Reviews

Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling

Blackbird Productions. Seymour Centre, Sydney, then touring nationally

Steel Magnolias has now been touring for some time. We add Peter Pinne's review of the September Brisbane season to David Spicer's review of the Sydney opening.

Elling, adapted from the film by Simon Bent

Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Pamela Rabe. Cast: Darren Gilshenan, Lachy Hulme, Glenn Hazeldine, Yael Stone and Frank Whitten.

Adapted first for the stage from a Swedish novel, then from stage to screen, and then again back to stage from the screenplay, this very warm and poignant tale could be loosely described as 'The Odd Couple flies over the Cuckoo’s Nest.' It’s neither as light nor as dark as either play, nor are its themes particularly revelatory – however Rabe’s unconventional staging still gives it that ‘edgy’ feel. Darren Gilshenan literally pours his impressive pedigree of Shakespeare and comedy experience into the role of Elling.

Avenue Q by Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx

Comedy Theatre, Melbourne (then touring Australia and New Zealand). Director: Jonathan Biggins. Musical Director: David Skelton. Choreographer: Nathan M. Wright

To me Avenue Q was nothing more than a name of a musical when I attended the Australian premiere on June 4, 2009. I could see pictures of Muppet type characters and it promised to be different, and “not for kids”. It was, and very enjoyable to boot!

Ying Tong by Roy Smiles

Caloundra Chorale and Theatre Company (Q). May 14 – 30.

Roy Smiles’ stage study of Spike Milligan in the final year of The Goon Show was performed in an ingenious set that drew the audience into the befuddled mind of the institutionalised writer/performer. The four actors were splendidly cast, both for their acting talent and for their physical likeness to the Goon member each played.

Footloose by Dean Pitchford, Walter Bobbie, Tom Snow and Kenny Loggins.

Whitehorse Musical Theatre. Director, David Parsons; Musical Director, Julia Buchanan; Choreographer, Meriki Comito.

Dancing has been banned in Bomont, and when teenager Ren and his mother move there from Chicago it is up to Ren to do something about it. Footloose is a pleasant American musical, set in the fifties, and based on the 1984 movie of the same name. A great production moved very smoothly, with wonderful professional performances from the cast, though the sound was a little too loud, distorting the voices at times.

Miss Saigon by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr.

CLOC Musical Theatre. Director: Chris Bradtke. Musical Director: Michael Loughlin. Choreographer: Lynette White.

Based on the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly, Miss Saigon is set against the final frenetic days of the Vietnam War in 1975. CLOC has attracted a cast of 40 from 21 countries (yes including Australia). The magnificent production featured amazing two storey sets. Also particularly effective, the sound effects made you feel the helicopter was actually flying overhead. Bianca Baykara gave a first class, emotional performance as Miss Saigon, Kim. She has an excellent voice, a great stage presence and worked well with Mark Doran (Chris).

Yeomen of the Guard by Gilbert and Sullivan

Gilbert and Sullivan Society (Victoria). Director: Robert Ray. Musical Director: John Ferguson. May 2.

I attended the Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s last performance of Yeomen of the Guard and it was disappointing to see a half empty auditorium when many had been offered cheap tickets. Having left my run late I paid $44, which is a lot to pay for an amateur show, which is out of copyright.

THE ROLE MODEL by Bruce Hoogendoorn

BOObook Theatre. Scott: James Doolan; Wanda: Denise Kuchmar; Louise: Stephanie Osztreicher; Adam: William Ridley; Jack: Adam Brown; Kate: Anuroop Sabharwal; Director: Sue Lindsay; Set and costumes: Naomi Wong; Lighting Design: Patrick Gooden.

With codes of almost every discipline struggling with their public image, Bruce Hoogendoorn's The Role Model is a timely exploration of the punishing and very public dilemmas associated with a sporting hero's fall from grace.

Let The Sunshine by David Williamson

Ensemble Theatre (until July 4), subsequently touring to Penrith, Taree, Canberra and Geelong.

Two Noosa couples mix socially without much liking each other. The men, a radical film-maker exiled to Noosa after a discredited documentary, and a white sandshoe developer - the women, old school acquaintances, a year apart at school, at odds thanks to book club politics. Add their apparently incompatible 30-something off-spring, struggling muso and hard-nosed rising corporate lawyer and mix the gene pool.

Inside Out by Mary Rachel Brown

Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre

The subject of Mary Rachel Brown’s play Inside Out, which took out the 2008 Rodney Seaborn Playwright's Award, is mental illness. A mother and her young adult son share a flat together and have the usual trying relationship. The son is at Arts College and makes a mess of their flat by drawing manically on the floors and walls, aggravating his mum. Their relationship takes a turn for the worse when the son’s behaviour becomes ever stranger, and mum realises that action needs to be taken.

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