Reviews

Dear Australia: Postcards to the Nation

Livestreamed monologues, presented by PlayWriting Australia. 2–5 July 2020

Dear Australia is billed as “50 fearless and inspiring short works from some of Australia’s best playwrights”. It is presented as a series of pre-recorded monologues over three nights, live on Facebook at the PlayWriting Australia YouTube channel. The ‘postcard’ format is perfect for getting across short and sharp messages, addressing themes current during the COVID-19 lockdown, including of course the virus itself, as well as other issues in the news such as the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US.

Rattling the Keys

By Zoe Muller. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Virtual Play/You Tube. Screened live on June 27, 2020, and available for one month.

As I sit down to write my first review in many months, much has changed. When the pandemic Covid-19 swept the world, life as we knew it ground to a halt. Unfortunately, the Arts were left in the dark, as our government dubbed the industry non-essential. Companies were left with no choice but to close theatre doors and it remains to be seen how many will be able to open again.

The Sound Of Music – Live!

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Additional Lyrics: Richard Rodgers. Book: Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse adapted for television by Austin Winsberg. Executive Producers: Neil Meron, Craig Zadan. Directors: Rob Ashford, Beth McCarthy-Miller. Musical Director: David Chase. The Shows Must Go On YouTube Free Stream 26-27 June 2020

Repeating The Sound of Music Live! on The Shows Must Go On was a good idea. Pulling 10 million viewers, this NBC production once again proved it was a winner.

In the role of Maria, five-time Grammy winner and theatre virgin Carrie Underwood brought warmth and grit to the part and sang the heart out of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s iconic score. Particularly nice was “Something Good”, a song interpolated from the movie.

Falsettos

Music & Lyrics: William Finn. Libretto: William Finn & James Lapine. Direction: James Lapine. Musical Director: Vadim Feichtner. Choreography: Spencer Liff. Lincoln Center At Home. Live Streaming 25-27 June 2020

With Pride month being celebrated around the globe, it seems entirely appropriate that Lincoln Center should live stream their 2016 revival of Falsettos. Based on a trilogy of musicals about a married man, his family, and his gay lover in the age of AIDS: In Trousers debuted in 1979, followed by March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990). The latter two became the basis of Falsettos which played Broadway in 1992.

Who’s Your Baghdaddy? or How I Started the Iraq War

Music and book by Marshall Paillet. Lyrics and book by A.D. Penedo. Curveball Creative. Director Neil Gooding. Streaming live from 24th-28th June, 2020. Available to view until July 12.

LATEST: From Monday 29 June Who’s Your Bagdaddy (Or How I Started The Iraq War), which was performed online from 24 - 28 June for five performances, will be available to view until Sunday 12 July through www.baghdaddymusical.com.au. Tickets will be on the same sliding scale as the live performances, starting from $22, with any added donations split between the Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW and the cast and crew.

Act One

Play by James Lapine. Based on the autobiography by Moss Hart. Director: James Lapine. Lincoln Center At Home. 19 May – 3 July 2020

When I first read Act One, first published in 1959, I thought it was the most wonderful theatrical memoir I had ever read, and plenty of others agreed with me. Frank Rich called it ‘the greatest show biz book ever written’ and it stayed at Number 1 on the best-seller list for five months.

Small Island

By Helen Edmundson. Based on the novel by Andrea Levy. Director: Rufus Norris. National Theatre At Home. 18-25 June, 2020

This sprawling, engrossing narrative is the sort of play the National Theatre does so well. Based on Andrea Levy’s acclaimed novel, and expertly adapted into a three-hour epic by Helen Edmundson, Rufus Norris’ production has the sweep and feel of classic theatre. Originally produced in 2019, it’s a story of historical racism and Jamaican immigrants in post-war Britain, and it’s surely no coincidence it was chosen to stream this week because it feels as contemporary and relevant as today.

Peter Pan Live

Music: Jule Styne and Moose Charlap. Lyrics: Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Carolyn Leigh. Additional Lyrics: Amanda Green. Script: Irene Mecchi. Executive Producers: Craig Zadan, Neil Meron. Director/Choreographer: Rob Ashford. Director for Television: Glenn Weiss. Musical Director: David Chase. The Shows Must Go On. Free streaming 20-21 June 2020.

Postponed for a week due to the The Wiz Live being rescheduled in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, NBC’s Peter Pan Live finally got its airing this weekend.

Ever since the first screening of Mary Martin’s Broadway production of Peter Pan in 1955, which brought phenomenal ratings of 65 million viewers, it has been a perennial favourite for the Network.

The Wiz Live!

Music & Lyrics: Charlie Smalls. Additional Music & Lyrics: Luther Vandross, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Harvey Mason Jr, Stephen Oremus, Timothy Graphenreed, Harold Wheeler. Book: Harvey Feirstein, based on the original by William F. Brown. Director: Kenny Leon, Matthew Diamond. Choreography: Fatima Robinson. Musical Directors: Harvey Mason Jr., Stephen Oremus. The Shows Must Go On, YouTube Channel. Streamed free 13-14 June 2020

This week “The Shows Must Go On” channel showed their support of the “Black Lives Matter” campaign and streamed The Wiz Live, a soul/R&B retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s fantasy novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, originally aired on NBC in 2015. It was based on the 1975 Broadway musical that won 7 Tony Awards, and the 1978 movie which starred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Lena Horne, amongst others.

St Nicholas

By Conor McPherson. The Street Theatre, Canberra. Online livestream 5 to 7 June 2020.

Stage Whispers reviewers Beth Keehn and Cathy Bannister both caught The Street Theatre's online streamed production of St Nicholas.

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