Reviews

THE WEDDING SINGER

Music: Matthew Sklar Lyrics: Chad Beguelin. Book: Chad Beguelin & Tim Herlihy. Smash Theatrical. Director: Joanna Pearson. Musical Direction: Shane Tooley. Choreography: Caron Koch. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane. 14-23 Feb 2013.

Brisbane community theatre just got a massive shot in the arm with the Brisbane premiere of The Wedding Singer. Produced by Smash Theatrical, the ‘new-kids-on-the-block’ in community theatre, the level of performance was like a high-powered adrenalin rush - full credit to Joanna Pearson’s direction. The Wedding Singer was the ideal musical to launch a young company.

Zanna, Don't! A musical fairytale.

Book, music and lyrics by Tim Acito. Additional music and lyrics by Alexander Dinelaris. Shire Music Theatre. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. February 8 – 17, 2013.

Zanna, Don't! A musical fairytale. Sounds a bit like a Xanadu send-up, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s more like a gay Grease / High School Musical / Cinderella hybrid send-up, with heaps of heart. And it’s a hoot!

Shire Music Theatre’s reputation as a boutique community music theatre company has been growing over recent years, and this Off-Broadway musical is yet another engaging small-scale ensemble production to enhance that reputation.

Constellations

By Nick Payne. Directed by Leticia Caceres/ MTC – Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. February 8 to March 23, 2013.

Some people live their lives within the safe confines of limited probability. Others embrace a universe of infinite possibilities; and it’s these people that playwright Nick Payne is talking to in his amazing play, Constellations. The words “what if?” are life blood to any writer, providing multiple scenarios from a single premise. Payne takes it further. What if “destiny” exists in quantum physics like string theory….and everything that ever was or ever will be co-exists in parallel universes with millions of variations of ourselves?

Dreams in White

By Duncan Graham. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre, Sydney. Director: Tanya Goldberg. 8 February – 23 March, 2013

This is a difficult evening to write about without spoiling the experience for a potential audience member (i.e. you, the reader). There’s mystery and confusion about the characters and their motives, the sequence of events, the likely outcome, even the author’s overall purpose. This critic had a very good time trying to fit all the pieces together as they spilled onto the stage. He would hate to spoil things for you.

Kiss Me Like You Mean It

By Chris Chibnall. Director: Kate Shearman. MARC Up Productions. The Owl and The Pussycat, Richmond, Vic. 13-23 February, 2013

Kiss Me Like You Mean It is written by Chris Chibnall, a British playwright who is also a writer for TV with credits including Doctor Who, Life on Mars and several seasons as co-producer on Torchwood. But there’s not a wisp of science fiction or fantasy on display here. This is a strong character-driven piece, very down to earth, populated by just four characters but all of whom are engaging, interesting and believable.

The Trip

Arts Centre Melbourne and Base Berlin. The Spielgeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne forecourt. 12th February – 3rd March, 2013

You’ve got to wonder. If this is what they get up to at work, what happens when these artists let-their-hair-down!

The Trip is a seductively raunchy affair leaning heavily on in-your-face irreverence. For just over an hour acrobatics, contortionists, drag queens, comic songsters and audience fraternise in an expertly paced performance punctuated by gasps, groans, squeals and laughs.

Blood Moon

By Nicholas Kazan. Unpathed Theatre Company. Producer: Leah Russell. Director: Christopher Stollery. Tap Gallery, Darlinghurst. 5-16 February 2013

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Blood Moon reads well, but requires considerable energy, pace and subtly to deliver successfully on stage. The Unpathed Theatre Company doesn’t quite succeed, but their efforts make for an interesting premiere of Nicholas Kazan’s mid-eighties play. It’s based on a true story and emerged during the early post-feminist period. It’s full of rage, rage which is fully justified. 

Driving Miss Daisy

By Alfrew Uhry. Director: David Esbjornson. John Frost, Jed Bernstein & Adam Zotovich production. Playhouse, QPAC, from 9 February 2013; Theatre Royal, Sydney from March 2; Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from April 6; Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide from May 17 and His Majesty's Theatre, Perth from June 8.

In the hands of Broadway royalty, Driving Miss Daisy becomes not only a good play but a great one. Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines invest this basically affectionate anecdote with star power rarely seen on an Australian stage.

West Side Story

Book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Presented by Free Rain. The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan. 8 – 24 February, 2013.

Lovers of musicals are in for a treat with Free Rain’s production of West Side Story. Most people will be familiar with the plot and importance of this updated Romeo and Juliet, set and written in the 1950s, concerning the teen street gangs of 1950s west side New York. The Jets, a white working class gang, are planning a fight over territory with the Sharks, a gang of Puerto Rican migrants, when ex-Jet Tony falls in love with Maria, sister of the head of the Sharks.

The Wizard of Oz

By L Frank Baum. Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. Incidental music by Herbert Stothart. Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Packemin Productions. Director: Neil Gooding. Musical Director: Peter Hayward. Choreographer: Camilla Jakimowicz. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. February 8 – 23, 2013.

Indelibly etched on the hearts and memories of generation after generation thanks to the Hollywood classic, a theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, more than most other musicals, only succeeds as this one undoubtedly does by satisfying the preconceptions and emotional memories with which audience members enter the theatre.

It’s in our cultural DNA.

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