Reviews

Rent

By Jonathan Larson. Whitehorse Musical Theatre (Vic). Director: Paul Watson. Musical Director: Andrew Leach. Choreographer: Scott Ponsford. Besen Centre. October 7 to 17.

In a similar style to Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent is a rock opera, with little dialogue. Coming from an operatic background, I found remarkable similarities between the genres. The story was dramatic, based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme; the music was powerful and highlighted the drama of the piece; and it might as well have been sung in Italian as I could hear less than half of the words.

Sideshow

By Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. Shire Music Theatre. Sutherland Memorial Arts Theatre. October 8 to 17.

It’s great to see a new musical enter the community theatre repertoire, especially when it’s done well.

Miss Saigon

Music: Claude-Michel Schonberg. Lyrics: Richard Maltby Jr. & Alan Boublil. Book: Alan Boublil. Ignatians Musical Society. Director: Kat Henry. Musical Director: Steven McKay. Choreographer: Ingrid Cameron. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane, 23 September – 15 October.

A total knockout is the only way to describe the first Brisbane community theatre production of Schonberg and Boublil’s classic Miss Saigon by Ignatians. I have rarely been as moved by a community theatre production as I was by this stunning interpretation of the sung-through work based on Madam Butterfly. The piece has some of the most emotional music in the modern music-theatre canon, which was fully realized by a top-flight cast.

Katherine Howard

By William Nicholson. Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington (NSW). Director: Anthony Stirling-Edgar. September 17 – October 8.

A more beautifully costumed community theatre period piece than this Katherine Howard is hard to imagine. This drama of the brief life and reign of Henry VIII’s fifth queen Katherine Howard was stunningly dressed in costumes designed by Leone Sharp, who, with her team are to be congratulated for attention to detail in lavishly evoking the Tudor court. Impressive crowns by Peter and Ann Traish complement the effect.

The Clever Country

By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Director: Daniel McCusker. The Street Theatre, Canberra. October 6 - 16

The Minister for Science is worried about the falling enrolment of university science courses. To stem the flow, he recruits handsome young researcher Andrew Dean, developer of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation—a process known to cause bad artists to draw ever so slightly better cats. Can Andrew maintain his intellectual integrity, or will he have to resort to making science sexy? And what does the mysterious TMS machine really do?

The Wharf Revue 2010: Not Quite Out of the Woods.

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. MTC Sumner Theatre, Melbourne - January 5 - 29, 2011 (Sydney season - Wharf 1 October 8 – December 12, 2010)

In a champagne year for political drama you’d think that political satirists would be in nirvana. But in this the 11th Wharf Revue, many of the Federal political gags didn’t quite reach the mark.

The Tony ‘Abbotar’ sketch was curious. He rose to the stage with blue skin, red speedos and the theme music from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Blackbird

By David Harrower. 1812 Theatre (Vic). Director: Chris Proctor. September 19 to October 23.

In Blackbird (British slang for jailbird), Ray, a middle-aged middle-manager, and 20-something Una, meet after 15 years. Ray (then in his 40’s) was gaoled for having an ‘affair’ with Una when she was a minor.

[title of show]

Music & Lyrics: Jeff Bowen. Book: Hunter Bell. Oscar Theatre Company Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse. Director: Emily Gilhome. Musical Director: David Law. October 6 – 16.

Oscar Theatre Company, Emily Gilhome’s enterprising young company who have brought Brisbane audiences The Last Five Years, A Slightly Sondheim Wedding, and the 2008 Qld Matilda Winner, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, have turned to another quirky Broadway show with [title of show], as their latest offering. It’s another in a group of small musicals, The Musical of Musicals etc., that takes the mickey out of the musical theatre genre and the joke very quickly wears thin.

Phlegm Fatal

Written, directed, and performed by Amy Bodossian. Open Studio, Northcote. 23rd Sept – 09th Oct.

The media release for Phlegm Fatal playing at Open Studio in Northcote for Melbourne Fringe Festival, said great things. Amy Bodossian is entrancing and wild and an artist of the spoken word. “Like a mortician I can make the dead look pleasant, presentable. I am an artist” The media release gave certain expectations that were completely blown out of the water. For one thing, Bodossian barely mentions death; her show is more about life, and love. ‘Phlegm Fatal’ a blend of original poetry and song, doesn’t get off to a swinging start.

Anyone Can Whistle

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Book: Arthur Laurents. Magnormos & Melbourne Recital Centre Production. Melbourne Recital Centre, 4 October, 2010. Director: Aaron Joyner. Musical Director: Laura Tipoki. Choreographer: Tamara Finch.

Stephen Sondheim’s Anyone Can Whistle has always been a problematical show. Its quirky plot, about an industrial town that fakes a miracle to bring in the tourists, was hardly standard Broadway fare in the 60s. It ran 9 performances, but it did feature a knockout performance by Angela Lansbury, her first in a musical. To celebrate Sondheim’s 80th birthday, Magnormos, as part of their A Sondheim Triptych, presented a concert version of the legendary piece, with Anne Wood in the Lansbury role.

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