Reviews

Songs From Behind The Front

Written by Timothy Sexton & Christine Rothauser. State Opera of SA. Directed by Velalien. The Opera Studio, Netley. June 8-10 2016

As part of the 2016 Flanders Fields Poppy Trail commemorations, the State Opera Company of South Australia is presenting this musical tribute to both the Australian forces and their allies who fought on the Western Front in World War One. Hew Wagner, Courtney Turner, Desiree Frahn and Andrew Turner appear onstage in period costume, sing songs from the era (including popular standards like “Long Way To Tipperary” and “Keep The Home Fires Burning”) and recite poetry which reflects upon the human cost of the conflict.

Retro Futurismus

New World. Vaudeville. fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 6-31 July 2016.

The science fiction that inspires this show is generally dark and dystopian, however, the New World vision of the future is more cynical than bleak. This is a raucous exploration of the future that employs a vaudeville format to showcase an astonishing array of burlesque performances. The politically infused text has a cantankerous tone as it reflects on the current state of affairs and the seemingly ludicrous future that it is leading to.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Eltham Little Theatre (Vic).. Director/Choreographer: Kath Buckingham. Musical Director: Nicola Ramsay. Choreographer: Amanda Bryon. July 1 – 17, 2016.

Annie was an ideal choice for Eltham Little Theatre. They regularly include a junior musical in their program, and this allowed for plenty of juniors, as well as the adults, to have a sing.

Towering over the production was the Daddy Warbucks of John Leahy. Having seen him before, I was expecting his big voice and strong personality, but I was quite taken aback by his sensitive singing. Nicola Ramsay also sang well and was a strong Grace Farrell.

Courage to Kill

By Lars Noren, translated from the Swedish by Marita Lindholm Gochman. A Public Front production. La Mama Theatre, Carlton, VIC. 6 – 17 July 2016.

A psychodrama about a Father (Stephen House) and his Son (Luke Mulquiney) locked in a hostile, poisonous but suffocatingly symbiotic conflict.

Wicked

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Winnie Holzman. Based upon the novel by Gregory Maguire. Directed by Matt Byrne. Presented by Matt Byrne Media. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide, July 7-16, 2016 and Shedley Theatre, Adelaide, July 20-30.

Sometimes a smaller-scale reimagining of a blockbuster serves to better illuminate the emotions and themes that form the core of the story than any big-budget staging could. Such is the case with this, the first amateur production of Wicked to be staged in South Australia. Though it can’t hope to match Broadway in terms of lavish spectacle, Matt Byrne’s conception of the show is still quite visually striking in its own, more modest way and the emotional journey of the main character comes through with an intensity that commands the audience’s attention.

The Peasant Prince

Play by Eva Di Cesare, Sandie Eldridge and Tim McGarry. Based on the book by Li Cunxin. Monkey Baa Theatre Company Production. Director: Tim McGarry. Gardens Theatre, Brisbane. 6-9 July 2016, and touring nationally.

At only an hour long The Peasant Prince continually punches above its weight emotionally for a five tissue experience. It’s a vivid piece of storytelling that is skilful, theatrical and inspiring.

Monkey Baa’s latest touring work for young people and the young at heart, is based on Li Cunxin’s popular illustrated book which in turn was based on his novel Mao’s Last Dancer, his rags-to-artistic-riches autobiography of how a young Chinese boy from an impoverished backgroundbecame a world famous ballet star.

Price Check! The Musical

By Sean Weatherly and Cerise de Gelder. Loaded Productions, Bakehouse Theatre. 6-16th July, 2016

Consumerism turned into cabaret-what an innovative concept. Co-written by Sean Weatherly and Cerise de Gelder, Price Check! The Musical has been in the workshop phase for 10 years.

Warmly received by its Adelaide audience, this musical taps into the lives of four employees at a local supermarket and one annoying regular patron.

The Little Prince

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre / Monkey Baa Theatre Company. Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre. July 5 – 9, 2016

Monkey Baa once again is providing theatrical treats for the school holidays. This week it’s Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s production of The Little Prince. Next week it’s Random Musical.

Cardistry Cubed

Magicians: Ash Hodgkinson and Lucas Itrawan. Producer: Adam Mada. Melbourne Magic Festival 2016. Northcote Town Hall. July 2 & 3, 2016

What do you get when you put two young but experienced magicians on stage together? A high-octane explosion of colour and a healthy dash of teenage attitude.

Welcome to Cardistry! Made up of Ash Hodgkinson and Lucas Itrawan, both 14. In Cardistry Cubed, the boys base their show around the most popular show of the 1980s: the Rubik’s Cube.

Three things make for a great magic show: the magic itself, the narrative structure, and the magician’s personality.

The Events

By David Greig. Malthouse Theatre co-production with Belvoir and State SA Theatre Company. Direction – Claire Watson. 21 June – 10 July, 2016.

The Events is a fictional story set in a small Scottish town, written by Scottish playwright David Greig in response to the 2011 mass shoot in Norway.  This intelligent, skillful work is a testament to Greig’s capacity for deeply interrogating difficult and profound subject matter.  

Greig’s protagonist Claire, a Vicar, has the humanity, courage and deep spiritual need to confront and understand what has happening to her ‘flock’ after a murderous attack on her choir.

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