Reviews

Don Giovanni

By Mozart. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 25 – August 30, 2014.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Shane Lowrencev bring an enormous amount of energy and comic relief to this rather dark and gloomy production of Mozart and Da Ponte’s musical morality tale. As Don Giovanni, Rhodes is everything the infamous rake should be: seductive, ruthless, manipulative, cruel … and terribly attractive!

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Kip Williams. Sydney Theatre. July 25 - September 27, 2014.

Double, double toil and trouble – sayeth the famous witches, and likewise with this hotly anticipated production of the Scottish play the question kept recurring - was it worth the trouble of turning the Sydney Theatre inside out?

The audience was shoe horned into a temporary seating structure on the stage – staring at the 900 empty seats.  Some of those slightly above average height reported a little discomfort at the squeeze.

 

Britney Spears: The Cabaret

Written and Directed by Dean Bryant. Musical Director Mathew Frank. Chapel Off Chapel – July 23 to August 10, 2014, then Hayes Theatre, Sydney from August 20 to September 7, and Parramatta Riverside Theatre on September 21.

In another world or era Christie Whelan Browne would be a Superstar with an entourage to keep the worshippers at bay. In fact, if Britney Spears had even half of Whelan Browne’s talent, she would rule the entertainment world. Browne’s seductive innocence over-rides Spears natural stupidity at every turn. She has a killer voice, looks sensational, and is one heck of an actress. Her portrayal of Britney is satirical but never cruel; her understanding of what was going on inside Britney as she spun out of control, gives depth and dimension to the character.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical

By David Nehls and Betsy Kelso. Roleystone Theatre, WA. Directed by Lorna Mackie, Musical Direction by Krispin Maesalu. July 18 - Aug 9, 2014

I had the pleasure of seeing a matinee of The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Given that the show is recommended for mature audiences and contains adult themes and language, the usual matinee crowd was a little depleted and the smaller audience was supplemented by 'actor types' catching the matinee between their own shows. Despite the small (and intimidating) crowd, the actors worked the audience deftly band the cheers and whoops in response to the performance were genuine and well-deserved.

Annie

Music by Charles Strouse. Lyrics by Martin Charnin. Book By Thomas Meehan. Gosford Musical Society. Director: Jillian Logan. Musical Director: Maryellen Gillard. Choreographer: Danielle Hochkins. Set Designer: Daryl Kirkness. Laycock Street Theatre, July 25-August 9, 2014

There's no doubt about it - Annie is one of those shows that just keeps coming back around. It's a perfect show for community theatre with it's large, all-age cast. It's a simple, warm-hearted and seemingly timeless story of an eternally optimistic little girl who wins the heart of the curmudgeon. Being that it's a show that keeps on coming back around - the challenge for any director is to keep it fresh and fun for new and old audiences alike and the only way to do that is to cough up a truly polished production and GMS has come up with the goods here.

Bartleby

By Julian Hobba, after Herman Melville. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 26 July – 3 August 2014

Herman Melville’s 1853 short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street” tells of a subdued law copyist, or scrivener, who, after several days of hard work in a law office, withholds all cooperation, responding with little more than “I would prefer not to”.  The tale is somewhat unsatisfying in failing to reveal a credible cause of the conflict and so being unable to resolve it.

 

The Wizard of Oz

By L Frank Baum. The John Kane revised version based on the 1939 movie. Redcliffe Musical Theatre (Qld). Redcliffe Cultural Centre. July 25 – August 10, 2014

This company prides itself on uncompromising professional training. So, one gets the impression the Moreton Bay area in Queensland breeds disproportionate numbers of musical theatre stars.

This show, with its 90-strong cast (70 below 16 years of age) cements the RMT reputation. The experience provided here is invaluable experience of a fully professional nature for these youngsters (all of whom, I should add, acquit themselves admirably).

Morning Sacrifice

By Dymphna Cusack. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Jim Dickson. 25th July – 9th August, 2014

Sydney 1938: the education system and teacher/student expectations were quite different to the present day. Morning Sacrifice is based on the actual experience of the playwright.

Jim Dickson’s production took us into the Staff Room of a respectable school for young ladies and introduced us to idiosyncrasies and malicious snipes of women divided in their

ideals and views on punishment and the place of young girls in society. The atmosphere was cold and uninviting.

Green Screen

By Nicola Gunn / SANS HOTEL with collaboration from the cast. MTC Neon. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. 24 July – 3 August 2014.

At the very end of Green Screen (and I don’t think I’m giving much away) some text is projected on a strip of, yes, green screen, like a surtitle.  The last sentence reads something like, ‘…there was a good feeling between us, even though nothing had happened.’  That statement pretty much covers what we’d seen – although, like so much else here, the very fact that ‘nothing had happened’ is exactly the point.  ‘Nothing happened’, it is implied, because human beings are inadequate to the task of saving

Purgatorio

By Ariel Dorfman. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic. The Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond, Vic. July 23 – August 2, 2014.

All that is needed for fine theatre is a space to perform, a good text, a connected audience, and talented people on a quest for excellence. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic have brought all those elements together for Purgatorio, by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, and the result is a stunning piece of theatre on a shoestring budget.

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