Spring Awakening

Music: Duncan Sheik. Book & Lyrics: Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind. Oscar Theatre Company. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. Director: Emily Gilhome. Musical Director: David Law. Choreographer: Rodney Pratt. 14 – 22 October 2011

I was blown away by this production as much as I was when I saw the original cast on Broadway. It’s a classy piece of musical theatre, and there’s class written all over Oscar Theatre Company’s production of it. Based on a 116 year-old German play by Frank Wedekind that was banned for a hundred years and has since been called a masterpiece, this musical version of the work is as relevant today as it must have been back when it was written.

This Year’s Ashes

By Jane Bodie. Griffin Theatre Company. Stables Theatre (NSW). October 12 – November 19, 2011.

“This city has rules. And if you can’t work them out then you’re lost, afloat. Because it’s hard and fast and shiny here, and it’s lonely.”

Loneliness… that is the overriding theme in This Year’s Ashes. The loneliness one feels when immersed in a city that’s in love with itself. Where genuine human contact is often fleeting and your past is never really that far behind you.

Monstrous Acts

Written, Designed and Directed by Steven Dawson. Out Cast Theatre (VIC). Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre, Brunswick. October 11-22, 2011.

Steven Dawson’s play is set in France in the 15th century, but this has little to do with the story of two men who are imprisoned and condemned to death - one innocent the other guilty of the worst crimes.

The context though, allows for the exploration of such Gothic themes as Heaven and Hell, Sin and Death, Love and Forgiveness.

The dark and intimate setting, serves well the narrative to come, which at times is unsettling but also poignant.  The haunting, Gothic music suitably evokes the presence and images of medieval Europe.

Ruben Guthrie

By Brendan Cowell. La Boite. Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane. 8 October – 10 November, 2011

Ruben Guthrie is a modern Icarus. Alcohol is to Ruben what the sun was to Icarus: both high flyers crashed ignominiously.

It’s hard to decide who is the star of this show: Gyton Grantley for his brilliant performance? Or Brendan Cowell for his honest, vulnerable autobiographical script?

This is not a play to ‘enjoy’; rather it is to ‘live through the experience’ with one or other of the characters. We all know them: family, acquaintances, social revellers, business colleagues.


By Malcolm Harslett. Mighty Good Productions, SA. Star Theatres. Director: Malcolm Harslett. October 4 - 14, 2011

The Cinderella tale, done well, can introduce a new generation to the magic of theatre. And Mighty Good’s production does just that.

Unless you skipped childhood, you know the story of Cinderella. The differences between the popular story and that told here are the addition of a couple of characters.

The first is Buttons (Vince Fusco), whose friendship with Cinderella (Tahlia Monaghan) provides her with relief from the cruelty of her stepmother (Dianne K Lang) and step-sisters.


The New York Theatre Workshop Production. Presented in Association with ArKtype and Amnesty International. For Melbourne Festival. Malthouse Theatre. 11 to 14 October, 2011.

Crystallised from many, varied collected stories and individual experiences, distilled, then beautifully crafted into thematic theatre - Aftermath is presented as a collage of embodied stories from a city held to ransom, manipulated and violated. It is a story of communities/people/tribes set against each other by the invasion of external forces. Though didactic, the touch is light, enlightening, edifying and ultimately uplifting.

Driving Miss Daisy

Wyndam’s Theatre, Covent Garden, London. Wednesday 28th September 2011

In my more than 50 years of involvement in live theatre I can count on one hand the number of times I was really in awe at a production and its performers. Driving Miss Daisy now joins that list. We bought tickets for the second performance on the day and were lucky to get the last 2 stall seats 6 rows from the front and 4 seats off centre. Another Aussie (Star) I saw there had also bought tickets on the day and was sitting in the upper circle.

The play has transferred to London from an award winning season on Broadway with the cast intact.

The Magic Flute

By Mozart. Adapted and Directed by Mark Dornford-May. Musical Director Mandisi Dyantyis. Choreographer Lungelo Ngamlana. Additional music and lyrics by Mandisi Dyantyis, Mbail Kgosidintsi, Pauline Malefane, Nolufefe Mtshabe. Performed in English and Xhosa. The Isango Ensemble presented by the Melbourne Festival. The State Theatre, Melbourne.. October 11 - 16, 2011

This production was the centrepiece of the Melbourne Festival for 2011 and it received a deserved standing ovation on opening night. If Mozart had been born in South Africa this is what the “Flute” would have looked like.

The Pillowman

By Martin McDonagh. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. Little Theatre. Oct 4 – 15, 2011.

British/Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has had a few plays on stage in Adelaide in recent times. You might have seen The Beauty Queen of Leenane by The Rep this year, or The Cripple of Inishmaan at State in 2008.  The Pillowman earned McDonagh the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2004.

The Pajama Game

Music & Lyrics: Richard Adler & Jerry Ross. Book: George Abbott & Richard Bissell. Babirra Music Theatre Inc. (Vic). Co-Directors: Jaison Hoernel & Kerryn Hoernel. Choreography: Kerryn Hoernel. Musical Director: Naomi Osborne. Oct 7 – 15, 2011.

All but a few seats were filled on the second night of Babirra’s The Pajama Game. As the audience settled down through the overture (for which the house lights remained lit), white sewing machines loomed out of the darkened stage, a part of a wonderful array of bubblegum, colourful, no-expense-spared sets and lighting, which complemented the 1950s style of the show perfectly.

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