Reviews

Passion

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Life Like Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. November 5-8 2014

The music is exquisite: soaring, lyrical, uplifting and quite operatic. It is, after all, Stephen Sondheim. But the story is very European (it’s actually Italian) – which is a euphemism, in this case, for excessive and, at the same time, oblique. Unless you have experienced passion which transcends reason; which ignores caution; which embraces sacrifice and even death, it’s a hard ask for an audience to engage with the story.

Potted Potter

By Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions & Potted Productions. Director: Richard Hurst. Powerhouse, Brisbane, 4-16 November 2014

“Totally awesome” a young muggle moppet claimed as she left the theatre last night and I’m sure the rest of the audience, who had been well-schooled in Hogwarts folklore, would have agreed. This 70-minute G-rated parody of all seven Harry Potter books has been entertaining audiences worldwide since it first appeared as a 5-minute piece of London street theatre in 2005. It’s the show’s third visit to Australia and this time around the two stand-up roles are in the ingratiating hands of two Brits, Benjamin Stratton and James Percy.

Daylight Saving

By Nick Enright. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse, Sydney. Director: Adam Cook. 31 October – 30 November 2014

Inner Sydney has recently seen professional revivals of three notable pre-1990 Australian plays. John Romeril’s brilliantly chilling The Floating World (1974) preceded the paint-fresh return of David Williamson’s Emerald City (1987), both at the Stables Theatre. Now at the nearby and luxurious Eternity Playhouse comes Nick Enright’s 1989 farce Daylight Saving. Though consistently entertaining, this one shows its age.

Il Trovatore

By Giuseppe Verdi. West Australian Opera. Directed by Elke Neidhardt. His Majesty's Theatre, Perth. Oct 30 - Nov 8, 2014

The West Australian Opera's Il Trovatore is a co-production with the State Opera of South Australia and Opera Queensland. Directed by the late Elke Neidhardt, this production is set during the Spanish Civil war of the 1930s rather than Verdi's original setting of the fifteenth century Spanish Civil War. The reimagining brings the story closer to our own experience, and perhaps even grittier than the very sad, demise heavy original.

Musically beautiful, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Joseph Colaneri, plays superbly.

Once Upon A Midnight

An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe. New Farm Nash Theatre. 31October – 23 November 2013

If you’ve heard about Poe’s famous tales of romance, mystery and the macabre, this is a handy sample bag to introduce you to his works.

The company chose four stories in various styles, all but one adapted to the stage by a Nash playwright, and director Sandra Harman cast ten fine actors to bring these stories to life on the stage. An interesting challenge?  Yes, and they brought it off.

The Pavilion

By Craig Wright. Boutique Theatre Company at the Abbotsford Convent (VIC) 30 October to 14 November 2014

‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ said Thomas Wolfe.  True, but the wistful wish - or the overwhelming desire - that this not be true has fuelled many a story.  The Pavilion is another.  If only we could go back and take the other path.  Go back and make amends.  Have a second chance.  ‘If only…’ is an irrational but irresistible hook.

The Last Five Years

Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown. Director: Sarah Prentice, Musical Director: Steven Kreamer. Hills Musical Theatre Company (as The Hills studio). Castle Hill RSL. October 31 – November 2, 2014.

This is a charmer of a production.

Leap of Faith

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Glen Slater. Book by Janus Warren & Cercone Leight. Based on the Motion Picture produced by Paramount Pictures and written by Janus Cercone. Director: Nick Yates. Musical Director: David Russell. Choreogrpaher: Craig Nhobbs. Hills Musical Theatre Company. Castle Hill RSL. Australian Premiere Season. October 30 – November 2, 2014.

Hallelujah! Praise the Hills! Hand over your money for a ticket, for ye shall be rewarded! What a great production.

Blue/Orange

By Joe Penhall. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). October 29 – November 29, 2014.

Considering that this play takes a sardonic look at race, mental illness, ambition and the inadequacies of medical systems, you might expect it to be fairly heavy, which in parts it is – but it is laced with wit and humour that skillfully diffuses the otherwise seriousness of the themes.

Gasp!

By Ben Elton. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Northbridge WA. Oct 25 - Nov 9, 2014

Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland State Theatre Company's co-production ofGasp! is a fascinating production with an intriguing story-line. Gorgeously presented, it is a celebration of the brilliant mind of Ben Elton.

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