Reviews

An Australian One-Act Play Triple Bill

Wyong Drama Group. 'The Card Players' and 'Home Fires Burning' – Directed by Pollyanna Forshaw. 'The Maltese Mouse' - Directed by Alexandra Travers. The Grove Theatre. May 29-30, 2015

Normally at this time of year Wyong Drama Group play host to an open invitational festival of one-act plays. With the construction of $12.7m Performing Arts Centre due for completion next year, the festival is in hiatus, but clearly the urge to put a lot of energy into a very short season at their temporary home was still strong. The three plays were all penned by multi-award winning, former resident playwright Peter Kocan.

She Only Barks at Night

Living Room Theatre. Vet School Roundhouse at The University of Sydney. May 27 – 31, 2015

Performance installation is one of those theatre genres that often tiptoe a dangerous line between work that is evocative and inane. Living Room Theatre’s She Only Barks at Night slips back and forth between the two.

Anything Goes

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter. New Book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. Directed by Dean Bryant. Princess Theatre Melbourne, May 31st-July 14th, 2015, then Brisbane and Sydney.

Oh what a glorious evening of perfect old-fashioned entertainment we were treated to with the opening of Anything Goes. No angst, no rock music, no moralising,…just plenty of  marvellous music, elegant costumes and showy dance routines. The fact that the humour is pure slapstick and corny hocum most of the time simply adds to the charm of the show.

Mary Poppins

Music & Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman. Additional Music & Lyrics:. George Stiles & Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Empire Theatres Production.. Director/Choreographer: Alison Vallette. Musical Director: Lorraine Fuller. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, 28 May – 7 June, 2015

Mary Poppins is great family entertainment and this production was great community theatre. The level of professionalism shown in direction, performance, lighting and design was top-tier.

Kurt Elling with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne (part of Melbourne International Jazz Festival). May 30-31, 2015

According to the quote from the Washington Post used to promote Kurt Elling's performances with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, "he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz", and certainly there was plenty of creative spirit on display for his second and final performance at this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Educating Rita

By Willy Russell. Directed by Mark Kilmurry. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. May 27 - June 28, 2015

The Ensemble Theatre on Sydney’s north shore lays claim to being the country’s longest, continuously running professional theatre company, thanks to a very healthy base of subscribers. It’s built up this loyalty with seasons of largely conventional plays rather than radical ideas. Educating Rita, which it’s staged a number of times before,is among such conventional works: a 1980 British comedy with just two actors in a two-act narrative.

Dreamgirls

Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen. Music by Henry Krieger. StageArt. Directed by Terence O’Connell. Chapel off Chapel, 28th May – 14th June, 2015.

We have so much to thank StageArt for. They’re a brave company who are committed to bringing us musicals that Main Stage producers won’t touch – thus giving us a chance to see shows we otherwise would never see. Earlier this year it was the marvellous In The Heights – a production in a league of its own. Now it’s Dreamgirls, a 1981 Tony winner and later a successful film, but a show that even 34 years later we would not be seeing were it not for StageArt.

The King and I

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Babirra Music Theatre. Director: Alan Burrows. Musical Director: Ben Hudson. Choreographer: Di Crouch. May 29 – June 7, 2015

With so many students doing music theatre courses, it was a pleasant surprise to find classical singers in most of the major roles for this production of The King and I. Unfortunately the sound guys couldn’t cope, there was quite a bit of distortion and the voices were often too loud, even though they were holding back.

The Exonerated

By Jessica Blank and Erik Jansen. Sol3. Directed by Andrei Schiller-Chan. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). May 20th-June 7th, 2015.

Two statements that are generalisations but nonetheless true.

1)    Great theatre is exhilarating and transcendent. It touches something deep inside, enlightening and elevating each member of the audience.

2)    Great theatre is as rare as hen’s teeth.

Well it maybe rare, but it’s not difficult to find – in this case it’s just a short trip to Chapel off Chapel.

The Book of Everything

By Richard Tulloch, from the novel by Guus Kuijer. Directed by Chris Proctor. 1812 Theatre (Vic). 28th May – 20th June, 2015.

Though it may seem a long way to Ferntree Gully, it’s always worth the effort to visit 1812 Theatre. For this, their third season of the year, Director Chris Proctor has pulled out all the stops for an ambitious production of The Book of Everything – a deceptively simplistic play that gives a child’s perception of a complex and multi-layered adult world. It’s a charming and beguiling play…but nowhere near as easy as it seems.

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