Reviews

Wild Eagles Fly Alone

Redback Dance Company. Direction: Trent Harlow. Choreography: Jayden Hicks. Chapel off Chapel. Feb 6th and 7th and 16th, 2013

Thanks to me getting the show time wrong on opening night, I had to catch the second performance of this exciting new company. It was well worth the double trip to the wonderfully eclectic Chapel off Chapel.

The Pitch & The China Incident

By Peter Houghton. Director: Catarina Hebbard (The Pitch), Daniel Evans (The China Incident). QTC @ Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 2 Feb – 9 Mar, 2013.

Barbara Lowing’s solo performance in The China Incident is comic gold. Her manic day in the life of PR guru Bea Pontivac is one riot of laughs from start to finish. Whether putting a positive spin on an African dictator’s massacre, fielding inappropriate calls from the President of the United States, or setting up a sexual tryst with a U.N.

Torch Song Trilogy

By Harvey Fierstein. Gaiety Theatre in association with Mardi Gras. Director: Stephen Colyer. Darlinghurst Theatre. February 6 - March 3, 2013

Some Independent Theatre productions can be so good they outshine many from mainstage theatre companies. Particularly when they combine great skill and passion for the subject matter. Torch Song Trilogy is one of those.

The play ranges from comedy, to bed-hopping farce, to gripping drama.

It opens with the stage stripped back to the bones of the theatre walls. Three Drag Queens apply their make-up in front of stage mirrors, to prepare for a performance.

Simon Corfield shines as the wise-cracking Arnold.

Great Falls

By Lee Blessing. Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli (NSW). February 6 – March 3, 2013.

What a gripping play with which to begin a season! It doesn’t promise to excite … a divorced step-father, “Monkey Man”, taking his estranged – and unwilling – eighteen year old step-daughter, “Bitch”, on a trip across America to the places he visited in his happy childhood. He wants re-connect. She doesn’t. She is surly, aggressive, uncommunicative. What’s behind this? Why is he bothering?

Into the Woods.

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim, Book: James Lapine. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Joshua McCann-Thomson. February 2 – March 2, 2013.

This inspired interpretation of the classic was very well received by both the Sondheim devotees and those audience members not familiar with the piece.

Joshua McCann-Thomson had assembled a talented ensemble cast, well versed in the art of performing Sondheim’s unique style and they carried it off perfectly.

Under the Musical Direction of Ethan Jones, the cast ensured that the lyrics were never sacrificed throughout the fast pace of the show, and what a hectic pace it was.

Shakespeare in Hollywood

By Ken Ludwig. Castle Hill Players at the Pavilion Theatre (NSW). Feb 1 – 23, 2013.

Remember the 1935 movie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?  Max Reinhardt directing (in German) for Warner Brothers? Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, Joe E Brown? Now imagine that Oberon, the fairy king, and his offsider, Puck, have transmogrified onto the set and been cast to play themselves.

Fidelio

By Beethoven. Melbourne Opera. Director: Hugh Halliday. Musical Director: David Kram. Athenaeum Theatre. February 2 – 10, 2013.

There was a lot to like about Melbourne Opera’s production of Fidelio. After a few shaky entries in the overture, the orchestra under David Kram hit its stride. The Leonore Overture at the start of Act 2 Scene 2 was a highlight with well-deserved prolonged applause. David’s influence could also be seen in the ensembles, which, with a couple of exceptions, were well-balanced.

The Magistrate

By Arthur Wing Pinero. National Theatre Live. Rosebud and other cinemas nationally. Encore performances week of Feb 4th, 2013.

Seated in the comfortable Cinema 4 at Rosebud on a Sunday afternoon with fellow theatre lovers, it’s easy to believe that you’re actually in the audience at the National’s famed Olivier watching a superb cast bring to life Pinero’s 1865 play The Magistrate.

Pinero’s play is more comedy of manners than Feydeau farce, and he doesn’t have the biting wit of Oscar Wilde, but The Magistrate is still a joyful romp and well worth seeing for the performances alone.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Music and Lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman. Adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams and Ray Roderick. Directed by Roger Hodgman. Her Majesty’s Theatre. Melbourne Opening Night: 2nd February, 2013

If Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is more a delightfully fluffy and well decorated confection than a sumptuous feast, it’s certainly not the fault of this production, which started its official Melbourne run last night. Director Roger Hodgman has maximised the delights for children while still maintaining adult interest, no mean achievement. But, put simply, there’s a fabulous car, and it floats, and it flies; and once you’ve seen that (and it truly is spectacular), the rest of the show no longer seems that important.

HAIR

Book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Music by Galt McDermott StageArt. Directed by Robbie Carmelotti. Chapel off Chapel. February 1 – 17, 2013.

When live theatre really works it is the most joyous and uplifting experience in the world…and this latest production of the 1968 Tony Award winning musical really works. Despite abysmal sound problems (feedback and booming. Guys…I know you rehearsed it, but stop patting each others faces and hair when the radio mikes are on, or reposition the mikes) nothing could dull the sheer exhilaration of this marvellous psychedelic celebration of life. It should feel dated, but instead it feels fresh, and raw, and passionate, and NOW.

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