Reviews

Strictly Gershwin

Ballet by Derek Deane. Music: George Gershwin. Lyrics: Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward. Queensland Ballet. With the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gareth Valentine. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 27 May – 4 June 2016

Strictly Gershwin is flashy, brash, uninhibitedly vivacious and an obvious audience pleaser. Its association to classical ballet at best is peripheral but as a dance show it’s exhilarating. The combination of big orchestra, Gershwin tunes, and a ballet company letting their hair down with tap, Latin and ballroom is irresistible. Artistic director Li Cunxin’s pulse for the commercial has never been more acute and judging by the unabashedly bravura audience reaction he could have another annual Nutcracker on his hands if he chose to program it.

Catch Me If You Can

Book by Terrance McNally. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Music by Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman. Presented by Dramatic Productions (ACT). Gungahlin College Theatre. 27 May - 11 Jun 2016

With a charismatic lead who looks frighteningly like Leonardo di Caprio and a cast including both novices and experienced performers, Dramatic Productions’ Catch Me If You Can is a lot of fun. Most readers will at least be aware of the film of the same name and the story of Frank Abagnale Jr, who between the ages of 16 and 21 was a confidence trickster who passed forged cheques to the tune of $2.5M and cadged countless free international air air flights before he was caught.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Tim Rice. Director / Choreographer: Jody Hooker, Musical. Director: Sue Brown. The Hills Musical Theatre Company (NSW). Model Farms High School. May 27 – June 4, 2016.

I was warned that Hills' Joseph would be “am-dram,” because most of the cast were first- or second-timers. Apparently the lack of experience and training would hinder the enjoyment.

Nonsense.

Catch Me If You Can

Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman. Book by Terence McNally. Marie Clark Musical Theatre (SA). Directed by Charissa McCluskey-Garcia. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. May 27 – June 4, 2016

On the opening night of the Marie Clark Musical Theatre group’s latest show, an audience member suffered from a near-fatal seizure and the performance came to a halt partway through act one, so that the company could call an ambulance and paramedics could see to the unfortunate patron. This is a situation that would’ve rattled the nerves of seasoned pros, but the amateur cast and crew handled things with commendable calm, empathy and promptness.

Switzerland

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Directed by Paige Rattray. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. 20th May-26th June, 2016

Ever thought of including a famous writer in a plot similar in style to the same author; perhaps a close encounter with your own creation complete with antagonistic algorithms and a series of eerie twists and turns.

Herein lies this kind of intrigue in this suspenseful play surrounding the final period of famous mystery thriller novelist Patricia Highsmith's life. She is a complicated character and the various developmental outcomes that stem from this fact are not always for the faint hearted.

Countermove

Sydney Dance Company. Two Ballets – “Cacti”, choreographed by Alexander Ekman, and “Lux Tenebris”, choreographed by Rafael Bonachela. Southbank Theatre, Melbourne, May 25 – June 4, 2016, and touring.

Sydney Dance Company is back in Melbourne to prove once more that they are a major international force in contemporary dance (as if any proof were needed).

Showing all of the amazing athleticism and strident physicality melded with flexibility and grace that have made them famous, the dancers enthralled stalwart fans and newcomers alike.

Cacti

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.

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