Reviews

Kristin Chenoweth In Concert

GWB Entertainment Production. Musical Director: Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Concert Hall, QPAC, 14 June 2013

Undoubtedly Kristin Chenoweth is ‘popular’ and last night’s sold-out concert showed just how ‘popular’ she is. Playing Brisbane on the third date of her Australian tour, the original Glinda in Wicked brought her own brand of quirky to a show that mixed Broadway, pop, audience participation and video clips.

It was a love fest from start to finish, and when she sang her signature tune “Popular”in English and several foreign languages, the response was thunderous.

Fiddler On The Roof

Book by Jospeh Stein. Music by Jerry Bock. Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Directed by Paul Watson. Mountain Districts Musical Society (Vic). Karralyka Theatre, Ringwood 14th - 23rd June, 2013.

Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles is a line from one of the songs in the iconic musical Fiddler On The Roof. It could also be the logline for this stunning production by MDMS.  Set in the Jewish village of Anatevka in Russia during the time of the pogroms, this much loved show encapsulates the bigger questions of anti-semitism, persecution and the struggle to survive, told through one man and his family.

Slava’s Snowshow

Created and staged by Slava Polunin. Theatre Royal Sydney – June 11 – 23, 2013, Lyric Theatre, QPAC – June 26 – 30, Canberra Theatre Centre – July 3 – 7, Comedy Theatre Melbourne - July 17 – 28 and Regal Theatre, Perth – July 31 – Aug 4.

There is a child inside all of us, but in today’s world we are loath to let that child out for fear it will be damaged, or even killed. Slava’s Snowshow caresses that inner child and reminds us how wonderful the worlds of wonder and imagination are. Though there was a large proportion of actual children, full of delight, at the opening night, it was the adults who were touched the most.

The Wedding Singer

By Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy. The Hills Musical Society Inc. June 13 – 16, 2013.

Popular Hollywood rom-com The Wedding Singer transitions happily into a cheerful musical comedy, mostly following the film, with odd nips and tucks to plot and characters.

The Hills Musical Society’s new home, after 40 years facing off the numerous challenges of a very basic multi-purpose community centre, presents the exciting new challenge of creating theatre in a showroom style RSL club auditorium primarily designed for rock bands and floor shows.

Graceland and Asleep on the Wind

By Ellen Byron. Operating Theatre. Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville. June 5 – 16, 2013.

The back wall of the cavernous stage at Sidetrack Theatre is a tree of gold records, its trunk leading to the gates of Graceland just days before it is to be opened to the public in 1982 following Presley’s death.

Solomon and Marion

By Lara Foot. Director: Pamela Rabe. MTC. Australian Premiere. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. June 7 - July 20, 2013

We are no strangers in Australia to the difficulties, sometimes traumatic, of reconciliation between indigenous and settlers. However, we cannot even begin to understand, even in these last days of Mandela, what the African continent has gone through in its attempts to redistribute power. Lara Foot is a fine playwright, but violence is merely back-story in this exquisite and delicate play about grief, healing, surrogate love and reconciliation between an aging white South African Woman and a young native boy.

Herding Cats

By Lucinda Coxon. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Red Stitch Actors Theatre. June 5 - July 7, 2013.

This is a disturbing play about three people linked to each other but failing to connect, at least in a healthy way. Set in the intimate Red Stitch theatre, and with the distant sound of a jackhammer filtering in from roadworks outside (on the night this reviewer attended), Herding Cats presents a bleak picture of modern England. Perhaps it's a timely one, given that country's economic strife, and the recent shocking outburst of violence against a soldier on the street. There is a sense of chaos, despair and desperation in parts of England's population.

Genesis to Broadway

Director/Writer: Frank Howson. Musical Director/Arranger: Warren Wills. Choreographer: Stephen Agisilaou. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). June 12 – 20.

The world of cabaret is very competitive and for a show to have a return season speaks volumes. And this show was good!

A two hander for Fem Belling and Tod Strike, with a jazz trio led by Warren Wills, everything about the production had class. Fem and Tod were both superb. Their voices were capable of a huge range of styles, they danced well and their timing was exemplary. I was amazed that Tod was new to the production.

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.

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