Theatresports Cranston Cup Grand Final 2013

Enmore Theatre (NSW). November 30, 2013.

Theatresports is an enduring form of entertainment on Sydney's performance calendar. In a fickle market it is a unique beast which has forwarded the careers of many of Australia's top talent - think Andrew Denton, Andrew O'Keefe, Julia Zemiro and The Axis of Awesome just to name a few.

The Book of Everything

By Guus Kuijer, adapted by Richard Tulloch. Directed by Neil Armfield. MTC. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner (Vic). 27 November to 22 December 2013.

Neil Armfield has this wondrous ability as a director to take the charming and make it magical; to find the inner child in all of us; to have us willingly suspend disbelief. I still remember crying with joy and wonder through his 1999 Cloudstreet production, and The Book of Everything, though not quite in the same league, evoked a similar response.

The Full Monty

Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek, Book by Terrence McNally. Phoenix Ensemble. Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh. 1 – 30 November 2013

To paraphrase one of Jeanette’s deathless quotes from the show: “It’s not the size that counts, it’s what you can do with it.” This applies well to Phoenix’s home theatre (nicknamed ‘The Tin Shed’): They’ve managed to squeeze in 90 seats on stepped levels, leaving half the floor space for a stage. With ingenuity and nous, they made this intimate place work like clockwork for an entertaining musical with a cast of 19 and a supportive five-piece show band (tucked tidily away to one side).

The Phantom Of The Opera

By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre. Nov 15-17, 2013

The first of a trio of Phantom productions for Perth in the next year, Stray Cats Theatre Company's production has the advantage of not only being first, but having the most appropriate venue - the beautiful auditorium of ManPac being one of the best choices in the west for staging this large scale production.

This was for the most part a beautifully lavish production. Paul Spencer was a sympathetic Phantom, Jake Garner a melodic and handsome Raoul, but Cassie Skinner soared, singing exquisitely in a shining performance as Christine.

Circus Showcase 2013

Directors Megan Jones and Meredith Kitchen. Choreographer Meredith Kitchen and Danny Golding (Opening Dance). Costume Designer Emily Barrie. Lighting Designer Eduard Ingles. Presented by the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) at NICA National Circus Centre until December 7, 2013. (Vic).

Performed by NICA’s 2013 final year artists: Tamika Ball, Jonathan Campos, Ludivine Cassal, Emily Collins, Liam DeJong, Emeline Dunand, Nicole Gillett, Danny Golding, Hanne Grant, Tom McKinnon, Alyssa Moore, Anna Murray, Kate Nelson, Daniel O’Brien, Daniel Price, Nick Rothlisberger, Tim Rutty, Richard Sullivan, Hannah Trott, Tom Weatherley and Tessa Wilson.

Closet Land

By Radha Bharadwaj. The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. November 27-30, 2013.

Growling Grin Productions’ Australian premiere of Radha Bharadwaj’s play, Closet Land is very well done, especially when one considers this is a young company staging a difficult psychological thriller that would be challenging for even the most experienced professionals to produce.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Cabaret Revue

5pound repertory theatre. Directed by Fiona Scott Norman. Musical Direction by Karin Muisnieks. The Owl and The Pussycat. Nov 26 – 30, 2013

Oh what fun! The very talented 5pound repertory company has gone cabaret and affectionately lampoons Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s a triumph, despite, or perhaps because of, being a little raggy around the edges. The actors bring their usual high level of energy to the proceedings, compounded by nerves caused by limited rehearsals and lots of music and lyrics to learn. This isn’t their comfort zone, but the extra adrenaline rush only served to make the show even more joyful.

Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision

By Craig Christie and Andrew Ptterson. Directed by Ryan Taafe. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. 22 - 30 November 2013

Opening weekend audiences at Eurobeat, were rolling in the aisles at this almost Eurovision campy comedy. Waving flags from their assigned countries the audience was very involved and embraced the opportunity to vote for their favourite acts.

Boy Out of the Country

By Felix Nobis. Directors Felix Nobis and Fleur Kilpatrick. Designer Rob Sowinski. Composer Bang Mango Cools. Presented by Larrikin Ensemble Theatre at 45 Downstairs until December 8, 2013. (Vic).

There is an age-old debate that floats around in theatre circles – and the topic is playwrights directing their own plays. Directorial instinct is entirely different to a writer’s, an actor’s and a designer’s. It’s like the difference between a parent and a guardian; well might you behave like a parent, but the child will never truly be yours. It doesn’t change the nature of the extent of your ability to nurture, protect and care, but it certainly changes the circumstances – of which truth, honesty and respect are paramount.

Little Shop of Horrors

Book & Lyrics by Howard Ashman. Music by Alan Menken. Manly Musical Society. November 22 – 30, 2013.

Carnivorous plant Audrey II is munching its way through another terrific Sydney community musical theatre cast; this time digesting talented tasty treats from Manly and the northern beaches.

Director Matt Cater’s lively take on this rock’n’roll musical comedy pastiche of B Grade Horror movies for Manly Musical Society is laced with pleasant surprises for return visitors to Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist shop.