Reviews

They’re Playing Our Song

By Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer-Sager. HIT Productions. Director / choreographer: Terence O’Connell. Musical Director: Robyn Womersley. Theatre Royal, Sydney, May 3 & 4, 2013, and touring.

Touring productions, pared back to the basics, in this case, two talented music theatre performers, supported on keyboards by their accomplished musical director, have their own distinct joys.

In a charm piece like They’re Playing Our Song, you can sacrifice the sets, but never the performances.

Frankenstein

By Mary Shelley, adapted by Brenna Lee-Cooney. Fractal Theatre. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 3 to 18 May, 2013.

Everyone has heard of Frankenstein but few know the story. Here is your opportunity!

Fractal Theatre’s version attempts to perform the original so you can understand Mary Shelley’s rather naïve novel, now a literary classic. Fractal also uses an amazingly versatile stage design that adds to the horror of the story. Their cast features some of Queensland’s top actors to narrate the story. That alone justifies your visit.

All My Sons

By Arthur Miller. Newcastle Theatre Company, Lambton. Directed by Janet Nelson. April 27 – May 11, 2013.

NTC celebrates 55 years of community theatre in the Hunter region this year. Their third production is Arthur Miller's first Broadway smash – All My Sons.

Hot Shoe Shuffle

Music & Lyrics: Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Peter Allen, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer and others. Book: Larry Buttrose & Kathryn Riding based on an idea by David Atkins and Max Lambert. David Atkins Enterprises Production. Director: David Atkins. Choreography: David Atkins & Dein Perry. Musical Director: David Stratton. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 4-25 May 2013, later Sydney and Melbourne.

 

Thunderous applause, whoops, whistles, cheers and a standing ovation greeted the revival of David Atkins Hot Shoe Shuffle when it opened last night in Brisbane on the first leg of its new national tour.

If you love dynamic, muscular dancing then this is the show for you. A cast of new faces brought enormous energy and continued virtuosity to the art of tap dancing that can only be described as brilliant.

When the Rain Stops Falling

By Andrew Bovell. National University Theatre Society. Directed by Ellie Greenwood and Gowrie Varma. A.N.U. Arts Centre 1–4 May 2013

With the constant sound of rainfall as a backdrop, When the Rain Stops Falling uses inexplicable character traits and events to weave a multigenerational tale of the effects of crippling losses upon generations to follow.

Blak

Bangarra Dance Theatre. Artistic Director: Stephen Page. Music David Page and Paul Mac. Set Design Jacob Nash. The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. May 3-11, Wollongong May 17-18, Sydney Opera House June 7–29, Canberra Theatre Centre July 11-13 and QPAC Brisbane July 18–27.

Bangarra’s latest offering emerges out of consultation with tradition communities in the Northern Territory in February this year. Blak consists of three portraits titled ‘Scar’, ‘Yearning’ and ‘Keepers’.

How I Learned To Drive

By Paula Vogel. Director: Chris Baldock. MockingBird Theatre Company (Vic). Brunswick Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre. May 3 – 18, 2013.

The combination of a Pulitzer Prize winning play and an exemplary new theatre company, in the hands of an extraordinary and empathetic director produces an evening of theatre that will never be forgotten.

4000 Miles

By Amy Herzog. atyp Under The Wharf, MopHead and Catnip Productions. atyp Studio 1, The Wharf, Walsh Bay. May 1 – 18, 2013

Vera is a 91-year-old ex-hippie Marxist. Leo is her grandson, who has just completed a bicycle ride across America. He arrives at Vera’s Manhattan apartment at 3am, unexpected, exhausted, smelly. It doesn’t seem like the beginning of a play that would win awards and be playing across the world within a year, but the relationship created between these two beautifully drawn characters, and the depth of the ground they cover, proves Amy Herzog to be a playwright of immense talent and perception.

Partenope

Opera Australia. Music by George Frideric Handel. Libretto after Silvio Stampiglia. Translation by Amanda Holden. Directed by Christopher Alden. State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne. May 2 – 8, 2013.

There is a very good reason why Handel’s (slightly) sexy and (purportedly) satirical opera is rarely performed. It really isn’t very exciting, despite Director Alden’s attempt to drag it into the 20th Century. Set now in the Art Deco 1920s (a time of some of the most outrageous and sensual music ever written, and of elegance and daring in society) Handel’s exploration of sexual manners  and cross dressing (with more than a passing head-nod to Shakespeare) needs all the help it can get in terms of production.

RED

By John Logan. Co-produced by Melbourne Theatre Company & Queensland Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. 27 April ─ 19 May 2013.

Some artists suffer for their art more than others. Irving Stone’s novel, The Agony and the Ecstasy, dealt with Michelangelo’s anguish. In the mid-20th century American abstract painter Mark Rothko led a similarly plagued career, according to playwright John Logan.

Rothko came from a poor Latvian family that migrated to the US where, in his middle years, Rothko’s talent was recognised during the Abstract Expressionism era. His paintings sold well but he developed two personality traits that marred his life:

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