Reviews

Winnie The Pooh

By Glyn Robbins, adapted from the A.A. Milne classics. Hamley Productions. Directed by: Chris Hamley. Pear Ridge Gardens, Margate. 19th April – Sunday 30th April 2017.

What better performance than a version of Winnie the Poohas my first theatrical “Grandma duty” adventure with a three–year old grandson? This version ofWinnie the Pooh by Hamley Productions at Pear Ridge Gardens Margate, Tasmania, was a delight on so many levels. A good way to see a children’s classic come to life is in the company of and through the eyes of a child. Pooh Bear and friends glowed as stage characters in this adapted work written by British playwright Glyn Robbins.

Big Fish

Book by John August. Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. RPG Productions. Directed by Tyran Parke. Hayes Theatre, Sydney. 21 April - 14 May, 2017

There are many shows - both plays and musicals - that are unlikely to make it to the Australian stage. They’re Broadway or West End productions we hear little about; they’re not massive hits and have little commercial potential. And some of them are gems.

JOAN

Co-creators Kate Davis and Emma Valente. THE RABBLE and Theatre Works. Theatre Works, St Kilda. April 20 – 30, 2017.

Opening with extraordinary multi-media projections on scrims, Joan by The Rabble, is a work of high art.  It is riveting, hypnotic, haunting and sometimes deeply shocking. But at all times uncompromisingly designed to insightfully explore a deep feminist response to the now canonized, illiterate peasant, who was ‘the virgin from Orleans.’ Joan of Arc who, in The Middle Ages, led the French into battle with the English, who ultimately burned her at the stake thrice, is the subject of this production.

Swan Lake

Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Shanghai Ballet. Presented by Andrew Guild and Simon Bryce. Directed by Derek Deane. Regent’s Theatre, 191 Collins St, Melbourne. 20 -24 April, 2017.

British choreographer Derek Deane brings a very lavish approach to the Shanghai Ballet’s Swan Lake. This production features 48 swans to help tell the tragic tale of the love between Prince Siegfried (WU Husheng) and the Swan Princess Odette (Ako Kondo). The result is a masterful performance with an imposing set design.

Is There Life After High School?

Book by Jeffrey Kindley. Music and Lyrics by Craig Carnelia. Suggested by the book of the same title by Ralph Keyes. PEP Productions. Doncaster Playhouse. April 20 to 29 April 2017

There are some things that give me a feeling of dread: big hairy spiders, snakes, cold tea, and getting an invitation to my high school reunion…

My hands became cold and clammy as I was handed my nametag in the foyer before the show. It really felt like a high school reunion was about to begin. However, I felt instantly comfortable and gratifyingly overwhelmed during the opening number. ‘The Kids Inside’ was incredibly performed by the cast, note perfect and arranged by Stephen Amos, a flawless way to start the show.

Peter Combe - Bellyflop in a Pizza

Presented by Strut & Fret in Association With Merrigong Theatre Company. 18 April 2017 (As part of Spiegeltent 7 – 30 April 2017)

Entertaining three generations of audiences across 34 years, children’s song writer Peter Combe was just one of the many performers at the inaugural Spiegeltent season in Wollongong.

The Screwtape Letters

By C. S. Lewis. Adaptation by Hailey McQueen. Clock & Spiel Productions. Bakehouse Theatre (SA). April 18 – 22, 2017

C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is an exchange between two Demons, uncle and nephew, about the best way to corrupt a man’s soul. Possession of the soul is a common theme in the works of C. S. Lewis, including The Narnia Chronicles.

Clock & Spiel Productions’ adaptation, written and directed by Hailey McQueen, is delightful – if at times a little confusing.

Normal Human Responses

Dairy Kweenz. Speakeasy HQ. Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017. April 20 – 22, 2017

The beauty of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is you don’t know what you’re getting until you arrive.

Going in blind, I was expecting to see stand-up comedy. Instead, I got a comedy troupe doing something fun. Something absurd.

Two elements make up Normal Human Responses.

The first of these is the through line: a researcher (Taylor Griffiths) is conducting research into normal human responses to emotional stimuli.

Spring Awakening

Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater, Music by Duncan Sheik. Based on the German Play 'Spring Awakening' (1891) by Frank Wederkind. Barn Door Productions. Directed by Leisi Edmonds. Musical Direction by Andrew Swan. Laycock Street Theatre, Don Craig Room. April 21-May 6, 2017. 

This reviewer has long been of the opinion that you cannot throw a rock anywhere in the NSW Central Coast without hitting a gifted young musician or musical theatre performer, so it was only a matter of time before someone on “Sydney's Far North Shore” (*patent pending) took the risk of forming a professional co-op theatre company to give the flood of youth talent somewhere to...um, flow. Last year, managing partners of The Nate Butler Studio: Nate Butler and Leisi Edmonds teamed with Toddy Keys and Nathan Dale to form Barn Door Productions.

Kinky Boots

Book by Harvey Fierstein. Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. Based on the motion picture Kinky Boots, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening night – April 19, 2017.

With funky pink hair, Cyndi Lauper slipped into the theatre as opening night guest of honour, earning an impromptu ovation during the interval. The fact that she came from the US to the second city opening in Australia reflected the pop diva’s enthusiasm for her new career as a music theatre composer.

Her talent and down to earth hard work was reflected on the stage. Kinky Boots is a beautifully crafted musical, with lots of laughs and loads of heart.

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