Reviews

North by Northwest

Adapted by Carolyn Burns. Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre. Produced by Kay + McLean Productions. Directed by Simon Phillips. December 29, 2018 to January 20, 2019

There were literally fireworks for the Adelaide opening night of North by Northwest, a play based on Hitchcock’s film. The excitement of New Year’s Eve was present in the audience of this well-travelled and well-received production. This latest incarnation for the stage is fast-paced, stylish and clever.

Wicked

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. Adelaide Youth Theatre. Arts Theatre, Adelaide. 21-23 December 2018.

Wicked was first performed in San Francisco, USA, in the summer of 2003, before transferring to Broadway later that year, where it is still running. It opened in the West End of London in 2006, arriving on our shores in Melbourne in 2008. It’s an alternative telling of the backstories in the land of Oz, which first came to fame through the L Frank Baum children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, and then through the immensely popular 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

Cairo Jim and the Tomb of Martenarten

Adapted by Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou from the book by Geoffrey McSkimming. Bookcase Productions. The Pioneer Theatre, Castle Hill. December 21 – 23, 2018

It’s always daunting to adapt a novel for young people to the stage – especially one of a series of 19 about an intrepid archaeologist-cum-poet like Cairo Jim and his companions, Doris the Macaw and Brenda the Wonder Camel. It has to capture the tenor of the prose, the imagination of the author – and his outrageous puns and poems – as well as sustaining the belief of Geoffrey McSkimming’s faithful readers.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields, adapted from J M Barrie’s original text. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Kenny Wax Ltd & Stage Presence in association with David Atkins Enterprises & ABA present a Mischief Theatre Company Production. Arts Centre Melbourne, the Playhouse. 21 December 2018 – 27 January 2019

Peter Pan Goes Wrong?  It certainly does.  In this show, what can go wrong, goes wrong.  Think of any disaster, mishap, mistake, scenery disaster, wardrobe malfunction, inept and talentless cast, missed cue or dropped line - anything that can befall a live theatre show and in this show it does.  Hilarious.  I don’t think I have laughed so much in the theatre for years.   

Spirit Of Christmas

Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Simon Kenway. Director: Sean Mee. Host: Sofie Formica. Lucy Durack, Josh Piterman. Jaewoo Kim, Hanna Bennett, Jerrod Smith. Spirit of Christmas Choir, Brisbane Birralee Voices. Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane. 21-22 December 2018

Carols and community singing have been part of the Australian Christmas tradition for years: Melbourne has Carols by Candlelight, Sydney has Carols in the Domain, whilst Brisbane has Spirit of Christmas, which is now in its 35th year. QPAC’s annual confection of carols and seasonal songs with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra is always a joyous celebration and this year was no exception.

The Nutcracker

Ballet by Ben Stevenson. Music by Pyotr Iiyich Tchaikovsky. Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816) by ETA Hoffman. Queensland Ballet. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Nigel Gaynor. Voices of Biralee. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. Dec 20, 2018

The Queensland Ballet, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and The Nutcracker are a perfect fit and yesterday’s full-house at the Lyric Theatre showed why Ben Stevenson’s version of this classical ballet has become an annual treat. Fairy tale characters and toys coming to life is the ultimate child’s fantasy and this production delivers on all fronts including a magical snow-storm onstage and in the auditorium as a first-act finale. For many kids, and there were many, it was their first experience of magic in the theatre and they were agog with wonder.

Ned

Book by Anna Lyon & Marc McIntyre. Music & Lyrics by Adam Lyon. Plush Duck Productions. Director /Choreographer: Miranda Middleton. Vocal Director: Sarah Levins. Conductor: Hamish Stening. New Theatre, Newtown, NSW. December 18 – 22, 2018.

Forget your Christmas shopping and see this show instead.

This is a great production of a great show. In a criminally short season, Plush Duck Productions give us the NSW premiere of a new musical based on Ned Kelly. How does it compare to Reg Livermore’s Ned Kelly? It doesn’t. The two shows are like chalk and cheese in tone and execution, and each is as good as the other.

A Christmas Tale

Written & performed by Lisa Dallinger, Tegan Jones, Kelley Kerr Young, Sharon Kulupach, Emma Jo McKay & Constance Washington. Directed by Jennifer Monk. A Girls Act Good Production. The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne. 17-22 December 2018

A mix of nostalgia, satire and physical comedy make up this warm and engaging ‘Christmas’ show, performed by six women in Christmas red and green outfits.  There’s some send-up disco-style dancing.  There are impersonations of iconic Christmas figures: harassed Mums on whom the whole burden falls, but disapproval for anyone who doesn’t ‘celebrate correctly’, drunken uncles at Christmas dinner, in-your-face sales people, a grumpy supervisor of the ‘photo with Santa’ queue.

Christmas Proms

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Festival Theatre. December 14-15, 2018

The annual Christmas Proms is a popular occasion each year in Adelaide. It is part of the city’s celebrations leading up to Christmas and, as such, is well attended.

‘Proms’ traditionally refers to Promenade Concerts, originally connected to outdoor  classical music pleasure concerts during which people would promenade about whilst listening.

Perpetual Frustration Machine

By Stephen Sewell. Theatre Works. 7 -23 December 2018

Slick, powerful, purifying and redemptive, Perpetual Frustration Machine is a spirited energizing show that has been superbly crafted by Zebastian Hunter with playwright Stephen Sewell, sound designer Ian Moorhead and associate director Benjamin Sheen. 

The set (Stephanie Howe) is shiny black with glowing wires falling from a basic grid or circus rig.

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