Reviews

Next to Normal

By Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. Rockdale Musical Society. Director: Elle Zattera. Musical Director: Joshua Ransom. Choreography: Craig Nhobbs. Rockdale Town Hall. April 4 – 12, 2014.

Compelling Pulitzer Prize winning rock musical Next to Normal engages its audience with the life of Diana, a woman with a rapidly escalating bipolar disorder, and the impact on the family of this mother and wife’s illness. It’s an unrelenting journey haunted by the spectral presence of her son, embodied as the young man he never lived to become, after dying as an infant.

Very Weird and Slightly Dangerous

Marty Putz. The Famous Speigeltent at Federation Square, Melbourne. March 27 - April 19, 2014

Maty Putz is very weird and the only real danger is you might get hit with a marshmallow or have your face ache afterwards from smiling and laughing at this wacky show.

From mime, card tricks and slapstick to bizarre contraptions worthy of Heath Robinson (google him!), Marty had the audience on the edge of their seats wondering what the next hilarious twist would be.

Barbie Live! The Musical

Book by Diane Rodriguez. Music and lyrics by Robbie Roth. Director/Choreographer: Kobi Rozenfeld. Touring Australia, beginning April 5, 2014 at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne.

You try hard not to get cynical as a critic; not to compare everything to the Tony Award winners, the blockbusters like Wicked, but sometimes you have nights that scream the warning “Not another musical”. Well DON’T listen to that scream. Barbie LIVE isn’t meant for critics, or for Tony award snobs, or long-term music theatre tragics. It’s meant for young girls aged 4-14 and their parents or grandparents, and it’s Sparkaliciously AWESOME.

 

Othello

By William Shakespeare. KADS. Directed by Lucy Eyre. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount (WA). April 1-26, 2014

Othello is KADS' contribution to the Hills Theatres' Shakespeare Anniversary Festival. This modern dress adaptation is a well-presented, enthralling production.

Director Lucy Eyre, inspired by a documentary about an international security company which facilitates the transactiona of diamond dealers, has set the play within the present day compounds of the invented Venice Interest Protection and Cyprus Gems, a device that works very well.

DRACULA

By Bram Stoker. Adapted for the stage by Liz Lochhead. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. April 3-12, 2014.

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre is brave indeed to stage Dracula. It is the sort of production that, done well, can be wonderful. However, get it even slightly wrong and it can go badly awry. Adelaide Repertory Theatre would have been wise to heed the fact that amateurs need to leave it out of their repertoire unless they are prepared to invest in effects to help create the necessary atmosphere.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. Redcliffe Musical Theatre. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. 4 - 13 April 2014

The energy charge in this production is enough to light Redcliffe peninsula for a week.

Children of parents who were teens in the 70s and 80s were introduced to JCS through the parents’ record collection. Now they love it. Many of them are up on stage reviving that adrenaline rush of the rock’n’roll generation.

Gaypocalypse

Adam Richard. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall. 28 Mar – 20 Apr, 2014.

Adam Richard’s Melbourne Comedy Festival stand-up show is named Gaypocalypse, but it’s a bit of an empty threat. Mr Richard, who bills himself as “Australia’s first openly gay comedian”, was surprisingly restrained in his approach – the requisite references to sexual acts were few and far between, and the show was far tamer in this regard than its title might lead you to expect.

Searching for a Superhero

Des Dowling. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista. 27 Mar – 20 Apr, 2014.

A dyed in the wool “good Aussie bloke” comedian, Des Dowling pitches his shtick squarely at the straight men in the audience. Now 47 years old – and he emphasises the “old” – Mr Dowling claims to be unable to make sense of social media, the internet, mobile phones, computers in general, and much of the rest of the paraphernalia of contemporary society.

Warts & All

By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Long Run Theatre. Directed by Bruce Hoogendoorn Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. 2–12 April 2014.

Seventeen-year-old Queenslander Simon, retreating at his grandmother’s house after an injury, gets more than he bargained for in the return of a deceased family member. This light-hearted tale of skeletons in the family closet, sometimes subtle, often straightforwardly funny, well paced and well articulated, has much to recommend it.

 

The Little Mermaid Jr

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Directed by Callum Hosking. Clayton Theatrette. 3-13 April, 2014

Leaving aside the obvious pride and adulation of the parents in the stalls (clearly the target audience), there are still some worthy things about this very ambitious production; the brilliant colours, director Callum’s vision for “under the Sea”; the little roller skate wheels in the heels of shoes so that it seemed the fish were gliding through water, and the fact that all the music is pre-recorded as part of the package, so we had lush orchestrations with strings rather than something less palatable.

 

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