Reviews

Gypsy

By Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents. Director: Danni Ashton and Manuao TeAotonga, Musical Director: Tim How Marloo Theatre, Greenmount, WA. June 24 - July 16, 2011.

This large-scale production with its plethora of children, animals and sequins was one of the more enjoyable productions I have seen this year. With a fantastic local publicity drive and a cast of thirty-six, it was also deservedly well attended.

The Boy From Oz

Music by Peter Allen. Book by Nick Enright. Leading Note Theatre, Ballarat (Vic). Director: Stephen O’Neil. Musical Director: Ian Goven. Choreographer: Vanessa Sheehan. Wendouree Performing Arts Centre. July 8 - 16, 2011.

“Never perform with children or animals” is the old adage. Matthew Hustwaite, the 22 year old Producer, obviously has never heard of that.

For his first production for his newly-formed company, Leading Note Theatre, he crammed 50 members of the local choir, dozens of local dancers, and a camel onto the stage.  All were beautifully groomed, choreographed and refrained from spitting.

They won me over by giving me a camel  ride – backstage (I am the agent for The Boy From Oz so I get VIP treatment).

Cosi fan tutte

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Opera Queensland. Conservatorium Theatre, Brisbane. Original Director: Sue Rider. Re-Study. Director: David Berthold. Conductor: Stephen Mould. 9 to 30 July 2011.

Opera Queensland have dusted of their 2000 production of Cosi fan tutte, director David Berthold has looked at it with fresh eyes, and the result is an excellent example of what opera buffa should be – witty, insouciant, and a musical delight. Mozart’s 1790 opera about infidelity, partner swapping, and cheating, is as contemporary as the pages of today’s street press.

Kiss Me, Kate

Book: Samuel and Bella Spewack. Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter. Diamond Valley Singers (Vic). Director: Lisa Inman. Assistant Director: Jean Russell. Choreographer: Heather Wright. Producer and Musical Director: Ian Lowe. July 8 - July 16, 2011

Last Friday night Diamond Valley Singers brushed up their Shakespeare in opening Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kateat Warrandyte High School theatre. Though some opening night nerves were evident with some musically sticky spots and a well-covered but undeniably missed entrance, the show proved to be a fun night overall.

Avenue Q

Music & Lyrics: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx. Book by Jeff Whitty. Matt Byrne Media (SA). Arts Theatre. Director: Matt Byrne. Musical Director: Peter Johns. Choreographer: Re-becca Payne. July 6 - July 16, 2011. (Then, Shedley Theatre, July 21 - July 31, 2011)

When a show’s poster features a muppet promising “It’s not for kiddies!” you expect puerile humor. What you don’t expect is a philosophical whallop.

Like an episode of Sesame Street, 25 characters – each with their own vignettes – make up the show, but it centres on two stories.

Foremost is the relationship between Princeton (David Salter), a newcomer to Avenue Q, as he searches for his life’s purpose, and the desperately dateless Kate Monster (Amy Hutchinson).

Dr Zhivago

Music: Lucy Simon. Lyrics: Michael Korie & Amy Powers. Book: Michael Weller based on the novel by Boris Pasternak. Producers: Anita Waxman, Tom Dockton, Chun-Soo Shin, Latitude Link, Corcoran Prods, Power Arts, Pelican Group, John Frost. Director: Des McAnuff. Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson. Choreographer: Kelly Devine. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, 7 July 2011.

Adapting an epic novel into a successful musical is a daunting task. Not impossible as Les Miserables and Man of La Mancha have proved, but getting all of the elements right is not easy. This production of Boris Pasternak’s 1958 sprawling novel set at the time of the Russian Revolution, and about the love affair between the doctor/poet Zhivago and the feisty Lara, has many good things going for it. Firstly the outstanding design by Michael Scott-Mitchell, which captures the sweep and breadth of those turbulent times in simple, clear lines.

Blood Brothers

By Willy Russell. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre (NSW). Director: Stephen Pike. 6-23 July, 2011.

Say twin brothers were separated at birth and one was raised rich while the other was raised poor. What would happen if they met? In bleak post-war Liverpool, a young mother in her sixth pregnancy is abandoned by her husband. She finds work housekeeping for a childless rich woman, whose envy and desperation drive her to trick the mother into giving up one of her twins, setting up an inescapable fate.

Speaking in Tongues

By Andrew Bovell. State Theatre Company (SA). Dunstan Playhouse. Director: Geordie Brookman. Designer: Victoria Lamb. 2 July - 24 July, 2011

Speaking in Tongues is emotional complexity piled on many-faceted soul-baring. It’s a mystery that is as much emotional as it is rational.

In the opening scene, the four characters of the first act navigate their way through working out if they have the gumption to commit adultery.

Bugsy Malone

By Paul Williams and Alan Parker. Gosford Musical Society Juniors. Laycock Theatre, Gosford (NSW). Director: Melinda Middleton. Musical Director: Ben Ross. Choreographer: Jess Hind. 5-9 July, 2011

School holiday productions by the Gosford Musical Society Juniors are proving very reliable entertainment. This time it’s the stage version of Bugsy Malone, and the 50+ cast give a full blast of commitment and energy.

Capriccio

Produced by Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Music by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Clemens Krauss and Richard Strauss. Director, John Cox. Conductor, Nicholas Braithwaite. Designer, John Stoddart. July 2 – 27.

The great German composer Richard Strauss wrote many great operas, including Salome and Der Rosenkavalier,  plus the mighty tone poem Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which was to become the theme to 2001, A Space Odyssey.  In 1942, in his late 70s, his last opera Capriccio was written under the suspicious eyes of the Nazis. They needn’t have worried: this ‘conversation piece in one act’ exclusively asks “what matters most in opera — the music or the words?”

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