Reviews

Seminar

By Theresa Rebeck. Artefact Theatre Co. Directed by Martin Cox. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). November 9 – 26, 2016.

Theresa Rebeck, famous for her television writing but also a Pulitzer Prize nominee, has written a fine play in Seminar. Full of snappy one-liners to please a main stage audience, it also delves deeply into the psyche of the writer and the constant struggle between art and craft. Real writers - true storytellers - are born, not made.

Tartuffe

Play by Moliere. Adaptation: Justin Fleming. Queensland Theatre/Black Swan Theatre Company. Director: Kate Cherry. Playhouse, QPAC. 12 Nov – 4 Dec 2016.

Moliere’s Tartuffe seems to be flavour of the month at the moment with Sydney Theatre Company joining forces with the State Theatre Company of South Australia to present a version adapted by Phillip Kavanagh, and this co-production between Queensland Theatre and Black Swan Theatre Company by Justin Fleming.

Shining City

By Conor McPherson. Directed by Gabrielle-Rose Carter. Q44 Theatre. November 8 – 27, 2016

Conor McPherson is a deceptive playwright who brilliantly marries a witty and accessible primary level of storytelling with deep subtext that often takes us to places we would rather not go. Simple dialogue is openly accessible, but to reach the depth of McPherson’s subtext and philosophy is like taking a giant leap down a well. It takes highly skilled actors and a fine director to go down that well and discover just how deep it is. Fortunately Q44 – a little company that continually mines the well in its quest for excellence – has those actors, and that director.

Calendar Girls

By Tim Firth. St Jude's Players (SA). November 17 – 26, 2016

Director Brian Knott has assembled a stellar cast to bring the heart-warming story of Calendar Girls to life for St Jude’s Players. Based on a true story, it follows the attempts of six mature lasses from the Women’s Institute in the North of England, who, after experiencing loss, find themselves raising money for a settee in a cancer ward at the nearby hospital.

LadyCake

Written, performed & directed by Candace Miles, Madelaine Nunn & Anna Rodway. Three Birds Theatre. Poppy Seed Theatre Festival. Trades Hall, New Ballroom. 15 – 27 November 2016

They are the gracefully gliding, giggling, girlish devoted handmaidens to Princess-then-Queen Marie Antoinette – she who famously said (or did she?) ‘Let them eat cake.’  Marie Antoinette - the political pawn, child bride, queen, breeder, fashion icon, hobby farmer, adulteress, dilettante, victim and dead.  Her handmaidens live vicariously, each convinced that Marie is her best friend (‘This morning, when I was emptying her chamber pot, she touched my hand!’), but all sharing with her every high, every low, every triumph, every disappointment

Tiny Remarkable Bramble

By Jessica Tuckwell. Invisible Circus / The Impending Room. Kings Cross Theatre. Nov 6 – 25, 2016

Jessica Tuckwell’s play is as strange as its title suggests. It’s very absurdist, a little farcical and even a little moralistic … I think! It’s the sort of play you think you’ve worked out until you start talking about it and realise that other people saw it from a completely different angle. But that’s the sort of play that directors and actors love. A play that allows the chance for creative workshopping and even a little whacky characterisation, but one that also requires really tight direction and concentrated pace.

Chess: The Musical

Music by Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus. Lyrics: Tim Rice. GSODA Inc. Director: Debbie Fraser. Vocal Director: Adelle Gregory. Musical Director: Damien Montalto. Choreographer: Jules Hart. Playhouse Theatre, Geelong Performing Arts Centre. October 7-15, 2016.

As a classic musical, everyone knows at least one or two songs from Chess (‘One Night in Bangkok’, ‘I Know Him So Well’) – even if you’ve never seen it.

Inspired by the life of Russian chess player, Garry Kasparov, the story looks at how global politics play out in something as innocuous as a chess competition.

In every scene, an unexpected level of detail and professionalism pervades GSODA’s version of Chess.

Avenue Q

Book by Jeff Whitty. Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Nate Butler's Studio. Directed by Derek Walker. Musical Direction by Andrew Swan. Don Craig Room, Laycock Street Theatre. Nov 11-13, 2016

Avenue Q is the third production presented this year by Nate Butler Studio's full time Musical Theatre course students. It follows hot on the heels of their fabulous previous production, Blood Brothers and it certainly didn't lose by comparison. The extreme contrast in tone and style between these two shows in particular further illustrated the talent and versality of these young performers.

 

9 to 5 The Musical

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick, based on the screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins. Penrith Musical Comedy Company. NSW Premiere. Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. Nov 11 – 19, 2016.

Penrith Musical Comedy Company’s Australian Premiere production of the Dolly Parton / Patricia Resnick musical 9 to 5, based on the 1980 movie, was a thoroughly entertaining evening at the theatre.

This fresh new musical to the amateur theatre scene was a joy to watch, with a laugh a minute script, performed by a large cast of 30 with an exceptional leading trio of women. Taking on the bright new musical was the talented team of Grant Jones as Director, Kieran Norman and Michael Nolan, Musical Directors, and the highly experienced Laurie Tancred as Choreographer.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. The State Opera of South Australia in association with the Adelaide Festival Centre. Adelaide Festival Theatre. 12-19 November, 2016.

The costumes are smartly attired, the set design is stunning, the orchestra is stirring, and the singers are sparkling, while the story and music have faithfully served the world of opera for more than one hundred years – so what could possibly be missing?

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