Reviews

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Music and Lyrics by William Finn. Book by Rachel Sheinkin. Conceived by Rebecca Feldman. Roleystone Theatre. Directed by Stephen Carr. Armadale District Town Hall, Armadale, WA. 3-11 May, 2019

Roleystone Theatre, currently homeless while their iconic home theatre undergoes restoration and re-building, have created a 2019 season designed to attract audiences, while they perform “away from home”. Unfortunately - despite the fact that this is a production of superb quality - the audiences are yet to find them.

Hairspray Jr.

By Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Luminary Entertainment. Directed by Jayde Cason. Memorial Hall, Hamilton Hill, WA. May 3-18, 2019

Brand new company Luminary Entertainment bursts into business with this bright and breezy trip to the 1960s, a youth production of Hairspray Jr. Ensuring their future from the outset, Luminary’s cast features young people from 9 to 17.

A simple set design, over three levels, by Luke Miller, throws the focus firmly on the young cast, while Guy Jackson and Bailey Fellows have created effective light and sound design.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Blackout Theatre Company. The Pioneer Theatre, Castle Hill. 3rd-12th May, 2019

Tim Rice’s wry, contemporary lyrics take Joseph out of the dry verses of Genesis into a hip Canaan and rock’n’roll Egypt, where the biblical story of brotherly envy and Freudian-style dream analysis is a lot more ‘boppy’.

Co-directors by John Hanna and Katie Griffiths have taken the ‘bop’ to heart with a brisk, bright production that concentrates on the singing and dancing and accentuates the humour.

The Mikado

By WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert & Sullivan Society of WA. Directed by Paul Treasure. The Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA. May 2-11, 2019

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of WA has outdone itself with this bright, tight and funny production of The Mikado, which is delighting its sold out houses at the Dolphin Theatre.

H.M.S. Pinafore

H.M.S. Pinafore or The Lass That Loved A Sailor By W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA. The Arts Theatre. 1 – 4 May, 2019

Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore was first performed in 1878. It was the fourth collaboration between W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan and their most successful prior to their international mega-hit, The Pirates of Penzance in 1879. Subsequently, however, H.M.S Pinafore has remained as one of the most popular of the ‘G & S’ operettas.

Barnum The Circus Musical

Music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart and book by Mark Bramble. StoreyBoard Entertainment. Directed by Tyran Parke. Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition St, Melbourne. Opening Night 2 May, 2019.

Barnum is a great opportunity to showcase the depth and breadth of talent which is active and available in the Australian theatrical scene. The production features outstanding performers who often provide astonishing and captivating performances. Todd McKenney plays P.T. Barnum with unabashed enthusiasm. His ability to be responsive to the audience is one of the many delightful ways he exhibits his exuberance. Rachel Beck as Charity Barnum manages to be both stern and compassionate, bringing some complexity to the character.

Hydra

By Sue Smith. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse. 1 – 19 May 2019

A married war correspondent and a talented young writer meet, scandalously fall in love, and escape to the Greek island of Hydra, where they rule over the growing Bohemian community of expats. They both want to write – and only write – but the reality of requiring an income drags them in different directions.

Based on the true story of George Johnston and Charmian Clift, writer Sue Smith has crafted the tumultuous tragedy from the perspective of their eldest son, Martin and realised it in a one-act play on a wonderfully stark set.

Animal Farm

By George Orwell, adapted by Geordie Brookman. State Theatre Company South Australia. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. May 1 – 3, 2019

British author George Orwell’s concern for the world began in the 1930s with the poor and unemployed in the Depression. Reporting on the Spanish Civil War led to his concern about communism, fascism and his fear of another war.

He wrote Animal Farmin 1944 as “a political fable” based on the Russian Revolution and Joseph Stalin's eventual betrayal of the people. He followed this in 1949 with 1984, which warned of the potential dangers of totalitarianism.

The Addams Family – A New Musical

By Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The South Coast Choral and Arts Society (SA). Victor Harbor Town Hall. 4-18 May, 2019

Based on the popular eccentric characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams as well as the internationally successful TV show, The Addams Family – A New Musical was first produced on Broadway in 2010. Whilst it was only modestly successful, nonetheless, this musical has proven to be extremely popular with audiences throughout the world and is seemingly in constant production. This is quite understandable for numerous reasons, but primarily because at its heart it is about ‘family love’.

Avenue Q

Book by Jeff Whitty. Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. North Shore Theatre Company. Independent Theatre, North Sydney. April 26 – May 4, 2019.

Formerly Chatswood Musical Society, the recently re-named North Shore Theatre Company’s production of the hilarious musical with puppets, Avenue Q, was a laugh a minute, with a great cast performance, allowing for some technical difficulties opening night.

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