Reviews

A Midnight Visit

Broad Encounters. At 222 Macauly Street, North Melbourne. 30 July - 13 October 2019

It’s a bit daunting and scary entering the A Midnight Visit space. But it is well worth taking the challenge of delving into the tortured life and macabre works of Edgar Allen Poe.  Brought to us from Perth and Sydney and presented by Broad Encounters, it’s a real treat to ‘suspend one’s disbelief’ and venture into the dark unknown.  

West Side Story

Music: Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Book: Arthur Laurents. Opera Australia, GWB Entertainment and BB Group. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Opening Night: Tuesday August 22, 2019

William Shakespeare borrowed the family feud scenario from a sixteen-century story and called it Romeo and Juliet. Arthur Laurents raised the bar by re-setting it in mid-twentieth century New York. Leonard Bernstein shifted the bar even higher with a score that conjured the pulsing throb of discontent. And Stephen Sondheim conceived lyrics that picked up that throb and let the plot soar.

Reasons To Be Pretty

By Neil Labute. Director Hannah Kassulke. Brisbane Arts Theatre Playing August 18 – September 24.

This play, with a cast of only four, delves into human relationships on various levels of intensity. Added to this are the questions of what constitutes beauty and what is true love. Connections between the play’s two couples disintegrate over the answers to these questions, along with a lack of trust and knowing when to keep the mouth shut. Perhaps it is, in many ways, a mirror of how we all handle the often difficult decisions to be made between the ideals of relationships and the reality of the everyday world.

New Constellations

Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra. City Recital Hall. August 18, 2019

In the beautiful setting – and wonderful acoustics – of the City Recital Centre, the orchestra warmed a wintery afternoon with the music of Mendelssohn and Brahms. It was a pity that there were not more in the audience to share music composed in a time when romance and the emotions were so much more important in the arts and literature.

Managing Carmen

By David Williamson. Lane Cove Theatre Company. August 16 – 31, 2019

In his more recent works, David Williamson writes satirically in short grabs that move two-dimensional characters swiftly in an out of different settings. Even in professional theatre, making plays such as this work requires tight direction, snappy action, quick lighting changes and carefully rehearsed operation. Thus ‘managing’ Williamson is not something to take lightly. Whilst the dialogue might be amusing and the one-liners funny, a good satire depends on theatricality, timing and continuity.

Golden Shield

By Anchuli Felicia King. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 12 August – 14 September 2019

The play begins with a request from the Translator (Yuchen Wang): ‘Concentrate.’  Good advice since Golden Shield is a complex and demanding but also a very rewarding play.  Its ending is not ‘feel good’, but it is clear: something morally complex has been dramatised for us and it may be grim, but it is satisfying. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl. Book by David Greig. Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. John Frost, Craig Donnell, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions. Her Majesty‘s Theatre, Melbourne. Opening Night: August 15, 2019

The magic of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been reimagined into a spectacular musical, now in Melbourne for a spellbinding season at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Agatha Crispie

By Cenarth Fox. Tugun Theatre Co., Gold Coast. Director: Jim Dickson August 15th to 31st, 2019

Agatha Crispie is a spoof on the work of the doyenne of English murder mystery writing, Agatha Christie, and a timely production with Agatha Christie Week fast approaching in the UK next month.

Following Christie’s style and success, Cenarth Fox has captured the “feel” of the murder mystery format. 

The standout performances came from Brenda Warren (Pimms – the maid) and Dave Fraser (Hercule Grey-Cells [Poirot]) with Gillian Crow (in the title role), Jim Fury, Kate Paraskevos, Marie Dickson, Jon Turley and Christine Ray.

The Wizard of Oz - The Musical

By L. Frank Baum, music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. APAN Entertainment and HAMA Productions. Directed by Olivia Collier. The Regal Theatre, Subiaco, WA.August 17 - Sep 1, 2019

The Wizard of Oz, presented by APAN Entertainment and HAMA Productions, is truly a large scale event, featuring 172 performers during its three week run, including primary, secondary and tertiary students, community and professional actors, plus community initiatives to allow people to attend the show, who might otherwise be unable to see a theatrical production.

Tryst

Kate Ceberano and Paul Grabowsky. Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Brisbane. 16 August 2019.

Remember hearing ‘The way we were’ or ‘We’ve only just begun’ for the very first time? Recapturing the magic of those original encounters would take a very special kind of performer. But you will believe it’s possible if you see Kate Ceberano perform her collection of songs, TRYST, with a mere piano (played by legendary Paul Grabowsky) between her and a bare, unforgiving stage and a room full of expectant music fans.

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