Reviews

Assassins

By Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. Hills Musical Company. Stirling Community Theatre. 8-23 November 2019

Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman is a delightful and provocative piece of American musical political satire. Its subject matter is the respective ‘assassins’, or would be ‘assassins’, of certain Presidents of the United States of America. This ranges from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, with others who were inspired by and followed Booth and Oswald in their egoistic drive to achieve some form of fame and importance, to be remembered, and to have a place in history.

Wicked

Music by Stephen Schwartz. Book: Winnie Holzman. Ballina Players. Director: Jacquie McCalman. Players Theatre, Ballina. November 8 – December 1, 2019

Finishing the year with flare, the Players are presenting Wicked in a bright, refreshing telling of the goings on leading up to The Wizard of Oz.

The vocally demanding role of Galinda/Glinda is shared by Ella Jackowski and Tammy Dundon, and likewise Elphaba by Justine Guttridge and Liz van Eck. The supporting cast includes Melanie Dorien, Luke Hogan, Jacinta Hunter, Liam Gatt, Carl Moore and Rod Ramsey.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Richmond Players (NSW). November 2 – 23, 2019

First produced in New York in 1962 and London in 1963, this musical based on a comedy written by the Roman playwright Plautus some time in the second century BC, has graced many stages – if ‘graced’ is the correct word for a musical that is full of puns, naughty innuendo and pratfalls! Whatever, it’s been around for a long time and it still makes people laugh!

Blue – The Songs of Joni Mitchell

Written by Queenie Van de Zandt, Max Lambert and Joni Mitchell. HOTA 9th November, 2019 and on tour.

The songs of Joni Mitchell are complex lyrically and complicated musically, so it was refreshing that this show’s production was kept simple. A stark stage with a simple round table containing candles, incense and a pot of tea, and a portrait of Joni’s lower face, half hidden by a huge hat, propped on an easel upstage, are all the dressing this 70 minute cabaret needs.

The Mikado

By Gilbert and Sullivan. State Opera South Australia. Festival Theatre, Adelaide. November 9 – 23, 2019

“Virtue is only triumphant in theatrical performances,” (so says the Mikado – Act 2). Perhaps he should have added, “Especially in the Stuart Maunder State Opera production of The Mikado”. It is a delight for the eyes and ears!

Set in a world of Asian/Western fusion with an abundance of ‘Hello Kitty’ and lollipop colours, this production is a shining example of how to update a G&S classic without removing the traditional elements, i.e. Gilbert’s words and Sullivan’s music.

The King and I

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Gold Coast Little Theatre. November 9 – December 7, 2019

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s timeless classic The King and I is portrayed most effortlessly on the Gold Coast Little Theatre stage. With beautiful costumes and cheeky children, it is a great way to round out GCLT’s playbill for 2019.

Lea Salonga In Concert

Michael Cassel Group. Camarata Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Gerard Salonga. Concert Hall, QPAC. 9 November 2019

Broadway’s favourite Asian leading-lady Lea Salonga gave a capacity audience at the Concert Hall exactly what they wanted, plenty of Broadway, plenty of movie, and a lot of pop. The Philippine performer who rose to stardom in 1989 as the original Kim in Miss Saigon has captivated audiences ever since, on Broadway in Flower Drum Song, Allegiance, and Once on This Island.

A Delicate Balance

By Edward Albee. Sydney Classic Theatre Company. Director: Victor Kalka. Chippen St Theatre, Sydney. 7 - 16 November 2019

The setting for this 1966 play by American great Edward Albee, 4 years after the iconic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, reads as follows: “The living room of a large and well-appointed suburban home”. Which is very difficult to achieve when you’ve only got two cents to rub together. Director/designer Victor Kalka has to make do with a row of boxed-in succulents and a well-stocked drinks trolley on his very wide stage. There’s no sign of a chair for anyone to sit on, or a small side-table, for the whole long evening. 

Apocalypse Meow: Crisis is Born

Created and performed by Meow Meow. Directed by Michael Kantor. Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank, Vic. 7 November – 1 December, 2019.

Cabaret performer extraordinaire Meow Meow (Melissa Madden Gray) returns to home territory and graces the stage at the Malthouse with her extremely endearing wit and charm. Her subversive approach to the silly season is highly irreverent and somewhat sacrilegious, and this merely adds to the festive mood. 

Photograph 51

By Anna Ziegler. Melbourne Theatre Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. 1 November - 14 December 2019

Nadine Garner transforms herself into Rosalind Franklin, X-ray crystallographer and one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.  ‘Photograph 51’ is an X-ray diffraction image taken by Franklin’s assistant, Raymond Gosling, under her direction, in May 1952 and it provided the key, the evidence for how DNA ‘works’ - the secret of Life.

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