Reviews

The Light in the Piazza

By Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas. Malvern Theatre. Director: Alan Burrows. Musical Director: Shirley White. November 1 – 16, 2013

The Light in the Piazza had its amateur premier recently at the Athenaeum Theatre in Lilydale and I caught the opening night of a return season at the Malvern Theatre, so it was a very well-oiled production and the sets appeared to have been designed for this theatre.

The Light in the Piazza debuted in 2005 with music written by Adam Guettel, Richard Rodgers’ grandson. There was no similarity in style between the two composers. I didn’t come away whistling the tunes, though more familiarity might help. It was not easy to sing.

Anaconda

By Sarah Doyle. Paddington Arts Club and Rock Surfers Theatre Company. The Bondi Pavilion Theatre. October 29 – November 23, 2013.

Phil Walker was sexually abused by fellow private school students. Matty Buttiker stood by and watched. Years later, Walker is arrested for murdering one of his attackers – “It was a mercy killing. He doesn’t have to live with himself now …” – and Buttiker, now a successful barrister, offers to take his case free of charge.

Carmen Sweet

Natalie Weir’s contemporary ballet to Rodion Shchedrin’s reworking of Bizet’s Carmen Suite. Expressions Dance Company & Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Cremorne Theatre. October 31 – November 2, 2013

It’s not surprising that this is the company’s most popular ballet  ̶ familiar story and wonderfully evocative music.

The Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan. The Production Company. Director: Dean Bryant. Hamer Hall. October 30 – November 3, 2013.

The satire which infused all Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas has long since been forgotten. Who was the model for the Modern Major – General (who knew nothing about the military) that they lampooned? Audiences in the 1880s certainly knew and laughed, for G&S were astonishingly modern and daring for their time.

HAIR

Music: Galt MacDermot. Book & Lyrics: Gerome Ragni & James Rado. Queensland Conservatorium 2nd Year Musical Theatre Student Production. Director: Sue Rider. Musical Director: Matthew Samer. Choreographer: Helena Moore. Powerhouse, Brisbane, 30 Oct – 2 Nov 2013

The sixties hippy protest era of anti-war, drugs and free-love was exuberantly brought back to life at Powerhouse last night in a free-wheeling but tight production by Sue Rider.

Hair, with its multiple quirky characters,was the perfect musical for a group of students to perform and the Conservatorium’s 2nd year group did it proud.

It’s An Earthquake in my Heart

By Goat Island. University of Melbourne – VCA (Vic). Studio 45, Dodds Street. Director: Robert Walton. Set design: Alexandra Hiller. 25 October – 1 November, 2013

Real-life implications of calamity are central to It’s An Earthquake in my Heart, which confronts with the uncomfortable question, “What would happen if you had not come home last night?” And the follow-up question, “Are you afraid?”

Eddie Goes To Poetry City

By Richard Foreman. Adapted by Richard Murphet. University of Melbourne-VCA (Vic). Grant Street Theatre. Director: Richard Murphet. Assistant Director: Prue Clark. Set Design: Laura Hicks. Costume Designer: Rebecca Dunn. 25 October - 1 November, 2013

In ‘obedience’ to the dictate of playwright Richard Foreman, director Richard Murphet has melded the two existing versions of this play, and the company has reinvented the locations and all the ‘characters’ apart from Eddie. Songs were also added ‘for good measure’.

A pleasing randomness pervades this production as everyman Eddie (Alistair Frearson) visits a city of poetry and is swept along in its frustrating labyrinth of dreams, nightmare, displacement, intrigue and desire. It is as though we too have entered a poem.

Follies

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Goldman. Hornsby Musical Society. Part of the Hornsby Shire Festival of the Arts. Hornsby RSL. October 24 - 26, 2013.

Any company game enough to stage one of Music Theatre’s most challenging and technically demanding works deserves accolades just for the attempt. This weekend Sydney gets not one but two of such works, with Anyone Can Whistle playing a few suburbs south of Follies. Both are brought to us by that master of neurotic introspection, Stephen Sondheim.

The Hollow

By Agatha Christie. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Director: Roger Chevalier. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 25 October – 9 November 2013

Agatha Christie’s ‘whodunnit’s’ have kept the theatre world chugging along with entertainment for decades. So it is for Hobart Repertory Theatre Society in this season, which marks the 75th anniversary of productions at the Playhouse Theatre. To celebrate their long successful career, the HRTS has reprised earlier productions. With a large cast of twelve actors, most experienced but some newly ‘blooded’ in this classic country house mystery, director Roger Chevalier had a marvellous time of presenting archetypal Christie characters.

In Loco Parentis

By Helen Machalias. Director: Andrew Holmes. The Street Theatre Made in Canberra Series. World Premiere. 25 October – 2 November, 2013.

The culture of sexual abuse and coercion that exists in religious, sporting or educational organisations is explored in In Loco Parentis. Taking us into the sexually charged, boisterous atmosphere of St Joseph’s College, the play deals with the events and politics surrounding an alleged sexual assault.