Reviews

Noah, Moses and Jonah

Sight & Sound Theatre. Featured on BroadwayHD.com

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown I received many excited messages from friends telling me of BroadwayHD.com, a streaming service dedicated to performing arts. The channel has a diverse range of titles from traditional live musical theatre and movies to plays and concerts.  Dozens of titles include performances from Hugh Jackman (Oklahoma!), David Hasselhoff (Jekyll and Hyde), Zachary Levi (She Loves Me) and the complete Nunsense series. 

The Sound of Music Live!

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Additional Lyrics: Richard Rodgers. Book: Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse, adapted for television by Austin Winsberg. Executive Producers: Neil Meron, Craig Zadan. Directors: Rob Ashford, Beth McCarthy-Miller. Musical Director: David Chase. The Shows Must Go On YouTube Channel. Free Stream. 23-24 May 2020

When NBC aired The Sound of Music Live!, on Thursday December 5th 2013, itwas the first time in over 50 years that a television network had broadcast a live version of a Broadway musical. The telecast pulled in nearly 20 million viewers.

Begotten: the radio play

Written and performed by Bianca Butler Reynolds. Minola Theatre. Launched online 16 May, 2020

Imagine being able to go back in time and have a conversation with your grandmother or your great-grandmother when they were young and full of ambitions for their future. What would it be like to hear an uncensored version of their life choices and the reasons behind them? It could be confronting, sentimental, provocative, worrying – in the case of Begotten by Bianca Butler Reynolds, it is all of the above. The writer has woven together one family’s passions, secrets and lies into a fascinating tapestry, brought to life with music and audio effects as a radio play.

Cats

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. Director: David Mallett. Music Director: Simon Lee. Choreography: Gillian Lynne. You Tube “The Shows Must Go On” Channel. Free streaming 16-17 May 2020

Mark Steyn* divided the history of musical theatre thus: BC – before Cats – AD – Andrew Dominant. The profound influence Cats had on musical theatre in 1982 was as game-changing as Oklahoma! in 1943 and Hamilton in 2015.

By Jeeves

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Book & Lyrics: Alan Ayckbourn. Based on the “Jeeves” stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Director: Alan Ayckbourn. Film Director: Nick Morris. Musical Director/Pianist: F. Wade Russo. Choreographer: Sheila Carter. The Shows Must Go On. 8-10 May 2020

For the past six weeks Andrew Lloyd Webber has made available a filmed version of one of his musicals screening for free over the weekend on the YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On. Last weekend brought us something out of the box and not one of his blockbusters.

Renée Geyer’s online live stream gig

Memo Music Hall, St Kilda, Victoria. Saturday 2 May, 2020

The last time I saw Renée Geyer live was at the Narooma Blues Festival, with a packed-out enthusiastic crowd. This time, I simply paid $12 shortly before lights up at the Memo Music Hall in Melbourne and clicked the link on my iPad.

Renée and her band were set up as usual, but there was no crowded dance floor; no diehard “Renéegades” crammed in front of the stage. This seemed to make no difference to Ms Geyer and her tight band – they revved up the intro and played with every ounce of energy that a live gig requires.

Selby and Friends at Home

Streaming Online. Playing to ticketed customers from May 2 – 10, 2020.

As a reaction to the closing down of arts venues by the coronavirus, pianist Kathryn Selby took one of her ‘Selby and Friends’ concerts to the screen. With violinist Andrew Haveron and cellist Umberto de Clerici, she presented three of the most loved Piano Trios in a concert recorded after only two day’s rehearsal at Sydney Grammar School.

Antony and Cleopatra

By William Shakespeare. National Theatre Live, from the Olivier Theatre, Southbank, London. Streaming FREE on National Theatre at Home until Thursday May 14, 2020.

In this contemporary set production of one of Shakespeare’s late and most complex, layered and contradictory plays, Ralph Fiennes plays Antony as an already fading playboy.  The erstwhile war hero, in his mind responsible for young Caesar’s power, teeters on the brink of over the hill, trading on his past glories, drinks too much, getting a little porky, silver threads in beard and hair – and sexually obsessed with Sophie Okonedo’s quicksilver Cleopatra.  She is skittish, imperious, girlish, peremptory, sensual, cold, impulsive, calculating, uninhi

Bandstand

Music: Richard Oberacker. Book & Lyrics: Robert Taylor & Richard Oberacker. Direction & Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler. Playbill On-Line. April 11 – 17, 2020.

Director and choreographer Andy Blankenbauehler won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award and the Chita Rivera Award for his choreography for Bandstand, and it’s the thing that sweeps and elevates you away with this musical.

Set in the post-war period after World War 2, it’s about returned vets trying to re-establish their lives as civilians.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration

Royal Albert Hall. The Shows Must Go On Live Stream. Screened May 2 & 3, 2020

Instead of streaming one of his musicals, this past weekend Andrew Lloyd Webber treated musical theatre fans to a 22-year-old 50th birthday celebration concert filmed at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall in 1998. Crammed with musical theatre stars, it was a lavish get-together and a wonderful time-capsule of 90s musical theatre culture. Of course everyone looked and sounded so much younger but the filmed event captured some iconic West End performances.

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