Book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Music and Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Packemin Productions. Riverside Theatre, Paramatta. July 27 - August 10, 2013

Let’s cut to the chase. Jon English in a dress – who’d have thought? The macho Pirate King now in drag as Edna Turnblad, the mother of a teenage tearaway desperate to break into television in 1962.

From Baltimore to Parramatta he was a sight to behold. For starters he has impressive legs, although high heels was a bridge too far. Well done for resisting tattoos over the years on those slender arms on display. Teams of seamstresses and wig stylists would have needed weeks to create his explosive frocks and curls.

The Hansard Monologues: A Matter of Public Importance

A verbatim play by Katie Pollock and Paul Daley. Seymour Centre, Sydney. July 23 – 27, 2013.

Going in you think you know what to expect, a lot of rhetoric, a lot of yawn-inducing ramblings and skewed political arguments. But what you actually get is quite different.

This is intriguing and compelling theatre. The Hansard Monologues is the perfect example of just how entertaining verbatim theatre can be when it has the appropriate subject matter at its core - which in this case is the life of the 43rd Parliament.

The Barber of Seville

By Rossini. OzOpera. Music adapted by Brian Castles-Onion. Originally devised and directed by Christine Anketell. Restaged by Naomi Edwards. Music Director: Sue Goessling. Designer: Richard Jerziorny. Pianist: Pamela Christie.

OzOpera’s production of The Barber of Seville for Primary Schools is a winner on many levels. It offers full time employment to young developing professional singers and support crew, and it exposes young minds to the glory of opera before they become closed.

This cut-down version of Rossini’s most popular comic opera went for less than an hour and was long enough for the young audience. All the good tunes were there, though much shorter than the originals, there was a lot of dialogue and plenty of fun.

And No More Shall We Part

By Tom Holloway. Tasmanian Theatre Company. Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart. Director: Sue Benner. July 25 – August 4, 2013

Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production And No More Shall We Part is a poignant story of living, loving and leaving, played with searing honesty by Joan Murray and Guy Hooper. Pam and Don have had a long and successful marriage. Now, Pam is dying, and the couple have to deal with her departure and her choices. Dying with dignity and euthanasia are topics for discussion, and, eventually, legislation. The import of the subject is made all the more moving because of the ordinary language of the writing, and the lack of pretension and absence of melodrama of the production.

Little Shop of Horrors

Book and Lyrics By Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken. Directed by Danny Ginsberg. PLOS. Frankston Arts Centre. July 19 – 27, 2013

You have to go a long way to see a PLOS production…all the way to Frankston. The good news is that you’d have to go a whole lot further to ever see a better production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Moving Parts

By David Nobay. Production Company: Will O’Rourke. NIDA Parade Playhouse, Sydney. Director: Steve Rogers. 25 July – 10 August, 2013

A production company that launches new, beautifully presented Australian plays with genuine international artistic heavyweights both onstage and backstage is loudly to be applauded. Champagne welcomed a first night audience packed with celebrities to NIDA’s Parade Playhouse.


Creator and Artistic Director Normand Latourelle. The Big White Top on Southbank (Vic). Director and Visual Conceptor Erick Villeneuve. Composer Michel Cusson. Costumes Manon Desmarais. Melbourne: 24 July – 18 August, 2013, Adelaide 16 – 27 October, Perth 18-29 December

A medieval castle-circus tent hybrid is the latest addition to Melbourne’s skyline. Standing 35 metres tall with a span in excess of 2,440 square metres The Big White Top announces to patrons that Cavalia is something special. And with Normand Latourelle (Cirque du Soleil) holding the reins, what else would we expect?

The Collector

By John Fowles, adapted by Kristina Brew. Directed by Ben Pfeiffer. Collingwood Underground Arts Park. 24 July – 3 August, 2013

The author John Fowles is on record as describing the movie based on his book The Collector as the worst novel to film adaptation ever. Wisely, then, the (oddly uncredited on the program) playwright of this new adaptation claims to have worked directly from Fowles' original, without reference to the movie. But despite this, and the playwright's insistence that she strove to "maintain the integrity of the original text", this play turned out to be much closer to the movie than the book, and even managed to drop Fowles' original poignant ending.

Home Open. An Evening of Change

Directed by Sarah Corbett, Joel Horwood, Gemma Hall and Michael Collins. A private home in North Perth. July 19-20, 2013

The Cutting Room Floor's Home Open was almost guerilla theatre. Advertised only online, audience members were informed of the location, a private house in North Perth, by text message on the morning of the performance.

The program states that the project "simply consists of performance pieces taking place inside strangers' homes. It's a place for emerging writers to try out new work, take risks and reclaim everyday spaces for art. We've learnt that you don't need a theatre to make theatre."

This is Beautiful

Presented by Public Studio, for the Malthouse Helium series. Tower Theatre, Malthouse (Vic). 19 July – 3 August, 2013

This is Beautiful is a hauntingly rich, sensual and fascinating new hybrid performance art/multi media piece.

It is a precise and skillfully crafted, highly collaborative work that, on one level, questions perceptions of beauty, love and narcissism and on another, perhaps more primal visual level, is about those old profundities - sex, life and death.

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