Reviews

Games of Love and Chance

Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University. March 29, 2014.

Victorian Opera opened their 2014 season with a concert at Monash University. Apart from being an undoubted triumph, it highlighted the gulf between the former VSO and VO. While the VSO concentrated on spectacular performances of the major operatic works, which eventually killed it, VO performs less popular works, therefore not competing with Opera Australia.

The Removalists

By David Williamson. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Director: Patrick Monteath. March 29th to April 19th, 2014

First time Director has had a difficult time of getting his production of The Removalists to the stage; with numerous unavoidable cast changes resulting in him taking on the major role of Constable Neville Ross as well as controlling the action and pace of the show. And he proved to everyone he was equal to both tasks.

Pete the Sheep

Adapted from Jackie French’s book, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, by Eva De Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge. Composer / Lyricist Phillip Scott. Monkey Baa Theatre Company. Darling Quarter Theatre. March 29 – April 24, 2014, then touring.

How important it is that companies such as Monkey Baa continue to make great theatre for kids! And this, their newest production, is another creative feather in their theatrical cap – a musical adaptation of 2014-15 Australian Children’s Laureate Jackie French’s delightful book about accepting difference and change.

Next to Normal

Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Josh McCann-Thomson. 28th March to 12th April, 2014

Next to Normal leads us through the life of a middle-aged mother with a bipolar condition that is controlled by the spirit of her young son who died 16 years ago.

Josh McCann-Thomson has staged this piece with sensitivity and the cast delivered his vision with a professional edge.

The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me

By David Drake. Oxford Hotel, Darlinghurst. March 26 – April 6, 2014.

This two-man play returns for an encore season, reprogrammed at much more civilised times after a season of late nights during the Mardi Gras festival.

They’re Playing Our Song

By Neil Simon. Music by Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager. HIT Productions. Directed by Terence O’Connell. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 28 March – 5 April 2014.

They’re Playing Our Song represents (though how accurately it’s hard to say) the real-life working and personal relationship between the musical’s real-life composer and lyricist, fictionalised as Vernon and Sonia respectively.  It’s a tale that is character-based rather than plot-driven, and as such depends very much for its entertainment value on physical cues to the relationship’s effect on both protagonists.

Thawed

Xavier Michelides. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Trades Hall. 27 Mar – 20 April, 2014

Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future (Wikipedia). Xavier Michelides’ performance in Thawed raises some interesting questions about how the process of resuscitation will occur and what will be the affects on the newly thawed.

Pop Mashup: Happy Birthday Doctor!

Katherine Phelps: Writer/Director. Presented by Glass Wings. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Butterfly Club, Saturday and Sunday, 29 March to 20 April, 2014

The publicity for this show looks very professional and the concept promising. Unfortunately the reality did not live up to the hype. This advertised  “mash up of Harry Potter, Doctor Who and the Grumpy Cat” widely missed the mark in a number of ways.

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical

Founder: Emmet Nichols. Accompanist: Greg Lavell. 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Trades Hall Annexe. Mar 27 – April 20, 2014

This year I finally decided to take the plunge and put my hand up to review some of the shows in the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Spoilt for choice I selected those of interest which I was able to attend.

The prospect of performers improvising their own musical was just too tempting. How could they do it?

In a word, brilliantly!

The audience were asked for a title of the show and came up with “Ice Cream Has No Bones”. We then had an overture, based on the tune “Greensleeves” (the Mr Whippy theme) and the musical began.

Geraldine Quinn MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne Town Hall 27 Mar - 20 April, 2014

Geraldine Quinn is the very model of a Modern Day Maiden Aunt. As a trained actor and self-taught songwriter she draws on her relationships with her 6 siblings and 19 nieces and nephews as the basis for this very funny one-woman show.

She shares her experience growing up in Noble Park in a big family, her observations on parenting styles and the advantages and disadvantages of being a maiden aunt who happens to be a an actor/singer/songwriter touring comedy festivals and fronting a rock band.

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