Reviews

La Traviata

By Giuseppe Verdi. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Henning Brockhaus. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. May 17 – 29, 2014

Victorian Opera was set up to bring more unusual repertoire to the operatic stage, so this was a departure from their usual fare, I suspect inspired by the opportunity to collaborate with Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini in Italy.

The Habbott – An Elected Journey - The 2014 Uni Revue

Written by: Peebles, Paine, Dwyer, Paine, Morrisby, Armitage, Smith, Croall, et al. Presented by: Old Nick Company Inc. Director: Graeme Paine OAM and Nick Paine. Musical Direction: Andrew Morrisby. Theatre Royal, Hobart. 9th – 24th May 2014

The Old Nick Company Inc presented its 66th Uni (of Tasmania) Revue this May, releasing yet another satire on the, by now, very suspecting Tasmanian audience. The Old Nick Uni Revue has been predictably funny, naughty, crass, satirical, silly and saucy for more than six decades.

In ‘honour’ of the current Prime Minister, this year’s Revue, titled The Habbott, An Elected Journey takes a poke at federal politics as well as lambasting local pollies. This is the 17th year that Graeme Paine OAM has directed a Uni Revue.

Kiri Te Kanawa 70th Birthday Gala Tour

Llewellyn Hall, Canberra. 16th May 2014 and touring Australia and New Zealand in May and June.

Attending the Canberra performance of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s 70th Birthday Gala Tour, I was delighted to find this ageless performer sounding so very like her recorded self. In interview on the day preceding the performance, Dame Kiri stated that there are works (which she said are obvious) that she no longer sings; evidently the highest notes of her career might not sound as sweet and controlled now as they did, and she therefore has confined her repertoire a little. But what she sang, she sang exquisitely.

Wish

By Humphrey Bower, adapted from the novel by Peter Goldsworthy. Directed by Humphrey Bowyer. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth WA. 14-24 May 2014

About once a decade, I come across a show that I don't want to review. In the past it has been because I can't find much positive to say, but I am reluctant to review Wish for entirely different reasons…I don't want to talk about this show.

LAKE

Directed and Choreographed by Lisa Wilson. Lisa Wilson Projects & the Judith Wright Centre. 15 – 17 May 2014.

This is enthralling and experimental dance. I would call it ground breaking, but given that the entire stage is covered by water, that is inappropriate.

The Phantom of the Opera

By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Theatre on The Concourse, Chatswood. Director: Declan Moore. Musical Director: Greg Jones. Choreographer: Sarah Friedrich. 14 May – 1 June, 2014

Reluctant as I am to use clichés like Willoughby Theatre Company has ‘raised the bar’ for community musical theatre in Sydney, their production of The Phantom of the Opera ranks high among the finest achievements I’ve seen in some 50 years seeing shows on the circuit.

Jesus Christ Superstar

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Engadine Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. May 14 – 18, 2014.

A contemporary setting of Multi-Deck scaffold and colourful graffiti alerts you instantly that this will be a modern interpretation of rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

You'd have managed better if you'd had it planned.

Now why'd you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?

If you'd come today, you would have reached the whole nation.

Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.

Truth, beauty and a picture of you

Music and Lyrics by Tim Freedman. Book by Alex Broun and Tim Freedman. Directed and Produced by Neil Gooding. Hayes Theatre Company, Darlinghurst (NSW). May 9 – June 1, 2014.

Since launching a few months ago, the Hayes Theatre Company has dazzled Sydney with the high production standards of the musicals it has performed on a compact stage.

After Sweet Charity and The Drowsy Chaperone has come the first original Australian production, Truth, beauty and a picture of you.

The trademark fiendishly clever staging and lighting was on display. This time, one box was pushed forward and pulled back to create the elevated stage of a rock band, or a bedroom underneath or even the edge of a high rise building.

Mother Africa

Winston Ruddle’s Circus of the Senses. Playhouse Theatre, QPAC. 13-17 May 2014.

This show is a jaw-dropper and spirit-raiser!

Carmen

By Georges Bizet. Opera Australia. Director: Francesca Zambello. Conductor: Brian Castles-Onion. Arts Centre Melbourne. May 14 – 25, 2014.

Opera Australia’s Carmen had an enthusiastic reception from a packed opening night audience which was well deserved. This was the original Carmen with spoken dialogue. Carmen lives or dies on the quality of the mezzo playing the title role. Spaniard Nancy Fabiola Herrera was one of the best I’ve seen and I was not surprised to note she had performed the role at the Met and Covent Garden.

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