Reviews

The Lyin’ Queen

Directed and Conceived by Trevor Ashley. Written by Phil Scott and Trevor Ashley. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. November 26 - December 1, 2019

The drag artist and musical theatre performer Trevor Ashley has produced and starred in a number of hilarious cabaret and theatre shows, such as Liza (on a E)Little Orphan trAshleyFat Swan and The BodyBag. As those names indicate, his humour is naughty, often dirty, but the jokes squarely hit their mark. His new show The Lyin’ Queen is a less obvious pitch - setting its sights on a broad number of targets - but ranks among his best.

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Book Terence McNally. Music John Kander. Lyrics Fred Ebb. Based on the novel by Manuel Puig. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre. 18 November – 28 December 2019

Kiss of the Spider Woman is a tragedy, a tale of courage, love and redemption.  It is set in a prison in an unnamed South American dictatorship – a place of imprisonment without trial, murder and torture for subversives and ‘perverts’.  John Kander and Fred Ebb were drawn to stories with an underbelly of wry cynicism and harsh reality – Cabaret, Chicago – but this is darker than most. Any music theatre devotee will want to see this production of a work by these two masters. 

Christmas Actually

Created by Adam Brunes and Naomi Price. Featuring the music from the movie Love Actually. La Boite Presents The Little Red Company Production. Roundhouse Theatre, 27 November – 7 December, 2019 and Sydney Opera House, December 18 - 21, 2019

Between festival favourite Love/Hate Actually and the joyful and jolly Christmas Actually, there’s been a whole lot of love for Richard Curtis’ film Love Actually on Brisbane stages in recent years. This production is a jubilant homage to all of the wonderful songs in the much-loved Christmas cinematic perennial. The film is a balance of the ridiculously romantic and the harshly realistic sides of all kinds of loving relationships, with its opening monologue and dénouement feeling ultimately optimistic.

Spamalot

Based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Book and lyrics by Eric Idle. Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Directed by Alex Lanham. November 23 – January 18, 2019.

Most of us have heard of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table based at Camelot. Arthur supposedly existed around the fifth century but most historians now believe it all to be a myth. The Monty Python film took this to preposterous lengths and this musical has gone even further. Thus, we have King Arthur and his knights of the round table – when he can convince some to join him – searching for the holy grail. Add singing and dance to the farcical situations, and the diverse people Arthur meets, and the end product is Spamalot. Wow!

Legally Blonde

Music and Lyrics Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, Book by Heather Hach, based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM movie (2001). James Terry Collective. Chapel off Chapel. 23 November – 8 December 2019

Legally Blonde carries its ‘message’ so lightly and brightly that this feminist fairy tale wins us over with ease.  Especially in this splendid production from the James Terry Collective in which the cast sparkles, and Katie Weston’s fifteen-piece band (four trumpets!) pumps out one upbeat tune after another.  If things get sad, it’s temporary: our heroine is up and at ‘em again in a flash.

The Foreigner

By Larry Shue. Directed by Gary Kliger. New Farm Nash Theatre. November 16 – December 7, 2019.

Set in a resort–style fishing lodge in rural Georgia, this comedy uses humour to make the message about racial discrimination – or any form of discrimination – even more potent. Charlie is brought to stay for a few days to allow him to mentally recover and his friend tells the hostess that Charlie cannot speak or understand English. You can only imagine what people say in front of him as they believe he can’t understand them. We follow an interesting tale of personal relationships, and even the coming of the Ku Klux Klan, in an extremely comic way.

CLUE The Musical

By Peter DePetrio, Galen Blum, Wayne Barker, Vinnie Martucci and Tom Chiado. Directed by Dylan Dorotic Phoenix Theatre, Memorial Hall Spearwood, WA. Nov 22 - 30, 2019

CLUE The Musical, while not really a ‘new’ show, makes its West Australian debut at Phoenix Theatre. This art deco venue feels perfect for this show, set vaguely in the past.

Seraphim Trio and Martin Alexander

ANAM Artists. Independent Theatre North Sydney. 24th November, 2019

If seraphim are ‘six winged angels’ with “a fiery passion for doing God's good work” (Isiah, Chapter 6), then this trio plus one is aptly named. Anna Goldsworthy (piano), Helen Ayres (violin) and Timothy Nankervis (cello) and Martin Alexander (viola) – are certainly ‘musical angels’ with a fiery passion for what they do! And their work? Taking beautiful music around the country as representatives of the Australian National Academy of Music Artists (ANAM).

Blithe Spirit

By Noël Coward. Directed by Trevor Bond. St Luke’s Theatre Society (Qld). St Luke’s Theatre. 15 – 23 November, 2019

St Luke’s production of Coward’s otherworldly comedy is amusing audiences this November with its wit, twists and ghostly apparitions. Director Trevor Bond has assembled a talented cast and crew for what is the final production for the foreseeable future in St Luke’s Ekbin Road Theatre. It’s not all bad news, as the community theatre group, run entirely for charity, has found a temporary home in a neighbouring suburb for their 2020 season after which they hope to return to a newly renovated Ekbin Road space.

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

By Richard Alfieri. Melville Theatre Company. Directed by Geoffrey Leeder. Melville Theatre, WA, Nov 22 - Dec 7, 2019

Melville Theatre Company's WA premiere of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a vibrant, tender and beautifully acted production, delighting its capacity audiences.

This story of an elderly widow who engages a gay man to teach her ballroom dancing features two rather cantankerous, flawed characters, who, in the hands of very gifted actors, we come to like very much, as we witness a change in their relationship to one of affection, understanding and love.

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