Book: Thomas Meehan. Music: Charles Strouse. Lyrics: Martin Charnin. Producers: John Frost, Power Arts, QPAC and Two Left Feet Productions. Director: Karen Johnson Mortimer. Choreographer: Kelly Aykers. Musical Director: Peter Casey. Lyric Theatre, The Star, Sydney. Opening Night: January 5, 2012. Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth seasons to follow.

Despite the old theatrical adage ‘never work with kids and animals’, from an audience point of view few theatrical experiences are more appealing. Twice filmed, Annie is a much-prized, well-watched part of most family DVD collections.

And talk about musical theatre star firepower.

Mary Poppins.

Music & Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, George Stiles, Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Director: Richard Eyre adapted by James Powell. Choreography: Mathew Bourne adapted by Geoffrey Garratt. Disney & Cameron Macintosh Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 5 January 2012

Mary Poppins not only sings, dances and flies, but she is totally captivating in this stage-musical version of Queensland author P.L. Travers immortal character. Verity Hunt-Ballard sings she’s “Practically Perfect” but in my view she couldn’t be more perfect in the role. Feisty, endearing and with a voice like an angel, she stands head-and-shoulders above everybody else on stage and is the main reason to see this joyous musical.

Urban Display Suite

Written by Michael Dalley. Lawler Studio, Melbourne Theatre. Until January 21, 2012.

While most of us are worrying about how to pay our mortgage whilst caught between the GFC that was, and the Recession that will be, the talented Michael Dalley chooses the property boom as his latest satirical target. With biting lyrics set to albeit simplistic and vaudevillian type melodies, Dalley and company tear down the bogan middle class icons and show us our real selves in such cutting numbers as “Shit Art Of the Mornington Peninsula” and “McMansion Façade”.


By Stephen Schawartz and Roger O Hirson. Crinklecut Productions. Sidetrack Theatre (NSW). December 7 – 17, 2011.

Small may well be the way of the future for reviving some relatively big Broadway shows. It won’t work for every musical; a few years back a greater wit than I rechristened a pared back version of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd as Teeny Todd, but with a simple storytelling tuner like Pippin, it’s a very viable choice.

This debut production by Crinklecut Productions takes a Broadway musical back to Off-Broadway scale to relatively pleasing effect.

Nothing Personal

By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 1 Dec, 2011 – 28 Jan, 2012

Ensemble audiences are always ready for a new play from David Williamson and most nights for this lengthier-than-usual season are already sold out. With the considerable added allure of Greta Scacchi in the lead role, this is a scheduling no-brainer. Kudos to the Ensemble for immediately following one brightly intelligent, smartly directed new Australian comedy/drama (Geoffrey Atherden’s Warning: Explicit Material) with another. Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry staged both excellently so he’s probably due for a Xmas rest.

Charles Dickens Performs A Christmas Carol

Eagles Nest Theatre (Victoria). Athenaeum. Director James Adler. 8-11 December, 2011.

The art of monologue and characterisation is given a good going over at Phil Zachariah’s astonishing reading of the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol.

Here is a form of theatre not widely supported, requiring committed audience concentration initially until we are drawn into the drama, magnified by gesture, gait and stance, and accent.

Maybe We’re Never Together

Big West Festival – Uncontained. Written and performed by Kate Hunter and Emilie Collyer. Direction/dramaturgy: Glynis Angell. November 15 – 27, 2011

Kate Hunter and Emilie Collyer, two lovely ‘generation X’ performers, bemuse and delight with this dry and earnest work about the making of performance.

Seddon Archives

Presented by Big West and Tamara Saulwick (Vic). Creator/Director: Tamara Saulwick. Audio Designer: Peter Knight. Visual Artist: Susan Purdy. Performer: Rachael Dyson-McGregor. Site Management: Tirese Ballard. November 16 – 27, 2011

Seddon Archives is an inspired and inspiring personal journey in time and space.  It is a walking tour of a small part of Seddon that through story, anecdote, description, memory and sound explores old and more recent history of the area.  

One sets off, alone, into a small community park with just a simple mp3 player, comfortable speakers and the assurance there are chalk arrows drawn on the footpath that can be used as reference for directions.

Little Women

By Allan Knee, Mindi Dickstein and Jason Howland. Roleystone Theatre (WA). Director: Paul Treasure.. November 25 - December 10, 2011.

One of the most difficult parts of presenting characters from well-known novels is that you are competing with images well ingrained in generations of readers’ heads. In Little Women you are also following many previous incarnations from numerous movies and the Broadway production. Kimberley Diane Harris created a Jo that was worthy to stand alongside Katherine Hepburn, June Allyson, Susan Dey and Winona Ryder. Plucky and forthright, she sang beautifully and lit up the stage at every appearance.

Daisy Pulls It Off

By Denise Deegan. Directed by Susan Lynch. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth (WA). Nov 25 - Dec 10, 2011.

An absolutely first rate little show, with a spiffing cast, having topping fun presenting this top hole little comedy with a cast full of new bugs (er I mean people making their community theatre debuts).

The director must have had a right time of it in order to get such splendiferous results. University student Zoe Cole looked as though she had stepped off the cover of an Angela Brazil novel, and her enthusiasm and earnest performance matched her brown eyes and bouncing curls to make a fantastic title character. 

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