Reviews

Mary Poppins

Music & Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, George Stiles, Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Engadine Musical Society. Director: Rod Herbert. Musical Director: Josh Ransom. Choreographer: Lynley Fuller. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. May 18-22, 2016.

I flew a kite over Engadine and landed at 17 Cherry Tree Lane...

Engadine’s Mary Poppins is a lavish and visually spectacular affair. The stage musical version follows the original books far closer than the Disney film, though the Disney songs remain. Mary Poppins is still practically perfect but not totally a spoonful of sugar (think: a slightly annoyed Julie Andrews and not afraid to show it).

Billy Thorpe & Leigh

By Neil Cole. Directed by Tim Paige. The Alex Theatre, 135 Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda. 18-28 May, 2016.

This charming production opens and closes with Thorpe’s signature song, Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy, and immediately has your toes tapping. Frank Kerr’s renditions of the iconic tunes are delightful. Thorpe’s distinctive music and voice are difficult to emulate but the show is not concerned so much with the recollection of Thorpe himself as it is with showing the importance of his influence on a generation of aspiring youth.

The Violet Sisters

By Gina Femia. Owl & Cat Theatre, Richmond (VIC). 17 – 27 May 2016.

The Violet Sisters is a fine example of what is almost a genre: a family’s secrets and lies.  What is told, what is withheld, what is believed and what is acted upon. That’s not to diminish the power of this play: a battle between estranged sisters, Sam (Jennifer Monk) and Pam (Leticia Monaghan). 

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

By Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Murray Music and Drama Club (WA). Directed by Cat Rippon, Musical Direction by Kenn Ellis. Pinjarra Civic Centre, WA.13-21 May, 2016

The Murray Music and Drama Club set the scene for Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by providing a lovely pile of meat pies on each cabaret table. The characters began to fill the stage slowly, in an immersive production that brought the dark musical thriller to life, with aplomb.

A Soul Celebration

QPAC Production. Concert Hall, QPAC. 17 May 2016

Have we begun a new-wave of Motown, soul and disco again? One would think so with the recent sold-out season of Velvet, which featured songs from the iconic era, and now the QPAC Choir getting into the act with their annual concert saluting the same genres.

Things I Know To Be True

By Andrew Bovell. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse. 13th May – 4th June, 2016

Directors Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham have joined forces, bringing with them a mix of experience, innovation, physicality and depth. In what can be best described as a family drama, playwright Andrew Bovell has brought suburbia to the stage in his play, Things I Know to be True.

The Price family are your quintessential battlers. With lives full of sacrifice and dysfunction, they are real and honest as they tread the line between love and hate, responsibility and independence.

Xanadu The Musical

Book by Douglas Carter Beane. Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. Based on the Universal Pictures Film. Matthew Management and Hayes Theatre. May 12 - June 12, 2016.

This is the glitziest looking co-op musical you could ever care to imagine.  From diamante tiaras, to gorgeous classic style dresses and tunics in bright 1980’s colours, to imposing Greek columns that fence an amphitheatre, turned disco roller rink - it’s an exquisite production to watch.

The musical opens with the fiendishly clever projection of nine muses of Greek mythology on a wall (yes in Venice California in 1980) who dissolve like magic before our eyes. Who said you can’t afford fancy looking special effects in a little production?

Dido and Aeneas

By Henry Purcell. WAAPA Classical Voice, Dance and Music Students. Directed by Glenda Linscott. John Inverarity Music and Drama Centre, Hale School, Wembley Downs, WA. 2-5 May, 2016

This WAAPA production featured 2nd and 3rd Year Classical Voice students, as well as Diploma Dance Students, with music provided by the Music Department. It was directed by Head of Acting - Glenda Linscott, making it a very cross-department production. It managed to sound and look impressive despite being an unfunded production.

Away

By Michael Gow. Liverpool Performing Arts Ensemble. Directed by Tony Woollams. Casula Powerhouse. 11 – 14 May, 2016.

This was a solid and well-staged production.

Michael Gow’s drama is 30 years’ old this year and it’s easy to see why it’s a staple of HSC English: the cultural and social commentary, the “big” themes of loss and mortality (especially in one’s youth), and the subtext are all so thick that Russian playwrights would be jealous. And yet it’s written in such a down-to-earth manner.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare. Director: Brenda White. New Farm Nash Theatre Inc. Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane. 13 May – 4 June 2016

New Farm’s Nash Theatre are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by fittingly staging what is regarded as his last written solo play, The Tempest.

Stretching the resources of the small company, Brenda White has assembled a large cast (over 20) to espouse the Bard’s treaty on revenge and ultimate forgiveness in a production that is both comic and romantic.

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