Reviews

Alice in Wonderland

Adapted & directed by Penny Farrow, based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Rapidfire International, Inc. in association with Boyd Productions. Athenaeum Theatre, Collins Street, Melbourne. 9 – 10 January 2018

Alice on stage?  But, no, its not a musical.  Executive Producer Ethan Walker believes, ‘the original book is so delicious and remarkable that… the words would be lost if we were to make this production a musical’. So, here is an exuberant, pacey compression (just one hour) of Carroll’s work with additional material chosen by adapter/director Penny Farrow from Alice Through the Looking-Glass, The Hunting of the Snark and a volume of Carroll’s poetry, Rhyme? And Reason?

Darlinghurst Nights

Book by Katherine Thomson. Music by Max Lambert. Based on the book Darlinghurst Nights by Kenneth Slessor and an original concept by Andrew James. Directed by Lee Lewis. Musical Director Max Lambert. Hayes Theatre Co. Jan 4 to Feb 3, 2018.

This musical gem beautifully evokes the ghosts of those who once walked the streets of Darlinghurst and Kings Cross just outside the Hayes Theatre itself.  Drawing on Kenneth Slessor’s collection of poems from the 1920-30’s, it’s also another welcome time travel –  reviving as it does an Australian musical successfully premiered 30th years ago.

We’re reminded again about the power onstage of our own Australian voices, the locals which came before us and familiar places which made us both.

The Town Hall Affair

Based on the film Town Bloody Hall by Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker. Wooster Group / Sydney Festival. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 7 – 13, 2018.

New York’s Wooster Group were the experimental darlings of the 1986 Adelaide Festival, along with the long monologues of their co-founder, the late Spalding Gray.

Now Wooster debuts in Sydney, still sitting at the same long table with mics, deconstructing classic texts and major cultural events. 

Their subject is the landmark 1971 Manhattan debate on women’s liberation, which was documented in the film, Town Bloody Hall. Extracts are screened as the Wooster actors play out the same sequences at the table and lectern. 

Masterclass

By Terrence McNally. Andrew Kay in Association with The Kings Head Theatre, London. Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher. Southbank Theatre, Melbourne. January 5 – 27, 2018.

Masterclass depicts scenes from a masterclass given by the great opera diva, Maria Callas, at the Juilliard School of Music in 1971. Apart from Callas we meet only three students and an accompanist.

This is a tour de force for the leading lady, as Callas is on the stage for the entire play, and Amanda Muggleton was superb. Only metres from the audience, she never dropped character and alternatively showed the strength and vulnerability of this operatic icon. She was riveting.

Dream Lover

Music & Lyrics: Bobby Darin & Others. Concept & Book: John Michael Howson & Frank Howson. Additional material by Simon Phillips & Carolyn Burns. John Frost & Gilbert Theatrical. Director: Simon Phillips. Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth. Musical Director: Richard Montgomery. State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne 31 Dec 2017 until 4 Mar, 2018.

David Campbell is giving a gold standard Broadway performance in Dream Lover, the new jukebox musical based on the life of Bobby Darin. The young, good-looking performer plays the 50s and 60s pop-crooner with buckets of charm and charisma. Rarely off-stage he’s simply a powerhouse delivering show-stopping vocals of Darin’s songbook that embrace everything from “Mack the Knife” to “Splish Splash”, and the title tune.

Serenading Adela, A Street Opera

Artistic Director, Jeannie Marsh. Centenary Performance, Pentridge Piazza, 1 Champ street Coburg. 7th January, 2018.

On 7 January 1918 supporters of Adela Pankhurst’s WWI anti-conscription cause gathered outside the bluestone walls of the women’s prison at Pentridge to serenade her with socialist songs, cooees, and coloured lights. Adela, who was exiled to Australia when she fell out of favour with her famous UK suffragette family, had been imprisoned for her energetic anti-war campaigning.

Tree of Codes

Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson and Jamie xx. Sydney Festival / Studio Wayne McGregor and Manchester International Festival. Darling Harbour Theatre. January 6 – 10, 2018.

The kaleidoscopic impact of London wunderkind Wayne McGregor’s dance epic Tree of Codes even fills the cavernous theatre space in Sydney’s new International Convention Centre.  It comes to the Sydney Festival from Melbourne’s last October.

Model Citizens

Circus Oz. Sydney Festival Circus City. Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta, Sydney. Jan 2-28, 2018

Notions of national identity and what it means to be a good - indeed a model - citizen are all around us. Circus Oz believes that these notions should be inclusive - rather than exclusive. It’s no coincidence that they’re running an appeal for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, with audience members encouraged to donate money after the show.

Aquasonic

Between Music. Sydney Festival. Carriageworks, Sydney. Jan 6-9, 2018

To be able to perform musical instruments underwater is quite a skill. Between Music, an avant-garde ensemble from Denmark, make the breathing as much a part of Aquasonic as the instruments they play (presumably they never considered scuba gear - there would be no fun in that).

Lady Rizo: Red, White and Indigo

Sydney Festival. Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Hyde Park North. January 7 – 13, 2017

Lady Rizo from New York joins Riot from Ireland and the burlesque boys with Briefs as the first acts of the Sydney Festival’s cabaret program in the Spiegeltent in Hyde Park.

She was here in 2012 (when she fell in love with her current man, an Aussie) but this she bills as an Apology Tour for what’s happening now in the States.

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