Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. From TS Elliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. Additional lyrics Trevor Nunn and Robert Stilgoe. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises and BASE Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group. Associate Director/ Choreographer Joanne Robinson. Regent Theatre, Melbourne until the end of January, 2016, and touring.

Cats as a show does not need anyone’s approval. It has already had life around the world for 34 years. It has the seal of approval from over a million theatre-goers. So when I hear a reviewer carrying on in a foyer about what a dreadful load of old rubbish it is, without redeeming features, and how much he hated it (yet he took the tickets), I am forced to re-iterate that a critic’s job is to review the PRODUCTION, not the source. As a production, this new version is a success and highly entertaining.

Georgy Girl

The Seekers Musical. By Patrick Edgeworth with script consultant Graham Simpson. Director: Gary Young. Musical Director: Stephen Amos. Choreographer: Michael Ralph. World Premiere - Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne: December 22, 2015.

Generally one’s musical tastes develop in the teenage years, so The Seekers are in my DNA. They were an aberration in the sixties, a clean-cut folk quartet in a sea of drugs, sex and Rock'n'Roll. I was looking forward to this bio-musical.

I was not disappointed.

Much of the music I remember was included and very well sung with exquisite harmonies, some a capella and the rest with the distinctive Seekers accompaniment. A number of songs I was unfamiliar with had been written by Judith Durham, and there were other songs from the period.

Waiting in the Wings

By Noël Coward. The Mount Players. Director: Chery Servis. 13 November – 5 December 2015

The Mount Players have just closed another very successful reworking of a significant, beautifully produced theatre classic.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to enjoy the mores of theatre’s traditional cannon in the beautiful rural setting of Macedon.  Full marks must go to this highly regarded theatre company for not shying away from producing works with large older casts.  In fact The Mount Players has embraced that concept with this final production for the year with a high degree of success.

City of Perth Nativity

Directed by Marina Del Basso. Forrest Chase, Perth. Dec 21-23, 2015

The City of Perth Nativity is an annual free event as part of the City's Festival of Christmas. Held in Forrest Chase, in the centre of the city, it attracts audiences of over 5000 people each evening.

This year the story is narrated lovingly and passionately by Lisa Adam, portraying a woman who lived in the time of Jesus, as she tells the story to her awestruck daughter, gorgeously played by Phoebe Tennant, in a performance reminiscent of a young Angela Cartwright.

Spirit of Christmas

Queensland Symphony Orchestra with guest artists Michael Cormick & Anna Dowsley QPAC Choir, Brisbane Chorale, Voices of Birralee, Brisbane Birralee Voices, Jaewoo Kim, Sophie Perkins, Oliver Samson. Host: Jenny Woodward. Concert Hall, QPAC. 18-19 December 2015

Highlight of this year’s Spirit of Christmas was undoubtedly Simon Kenway and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Under his baton this amazingly versatile group of players capped off a brilliant year by giving this concert passion and personality. Starting with the late great Tommy Tycho’s classy arrangement of a “Christmas Overture” and following with “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas” with the combined 250 voice choir, this annual event of Christmas songs and carols was off to a rousing start.

The Great Australian Disclaimer

By Andrew R. Kelly. La Mama, EXPLORATIONS, 205 Faraday Street, 14,15, & 16 November 2015.

The temptation to laugh at or with Ivor Azzanego (Andrew Hondromatidis) is often difficult to resist in this play, even though it is dealing with some serious issues that are essentially no laughing matter. The play does not make light of these problems and the text provides an accurate depiction of the daily hypocrisy practiced by people when their attitudes and beliefs regarding gender, sexuality and race are challenged.

Babes In The Wood

Written and directed by Stephen Lee. GRADS. Roleystone Theatre, WA. Dec 4-19, 2015

GRADS Seasonal Pantomime was presented this year at Roleystone Theatre, giving both groups a Christmas treat.

Nicely written and directed by Stephen Lee, this version of Babes had up-to-the-minute political references, teamed with very old jokes and a great blend of sauciness and sweetness.

Barry Park could have been born to play Dames, and was delightful as Dame Martha Twitchett, sweet funny and gorgeously attired, Dame Martha swept the audience along with her loveliness.

The Sound of Music

Music by Richard Rodgers. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening night: December 17, 2015. Touring nationally.

Pardon my indulgence, but I felt a connection to Captain von Trapp. Recently, due to my family ancestry, I became an Austrian citizen and like Georg I too received a stern letter from the military attempting to call me up for active service.  Thankfully I did not have to climb a mountain to avoid conscription.  

This production of The Sound of Music based on the Lloyd Webber London Palladium revival runs with military precision. It is tight, tuneful and barrels of fun.

From the Heart

A collaboration from Barking Spider Visual Theatre in association with Boroondara Community Outreach. Kew Court House (VIC). (Supported by the City of Boroondara and Kew Court House.) 16 December 2015

Is this ‘theatre’?  It is and it isn’t.  It is deceptively simple yet moving and  purposeful in every detail.  Three women from the Boroondara Community Outreach program tell their stories on tape in a calm and matter-of-fact way.  The women themselves do not appear.

Peter Pan

Directed by Neroli Burton and Katherine Friend. STAGE KEY. Melville Theatre, Melville WA. Dec 12-13, 2015

I had the pleasure of attending the final performance of the STAGE KEY Company's Musical Theatre Class - end of year production, a pantomime version of Peter Pan, presented by students aged 7 to 16.

This was classic British Pantomime, with most of the young performers demonstrating an excellent understanding of the genre, working well with the audience, who joined in with the fun.

The show opened with a direct address to the audience from Tinkerbell played by Cadence Smythe - an eight year old with confidence, style and poise.

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