Reviews

Little Shop of Horrors

Book and Lyrics By Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken. Directed by Danny Ginsberg. PLOS. Frankston Arts Centre. July 19 – 27, 2013

You have to go a long way to see a PLOS production…all the way to Frankston. The good news is that you’d have to go a whole lot further to ever see a better production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Moving Parts

By David Nobay. Production Company: Will O’Rourke. NIDA Parade Playhouse, Sydney. Director: Steve Rogers. 25 July – 10 August, 2013

A production company that launches new, beautifully presented Australian plays with genuine international artistic heavyweights both onstage and backstage is loudly to be applauded. Champagne welcomed a first night audience packed with celebrities to NIDA’s Parade Playhouse.

Cavalia

Creator and Artistic Director Normand Latourelle. The Big White Top on Southbank (Vic). Director and Visual Conceptor Erick Villeneuve. Composer Michel Cusson. Costumes Manon Desmarais. Melbourne: 24 July – 18 August, 2013, Adelaide 16 – 27 October, Perth 18-29 December

A medieval castle-circus tent hybrid is the latest addition to Melbourne’s skyline. Standing 35 metres tall with a span in excess of 2,440 square metres The Big White Top announces to patrons that Cavalia is something special. And with Normand Latourelle (Cirque du Soleil) holding the reins, what else would we expect?

The Collector

By John Fowles, adapted by Kristina Brew. Directed by Ben Pfeiffer. Collingwood Underground Arts Park. 24 July – 3 August, 2013

The author John Fowles is on record as describing the movie based on his book The Collector as the worst novel to film adaptation ever. Wisely, then, the (oddly uncredited on the program) playwright of this new adaptation claims to have worked directly from Fowles' original, without reference to the movie. But despite this, and the playwright's insistence that she strove to "maintain the integrity of the original text", this play turned out to be much closer to the movie than the book, and even managed to drop Fowles' original poignant ending.

Home Open. An Evening of Change

Directed by Sarah Corbett, Joel Horwood, Gemma Hall and Michael Collins. A private home in North Perth. July 19-20, 2013

The Cutting Room Floor's Home Open was almost guerilla theatre. Advertised only online, audience members were informed of the location, a private house in North Perth, by text message on the morning of the performance.

The program states that the project "simply consists of performance pieces taking place inside strangers' homes. It's a place for emerging writers to try out new work, take risks and reclaim everyday spaces for art. We've learnt that you don't need a theatre to make theatre."

This is Beautiful

Presented by Public Studio, for the Malthouse Helium series. Tower Theatre, Malthouse (Vic). 19 July – 3 August, 2013

This is Beautiful is a hauntingly rich, sensual and fascinating new hybrid performance art/multi media piece.

It is a precise and skillfully crafted, highly collaborative work that, on one level, questions perceptions of beauty, love and narcissism and on another, perhaps more primal visual level, is about those old profundities - sex, life and death.

Two Weeks With The Queen

By Mary Morris, from the novel by Morris Gleitzman. Directed by Carryn McLean. Stirling Theatre, Innaloo, WA. July 12 - 27

This Mary Morris play, based on the novel by Morris Gleitzman, was a great choice for a season that spanned WA school holidays, although I don't think that the message has really got out to the community. The Sunday matinee I attended was sadly underpatronised and generation z were in extremely short supply.

Based on a novel aimed at older children and teens, the show covers some heavy issues, including terminal cancer and AIDS, it is really accessable and surprisingly funny.

And Evermore Shall Be So

By Norman Robbins. Directed by Anita Bound. KADS. Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda, WA. July 19 - August 10, 2013.

Director Anita Bound states that And Evermore Shall Be So will be her directorial swansong and while I am loathe to see her go, this nicely directed little murder mystery makes a lovely artistic curtain call.

Based loosely around the folk tune Green Grow the Rushes O, as the play opens we hear this song, beautifully pre-recorded by Manaui Long and Eden Sambridge. This is an ongoing theme and we continue to hear snippets throughout the play until sung (albeit not quite as prettily) by the cast in their curtain call.

Aladdin Jr.

By Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Additional lyrics and book by Jim Luigs. Eltham Little Theatre (Vic). Director: John Leahy. Musical Director: Emily Crawford. Choreographer: Amy Jenkins/Katrina Powell. July 12 – 21, 2013.

After the successful The Pirates of Penzance last year I was looking forward to Aladdin Junior and I was not disappointed. With a large cast and small stage, the sets were of necessity fairly basic, but very effective. I particularly loved the huge skull with red headlights for eyes representing the cave – very impressive.

The chorus, well-trained by Emily Crawford, was strong and confident. The choreography was appropriate and well executed. The dancers representing the magic carpet, glowing fluorescent in the ultra-violet light, was very effective.

Little Shop of Horrors

By Alan Menken & Howard Ashman. Redcliffe Musical Theatre (Qld). Redcliffe Entertainment Centre. 19 – 28 July 2013.

This is deliciously gross rock musical entertainment!

It embraces dire poverty, romantic attraction, domestic violence, obsession with new indoor plants, murder, meteoric rise to media success, and redemption. All joyfully, brashly explored in big bold rock numbers, and over-the-top characterisations without a shred of irreverence or guilt. The performance joy is contagious.

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