Book, Music & Lyrics: Jonathon Larson. Musical Arrangements: Steve Skinner. Original Concept/Additional Lyrics: Billy Aronson. Kyneton Theatre Company. Director: Melanie Burlak. Musical Director: Kate Taylor. Choreographer: Melanie Burlak. Kyneton Secondary College Hall. 11 – 26 October, 2013.

The wonderful thing about RENT is that it is a story about down-and-outs that is uplifting, a story about despair that is full of hope, a story about destitution and death that life-affirming. This ambiguity is not lost on the cast of the current Kyneton Theatre Company production as the young cast erupts on stage in an explosion of singing dancing energy tinged with great poignancy and pain.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. Lyrics: Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Spotlight Theatrical Company, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Tony Alcock. October 25th to November 23rd, 2013.

The Gold Coast is singing the praises of Spotlight’s Fantastic production of The Phantom of the Opera.

Under the skilful direction of Tony Alcock, the show is a mass of colourful costumes and wonderful singing, all the product of Spotlight’s extensive network of members and volunteers.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Book by Jeffrey Lane. Music and Lyrics by David Yazbeck. Theatre Royal, Sydney- Season extended to December 8, 2013.

How delightful to see a musical and for it to exceed all your expectations.

My expectations were lowered, because on face value this production looked like a brave choice for the producers James Anthony and George Youakim.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as a musical is relatively unknown in Australia and it has already been eight years since it had a respectable run on Broadway of 18 months, but it is by no means a blockbuster or a classic.

Anyone Can Whistle

By Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents. Bankstown Theatre Company. Director: Diane Wilson. Musical Director: Greg Crease. Choreographer: Edward Rooke. Bankstown Arts Centre. October 25 – November 3, 2013.

This lesser-known of Stephen Sondheim’s shows has all the usual unpredictable, musical segues and matching well-considered lyrics, and though they carry a less complex storyline and theme than one expects of Sondheim, this production makes the most of the absurdist, almost Pinteresque, theme and characters.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Frank Wildhorn (music) & Nan Knighton (book and lyrics), after the Baroness Orczy novel. Ignatians’ concert version. Schonell Theatre, Oct 26-27, 2013

What an exciting, entertaining night of theatre this is! I’d not seen it before, though we studied the book at school.

Ignatians gave it more than just concert treatment  ̶minimal period costume suggestions and enough stage action to involve us in the intrigue and cloak-and-dagger action. It was given effective professional lighting (Andrew “Panda” Haden) and Dan Knudson controlled sound so the performers were never drowned out by the full orchestra under MD Kym Brown (who also directed the show). Most important were the spectacular soloists and chorus.

Design for Living

By Noël Coward. Queensland Theatre Company. The Playhouse, QPAC. 19 Oct – 10 Nov 2013

What a way to end a season  ̶  sore sides from laughing!

Don’t blame Noël Coward’s clever writing entirely. Director Wesley Enoch and his carefully chosen cast never miss a comedic opportunity.

Richard Robert’s 1930s costumes and stunning sets that roll forward to bring the action to the audience all have the Aaahhh factor.  Ben Hughes’ lighting highlights the glamour and Tony Brumpton’s carefully chosen period jazz numbers capture the era.

Competitive Tenderness

By Hannie Rayson. Woy Woy Little Theatre. Director: Christine Vale. Penisula Theatre, Woy Woy. October 25-November 10, 2013

Competitive Tenderness (1996) is the mouthful of a title of a very wordy satire about the wheeling and double-dealing of a typically Australian rural, local government council. It appears Greater Bourke has been sold up the river by a CEO who rather inconveniently then passed away, leaving a clueless Mayor, his conniving peers and opportunistic staff to pick up the pieces. Enter brand new CEO, Dawn Snow – who has been lured to the town to be the new broom of sweeping reform but she soon proves to be more of a perfumed steamroller.


Music: Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto: Arrigo Boito. Opera Q/Cape Town Opera/West Australian Opera/New Zealand Opera/State Opera of South Australia/Victorian Opera. Director: Simon Phillips. Conductor: Johannes Fritzsch with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 24 October – 2 November 2013

Simon Phillips’ production of Verdi’s Otello clearly falls into the category of ‘event theatre’ – six Southern Hemisphere opera companies as producer, an international cast, and a ‘cutting edge’ concept it ticks all the right boxes.

Eugene Onegin

By Tchaikovsky. The Metropolitan Opera. Captured in HD. Screening in cinemas nationally on October 26 & 27, 2013.

Having seen the previous Met production of Eugene Onegin with the great Renee Fleming, I was interested to encounter this new production, opening the current Met season, with the current Met star, the Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko. I was not disappointed.

Netrebko has a little more steel in her voice, but it is still beautiful and so relaxed. She has great presence on stage and moved easily from the naivety of the young girl to the confidence of the grown woman. She worked well with the mezzo Oksana Volkova as her younger sister.


By Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker. Davine Interventionz. Star Theatre One (SA). October 23-November 2, 2013.

There’s no doubt about it, Altar Boyz rockz!

Davine Interventionz first staged its energetic and hilarious production of this award-winning Off-Broadway musical in March, and its current ‘Second Coming’ remains a wonderful night out, whatever your age.

Satirising the current Boy Band trend and giving a screamingly funny yet respectful serve at religion as well, this production highlights the wealth of talent there is amongst Adelaide’s young performers.

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