Reviews

Shout! The Legend of the Wild One

Book by John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Mel Morrow. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 20 – 24, 2013.

Choreography is the star of Shout! at Miranda Musical Society.  And, of course, the energetic ensemble cast who give their all to pull it off in such great style.

Kira Nelson has choreographed a series of vibrant dance routines, often so cleverly shaped and patterned, which are worth the price of admission alone, transporting the audience back to the studios of the TV pop music shows of the late 1950s or early 1960s, or lounge rooms of an era when small black and white screens were bursting with exuberant dancers.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

By Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn. Stage Artz Theatre Company. Glen Street Theatre. March 21 – 23, 2013.

This lovely little musical might be about precocious children – but it has some themes which are awkward to explain to little ones.

Mummy what is that song about Erections about? This curly question was delivered to the Director Sam Neaves by her child.

The publishers have released a G rated edition. It replaces an awkward erection with an awkward distraction.

The good folk at Stage Artz are using that version for the matinee. This tamer edition is being replaced with an M rated version for their 10pm audience.

Escape from the Breakup Forest

By Steve Pirie. Mixtape Theatre Collective. Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts (Qld). 16-23 March, 2013.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this production. It’s played with commitment by three energetic actors, Steve Pirie, Ell Sachs and Dan Stewart. But it’s more a performed narrative than a ‘play’; that is, there’s more telling than showing. It’s an adult parable.

In style it reminds me of the travelling Theatre in Education programmes of the 80s and 90s, with clever cut-out scenery, sundry boxes, puppetry and mime. (Maybe shows like this are still touring schools and that is the target for this group?)

The Pillowman

By Martin McDonagh. New Theatre (Newtown, NSW). March 19 – April 13, 2013.

Half thriller, half comic Kafkaesque nightmare, this thoughtful play is from Irish writer Martin McDonagh. Thankfully it doesn’t start in the usual Irish pub! 

We begin instead in an unspecified police state where a short story writer is being interrogated by two cops, one laconic, the other violent and vengeful.  As his mentally retarded brother is tortured in an adjoining cell, Katurian discovers why the cops are so edgy: a series of local murders and torturing of children have been copied from his own grim stories.

Bombshells

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Sandra Bates. 14 March – 13 April, 2013

Bombshells is an evening of six short plays, all monologues — think Short & Sweet meets Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads —all delivered by the one necessarily versatile actress. Written by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith in 2001, the demanding show was made famous when Caroline O’Connor played the six parts at the 2004 Edinburgh Festival before transferring with it to London’s West End.

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde. Black Swan Theatre Company. Director: Kate Cherry. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth, WA. 9-28 March 2013.

Black Swan Theatre Company embraced this classic comedy with themed pre-show announcements, sumptuous settings and beautiful costumes.

The audience quickly warmed to the Widean wit, which was accentuated by playful blocking and physical humour.

I particularly enjoyed the performances of the younger lovers, Scott Sheridan as Algernon and Adriane Duff as Cecily. Complimenting each other beautifully, their characters were wonderfully balanced.

Die Fledermaus

By Johann Strauss II. Co-Opera. Director: Frank Ford. Choreographer: Nick Carroll. Conductor: Julie Sargeant. Darebin Arts Centre. March 15, 2013. And Regional touring.

South Australia-based professional touring opera company Co-Opera has been around for over twenty years, and this year is touring Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (The Revenge of the Bat).

Set in 1920s Australia, with broad Aussie accents and a lot of slapstick, the production featured an excellent small orchestra led by Julie Sargeant from the keyboard.

Trybe – An Opera in Paint

By Anthony Breslin. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). 14 – 24 March, 2013

Trybe – An Opera in Paint is a 65 minute assault of the senses. Using a mixture of eclectic music, drawing, painting, multi-media, technology and dancing, directors Anthony Breslin and Stephen Agisilaoudrag the audience into the strange imagination of a visual artist, with the intent of revealing the artistic process.  

Kiss of the Spider Woman

By Terence McNally, John Kander and Fred Ebb. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bankstown Art Centre, Olympic Parade Bankstown. March 15 – 24, 2013.

Community musical theatre rarely gets better than this … a tight, all-encompassing production concept, smartly executed, with leading performers in roles that seem made for them, strong supporting players and a capable ensemble of male dancers.

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody

Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane. From March 14, 2013.

This is ribaldry run riot!

Twelfth Night Theatre has added SPANK to its repertoire of shows about ‘below-the-belt’ topics. It advertises an opening date but no closing date for the run. Judging by last night’s audience reaction it may run for months.

There are mysteries for a reviewer to explore here: no programme, merely an advertising brochure showing the performers’ names? Who wrote the show? Who is the director?

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