Reviews

Avalanche: A Love Story

By Julia Leigh. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney. Sydney Theatre Company, Barbican Theatre, Fertility Fest. Director: Anne-Louise Sarks. 29 August - 14 September 2019

‘It’s up to you’ — the consistent refrain from specialist doctors and nurses when asked if your (very expensive) IVF treatment should be continued. An 8th round of treatment for a 45-year-old woman over the edge of middle age? ‘Well, it’s up to you.’ And the woman in Julia Leigh’s play must make her way home passing the Bentleys in the hospital parking lot. 

That’s Show Business

Queensland Pops Orchestra. Conductor: Patrick Pickett. Guest Artist: Rob Mills. Griffith University Performing Arts Young Artists. Queensland Pops. Concert Hall, QPAC. 31 August 2019

Every year Queensland Pops dedicate one of their concerts to show tunes and this year’s walk down Broadway and around London’s West End was one of their best. With over 80 Young Artists from the Griffith Musical Theatre course down the side of the Concert Hall and on stage, and guest artist Rob Mills, the opening selection of songs from Jesus Christ Superstar was electric.

Lush

Cadenza Chamber Players. Conductor: Lucas D. Lynch. Guest Artists and Choir. Lynch & Paterson Production. Princess Theatre, Wolloongabba, Brisbane. 31 August 2019

The historic Princess Theatre was host to The Best of Musical Theatre on Saturday, a collection of songs, mainly male and female diva anthems, from six of the most popular musicals from the past three decades – The Phantom of the Opera, Anastasia, Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, Jekyll & Hyde, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The interesting thing about the selection was the inclusion of story-songs not normally programmed in a concert.

The Lehman Trilogy

By Stefano Massini adapted by Ben Power. National Theatre Live and Neal Street Productions. Cinema Nova & other venues. 31 August, 1, 3, 4, 7 & 8 September, 2019

The Lehman Trilogy truly is an epic: in three parts, over three hours, it depicts 163 years of one aspect of American history.  It is an object lesson in the establishment of American capitalism, and it begins when penniless, Jewish immigrant Henry Lehman gets off the boat in 1840s America.  It proceeds all the way to the infamous collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.  This vast sweep, peopled by generations of Lehmans, their wives and children, their associates, clients and competitors are all represented, played by, brought to life and – most original of all -

Look Back in Anger

By John Osborne. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide August 29 – September 7, 2019

“That voice that cries out doesn't have to be a weakling's does it?” Jimmy’s anguished appeal to his wife Alison in John Osborne’s famous play Look Back in Anger.

Look Back in Anger follows a young husband and wife, Alisonand Jimmy Porter, as they attempt to steer their way through class conflict and deal with a crumbling marriage in 1950s England.

It is arevealing look at class, sex, politics, and the conventions of 1950s England, all from the point of view of angry youth.

Caroline, or Change

Book and Lyrics by Tony KushnerMusic by Jeanine Tesori. Hayes Theatre. Directed by Mitchell Butel. Music Direction by Lucy Bermingham. Aug 23 – Sep 21, 2019

The intriguing title heralded an intriguing musical. The Caroline refers to Caroline Thibodeaux, a maid in a Jewish home in Louisiana in 1963. The change, on one level, refers to the coins which she finds in the pockets of her employers. Caroline – a struggling single mother – is encouraged to keep the nickels and dimes she finds to help her own children.

Romeo and Juliet

Ballet by Sir Kenneth MacMillan based on the play by William Shakespeare. Music: Sergei Prokofiev. Queensland Balletl. Staged by Julie Lincoln. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Alondra de la Parra. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 28 August – 7 September 2019

Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers has never been more eloquently portrayed than in Queensland Ballet’s revival production of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s classic which broke box-office records when the company first danced it in Australia in 2014. The production is a remount of the 1992 Birmingham Royal Ballet production with set and costumes by Paul Andrews, lighting by John B. Read and swordfights by Gary Harris.

Fly

By Barry Conyngham, Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Forty-Five Downstairs. Director: Lara Kerestes. Conductor: Pat Miller. August 25 – September 1, 2019.

Fly is an Australian opera composed by Barry Conyngham which debuted in 1984 with the late, lamented Victorian State Opera. The subject is Lawrence Hargrave, an Australian engineer, explorer, astronomer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer.

I found this opera quite approachable. The music enhanced the drama and flowed lyrically. The venue was just a square brick box with very lively acoustics. Unfortunately, words were sometimes lost when performers were not facing the audience. However, generally diction was very good.

Consistency is Key: A Story of Redemption

By Morgan Dooley-axup. The Butterfly Club. August 26 – 31, 2019

Consistency is Key: A Story of Redemption is a newly devised cabaret show by third generation calisthenics girl Morgan Dooley-axup. After years in competition, winning only a succession of second bests, she’s decided to shed light on living the impossible dream, and her family of “calie loosers”.

Chicago

Music and Lyrics by Fred Ebb and John Kander. Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Foss. John Frost, Suzanne Jones in association with Barry and Fran Weissler. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night – August 27, 2019.

This cast tore up the stage in a sizzling display of music, dance and cynicism. They were every bit up to the challenge of doing justice to the pared down version of Chicago, which was revived on Broadway in 1996 and is still going 23 years later.

Chicago feels like an almost perfect model box of a musical. It has one great tune after another and at its heart is a jaw dropping good story.

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