Reviews

Fonteyn Remembered

Queensland Ballet. Playhouse, QPAC. October 2 – 16.

Queensland Ballet has given us a brilliant dance spectacular to celebrate its 50th year. As the title suggests, this is a stage documentary about the world acclaimed ballerina, Margot Fonteyn. While dance and classical ballet predominate, it also encompasses history, music styles and fashions from the 1920s to the 1970s, several different cultures, and three love stories: one unrequited, one tragic, and the last inspirational and cerebral.

Der Rosenkavalier

Music: Richard Strauss. Libretto: Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Opera Australia. Sydney. Until October 30.

The conductor Andrew Litton was so animated during the overture that he looked like he was trying to wind up a giant machine. The music, after all, was meant to simulate furious sex between 17 year old Count Octavian Rofrano and his much older married lover Feldmarschallin, Princess Marie Therese. An ecstatic fortissimo explosion of four horns is the climax, so when the curtain opens we see the lovers languishing post coutil on the royal bedspread. Much slapstick follows when the Princess fears her husband has arrived home.

Curtains

By Rupert Holmes, John Kander, Fred Ebb and Peter Stone. Bankstown Theatrical Society. Bankstown Town Hall Theatre. October 8 – 16.

For a second time in the space of a single weekend, I’ve enjoyed a Sydney community musical theatre production that has strayed from the well-worn repertoire, with entertaining results.

Written by Kander and Ebb (Cabaret and Chicago), the musical theatre pedigree of Curtains is assured, but their final Broadway collaboration, a backstage musical-within-a-musical whodunit, is probably unknown to all bar absolute musical theatre fans.

Rent

By Jonathan Larson. Whitehorse Musical Theatre (Vic). Director: Paul Watson. Musical Director: Andrew Leach. Choreographer: Scott Ponsford. Besen Centre. October 7 to 17.

In a similar style to Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent is a rock opera, with little dialogue. Coming from an operatic background, I found remarkable similarities between the genres. The story was dramatic, based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme; the music was powerful and highlighted the drama of the piece; and it might as well have been sung in Italian as I could hear less than half of the words.

Sideshow

By Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. Shire Music Theatre. Sutherland Memorial Arts Theatre. October 8 to 17.

It’s great to see a new musical enter the community theatre repertoire, especially when it’s done well.

Miss Saigon

Music: Claude-Michel Schonberg. Lyrics: Richard Maltby Jr. & Alan Boublil. Book: Alan Boublil. Ignatians Musical Society. Director: Kat Henry. Musical Director: Steven McKay. Choreographer: Ingrid Cameron. Schonell Theatre, Brisbane, 23 September – 15 October.

A total knockout is the only way to describe the first Brisbane community theatre production of Schonberg and Boublil’s classic Miss Saigon by Ignatians. I have rarely been as moved by a community theatre production as I was by this stunning interpretation of the sung-through work based on Madam Butterfly. The piece has some of the most emotional music in the modern music-theatre canon, which was fully realized by a top-flight cast.

Katherine Howard

By William Nicholson. Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington (NSW). Director: Anthony Stirling-Edgar. September 17 – October 8.

A more beautifully costumed community theatre period piece than this Katherine Howard is hard to imagine. This drama of the brief life and reign of Henry VIII’s fifth queen Katherine Howard was stunningly dressed in costumes designed by Leone Sharp, who, with her team are to be congratulated for attention to detail in lavishly evoking the Tudor court. Impressive crowns by Peter and Ann Traish complement the effect.

The Clever Country

By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Director: Daniel McCusker. The Street Theatre, Canberra. October 6 - 16

The Minister for Science is worried about the falling enrolment of university science courses. To stem the flow, he recruits handsome young researcher Andrew Dean, developer of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation—a process known to cause bad artists to draw ever so slightly better cats. Can Andrew maintain his intellectual integrity, or will he have to resort to making science sexy? And what does the mysterious TMS machine really do?

The Wharf Revue 2010: Not Quite Out of the Woods.

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. MTC Sumner Theatre, Melbourne - January 5 - 29, 2011 (Sydney season - Wharf 1 October 8 – December 12, 2010)

In a champagne year for political drama you’d think that political satirists would be in nirvana. But in this the 11th Wharf Revue, many of the Federal political gags didn’t quite reach the mark.

The Tony ‘Abbotar’ sketch was curious. He rose to the stage with blue skin, red speedos and the theme music from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Blackbird

By David Harrower. 1812 Theatre (Vic). Director: Chris Proctor. September 19 to October 23.

In Blackbird (British slang for jailbird), Ray, a middle-aged middle-manager, and 20-something Una, meet after 15 years. Ray (then in his 40’s) was gaoled for having an ‘affair’ with Una when she was a minor.

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