2 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 3
4 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Subscribe to be in the running to win one of the following prizes
One double pass to Shadowland in each of the following cities: Melbourne - Arts Centre - Wednesday 28 May. Auckland, New Zealand - The Civic Theatre - Tuesday 3 June Brisbane – QPAC - Tuesday 10 June Sydney - State Theatre - Tuesday 17 June Canberra - Canberra Theatre – Saturday 21 June Perth - Regal Theatre – Wednesday 25 June Adelaide - Her Majesty’s Theatre - Wed 9 July A Reserve Double Passes (value $200) to the GFO / Opera Australia production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. Princess Theatre, Melbourne: Tuesday June 10, 7pm Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House: Sunday September 7, 7pm 1 Double Pass to see Tex Perkins in The Man In Black - The Johnny Cash Story on July 15 at the Sydney Opera House. Two Double passes to Black Swan Theatre Company’s As You Like It on Saturday 17th of May at 7.30pm at the State Theatre Centre (WA).
Double passes to Palace Opera & Ballet program’s screenings of The Winter’s Tale from The Royal Ballet.
SUBSCRIBE AT stagewhispers.com.au Name: ........................................................................ Address: ..................................................................... Phone:........................................................................ Email: ......................................................................... Please nominate your 1st and 2nd prize preferences:
…………………………………………………………………….. Send your money order, cheque, or credit card details to: Stage Whispers, PO Box 2274, Rose Bay North, NSW, 2030. ABN 71 129 358 710
Visa Mastercard American Express Expiry:......./........ Credit Card Number: ..................................................................... CCV Number ................................................................................. Signature: ..................................................................................... Sign me up for (tick applicable box):
6 issues Print and e-mag for $39.50AUD / $49NZ OR E-mag only for $24.95AUD 12 issues Print and e-mag for $70AUD / $90NZ OR E-mag only for $39AUD 18 issues Print and e-mag for $95AUD / $120NZ OR E-mag only for $55AUD (GST inclusive where applicable) ($NZ cheques address to David Spicer Productions) www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 5
12 In this issue
Inside Strictly Ballroom The Musical ............................................... 10 We talk to the writers of the new Australian musical Anthony Warlow’s Broadway ‘Insult’ ............................................. 14 An iconic Aussie star making it on ‘The Great White Way’
The Shocks Of The New ................................................................. 16 More challenges of producing new Aussie musicals New Comedies On The Move......................................................... 20 Sam Strong and David Williamson on premiering Australian plays Yesterday’s Hero Returns ............................................................... 22 John Paul Young joins Grease as teen rock idol Johnny Casino The Wizardry Of Reg ..................................................................... 24 Reg Livermore on his career and becoming Wicked’s new Wizard
Light And Sound Feature ............................................................... 31 Shadowlands Lighting an entire harbour Phantom of the Lighting and Sound rig
Stage On Disc
Amateur Stage Briefs
On Stage - What’s On
Get the most out of our magazine’s online interactions on your mobile device with a QR code scanner. If your device doesn’t have one installed, http://bit.ly/gYbnAN browse your app store, or try one of these free options. http://bit.ly/zw8t5l
THE NEXT ISSUE OF STAGE WHISPERS IS FOCUSSING ON COSTUMES, SETS & PROPS.
97 6 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
PLACE YOUR AD BY JUNE 3 CONTACT (03) 9758 4522 OR firstname.lastname@example.org
Jemma Rix (E lphaba) and Lu cy Durack (Glin da)
Dear theatre-goers and theatre-doers, I write this prologue to our technical edition amidst the theatrical world’s celebrations of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. In the Bard’s day, of course, theatrical lighting was of the most basic solar type, while actors relied on an inbuilt body mic called projection to communicate their lines past the hubbub of the groundlings in the pit of the Globe, to the more genteel audiences above in the gallery. Now projection more commonly fits into theatrical lingo as a technical alternative to traditional scenery. Our friends at Selecon tell us that LED will soon revolutionise theatre lighting and reduce the power used to illuminate our modern stages. It’s a far cry from the days four centuries ago when natural sunlight illuminated the stage, and flags flew above the theatre to pronounce to the bustling city of London that weather conditions would allow a performance that day. Probably the greatest joys for me in pulling together our technical supplement this edition have been the insights from Jason Bovaird of Moving Light Productions and Greg Ginger from Outlook Communications into the way that both lighting and sound should be such a vital part of the overall creative vision at all levels of musical theatre today. They reveal for me the way in which the growing sophistication of equipment, combined with technical designers of skill and vision, can enable creative community theatre collaborations to knock our socks off. If this is all sounding a bit too technical, never fear. For your general theatre reading pleasure we have features looking at the staging of new plays and musicals, alongside chats with Aussie entertainment icons Anthony Warlow, Reg Livermore and John Paul Young.
e Reg Livermor (The Wizard)
Maggie Kirkpa trick (Madam
Yours in Theatre,
Neil Litchfield Editor
Cover image: Phoebe Panaretos (Fran) and Thomas Lacey (Scott) in Strictly Ballroom The Musical at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre. Photo: Lightbox Photography. Read David Spicer’s article on page 10. Review on Page 69. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 7
Potted Potter, condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into a 70-minute parody, returns to Australia in October. http://bit.ly/1lHGp0K
Melinda Schneider in Doris – Doris Day – So Much More Than the Girl Next Door national tour playing: Sydney Opera House (May 6 – 11); Arts Centre Melbourne (May 14 – 18); Playhouse, QPAC (May 21 – 25); Civic Theatre Newcastle (May 31); Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat (June 5); Frankston Performing Arts Centre (June 6); Kernot Hall, Morwell (June 7); Playhouse, GPAC (June 8); Canberra Theatre (June 13); Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, Nowra (June 14) and Adelaide Festival Theatre (June 25). 8 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
New independent theatre company The Theatre Division will stage the Sydney Premiere of Ruthless! The Musical from June 20 to July 5 at The Seymour Centre with an all-female cast featuring Katrina Retallick, Meredith O’Reilly, Margi De Ferranti and Caitlin Berry, with the Geraldine Turner as Broadway critic ‘Lita Encore’.
Todd McKenney and Simon Burke star in The Production Company’s La Cage aux Folles at Arts Centre Melbourne in November. Guys and Dolls (July) and Show Boat (August) complete the 2014 season. http://bit.ly/1iboHUx www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 9
Photo: Lightbox Photography
Strictly Speaking 10 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Online extras! Check out a trailer for Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Scan the QR code or visit http://youtu.be/UaCDo-Uia6s
Audiences love it, but critics are lukewarm. David Spicer speaks to the writers of the musical, who confirm that changes are planned as it moves into new cities. At the media call Baz Luhrmann was a little on edge. It was the day before the World Premiere and a vital ingredient was missing from the performance for the large media contingent. “The most essential element in this production is the all singing, all dancing seats in the audience. People in those seats are cast in the roles of characters in the festivals. At the end of the production (if you have seen the film) the characters of the ballroom dancing world finally cross the line,” he said. “It is because of their rhythmic clapping that Scott and Fran are able to finish their steps, their choreography, and pursue their individual truthful road, rather than the one set down by the all-powerful Federation, who have a little book with all the ticks and crosses.” Indeed the audience rarely forgets its ‘lines’ but sometimes the timing is out. The most common response is for the rhythmic clapping to start a little early – drowning out Barry Fife before the famous protest is due to begin. The seats are also colour coded, helping to prompt members of the audience to barrack for their team at the appropriate time. If you are sitting near the front you can also dance on the stage after the curtain calls. Co-writer Craig Pearce says the audience participation is one of the most popular aspects of the production. “We are getting people dancing and cheering on stage and in the aisles at the end. We really feel like they are with us. I have heard reports that people want to come back. It’s an experience like The Rocky Horror Show.” Pearce was with Baz Luhrmann at NIDA when they first wrote the 30 minute play edition of Strictly Ballroom and was also the co-writer of the screenplays for Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, but he says developing a musical is a very different dance to master. “I have learnt just how important music has to be as a storytelling device. You can’t just put songs between scenes. The music has to be an intrinsic part of the storytelling and has really got to drive the storytelling. “Something that surprised me was how much further you could go with storytelling devices in writing a musical than with a film.” He compares a scene in the movie where ballroom dancing supremo Barry Fife warns a character that Scott has to dance by the rules, (Continued on page 12)
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 11
(Continued from page 11)
otherwise there will be severe repercussions with his career and life. In the musical it “becomes a big sort of Russian Stalin era showstopper that has echoes of any kind of Fascist regime. We went quite a long way with that, with Russian dancers in ‘blinged’ out caps and doing Russian goosestepping.” Craig Pearce says audiences are very willing to participate in the heightened theatricality of it as long as the intrinsic storytelling idea is clear. Another example is a number called ‘Heavenly Pineapple’, sung by the character of Tina Sparkles. “She is supposedly dancing a farewell exhibition dance with her partner Nathan Starkey. Within a few bars she is singing to Scott about the power of her pineapple and all the right cherries he can pluck if he comes and dances with her. “It is a tricky reference to Carmen Miranda and that kind of crazy choreography of the 40’s. On one hand we are saying Federation style of dancing does not have a lot of soul to it, but it is very glitzy and attractive on the surface, whereas the dancing of Scott is a lot deeper.” The full name of the song is ‘State Championship – Heavenly Pineapple’ and according to the program it was composed by six people and written by another four. Whatever happened to the days of Rodgers and Hammerstein sitting around a piano and eking out a song?
