Butterflies Are Free

By Leonard Gershe. Lambert House Enterprises and Emu Productions in Association with the UE Company. Directed by Les Solomon. King Street Theatre, Newtown (NSW). October 17-November 3, 2013.

This production was one of an inaugural 'repertory season' of two plays being presented in tandem. Butterflies was staged in the foyer space, while Three Winters Green (also directed by Les Solomon) ran at different times on the main stage and featured three of the same four actors.

Solomon's decision to showcase this fine group of actors under such demanding circumstances proved to be quite shrewd, as he's also an actor's agent. After seeing these gifted young actors perform, one can say his enthusiasm is certainly justified.

Into the Woods

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Book: James Lapine. Ignations Musical Society. Director: Nathan Sibthorpe. Musical Director: Ben Murray. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane, 18-19 Oct 2013

To celebrate their 40th Anniversary Ignations Musical Society embarked on a concert series of musicals based on literary works. Produced over a three week period, with three different casts and creative crew, it was a mammoth undertaking which this experienced company came through with flying colours.

Avenue Q

Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Book by Jeff Whitty, Directed by Amy Copeland, Musical Direction by Cameron Zingel, Choreography by Carly Hallet and Amy Copeland. Ipac Theatre, Wollongong. October 16 – 19, 2013

This is a show that should never have to close. It is a joyous confection of song, dance, strong story line and incisive social comment. Above all it is hugely entertaining and very, very funny.

Camp Rock

Book by Robert L Freedman and Faye Greenburg. Music by Various – adapted and arranged by David Lawrence. Stage Masters. Directed by Jess Benney and David Venn. Randall Theatre South Yarra. 17th-27th October, 2013.

What a delight to see the Musical Theatre ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ on stage NOW. There’s talent galore on the stage amongst the teenagers, so much so that seasoned performers like Rohan Browne and Cameron MacDonald barely make an impact, though their presence must be a comfort to the young cast.

The show is pure Disney….light on a workable book and full of cliches, heavy on music, almost all of it forgettable. But the talent is so great that you really can’t go past this for entertainment. It’s pure joy for cast and audience alike.

Next to Normal

Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Music by Tom Kitt. Director Mark Taylor. Musical Director Emma McGeorge. Set Designer Sarah Tulloch. Presented by Pursued by Bear. The Shirley Burke Theatre (Oct 17–20) then Chapel off Chapel (Oct 24– 27) (Vic).

Why a new independent theatre company would choose the treacherously difficult and equally problematic Next to Normal as their debut production escapes me. Sure, it has a manageable cast of only six characters, but the talent required for each of those characters is monumental – especially the leading role of Diana, who spends the night in the spotlight waging an intensely personal war against the challenges of mental illness.

The Shadow King

Created by Tom E Lewis and Michael Kantor. Coopers’ Malthouse Theatre (Vic). October 16 – 27, 2013. World Premiere.

It isn’t necessary to know Shakespeare’s great tragedy King Lear before seeing this fascinating production. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t; for, although The Shadow King borrows heavily from the Lear story, Shakespeare’s greatest strength is surely the marvellous poetry of his language, the rhythm and meter. That is all but discarded and replaced with new text, some in English, some in Kriol (pidjin) and some in native dialect, much of it paraphrasing the original text.

Scent Tales

Directed by Joanne Foley. CircuitWest and Little Y Company. Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre, Kalamunda WA. 7 October 2013

This beautiful, gentle, piece of family theatre is touring regional Western Australia until mid November and is well worth seeking out and seeing.

A fairy-tale of sorts, it has a genuine appeal to all ages and uses beautiful bakery smells to enhance the theatrical experience.

Narrated by Schmooey (Georgia King), a child-woman who is eminently likeable, we follow the story of sisters Bea (Rhoda Lopez) and Sanji (Jo Morris) as they move through jealousy and distrust to a loving relationship.

Lost Socks, Love and Lollipops in the Court of King Caractacus

By Craig Parris. Ruby Productions. John Lees Centre, Penrith (NSW). October 12-25, 2013.

Ruby Productions is a relatively new theatre company in Sydney’s west, which aims to provide quality productions and opportunities for experienced and aspiring actors, directors and crew members. Their latest offering, a pantomime with the comically long title, Lost Socks, Love and Lollipops in the Court of King Caractacus, is a delight for families and at $20 for kids, and $25 for adults, and is a reasonably priced couple of hours entertainment.

Calendar Girls

By Tim Firth. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre Chatswood, NSW. October 11 – 19, 2013.

Crossing boundaries for friendship and stepping way outside their comfort zones, a group of women from the usually sedate Women’s Institute (the British equivalent of CWA or similar women’s clubs or auxiliaries) pose for a nude calendar to raise funds for a sofa in cancer ward after the death of one of their husbands from Leukaemia.

Storytime in the Hills

Directed by Nicole George. Roleystone Theatre, WA. October 9-12, 2013

Roleystone Theatre opened its doors to its tiniest patrons with school holiday matinees catering to preschoolers and younger primary school students.

In what must have been a relief to holiday-weary parents in the last days of school holidays, the theatre presented two musical plays for a nominal $5 charge and even provided a healthy morning or afternoon tea at interval.

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