Reviews

Harvey

Play by Mary Chase. Nash Theatre. Director: Bianca Butler Reynolds. Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane. 9-30 July 2016

Until The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons revived Harvey on Broadway in 2012, productions of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize winner had been thin on the ground. Formerlya staple on the community theatre circuit it now seems to be back in favour again. Nash Theatre’s production is the second I’ve reviewed this year.

Despite being written in 1944 the play about a man whose best friend is an imaginary six-foot rabbit still has currency. That’s because at its heart it’s a play about friendships, beliefs and morals.

Titanic

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeaton. Story and Book by Peter Stone. Directed by James Cutler. StageArt. Chapel off Chapel. July 7 – 24, 2016

“Charming” is an odd word to use about a show which tells of the death of more than 1,000 people, but charming is the first word that comes to mind with Titanic. Maury Yeston’s lovely score (albeit a little repetitive) is poignant and evocative, and Peter Stone’s book quite brilliantly establishes 60 unique and very different characters in just a few vignettes each, creating people we actually care for. It’s also often witty and clever, providing much needed chuckles to break the tension of what is to come.

The Barber of Seville

Opera by Gioacchino Rossini. Libretto: Cesare Sterbini based on Le Barbier de Seville (1775) by Pierre Beaumarchais. Conductor: Roland Peelman. Director: Lindy Hume. Opera Q. Playhouse, QPAC. 9-23 July 2016

This year celebrates the 200th anniversary of Rossini’s beloved Barber of Seville and this Opera Q co-production with Seattle Opera and New Zealand Opera reminds us what a true sparkling confection it is and why it remains as popular today as it was back in the 1800s. A perfect example of Opera-Bouffa its story of mistaken identities and secret lover’s trysts has all the elements of farce and that’s what director Lindy Hume has given us in this highly choreographed door-slamming romp.

Titanic

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeaton. Story and Book by Peter Stone. Directed by James Cutler. StageArt. Chapel off Chapel. July 7 – 24, 2016

“Charming” is an odd word to use about a show which tells of the death of more than 1,000 people, but charming is the first word that comes to mind with Titanic. Maury Yeston’s lovely score (albeit a little repetitive) is poignant and evocative, and Peter Stone’s book quite brilliantly establishes 60 unique and very different characters in just a few vignettes each, creating people we actually care for. It’s also often witty and clever, providing much needed chuckles to break the tension of what is to come.

The Laramie Project

By Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company. Blackout Theatre Company. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville. July 6 – 9, 2016

Blackout Theatre Company’s production of The Laramie Project has shown the power of verbatim theatre  – and how movingly effective it can be in the hands of a director and cast who believe so strongly in the message they bring to the stage. Even on closing night, the intensity of the company’s conviction was strong and the emotional impact on the audience compelling.

Hurt

By Catherine McKinnon. Old 505 Theatre, Newtown, NSW. July 5 – 23, 2016

Playwright Catherine McKinnon explains that, as part of trilogy centred on the life-changing effects of traumatic events, “Hurt wrestles with the complexities of our actions towards one another at a time of crisis”.

Three people, implicated in an accident involving a child, face each other in the stark, impersonal space of a hospital waiting room. Their emotions and reactions, distorted by guilt and grief and fear, expose the fragility of the human psyche and the tensions that arise when self control crumbles.

Singin’ In The Rain

Music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Script by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Directed by Jonathan Church. Lyric Theatre, Sydney – Opening Night July 9, 2016, then touring to Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

A Drenching Good Time

The first two rows of the Lyric Theatre proved the wettest seats in the house, but, armed with plastic raincoats, no one seemed to mind the splashing good dancing and singing in the rain.

This is a show based on the film that many across generations rate as their favourite musical. It doesn't disappoint.

The performances of Grant Almirall as Don Lockwood, Gretel Scarlett as Kathy Selden, Jack Chambers as Cosmo Brown and Erica Keynatz as Lina Lamont are impressive in song and dance.

Songs From Behind The Front

Written by Timothy Sexton & Christine Rothauser. State Opera of SA. Directed by Velalien. The Opera Studio, Netley. June 8-10 2016

As part of the 2016 Flanders Fields Poppy Trail commemorations, the State Opera Company of South Australia is presenting this musical tribute to both the Australian forces and their allies who fought on the Western Front in World War One. Hew Wagner, Courtney Turner, Desiree Frahn and Andrew Turner appear onstage in period costume, sing songs from the era (including popular standards like “Long Way To Tipperary” and “Keep The Home Fires Burning”) and recite poetry which reflects upon the human cost of the conflict.

Retro Futurismus

New World. Vaudeville. fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 6-31 July 2016.

The science fiction that inspires this show is generally dark and dystopian, however, the New World vision of the future is more cynical than bleak. This is a raucous exploration of the future that employs a vaudeville format to showcase an astonishing array of burlesque performances. The politically infused text has a cantankerous tone as it reflects on the current state of affairs and the seemingly ludicrous future that it is leading to.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Eltham Little Theatre (Vic).. Director/Choreographer: Kath Buckingham. Musical Director: Nicola Ramsay. Choreographer: Amanda Bryon. July 1 – 17, 2016.

Annie was an ideal choice for Eltham Little Theatre. They regularly include a junior musical in their program, and this allowed for plenty of juniors, as well as the adults, to have a sing.

Towering over the production was the Daddy Warbucks of John Leahy. Having seen him before, I was expecting his big voice and strong personality, but I was quite taken aback by his sensitive singing. Nicola Ramsay also sang well and was a strong Grace Farrell.

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