By Kit Brookman. Directed by Luke Beattie and Alec Council. SLAP Arts Company. The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre 28 April – 1 May 2016. Riverside Plaza Parramatta, 27 May 2016.

Every ghost story needs to redefine the afterlife. In Kit Brookman’s pitch black tragicomedy Heaven, the dead can be reborn as flesh but have little memory of their old life. The play opens on bully schoolboy Stewart (Tim Abdallah) explaining to his friend Max (Vitas Varnas) that their school acquaintance Angela had died. Stewart makes light of it, disparaging Angela as weird and having no friends, but as he speaks it becomes clear that he saw the accident and that he’s hiding trauma under macho bluster.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

By William Shakespeare. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. Little Theatre. 7-21 May, 2016.

Experiencing an unfamiliar play should feel like an adventure; in the case of a comedic play, ideally a fun-filled adventure. For the most part, debut directors Gary George & Angela Short have crafted a successful Shakespearean entertainment out of material that is somewhat challenging.

The rapid-fire delivery of dialogue in the opening scene demands concentration, but also starts the show off on an encouragingly confident high that the first act manages to sustain. Moments of bawdy humour are staged with impressive vigour.

The Boy From Oz

Music & Lyrics: the songs of Peter Allen and others. Book: Nick Enright. The Regals Musical Society. Director: Julian Batchelor. Musical Director: Peter Sampson. Choreographer: Tracey Rasmussen. Rockdale Town Hall. May 06 -14, 2016.

My baby smiled at me and I went to Regals...

This production of The Boy From Oz is as bold, glitzy, and colourful as Peter Allen himself – and even more camp. More importantly, it has heart where it’s needed.


Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul. Book by Peter Duchan. Directed by Darylin Raymondo. Doorstep Arts. Chapel Off Chapel. May 5 – 15, 2016.

Darylin Raymondo is a fine director, and her reputation was made with her stunning production of Next To Normal in 2014. It wowed audiences at both Geelong and The Hayes in Sydney. It is only natural that expectations would be high for her anticipated production of Dogfight – a 2012 off-Broadway musical based on a 90s film. The cast is mostly excellent, the music is entertaining if not especially memorable, and there is a strong – if predictable – book.


Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. CLOC. Co-Director/Set Designer: Chris White. Co-Director/Choreographer: Lynette White. Musical Director: Danny Forward. National Theatre, St Kilda. May 6 – 21, 2016.

As a musical Wicked is a spectacle.  So how would an amateur company go producing this? In a word, magnificently!

It started as we sat down to observe Chris White’s enormous wooden structures at each side of the stage, with narrow stairs and landings. The curtain featured a map of Oz.

The curtain rose and the chorus appeared, all with odd, unsettling makeup. Movements were strong, choreography was effective and tight and energy was high. The costumes were amazing.

The Train Tea Society

Play by Emily Vascotto. Director: Gabriella Flowers. Flowers Theatre Company. Swanbank Railway Station, Swanbank, Qld. 6-8 May 2016

It’s not often one sees a play featuring a ‘live’ steam train (if ever) but Emily Vascotto’s The Train Tea Society gave audiences that undeniable thrill not once but twice during this sweet and affectionate work set in Ipswich during the First World War. Staged in association with the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway at the historic Swanbank Railway Station, this site-specific piece of theatre presented as part of the Anywhere Festival convincingly transported us back to an earlier time.


Written by Martin McDonagh, Directed by Matthew Dunster. National Theatre Live (cinema screening of British theatrical production). Participating cinemas nationwide from May 14, 2016.

The latest in the NT Live series of cinema screenings of British stage productions available to Australian audiences through Sharmill Films, Hangmen is a black comedy that’s well worth seeing.

Bad Jews

By Joshua Harmon. Aleksandar Vass and Vass Theatre Group. Director: Gary Abrahams. Alex Theatre, St Kilda. April 27 – May 14, 2016

This engrossing production of Bad Jews is played out on a charming set, designed by Jacob Battista, of a tiny apartment that feels part pressure cooker part fish bowl.  It is a studio apartment in New York, New York with a bathroom that overlooks the Hudson River.  Four characters, three of whom who have been rendered emotionally raw from the grief of their grandfather’s recent demise, interact through the malaise of a kind of fraught cabin fever. 

We Will Rock You

Music and lyrics by Queen. Story and script by Ben Elton. Lyric Theatre, Sydney, then touring nationally. Opening Night - May 5, 2016

This production will rock your socks off. The enthusiasm and talent of the mainly young cast is palpable, from the opening to the very last seconds.

Even as the curtain had almost descended for the last time, the leading man Gareth Keegan (Galileo) was crouched down to milk one last note for the audience.

Little Shop of Horrors

Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken. Comedy Theatre Melbourne. May 4 – 22, 2016

There’s no denying the appeal of Little Shop of Horrors. It may be based on a B grade movie, but it has an A+ grade score and book - arguably the best work ever from Ashman and Menken, and real depth in the subtext and life lessons. In short, it’s a bloody good musical.

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