Reviews

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Charles Hart. Book: Richard Stilgoe & Andrew Lloyd Webber. Ipswich Musical Theatre Company. Director: Sherryl-Lee Secomb. Musical Director: Brenda Ryan. Choreographer: Desney Toia-Sinapati. Ipswich Civic Centre. 12-20 September 2014

Sherryl-Ann Secomb’s production of The Phantom of the Opera for Ipswich Musical Theatre was musically solid, spectacular to look at, and highly melodramatic.

Star of the performance was Lauren Lee Innis-Youren as Christine. With a bright and clear soprano she effortlessly handled the demanding score with ease and was particularly pleasing on “Wishing you were Somehow Here Again.”

Children of the Sun

By Maxim Gorky, in a new version by Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. 8 September - 25 October, 2014

Andrew Upton’s very modern adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s Children of the Sun gives life to a 1905 Russian middle class family on brink of revolutionary catastrophe and yet also to any family today of indulged adults blind to their futures in this century. 

LOVEBiTES

By Peter Rutherford and James Millar. Wooden Horse Productions. Hayes Theatre Co, Potts Point (NSW). September 10 – October 5, 2014.

Many reasons made me love this LOVEBiTES, a brand new staging of an entertaining Off-Broadway style Australian musical.

High Fidelity

Music by Tom Witt, lyrics by Amanda Green, and book by David Lindsay-Abaire. Pursued By Bear. Chapel off Chapel. September 11 – 21, 2014.

The credentials are impeccable. Music by Tom Witt who brought us the amazing Next To Normal, lyrics by the fabulous Amanda Green, actress, singer, songwriter, major talent, and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire, playwright of award winning Rabbit Hole, and original source material from Nick Hornby’s smash hit seminal novel …. The story of a thirty something vinyl record store owner who is wasting his life and his relationships while putting his energy into making lists of his Top 5 of everything, is one we can relate to.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. September 10 – 14, 2014

I’m betting that even if you’ve only seen a handful of musicals over the last four decades, one of them will have been the story of the eternally optimistic red-headed orphan, adopted by a billionaire, who single-handedly solves America’s Great Depression woes with a well-placed reprise of the showtune ‘Tomorrow’.

Misalliance

By George Bernard Shaw. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Directed by Brian Knott. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. September 11-20, 2014

With Misalliance, the Adelaide Rep present a visually striking and highly energetic production of one of George Bernard Shaw’s lesser works. Issues of class struggle, gender roles, family dynamics and politics are explored through the prism of a typical British country house comedy.

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robin Baitz. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 4 September – 18 October, 2014

Another cracking Broadway play gets a first Sydney production at the ever-alert Ensemble. Jon Robin Baitz’s ‘Xmas reunion from Hell’ family drama is smart, funny and bitingly confronting. It’s played up to the hilt by a cast that revels in the terrific dialogue and peel-away family secrets.

“I don’t have a bigoted bone in my body,” declares Polly (Deborah Kennedy), the loudmouthed, bigoted matriarch of the Wyeth family, as she welcomes her wary daughter Brook (Lisa Gormley) to her first Xmas at home for 6 years.

A Conversation

By David Williamson.Ensemble Theatre. Director: Sandra Bates. The Concourse Chatswood. 10 to 27 September 2014

The Passion flows like blood and music…

This is the second in David Williamson’s Jack Manning Trilogy, written between 1999 and 2006 and presented at the Ensemble theatre. On the surface these plays deal with the processes and outcomes of ‘community conferencing’ or transformative justice’ in Australian society. Beneath the surface they deliver a roller coaster ride of intense emotions; exposing grief, anger, retribution, love and finally forgiveness and perhaps even redemption.

 

A Doll’s House

By Henrik Ibsen, in a new version by Lally Katz. La Boite and Brisbane Festival. Roundhouse Theatre. 6 – 27 September 2014

This is the finest piece of theatre I have seen this year! I recommend it wholeheartedly to all Brisbane Festival visitors who enjoy live theatre.

Lally Katz adopts an accessible modern prose style, salted by repetiteur passages. This works nicely, requiring neither an orchestra nor actors with trained singing voices. The whole production is visually stunning and performed beautifully.

Calvin Berger

Book, Music and lyrics by Barry Wyner. Directed by Casey Gould.Lawler Theatre Southbank (MTC). 4 days only from Sept 10 – 13, 2014.

It’s always a delight to be given a surprise gift – and Calvin Berger is certainly that. It’s new and fresh (despite being a high school version of Cyrano de Bergerac) and full of charm; a terrific evening’s entertainment with catchy songs and terrific lyrics written in the same mode as Jason Robert Brown’s 13. The book is smart and witty with plenty of quirkiness but without resorting to too many cliches. This time the teenagers are older – all 17 – and suffer the angst that goes with that age.

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