Reviews

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Arena Spectacular. Sydney Entertainment Centre. June 7 - 9, 2013.

Like a shooting star this production has blazed across the arenas of Australia.

Re-invented in the UK to be set in Rome in 2011, the tumult is not revolution against the Roman Empire in the Holy Land, but the occupy movement protesting against capitalism.

Protestors in hoodies scale steep steps, adroitly dancing while waiving their placards, fighting with Police and setting fire to street furniture.

It gave the musical a contemporary feel, aided by the pulsing hard rock musical accompaniment.

Tim Rice penned the musical as the Gospel according to Judas.

Rumplestiltskin is My Name

Book: Vera Morris; Music: Arne Christiansen; Lyrics: Ole Kittleson. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 2 April – 15 June (Sats + 8 weekday holiday performances)

That the Youth Theatre productions (more than 90 shows altogether) grossed almost as much as Main House shows with more than double this number of performances in 2012, surprised me.

But interpret these data carefully: access to the theatre is easier on weekends and weekdays. Nearby Suncorp Stadium is home to more football events every year; their fans grab parking spaces early making BAT less attractive to evening theatregoers on footie nights.

This House

By James Graham. Directed by Jeremy Herrin. National Theatre Live. Participating cinemas nationwide from June 8.

Despite its being touted as “Britain’s answer to the West Wing” in the publicity material, I could find little similarity to Aaron Sorkin’s writing in James Graham’s This House. Both may be about politics, but the emphases, tone and particularly treatment of comedic elements are entirely different.

The Maids

By Jean Genet. Translated and adapted by Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Benedict Andrews. Designer: Alice Babidge. Sydney Theatre. June 4 – July 20, 2013.

Gridlock on the streets of Sydney delayed the opening of The Maids as hundreds of thousands of people crowded the shores of Sydney Harbour to see the one of the last nights of dazzling lights of the Vivid festival.

There was just as much eye candy inside the Sydney Theatre.

First the extraordinary set, inside a luxury home. The wardrobe seemed to stretch for an eternity upon which hung the finest furs and frocks.

The walls were transparent, behind which cameras broadcast all the action when the cast faced away from the audience onto a large screen.

[title of show]

Music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen. Book by Hunter Bell. Director: Ang Cuy. Musical Direction: Simon D’Aquino. Victorian Amateur Premiere Production. Fab Nobs Bayswater, 7-15th June 2013 & Williamstown Mechanics Institute 20-23rd June.

It speaks volumes when a cast is stronger than the actual show they are part of, and when a production transcends its material. Fab Nobs prides itself on performing the more obscure musicals, and doing wonderful productions of them. But often there is a reason why a show is obscure. [title of show] is a lightweight piece full of bad puns and “in jokes” for would-be showbiz folks. It’s entertaining and naïve, and has three or four Broadway-worthy songs, but it’s a wonder that it ever got to Broadway.

Brigadoon

Music: Frederick Loewe. Book & Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner. Queensland Musical Theatre. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane. Director: Ruth Gabriel. Musical Director: Gerry Crooks. Choreographer: Lynette Wockner. 5-10 June 2013.

Lately Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon seems to have fallen off the musical theatre radar so it was a nice opportunity to rediscover the joys of this classic musical mounted by Queensland Musical Theatre. It’s a good show for amateurs with its colourful characters, many dance routines and large chorus.

MILF The Musical!

Written and composed by Sally Perricone. Director: Daryl Kirkness. Avoca Beach Picture Theatre. May 24-26, 2013.

During the past decade or so, independent, family owned Avoca Beach Picture theatre has had to dig deep to stave off obliteration by the two huge multiplexes on the Central Coast (which ultimately caused the Kincumber Ritz to close it's doors in 2007) by gradually morphing into one of Australia's premiere boutique theatres, providing not only a range of alternative cinematic experiences, but also an array of live events including concerts, plays and musicals.

The Bright Stream

Music: Dmitri Shostakovich. Libretto: Adrian Piotrovsky & Fyodor Lopukhov. Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky. Assistant Choreographer: Alexander Petukhov. Bolshoi Ballet. Lyric Theatre, Brisbane. 7-9 June, 2013.

The second ballet in the Bolshoi Ballet’s exclusive Brisbane Season was the comedic rural romp The Bright Stream. For breathtaking classical dance it was equally as thrilling as Le Corsaire. Set on a collective farm in Stalinist Russia in the thirties, the ballet encompassed a plot of confused identities, cross-dressing, and romanceset to a ravishing score by Shostakovich. It was ballet music written by a master.

BLAK

Bangarra. Choreography by Stephen Page and Daniel Riley. McKinley and Music by David Page and Paul Mac. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, June 7 – 22, 2013; Canberra Theatre Centre, July 11 – 13 & QPAC, Brisbane, July 18 – 27.

Bangarra’s critically acclaimed Blak came to Brisbane at the end of their current tour following stints in Melbourne, Woolongong, Sydney and Canberra. This impressive new work, played without an interval, was in three parts.

Sweeney Todd

By Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Blue Mountains Musical Society. Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith. My 24 – June 1, 2013.

The Saturday matinee for BMMS’ Sweeney Todd had me captivated from the very moment the house lights dimmed and the organ solo signalled the show’s beginning.

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