Reviews

Catch Me If You Can

Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman. Book by Terence McNally. Marie Clark Musical Theatre (SA). Directed by Charissa McCluskey-Garcia. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. May 27 – June 4, 2016

On the opening night of the Marie Clark Musical Theatre group’s latest show, an audience member suffered from a near-fatal seizure and the performance came to a halt partway through act one, so that the company could call an ambulance and paramedics could see to the unfortunate patron. This is a situation that would’ve rattled the nerves of seasoned pros, but the amateur cast and crew handled things with commendable calm, empathy and promptness.

Switzerland

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Directed by Paige Rattray. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. 20th May-26th June, 2016

Ever thought of including a famous writer in a plot similar in style to the same author; perhaps a close encounter with your own creation complete with antagonistic algorithms and a series of eerie twists and turns.

Herein lies this kind of intrigue in this suspenseful play surrounding the final period of famous mystery thriller novelist Patricia Highsmith's life. She is a complicated character and the various developmental outcomes that stem from this fact are not always for the faint hearted.

Countermove

Sydney Dance Company. Two Ballets – “Cacti”, choreographed by Alexander Ekman, and “Lux Tenebris”, choreographed by Rafael Bonachela. Southbank Theatre, Melbourne, May 25 – June 4, 2016, and touring.

Sydney Dance Company is back in Melbourne to prove once more that they are a major international force in contemporary dance (as if any proof were needed).

Showing all of the amazing athleticism and strident physicality melded with flexibility and grace that have made them famous, the dancers enthralled stalwart fans and newcomers alike.

Cacti

Follies In Concert

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Goldman. Directed by Tyran Parke. Melbourne Recital Centre. 24th-25th May, 2016.

There is only one Stephen Sondheim. Though not the most popular, he is arguably the best ever composer for Musical Theatre. That, in itself, is enough reason to beg borrow or steal a ticket to this very special event. But there is also only one Nancye Hayes, whose star quality is dazzling, and one Phillip Quast (why has it taken so long for us to see him interpret Sondheim so exquisitely?); and one Lisa McCune (too young for Sally but who cares…she is divine) and one……well…

A Chorus Line

Music: Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics: Edward Kleban. Book: James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante. Manly Musical Society. Star of the Sea Theatre, Manly. May 20 – 28, 2016.

A Chorus Line is one of my favourite musicals of all time. All performers having to be triple threats - great singers fantastic dancers and good actors - excites me.

Ghost The Musical

Music & Lyrics by Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard. Book & Additional Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin. Based upon the screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. Directed by Matthew Warchus. Crown Theatre, Perth, WA. May 21 - June 12, 2016

Ghost The Musical, on the final leg of its Australian tour, opens with a sudden flurry of high-tech audio-visual effects that take the audience on a wild aerial ride through New York. This immediately sets the style and scene for this amazingly technical production of Ghost.

Closely following the pattern of the film on which it is based, this show is highly plot driven, with strongly developed central characters (and some nice little cameos). While the songs are good, and help to progress the story, they are not particularly memorable.

Catch Me If You Can

By Terrence McNally, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. May 20 – 29, 2016

Choreography is the star of Willoughby Theatre Company’s NSW Premiere production of the musical Catch Me If You Can, with equal kudos to the tremendous, tightly drilled ensemble who dance it so enthusiastically.

Inventive choreographer Janina Hamerlok evokes the 1960s splendidly, but mixes it up with showgirl glamour and striking kicklines.

Xanadu

Book by Douglas Carter Beane; Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrrar. The Mount Players, Macedon, Victoria. Directed by Julie Paice. Musical Director – Jem Sherwill.. Choreographer – Donna Johnston. Producer - Amanda Watson. Mountview Theatre. May 13 - June 4, 2016

Xanaduis surprisingly cheeky, full of jokes and has an edge of witty irony.  This production, featuring a vibrant cast of mixed ages and talents, has been skillfully brought together by Director Julie Paice.   There is never a dull moment. 

It is based on the 1980s film that was a box office flop but the memorable soundtrack was understandably a big success with songs such as ‘Magic’, ‘Suddenly’ and ‘Xanadu’ that were performed by Olivia Newton-John and The Electric Light Orchestra. 

Play On!

By Rick Abbot. Presented by The Queanbeyan City Council. Directed by Jarrad West. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 10-21 May 2016.

Play On! is an endearing comedy in the mould of Dinner For One, about an amateur theatre production that goes off the rails. It’s just three days before the opening night of Murder Most Foul and director Gerry Dunbar (Liz Bradley) is anxious. They’ve only chosen this play to get out of paying royalties, but it’s turgid, derivative twaddle, and worse, the playwright keeps amending the script—not that the edits improve it at all. The players vary from having way too much ego or none whatsoever.

Senior Moments

By Angus FitzSimons and Kevin Brumpton. Return Fire Productions. Glen Street Theatre. From May 26, 2016.

Writers Angus FitzSimons and Kevin Brumpton have compiled a charming little revue that picks up on many of the topics that plague, annoy and, strangely, seem to fascinate the ‘senior’ generations. Everything old from radio programs to Brylcreem is revered; everything modern from mobile phones to Lady Ga Ga is reviled.

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