Black Marrow

Chunky Move and The Melbourne International Arts Festival. Direction, Choreography and Concept by Erna Ómarsdóttir and Damien Jalet; Set and Costume Design by Alexandra Mein; Lighting Design by Niklas Pajanti; Original Music and Sound Design by Ben Frost featuring Oren Ambarchi; Sound Design/Operator Byron Scullin. In collaboration with, and performed by, Sara Black, Paulo Castro, Julian Crotti, Alisdair Macindoe, Carlee Mellow and James Shannon. The CUB Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne until 24 October.

Dance, perhaps more than any other creative discipline, has to work exceptionally hard to define, and maintain, its contemporary relevance in an increasingly cynical, impatient, overloaded and (dis)connected society: such is the burden of expectation and borrowed observation that increasingly litters the everyday dialogue throughout Melbourne's currently unrestrained creative democracy.

Cosi fan tutte

Opera Australia. Sydney Opera House, then the Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Jim Sharman’s vibrant new production makes Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte about as young and sexy as possible. The libretto, however, is pretty misogynistic and politically incorrect by current standards. The idea that boys can behave badly to test the faithfulness of their lovers is rooted in the past. But the magic of Mozart, and Jim Sharman’s theatrical panache, tend to win the day for opera audiences.

Rigoletto by Guiseppi Verdi

Queensland Opera, Lyric Theatre, QPAC, October 17-31, 2009

This was a very good and sumptuous production of Verdi’s masterpiece. Originally directed by Elijah Moshinsky for Opera Australia in 1991, it was restaged for Opera Queensland by Cathy Dadd. The ever-reliable John Bolton Wood sang the title role and I have rarely heard him sing better – robust, emotional, sympathetic, and finally heart-wrenching at the finale. It was a grand performance of a grand part. Emma Matthews, a principal with Opera Australia, was making her first appearance with Opera Queensland in the role of Gilda.

She Came. She Crooned. She Conquered.

Liza Minnelli In Concert

I went there with reservations – because of some of the press Liza has had recently in being a little weak and not as strong as she could be. The anticipation grew during  my five hour journey to get to those front row seats in the Sydney Opera House. I was delighted that she came across as full of emotion, and gave a great physical performance. She used the full width of the stage, putting her arms and legs into action.


Book and lyrics by Eric Idle. Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Regals Musical Society.

Spamalot is a musical that is heaven sent for community theatre. In fact I think it suits the amateurs better than the professionals. I say that having seen Spamalot on Broadway and now in the Rockdale Town Hall. The musical was of course lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The original movie was low budget. The Python crew claimed creating simulated horses hooves with clashing coconuts (the classic radio sound effect) was cost-based.

Apocalypse Bear Trilogy

A Stuck Pigs Squealing Production presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company in association with the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts. Directed by Brian Lipson and Luke Mullins; Set and Costume Designer Mel Page; Lighting Designer Richard Vabre; Sound Designer/Composer Jethro Woodward; Video designer Martyn Coutts. With Brian Lipson, Luke Mullins and Katherine Tonkin. Lawler Studio, Melbourne until 24 October 2009.

Apocalypse Bear Trilogy is a dark and hilarious comedy, very much of its time – now. As an uncompromising theatrical exploration of existential angst, it is full of fascinating hints, suggestions, ambiguities and shadows.

High Society

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, Book by Arthur Kopit, Additional Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, CLOC Musical Theatre. Directed by Chris Bradtke; Musical Director Bev Woodford; Choreographed Movement by Tailem Tynan; Set Design by Brenton Staples; Costume Design by Nancy Matthews; Lighting Design by Stelios Karagiannis; Audio Design by Alan Green. With Kelly Windle, Trevor Jones, Richard Perdriau, Rachel Juhasz, Peter Dennis, Peter Smitheram, Anne Pagram, Pip Smibert and Madeleine Corbel. Alexander Theatre, Melbourne until 17 October.

In our precious world of Music Theatre, there are people who really know what they're doing and people who don't: and from the moment you set eyes on Mr Staples' stunning (and magically transformational) set and Mr Karagiannis's utterly flawless lighting of it, you will rightly anticipate that CLOC Musical Theatre's production may just well set a new benchmark. And so it does, eventually, to become a wonderful achievement of which the company should be incredibly proud.

Which only leaves the bit about the people who don't know what they're doing.

The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan

Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Director: Stuart Maunder.

More Yuk Yuk than Yum Yum

The True Story of Butterfish by Nick Earls

Powerhouse Theatre, Brisbane. 1-25 October

One of Australia’s favourite authors, Nick Earls has had four previous books adapted for the stage by other writers. Butterfish is his first venture into play writing. He developed both book and play in parallel.

Earls’ appeal is his skill for developing lovable, self-deprecating Aussie males in the 18-40 year-old range. Butterfish doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

Short + Sweet + Song

Pilgrim Theatre, Sydney.

It begins with a brief musical revolving around the intrigues of championship miniature golf – Chess meets Putt Putt - if you like - and ends with the chirpy Imelda – The Musical (Marcos), derivative of Evita, Chicago and Barnum. In between there’s a spectrum of very good, ordinary, and … new musical theatre writing. Short + Sweet + Song, nine (supposedly) 10 minute maximum bites of musical theatre, though a mixed bag, is worth a visit. The best pieces are engaging, and the worst are, thankfully, short.

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