12 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Photo: Lightbox Photography
“It was originally a track submitted by Sia Furler. Pop music is very collaborative these days. Someone would have done the top line, someone the bass and maybe a rhythm bed. We then worked out where it would be great in the show. “There is also some traditional songwriting in there (including Eddie Perfect’s songs), written by one or two people around the piano.” The songs in the musical are from many different genres. There is an adaptation of a classic waltz, a re-write of a song from Carmen, a techno song and classic pop such as ‘Time after time’ and ‘Love is in the air’. Craig Pearce says this has a lot of appeal to young people. “The ballroom world is a very eclectic world musically. It is something that intrinsically makes sense in the
world of ballroom dancing and gives an energy to the show that I really like. “There is a real move towards bower birding from different cultures and genres and putting them together to create new ones.” Baz Luhrmann himself is credited with writing the lyrics or co-composing eighteen of the songs. Craig Pearce says that Baz has long been a contributor to the music in his films. It poses the question, how does Baz Luhrmann as the Director of the musical look critically at his own work, as it is unusual for a director of a new musical to also be one of the major writers of the dialogue, lyrics and music. In this case the story is also very close to him as it was inspired by his childhood. “Baz has a history of surrounding himself with talented people who are simpatico with him in terms of communication and working together. It is not like he is a mad megalomaniacal tyrant surrounding himself with yes people. He is very good at creating a creative team that he relies on. “It is a challenge for any person of an auteur nature as he is involved in just about all the aspects of the production. At the end of the day he has the over-riding say, but he is very good at listening to people he is collaborating with.” Many of the critics have not been kind to the musical. Firstly there was consternation within the company when a blogger chose to publish his opinion based on the second preview.
“I am sure Baz did read it. It is unfair for a show to be reviewed in a preview but I guess with social media, everyone is a critic. People that scream the loudest get the most attention so they can say.” Later the official reviews rolled in and several leading critics expressed disappointment with the original music. “It sounds pretentious. I know we’ve had some amazing reviews, mixed reviews and bad reviews. I don’t read (any). “A wise old actor once said to me, he that lives by the reviews dies by the reviews. I am not interested in spending the energy on it. “If someone writes a good review. Wow they really like me! Then someone writes a bad review then they don’t understand it. Whether or not the view is valid you expend a certain amount of emotional energy on that. That’s not for me.” But Craig agrees there is room for improvement. “These shows have a long, long life. They have a long development. One of
the exciting things is you do have the opportunity to improve it and change it, which you don’t with film. It is never perfect. We will certainly tweak it before Melbourne and before London and any version of it. That is the nature of who we are as creative people.” Changing musicals once they have opened is nothing new. Industry insiders say Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a mess for the first three months it was on in Sydney and went on to be staged all over the world. Strictly Ballroom The Musical has already been trimmed by fifteen minutes or so during the previews. Baz Lurhrmann says he learns the most from the audience. “We had a standard preview period. You can hide away longer but then you discover your flaws too late. “Wherever we go comment is going to follow. Our relationship has always been directly to the audience. I think hiding away feels better, you sleep more comfortably, but it is not the best or right thing to do. “Nothing is more valuable than an audience in the creative process.
“We put in a lot of work into an aria by Scott after he loses at the Samba. It turned out lovely and had a lot of visual imagery that was engaging. It turns out we did not really know anything about Scott, we did not really care for that character (yet), so we ripped it out and the audience was engaged in a clearer way. “You might say this is not a very out of town try out. We always live in a paradox because this is our home town. But there is a place called Broadway and that is a different playing field. This is an Australian musical. There are characters in it that are fundamentally Australian. It is good to have time to build in this environment.” But Craig Pearce is not losing any sleep over the musical as it now stands. He’s planning on taking a break from it before trying to look at the production again with fresh eyes. “I think the show is in a very strong place. You don’t get that kind of reaction from audiences unless there is a genuine love for the show.”
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 13
Annie (Ella Nicol) and Daddy Warbucks (Anthony Warlow) in the Australian production of Annie. Photo: Jeff Busby.
Warlow’s Broadway ‘Insult’ Music Theatre Superstar Anthony Warlow is returning home for a national concert series after experiencing what he describes as the ‘insult’ of living and performing on Broadway. He spoke to David Spicer from New York about the differences between the Australian and Broadway Music Theatre scenes.
For anyone with music theatre in their veins there is also something magical about living in New York. “Everything is at the touch of a button. The arts scene is extraordinary. “Just in the subway yesterday the busking was something you would pay $150 at a bar to hear. You are at a restaurant and you don’t call ‘waiter’, you call ‘actor’. Everyone is waiting to do the next show. Anthony Warlow had just finished “I feel very comfortable in the his stretch as Daddy Warbucks in Annie last year, in the Broadway production community and have been surprisingly recognised and accepted very readily directed by James Lapine, when he here. returned to Australia for a concert. “A lot of people have said why But after a week back in Oz, with an Aussie summer looming, he headed would you do Annie as your first straight back to The Big Apple to Broadway musical? I had a good very experience a more relaxed life as a New reason; the fact that I was showing myself as Anthony. I didn’t have any Yorker who did not have eight wigs or moustache. It was just me. Any performances a week. “I am not a summer boy. I love the audience member would see me in my own guise. Also the great honour of cold. I swell up in the heat,” he said. That seems an unfortunate playing a role that is iconic in the characteristic for a person who makes musical canon - to play a New Yorker.” Did he receive any comments about a living in a costume and make-up why an Australian was playing a under the heat of a spotlight. “Ah but there’s something magical quintessential New Yorker? about that,” he quips. 14 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
“I expected that. But I certainly didn’t get it. A lot of the theatre community were basically saying, ‘It’s about time you were here.’ That was a shock to me. I got many letters from fans, who wanted to meet me.” As well as offering many delights, New York can be very hard work. “It is a joy and a tough mistress. New York is an insulting city. It insults your senses. In the Christmas season there is a flood of people. If you are the worker and have to walk from your hotel or apartment… you walk through the insult of people to get to your theatre and made up. “You deal with getting out of the theatre. I walked for most of my time. I was in the theatre one night. When I came out the whole city had a blanket of snow and I thought this is wonderland. That was all very well until you start walking in it and slip over four or five times. “The upside is the excitement level. In that parade of stars, that is a real shot in the arm. The Disneyland of the award season. But then you have to go back to doing eight shows a week.”
Anthony Warlow in Dr Zhivago. Now that Annie is over Anthony Photo: Kurt Sneddon. Warlow has been concentrating on preparing for a national concert series. He was captivated by the talent of Faith Prince, who was his co-star and is a Tony award winner. “The minute she walked in I felt a sympatico with her. We are like a couple of siblings. We are of an age. We laugh and lament and praise what theatre is. “I said, what about I bring you to Australia. You can be my excess baggage.” Online extras! Anthony says Faith is a Witness Anthony in the Broadway magical cabaret performer, production of Annie. Scan or visit which contrasts with his Faith Prince. http://youtu.be/zTx7v7xu0v0 l. we Re rie Ma Photo: Anna style of concerts with big orchestras. He says they are working on something different about have registered time off. People say, ‘I Phantom of Opera, which he’s relationships, using both classic and am going to have a couple of performed now for years on end. modern musicals. personals this week’. I have been to Surely the lines from those shows “We’re sitting in a room with shows where Nathan Lane is off and must be permanently etched on his hundreds of scores to come up with a people in the audience think we’ll psyche? show, picking very clever eyes out of come back to see him another day. “Isn’t it funny. They come up when the material, (exploring things like) “It is also a matter of not wanting you don’t expect them to. Then having a classic long marriage, living to damage yourself. I could go on and someone says what is that line from together, anger and realising people I’ll sing those notes and scream my Annie but I won’t have a clue. I have to are meant for each other. We found a voice out, and within a month you will go through the whole scene to get it.” beautiful song that was cut from I Do! have no voice and no career. People No doubt he’ll have some new lines I Do! only want you while you are good and to learn pretty soon. “The second act will have better healthy and fit. No-one is Anthony Warlow and Faith Prince known songs including snippets from indispensable.” Direct from Broadway: Adelaide, June Guys and Dolls and Fiddler on the After his concert tour of Australia 10; Perth, June 14; Melbourne, June Roof, also celebrating “the joy of what Anthony Warlow says he is looking 20 & 21; Sydney, June 27 & 28 and we do – entertaining.” forward to an extended rest. Brisbane, July 4 & 5. The entertainment business in New Whatever his future holds he has www.anthonywarlowlive.com York is markedly different from had his full of both Annie and The Australia, both in good and bad ways, he says. He notes that in Australia when you are in a long-running musical you feel ownership of it. “Here it’s almost as if people working on a show expect to move onto the next thing straight away. Most people are thinking, ‘while I am doing this I am auditioning for another show’. It’s one conveyor belt of job opportunities. A show could open one week and be closed the next. “Another thing I was a little shocked at - in Australia when I’m headlining a show I only go off if I am ill or injured and of course the flack that I get from producers and audience members who write letters, boo and hiss. Here it is the norm for people to
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 15
The Shocks Of The New
Atomic. Photo: GXM Photography.
