Reviews

Hopelessly Devoted

Music & Lyrics: Various. Book: Elise Greig. Contributing Writer: Nick Backstrom. Eg Production. Director: Lewis Jones. Musical Director: Tony Byrne. Choreographer: John Clarke. Zamia Theatre, North Tambourine, Queensland. 23 and 24 March, 2012. Further performances - May 24 – 26 at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, The Space.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

Book, Music & Lyrics: Clark Gesner. Harvest Rain (Qld). Mina Parade Warehouse, Brisbane. Director: Meg Ham. Musical Director: Sophie Woodward. Mar 21 – 31, 2012.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown has been a popular title on the amateur circuit for years. With its lovable assortment of characters from Charles Schultz’s comic-strip Peanuts, Harvest Rain’s production under the direction of Meg Ham brought out the charm and fun of Clark Gesner’s delightful musical.

La Traviata: Opera on the Harbour

By Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave. Opera Australia. Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Director: Francesca Zambello. March 24 - April 15, 2012.

Sometimes you can walk into a theatre which is so breathtakingly beautiful that you’ve almost got your money’s worth before the first note is sung.

That was my experience when I saw an opera at the New York Met.

For me, the same jaw-dropping excitement bubbled to the surface when Opera Australia was blessed with divine Sydney weather (after a summer of rain and storms) for the opening of their first outdoor season at Mrs Macquarie’s Point.

Ruben Guthrie

By Brendan Cowell. Blue Cow Theatre Inc. Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart. Director: Robert Jarman. 22 - 31 March, 2012

Alcohol consumption is an accepted part of the Australian way of life. When Sydney actor/writer Brendan Cowell took a year off the sauce a few years ago, his world was turned upside down, and Ruben Guthrie the play was born. Cowell’s authentic script shows how “giving it up” creates imbalance in the lives of all who surround the would-be abstainer.

Jerry’s Girls

Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Concept by Jerry Herman and Larry Alford. Bankstown Theatre Company (NSW). Bankstown Arts Centre. March 23 – 31, 2012.

Celebrating the larger than life ladies of theatre launched by the show tunes of Jerry Herman, Jerry’s Girls packs a succession of great Broadway tunes into two hours.

This musical revue celebrates the showstoppers Herman composed for those classic, more mature, musical theatre leading ladies, Dolly Levi, Mame and the drag queen Za-Za / Albin (Hello, Dolly, Mame and La Cage aux Folles), together with often equally terrific songs written for his less successful shows.

Cosi

By Louis Nowra. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. March 23 – 31, 2012.

One of the most popular of Louis Nowra’s works, Cosi is a good play for community theatre. It doesn’t require an elaborate set (a burnt out theatre in an asylum); the characters are very clearly drawn (all but two are inmates of the asylum); and costumes for the Cosi Fan Tutte production scene don’t have to be elaborate. After all, they are supposedly made by other inmates. And whilst ever it remains as a prescribed text for HSC English, it will guarantee an audience.

The Comedy of Errors

National Theatre Live, in association with Sharmill Films and Aviva. Screening in cinemas across Australia on March 24, 25, 2012

Theatre is accustomed to shape-shifting.  For centuries theatre pieces of varying genre, length and culture have often found themselves in the midst of a new form.  William Shakespeare has copped it most, due to the dead-fifty-years-and-we-get-your-art-for-free rule.  

Bombshells

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Queensland Theatre Company. Cremorne Theatre. 17 March – 21 April, 2012.

I’m still undecided who was the star of this piece, performer Christen O’Leary or playwright Joanna Murray-Smith who challenged her with six real women across the age spectrum, with individual personalities, psyches and emotional responses. The dynamic little singer/actor/dancer invested each with every shred of talent she had.

Initially she captivated us with angst-ridden mother, Meryl who was bombarded with advice and criticisms from peers, parenting books, radio shows, TV and the social network. Expectations of mothers today have never been greater. 

Beyond the Neck

A Quartet on Loss and Violence. By Tom Holloway. Red Stitch (Vic) Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Designer: Dayna Morrissey. Lighting Designer: Richard Vabre: Sound Designer – Philip McLeod. Cast: Marcus McKenzie, Philippa Spicer, Emmaline Carroll and Roger Oakley. 14 March to 14 April, 2012.

There can be no doubt that significant courage is required to work with material as deeply disturbing as the Port Arthur Massacre. And yes perhaps “To acknowledge grief is to acknowledge love.” (Director’s program notes.)

Four actors, as actors, frame, and as assumed characters, re-enact in disjointed monologues form incidents, in individual lives, surrounding this profoundly traumatic event. A sense of dread and danger underlies the telling that is presented as a montage, not a narrative.

Anything Goes

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter. Original Book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. New Book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 21 – 25, 2012.

Anything Goes is archetypal 1930s musical comedy, pure and simple. Subsequently re-written on many occasions for regular Broadway revivals, the revised script retains the vaudeville shtick character of the original, while Cole Porter the score is supplemented by even more of the songwriter’s classic songs and standards.

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