By Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Studio2Stage and Phoenix Theatre. Directed by Jodie Innes. Phoenix Theatre, Hamilton Hill, WA. 13 – 27 Jan 2017

It seems fitting that the community theatre year in WA was kicked off with this bright youth production, Grease, presented by Studio2Stage and Phoenix Theatre. This year appears to be the ‘Year of the Youth Musical’ with teen and tween productions of Camp Rock, Calvin Berger, Once Upon a Mattress and Mulan Jnr following hot on its heels.

Studio2Stage’s show is brimming with energy and enthusiasm and life and had attracted a young and cheerful audience. Featuring a cast of 13 to 18 year olds, it had much to like.

Which Way Home

By Kate Beckett. ILBIJERRI Theatre Company / Belvoir / Sydney Festival. Downstairs Theatre, Belvoir. January 11 – February 5, 2017.

Though billed as ‘Indigenous theatre at Belvoir’, Katie Beckett’s play is a story about family, a story of tender memories and sensitive frustrations with which we can all identify. It’s a story of unconditional love, written and performed by a daughter who skilfully shares her special relationship with her father. Inspired after his last heart attack, Beckett’s play is a gift to a father who has been “my dad, my mum, and at times my best friend”.


Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. Packemin Productions (Youth). Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. January 13 – 28, 2017

It felt like Chatswood was raining with cats(but no dogs). Two kittens, beautiful groomed with make-up and costume, were in our restaurant lapping up their dinner before the show. The felines were crawling through the audience inside in the theatre and on stage it looked like there were whiskers in every conceivable corner.  

Shrek Jnr

Book and lyrics David Lindsay-Abaire and Music by Jeanine Tesori. Ballina Players Youth Theatre. Director: Geoff Marsh. January 13th to 22nd, 2017

What a fantastic way to start the 2017 Theatre Season!!! Ballina’s Youth Theatre production of this popular musical had everything one could ask for in entertainment!

A large cast of enthusiastic performers kept the pace for the entire show. Geoff Marsh’s production worked well and with great costumes, wonderful singing and inspired routines one soon forgot the limitations of the stage.

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci

By Mascagni and Leoncavallo. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 12 – February 4, 2017

These two short Italian operas, composed within years of each other by two musical youngsters, and since so often paired as Cav andPag, both show a gritty social realism which made them operatic novelties in the 1890s. 

Both are about sexual jealousy and the murderous consequences of female infidelity (never mind the boys) in a poor Sicilian village.  Down and dirty they are, with not a god or aristocrat to be seen!

In a Deep Dark Forest

By Roslyn Oades and Collaborators. The Inhabitors. Arts Centre Melbourne. 11 – 15 January 2017

Arrive at the Arts Centre just before 10 AM over the next couple of weeks and you will find the place to be a hive of activity swarming with children.  Hopefully these youngsters will compromise some of the audiences of tomorrow.  And if most of the works on offer are of the caliber of In a Deep Dark Forest I am sure this will be the case.

The Season

By Nathan Maynard. Sydney Festival/Tasmania Performs. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 10 – 15, 2017

Nathan Maynard has written a love letter to his community, which harvests mutton birds on a small island in Bass Strait, and the frequent gales of laughter from the opening night audience let it be known that the affection is contagious.

Nosferatutu … or Bleeding at the Ballet

By Tommy Bradson. Virginia Hyam Productions and Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre. January 7 – 21, 2017

Griffin’s first independent show for the year opens with blood on the floor. 

Vampire Nosferatutu is driven by an urge centuries-old to dance ballet and just can’t resist chewing into dancer Brandyn Kaczmarczyk when he steps out to do a solo Swan Lake.  

Backed by Steven Kreamer’s agile three handed orchestra, the rest of this mad cabaret is Nosferatutu struggling alone to dance the classic, and share his ample collapse of self-worth.

Burn The Floor

Directed by Peta Roby. Choreographed by Jason Gilkison and Peta Roby. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. January 6 to 15, 2017

It’s nearly 30 years since we watched Australia’s own ballroom dancing champions on the telly as they conquered the world. Thousands of Aussie girls (my own two included) were inspired to take up ballroom dancing as a result. There never has, and probably never will be, a dance couple quite so skilled, original and innovative as Jason and Peta. Like Torvill and Dean in ice dance, they epitomise excellence.

Prize Fighter

By Future D Fidel. La Boite Theatre Company and Brisbane Festival production in association with Sydney Festival. Belvoir Upstairs Theatre. January 6 – 22, 2017.

This is a deeply moving first play from Congolese-Australian writer Future D Fidel, obviously finely polished in workshops by director Todd MacDonald and his La Boite Theatre in Brisbane.

The power is in Fidel’s near autobiographical story about a childhood dragged through the horrors of racial genocide in the Congo, refugee camps and a new world in Brisbane.