16 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Bringing brand new Australian musicals to the stage is a thrilling, expensive, nail-biting ride. Frank Hatherley talks to some brave theatre people who are currently taking the plunge. They are all discovering that musicals need to be re-written and rewritten and then some. Top producer John Frost had a warning for Jill Walsh and Karen Strahan as they prepared to stage their first professional, self-written musical. “If anything can go wrong,” he said, “it usually does go wrong.” “That’s so true!” says Jill, cowriter, co-producer and co-star of Winging My Way To The Top, opening at the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre in May. But you can tell from her bubbly enthusiasm that nothing will stand in the way of the bright dream she shares with Karen, her long- standing performing and writing partner: the dream of launching an all-new, allAustralian musical. “We’ve been wanting to do this for 20 years,” says Karen. Seasoned performers, Jill and Karen are currently half of a busy four-women cabaret act called The Marvellous Mizdemeanours, based in the ACT but touring widely, for whom they have written many songs. Winging My Way To The Top is about feuding sisters who aim to star in their own musical. The script and songs were good enough to attract a $34,000 ArtsACT grant to launch the show professionally at the Q Theatre. “Getting the Q on side took a lot of courage,” says Jill. “We contacted the Program Manager, Stephen Pike, and said ‘oh, we’ve written this brand new original Australian musical comedy’. ‘Oh, right,’ he said, ‘you’d better come in then.’ “So we sat in the foyer of the Q and pitched it to him – the whole show — we sang our lungs out. We finished and he said ‘It’s not a question of if it goes on, it’s a question of when!’” With a May opening fixed and Stephen Pike himself engaged as director, producers Jill and Karen turned their attention to raising their
Then four months before opening night they lost their director for “health reasons”. “That’s what can happen,” says Karen. There were more shocks to come. While looking for a new director, a friend in the industry suggested they approach Rodney Fisher, one of the country’s most established musicals directors. Surely he wouldn’t be interested, they said. To their delight, Rodney Fisher inspected the material and said he’d do it. “That was a great moment,” says Karen. The coup was announced. Jill, Karen and Rodney posed for photographs for the Canberra City News. $120,000 budget. They were Rodney suggested they did some determined to pay everybody involved. work on the script and in March the “All of a sudden the business side Canberra writer/producers visited their kicks in and you have to think about distinguished director in Sydney to where you’re going to get all this discuss possible changes. money from,” says Jill. “We were going over the script and “We did some internet the songs,” says Karen, “creating a crowdfunding but didn’t raise as much genius kind of a frenzy, and we said, as we hoped. We have a friend who ‘Rodney, this is fantastic what you’re was making a film, a zombie movie, doing, but you do realise that we’ve and his target market was very much got a very short amount of time to put the internet market, a younger market, this on?’ so he did well. We’re not spring “I think it dawned on him and we chickens and we found the internet all looked at each other wide-eyed. challenging.” They raised $4,000. Rodney’s a perfectionist. We talked
about delaying the show, deferring it, but...” They decided to part company. Alerted, the Canberra City News headlined ‘Top director pulls out of local musical’. Rodney was quoted as saying that, though the script has “dramaturgical problems”, Karen and Jill plan “to proceed with the show in its original state”. Recovering from this blow — and “mopping up negative publicity” — the intrepid duo appointed their third director, Gordon Nicholson, one of the cast members and an experienced director of musicals. Original director Stephen Pike would be on hand at the Q during the run-up to opening night. And then the audience will decide if this new musical can really Wing It’s Way To The Top. ———————— The writing/producing team behind the musical DreamSong, opening at Melbourne’s Theatre Works in April, are younger than the Winging team and so have a younger approach to crowdfunding. Hugo Chiarella (book and lyrics) and Robert Tripolino (music) took their project to Pozible.com, hoping to raise $7,500 towards their live sound (Continued on page 18)
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 17
So what happens next to DreamSong, I wonder, after the Theatre Works production? “We’re playing as part of a festival — the Melbourne Comedy Festival — so maybe we could take it to the Edinburgh Festival at some stage. DreamSong would sit there nicely. And I would really like to get it to the New York Music Theatre Festival.” Would that mean even more changes, I ask. “Yep,” smiles Hugo. “It’s hard to imagine a time when I will ever consider it finished.”
DreamSong. Photo: Jeff Busby.
(Continued from page 17)
budget. “It was a lot of effort, but absolutely worth it,” says Hugo. They exceeded their goal by over $2,000. Pledges were graded, each with its own ‘reward’. For a $25 pledge you got ‘A Thank You in the program’; all the way up to a $1000 pledge for which you got ‘A Thank You in the program, five free mp3 tracks from the show, a copy of the program signed by the writers and the cast, a signed poster, a T-Shirt and a personalised song about any subject of your choice written by Hugo Chiarella and Robert Tripolino’. Hugo thinks the success of their crowdfunding campaign was because the musical — about a dodgy evangelical church marketing the second coming of Jesus — already had many real fans. DreamSong had first been performed as a 2010 graduate production of the Bachelor of Music Theatre course at the Victorian College of the Arts. Then, substantially rewritten, it had been part of the 2011 Carnegie 18 New Music Theatre Series. Rewritten yet again, it played four nights in early 2012 at the Arts Theatre Melbourne. “Thanks to this exposure there are people who love it and really want to see it have a professional season somewhere.” How different again, I ask, is the latest version of DreamSong? 18 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
“It’s vastly different,” says Hugo, proudly, noting that the original had cast numbered over 30, “before we reduced it to something more commercially achievable. “Last time it was set in America, but now we’ve relocated the action to Australia. We’ve streamlined the story, culled a lot of songs, several characters and a whole storyline. “That was very painful, and at first I was very, very protective of the script. But we’re now at a stage where you realise that the narrative flow comes above everything else. “You might have written the best song you’ve ever written, but if it’s not serving a key moment in the story then it just has to go. “Also shocking was the realisation that, in terms of championing the work, you, the writers, have to be selfpropelled, put in the hard yards. “At the beginning we thought — hey, it’s a great show, someone is sure to pick it up, give us five million dollars and it will get done. But, no, no, you have to get it onstage yourself before anyone will pay any attention to it. “The pressure to raise money is enormous, all the time. You’ve really got to hustle. You’ve got to be unabashed at selling yourself and your work, which is not something that comes naturally to most writers. We did the Pozible campaign and we found some great sponsors and some extra investment.”
It’s equally hard to imagine that Danny Ginges will ever finish working on his musical Atomic. It wasn’t even a musical at first. Danny wrote a sprawling play about Leo Szilard, the brilliant and largely unknown German/ Jewish physicist whose discovery of the nuclear chain reaction lead to the detonation of atom bombs over Japan in 1945. A successful Sydney advertising man, Danny was determined to get his sprawling vision on stage, a discipline he knew almost nothing about. But he was unafraid to ask and to learn. After many rewrites, and by forging creative partnerships along the way, Atomic, by now a fully-fledged musical, played a 3-week season in Sydney last November at the out-oftown NIDA Parade Theatre. “A lot of changes” and a 4-day workshop followed in New York, then an intense fortnight of further workshops and rewrites in Sydney. Now the powerful show is on its way to the Acorn Theatre on West 42nd Street for an off-Broadway run starting in July. Danny’s is an amazing story of never-say-die doggedness, taking all the shocks and setbacks in his stride. I watch him at the final rehearsed reading of his enterprise before he travels to New York. He concentrates fiercely, very much the quiet outsider among a volatile, arty crowd. “The script’s finished,” he assures me, qualifying this immediately with “well, it will probably change again when we get to America.”
What are the main changes to Atomic from last year’s NIDA showing? “It’s a lot shorter. We’ve moved characters about, trimmed quite a few. Audiences were getting lost and we thought a narrator might be able to help them along. So we’ve expanded Oppenheimer’s role: he’s now the narrator as well. We’ve got Bobby Fox playing Oppenheimer at these workshops. He’s really good.” And indeed he is. Bobby Fox – Hot Shoe Shuffle, Frankie Valli in The Jersey Boys, etc — gives his all to a mere 30strong invited audience. As does Michael Falzon, quite brilliant as Szilard himself. But none of this excellent cast of eight will be playing the show in New York. “It’s too expensive taking people over there,” says Danny. “But we’ve been signing up some very good people on the strength of the script and the songs, so that’s really encouraging.” Your project has been a long, long time coming together, I say. “In the beginning it was just me in a room,” says Danny. “Then I had a reading with some actors and they said ‘you have to find a composer’. So I asked everybody I knew in the music business and eventually I was introduced to Philip Foxman, an Australian who’s worked in New York for 20 years, and eventually Phillip said ‘would you mind if I sent the script to a director friend?’ That was Damien Gray. And he said ‘yeah, it’s got potential’.” Gray proved the perfect choice. His CV includes shows for Disney Theme Parks, a Las Vegas ‘musical spectacular’ and a ‘multimedia rock and roll stunt show’.
“Damien doesn’t do things by halves,” says Danny. “He either does things properly or not at all. It’s been like one scary process after another. “I come from the world of Advertising. Before this, a long piece of work for me was 60 seconds. You can’t survive in Advertising without being ready to ‘kill your babies’, as they say. You’ve got to be open to changing anything, changing everything. “And that’s hard. You get very attached to things — songs, scenes, moments — and then Damien says ‘it’s really good but it’s not working’, and you have to say ‘okay, lose it’. It’s not easy but you’re got to do it.” How does Danny like working in the New York theatre world? “It’s a breath of fresh air to me, really. Sydney’s not geared to developing new work, you know. It’s geared to bringing over work that’s already written. When we began putting on Atomic in Sydney there was so much inertia it was painful. “Damien wanted to talk to choreographers, magicians, all sorts of creative people, but Sydney would say ‘oh, you can’t do that’ and ‘oh, you don’t have the money for that’. And I would say ‘look, we just want to talk, it doesn’t cost money to talk’. “In New York everybody gets excited about the potential of something new. In Sydney they are interested only if it’s made money somewhere else.” “But the actors are great here in Sydney,” Danny adds. “As far as actors are concerned, there’s no difference to New York. It’s on the admin side, the production side of things that...” His voice trails off in exasperation.
The musicals reported above: Winging My Way To The Top Book, Music and lyrics by Karen Strahan and Jill Walsh Strahan & Walsh Productions The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan, NSW 8-17 May 2014 DreamSong Book and lyrics by Hugo Chiarella; Music by Robert Tripolino Red Heifer Productions
Theatre Works, St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC 9-20 April 2014 Atomic Book and lyrics by Danny Ginges and Gregory Bonsignore Music and lyrics by Philip Foxman Acorn Theatre, 410 West 42nd St., New York, NY Opens in July 2014 www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 19
Helen Dallimore and Peter Phelps in Cruise Control. Photo: Clare Hawley.
