Reviews

The Very Hungry Little Caterpillar Show

Created by Jonathan Worsley. Based on Eric Carle’s Books. Sydney Festival Parramatta. Riverside Theatres. January 8 – 18, then on tour.

Some children’s books are read once then discarded. Only rare gems are read over and over. I know from experience that Eric Carle’s Very The Hungry Little Caterpillar is one of those that can prompt so many re-reads that toddlers recite key moments to memory.  The combination of beautiful illustrations, humour and an engaging story where they can relate to concepts such as over eating  makes it irresistible.

Les Misérables

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Additional Material by James Fenton. Adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Cameron Mackintosh. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Crown Theatre, Perth. December 31, 2014 to March 1, 2015

This absolutely sumptuous production is the most lavish musical to hit Perth in recent years. Beautifully presented, it is exquisitely acted and the singing is just wonderful.

Matt Kinley's sets, inspired by the artwork of Victor Hugo, give an epic quality to this classic novel turned musical - and are a key part of why those who think that they have seen Les Mis should take a look at this new production - which has a different feel to the previous tours.

Tabac Rouge

Compagnie Du Hanneton. Sydney Festival. Sydney Theatre. January 7 – 23, 2015

Tabac Rouge heralds a welcome return to the Sydney Festival for performer and creator James Thierree and Compagnie Du Hanneton.

This production focuses on a once glorious society and its slow descent into chaos and decay. We see a King (Thierree) at the height of his command, adored by his people and in control of a grand society. But it is the combination of indulgence, age and the duplicitous nature of politics that leads to his undoing and largely that of his dystopian/utopian vision.

Masquerade

By Kate Mulvany, from the book by Kit Williams. Sydney Festival. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 7 – 17, 2015.

In Kit Williams’ book Masquerade, the Moon, who has fallen in love with the Sun, sends her special messengers, Jack Hare and the frog, with a jeweled amulet and a riddle to tell him of her love. The Hare’s journey must be completed in a day, and is fraught with many obstacles. The story, interspersed with beautifully wrought illustrations, riddles and messages about life, and love, and loss, has been special to many children around the world.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Packemin Youth Productions. Directed by Neil Gooding and Jordan Vassallo. The Concourse, Chatswood (NSW). January 9 – 24, 2015.

Joseph is so familiar that for many of the songs I was almost tempted to sing along. It’s not just that I played the lead in 1979 in primary school. (How old must I be?) But this very large cast of under 20 year olds had a stirring impact on the audience. The joyous impeccably drilled choir was bursting with energy from beginning to mega mix finale.

Radiance

By Louis Nowra. Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney. Director: Leah Purcell. 3 January – 8 February 2015

Louis Nowra’s great Australian play, first staged at the Belvoir in 1982, here gets a fiercely acted revival starring and directed by Leah Purcell. You’d think that would be a tough gig for Purcell: it’s a three-hander, after all. But this is fine work, beautifully set and lit, and a tribute to the depth and intensity of Nowra’s writing.

Cinderella

Panto, adapted by Terri Woodfine and Tess Burke. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Terri Woodfine. Jan 7 to 17, 2015

It’s school holidays, wet, and I have Master 9, Miss 7 and

Master 5 to entertain.  What’s to do on a Wednesday morning?

This show has certainly started Spotlight’s 60th year off with a bang – or rather a flourish of trumpets and magic.

My own little audience was captivated from the very start – Master 9 grasping lots of the mature snippets of humour, along with the adults in the audience; while Master 5 adored the crazy slapstick pantomime comedy, that’s to be expected from this style of show.

The Illusionists 1903: The Golden Age of Magic

Presented by QPAC in association with Tim Lawson and Executive/Creative Producer: Simon Painter. Creative Director: Mark Kalin, Original Music: Evan Jolly, Scenic Designer: Todd Ivins, Costume Designer: Angel Aaron, Lighting Designer: Christopher Boon Casey. QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane. 4-11 January, 2015; Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, 15 – 25 January 2015

Many years ago I remember seeing an old historical documentary tracing the incredible talents of the fast fading performers of the Vaudeville era. Fortunately the silent era of film was already in the making and able to capture some of these artists’ talents before being lost forever. Ironically, though, it was the film industry that gradually dissolved their world, as producers started to cash in on the benefits of transforming their venues into movie houses.

THRILLER Live

Adelaide Season December 30, 2014-Jan 11, 2015. Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand seasons to follow.

THRILLER Live is thrilling indeed. Non-stop music, fabulous dance and sophisticated technical effects combine in a superb production.

There is no ‘story’ as such. Instead, the show is a celebration of the journey through pop to rock and soul to disco that Jackson undertook during his life and that he performed so uniquely.

The Magic Flute

By Mozart. Opera Australia. Director: Julie Taymor. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 2 – 30, 2015

The opportunity to see two very different Opera Australia productions of The Magic Flute in a matter of months was something not to be missed. In the first, The Magic Flute on Tour, Australian idiom, Egyptian Mysteries, wonderful voices and a chorus of local children took Mozart’s appealing music and characters to multiple venues and audiences around the country. It was fun, entertaining, beautifully directed and performed, educational … but just a little bit ‘twee’.

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