Reviews

New Order UK

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Greek Theatre – The Parthenon. 26 Mar – 19 Apr, 2015

As one of the opening salvos in this year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival, New Order UK (despite sounding like the title of a band) got things off to a great start. Three up and coming British acts performed for around 20 minutes each, all so entertaining that the time seemed to fly.

Carousel

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 25 – 29, 2015.

Once an absolute staple of the community theatre repertoire, Carousel seems to have dropped below the radar of late. With far from perfect romantic relationships at its core, ambivalence toward domestic violence, and some old-fashioned conventions, it’s not for all contemporary tastes.

But you need to balance that with the chance to hear probably the greatest of the classic genre-changing Rodgers and Hammerstein scores, played by a full orchestra, and performed by a talented young principal cast and ensemble. It’s certainly worth a trip to Sutherland.

The One Day of the Year: Vale Alan Seymour

By Alan Seymour. HIT Productions. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, March 24 – 28, and touring.

It was a moving coincidence that HIT’s touring production of Alan Seymour’s iconic Australian play should open one day after the sad death of its playwright. But this is a really sensitive and charming production. As it continues its national tour it will remain a fitting tribute to Seymour, his courage and the iconic characters he created.

A Little Night Music

Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler. MUSE. Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). March 25-28, 2015

Upon entering the Everest, a piano is positioned conveniently onstage, whilst a frayed tree branch is suspended from above. This is one of the first factors that make the MUSE major production, A Little Night Music, both impressive and intriguing.

Relatively Speaking

By Alan Ayckbourn. Therry Dramatic Society. Directed by Norman Caddick. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. March 18-28, 2015

The Therry Dramatic Society’s latest production is a lively and technically polished affair, that breathes fresh life into what is, on paper, a rather formulaic farce revolving around the common narrative tropes associated with infidelity and mistaken identity.

Grease

Book, Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown. March 20 – 29, 2015.

Grease seems to have become the ultimate high school musical, a far cry from its original darker stage version. In the hands of a mostly teenage cast like the present enthusiastic one at Bankstown, with popular songs from the movie interpolated, it’s mostly a joyful romp with a few mildly naughty moments. You’d scarcely rate it PG anymore. Time, of course, and what it now takes to shock us, may well have played their part in softening the show.

La Sylphide

Ballet by Peter Schaufuss after August Bournonville. Choreography & Direction: Peter Schaufuss. Music: Herman Severin Levenskjold. With the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia. Playhouse, QPAC. March 20 – 31, 2015

Ballet lovers are in for a treat with Queensland Ballet’s magnificently grand La Sylphide. It’s the first time Peter Schaufuss’s award-winning production has been staged in Australia and Queensland Ballet, augmented by guest artists, do him proud.

Godspell

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Conceived & originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak. Lane Cove Theatre Company. Director Christine Firkin. Musical Director: Paul Young. St Aidans Hall, Longueville. March 20 – 29, 2015.

As teenagers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we read bible stories in modern English from ‘Good News for Modern Man’, singing folk and pop styled religious songs at church fellowship. Small surprise that soft rock musical Godspell, based on The Gospel According to St. Mathew, with its gentle narratives, resonated then. That mix continues to engage audiences today.

Essgee’s Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Updated by Melvyn Morrow, Kevin Hocking and Essgee Melodies. Gosford Musical Society. March 6 – 21, 2015.

When word went out that GMS was doing the modern ( =slightly rock) adaptation of Pirates they had no shortage of men volunteering to jump on board. But in the early stages of this production it was the women who outshone them.

The instructions to the cast were that the arrival of the newly released Pirate Frederic on the beach was to create such a hormonal stir amongst the young maidens, as to give hot flushes to members of the audience. They delivered in spades. 

Humble Boy

By Charlotte Jones. Director: Gary O’Neill. Centenary Theatre Group. Chelmer Community Centre, Brisbane. 7-28 Mar 2015

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, bee keeping, the ‘theory of everything,’ adultery and dysfunctional families are all themes present in Charlotte Jones’ London award-winner Humble Boy, which also contains echoes of Stoppard and Ayckbourn. It’s almost too many big ideas for this essential comedy-of-manners, which seems to run out of steam midway through the second-act.

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