Reviews

Billy Elliot The Musical

Music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall. Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star. Opening Night: October 18, 2019

Billy Elliot The Musical returns to Sydney in a creatively designed production that captures the hope and ambition of a twelve-year old boy caught up in a political situation that almost brought Britain to civil war.

When Margaret Thatcher won power in 1983, she was determined to privatise the coal mining industry and bring down the powerful National Union of Mine Workers. The result of her policies led to a year-long strike and horrific clashes between miners and police – and a despair that spread across the nation.

The Marriage of Figaro

By Mozart. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. October 21 – November 2, 2019

This is a welcome revival of Sir David McVicar’s magnificently dramatized and designed 2015 production for Opera Australia.

Many of the original, international cast superbly reprise their roles, notably Ukraine’s Andrei Bondarenko as the autocratic and lustful Count, Russia’s Ekaterina Sadovnikova as his anguished wife and Italian bass Paolo Bordogna as his scheming servant Figaro.

Natives Go Wild

Conceived and written by Rhoda Roberts. Studio, Sydney Opera House. October 19 – 27, 2019

Natives Go Wild is a First Nations cabaret circus about the ugly days when Aboriginal and Pacific Islanders were virtually kidnapped to be freaks in the circus. PT Barnum, recently celebrated in the movie The Great Showman, is the main colonial villain.

Developed by Rhoda Roberts for an all too short season, it’s a tantalising mix of sad vignettes about lost performers, circus skills, great songs and high camp, acerbic commentary. 

Broadway Rescue

Written and directed by Justin Rynne and Rebecca Spicer. Bondi Theatre Company. Musical Director: Shirley Politzer OAM. Bondi Pavilion Theatre. Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach, Sydney. 20 and 26 October, 2019

From the opening announcement, you know this is going to be a fun show, and you’re not wrong!

The world premiere of Broadway Rescue forms part of Bondi Theatre Company’s season of comedy, cabaret and children’s theatre.  And a very enjoyable part it is too.

The story is loosely based on Bondi Rescue, the phenomenon that is Bondi Beach, and Broadway. You don’t need to be familiar with Bondi Rescue to enjoy the show.  The story is basically an excuse to have some exceptional comedy and wonderful songs.

A Chorus Line

Music: Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics: Edward Kleban. Book: James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante. Blackout Theatre Company. Pioneer Theatre, Castle Hill. October 18 – 26, 2019.

Director Angela Hanna speaks glowingly of the commitment her cast and creative team have given to this production – and so she should. It is a well-directed production that does credit to the musical. Managing a cast of twenty-five is not easy, especially when they have to sing, act and dance – a lot – is not easy. It requires time and patience, encouragement and organisation and a clear vision.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Directed by David Lawrence. Pop Up Globe, Crown Resort, Perth. October 10- November 23, 2019

Pop Up Globe’s Hamlet is a wonderful ride, that lets its audience experience the impact of one of Shakespeare’s most well-crafted tragedies, but gives them belly laughs minutes later. Performed in a replica of Shakespeare’s second Globe theatre, temporarily “popped up” at Crown Perth, Hamlet, performed in repertoire with three other Shakespeare plays allows its audiences to experience how the original presentation of Shakespeare’s work may have felt.

The Father

By Florian Zeller. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Timothy Wynn. Moreton Bay Theatre Company. Playing October 18 – 27, 2019.

This theatre company is quickly developing a reputation for presenting thought provoking, challenging plays from off the beaten track. This is another good example. Set in Paris, it tells the story of the ageing Andre, who is suffering from dementia which worsens to affect him in many ways. This brings conflict between him and his family and friends as he tries to maintain the life he knows, also dealing with the many who attempt to exploit his condition. With our ageing population, it brings to life the real possibility of having to face the harsh reality of dementia in the family.

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Bronte. Adapted and Created by Shake & Stir. Director: Michael Futcher. Shake & Stir. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 19 October – 9 November 2019

Shake & Stir would have to be the most adventurous independent theatre company in Australia. Time and time again they put a contemporary spin on time-honoured stories (Dracula, Wuthering Heights) which finds them consistently delivering high-quality drama. Jane Eyre is no exception.

Speaking in Tongues

By Andrew Bovell. Hobart Repertory Theatre Company. The Playhouse, Hobart. 18 October – 2 November 2019

Speaking in Tongues is two hours on the edge of your seat, unravelling a tangled skein wherein might lie your own relationship. The plot, driven by coincidence and connection and is riveting right until the last moment. The tension is augmented by an aching cello and a soundscape that thrums in the heat.

Les Misérables

Based on the Novel by Victor Hugo. Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text byAlain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Additional Material by James Fenton. Adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Gosford Musical Society. Laycock Street Theatre, October 18-Nov 9, 2019.

There is far too much to say about this production without getting bogged down in plot synopsis. Any theatre nerd worth their popcorn already has a reasonable, if not firm grasp of the plot, even if the actual historical setting of the story is often misconstrued - but I'll let you ponder all that with the aid of Google. This review focuses on the show's mystique. 

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