Reviews

The Rivals

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Angus Street, Adelaide. 3-5 Dec, 2020

"'Tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion." A malapropism from Mrs. Malaprop herself which seems to sum up the play, The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

The Rivals is the Adelaide Repertory Theatre’s last offering for the year and their first performance returning to a live audience.

A satisfying end of the year for the ‘Rep’ who have been stoically soldiering on through Covid-19, providing audiences with virtual plays online.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

By Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Bel Canto Performing Arts at the Old Mill Theatre. Directed by Katherine Friend. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. December 4-13, 2020

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a fabulously colourful, energetic, warm, and well performed musical, presented by Bel Canto Performing Arts at the Old Mill Theatre. The cast is young - aged 8-18 - which is particularly fitting, as ‘Joseph’ was originally written for school children to perform.

Superbly narrated, with personality and gorgeous voices by Cadie Smythe and Bella Freeman, the story follows the biblical story of Joseph, son of Jacob. Jack Churchman anchors the show beautifully in a very well acted performance.

Flat Out Like a Lizard

By Norman Price. Presented by Robert the Cat. New Benner Theatre, Metro Arts, Brisbane. 4 to 12 December 2020

Flat Out Like a Lizard promises to be a series of Aussie stories told through the eyes of a central character, Lazarus White. In the opening monologue, Lazarus warns us that we will have to listen to this series of stories, and experience words in a verbal jigsaw. Each story that then emerges has a common theme of ‘darkness’, with a menacing (or humorous) recurring image of a blue-tongue lizard. Each piece is put to the test by a panel of ‘arts experts’ who sit in judgement at a long desk on the stage.

Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment

Adapted by Stephen Briggs. Roleystone Theatre. Directed by Brad Towton. Roleystone Hall, Jarrah Rd, Roleystone, WA. Dec 5-13, 2020

Terry Pratchett shows are very popular and almost their own genre in their style. There is a dedicated fan-base, but they can often be tricky for people who are not fans of the Discworld novels to understand. Not so Monstrous Regiment, a stand-alone story that is easy to watch, entertaining and fun.

The Golem: or, Next Year in Jerusalem

Devised by Humphrey Bower and Tim Green with Hazem Shammas. Movement Direction by Natalie Allen. The Blue Room, James St, Northbridge WA. Dec 1-12, 2020

The Golem: or, Next Year in Jerusalem is really two plays, performed by two actors in two spaces concurrently with both actors and the two audience groups moving between the two spaces. On Saturday evenings, audiences can choose to watch both shows in a 120 minute experience.

Downtown!

Created by: Phillip George, David Lowenstein and Peter Charles Morris. Players Theatre, Ballina. Directed by Sue and Paul Belsham. 4th – 20th December, 2020

Six years and six months ago (to the day) I saw the first production of Downtown in Ballina, as staged by Sue and Paul Belsham’s company SUPA NORTH, and this restaging of the “Mod Musical” was an inspired choice as Ballina’s re-emergence post COVID-19.  The audience (reduced in size to comply with restrictions) loved every minute of this trip down memory lane.

Oklahoma!

By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Richard Carroll, musical direction by Victoria Falconer. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA. Nov 28 - Dec 20, 2020

Historically, Oklahoma! is a landmark musical - the first collaboration of Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, and a show that changed audience expectations of the genre. The first audiences must have found it new, surprising and fresh. We usually think of it now as a nostalgic piece, and a safe, predictable, if very loved, musical.

Pippin

Book by Roger O. Hirson. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Produced by John Frost and Suzanne Jones. Sydney Lyric. Opening Night – Dec 3, 2020.

It was a thrill to finally return to a crowded, albeit masked theatre, to see a big musical. The opening night audience was excited to be there and gave a well-deserved ovation to the spectacular song “Magic to Do” - which combined a lovely tune, colourful costumes and circus tricks.

Pippin – first staged on Broadway in 1972 – is not a tier one commercial musical with general public name recognition that we are used to seeing in this venue, but is more in the field of classics which music theatre aficionados relish.

The Wharf Revue 2020: Good Night and Good Luck

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phil Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe. Parramatta Riverside Theatres in November 2020, then touring until February 2021.

The original Wharf Revue trio, with the talented assistance of Amanda Bishop, is back on tour with another collection of pithy parodies and caustic caricatures!

Based on the chaos of the year gone by, they wittily appraise everything from the bush fires (How do we Solve a Problem from Hawaii) to pork-barrelling (The Adventures of Bridget McKenzie) to more ‘intimate relationships’ (The Premier’s Dating Service).

Misfits School of Arts

Book and lyrics by Tim O’Connor. Music and orchestration by Dennet Hudson. Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre. Directed by Tim O’Connor. Harvest Theatre Stafford Qld. Nov 25 – Dec 5, 2020.

My first visit to the Harvest Rain Theatre was very productive, with such an exciting crop of talent on display as they reaped the benefits of their lessons there. This is a completely original production from the writing and composition to the staging. The stage is an open space on the floor, which meant the many dancers could launch into the routines with freedom and liberty – and they did.

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