Reviews

Absent Friends

By Alan Ayckbourn. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). December 10, 2014 – January 24, 2015.

A comedy to attract the end-of-year audience is an oft’ tried ruse – so an Ayckbourn seems like a good idea. However, towever,HoHhhhis relatively predictable example of his many plays, set in 1974, is just a little dated, despite the fun designer Anna Gardiner has had with the very ‘70s’ set and costumes – flares, a jerkin, yellows, orange and some crimplene!

Mother Goose

Written and directed by Maria de Marco. Emu Productions. King Street Theatre, Newtown, Sydney until December 22, 2014

It comes as a shock to Australians how huge pantomime is in England compared to the rare  offerings down under.  A British taxi driver once told me he was counting the days until the next million pound production came to his town. The theory is that Aussies love being outdoors too much over the Christmas period to make it a success here.

A SWINGIN' CHRISTMAS PROMS

Festival Theatre, Adelaide, SA. 12th & 13th December 2014.

The Adelaide Festival Centre and director Catherine Fitzgerald invite you to a night of sing-alongs and stunning solos, harmonising and heavenly praise, with a healthy helping of the spirituality that the season was built on, and the kind of electricity that only live music can generate...plus a couple of kooky clowns!

Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful

Written and Directed by Malcolm Frawley. Produced by Ferknerkle and Jordy Shea Theatrical. STS Theatre, 45 Chippen St, Chippendale (NSW). Dec 3 – 14, 2014.

Raw and funny, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful provides a colourful snapshot of life for young adults today. It opens with Tegan (Josie Waller) and Silas (Stephen Bracken) about to get married and preparing for their bucks/hens night. Before you can catch your breath the couple flash back to the extraordinary way they met.

PETER PAN LIVE

Music: Jule Styne, Moose Charlap. Lyrics: Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Carolyn Leigh. Additional Lyrics: Amanda Green. Script: Irene Mecchi. Executive Producers: Craig Zadan, Neil Meron. Director/Choreographer: Rob Ashford. Director for Television: Glenn Weiss. Musical Director: David Chase. Telecast NBC, U.S.A. 4 December 2014

For its second “live-to-air” musical following last year’s The Sound of Music, NBC chose a show that has been dear to its rating-hearts for the past 60 years. Ever since the first screening of Mary Martin’s Broadway production of Peter Pan in 1955 which brought phenomenal ratings of 65 million viewers, it has been a perennial favourite for the Network.

The Wizard of Oz

Old Mill Theatre, South Perth WA. Nov 28 - Dec 12, 2014

An unusual choice for a pantomime, The Wizard of Oz seems to be written for a large star vehicle cast – for as well as the traditional four (with Toto) setting off on the Yellow Brick road, we are joined not only by Aunt Em but (unexpectedly) Elvis as well.

Arianne Westcott-King is a picture-perfect Dorothy, accompanied by Harrison Wake in the thankless role of Toto. Trish Theisinger happily bustles through in the Dame Role of Aunt Em, and local celebrity, Ted Bull brings lots of personality to the King of Rock and Roll.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Richard George, adapted Roald Dahl's story. Roleystone Theatre (WA). 21 Nov - 6 Dec, 2014

Roleystone Theatre's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory seems a delicious end of year treat for families.

While I love the source material, I am not a fan of Richard George's adaptation of Roald Dahl's story (although it does have some lovely moments). Director Lys Tickner has worked hard to add life to this script which is over-laden with exposition and is written flat.

A Holly Jolly Christmas.

SALOS. Tower Arts Centre, Pasadena (SA). Dec 4 – 7, 2014

It's that time of the year again where we pull out the decorations and the tree and try to capture the Christmas spirit. SALOS have done just that! Their latest offering is a mixture of familiar Christmas carols, show tunes and folk music. With a musical ensemble consisting of Sue Penhale on Piano and Robert Brown on Flute, the audience were witness to a traditional old school Christmas celebration.

Dirty Dancing

By Eleanor Bergstein. Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star, Opening Night, December 3, 2014, then Melbourne’s Princess Theatre from 1 March 2015, the Lyric Theatre, QPAC from 27 May, and the Crown Theatre, Perth from 2 August.

There was enough Dirty Dancing and fleshy beefcake on stage to elicit squeals of approval from women in the audience, who gave the evening the festive feel of a hen’s night.

Even if their husbands/boyfriends found it a more of a ‘chick’s show’ then no doubt they were still pleased to see a big smile on their date’s face.

Throbbing hips, provocative swivels and even the occasional face buried in a  convulsing crutch made it a saucy night out, in a clean cut 1960’s kind of way.

Frankenstein

Written by Nick Dear. National Theatre (filmed live). Directed by Danny Boyle Various cinemas – encore screenings from November 28, 2014.

Whilst we may have bemoaned in the past the lack of access to some of the West End’s most challenging offerings, London’s National Theatre goes a long way to rectifying the problem with its series of filmed plays.

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