Reviews

The Prom

Music: Matthew Sklar. Lyrics: Chad Beguelin. Screenplay: Bob Martin & Chad Beguelin. Director: Ryan Murphy. Streaming on Netflix, 11 December 2020

The Prom is a ‘B’ grade Broadway musical with an ‘A’ list cast. Headed by Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells, it’s another production in the Ryan Murphy juggernaut that has elements of Glee and High School Musical with its set of heightened happy song-and-dance film-cliches, which the cast devour and deliver with pin-sharp accuracy.

A Christmas Wish

Written and directed by Noel O’Neil. Irish Theatre Players. Townshend Theatre, Irish Club of WA, Subiaco, WA. Dec 10-20, 2020

The Irish Theatre Players are a long established theatre club, but their current production, A Christmas Wish, is their first time doing a pantomime. Written and directed by Noel O’Neil, A Christmas Wish is a pantomime and a parable for our times. Very much written with 2020 in mind, it features lovely songs, a whole heap of “dad jokes” and pantomime groaners and a very likeable collection of characters - brought to life by a talented, hardworking cast.

Frozen

Music & Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Book by Jennifer Lee. Disney Theatrical Productions. Capitol Theatre Sydney. Opening Night – December 10, 2020.

When the original movie swept the world like an out-of-control blizzard, Disney raced to adapt the hugely popular film into a musical, from script to stage, in just 18 months.

On the technical side it has done wonders – turning animation into theatrical alchemy.

It begins with sparks flying across the stage, when the sisters Elsa and Anna (as children) come to terms with the princess’s supernatural powers to turn things into ice.

When the sisters are cast out in the wilderness, all manner of visual tricks adorn the stage.

The Rivals

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Angus Street, Adelaide. 3-5 Dec, 2020

"'Tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion." A malapropism from Mrs. Malaprop herself which seems to sum up the play, The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

The Rivals is the Adelaide Repertory Theatre’s last offering for the year and their first performance returning to a live audience.

A satisfying end of the year for the ‘Rep’ who have been stoically soldiering on through Covid-19, providing audiences with virtual plays online.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

By Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Bel Canto Performing Arts at the Old Mill Theatre. Directed by Katherine Friend. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. December 4-13, 2020

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a fabulously colourful, energetic, warm, and well performed musical, presented by Bel Canto Performing Arts at the Old Mill Theatre. The cast is young - aged 8-18 - which is particularly fitting, as ‘Joseph’ was originally written for school children to perform.

Superbly narrated, with personality and gorgeous voices by Cadie Smythe and Bella Freeman, the story follows the biblical story of Joseph, son of Jacob. Jack Churchman anchors the show beautifully in a very well acted performance.

Flat Out Like a Lizard

By Norman Price. Presented by Robert the Cat. New Benner Theatre, Metro Arts, Brisbane. 4 to 12 December 2020

Flat Out Like a Lizard promises to be a series of Aussie stories told through the eyes of a central character, Lazarus White. In the opening monologue, Lazarus warns us that we will have to listen to this series of stories, and experience words in a verbal jigsaw. Each story that then emerges has a common theme of ‘darkness’, with a menacing (or humorous) recurring image of a blue-tongue lizard. Each piece is put to the test by a panel of ‘arts experts’ who sit in judgement at a long desk on the stage.

Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment

Adapted by Stephen Briggs. Roleystone Theatre. Directed by Brad Towton. Roleystone Hall, Jarrah Rd, Roleystone, WA. Dec 5-13, 2020

Terry Pratchett shows are very popular and almost their own genre in their style. There is a dedicated fan-base, but they can often be tricky for people who are not fans of the Discworld novels to understand. Not so Monstrous Regiment, a stand-alone story that is easy to watch, entertaining and fun.

The Golem: or, Next Year in Jerusalem

Devised by Humphrey Bower and Tim Green with Hazem Shammas. Movement Direction by Natalie Allen. The Blue Room, James St, Northbridge WA. Dec 1-12, 2020

The Golem: or, Next Year in Jerusalem is really two plays, performed by two actors in two spaces concurrently with both actors and the two audience groups moving between the two spaces. On Saturday evenings, audiences can choose to watch both shows in a 120 minute experience.

Downtown!

Created by: Phillip George, David Lowenstein and Peter Charles Morris. Players Theatre, Ballina. Directed by Sue and Paul Belsham. 4th – 20th December, 2020

Six years and six months ago (to the day) I saw the first production of Downtown in Ballina, as staged by Sue and Paul Belsham’s company SUPA NORTH, and this restaging of the “Mod Musical” was an inspired choice as Ballina’s re-emergence post COVID-19.  The audience (reduced in size to comply with restrictions) loved every minute of this trip down memory lane.

Oklahoma!

By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Richard Carroll, musical direction by Victoria Falconer. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA. Nov 28 - Dec 20, 2020

Historically, Oklahoma! is a landmark musical - the first collaboration of Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, and a show that changed audience expectations of the genre. The first audiences must have found it new, surprising and fresh. We usually think of it now as a nostalgic piece, and a safe, predictable, if very loved, musical.

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