Reviews

Suor Angelica

By Giacomo Puccini. Canberra Opera. Directed by Stephanie McAlister. Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest ACT. July 15 – 24, 2016.

This short opera is a little jewel of early 20th century opera, with melodies hearkening back to rich romanticism, and daring chromaticism used sparingly and with significant intent. It is the second part of Puccini’s triptych of operas (Il Trittico).  It is heartening to know that it is also appreciated by Canberra Opera who have chosen it for their 2016 production, held in the charming Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest, ACT.

Tell Me on a Sunday

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Don Black. Presented by Colin Foot. Ipswich Civic Centre, July 23, 2016 (reviewed at a preview on July 17).

Tell Me on a Sunday is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s less regularly performed shows, meaning when it is done – it is done well. Featuring the incredible talent of Lauren Lee Innis-Youren, this show takes you on a cycle of romantic misadventures from an English woman trying to find the love of her life in New York. Intertwined with wit, love and the evolution of a strong woman – this performance has been lifted above what you would expect from an independent production and taken into the realm of semi-professional theatre.

Seven Little Australians

Play by Anne Scott-Pendlebury, based on the novel by Ethel Turner (1894). Director: Leo Bradley. Villanova Players. FT Barrell Auditorium, Yeronga, Brisbane. 15 July – 7 August 2016

Villanova’s commitment to Australian plays and playwrights is commendable but Anne Scott-Pendlebury’s adaptation of Ethel Turner’s classic Seven Little Australians lacks dramatic strength. Written in short scenes with lots of incidents happening off-stage, it continually felt like a series of comings and goings with no substantial character development for an audience to relate to.

La Traviata

By Giuseppe Verdi, libretto Francesco Maria Piave. Adapted by Emotionworks Cut Opera. The Men’s Gallery, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 & 31 July 2016.

Verdi’s Traviata (‘fallen woman’) is a courtesan - so why not stage the opera in a strip club?  That’s what director Julie Edwardson and her Emotionworks Cut Opera have done.  The audience, attracted by the originality of the concept or perhaps the salacious nature of the venue, surrounds the stage where strippers and pole dancers do their thing at other times.  A four-piece blues’n’jazz combo, including Ms Edwardson herself on keyboard, supplies the music.  It’s not as Verdi and his librettist Francesco Maria Piave conc

The Marriage of Figaro

By Mozart. OAonTour. Director/Adaptor/Translator: Michael Gow. Conductor: Paul Fitzsimon. Drum Theatre, Dandenong, July 15 and 16, and touring nationally in 2016

OAonTour is the touring arm of Opera Australia. They have had a touring arm forever, bringing opera to the far reaches of this large country. Usually they perform with no chorus and minimalist sets.

This was different.

There was a small orchestra, but more importantly, a choir from a local primary school. What a great idea! The Marriage of Figaro has little to involve the chorus, and these young people got their opportunity to shine and to experience opera and hear some magnificent voices at very close range. This is an experience they will never forgot.

Menopause the Musical - Women On Fire

By Jeanie Linders. Lascorp Entertainment(Vic). Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. Director & Choreographer Tony Bartuccio. Melbourne 16th July – 6th August, 2016, and Brisbane (Twelfth Night Theatre) 26th August – 4th September.

Back in 2005 at its Melbourne debut, Menopause the Musical audiences were predominantly comprised of middle-aged women. But on opening night a decade or so later there were quite a number of gents prepared to expose themselves to a new frontier, along with a smattering of younger patrons.

The Servant of Two Masters

By Carlo Goldoni. Translated and directed by Rosa Campagnaro. Presented by Make A Scene. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton. 13-31 July, 2016.

The magic of Goldoni has been brought to life by an enormously gifted troupe of actors in this impeccable production. Rosa Campagnaro’s credentials as a physical theatre practitioner and expert in Commedia dell’ Arte are impressive and the Australian theatre scene is reaping the benefits of her fantastic artistry.

The Wharf Revue – Celebrating 15 Years

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe & Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company Production. Musical Director: Phillip Scott. Gardens Theatre, Brisbane. 15-16 July 2016 (Touring).

A Brisbane appearance of Sydney Theatre Company’s revered The Wharf Revue is always eagerly anticipated. Previous visits to the Sunshine State have seen sold-out houses for Pennies from Kevin (2009) and Debt Defying Acts (2011), but it’s unlikely this current show will repeat the success of the previous two. It’s virtually a ‘best of’ program but, unlike a ‘best of’ album, several skits don’t bear repeated viewing.

Cinderella

By Jules Massenet. Libretto: Henri Caïn. Victorian Opera. Director: Libby Hill. Musical Director: Phoebe Briggs. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. July 15 – 18, 2016

Victorian Opera’s latest production for schools is an abridged version of Massenet’s Cinderella (Cendrillon). Designed to travel to schools and fit into various spaces, the set featured a series of flats on trolleys, which were pushed around stage to create different spaces. One side had Cinderella’s house and the other was the palace. This worked very well. The flats and the costumes were very colourful.

The 60 Four: A Step Back In Time

Presented by Umbrella Winter City Sounds. The Norwood Hotel, Norwood S.A. Friday, 15th July & Sunday, 7th August 2016

The 60 Four are a quartet of Adelaide-based Youth Theatre veterans - Ben Francis, Lachlan Williams, Tom Russell and Kyle Hall - who have joined forces to create a lively, upbeat tribute to the pop music of the 1960s. With their sharp suits and carefully coordinated dance moves, the group's theatrical training is clearly evident, their vocals both polished and impassioned.

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