Reviews

Turner’s Turn

Geraldine Turner with Brad Miller (Piano). Qld Cabaret Festival. Brisbane Powerhouse & Enda Markey. Brisbane Powerhouse. 12 June 2015

Anyone who starts their cabaret act with “Rose’s Turn” has got guts, and Geraldine Turner certainly has plenty of that. The iconic song from Gypsy, immortalised by Ethel Merman as Mama Rose, is every diva’s dream role, and whilst Turner missed out on playing it three times, she was born to put her stamp on the part as she proved last night.

Jobim: The Sound Of Ipanema & Beyond

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Festival Theatre, Adelaide. June 12-14, 2015

Antonio Carlos Jobim was a Brazilian songwriter/guitarist/pianist who is probably best known to English speaking audiences as the composer of “The Girl From Ipanema” and “How Insensitive”, two of the most frequently recorded standards of all time. His earlier instrumental work was influential in establishing the “bossa nova” as a fixture in jazz music that endures to this day. Yet much of his wider body of work remains obscure (outside of Brazil anyway) and crosses over a more eclectic range of genres than his biggest hits might suggest.

The Songs That Got Away: The Music of Harold Arlen

Written and performed by Johanna Allen. Directed by Stuart Maunder. Melbourne Recital Centre. 12th-13th June, 2015 (3 shows only)

Although we don’t see it that often these days, we still know Class when we see it, and Johanna Allen is one very classy lady.

Pure Blonde – Christie Whelan Browne

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Artspace. June 11 – 13, 2015

Award winning director Dean Bryant and musical maestro Mathew Frank have produced a show that pays homage to the blondes of musical theatre and what better performer to bring to life this cabaret than accomplished triple threat Christie Whelan Browne.

Mother Courage and Her Children

By Bertolt Brecht. Translation by Michael Gow. Belvoir, Upstairs Theatre. June 6 – July 26, 2015.

A rectangle painted in the corner of the performance space and a few props, costumes and musical instruments set a bleak scene for this austere production of Brecht’s episodic play about wartime carnage and profiteering. So minimalist is the set, that Mother Courage’s wagon – a bright red modern mobile roadside street stall complete with coloured lights and a roll down counter – seems almost anachronistic.

Drowning in Veronica Lake

Phil Ormsby. Directed by Simon Coleman. Presented by Purple Stage in association with Gasworks Arts Park and Flaxworks Theatre. Touring in 2015.

Alex Ellis is a compelling actress. Her flair, strength and emotional range draw the audience into the world of Veronica Lake from the very first moment that one enters the theatre. Alex Ellis presents as the archetypal screen siren clad in a version of her famous pale satin dress in The Glass Key, a shapely silhouette facing the back of the stage.  She turns, and invites us to join her on a sad, mad and exhilarating romp through Miss Lake’s life journey.

Fool for Love

By Sam Shepard. Directed by Gabriella Rose-Carter. Q44 Theatre Richmond (Vic). June 10th -28th, 2015

Once again I find myself singing the praises of a small independent theatre company with impeccable taste and a thirst for excellence. Sam Shepard’s play on the nature of love is not an easy one to handle. It deals with concepts of love/hate, obsession, guilt, dysfunction, abandonment, shame and betrayal (all within a real-time framework of  70 minutes), and yet manages to find comedy and some lightness within the context. It’s deceptive, and so multi-layered that you need time to think about it afterwards.

Birdland

By Simon Stephens. Directed by Leticia Caceres. MTC. Southbank Theatre Melbourne. 6-27 June, 2015.

Birdland, it is suggested in the program notes to the MTC production, is a contemporary take on "be careful what you wish for" - the cost of fame, the corrupting effects of success. Main character Paul is a rock singer catapulted to stardom and we watch as his career unravels. To this end, the program also includes a couple of interesting articles on how fleeting fame is for young rock bands and a meditation on how Matt Damon copes with celebrity.

Last Orders

National Institute of Circus Arts. Directed by James Brown and Helene Embling. 39-59 Green Street, Prahran. 11-20 June, 2015.

This exceptional show is nothing less than extraordinary. The performances are astonishing, thrilling and breathtaking; a stunning sequence of stylised gesture, movement and mime is craftily married with raw, physically demanding acrobatic feats. The showcase for the 2015 graduating class provides the opportunity to savour the impressive talent of these future stars. The experience is beautifully orchestrated from beginning to end, punctuated with cheeky humour which generates belly aching laughs. Each act exhibits daring, not just in its physicality, but also in its pace and rhythm.

Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Adelaide Festival Centre. Dunstan Playhouse. June 10 & 11, 2015.

Tex is a star. No two ways about it. He owns any stage upon which he steps. He practically devours any microphone he is given. A Tex Perkins show is one that will probably always have a ready and waiting audience, and deservedly so, for the man has built up a tremendous reputation and an enviable back catalogue, with multiple distinguished bands and classic albums under his belt.

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