Beach Blanket Tempest

By Chris Harriott and Dennis Watkins. Normanhurst Uniting Church Musical Society (NSW). May 27 – June 11, 2011.

Affectionately known by the hard to pronunce acronym ‘NUCMS,’ this company has staged 43 musicals since 1975 and all have been written overseas.

Their first Australian musical presentation is Beach Blanket Tempest.

The surf rock musical is a send up of the ‘incy wincy’ bikini films of the sixties with a pop score loosely based  on Shakespeare’s classic.

I am the agent for the show, and have seen several productions over the years, but this one was one of the strongest.

The Goodbye Girl

By Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and David Zippel. Bankstown Theatrical Society (NSW). Bankstown Arts Centre Theatre. May 27 – June 11, 2011.

Some modest, enjoyable Broadway musicals like The Goodbye Girl (1993) never get a commercial production here. It’s taken 18 years for a Sydney production; a warm, enjoyable interpretation by Bankstown Theatrical Society, the debut production in their newly renovated theatre.

Rachael Beck & Ian Stenlake – You and I

Twelve Acts of Cabaret, Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. Musical Director & Pianist: Bev Kennedy. 2 June 2011

Last night Brisbane had a taste of a New York supper club when the Cremorne Theatre was set-up in Cabaret mode for the opening of QPAC’s Twelve Acts of Cabaret. Soft lighting, candles on the tables and some red fringe above the stage all helped to create an intimate ambience. And what better act to open the season than two of Australia’s most popular musical theatre performers, Rachael Beck and Ian Stenlake.


Music: Georges Bizet. Text and Choreography: Francois Klaus. Queensland Ballet, Playhouse, QPAC. May 28 – June 7, 2011

A strong corps de ballet and young talented principals were the highlights of the Queensland Ballet’s production of Carmen. Postponed because of the January floods, the ballet has now found a home at the Playhouse where it opened on Saturday to enthusiastic applause.

Trial by Jury and The Sorcerer

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria. Director: Diana Burleigh. Musical Director: Nigel McBain. May 14 – 21, 2011.

There was a disappointing crowd at the last performance of Trial by Jury and The Sorcerer by the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria, which would reflect where The Sorcerer stands in the popularity stakes. It was also the third performance in just over twenty-four hours, which affected some principals.

Love Never Dies

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater. Book by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton. The Really Useful Company. Regent Theatre, Melbourne. (Vic). Director: Simon Phillips. Producer Tim McFarlane. Set and Costume Design: Gabriela Tylesova. Australian Premiere Performance, 28th May, 2011.

Australia’s Love Never Dies production is a disarmingly sumptuous feast for ears, eyes and soul, with ravishing music, breathtaking set design and costuming. The sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera opened last night at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre to a rapturous reception.

West Side Story

By Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Babirra Music Theatre (Vic). Director: Paul Watson. Musical Director: Ben Hudson. Choreographers: Leigh Barker/Ashley Tynan. The Whitehorse Centre. May 27 – June 11, 2011.

Babirra’s West Side Story blew me away. Everything about this powerful work was first class.

The initial set looked like a housing commission block of flats with the orchestra in the ground level car park. The orchestra under Ben Hudson was alternatively full and rich, diminishing to an ethereal whisper when required. The treacherous music was no problem.

Breaking Legs by Tom Dulak

The 1812 Theatre (Vic). Director: Robin Miller. May 26 – June 25, 2011.

So excellent is Robin Emmett’s design and artwork for 1812 Theatre’s production of Tom Dulak’s Breaking Legs, that you have trouble realising that you are not looking at the actual scene, a mafia connected Italian restaurant in the USA.

The audience are at the rear of the restaurant’s interior, looking toward the window, and out on the car park with several cars in view. Painted on the rear wall, the cars look most realistic. The interior side walls are views across the ocean, with a large painting of the statue of David on each side.

Miss Saigon

Music by Claude – Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alan Boublil, additional material by Richard Maltby Jr. Marie Clark Musical Theatre. Arts Theatre, Adelaide (SA) May 20 to 28, 2011.

Marie Clark has reached for the stars in their latest production of Miss Saigon, and has pleasantly outdone themselves with this staging of a well-known musical.

Directed by Max Rayner, with choreography by Irena Setchell and musical direction by Ben Saunders, one would expect pretty high standards. On most fronts they don’t disappoint, however there were a few glaring issues which took the shine off of this potential gem.

Capture the Flag

By Toby Schmitz. Critical Stages and Tamarama Rock Surfers. Parramatta Riverside Theatre (May 24 – 28, 2011) and touring Regional NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

What is it about our funding bodies that moves them to tour plays about people trapped underground or underwater to regional centres?

This year it is Capture The Flag, a play about members of the Hitler Youth stuck in a drain in Berlin at the end of World War 2. Last year it was about trapped Russian submariners in The Kursk.

Neither, apparently, sets the box office on fire.

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