Reviews

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Book by Douglas McGrath. Music by Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. Blackout Theatre Company. Director: Jordan Anderson. Musical Director: Koren Beale. Pioneer Theatre Castle Hill. 7-16th May, 2021

It’s a brave company that takes on NSW’s first amateur production of any musical, especially one that is as demanding as Beautiful. Carole King’s story covers over half a century of musical styles, song writers and singers. It’s complex vocally in so many ways – just fancy taking on the role of a singer as talented and internationally loved as Carole King for a start! Or Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann! Or The Drifters! Or The Shirelles!

Euphoria

By Emily Steel. State Theatre Company South Australia. Space Theatre, Adelaide. May 7-15, 2021

Euphoria, written by Emily Steel, shines a light on the issues of mental health in ways that are both joyful and uncomfortable, all at the same time.

This production is one of the best pieces of theatre I have experienced in a very long time: exquisite acting, brilliant staging and direction, with a cleverly told story. This beautiful and, at times, hilariously funny piece, was written by Steel after research and conversations held with many people across towns in regional South Australia.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Musical

By Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott. Directed by Trevor Patient. Platinum Entertainment. Crown Theatre, Perth WA. May 7-30, 2021

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Musical makes its west of the black stump premiere with this big, bright and bold production from Platinum Entertainment at Crown Theatre. Gorgeously slick, with outstanding production values, this is a show worthy of a national tour.

What Is the Matter with Mary Jane? & Slut

By Wendy Harmer & Sancia Robinson (What Is the Matter with Mary Jane?) and Patricia Cornelius (Slut). Fourth Wall Theatre Co. St Martins Theatre, South Yarra. 6 – 15 May 2021

The two one-act plays that make up this double bill depict conditions or the cruel prejudices that afflict (almost exclusively) women.  In What Is the Matter with Mary Jane? it is anorexia nervosa and bulimia.  In Slut, it is the misogyny and double standards (and jealousy?) that get a woman labelled ‘slut’.  Both plays give rise to unfashionable emotions– in the current climate - since in both plays the persecutors on stage are other women.

A Room of One’s Own

Written by Virginia Woolf. Adapted for the Stage by Carissa Licciardello & Tom Wright. Belvoir. Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre. May 6 – 23. 2021

How the spirits of female students must have soared when they heard Virginia Woolf’s two lectures at Cambridge in 1928! Published soon after, it’s here given its third adaptation for performance. 

A Room of One’s Own is ostensibly about women in fiction, as we follow Woolf’s sharp mind and earnest sympathy unravelling millenniums of misogyny and oppressive traditions which left the world with so few female writers.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Book by David Greig. Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. Stray Cats Theatre Company. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. May 6-9, 2021

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a feel-good tale and a story of triumph over adversity, which seems a very great choice after a difficult couple of weeks, with masked audiences at its first couple of performance given lots of laughs.

Bright and uplifting, fun costuming (Linda Lowry, Kim Parker, Pat Francis and Karen Francis) and a set with some lovely surprises, designed by Bronwyn White and Karen Francis, are lit with lots of colour and verve by Clint Gerard and Karen Francis, to create a world of wonder.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

By Rupert Holmes. Phoenix Ensemble, Beenleigh, Qld. 7th – 29th of May, 2021

Let me guess, you’re not familiar with this musical. You should be. Phoenix Ensemble have taken on some massive productions since the Covid restrictions lifted and this show is no exception. Approximately twenty minutes into the first act, it was obvious how pivotal the casting was to this production. Without a cohesive cast who are masters of improvisation, song and dance, it’s very likely this production would fail. In this case, Director Shane Webb has succeeded beyond belief.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Adapted by Christopher Sergel from the novel by Harper Lee. Directed by Jane Sherwood. Stirling Theatre, Morris Place, Innaloo, WA. May 1-16, 2021

Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird, held up by the early Civil Rights Movement as an excellent example of solidarity and non-violence, continues to resonate with readers and theatre audiences over 60 years after its publication, especially in the light of the #Blacklivesmatter movement. Difficult to stage in Perth, because of the demographics of our acting community, it is great to see Christopher Sergel’s moving theatrical adaption finally hit our stages.

Foxholes of the Mind

By Bernard Clancy. WHAM – Wolf Heidecker Arts Management. The Royalty Theatre, Adelaide. May 6-8, 2021

When playwright Bernard Clancy is asked why he wrote Foxholes of the Mind, his response is ‘to save lives’. First performed in 2010, his poignant play about the aftermath of war and the ongoing, unseen wounds of the men and women who served, delves deep into the psyche of several characters.

Bach Out Loud

Baroque masterworks in an intimate setting, presented by Contra Concerts and Southern Cross Soloists. Curated by Jonathan Henderson. Holy Trinity Church, Brisbane. 7 May, 2021

Contra Concerts' debut series started in Brisbane with a delightful curated concert of pieces by JS Bach. This clever selection transports the audience back to the streets of Leipzig at the height of the Baroque period. The intimate setting in the quaint space of the Holy Trinity Church Hall, with its beautiful high wooden ceiling, allows a closeness to the musicians which means the pieces can be enjoyed almost as the composer would have envisioned ...

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