Reviews

Singing in the Rain.

Based on the MGM Film. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba. (Qld) April 1.

What a glorious feeling to sit in a beautiful art deco theatre and enjoy a sparkling performance of a musical from the same era. Singing in the Rain was the latest professionally directed amateur musical staged by the Empire Theatre. Director Lewis Jones and choreographer Alison Vallette milked every drop of talent from this community.

The Man from Mukinupin by Dorothy Hewitt, with a score by Jim Cotter.

Melbourne Theatre / Company B. Sumner Theatre until July 19

Dorothy Hewitt's Australian theatre classic The Man from Mukinupin is set in the fictitious small West Australian wheat-belt town of Mukinupin during World War 1. Encased in a small town scenario in which Hewitt wove a light musical, her play exposed Australian society at the time when brutal racism existed.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

Music & Lyrics: Buddy Holly & Others. Book: Alan Jones & Rob Bettinson. Live Theatre Productions. Playhouse, QPAC. May 2, 2009.

The best part of Buddy has always been the second act “Clear Lake Concert,” and once again it’s this sequence that elevates this bio-pic version of Buddy Holly’s life above other rock ‘n’ roll tributes. Scott Cameron, who’s been channeling Holly up and down the Gold Coast for the past four years, is personable in the title role, a good singer, and a terrific guitarist. Flip Simmons as Richie Valens made the most of his brief moment in the spotlight.

Jerry Springer: The Opera by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. April 21 – 26.

Has any opera/musical caused as many jaws to drop as this one? Not just at the constant obscenities, the blatant blasphemies, and the parade of amoral trash-can characters. What amazes is the breathtaking daring of the concept - an opera based on the Jerry Springer TV freak show!? – coupled with the rich brilliance of the score. Jaws dropped and ears tingled at the Sydney Opera House main concert hall when the 21 performers delivered superb 8-part operatic harmonies to such lines as “what the fucking fuck fuck”.

The Wonderful World Of Dissocia

Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 1. Until May 23.

Scottish playwright Antony Neilson’s play The Wonderful World Of Dissocia tells a story about a young woman’s descent into madness. In the first part of the play we follow Justine Clarke, who plays Lisa, entering the world of Dissocia, and encountering her illness in full, dangerous, exhilarating flight. After interval we see her going through the recovery process in hospital. This was very provocative, involving and emotive theatre; at times hilariously funny and in other moments, gut-wrenchingly sad.

Stomp 09

Canberra Theatre, then touring nationally.

Even before the lights dimmed, two people in the audience were sure that something special would happen. Two boys aged about 8 years were wriggling with anticipation, trying to keep their voices down. Their anticipation was surely fulfilled.

CHICAGO

Music: John Kander. Lyrics: Fred Ebb. Book: Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. March 22. Director: Nigel West.

Chicago is back in town, and it’s vulgar, brassy, loud, and totally irresistible! Kander and Ebb’s vaudeville valentine of murder and celebrity in Chicago of the 20’s still delivers with all the theatrical razzle dazzle anyone could ever need. It’s ten years since Australian audiences first saw this Encores version of the show. Since that time it’s picked up a whole new legion of fans due to the 2002 Oscar winning movie. This new production is a knockout in every department.

Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh

Ensemble Theatre (NSW). March 26 to May 2

Mike Leigh’s 1977 play Abigail’s Party is rich in biting social satire, minute observation, and subtext, as you’d expect.

Tutankhamun by LaVerne Kirton

Darlington Theatre Players. Marloo Theatre, Darlington (WA) February 27.

Darlington Theatre Players youth group performed this World Premiere, featuring a cast of thirty-nine young people from thirteen years of age. Written and directed by DTP member LaVerne Kirton, this work of ‘faction’ tells of Egypt’s boy king – exploring Ancient Egyptian culture against contemporary music, set in the present day Egypt and the eternal Hall of Judgment.

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson

QTC and Bell Shakespeare Company. Touring

I left the theatre delighted! I’d arrived apprehensive. Bad memories of unfamiliar Shakespeare plays presented by well-meaning community theatre players who couldn’t cope with Elizabethan style were banished. Twenty-two accomplished actors, eight creatives and director John Bell created a simple but flexible performance concept with just a sofa, a table and chairs and two racks laden with costumes.

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