Reviews

Of Mice and Men

Written by John Steinbeck. Directed by Anna D Shapiro. National Theatre Live. Screening in selected cinemas nationally from January 24th, 2015.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, we are blessed to have these live performances filmed and to be able to see stage productions we otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Director Shapiro warns in the accompanying mini-doc that if you don’t like Steinbeck it will be a nightmare. Fortunately Steinbeck is my all time favourite writer, and this play (adapted in 1937 from his novella) resonates as much in the world of today, as it did in the Great Depression.

The Illusionists 1903

Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre, Tim Lawson and Simon Painter. Creative Director: Mark Kalin, Original Music: Evan Jolly, Scenic Designer: Todd Ivins, Costume Designer: Angel Aaron, Lighting Designer: Christopher Boon Casey. Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 5 – 25 January, 2015.

The Illusionists 1903 have delivered the golden age of magic to their Adelaide audiences. A packed theatre full of anticipation and the hope that they would see the unbelievable and unexplainable, which was delivered with class.

 

Tosca

By Puccini. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 13 – March 17, 2015.

The three imposing sets of this production of Puccini’s Tosca have returned to the Sydney Opera House for a third summer season. And with a stunning and very popular cast, it promises to be just as successful.

The Night Zoo

Written and directed by Michael Barlow. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle WA. January 5-31, 2015

The Night Zoo makes a welcome return to Spare Parts Puppet Theatre for the summer holidays. Written and directed by Michael Barlow this beautiful tale about the imaginings of a lonely little girl, make lovely change from the frantic pace of most school holiday offerings.

Featuring very likeable performances from Sarah Nelson and Ben Mortley, we meet two very special characters, a lost dog and a little girl who feels forgotten and overlooked.

The Very Hungry Little Caterpillar Show

Created by Jonathan Worsley. Based on Eric Carle’s Books. Sydney Festival Parramatta. Riverside Theatres. January 8 – 18, then on tour.

Some children’s books are read once then discarded. Only rare gems are read over and over. I know from experience that Eric Carle’s Very The Hungry Little Caterpillar is one of those that can prompt so many re-reads that toddlers recite key moments to memory.  The combination of beautiful illustrations, humour and an engaging story where they can relate to concepts such as over eating  makes it irresistible.

Les Misérables

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Additional Material by James Fenton. Adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Cameron Mackintosh. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Crown Theatre, Perth. December 31, 2014 to March 1, 2015

This absolutely sumptuous production is the most lavish musical to hit Perth in recent years. Beautifully presented, it is exquisitely acted and the singing is just wonderful.

Matt Kinley's sets, inspired by the artwork of Victor Hugo, give an epic quality to this classic novel turned musical - and are a key part of why those who think that they have seen Les Mis should take a look at this new production - which has a different feel to the previous tours.

Tabac Rouge

Compagnie Du Hanneton. Sydney Festival. Sydney Theatre. January 7 – 23, 2015

Tabac Rouge heralds a welcome return to the Sydney Festival for performer and creator James Thierree and Compagnie Du Hanneton.

This production focuses on a once glorious society and its slow descent into chaos and decay. We see a King (Thierree) at the height of his command, adored by his people and in control of a grand society. But it is the combination of indulgence, age and the duplicitous nature of politics that leads to his undoing and largely that of his dystopian/utopian vision.

Masquerade

By Kate Mulvany, from the book by Kit Williams. Sydney Festival. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 7 – 17, 2015.

In Kit Williams’ book Masquerade, the Moon, who has fallen in love with the Sun, sends her special messengers, Jack Hare and the frog, with a jeweled amulet and a riddle to tell him of her love. The Hare’s journey must be completed in a day, and is fraught with many obstacles. The story, interspersed with beautifully wrought illustrations, riddles and messages about life, and love, and loss, has been special to many children around the world.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Packemin Youth Productions. Directed by Neil Gooding and Jordan Vassallo. The Concourse, Chatswood (NSW). January 9 – 24, 2015.

Joseph is so familiar that for many of the songs I was almost tempted to sing along. It’s not just that I played the lead in 1979 in primary school. (How old must I be?) But this very large cast of under 20 year olds had a stirring impact on the audience. The joyous impeccably drilled choir was bursting with energy from beginning to mega mix finale.

Radiance

By Louis Nowra. Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney. Director: Leah Purcell. 3 January – 8 February 2015

Louis Nowra’s great Australian play, first staged at the Belvoir in 1982, here gets a fiercely acted revival starring and directed by Leah Purcell. You’d think that would be a tough gig for Purcell: it’s a three-hander, after all. But this is fine work, beautifully set and lit, and a tribute to the depth and intensity of Nowra’s writing.

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