Bliss by Olivier Choiniere

B Sharp / Bareboards. Belvoir Street Downstairs Theatre. Until November 22.

Are you in the mood to see fast paced, vibrant, highly imaginative theatre? Then Bliss, the new production downstairs at Belvoir Street, is your ticket.

Mamma Mia!

Music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaesus. Book by Catherine Johnson Lyric Theatre, Star City, Sydney.

As I sat down to watch Mamma Mia! the thought crossed my mind, if you enjoyed the original stage production and the recently released movie, what would make you want to see it again? When I first saw the stage production, the obvious lumpy bits where Abba songs are dropped in and don’t quite fit the narrative made it a slightly jarring evening for me. Like a shoe that has been worn in, I found myself enjoying the musical more this time. Be aware, though, this is a production which relies on the music, and the story rather than a flashy set.

The Man In Black – The Johnny Cash Story

Twelfth Night Theatre. Producers: Andrew Barker and Simon Myers.

Johnny Cash always opened his concerts with the introduction: 'Hello, I'm Johnny Cash.' His distinctive baritone voice was utterly unique and his demeanor and dark clothing earned him the nickname 'The Man in Black'.

Disney’s High School Musical

Whitehorse Musical Theatre. (Vic). Director/Choreographer/ Costume Designer: Scott Hili. Musical Director: Ben Hudson.

There’s trouble when Troy, the High School basket ball star, and Gabriella, a shy academically gifted newcomer, both want to audition for the High School Musical Juliet & Romeo. Add Sharpay and Ryan Evans, plus all the others who don’t wish this to happen, and there’s a plot and a half. A magnificent stage setting, the entrance to an American High School, changes to the various scenes were excellently executed. Costuming suited both period and country, with lots of changes keeping the cast busy.

What A Shock ‘N’ Shame

By Tony Taylor. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW).

Are you looking for a bit of fun, escapist entertainment?! Then the New Theatre’s current production of local playwright Tony Taylor’s What A Shock and Shame fits the bill exactly.

Invisible Stains

Faculty of the VCA and Music, Acting Company 2009 Graduation Season in collaboration with Production. Conception, co-creation and direction Tanya Gerstle; Set Designer Ellen Strasser; Costume Designer Zohie Castellano; Lighting Designer Rose Connors-Dance; and Sound Designers Joshua Ryan, Chrissie Koltai and Tanya Gerstle. Space 28, VCA until 30 October.

To showcase a graduating class, especially one as varied, talented and large as VCA’s Acting Company 2009, is no mean feat. Tanya Gerstle has more than successfully achieved this through the ambitious production Invisible Stains, a collaborative creation around twentieth century trauma.

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.

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