Reviews

Simply Barbra

Steven Brinberg. Chapel off Chapel – Melbourne, June 28 – 30, 2012; Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, July 6.

I saw Barbra Streisand in Cabaret last night….no, not the film, that was Liza Minnelli. I mean cabaret…Barbra….really! You don’t believe me?  I recognised the voice, the nails, the black dress, the slightly nasal Bronx intonation, the nuances, the beautiful head-notes; The expressions; the impeccable professionalism. It had to be Barbra….so how come they wanted $795 a ticket on her last tour?

Accidental Death of an Anarchist

By Dario Fo. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. June 22 – 30, 2012.

True to Fo’s commedia style and didactic humour, this production is bright, fast and Funny. It mixes traditional and contemporary slapstick, adds live music, a song and some running gags, but still keeps the sting of Fo’s satirical message to the ordinary man.

Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Simon Stone. 23 June – 19 August, 2012.

Colin Friels playing tragically deluded Willy Loman sounded so good the Belvoir season was extended to eight weeks well before opening night and tickets are being sold in record numbers. No worries, Friels is magnificent. Never off the broad and mainly empty stage, he suffers, squirms, regrets and rages throughout an ever deteriorating ‘dark night of the soul’ in a volcanic performance guaranteed to win the year’s Best Actor awards.

Skylight

By David Hare. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 21 June – 27 July, 2012.

David Hare’s brilliant Skylight gets a stirring up-close production at the Ensemble where the wrap-around audience must share an icy, cramped North London flat with Hare’s two unhappy lovers. In fact a gentleman in the front row has to move his feet every time schoolteacher Kyra (Katharine Cullen) or visiting restaurateur Tom (Sean Taylor) moves between grotty, fully working kitchenette and narrow sitting room.

Invisible Me

Adapted from the book by Wendy Binks. A QPAC and Southern Cross Soloists Production for Out of the Box 2012. Director: Brendan Ross. Composer: Joseph Twist. Designer: Josh Mcintosh. Actor / Dancer: Stacey McCallum. Musicians: Southern Cross Soloists. Queensland Performing Arts Centre. 12 – 17 June 2012.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Out of the Box children’s festival for 3 to 8 year olds, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Southern Cross Soloists commissioned a new work based on the best-selling children’s book Invisible Me by West Australian author Wendy Binks.

The stage adaptation ofInvisible Me is an absolutely charming and delightful piece of children’s theatre, that captures the imagination and attention of its intended audience through its music, movement and design.

Hairspray

By Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan, Mark Shaiman and Scott Whittman. Harvest Rain Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 22-30 June, 2012

This is a big-hair, bold, sassy, rocking, writhing and kicking mother of a show.

With its huge talented cast, great sets, dazzling light and costume designs,

it starts at full throttle and races us through admirable fantasies: a 1960s community with people of all body sizes and different races that integrate amicably.

Cry of the Forest and Once Upon Another Time

Written by a team of experienced and apprentice writers. 60th Diamond Jubilee Melbourne Gang Show. Besen Centre, Burwood (Vic). Director: Robert Motton. Musical Director: Russell Corr. Music Arrangements: Russell Corr, Benjamin Moody, Stephen Smith, Roger Montgomery. Lighting Designer: Mark Hopkins. Set Construction: Malcolm Chatto.

Well now, this is one impressive show. How good? Let’s just say it leaves any amateur show I’ve ever seen for dead. Period.

Ben Vereen: Steppin’ Out Live

Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, 23rd June. Parade Theatre, NIDA, Sydney, 28th June, 2012

V is for Virtuoso… E for Excellence, R for Remarkable, E for Exciting, another E for Electrifying….well, you get the picture.

Circus Oz: From the Ground Up

Birrarung Marr, Melbourne June 20 – July 15, 201. Then touring regional Australia.

I love Circus Oz. It’s an icon. But sometimes an Icon loses perspective, or perhaps our expectations are just too high. Whatever the reason, somehow the new show From the Ground Up failed to transport me and a substantial share of the audience in the way CO normally does. This may be because the primary object of any theatrical event – which is to entertain – took a back seat to the highly political agenda in the show ( which was made all the more pervasive by endless speeches and welcomes which added more than half an hour in length to opening night.)

Himmelweg: Way to Heaven

By Juan Mayorga (translated by David Johnson). Redroom Theatre Company (Vic). Theatreworks, St Kilda. Director: Alister Smith. Set, Sound and Concept Design: Alister Smith. Lighting Design: Daniel Chapman. June 21 – July 1

On June 23, 1944, Red Cross workers inspected the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp north of Berlin. Rumours about atrocities being committed against the Jewish people were circling the world. Unthinkable things. Skeletal bodies in striped pyjamas, and worse. But the visitors found no starving children, mass graves, torture, or gas chambers - just ‘an ordinary town’. It was a hoax code-named Operation Embellishment, orchestrated to pull-the-wool-over-the-eyes of the world.

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