Reviews

Mary Poppins

Based on the book by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film. Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B Sherman. Book by Julian Fellows. New Songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Packemin Productions. Directed by Neil Gooding. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. July 26 - August 8, 2015.

There were many stars in this production but one was not able to take a bow. This was because they were thousands of kilometres away in Melbourne.

The set and costume team at CLOC have put together a chocolate box of delights. First the double storey foyer of the Banks home, which comprised a box that rolled onto the stage, could spin around and opened up. It included a hydraulic lift, used only once, to elevate Mary up the stairs to the first floor.

Legally Blonde The Musical

Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin, Book by Heather Hach. Directed by Danny Ginsberg. PLOS. Frankston Arts Centre. July 24 - August 1, 2015.

Oh My God, I adored it, I have to say

Oh My God, It’s a Triumph in every way

Oh My God, and you really must see it just ‘cos

It’s a brilliant production from PLOS.

When I had the chance to attend rehearsals a few weeks ago and write an article on this new production of Legally Blonde, I knew that it would be excellent in all respects, but nothing prepared me for the dazzling excitement of last night’s opening.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Book & Lyrics Written by: Joe Di Pietro, Music by Jimmy Roberts. The Show Company and Jeffrey Moore Productions. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Allan Jeffrey. 16 July – 25 July 2015

I love you, you’re perfect, now change is an hilarious revue, presented by Hobart’s Show Company and Jeffrey Moore Productions, put the “ON” into ensemble.

Director Allan Jeffrey assembled a wonderful cast, many of whom had been in a previous production 10 years ago. The wonderful script from Joe Di Pietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts, is a lovely vehicle to showcase good entertainers, and that’s what we had here. 

L’Amante Anglaise

By Marguerite Duras, translated by Barbara Bray. La Mama Theatre, 15 -26 July 2015.

In 1949, parts of a dismembered female body were discovered on various trains that had all passed under a viaduct in rural France. All parts were found and the body reassembled - except the head. It seems that was never found.  From this macabre event, Marguerite Duras built a fictional exploration of the inner life of those involved: the murderer, her husband and perhaps, on the most unreliable evidence, the victim herself. 

Blithe Spirit

By Noël Coward. Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia 18 Jul - 9 Aug, 2015.

Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit is traditionally a favourite of the community theatres, so it was somewhat unexpected to see it on Black Swan's 2015 season announcement, although as a clear audience favourite, it is perhaps not so surprising.

Candide

Music: Leonard Bernstein. Book: Hugh Wheeler after Voltaire. Lyrics: Richard Wilbur. Additional Lyrics: John La Touche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim. Director: Lindy Hume. Conductor: Paul Kildea. Queensland Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. Opera Q Production. Playhouse Theatre, QPAC. 23 Jul – 1 Aug 2015.

Leonard Bernstein’s brilliant score for his comic-operetta came vividly alive last night in a satiric and dazzling production by Opera Q. Lindy Hume’s assured directorial flair was everywhere from the cascading coloured sands of Eldorado to an emotional tree-planting finale it was thrilling musical theatre. Using the Bernstein approved concert version that was created by him following a Scottish Opera production of the show in 1988, it was the clearest interpretation of the story I have ever seen, and brought out the satiric intent of Voltaire’s original novel.

Detroit

By Lisa D’Amour. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse. 17 July – 16 August, 2015

The neighbourhood may end up in flames but Lisa D’Amour’s award winning 2010 play is disappointingly half-baked.Detroit promises to be about the post-GFC collapse of suburban dreams and opportunities in America, as jobs fall away and cities like Detroit slip into bankruptcy.

Two refugees from rehab begin squatting next door to a recently retrenched bank officer and his employed but alcoholic wife. Conventional and quietly desperate, Ben and Mary welcome this hopeless but engaging young couple into their lives.  

Twelve Angry Men

By Reginald Rose, adapted by Sherman L. Sergel. Pymble Players (NSW). July 22 – Aug 15, 2015

Nanette Frew returns to Pymble Players to direct this classic play of the 1950s whose messages about prejudice and social class, like those of To Kill a Mocking Bird, still resonate with contemporary audiences. Frew has ensured her actors find all the idiosyncrasies of the twelve jurors in this courtroom drama and says “it has been fascinating to work with an all male cast.”

Blood Brothers

Book, music & lyrics Willy Russell. Presented by Enda Markey. Alex Theatre, St Kilda (VIC). 16 July – 2 August 2015

Say what you like about Willy Russell’s music theatre show Blood Brothers, it keeps coming back.  The story of twins separated at birth and divided by class, and of their grieving but resilient mother, it opened at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983.  From there it went to the West End and won the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New musical, went on tour for a year, had its Australian premiere in 1988, went to Broadway, (six Tony nominations) in 1993… and, after ten thousand performances, was still running in the West End in 2012. 

Dylan Thomas: Return Journey

Performed by Bob Kingdom. Merrigong Theatre Company and Richard Jordan Production. The Street Theatre, Childers Street Canberra. 21-25 July 2015

The intonation, the booming voice, the musical delivery—Bob Kingdom’s performance is beautiful. With only a podium, a glass of water a chair and some simple lighting to help, Kingdom is as charming, captivating and pathetic as Thomas himself. Of course it’s all about the words; that extraordinary lyricism that was a smack in the face to the spare, adjective-free, skeletal verse of the early 20thCentury. Dylan Thomas adored language, swimming through his lexicon with unnatural grace.

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