Reviews

Falling To the Top

By Robert Woods and Tyler Jones. Director: Tyler Jones. Half Moon Tent, Perth Cultural Centre (WA). Feb 8-16, 2013.

Falling to the Top, in its second incarnation (it premiered at community theatre Playlovers in 2012), lives up to its subtitle 'the musical trashtacular', in a trashier, brasher version for Fringeworld.

Authors Robert Woods and Tyler Jones have tightened the show and pared it down for the smaller venue and tight stage space, but it remains an extremely funny send-up of reality TV, the quest for fame at all costs, pop success and the music business.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare. Young People’s Theatre, at its Hamilton Theatre, Newcastle. February 6 to 23, 2013.

THE Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s most magical plays, smoothly combining comedy, drama, romance and fantasy. And director Mat Lee, the actors and production team made it engaging entertainment.

The Drowsy Chaperone

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Company Clegg, Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. December 20 to 23, 2012

THIS delightful musical was a fitting finale for the graduating acting students at Hunter TAFE’s Regional Institute of Performing Arts, with their skills giving vivid life to a demanding work.

The Drowsy Chaperone is subtitled A Musical Within a Comedy, and it shows an elderly man talking about his love for musicals and especially that of the fictional 1928 title work as he listens to an old vinyl recording of its songs.

Souvenir

Written by Stephen Temperley. Directed by Peter J Adams. Chapel off Chapel. February 20th - March 10th, 2013.

Who would have thought that a two handed play about the platonic love shared by the worlds WORST Soprano, Florence Foster Jenkins, who was hilariously bad, and her gay accompanist, would prove to be poignant and moving as well as genuinely funny?

The Ballad of the Plague Doctor

The Laudanum Project. Club Voltaire. 14 Raglan St, North Melbourne. 22-23 February, 2013.

The Ballad of the Plague Doctor is an odd beast (I use that last word very deliberately). It’s a piece of spoken-word storytelling, delivered by an onstage narrator who is hideously made up with pallid skin, dark circled eyes and pockmarked face, garbed in a black smock.

Holding the Man

By Tommy Murphy based on the book by Timothy Conigrave. La Boite @ the Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane. Director: David Bertold. Design: Brian Thomson. 16 Feb – 16 Mar 2013

Despite its critical success first-time around, and productions in San Francisco and London, I found La Boite’s new production of Tommy Murphy’s Holding the Man decidedly undercooked as a piece of drama. Today, with HIV under control with a cocktail of drugs, it’s easy to forget that back in the eighties at the height of the epidemic, death was around every corner. The play addresses these issues with this gay love story, but too often the emotion is a ripple when it ought to be a roar.

At Last: The Etta James Story

Writer: John Livings. Room 8. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. Director/Producer: Simon Myers. Producer: Moira Bennett. Musical Director: John McAll. 19th February – 3rd March, 2013. (World Premiere). Also at Sydney Opera House from 30th April to 5th of May.

Thunder and lightning may have been the talk of the town in Melbourne on Thursday night (21st), but inside the packed Athenaeum Theatre Vika Bull and The Essential R&B Band were whipping up a storm of their own.

Electrifying and down right seductive singing by Ms Bull is the centrepiece in a narrative concert focused on the life of music’s ‘original bad girl’, Etta James.

Mrs Warren’s Profession

By George Bernard Shaw. Sydney Theatre Company . Wharf 1. Director: Sarah Giles. 19 February – 6 April, 2013, then touring before a return season, 4 – 20 July, 2013.

Because of the times in which it was written (1893) this terrific early Shaw drama — here given a welcome rare revival by the Sydney Theatre Company — is powerfully constrained and guarded. Hypocrisy rules and nobody may even whisper what the ‘profession’ of the title might actually be. The play had been immediately banned by Britain’s censor, The Lord Chamberlain, who branded it ‘immoral’ and ‘improper for the stage’.

Calendar Girls

By Tim Firth. Based on the Miramax motion picture by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth. Directed by Catherine Hill. Canberra Rep. Theatre 3 Acton, Canberra. Feb 15 – Mar 2, 2013.

Calendar Girls is a comedy with heart. How can it not be, with moments of grief, clear-sightedness, determination, and truthfulness, mixed with women with hearts of gold?  The cast assembled by director Catherine Hill managed to express all this and more. Truly a golden ensemble!

The Boys.

By Gordon Graham. Doncaster Playhouse. PEP Productions (Vic)). Feb 15 – 23, 1013

Beware: The Boys (directed by Justin Cleaver, assisted by Lorraine Williams)is not a light-hearted night out.  Advertised as MA, it contains frequent course language and strong adult themes. Said themes include: crime, ailing health, misogyny and domestic abuse.

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