Reviews

Songs for a New World

By Jason Robert Brown. Blue Saint Productions. Hayes Theatre Company. Aug 12 – 28, 2016.

Two-times a Tony Award winner for Best Score (Parade and The Bridges of Madison County), composer / lyricist Jason Robert Brown is something of a musical theatre enigma; despite amassing a remarkable body of splendid theatre songs over a 20+ year career, immensely popular with contemporary musical theatre and cabaret performers, he is yet to be attached to a genuine Broadway hit.

POV Dave

Written and produced by Noel Maloney. Directed by Beng Oh. Stage design and costumes by Christina Logan-Bell. Lighting design by Matthew Barber. Sound design by Tom Backhaus. La Mama Courthouse. 10-21 August, 2016.

POV Dave is one of those plays where the audience starts off completely lost. Then bit by bit the pieces fall into place and the story makes sense.

It ends up being a contemporary moral story that asks a question that dates back at least as far as 1989 and Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: How will you be remembered? Are you happy with the legacy you will leave behind?

Roleystone Theatre 2016 Gala Concert

Roleystone Theatre, WA. 13 Aug, 2016

Roleystone’s Annual Gala has become a tradition, with the concert each year having a particular musical theme. This year the show featured ‘Hits from London’s West End’, with the second act devoted to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

As well as highlighting some of their best talent, the Gala Concerts are open to all members, and offer an opportunity for less experienced performers to stretch heir wings. The night is also very much a social occasion, with a generous supper provided.

Tannhäuser

By Wagner. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: David Kram. Regent Theatre, Melbourne on 14, 17 and 20 August, 2016, and 28 August at Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall.

Melbourne Opera is an opera company punching well above its weight, mainly due to considerable support from the opera loving public in Melbourne. The idea of a smal company performing Tannhäuser is incredible, yet they triumphed magnificently.

The only concession to the non-professional status of the over fifty voice chorus, was that they were permitted to sing in English in this German production, but their singing was so lusty and polished no one minded.

Laughter and Tears

Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Emil Wolk. Venue: Palais Theatre, St Kilda. Aug 13, 16 and 18, 2016

Pagliacci is a one-act opera about a troupe of travelling performers doing a typical Commedia dell’Arte where the situation on stage is reflected in the lives of the performers. A typically dramatic verismo opera, it is usually teamed with Cavalleria Rusticana, which is of a similar ilk. This makes for a heavy night of opera.

House of Games

Based on the screenplay by David Mamet, adapted by Richard Bean. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Aug 9 – Sep 10, 2016

Richard Bean’s adaptation of David Mamet’s screenplay has the hallmarks one expects of Mamet – fast, raw dialogue, bitingly authentic characters – and the clever humour and pace one has learned to expect of Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors).  Set in a seedy poker club in Chicago, it’s all about a complicated gambling ‘hustle’. Dr Margaret Ford, a psychoanalyst, the author of a best-seller on compulsive behaviour, offers to help one of her patients settle his gambling debt.

Rhonda Burchmore on Broadway

With the Queensland Pops Orchestra conducted by Patrick Pickett. Concert Hall, QPAC. 13 August 2016.

Swathed in a different jewel-encrusted evening gown at every entrance, the statuesque and long-legged Rhonda Burchmore brought glamour and whole lot of show-business savvy to this Queensland Pops concert.

The Sound of Music

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. London Palladium Production. Presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost and The Really Useful Group. Adelaide Festival Theatre. August 9-September 4, 2016.

The Sound of Music with less sugar and more soul is how I’d describe the London Palladium production of the classic musical.  Currently gracing Adelaide’s Festival Theatre during its national tour, the production is stirring and simply superb; a must-see for those who can afford the tickets.

Endgame

By Samuel Beckett. Shake and Stir. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. August 9 – 20, 2016

Specifically grim but never merely glum, Director Michael Futcher fully taps the self-conscious theatricality of Endgame, Samuel Beckett’s play, without letting us forget that its strange figures are appallingly real, enacting a grotesque pantomime of humanity’s hungry need to distract itself by wresting order, meaning and a sliver of satisfaction.

Two Tales of a River

By Richard Davey (revised Liz Connor), Darren Hayden and Liz Connor. Huon Valley Theatre Company. Directed by Rod Gray. Huon Valley Town Hall. 15- 30 July 2016

The recent floods in Huonville Tasmania were an interesting reminder of the power of nature.  The latest production by the Huon Valley Theatre group is two stories, one-act musical plays, both telling of life on and around the Huon River and set in the 1850s.

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