Bingo: The Winning Musical

By Michael Heitzmann, Ilene Reid and David Holcenberg Pantseat Productions, at Theatre on Brunker, Newcastle (NSW). September 23 to October 2

The United States writers of Bingo offered Pantseat Productions the musical’s Australian premiere rights after seeing YouTube clips of songs from another offbeat show the Newcastle group staged last year. Pantseat’s delightful production certainly justified the faith shown in them. The musical focuses on the experiences at a weekly bingo tournament of three women who are so passionate about the game that they brave driving through a hurricane to get there.


Book by Alfred Uhry. Music by Jason Robert Brown. Regals Musicals Society (NSW). Director: Meg Day. Musical Director: Jennifer Parbery. Choreographer: Lauren Nalty. Rockdale Town Hall. October 15 – 23.

Community Theatre is at its best when it introduces a new work into a city, which professional theatre is unlikely to try, and does it very well. Such was the case with The (Rockdale) Regals' production of the fascinating and beautiful musical Parade. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1999, but has never been seen in Sydney. Parade is about the story of Leo Frank. He was a Jewish pencil factory owner in Atlanta Georgia, who in 1913 was wrongfully accused and convicted of the murder of a thirteen-year-old girl.

The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table

By Wesley Enoch. Bungabura Production. Director: Leah Purcell. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. Oct 15 – 30, 2010.

The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table is original, riveting theatre. It’s easy to see why Wesley Enoch’s play won the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights Award, because it’s poetic, searing, and wildly funny. As the evening progresses and layer upon layer of lies are stripped away, the dark DNA of the piece is exposed. There’s little real joy in this family with no room for sentiment.

Death by Sausage and Room to Move

Latest Sunshine Coast (Nambour and Buderim) reviews from Simon Denver

Death by Sausage by Genevieve Yates

Nambour Lind lane Theatre (Qld). Mitchell Street Theatre. October 1 – 10, 2010.

Der Rosenkavalier

Music: Richard Strauss. Libretto: Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Opera Australia. Sydney. Until October 30.

The conductor Andrew Litton was so animated during the overture that he looked like he was trying to wind up a giant machine. The music, after all, was meant to simulate furious sex between 17 year old Count Octavian Rofrano and his much older married lover Feldmarschallin, Princess Marie Therese. An ecstatic fortissimo explosion of four horns is the climax, so when the curtain opens we see the lovers languishing post coutil on the royal bedspread. Much slapstick follows when the Princess fears her husband has arrived home.


By Rupert Holmes, John Kander, Fred Ebb and Peter Stone. Bankstown Theatrical Society. Bankstown Town Hall Theatre. October 8 – 16.

For a second time in the space of a single weekend, I’ve enjoyed a Sydney community musical theatre production that has strayed from the well-worn repertoire, with entertaining results.

Written by Kander and Ebb (Cabaret and Chicago), the musical theatre pedigree of Curtains is assured, but their final Broadway collaboration, a backstage musical-within-a-musical whodunit, is probably unknown to all bar absolute musical theatre fans.


By Jonathan Larson. Whitehorse Musical Theatre (Vic). Director: Paul Watson. Musical Director: Andrew Leach. Choreographer: Scott Ponsford. Besen Centre. October 7 to 17.

In a similar style to Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent is a rock opera, with little dialogue. Coming from an operatic background, I found remarkable similarities between the genres. The story was dramatic, based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme; the music was powerful and highlighted the drama of the piece; and it might as well have been sung in Italian as I could hear less than half of the words.


By Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. Shire Music Theatre. Sutherland Memorial Arts Theatre. October 8 to 17.

It’s great to see a new musical enter the community theatre repertoire, especially when it’s done well.

Miss Saigon

Music: Claude-Michel Schonberg. Lyrics: Richard Maltby Jr. & Alan Boublil. Book: Alan Boublil. Ignatians Musical Society. Director: Kat Henry. Musical Director: Steven McKay. Choreographer: Ingrid Cameron. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane, 23 September – 15 October.

A total knockout is the only way to describe the first Brisbane community theatre production of Schonberg and Boublil’s classic Miss Saigon by Ignatians. I have rarely been as moved by a community theatre production as I was by this stunning interpretation of the sung-through work based on Madam Butterfly. The piece has some of the most emotional music in the modern music-theatre canon, which was fully realized by a top-flight cast.

Katherine Howard

By William Nicholson. Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington (NSW). Director: Anthony Stirling-Edgar. September 17 – October 8.

A more beautifully costumed community theatre period piece than this Katherine Howard is hard to imagine. This drama of the brief life and reign of Henry VIII’s fifth queen Katherine Howard was stunningly dressed in costumes designed by Leone Sharp, who, with her team are to be congratulated for attention to detail in lavishly evoking the Tudor court. Impressive crowns by Peter and Ann Traish complement the effect.

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