Reviews

Invisible Me

Adapted from the book by Wendy Binks. A QPAC and Southern Cross Soloists Production for Out of the Box 2012. Director: Brendan Ross. Composer: Joseph Twist. Designer: Josh Mcintosh. Actor / Dancer: Stacey McCallum. Musicians: Southern Cross Soloists. Queensland Performing Arts Centre. 12 – 17 June 2012.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Out of the Box children’s festival for 3 to 8 year olds, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Southern Cross Soloists commissioned a new work based on the best-selling children’s book Invisible Me by West Australian author Wendy Binks.

The stage adaptation ofInvisible Me is an absolutely charming and delightful piece of children’s theatre, that captures the imagination and attention of its intended audience through its music, movement and design.

Hairspray

By Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan, Mark Shaiman and Scott Whittman. Harvest Rain Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 22-30 June, 2012

This is a big-hair, bold, sassy, rocking, writhing and kicking mother of a show.

With its huge talented cast, great sets, dazzling light and costume designs,

it starts at full throttle and races us through admirable fantasies: a 1960s community with people of all body sizes and different races that integrate amicably.

Cry of the Forest and Once Upon Another Time

Written by a team of experienced and apprentice writers. 60th Diamond Jubilee Melbourne Gang Show. Besen Centre, Burwood (Vic). Director: Robert Motton. Musical Director: Russell Corr. Music Arrangements: Russell Corr, Benjamin Moody, Stephen Smith, Roger Montgomery. Lighting Designer: Mark Hopkins. Set Construction: Malcolm Chatto.

Well now, this is one impressive show. How good? Let’s just say it leaves any amateur show I’ve ever seen for dead. Period.

Ben Vereen: Steppin’ Out Live

Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, 23rd June. Parade Theatre, NIDA, Sydney, 28th June, 2012

V is for Virtuoso… E for Excellence, R for Remarkable, E for Exciting, another E for Electrifying….well, you get the picture.

Circus Oz: From the Ground Up

Birrarung Marr, Melbourne June 20 – July 15, 201. Then touring regional Australia.

I love Circus Oz. It’s an icon. But sometimes an Icon loses perspective, or perhaps our expectations are just too high. Whatever the reason, somehow the new show From the Ground Up failed to transport me and a substantial share of the audience in the way CO normally does. This may be because the primary object of any theatrical event – which is to entertain – took a back seat to the highly political agenda in the show ( which was made all the more pervasive by endless speeches and welcomes which added more than half an hour in length to opening night.)

Himmelweg: Way to Heaven

By Juan Mayorga (translated by David Johnson). Redroom Theatre Company (Vic). Theatreworks, St Kilda. Director: Alister Smith. Set, Sound and Concept Design: Alister Smith. Lighting Design: Daniel Chapman. June 21 – July 1

On June 23, 1944, Red Cross workers inspected the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp north of Berlin. Rumours about atrocities being committed against the Jewish people were circling the world. Unthinkable things. Skeletal bodies in striped pyjamas, and worse. But the visitors found no starving children, mass graves, torture, or gas chambers - just ‘an ordinary town’. It was a hoax code-named Operation Embellishment, orchestrated to pull-the-wool-over-the-eyes of the world.

The Land of Yes and the Land of No

Sydney Dance Company. Choreographer: Rafael Boachela. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. June 21 – 23 and touring.

The words of choreographer Rafael Boachela and production designer Alan Macdonald as they describe the creation of this work are almost as graphic and emotional as the performance itself. The essence of the work is signs and symbols – how they direct us, divert us, warn us, alter our way.

The Last Five Years

By Jason Robert Brown. Ignatians Musical Society. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. June 20 – 23, 2012.

The Last Five Years has heart, hurt, humour, and raw emotions.  It engages anyone who has ever been in love and suffered the euphoria and heartbreak associated with that.

The stars of this production are the cast (Bethan Ellsmore – Cathy, and Tim Dashwood – Jamie) as well as the instrumental combo of seven under MD Ben Murray. This group doesn’t so much accompany the songs as become integral to most of them. So, we should include Jason Robert Brown who wrote the concept, songs and music, as another star.

Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision

By Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson. The Hills Musical Society (NSW). Don Moore Community Centre. June 15 – 23, 2012.

So effectively self-satirizing is the often-dreadful Eurovision song contest, that further send-up seems almost redundant. In writing this parody musical, the Australian creators had to come up with a score full of clichéd, deliberately bad songs, and intentionally cringe-worthy, often sleazy or risqué, banter for the comperes, then make it work for an audience. With no conventional narrative, it’s more like a vaudeville or variety show than a musical in any conventional sense.

Pippin

Book by Roger O Hirson. Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. June 15 – 24, 2012.

Pippin tends to polarize music theatre lovers. I’m an unashamed fan.

Miranda Musical Society’s production, which serves the Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked) 70s soft rock musical very well, should ensure some new fans.

Reveling in the sultry, grotesque vaudeville carnival theatricality of Gavin Leahy’s interpretation, the well-balanced ensemble create delightful individualities, blending organically into a quirky unity. It’s a splendid production.

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