The Little Mermaid

Music: Alan Menken. Lyrics: Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater. Book: Doug Wright. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Directors: William Pulley and Rodrigo Medina Noel. 08 February – 02 March, 2019

Staging a Disney production is a daunting prospect at the best of times, but as their first directorship, directors William Pulley and Rodrigo Medina Noel, together with Choreographer Erin Brummage, have re-created the magic of Disney’s The Little Mermaid with great success. William also directed the music 

Young Frankenstein

Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Music by Mel Brooks. Directed by Shane Webb. Presented by Phoenix Ensemble. The Tin Shed Theatre, 1 – 23 February 2019.

Shane Webb demonstrates outstanding directorial vision for this musical based on the 1974 Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder film of the same name. He’s clearly approaching it with great imagination and a lot of humour. While he’s able to effectively show the audience his ability to prepare a large cast and crew to deliver a well-paced, energetic show, Shane’s expectations for the outcome clearly surpass the abilities of many cast members.

The Female of the Species

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Lane Cove Theatre Company. The Performance Space, St Aidan’s, Longueville. Feb 8 – 23, 2019.

This almost anti-feminist play is one of the Australian plays listed on the HSC Drama Syllabus, so it can be expected that it will attract some local year 12 students – as it did on opening night. The five about-seventeen-year-olds in front of us were the most enthusiastic of a very appreciative audience. The production obviously met their expectations of the play and the characters – and I’m sure director Jess Davis was thrilled by their immediate responses and their post-play comments.

Mary Stuart

By Friedrich Schiller, adapted by Kate Mulvany. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre. Feb 5 – Mar 2, 2019

History lovers think we know this story backwards and what drove these two feuding queens.  

Friedrich Schiller’s classic play from 1800 has Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin Elizabeth I actually meeting each other and scratching at their veneers.  Kate Mulvany’s remarkable translation, with its modern, feminist and often comic eye, goes a lot further. 

The queens repeatedly complain they are pawns and victims in a man’s world, where there’s little room left for one of them, let alone two.

The Lady in the Van

By Alan Bennett. Melbourne Theatre Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 2 February – 6 March 2019

The longevity of this play (first performed in 1999) is more than likely due to the situation it dramatises.  It depicts a kind of middle-class suburban nightmare: a homeless person, irrational, shit-smeared and endlessly importunate – plus bulky vehicle – camped in a nice, well-meaning person’s front garden and that person – that is, us – is somehow powerless to do anything about it. 

The Moors

By Jen Silverman. Siren Theatre Company and Seymour Centre. Director: Kate Gaul. The Seymour Centre, Sydney. 6 February – 1 March 2019

The poster outside the Seymour Centre says I’m about to see ‘a hyper-theatrical and kinky homage to the Brontes’. Jen Silverman’s American take on such a strong part of the English literary cannon should be interesting. How, I wondered, would the Bronte sisters and their bleak, wind-swept moors emerge in this ‘hyper-theatrical’, ‘kinky’ version?

10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew

By Gillian English. Fringe World. Belgian Beer Cafe, King St, Perth. Feb 6-17, 2019

10 Things I Hate About Taming of the Shrew is an hilarious examination of Shakespeare’s play, by a ridiculously qualified, angry Canadian feminist, whom you will absolutely adore. Essentially an hour of brilliant stand-up, this is an argument that it would be almost impossible to refute.

Step, by very funny step, LAMDA graduate Gillian English explains to us why this play should burn, as she shows us all of the things there are to hate about this play, including its misogyny, bad parenting and the stupidity of teen love.

The Baden Street Singers - Whose Note Is It Anyway?

Fringe World. Directed by Lionel Pearson. The Edith Spiegeltent, Yagan Square, Perth. Feb 9-17, 2019

The Baden Street Singers are a champion chorus with national awards to their credit. In this Whose Note Is It Anyway? they showcase not only their amazing vocal talent, but delight their audience with theatresports style musical improvisation, in a fun and interactive show.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Packemin Productions. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. February 8 – 23, 2019

There was a tempest of biblical proportions on the evening of the opening night. We drove past countless broken tree branches, flooded roads and downed electrical wiring to arrive at a soggy Riverside Theatre.

And so - when it rained on stage – the thought crossed my mind that it might not be a theatrical effect, but the real heavens opening. If only the storm outside was as gentle and refreshing.

Peggy Lee and Judy Garland

By Jesse Gordon and Ali Bodycoat. Fringe World. The Ellington Jazz Club, Beaufort St, Perth, WA. Feb 6-10, 2019

Playing to a capacity crowd at Ellington Jazz Club, Peggy and Judy is a glorious tribute to the iconic talents Peggy Lee and Judy Garland. Presented by the award winning and supremely talented Jessie Gordon and Ali Bodycoat, it us a delightful hour of top-notch vocal performances.

Dressed in gorgeous, co-ordinating and “dangerous” dresses, and evoking the look and spirit of Peggy and Judy, the pair work beautifully together and have a wonderful rapport, both with each other and with the audience. The duets in the show are excellent.

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