Reviews

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean. Based on “The Servant of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldini. Songs by Grant Olding. Director: Nicholas Hytner. National Theatre Live, London, Screened 2-8 April 2020

Let me say upfront that I consider James Corden is the most singularly spectacular talent to have emerged from Britain during the last twenty years. A brilliant comic actor he can do anything and make it funny, even traffic lights which he does do during his CBS “Late Late Show” when he and a group of actors perform a musical at a traffic stop when the lights are on red (his Mary Poppins is hilarious).

Flowers For Mrs Harris

Music & Lyrics: Richard Taylor. Book: Rachel Wagstaff. Based on the novella “Mrs ‘Arris Goes To Paris” by Paul Gallico (1958). Director: Daniel Evans. Movement Director: Naomi Said. Music Supervisor & Musical Director: Tom Brady. Chichester Festival Theatre, 8 September 2018/Download for free until 8 May 2020 on the Chichester Festival Theatre website

Flowers For Mrs Harris was first produced by Sheffield Theatres in May 2016, and directed by Daniel Evans. It won three UK Theatre Awards: Best Design (Lez Brotherson), Best Performer in a Musical (Clare Burt in the titular role) and Best Musical Production. This new production was again directed by Evans, with design by Brotherston, and Burt playing the eponymous char for Chichester Festival Theatre in 2018.

Love Never Dies

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Glenn Slater. Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber & Ben Elton, with Glenn Slater & Frederick Forsyth. Additional Lyrics: Charles Hart. Director: Simon Phillips. Choreography: Graeme Murphy. Musical Director: Guy Simpson. Regent Theatre, Melbourne, 12-15 September 2011/Screened free on April 25-26 2020 on The Shows Must Go On YouTube Channel

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies has had a chequered history. Its London opening was marred by “phans” ,who picketed the theatre because they didn’t believe there should be a sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera. The reviews were mixed but mostly downbeat and the show was nicknamed “Paint Never Dries”, an appellation that stuck.

During the London run they closed the production to implement new script changes. They didn’t help.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Charles Hart. Additional Lyrics: Richard Stilgoe. Book: Richard Stilgoe & Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. Director: Nick Morris. Stage Director: Laurence Connor. Choreographer: Gillian Lynne. Conductor: Anthony Inglis. Royal Albert Hall, London, 1-2 Oct, 2011. Screened free on April 18 and 19 on The Shows Must Go On YouTube Channel.

Last weekend over 11 million people around the world watched The Phantom of the Opera when it was available for screening for free on YouTube channel “The Shows Must Go On”. From 4AM Saturday 18 April it was available for a limited 48-hour period. The channel had previously shown Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which both pulled over 2 million viewers.

À Ố Làng Phố

Vietnamese Bamboo Circus. Asia Topa. Art Centre Melbourne. February 27, 28 and 29 - 2020

Haunting and scenic, accessible and engaging this amazing Vietnamese Circus, directed by Taun Le, played to very full houses at the State Theatre.  It is such a treat sitting in amongst and audience with children giggling and older Vietnamese chatting excitedly about what they are watching.

We are treated to the seamlessly choreographed (Nguyen Tan Loc) ground and aerial work of a troupe of 16 exceptional acrobats, of whom, I think, 5 are women.   This team is sublimely in-sync.

Mamma Mia!

Music and Lyrics by Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus. Additional songs by Stig Andersson. Book by Catherine Johnson. Redcliffe Musical Theatre. Directed by Madeleine Johns. March 13 – 22, 2020.

Australians can take much credit for the success of Abba, the group who these originally made these songs hits. Since its debut on the English stage in 1999, this musical has drawn mass audiences around the world and was the basis for the movie of the same name – and a sequel. Set at a small tourist stop on a Greek Island, it tells of the coming wedding of Sophie who does not know her actual father and thus invites the three possibilities to give her away. It goes from there and is driven by the popular Abba music.

Running with Emus

By Merrilee Moss. La Mama Courthouse. March 2020

The beautiful dulcet tones and clarity of Julie Nihill’s voice and the sincerity of her stage presence, as the aging Patricia Reilly, instantaneously connect with the audience to engage us with the themes of this absorbing family and social history. 

It is mostly set at the back of Patricia’s country cottage where she has bunked up in her sleep-out.  This is perhaps due to the house being over full of memories and the hoarding of a lifetime. 

Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan (adapted by Trevor Patient and Chris Cox). Platinum Entertainment. Directed by Katrina Patient and Trevor Patient, Musical Direction by Chris Cox. Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach WA. Mar 12-22, 2020

Platinum Entertainment’s production of Pirates of Penzance is one of their best shows to date, but has been plagued by some terrible timing, opening at the emergence of concerns about Coronavirus, and also coinciding with some inclement weather - such a shame as this vibrant and fun production is a great antidote to the current gloom.

The Ballad of Mulan

By Michelle Yim. Grist to the Mill Productions (UK). Adelaide Fringe. Studio, Bakehouse Theatre. 4-14 March, 2020

The Ballad of Mulan is one of the most popular and well-known Chinese legendary folk tales. It first appeared in the 6th Century AD, but is actually set during the 4-5th Century AD in the turbulent Northern Wei era (386-536 AD).

Breaking the Castle

Written and performed by Peter Cook. Directed by Caroline Stacey. The Street Theatre, Street Two. 28 February – 14 March 2020 and touring

The latest offering from The Street’s First Seen program, Peter Cook’s first play Breaking the Castle, is an extraordinary and beautiful portrait of an actor’s life as he descends into and then overcomes meth addiction. It begins with what seems like a conceit: David Smith (played by Cook) as an actor, talking about how in control and connected with the audience he is and more tenuously, how the audience themselves were reacting.

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