Reviews

Little Mercy

Sisters Grimm. Wharf 2, STC. March 7 – 24, 2013.

Like a slickly scripted film from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Little Mercy begins at cocktail hour in the comfortable New England home of a theatrical producer and his statuesque if neurotic housewive. Roger and Virginia are desperate for a child and their pleas are answered this stormy night with the arrival of an eight-year-old foundling.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

By Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. MUSE (Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble). Director: Amy Lester. Music Director: Olga Solar. Choreographer: Stephanie Gray. Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre. March 13-16, 2013.

Warm nostalgic memories of my own student productions flooded back watching the MUSE production of this Broadway classic. Nearly 40 years ago, as a drama under-grad, I had my first chances to direct and play principal roles (well above my own age) in a similar student club. Always achieved on minimum budget and maximum enthusiasm, those shows were great grounding for the high school musicals I later staged as a young teacher.

Legally Blonde

Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin. Book: Heather Hach. Howard Panter & John Frost Production. Director/Chorographer: Jerry Mitchell. Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. From 14 March 2013

OMG What a show! This high-energy, fun-filled piece of musical theatre was every bit as good as the Broadway and West End originals thanks to a super cast and brilliant choreography and staging by Jerry Mitchell. Inventive and at times dazzling, the frenetic pace did not let up from start to finish.

The story of fashion-tragic Elle Woods making it through the hallowed halls of Harvard through savvy, spunk and street-smarts, was as enjoyable as the MGM movie on which is was based.

Dirty Blonde.

By Claudia Shear. Darlinghurst Theatre (NSW). Theatre 19 Season. Director: Stuart Maunder. Garnet Productions. March 12 – 31, 2013.

Nodding nostalgically to ‘the tough girl’ of stage and screen, Mae West, Claudia Shear’s Dirty Blonde effortlessly ties the core biography to the story of two fanatics and their relationships to one another and the provocative Ms West.

Dirty Blonde’s Opening Night attracted a full house of intrigued patrons. Not hard with theatre names like director Stuart Maunder, Lara Mulcahy, Philip Dodd, Mark Simpson and the promise of the saucy and controversial Mae West.

The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan. Directed by Terry Hackett. Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda (WA). Feb 22 - Mar 16, 2013.

This campy, comic interpretation of the Hitchcock masterpiece was brought to the stage with warmth and love by Terry Hackett and a superb cast. Everyone on stage was having a ball, in the best possible way - including the audience in their fun.

The central role of Richard Hannay was played with dapper perfection by Adrian Wood.

Aundraea Stevens played Annabelle, Margaret, Mrs. Jordan and Mrs. McGarrigle, a gaggle of roles, all with outlandish accents and extreme characterisations, which were strangely believable due to Aundraea's talents.

Kid Stakes

By Ray Lawler. Villanova Players. “The Theatre,” Seven Hills TAFE, Morningside, Brisbane. Director: Leo Wockner. 8-23 March, 2013

Villanova’s production of Ray Lawler’s Kid Stakes, the first play in The Doll Trilogy, was a very happy walk down memory lane revisiting his iconic set of Aussie battlers.Once again it was set in a seedy two-storey Carlton terrace house in Melbourne, but eighteen years earlier than The Summer of the Doll in 1937. This was the era when you rolled your own smokes, every kitchen had an ice-chest, and blokes carried their bottles of beer in their Gladstone bags.

Euröbeat: Almöst Eurövisiön

By Craig Christie and Andrew Patterson. Directed and Chroegraphed by Patt Ryan Fab Nobs Theatre, Bayswater (Vic). March 8th – 23rd, 2013.

There are all kinds of Musical Theatre. Some shows are meant to move you; some to make you think; some to overwhelm you with romantic music, or historic themes….and some are just a hoot; hilarious entertainment with no agenda at all. Euröbeat is the latter and proudly wears its campery as a badge of honour.

Quartet

By Sir Ronald Harwood. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 2-23 March, 2013

In the late 1990s, Ronald Harwood, obviously beginning to experience scourges of the seventies himself, decided to write a play that would engage the predominantly grey set among theatregoers. In 1999 his four-hander comedy opened on the West End. By 2012 it had been made into a film.

Centenary Theatre Group chose the play prototype to open their 2013 season, little expecting they would be playing against the movie version.

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robin Baitz. Melbourne Theatre Company (Vic). Southbank Theatre (The Sumner). Director: Sam Strong. Set Designer: Callum Morton. Costume Designer: Esther Marie Hayes. 2nd March – 17 April, 2013.

Couched in real-life events affecting Republicans Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and James Oughton, Other Desert Cities not only explores family politics, but the complexities inherent in families addicted to preserving a public image.

Jon Baitz’s explosive script has the audience eavesdropping on the family reunion of Senator Lyman Wyeth, his wife Polly, their grown-up children Brooke and Trip, and Polly’s sister Silda. When Brooke, a writer, reveals she has written her account of the most painful chapter of the family’s history, all hell breaks loose.

Knee Deep

Casus. The Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne. March 5 – 17, 2013.

Four circus artists hailing from Queensland (former Circa and Flying Fruit-Fly Circus performers Emma Serjeant, Jesse Scott and Lachlan McAulay, together with Polytoxic’s Natano Fa’anana), form Casus.

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