The New Deal

By James Balian. The Sydney Fringe. New Theatre NSW, 15 to 19 September 2011

Sex, Lies and a Faustian phallusy

What happens when Mephistopheles franchises his ‘package’ to Australian politics? Do we get Julia Gillard?  Tony Abbott? No, we get Lynden Jones playing a highly anxious, somewhat despondent and very combative non-stand up kinda guy who trades his useless member for a useful career path in politics. We’ve seen many riffs on the Faust Tale and but there’s not much new here at the New.

Pecan Summer

By Deborah Cheetham. Short Black Opera Company. Director: Deborah Cheetham. Musical Director: Dr David Kram. Choreographer: Sermah Bin Saad. Playhouse Theatre, the Arts Centre. September 28 - 30, 2011

Deborah Cheetham is a very talented and busy lady. Apart from being Australia’s highest-profile indigenous opera singer, she is also a composer, librettist, director and administrator. All this has come together in Pecan Summer, the first Indigenous Australian opera, words and music by Deborah, who also directs and stars.

After an off-Broadway style world premiere in Mooroopna last year, where the second act is set, the opera opened at the Arts Centre last night to a standing ovation. This was not surprising.

Clue The Musical

MDMS (Vic). Director: Michael Butler. Conductor: Amy Cumming. Maroondah Secondary College. September 16 - 24, 2011

How do people dream these things up? A musical based on a board game? It was very clever and it worked!

MDMS do one major production each year and usually a concert for their second show. This year they instead chose Clue the Musical, based on the board game Cluedo. Requiring eight actors, no chorus, one basic set and a three piece band, this is ideal for a small professional touring company but not for an amateur company wanting to keep their chorus happy.

That Face

By Polly Stenham. (SA). The Bakehouse Theatre. Director: Corey McMahon. September 23 − October 8, 2011.

That Face looks at the seemingly modern phenomenon of children caring for parents and the particular dysfunction that brings to family relationships.

Henry (Matt Crook) has dropped out of high school to care for his manipulative mother, Martha (Tamara Lee). While he does his best, she often persuades him to join him drinking and then they wind up sharing a bed. At one point she destroys his clothes, leaving him nothing to wear but her dressing gown.


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.

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