Reviews

Counting and Cracking

By S. Shakthidharan. Belvoir and Co-Curious. Sydney Festival. Sydney Town Hall. Jan 11 – Feb 2, 2019.

Sydney Town Hall has been transformed into a long, thrust stage surrounded by wooden tiered seating spread with brightly covered foam cushions. Colourful peaked gables arch above the lighting loom. Expectant patrons savour delicately flavoured lamb biryani before making their way to their seats for Belvoir and Co-Curious’ mammoth undertaking of S. Shakthidharan’s family saga, Counting and Cracking.

Madagascar: A Musical Adventure Jr.

Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture. Book By Kevin Del Aguila. Original Music and Lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan. Gosford Musical Society Jnrs. Laycock Street Community Theatre. January 15 – 19, 2019

Gosford Musical Society Juniors never cease to amaze their audiences with well produced shows, and Madagascar Jr is no different. A musical based on the 2005 animated film may seem like a strange choice for a stage adaption, but in an era where every second Disney movie is hitting Broadway, it hardly comes as a surprise - it’s sure to be a hit with both young and old.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Written by Laura Annawyn Shamas. Based on the novel by Joan Lindsay. Directed by Claire Argent. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Jan 12 –Feb 16, 2019

Ever since the novel was published in 1967, the story has intrigued readers and viewers as it has been both a movie and TV mini-series. Is it in any way true?  Apparently Lindsay wrote the novel in two weeks based on mystic dreams she had. The main action is centred around Mrs Appleyard, her girls’ school and students and what happens following the disappearances. The period is from Valentine’s Day, 1900.

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl. Book by David Greig. Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. John Frost, Craig Donnell, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night: January 11, 2019

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has all the ingredients to delight a family audience. The musical begins with the well-cast Willy Wonka (Paul Slade Smith) singing The Candy Man, introducing the world-wide quest to find not just five winners of a competition, but a successor to run his famous chocolate factory.

Alice In Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll. Adapted by Penny Farrow. Boyd Productions. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, January 10 – 12, 2019; Frankston Arts Centre, Jan 13; Capital Theatre, Bendigo, Jan 15.

The perfect holiday treat!

An excellent new production of Alice In Wonderland is currently being performed at the classic Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne - a much loved timeless story by Lewis Carroll that is always a blast for the young and old.

Penny Farrow has adapted and directed an exquisitely animated production that ticks all the right boxes for any Alice aficionado. The madcap rhyming nonsense is cleverly meshed into this one-hour show, as zealously talented actors deliver marvelously eccentric and entertaining performances.

Blanc de Blanc Encore

Strut and Fret. Sydney Opera House, Studio. January 4 – March 9, 2019

Not recommended for persons under 18 years, this performance contains adult concepts, nudity and references to alcohol consumption”. Of course it does! It’s local production company Strut and Fret’s Blanc de Blanc returning to the harbour city to add some saucy circus cabaret pizazz to the summer festival buzz!

Trial by Jury

By: W.S. Gibert and Arthur Sullivan. The Gilbert and Sullivan Society Tasmania. Hobart Supreme Court. Director: Patricia Robinson. January 4-18 2019

Trial by Jury has been a summer tradition in Hobart for more than a decade. It is often difficult to attract performers in the warmer months and director, Patricia Robinson, has achieved this with fluid casting options.

It was a privilege to see accomplished performer Darren Sangwell in the role of the judge. There were echoes of Hamilton’s King George in his excellent characterisation. In the following session (there are two every Friday and Saturday evenings), Kieren Slicer, took the same role and did not disappoint.

Disney Aladdin Jnr

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Directed by Sharyn Donoghue. Roar Academy, Theatre 102 Redcliffe. Jan 11 – Jan 13, 2019.

It was amazing how much of the original Disney film came back to mind when watching this musical version - written for, and performed by, such a cast of young people – and I mean very young with some cast members. Naturally, the key elements were in the story line – Aladdin struggling with friends, his meeting the princess, learning of the cave and magic lantern and finally working with the genie to better himself and as many others that he could. The storyline still inspires the watcher to dream of better things.

A Midsummer’s Much Ado about Two Gentlemen, Three Fairies and Twelve Nights.

Written by William Shakespeare, selected, adapted and directed by Chris Hamley. Hamley Productions. Pooley Wines, Richmond. January 11-27, 2019

This, the third Shakespeare mash up from Hamley Productions, might well have been called An Evening of Fools. The excerpts selected are delightful. There are few lords and ladies in this production. Scenes from Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night are chosen for their comic value. Minor comedic characters and subplots become the focus of attention. Each of the five cast members take on several roles with great versatility.

The Illusionists: Direct from Broadway

Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Brisbane. 9 to 19 January 2019

Magic acts world-wide have lately been transformed into a fuel-injected rock and roll circus. Exhibit number one: The Illusionists: Direct from Broadway is an international group of performers, presenting an action-packed programme. With state-of-the-art sets and lighting, fabulous costumes and comedy, it is part music hall and part Steampunk stand-up – with the slick stagecraft that today’s audiences expect. Nothing in this show disappoints.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.