Reviews

Follies In Concert

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Goldman. Directed by Tyran Parke. Melbourne Recital Centre. 24th-25th May, 2016.

There is only one Stephen Sondheim. Though not the most popular, he is arguably the best ever composer for Musical Theatre. That, in itself, is enough reason to beg borrow or steal a ticket to this very special event. But there is also only one Nancye Hayes, whose star quality is dazzling, and one Phillip Quast (why has it taken so long for us to see him interpret Sondheim so exquisitely?); and one Lisa McCune (too young for Sally but who cares…she is divine) and one……well…

A Chorus Line

Music: Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics: Edward Kleban. Book: James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante. Manly Musical Society. Star of the Sea Theatre, Manly. May 20 – 28, 2016.

A Chorus Line is one of my favourite musicals of all time. All performers having to be triple threats - great singers fantastic dancers and good actors - excites me.

Ghost The Musical

Music & Lyrics by Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard. Book & Additional Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin. Based upon the screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. Directed by Matthew Warchus. Crown Theatre, Perth, WA. May 21 - June 12, 2016

Ghost The Musical, on the final leg of its Australian tour, opens with a sudden flurry of high-tech audio-visual effects that take the audience on a wild aerial ride through New York. This immediately sets the style and scene for this amazingly technical production of Ghost.

Closely following the pattern of the film on which it is based, this show is highly plot driven, with strongly developed central characters (and some nice little cameos). While the songs are good, and help to progress the story, they are not particularly memorable.

Catch Me If You Can

By Terrence McNally, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. May 20 – 29, 2016

Choreography is the star of Willoughby Theatre Company’s NSW Premiere production of the musical Catch Me If You Can, with equal kudos to the tremendous, tightly drilled ensemble who dance it so enthusiastically.

Inventive choreographer Janina Hamerlok evokes the 1960s splendidly, but mixes it up with showgirl glamour and striking kicklines.

Songs and Sexcapades

Written & performed by Fifi La Boom. The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne. 24-29 May 2016.

‘Fifi La Boom’ appears alone on stage in a full-length peach coloured evening gown, which drapes rather than clings to her buxom figure, long white evening gloves and a rather mumsy hairstyle.  Respectable.  Keeping Herself Nice.  It’s her opening irony: her first gutsy song tells us she loves boys – all of them! 

Nunsense

By Dan Goggin. Blackwood Players (SA). Blackwood 21. May 20 - June 5, 2016.

Nunsense Director Selena Britz and assistant Ruby Faith have done a fine job resurrecting this 30 year old musical for Blackwood Players.  

Brain child of playwright, composer and lyricist Dan Goggin, this gem has stood the test of time. With a few tweaks designed to update jokes, this fund-raising concert is a blast! There is something about ten nuns in a room that makes you pay attention and you will be glad you did.

The Taming of the Shrew

By William Shakespeare. Sport For Jove. York Theatre, Seymour Centre. May 19 – 28, 2016.

Sport for Jove made its debut with this artful, magical retelling of the Shrew back in 2011, a new player on the independent scene declaiming its powers of invention and sophisticated stagecraft.  

Cloudstreet

By George Palmer. Adapted from the Tim Winton novel. State Opera South Australia in association with Adelaide Festival Centre. Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide. 12-21 May, 2016.

There are few feelings more pleasurable to experience in a theatre than that of pride in a new Australian work, one that has taken artistic risks, confronted and confounded the seeming contradictions at its core, emerging onto the stage as both a splendid entertainment and a work that looks to have the power to endure and spread its magic through the years and across the nation, if not the world.

Menopause – The Musical – Women On Fire!

By Jeanie Linders. Director/Choreographer: Tony Bartuccio. Twelfth Night Theatre, 21 May to June 11, 2016 (Melbourne from July 13/New Zealand tour Aug – Sept 2016)

Ever since it began in a 76-seat theatre in Orlando, Florida, in 2001, Menopause – The Musical has been a licence to print money. Since that time it has been seen by over 11 million people worldwide, and by over a half a million in Australia, 100,000 of them in Brisbane alone. Its initial Brisbane season ran for a record 46 weeks.

Urinetown

By Mark Hollman and Greg Notts. UMMTA. Director: Bradley Dylan. Musical Directors: CJ Johnson. Choreographer: Joel Anderson. Union Theatre, University of Melbourne, Parkville. May 20 – 28, 2016.

This is the second production of Urinetown I have encountered and it was equally enjoyable. Being a university production, it was also even further over the top.

Everything about the production was high energy. Every member of the ensemble was fully engaged. Movements and dancing were strong and coordinated. There were no weak links here.

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