Reviews

Pack of Lies

By Hugh Whitemore. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 4 – 25 May, 2013

The strengths of this Cold War spy docudrama are splendidly conceived dialogue played expertly by a shrewdly chosen cast. It was slick, entertaining and engaging. Congratulations, director, Dale Murison.

It is based on reality. In the paranoia period, 1961,when both Britain and the USA were obsessed with Russian spies, an American couple (masquerading as Canadians) in suburban London were suspected by MI5 of spying. Names of all characters in the play have been changed.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Rock Musical

By George Griggs. Normanhurst Uniting Church (NSW). May 10 – 25, 2013.

Premiere – be it World, Amateur or state - is an exciting prospect for any community theatre company.

On the same night, and at the opposite end of the spectrum to CLOC’s big budget World Amateur Premiere of tried-and-tested mega hit The Phantom of the Opera, NUCMS in the northern Sydney suburb of Normanhurst bravely staged a far more obscure offering, the Australian Premiere of a rock musical version of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy, which has only played fairly limited American regional dates.

The Woman In Black

By Stephen Malatratt. Directed by Justin Stephens. The Basin Theatre (Vic). May 17th – June 8th, 2013

It takes a fine Director and some excellent actors to make a community theatre production of this somewhat dated classic ghost story work in theatrical terms. Fortunately The Basin Theatre Group has both in this terrific show. Put simply, solicitor Kipps wants to perform for his friends and family his story of an encounter with a ghost, the terrifying spectre of the title. He hires an actor to help him and that actor becomes him, while Kipps himself plays all the other roles in the story, apart from the ghost herself.

 

Next To Normal

By Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. Newcastle Theatre Company. NTC Theatre, Lambton, NSW. Director: Carl Young. Musical Director: David Fitzgerald. May 15 – 25, 2013.

Sydney's loss was NTC's gain when the professional NSW premiere of this Tony and Pulitzer prize winning rock musical folded prior it's proposed opening in September 2012. Given its critical reception and comparisons to Rent this reviewer was especially keen to see if it lived up to the hype.

Popularly referred to as 'The Crazy Lady Musical', Next to Normal is the exploration of a woman's decline into bipolar disorder as a result of unbearable grief – and the impact her illness has on her family.

True Love Travels on a Gravel Road

By Jane Miller. Director: Beng Oh. Fortyfivedownstairs (Vic) 16 May to 2 June, 2013.

True Love Travels on a Gravel Road is a beautifully written play that cares deeply about the lives of each of its six characters as they stumble towards happiness. Written by Jane Miller, and clearly benefitting from careful script development (aided by an R E Ross Trust playwrights’ award in 2011), it impresses because its characters and their situations are so believable.

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – Alive on Stage - the New Generation! Participating cinemas across Australia from 24 May

First up, some disclosures: I am a lifelong science fiction fan. HG Wells' War of the Worlds is in my top five sci-fi novels, read so many times that I can watch this show and say, aha, now we're starting chapter 12. And the original double LP of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds was a cherished and much-played part of my teenage record collection.

Urinetown

By Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis. The Regals Musical Society (NSW). Bexley RSL Club. May 17 – 25, 2013.

George S. Kaufman is famously quoted as saying "Satire is what closes on Saturday night," after Strike Up the Band, his satirical 1927 collaboration with the Gershwins flopped out of town.

Well things have certainly changed since that gloomy one-liner.

The Producers

By Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. JYM Theatre Co (Vic). Phoenix Theatre. May 11 – 25, 2013.

A Tony-winning musical in local hands, JYM Theatre Co’s The Producers could’ve had the goods but sadly misses its mark, despite being led by an experienced production team, including producer Shlom Eshel and MD Phillip Setton. 

The songs and script by award winning Mel Brooks are hilarious. Max Bilaystock, a has-been Broadway musical producer, and nerdy accountant Leo Bloom, scheme a sure fire plan: to produce the worst musical ever, and take off with the backers’ money after closing on opening night. 

G.

By Garry Stewart. Australian Dance Theatre. Sydney Theatre, May 16 – 18, 2013, then touring.

The Australian Dance Theatre's latest offering G, is to ballet what MTV was to music back in the 80s. It's revolutionary, fresh and completely revitalises Giselle, a classic piece which is considered to be the Hamlet of the dance world.

The Club

By David Williamson. Directed by Denis Moore for Hit Productions. Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne. May 16th -18th, 2013 (5 performances) and then on tour.

Though Williamson’s play was written more than 35 years ago, it seems strangely relevant and current given the nature of AFL in 2013. And although the play has achieved iconic status, particularly in Melbourne where Footy is an addiction, we shouldn’t forget that, at its heart, it’s a broad comedy with a stinging underbelly. The plot is negligible….the philosophical questions unanswerable. At what stage does football stop being a sport and become a business? How do you balance the love of sport with the love (and necessity) of making money?

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