By Alana Valentine. Director: Caroline Stacey. The Street Theatre, Childers Street, ACT. 1-15 October, 2011

Without doubt, this play is the most gripping and intense piece of theatre I’ve ever seen in Canberra, and the calibre of the acting is, put simply, flawless. The audience gets to experience vicariously the gut-wrenching life of a politician trying to balance deeply-held moral convictions in a viper-pit of an environment—something usually beyond the public consciousness.

Spring Awakening

Book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, original play by Franz Wedekind. Monash University Student Theatre with Monash University Academy of Performing Arts. Director: Yvonne Virsik. Musical Director: Tom Pitts. Choreographers: Kirsten Adriaan & Yvonne Virsik. Alexander Theatre. September 30 - October 8, 2011

Unfamiliar with the musical Spring Awakening, I had a quick read of the program which indicated I could expect plenty of sex, suicide, masturbation, rape, homosexuality and abortion. As my wife was unable to attend I was so pleased I’d invited one of the older ladies from church!

We were blown away!

It wasn’t just the raw power of this work, it was the professional execution by a very young, talented and well drilled cast.

Anything Goes

By Cole Porter. Auckland Music Theatre and Amici Productions. Director: Grant Meese. Musical Director: Penny Dodd. Choreographer: Leigh Evans. Civic Theatre., Auckland. September 29 – October 22, 2011

When you book a ticket to Cole Porter’s classic Anything Goes you can be assured of a sparkling night of theatre and Auckland Music Theatre and Amici Productions version delivers in abundance.

From the opening refrain of an old recording of Anything Goes to the final curtain this is a high energy romp through some classic Porter tunes.

Jackie Clarke belts her way through the show with true conviction and delightfully makes the role of Reno Sweeney her own.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Belvoir. Belvoir Street Theatre (Sydney). September 24 – November 13, 2011.

“The Doll” is a fine example of the ‘well made’ plays of the first half of last century: three acts; a realistic plot line that evolves through convincing and recognisable characters; a breath taking climax; an anticlimax. It worked for Australian and overseas audiences in the 1950s – and it still works today.

Don Giovanni

By Mozart. Opera Australia. Sydney Opera House. Sep 24 – Nov 5, 2011.

This revival of the late Goran Jarvefelt’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Opera Australia is a solid effort, one that entertains and delights.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes, as the notorious womaniser Don Giovanni, is a force to be reckoned with. His baritone voice is like liquid chocolate and his tight leather hotpants leave little to the imagination. I mean how many opera singers look sexy in nothing but leather shorts and boots?


Country Matters

Written by Danielle Maas. Created by Cupboard Love. Featuring: Danielle Maas, Jessica Wallace and Amelia Ulrick.The New Theatre. Sydney Fringe Festival. September 28 – October 1, 2011.

The New Deal

By James Balian. The Sydney Fringe. New Theatre NSW, 15 to 19 September 2011

Sex, Lies and a Faustian phallusy

What happens when Mephistopheles franchises his ‘package’ to Australian politics? Do we get Julia Gillard?  Tony Abbott? No, we get Lynden Jones playing a highly anxious, somewhat despondent and very combative non-stand up kinda guy who trades his useless member for a useful career path in politics. We’ve seen many riffs on the Faust Tale and but there’s not much new here at the New.

Pecan Summer

By Deborah Cheetham. Short Black Opera Company. Director: Deborah Cheetham. Musical Director: Dr David Kram. Choreographer: Sermah Bin Saad. Playhouse Theatre, the Arts Centre. September 28 - 30, 2011

Deborah Cheetham is a very talented and busy lady. Apart from being Australia’s highest-profile indigenous opera singer, she is also a composer, librettist, director and administrator. All this has come together in Pecan Summer, the first Indigenous Australian opera, words and music by Deborah, who also directs and stars.

After an off-Broadway style world premiere in Mooroopna last year, where the second act is set, the opera opened at the Arts Centre last night to a standing ovation. This was not surprising.

Clue The Musical

MDMS (Vic). Director: Michael Butler. Conductor: Amy Cumming. Maroondah Secondary College. September 16 - 24, 2011

How do people dream these things up? A musical based on a board game? It was very clever and it worked!

MDMS do one major production each year and usually a concert for their second show. This year they instead chose Clue the Musical, based on the board game Cluedo. Requiring eight actors, no chorus, one basic set and a three piece band, this is ideal for a small professional touring company but not for an amateur company wanting to keep their chorus happy.

That Face

By Polly Stenham. (SA). The Bakehouse Theatre. Director: Corey McMahon. September 23 − October 8, 2011.

That Face looks at the seemingly modern phenomenon of children caring for parents and the particular dysfunction that brings to family relationships.

Henry (Matt Crook) has dropped out of high school to care for his manipulative mother, Martha (Tamara Lee). While he does his best, she often persuades him to join him drinking and then they wind up sharing a bed. At one point she destroys his clothes, leaving him nothing to wear but her dressing gown.

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