Reviews

Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman

Williamstown Musical Theatre Company Inc. (Vic)

“Shoot to Win” is emblazoned across the arch of the shooting gallery where we first meet our ‘assassins’. A lesser-known Stephen Sondheim work, Assassins (1990) introduces the audience to a number of (failed and successful) attempts to assassinate US Presidents and the social outsiders behind them. The Proprietor (Gavin D Andrew), dressed in the stripes of the American flag, gives each assassin a gun and convinces them that “Everybody’s got the right to their dreams.”

Dickens Down Under by Mel Morrow

Genesian Theatre Company, 420 Kent Street, Sydney. Until December 12.

For their final production for the year, or as they have called it ‘their pre-Christmas treat’, the Genesian Theatre Company are presenting the world premiere of Dickens Down Under, a Victoriana Vaudeville by prolific Australian playwright, Mel Morrow.

EUROBEAT – Almost Eurovision

Music & Lyrics: Craig Christie, Andrew Patterson. Book: Craig Christie. QPAC Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. Opened November 25, 2009. Director & Additional Material: Glynn Nicholas

Eurobeat is funny, frivolous, and fabulously over-the-top. Opening last night at the Lyric Theatre, this send-up of Eurovision, the song competition that everyone loves to hate, was launched with a deafening sound of clackers, whistles and cheers, the like of which has not been seen in a theatre for some time. Added to this is the unique experience of being able to use your mobile phone to vote for your favorite act.

Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Old Scotch Collegian Association. Director: Alan Burrows. Musical Director: Ben Hudson.

The Old Scotch Collegians Association chose Jesus Christ Superstar for their second production; quite a change from Les Miserables. This was given a modern setting with Gestapo police and abstract sets which were very effective.

Gerard Schneider played the lead character of Jesus with great dignity, but his operatic tenor didn’t always know how to handle the rock music. Rock singer Jamie Pearce as Judas was much more comfortable in this medium and was vocally thrilling.

Toy Symphony by Michael Gow

QTC. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. Director: Geordie Brookman.

Good drama should stimulate the mind, which this does, and touch the heart, which this doesn’t. Michael Gow’s new play Toy Symphony is a cerebral piece, clever, at times funny, and wildly imaginative. But it does not connect with an audience. Roland Henning is gay. He’s a successful writer, a former cocaine addict who’s kicked the habit, and he’s going through a writer’s block. On the insistence of a friend, he reluctantly begins psychoanalysis.

The Christian Brothers by Ron Blair

Tap Gallery, Darlinghurst (NSW).

Gipsy Tap is currently presenting a revival of Ron Blair's classic 1975 one man play The Christian Brothers at the intimate Tap Gallery theatre, in a production directed by Richard Cotter.

In classic dramatic style Blair's play, set in the 1950's, features a central character at a point of crisis. The audience watches as a man of faith, an ageing secondary school teacher, the Christian Brother of the title, cruelly goes to pieces during the breadth of a school day.

Cabaret by Joe Masteroff, John Kander and Fred Ebb

New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Director: Louise Fischer. November 19 to December 19, 2009

Memories of the Oscar winning movie, and of Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, flood the memory at the mention of Cabaret.

New Theatre is currently presenting the stage musical which inspired the movie masterpiece. It’s a very different piece – a much more conventional musical, with lots of the more conventional character songs, cut from the screen version.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

MLOC Productions Inc. Director: Judy Sullivan. Musical Director: Geoff Earle. Assistant Musical Director: Jack Earle. Choreographer: Merilyn Young.

MLOC Productions excelled themselves with the Victorian Premiere with Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, based on the film with Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney, with some small changes to suit the stage. The sets, fairly basic, changed easily and efficiently to give the correct feel to the various scenes. The orchestra, at the rear of the stage, did not compete with the singers - ie one could actually hear the voices.

Proof by David Auburn

Wollongong Workshop Theatre. 13th to 28th November. Director: Luke Berman

Workshop Theatre has produced a very accomplished and satisfying late Spring production of David Auburn's modern American classic, Proof. The intimate Workshop production helped clarify the show's themes - a scientific savant narrative with a gender twist, layering a more general and endearing theme of generational redemption.

The Breath of Life by David Hare

Cairns Little Theatre. Director: John Hughes.

The Breath of Life by David Hare was Cairns Little Theatre’s last production for 2009. The production proved to be a thought provoking play for actors and audience alike.

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