Reviews

Railway Wonderland

Concept & Direction: Julian Louis. Devised & Written by Janis Balodis with Philip Blackman, Helen Christinson, Katia Molino, Jo Turner, & Neridah Waters. Musicians: Shenzo Gregory, Greg Sheehan. Movement Director: Emma Saunders. With the Vox Caldera Choir. NORPA Production. Lismore Train Station, Lismore, 22 Oct – 7 Nov 2015

Railway Wonderland is the best site-specific theatre piece I have ever seen. A 90-minute immersive play with music that crosses multiple genres, performed in a commedia dell’arte style.

 

Jesus Christ Superstar

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. MLOC (Vic). Director/Choreographer: Rhylee Nowell. Musical Director: Matthew Hadgraft. The Phoenix Theatre, Elwood. Nov 6 – 14, 2015.

Living on the other side of town, I haven’t encountered an MLOC production for some time, but this was the best. The direction was tight, the chorus energetic and the drama confronting.

In the title role Ben Paine had the open, happy face that made him ideal for this role. The fact that he could sing and do the pathos as well was a bonus. The whisper quiet opening to “Gethsemane” was imbued with impending tragedy.

Seven Deadly Sins

Victorian Opera. Director: Cameron Menzies. Tahu Matheson. Hamer Hall. November 6, 2015

Seven Deadly Sins was the last collaboration between Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, after they escaped Germany. It was written following a commission from a wealthy Englishman whose wife was a ballerina and looked similar to Weill’s wife, Lotte Lenya. So the operetta was written featuring a set of twins, both called Anna, one a dancer and the other a singer.

Someone Like Thomas Banks

By Thomas Banks and Gayelene Carbis. 45 Downstairs, Melbourne. October 31 - November 8, 2015

Someone Like Thomas Banks is a wonderful unique opportunity to be offered insight into the complex life of an earnest, intelligent and astute young man with Cerebral Palsy.  It is a moving and joyful work that celebrates difference and highlights the need for more disability friendly Theatre.

It may be a bit tricky to understand exactly what Thomas Banks is saying, at times, when he is talking, but he kindly suggests that we don’t worry too much because most of what he is trying to communicate will be made clear - and it is.

Company

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by George Furth. Directed by Fiona Delaine Stirling Community Theatre, Stirling. November 6-21, 2015

The 1970 musical comedy Company returns to South Australia for the first time in 16 years courtesy of The Hills Musical Society, and the amount of hearty laughter and applause on opening night proved the show’s satirical take on both dating etiquette and various middle class social rituals are as relevant, and hilarious, as ever.

Good Works

By Nick Enright. Directed by Iain Sinclair. Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Sydney. Nov 4 - 29, 2015.

If only Australian plays were revived more often. This production of Good Works, written by Nick Enright in 1995, proves the value of our own storytelling on stage. It’s not the most powerful play in dramatic terms but it resonates strongly. The story is completely engaging throughout, even though it’s complicated, fast and sometimes difficult to follow.

City Of Angels

Music by Cy Coleman. Lyrics by David Zippel. Book by Larry Gelbart. Directed by Martin Croft. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. Nov 5th-8th, 2015

Very few things in life are truly worth waiting for; but Life Like’s professional stage debut of Broadway’s 1989 artistic triumph, City Of Angels, must top the list and delivers on every level. A stunning cast is complemented by astonishing creative forces and enhanced by a brilliant live band which the amazing Kellie Dickerson handles with all the aplomb of Stan Kenton at his best (though no doubt she’s a far better pianist). There are even sax and trumpet solos to rival Lee Konitz and Clark Terry respectively at their peak.

A Taste of Tinseltown

Free-Rain Nightclub, Directed by Cate Clelland, with musical direction by Nicholas Griffin. Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. 4–7 November 2015

A Taste of Tinseltown is the second of two nightclub-style pilot productions by Free-Rain Theatre in two weeks, hot on the heels of its comic play The Art of Teaching Nothing.  Whereas the last production featured songs from Broadway stage productions, this production's numbers come from Hollywood films.  Although on this occasion several of the performers were probably better actors than singers, the singing was, as in the Nightclub's previous production, Buzzing Broadway,  by and large very good; and some was outstanding.  Again

Boombox

The Australian Voices, Artistic Director: Gordon Hamilton. Devised by Jacob Ballard, Sam Boyd, Jenna Coda and Gordon Hamilton. Brisbane Powerhouse. 1st November, 2015

The Australian Voices are worthy of a mention in a theatre magazine like Stage Whispers because, though being a choir, the whole creative interplay is far more than just a standard concert; it's more like 'music being set to verse', rather than the traditional vice-versa, a theatrical experience from a choir who can also predominantly act. Additionally we can also see and hear how even the spoken word, amidst other sounds, can expand the mind to appreciate the infinite possibilities and versatilities of the human voice-box.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. National Theatre Live. Cinema Nova, Carlton (VIC) 7 – 18 November 2015 - and elsewhere.

Benedict Cumberbatch is Hamlet – which is undoubtedly the reason the live show in London is the hottest ticket in London this year or possibly ever.  (100,000 tickets sold in minutes, months before the show opened).  The play Hamlet is over 400 years old and arguably the most performed of all Shakespeare’s plays, but cast ‘Sherlock’ and it becomes the hottest ticket in town.