Reviews

Tannhäuser

By Wagner. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: David Kram. Regent Theatre, Melbourne on 14, 17 and 20 August, 2016, and 28 August at Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall.

Melbourne Opera is an opera company punching well above its weight, mainly due to considerable support from the opera loving public in Melbourne. The idea of a smal company performing Tannhäuser is incredible, yet they triumphed magnificently.

The only concession to the non-professional status of the over fifty voice chorus, was that they were permitted to sing in English in this German production, but their singing was so lusty and polished no one minded.

Laughter and Tears

Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Emil Wolk. Venue: Palais Theatre, St Kilda. Aug 13, 16 and 18, 2016

Pagliacci is a one-act opera about a troupe of travelling performers doing a typical Commedia dell’Arte where the situation on stage is reflected in the lives of the performers. A typically dramatic verismo opera, it is usually teamed with Cavalleria Rusticana, which is of a similar ilk. This makes for a heavy night of opera.

House of Games

Based on the screenplay by David Mamet, adapted by Richard Bean. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Aug 9 – Sep 10, 2016

Richard Bean’s adaptation of David Mamet’s screenplay has the hallmarks one expects of Mamet – fast, raw dialogue, bitingly authentic characters – and the clever humour and pace one has learned to expect of Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors).  Set in a seedy poker club in Chicago, it’s all about a complicated gambling ‘hustle’. Dr Margaret Ford, a psychoanalyst, the author of a best-seller on compulsive behaviour, offers to help one of her patients settle his gambling debt.

Rhonda Burchmore on Broadway

With the Queensland Pops Orchestra conducted by Patrick Pickett. Concert Hall, QPAC. 13 August 2016.

Swathed in a different jewel-encrusted evening gown at every entrance, the statuesque and long-legged Rhonda Burchmore brought glamour and whole lot of show-business savvy to this Queensland Pops concert.

The Sound of Music

By Rodgers and Hammerstein. London Palladium Production. Presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost and The Really Useful Group. Adelaide Festival Theatre. August 9-September 4, 2016.

The Sound of Music with less sugar and more soul is how I’d describe the London Palladium production of the classic musical.  Currently gracing Adelaide’s Festival Theatre during its national tour, the production is stirring and simply superb; a must-see for those who can afford the tickets.

Endgame

By Samuel Beckett. Shake and Stir. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. August 9 – 20, 2016

Specifically grim but never merely glum, Director Michael Futcher fully taps the self-conscious theatricality of Endgame, Samuel Beckett’s play, without letting us forget that its strange figures are appallingly real, enacting a grotesque pantomime of humanity’s hungry need to distract itself by wresting order, meaning and a sliver of satisfaction.

Two Tales of a River

By Richard Davey (revised Liz Connor), Darren Hayden and Liz Connor. Huon Valley Theatre Company. Directed by Rod Gray. Huon Valley Town Hall. 15- 30 July 2016

The recent floods in Huonville Tasmania were an interesting reminder of the power of nature.  The latest production by the Huon Valley Theatre group is two stories, one-act musical plays, both telling of life on and around the Huon River and set in the 1850s.

Exit Laughing

By Paul Elliott. Tugun Theatre Co, Gold Coast. Director: Jim Dickson. August 11th to 27th, 2016

This is the funniest play I’ve seen for ages! Three old friends, a daughter and the guy that stood her up bring Exit Laughing to life and pull out all the stops on the way.

Jim Dickson’s cast of Sarah Cooke, Rachel Ann, the daughter; her mum Connie, Marie Dickson; her card-playing friends Leona, Jillian Rawlings (who is partial to a tipple or three) and ditsy Millie, Brenda Warren, and the guy that cancelled the date, David Fraser, all worked well as a unit. Great script, great timing, great fun!

Jasper Jones

Based on the novel by Craig Silvey, adapted by Kate Mulvany. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 1 August to 9 September 2016

This much anticipated production of Jasper Jones doesn’t disappoint.  The full impact of Craig Silvey’s engaging, intriguing and moving coming of age story for adults is soundly and compellingly placed on stage.   

Boeing Boeing

By Marc Camoletti. St Jude’s Players (SA). St Jude’s Hall Brighton. August 11-20, 2016

Following its origins in the 1960’s, French farce Boeing Boeing has been revised and also revived in recent years and just like a well-oiled jet engine, the comedy keeps on providing predictable and reliable service. St Jude’s Players are staging the play’s current Adelaide production and an experienced Director and good cast help the company keep Boeing Boeing safely in the air.

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