Reviews

The Wharf Revue – Celebrating 15 Years

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe & Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company Production. Musical Director: Phillip Scott. Gardens Theatre, Brisbane. 15-16 July 2016 (Touring).

A Brisbane appearance of Sydney Theatre Company’s revered The Wharf Revue is always eagerly anticipated. Previous visits to the Sunshine State have seen sold-out houses for Pennies from Kevin (2009) and Debt Defying Acts (2011), but it’s unlikely this current show will repeat the success of the previous two. It’s virtually a ‘best of’ program but, unlike a ‘best of’ album, several skits don’t bear repeated viewing.

Cinderella

By Jules Massenet. Libretto: Henri Caïn. Victorian Opera. Director: Libby Hill. Musical Director: Phoebe Briggs. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. July 15 – 18, 2016

Victorian Opera’s latest production for schools is an abridged version of Massenet’s Cinderella (Cendrillon). Designed to travel to schools and fit into various spaces, the set featured a series of flats on trolleys, which were pushed around stage to create different spaces. One side had Cinderella’s house and the other was the palace. This worked very well. The flats and the costumes were very colourful.

The 60 Four: A Step Back In Time

Presented by Umbrella Winter City Sounds. The Norwood Hotel, Norwood S.A. Friday, 15th July & Sunday, 7th August 2016

The 60 Four are a quartet of Adelaide-based Youth Theatre veterans - Ben Francis, Lachlan Williams, Tom Russell and Kyle Hall - who have joined forces to create a lively, upbeat tribute to the pop music of the 1960s. With their sharp suits and carefully coordinated dance moves, the group's theatrical training is clearly evident, their vocals both polished and impassioned.

Little Women

Music: Jason Howland. Lyrics: Mindi Dickstein. Book: Allan Knee based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Prima. Director: Melanie Evans. Musical Director: Andrew Wadley. Act One Theatre, Strathpine, Brisbane. 15 - 24 July 2016

Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, about the four March sisters and their Marmee set during America’s Civil War, has been beloved by generations of women and men (mostly women) in print, film and theatre. This is not the first time the sprawling novel had been adapted into a musical but it’s one of the best, and Prima’s production of it is one of the best and most satisfying community theatre productions of the year.

The Gazillion Bubble Show

Festival Theatre Adelaide. 14-17 July, 2016

Audiences will be swept away in the magical world of bubble artistry that is The Gazillian Bubble Show. The anticipation of the predominantly young audience at the performance I attended was palpable, but as one soon discovers, this show appeals to the child in all of us.

Since the age of three Melody Yang has been performing with her family. She is the youngest of her clan to join the bubble business that combines art, science and entertainment.

 

demens

By Amedeo Astorino. Directed by Natasha Broadstock. Presented by A Curious Cat. Bluestone Church Arts Space, 10A Hyde Street, Footscray. 14–24 July 2016

This play examines the extremely disturbed psychological landscapes of four characters who inhabit a psychiatric hospital, and the real demons they face produce dangerous and devious behaviour. These portrayals are vividly rooted in the stereotypical fearful imaginations of what it is like to live with a mental illness. The references to archaic practices such as ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), lobotomy, excessive medication, and evil psychiatric staff (who appear more psychologically damaged than the patients) are all laboriously treated in this piece.

Witches

Concert featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and four leading ladies with Ben Lewis. Sydney Opera House. July 15 and 16, 2016

Helen Dallimore, Lucy Durack, Amanda Harrison and Jemma Rix provided enough soaring musical theatre moments to lift the audience to its feet after the finale when they sang Defying Gravity as a quartet. They were not hoisted in the air, as happens in the musical Wicked, but their fans were.

The first outing for this concert presentation though was not without its turbulence. The four divas entered the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House looking sparkling but the opening numbers were on the low-key side.

Othello

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Evans, presented by Bell Shakespeare. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio.12-23 July 2016.

In this play the villainy of Iago is a perplexing phenomenon, and the ease with which the Moorish General falls prey to his own weakness of character is indicative of the insecure masculinity that dominates the story. While the male characters are often the focus of this play, this production goes to great lengths to ensure that the female voices are not only strong but also rebellious. Desdemona (Elizabeth Nabben) retains her sweetness and innocence while also proving she is wilful and resistant to her fate.

We Will Rock You

Music & Lyrics: Queen. Book & Direction: Ben Elton. Musical Director: David Skelton John Frost Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 14 July 2016.

As far as jukebox musicals go We Will Rock You hits the jackpot time and time again. The fans were in Queen heaven as hit after hit of their amazing catalogue was squeezed into the narration and the enthusiasm didn’t end until the last chord of the encore “Bohemian Rhapsody” had resonated around the theatre.

The History of Falling Things

By James Graham. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). July 7 – August 20, 2016.

The Australian premiere of Welsh playwright James Graham’s delightfully poignant play sits beautifully on the intimate Ensemble stage. First produced in Wales in 2009, the play has been acclaimed in the UK and Broadway. It’s a gentle, touching story about love, fear … and some of the good things about modern technology. In the deft hands of director Nicole Buffoni, this production finds the “all heart and love” the play deserves.

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