New Comedies On The Move Two seriously comic new plays feature characters on the move - by presidential jet plane or by cruise ship. Frank Hatherley talks to their very grounded directors. In Melbourne, the director is working with three first-time playwrights. In Sydney, the director is working with Australia’s most successful playwright: himself.
Stitch - have jointly written their firstever stage play, a wild political comedy set on a jet plane. But not any old jet: this is Air Force One, the self-contained administrative headquarters of the US President. “The Speechmaker has a great starting point or conceit,” says Strong with maximum enthusiasm. “You have a fictional president on the way to London on a surprise visit which is Sam Strong, at 37, has directed very many new Australian plays. “I interrupted by a terrorist threat, and grew up theatrically”, he says, then chaos and humour and drama ensue.” “directing new work at all the usual The Working Dog team may be new Melbourne independent venues.” to writing for the stage but, their Then he went to Sydney, specialising in new plays at the Belvoir director says, “they are great story and as Artistic Director of the Griffin tellers, and the ability to tell great Theatre Company. stories transcends the medium in Now, “as a sort of prodigal son”, he which they’re told. “It’s my job to use all the experience has returned to Melbourne as Associate Artistic Director of the MTC, I have in directing new plays to bring and is about to start rehearsals on a this work into the theatre. particularly challenging new project. “In my experience the most successful examples of the Melbourne-based production development and direction of new company Working Dog is famous for plays has been the result of the people the phenomenally successful comic movie The Castle (1997) and a string of involved being agile and courageous, television successes, including Frontline and being willing to change. “The moment at which a new play (94-97). Now their three top collaborators - – and particularly a new comedy – first encounters an audience is a really vital Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob 20 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
MTC Associate Ar tistic Director Sam Strong in reh earsals.
point in its development. It’s a foolish director who isn’t willing to make quite large changes on the basis of how the work’s faring in previews.” I tell him about my discussions with the creators of recent new musicals; how they all had to face ‘killing their babies’, maybe their most loved song or scene, for the good of the whole. Sam Strong agreed immediately. “The straight play equivalent especially with comedy - is not being too attached to particular jokes. It might be a good gag or a particularly smart line, but in the broader interests of the story you are telling it can be necessary to sacrifice it. “But I don’t suspect we’ll be making massive changes to The Speechmaker because it’s in pretty good shape already. It struck me that all of those trademark Working Dog qualities – the wit, the intelligence, the humour – had been seamlessly transposed into a theatrical context. “With Santo, Tom and Rob it’s like getting three brains for the price of
one. You see how they comically bounce off one another and generate ideas. I’m on the receiving end of the comic and satiric gold that comes from their lengthy collaboration.” MTC’s Artistic Director Brett Sheehy says this production fulfils his hopes “to bring people (who are) writing for film and television into the theatre world”. Later in the year Brendan Cowell’s football play The Sublime is also “expected to reach audiences beyond the MTC’s traditional subscriber base.” “Getting a new audience in is something that always excites me as a director,” says Strong. “The Speechmaker will satisfy a traditional theatre-going audience. And I think it will bring in people who haven’t been to the theatre before but who know Working Dog’s consistently brilliant screen work. “It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s satiric, and it’s asking big questions about American politics and the ethics of our leaders.” ———————— Over in Sydney, David Williamson is running late after a packed Easter weekend with “the world’s liveliest grandson”. He takes my call while striding across the Harbour Bridge. He does this not unchallenging walk twice a day between his apartment in The Rocks on the south side and the Ensemble Theatre on the harbour’s edge in Kirribilli on the north side. “Walking is the only exercise you get when you’re directing a play,” he says, raising his voice above the constant roar of traffic. At the Ensemble he’s directing Cruise Control, his own new play. It’s this fit, bridge-walking 72-year-old’s 52nd play, an achievement unequalled in the history of Australian theatre. “I have directed my own plays before,” he says, “but not often. I did Lotte’s Gift at the Ensemble a few years back (2007); I did Sons of Cain for the MTC and the STC in the 80s (1985). I do enjoy it, but frankly I haven’t had enough time to contemplate directing much. “One of the real benefits of directing my own play is that I can continually fine-tune the script day by
day as we go along, mainly in the form of cuts, streamlining, adding a few more lines here and there as difficulties become apparent. It’s been a very good exercise in getting the script to its tightest possible level.” Cruise Control was inspired by real events. “My wife Kristin and I took a cruise three years back on a big luxury ocean liner (the Queen Mary II) on a historic journey from London to New York. It went right over the spot where Titanic sunk. “We didn’t realise that, unless you booked very early, you couldn’t sit at a table with just your partner. “You had to share a table with six or eight people, and those people are randomly assigned to you, and you have to be with them for the whole seven nights of the voyage because if you don’t turn up at your table you don’t get fed. The Speechmaker by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch. Melbourne Theatre Company and Working Dog Productions. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne - 5 June to 5 July 2014. Cruise Control by David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. 30 April to 14 June 2014. “About six months after the cruise I thought, well, that’s a fertile arena for drama. I chose three couples who most definitely do not get on with each other so things go from bad to worse, which is good drama and allows good comedy to arise.” We talk about the difficulties and differences in creating new theatre works - plays and musicals. “You can’t do wholesale rewriting during the rehearsal period for a new play. If the script isn’t almost in the final stage it’s just too much of a strain for the actors. “These days a theatre company will give me a reading four to six weeks before the first rehearsal. “It’s only when you hear the actors do the reading that you realise some lines aren’t necessary, or you’ve said the same thing twice, sometimes three
times. So we’ll all discuss it, and then I’ll go away and think about it and rewrite. That works well for me.” In fact, Williamson now insists on it. “I’ve done some tinkering with just about all my plays,” he projects above the bridge traffic, before adding ruefully, “maybe with some of them I should have tinkered a bit more.” Is it difficult to cut lines or moments or jokes that you’re really fond of? “No, no, if the lines aren’t working I’m the first to cut them. Sometimes an actor might say ‘oh, please, don’t cut them!’ but usually they totally agree. They don’t want to be left with egg on their face quoting bad or redundant lines. “I’ve never regarded myself as a gag writer. The comedy in my plays comes from the audience recognising that characters are behaving badly without realising it. Comedy is really about bad behaviour that is not apparent to the characters but is apparent to the audience. “I’ve been dissatisfied with productions that have treated my plays as ‘comedies’ and gone hunting for laughs. Directing this play, I’ve been able to insist on the dramatic truth.” Would his system apply equally to new musicals? “Musicals are notorious for shaping, polishing, shaping, polishing, getting rid of songs, bringing new ones in. Mind you, sometimes the producers are totally wrong. ‘Over the Rainbow’ was very nearly cut from the Wizard of Oz movie because the producers thought it was a dud song. “Far too many directors of new musicals think that they can dispense with writers, whose special skill, after all, is to shape and craft and avoid redundancies. It’s the same with movies. I think many Australian movies are forgettable because the director is also the writer. “Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to me with Cruise Control,” he laughs. “Mind you, I think it’s more dangerous with directors becoming writers than with writers becoming directors, because writers actually know about structure, about what works and what doesn’t, about what’s redundant and what isn’t.” www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 21
John Paul Young Yesterday’s Hero Returns John Paul Young joins the cast of Grease for its Perth, Adelaide Hobart and return Melbourne seasons, replacing Anthony Callea in the role of Johnny Casino, but the 1970s pop icon is no stranger to musicals, as he explains to Neil Litchfield. While best known as one of the most popular music stars of the 1970s, with hits including ‘Love Is In The Air’, ‘Yesterday’s Hero’ and ‘I Hate The Music’, a career recognised by induction into ARIA’s Hall of Fame, John Paul Young’s music theatre career also stretches back to the 1970s, notably as Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar between 1972 and 1974. In a long career, JPY has crossed over between pop music and musical theatre several times. “I had a long time away from it, but came back when I did Leader of the Pack and Shout a couple of years ago.” Indeed, he was nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Actor for Shout in 2008, for his 13 cameo roles. What are the big differences for JPY between the two types of performance? “The discipline in theatre is the big difference, which I learnt early, because I was in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972. Coming from a rock’n’roll band where you did everything yourself, all of a sudden you’re involved in this thing that’s a bit like a real job. You’re surrounded by all these people who have 22 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
certain jobs to do and you’ve got to toe the line; be where you’re supposed to be, at the right time. It was all a bit of an eyeopener for me back then.” While JPY launches into our chat with Superstar, I can’t help shifting the focus back to Peggy Mortimer and Enzo Toppano’s lesser-known locally-written musical flop Jesus Christ Revolution; a rather less auspicious actual start to his stage career. “That was my first foray into the professional business. Unfortunately it only lasted six weeks, but luckily Jim Sharman was in the audience and thought that my voice was worthy of an audition for Superstar. “I was straight out of the sheet metalworking factory where I did my apprenticeship, and it was all so new to me – going to Melbourne and being part of a theatrical production at the Comedy Theatre. We had live doves, and every night they had to try and re-catch the bloody things. They’d do their business everywhere, every time you let them out of the cage. “It’s all a bit of a blur. Before I knew it, it was finished. The biggest thing I remember was being back home at my mum and dad’s place at Fairfield West. Having left the factory in a big blaze of glory, hitting the big bright lights of showbiz, there I was not two months later, back where I started. My father, God bless him, didn’t say anything, but you could tell from the look on his face that he was less than impressed with my moves.” Fortunately for JPY his performance in the ill-fated musical hadn’t gone unnoticed. “A couple of weeks later a man turned up, as they used to in those days, on a little motorbike, with a telegram asking me to audition for Superstar, and I was saved. I remember to this day 15 cents was all the money that I had in the world, because Jesus Christ Revolution finished in debt, so I was owed money, which I never, ever saw. It was a very sobering lesson for me.”
