Reviews

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Northern Light Theatre Company. Shedley Theatre (SA). October 13-28, 2017

The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” was turned into a Broadway musical in 1977, followed by the smash hit movie Annie in 1982. In Northern Light Theatre Company’s production, this family musical has lost none of its charm as director Fran Edwards endeavours to recapture the wonder of the heart-warming tale of red headed orphan, Annie. Forgetting the old adage to never work with children or animals, Edwards takes on the challenge of steering the large cast.

Heathers: The Musical

By Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy. Phoenix Ensemble (Beenleigh, Qld). Oct 13 – Nov 4, 2017.

Heathers: The Musical is the perfect 80s movie flashback! It’s Pretty in Pink meets Breakfast Club with a side of Carrie to the beat of a Footloose soundtrack. And with its murders and suicides and dark moral ground, it doesn’t come with an empowering take-home message safe for children.

An Evening With Liz Callaway

Musical Director: Alex Rybeck. QPAC & Qld Conservatorium Griffith University. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 13-14 Oct 2017

With a crystal chandelier, a hint of plush red drapes suspended on either side of the stage, and some arresting lighting pools, the Cremorne Theatre was the perfect setting for Broadway star Liz Callaway to prove she knew her way around a cabaret room. Singing theatre songs, film songs, and little bit of vintage pop, her act was basically a run-down of her prolific career and life.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Dionysus Theatre (Vic). October 13th – 21st, 2017

With a theatrical scene that has, in the past, been flooded with adaptations of the classical cannon, why should we pay attention to another theatre company trying to make sense of another dead white man’s words? But to Director Emma Sproule, adapting Macbeth is exactly the point. With a cast of 19 powerful women (with two highly talented young girls – Leikny Middelton and Harriet Byron) and only three males, this interpretation aptly exploresthe challenges women still face in attaining and, thusly, sustaining positions of authority today.

On A First Name Basis

By Norm Foster. Harbour Theatre. Directed by Peter Kirkwood and Nicola Bond. Camelot, Mosman Park, WA. Sep 15-24, 2017

Harbour Theatre’s On A First Name Basis was a sweet, moving little comedy. Well constructed by playwright Norm Foster, it is written with lovely moments, but it is also very dependent on having an excellent pair of actors to steer it to success.

Directors Peter Kirkwood and Nicola Bond chose ideal actors. Jarrod Buttery and Meredith Hunter, both excellent, well-respected performers in their own right, have previous on-stage relationships and work together seemingly organically and intuitively.

What Rhymes with Cars and Girls

By Aidan Fennessy. Music and Lyrics by Tim Rogers. Melbourne Theatre Company. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. October 11 – 14, 2017

Backing this production as leader of a skilled musical trio, Tim Rogers watches a love story unfold around the songs from his solo album, What Rhymes with Cars and Girls. Written by Aidan Fennessy  – “ I was struck by the musical diversity of the album ... and had one of those moments when I thought, ‘This sounds like a musical’… and took it from there” – the play is a raw urban romance set across class divides. Though it could well stand alone, the songs make it more gritty, more intimate and more universally appealing.

Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories

Adapted by Dan Giovannoni & Luke Kerridge, from Bamberts Buch der vershollenen Geschichten by Reinhardt Jung. Barking Gecko Theatre Company. Director: Luke Kerridge. Playhouse, QPAC. 11-15 October 2017

Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories is charming, imaginative theatre. Based on the award-winning German book written in 1998 by Reinhardt Jung, the plot finds Bambert, an impossibly small man, living above a grocer shop and obsessed with writing. One day he realises his stories have no home because nobody has ever read them so he sends them out into the world via balloon hoping they will be returned.

Buyer and Cellar

By Jonathan Tolins. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Susanna Dowling. 6 October – 12 November 2017

When the young gay man arrives on stage he assures us that “none of this is real”. What he has to say “could not possibly have happened with a person as famous, talented, and litigious as Barbra Streisand”. With lawyers thus at bay, Alex (played by Ben Gerrard) can let rip, which he does alone and hilariously at full tilt for the next hour and a half, under the direction of Susanna Dowling.

In Between Two

Writers/Composers Joel Ma and James Mangohig. Melbourne Festival and Arts Centre Melbourne. Fairfax Studio –Arts Centre Melbourne. 11 – 15 October, 2017

It is the generosity of spirit this work is imbued with that reaches out to us all.   In Between Two is two stories of how two young ‘hip hop’ artists - Joel Ma who is half Chinese and half Pilipino James Mangohig - grew and developed into the charismatic men they are today.

The audience is kept on its toes as each story unfolds in turns, starting with the rarefied history of Joel Ma’s extraordinary Grandmother Edith.

Men Behaving Badly

By Simon Nye. Matt Byrne Media. Holden St Theatres, Adelaide. Oct 4-6 & Oct 10-14 & Oct 18-21, 2017.

Director Matt Byrne is well-known for bringing popular culture to the stage and he makes a big impact with his latest offering, adapting four episodes from the original BBC TV series Men Behaving Badly. It is easy to make comparisons, but Byrne and cast put their individual stamps on this politically incorrect story.

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