Reviews

Gypsy

Book by Arthur Laurents. Music by Jule Styne. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Luckiest Productions and One Eyed Man Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co. Hayes Theatre. Opening Night – May 22, 2018.

The laughs started immediately as Director Richard Carroll showed his panache at making his cast look amateurish.  Just as some of the wittiest moments of his production of Calamity Jane depicted a ham actor, so too did the assembled motley troupe of show business mother Rose (including a hapless hula hoop girl) prompt fits of giggles in the audience by performing ‘badly’.

Les Misérables

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text byAlain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Additional Material by James Fenton. Directed by JJ Geelen. South Coast Choral and Arts Society. Victor Harbor Town Hall, South Australia. 11th-26th May 2018.

If this reviewer is forced to name one single favourite piece of musical theatre, Les Mis is it. In particular, nothing else on stage (or on record) has been able to match the kind of shivering thrill provided by the climax of Act One. Especially since the cinema adaptation finally materialised in 2012 and became wildly popular (if controversial), one could fairly ask if the show (and its music, thanks in part to a certain Susan Boyle) has finally reached the point of overexposure, unable to avoid looking/sounding/feeling musty and tired.

Ellida

A version of The Lady from the Sea by Henrik Ibsen, newly translated by May-Brit Akerholt. Directed by Laurence Strangio. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton VIC. 16 – 27 May 2018

‘The lure of the sea.  Longing for the sea.’  So wrote Henrik Ibsen after two months on Norway’s Atlantic coast.  ‘’Compulsion to return to it… The sea… has its own willpower… [it] can hypnotise.’  These reflections, a likely inspiration for his The Lady from the Sea, are central to this late work (1888) of ‘freedom’, obsession and inexplicable love. 

Brisbane

By Matthew Ryan. Villanova Players. Director: Bruce Parr. F.T. Barrell Auditorium, Yeronga, Qld. 12-27 May 2018

Matthew Ryan’s Brisbane is a poetic coming-of-age play that deals in abstract reminders of the past in a non-linear narrative. Therefore director Bruce Parr’s decision to stage it as an ensemble piece with all cast members seated on stage using minimal props helped give the playwright’s vision clarity. By the use of a table here and chair there, situations and locations were quickly established in the blink of an eye like a fragment of memory.

Mamma Mia!

Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Book by Catherine Johnson. Director: Gary Young. Crown Theatre, Perth. 15 May - 1 July, 2018

Mamma Mia! has finally burst into Perth, as part of its 2017/18 Tour. This fresh production shows no signs of tour fatigue and this vibrant, high energy production delighted the opening night audience at Crown Theatre.

Shrek the Musical

Music by Jeanine Tesori, with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Stray Cats Theatre Company. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. 17 - 20 May, 2018

Stray Cats Theatre Company and Mandurah Performing Arts Centre have teamed together to bring this fabulous, fractured fairy-tale to life in a big, bold production. At rough count, over 130 people were part of this mammoth production featuring flying dragons, a fifteen piece orchestra, a cast of 66 and a few ogres.

Nicholas Gaynor is great fun and navigates the title role with a great presence and lovely voice. He is nicely paired with Lisa Taylor, who dances up a storm as Fiona - perhaps unsurprisingly, given she also shares choreographic duties with Ashleigh Riley.

Blythe Spirit

By Sir Noël Coward. Tugun Theatre Co., Gold Coast. Director: Jillian Rawlings. May 10th – 26th, 2018

Noël Coward makes a welcome return to the Gold Coast with Tugun’s production of Blythe Spirit. Director Jillian Rawlings has assembled a stellar cast for this popular classic.

Billy Buckett

Story, Music & Lyrics: Jay Turner. Book: Peter Cann, Jay Turner, Cath Mundy. Footlights Theatrical Inc. Director: Roslyn Johnson. Musical Directors: Jay Turner & Cath Mundy. Choreographer: Hannah Crowther. Logan Entertainment Centre (Qld). 16-19 May 2018

Billy Buckett plays like a Cliff Richard movie of the sixties – a simple teenage love story, a score of original rock ‘n’ roll songs, and a fresh-faced cast continually bursting into energetic song-and-dance. It’s a recipe for success and this company, mostly holdovers from Beenleigh Theatre Group’s 2013 production of the show, had fun once again recreating the suede shoes and peddle-pusher era.

De Stroyed

Based on books and writings by Simone de Beauvoir including La Femme rompue/The Woman Destroyed.. 45 Downstairs, Melbourne. 16 – 27th May 2018

Jillian Murray and Suzanne Chaundy have created a beautifully refined work based on their personal responses to some of the acute realizations of Simone de Beauvoir as expressed through her writing.  The themes seem, most pertinently, about the deep pain of betrayal in a marriage and some shifts in sense of personal power and vulnerability experienced through aging.   

Society

Devised by After Dark Theatre Company. Melba Spiegeltent, Johnston Street, Collingwood VIC. 10 – 26 May 2018

Society is more circus than cabaret, but it’s great fun and an hour of amazement and gasp-inducing feats of skill.  A spiegeltent is the perfect setting, with its big top roof and the audience arrayed on three sides of the thrust stage.  Ebullient MC Francesco Minniti (who also directs the show and later does some magic tricks) has some patter about New Orleans and the dark arts, but this gloss on proceedings turns out to be really neither here nor there – except maybe as a justification for the show’s great, funky music, chosen by Music Director Kara Ci

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