By Lionel Bart. ICW Productions. Directed by Charlotte Westrip. Joy Shepherd Performing Arts Centre, Mosman Park WA. 20-27 August, 2016.

ICW’s Oliver! has high production values, is well produced and nicely polished. It is being very warmly received by large audiences.

Conor Lowe and Lukas Steinwandel share the titular role. Lukas, on opening night, sported a gorgeous choir-boy voice, which compliments an angelic face. He was always in the moment, and handled this major role with apparent ease.

Fawlty Towers Live

Written by John Cleeese & Connie Booth.Adapted for the stage by John Cleese. Director: Caroline Jay Ranger. World Premiere Season. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney. From 20th August 2016.

How great is this? I found it funnier than the TV show.

The Secret Garden

Music: Lucy Simon. Book & Lyrics: Marsha Norman. Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Director: Ian Good. Musical Director: Heidi Loveland. With the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Dr Peter Morris. Griffith University 3rd year Musical Theatre Students. Conservatorium Theatre, Southbank. 18-26 August 2016.

The Secret Garden, this year’s main-stage production by Griffith Musical Theatre’s graduating class was exquisite musical theatre. With fine and robust performances, striking set and costume design, and an orchestra that brought depth and subtlety to Lucy Simon’s score, it was worthy of Broadway. In actual fact I enjoyed it better than the original Broadway production because Ian Good’s direction clarified the rambling narrative and brought a warmth to the piece that I found missing in the original.

Titus Andronicus

By William Shakespeare. Red Phoenix Theatre & Butterfly Theatre Production. Holden Street Theatre. 18-27 August, 2016.

Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is what is called in theatrical terms a “pot-boiler”; deliberately sensational, excessive, and thoroughly entertaining. This production by Red Phoenix Theatre and Butterfly Theatre, which is (surprisingly) the South Australian premiere of this play, completely honours the sensational bloody “pot boiler” aspect of this play. With its cast of seventeen highly committed actors it is most certainly worth the price of admission.

Adventures in Pianoland

By Jan Preston. Directed by Gail Preston. The Street Theatre. 15 Childers Street, Canberra. 11 – 14 August 2016.

You know the lovely emotional piano riff that used to introduce Australian Story? That was originally part of a larger piece written by Jan Preston, who nowadays has a huge following in jazz and folk circuits as Australia’s Queen of Boogie Woogie. Adventures in Pianoland tells the story of how Ms Preston went from being a classically trained pianist of noted talent, to finding that very specific counter-culture niche. Jan Preston’s lifelong obsession with the piano has led her to some wild and sometimes difficult places.

Our Land People Stories

Bangarra Dance Theatre. Artistic Director Stephen Page. Scores composed by David Page, Steve Francis and Paul Mac. On tour nationally. Brisbane Playhouse Theatre at QPAC.12-20 August, 2016

BDT is currently in town with a showcase of three works choreographed by members of the team demonstrating their unique stamp of indigenous influences all destined to satisfy those who like contemporary dance and an electronic musical score with a difference. 

Into the Woods

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Co-Directed by Leiz Moore & Allan Jeffrey. Musical Theatre Crew Senior Ensemble. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 4- 14 August 2016

Sending your babies out into the world – or even as far as “the Woods” – is something every parent must do -eventually. Co-directors Leiz Moore and Allan Jeffrey chose Into the Woods as the graduating project for the Musical Theatre Crew Senior Ensemble. There are 25 kids in the senior group – twelve graduating students who have been with MTC for up to 6 years.

Sex With Strangers

By Laura Eason. Directed by Gabriella Rose Carter. Q44 Theatre. 550 Swan St, Richmond. 17th August -3rd September, 2016.

Q44 is a small indie theatre company that always punches above its weight. Its quirky, rabbit warren, complex welcomes you, with a foyer like no other – filled with books and paintings and a huge dining table on which a sumptuous supper (prepared by the marvellous Lily Jones) is served, accompanied by bubbles, to the first night audience.

This production is not their finest offering, but it is still exciting and innovative theatre and, despite its shoestring budget, it leaves most main stage offerings in its wake.

Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller. Therry Dramatic Society. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. August 17-27.

Death of a Salesman is Arthur Miller’s most famous and powerful play, premiering in 1949. Its title role has been played by everyone from Dustin Hoffman to Brian Dennehy. Even at 50 years old it ferociously analyses conflict in a family, in particular the relationship of father and son, together with the larger issues of capitalism and the demise of the American Dream.

Songs for a New World

By Jason Robert Brown. Blue Saint Productions. Hayes Theatre Company. Aug 12 – 28, 2016.

Two-times a Tony Award winner for Best Score (Parade and The Bridges of Madison County), composer / lyricist Jason Robert Brown is something of a musical theatre enigma; despite amassing a remarkable body of splendid theatre songs over a 20+ year career, immensely popular with contemporary musical theatre and cabaret performers, he is yet to be attached to a genuine Broadway hit.

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