Grease plays the Crown Theatre, Perth from Saturday 21 June, Festival Theatre, Adelaide, from Sunday 3 August and Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart, from September 5. Following its sell-out Melbourne season, GREASE has announced a return Melbourne season, at the Regent Theatre from Thursday December 11. Though his first biblical musical flopped, Jesus Christ Superstar was a massive hit. “That was incredible. I was surrounded by not only musical theatre people, but people who’d come from rock’n’roll the same as I did, so I didn’t feel alone in that way. There was so much talent, like Jon English. I was from Fairfield, out in the Western Suburbs, and John was from Cabramatta; we used to drive in to rehearsals together. Then we did the concert tour of every capital city. Harry M. Miller chartered this Ansett jet and we flew all around the country. It’s quite a special feeling having your own jet. You could do whatever you liked. In those days – you could smoke on board, and we used to have jam sessions.” And favourite memories of Superstar? “I did about a thousand performances and I think it was just the camaraderie. “There were quite a few funny things when you get involved in a long -running show. You can get a little bit loose on the stage, where the audience is totally unaware of things that are going on. One of the guys way back then was understudying Jesus and it happened to be a matinee, but it was also AFL Grand Final day, so there he was, up on the cross, with a transistor radio tucked into his loin cloth, and an earpiece tucked into his ear, listening to the Grand Final.” Did all that come before JPY’s big pop hits, and his incredibly successful collaboration with Vanda and Young, of Easybeats fame? “It kind of all happened at once. I had ‘Pasadena’ at the same time as I started Superstar, so I was unable to go out there and push that, but the
song kind of loped along quite happily by itself. When Superstar finished I was once again in that 15 cents position, where I had no work, but luckily for me George Young and Harry Vanda decided to relocate from London, and set up shop in Sydney. They had a mountain of songs to wade through and I was very fortunate to be on the receiving end of all those hits.” One of those hits, of course, was ‘Love is in the Air’, currently featuring in another musical, Strictly Ballroom. “Yes, my saviour. There’s a lot of luck involved in show business and I’m a definite testament to that. We sent a song called ‘Keep on Smiling’ over to Germany and on the B Side of that was ‘Standing in the Rain’. The German record company guy didn’t fancy ‘Keep on Smiling’ at all, but luckily he flipped it over and played ‘Standing in the Rain’. It had a Latin beat, and he got it played in some of the discos in Berlin; it gravitated from there onto radio, and it was in the charts for quite some time. That spurred John and Harry on to come up with a follow-up, and that was ‘Love is in the Air’. Had there been no German guy to flip that song over, there may not have been a ‘Love is in the Air’. Does JPY know anything of the story of how Baz Luhrmann came to choose the song for his film? “Only that he knew Ted Albert, the patriarch of the Albert recording company, and when the time came to bankroll the movie, Ted actually gave him a double or triple CD of all of Alberts’ works and said take your. And he liked ‘Yesterday’s Hero’, which made an appearance in the movie – a totally different version, and ‘Love is in the Air’, and even a little bit of ‘Standing in the Rain’.” How important was that to your career at that stage? “It was everything, because I was working in radio, in Newcastle. I was kind of enjoying it, but it was giving me the irrits at the same time. I was actually a non-believer. I thought they did a marvelous job on the song, but I couldn’t see that it was going to do it again; probably because I hadn’t seen the movie, I’d only seen the dream sequences which were incredibly garish. But the production guy at the
radio station said, ‘no, I think this is going to be big.’ I went ‘whatever’, but he was right and I was wrong.” So now JPY has returned to the musicals with Leader of the Pack, Shout, and a bit of a combo of two sides of his career, doing a cameo as a rock ‘n’ roll singer in the musical Grease. “The thing I’m most thankful about is that I’ve been able to eke out a career in this lovely country. The best thing about all of this is that I’ve managed to stay here, and I do love this country. We haven’t got a huge population so to be able to make a living out of it and not be popping up all the time, have a comfortable life, and be able to do all these different sides of show business has been great.” In this current production, there’s a lot of Todd McKenney’s theatrical history on display in his Teen Angel. Are we likely to see John Paul Young peeking his way through in Johnny Casino? “I don’t know. I hadn’t really considered that. I’m pretty good for directors. I do tend to do what I’m told. But if they suggest something and it doesn’t rub me up the wrong way, it’ll probably be fine.”
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 23
The Wizardry Of Reg Iconic performer Reg Livermore returns to the stage this month as the Wizard in Wicked. He talked to Coral Drouyn about things past and present, and his own particular magic of a lifetime in theatre.
full of yourself Livermore – you’ve only been in the business five minutes.’ She was very tall and had this long face, like a Modigliani painting, and she cut me down to size. So what goes around comes around. It’s the naivety of youth, and the arrogance too. If you “So there were these ridiculously don’t believe you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, if you don’t talented young performers, newly think you have something new and graduated from a performing arts academy, and they clearly had no idea exciting to offer theatre, well then of who I was, what I’d done….and perhaps you’ve made a poor career really, why would they? They had such choice.” There was never any chance that confidence, they were so full of Reg had made a poor career choice, it themselves, and I admit it irritated me was a fait accompli from the time he initially. I thought, ‘Have some respect. You’ve been in the business all of five was a toddler. minutes.’ And then it hit me. In my “My Dad had five sisters, all of first show at the Phillip Street Theatre them talented, and there was always some kind of performance going on at (I must have been all of 18) Barbara every family gathering. I thought it Wyndon (a seasoned comedy was quite normal for people to sing performer) said to me, ‘Don’t be so 24 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
and dance in their front room. My dad managed cinemas, but really he should have been a performer. He had a great voice and he actually joined the Mosman Musical Society. I know he had dreams of being on stage, but they thought he would be more useful in administration, so he never got to set foot on the stage. It’s sad really.” Before he even reached his teens Reg was writing and putting on his own shows. He commandeered neighbourhood kids to perform in pantomimes. “Pantomimes were a huge thing in my childhood,” Reg remembers. “We went every year to The Tivoli and, like the precocious child that I was, I found myself thinking how I would have told the story, or directed a scene. It wasn’t so much an egotistical thing…well, maybe partly that…but it was more that I just had such a strong vision of how I wanted shows to be, and it seemed logical to do them myself. I also had this ridiculous amount of energy, I suppose they’d call it hyperactive or one of those labels now, and I just needed an outlet for it.” So Reg commandeered a friend’s playroom and turned it into a theatre. Soon he was hiring local halls and, as actor/writer/director/company manager, he was becoming something of a local legend. There was never any chance that he was going to be a doctor or have a ‘respectable’ career. “I couldn’t go to university,” he recalls, “I didn’t have the marks. Everyone said I had the ability, but I just didn’t have the will. I suppose you could say I had a dream, but it was more like a vision really. I knew clearly what I wanted to do.” With no real formal training (“I cut my teeth at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney, under Doris Fitton) Reg became a part of the Phillip Street Theatre revues. He learned comedy timing on the run, became a professional through osmosis; but it wasn’t until Reg started to take some acting classes with Hayes Gordon that he realised he had no technique at all. “That’s what Hayes gave me,” Reg says, “proper technique to fall back on, to give consistency of performance; to be professional; to be versatile; to adapt. You have to
remember that there were no Performing Arts academies back then. NIDA was on the verge of opening, but places like WAAPA and VCA were years away. Hayes had come from America, he knew things that he could share with us, and I was very quickly hooked.” Reg soaked up all that Hayes could teach him, and turned in some superb acting performances in the next decade, after only a brief stopover in London, which he decided was not for him. He even played The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz at the Sydney Tivoli. Still, the need to step “OUTSIDE” the role, to express spontaneity, still needed to be fed. Reg found that outlet as a presenter, where he could ad-lib; work without a set script. Being young, handsome and very smart meant he was a natural for television, and he was quickly snapped up as the host of Crackerjack. But had success come too fast? “There I was, nearly thirty, thinking to myself – well that’s it, you’ve done it all. There’s nothing left. What do I do with the rest of my life.” And then came Hair, and Harry M Miller opened a new door for Reg. Director Jim Sharman remembers that Reg had so much energy he was mesmerising, and the show was loose enough to give him space he hadn’t had in a role before. “I found a passion even I didn’t know was there,” Reg says. “It freed me up – and it wasn’t just getting my gear off,” he chuckles. “Hair gave us all astonishing freedom of expression, and much clearer insight into who we were, and the kind of performer we wanted to be.” Reg followed it with Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar and even created his own musical, Lasseter. It was Hair that allowed Reg to explore being outrageous, but it was The Rocky Horror Show that let him break down the boundaries and confront the audience. There have been many Frank ‘N’ Furters, but never one like Reg Livermore. He was simply electrifying. “In retrospect,” he concedes. “I’m not sure that being outrageous, so in your face, was an entirely good thing for the show. I started ad-libbing, adding stuff nightly. Fortunately it
Reg Livermore in Betty Blokk Buster Follies.
