Reviews

The Village

Stan Lai and Performance Workshop In collaboration with Wang Wei-Chung (Taiwan). Oz Asia Festival. Festival Theatre Adelaide. 25 – 26 Oct 2019

The Oz Asia Festival reminds me that we are an increasingly globalised nation and world. I felt somewhat remiss about my understanding of the struggles that befell the displaced refugees and ‘military dependants’ who created the democratic nation of Taiwan, but The Village changed all that.

Vessel

Damien Jalet and Kohei Nawa. OzAsia Festival. Dunstan Playhouse Adelaide Festival Centre. 26-27 October 2019

With Vessel, Belgian choreographer, Damien Jalet, and renowned Japanese visual artist, Kohei Nawa, have produced a disturbing yet compelling, profound, fantastical and visually arresting work that tends more toward the performance art installation realm than dance genre; and yet, only dancers could perform this work given the extreme range of physical demands placed on the performers’ bodies by the concept, choreography and design.

Jekyll & Hyde

Music: Frank Wildhorn. Book & Lyrics: Leslie Bricusse, based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1896 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Phoenix Ensemble, Beenleigh. Director: Elodie Boal. Musical Director: Trenton Dunstan. Choreography: Lauren Conway. 18 October – 9 November 2019

When Jekyll & Hyde was released as a concept album in 1990 the pop-opera musical form reached its zenith with its power-ballad score. Never had so many songs been crammed into a musical before or since; “This is the Moment”, “Someone Like You”, “In His Eyes”, “Once Upon A Dream” and “A New Life”. Since then of course the songs have gone on to become enduring favourites and on everybody’s bucket list to sing on stage.

Cats

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber/Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. Queensland Musical Theatre. Director: Kade O’Rourke. Musical Director: Julie Whiting. Choreographer: Jo Badenhorst. Schonell Theatre, St Lucia. 25 October – 3 November 2019

The only things that matters in a production of Cats is can Grisabella sing “Memory” and does the choreography stack up. Queensland Musical Theatre ticked both boxes in a production that was ablaze with energy, dance gymnastics, and vocal expertise.

First kudos must to go to Jo Badenhorst and her well-drilled choreography, not easy moving a forty-bodied ensemble. Next up let’s salute Renee Milton and Cat Schwarten for costumes and wigs. Take a bow ladies they were fantastic.

Zander’s Boat

By Grace Barnes. Q44 Theatre, Abbottsford Convent. 22 October – 3 November 2019

‘We tell stories in Shetland – we’re good at that.  It’s a place full of darkness… Stories can fill that dark with light and banish the shadows hiding there, waiting.’  So Edith (Suzanne Heywood, also the director) tells us at the start of this play.  And indeed, it is a play of stories, told in monologues which run parallel, never interweaving or intersecting, told by three women of three generations of the Shetland Isles.  But it begins with an evocation of the myths and mysteries of the Shetlands, tales of seals – or

Orpheus & Eurydice

Music: Christop Willibald Gluck. Libretto: Ranieri de’ Calzabigi. Conductor: Dane Lam. Director: Yaron Lifschitz. Opera Queensland. Circa Ensemble. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Playhouse Theatre, QPAC. 24 October – 9 November 2019

When Gluck composed his version of the ‘Orpheus’ legend in 1762, there were fourteen other operas on the same subject, but Gluck’s version cut a swathe of originality across the then existing opera landscape for its revolutionary style and form and became enormously influential on the genre.

Opera Queensland’s production mirrored the originality of the original concept in an austere and thoroughly engrossing production which married the resources of the company with those of Brisbane’s internationally famed Circa ensemble.

The Yeomen of the Guard

By WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of WA. Directed by Michael Brett. Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia. Oct 24 - Nov 2, 2019

Billed as “Passion, intrigue and fabulous moustaches”, The Yeomen of the Guard is a fun and vibrant directorial debut for Michael Brett. A 16th century romp that rivals Shakespeare plots for confused identities, it proves fun for both the performers and audience.

Barry Boyd has designed a set that nicely conjures the Tower of London, and we are transported back to the early 1500s by the costumes provided by Veronica Hudson and her team, with the “title” costumes adding lovely flair.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue

By Neil Simon. Galleon Theatre Group, Adelaide. Domain Theatre, Marion Cultural Centre. October 24 – November 2, 2019

Mel Edison is a middle-aged, middle-class advertising account executive and he is having a very bad time. His employer is on the verge of bankruptcy. His 14th floor apartment is cracking and he can’t sleep because the air conditioning is faulty. Through the paper thin walls he can hear his neighbours' romantic encounters and he can’t open the windows without being overwhelmed by the noise and smell of downtown Manhattan.

Lobby Hero

By Kenneth Lonergan. Around the Moon Productions. Fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 22 – 27 October 2019

It all happens with just four characters, across two nights in the lobby of a mid-level, rather shabby Manhattan apartment building and on the street just outside. 

Il Viaggio a Reims

By Rossini. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. October 24 – November 2, 2019

Composed by Rossini in 1825 to celebrate the coronation of King Charles X of France, Il Viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims), contains some of Rossini’s most impressive music. Though the plot is simple, the music is difficult and challenging for the orchestra and the cast of ten soloists and eight smaller roles. Yet after four performances, Rossini pulled the score apart and the manuscript was lost until various pieces of it were reconstructed by American musicologists Philip Gossett and Janet Johnson in 1983.

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