Reviews

Dreamgirls

Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen. Music by Henry Krieger. StageArt. Directed by Terence O’Connell. Chapel off Chapel, 28th May – 14th June, 2015.

We have so much to thank StageArt for. They’re a brave company who are committed to bringing us musicals that Main Stage producers won’t touch – thus giving us a chance to see shows we otherwise would never see. Earlier this year it was the marvellous In The Heights – a production in a league of its own. Now it’s Dreamgirls, a 1981 Tony winner and later a successful film, but a show that even 34 years later we would not be seeing were it not for StageArt.

The King and I

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Babirra Music Theatre. Director: Alan Burrows. Musical Director: Ben Hudson. Choreographer: Di Crouch. May 29 – June 7, 2015

With so many students doing music theatre courses, it was a pleasant surprise to find classical singers in most of the major roles for this production of The King and I. Unfortunately the sound guys couldn’t cope, there was quite a bit of distortion and the voices were often too loud, even though they were holding back.

The Exonerated

By Jessica Blank and Erik Jansen. Sol3. Directed by Andrei Schiller-Chan. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). May 20th-June 7th, 2015.

Two statements that are generalisations but nonetheless true.

1)    Great theatre is exhilarating and transcendent. It touches something deep inside, enlightening and elevating each member of the audience.

2)    Great theatre is as rare as hen’s teeth.

Well it maybe rare, but it’s not difficult to find – in this case it’s just a short trip to Chapel off Chapel.

The Book of Everything

By Richard Tulloch, from the novel by Guus Kuijer. Directed by Chris Proctor. 1812 Theatre (Vic). 28th May – 20th June, 2015.

Though it may seem a long way to Ferntree Gully, it’s always worth the effort to visit 1812 Theatre. For this, their third season of the year, Director Chris Proctor has pulled out all the stops for an ambitious production of The Book of Everything – a deceptively simplistic play that gives a child’s perception of a complex and multi-layered adult world. It’s a charming and beguiling play…but nowhere near as easy as it seems.

Dirty Dancing

Music & Lyrics: Various. Book: Eleanor Bergstein. Director: James Powell. Music Director: David Skelton. Choreographer: Michelle Lynch. John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCallum, Joye Entertainment in association with Lionsgate, Magic Hour Productions. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 28 May 2015.

When Dirty Dancing the movie opened in 1987 it drew mainly adult audiences, but between then and now somewhere along the way the story was hijacked by girl-power and today it’s recognised as being No. 1 on “Women’s Most Watched Movies”. This inbuilt fanatical acceptance by the female audience has meant that from its first production as a stage musical in Australia in 2005, Dirty Dancing has had a head start in the popularity stakes. Like Wicked, it’s a licence to print money.

Glengarry Glen Ross

By David Mamet. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Kate Cherry. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth WA. 23 May - 14 June, 2015

David Mamet may be one of the world's most respected living playwrights, but for me, as a story Glengarry Glen Ross doesn't really resonate. Having said that, Black Swan State Theatre Company's latest production is a quality show in many other ways.

The Who’s Tommy

Music and Lyrics by Pete Townsend. Book by Pete Townsend and Des McAnuff. Blue Mountains Musical Society. Evan Theatre, Panthers, Penrith. May 27 – 31, 2015

Tommy is a ‘sensation’-al high energy, multi-media rock’n’roll celebration at BMMS.

Live theatre, music video and rock concert ambience meet in two pacy hours of high-energy fun, rating very high amongst rock musicals I’ve seen on Sydney’s Community Theatre circuit over the years.

Iolanthe

Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan; Libretto by Sir William Gilbert. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Tasmania. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Robet Manion. 21 – 30 May 2015

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Tasmania presented Iolanthe, in a “pared back”, but high standard, entertaining production, which could be used as an introductory G&S for newcomers to the genre. Staunch G&S buffs may need bigger, fuller casts and ensembles and the full-blown G&S operetta/light opera experience to get their fix, but the whimsical, fast, jolly production, under the tight direction of Robert Manion, was just the ticket for this theatre-goer.

Home Invasion

Written and directed by Christopher Bryant. La Mama Theatre, Carlton. May 27 - June 7, 2015

This hard hitting play examines the ways in which our homes are invaded not just by violent intruders, but also by cultural products that make us cringe because of their cruel ability to damage our self esteem. It is no wonder that this play is populated by mental health professionals and consumers who are in dire need of such services.

Rhymes with Silence

Nine writers, twelve directors, twenty seven actors and five crew. Artistic Director: Joy Roberts. Producer: Glenn Groves. 107 Projects (NSW). 16 - 24 May 2015

Artists Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

This show is comprised of thirteen short plays on the subject of domestic violence by men against women. There are just six performances over four days and the venue is small, which makes this show difficult to access by a larger audience. This is a shame, as these are important issues to address in a clear and intelligent manner.

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