Keating! The Musical

Music and lyrics by Casey Bennetto. Birdie Productions. Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown. July 15 – 19, 2015

Some of the older Bankstown ‘true believers’ in the audience may have been just a little critical of the raunchy depiction of Hewson and Keating in On The Floor/I Wanna Do You Slowly but the younger members of the audience loved it  … even though some of them must have been preschoolers at the time. The fact is that, as well as being true to its political satire, Birdie Productions and its creative team and cast have given the musical the ‘oomph’ it needs to take it beyond its political punch.

Ghost Stories

By Andy Hyman and Jeremy Dyson. Prince Moo Productions. Sydney Opera House. July 13 - August 15, 2015.

Theatre has a wonderful capacity to transport you to another world. In the case of Ghost Stories that world is London’s West End. Outside the weather was icy cold, the scenes inside were often dark and foggy, the drama had a few very British frights and a few British laughs.

Leaving the production I was almost surprised to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I half expected to spot a double decker bus and a bobby.

Ballet Revoluciòn

Producer and Artistic Director: Mark Brady. Choreographed by Australian Aaron Cash and Roclan Gonzalez Chavez. Musical Director: Osmar Salazar Hernandez. Brisbane Concert Hall. On tour throughout Australia 22/6/15 to 31/7/15

Cuban culture was back in Brisbane this last week as part of Ballet Revolucion's national tour, this time with a team of 19 trained dancers from the Escuela Nacional de Arte modern dance facility and Escuela Nacional de Ballet in Havana. This was a showcase of their local talent and incorporates a selection of choreographic works inspired by a mix of Afro Cuban dance traditions, street dance, classical ballet technique and set to an eight-piece live band playing Latin American/R&B/hip-hop/the hits of Sia, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Jessie J, Rihanna, J LO/ .....

Head Full of Love

By Alana Valentine. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Queensland Theatre Company / Performing Lines. The Street Theatre, Canberra 3-4 July 2015 and touring regional Australia through 2015.

This play is a warm hug on a chilly winter’s night. With a backdrop of the wonderfully idiosyncratic Alice Springs Beanie Festival, Head Full of Love is about the unlikely friendship between a traditional Aboriginal woman living with renal failure in the absolute poverty of an Alice Springs town camp, and an older white woman running away from Sydney and her family.

Bugsy Malone

By Paul Williams and Alan Parker. Directed by Jodie Innes, Musical Direction by Krispin Maesalu. Phoenix Theatre, Memorial Hall, Spearwood, WA. 11-18 July 2015

Bugsy Malone, presented by Phoenix Theatre, is perfectly timed to coincide with school holidays and would make a great holiday treat for families. It features an enthusiastic cast of kids whose joy of performing is contagious.

Shining in the title role is Connor Gosatti who has the skills to carry a show, a perfect Bronx accent and more charm than a young Scott Baio.

Ashley Garner, a little slim for Fat Sam, handles the gangster role beautifully and is a standout performer.

Gruesome Playground Injuries

By Rajiv Joseph. Playlovers. Directed by Kristen Twynam-Perkins. Hackett Hall, Floreat, WA. 10- 25 July 2015

Playlovers' Gruesome Playground Injuries is billed as "an unsentimental non-linear anti romance" by Rajiv Joseph. This shortish two-hander is beautifully presented and makes an entertaining evening.

Director Kristen Twynam-Perkins takes a Brechtian approach to the production, and between scenes we watch as the actors transform their characters with changes of ages, emotional state and in the case of the character Doug, creating a variety of bizaare injuries. The characters appear at various ages between 8 and 38.

Country Song

By Reg Cribb. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Original concept by Michael Tuahine. Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC. Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane. 4 July to 8 August, 2015

I really enjoyed this show. It has a thoughtful and moving script and is a fitting tribute to the legendary singer Jimmy Little who also played an integral part in bringing Aboriginal Australians into the spotlight. This is a biographical journey full of humanity and insight and it is more than just the life of an entertainer: it is also an entertainment in itself.

Hotel Sorrento

By Hannie Rayson. Javeenbah Theatre Co, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Joan Stalker-Brown. July 11th – 25th, 2015

Hannie Rayson’s plot revolves around three sisters, reunited after a number of years, and the turmoil that has arisen from a novel written by one of them, Meg, which has been based on this dysfunctional family – of course, the names have been changed. This book has been short- listed for the prestigious Booker Prize much to the family’s chagrin.

The Little Mermaid Jr

By Doug Wright, Howard Ashman, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Eltham Little Theatre. Director: John Leahy. Musical Director: Nicola Ramsay. Choreographer: Amanda Byron. July 3 – 12, 2015

Eltham Little Theatre’s annual junior musical was The Little Mermaid Jr and it was another resounding success. This was the youngest cast they had featured in some time, with no one over sixteen, but they were very good.

West Side Story

Music by Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Arthur Laurents. Conceived by Jerome Robbins. Directed by Gale Edwards. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 11th-19th July, 2015

If there was ever any question about the towering, innovative qualities of excellence that abound in this justifiably iconic musical, they are laid to rest once and for all in this, The Production Company’s, 50th production. Other musicals may pale and grow old or dated; their books may lose their lustre; their characterisations become stilted and cardboard 2D like over time; but not so West Side Story.

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