Reviews

Carousel

Music: Richard Rodgers. Book & Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd based on Ferenc Molnar’s play Liliom. Queensland Conservatorium Musical Theatre Production. Director: Brendan Ross. Musical Director: Matthew Samer. Princess Theatre, Brisbane, 22 – 25 May 2013.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is considered one of the classics of the American musical theatre and quite possibly the best musical to emerge from their collaboration. If today it appears dated that’s because it is. Written in 1945, Rodgers’ music is as lilting as ever with Hammerstein’s lyrics as fresh as newly mown hay, but Hammerstein’s book, while ground-breaking in 1945, today seems morally heavy-handed.

The Woman Tamer

By Louis Esson. Director: Rob Reid. Assistant Direction and Chorography Kate Brennan. The Owl and the Pussycat. 21 – 25 May, 2013.

Rob Reid is nothing if not courageous. So often one hears it said that real Art is born of taking risks. Couched in ambiguity this fascinating production risks being rebuffed for being obscure.

The Death of Peter Pan.

By Barry Lowe. Directed by Robert Chuter. Fly-on-the-Wall Theatre Co. Chapel off Chapel, Vic. 22 May – 2 June, 2013

Being unfamiliar with this play, I was a little perturbed by its title. To my great relief, The Death of Peter Pan turned out not to be an attempt to skewer one of my cherished childhood heroes. Instead, this multilayered, elegantly written and often challenging play tells the sad true story of 1920s Oxford University student Michael Llewelyn Davies - one of the adoptive sons of Peter Pan author JM Barrie - and his tragic love affair with attractively brash and outspoken Rupert Buxton.

flowerchildren

By Peter Fitzpatrick. Magnormos (Vic). Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. Director/Musical Arranger: Aaron Joyner. Producer: Margaret Fisk. Music Director Sophie Thomas. Set/Costume Design: Christina Logan-Bell. 23rd May – 23rd June, 2013.

flowerchildren is a triumph with glorious singing, wonderful writing, and eye-catching visuals. Peter Fitzpatrick’s musical about 1960’s musical sensation The Mamas and The Papas, is an original delight.

flowerchildren’s narrative follows the success and self-destruction of The Mamas and The Papas between 1965–68 when they released five albums and had eleven Top 40 hit singles including California Dreamin’, Monday Monday, and Go Where You Wanna Go.

A Storm in a D Cup

Written and Performed by Amelia Ryan. Director Ben Pfeiffer. Musical Director Cameron Thomas. The Butterfly Club (Vic) – May 22 – 26 & Kew Court House – June 29 & 30, 2013.

Amelia Ryan is all ringlets and sparkle as she presents her one-woman show.

Ryan, a 2012 Australian Cabaret Showcase Prize Winner, is a generous performer who invests great energy and passion into this performance. The show begins with the childhood discovery that her father is gay, and his relationship with a transgender step-mother, before we are led through a litany of personal mishaps, parking fines, driving debacles, pole dancing injuries, romantic exploits and physical ailments.

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean, from Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters. Director Nicholas Hynter. The National Theatre of Great Britain. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. May 17 – June 22, 2013.

Take a classic Comedia dell’Arte play, transport it to Brighton in 1963 – the time when the infamous Kray Twins were at their peak, throw in every piece of Music Hall/vaudeville shtick and every gag from the golden years of revue and variety, add a skiffle band and shake vigorously and you have what is billed as “The Funniest Show in the World?” Is it? Well, yes, if the opening night audience was anything to go by. There’s not one original line or piece of business in the show, but that just adds to the homage of the bye-gone variety days.

Pack of Lies

By Hugh Whitemore. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 4 – 25 May, 2013

The strengths of this Cold War spy docudrama are splendidly conceived dialogue played expertly by a shrewdly chosen cast. It was slick, entertaining and engaging. Congratulations, director, Dale Murison.

It is based on reality. In the paranoia period, 1961,when both Britain and the USA were obsessed with Russian spies, an American couple (masquerading as Canadians) in suburban London were suspected by MI5 of spying. Names of all characters in the play have been changed.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Rock Musical

By George Griggs. Normanhurst Uniting Church (NSW). May 10 – 25, 2013.

Premiere – be it World, Amateur or state - is an exciting prospect for any community theatre company.

On the same night, and at the opposite end of the spectrum to CLOC’s big budget World Amateur Premiere of tried-and-tested mega hit The Phantom of the Opera, NUCMS in the northern Sydney suburb of Normanhurst bravely staged a far more obscure offering, the Australian Premiere of a rock musical version of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy, which has only played fairly limited American regional dates.

The Woman In Black

By Stephen Malatratt. Directed by Justin Stephens. The Basin Theatre (Vic). May 17th – June 8th, 2013

It takes a fine Director and some excellent actors to make a community theatre production of this somewhat dated classic ghost story work in theatrical terms. Fortunately The Basin Theatre Group has both in this terrific show. Put simply, solicitor Kipps wants to perform for his friends and family his story of an encounter with a ghost, the terrifying spectre of the title. He hires an actor to help him and that actor becomes him, while Kipps himself plays all the other roles in the story, apart from the ghost herself.

 

Next To Normal

By Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. Newcastle Theatre Company. NTC Theatre, Lambton, NSW. Director: Carl Young. Musical Director: David Fitzgerald. May 15 – 25, 2013.

Sydney's loss was NTC's gain when the professional NSW premiere of this Tony and Pulitzer prize winning rock musical folded prior it's proposed opening in September 2012. Given its critical reception and comparisons to Rent this reviewer was especially keen to see if it lived up to the hype.

Popularly referred to as 'The Crazy Lady Musical', Next to Normal is the exploration of a woman's decline into bipolar disorder as a result of unbearable grief – and the impact her illness has on her family.