Reviews

The One

By Vicky Jones. Directed by Tanya Dickson. Poppy Seed Festival. 45 Downstairs. 2nd-13th December, 2015

Poppy Seed Festival ends its inaugural (and interesting) event with Vicky Jones’ much lauded play The One. Truth be told, the play itself is a pale imitation of Edward Albee’s magnificent Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. But where the latter seethes and boils with molten lava of vitriol, the best The One can do is simmer, off the boil, without ever threatening or going over the edge, and so we remain always as observers, never involved in the tension or in any danger.

The Good Doctor

By Neil Simon. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). Director: Sandra Bates. Nov 27, 2015 to Jan 17, 2016, then Glen Street Theatre Jan19 – 24, 2016

In The Good Doctor Neil Simon uses several works by Chekhov to create a series of short plays linked by a conversation between the writer – obviously based on Chekov himself– and the audience. The stories – vignettes really – are typical Chekhovian insights into the Russia of his time. The way they are brought to the stage is typical Simon: clearly drawn characters and witty dialogue that relies for effect on good timing and creative direction.

The Contrabandista / Cavalleria Rusticana

By Arthur Sullivan and F. C. Burnand / Pietro Mascagni. GSOV. Director: Andrew Glaubert. Musical Director: Timothy Wilson. Malvern Theatre (Vic). Nov 26 – 29, 2015.

The first season of this double bill was so successful, that Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria decided to repeat it at a different venue. Of course not everyone was available, so there were some performers new to their roles and, as it had been double cast in the first instance, many were new to me.

The Contrabandista was just as much fun the second time around, and the new Rita, Alison McIntosh-Deszcz, sang well and looked lovely. Her new Vasquez, Danny Starr, a musical theatre performer, has a very good voice, but struggled with the high tessitura.

Violet

Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and lyrics by Brian Crawley. Directed by Mitchell Butel. Hayes Theatre, Sydney. Nov 27 - Dec 20, 2015

This is the type of show that we rarely see in Australia. Thankfully the Hayes (alongside venues like Theatre Works and Chapel Off Chapel in Melbourne) is providing a home for small-scale, independent musicals, often staged as dream projects of performers. In this case, it’s the first full musical by Blue Saint Productions, established by Joshua Robson (Les Miserables) and Damien Bermingham (Strictly Ballroom).

Hugh Jackman - Broadway to Oz

Sydney Entertainment Centre. Presented by Paul Dainty and Robert Fox.

It was his home town. His father, wife, daughter and close friends were in the audience. Hugh Jackman sang and spoke as if he was in a small cabaret venue, not a vast arena filled with ten thousand disciples.

His rendition of I’ve Been Everywhere Man was most apt. His father took his family on endless road trips around Australia as children. The song’s lyrics includes the suburb where he was raised … Turramurra.

Evita

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Manly Musical Society. Nov 20 – 28, 2015

Manly Musical Society’s final production of the year, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s powerful bio-musical Evita, played at the Star of The Sea Theatre in Manly.

Having only ever seen the 1996 movie staring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the stage show.

Walking into the theatre and seeing a pretty blank set with a projection screen intrigued me.

Putting it Together

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Direction: David Austin. Ipswich Little Theatre Society, Incinerator Theatre, Ipswich. 29 Nov – Dec 5, 2015

Putting it Together first saw the light of day as a Stephen Sondheim song review, strung together by a paper-thin plot, in a 1993 Off-Broadway production with Julie Andrews, who was making her return to the stage. Julia McKenzie followed with a London outing and then Carol Burnett took it to Broadway in 1999. The songs are fine but as a show it depends on the talent of the performers.

Ipswich Little Theatre chose to mount it as their first ever musical, an ambitious choice indeed for a theatre group whose audiences are most comfortable with farce and thrillers.

A Man of No Importance

Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally. Playlovers. Directed by Andrew Baker. Hackett Hall, Floreat, WA, Nov 20 - Dec 5, 2015

It would be difficult not to love Playlovers' A Man of No Importance. Billed as a 'heartwarming Irish musical' it is certainly that and more. It is a beautiful production with an enormous heart.

Very much an ensemble production, every performer is involved at almost all times — and all performances are excellent. Central character Alfie Byrne is played outstandingly well by David Gardette. Alfie is an awkward, unlikely and unassuming hero and David wins the audience's affection in an exquisitely sung, consummately acted performance.

Disclosed

By Caitlin Richardson. Three River Theatre. Earl Arts Centre, Launceston. Director: Peter Hammond. 12 – 15 November 2015.

Three River Theatre presented the premiere of a new work written by Caitlin Richardson at the Earl Arts Centre in Launceston in November 2015, a psycho-drama/historical play with a big theme. Disclosed is an investigation into the effects of isolation on those in captivity, in the new form of prison where ideas about the exercise of power were appearing in the colony of Tasmania and around the world. Physical violence was being replaced with more subliminal methods of bureaucratic control.

Don’t Dress For Dinner

By Marc Camoletti. Directed by Chris McLean. Heidelberg Theatre Company. 20th Nov – 5th Dec, 2015

Farce was once the mainstay of popular theatre but, like most things, it was sidelined by more deep and intense, navel gazing, drama. Fortunately, Community Theatre recognised its entertainment value, and some of the best farces of the late 20th century grace the stages of our amateur theatres on a regular basis.

Heidelberg Theatre Company has a gem of a director in Chris Mclean, and he, in turn, has mounted a gem of a production in Marc Camoletti’s Don’t Dress For Dinner.

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