By Jonathan Larson. Chatswood Musical Society (NSW). Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. September 23 – October 1.

Iconic, generational hit musical Rent, with its contemporary voice and rock score, is a magnet to young performers.

Writer / composer Jonathan Larson died before the Off-Broadway opening of his hit rock musical / opera, without the chance to further develop it, so the very sparsely written piece needs strong directorial interpretation to fill out the storytelling. It also needs uniformly fantastic rock voices.

10,000 Beers

By Alex Broun. Darlinghurst Theatre (NSW). September 17 – October 8, 2011.

Beers, Balls and Bare Bums

Why did I think I wouldn’t like 10,000 Beers? Perhaps it was the fact that I don’t really like sport, I’m not fussed on football players and I don’t know one team from the next. However, I was wildly entertained, madly laughing and thoroughly engaged at Darlinghurst Theatre last night on opening night of 10,000 Beers by Alex Broun.

Circus Cabaret

Melbourne Circus Festival. National Institute of Circus Acts (NICA). NICA National Circus Centre, Prahran. September 26 to October 2, 2012

National Institute of Circus Acts (NICA) Director, Pamela Creed, states of the Melbourne Circus Festival: “The festival offers something for circus lovers of all ages with a range of family shows, children’s workshops, extraordinary Circus Cabarets, and something a little edgier for those who stay out late”.

Creed was understating it.  You don’t have to be a circus lover to be dazzled, mesmerised, and - quite simply - blown away by the talent that is on offer.

Jane Austen is Dead ...See You At the Wake

Written, devised and performed by Letita Sutherland and Mel Dodge. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Gertrude’s Brown Couch. Sept 21 to Oct 9, 2011.

Performers Mel Dodge and Letita Sutherland have created a sassy, fun double-bill for the Melbourne Fringe that showcases their versatility.

Aspects of Love

By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Charles Hart. CLOC Musical Theatre. National Theatre, St Kilda. September 23 to October 8, 2011.

Given I had a minimal knowledge of Aspects of Love, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this production was such that I was totally engaged from beginning to end; both with the quality of the performers' acting, and to their singing of the Lloyd Webber songs under the musical direction of Andrew Houston.

No Man’s Land

By Harold Pinter. QTC and STC Co-production. Bille Brown Studio, Brisbane. 19 September-22 October, 2011.

Actors who have played Pinter will tell you his scripts are devilishly difficult to understand, and hard to memorise, if a director expects that of you pre-rehearsals.

But the moment you spark off each other in rehearsals you discover connections, meanings, subtleties, which flow together in Pinter’s amazing verbal landscape.

The Mikado

By Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. Savoyards @ Iona Performing Arts Centre, Wynnum, Brisbane. Director: Eric Hauff. Musical Director: Steven McKay. Choreographer: Lynne Swain. 24 September – October 8, 2011.

Savoyards first produced The Mikado on 2 November 1961. It was their inaugural production, so what better way to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary than to revive Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular comic opera.

This straight-forward traditional production, complete with bits of pantomime and burlesque, was in the capable directing hands of Eric Hauff, who certainly knows his way around the G&S canon.

The Boy From Oz

Music and Lyrics by Peter Allen, book by Nick Enright. Director: Tom Sweeney. Willoughby Theatre Company. Concourse Theatre, Chatswood (NSW). September 23 – Octiober 1, 2011.

Bumping in a big show can be harrowing, but what about bumping in a whole theatre? The Willoughby Theatre Company had that mountain to climb by staging The Boy From Oz, the first ever production in the magnificent 500 seat tiered Concourse Theatre in Chatswood.

Appalling Behaviour

Written and performed by Stephen House. Directed by Justin McGuinness. La Mama, as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Sept 21 to Oct 2, 2011

In Appalling Behaviour, performer Stephen House conjures a whole world of dirty laneways, windowless rooms, frenetic nightclubs and lost souls with little more than his voice and body. He has a black curtain behind him, a few blocks for props and minimal lighting. It is all House needs.

Ethel Chop & Chums

The Dog Theatre / Melbourne Fringe Festival. Footscray Town Hall. 21 September – 8 October, 2011.

For ridiculously funny and superbly consistent character based comedy at this year’s ‘Fringe’ you would be hard pushed to beat Ethel Chop & Chums.

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