Reviews

Billy Liar

By Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall. Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Dawn China. July 21st – August 5th, 2017

If you are a fan of 60’s music then don’t miss Javeenbah’s latest offering – Billy Liar, directed by Dawn China – it’s a real walk down memory lane right into living rooms of that decade – great set!

The Coronation of Poppea

By Monteverdi. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Director: Tyran Parke. Conductor: Pat Miller. Chapel off Chapel. July 15 – 22, 2017

Lyric Opera have provided me with many delightful evenings at the theatre, but never with as much vocal talent as was on display in this performance. Just to hear bass Damian Whiteley was worth the price of admission. He has been mainly singing overseas, and one can only hope he has settled back in Australia so that we can hear more of his clean, strong voice.

Heathers

By Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, based on the film written by Daniel Waters. Hand in Hand Theatre. Directed by Claire Mosel-Crossley, Musical Direction by Krispin Maesalu. Nexus Theatre, Murdoch University, WA. July 20-22, 2017

Hand in Hand Theatre presented the cult musical Heathers to full houses, over a short season at Murdoch’s Nexus Theatre.

First time director Claire Mosel-Crossley chose a very challenging show for her directorial debut, and is a director with much potential, who has created a stylised, polished production.

Andrew David’s set is minimalist with clean lines, while Elie Hopwood’s costume design pays homage to both the film from which the musical is derived and the iconic Broadway designs.

Thaïs

Music by Jules Massenet. Libretto by Louis Gallet after Anatole. Opera Australia. Sydney Town Hall. July 22 & 24, 2017

This is the opera you have probably never heard of, but is instantly recognisable once the lead violinist stands for the glorious and sumptuous meditation which ends the second act. 

I have to admit to being quite emotional when this tune filled the Sydney Town Hall, as not only was the lead violinist Jung Yi Ma sublime, but it was a favourite of my late father who enjoyed playing it on his own violin.

The Merchant of Venice

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Anne-Louise Sarks. Dramaturgy by Benedict Hardie. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. July 19 – 30, 2017

Anne-Louise Sarks gives us a powerful and disturbing interpretation of Shakespeare’s play.  It has energy, clarity and a finely judged juxtaposition of the bright and the dark.

The Women of Lockerbie

By Deborah Brevoort. Castle Hill Players. The Pavilion Theatre. July 21 – August 12, 2017.

Is it possible that we may, some day, come to take acts of terrorism as facts of life?

Will they simply become another chapter in a history book?

Will we forget those whose lives were lost, or how horribly they died?

Not if theatre sustains its centuries old objective of finding a way to reflect on and interpret the world on the stage.

Coma Land

Written and directed by Will O’Mahony. Black Swan State Theatre Company and Performing Lines WA. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth. July 20- Aug 6, 2017

This co-production, between Black Swan State Theatre Company and Performing Lines WA, brings this new play written and directed by Will O'Mahony, to life, in an endearing and intriguing production.

Boon, an eleven-year-old genius, finds herself trapped in a strange world between life and death, where she meets other people who are also in comas. Beautiful, surreal and allegorical, this is a sweetly told story that hooks its audience.

The Bodyguard

Based on the Warner Bros. film by Lawrence Kasdan. Book: Alexander Dinelaris. John Frost, Michael Harrison & David Ian Production. Director: Thea Sharrock. Musical Director: David Skelton. Choreographer: Karen Bruce. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. From 22 July 2017

When I first saw The Bodyguard in London I thought it was a show that would work in Australia provided they cast a performer who could sing the Whitney Houston songbook and sing it well. Is Paulini up to the task? She certainly is. When she’s belting out those pop-diva arias she’s the real deal, delivering powerhouse after powerhouse performance and pulling the maximum emotional weight out of every key-change. “I Will Always Love You” was simply goose-bump thrilling.

Morning Masterworks: Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Simone Young & Ray Chen. Paganini: Violin Concerto No.1, Mvt 1. Holtz: The Planets. Concert Hall, QPAC. 21 July 2017

Musical wunderkind Ray Chen displayed stunning violin mastery when he returned to Brisbane yesterday to appear with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in their Morning Masterworks series. Playing the first movement of Paganini’s notoriously difficult Violin Concerto No. 1, Chen’s bravura performance (on his 1715 Stradivarius worth a cool 10 million) was simply astonishing.

An Inspector Calls

By J. B. Priestly. Pymble Players, NSW. 19 July- 12 August, 2017

J. B. Priestly’s play, written in the mid 20th century but set in 1912, has been described as “a potent blend of fine dramatic craft and good old-fashioned social conscience” and Helen Williams’ production for Pymble Players emphasises both qualities of the play. Though set in England over a century ago, the play has resounding messages that are still relevant today.

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