The Star Child

Adapted from Oscar Wilde’s short story. Book and Lyrics by Roger Gimblett. Music by Nicholas Edwards. Genesian Theatre, Sydney. World Premiere. November 24 – December 14, 2013.

Sixteen years ago Roger Gimblett and Nicholas Edwards first started composing and writing their adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s fable, but never got a chance to finish it, as both were on different sides of the planet.

Little Shop of Horrors

Book & Lyrics by Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken. Brisbane Arts Theatre’s 15 Nov-21 Dec 2013

To cap what has been an ambitious and inspired season, BAT are proving that black is the new comedy.

Little Shop was written for an intimate off-Broadway theatre and earned multiple US awards there, so fits into Arts Theatre like a hand into a glove. Its plot is deliciously grotesque, the songs are many and melodic, the actors, singers and dancers are pearls in the crown. An eight-piece offstage band under the confident control of Luke Volker (also a co-director) sets a spanking pace and excellent backing for the singers.


By Lucy Kirkwood. Directed by Tanya Dickson. Red Stitch Theatre, St Kilda (Vic). Nov 22 - Dec 21, 2013

Red Stitch have done it again; married a well written and controversial new play with a stellar cast for an exhilarating production.

Scarlett O'Hara at the Crimson Parrot.

By David Williamson. Directed by Chris Procter. 1812 Theatre, 3 Rose Street, Upper Ferntree Cully, Melbourne. 21 November - 14 December, 2013

A kind of contemporary Australian take on Walter Mitty, Scarlett O'Hara (aptly named given her love of old Hollywood movies) is a ditzy, pratfalling klutz who hasn’t much luck in her love life and fares little better in her efforts to hold down her day job of waitress at the Crimson Parrot cafe. This engaging heroine spends her time daydreaming, quoting Bogie and Bacall, and being alternately harangued by her over-protective, lonely mother and browbeaten by her money-troubled chef.


By Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. The Regals Musical Society (NSW). Bexley RSL Club. November 22 – December 1, 2013.

So many elements of this lively production are terrific, including committed performances; inventive choreography by Stephanie Westbrook performed with energy, expressiveness and enthusiasm by the company; strong production values including the best conceived temporary stage ever in this makeshift venue, and charming moments of  interpretation including the undersea sequence, the portrayal of the kids as scouts and Horton’s trial sequence.

Overall, though, this brightly performed Seussical feels a bit de-Seussed.

The Mystery of the Hansom Cab

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. November 21-30, 2013.

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre has blended its production of the convoluted melodrama The Mystery of the Hansom Cab with good old-fashioned musical hall performances, resulting in hysterically funny and brazenly over-the-top entertainment.

Adapted by Barry Pree and based on Fergus Hume’s 1886 book, the melodrama is the tale of an investigation into the murder of Owen White, who is found dead inside a hansom cab.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Music and lyrics by William Finn, Book by Rachel Sheinkin. Conceived by Rachel Feldman. Directed by Leah Osburn. Musical Director Malcolm Huddle. Beaumaris Theatre (Vic). Nov 8 – 30, 2013

It’s little wonder this show is such a favourite with community theatres. When it is done well it is delightful entertainment, witty and charming; and Beaumaris do it very well indeed. Leah Osburn has directed a terrific cast with deft skill. Malcolm Huddle’s musical direction of an interesting small orchestra is impressive at all times, and the costumes, set and lighting are beautifully realised. The theatre itself is a great venue and the only question mark is over the cabaret setting; long tables where the audience could bring drinks and nibbles.

The Violent Outburst That Drew Me To You

By Finegan Kruckemeyer. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. True West Theatre. November 21 – 29, 2013.

Before I even begin this review, let me congratulate Parramatta Riverside theatres on dealing with a pretty difficult situation last night. Picture this! Three performances, being juggled effectively by staggered starting times, one of them a children’s dance festival. (You’ve got! Lots of kids and twice as many parents and grandparents!) A stormy summer night. The foyer and courtyard crowded, and umbrella stands overflowing.

An Evening with Mandy Patinkin and Nathan Gunn

Accompanied by Julie Jordan Gunn and Paul Ford. Hamer Hall, Melbourne, November 21, 2013; ASB Theatre, Auckland, November 24; Sydney Opera House, November 26 and QPAC, November 28.

From now on, look up the word charisma in the dictionary under P for Patinkin. The master showman, with a mixture of Chutzpah, charm and finesse, reminded all of us lucky enough to be in Hamer Hall last night of what stardom used to mean in the days before pop divas and musicals that depend on the sets and special effects, rather than the music. Equally as masterful is operatic baritone Nathan Gunn, whose Bro-mance with the older Patinkin seems based on genuine affection and respect; they love performing together and it shows.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Music & Lyrics: Richard & Robert Sherman. Book: Jeremy Sams & Ray Roderick. Tim Lawson Production. Director: Roger Hodgman. Musical Director: Peter Casey. Choreographer: Dana Jolly. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 21 November, 2013.

After playing seasons in other capital cities, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car finally flew into Brisbane. And what a gob-smacking arrival it was. The $1 million prop auto, which not only floated on water but flew around the stage, was the undoubted star of the show. What hope did a mere actor have when this magnificent piece of machinery took flight? It was an astounding effect. But that was the only astounding effect in this generic family musical by the Sherman Brothers.

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