Grease 2: Live in Concert.

Midsumma Festival 2011. Stage Adaptation by Robbie Carmellotti and Drew Downing. Directed by Robbie Carmellotti. Musical direction by Drew Downing. Gasworks Arts Park. February 10 - February 16, 2011.

Grease, the movie, defined retro-rock cool for the early 1980s. So when the sequel was released, sans Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and the rest of the original iconic cast, it could only flop.

This stage version of Grease 2 is a high voltage fun musical that smashes expectations. The story is almost a reverse of Grease. Instead of Sandy changing to become attractive to Danny, Michael (Chris Ostrenski) transforms himself to win Stephanie (Melanie Ott), but feels like he's lost himself in the pretence.

Queenie van de Zandt – Cabaret in 12 Easy Steps

Judith Wright Centre/Joymas Creative. Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, 8 Feb 2011

The Fantasticks

By Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. Genesian Theatre, Sydney (NSW). Jan 15 – Feb 19.

Sydney's Genesian Theatre is staging The Fantasticks, the show famous for being the longest running musical in history - it's been running in New York since 1960. 

The Sydney production features spirited performances on a shoe-string budget. Katerina Vigh (Luisa) and Zach La Cava (Matt) are superbly cast. Their young voices carry the audience with them on their journey of youthful love. The score presents some vocal challenges early on which they deliver with confidence and precision.

Spring Awakening

Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater. Music by: Duncan Sheik. ExitLeft Productions. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Robert Jarman. Jan 7 – 30, 2011.

Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision

By Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Director/Choreographer : Rhylee Nowell. Jan 29 – Feb 26, 2011.

The audience had to pass through barbed wire barriers to enter the theatre, where they were greeted by “army clad” officials handing out survival kits with everything one needs to witness Eurobeat; your national flag to wave, your voting paper and most of all, your “clapper” to encourage your country’s contestants. We were then marshalled into the theatre for the experience of a lifetime.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

By Geoffrey Archer. Peridot Theatre (Vic). Director: Annette De Boer. Feb 4 – 19, 2011.

Peridot opened 2011 with Geoffrey Archer’s courtroom drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

QC Sir David Metcalfe, on trial for murder of his terminally ill wife, is being prosecuted by his old rival Anthony Blair-Booth QC.

The opening court room set was simple yet very effective with black curtains at stage rear, the judge’s seat centre stage, and the witness box stage right. A table and two chairs were placed at each side of the stage for the defendant, the prosecutor and their respective assistants.

The Divine Miss Bette

Slide, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst (NSW). Jan 27, Feb 17 and Mar 24, 2011.

Were you there when the Divine Miss M first strutted outrageously across Australian stages in the late 70s?

I was!

I’m not generally a great fan of artist tribute shows, but this vital Bette Midler cabaret show is a definite exception.

Go with the flow as Catherine Alcorn struts the small stage of Sydney’s Slide and this show might well transport you back to Sydney’s State Theatre more than three decades ago.

Spring Awakening

Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater. Music by Duncan Sheik. Shire Music Theatre. Jan 28 – Feb 6, 2011.

In-your-face coming-of-age rock musical Spring Awakening, with themes including teenage sexuality (heterosexual, homosexual and masturbation), child abuse and youth suicide will shock some, and not be for all tastes.

Yet its flip side attraction, the beauty and pain of the journey through puberty and sexual discovery that the musical travels, and that rock score, will certainly appeal to many others, including younger audiences.

Comedy of Errors.

The Australian Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare Under the Stars. Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Glenn Elston. Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. December 21, 2010 - March 12, 2011.

If you're one of those people who stays away from Shakespeare believing him impenetrable, then you've probably never seen his plays performed well.

As Comedy of Errors is one of his less well-known plays, some background will help.

Manly Mates

By Frank Hatherley, by arrangement with David Spicer Productions. Canberra Dramatics. Director: James Stevens. Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Jan 27-29, Feb 2-5, 2011.

Canberra Dramatic’s staging of Frank Hatherley’s Manly Mates harks back to the breezy corruption that used to be currency in New South Wales. In this farce based on real powerbrokers from the 1970s, duffle bags of money appear, alcohol is downed like water and women were expected to flash their assets on demand.

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