Reviews

Club Swizzle

The Studio, Sydney Opera House. December 9 2016 to January 29, 2017.

We marveled at the acrobatic champagne fountain, but the fun bubbled along all night at Club Swizzle. No surprise that this show attracted a champagne sponsor.

Cabaret with a dash of burlesque and a liberal splash circus, you can savor this lively cocktail of variety entertainment while sipping on one of the alcoholic variety.

Pride & Prejudice – A New Musical

Script by Carl Lawton, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen. Music by Louella Jury, lyrics by Carl Lawton. Huon Valley Theatre Inc. The Stonehouse, Huonville 10 Dec 2016 & Playhouse Theatre Hobart 14 – 17 December 2016

Huon Valley Theatre Inc. has presented a wonderful version of the Jane Austen classic – “Pride & Prejudice – A New Musical”, and taken it to a broader audience. This musical version of the classic story, a collaboration between Carl Lawton and Louella Jury, was a vehicle for showcasing the skills and talents of the Huon Youth Theatre group, giving the young performers a chance to experience performing in venues outside their home territory. 

Babes in the Woods:
 Australian Purity Defil'd

Written by Phil Rouse, based on the good work of Tom Wright. Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo. 13 Dec, 2016 until 21 Jan, 2017.

This is the theatrical equivalent of a wicked Christmas trifle with lots of brandy in it. A delicious dessert that might look like it’s kid friendly on the outside, but is most definitely only for the consumption of grown ups.

There were lots of bright colours and different flavours to taste in this pantomime, best sampled one at time rather than mixing them up on the same plate.

Santa, Baby

By various authors. Budding Theatre. Canberra Theatre courtyard. 16–17 December 2016

Santa, Baby is a two-night season of a collection of eight ten-minute skits inspired by Christmas songs (few of which appear in the production), following hard on the heels (by an hour) of Budding Theatre’s most recent production, The Night Before Christmas.

 

For performances mostly using actors of limited experience to stage scripts developed on a shoestring and staged on a short production schedule, on the whole the skits showed surprising ability to rouse laughter from a willing audience.

The Nutcracker

Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, based on ETA Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816). Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Queensland Ballet / Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor / St Peters Lutheran Church College Choir. Playhouse, QPAC. 9-23 December 2016

Although The Nutcracker was first produced by the Imperial Ballet at the Marinsky Theatre in Russia in 1892, its popular staging at Christmas dates from when the New York City Ballet mounted a lavish production of it in 1954. Since then it has become an annual tradition throughout major American ballet companies who use the proceeds of this reliable blockbuster to subsidize the rest of the season.

The Night Before Christmas

By Kirsty Budding. Budding Theatre, Directed by Kirsty Budding. Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. 13–17 December 2016

Relatively new playwright Kirsty Budding has turned out a few full-length stage plays in the past couple of years, and many shorter ones.  Her latest to hit the boards is an hour-long tale… of Christmas tales for children.  Jaded teenagers whose only exposure to life has been via their gadgets find themselves welcoming an opportunity to hear some stories, the entry point for Budding’s modernised retelling — or rather rewriting for the stage — of several classic Christmas tales.  With story piling upon story, I lost all track of how many cas

The Screwtape Letters

Adapted from the book by C S Lewis by Hailey McQueen. Clock and Spiel Productions. Chapel off Chapel, Loft. 13 – 17 December 2016.

Screwtape (Yannick Lawry) is a Senior Devil, a bureaucrat responsible for the administration of junior devils’ mission to turn human souls away from ‘The Enemy’ (God – the Christian One) and land them safely in Hell.  But he seems to spend all of his time on replying to letters from his incompetent devil nephew, Wormwood, with forceful (here, very forceful) advice on how to capture the soul of his human target, known as ‘the Patient’.  His secretary cum manservant, Toadpipe (George Zhao), serves tea, fetches slippers, retrieves Wormwood

Porter & Piaf

Dunstan Playhouse, Festival Centre, Adelaide. Saturday 10 December, 2016

An evening with Cole Porter and Edith Piaf – yes, please! Being a big fan of both I was very much looking forward to this show – and I was not disappointed. Porter and Piaf is actually two separate cabaret shows, Cole and Exposing Edith by local award winning cabaret artists Michael Griffiths (Porter) and Michaela Burger (Piaf). Burger is accompanied by the equally talented Greg Wain.

The Mikado

By Gilbert and Sullivan. The G&S Society of South Australia and Co-Opera. Flour Shed, Harts Mill, Port Adelaide. 9-11 December, 2016.

The ‘Savoy operas’ of W.S. Gilbert and A.S. Sullivan - particularly The Mikado - have endured down the generations as bright, witty, colourful entertainments, and will probably continue to do so as long as they are subject to quality productions that preserve the ageless aspects of the text while being prepared to modernise when necessary. This one should fit the bill for fans, being extremely well-sung, skilfully designed, and impressively costumed, with musicians (under MD Brian Chatterton, OAM) as accomplished as they are supportive.

Girl Asleep

By Matthew Whittet. Directed by Rosemary Myers. Belvoir, Sydney. 2 – 24 December 2016

Matthew Whittet’s Girl Asleep has recently made its mark as a wacky Australian film. The play that it’s based on is now being staged at Sydney’s Belvoir, two years after premiering at the Adelaide Festival. I haven’t seen the film but I trust my young co-critic, who informs me the play is probably better.

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