Reviews

Pennsylvania Avenue

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Directed by Simon Phillips, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 21 January – 14 February 2016

The extraordinary one-woman show featuring Bernadette Robinson suggests that some of the more salacious intrigues at the White House sometimes involved some of the most illustrious vocalists in the era that begins with JFK and ends with Bill Clinton. The opening song sets the tone for the entire performance as Marilyn Monroe’s infamous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” wafts through the auditorium it is clear that US politics and the entertainment industry intersected in ways that has made for some fascinating and iconic history.

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë. Directed by Sally Cookson. National Theatre Live. In select cinemas, nationally, from 13 February, 2016.

Adapting Jane Eyre for the stage and broadcasting the performance in cinemas worldwide makes for an unusual turn of events given the numerous screen adaptations of the novel. However, Sally Cookson’s theatrical interpretation focuses on the persona in ways that allow Jane (Madeline Worrall) to stand out and set herself apart from the imposing presence of Rochester (Felix Hayes) or any of the other larger than life characters created for this profoundly romantic story. In this stage version Jane is without doubt the star of the show.

Fame

Conceived and Developed by David De Silva. Book by Jose Fernandez. Lyrics by Jacques Levy. Music by Steve Margoshes. Title Song ‘Fame’ by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. APAN. Directed by Olivia Collier. Octagon Theatre, University of Western Australia. Feb 6-7, 2015

APAN, The Australian Performing Arts Network, is an organisation which has several arms including offering Certificates and Diplomas in Performing Arts, a Talent Development Program which allows high school students to intensively study dance or music theatre while continuing academic studies, and a network program which invites young performing artists from across the state to come together for performance opportunities.

The Little Mermaid

By Doug Wright and Alan Menken. Directed by Bradley Tudor and Natalie Burbage. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. 29 January - 13 February 2016

The Little Mermaid is a sumptuous production, beautifully directed and amazingly costumed that deserves its sell-out houses.

It is a little unusual to mention the costumes first in a review, but the costumes and wigs in The Little Mermaid are among the best I have ever seen in a community theatre show. Designed by Brad Tudor and brought to life by a team of thirteen, they were simply breathtaking; Cleverly designed, beautifully constructed and expertly coordinated.

La Soirée

La Soirée. Spiegeltent, Perth Cultural Centre, Fringe World, WA. 22 January - 6 March, 2016

Perhaps the most popular of Fringe World's attractions, La Soirée won Best Cabaret at last year's Fringe World Festival, and with capacity crowds and an extended season, La Soirée is again the talk of the town.

With an exciting collection of circus, cabaret and burlesque performers, some of whom have Fringe World shows in their own right, the performance line-up can vary from night to night.

The Secret River

Adapted by Andrew Bovell, from the book by Kate Grenville. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Neil Armfield. Set Design by Stephen Curtis. Composer – Iain Grandage. Musical Director – Isaac Hayward. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay. February 1 – 20, 2016, then touring.

There are times a quasi-theatre geek becomes aware of the circulation-restricting pleb pants they wear as they sit poised to review something that cannot be simply summed up with generic praise. It's daunting enough that this is a 'return' season of a benchmark production which achieved justifiably passionate reviews three years ago. It's a two-fold dilemma: what can be said that hasn't been said before? And how do you describe something that really needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated?

Quartet

By Ronald Harwood. Director: Andrea Moor. QTC. Playhouse, QPAC,.30 Jan – 21 Feb 2016 (and then touring regionally)

In an age that’s obsessed with youth culture it’s a pleasure to welcome Quartet, a well-made West End play with elderly characters that unashamedly entertains. Set in a retirement home for opera singers, musicians, and their like, Ronald Harwood’s play about mortality and the loss of one’s skills as one ages, resonates with confronting reality.

Jack of Hearts

By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). January 29 - April 2, 2016.

David Williamson is so tall that he needs to duck (slightly) to avoid hitting his head on the top of the door frame as he leaves the Ensemble Theatre auditorium.

The Playwright/Director of this production literally and figuratively towers over Australian drama.

Who else can pen an original new play with a cast of seven, for a company with no Government subsidy, and almost sell out before opening?

Gruesome Playground Injuries

By Rajiv Joseph. Directed by Kristen Twynam-Perkins. The Parrot House, Maylands WA. Feb 1-3 2016

Those familiar with The Parrot House (formerly known as Chrissie Parrot Arts Centre) in Maylands, will find that it has been turned back to front for its stint as a Fringe World venue. With a bar, outdoor area and food on the premises the venue feels refreshed and rejuvenated. Likewise, those who saw Gruesome Playground Injuries during its Playlovers' season last year, may be surprised at how different this play looks and feels.

The Abduction from the Seraglio

By Mozart. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: Greg Hocking. The Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. February 3, 5 & 9, 2016

Seraglio is one of Mozart’s lesser-known works and is a throwback to earlier times with few roles, lots of arias and few ensembles. So the spotlight is fully on the soloists, and Eddie Muliaumaseli’i impressed in the low bass role of Osmin. His voice was big and beautiful and all the low notes were there.

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