Reviews

La Sylphide

Ballet by Peter Schaufuss after August Bournonville. Choreography & Direction: Peter Schaufuss. Music: Herman Severin Levenskjold. With the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia. Playhouse, QPAC. March 20 – 31, 2015

Ballet lovers are in for a treat with Queensland Ballet’s magnificently grand La Sylphide. It’s the first time Peter Schaufuss’s award-winning production has been staged in Australia and Queensland Ballet, augmented by guest artists, do him proud.

Godspell

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Conceived & originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak. Lane Cove Theatre Company. Director Christine Firkin. Musical Director: Paul Young. St Aidans Hall, Longueville. March 20 – 29, 2015.

As teenagers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we read bible stories in modern English from ‘Good News for Modern Man’, singing folk and pop styled religious songs at church fellowship. Small surprise that soft rock musical Godspell, based on The Gospel According to St. Mathew, with its gentle narratives, resonated then. That mix continues to engage audiences today.

Wet House

By Paddy Campbell. Directed by Brett Cousins. Red Stitch (Vic). March 17th-April 18, 2015

‘Wet House’ – a place where homeless alcoholics can have a roof over their heads and some small sense of family while continuing to drink themselves blind. Not a palatable concept, and confronting to those who prefer to think of alcoholics as faceless aberrations in another time and place. Paddy Campbell worked in such a place and has drawn on his experiences for this, his first play. Parts of it work brilliantly.

The Importance of Being Miriam

Directed and Devised by Peter J Adams. Miriam Margolyes and John Martin. Produced by Andrew McKinnon. Arts Centre Melbourne. 19-22 March, 2015, then touring.

Miriam Margolyes is not only a skilled actor, she’s a wonderful raconteur, a true storyteller. For two hours or so last night, in the first performance of The Importance of Being Miriam, she joked, rambled, confided in the audience and at times moved us deeply in a thoroughly entertaining show. Accompanied by the able John Martin on piano, Ms Margolyes was warm, unpretentious and thoroughly engaging.

Saturday Night Fever

Music & Lyrics: The Bee Gees (Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Barry Gibb). Book: Robert Stigwood assisted by Bill Oaks. New Version arranged and edited by Ryan McBride. Director: Madeleine Johns. Musical Director: Sherree Drummond. Choreographer: Brodie Jones & William Motunuu. Redcliffe Musical Theatre & Our Village Production. Redcliffe Cultural Centre, Redcliffe, Qld. 19-29 March 2015

Ever since the stage version opened in London in 1998, Saturday Night Fever has been in continuous production somewhere in the world. Based on the 1977 movie, which in turn was based on a 1975 New York magazine article Tribal Rights of the New Saturday Night, the story of Brooklyn youth Tony Manero whose love of dancing makes him forget his crummy homelife with a deadbeat alcoholic father the story has resonated with audiences around the planet. Add the iconic disco songs of the Bee Gees and you have a match made in disco heaven.

Carousel

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 25 – 29, 2015.

Once an absolute staple of the community theatre repertoire, Carousel seems to have dropped below the radar of late. With far from perfect romantic relationships at its core, ambivalence toward domestic violence, and some old-fashioned conventions, it’s not for all contemporary tastes.

But you need to balance that with the chance to hear probably the greatest of the classic genre-changing Rodgers and Hammerstein scores, played by a full orchestra, and performed by a talented young principal cast and ensemble. It’s certainly worth a trip to Sutherland.

The One Day of the Year: Vale Alan Seymour

By Alan Seymour. HIT Productions. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, March 24 – 28, and touring.

It was a moving coincidence that HIT’s touring production of Alan Seymour’s iconic Australian play should open one day after the sad death of its playwright. But this is a really sensitive and charming production. As it continues its national tour it will remain a fitting tribute to Seymour, his courage and the iconic characters he created.

A Little Night Music

Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler. MUSE. Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). March 25-28, 2015

Upon entering the Everest, a piano is positioned conveniently onstage, whilst a frayed tree branch is suspended from above. This is one of the first factors that make the MUSE major production, A Little Night Music, both impressive and intriguing.

Relatively Speaking

By Alan Ayckbourn. Therry Dramatic Society. Directed by Norman Caddick. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. March 18-28, 2015

The Therry Dramatic Society’s latest production is a lively and technically polished affair, that breathes fresh life into what is, on paper, a rather formulaic farce revolving around the common narrative tropes associated with infidelity and mistaken identity.

Grease

Book, Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown. March 20 – 29, 2015.

Grease seems to have become the ultimate high school musical, a far cry from its original darker stage version. In the hands of a mostly teenage cast like the present enthusiastic one at Bankstown, with popular songs from the movie interpolated, it’s mostly a joyful romp with a few mildly naughty moments. You’d scarcely rate it PG anymore. Time, of course, and what it now takes to shock us, may well have played their part in softening the show.

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