Reviews

Titus Andronicus

By William Shakespeare. Red Phoenix Theatre & Butterfly Theatre Production. Holden Street Theatre. 18-27 August, 2016.

Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is what is called in theatrical terms a “pot-boiler”; deliberately sensational, excessive, and thoroughly entertaining. This production by Red Phoenix Theatre and Butterfly Theatre, which is (surprisingly) the South Australian premiere of this play, completely honours the sensational bloody “pot boiler” aspect of this play. With its cast of seventeen highly committed actors it is most certainly worth the price of admission.

Adventures in Pianoland

By Jan Preston. Directed by Gail Preston. The Street Theatre. 15 Childers Street, Canberra. 11 – 14 August 2016.

You know the lovely emotional piano riff that used to introduce Australian Story? That was originally part of a larger piece written by Jan Preston, who nowadays has a huge following in jazz and folk circuits as Australia’s Queen of Boogie Woogie. Adventures in Pianoland tells the story of how Ms Preston went from being a classically trained pianist of noted talent, to finding that very specific counter-culture niche. Jan Preston’s lifelong obsession with the piano has led her to some wild and sometimes difficult places.

Our Land People Stories

Bangarra Dance Theatre. Artistic Director Stephen Page. Scores composed by David Page, Steve Francis and Paul Mac. On tour nationally. Brisbane Playhouse Theatre at QPAC.12-20 August, 2016

BDT is currently in town with a showcase of three works choreographed by members of the team demonstrating their unique stamp of indigenous influences all destined to satisfy those who like contemporary dance and an electronic musical score with a difference. 

Into the Woods

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Co-Directed by Leiz Moore & Allan Jeffrey. Musical Theatre Crew Senior Ensemble. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 4- 14 August 2016

Sending your babies out into the world – or even as far as “the Woods” – is something every parent must do -eventually. Co-directors Leiz Moore and Allan Jeffrey chose Into the Woods as the graduating project for the Musical Theatre Crew Senior Ensemble. There are 25 kids in the senior group – twelve graduating students who have been with MTC for up to 6 years.

Sex With Strangers

By Laura Eason. Directed by Gabriella Rose Carter. Q44 Theatre. 550 Swan St, Richmond. 17th August -3rd September, 2016.

Q44 is a small indie theatre company that always punches above its weight. Its quirky, rabbit warren, complex welcomes you, with a foyer like no other – filled with books and paintings and a huge dining table on which a sumptuous supper (prepared by the marvellous Lily Jones) is served, accompanied by bubbles, to the first night audience.

This production is not their finest offering, but it is still exciting and innovative theatre and, despite its shoestring budget, it leaves most main stage offerings in its wake.

Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller. Therry Dramatic Society. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. August 17-27.

Death of a Salesman is Arthur Miller’s most famous and powerful play, premiering in 1949. Its title role has been played by everyone from Dustin Hoffman to Brian Dennehy. Even at 50 years old it ferociously analyses conflict in a family, in particular the relationship of father and son, together with the larger issues of capitalism and the demise of the American Dream.

Songs for a New World

By Jason Robert Brown. Blue Saint Productions. Hayes Theatre Company. Aug 12 – 28, 2016.

Two-times a Tony Award winner for Best Score (Parade and The Bridges of Madison County), composer / lyricist Jason Robert Brown is something of a musical theatre enigma; despite amassing a remarkable body of splendid theatre songs over a 20+ year career, immensely popular with contemporary musical theatre and cabaret performers, he is yet to be attached to a genuine Broadway hit.

POV Dave

Written and produced by Noel Maloney. Directed by Beng Oh. Stage design and costumes by Christina Logan-Bell. Lighting design by Matthew Barber. Sound design by Tom Backhaus. La Mama Courthouse. 10-21 August, 2016.

POV Dave is one of those plays where the audience starts off completely lost. Then bit by bit the pieces fall into place and the story makes sense.

It ends up being a contemporary moral story that asks a question that dates back at least as far as 1989 and Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: How will you be remembered? Are you happy with the legacy you will leave behind?

Roleystone Theatre 2016 Gala Concert

Roleystone Theatre, WA. 13 Aug, 2016

Roleystone’s Annual Gala has become a tradition, with the concert each year having a particular musical theme. This year the show featured ‘Hits from London’s West End’, with the second act devoted to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

As well as highlighting some of their best talent, the Gala Concerts are open to all members, and offer an opportunity for less experienced performers to stretch heir wings. The night is also very much a social occasion, with a generous supper provided.

Tannhäuser

By Wagner. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: David Kram. Regent Theatre, Melbourne on 14, 17 and 20 August, 2016, and 28 August at Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall.

Melbourne Opera is an opera company punching well above its weight, mainly due to considerable support from the opera loving public in Melbourne. The idea of a smal company performing Tannhäuser is incredible, yet they triumphed magnificently.

The only concession to the non-professional status of the over fifty voice chorus, was that they were permitted to sing in English in this German production, but their singing was so lusty and polished no one minded.

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