Online extras! See clips from Reg’s performance in Betty Blokk Buster Follies. Scan or visit http://youtu.be/tKBpyoaokaM worked but it could just have easily damaged the show and made it ‘The Reg Livermore Show’ instead of The Rocky Horror Show. And I did get quite high on the instant gratification, the audience feedback; so that just made me push the boundaries even further. It’s a No-No in a book show; you just don’t adlib or add to the text, but nobody tried to stop me, and I’m grateful for that.” After Rocky Horror there wasn’t anything that excited Reg, so he retreated to Dubbo to recharge his batteries and run a restaurant. But Eric Dare, who had just taken a long lease on former cinema the Balmain Bijou, had other ideas. “Eric turned up with his big cigar and told me he wanted me to do a one man show. I thought he was crazy. But he said rather cheekily that
I’d made Rocky Horror into a one-man show anyway, so why not do it legitimately. My mind started racing, and I had a million ideas about the things I wanted to do, the constrictions I wanted to break free of, the freedom I wanted to express. And so Betty Blokk Buster was born. The Seventies was definitely my time.” If you haven’t seen The Betty Blokk Buster Follies (now available on DVD), it’s difficult to explain the show. There’s Reg in garish white face makeup with lots of lippy, in a white frilly maid’s outfit, tights and stilettos with bare buttocks, taking theatre to places it had never been before and rarely since. It cemented a very clear audience reaction. You either loved it, or you hated it. A range of follow up shows ensued, including Sacred Cow. (Continued on page 26) www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 25
(Continued from page 25)
The show went to London, where most people hated it. “They tried to boo me off the stage,” Reg says thoughtfully, “but I refused to go. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. But we had totally miscalculated how they would react.” It’s not coincidence that the two most sensational stars we produced from that era are Barry Humphries and
26 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Reg Livermore. Both created characters that held up the mirror to the audience and allowed them to laugh at themselves through a third person. Both are master showmen, both brilliant writers and creative forces. But Humphries was always more middle of the road, a less confronting persona. Reg was a rollercoaster and his shows could excite and exhilarate, but also leave you exhausted and bruised. “I
think, to some extent, I was always in Barry’s shadow. There were always comparisons being made, though we really aren’t alike as performers. Still I’m…I wouldn’t say jealous…perhaps more regretful…that I couldn’t find the international success Barry deservedly attained. I think… I hope… my work deserved it. Maybe the timing was just wrong.” After success in Barnum, Reg retired to the Blue Mountains to paint and create a fabulous garden. The need to perform was satisfied doing three nights a week of cabaret at a local hotel. “From that point,” he recalls, “I didn’t seek work in the theatre…I thought my time had passed, I’d had my run. I only came out to play if someone asked me.” Ask they did, but only sporadically and Reg then became best known as a garden presenter on Burke’s Back Yard, and then for nine years on Our House. “It was good,” he says, “but it wasn’t theatre. I tried not to mind.” And when he heard that The Producers was coming to Australia he knew he wanted the Max Bialystock role so he asked to audition. “You know, the American creatives had an edict. Don’t send us anyone over 50. They won’t have the energy for this role.” Reg was 65 at the time but he flew to Los Angeles and knocked their socks off. The role might have been written for him, even though Reg made it inimitably his own. And now, at 75, after six years in Bowral (“They don’t have any idea of my background there”) going through a period of adjustment, Reg is painting again and was just completing a new exhibition when the call came about Wicked. “There was no way I was going to refuse,” he chuckles. “It’s a fabulous show. I’m not Bert (Newton) and they don’t expect me to be. Will I be able to find something new, different, to bring to the Wizard. Well, I’ve had sixty years to fill my box of tricks and I still have all the energy I need. So I hope that the answer is yes. But the marvellous thing about the theatre is the unexpected. You can pull out all the stops, but ultimately, it’s the audience that decides, and I have to trust them.”
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 27
entry, Andrew Lippa’s Big Fish, could only manage a four month run, hopes were high that Bullets Over Broadway would be a smash and maybe win the coveted award. But the reviews have been mixed, including a thumbs down from the New York Times which surprised the producers. Woody Allen’s movie to stage version has retained most of the gags from the film and added an American songbook By Peter Pinne standards score, something that also irked some Main Stem reviewers. Zach Braff (Scrubs) plays the aspiring but It’s hard to predict what musical will win this year’s Tony pompous young playwright who’ll agree to anything to get Award, but let’s have a look at three possible contenders. his play produced, with Marin Mazzie in the alcoholic diva Rocky managed to convince reviewers that it could role of Helen Sinclair. Stroman has peopled it with hordes of successfully transfer the action and romance of the 1976 showgirls and gangsters who dance and cavort themselves movie onto the stage by delivering a knockout finale that against some brilliant art-deco backdrops. Especially sees a giant boxing ring move out over the stalls for the final memorable is the row of mobsters in three-piece suits tapbout. Accordingly the last 15 minutes pack the punch of a dancing to “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do”. heavyweight champ and that’s the clincher. The audience Of all the shows that have opened recently, the only one can watch it in close-up detail on giant video screens. It that is a sure-fire hit is the revival of Les Misérables. The even manages to make the romance between Rocky and bookings for it are better than for anything else on Adrian work emotionally, helped by the two young Broadway. Ramin Karimloo (Love Never Dies, London) plays charismatic leads, Andy Karl and Margo Seibert. Lynn a grittier, sexier, tattooed Jean Valjean, with Will Swenson Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s score was criticised as not (last seen in a dress on Broadway in Priscilla) as the police leaving much impression, but the Tony voters love their inspector Javert. According to theatermania.com work, as evidenced by their previous nominations, and ‘theatregoers will find it difficult not to be carried away by anyone with Ragtime to their credit has more than a the grandeur and sweeping emotion of the evening. And sporting chance. you really can’t ask for much more from a night at the Disney’s Aladdin could also take out the top spot. In theatre.’ trouble in its tryout in Toronto, the jokes were sharpened King Kong, which is now dubbed an Australian musical (with the help of a few script doctors) before it braved by journalists, will no longer open as planned at the Broadway where it received good reviews. The stage Foxwoods Theater (recent home of Spiderman) next winter. adaptation of the 1992 animated feature retains the music Instead the theatre will house a revival of On the Town. from the film by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim When King Kong does eventually open it will have a Rice, and adds the song “High Adventure” which was cut substantially revised book to the one that was almost from the movie. Aladdin does take Jasmine on a magic shredded when the musical was seen at Melbourne’s Regent carpet ride. They’re flying and you don’t actually see any Theatre in 2013. There are also rumours that King Kong wires. It’s the moment everyone waits for and it doesn’t may now stop in Las Vegas prior to Broadway. disappoint. It’s a show that’s loaded with buckets of Now that Bullets Over Broadway has opened, Susan spectacle. According to the critics, “Friend in Me” is a true Stroman (when does she get time to sleep) is already showstopper and Adam Jacobs the perfect Aladdin. It has thinking ahead to her next project, when she makes her been directed and choreographed by the very busy Casey Metropolitan Opera debut with a lavish new staging of Nicholaw. Franz Lehar’s effervescent operetta The Merry Widow in The other very, very busy director and choreographer November. It will be performed in a new English translation around town is Susan Stroman. Although her earlier season by Jeremy Sams and will star Renée Fleming as the widowed Parisian millionairess, Hanna. The cast also includes Nathan Gunn as Danilo, Thomas Allen as Baron Zeta, Alek Shrader as Camille de Rosillon, and Kelli O’Hara, also making her Met debut, as Valencienne. William Ivey Long is designing the costumes. It will be broadcast live in HD on 17 January 2015. A new musical Chasing the Song by the writers of Memphis, Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, will play a season at the La Jolla Playhouse 13 May – 15 June. The musical had a high-profile reading in the La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA New Work Series in January with Nikki Renée Daniels and Debbie Gravitte. The plot is set in New York’s Brill Building in the 1960s and concerns a talented novice songwriter who bursts upon the pop scene. She quickly learns the ropes from her seasoned colleagues, penning several hits and discovering herself in the process.
28 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
London Calling By Peter Pinne From detective to dame is the journey of actor David Suchet, who is about to frock-up as Oscar Wilde’s most famous character Lady Bracknell in a new production of The Importance of Being Ernest. Suchet, better-known as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Poirot series on television, heads a cast that includes Nigel Havers and Siân Phillips. Directed by Adrian Noble, it begins previews at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 27 June and opens 17 July 2014. Caroline O’Connor, Summer Strallen and Damian Humbley are to star in The Life of the Party, a new cabaret that plays the Menier Chocolate Factory from 27 May to 14 June, 2014. Described as “A Celebration of the Songs of Andrew Lippa”, it will feature songs from his Broadway musicals that include John and Jen, The Wild Party, The Addams Family and his most recent, Big Fish. Mathew Frank and Dean Bryant’s award-winning Australian musical Once We Lived Here has just finished its premiere London season at the Kings Head Theatre, Islington. Set on a drought-ravaged property in Victoria’s Wimmera district, the musical featured Melle Stewart, Simone Craddock, Belinda Wollaston, Shaun Rennie and Iestyn Arwell. Critics called it ‘ambitious, provocative and (occasionally) funny’, but claimed Bryant’s lyrics were ‘obtuse’. The season played four weeks. The Book of Mormon swept the recent Olivier Awards winning in four categories; Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Gavin Creel, Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Stephen Ashfield and Best Theatre Choreography for the show’s director Casey Nicholaw. Rory Kinnear took out the Best Actor for his Othello at the National Theatre, while Lesley Manville was named Best Actress for the Almeda and Trafalgar Studios revival of Ibsen’s Ghosts. One of the most fascinating and interesting new plays to open recently has been King Charles III by Mike Bartlett. It questions the role of the constitutional monarch and whether they have any ‘real’ power in a democracy. Set after Queen Elizabeth has died and Prince Charles is on the throne, it pits him against the Labour government of the day who want him to sign a new bill that curtails freedom of the press. When Charles refuses and the government still seek to enact it anyway, he dissolves the parliament and pushes the country to the brink of civil war. It stars Tim Pigott-Smith as Charles, with Margot Leicester as Camilla, Oliver Chris as William, Lydia Wilson as Kate and Richard Goulding as Harry. Henry Hitchins in the Evening Standard said, ‘Once, this sort of irreverent provocation would have seen the playwright condemned to be burned at the stake.
