Bangarra Dance Theatre. Artistic Director: Stephen Page. Choreographer: Frances Rings. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 18 – Aug 18, 2012. Tours to Wollongong, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane.

The recent stunning transmutation of Lake Eyre from dry salt through to lush inland sea – and its Arabunna inhabitants – was the inspiration for this first full-length work by Bangarra artist-in-residence, Frances Rings.

These shifting landscapes are explored by Bangarra’s twelve dust-clad indigenous dancers, in a hymn to country told through nine distinct chapters.


By Giuseppe Verdi and Antonio Ghislanzoni. Opera Australia. Director: Graeme Murphy. Opera Theatre, Sydeny Opera House. July 17 - October 13, 2012.

This sumptuous production is even stronger on its second outing in Sydney in less than four years.

It was created when Opera companies across Australia pooled resources to stage a new production of Aida with fresh choreography from Graeme Murphy.
The set was simple and clever. At the back of the stage are projected images, often along the theme of a pyramid. It was ideal for the love triangle at the centre of this story.

The Seafarer

By Conor McPherson. O’Punksky’s Theatre. Director: Maeliosa Stafford. Costume Design: Alison Bradshaw. Lighting Design: Tony Youlden. Sound Design: Nate Edmondson. Cast: Maeliosa Stafford, Patrick Dickson, John O’Hare, Patrick Connolly and William Zappa. Darlinghurst Theatre, Potts Point. 17 July to 11 August 2012.

The Devil to pay

The Pirates of Penzance Junior

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Eltham Little Theatre. Director: John Leahy. Choreographer: Amber Smith. July 12 – 22.

Opening with a bang … a canon … the ship came on stage, part of the side folded down and the pirates spilled onto stage. Very effective!

While I’m very familiar with The Pirates of Penzance, I haven’t previously encountered the junior version. Though the story line was unaltered, most songs had been cut down and some eliminated, trimming the running time to a little over an hour. Songs had been transposed into lower keys and there was little harmony.

However, the production was most entertaining.

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde. Heidelberg Theatre Company. Directed by Wendy Drowley. July 12 – 28, 2012

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a gift for any theatre company for two reasons: Lady Bracknell and tea cups. Any play with an acerbic matriarch and scenes that allow actors to explore the comic possibilities of teacups, trembling upon their bone china saucers, never goes out of favour.

The McNeil Project

The Chocolate Frog and The Old Familiar Juice by Jim McNeil. Wattle We Do Next Productions, in association with Stable Productions &Auspicious Arts Projects. Director: Malcolm Robertson. Actors: Will Ewing, Luke McKenzie, Cain Thompson and Richard Bligh. fortyfivedownstairs (Vic) 6-29 July, 2012.

The McNeil Project offers the chance to revisit a significant era of Australian Theatre History, in presenting two enlightening short plays that are set in prison cells of the 1970s.  These works are written by Jim McNeil who himself was a convicted prisoner.  

Production values are crisp and clean and the acting sincere and focused.  Both plays are well written, intriguing depictions of destabilized and volatile power relationships.

Jersey Boys

Music: Bob Gaudio. Lyrics: Bob Crewe. Book: Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice. Dodger Theatricals, Rodney Rigby, Dainty Group, Joseph J. Grano, Tamara & Kevin Kinsella, Pelican Group and Michael Watt. Director: Des McAnuff. Choreographer: Sergio Trujillo. Musical Director: Luke Hunter Lyric Theatre, QPAC. Opening Night 15 July 2012

If the audience reaction last night is anything to go by then Brisbane is going to love Jersey Boys. The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons has it all – the mob, prison, insatiable adultery, and great music. And what great music - “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man”, “My Eyes Adored You,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” are almost a rundown of the 60s most memorable hits.

The Producers

By Mel Brooks. The Production Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre. 8 July – 15 July, 2012

There is a song in Mel Brooks’ comedy musical titled “Where Did We Go Right?”  I doubt that’s what The Production Company is asking. Directors Andrew Hallsworth and Dean Bryant carefully considered the look and feel of the show, resulting in an engaging and sophisticated interpretation of the Tony Award winning show, resulting in a standing ovation.

Queen Lear

By William Shakespeare. MTC. Director: Rachel McDonald. The MTC Theatre, Sumner. July 7 to 18 August, 2012.

It is a sensational idea to re-cast King Lear from the perspective of a Queen and to put the formidable Robyn Nevin in the lead role. Nevin’s pose on the production poster, complete with mane of hair and those expressive eye shining with rage, wisdom and grief promises a rich and fearless theatrical experience. Indeed, her first appearance on the stage is electrifying, as she steps forth in a bejewelled red gown with coiffured white and black hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by Natalie Medlock, Dan Musgrove, and Michael Hurst. Royale Productions, Director: Natalie Medlock. The Street, Canberra. 11–21 July 2012.

It may not be possible to appreciate how fine an actor is until you see him play various disparate roles interacting with each other.

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