Reviews

War Sum Up

OzAsia Festival. Hotel Pro Forma. Featuring the Latvian Radio Choir. Direction: Kirsten Dehlholm. Conductor: Sigvards Klava. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre. 5-6 Nov, 2018

Among the greatest privileges in attending a festival such as OzAsia is the opportunity to witness works of bold artistic adventure and daring, combining elements and showcasing ideas that likely wouldn’t be conceived, let alone staged, by a local theatre company. War Sum Up is one such production with a commendably adventurous spirit.

The Rug

Created and performed by Ben Grant. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC). Oct 31 – Nov 11, 2018

The Rug is the new show by the stalwart performer and composer Ben Grant. This is a satirical - operatic performance that delves into his ongoing middle- class-white-man crisis.

The sur-titles run across a middle-eastern hallway rug high above the stage. He stands to the side in a rather dapper yet disheveled beige suit. He blubbers in an operatic atonal voice as he recalls his childhood days at the corner milk bar, gazing at the lollies through the thick curved glass counter.

Hello, Dolly!

Music & Lyrics: Jerry Herman. Book: Michael Stewart. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Kate Peters. Nov 3 to Dec 1, 2018.

Following on from their success with Kiss Me, Kate, G.C.L.T. is presenting another golden lldie. Hello, Dolly! was first produced on Broadway in 1964 winning ten Tony Awards and playing for 2,844 performances, receiving three Oscars when the movie was released in 1969.

Australia first met Dolly Gallagher Levi in 1965, when the Australian tour opened in Melbourne.

In this production, the title role is being played by Amy McDonald with all the wiley charms befitting the lady. As the long-suffering Horace Vandergelder is Gold Coast regular Grant Ebeling.

Astroman

By Albert Belz. Melbourne Theatre Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. 27 October – 8 December 2018

Here’s a show in primary colours, chocka with exuberance, energy and comedy set in 1980s Geelong.  Director Sarah Goodes’ comic flair is demonstrated as she keeps the show racing along with seamless transitions, spirited performances and missing no opportunity for another sight gag.  At the same time, Associate Director Tony Briggs keeps the show grounded in the experience of an indigenous family.

High Society

Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter. Book: Arthur Kopit. Additional Lyrics: Susan Birkenhead. Based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry and the movie High Society. Villanova Players. Directors: Jacqueline Kerr & Helen Ekundayo. Musical Director: Sean Fagan. Choreographer: Helen Ekundayo. Ron Hurley Theatre, Seven Hills, Qld. 2-18 Nov 2018

A joyous cast, a hard-working ensemble and an on-stage band give Cole Poter’s High Society a big jolt of adrenaline in Villanova’s final production for the year. Unlike the MGM movie, which was set in the 50s this 1997 adaptation takes it back twenty years earlier and allows for the inclusion of a swag of Porter songs from that period, and some stunningly elegant gowns.

Legally Blonde

Music & lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin. Queensland Musical Theatre. 31st October – 4th November, 2018

Legally Blonde: The Musical will forever be the high-energy, empty-calories and expensive-looking hymn to the glories of girlishness; based on the 2001 film of the same title, it approximates the experience of eating a jumbo box of Gummi Bears in one sitting. Directed by Tony Campbell and accompanied by Musical Director Julie Whiting, alongside choreographer Julianne Burke – this show packs a punch from lights up.

Madiba the Musical

Book and music by Jean-Pierre Hadida. English Adaptation by Dylan Hadida and Dennis Watkins. State Theatre, Sydney, November 1 – 18, 2018 then touring Australia and New Zealand.

The most striking aspect of this production is the performance of Perci Moeketsi as Nelson Mandela. He beautifully captures the grace, calm and vision of the man who went from prisoner to President.

Born in South Africa, he was a young child when Mandela was released from prison and benefited from the new educational opportunities that a post-apartheid regime offered him.  

The pride he feels in portraying this role is very evident.

Overall the production is part musical, part dance and part documentary in style.

Bugsy Malone

Music and Lyrics by Paul Williams. Book by Alan Parker. Stage Door School of Performing Arts Studio, Subiaco. Directed by Jay Walsh. Musical Direction by Ian Westrip. 2-11 Nov, 2018

Stage Door’s first production of this type features bright and keen 10 to 17 year olds over two casts, splurge gunning each other with abandon, to packed houses.

Opening Night featured the 'Bronx Cast', who alternate appearances with ‘Yonkers Cast’, with a handful of performers featuring in both shows. Bronx performers had a lovely camaraderie, and it was lovely to see some of our more experienced young performers working alongside those making their stage debuts.

Sutra

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Sadler’s Wells London. OzAsia Festival. Dunstan Playhouse. November 2-3, 2016

‘Sutra’ in Sanskrit means ‘string’ or ‘thread’. In the extraordinarily dynamic OzAsia Festival production of Sutra, Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui certainly connects with his audience, masterfully threading together dance, martial arts, music and sculpture. This piece is celebrating its tenth anniversary since first being performed at Sadler’s Wells. It has toured the world and it is not difficult to see its appeal.

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

By Richard Alfieri. The Therry Dramatic Society. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. 1-10 Nov, 2018.

The great Carl Gustav Jung once said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks certainly echoes this quotation. It centres on a formidable retired woman, Lily Harrison, who hires a flamboyant dance instructor and ex chorus boy, Michael Minetti, to give her private dance lessons, one per week for six weeks.

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