The Savages of Wirramai

By Sandy Fairthorne. Directed by Kevin Summers. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton. 9 - 20 September, 2015.

The people at La Mama Courthouse seem committed to presenting quality work - I've yet to see a bad production here. The Savages of Wirramai, which opened last night, is a new Australian play by Sandy Fairthorne which portrays the dysfunctional Savage family gathering together to celebrate the parents’ wedding anniversary on the eve of Anzac Day.

Strictly Ballroom

Book: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce Original Score and Arrangements: Elliot Wheeler. Global Creatures, Bazmark and Associates. Lyric Theatre, Brisbane. 9th September to 17th October, 2015

Baz Luhrmann's famous show has bounced into town with all the glitter and glam often associated with his indelible stamp of high gloss camp. Just reading the history of its creativity is an entertainment in itself, stage to film and now back to stage: but more importantly, this show has gathered moss along the way and bore enough fruit to bring to light its creator at the height of his powers.

Legally Blonde

Music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin. Book by Heather Hatch. Launceston Musical Society. Princess Theatre, Launceston. Director: Andy Allison 2 – 5 September 2015

Oh to be young again, and Legally Blonde! The Launceston Musical Society was fortunate to have some wonderful performers to choose from for this charming, funny cute, and yes, ADORABLE, show. The show was tight and fast-paced, the cast well-drilled and energetic.

The ensemble/chorus work was excellent, and the entire cast was behind the pink-obsessed heroine, Elle, whose stamina is to be admired. Lead female Abbey Hansson was a good choice, with a terrific voice and good moves.

The Wharf Revue … Celebrating 15 Years

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. September 9 – 12, 2015, followed by Canberra, Glen Street and Wharf 1, Sydney.

Drew Forsythe as the flamboyant Geoffrey Robertson walks backwards along the wharf behind the STC. With hands clasped, eyes focused intensely on the camera, lips relishing every beautifully articulated syllable, he explains the origin of the Wharf Revue … before making an untimely exit!  What an inspired opening to this celebratory ‘edition’ of the continuing collaboration of a very clever, talented team!

Mother, Wife and The Complicated Life

Book, Music and lyrics by Amity Dry ( Additional music by Mark Ferguson). Directed by David Lampard. Chapel off Chapel. 8th-13th September, 2015 and then touring.

Not all musicals have to be extravaganzas, or blow your socks off with show-stopping numbers. If you’re lucky, you find musicals that are funny and endearing and speak to you on a personal level. This is one of those musicals. Ideally pitched for a girls’ night out, women will (and do) adore it; but there are enough genuine laughs and humorous full cast songs to please even the most blokey of blokes.

High Society

Book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. Hayes Theatre Co / Power Arts. September 4 to October 3, 2015

How many reviews have effervesced about shows bubbling and fizzing like champagne? Well this High Society positively guzzles down the bubbly, fuelling the frenetically paced farce of this cheeky musical romp, sparklingly conceived by director Helen Dallimore, assisted by co-conspirators in fun, musical director Daryl Wallis (and his snappy, versatile four-piece band), choreographer Cameron Mitchell and a ‘swell-partying’ ensemble cast.

A Tender Thing

By Ben Power. Growling Grin Productions. Star Theatres Adelaide. September 8 – 12, 2015

When you condense such a well-known play, it is only natural to draw comparisons with the original text. What makes the tale of Romeo and Juliet so intoxicating is the lengths to which the lovers go to be together, the war between their families and the tragedy of their young deaths. Ben Power’s adaptation concentrates on the love story, injecting it with a contemporary story of an older couple. Also drawing dialogue from Shakespeare’s sonnets, it is fair to say that this is a radical adaptation.

Reserved Seating Only

By David Ross Paterson, adapted from a play by Peter B. Sonenstein. Director: Peter Houghton. Boxing Day Productions. The Q The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. September 4 and 5, 2015, and touring.

Fast-paced wit from end to end, this play is sharp, funny and slick. Adapted from an unpublished Peter B Sonenstein script set at the baseball, David Ross Paterson moves the action to an Essendon v Fitzroy match, the first game of the season. The language and characters have been so beautifully translated to an Australian setting, it’s impossible to pick that the original script was American.

Mary Stuart (Maria Stuarda)

By Gaetano Donizetti. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: Richard Divall. The Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne, September 2, 5, 8 & 12, 2015 and Monash University’s Alexander Theatre, September 19.

At the moment Melbourne has an embarrassment of operatic riches. Thirty years ago we had the Australian Opera, Victorian State Opera and an occasional amateur performance. Now we still have Opera Australia, Victorian Opera, which emerged from the ashes of the VSO, and several semi-professional companies providing lots of work and doing exciting productions.

Melbourne Opera, based at the Athenaeum Theatre, broke away from CitiOpera and, as a point of difference, perform exclusively in English. Many roles were shared in early productions with varying degrees of success.

Moonlight and Magnolias

By Ron Hutchinson. Ballina Players. Director: Fran Legge. Players Theatre, Ballina. September 4th – 19th, 2015

Moonlight and Magnolias refers to the romanticisation of the southern states prior to the American Civil War.