Mary Poppins.

Based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney film. Original music and lyrics by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman. Book by Julian Fellowes. New songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Antony Drewe. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opened May 5.

The biggest surprise for Stage Whispers on opening night came when Cameron Mackintosh revealed to our Editor Neil Litchfield at the after show party how he managed to snare ex-pat Australian music theatre superstar Phillip Quast to play Mr Banks.

Mackintosh and Quast met by chance in the bathroom of a top London theatrical eatery, where Quast expressed his desire to return home to Australia.

Mackintosh suggested that Quast play the role of Mr Banks in Australia, and their chance encounter has paid big dividends for Australian audiences.

Doris – so much more than the girl next door

By Melinda Schneider and David Mitchell. Director: Tom Healy. Musical Director: Michael J Harding. Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth. Cast: Melinda Schneider, Rohan Browne, Sam Ludeman. Twelfth Night Theatre, 3 - 22 May. Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne - August 23 to September 4, 2011.

Who knew there was so much more to Melinda Schneider than just being an extremely talented multi Golden Guitar Award-winning Australian country music singer? Not me. But I certainly do now.

In Doris, Melinda Schneider gets to show a whole other side to her talents by capturing the essence of Doris Day, managing to exude all of the warmth, sincerity and sweetness that was the real Doris.


Book, Music & Lyrics: Jonathan Larson. Ignatians Musical Society. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane. Director: John Peek. Musical Director: Matthew Nutley. April 29 – May 20, 2011.

Honest and truthful performances, with stunning vocals by all principals, Ignations production of Jonathon Larson’s Pulitzer Prize winning Rent consolidates their position as one of the top, if not the best, community musical theatre group in Brisbane.

Next to Normal - Australian Premiere

Music by Tom Kitt. Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Melbourne Theatre Company, Victoria. Playhouse, Arts Centre. Director: Dean Bryant. Musical Director: Mathew Frank. 28th April – 28th May, 2011. Season extended to June 4.

The Australian premiere of Next to Normal is an outstanding musical drama which offers a window into life with bi-polar disorder. Don’t go expecting large chorus numbers, glitzy costumes, spectacular dance numbers and a saccharin-sweet ending. This is tough, real-life, heart-wrenching stuff, with some decent belly-laughs along the way.

The Eisteddfod - Bakehouse Theatre. April 28 – May 15, 2011.


By David Williamson. Noosa Arts Theatre. Director: Sam Coward. April 15 – 30, 2011

David Williamson is a very professional writer. Noosa Arts Theatre has the best all round standard of the community theatres on the Sunshine Coast. Sam Coward is probably the best working director of community theatre on the Sunshine Coast. This play was always going to work once this triumvirate was connected. It was a great night out at the theatre and so much more rewarding - on so many levels – than the usual stale stodgy porridge dolloped up on the average coastal stage.


shake & stir / La Boite. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). April 28 – May 6, 2011, and touring nationally.

Yes! Shakespeare still speaks to today’s young people; shake & stir persuaded me

Writer Nelle Lee (working with scenes from nine popular Shakespearean plays) has put an ensemble of four actors in a situation of final year drama students examining Shakespeare plays as they prepare for their critical final assignment and performance. That’s how this play connects.            

Silent Disco

By Lachlan Philpott. Griffin Theatre / ATYP/ HotHouse Theatre. SBW Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst (NSW). April 28 – June 4, 2011.

I just love it when I’m blown away by a piece of new Australian theatre, as I was by Silent Disco.

Was it identification (as an ex-teacher), with a teacher and her students in a testing school?

Perhaps, though I’m betting Silent Disco will not only resonate with teachers, but will really engage younger audiences.

My thoughts were drawn back to an earlier school-themed Griffin hit, Us Or Them, which so many teachers and their students shared in the same venue and beyond in 1984.


BalletLab. Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse Choreographer: Phillip Adams. Composer/Turntablist Lynton Carr. Set & Lighting Designer: Bluebottle. Costume Designer: Graham Green. Mar 22 – 26.

A Car Crash of a Performance

And just like a car crash it was compulsive viewing. Amplification is a piece which explores and expands on the 1.6 seconds when your life flashes before your eyes after you realise you are going to crash, and the result of the crash. Abduction, hoods, torture, body bags – all part of a performance that was at times confronting.

The Boy From Oz

Music & Lyrics: Peter Allen & Others.Book: Nick Enright. Empire Theatres Production. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, Qld. Director: Lewis Jones. Musical Director: Rainer Pollard. Choreography: Alison Vallette. 14-17 April 2011.

With an abundance of glitz, glitter and sequins, Lewis Jones’ production of The Boy From Oz provided the capacity audience at Toowoomba’s historic Art-Deco Empire Theatre, with entertainment with a capital E.

One of the most successful and popular, if not the most popular Australian musical ever, the jukebox bio-musical tells the story of songwriter and entertainer Peter Allen as a big splashy cabaret.

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