Reviews

The Drowsy Chaperone

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Directed by Crispin Taylor. Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAPA, Mt Lawley, WA. 12-19 March 2016

WAAPA's third year Music Theatre students performed The Drowsy Chaperone with relish, seemingly having a ball bringing this Tony Award musical to WA for the first time.

Outstanding performances abounded in this clearly directed, beautifully presented homage to old-style musicals.

Ashley Roussety bonded warmly with the audience in the central role of 'Man in Chair' who shares his love for the 1927 show "The Drowsy Chaperone" as his imagination transforms his apartment into the original staging.

Splendour

By Abi Morgan. Red Stitch. Directed by Jenny Kemp. March 15- April 16, 2016

Red Stitch continues to push the envelope, though its choices of plays may not be to everyone’s taste. Still, it’s marvellous that they continue to give us national premieres of plays we may not otherwise see.

Cats

By Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises and Base Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group. Adelaide Festival Theatre. March 18-April 10, 2016, then Perth’s Crown Theatre April 16-May 8.

They say domestic cats have nine lives. I don’t know about that, but I’m fairly certain most people have already had at least one Cats life. Not me though. The current touring production is my very first experience of Cats, despite the various incarnations of this Andrew Lloyd Webber phenomenon over 35 years.

Disaffected

Blacktown Arts Centre. March 17 – 20, 2016

This performance aims to raise awareness of the disastrous effect of climate change on the island nations of the Pacific – who we are urged to see as just that, a nation of islands linked by common heritage. Activist and performer Latai Taumoepeau prefers to think of them as “Oceania: a sea of islands with no borders that were forged apart by colonisation” and are experiencing the worst effects of climate change, though they have contributed least to it.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean, presented by Melbourne Shakespeare Company, Testing Grounds, I-23 City Road, Melbourne. 19, 20, 26, 27 March 2016.

This family friendly version of Shakespeare’s enchanting play is treated with ingenuity and enthusiasm. While the text is trimmed the language remains largely intact, and allows the audience the opportunity to engage with both Shakespeare’s poetry and his comic genius.  

Sister Cities

By Colette Freedman. Directed by Suzanne Heywood. Q44 Theatre. Level 1, 550 Swan Street, Richmond. Mar 14 – Apr 3, 2016

Q44 is such a well kept secret that even I am reluctant to talk about them for fear exposure might burst the bubble of excellence in which they exist. But they deserve, and MUST be talked about, because since their inception in 2013, they haven’t put a foot wrong. Their under-budgeted productions of always excellent plays, in the tiny space that is the theatre, are full of passion, commitment, fine acting and a thirst for excellence.

The Rabbits

Music: Kate Miller-Heidke. Libretto: Lally Katz. Based on the book written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan. Musical arrangements and additional music by Iain Grandage. Adaptor/Director: John Sheedy. Opera Australia, Barking Gecko with West Australian Opera Production. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 17-20 March 2016

Midway through the Brisbane opening of The Rabbits the action was interrupted by a fire-alarm. Was it a bushfire alert within the story or was it real? The audience were confused as were the performers on stage until it became clear this was no dramatic effect but the real thing. The show was halted, the curtain lowered, and after a ten-minute break the show commenced again. It was certainly a dramatic and theatrical opening to one of the most talked about operas of recent times.

The Hatpin

Book & Lyrics James Millar. Music by Peter Rutherford. Bijou Creative. Peacock Theatre, Hobart. 17 - 26th March 2016

Bijou Creative is a theatre group committed to providing good strong roles for women. Directors Charlea Edwards and Karen Kluss brought a bleak and harrowing true life story to Hobart with The Hatpin, in an appropriate theatre space. The Peacock Theatre, with a rock face as the rear wall of the stage, was a suitably stark backdrop against which to tell this sad but brave tale.  

The Hatpin is an Australian musical based on the 1893 Sydney case of baby Horace Murray, and tells the story of his teenage mother, Amber, and the women who helped her.

The Sound of Music

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Book: Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse. Director: Jeremy Sams. Musical Director: Luke Hunter. Choreographer: Arlene Phillips. Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost & Really Useful Group Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 17 March 2016.

With two recent live-to-air TV showings in the U.S. and UK pulling phenomenal ratings, it’s clear that the producer’s claim that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music is the world’s favourite musical is true. Not only does it have nuns and Nazi’s, but also kids, a wedding, and a clutch of songs so embedded in everyone’s psyche that you could almost call them folk ditties.

That Eye, The Sky

Adapted by Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo from the novel by Tim Winton. New Theatre (NSW). Mar 15 – Apr 16, 2016

This is an ambitious play for any company to undertake but director David Burrowes and his creative team have honoured both the mood of Tim Winton’s original story and a script that is almost filmic in its complexity. Tom Bannerman has designed a spare, stark set using almost the full width and most of the depth of the stage, which Benjamin Brockman has highlighted with shadowy, moody lighting.

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