Reviews

Catch Me If You Can

By Terrence McNally, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. May 20 – 29, 2016

Choreography is the star of Willoughby Theatre Company’s NSW Premiere production of the musical Catch Me If You Can, with equal kudos to the tremendous, tightly drilled ensemble who dance it so enthusiastically.

Inventive choreographer Janina Hamerlok evokes the 1960s splendidly, but mixes it up with showgirl glamour and striking kicklines.

The Taming of the Shrew

By William Shakespeare. Sport For Jove. York Theatre, Seymour Centre. May 19 – 28, 2016.

Sport for Jove made its debut with this artful, magical retelling of the Shrew back in 2011, a new player on the independent scene declaiming its powers of invention and sophisticated stagecraft.  

Cloudstreet

By George Palmer. Adapted from the Tim Winton novel. State Opera South Australia in association with Adelaide Festival Centre. Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide. 12-21 May, 2016.

There are few feelings more pleasurable to experience in a theatre than that of pride in a new Australian work, one that has taken artistic risks, confronted and confounded the seeming contradictions at its core, emerging onto the stage as both a splendid entertainment and a work that looks to have the power to endure and spread its magic through the years and across the nation, if not the world.

Menopause – The Musical – Women On Fire!

By Jeanie Linders. Director/Choreographer: Tony Bartuccio. Twelfth Night Theatre, 21 May to June 11, 2016 (Melbourne from July 13/New Zealand tour Aug – Sept 2016)

Ever since it began in a 76-seat theatre in Orlando, Florida, in 2001, Menopause – The Musical has been a licence to print money. Since that time it has been seen by over 11 million people worldwide, and by over a half a million in Australia, 100,000 of them in Brisbane alone. Its initial Brisbane season ran for a record 46 weeks.

Urinetown

By Mark Hollman and Greg Notts. UMMTA. Director: Bradley Dylan. Musical Directors: CJ Johnson. Choreographer: Joel Anderson. Union Theatre, University of Melbourne, Parkville. May 20 – 28, 2016.

This is the second production of Urinetown I have encountered and it was equally enjoyable. Being a university production, it was also even further over the top.

Everything about the production was high energy. Every member of the ensemble was fully engaged. Movements and dancing were strong and coordinated. There were no weak links here.

The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams. Directed by Eamon Flack. Merlyn Theatre – Malthouse. 18 May to 5 June, 2016

This Belvoir Street production of The Glass Menagerie is not for the faint hearted - it is long and robust, contemporary and acutely perceptive.

The quasi-autobiographical ‘Memory Play’ of Tennessee Williams’s early adult life in a small apartment with his deluded mother and vulnerable fragile sister, with whom he felt a deep connection is especially revealing. 

Avenue Q

Canterbury Theatre Guild. Director: Ste Casimiro. Musical Director: Kane Wheatley. Music & Lyrics: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx. Book: Jeff Whitty. Bexley RSL. May 20- 29, 2016

Avenue Q presents performers with the unique opportunity of working with puppets, as well as acting, singing, dancing … and doing things many performers would not necessarily do … on stage that is!

Using very jaunty puppet characters, and a handful of ‘real’ people, writers Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx were able to make some pithy comments about such things as racism, homophobia, homelessness, unemployment, loneliness and marriage in lively tunes and suggestive lyrics.

When Time Stops

Ballet by Natalie Weir. Expressions Dance Company, QPAC, Camerata of St John’s Production. Playhouse, QPAC. 20-28 May 2016

The original production of Natalie Weir’s When Time Stops was one of the hits of the 2013 Brisbane Festival, earning Helpmann Award nominations for its choreography and score and winning for the latter.

This revival has allowed both Weir and composer Iain Grandage to revisit the work about a woman in the last moments of her life being swept away by flashes of memory. It’s a potent concept which Weir and Grandage realised with tender poignancy, stark reality and intense romance. And, it’s a dazzling success.

Yellow Skies

By Mitchel Edwards. Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company. Director: Robin Thomas. Sound and Music: Tom Backhaus. Costume Design: Eliza Wood. Mechanics Institute Brunswick. May 18-29, 2016.

Imagine Cormac McCarthy's The Road set in the Australian bush, and you have Yellow Skies.

Like the post-apocalyptic dystopic future (aren't they all since 9/11?) presented in The Walking Dead, the apocalypse brings out the worst in people. 'Hunters' pillage and kill to obtain ever-diminishing supplies. Even going as far as eating other survivors.

Noah (Aaron Trevaskis) and Glenn (Arli Faruk) lean on each other to survive and have to decide how to handle a malevolent intruder in their camp (Gabriella Imrich).

Sex Cells

By Anna Longaretti. Galleon Theatre Group. Directed by Warren MacKenzie. Domain Theatre, Marion Cultural Centre. May 19-28, 2016

Full disclosure to my readers – The Galleon Theatre Group’s latest production, Sex Cells, stars Lesley Reed, a reviewer for Stage Whispers Magazine who acted in the last play I produced. The supporting cast includes Heather Riley and Brian Godfrey, who have previously been my colleagues in other theatrical endeavours. Therefore you may wish to take my (largely positive) assessment with a pinch of salt. 

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