By William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Evans. Bell Shakespeare Company. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. 14-22 October, 2016, then The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, 25 October – 4 December.

This is a powerful Othello with three exceptional performances at the heart. Yalin Ozucelik’s Iago and Elizabeth Nabben’s Desdemona were excellent, but Ray Chong Nee was remarkable. His anger and anguish are utterly real, and he was visibly shaken at the curtain call.

Mary Poppins

Based on the book by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film. Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B Sherman. Book by Julian Fellows. New Songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. October 15 – 30, 2016

Willoughby Theatre Company’s Mary Poppins is a joyous celebration of musical comedy on the community theatre stage.

Adapted from the classic Disney film, with its touching theme of healing a damaged family, thanks to the intervention of the beloved mystical nanny, it's a well-loved classic with instant audience appeal.


Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. Directed by Shaun Rennie. Free-Rain Theatre Company. The Canberra Theatre. 19 – 28 October 2016.

“I can’t help it, whenever they hit those long high notes I tear up,” said a young woman behind me, pretty much summing up the audience reaction. Free-Rain’s Wicked has all the polish and spectacle of the Sydney production at a fraction of the cost. If anything, it benefits from more talent and less annoying cameo. There’s plenty of stage magic here courtesy of background projections, theatrical smoke and a glorious lighting design by Phil Goodwin, culminating in the spectacular climax of Defying Gravity.

The Pleasure of Sad Songs

Written and performed by Leah Cotterell. Musical Direction and piano: Steve Russell. Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane. October 14 & 15, 2016

Presented as a one woman cabaret show with piano accompaniment and a selection of slides as a backdrop, this is a depiction through monologue and song of Ms Cotterell's experiences of troubled family life and its aftermath. One of the motivations behind her return to the stage is also to further her academic qualifications with the accent on mental health, the system and to reflect on her life's journey, in particular the consequences of caring for her mentally ill mother and brother.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Libretto: Tim Rice. Ipswich Orpheus Chorale. Director: Miranda Selwood. Musical Director: Greg Wilson. Ipswich Civic Centre, Ipswich. 14-16 Oct 2016.

Feminists would have been in seventh heaven with Orpheus Chorale’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar where major traditional male roles were sung by women - Judas and Annas. It was, as I overheard an audience member saying at interval, a “new age” production and that concept was followed through to the costumes which were street wear; jeans and sneakers, t-shirts, hoodies and mobile phones. A big screen TV even made an appearance in the second half.


Book by Roger O. Hirson. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Directed by Robert Bell. South Coast Choral and Arts Society. Victor Harbor Town Hall. 8-22 October, 2016.

Sometimes a piece of musical theatre is so unusual, so stimulating, and so risky, it generates immense satisfaction in an audience and gratitude from a reviewer, in spite of certain flaws on display. Pippin is one such experience.

Mack and Mabel

Book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Northern Light Theatre Company. Shedley Theatre. Oct 14-22, 2016

Andrew Hawkins, director of Northern Light Theatre Company’s musical Mack and Mabel, states in the program that he found the story to be “compelling and fascinating”. The audience on opening night were also immediately drawn into the era by the set and silent movies screened at the overture, promising a fun-filled ride.

The Color Purple

Book, Music and Lyrics by Marsha Norman, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. StageArt. Directed by Robbie Carmelotti. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). 13th Oct – 6th November, 2016.

Once again StageArt brings us a musical that 99% of us would never have the chance to see a professional production of otherwise, and we’re all the better for that.

Most of us are familiar with Spielberg’s film and Alice Walker’s book, and we know that this was a huge - in terms of staging - Broadway hit a few years back. But this year it won the Tony award for best revival in a more streamlined, cut down version – thus allowing StageArt to mount the show in the limited space of The Chapel.

The Wiz

Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. National Academy of Performing Arts. Director: Lynn Dyer, Choreographer: Kim Reynolds. Bi-Centenial Hall, Nerang, Gold Coast. October 13th – 15th, 2016

With a cast of over 90 young performers, The Wiz was the end of year production for the junior students of N.A.P.A. and they all performed like seasoned pros. This academy prides itself on producing triple threatartistsand the stage was literally “jumping” with munchins, monkeys and winkies.

Lynn Dyer, Kim Reynolds and Musical Director Steffi Kriz, rehearsed the cast to perfection and the capacity audience loved it.


By Ayad Akhtar. QTC/MTC Production. Director: Nadia Tass. Playhouse, QPAC, 14 October – 6 November 2016

Disgraced is an explosive, taut piece of drama and as pertinent today as when it was first written in 2012. Filled to the brim with hot-button topics; Islam, radicalization, faith, identity and culture, Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winning play could not have been more contemporary.

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