Reviews

Essgee’s The Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Waterdale (Vic). Director: Andrew McDougall. Musical Directors: Bec Muratore/Shelley Dunlop. Choreographer: Louisa D’Ortenzio. Rivergum Theatre, Parade College. March 11 – 19, 2016.

With Gilbert and Sullivan well out of copyright, there have been many adaptations of these popular musicals. The most innovative was the 1981 Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance with Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline, which replaced the orchestra with a band and, without changing any of the story or setting, gave quite a different feel.

It was a hit.

In Australia, Simon Gallaher decided to do his own version with Jon English and introducing Marina Prior as Mabel and a gospel trio to replace the women’s chorus. It enjoyed great success.

The Moonlight Dolls

Adelaide Fringe. Gluttony – Empyrean. Feb 25th – March 13th, 2016.

Corsets are tight, costumes are flowing and the looks are provocative; everything that you want in a burlesque show. We are introduced to the entertainment by a man who could best be described as loud and manic as he bounces around the stage chatting to audience members. Some of his banter is funny and some cringe-worthy, but all is forgiven when he introduces the real talent of the evening. Hailing all the way from Houston, Texas, this troupe of performance artists are confident, beautiful and extremely sexy.

The Distance

By Deborah Bruce. Directed by Leticia Caceras. MTC. The Sumner. Southbank Theatre. 5th March-9th April, 2016

Some strong and witty performances and excellent production values make this an interesting offering from MTC; it’s just a pity that Deborah Bruce’s play is ultimately a disappointment.

When Dad Married Fury

By David Williamson. Centenary Theatre Group. Director: Gary O’Neil. Chelmer Community Hall, Brisbane. 27 Feb – 19 Mar 2016

When Dad Married Fury finds David Williamson in familiar territory, back with the canapés and chardonnay set of Sydney. It’s a birthday celebration for multi-millionare Alan Urquhart who’s just returned from America with a young bride half his age. With no pre-nup in place, his sons and their spouses can see the money slipping away and are determined to redress the situation. Greed drives the plot which touches on the recent global financial crisis, Ponzi schemes, and mum-and-dad investors who were sent to the wall.

Godspell In The Garden

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Michael Tebelak. The Australian Shakespeare Company, in conjunction with Room 8. Director: Glenn Elston. Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Feb 21 – March 13, 2016 and touring.

A balmy Sunday evening in Melbourne on the labour day weekend with the sun low in the sky and picnic baskets abounding; could there be a more perfect setting for this wonderfully entertaining re-imagining of a timeless 45 year old musical?

Calamity Jane

Stage book by James O’Hanlon. Music by Sammy Fain, Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Rockdale Musical Society , March 4 to 13, 2016

The season of Calamity Jane being staged by Rockdale Musical Society had been running for several performances by the time I attended the show, meaning it had a chance of settling down for the season.

The Elephant Man

By Bernard Pomerance. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Directed by Petr Divis Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 11 – 26th March 2016

The Hobart Repertory Theatre Societyproduction of The Elephant Man is a show to see with a mind cleansed of movie references, including special effects, so you can concentrate on the acting, language and intent of the clever play. Bernard Pomerance wrote this haunting drama based on the real life of Joseph Merrick (called John in the play), a hideously deformed man who was rescued from a dreadful life as a circus freak.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown March 11 – 20, 2016.

As is to be expected for any production of Annie, there’s a buzz in the air – mainly from the excited parents, friends and teachers of the twenty-two little girls (eleven of whom appear each night) in the cast of this much loved musical.

Into The Woods

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Directed by Fiona Delaine. The Star Theatre, Hilton. March 10-13, 2016

Into The Woods, Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s much beloved mashup of famous fairytale plots and characters, has Adelaide Youth Theatre’s usual uniformly first rate production values and is given reasonably polished, if possibly overly derivative treatment by the company.

Blind

Concept/Script – Nancy Black and Duda Paiva. Black Hole Theatre and DudaPaiva Company. Theatre Works. 8 – 19 March 2016

From go to whoa this wonderful ‘grownups’ puppet show is a rich rewarding delight.  Funny and even ‘laugh out loud’ to start with, Blind is a marvelous and often tantalizingly surprising journey.  Master puppeteer and artist Duda Paiva in communion with, through breathing life and voice into, his exquisite delicate puppets - delights his audience.

Paiva is a charismatic, consummate, relaxed and spontaneous performer who engages with disarming sincerity. 

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