Reviews

Xanadu

Book by Douglas Carter Beane; Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrrar. Directed by Ryan Taafe. Musical Direction by Kate McIntosh. Koorliny Arts Centre (WA). 8-23 Aug, 2014

Xanadu was a gloriously camp, extremely fun, very well presented 80s musical that wowed audiences at Koorliny Arts Centre.

Never taking itself seriously, it was fabulously over-the-top and sweetly silly, yet maintained very high production values.

Drue Goodwin was a lovely Sonny, emanating sincerity in this unlikely story. He sung beautifully, made a lovely leading man and paired convincingly with his Goddess love match.

Masterclass

By Terence McNally. Left Bauer Productions. Director: Daniel Lammin. fortyfive downstairs (Vic). Aug 19 – 28, 2014

Masterclass depicts scenes from a masterclass given by the great opera diva, Maria Callas, at the Julliard School of Music in 1971. Apart from Callas we only meet three students and an accompanist.

This is a tour de force for the leading lady as Callas is on the stage for the entire play and Maria Mercedes didn’t blink. Only metres from the audience, she never dropped character and alternatively showed the strength and vulnerability of this operatic icon and her striking good looks mirrored the great diva. She was riveting.

The Last Confession

By Roger Crane. Lyric Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre. 20-23 August 2014

Pope John Paul I’s death (Sept 1978), just 33 days after his election, shook Catholic communities worldwide. Vatican media releases had smoke-and-mirrors qualities that provoked conjecture about intrigue and conspiracies.

There was no autopsy and no official investigation, so allegations of murder became rife, especially as Pope John Paul 1 proved to be a liberal thinker with reformist goals to install the Second Vatican Council’s aims to overhaul the Church’s laws and values, stamp out corruption and to reach out to other world religions.

 

Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Therry Dramatic Society (SA). Directed by Jude Hines. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. August 21-30, 2014.

Ray Lawler’s Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll is one of those established classics of Australian theatre that has become so iconic, each successive revival runs the risk of coming across as a stuffy museum piece – so much are the plot and characters products of the time in which it was written, and its once confrontingly original dramatic idioms are now very familiar to modern audiences.

Peter & Alice

By John Logan. Independent Theatre. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. August 21-30, 2014.

With its Australian Premiere of American playwright John Logan’s play Peter & Alice, Adelaide’s Independent Theatre had a lot to live up to following the launch of the play in London last year starring Dame Judi Dench. The company has risen to that challenge. Independent Theatre’s Peter & Alice is sublime; accomplished and absorbing.

The Last 5 Years

By Jason Robert Brown Directed by Craig Griffen, Musical Direction by Kohan van Sambeek. Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA. Aug 15-16, 2014

The Last 5 Years ran for a very short season, of four performances over two nights at The Dolphin Theatre. Presented by the relatively new company, Fresh Bred, this was the most fully presented production of this show that I have seen.'

Therese Raquin

By Gary Abrahams, from the novel by Emile Zola. Directed by Gary Abrahams Theatreworks. August 14th-30th, 2014

There is so much good theatre in Melbourne, often far superior to the main stage offerings. Therese Raquin is a case in point; a hearty Gothic melodrama, it entertains throughout despite having some inevitable flaws.

Finding the Silence

Casus Circus Première. Performance Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. 16 – 23 August 2014

Visually spectacular, physically stunning, this new show is destined to amaze overseas media just as its predecessor, KNEE DEEP, did.

Deceptively simple, the continuous sequence of amazing solo feats, duos, trios and foursomes is performed by just four skilled artists:  Emma Serjeant, Jesse Scott, Lachlan McAulay and Vincent van Berkel.

Show Boat

By Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. The Production Company. Director: Roger Hodgman. Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson. Choreographer: Dana Jolly. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. August 16 – 24, 2014.

I have never seen an amateur production of Show Boat and The Production Company showed why. It is a massive show and one of the greats of twentieth century music theatre. Opening in 1927 when lightweight operettas were the norm, it was way ahead of its time and was to Jerome Kern what Porgy and Bess was to George Gershwin.

Broadway Spectacular

Queensland Pops Orchestra. Conductor: Patrick Pickett. Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane. 16 August 2014

Conductor Patrick Pickett’s ingratiating and jolly demeanour permeated this whole concert, making it a very folksy and warm program. The orchestra, which this year is celebrating its 30th anniversary, was in fine form delivering songs from classic Broadway and more recent musicals, helped by the Vocal Manoeuvres choir, the Moreton Bay College Dancers, and two outstanding guest artists, Silvie Paladino and Kane Alexander.

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