Reviews

Sally! A Musical

Music by Jerome Kern, Lyrics by Clifford Grey. Book by Guy Bolton. Director: Celeste Cody. Musical Director: David Bramble. The Own and the Pussycat, Richmond (Vic). Nov 13 – 17, 2012.

Lively, fun and funny, this production of ‘Sally!’ A Musical is a light and delightful ‘rags to riches’ story.

The Venetian Twins

By Nick Enright and Terence Clarke. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). November 13 – December 15, 2012.

There’s a zippy band, strong voices, good harmony! There are zany characters, white faces, colourful costumes, quirky choreography, a bit of slapstick, a few pratfalls and fast scene changes! In fact, there are all the components of a good musical and good commedia. Perhaps a ‘musical commedia’?

CIRCA

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane. November 13 – 24, 2012.

Bare white stage surrounded by black drapes. Music. Lights pick up a group forming. Nimble imaginations spark, bodies coalesce, magic happens. They transport us.

Not all our dreams are beautiful, lyrical or erotic. Sometimes there is confrontation, provocation: bodies flung across the stage land thunk! spread-eagled. Our bodies might not survive such abuse but these artists roll up, or arch and spring back into action.

IT STARTED OUT LIKE A SONG

Savoyards. Co-Directors: Kaitlin Bell & Mathew Nutley. Musical Director: Mathew Nutley. Star Theatre, Manly, Brisbane, 10 November 2012

Savoyards finished their year with It Started out like a Song, a strong cabaret-concert whose proceeds went towards the purchase of a new grand piano at the Star Theatre. The show featured a cast of nine female singers, a Steinway grand, and songs which celebrated the piano and songwriters with material culled from the catalogues of Billy Joel, Peter Allen, Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Aside from solos, there were duets, trios, lots of medleys, plus counterpoint and some a-capella. Best performances came from Emma Tavianni, Kimi Tsukakoshi and Kelli Ireland.

Pygmalion

By George Bernard Shaw. Adapted and Directed by Daniel Lammin. Presented by 5pounds Repertory Theatre. The Owl and the Pussy Cat (Vic). Nov 6 – 10, 2012.

Enthusiastically presented with humor and energy this ‘rough around the edges’ version of Pygmalion is a highly engaging and engrossing production that moves at a spirited pace.

The Servant of Two Masters

By Carlo Goldoni, adapted by Nick Enright and Ron Blair. Theatre on Chester, Epping (NSW). November 9 – December 1, 2012.

Goldoni’s classic Italian farce of multiple mistaken identities saves most of its frenetic fun until after interval. It’s a play with a lot of exposition and set-up before the pay-off, including the introduction and establishment of the stylized stock commedia dell’arte characters (minus masks) and performance conventions, largely unfamiliar to local community theatre audiences and performers. Even so, the pace of act one seemed a little too slow at times on opening night.

Sasha Regan’s The Pirates of Penzance

By WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Sydney Theatre Company presents a Regan De Winter Production. Director: Sasha Regan. Sydney Theatre. November 10 – 24, 2012.

Pirates is a show normally dominated by boys. There is the swashbuckling Pirate King, made famous in recent times by Anthony Warlow and Jon English, the verbal virtuosity of the Major General and even the leading tenor Frederick has jokes to add to his sweet arias. Girls are sweet but play second fiddle.

The Last Prom: An Apocalypse in One Act

Performed by The Last Prom. Written by Nick Delatovic and Joel Barcham. Music and lyrics by Nick Delatovic and Julia Johnson. Directed by Joel Barcham. Ainslie Arts Centre, Canberra. Saturday November 10, 2012

In this rock opera set on the eve of the Apocalypse, the Antichrist, who might be the son of the beast but underneath is really just a lonely teenager, has as his sole desire to go to a 1950s-style graduation prom and fall in love. And if Lady Gaga can swathe herself in smallgoods, why the heck not? This show is the brainchild of Canberra songwriter Nick Delatovic of The Missing Lincolns.

The Wizard of Oz

Original book by L. Frank Baum. Book adaptation by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. Director: Lucy Nicolson. MLOC. Phoenix Theatre, Elwood. 9th-17th Nov, 2012

The Wizard of Oz is an iconic musical from the childhood of just about all of us. Who hasn’t, in their childhood, sat at a window and wondered what lies beyond the rainbow? Who hasn’t heard Judy Garland sing the song? And how many of us called a much loved pet “Toto”? It’s part of our makeup, our psyche. Beautifully realised on film, with a huge budget, it sets the bar for fantasy so high that it takes a brave theatre company to even attempt to match it.

Next to Normal

Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Music by Tom Kitt. Directed by Shaun Kingma. WMTC – Williamstown Musical Theatre Company (Vic). Nov 9th-24th, 2012.

When Next to Normal won 3 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for a musical about death, grief, suicide, drugs and mental illness, reactions were mixed. Here was an absolutely stunning score but a book and lyrics that were confronting at every turn. It is not, nor will it ever be, to everybody’s taste. Yet it is a musical that all lovers of Music Theatre should see.

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