By Puccini. Opera Australia. Director: John Bell. Conductor: Andrea Molino. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre. Nov 12 – Dec 13, 2014.

This was a lavish production. Minimalist was nowhere to be seen as every set towered over the performers. In Act 1 the church of Sant' Andrea della Valle looked magnificent with layers of gold on the walls and in the gaol of Act 3 a guard patrolled the upper level.

Setting the opera in Nazi Germany worked well. I particularly liked the “shepherd boy” being a young Jewish lad inside the gaol, with an uncertain future. In the second act Scarpia molests an embarrassed female officer in front of the other soldiers.


By Rogers and Hammerstein. Koorliny Arts Centre (WA). Nov 6 – 15, 2014.

Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at Koorliny Arts Centre is a delightful production, suitable for the whole family, beautifully presented and well performed.

Regular readers will know that it is difficult for me to review the performance of lead performer Madeleine Shaw. I will simply say that I believe that this is her best theatrical performance to date.


By Anton Chekhov. Mophead, Catnip Productions and ATYP. Nov 5 – 22, 2014

There hasn’t been a bad Anthony Skuse production all year – and there have been many. Skuse is a master artist; he re-sculpts and re-jigs but always remains respectful of the source material. Platonov under the direction of Skuse is no exception.

Certainly not one of Chekvov’s best plays, in the hands of a hard-working and inspired cast, the wonderfully intimate ATYP space, and Sir Skuse, we forgive the relentless, depressing plod of Platonov.

Sordid Lives

By Del Shores. Playlovers (WA). Hackett Hall, Floreat. Nov 6 – 22, 2014

Playlovers' Sordid Lives is a kooky black comedy, about a white trash family, a bizarre and funny tale with some moments of depth.

Director David Gardette has assembled a strong cast that creates a conniving family group as they perform on the Texan-flag floored stage.

Introduced with songs from Bitsy Mae (nicely sung by Jane Anderson), we meet the family of a lady who has met and unfortunate and embarrassing demise.

A Happy And Holy Occasion

By John O’Donoghue. Director: Greg Taylor. Campbelltown Theatre Group Inc. Town Hall Theatre. November 7 – 15, 2014.

Campbelltown Theatre Group wraps up its 2014 season with an excellent production of  A Happy and Holy Occasion.

This play mixes humour, heart, drama, and darkness in equal amounts, as it tells the story of a family gathering in the home of the working class Irish-Catholic O’Mahon family. The “happy and holy occasion” is the farewell dinner for the youngest child, 12 year old Christy, before he leaves to train for the priesthood.


By Daniel Keene. Directed by Ariette Taylor. At fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 6 – 30 November, 2014

Anna - Helen Morse – thin as a rail and as beautiful as ever - keeps herself to herself.  She’s a 60-something widow, a piece worker in the clothing trade, lives alone, a lapsed Christian, reads and dreams, and has a married 20-something daughter who exploits her.  Majid is a 20-something immigrant, homesick, isolated, looking for work – menial or otherwise.  He lives in a ratty boarding house and washes and prays in his room.  A practicing Muslim, he too reads and dreams and carries his native land and it’s stories in his heart. 

Legally Blonde – The Musical

Music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Book by Heather Hach. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown, and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture. The Hills Musical Company (SA). Directed by David Sinclair. Choreography by Linda Williams. Musical Direction by Mark DeLaine. Stirling Community Theatre. November 7th – 22nd, 2014.

As someone who found the film Legally Blonde to be a moderately cute and enjoyable, but fairly unremarkable, romantic comedy, it is a pleasure to report that this stage adaptation is a major improvement, and a major success as a piece of entertainment. It is light and bright and breezy, giddy and gaudy and rowdy and rousing at a level that leaves the movie pretty much in the dust, even while staying fairly close to the cinematic plot line.

Little Egypt’s Speakeasy

Django Bar in Camelot, Sydenham (NSW). Produced and directed by Lucian McGuiness. Thurs 6 to Sun 9 November 2014

Sing me a story

This is a fabulous show! Six musicians, three singers, an MC, two burlesque dancers and a sleazy club proprietor sing, dance and tell us a story about legendary Little Egypt’s Speakeasy, a nightclub in Phoenix Arizona in, well, since the music ranges from the late forties to the early sixties, I guess the mid-sixties.

The Pajama Game

Book by George Abbot and Richard Bissell. Music / Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport Director: Stuart Lumsden. Nov 8 to Dec 6, 2014

The Pajama Game is GCLT’s final offering for 2014 and what a great show to end the year. The production, in the capable hands of Stuart Lumsden, with musical direction under the baton of Mary Walters and choreography by Clay English.

The talented cast was a mix of seasoned performers and new recruits who worked well as a team. Featuring Louise Harris (Babe) and Chris Catherwood (Sid), the supporting principals included Leigh Harrison (Hines), Becky Morgan (Gladys), Lee Paterson (Mabel) and Noel Thompson as Hasler.

The Magic Flute

By Mozart. Gertrude Opera. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne..Director: Linda Thompson. Musical Director: Warwick Stengards. Nov 6 – 8, 2014

Mozart is an ideal vehicle for developing voices, so The Magic Flute was a good choice for Gertrude Opera, which utilises students from the Opera Studio. This was also a cut-down version to put less strain on young voices and eliminate the need for a chorus.

Innovation took the place of expensive props, and I liked the opening where we had a cut-out dragon projected on to the back wall. The production was well-directed with use being made of the front box for Sarastro and a door to the orchestra pit for Papageno and Pamina.

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