Reviews

Ettie's Boys

By Ian McGrath. Moore Books SA. The Arch, Holden Street Theatres, Adelaide. Director: Tony Moore. Designer: Shannon Norfolk. July 11 - July 27, 2014.

An Adelaide premiere is always a matter of interest for the local theatre critic. Courage is needed in order to present patrons with something new and unfamiliar, rather than relying on tried-and-tested properties. Has the risk paid off, the experiment succeeded?

Book of Days

By Langford Wilson. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Australian Premiere. July 8 – August 9, 2014.

New Theatre continues to impress with its choice of plays, directors, actors and designers. This production of Pulitzer Prize winner Langford Wilson’s Book of Days is no exception. It is as fast-paced as the script demands, and the tight ensemble under the perceptive direction of Elsie Edgerton-Till makes this production one that shouldn’t be missed.

Soweto Gospel Choir

Canberra Theatre. 10 July 2014 and touring nationally.

Singing-and-dancing troupes from exotic locations fall more or less, I find, into two classes: those from whom inner joy and vitality exude in song and movement, and those from whom it doesn’t. Perhaps not coincidentally, the skill, the range, the ability to have us gasp seem to correspond with that evident inner something.

 

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

By Maryam Master. Directed by Frank Newman. A CDP Production. Presented by The Street Theatre, Canberra. July 7 – 12, 2014

This production is based upon the much-loved book by Oliver Jeffers and it completely entranced the audience of children from about 4 years to 9 years old.  The three actors, Teresa Jakovich, Warwick Allsopp and George Kemp, engage effortlessly with the text and narrative, swirling from one character to another with cues that allow even the smallest audience member to follow the story arc. Henry's adventure with eating books and becoming the smartest boy in the world shows his cosy family (and adored cat), and fun at school.

The Wizard of Oz

Young Performers’ Edition. Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Director: Robert Coates Musical Director: Andy Coates. Choreographer: Alicia Haggar. Union Theatre, Melbourne University. July 10 – 12, 2014

I am well aware of the various tertiary training courses available to music theatre students, but less familiar with the options available for younger enthusiasts. So I was interested to see this offering from the Young Australian Broadway Chorus. They hold classes for five to eighteen-year-olds and obviously the advanced students end up participating in their major production.

And major it certainly was with a cast of “thousands”. Well it certainly appeared like that on the small stage at the Union Theatre. And what a talented bunch they were.

Mario

Conceived by Blake Bowden & Phil Scott. Director: Chris Parker Hayes Theatre Co. (NSW). 9 July - 12 July 2014

Beautiful songs from a legendary tenor

The Crucible

By Arthur Miller. Director: Terri Brabon. THEATREiNQ. Riverway Arts Centre, Townsville. 25 – 28 June, 2014

The opening night performance of The Crucible was arguably the finest dramatic production seen in Townsville for some time.

The cast list read like a “Who’s Who” of strong local performers, from the professional company actors through to the aspiring young members of the Bridge Project.

Brendan O’Connor, in the role of John Proctor, delivered a superb performance. His character was powerful, right through to the climactic moment where he is torn between saving his life or his moral values. This was O’Connor at his very best.

Hello, Dolly!

Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman. Book by Michael Stewart. Directed by Meg Warren and Tamblyn Smith. Produced by Angela Hennel. Diamond Valley Singers and Eltham Orchestras. Warrandyte High School (Vic). July 4 – 12, 2014

Hello, Dolly! is one of those joyful shows that everybody knows and loves. With an excellent set designed by Lynne Counsel and a great graphic backdrop designed by Josh Thomas, this production by the Diamond Valley Singers is off to a good start. Meg Warren and Tamblyn Smith have kept the blocking simple and, as choreographers, have ensured that non-dancers can handle the movement reasonably well. This is a production which brings home the realization that amateur actually means “for love of” and should never be considered derogatory.

Love and Death and an American Guitar

By Toby Francis. Music by Jim Steinman. Highway Run Productions / Hayes Theatre Company. July 4 – 6, 2014

Toby Francis has one of those voices. He can sing clean and crisp notes in the stratosphere one moment and warm, chesty tones down two octaves the next. Effortlessly.

Jim Steinman’s music is a good fit, then, to show off Francis’ incredible range and superb voice.

Love and Death and an American Guitar tells two stories simultaneously – that of Steinman’s constant struggle for royalties, respect and recognition, and the attempt to finish writing his incomplete musical, Neverland.

The Breakfast Club

By John Hughes, adapted for stage by Drew Jarvis. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 28 Jun – 2 Aug, 2014

This show should attract everyone who enjoyed the 1980s film The Breakfast Club. Itbecame a rite of passage. I’d never heard of it. My generation was the 70s.

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