Reviews

The Rabbits

Music: Kate Miller-Heidke. Libretto: Lally Katz. Based on the book written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan. Musical arrangements and additional music by Iain Grandage. Adaptor/Director: John Sheedy. Opera Australia, Barking Gecko with West Australian Opera Production. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 17-20 March 2016

Midway through the Brisbane opening of The Rabbits the action was interrupted by a fire-alarm. Was it a bushfire alert within the story or was it real? The audience were confused as were the performers on stage until it became clear this was no dramatic effect but the real thing. The show was halted, the curtain lowered, and after a ten-minute break the show commenced again. It was certainly a dramatic and theatrical opening to one of the most talked about operas of recent times.

The Hatpin

Book & Lyrics James Millar. Music by Peter Rutherford. Bijou Creative. Peacock Theatre, Hobart. 17 - 26th March 2016

Bijou Creative is a theatre group committed to providing good strong roles for women. Directors Charlea Edwards and Karen Kluss brought a bleak and harrowing true life story to Hobart with The Hatpin, in an appropriate theatre space. The Peacock Theatre, with a rock face as the rear wall of the stage, was a suitably stark backdrop against which to tell this sad but brave tale.  

The Hatpin is an Australian musical based on the 1893 Sydney case of baby Horace Murray, and tells the story of his teenage mother, Amber, and the women who helped her.

The Sound of Music

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Book: Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse. Director: Jeremy Sams. Musical Director: Luke Hunter. Choreographer: Arlene Phillips. Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost & Really Useful Group Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. From 17 March 2016.

With two recent live-to-air TV showings in the U.S. and UK pulling phenomenal ratings, it’s clear that the producer’s claim that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music is the world’s favourite musical is true. Not only does it have nuns and Nazi’s, but also kids, a wedding, and a clutch of songs so embedded in everyone’s psyche that you could almost call them folk ditties.

That Eye, The Sky

Adapted by Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo from the novel by Tim Winton. New Theatre (NSW). Mar 15 – Apr 16, 2016

This is an ambitious play for any company to undertake but director David Burrowes and his creative team have honoured both the mood of Tim Winton’s original story and a script that is almost filmic in its complexity. Tom Bannerman has designed a spare, stark set using almost the full width and most of the depth of the stage, which Benjamin Brockman has highlighted with shadowy, moody lighting.

Matilda The Musical

Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin. Book by Dennis Kelly. Princess Theatre, Melbourne. From March 13th, 2016

Matilda is here at last, though we’ve been talking about it for the best part of two years. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes, and YES!

Man of La Mancha

By Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 16 – 20, 2016.

Roaming Bob Peet’s evocative dungeon setting, or sitting disconsolately in a corner in rags and tatters, breaking into the occasional brawl, the ensemble cast of denizens establishes the downcast tone and 16th century prison atmosphere as the audience enters. This is the world of 1965 Tony Award winning Broadway musical hit Man of La Mancha.

Director Col Peet is thoroughly in tune with the piece, making strong, appropriate choices throughout.

Redemption

By Anthony Crowley. Directed by Petra Kalive. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton. March 17-27, 2016.

Set against the backdrop of current events - the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse - Redemption features only two characters, both Catholic priests; one is younger, apparently idealistic, and the other his older mentor, set in his ways. Both share a secret, which is dragged into the spotlight as the 60 minute play progresses - though that secret is pretty easy to guess, even with the limited information I've just imparted, and certainly was telegraphed right from the beginning of the piece.

Essgee’s The Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Waterdale (Vic). Director: Andrew McDougall. Musical Directors: Bec Muratore/Shelley Dunlop. Choreographer: Louisa D’Ortenzio. Rivergum Theatre, Parade College. March 11 – 19, 2016.

With Gilbert and Sullivan well out of copyright, there have been many adaptations of these popular musicals. The most innovative was the 1981 Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance with Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline, which replaced the orchestra with a band and, without changing any of the story or setting, gave quite a different feel.

It was a hit.

In Australia, Simon Gallaher decided to do his own version with Jon English and introducing Marina Prior as Mabel and a gospel trio to replace the women’s chorus. It enjoyed great success.

The Moonlight Dolls

Adelaide Fringe. Gluttony – Empyrean. Feb 25th – March 13th, 2016.

Corsets are tight, costumes are flowing and the looks are provocative; everything that you want in a burlesque show. We are introduced to the entertainment by a man who could best be described as loud and manic as he bounces around the stage chatting to audience members. Some of his banter is funny and some cringe-worthy, but all is forgiven when he introduces the real talent of the evening. Hailing all the way from Houston, Texas, this troupe of performance artists are confident, beautiful and extremely sexy.

The Distance

By Deborah Bruce. Directed by Leticia Caceras. MTC. The Sumner. Southbank Theatre. 5th March-9th April, 2016

Some strong and witty performances and excellent production values make this an interesting offering from MTC; it’s just a pity that Deborah Bruce’s play is ultimately a disappointment.

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