Reviews

A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler.

Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Director: Stuart Maunder. Conductor: Andrew Green. Designer: Roger Kirk. Choreographer: Elizabeth Hill. Lighting Designer: Trudy Dalgleish. June 28 to July 15.

Opera Australia’s forays into Broadway and operetta dovetail neatly into a single production with Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

While it’s a 1970s Broadway musical, there’s so much about the setting, style and music of this adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night that is redolent of operetta.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel

Director: Jane Sherwood. Phoenix Theatre, Phoenix Theatre Memorial Hall, Hamilton Hill, WA. June 24 -July 3

This was my first trip to see Phoenix at their home in Spearwood, which is rather remiss of me. This was a lovely performance in a charming venue. This is the first drama they have produced in a nicely revamped theatre.

Blood by Sergi Belbel. English language translation by Marion Peter Holt.

Directed by Scott Gooding. A Vicious Fish Theatre production at Theatre Works, St Kilda until 4 July.

Trust and honesty, like truth, are devilishly slippery touchstones in the theatre, and if this ambitious Vicious Fish Theatre production didn’t quite manage to raise the stakes high enough on opening night, there is little doubt it could. And if it does, it will be something to behold.

Happily Ever After by Jane Miller

La Mama. June 23 – July 11, 2010

Happily Ever After is Jane Miller’s first professionally produced full-length play, having previously written a number of monologues and ten-minute plays. She was inspired while “reflecting on the moment that many of us would experience when it becomes apparent that life may not turn out the way we always imagined it would.”

Blackrock by Nick Enright.

Tantrum Theatre. The Playhouse, Newcastle (NSW). May 13 to 22.

ASTUTE handling by director Brendan O’Connell turned a flawed play about the impact of a violent crime on a close-knit community into an engrossing and moving experience. Blackrock was a 1995 “adult” rewrite by Nick Enright of A Property of the Clan, commissioned from him four years earlier by Newcastle’s Freewheels Company as a work for high school audiences. Both plays look at the issues that were raised by the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl after a Newcastle area beach party.

Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn

Playlovers. Director: Claudette Ridout. Hackett Hall, Floreat (WA). May 7-22

They’re calling it the Curse of the 2010 - Playlovers’ Directors. The director of the first show fell ill and needed to be replaced, the director of this, the second show, left the company and a second director was appointed. The third show could not be cast and the director needed to find another, and the fourth director is ill. As Director #5, this is not a trend I like.

The Witches of Eastwick by John Dempsey and Dana Prowe

Kwinana Theatre Workshop at the Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA, April 1 to 17.

The tiny Kwinana Theatre workshop was an unusual choice for a relatively large musical, but first time director Brad Tudor made good use of the small space to create a show that looked very good. The director’s simple set design was evocative of small town America, while his costume design, interpreted by Kath Hunter, used colour beautifully and had 1960s innocence as a starting point. The flying scene, which would have been an impediment to most productions, was staged beautifully using swings.

2 Wilde: Salome and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Hunter TAFE Performing Arts. The Playhouse, Newcastle (NSW). May 27 to 30

THE two plays by Oscar Wilde on this double bill could hardly have been more dissimilar. Salome is an exotic expansion of the Bible’s references to the death of John the Baptist and full of ornate language and decadent behaviour. The Importance of Being Earnest, by contrast, is one of the wittiest of English comedies, with deliciously drawn characters and cut-and-thrust dialogue that never ceases to amuse as two young men try to woo women who insist that they will only marry someone called Ernest.

Honk by George Styles and Anthony Drewe

Director: Cat Baxter. Nine Lives Productions and the Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana (WA). April 22 to May 1

This was the first outing of this bright family show in WA. It has a lovely story, some lovely numbers and a beautiful message and would be a fantastic production for school, youth and community groups. While this show was well promoted in the Kwinana area, the matinee I saw was sadly under capacity, perhaps because it is not a familiar show, although I would have expected a good family and friends attendance from the 37 member cast.

Treasure Island (London Mermaid Theatre’s musical version)

Beenleigh Theatre Group (Qld). Crete St Theatre, June 19 – July 10

This is a great holiday show for the whole family. The R. L. Stevenson story has been a classic for almost 130 years, the Mermaid Theatre musical version a favourite since 1973. Beenleigh Theatre Group has done it proud: strong leads, rollicking choruses, a nice sense of nonsense to dilute the tension, and with two acts in two hours (including interval) it falls inside the attention span of their target audience.

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