Reviews

Les Misérables

By Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Free-Rain Theatre Company.. Director Dr Cate Clelland. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. April 4 – 12, 2017

Free-Rain’s gutsy take on Les Misérablesmade me fall in love with this wonderful score again. With a somewhat pared-back treatment, this production emphasises the moral dilemmas and social commentary. Peter Cousens makes a conflicted Valjean, with “Valjean’s Soliloquy” an early highlight. Tony Falla (Javert) is initially overshadowed but comes into his own by “Javert’s Soliloquy”. Fantine (Amy Dunham) pours anguish into a heart-wrenching ‘I Dreamed a Dream”.

Double Denim

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Belleville, Globe Alley, Melbourne. March 28 – April 4, 2017. Extra show now added - April 21 at 11pm.

Tucked into one of Melbourne’s laneways, Belleville has several odd little performance spaces, including the one chosen for Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew, the cast of Double Denim, a slightly claustrophobic little stage and stairway – which turned out to be perfect for their manic brand of up-close comedy, which is joyously silly. 

Trotsky and Friends

Written & Directed by Brendan Black. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton VIC. 5-16 April 2017.

In Travesties, Tom Stoppard put together historical figures who really were in the same place at the same time: James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin, Nadya Krupskaya, and Tristan Tzara in Zurich in 1917 – that is, during The Great War.  With Trotsky and Friends, Brendan Black discovered that a raft of famous people all were – or could’ve been - in Vienna in 1913.

Talk

By Jonathan Biggins. Sydney Theatre Company. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. April 3 to May 20, 2017

Jonathan Biggins’ compelling and entertaining play traverses three newsrooms simultaneously, coping with, or covering the unfolding drama that takes place when a talk-back radio host hijacks his own radio station.

The cracking set design by Mark Thompson depicted all three spaces at once.

Cosi

By Louis Nowra. Lane Cove Theatre Company. April 6 to 9, 2017.

Lane Cove Theatre Company's Cosi was an entertaining night, with plenty of laughs flowing from Louis Nowra's script.

This piece of theatre offers lots of dramatic moments individually for each character, though director Debbie Smith, didn't seem to highlight these moments, focusing more on the comical elements.

The Popular Mechanicals

By Keith Robertson, William Shakespeare and Tony Taylor. State Theatre Company of South Australia / Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Sarah Giles. Wharf 2 Theatre, Sydney. 8 April - 13 May, 2017

Here’s a touring company from Adelaide showing Sydney exactly how to deliver sublime theatrical comedy. The State Theatre Company of South Australia have revived a show first directed by Geoffrey Rush in 1987, and it turns up at the Wharf 2 Theatre as bright as fresh paint. 

9 to 5

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick, based on the screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins. Directed by Kim Edwards. Fab Nobs Theatre, Bayswater. April 7 – 22, 2017

When I first started reviewing, some 6 years ago now, my first foray into Community Theatre was Fab Nobs. I’ll admit I was dreading it, but this little company, which always punches well above its weight, opened my eyes and not only made me a fan of their work, but a devotee of all great Community musical theatre – and believe me Melbourne has the best in the country. Fabnobs may not have access to the production budgets of PLOS or CLOC, but there’s the same level of commitment to excellence and talent.

Grease, The Arena Experience

Book, Music & Lyrics by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Harvest Rain Theatre Company. Executive Producer: Tim O'Connor. Director & Choreography: Callum Mansfield. Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. 7th-9th April, 2017 and then touring

This recently well-publicised Brisbane venue was rocking last night for more than one reason. More like over 850 reasons, the amount of exuberant cast members prancing across the extremes of this arena experience complete with revolving stage and colourful lighting: such a good choice for a production of this size. And it was a wise choice, too, to use the updated version that includes those three memorable songs specifically written for the movie. No need to mention them here.

The Diary of Anne Frank

By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Arts Theatre, Angas St. April 6-22, 2017.

The Diary of Anne Frank is not a play that one usually connects with a good night out. I headed to the Arts Theatre, Adelaide, on the opening night of this play, knowing that there was to be no way out for the characters in this story and feeling a depth of dread about going to the theatre to potentially be depressed. This beautiful production left me feeling neither of these emotions. What I did feel was calm and reflective. I was humbled by the experiences of these, and many millions of other Jews in the Holocaust.

Once Upon A Mattress

Music: Mary Rodgers. Lyrics: Marshall Barer. Book: Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer. Laughing Horse Productions. Directed by Adam Salathiel. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. 7-22 April, 2017

Once Upon A Mattress is an infrequently performed musical, which is a pity as this slightly spicy fairy-tale of a show is a delight for audience and performers alike. This youth production is presented by Laughing Horse Productions and features performers from eight year of age. While there is a wide range of experience and varying vocal and acting abilities in the cast, they are all focused and working hard and there is a wonderful feeling of camaraderie.

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