Reviews

The Sound of Music

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Book: Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse. Director: Jeremy Sams. Musical Director: Luke Hunter. Choreographer: Arlene Phillips. Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost & Really Useful Group Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 17 March 2016.

With two recent live-to-air TV showings in the U.S. and UK pulling phenomenal ratings, it’s clear that the producer’s claim that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music is the world’s favourite musical is true. Not only does it have nuns and Nazi’s, but also kids, a wedding, and a clutch of songs so embedded in everyone’s psyche that you could almost call them folk ditties.

That Eye, The Sky

Adapted by Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo from the novel by Tim Winton. New Theatre (NSW). Mar 15 – Apr 16, 2016

This is an ambitious play for any company to undertake but director David Burrowes and his creative team have honoured both the mood of Tim Winton’s original story and a script that is almost filmic in its complexity. Tom Bannerman has designed a spare, stark set using almost the full width and most of the depth of the stage, which Benjamin Brockman has highlighted with shadowy, moody lighting.

Matilda The Musical

Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin. Book by Dennis Kelly. Princess Theatre, Melbourne. From March 13th, 2016

Matilda is here at last, though we’ve been talking about it for the best part of two years. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes, and YES!

Man of La Mancha

By Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 16 – 20, 2016.

Roaming Bob Peet’s evocative dungeon setting, or sitting disconsolately in a corner in rags and tatters, breaking into the occasional brawl, the ensemble cast of denizens establishes the downcast tone and 16th century prison atmosphere as the audience enters. This is the world of 1965 Tony Award winning Broadway musical hit Man of La Mancha.

Director Col Peet is thoroughly in tune with the piece, making strong, appropriate choices throughout.

Redemption

By Anthony Crowley. Directed by Petra Kalive. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton. March 17-27, 2016.

Set against the backdrop of current events - the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse - Redemption features only two characters, both Catholic priests; one is younger, apparently idealistic, and the other his older mentor, set in his ways. Both share a secret, which is dragged into the spotlight as the 60 minute play progresses - though that secret is pretty easy to guess, even with the limited information I've just imparted, and certainly was telegraphed right from the beginning of the piece.

Essgee’s The Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Waterdale (Vic). Director: Andrew McDougall. Musical Directors: Bec Muratore/Shelley Dunlop. Choreographer: Louisa D’Ortenzio. Rivergum Theatre, Parade College. March 11 – 19, 2016.

With Gilbert and Sullivan well out of copyright, there have been many adaptations of these popular musicals. The most innovative was the 1981 Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance with Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline, which replaced the orchestra with a band and, without changing any of the story or setting, gave quite a different feel.

It was a hit.

In Australia, Simon Gallaher decided to do his own version with Jon English and introducing Marina Prior as Mabel and a gospel trio to replace the women’s chorus. It enjoyed great success.

The Moonlight Dolls

Adelaide Fringe. Gluttony – Empyrean. Feb 25th – March 13th, 2016.

Corsets are tight, costumes are flowing and the looks are provocative; everything that you want in a burlesque show. We are introduced to the entertainment by a man who could best be described as loud and manic as he bounces around the stage chatting to audience members. Some of his banter is funny and some cringe-worthy, but all is forgiven when he introduces the real talent of the evening. Hailing all the way from Houston, Texas, this troupe of performance artists are confident, beautiful and extremely sexy.

The Distance

By Deborah Bruce. Directed by Leticia Caceras. MTC. The Sumner. Southbank Theatre. 5th March-9th April, 2016

Some strong and witty performances and excellent production values make this an interesting offering from MTC; it’s just a pity that Deborah Bruce’s play is ultimately a disappointment.

When Dad Married Fury

By David Williamson. Centenary Theatre Group. Director: Gary O’Neil. Chelmer Community Hall, Brisbane. 27 Feb – 19 Mar 2016

When Dad Married Fury finds David Williamson in familiar territory, back with the canapés and chardonnay set of Sydney. It’s a birthday celebration for multi-millionare Alan Urquhart who’s just returned from America with a young bride half his age. With no pre-nup in place, his sons and their spouses can see the money slipping away and are determined to redress the situation. Greed drives the plot which touches on the recent global financial crisis, Ponzi schemes, and mum-and-dad investors who were sent to the wall.

Godspell In The Garden

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Michael Tebelak. The Australian Shakespeare Company, in conjunction with Room 8. Director: Glenn Elston. Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Feb 21 – March 13, 2016 and touring.

A balmy Sunday evening in Melbourne on the labour day weekend with the sun low in the sky and picnic baskets abounding; could there be a more perfect setting for this wonderfully entertaining re-imagining of a timeless 45 year old musical?

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