By John Logan. Independent Theatre. Space Theatre (SA). Apr 13 to 21

So this is a new play by John Logan. It’s a multi-award winner and there has been a lot of hype about its Australian premiere for Independent Theatre. Expectations were high on arrival in the Festival Centre’s Space Theatre, and initial impressions of the set were great. The show is a two hander played out in a single location - the studios of the famous American artist Mark Rothko.

The Sound of Music

By Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. Pymble Ladies College (NSW). Director: Annie Veitch. Musical Director: Gerard Plummer. Choreographer: Laurie Tancred. April 12 – 16, 2011.

Captivating leading lady Kelly Pythian suggested, from her first pure confident notes, exuding charm and stage presence, that Maria, the lynch-pin role of this classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was in splendid hands.

She went on to build an engaging characterization and warm, natural rapport with all she worked with, and sang the huge proportion of the score that fell to her impressively.

Beautifully Imperfect

National Institute of Circus Arts (VIC). National Circus Centre, Green Street, Prahran. Director and Choreographer: Rob Tannion. 13-20 April , 2011.

Last night I saw Nanjing contortionist Li Lingling support her body weight with her teeth, while her head and gluteus maximusconnected, and she rotated fabric on her hands and feet. Next a pas de deux  by Bo Yang  and Hua Yongduring which she stood en pointeon his shoulders, and then on his head.  I’m no circus expert and can offer no intelligent comment about technique and execution. Rather I am in awe of what some people can make their bodies do.

Actor on a Box - The Dreaming - Wake Up Australia!

STC ED. Richard Wherrett Studio, Sydney Theatre. April 12 – 23, 2011.

Side by Side by Sondheim

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Music by Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Richard Rodgers and Mary Rodgers. Director: Neil Gooding. Seymour Centre, Sydney. April 12 – 16, 2011.

In an audience liberally peppered with musical theatre aficionados, I had a quiet chuckle from time to time as narrator Jessica Rowe explained that we probably wouldn’t know the occasional ‘obscure’ Sondheim song. That back catalogue is now so familiar, due to three and a half decades of subsequent recordings and concert performances.

While the narration of this intimate 1976 revue of the first half of composer / lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s career seems dated, the Broadway master’s songs continue to thrive, and invite fresh interpretation.

Til Divorce

By Tahnee Jones. Thorny Devil Theatre. La Mama Courthouse Theatre. Until 24 April

Waiting for access into La Mama Courthouse Theatre, a fellow patron articulated the situation perfectly: “I feel really awkwardly placed”.  Shoulders weren’t the only thing touching in the crowded foyer as the audience monitored a clock that ticked over to 6:40pm. 

Water Falling Down

By Mark Swivel. Queensland Theatre Company. Cremorne Theatre, 4th April – 7th May 2011.

This play is brilliantly performed by two of Australia’s finest actors: Ron Haddrick as the ailing father – he is becoming aphasic – and Andrew Buchanan as his middle-aged son who agrees to indulge his father by travelling overseas with him to the places his father visited frequently with his wife until her recent death.

Rock of Ages.

By Chris D'Arienzo. Director Kristin Hanggi. Choreographer: Kelly Devine. Comedy Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne. Australian Premiere: Saturday 9 April, 2011.

Toy Box

By Paul Gilchrist. subtlenuance. TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst (NSW). April 7 – 17.

All you need to relate to this play, and probably laugh a lot, is a family.

The humour, though, comes with a bite.

Three adult siblings, whose lives have taken very different paths, face, or try to avoid facing, the issue of caring for their aging parents – one terminally ill, the other suffering from dementia.

The results are fierce and darkly funny, as sub-surface family friction and strains rush to the fore.

The Chronicles of Long Kesh

By Martin Lynch. Directed by Lisa May & Martin Lynch, Musical Director: Paul Boyd. Merrigong Theatre Co. in collaboration with Belfast-based Green Shoot Productions. Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Apr 6 – 9, 2011.

'The Chronicles of Long Kesh' tells some of the stories of the inmates of the notorious Maze prison, site of the famous 1981 hunger strikes in which ten inmates eventually lost their lives. This is not, however, their story. The Chronicles of Long Kesh tells the tales of a number of inmates, both Republican and Loyalist, as well as the trials and tribulation of one of the guards.

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