Even now it feels a brazen venture – yet it’s one that pays off royally.’ Simon Cowell’s I Can’t Sing (X Factor Musical) which pokes all-too-knowing-fun at TV talent shows and their ilk, has opened to mostly positive reviews. ‘Harry Hill’s brilliant X Factor lampoon backed by Simon Cowell himself cleverly engages with popular culture without taking the audience for fools,’ said Simon Edge (Daily Express),’ ‘Although it has flashes of wit, Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s show doesn’t know whether it wants to excoriate The X Factor or boost its TV ratings,’ claimed Michael Billington (The Guardian), whilst Paul Taylor (The Independent) said ‘There is a bonkers, surreal charm to the loopy lampooning.’ The show plays the London Palladium and stars Nigel Harman as Simon Cowell. Robert Lindsay heads the cast as chief con-man Lawrence in the belated West End premiere of the 2005 Broadway hit Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which recently opened at the Savoy. Based on the 1988 Michael Caine and Steve Martin movie about two con-men on the Riviera, the musical also stars Rufus Hood as the younger con-artist Freddie, with Katherine Kingsley as the heiress they fleece. According to the critics Lindsay and Hood shared a ‘fizzing on-stage chemistry’, with one reviewer claiming it ‘simply, and happily, takes us back to the all-but-lost era of musical comedy’. Praise and nothing but praise has been heaped upon the new production of Arthur Miller’s corrosive 1955 play A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic Theatre that has been directed by the innovative Dutch director Ivo van Hove, making his London debut. ‘The most powerful production of a Miller play I have ever seen’, ‘Unforgettable’, ‘magnificent, electrifying’ and ‘absolutely unmissable’ are just some of the superlatives being hurled at this groundbreaking production on a bare thrust stage which stars Mark Strong as New York longshoreman Eddie, Nicola Walker as his wife Beatrice, and Phoebe Fox as the niece Catherine. And while were talking about rave reviews, one cannot overlook Martha Plimpton and Sinead Cusack’s blistering portrayals of daughter and mother in Lindsay Posner’s production of Jon Robin Baitz’s Broadway hit Other Desert Cities at the Old Vic. Plimpton, making her West End debut as Brooke, was called ‘ferocious and wounded’, while Cusack was said to bring an ‘icy coldness’ to the family matriarch. Mark Shenton (London Theatre) thought it was a ‘fierce, wounding and wonderful night’s theatre’. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 29
Stage On Disc By Peter Pinne
a pretty dour affair. Yes, there are nods to the period with “Super Duper Hoola Hooper”, the calypso “Black-Hearted Woman” and “1963” but overall not much joy for a show set in the ‘swinging sixties’. Alexander Hanson sings well as the title character, with Charlotte Spencer and Charlotte Blackledge nicely handling Keeler and Rice-Davies respectively. Standout song is the gorgeous “I’m Hopeless When It Comes To You”, sung by Joanna Riding, with the duet “This Side of the Sky” (Hampton/Spencer) a fine second. The score, which is nearer in style to Aspects of Love, also boasts “You’ve Never Had It So Good” which is sung while a sex-orgy is taking place. Hampton and Black’s lyrics are workmanlike rather than inspired but as always Webber’s tunes are insistent.
Far From Heaven (PS Classics PS1319). Scott Frankel and Michael Korie’s musical version of the 2002 movie which starred Julianne Moore had a four week run at Playwrights Horizon, New York last June but did not transfer to Broadway like their previous musical Grey Gardens. It’s easy to understand why. Whilst there are good things in the score it ultimately lacks emotion, Lifeforce (No Label/No Number). despite sterling work by the performers. The story, set in 1957, about a Connecticut housewife whose marriage goes Joanna Weinberg’s new musical into a spiral download when she discovers her husband premiered at Sydney’s King Street likes men, musically has a flavour of the period, and at Theatre in 2013. It is about a 40year-old career woman who times sounds like something Leonard Bernstein or Frank Loesser (especially in his Most Happy FellaAndrew phase)Beale would and Kelvin realises Harman she is running out of time to have a baby, coupled with her have written. Kelli O’Hara in the Julianne Moore role is nothing less than sensational, with Steven Pasquale giving search for her own unknown birth solid support as the conflicted husband Frank. “Marital mother. This is the first original cast recording of work by Bliss” is a cutting indictment of marriage in an upmarket Weinberg, an Australian composer who has emerged in the community, O’Hara and Nancy Anderson bring honesty to past few years as a strong new musical theatre voice. Although the score has a poppy sound, it has a fresh “Cathy I’m Your Friend”, while Pasquale delivers a passionate “I Never Knew”, when he’s finally open about energy and loads of wit; just listen to “Spermanational”, “I his feelings for his wife. Don’t Want a Baby” and “Dr God”. “A Suitable Man” allows Tyran Parke to showcase his terrific tenor, with South African newcomer Natalie Lotkin negotiating the difficult Stephen Ward (Decca 3760237). career woman/mother-to-be with class, especially on There is no shortage of memorable “Hello”, a song established early in the show that works melodies in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s well as a finale. Accompaniment, on solo piano, is by Brad latest musical Stephen Ward, which has just finished a disappointingly Miller, who also handled vocal arrangements. brief London run. Working with Christopher Hampton and Don Black, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical who supplied book and lyrics, (Masterworks Broadway 88883 Webber’s take on the sordid 60s tabloid scandal of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies is 780412). Although this show has been around for many years, this is the world premiere recording of its score. Written by Timothy Mason (book & lyrics) and Mel Marvin (music), it is a score in the oldfashioned Broadway style. Top starred in the title role of the Grinch is the man who brought buckets of villainy to Spiderman, Patrick Page. Either leading the cast on “Whatchamawho” (a good rousing chorus number) or stretching his cakewalk muscles on “One of a Kind” he is delicious. But old-stager John Cullum gives him a run for his money as Old Max and delivers handsomely on “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch”, a song written by Albert Hague for a 1966 animated TV special of the same story and used in the 2000 Jim Carey movie. Rating
Only for the enthusiast Borderline Worth buying Must have Kill for it 30 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 31
Light & Sound Feature
ever since. The festival is divided into three segments: Music, Ideas and Light. “Each year Vivid Light highlights the creative processes of lighting artists, designers and architects working with the very latest advancements in lighting technology. “More and more lighting companies want to partner with us, to let artists loose on the new technologies that are just about to enter the market. This year there’s a new and intriguing Harbour Lights component, created and produced by cutting edge Australian firm 32 Hundred Lighting. Ferries, cruise vessels and water taxis Sydney’s annual Vivid festival has then at the Sydney Town Hall, will be decked out in LED lights that become a major international event producing concerts and events. will change colour as they move featuring breakthroughs in lighting “I was always captivated by between designated parts of the lighting. I wanted to create and design and technology. Frank harbour. These ‘colour precincts’ will Hatherley chats to Anthony Bastic, the produce large-scale events; explore be computer-controlled using Intel how light can create emotion for an Director of Vivid Light. technology and the very latest in audience.” satellite navigation geo-positioning. Anthony Bastic describes Vivid as Bastic was appointed Creative “LEDs have made a huge “an outdoor theatre of light”. The Director of live sites for the 2000 Olympic Games and went on to design difference,” says Bastic. “It’s energyproducer/curator of the lighting such major outdoor events as the 2003 efficient lighting that has added a component of Sydney’s ever-growing whole other dimension to the different Rugby World Cup and the 2006 Winter festival has, I find, a background in more orthodox theatre - Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. colours that can now be used in urban what he calls “black box” theatre. He formed his own company, AGB lighting.” Lighting the Sails of the Opera Events, in 2007. “We produce public “I studied Drama years and years events - like the Lights at Christmas at House remains the most keenly ago at the East Sydney Drama School St Mary’s Cathedral each year and the awaited of the annual installations. (now defunct). Then I acted and did lighting and sound with the Genesian Australian Garden Show in Centennial This year the UK company 59 Productions won the prized Theatre Company (a venerable innerPark each Spring. There’s always a strong theatrical narrative in the events commission. They work often with city amateur group) before I went on Britain’s National Theatre, for instance that we create.” to work in the programming producing the projections and He was hired for the first Vivid department of the Opera House, and Sydney in 2009 and has been on board Campbell’s Cove
Theatre Of Light
32 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
animation for the recent Australasian tour of War Horse. For Vivid 2014 they plan to use the Opera House as a screen on which to project, they say, “a dramatic journey through time - from the birth of architecture and civilization through to the pinnacle of human and technological achievement”. Previous Sails installations have required 17 large-format projectors, all precisely computer-controlled to paint their sweeping pictures onto that spectacular ‘canvas’. Also this year there are newly commissioned projections on the sandstone façade of the Quay’s Customs House, new water shows at Darling Harbour and original programming at theatre venues Carriageworks and the Seymour Centre. “The whole city is our theatre,” says Anthony Bastic. “And this year our newest stage is Martin Place.” In the very heart of Sydney’s CBD, Martin Place will have two giant interactive light installations flanking the Cenotaph. “We get amazing concepts from theatre designers working within the traditional black box. They come outside the black box and they see the vibrant city and it challenges them. It’s all about creatives changing the atmosphere of the city. “Through the growth and popularity of Vivid, Australia is now considered one of the major centres of lighting design in the world.”
