Reviews

Orphans

By Dennis Kelly. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. June 23 - July 9, 2011

I believe this is the best piece of play writing I’ve come across in over forty years of theatre experience. I recommend any aspiring playwrights or screen writers to see this play and watch Dennis Kelly’s language at work.

Of course a play is only as good as its actors, and this cast of three do it justice. Kat Henry’s direction is spot on.

The action is unrelenting. Dialogue fragments blast at you like a ripiendo of rimshots, pinning you to your seat.

Waitressing and Other Things I Do Well

Gillian Cosgriff - Twelve Acts of Cabaret. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 24 June 2011

Gillian Cosgriff was Part Two of Act 11 of Twelve Acts of Cabaret, appearing as a double bill with Toby Francis. She was more talented than Francis and much more entertaining.

Accompanying herself on piano and singing her self-composed quirky songs (almost ‘cabaret rap’) about acting, waitressing and friendship, she had no trouble in winning over a very receptive audience. Her funniest riff was when she substituted the word “Builder” for actor in a piece that skewered the brutal and soul-destroying acting audition process.

An Evening with Steve Ross

Twelve Acts of Cabaret. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, 25 June 2011.

What better way to finish QPAC’s Twelve Acts of Cabaret than with the New York cabaret legend Steve Ross. Essaying the great American Songbook (Cole Porter/Irving Berlin/Jule Styne), plus a little of the English (Noel Coward/Ivor Novello) and French (Charles Trenet/Edith Piaf) as well, Ross brought a touch of sophistication to the Cremorne. He also landed a lot of laughs, but then he’s been delivering this material for the past 40 years so he knows where they are.

Blokelahoma! – Toby Francis

Twelve Acts of Cabaret. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 24 June 2011. Musical Director: Nigel Ubrihien

Midway through Toby Francis’ Blokelahoma! Part one of Act 11, a double bill of QPAC’s Twelve Acts of Cabaret, Francis made a joke about the dichotomy of being a straight man singing show songs and working in cabaret.

Colder

By Lachlan Phillpott. La Boite Indie and Michelle Miall. Roundhouse Theatre. 22 June – 9 July 2011

Who would have dreamt the new 400-seat La Boite in-the-round space could convert so effectively into an intimate theatre of 90+ seats? New Artistic Director of La Boite in 2009 did. Now in its second season we are still appreciating benefits of his longer-term vision.

Colder, first of the 2011 Indie season, uses this performing space to best effect.

Summer of ‘42

By David Kirshenbaum and Hunter Foster. The Hills Musical Society (NSW). Don Moore Community Centre. June 17 – 25.

Summer of ’42 must have about the hottest kissing I recall in an amateur musical. The sexuality is unashamed. I hear it hasn’t been a show for the more old-fashioned tastes of some musical society members.

Teenage rites-of-passage movie Summer of ‘42 has been adapted as a musical, which played briefly Off-Broadway in late 2001. In the aftermath of September 11, the likeable musical closed prematurely after just 47 performances, despite a positive critical response.

Steampowered

Circus Oz. Under the Big Top at Birrarung Marr, Melbourne. Artistic Director: Mike Finch. Season Dates in Melbourne - 22 June – 17 July, 2011. For tour dates in Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Launceston and Hobart visit www.circusoz.com

Just in time for the Victorian school holidays comes Steampowered, featuring large doses of mirth, slapstick, comedic genius, astonishing physical feats, and quirky irreverence. Five minutes into the show, my shiny-eyed nine-year-old companion declared, My hands are going to be so sore from clapping. Playing on ambiguities in time, Steampowered asks how today would look, had it somehow come earlier than it did.

The White Guard

By Mikhail Bulgakov, in a new version by Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay. June 7 – July 10.

There is something quite joyous about watching an ensemble cast work well together on stage, flexing their acting muscle all at the same time, all singing the same song from the same hymn sheet so to speak. The White Guard has such a cast and not one of them sang a bum note or were off the beat.


Jesus Christ Superstar

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Harvest Rain @ Playhouse, QPAC Director: Tim O’Connor. Musical Director: Maitlohn Drew. June 17 – 26.

Harvest Rain’s acclaimed production is back again at the Playhouse four months after its originally scheduled return season due to the Queensland floods and it’s better than ever.

Luke Kennedy, who’s now played Jesus in four different productions of the work, the most recent for GSSA in Adelaide, is a true star. With thrilling top notes and an impassioned dramatic performance he stood head and shoulders above the rest of the company.

Faust by Gounod

Melbourne Opera. Director: Hugh Halliday. Musical Director: Greg Hocking. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. June 18 – 26. Alexander Theatre. July 1.

During the late nineteenth century Faust was the most popular opera in the world. Alas no more, and it is 25 years since the last performance in Melbourne. So Melbourne Opera’s production was eagerly awaited, and did not disappoint.

It was dominated by the Mephistopheles of Steven Gallop. His big voice and personality were just right for this role, though he was also able to scale his voice back to balance the other singers in the act 3 quartet although he was a little too exuberant in the duet with Faust in act 1.

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