. Choreographer: Stephen Agisilaou. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). June 12 – 20.

The world of cabaret is very competitive and for a show to have a return season speaks volumes. And this show was good!

A two hander for Fem Belling and Tod Strike, with a jazz trio led by Warren Wills, everything about the production had class. Fem and Tod were both superb. Their voices were capable of a huge range of styles, they danced well and their timing was exemplary. I was amazed that Tod was new to the production.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Arena Spectacular. Sydney Entertainment Centre. June 7 - 9, 2013.

Like a shooting star this production has blazed across the arenas of Australia.

Re-invented in the UK to be set in Rome in 2011, the tumult is not revolution against the Roman Empire in the Holy Land, but the occupy movement protesting against capitalism.

Protestors in hoodies scale steep steps, adroitly dancing while waiving their placards, fighting with Police and setting fire to street furniture.

It gave the musical a contemporary feel, aided by the pulsing hard rock musical accompaniment.

Tim Rice penned the musical as the Gospel according to Judas.

Rumplestiltskin is My Name

Book: Vera Morris; Music: Arne Christiansen; Lyrics: Ole Kittleson. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 2 April – 15 June (Sats + 8 weekday holiday performances)

That the Youth Theatre productions (more than 90 shows altogether) grossed almost as much as Main House shows with more than double this number of performances in 2012, surprised me.

But interpret these data carefully: access to the theatre is easier on weekends and weekdays. Nearby Suncorp Stadium is home to more football events every year; their fans grab parking spaces early making BAT less attractive to evening theatregoers on footie nights.

This House

By James Graham. Directed by Jeremy Herrin. National Theatre Live. Participating cinemas nationwide from June 8.

Despite its being touted as “Britain’s answer to the West Wing” in the publicity material, I could find little similarity to Aaron Sorkin’s writing in James Graham’s This House. Both may be about politics, but the emphases, tone and particularly treatment of comedic elements are entirely different.

The Maids

By Jean Genet. Translated and adapted by Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Benedict Andrews. Designer: Alice Babidge. Sydney Theatre. June 4 – July 20, 2013.

Gridlock on the streets of Sydney delayed the opening of The Maids as hundreds of thousands of people crowded the shores of Sydney Harbour to see the one of the last nights of dazzling lights of the Vivid festival.

There was just as much eye candy inside the Sydney Theatre.

First the extraordinary set, inside a luxury home. The wardrobe seemed to stretch for an eternity upon which hung the finest furs and frocks.

The walls were transparent, behind which cameras broadcast all the action when the cast faced away from the audience onto a large screen.

[title of show]

Music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen. Book by Hunter Bell. Director: Ang Cuy. Musical Direction: Simon D’Aquino. Victorian Amateur Premiere Production. Fab Nobs Bayswater, 7-15th June 2013 & Williamstown Mechanics Institute 20-23rd June.

It speaks volumes when a cast is stronger than the actual show they are part of, and when a production transcends its material. Fab Nobs prides itself on performing the more obscure musicals, and doing wonderful productions of them. But often there is a reason why a show is obscure. [title of show] is a lightweight piece full of bad puns and “in jokes” for would-be showbiz folks. It’s entertaining and naïve, and has three or four Broadway-worthy songs, but it’s a wonder that it ever got to Broadway.


Music: Frederick Loewe. Book & Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner. Queensland Musical Theatre. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane. Director: Ruth Gabriel. Musical Director: Gerry Crooks. Choreographer: Lynette Wockner. 5-10 June 2013.

Lately Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon seems to have fallen off the musical theatre radar so it was a nice opportunity to rediscover the joys of this classic musical mounted by Queensland Musical Theatre. It’s a good show for amateurs with its colourful characters, many dance routines and large chorus.

MILF The Musical!

Written and composed by Sally Perricone. Director: Daryl Kirkness. Avoca Beach Picture Theatre. May 24-26, 2013.

During the past decade or so, independent, family owned Avoca Beach Picture theatre has had to dig deep to stave off obliteration by the two huge multiplexes on the Central Coast (which ultimately caused the Kincumber Ritz to close it's doors in 2007) by gradually morphing into one of Australia's premiere boutique theatres, providing not only a range of alternative cinematic experiences, but also an array of live events including concerts, plays and musicals.

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