Reviews

Mary Poppins

Music & Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, George Stiles, Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Babirra Music Theatre. Director: Chris Bradke. Musical Director: Ben Hudson. Choreographer: Di Crough. Whitehorse Centre, Nanawading. May 28 – June 12, 2016.

Mary Poppins was originally a Disney film, based on a book, and the magic required for nannies to fly and make things appear and disappear was much easier to achieve in that medium. Transferring this to the stage presented challenges, but Babirra met them head on.

Strictly Gershwin

Ballet by Derek Deane. Music: George Gershwin. Lyrics: Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward. Queensland Ballet. With the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gareth Valentine. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 27 May – 4 June 2016

Strictly Gershwin is flashy, brash, uninhibitedly vivacious and an obvious audience pleaser. Its association to classical ballet at best is peripheral but as a dance show it’s exhilarating. The combination of big orchestra, Gershwin tunes, and a ballet company letting their hair down with tap, Latin and ballroom is irresistible. Artistic director Li Cunxin’s pulse for the commercial has never been more acute and judging by the unabashedly bravura audience reaction he could have another annual Nutcracker on his hands if he chose to program it.

Communicating Doors

By Alan Ayckbourn. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Gold Coast. Director: Annie Lotoki. May 27 to June 10, 2016

Sir Alan Ayckbourn is recognised as one of Britain’s foremost playwrights having penned over 80 plays and movies and is also a director of note in the UK and Director Annie Lotoki in a great fan.

Catch Me If You Can

Book by Terrance McNally. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Music by Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman. Presented by Dramatic Productions (ACT). Gungahlin College Theatre. 27 May - 11 Jun 2016

With a charismatic lead who looks frighteningly like Leonardo di Caprio and a cast including both novices and experienced performers, Dramatic Productions’ Catch Me If You Can is a lot of fun. Most readers will at least be aware of the film of the same name and the story of Frank Abagnale Jr, who between the ages of 16 and 21 was a confidence trickster who passed forged cheques to the tune of $2.5M and cadged countless free international air air flights before he was caught.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Tim Rice. Director / Choreographer: Jody Hooker, Musical. Director: Sue Brown. The Hills Musical Theatre Company (NSW). Model Farms High School. May 27 – June 4, 2016.

I was warned that Hills' Joseph would be “am-dram,” because most of the cast were first- or second-timers. Apparently the lack of experience and training would hinder the enjoyment.

Nonsense.

Xanadu

Book by Douglas Carter Beane; Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrrar. The Mount Players, Macedon, Victoria. Directed by Julie Paice. Musical Director – Jem Sherwill.. Choreographer – Donna Johnston. Producer - Amanda Watson. Mountview Theatre. May 13 - June 4, 2016

Xanaduis surprisingly cheeky, full of jokes and has an edge of witty irony.  This production, featuring a vibrant cast of mixed ages and talents, has been skillfully brought together by Director Julie Paice.   There is never a dull moment. 

It is based on the 1980s film that was a box office flop but the memorable soundtrack was understandably a big success with songs such as ‘Magic’, ‘Suddenly’ and ‘Xanadu’ that were performed by Olivia Newton-John and The Electric Light Orchestra. 

Catch Me If You Can

Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman. Book by Terence McNally. Marie Clark Musical Theatre (SA). Directed by Charissa McCluskey-Garcia. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. May 27 – June 4, 2016

On the opening night of the Marie Clark Musical Theatre group’s latest show, an audience member suffered from a near-fatal seizure and the performance came to a halt partway through act one, so that the company could call an ambulance and paramedics could see to the unfortunate patron. This is a situation that would’ve rattled the nerves of seasoned pros, but the amateur cast and crew handled things with commendable calm, empathy and promptness.

Switzerland

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Directed by Paige Rattray. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. 20th May-26th June, 2016

Ever thought of including a famous writer in a plot similar in style to the same author; perhaps a close encounter with your own creation complete with antagonistic algorithms and a series of eerie twists and turns.

Herein lies this kind of intrigue in this suspenseful play surrounding the final period of famous mystery thriller novelist Patricia Highsmith's life. She is a complicated character and the various developmental outcomes that stem from this fact are not always for the faint hearted.

Countermove

Sydney Dance Company. Two Ballets – “Cacti”, choreographed by Alexander Ekman, and “Lux Tenebris”, choreographed by Rafael Bonachela. Southbank Theatre, Melbourne, May 25 – June 4, 2016, and touring.

Sydney Dance Company is back in Melbourne to prove once more that they are a major international force in contemporary dance (as if any proof were needed).

Showing all of the amazing athleticism and strident physicality melded with flexibility and grace that have made them famous, the dancers enthralled stalwart fans and newcomers alike.

Cacti

Play On!

By Rick Abbot. Presented by The Queanbeyan City Council. Directed by Jarrad West. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 10-21 May 2016.

Play On! is an endearing comedy in the mould of Dinner For One, about an amateur theatre production that goes off the rails. It’s just three days before the opening night of Murder Most Foul and director Gerry Dunbar (Liz Bradley) is anxious. They’ve only chosen this play to get out of paying royalties, but it’s turgid, derivative twaddle, and worse, the playwright keeps amending the script—not that the edits improve it at all. The players vary from having way too much ego or none whatsoever.

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