Reviews

Bran Nue Dae

By Jimmy Chi and Kuckles. Opera Australia / Opera Conference. Riverside Theatre Parramatta from Jan 16 - Feb 1, 2020, then Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide.

Bran Nue Dae has achieved the rarest of feats for an entirely original Australian musical – a second national tour.  Previously this level of success had only been the domain of Australian written jukebox musicals.

This joyous production, filled with hummable tunes, endearing performances and quirky choreography hits the mark and justifies a consortium of Australian Opera companies decision to revive the work, first staged in 1990.

The first act felt a little lumpy – with the transition of song to dialogue not always seamless. 

War Horse

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford in association with Handspring Puppet Company. Regent Theatre, Melbourne. 14 January – 8 February 2020

A story that begins with the rivalry between two farmers.  One wins an auction and buys a foal he can ill afford – and the foal is a ‘hunter’, not a farm horse that could pull a wagon or a plough.  Nevertheless, the farmer’s son Albert (Scott Miller), only sixteen, calls the horse ‘Joey’ and the two are soul mates, bonded forever.  Suddenly it’s 1914 and there’s an urgent need for horses, thousands of them – and Joey is sold and gone.  And when Joey is gone, our hearts sink.  Albert is bereft, heartbroken, of cou

Discharged (Number 2s)

Written and directed by Zulieka Khan. FringeWorld. Girls School, Wellington St, Perth. January 17-25, 2020

If you’ve driven passed new FringeWorld hub, (The Old) Girls School on Wellington St, you may have seen Triage Cabaret’s Zulie Khan, dressed as a wartime hospital matron on some of the advertising. It would seem that FringeWorld believes that this show is one of their key attractions - and so they should. Discharged (Number 2s), is a top-notch cabaret that will appeal to anyone who has ever worked in a hospital, been to a hospital or who has a pulse.

 

Found

Pelican Productions. Michael Murray Centre, Westminster, SA. January 11th – 19th 2020.

For the last 16 years Pelican Productions have been holding a very popular music theatre camp in South Australia. The camp ‘creates an environment where young people can participate in music, acting, dance and stagecraft, intensive rehearsals and workshops’. Besides making new friends and having a heap of fun, a major output of the camp is the culminating show. This year they had so many participants, some from as far away as Darwin, that they have four separate troupes, performing two shows a day, over a four-day period.

Mullygrubs

By Leah Filley and Harry Thompson. LongPlay, Fitzroy North. January 13 & 15, 2020.

There are times in one’s life when the mullygrubs can kick in and turn into suicidal thoughts. Mullygrubs is a dark, brooding comedy examining the demands of modern living. Written and performed by Leah Filley and Harry Thompson, it was nominated for Best Theatre at the 2019 Melbourne Fringe, and is headed Adelaide Fringe.

Cats

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Based on ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ by T. S. Eliot. Additional material: Trevor Nunn & Richard Stilgoe. Young Australian Broadway Chorus (YABC). Director: Robert Coates. Choreographer: Jacqui Green. Musical Directors: Justin Jacobs (Orchestra Master) & Ned Wright-Smith (Conductor). Costume Designer: Sean Rentero. Set Designer: Dann Barber. Lighting Designer: Linda Hum. Sound Designer: Steve Cooke. National Theatre, Melbourne. January 17-25, 2020

If you think that the world’s longest running dance musical has outrun its nine lives, think again!  Director Robert Coates and his team have put together a reimagined production that is a sumptuous feast for the senses. Hats off to this production team. Personally I think it’s the best production of Cats I’ve seen since it’s Australian premiere in 1987.

The Bureau of Untold Stories

By Sean and Holly Brymore. Brymore Productions / FringeWorld. Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park. January 17-19, 2020

The Bureau of Untold Stories is one of a handful of shows which kicked off FringeWorld 2020, with performances on the morning of the first day - and what a delightful way to kick off a festival of many stories. 

Carmen

Music: Georges Bizet. Text: Henry Meilhac & Ludovic Halevy. Revival of 2016 Production. Direction: Constantine Costi from original direction by John Bell. Choreography: Amy Campbell from original choreography by Kelley Abbey. Opera Australia. Sydney Opera House. 11 January – 26 March, 2020.

OA’s brilliant production of Carmen reminds us why opera remains popular. This show has it all: drama, music, passion, beauty, energy, and the ability to give us that buzz you can get only from live theatre. I was dazzled by the movement, dancing, pageantry, and blaze of colours.

Anthem

By Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas and Irine Vela. Directed by Susie Dee. Sydney Festival. Produced by Arts Centre Melbourne and Performing Lines. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney, January 15-19, 2020

Twenty-one years after creating the landmark Who’s Afraid of the Working Class, four playwrights and a composer have come together again. The circumstances are different — they’re now firmly established as some of the country’s best writers and this time they’ve been commissioned by Melbourne’s Arts Centre rather than its Workers Theatre. The success of this play is also on a different level.

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

By Bryony Kimmings. Sydney Festival. Sydney Opera House. January 14 – 17, 2019.

Bryony Kimmings’ well-travelled show – from recent Brisbane and Melbourne Festivals and sell out runs in London and Edinburgh – must really take it out of her.

She’s specialised in autobiographical performance art that previously unearthed dark subjects like her own trail of sexually transmitted diseases, her concerns about tween culture, and her boyfriend’s depression. 

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