Reviews

Christa Hughes: Oz Rockin’ The Ladies Lounge

Presented by The Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Space Theatre, Festival Centre, Adelaide. June 5-7, 2015

Christa Hughes (aka KK Juggy from Machine Gun Fellatio) brings her trademark exuberantly vulgar theatricality to the great Australian songbook. She delivers ballsy, go for broke renditions of iconic pub rock anthems by the likes of Cold Chisel, ACDC, The Divinyls and Rose Tattoo – alongside knowingly self-aware and ironic takes on kitsch pop ditties by Kylie Minouge and The Bee Gees… as well as some weird alternative takes on material (such as Nick Cave) that was pretty weirdly alternative to begin with.

Bedtime Story

By Kiran Nagarkar. Nautanki Theatre. Lennox Auditorium, Riverside Parramatta. June 4 – 6, 2015

The ancient epic Sanskrit poem the Mahabharata, which tells of the Kurukshestra War and the fates of the Kaurava and Pandava princes, has been adapted for a contemporary audience by novelist and playwright Kiran Nagarkar. The title A Bedtime Story is slightly misleading in that, despite some humour, the play contains scenes that are a little violent and quite confronting. Nevertheless, the adaptation keeps alive one of the oldest and best known Indian legends and realises Nautanki Theatre’s aim of “cross cultural experience … the Indian way’.

Riot

By Thomas Ian Doyle. The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan Street, Richmond. June 1 -14, 2015

This cosy venue offers a warm and welcoming invitation into the deepest, darkest nooks and crannies of the anarchical disposition of the play’s central character, Jim (Johnathan Peck). Peck’s skilful portrayal of a combination of impish playfulness and explosive temperament takes the audience on a spiralling journey into the razor sharp, and sometimes dangerous, edge of his existence.

North by Northwest

Adapted by Carolyn Burns from the script by Ernest Lehman. Directed by Simon Phillips. MTC. Arts Centre Melbourne Playhouse. June 1 – July 4, 2015.

As an avowed fan of Alfred Hitchcock, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the MTC's stage adaptation of North by Northwest, one of his most famous movies.

Jesus Christ Superstar

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Presented by Sneddon Hall and Gallop and Pee Wee Productions. Directed by Stephen Pike. AIS Arena, Canberra. June 2 – 7, 2015

The arena production of Jesus Christ Superstar is a spectacular feast of sound and vision that thrills the senses and confronts the soul. The director Stephen Pike has brought out the soul of the story, with consistently good characterisation shown throughout, and he has used every part of the set, giving points of interest at all times, which is important in such a large venue. The chorus show commitment and talent in every part they play.

The Music Man

Book, Music & Lyrics: Meredith Willson. Story: Meredith Willson & Franklin Lacey based on Willson’s memoir And There I Stood With My Piccolo. Director: Deian Ping. Musical Director: Julie Whiting. Choreography: Julianne Burke. Queensland Musical Theatre. Schonell Theatre, St Lucia, Brisbane. 3-8 June 2015.

Meredith Willson’s affectionate salute to 1912 small-town America The Music Man with its homespun philosophies and warm identifiable characters has always held appeal for community theatre companies employing as it does a multitude of characters and large chorus. One of the major strengths of Queensland Musical Theatre’s production of it was the choral work of the company. They thrilled harmonically in “Iowa Stubborn” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon”, producing a big, glorious Broadway vocal sound.

A Super Brady Cabaret

Written and directed by Drew Downing and Robbie Carmellotti. StageArt Production. World Premiere. Chapel off Chapel. June 3rd – 14th, 2015 (8 performances only)

What fun we had last night at Chapel off Chapel for the opening night of A Super Brady Cabaret! If you have just arrived from another planet, or are under 15, you may not know who the Brady Bunch are…but for the rest of us this non-pretentious cabaret was an absolute hoot.

Neighbourhood Watch

By Lally Katz. Illuminate Educate. Bondi Pavilion. May 28 – June 6, 2015.

The theatre was packed with year 11 drama students lapping up a play by a writer who was young, hip and even knew the ins and outs of computer games.  

Neighbourhood Watch, first staged by Belvoir only a few years back, has crept onto the New South Wales Higher School drama list.

A teacher with them reliably informed me that as well keeping the students thoroughly engaged with the jokes and story line, there were influences of Brecht and magic realism in the drama to study.

Legends!

By James Kirkwood. Director: Christopher Renshaw. John Frost Production. Playhouse, QPAC. Opening Night: 2 June 2015 (later touring to Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne).

Star-driven plays have been the backbone of the commercial theatre since the days of Shakespeare. J.C. Williamson’s built their empire on them and these days Broadway or the West End couldn’t survive without them, but they’re been very thin on the ground in Australia in recent times. John Frost is redressing the situation following his success with Angela Lansbury in Driving Miss Daisy two years ago, by starring the Mills sisters, Hayley and Juliet, in a play about two aging down-on-their-luck cinema divas, who want to kick-start their careers on Broadway.

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune

By Terrence McNally. Directed by Peter Rhodes. Lighting Design: Sean Churchward. Sound Design: Bernard Teuben. Castle Hill Players (NSW). Pavilion Theatre June 5-27, 2015.

First staged Off -Broadway in 1987, Terrence McNally’s play has been nominated for Tony awards and adapted for the screen with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in the title roles. It is a play not often found in community theatre repertoires as it involves some nudity and requires very sensitive acting and directing – both of which Castle Hill Players has managed to achieve. Though the action and the dialogue are very personal and revealing, the production is evocative, and the actors achieve a realism that is disarmingly natural.

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