Reviews

The Miracle Worker

By William Gibson. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Arts Theatre. 4 – 13 April 2019

William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker was first performed in 1959, winning the Tony Award for Best Play for the Broadway season1959-60. This season is notable for the number of plays and musicals that centred on strong and formidable matriarchal female characters. This includes Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, as well as Gypsy by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents.

The Last Five Years The Musical

Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). March 29 - April 27, 2019.

Christian Charisiou and Elise McCann didn’t so much perform their roles in this musical – more like they drank every last syllable and catchy songs with ecstatic reverence. You could see and feel how much they love the work.

In the two handed musical, Jamie Wellerstein is a Jewish writer who becomes smitten with the non-Jewish actress Catherine Hiatt. She starts the musical at the end of their relationship, he at the beginning and they meet somewhere in the middle.

Life: The Show

The Spiegeltent - Canberra Theatre Forecourt. March 30-April 21, 2019

It’s the Spiegeltent. You know you’re in for world class slick cabaret, raunchy dance, clowning, costumes, but for me the most spectacular parts of Life: The Show were the surprises.  When they attach a couple of grappling hooks to the belt loops Violent Femmes’ session sax player and hoist him into the air, and he continues to play while spinning and summersaulting around, it’s jaw-dropping. (His name is Blaize Garza and he doesn’t miss a beat of Madness’ "One Step Beyond", even when upside down).

Dénouement!

By James Hazelden & Nicholas Rasche. Directed by James Hazelden. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street Carlton. 3-7 April, 2019.

This amusing whodunnit is set in an elegant and stately English home. This is beautifully suggested with a simple but extremely effective stage design which is inviting and evocative. All the elements of the genre are present: an amateur detective, a missing will, a bloody knife and numerous suspects. However, the characters behave in highly unexpected ways and this generates a great deal of the good-natured fun imbued in the script. The text has numerous comic gems with references to contemporary life and technology.

Every Brilliant Thing

By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. April 3 – 6, 2019

The ‘brilliant thing’ about Every Brilliant Thing is that is could be anybody’s story, as Steve Rodgers has proved in taking over the role from Kate Mulvany in this Belvoir production at Parramatta Riverside Theatre. Rodgers is a consummate actor of stage and screen, and a playwright of note – as those who have seen his plays Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam and King of Pigs will attest – and he has stepped into this unusual role with typical dedication … and the deep sense of responsibility that it demands.

Saturday Night Fever

Based on the Paramount/RSO movie and the story by Nik Cohn, adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood and Bill Oakes, new version arranged and edited by Ryan McBryde. Music and lyrics are by artists including the Bee Gees. John Frost production. Sydney Lyric Theatre. Opening Night – April 2, 2019

It’s a turbocharged disco leap back to the funky 70’s with this show, fuelled by an inferno of lights, beams into the audience and deep 3D projections. 

With the language sanitised and the sexual violence less explicit in this latest stage version, we could well have overshot and reached the 50’s – but who cares about the story!

A Flowering Tree

Opera by John Adams. Libretto: John Adams and Peter Sellars. Based on a South Indian folktale and poems translated by A.K. Ramanujan. Opera Queensland and Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Natalie Murray Beale. Director: Patrick Nolan. Concert Hall, QPAC. 2-6 April 2019

Opera Queensland’s new artistic director Patrick Nolan brings his Helpmann award-winning production of American John Adams’ A Flowering Tree to Brisbane. His Australian premiere staging of the work was for the Perth Festival in 2009. It’s not the first time Brisbane has seen a work by Adams, Opera Q having previously produced his Nixon in China as a co-production with the Brisbane Festival in 2009.

Overiacting: A Period Drama

By Jamie Boiskin. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Butterfly Club, Melbournne. April 1 – 7, 2019.

This is a feisty and entertaining comedy/cabaret show on the ‘sensitive’ subject of menstruation, currently on at the Butterfly Club, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Overiacting: A Period Drama is an engaging and noteworthy show written and performed by songstress Jamie Boiskin, who has created a hilarious and insightful hour of in your face material, that points the finger at the ever-present and on-going twenty-first century international menstruation taboo.

Sweaty Pits’ Pity Party

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Globe Alley. 26 March to 7 April 2019

Canberra comedy duo Frankie McNair and Miriam Slater, aka Sweaty Pits, bring their Pity Party to Melbourne for the comedy festival.

They perform several sketches from relatably frustrated mothers trying to live up to impossible beauty standards, while sporting fabulously gaudy pink and blue ‘80s active wear with matching eye shadow, to misguided lads trying to attract female attention. They also rip out some hilariously ridiculous pieces including sexual lemons and dancing dinosaurs in shiny leotards. Each costume change brings a new surprise!

Power and Paradise

Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra. St Columba Uniting Church. Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 March, 2019.

Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is to “bring musical enrichment to the community, providing a professional attitude towards innovative and enjoyable concerts”.

Quite ambitious? Maybe, but the orchestra, established in 1996 by local amateur musicians with the support of the local council, has grown in strength and stature until today it boasts fifty regular members “from all walks of life, of all ages, and includes amateurs, students and professional musicians”.

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