Reviews

Chicago

Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Townsville Choral Society, July 18 – 22, 2012.

It’s 10 years since Chicago was last seen in Townsville, so it was good timing for the Choral Society to bring back this vibrant, exciting show. Director Pat Nuttall put together a generally young, but certainly talented ensemble and the end result made for a wonderful night’s entertainment.

The Duchess of Malfi

By John Webster. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House, Playhouse. July 6 – August 5, 2012.

Jacobean playwright John Webster knew the older Shakespeare but shared none of his optimism in man’s ultimate nobility and good reason. Webster’s darker vision, captured in the hit premiere of The Duchess of Malfi back in 1613, is a relentlessly brutish view of man, instinctively violent and corrupted by power. Webster was perfectly enacted as that treacherous urchin in the film, Shakespeare in Love; the one who hunted back stage of the Globe killing rats and whinging that the plays weren’t bloody enough.

Money and Friends

David Williamson. Genesian Theatre (Sydney). July 21 – August 25, 2012.

Critical appraisals of David Williamson’s work often infer that the messages are ephemeral, the one-liners forgettable, the characters one dimensional.  Well, it is twenty years since he wrote Money and Friends, yet the underlying messages – both social and fiscal – still ring remarkably true and translate relatively well to a twenty first century setting. People are just as ambitious, just as greedy, just as gullible and just as vulnerable. Money still dominates, and, unfortunately, still causes rifts between families and friends.

A Chorus Line

Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante. Music by Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics by Edward Kleban. Conceived and choreographed by Michael Bennett. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. July 20 – August 11, 2012.

The experience of seeing A Chorus Line has been greatly enriched in recent years by the remarkable documentary Every Little Step, which traces the origin of the work – based on real stories of real dancers.

It adds another dimension that resonates when you see this musical again staged at the highest level and think back to the originally recorded interviews that form the basis of the book.

The Marriage of Figaro

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Gill. Director: Jean-Pierre Mignon. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. July 18 – Aug 3, 2012.

Normally concentrating on less familiar operas, Victorian Opera broke away with an innovative production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. A triangular portion of the stage protruded into the audience bringing them closer to the action. There were minimal scene changes, although these did take time on opening night.

Hairspray

Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Music by Marc Shaiman and Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. Matt Byrne Media, Arts Theatre, Adelaide and Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth, July 5-28, 2012.

Adelaide missed out on the professional tour of Hairspray.

With such a void to be filled, enter director/producer/actor Matt Byrne with a vibrant, joyous, exciting version of the classic show.

He said his production was based on John Waters’ original 1988 film, rather than the 2007 version which featured John Travolta.

With Byrne’s biggest cast to date, 60 performers, the show ticked all of the boxes with a fantastic ensemble cast, an innovative pastel set and a rocking 12-piece band led by Rodney Hrvatin.

Vivienne Powell’s Sentimental Journey

Seymour Centre, Sydney. July 18, 2012

Fresh from successful performances in the Hunter Valley, Vivienne Powell’s sentimental journey with Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London and Doris Day continues the seemingly popular trend for performers to pay tribute to their favourite stars. And why not? The songs they made famous are timeless and passing them on to succeeding generations seems like a good idea – though the audience, who certainly enjoyed the performance  in the cosy Sound Stage at Sydney’s Seymour Centre, were hardly newcomers to the repertoire!

Motherhood the Musical

By Sue Fabisch. Producer: Christine Harris & HIT Productions in association with GFour Productions. Director: Terence O’Connell. Musical Director: Vicky Jacobs. Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre. July 17 – 21. The Q Theatre, 14 August 2012. And touring.

From the team that brought the amusing Menopause the Musical, here is a journey through the travails and joys of motherhood. Sure, there may be many heartaches, annoyances, irritations and moments of madness to these four funny mothers, but there are also times of great love and tenderness towards their partners and their little darlings. (Not sure there’s much love towards mother-in-laws, though, given the hilarious grandmother song!)

Home

By Margie Brown-Ash. La Boite Indie & The Nest Ensemble. Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane.18-28 July, 2012.

This show falls into my category of ‘pocket’ theatre: intimate, audience-engaging, personal, similar to Victorian drawing room presentations.

What Margi Brown Ash performs, with son Travis Ash on keyboards, is her own life story so far, embellished with moving anecdotes from other people of her generation, gathered over past years as she developed this piece in Houston Texas, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Mexico and Perth.

Corporate Vibes

By David Williamson. Pursuit Productions, Director: Glen Hamilton. Producer: Michelle Neil. Lighting & Sound: Tilda Sathida Featuring Phil Kachoyan, David Nealon, Michelle Neil, William Maher, Celine Oudin, Atlanta Webster and Divya Rajagopalan. The Old 505 Theatre, Surry Hills. 11-14 July, 2012.

It’s a war out there

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