Aida by Giuseppe Verdi and Antonio Ghislanzoni

Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Opera companies across Australia have pooled resources to stage a new production of Aida with fresh choreography from Graeme Murphy. It premiered in Perth last year and Sydney was its second outing.

Barrie Kosky’s Poppea

Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Sydney audiences currently have the opportunity to see Barrie Kosky’s Vienna’s Schauspielhaus production of Poppea which is playing a three week season at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

Cross by Stephanie Briarwood

Mudlark Theatre. Peacock Theatre, Hobart (Tas). Director: Carrie McLean.

Cross is an intriguing piece of theatre. Ostensibly, it is about two sisters, photographer Regina (Jane Johnson) and her kooky younger sister Erica (Emma Hardy), a puppeteer, on an epic trek. “Hot white lines and scorching rivalry: two sisters on the road-trip of a lifetime.” The journey they undertake across the vast Australian countryside, so Regina, a talented photographer can take pictures of an array of roadside shrines for an art exhibition is the “tool” for the exploration.

Life’s a Circus.

Presented by Magnormos Prompt! Musicals Program, Artistic Director/Producer: Aaron Joyner. Composer/Lyricist/Musical Director: Anthony Costanzo, Book by Peter Fitzpatrick, With Chelsea Plumley, Glen Hogstrom, Cameron MacDonald, Shannon McGurgan, Annabel Carberry, Vaughan Curtis, Stephen Williams. Directed by Kris Stewart, Choreography by Kate Priddle, Set Design by Christina Logan-Bell, Lighting Design by Lucy Birkinshaw, Sound Design by Lo Ricco Sound Studios. Theatre Works, St Kilda. Until August 15.

The alluring, hypnotic and contradictory world of ‘Circus’ has been excavated many times throughout the Music Theatre canon: Barnum, Carnival! … and the great grand-daddy of them all, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel – spring to mind. Cinema, too, has mined the artform’s layers of emotional, death-defying performance excess to (mostly) memorable effect.

A Bright & Crimson Flower. Written & Directed by: Richard Davey

Round Earth Company. Peacock Theatre and Theatre Royal, Hobart, then touring.

A Bright & Crimson Flower presented by Round Earth Company, written & directed by Richard Davey, is based on extensive research begun by Davey in the 1980’s. It is about the Australian POW experience in Singapore, Burma and at Changi: a play about courage, ingenuity, endurance and that often overused word “mate ship”. The stage representation of the POW’s is based around characters (some composites, some real) that formed the concert party. Music is a big part of the play, featuring songs selected by survivors.

DIRTY APPLE by Jonathan Henderson & Shaun Charles

Opera Queensland/Backbone Youth Arts production. Opened 18 July , 2009 @ Powerhouse, Brisbane. Conductor: Dane Lam. Director: Michael Fucher.

Dirty Apple is a riveting piece of music theatre. Developed by young people, for young people, it’s a bold and gritty take on technology, peer pressure, and cyber-bullying. It’s almost like watching reality TV on stage. Four high school students, pissed at their music teacher for failing them, create a false webpage calling him a pedophile. When he commits suicide the blame game tears the tight group of friends apart. All four principals were terrific, especially Millica Ilic as Emma, the girl whose conscience finally gets the better of her.

The School of Arts by Bille Brown

Queensland Theatre Company - 13.7.09-1.8.09 plus tour

It’s hard to nail this show down: farce? murder mystery? rural cultural history? Author and anchor actor Bille Brown chose to set the play in 1967, a year of rich pickings for a playwright. Unfortunately he chose several topics to interweave and audience members need a piece of string, a torch and a compass to find the through line of the plot.

The History Boys by Alan Bennett

Boroondara Theatre Company, Cromwell Street Theatre, South Yarra. Directed by Bryce Ives, with Chris Gaffney, Luigi Lucente, Peter Maver, Elliot Roberts, Stuart Daulman, Beryle Frees, Tristan Lutze, James Cook, Gerard Lane, Riki Lindsey, Fabio Motta and Kevin David Newman. Set design by Jeremy Bailey-Smith. Lighting design by Karla Engdahl.

Alan Bennett's The History Boys is a near perfect example of what we have come to know (and either love or hate) as the well-made play: grand themes, considered structure and form, and characters meeting, often quite circumstantially, in a unique time and place on their journeys through life.

Crazy for You

The Production Company. State Theatre, The Arts Centre, Melbourne.

The Production Company specializes in concert performances of lesser know music theatre with professionals and a short sharp rehearsal period. Crazy for You fitted the bill nicely being a rehash of Gershwin’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy. I was surprised there were so many familiar songs, until I learnt that of the twenty songs included, only four were from Girl Crazy. Of course three of these were “Embraceable You”, “I Got Rhythm” and “But Not For Me”.

Breast Wishes.

Music & Lyrics: Bruce Brown. Script: Merridy Eastman, Jonathan Gavin, Richard Glover, Wendy Harmer, Sheridan Jobbins, James Millar, Debra Oswald. Opened: Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane, 8 July, 2009

Breast Wishes, which is sub-titled “An Uplifting Musical,” is just that – Uplifting, and joyous, and funny, and ultimately moving. Based on an idea by Actress Anna Looby, this celebration of mammary glands and all that happens to them during a woman’s life, hits its target audience with a whopping great big bang. The ensemble cast couldn’t be better.

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