Reviews

Wicked

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. CLOC. Co-Director/Set Designer: Chris White. Co-Director/Choreographer: Lynette White. Musical Director: Danny Forward. National Theatre, St Kilda. May 6 – 21, 2016.

As a musical Wicked is a spectacle.  So how would an amateur company go producing this? In a word, magnificently!

It started as we sat down to observe Chris White’s enormous wooden structures at each side of the stage, with narrow stairs and landings. The curtain featured a map of Oz.

The curtain rose and the chorus appeared, all with odd, unsettling makeup. Movements were strong, choreography was effective and tight and energy was high. The costumes were amazing.

The Train Tea Society

Play by Emily Vascotto. Director: Gabriella Flowers. Flowers Theatre Company. Swanbank Railway Station, Swanbank, Qld. 6-8 May 2016

It’s not often one sees a play featuring a ‘live’ steam train (if ever) but Emily Vascotto’s The Train Tea Society gave audiences that undeniable thrill not once but twice during this sweet and affectionate work set in Ipswich during the First World War. Staged in association with the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway at the historic Swanbank Railway Station, this site-specific piece of theatre presented as part of the Anywhere Festival convincingly transported us back to an earlier time.

Hangmen

Written by Martin McDonagh, Directed by Matthew Dunster. National Theatre Live (cinema screening of British theatrical production). Participating cinemas nationwide from May 14, 2016.

The latest in the NT Live series of cinema screenings of British stage productions available to Australian audiences through Sharmill Films, Hangmen is a black comedy that’s well worth seeing.

Bad Jews

By Joshua Harmon. Aleksandar Vass and Vass Theatre Group. Director: Gary Abrahams. Alex Theatre, St Kilda. April 27 – May 14, 2016

This engrossing production of Bad Jews is played out on a charming set, designed by Jacob Battista, of a tiny apartment that feels part pressure cooker part fish bowl.  It is a studio apartment in New York, New York with a bathroom that overlooks the Hudson River.  Four characters, three of whom who have been rendered emotionally raw from the grief of their grandfather’s recent demise, interact through the malaise of a kind of fraught cabin fever. 

We Will Rock You

Music and lyrics by Queen. Story and script by Ben Elton. Lyric Theatre, Sydney, then touring nationally. Opening Night - May 5, 2016

This production will rock your socks off. The enthusiasm and talent of the mainly young cast is palpable, from the opening to the very last seconds.

Even as the curtain had almost descended for the last time, the leading man Gareth Keegan (Galileo) was crouched down to milk one last note for the audience.

Little Shop of Horrors

Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken. Comedy Theatre Melbourne. May 4 – 22, 2016

There’s no denying the appeal of Little Shop of Horrors. It may be based on a B grade movie, but it has an A+ grade score and book - arguably the best work ever from Ashman and Menken, and real depth in the subtext and life lessons. In short, it’s a bloody good musical.

Black Jesus

By Anders Lustgarten. bAKEHOUSE Theatre. Kings Cross Theatre, Level 2, Kings Cross Hotel. 29 April - 21 May, 2016.

bAKEHOUSE Theatre once again brings to Sydney a premiere performance that flouts the ‘conventional’ theatre scene in many ways – because Black Jesus is not ‘cosy’ entertainment! Itis raw and angry and challenging. Set in post revolution Zimbabwe, it looks at oppression and revolution through the eyes of the oppressed and the revolutionaries – and what happens when the ‘liberators’ take charge.

The Breakfast Club

Written by John Hughes. Adapted for the Stage and Directed by Jillian Logan. Presented by Endless Night Theatre Co Inc Don Craig Room, Laycock Street Community Theatre. May 5-8, 2016

When the “Laycock Street Community Theatre” first opened its doors in 1988, it was a shot in the arm for the local performing arts community. Several local independent theatre companies were formed, and staged highly creditable productions throughout the next decade. Then, with sharply rising theatre fees and continual changes in management, just as suddenly the commissioning of local productions diminished and production companies folded (or went into eternal hiatus) along with it.

Bonnie & Clyde The Musical

Music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black and book by Ivan Menchell. Shire Music Theatre. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. April 29 – May 8, 2016.

Walking into the Sutherland Memorial School of Arts on Sunday, to see the NSW Premiere of Bonnie & Clyde The Musical, I had no expectation of what I was about to see.

This was very refreshing and exciting, compared to seeing many of the same musicals playing at Amateur Musical Societies at the moment.

Director Jamie Lee Kemp and the company have taken a gamble on a lesser-known show. I was disappointed for the cast and crew to see such a small audience for a Sunday matinee.

Gorgon

By Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 3-7 May, 2016.

Gorgon is a relatively rare example of a one-hour show that manages to cover rich terrain without feeling abbreviated or short changed; writer Elena Carapetis makes every moment count, and director Nescha Jelk - together with an exceptional team of performers and technicians - has presented us with a play that is full of both laughter and poignancy, while managing to make it all feel true to life.

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