Reviews

Tiny Remarkable Bramble

By Jessica Tuckwell. Invisible Circus / The Impending Room. Kings Cross Theatre. Nov 6 – 25, 2016

Jessica Tuckwell’s play is as strange as its title suggests. It’s very absurdist, a little farcical and even a little moralistic … I think! It’s the sort of play you think you’ve worked out until you start talking about it and realise that other people saw it from a completely different angle. But that’s the sort of play that directors and actors love. A play that allows the chance for creative workshopping and even a little whacky characterisation, but one that also requires really tight direction and concentrated pace.

Chess: The Musical

Music by Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus. Lyrics: Tim Rice. GSODA Inc. Director: Debbie Fraser. Vocal Director: Adelle Gregory. Musical Director: Damien Montalto. Choreographer: Jules Hart. Playhouse Theatre, Geelong Performing Arts Centre. October 7-15, 2016.

As a classic musical, everyone knows at least one or two songs from Chess (‘One Night in Bangkok’, ‘I Know Him So Well’) – even if you’ve never seen it.

Inspired by the life of Russian chess player, Garry Kasparov, the story looks at how global politics play out in something as innocuous as a chess competition.

In every scene, an unexpected level of detail and professionalism pervades GSODA’s version of Chess.

Avenue Q

Book by Jeff Whitty. Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Nate Butler's Studio. Directed by Derek Walker. Musical Direction by Andrew Swan. Don Craig Room, Laycock Street Theatre. Nov 11-13, 2016

Avenue Q is the third production presented this year by Nate Butler Studio's full time Musical Theatre course students. It follows hot on the heels of their fabulous previous production, Blood Brothers and it certainly didn't lose by comparison. The extreme contrast in tone and style between these two shows in particular further illustrated the talent and versality of these young performers.

 

9 to 5 The Musical

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick, based on the screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins. Penrith Musical Comedy Company. NSW Premiere. Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. Nov 11 – 19, 2016.

Penrith Musical Comedy Company’s Australian Premiere production of the Dolly Parton / Patricia Resnick musical 9 to 5, based on the 1980 movie, was a thoroughly entertaining evening at the theatre.

This fresh new musical to the amateur theatre scene was a joy to watch, with a laugh a minute script, performed by a large cast of 30 with an exceptional leading trio of women. Taking on the bright new musical was the talented team of Grant Jones as Director, Kieran Norman and Michael Nolan, Musical Directors, and the highly experienced Laurie Tancred as Choreographer.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. The State Opera of South Australia in association with the Adelaide Festival Centre. Adelaide Festival Theatre. 12-19 November, 2016.

The costumes are smartly attired, the set design is stunning, the orchestra is stirring, and the singers are sparkling, while the story and music have faithfully served the world of opera for more than one hundred years – so what could possibly be missing?

Ross

By Terence Rattigan. Independent Theatre. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. November 11 – 19, 2016.

Terence Rattigan’s Ross is a ‘dramatic portrait’ of T. E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, one of the most enigmatic and charismatic characters of the twentieth century. The most famous ‘dramatic portrait’ of Lawrence is possibly David Lean’s extraordinary 1962 masterpiece film Lawrence of Arabia. Pre-dating Lean’s film by a couple of years, Rattigan’s Ross was first produced in London in 1960 with Alec Guinness as Lawrence.

The Merry Widow from Bluegum Creek

Music by Franz Lehár. New book and lyrics by Frank Hatherley. Queanbeyan Players. The Q. November 4 – 19, 2016

The last time I saw this Australian adaptation of the most popular operetta of the 20th century, the grand nephew of Franz Lehár was sitting next to me.  Alex Lehár flew out from the United States to watch the world premiere of 'Bluegum' in Dubbo in 1999. 

During that production there was a little mirth when on stage, three members of the chorus appeared at the embassy ball in fancy dress as The Three Sisters. The joke was that we had stopped to see the real Three Sisters on our drive over the Blue Mountains from Sydney to Dubbo.

Ned Kelly My Love – The Untold Story of Ettie Hart

Writer and Director: Xavier Brouwer. Set and Costume Designer Valentina Serebrennikova, Lighting Designer Maddy Seach, Researcher Paul O’Keefe. November 9th – 13th 2016.

Metanoia Theatre brings Ned Kelly My Love to the stage of the Mechanics Institute in Brunswick. This marvelous show is based on the previously untold love story between Ned Kelly and Ettie Hart, the sister of one of the Kelly gang, Steve Hart. In 2010 Ettie’s great-great-grandson Paul O’Keefe found her scrapbook at the family home in Sydney.

The Little Mermaid

By Doug Wright, Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Canterbury Theatre Guild. Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre, Sydney. November 3 – 6, 2016

Canterbury Theatre Guild presented Disney’s The Little Mermaid, based on the much-loved animated movie, to a packed and very vocal audience. Performing the musical at the Monkey Baa Theatre at Darling Harbour brought a more professional feel to this amateur production.

Speed-the-Plow

By David Mamet. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre. November 8 to December 17, 2016

In 1988 David Mamet really let rip with this savage satire on the greedy gatekeepers of Hollywood and all their banal, money-making formulas.

These Hollywood gladiators attack with the same spitfire language and obscenities as those real estate salesmen who tear each other apart in Glengarry Glen Ross, Mamet’s other classic of the time. A Hollywood player himself, Mamet today is a touch more benign about the place.   

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