Reviews

Pyjama Tops

By Mawby Green and Ed Feilbert. Harbour Theatre. Directed by Tina Barker. Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park, WA. July 26 - Aug 4, 2019

Harbour Theatre’s Pyjama Tops, based on Jean de Letraz’s 1950 French farce “Mou Mou” was a sexy, old-school farce with mistaken identities, attractive women, crime and corruption and a spot of bed hopping.

Director Tina Barker has designed a simple but practical single set, with impressive scenic art by Melissa Bassett. Rob Tagliaferri and Callum Hunter light the stage well, with solid sound design by Vanessa Gudgeon. Tasha Jane’s wardrobe suggests the 50s, which gives us a time period that matches the dialogue and style of the show.

Storm Boy

By Colin Thiele, adapted by Tom Holloway. Queensland Theatre. The Playhouse at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) from 31 July to 17 August 2019.

Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sam Strong, is at the helm of this hugely successful stage version of the Aussie classic Storm Boy. He has brought together a highly skilled team where everyone has played their part in forging an exhilarating visual theatre experience. The magical set design by Anna Cordingley – sand dunes and beach shacks – brings to life the Coorong setting, bolstered by stunning projections and drone images from Justin Harrison, with sparkling lighting by Matt Scott.

We Will Rock You

By Queen and Ben Elton. Encore Theatre Company. Belinda King (Director) Danny Gibson (Stage Manager) Travis Hennessy and Benjamin Austin (Musical Directors) Dearbhla Gillen (Choreographer). Princess Theatre Launceston. August 1 – 10, 2019

Talent abounds on the NW coast of Tasmania. It was only a short five months ago that Encore staged Strictly Ballroom, a production notable for accomplished dancers. This August, Encore has cast strong contemporary voices in We Will Rock You.

Some of these skilled dancers from the previous show front the ensemble but character actors also abound. The strength of this production, however, lies in the principal performers.

Everything's Coming Up Sondheim

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Spears Entertainment. Director: Tyran Parke. Producer: Caitlin Spears. Musical Director: Stephen Gray. Choreographer: Jess D'Souza. The Loft, Chapel off Chapel, Prahran. 2-4 August, 2019

Director Tyran Parke (fresh from directing Barnum – The Circus Musical) is a huge devotee of the work of Stephen Sondheim and has both performed in and directed many concerts and musicals featuring the king of Broadway's music and lyrics. 

The vision for this intimate showcase was to help the audience see how our own humanity prevents us from achieving connection. This vision was achieved with great success by Mr Parke, Producer Caitlin Spears and Musical Director Stephen Gray as part of the newly formed Spears Entertainment production company. 

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan; new music Jeanine Tesori; new lyrics Richard Scanlan; based on original story & screenplay by Richard Morris for the Universal Pictures movie Thoroughly Modern Millie. The Production Company. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 3 – 11 August 2019

There is much to admire and enjoy in this dazzling, all-out production of the 2002 Broadway hit. The story may be familiar – hick from the sticks comes to New York, New York to make her fortune – but in a thoroughly modern way.  ‘Modern’, that is, for 1922.  Millie Dillmount (Annie Aitken), from Salina, Kansas, plans to find a rich boss and marry him.  Simple.  On the way through intrepid Millie will also thwart the white slavers kidnapping girls and shipping them off to Peking (as it was then). 

Jerusalem

By Jez Butterworth. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild Inc. Little Theatre, The Cloisters. 3rd to 17th August 2019.

Directed by Nick Fagan, The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s performance of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem begins gently and somewhat serenely with an angelic voice delivering an acapella rendition of William Blake’s hymn Jerusalem. From there it tumbles into the chaos, anger and the dissolute life and thrall of Johnny “Rooster’’ Byron, a man whose dream of having and holding his patch of ‘England’s green and pleasant land’ is under threat.

Love and Information

By Caryl Churchill. Metro Arts Theatre, Brisbane. 31 July to 10 August, 2019

Love and Information is a miscellany of short scenes – some micro – in seven mini acts. The scenarios place hundreds of characters in a mix of bland, random and extraordinary situations. Some of the scenes play as overheard conversations or real events reinterpreted. Some are Soap-ish; some are surreal. It feels pixelated, and technology features in many scenes (the classic: the couple at a restaurant scrolling through their social media feed) so there’s much for audiences to relate to in the grabs and glimpses of modern life.

Pilgrims

By Claire Kiechel. Oily Rag Theatre. The Bakehouse, Adelaide. August 2 – 10, 2019

Pilgrim – ‘a person who makes a journey, often a long and difficult one, to a special place for religious reasons’. This is the accepted meaning of the word but it can also mean a wanderer or wayfarer. In the case of the play Pilgrims, presented by the Oily Rag Theatre Company, it refers to a soldier and a teenager quarantined together in a cabin on a spaceship travelling to a newly discovered planet, seemingly to begin new lives.

Higher and Higher Revival

Conceived, Directed and Co-Choreographed by Jamie Watt, Kellie Niebling and Lauren Wormald. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast, August 2nd – 24th, 2019.

Spotlight Theatre has revived a popular “juke box” musical from 2016 with great success. 

It is a musical tribute to Motown during that great period in the 60’s and 70’s, featuring over 50 tunes.

The pace is fast and furious with the six dancers hardly off stage and whipping up a nonstop whirlwind of energy.

Mamma Mia!

Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Kristian Ulvaeus. Book by Catherine Johnson Packemin Productions. Directed by Jordan Vassallo and Jessica Fallico. Musical Director: Peter Hayward. Choreography: Sally Dashwood. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. August 2 – 17, 2019

Any jaded feeling of “Mamma Mia! Here we go again” was immediately swept away by this high energy production with a cracking cast, that had people whispering in the foyer that they enjoyed it more than the recent professional season.

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