Reviews

Katherine Howard

By William Nicholson. Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington (NSW). Director: Anthony Stirling-Edgar. September 17 – October 8.

A more beautifully costumed community theatre period piece than this Katherine Howard is hard to imagine. This drama of the brief life and reign of Henry VIII’s fifth queen Katherine Howard was stunningly dressed in costumes designed by Leone Sharp, who, with her team are to be congratulated for attention to detail in lavishly evoking the Tudor court. Impressive crowns by Peter and Ann Traish complement the effect.

The Clever Country

By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Director: Daniel McCusker. The Street Theatre, Canberra. October 6 - 16

The Minister for Science is worried about the falling enrolment of university science courses. To stem the flow, he recruits handsome young researcher Andrew Dean, developer of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation—a process known to cause bad artists to draw ever so slightly better cats. Can Andrew maintain his intellectual integrity, or will he have to resort to making science sexy? And what does the mysterious TMS machine really do?

The Wharf Revue 2010: Not Quite Out of the Woods.

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. MTC Sumner Theatre, Melbourne - January 5 - 29, 2011 (Sydney season - Wharf 1 October 8 – December 12, 2010)

In a champagne year for political drama you’d think that political satirists would be in nirvana. But in this the 11th Wharf Revue, many of the Federal political gags didn’t quite reach the mark.

The Tony ‘Abbotar’ sketch was curious. He rose to the stage with blue skin, red speedos and the theme music from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Blackbird

By David Harrower. 1812 Theatre (Vic). Director: Chris Proctor. September 19 to October 23.

In Blackbird (British slang for jailbird), Ray, a middle-aged middle-manager, and 20-something Una, meet after 15 years. Ray (then in his 40’s) was gaoled for having an ‘affair’ with Una when she was a minor.

[title of show]

Music & Lyrics: Jeff Bowen. Book: Hunter Bell. Oscar Theatre Company Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse. Director: Emily Gilhome. Musical Director: David Law. October 6 – 16.

Oscar Theatre Company, Emily Gilhome’s enterprising young company who have brought Brisbane audiences The Last Five Years, A Slightly Sondheim Wedding, and the 2008 Qld Matilda Winner, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, have turned to another quirky Broadway show with [title of show], as their latest offering. It’s another in a group of small musicals, The Musical of Musicals etc., that takes the mickey out of the musical theatre genre and the joke very quickly wears thin.

Phlegm Fatal

Written, directed, and performed by Amy Bodossian. Open Studio, Northcote. 23rd Sept – 09th Oct.

The media release for Phlegm Fatal playing at Open Studio in Northcote for Melbourne Fringe Festival, said great things. Amy Bodossian is entrancing and wild and an artist of the spoken word. “Like a mortician I can make the dead look pleasant, presentable. I am an artist” The media release gave certain expectations that were completely blown out of the water. For one thing, Bodossian barely mentions death; her show is more about life, and love. ‘Phlegm Fatal’ a blend of original poetry and song, doesn’t get off to a swinging start.

Anyone Can Whistle

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Book: Arthur Laurents. Magnormos & Melbourne Recital Centre Production. Melbourne Recital Centre, 4 October, 2010. Director: Aaron Joyner. Musical Director: Laura Tipoki. Choreographer: Tamara Finch.

Stephen Sondheim’s Anyone Can Whistle has always been a problematical show. Its quirky plot, about an industrial town that fakes a miracle to bring in the tourists, was hardly standard Broadway fare in the 60s. It ran 9 performances, but it did feature a knockout performance by Angela Lansbury, her first in a musical. To celebrate Sondheim’s 80th birthday, Magnormos, as part of their A Sondheim Triptych, presented a concert version of the legendary piece, with Anne Wood in the Lansbury role.

Fool For Love

By Sam Shepard. Belvoir Street, Downstairs. B Sharp. October 1 – 24.

I can’t testify to the bedbugs, but in every minute detail, the cheap, depressing motel room seems perfect, and utterly desolate. In an ideal matching of play to space, the intimate Downstairs theatre makes the grimy no-star motel room setting confrontingly claustrophobic. It’s spot on for Shepard’s down and out American West drama. Absolute consistency of accent, fierce, brutal physicality, and detailed mundanity, down to toenail clipping, all build the credibility of this bleak reality.

Namatjira

By Scott Rankin. Belvoir and Big hART. Co-Directors: Scott Rankin and Wayne Blair. Belvoir Street Theatre (NSW). Sept 29 to Nov 7, 2010. Malthouse, Melbourne - Aug10 - 28, 2011

Namatjira is storytelling theatre at its best, Australian storytelling, which every Australian should hear and see.

It tells the rich, complex, mostly unknown story, joyous at times, sad and tragic at others, of indigenous watercolourist Albert Namatjira, told with the co-operation and support of his Aranda people.

Hairspray

Book by Mark O'Donnell, Thomas Meehan, Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Based on the film written and directed by John Waters. Princess Theatre (VIC). Director: David Atkins. Musical Director: Stephen Amos. Choreographer: Jason Coleman. Designer: Eamon D'Arcy. Paul Dainty, Dainty Consolidated Entertainment & Joel Pearlman, Roadshow Live. Opening Night: October 2, 2010. Lyric Theatre, Star Theatre, Sydney - Openng Night, June 23, 2011.

Before the show even began, the audience were met with a stage-width LED screen playing reels of popular TV shows from the era such as I Love Lucy, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Lone Ranger, The Beverley Hillbillies, and more. Here we are folks, welcome to the 60s.

We first meet our heroine, Tracy Turnblad (Jaz Flowers), as she is flown in on a vertical bed during the opening bars of “Good Morning Baltimore.” Her entrance was met with excited applause from the audience but what happened next truly has to be seen to be believed.

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