Reviews

Dear Australia: Postcards to the Nation

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

Dear Australiais 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.

Bombshell In Concert

Music: Marc Shaiman. Lyrics: Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman. Director: Michael Mayer. Musical Director: Marc Shaiman. Choreographer: Joshua Bergasse. People.com free live-stream. Wednesday 20 May 2020

When Bombshell In Concert aired last Wednesday it was manna from heaven for musical theatre geeks who worship at the shrine of Smash, the beloved NBC series which aired for two seasons 2012-13.

Funny Girl

Music: Jule Styne. Lyrics: Bob Merrill. Book: Isobel Lennart from an original story by Miss Lennart. Revised Book: Harvey Fierstein. Director: Michael Mayer. Vision Director: Robert Delamere/ Musical Director: Alan Williams . Choreographer: Lynne Paige. Recorded Live Manchester Palace Theatre, August 2017. Digital Theatre. Cost: £7.99

What is it about the English and American musicals? They seem to be able to revive them and bring dollops of lustre to even the most jaded of musical forms – for instance the backstage musical. Just look at Imelda Staunton’s groundbreaking performance as the definitive Mama Rose in Gypsy.

Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Producer/Narrator: Raul Esparza. Director: Paul Wontorek. Musical Director: Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Streamed 27 April 2020, and available on broadway.com/YouTube

Technical hitches mired the first six minutes of this celebration which began half an hour after its advertised curtain time, but the edited version which can now be picked up on the net is a musical theatre aficionado’s delight. Musical geeks will salivate over the roster of Broadway stars who deliver their most intimate performances in their living rooms, studies and kitchens.

Selby & Friends present Beethoven’s Ghost

Filmed at the Sydney's City Recital Hall. Streaming from July 4, 2020.

Pianist Kathryn Selby’s second concert since lockdown was recorded in Sydney’s beautiful – but sadly empty - City Recital Hall. With violinist Harry Ward and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve she presents a special tribute to celebrate the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. The concert is “centred on Beethoven’s revolutionary ‘Ghost’ Piano Trio, bookended by his much-loved C minor Trio Opus 1, No. 3 and Beethoven’s own arrangement for piano trio of his spectacular Symphony No. 2”. 

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.

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