Reviews

William Tell

By Rossini. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Rodula Gaitanou. Palais Theatre, St Kilda. July 14 – 19, 2018.

I was privileged to see the first production in Australia of Rossini’s last opera, William Tell, since 1876. This was a night I will long remember. I recently encountered Semiramide, another of Rossini’s dramatic operas, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at the power of this work.

Papillon Unplugged

La Petite Grande Theatre, Petrie Plaza, Canberra. 12–22 July 2018

Facing a small auditorium, on an even smaller stage, a friendly welcome of seemingly unrehearsed candour followed by a welcoming song in similar style introduced a range of acts that, if original only in minor details, had the virtue of being unmistakably close up and thereby occasionally a test of audience nerve.

 

The Wild Party

Music & Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa. Book by Michael John LaChiusa & George C. Wolfe. Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March. Auckland Music Theatre, New Zealand. Directed by Andrew Potvin. 12th – 28th July 2018

“Some love is fire: some love is rust: But the fiercest, cleanest love is lust. And their lust was tremendous.” Joseph Moncure March

Auckland Music Theatre is never shy about presenting confronting theatre and The Wild Party is certainly confronting on several levels.

The whole production looks fantastic. The set design, set dressing and costuming is superb. Set in AMT’s workshop/ building area, the space is gigantic and, with its almost wrap around seating, puts the audience right in the party.

Moments in Time

By Josh Staley. Melbourne Magic Festival 2018. The Secret Room. The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston Street, Collingwood, Victoria 11–14 July, 2018.

Josh Staley could be described as an illusionist who is obsessed. His love of Hitchcock cinema, decks of playing cards, suspense, surprise and bananas aid in the creation of a fascinating and amusing show. Staley’s ability to mesmerise his audience not only with his sleight of hand magic but also with his continual banter makes him a very endearing performer.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

By Dale Wasserman, from the novel by Ken Kesey. Directed by Alan Cooke and Donna Clayton-Smith. Townsville Little Theatre. Pimpac Theatre, Townsville. 11-14 July 2018.

It was with some apprehension that I entered the auditorium for this performance as this play (and film) has an impressive pedigree.

For those who do not know the book, play or film, it is set in a psychiatric hospital which becomes the background for a battle between conformity (sanity?) and rebellion (insanity?). Its combination of comedy and drama looks at institutional processes and human behaviours. Time magazine included the book on its Top 100 Best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005 list, and the film won five Academy Awards in 1975.

The Wiz

Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls (and others) and book by William F. Brown. Gosford Musical Society Juniors. Director: Ben Poole. Choreographer: Hayley Liddell. Music Director: Dylan Pollard. Stage Design: Darryl Kirkness. Wardrobe: Jamie McKenzie. Laycock Street Theatre. July 11-14, 2018.

This musical sprang about during the funkadelic 70s as an African American (soul) reimagining of the classic Wizard of Oz fable. While it was hugely successful as a stage show, the film, featuring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor et al, was critically panned. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to make a very strong association with that template when you think of The Wiz.

Lysistrata

By Aristophanes. Tempest. Directed by Susie Conte. The Studio, Subiaco Arts Centre. WA. 10 - 14 July, 2018

Feminist theatre company tempest presents Lysistrata, written in 411BC, at least in part as a comment on femininity, sex, power and politics in 2018.

A condensed version of Aristophanes’ classic, the aesthetic is unapologetically pink and pretty, while the vibe is power. Featuring an all-female cast, this production, running a little under an hour, draws from contemporary catch phrases and situations.

Hamlet Prince of Skidmark

By The Listies. Sydney Theatre Company. Seymour Centre, Sydney, July 7 – 22, 2018; Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, July 25 – 27; The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre, Aug 3 & 4; Wagga Wagga Civic Centre, Aug 7; Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Aug 10 & 11; Glen Street Theatre, Aug 17 & 18.

Hamlet Prince of Skidmark is a fun, silly parody on Hamlet. This crazy, cheeky play got kids out of their seats. With the bright range of colours, cool effects and funny sounds your kids will defiantly have a laugh! The play started off strong with the ushers introducing themselves. One of them explains that they have given a gift basket to the crew the night before and it was 400 years past its use by date.

Blackie Blackie Brown - The Traditional Owner of Death

By Nakkiah Lui. Malthouse – Beckett Theatre. 5- 29 July 2018

Slick, tight, fast moving, massively loud and marvelously cathartic, Blackie Blackie Brown is a kind of supernatural, part real and part animated, ‘Panto’.  And yes on opening night, with all its glitches, as audience we did get to call out - but not exactly “he’s behind you!”

Urinetown

Music and Lyrics by Mark Hollman, Book and Lyrics by Greg Kotis. Melville Theatre (WA).Directed by Craig Griffen. 6-21 July, 2018

Urinetown is not your conventional, happy musical (as you are informed several times during the show). Dark, bizarre and having a dreadful title, it is more than a little different. Melville Theatre’s latest production is playing to full houses who are delighted with this odd, but well-presented show.

Set during a drought, where people are being forced to play exorbitant sums to use public amenities, people who try to “pee for free” are being “shipped off” to the mysterious “Urinetown”, never to be heard from again.

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