Reviews

The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lunchbox Theatricals, David Atkins Enterprises & Really Useful Company Asia Pacific. Devised & Directed: Stuart Maunder. Musical Supervisor: Guy Noble. Musical Director: Paul White. Choreographer: Elizabeth Hill. Premiere: Regent Theatre, Melbourne, 20 March 2011. Reviewed Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 6 April 2011. Touring Nationally

Midway through the first act of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber when Blake Bowden sang “’Til I Hear You Sing” it happened - I started to feel tingles up my spine - that marvelous thrill you get when everything is working right in music-theatre. Bowden’s stunning tenor took this show-stopping song from Lloyd Webber’s newest hit and made it one of the night’s highlights.

Fools Island

By Darren Gilshenan and Chris Harris. Tamarama Rock Surfers. Bondi Pavilion Theatre. March 29 – April 24, 2011.

Shakespeare’s clowns (morphed into one) land on an island, having hitched a ride on a meteorite.

From that moment on it’s a night of physical comedy, pratfalls and slapstick, classic (and not so classic) mime, bodily function wit, nods to silent cinema, and anything else Darren Gilshenan can pull out of his hat, or attaché case.

Jack Charles v The Crown

By Jack Charles and John Romeril. Company B and Ilbijerri Theatre Co. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Rachael Maza Long. Designer: Emily Barrie. March 30 – April 17, 2011

This uneasy mix of stand-up entertainment and over-pointed one-man drama is entirely redeemed by the endearing presence of its star, co-writer and raison d’être — aboriginal elder/actor Jack Charles. His neat, compact body topped with a mass of wild, grey hair and beard, the 67 year old Charles gives us glimpses into his troubled life (“20 years in jail, 40 years addicted”), sings songs and makes several decent-looking pots at an on-stage pottery wheel.

Leader of the Pack

The Ellie Greenwich Musical. Javeenbah Theatre Company Inc., Nerang (Qld). Director: Amy-Louise Anderson. 18 Mar – 02 Apr 2011

Leader of the Packlived up to the juke-box musical formula of providing light-hearted, toe-tapping, (I’d like to) sing-along entertainment.  The minimum dialogue and limited action made way for many opportunities for the actors to showcase their singing and dancing, which they did most confidently.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

By Jeanine Tesori, Dick Scanlan, and Richard Morris. Gosford Musical Society. Director: Erin Cook. Musical Director: Geoff Preece. Laycock Street Theatre. March 11 – 26, 2011.

Every iconic film is fair game for stage musicalisation. Some are great hits, some are flops, and others, like Thoroughly Modern Millie, sit somewhere in the middle.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company ED (NSW). Adapted and Directed by Naomi Edwards. Designer: Andrew Bellchambers. Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson. Sound Designer/Composer: Steve Francis. Wharf 2. March 21 to 8 April 2011

Hamlet puts on a smiley face.

A teen princess grapples with life, death and family.

Casting Sophie Ross as a teenage Hamlet grieving over the loss of her father and grappling with the egocentrism and violence of the family and friends that comprise her ‘kingdom’ was a radical choice by director Naomi Edwards. At first it appears Hamlet has joined the cast of All Saints (as many of the actors have), but it becomes clear that this contemporary view of Hamlet’s struggle with life and death provides new insight into this oft told story.

boy girl wall

Devised by The Escapists. La Boite Theatre (Qld). 30th March - 17th April 2011

Expect the unexpected. This show breaks all the normal theatre conventions and blows you away with its inventive audacity.

Born as a cultivar of theatresports, stand-up comedy, the fertile imagination of The Escapists and the unique performance skills of Lucas Stibbard, this is entertainment for all ages.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

The State Theatre Company of SA – Dunstan Playhouse. 25 Mar to 16 Apr, 2011.

Is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) a play? Or a well written, well executed piece of standup comedy? I suspect you will have to discover this for yourself. But discover it you must, for this production is jaw aching, belly busting, laugh out loud hilarious.

On Golden Pond

Hunters Hill Theatre (NSW). Director: Carol Wimmer. Set Design: Elizabeth Chandler. Lighting and Sound Design: Steve Wimmer. March 4 – 19, 2011.

On Golden Pondopens on one of those beautifully designed and built sets where you instantly say, yes, I’m there. Not only did the holiday house in Maine, and its furnishings and props, seem perfect, but on a relatively shallow stage the blend of cyclorama art enhanced by lighting established a credible, attractive vista.

When you’re off to such a strong, truthful start, the ambience must help the cast to find the truth of the characters who dwell within the environment. This was something that the Hunters Hill cast achieved in trumps.

Graeme Murphy’s Suite Synergy

Mod Dance Company. State Theatre Melbourne. 23-26 March. Touring to Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Gold Coast and Adelaide.

It was exhilarating and exciting to be present at the debut of something so promising, energetic and vibrant as Mod Dance Company, with this highly entertaining touring production. Suite Synergy is an inspired and inspiring creative collaboration between Graeme Murphy as choreographer and Michael Askill as composer/percussionist and, one senses, to some extent, all the company with the guidance of artistic director Brett Morgan.

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