Reviews

Beauty and the Beast

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Book by Linda Woolverton. Packemin Productions. Parramatta Riverside Theatre. July 18 - August 2, 2014.

Half way through the first act my 10 year old daughter asked me whether this was a professional production? My answer was half professional – half community theatre. Some aspects however led to the confusion.

The scintillating leaping and tumbling dancers and the feast for the eyes dinner scene with golden dancing cutlery come to mind for starters. Both were of such a high standard that (save for the size of the theatre ) most members of the general public would find it difficult to separate the experience from a seat in a fully professional production.

A Little Touch of Chaos

By Peter Rutherford and James Millar. VCA Music Theatre Company 2014. Director: Iain Sinclair. Musical Director: Adrian Portell. July 17 – 26, 2014

What a thrilling night of musical theatre. Having been privileged to see part of a rehearsal the previous week I’d eagerly anticipated the opening night of Chaos, a world premiere, and was not disappointed.

Facilitated by consultant Martin Croft, Arts Victoria had given a grant to the VCA music theatre school to commission a new Australian music theatre work. After sifting through 100 applications Chaos came to the top of the pile which was thoroughly deserved.

Vile

By Didem Caia. La Mama Courthouse. July 16 – 27, 2014

Vile is a new work by playwright Didem Caia who uses the unusual structure of having two separate time lines in the one play, combining the past (1999) running backward and the present (2009) running forward. So rather than cause and effect, we see the effect and slowly discover the cause.

The Magic Flute

By Mozart. The West Australian Opera. Directed by Göran Järvefelt. July 15-26 2014

I firmly believe that if people who say they don't like opera were to watch this production of The Magic Flute, there would be a lot more opera lovers, as it would be difficult not to love this production. Sung in English, it tells a clear, interesting story, is easy to follow and a joy to watch.

Alexander Lewis is gorgeously likeable as the boyish, sweetly voiced, prince, Tamino, perfectly paired with Katya Webb as the princess Pamina, whose lovely voice is matched by a captivating performance.

1984

By George Orwell, adapted for the stage by Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij. shake & stir theatre company. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 15 July – 2 August 2014

shake & stir established their credentials, especially with secondary schools, after Statespeare  premiered at La Boite in early 2011and undertook a four month tour with matinees and evening performances. Later that year Animal Farm won further acclaim, so it wasn’t surprisingthat all 26 performances of their1984 premiere (Cremorne Theatre, 2012) sold out a week before the first preview.

It’s been a while

By Jordy Shea. Smoking Gun Theatre. King Street Theatre (Sydney). July 16 – 19, 2014.

Just a few days shy of his 21stbirthday, Jordy Shea enjoyed the thrill of a positive audience response to the premiere of his first play, that appropriately taps into many issues affecting young people.

It’s been a while is a one act play about a group of friends who take a holiday on the beach to celebrate the end of school.

The hedonism has authenticity, as the teenagers revel in their new found adult freedom to sample some of life’s elicit pleasures.

There are five on the trip which proves to be an awkward number.

Cordelia, Mein Kind

Concept/Co-Creator/Film and Performer: Debroah Leiser-Moore. Co-Creator/Director Meredith Rogers. Choreographer: Sally Smith. La Mama (Vic). July 16 – 20, 2014.

Cordelia, Mein Kind is a well-honed, tightly woven, one-woman performance that responds to the subjective questioning most women surely do, as daughters, when watching or thinking about the Father/Daughter relationship in Shakespeare’s King Lear.  As such it is very moving and satisfying amalgam of skilled performer working with multi–media to touch on some poignant and elusive truths about many things including identity and culture that relate to heritage.

Sweet Fanny Adams

By Peter Pinne and Don Battye. Nambour Lind Lane Theatre. Directed by Errol R J Morrison. 12 – 26 July 2014

Forty years ago Australian composers Peter Pinne and Don Battye created the musical Sweet Fanny Adams, an unashamedly simple tale of two Sydney brothel madams, Fanny Adams and Kitty Lang, filled with lots of toe-tapping songs. Billed as a musical romp through the seedier side of Sydney in the 1930s, the two lead characters are loosely on the infamous underworld Sydney madams Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh (recently profiled in Channel Nine’s Underbelly: Razor).

La Boheme

Opera by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto: Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scenes de la vie de boheme by Henri Merger. Opera Q. Director: Craig Ilott. Conductor: Guy Noble. Assistant Director: Jason Barry-Smith. Designer: Penny Challen. Lighting Design: David Walters. Conservatorium Theatre, Brisbane, 12 July – 2 August 2014 and touring.

La Boheme is indestructible. No matter how many times it is updated or reimagined Puccini’s power to move an audience with his musical brilliance is still overwhelming. Opera Q’s production is a classic example. Reset on Christmas Eve 1913, this collection of impecunious Parisian Bohemians thrills us all over again.

The Flock and the Nest

By Glyn Roberts. St Michael’s Grammar School and Red Stitch Actors Theatre present a Red Stitch Writers Production. St Michael’s Drama Studio. 10 – 19 July 2014

The Flock and the Nest serves the purpose of stunning learning vehicle and great showpiece of what can be accomplished when a theatre company collaborates with a school on a purpose-written text by a spirited young Playwright.  

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