Reviews

The Unexpected Guest

By Agatha Christie. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport (Qld). Director: Andrew Trump. Jan 25th – Feb 15th, 2014.

GCLT’s 2014 season began with the Agatha Christie thriller The Unexpected Guest, regarded by the playwright as one of her favourites.

Director Andrew Trump steered the strong, nine member cast through all the twists expected in a play of this nature with pace and style. Each character was believable – especially when the inevitable finger pointing and accusations started to flow.

Diamonds Are For Trevor

Written by Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott, Directed by Craig Ilot. Musical Direction by Geoffrey Castles. For Midsumma Festival. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. Jan 28th – Feb 1st, 2014.

If you look up talent in a dictionary you’ll find definitions like: 1) a marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment; 2) a person who possesses unusual innate ability in some field or activity, often creative. There are hundreds of similar definitions, but none comes close to describing the amazing Trevor Ashley’s metamorphosis into Shirley Bassey last night at the Playhouse Theatre.

The Turk in Italy

By Giachino Rossini. Libretto by Felice Romani, after libretto by Cterino Mazzolà. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 22 – February 12, 2014.

Frothier than cappuccino, effervescent as champagne, with more plot twists than a TV soapie, Rossini’s 200 year old opera The Turk in Italy delights in Simon Phillips’ brand new tongue-in-cheek 1950s inspired makeover for Opera Australia; a startling achievement for an obscure comic opera, unexceptional in its own right, and modest in reputation.

Young Frankenstein

Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks. Directed by Brad Tudor. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. Jan 17 - Feb 1, 2014

The West Australian premiere of Young Frankenstein is a well paced, very funny rendition of this comic musical. Nicely cast, with well-crafted performances, this show deserves the warm reception it received.

Jessie Angus shines in the title role, delivering an excellent, nicely timed performance including some impressive dancing. He is well matched in Laurence Williams as off-sider Igor, who also creates an excellent character and quickly becomes an audience favourite. John Lambert was lovely as the lumbering monster.

Othello The Remix

Chicago Shakespeare Theater & Richard Jordan Productions. Sydney Festival. York Theatre, Seymour Centre. January 23 – 26, 2014.

The Q Brothers take on Shakespeare's classic story of Othello is fresh, quirky and inspired.

The idea to modernise Shakespeare through hip-hop music and rap is seemingly out of left field and on the face of it appears to be a gimmick. But look a little closer and it's obvious why the Q Brothers, JQ and GQ looked to the man they call the original genius lyricist for the basis of their productions. Othello The Remix is the company's third such show and was first premiered at The Globe Theatre in London last year.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Directed by Robert Coates. Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Beckett Theatre, Malthouse. Jan 22nd to Feb 1st, 2014. Also at Adelaide Fringe Festival from March 11-15, 2014 at the Odeon Theatre.

It really doesn’t matter what this review says, because the entire season is already sold out. Yes, every seat for every performance. So I can be totally honest and say…. “And so they should be, the production is a triumph for everyone involved.”

The first show of the huge portfolio of Webber/Rice hits, the show has a naivety and simplicity that is quite charming, and this production plays to those qualities at the same time as showcasing the sophistication of the astonishing costumes, band, lighting and direction.

The Wizard of Oz

Adelaide Youth Theatre. Royalty Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide. January 24-26, 2014

Despite a rehearsal period fraught with cast illness Adelaide Youth Theatre has once again demonstrated its depth of talent and professionalism by pulling off a delightful production of The Wizard of Oz.

Written by L. Frank Baum and adapted by Frank Gabrielson, with music and lyrics from the MGM Motion Pictures score, the story needs no description here. The narrative has been well-known since the days when Judy Garland played Dorothy in the movie.

Standing on Ceremony - The Gay Marriage Plays

Written by Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Wendy MacLeod, Paul Rudnick, Doug Wright, Neil LaBute, Moises Kaufman and Jose Rivera. Directed by Wayne Pearn, Helen Ellis, Russell Fletcher and Justin Stephens. Ellis Productions. Chapel off Chapel. 23rd January – 9th February, 2014.

One of the two most eagerly awaited productions of Midsumma, Standing on Ceremony – The Gay Marriage Plays  just tips the scales for sheer rich entertainment value that also has you leaving the theatre in impassioned discussion. It’s hard to believe that there are still people who balk at the very idea of same sex marriage. They are the ones who should go to Chapel off Chapel and see this production. Unfortunately it’s highly unlikely that they will, and that’s a tragedy.

Don Quixote

By Larry Buttrose based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Directed by Jeremy Johnson. Designed by Jewell Johnson. Stage Manager and Costume Designer: Annette Snars. Lighting Design: Andrew Kinch. Sound Design: Bernard Teuben Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill. 24 Jan – 15 Feb, 2014

It’s very nice to see Stephen Snars back on stage in a major role. With wispy hair, spikey beard and moustache, heavy armour and compulsory helmet we expect of Don Quixote, he certainly looks the part physically. But it is his soulful, searching blue eyes and wistful expressions that really make him a convincing Knight of the Doleful Countenance.

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical

Lazy Susan's Comedy Den, The Brisbane Hotel, Highgate WA. Jan 21-23, 2014

The only problem with reviewing a completely improvised musical is that I can pretty much guarantee that the show you see will be nothing like the one I saw opening night…

Impromptunes consists of six young performers who have both an improvisation and music theatre background, who create a brand new musical on the spot, each performance. On opening night, suggestions for a title came from the audience. The first vaguely tasteful suggestion to come from the audience was "My Mother Drink Drives" and this was heartily embraced and performed with aplomb.