Reviews

Miracle City

Book and Lyrics by Nick Enright. Music by Max Lambert. Directed by Darren Yap. Hayes Theatre Co. October 22 - November 16, 2014

Some musicals date quickly – others stay just as sharp as when they opened. A good example is Chicago. It was written with a timeless cynicism about lawyers, the justice system and the media that still sizzles.

In the case of Miracle City we have a musical which might even be sharper than when it debuted. 

The Sydney Theatre Company staged it in 1996. Word around town was it was a gem of a musical that deserved another look, but sadly Nick Enright died and it lost momentum.

Emerald City

By David Williamson. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre, Sydney. Director: Lee Lewis. 17 October – 6 December 2014, then Parramatta Riverside, 10 - 13, December.

When a David Williamson play opens at Sydney’s staid Ensemble Theatre — and there’s a new one every season — the mainly-older subscribers audience laugh from the off. He’s their (72-year-old) boy. But — guess what! — at this unexpected revival of his 1987 Emerald City by the committed, fiery Griffin Theatre Company a younger, trendier audience also laughed throughout and raised the roof at the end.

The Wedding Singer

Music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy. Engadine Musical Society. October 17 – 26, 2014.

One of the surprise treats on Sydney’s Community Theatre circuit in 2014 must be Engadine’s feel-good production of The Wedding Singer.

Based on the 1988 movie of the same name, The Wedding Singer is an unpretentious little musical, with an 80s pop style score, which creeps up on you and charms. While it only had a modestly respectable Broadway run in 2006, it’s a terrific choice for a company with young talent to burn like Engadine.

Jesus Christ Superstar

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. October 15 – 26, 2014.

The original rock opera has been freshened up with a striking visual makeover at Willoughby Theatre Company. Somehow the synthesis of Steam Punk costuming elements, the modern industrial look of Megadeck scaffold sets, and gothic influences in architecture, costuming and make-up, blend, ultimately turning possible contradictions into synergies, for a Jesus Christ Superstar in a contemporary alternate sub-culture. Throwing some spectacular contemporary rock theatrical lighting into the mix completes an exciting stage picture.

August: Osage County

By Tracy Letts. Free-Rain Threatre. Directed by Cate Clelland. The Courtyard Studio, Canberra. 17 October – 2 November 2014

For those who have seen the film of the same name, August: Osage County will present no plot surprises.  Even the film’s lines largely repeat the play’s verbatim.  Regardless of having seen it, though, I’m confident that you’ll agree that this production of the play is an unmitigated delight, beginning with the detailed setting on a stage that effectively incorporates most of a family home.

Kinship

Developed by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre. October 22-25, 2014

Indigenous arts troupe, Bangarra, celebrates its 25th anniversary with this special double feature, which presents two of the company’s most enduringly popular dance theatre pieces.

The first half, “Brolga”, is set in North East Arnhem Land and delves deep into the totemic mythology of the region, telling the story of a young girl who becomes separated from her tribe and explores a Brolga feeding ground. On the course of her journey she comes to a deeper understanding of humanity’s connection with nature.

The Addams Family

Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Shire Music Theatre. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. October 17 – 25, 2014.

Based on the characters from the TV series, movies and Charles Addams’ original cartoons, the musical version of The Addams Family tells a story of Wednesday Addams, now grown up, bringing her ‘normal’ boyfriend and his family to dinner at that gloomy mansion, complete with the ructions this causes in her parents’ relationship.

A Good German

By Gabriel Bergmoser. Revolt Theatre Space, Kensington (VIC). 21 – 27 October 2014.

A Good German.  The bad play.  Yes, sadly, this production from Bitten By Production is bad in almost every way.  The writing manages to be naïve, gauche and cliché all at once.  The story lacks any credibility.  The direction, by Justin Anderson and Ashley Tardy, delivers a static mise en scène and stilted performances. 

Since I Suppose

Commissioned & Produced by Chicago Shakespeare Theater & Richard Jordon Productions. Created by one step at a time like this / Suzanne Kersten, Clair Korobacz, Paul Moir, Julian Rickert. Project Manager Kara Ward. Developed by Arts House CultureLAB. 15 –26 October, 2014

Since I Suppose is quite some journey - a solid two and a half hours roam around Melbourne starting at the top end and being ejected as interlopers in the North.  It is exciting but daunting at first - being presented with the earphones and mini screen and sent out onto the streets.   It is great to have a companion for the passage.

Hipbone Sticking Out

Written with and for the Roebourne community & directed by Scott Rankin. Big hART production at Melbourne Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 17 – 21 October 2014

Much of the time, Hipbone Sticking Out has a good natured, mocking, teasing surface, but there’s great anger underneath.  It is the biggest, most ambitious and no doubt biggest budget production from Big hART to date.  Devised by the indigenous community of Roebourne (all named in the program), it is a sprawling, rambling epic narrative, funny, satirical, poignant and angry. 

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