Reviews

Away

By Michael Gow. ARENAarts. Directed by Christine Eliis. LC Theatre, Belmont, WA. June 10-25, 2016

ARENAarts are presenting Michael Gow’s Away - a classic Australian play that has appeared on the WA Drama and English curriculums.

A 30th Anniversary production, it endeavours to capture the essence of a trip away in the Australian summer, not an easy feat in June, in one of Perth’s coldest theatres - but they do well in creating atmosphere.

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris

Music: Jacques Brel and Others. Lyrics: Jacques Brel. Translation by Mort Shuman & Eric Blau. Director Geraldine Turner. Musical Director: Mark Cranston Reid. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland School of Arts. June 17 – 25, 2016.

If you know Brel and this show then go see this. If you’ve never heard of Brel (or this show) then GO! SEE! THIS!

I cannot rave enough about this production. It was like watching a master class, and those of us (me included) who think we can direct, md, sing, act, light, sound, costume, and design sets will doubt our abilities after watching this show.

First some background. Confirming that only good things come from Belgium, Jacques Brel was a Flemish poet and songwriter who rose to prominence in the 50s and 60s.

Love & Death: The Songs Of Jim Steinman

Written by Toby Francis. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Directed by Neil Gooding. Festival Centre, Adelaide. June 18-19 2016

Though his name is not universally recognised, the songs of Jim Steinman are touchstones of the epic rock genre – praised and reviled in equal measure for their grandiose theatricality and wild, unhinged passion.

Carmen

By Georges Bizet. Opera Australia. Director: John Bell. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. June 16 – August 12, 2016

By transporting this production of Carmen to “somewhere resembling today’s Havanna”, director John Bell and his design team bring the opera into a setting that heightens the heat and spirit of the story, and takes the music of the famous “Habanera” back to its country of origin.

Return to the Forbidden Planet

By Bob Carlton (Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest). Players Theatre, Ballina. Directors: Clem and Shelly Halpin. June 17-July 3, 2016

Ballina Players have another hit on their hands with their production of the Juke Box musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, a double Olivier Award winning show for Best Musical in the West End in 1989 and 1990.

Clem and Shelly Halpin have woven their magic once again in this tribute to Rock and Roll music with a stellar cast dodging meteorites in their intrepid space ship.

TwentySixteen

Circus Oz (Vic). Artistic Director: Rob Tannion. Lighting Designer: Paul Jackson. Musical Director: Ania Reynolds. The Big Top on Birrarung Marr. 15 June-10 July, 2016

Circus Oz aficionados of all generations were out in force on opening night at Birrarung Marr, so much so that the pre and post-show gatherings resembled a family reunion.

As the show proceeded, we were swung in some kind of moody stupor, slightly unhinged, winging between vignettes of every colour and mood. Spellbinding grace rides a unicycle, undresses while standing on another’s head, and balances innumerable small red balls. Brassy spectacles are in-your-face on all things that bend or swing or stack, and slap-sticky satire brings us back to earth with a chortle.

Harry Shearer and Judith Owen: This Infernal Racket

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Dunstan Playhouse. 16-17 June, 2016.

Life partners Shearer and Owen make for a contrasting and, at best, intriguing cabaret double act. They perform with a no-frills stage setup that is classily understated, and are supported by keyboardist CJ Vanston, percussionist Pedro Segundo, and the unmistakable, legendary bassist Leland Sklar (pop and rock fans of a certain generation and taste are virtually guaranteed to own at least one album on which he has played).

Bijou – A Cabaret of Secrets and Seduction.

Written & performed by Chrissie Shaw. Pianist Alan Hicks. La Mama presents a SmallShows Production. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton VIC. 15 – 19 June 2016.

A 1932 photograph by the Hungarian-French photographer Brassaï  (Gyula Halász)of a bejewelled but scowling elderly woman in the Bar du Tribunal in Paris was the initial inspiration for Chrissie Shaw’s show.  The photographer included the woman, whom he dubbed with cruel irony La Mome Bijou, in his renowned collection Paris du Nuit.  (‘Mome’ can mean ‘kid’ or ‘youngster’ or even ‘chick’.)  The woman apparently showed up at the bar every night, bedecked with all her jewellery.&nbsp

The Music Man

By Meredith Willson. Queanbeyan Players. Directed by Joseph Mcgrail-Bateup. The Q Performance Centre, Queanbeyan. June 10 – 25, 2016.

An old favourite has returned to town, refreshed with new choreography, some charming new singers in leading roles and a real zing to the step, marching along to “Seventy-Six Trombones”.

Deanna Gibbs is delightful as Marian Paroo, with a beautiful lyric soprano voice that shines in “The White Knight”. Gordon Nicholson makes “Professor” Harold Hill persuasive and smooth, while bringing his best game to “Seventy-Six Trombones”, where one is almost taken away with the promise of a band!

Dita Von Teese – Strip Strip Hooray!

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Festival Theatre. 13th June, 2016

“Queen of the New Burlesque” Dita Von Teese graced the Festival Theatre stage to rapturous applause in her show Strip Strip Hooray! It soon became apparent why this forty-something temptress has become an icon in this genre in recent years.

New York comedian and host extraordinaire Murray Hill was a vibrant and hilarious emcee for the evening. Facilitating as much sexual innuendo and audience participation as possible, he kept everyone engaged between acts. He was pure show business.

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