Reviews

Offenbach's Le 66

Shoestring Opera Melbourne. Directed by Timothy Nolan. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Comedy Club, Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne. 9, 10, 16 & 17 April 2016

Le 66 is a delightful opportunity to experience comic-opera; a genre that rarely has the opportunity to be seen on stage. This was one of the many operettas by the German-born French composer of the romantic period and it premiered in Paris in July 1856. Ellen Leather plays Grittly and gives a powerful performance as the Tyrolean travelling singer. Her characterisation accurately captures the tone of the narrative. Timothy Daly is charming as Frantz, Grittly’s cousin and fellow travelling singer.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Independent Theatre. Directed by Rob Croser. Goodwood Institute Theatre, Adelaide. 8-16 April, 2016

The works of William Shakespeare have their agnostics in addition to their adherents, and this reviewer must confess to being 'on the fence' with regards to the much-revered tragedy of the Prince of Denmark...Is this a Hamlet that lovers of the text will enjoy seeing? Very likely. Does it have enough strength and quality to impress the fence-sitters and make them glad they came? Most probably.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Free Rain Production. Producer: Anne Somes. Directed by David Atfield. Designed by Cate Clelland. Canberra Theatre. April 8 – 17, 2016

With great musical talent, a vibrant design and cute and funny characters, Free Rain’s The Little Mermaid will delight children of all ages, including sixteen-year-old nit-picking Disney nerds. I know this because I accidentally brought one along and she air sang for the duration. Oops.

Twins

Directed and written by Trevor Ashley. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. MICF April 7 – 17, 2016

To see two giants of cabaret together is worth the admission price even if they just stood there and smiled. But Trevor Ashley and Rhonda (Ruda) Burchmore, do far more than that in this lavish production which includes sensational costumes, a kick-ass seven piece band, video screen comedy sketches, awesome vocals – and a script that overall just doesn’t work and leads to some poor comic choices.

When One Door Closes

Created by Yaron Lifschitz, Libby McDonnell (also the Directors) & the Circa Ensemble. Presented by La Boite and Circa at the Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane 6-23 April, 2016

This is a style of theatre quite unlike anything I've seen before. La Boite's theme of the adventurous and the alternative is in full flood with this production including some deep intellect at the helm to inspire and invigorate. Previous experimentation with the fusion of traditional styles has been around a long time now but in this instance the collaborative directors have developed a technique designed to stretch the imagination and add a new dimension to theatre with a circus theme.

Funny Money

By Ray Cooney. Ballina Players. Players Theatre, Ballina. Directed by: Jackie Reidy and Mike Sheehan. April 1st to 10th, 2016

FUNNY Money (as the name suggests) is a funny show and this production had everything worthy of a great comedy; pace, timing, lots of laughs, sight gags and a solid set that withstood the continuous banging of doors!

Georgy Girl – the Seekers Musical

Book by Patrick Edgeworth. Script Consultant, Graham Simpson. Music Supervision, Arrangements and Orchestrations by Stephen Amos. Producers: Richard East and Dennis Smith. State Theatre, Sydney. Sydney Premiere – April 6, 2016

If, like me, you grew up in Australia the 1960s, The Seekers, and their hits including “The Carnival is Over”, “I’ll Never Find Another You”,  “A World of Our Own” and “Georgy Girl” are probably part of the soundtrack of your life.

The apparently squeaky clean young Aussie folk group taking on the pop music world in a music industry better know for sex, drugs and rock’n’roll became national icons with their clean-cut image and distinctive harmonies.

Reuben Kaye – Plugged

The Butterfly Club. MICF. 5th-17th April, 2016

Turn back the clocks – it’s Berlin in the 1930s … you can sense there should be cigarette smoke, and Kurt Weil, Bertolt Brecht and a young Jacques Brel sitting at the stage’s edge waiting for Marlene to appear. And she does…. tall, smokey-eyed, androgynously beautiful: but wait, this isn’t Dietrich, it can’t be; he sings too well and he isn’t butch enough. Yet the soul, the spirit, the charisma is all there, along with the ghosts of all the great Cabaret stars like Dietrich.

Vladimir the Crow – Whispering Ghoul

Written and performed by Paul Bourke. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Sound design by Stephen Bourke. La Mama Courthouse. March 30 – April 10, 2016

If you are interested in clowns and clowning catch this show because Paul Bourke’s clown Vladimir the Crow is stunningly unique.  He is a delightful clown, perhaps a little socially confronting at times, but very engaging and touching.  

As ghoul and ghoul whisperer, Vladimir is sometimes dark and sinister, sometimes contortedly pathetic, sometimes charming, sometimes disarmingly close and often ridiculously funny.

Hairspray

Music: Marc Shaiman. Lyrics: Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman. Book: Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan. Based on the movie written & directed by John Waters. Director/Choreographer: Callum Mansfield. Musical Director: Dennett Hudson. Harvest Rain Production. Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. 8-10 April 2016

Harvest Rain’s big fat arena Hairspray is billed as the world’s biggest production of the musical and with over 900 people on stage they’re already in the history books. With a principal cast of names, headed by Simon Burke, Tim Campbell, Christine Anu, Amanda Muggleton and Wayne Scott Kermond, musical theatre graduates, and hundreds of kids with stars-in-their-eyes, this irresistible salute to the sixties is a spectacular and way OTT production.

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