Reviews

The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Frank Wildhorn (music) & Nan Knighton (book and lyrics), after the Baroness Orczy novel. Ignatians’ concert version. Schonell Theatre, Oct 26-27, 2013

What an exciting, entertaining night of theatre this is! I’d not seen it before, though we studied the book at school.

Ignatians gave it more than just concert treatment  ̶minimal period costume suggestions and enough stage action to involve us in the intrigue and cloak-and-dagger action. It was given effective professional lighting (Andrew “Panda” Haden) and Dan Knudson controlled sound so the performers were never drowned out by the full orchestra under MD Kym Brown (who also directed the show). Most important were the spectacular soloists and chorus.

Design for Living

By Noël Coward. Queensland Theatre Company. The Playhouse, QPAC. 19 Oct – 10 Nov 2013

What a way to end a season  ̶  sore sides from laughing!

Don’t blame Noël Coward’s clever writing entirely. Director Wesley Enoch and his carefully chosen cast never miss a comedic opportunity.

Richard Robert’s 1930s costumes and stunning sets that roll forward to bring the action to the audience all have the Aaahhh factor.  Ben Hughes’ lighting highlights the glamour and Tony Brumpton’s carefully chosen period jazz numbers capture the era.

Competitive Tenderness

By Hannie Rayson. Woy Woy Little Theatre. Director: Christine Vale. Penisula Theatre, Woy Woy. October 25-November 10, 2013

Competitive Tenderness (1996) is the mouthful of a title of a very wordy satire about the wheeling and double-dealing of a typically Australian rural, local government council. It appears Greater Bourke has been sold up the river by a CEO who rather inconveniently then passed away, leaving a clueless Mayor, his conniving peers and opportunistic staff to pick up the pieces. Enter brand new CEO, Dawn Snow – who has been lured to the town to be the new broom of sweeping reform but she soon proves to be more of a perfumed steamroller.

OTELLO

Music: Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto: Arrigo Boito. Opera Q/Cape Town Opera/West Australian Opera/New Zealand Opera/State Opera of South Australia/Victorian Opera. Director: Simon Phillips. Conductor: Johannes Fritzsch with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 24 October – 2 November 2013

Simon Phillips’ production of Verdi’s Otello clearly falls into the category of ‘event theatre’ – six Southern Hemisphere opera companies as producer, an international cast, and a ‘cutting edge’ concept it ticks all the right boxes.

Eugene Onegin

By Tchaikovsky. The Metropolitan Opera. Captured in HD. Screening in cinemas nationally on October 26 & 27, 2013.

Having seen the previous Met production of Eugene Onegin with the great Renee Fleming, I was interested to encounter this new production, opening the current Met season, with the current Met star, the Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko. I was not disappointed.

Netrebko has a little more steel in her voice, but it is still beautiful and so relaxed. She has great presence on stage and moved easily from the naivety of the young girl to the confidence of the grown woman. She worked well with the mezzo Oksana Volkova as her younger sister.

ALTAR BOYZ

By Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker. Davine Interventionz. Star Theatre One (SA). October 23-November 2, 2013.

There’s no doubt about it, Altar Boyz rockz!

Davine Interventionz first staged its energetic and hilarious production of this award-winning Off-Broadway musical in March, and its current ‘Second Coming’ remains a wonderful night out, whatever your age.

Satirising the current Boy Band trend and giving a screamingly funny yet respectful serve at religion as well, this production highlights the wealth of talent there is amongst Adelaide’s young performers.

Big Dance in Small Chunks

FORM Dance Projects and Riverside. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta (NSW). October 23-26, 2013.

From the moment you enter the Lennox Theatre at Riverside, we see three dancers in warm-up gear stretching. They are in their second home – the stage. A sense of familiarity is present. We’ve seen this scene before. But what’s to come is something new, something fresh and exciting in the dance world. 

42nd Street

Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. Lyrics by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse, Chatswood. October 16 – 27, 2013.

From the first notes of the overture, the orchestrations of 42nd Street set the adrenalin of Broadway musical lovers pumping, and musically this production, under Mark Pigot’s expert baton, was stunning from the outset.

Musical comedy pure and simple, based on the Busby Berkeley Hollywood spectaculars of the 1930s, this 42nd Street is pure escapist entertainment.

Vere (Faith)

By John Doyle. State Theatre Company SA and Sydney Theatre Company. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, October 12 – November 2, 2013 and Sydney Opera House, November 6 -December 7.

The droll humour of broadcaster John Doyle, his sharp wit, erudition and compassion, are all there in this his second play, a black comedy which, indeed, occasionally struggles under so many guises.

At the heart is Paul Blackwell, so engaging and unmannered as the 62-year-old physicist Vere, who is told at the start that within a month dementia will crumble his best asset. Doyle’s tender empathy to Vere’s impending voyage was so obviously informed by watching his own Dad go through the same rapid mental decline.

The Web

By Kate Mulvany. Bakehouse Theatre (SA). Directed by Yasmin Gurreeboo. October 23 – November 2, 2013.

Most 16 year olds are quite familiar with social networks and the internet. They are consistently chatting online using various social media, whether it is to blog or Skype, and using the net to entertain and inform.

However, in The Web, by Australian playwright Kate Mulvany, Fred (Michael Lemmer) doesn’t use Facebook, Twitter, or Bebo.  In fact, he’s just trying to get past a terrible family tragedy which compounds his shy, insecure personality and his disappointing school marks.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.