Reviews

In the Heights

Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Sydney Festival. Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. January 16 – 20, 2019.

A sell-out hit before it opened at the intimate Hayes Theatre in 2018, In The Heights now explodes into vibrant life on the larger stage, and into it's much larger space, at the Sydney Opera House, its short season promising, once again, to pack out its new 2,000 seat venue.

Hard as it is to best last year’s season, in places the return season blasts off into new dimensions in its upsized version.

A Doll’s House

By Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Miriam Fietz and Nathan Quadrio. IpSkip Productions. Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. Jan 16-19, 2019

I have often started to read a review only to find the dreaded word ‘dated’ in it, used because the play was written last century or even the century before. Apart from the syntax, A Doll’s House could not be more contemporary as it presents a woman's dilemma as a human dilemma, relevant to both sexes when so often women's stories are treated as a special subject of concern only to women.

The Chat

By JR Brennan and David Woods. Sydney Festival. Carriageworks, Sydney.January 16-20, 2019

There’s a certain anticipation as you enter Track 8 of Sydney’s Carriageworks and are greeted by a former prisoner or parole officer. You are here for a unique performance, where they will test your preconceptions of rehabilitation and the capacity of ex-offenders to reintegrate with society. The audience is asked to act as parole board and judge if one former prisoner - John Tjepkema at our performance - deserves freedom.

The Snow Queen

By Ruth Cantrell. Art in Motion. Directed by Lys Tickner. Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Thornlie. 16-19 Jan, 2018

The Snow Queen is a lovely way to kick off 2019 - a production packed with enthusiastic, very young actors, from a brand new company completing its first full-length production. It is an experience laden with possibilities.

Counting and Cracking

By S. Shakthidharan. Belvoir and Co-Curious. Sydney Festival. Sydney Town Hall. Jan 11 – Feb 2, 2019.

Sydney Town Hall has been transformed into a long, thrust stage surrounded by wooden tiered seating spread with brightly covered foam cushions. Colourful peaked gables arch above the lighting loom. Expectant patrons savour delicately flavoured lamb biryani before making their way to their seats for Belvoir and Co-Curious’ mammoth undertaking of S. Shakthidharan’s family saga, Counting and Cracking.

Madagascar: A Musical Adventure Jr.

Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture. Book By Kevin Del Aguila. Original Music and Lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan. Gosford Musical Society Jnrs. Laycock Street Community Theatre. January 15 – 19, 2019

Gosford Musical Society Juniors never cease to amaze their audiences with well produced shows, and Madagascar Jr is no different. A musical based on the 2005 animated film may seem like a strange choice for a stage adaption, but in an era where every second Disney movie is hitting Broadway, it hardly comes as a surprise - it’s sure to be a hit with both young and old.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Written by Laura Annawyn Shamas. Based on the novel by Joan Lindsay. Directed by Claire Argent. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Jan 12 –Feb 16, 2019

Ever since the novel was published in 1967, the story has intrigued readers and viewers as it has been both a movie and TV mini-series. Is it in any way true?  Apparently Lindsay wrote the novel in two weeks based on mystic dreams she had. The main action is centred around Mrs Appleyard, her girls’ school and students and what happens following the disappearances. The period is from Valentine’s Day, 1900.

 

Trial by Jury

By: W.S. Gibert and Arthur Sullivan. The Gilbert and Sullivan Society Tasmania. Hobart Supreme Court. Director: Patricia Robinson. January 4-18 2019

Trial by Jury has been a summer tradition in Hobart for more than a decade. It is often difficult to attract performers in the warmer months and director, Patricia Robinson, has achieved this with fluid casting options.

It was a privilege to see accomplished performer Darren Sangwell in the role of the judge. There were echoes of Hamilton’s King George in his excellent characterisation. In the following session (there are two every Friday and Saturday evenings), Kieren Slicer, took the same role and did not disappoint.

Disney Aladdin Jnr

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Directed by Sharyn Donoghue. Roar Academy, Theatre 102 Redcliffe. Jan 11 – Jan 13, 2019.

It was amazing how much of the original Disney film came back to mind when watching this musical version - written for, and performed by, such a cast of young people – and I mean very young with some cast members. Naturally, the key elements were in the story line – Aladdin struggling with friends, his meeting the princess, learning of the cave and magic lantern and finally working with the genie to better himself and as many others that he could. The storyline still inspires the watcher to dream of better things.

A Midsummer’s Much Ado about Two Gentlemen, Three Fairies and Twelve Nights.

Written by William Shakespeare, selected, adapted and directed by Chris Hamley. Hamley Productions. Pooley Wines, Richmond. January 11-27, 2019

This, the third Shakespeare mash up from Hamley Productions, might well have been called An Evening of Fools. The excerpts selected are delightful. There are few lords and ladies in this production. Scenes from Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night are chosen for their comic value. Minor comedic characters and subplots become the focus of attention. Each of the five cast members take on several roles with great versatility.

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