Driving Miss Daisy

By Alfrew Uhry. Director: David Esbjornson. John Frost, Jed Bernstein & Adam Zotovich production. Playhouse, QPAC, from 9 February 2013; Theatre Royal, Sydney from March 2; Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from April 6; Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide from May 17 and His Majesty's Theatre, Perth from June 8.

In the hands of Broadway royalty, Driving Miss Daisy becomes not only a good play but a great one. Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines invest this basically affectionate anecdote with star power rarely seen on an Australian stage.

West Side Story

Book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Presented by Free Rain. The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan. 8 – 24 February, 2013.

Lovers of musicals are in for a treat with Free Rain’s production of West Side Story. Most people will be familiar with the plot and importance of this updated Romeo and Juliet, set and written in the 1950s, concerning the teen street gangs of 1950s west side New York. The Jets, a white working class gang, are planning a fight over territory with the Sharks, a gang of Puerto Rican migrants, when ex-Jet Tony falls in love with Maria, sister of the head of the Sharks.

The Wizard of Oz

By L Frank Baum. Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. Incidental music by Herbert Stothart. Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Packemin Productions. Director: Neil Gooding. Musical Director: Peter Hayward. Choreographer: Camilla Jakimowicz. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. February 8 – 23, 2013.

Indelibly etched on the hearts and memories of generation after generation thanks to the Hollywood classic, a theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, more than most other musicals, only succeeds as this one undoubtedly does by satisfying the preconceptions and emotional memories with which audience members enter the theatre.

It’s in our cultural DNA.

4000 Miles

By Amy Herzog. Directed by Mark Pritchard. Red Stitch Theatre (Vic). Feb 8th- March 9th, 2012

Any opportunity to see the sublime Julia Blake share her craft should not be missed by true theatre lovers.

Wild Eagles Fly Alone

Redback Dance Company. Direction: Trent Harlow. Choreography: Jayden Hicks. Chapel off Chapel. Feb 6th and 7th and 16th, 2013

Thanks to me getting the show time wrong on opening night, I had to catch the second performance of this exciting new company. It was well worth the double trip to the wonderfully eclectic Chapel off Chapel.

The Pitch & The China Incident

By Peter Houghton. Director: Catarina Hebbard (The Pitch), Daniel Evans (The China Incident). QTC @ Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 2 Feb – 9 Mar, 2013.

Barbara Lowing’s solo performance in The China Incident is comic gold. Her manic day in the life of PR guru Bea Pontivac is one riot of laughs from start to finish. Whether putting a positive spin on an African dictator’s massacre, fielding inappropriate calls from the President of the United States, or setting up a sexual tryst with a U.N.

Torch Song Trilogy

By Harvey Fierstein. Gaiety Theatre in association with Mardi Gras. Director: Stephen Colyer. Darlinghurst Theatre. February 6 - March 3, 2013

Some Independent Theatre productions can be so good they outshine many from mainstage theatre companies. Particularly when they combine great skill and passion for the subject matter. Torch Song Trilogy is one of those.

The play ranges from comedy, to bed-hopping farce, to gripping drama.

It opens with the stage stripped back to the bones of the theatre walls. Three Drag Queens apply their make-up in front of stage mirrors, to prepare for a performance.

Simon Corfield shines as the wise-cracking Arnold.

Great Falls

By Lee Blessing. Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli (NSW). February 6 – March 3, 2013.

What a gripping play with which to begin a season! It doesn’t promise to excite … a divorced step-father, “Monkey Man”, taking his estranged – and unwilling – eighteen year old step-daughter, “Bitch”, on a trip across America to the places he visited in his happy childhood. He wants re-connect. She doesn’t. She is surly, aggressive, uncommunicative. What’s behind this? Why is he bothering?

Into the Woods.

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim, Book: James Lapine. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Joshua McCann-Thomson. February 2 – March 2, 2013.

This inspired interpretation of the classic was very well received by both the Sondheim devotees and those audience members not familiar with the piece.

Joshua McCann-Thomson had assembled a talented ensemble cast, well versed in the art of performing Sondheim’s unique style and they carried it off perfectly.

Under the Musical Direction of Ethan Jones, the cast ensured that the lyrics were never sacrificed throughout the fast pace of the show, and what a hectic pace it was.

Shakespeare in Hollywood

By Ken Ludwig. Castle Hill Players at the Pavilion Theatre (NSW). Feb 1 – 23, 2013.

Remember the 1935 movie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?  Max Reinhardt directing (in German) for Warner Brothers? Mickey Rooney, James Cagney, Joe E Brown? Now imagine that Oberon, the fairy king, and his offsider, Puck, have transmogrified onto the set and been cast to play themselves.

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