The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By Joseph Robinette. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. The Playhouse. Directed by Ben Armitage. April 6-28, 2018

Just in time for the school holidays, this production will appeal to equally to children and the adults who recall the book with fondness. Playwright, Joseph Robinette, is much acclaimed but the writing is often declamatory and stilted. Armitage, however, has done wonderful things in this production. The show is visually satisfying. Projections, lighting and a soundscape are used to create atmosphere on what might otherwise be a stark stage. The Wardrobe, itself, is charming. Costumes and makeup are effective and well considered.

The Crucible

By Arthur Miller. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Directed by Brenda White. April 7 – May 19, 2018

When the town Salem is mentioned, most people think of the witch hunts of 1692/93 in what is now the state of Massachusetts, USA.  The mass hysteria based on rumour, revenge and a fanatical belief in the Puritan religion led to the execution of over twenty innocent people. Arthur Miller has taken this historical event as an allegory of what was happening in 1953, when the play was first performed, with a similar witch hunt for communists under the guidance of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Faure Requiem

Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Stefan Parkman. Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Morgan England Jones, The Australian Voices. Director: Gordon Hamilton. Concert Hall, QPAC. 7 April 2018.

Seascapes, rainstorms and funerals coalesced in an eclectic mix of sound in this smartly devised choral concert by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The Wizard of Oz

Music: Harold Arlen. Lyrics: E.Y. Harburg. Additional Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Additional Lyrics: Tim Rice. Adaptation: Andrew Lloyd Webber & Jeremy Sams. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s New Production, produced by John Frost and Suzanne Jones, by arrangement with The Production Company. Adelaide Festival Centre. April 1 – 29.

You can be pretty sure sentimental childhood memories are in play when there are more adults than youngsters in an audience for a production that is, in reality, a children’s story. The Wizard of Oz is such a show and it’s magical.

The current touring production is now in Adelaide and locals are heading to Oz in droves to see what the fuss is about for this new Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams adaptation, which is based on the London Palladium production.

Les Mamelles de Tirésias

By Francis Poulenc. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Director: Cathy Hunt. Conductor: Simon Bruckard. Chapel off Chapel. April 7 – 14, 2018.

With Les Mamelles de Tirésias Lyric Opera have continued their practice of performing obscure works. Written at the end of the World War II, this surreal opera features Therese, the title character, railing against being a woman. So she discards her breasts (balloons) and goes into the world in search of a more fulfilling life.

Her husband takes on the female role and decides to have babies – thousands of them! The moral of the story was that, at the end of the war, France was to populate or perish.

It was a delightful romp.

Julius Caesar

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. National Theatre Live from The Bridge Theatre, London. Nova Cinemas, Carlton VIC (& other participating venues). 14 – 25 April 2018

This National Theatre Live presentation of the Bridge Theatre production of Julius Caesar is a model of clarity and focussed emotion.  While the play is an uncanny paradigm for some sadly familiar political disasters, at its centre is the figure of Brutus – it is, in textbook terms, ‘Brutus’ story’.

Mr Bailey’s Minder

By Debra Oswald. The Theatre on Chester. Director: Kaye Lopez. 6th – 28th April, 2018

‘Tis a pity Debra Oswald has stopped writing for the stage, because, despite the success of her TV, film and more recently her novels, the characters she created for the theatre have an authenticity that gives directors, actors and audiences much to think about and much to love. They are enduring and the issues they face transcend generations.

A Few Good Men

By Aaron Sorkin. Ballina Players. Director: Mike Sheehan. Players Theatre. April 6th – 15th, 2018

This ‘tour de force’ production is another feather in the cap of the Ballina Players. 

Director Mike Sheehan has assembled an outstanding cast of seasoned and new recruits in this epic Court (Martial) drama, led by Dylan Wheeler as Lt Daniel Kaffee, Mel Strawbridge - Lt Cmdr Joanne Galloway and John Rado - Lt Col Nathan Jessep (in the movie version these roles were played by Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson).

Liam Gatt, Luke Mulder, Carl Moore and Graeme Speed also gave strong performances as the Naval personnel caught up in the drama.

Communicating Doors

By Alan Ayckbourn. Tea Tree Players. Tea Tree Players Theatre, Surrey Downs (SA). April 4-14, 2018

Communicating Doors is Alan Ayckbourn meets Doctor Who on speed.

The premise of the story is simple, but the plot convoluted. Reece, an elderly man, has summoned Poopay, a Dominatrix, to witness the murder confession of his previous two wives. Poopay then travels back 20 years to meet Ruella, Reece’s second wife. Ruella then travels back to meet Jessica, Reece’s first wife. From then on, a number of people time travel back and forward to prevent the two murders.

Jane and Kel Go to Hell

Written by Steve Pirie. Directed by Steve Pirie and Maddie Nixon. Presented by Share House Theatre Company. Lumen Room, Metro Arts Theatre 5 – 7 April, 2018

There’s a special joy that comes from viewing locally created works that could easily hold their own on a world stage. Brisbane playwright Steve Pirie has delivered such a script with his devilishly funny horror comedy Jane and Kel Go to Hell. The play is a laugh-out-loud, thrilling, well-paced buddy story with relatable characters and nonstop quotable dialogue. Amid the laughter, thrills and familiar songs, he’s incorporated a heart-warming tale of friendship and love.

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