Back to the 80’s

By Neil Gooding. Sydney Youth Theatre Company. Hornsby RSL. July 16 to 24.

Neil Gooding’s jukebox musical Back to the 80’s is poised to become the most widely performed Australian written musical or play of all time. Each year more than 200 schools and amateur theatres now stage the show in countries all over the world. More on the success of the show and the spin-offs later.

Alice the Musical

Adapted by Vernon Mound from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Eltham Little Theatre. Directors: Gayle Poor & Lois Fleming. Chorographer: Lois Fleming. July 9 – 18.

ELT’s annual children’s production Alice the Musical was an amazing evening, enhanced by the amazing costuming and make up, equal to many professional shows seen around Melbourne.

[title of show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell

Squabbalogic. Seymour Centre, Sydney. July 16 to August 7. RETUN SEASON - May 24 - 29, 2011. Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville.

Gentle, often quirky musical theatre fun is the order of the night at Sydney’s Seymour Centre in [title of show], a new intimate musical.

[title of show] is an original musical that tells the true story of two guys writing a musical, in three weeks, for entry into the New York Musical Theatre Festival, aided by their two actress friends Susan and Heidi. Extended to reflect the journey following that original Festival version, the extended show now features the subsequent Off-Broadway and eventual Broadway journeys of this delightful little musical.

The King and I. Music by Richard Rodgers. Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

The Production Company, State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, until July 25.

Truly great musicals – of which Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I must be close to the most perfect example – set every creative team who takes them on an unenviable set of obstacles. The first one is the audience’s experience of the show that has gone before. (One of mine was a disastrous performance in London’s West End when, suffering from laryngitis, Susan Hampshire – who was playing Mrs Anna – had a go at I whistle a happy tune, and then they just cut the rest of her songs. It was, as you might imagine, appalling.

40th Noosa One-Act Play Festival

Noosa Arts Theatre. June 2010. The Usual Five for Lunch by Paul Addison, God Willing by Bruce Olive and Tudo Ou Nada by Frank Wilkie.

The Noosa National Playwriting Competition celebrated its 40th year with the three finalists chosen from 55 plays. On the whole I found this years fare so much better than last years.

Little Shop of Horrors

Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Cilla Scott. May / June, 2010.

Spotlight’s Little Shop of Horrors, under the guidance Director, Cilla Scott; Assistant Director, Adam King; Musical Director, Stewart Kelly and Choreographer, Bec Stanley was a wonderful night’s entertainment based around the exploits of the human-eating plant –Audrey 2. The plant, which grew with every scene, stole the show (and of course several of the cast) and was manipulated very effectively by Bec Stanley. Audrey 2 started out in the pot (pictured) but by the end of the show the well-fed plant covered half the stage.

Kiss of the Spider Woman by Kander and Ebb

Darlinghurst Theatre (NSW) . Director: Stephen Colyer. Musical Directot: Craig Renshaw. Darlinghurst Theatre Company / Gaiety Theatre Company. July 8 – August 8

Many Broadway musicals will never be viable for full professional productions in Australia – Tony Award winning Kiss of the Spider Woman by John Kander and Fred Ebb (of Chicago and Cabaret fame) is among them.

A severely pared back version, like the current Darlinghurst Theatre production, a concert-style staging, or a production by an adventurous amateur company, are the probable options for a local airing.

Chasing the Lollyman

La Mama. July 14 - 18

Chasing the Lollyman was written and performed by Mark Sheppard, and directed and co-devised by Liz Skitch. The show opened with a disclaimer that it contained a “skinny, camp, Murri man” which set the tone for the evening.

All Shook Up

Matt Byrne Media. Touring the Arts / Shedley / Chaffey theatres (SA) until July 31

Matt Byrne Media's Adelaide premiere of All Shook Up opened at the Arts Theatre to an almost full house. However, design issues appear to have translated into technical problems, which the cast may struggle to overcome throughout the run. The colourful cast worked hard to deliver the Elvis inspired musical, but sound levels, lighting and choreography standards have impacted on the production quality.

The Merry Widow

Operetta by Franz Lehar. English Book & Lyrics: Christopher Hassell. Opera Queensland. Opened 10 July, 2010, Conservatorium Theatre, South Bank, Brisbane. Director: Anna Sweeny. Conductor: Kellie Dickerson

Queensland’s new Merry Widow, Antoinette Halloran, is charming and delightful, sings gloriously, and looks like 20 million dollars (the sum she has just inherited plotwise), on her entrance, in Opera Queensland’s The Merry Widow, but Anna Sweeny’s production is like a glass of flat champagne, there’s no effervescence. Jason Barry-Smith sang well, but was miscast as the dashingly, dissolute Danilo. He’s a terrific character performer, but he’s no leading man.

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