Reviews

Beauty and the Beast Jr

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Book by Linda Woolverton. Eltham Little Theatre. Director: John Leahy. Musical Director: Nicola Ramsay. Choreographer: Amanda Byron. July 7 – 23, 2017

Eltham Little Theatre’s annual junior musical was Beauty and the Beast Jr and it was another successful production. There was a nice mix of younger members and others approaching adulthood.

The small stage was well used with a house being rolled on for the street scene and curtains opening to reveal the Beast’s castle. For the opening number curtains down the side of the auditorium were drawn back to reveal more villagers and stalls.

Banjos, Boots & Beyonce

St Martins Youth Theatre. Substation – Newport (Vic). 7pm – 6th, 7th and 8th of July 2017

Banjos, Boots & Beyonce is great fun and a must for anyone interested in youth theatre and what can be achieved when kids take the reins.

This show is surprisingly crisp and tight, particularly considering the potential unwieldiness of having a large number of Children teaching a heap of adults the polka and then some very unique contemporary social dances.  Even with a break for a cuppa the whole thing comes in under 80 minutes.

Audience can opt to engage in the dancing or observe and have a bit of a dance at the end if they so choose. 

Cloud Nine

By Caryl Churchill. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Kip Williams. Wharf 1 Theatre. July 1 to August 12, 2017

When I read the synopsis of this gender bending, cross dressing, actor swapping, century stretching play, I have to admit that I thought this was the wrong show to watch after a long day at work.  

All fears of getting lost or confused (and having to bluff through a review), were soon swept aside by the wonderful marriage of a splendid production and an always engaging narrative in a stunningly beautifully written play.

Neville’s Island

By Tim Firth. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 29 June – 12 August 2017

Trees, ferns and mist engulf the assembling audience. A patron in Row A bats away the thick mist that whirls round his seat. Setting is everything at the Ensemble: you’re so close to the action every small detail must work. Full marks then to Designer Hugh O’Connor for his impressive work on this comedy set on a small, uninhabited Tasmanian Island. 

Vigil

Book & lyrics by Steve Vizard. Composer Joe Chindamo. Arts Centre Melbourne, commissioned by Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, The Fairfax. 4-8 July 2017.

Lizzie (Christie Whelan Browne in another of the performances that have made her name), is the 30-something screw-up younger daughter, the one who never finishes anything, the one who’s blown her opportunities.  She tries to sweep into a ‘nursing home’ (that awful euphemism) where her Mum lies dying.  It’s Christmas Eve, that time of far-flung families’ return and reunion.

The Mikado

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Diamond Valley Singers and the Eltham Orchestras. Warrandyte High School Theatre, July 7th-15th 2017

One of the joys of Gilbert and Sullivan is that the operettas lend themselves to endless re-invention, and this production follows that path in turning the Kingdom of Titipu into the Hotel Titipu, with the Mikado recast as a CEO; and Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner becoming – what else? – the head of Human Resources. 

HUMAN_ERROR

By Angus Cameron. Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company. Meat Market, North Melbourne. June 29 – July 8, 2017.

I was a tad concerned heading into North Melbourne’s Meat Market for Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company’s new piece HUMAN_ERROR.  I had brought my mother along, who is a somewhat proudly self-proclaimed ‘non-play person’ and ‘prefers not to think’ when engaging in any kind of entertainment.  So you can imagine my trepidation at taking her to a play about the looming threat of artificial intelligence (AI) and the human race’s inevitable plunge into singularity.  It is a credit then (and to my surprise) that this production ma

Yada Yada Yada: A 90s Sitcom Special

By Lauren Edwards and Jude Perl. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. 5 to 9 July 2017

One of the most entertaining new shows of 2017, Yada Yada Yada – A 90s Sitcom Special is every bit as enjoyable as it sounds. Nostalgic for some, perhaps retro for others, this show has the best, or worst, of 90s television jam packed into one hour of hilarity.

Besides two of your favourite 90s silver screen queens, the show features theme songs, quotes and trivia. Edwards and Perl achieve no mean feat by singing in tune while keeping up their characters’ accents.

The Winter’s Tale

Ballet by Christopher Wheeldon based on Shakespeare’s play (1611) of the same name. Scenario: Christopher Wheeldon & Joby Talbot. Music: Joby Talbot. Royal Ballet, with Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Alondra de la Parra. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 5 – 9 July, 2017

Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale has already been claimed a “modern classic” and last night the Royal Ballet showed just how good his adaptation is. One of the last plays Shakespeare ever wrote, it deals with the destructive power of jealousy and the redemptive power of love.

Heart is a Wasteland

Written and produced by John Harvey. Malthouse Theatre, The Beckett. 29 June – 16 July 2017

John Harvey’s play Heart is a Wasteland is a testament to the healing power of falling in love.  It is a delightful romantic comedy grounded in a rich contemporary indigenous context.

Commencing with the best welcome to country ever, flying in from the West, it is a very finely tuned work throughout. This is a confirmation of the high degree of skill of all who have created and worked on it.   It is a co-production with Brown Cabs and made with the support of Footscray Community Arts Centre.

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