Reviews

The Merry Wives of Windsor

By William Shakespeare. GRADS. Directed by Thomas Dimmick. The New Fortune Theatre, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA. Mar 5-14, 2020

Perth's Shakespeare fans have been very spoilt in the last couple of years, with numerous productions, both community and professional - with this being one of two outdoor Shakespeare productions this week. The Merry Wives of Windsor, though, is a particular treat, as I don’t remember this playing within the last twenty years, and GRADS - Graduate Dramatic Society’s production is a fun, frolicsome, well presented production.

Singin’ In The Rain

Music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Screenplay: Betty Comden & Adolph Green. Rockdale Musical Society. Rockdale Town Hall. March 6 – 14, 2020

While you shouldn’t anticipate the cinematic bells and whistles of MGM’s 1952 classic film musical Singin’ In The Rain, Rockdale Musical Society’s production of the stage version has technical bells and whistles all its own, along with plentiful lashings of charm.

The stage show sticks incredibly close to the rom-com script of the movie, set against a background of Hollywood transitioning from silent flicks to talkies and early musicals.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Music & Lyrics: Frank Loesser. Book: Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. March Productions. The Goodwood Institute, Goodwood March 5 - 8 2020

I love youth theatre shows! They are full of honesty, integrity and energy. March Productions’ staging of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a perfect example!

A classic 60s musical, originally starring Robert Morse and recently Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame for the 50th Anniversary Broadway revival, it has remained a staple of amateur theatre companies.

Trois Grandes Fugues

Lyon Opera Ballet. Adelaide Festival. Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 6 – 7 March, 2020

This event is such a fascinating union of classical music, dance and the art of choreography. We hear three different renditions of the same piece of music by Beethoven and watch three diverse works by female choreographers first programmed together by the Lyon Opera Ballet at the instigation of Artistic Director Yorgos Loukos in 2016. 

Maguy Marin, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Lucinda Childs are the creators, Childs’ work the only one commissioned whereas De Keersmaeker made her interpretation in 1992, and Marin hers in 2001. 

Cold Blood

Written by Thomas Gunzig. Adelaide Festival. Michele Anne De Mey, Jaco Van Dormael and Kiss & Cry Collective. Ridley Centre, Adelaide Showgrounds. 5-8 March, 2020.

In contrast to its perhaps-foreboding title, the team of Belgian artisans behind this spectacularly successful and satisfying show have created an experience that warms the heart, in sometimes strange but absolutely undeniable ways.

Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep

Chamber Made and Culture Link Singapore. Asia TOPA. Arts Centre Melbourne. February 28, 2020

International Avant-garde musician Margaret Leng Tan is playfully dubbed ‘Queen of the toy piano’. Her new show Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep, co-produced by Chamber Made and Culture Link Singapore, is a masterful experimental collage of music, spoken word, performance and visuals for the triennial Asia TOPA at the Arts Centre.

In a work featuring twelve short musical scores by Erik Griswold, director Tamara Saulwick and Tan have collaborated to devise a uniquely structured, visually stunning choreographic, sound-based performance.

Mamma Mia!

Music & Lyrics; Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus. Additional songs by Stig Anderson. Book: Catherine Johnson. Empire Theatres Production. Director: James Shaw. Musical Director: Craig Renshaw. Choreographer: Tess Hill. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, Qld, 5-15 Mar, 2020.

On the 20th anniversary of presenting pro-am productions of musicals in the refurbished Empire Theatre, it’s entirely appropriate the company should present Mamma Mia!, also celebrating its 20th anniversary. Ever since Judy Craymer originally conceived it, the show has been a licence to print money, having played to over 65 million people in 40 countries and grossing over $4 billion at the box office. The movie alone took $615 million worldwide.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House. February 29 – April 4, 2020.

Bell Shakespeare betters a run of disappointing shows with this conventional, touchingly domesticated telling of Hamlet

Screens of imposing snowclad forests surrounds the stage, interlaced in part with family videos of happier, nostalgic times for young Hamlet and his kin.

Spamalot

Book and lyrics by Eric Idle. Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Directed by Richard Carroll. HOTA 5th-7th March, 2020. Touring Parramatta, Wyong, and Arts Centre Melbourne in 2020.

Let’s be honest, for committed lovers of musical theatre Spamalot is, perhaps, a steaming crock of Idle-ness (the Eric kind); whereas to true believers it is an homage to the ‘genius’ that is Monty Python and all things kitsch.

Don’t Hate the Player

Adelaide Fringe. Star Theatres, Adelaide. 5-8 March 2020

What’s the difference between actual and virtual realities? Not much, according to Laura McDonald’s play on being both trapped and liberated by technology.

Madeleine Osborne is Darcy, a young woman who spends much of her time living in a virtual reality headset, the game setting her challenges that distract her from the real world. Rhiannon Watson is, like, her ‘cool sister’, who has a job and a string of ex-boyfriends, reluctantly drawn into the game after her breakdown about her break-up.

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