Reviews

Broadway and Beyond – Qld Pops Orchestra

With Teddy Tahu-Rhodes & Students from the Queensland University Performing Arts. Concert Hall, QPAC, 7 Oct 2017/Empire Theatre, Toowoomba 8 Oct 2017.

If it wasn’t enough to have the audience in tears once, Qld Pops had to do it twice in their Broadway and Beyond concert yesterday at QPAC’s Concert Hall. With Patrick Pickett conducting and special guest-artist Teddy Tahu-Rhodes leading the whole faculty of Griffith University’s Musical Theatre Students (90), singing “One Day More” from Les Misérables, the sound was incredibly thrilling. The song, one of six from the musical closed the first half.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan. Babirra Music Theatre. Director: Karl McNamara.Musical Director: Vicki Quinn. Choreographer: Steve Rostron. The Whitehorse Centre. October 6 – 15, 2017

Babirra’s Thoroughly Modern Millie was amazing! I don’t know how a professional company could improve on what we saw.

In the title role was Stephanie John, who I remembered as Mary Poppins. Her excellent voice and dancing, combined with lovely comic timing, made for a delightful Millie. Phillip Davies had a wide-eyed innocence about his Jimmy which made for an ideal pair, and he matched Stephanie with his singing and dancing.

Rising

Aakash Odedra Company. Choreographers: Aakash Odedra, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. OzAsia Festival. Dunstan Playhouse. 6-7 October, 2017.

Aakash Odedra Company was formed in 2011 as a vehicle for commissioning solos and to develop contemporary dancer Odedra’s own choreographic work. His latest endeavour is comprised of four vignettes, each piece devised by a different choreographer, but all performed by Odedra himself.

The first piece, Nritta (Kathak), is a love story of sorts. Searching for his beloved and finding balance, Odedra uses space and rhythm to explore the effects energy has within a relationship. The dance is commanding in its execution.

Backbone

Gravity and Other Myths / Melbourne Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 4 to 8 October, 2017

Backbone is the most elevating and enjoyable celebration of human circus acrobatic feats, from Australia’s longest running acrobatic ensemble.  From the very opening moments when all performers stand up and start moving the audience is engaged in lively surprising, imaginative feats of strength, lifting, jumping, flipping and extraordinary balancing.  The whole is underscored with vital live music from Elliot Zoerner and Shenton Gregory.

Lettice and Lovage

By Peter Schaffer. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. Little Theatre. October 4 – 14, 2017.

‘Enlarge! Enliven! Enlighten!’ – so says Lettice Douffet in Lettice and Lovage, by Peter Schaffer, justifying her somewhat romantic and dramatic elaborations on history. In a way they also encapsulate this play.

Seussical the Musical

By Stephen Flaherty and Lyn Ahrens. Waterdale Theatre Company. Rivergum Theatre, Parade College, Bundoora. September 29 – October 7, 2017

One of the more delightful things about Seussical the Musical is that almost everyone has the source material somewhere in their childhood memories. It was easy enough to be swept along in the musical whirlwind of stories, characters and a liberal sprinkling of catch-phrases and cameos.  The production is simply and cleverly staged, and Wendy Braid's and Maree Castenmillerr's costumes are as vibrant and varied as Dr Suess' characters.

The Second Hurricane

Composer: Aaron Copland. Librettist: Edwin Denby. Horti Hall. Conductor: Angus Grant. Director: Alastair Clark. Playhouse Theatre. October 6 – 15, 2017.

Victorian Opera continues to forge a pathway for the appreciation of opera through their Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble. Apart from presenting an opera which can be appreciated by a younger audience, they are giving valuable experience to young singers who may, one day, tread the operatic boards.

Aaron Copland’s one act opera was written to be performed by secondary school students, so it was an ideal choice. Being in English certainly helped.

Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Together

Live Nation. Musical Director: Callum McCloud. Concert Hall, QPAC, 5 Oct 2017; Melbourne 7 Oct; Sydney 11 Oct; Adelaide 14 Oct; Perth 16 Oct.

When Michael Ball and Alfie Boe opened their second-half with Gershwin’s “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” that’s where the audience were – paradise. It was just one of the electric moments these two superstars of song created during their two-hour concert Together. Based on their best-selling album of the same name, musical-theatre favourites rubbed shoulders with rock, pop and swing in a program that seamlessly mixed all genres.

The Dark Inn

Niwa Gekidan Penino. OzAsia Festival. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 3-4th October, 2017

Kuro Tanino, playwright, director, set designer and founding member of theatre collective Niwa Gekidan Penino, has brought his latest work to the Adelaide stage as part of the OzAsia Festival. Made for a Japanese audience, The Dark Inn is written in Toyama dialect. For those not familiar with the language, it is translated in English subtitles via large screens on either side of the performing space.

Calendar Girls

By Tim Firth. Pymble Players. Directed by Julia Griffith. 4th – 28th October 2017

Julia Griffith and her cast of eleven have taken on the many challenges of this play with confident enthusiasm. Apart from the difficult task of manipulating the “nude" scenes for the calendar shots, there are many scenes, many props and many costume changes. At Pymble, this involves some cooperative space sharing in wings that are not easily accommodating – while still sustaining characterisation and the continuity of the play. And they manage to clear these hurdles very well.

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