Reviews

It's Me... Mandela

By Dayne Rathbone. The Playhouse, Canberra. 5 July 2014

It’s Me… Mandela, ostensibly about Nelson Mandela’s life, actually has little to do with Mandela; it concerns mostly Mandela’s relationship with his brother.  Without giving too much away: the depicted relationship is entirely fictional.  The opening narrative mentions, from the perspective of an eight-year-old in a seventeen-year-old’s body, Mandela’s relevance to the end of apartheid; everything else in the play, though, might have related to an entirely fictional character.  In fact

The Little Prince

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle WA. Directed by Michael Barlow. July 5-19, 2014

The Little Prince bends on a stripped bare Spare Parts Puppet Theatre stage, with no legs or drapes and the lighting rig, fly lines, back wall and fire extinguisher visible. There is a large wooden crate, centre stage.

A man (Jacob Lehrer) and a woman (Jessica Lewis) appear to unpack the crate. She is distracted and dreamy, and will later play/operate the Little Prince. He is very 'grown up', responsible and focused on the task at hand and he will later play all of the other roles. The performers are both personable actors and relaxed, capable puppeteers.

Snap

By Steve Harris, Erin Hardy and Catherine Field. Primadonna Productions. Directed by Carole Dhu. Pinjarra Civic Centre, WA. July 4-5, 2014

If there is one thing that the Peel Region does particularly well, it is putting their children on the stage. Koorliny Arts Centre, Murray Music and Drama, Nine Lives and Stray Cats have all used children in their shows recently and for this company, Primadonna Productions, it is their modus operandi. It augers well for a very secure future for theatre in this area.

Mein Kampf

By George (György) Tabori. Presented by La Mama and forty-five downstairs. Production Team: 15 Minutes from Anywhere (Beng Oh & Jane Miller). At fortyfivedownstairs (Melbourne). 2-13 July 2014.

On first meeting the poor would-be art student, Adolf Hitler, in a Jewish flophouse, Bible peddler and would-be writer, Schlomo Herzl, remarks, ‘Strange, you don’t look at all Jewish.’  The line got a laugh at the play’s premiere and has done so in numerous productions and many languages ever since.  Mein Kampf is a very black comedy, a mixture of farce, insight, erudition, slapstick, crude jokes (both sexual and scatological), real wit and devastating ironies.  When Hitler is rejected by the Vienna art school, it is Jewish Schlomo who advises

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Script: Rachel Sheinkin Music and Lyrics: William Finn. Underground Productions. Hamilton Town Hall, Brisbane, Qld. Director: Danielle Carney. June 27th to July 12th, 2014.

The annual spelling bee, and all the hoop-la that goes with it, has become a cornerstone of American Culture and Underground Productions’ version even had a “Bake Stall” to help the audience through this competitive institution.

Staged in a suburban Town Hall, the atmosphere was cutthroat as the contestants battled they way through words most of which I’d never heard before!

Otello

By Verdi. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 5 – August 2, 2014

This celebrated Verdi opera offers the so-called triple threat of conflicting personalities: the world’s hero in Othello, its villain in Iago and the lover in Desdemona.

But this operatic trio was mightily upset only a fortnight before opening when Georgian singer Tamar Iveri was sacked by Opera Australia from the role of Desdemona.  Its problem was her very unloving, homophobic rant on Facebook.

Janis Siegel

Melbourne Recital Centre, Salon. 3 – 5 July.

Superlative singer and nine time Grammy winner Janis Siegel, probably best known here as one of the four singers who together comprise the vocal group Manhattan Transfer, finished the Melbourne section of her Australian tour last night with a knockout set at the Recital Centre’s Salon room.

Showcasing her latest solo album “Night Songs”, the “live and intimate” set featured an eclectic mix of American Songbook standards, lesser-known showtunes, some fabulous jazz and even a showstopping, melancholy jazz ballad version of Waltzing Matilda.

CATS

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. Harvest Rain @ Brisbane Convention Centre. Director and Choreographer: Callum Mansfield. Musical Director: Maitlohn Drew. 4-6 July 2014

Cat lovers and lovers of Cats were in Moggie heaven last night when Harvest Rain opened their arena-style production at the Brisbane Convention Centre of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Cats.

With a cast of over 800 adults, teenagers and juniors, the venue at times was a sea of writhing, slinking, magical feline activity. Producer Tim O’Connor’s vision to mount the largest production of the musical in the Southern Hemisphere paid off handsomely. It was gobsmackingly good.

All Shook Up

The Music of Elvis Presley. Book by Joe DiPietro. Directed by Liam Kilgour. ARC. Banyule Theatre, Heidelberg (Vic). July 4th to 12th, 2014.

A good time was had by all, cast and audience, at the opening of this rarely performed Juke Box musical last night. It’s fitting that it opened on July 4th, for what could be more American than a musical with the songs made famous by Elvis Presley?

The plot is simple…. Elvis type is released from prison and winds up in a small town where all the girls swoon for him and he doesn’t see his one true love. It’s slight, but very witty, and more than enough to hang the Presley songs on.

Dust

By Suzie Miller. Directed by Emily McLean. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth. June 28 – July 13, 2014

Dust, a new play by Suzie Miller, is a fascinating patchwork of stories set as a huge dust storm hits Perth.

We meet a hospital patient with a need to leave the hospital, a family in turmoil, an overwrought Bridezilla, an anxious taxi passenger and her exasperated driver, people biding time in the Qantas lounge and a couple in what may be a new relationship. All are linked and all are greatly impacted by the cloud of dust that has descended on the city.

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