The Songs That Got Away: The Music Of Harold Arlen

Performed by Johanna Allen. Banquet Room, Festival Theatre, Adelaide. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 19-20, 2014

Harold Arlen never became a household name to the same extent as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin or Cole Porter, but he had a hand in writing some of the most iconic tunes in The Great American Songbook, and Johanna Allen does a marvellous job of shining the spotlight on this often overlooked talent, whilst showcasing her own considerable interpretative skills.

The Factory

Kila Kokonut Krew. Riverside Theatres Parramatta - June 18 - 21, then touring to Canberra, Wollongong and the Gold Coast.

The struggles faced by the displaced and their thwarted dreams of finding a work and a home in a place that isn’t home are not the sort of themes one expects of  a musical! But that is the background for this fast moving, emotionally charged production.

It covers the wrench of leaving home, dealing with the language and customs of another country, accepting work in low paid jobs and poor conditions, hoping for the renewal of work permits … and facing condescension and vilification by employers and fellow workers, such as the callous Anglising of their names.

The 2014 Melbourne Cabaret Festival Gala Opening.

Various Artists. Chapel off Chapel. The Festival runs 19th June to 6th July, 2014.

I have a confession – I am a “Cabaret Bitch” – The Fabulous Candice McQueen (London star Spanky) spotted it last night. Mind you, he spotted that the entire audience were also “Cabaret Bitches” and not one of us could deny it.

This Gala Opening to the Cabaret Festival is certainly the best in the past four years. Every act (there were 10 of them) was marvellous, making the choices of what to see more difficult than ever.


O. C. Diva

Hilary Cole. Hayes Theatre Co. (NSW). June 15, 22 and 29, 2014

Hilary Cole has redefined triple threat, simultaneously singing, acting and adeptly solving a Rubic’s cube in her first foray into cabaret.

With her musical theatre star firmly on the rise, thanks to acclaimed lead performances in Carrie and The Drowsy Chaperone for Sydney independent musical theatre company Squabbalogic, this talented young diva-in-the-making has now embarked on a brave, funny-dark semi-biographical cabaret piece.

May & Alia Do Pirates (of Penzance)

Written and performed by May Jasper and Alia Vryens; ‘adapted’ from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC) June 18-29.

The joint creators of this very entertaining, thoroughly nutty show, May Jasper and Alia Vryrens, note in the program that ‘fourteen-year-old-frustrated-at-the-back-of-the-chorus dreams can come true’. 

2 One Another

Choreographed by Rafael Bonachela. Sydney Dance Company. His Majesty's Theatre, Perth WA. 18-21 June 2014

Sydney Dance Company is visiting Perth for a short engagement at His Majesty's Theatre. The work presented is 2 One Another, a contemporary dance piece in two parts focussing on connecting relationships - couples (2), the individual (One) and groups (Another).


By Anthony Neilsen. WAAPA Third Year Acting Production. Directed by Anthony Skuse. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAAPA, Mt Lawley, WA. 13-19 June, 2014

Realism is a fascinating production about what happens inside an ordinary bloke's head, when he decides to do nothing all day.

Conversations with his dead mother, sexual memories and fantasies and visits from a childhood friend rattle by, influenced by the mundane tasks he is undertaking. A rant against a billing mistake becomes a production number from the Black and White Minstrel Show. The inside of Liam's brain is an interesting place.

David Campbell Sings John Bucchino

The Hayes Theatre Company (NSW). June 18 – 28, 2014

There are few musical theatre composers that rival John Bucchino. Just like Sondheim, singers flock to Bucchino’s work because of his poetic storytelling set to detailed and melodic music. From heartbreaking ballads to upbeat anthems, in the hands of a good actor, Bucchino’s work can simultaneously uplift, inspire and bring you to tears.

King Lear

By William Shakespeare. National Theatre Live in cinemas nationally: 21, 22, 24, 25, 28 & 29 June 2014. Presented by Sharmill Films.

National Theatre Live presentations are recordings of live performances, filmed in the actual theatre with a live audience in attendance.  This production was recorded in May this year.  I’ll come back to this mode of presentation below.  Simon Russell Beale plays the eponymous king and the production is directed by Sam Mendes, a name familiar to us from cinema (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall) as from theatre.


Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Miranda Musical Society. Director: Garth Saville. Musical Director: Andrew Howie. Choreographer: Emma Paul. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. June 13 - 22, 2014.

A musical about assassinating US Presidents – it’s scarcely mainstream Australian audience fare, but Assassins is one of those rarely performed collectable experiences that musical theatre fans hang out for. For audience members up for a change, or for theatregoers not so wrapt in conventional musicals, this one should also fit the bill.

Miranda’s annual ‘art house’ production, between their two mainstage efforts, is a great initiative by one of Sydney’s strongest companies, in this case fostering a new director.

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