Ferry lights on Sydney Harbou
Vivid Sydney 2013 Bucky Bulb light installation Chromatic Motions light installation
Online extras! Check out a preview of Vivid Sydney 2014 by scanning the QR code or visiting http://youtu.be/p8GM9fx6gfw
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 33
Light & Sound Feature
Old Theatres Reborn
Rockdale Musical Societyâ€™s latest production of Next to Normal at the newly renovated Rockdale Town Hall
34 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Rod Bertram from Rodâ€™s Sound and Lighting Services gives us an overview of two newly renovated venues that he has helped re-launch in Sydney. When the Rockdale Town Hall (www.rockdale.nsw.gov.au) was closed down three years ago, due to the discovery of asbestos that delayed a renovation, nobody knew what to expect when it re-opened. Those attending the first few productions in the venue have been delighted with the upgrade. Groups who have put on shows here are ecstatic with how modern it is. Rockdale Town Hall was built in 1940. It has a striking sandstone and red brick entrance. The interior of the hall has elaborate art deco style plaster details on the walls and ceiling. The refurbishment, which cost the local council over four million dollars, has been faithful to this style. Even the air conditioning units have been integrated into a stylish art deco mould. Other new facilities include tiered seating, a spectacular new bar and way
overdue upgrades to the dressing rooms. The “techies” like me love the full JBL line array speakers with sound capabilities to run digital consoles without having to run cables throughout the building and automated fly bars for scenery and lighting. Rod’s Sound and Lighting Services is proud to be one of Council’s authorised suppliers for this venue. Both productions that have been put on have been successful for the Rockdale Musical Society. The Town Hall has experienced a few teething problems initially, including power surges into the dimmer racks, meaning additional external equipment had to be brought into the building to overcome the issue. These power surges have now been rectified. Another venue we are proud to be preferred supplier of is the new Bryan Brown Theatre (www.bryanbrowntheatre.com.au) which is located in the Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre. The original Bankstown Town Hall was officially opened by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1973. In 1977, the Town Hall Manager persuaded Council to invest in the production and promotion of a theatre restaurant. It
Mark Vincent performing at the Grand Opening Gala Event at the Bryan Brown Theatre
went ‘against the trend’ at the time, however ‘it took off like a rocket’ and became one of the most successful theatre restaurants in Sydney. This venue has now been transformed into a state-of-the- art 300-seat theatre. Highlights of this theatre include: new theatre seating, reinstated 18 counterweight fly lines, new digital sound system and lighting rig. This venue has only been opened for a couple of weeks but already esteemed professionals such as Mark
Vincent, and Bryan Brown himself, have graced the stage. There is no allocated space for an orchestra so theatre groups with one will need to get creative with where they position them. Overall when working in a newly renovated space there are always highs and lows which work themselves out. It is the challenges which help create creative minds to “think outside the square” to make sure that their production works in the designated performance space.
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 35
Light & Sound Feature
The complex web of routing, muting, VCA switching and matrix mixing allowed the Phantoms voice to appear all over the theatre through 16 Zones and a total of 32 speakers. The Orchestra was located in the show, there are two very important pit, which was almost fully enclosed steps. except for the conductor’s head. We used a kit of Schopes CMC5Ug/MK4, You must be very well prepared DPA 4023 and AKG C414 condenser before the bump in, your sound microphones and BSS 133 Active Direct mixing script must be accurate to what is being said on stage, clear of input boxes for the keyboards. The unnecessary clutter, easy to read in combination of high quality low light conditions and marked up microphone selection and careful placement provided a lush full with all the sound specific mic orchestral sound for the audience to be numbers and cues. immersed in. Your Radio mic plot and pack For sound effects, we used Q-Lab changes should be proofed back to with an RME Fire Wire interface giving the mixing script in full run us 8 channels of sound effects replay, rehearsals before you even get to which allowed us to pan and rout the theatre. Create a good working relationship effects easily and quickly during a short production period. with a sound hire company. This Speaker placement, directivity and step can provide useful technical adjustability is essential. The high advice, special discounted frequency coverage of your audience is equipment hire rates, and essential to providing an engaging opportunities to explore creative performance experience. Every seat treatments which you would not usually be able to afford. It’s worth must be in pattern of the HF driver and if not add another speaker (I have sat keeping your options open with equipment; many companies have in several shows and been totally quality well-maintained equipment disconnected without realising why which may not be the latest model and at interval moved to a vacant seat a few metres across and been but can still provide good reliable mesmerised in the second half of the service at a much cheaper price. same show. This was all because the Over the past 20 years we have provided sound design and production vocals had no clarity). Just as critical is to keep the HF off the walls and other services for over 800 musicals and hundreds of one-off events along with hard surfaces where the audience’s ears are not. This creates reflections equipment hire and sales. We service Melbourne, all of regional Victoria and which in some cases can be as loud as touring productions around Australia. the original source and make your vocals unintelligible. Her Majesty’s Theatre Ballarat is a Speaker Time alignment is critical; historical landmark and The Phantom when using multiple speaker positions of the Opera has been a significant technical challenge, not least of which in a distributed speaker system, a system delay must be used. This is the has been for sound. best tool for imaging; the use of delay For this production we used 28 will minimise hearing the same source radio microphones, a combination of multiple times from every different Sennheiser SK5212 and SK500G3 speaker and correct some of the phase transmitters with Sennheiser MKE1 & anomalies created by positions in space MKE2 microphones. This includes a and time. spare microphone and transmitter on the lead characters. Greg Ginger – Sound Designer Ballarat The mixing console was an Allen & Lyric Theatre Company and Managing Heath ML5000/52, with a Midas Director – Outlook Communications Venice320 as an orchestral submix - a Pty. Ltd. total of 84 input channels.
Sound Advice Greg Ginger from Outlook Communications in Melbourne has provided sound production and design for over 800 musicals over the last 20 years. A recent highlight was Ballarat Lyric Theatre’s production of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre Ballarat in 2014 My highest priority in good sound design for Musical Theatre is for the sound system to be transparent. I do not mean in a physical sense, although a neatly presented system is desirable. I mean irrespective of the style of the show, Rock or Classical, the audience should feel like they are in the room with the performer. The sound should seem like it is coming from the performer, it should be clean and clear (no hiss, hum, buzz distortion, etc.) and the level and focus (or volume and imaging) can be carefully used to take the audience on the emotional journey created by the director. As a technical hint for those who are looking to do sound for nonprofessional companies, whatever the Photo: Ian Wilson Photography
36 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 37
Portable, rack mountable and expandable via option cards and remote inputs, the Expression 2 gives Darlinghurst Theatre Co the ability to expand audio requirements when Darlinghurst Theatre Company. “There necessary. are productions coming up that will test Guiding Darlinghurst Theatre the PA system. But it’s a system that can Company through all their technical options to arrive at the perfect solution adapt and be rearranged to suit their needs. It’s what we always wanted – a were Jands’ Account Manager Rod PA system that can handle whatever McKinnon and Jands’ Technical crazy idea a director or sound designer Resource team. “Rod and the team comes in with.” were great in understanding the needs of our company and what we require The loudspeaker system from JBL’s for sound design,” said Liz. VP (Venue Performance) Series is selfpowered with amplifier technology “We went with Jands and The P.A. developed by Crown, two 12” models People because of their knowledge of drive FOH with two 10”s used as fills. the space and their ability to The low frequency extensions are recommend great equipment that complements the space itself. The handled by a VPSB7118DP 18” design is versatile, and we’ve had a lot subwoofer. For the sound operators, a of compliments on the system and the Soundcraft Si Expression 2 digital mixer sound quality. It’s been going really sits at the mix position. well.” Darlinghurst productions often For more information on JBL, Crown, utilise QLab, the theatre-industrydbx, and Soundcraft visit standard system for audio, video and www.jands.com.au or contact show control, which integrates Jands Pty Ltd 02 9582 0909 or beautifully to the Expression 2. email@example.com
‘Hear’ To Eternity Sydney’s Darlinghurst Theatre Company has firmly settled in to its new home, the beautifully renovated Burton Street Tabernacle, now known as the Eternity Playhouse. The theatre is named for ‘The Eternity Man’, Arthur Stace, who chalked the word ‘Eternity’ in copperplate across the city from the 1930s to the 1960s, and whose religious zeal was inspired by a sermon heard at the Tabernacle. Darlinghurst Theatre Company nurtures up-and-coming directors, designers and companies. As such, their technical facilities need to be up-todate, flexible and capable of handling anything. They turned to Jands and The P.A People to design, provide and install a sound system built around highquality delivery, ease of operation and integration with complex show designs. “Theatre shows always push the boundaries,” said Liz Jenkins, Associate Producer and Production Manager at
38 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Light & Sound Feature
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 39
Light & Sound Feature Bruno Mars –
ngle Moonshine Ju
Beyoncé’s 2013 Ms Carter Tour
Melbourne’s Sound, Light and Staging Expo ENTECH CONNECT returns on July 23-24, 2014 at a new venue, The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.
including Beyoncé, Nine Inch Nails, Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga. Bennett will walk the audience through his creative process from the muse, embryonic stages of discovery, As well as giving schools, theatres sharing and drawing ideas from the and venues the chance to see the latest artist or client, throughout his gadgets on offer, all under one roof, processes to completion of design. organisers have arranged for an “The combination of musical and architectural emotion is the driving extensive education program. International lighting guru LeRoy force behind my work,” Bennett states. Bennett will be one of the star “I always enjoy sharing my love for speakers. His CV down the years is a design with people who embrace the veritable who’s who of artists creative process.” The Education Program at this performing on the world stage year’s ENTECH CONNECT is an LeRoy Bennett. Photo: MJ Kim.
40 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
expanded series of seminars and lunches covering topics for Pro Audio, Audio Visual, Integration, Lighting and Staging Professionals. Audio seminars range from a lecture on the recent upgrade to the Adelaide Oval to performing arts spaces. In one session Peter Exton, from Marshall Day Acoustics, will talk through a number of recent projects including a new regional centre - the Cube in Wodonga, and the renovation of two venues - Hamer Hall in Melbourne and the Aotea Centre in Auckland. He will illustrate the acoustic design process, including his approach to working with performers, analysing the acoustic performance of spaces, choosing suitable design criteria and incorporating staging infrastructure. This session will appeal to sound engineers, acousticians, venue owners and managers, particularly those interested in audio in theatres, clubs, arts centres, houses of worship, and schools. To buy tickets to the Leroy Bennett speech and reserve places at other seminars visit www.entechshow.com.au
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 41
Light & Sound Feature
A Spotlight On Shadows
42 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Unique dance company Pilobolus has perfected the art of creative shadow storytelling. On the eve of their Australian tour with the acclaimed Shadowland, two of the company’s directors took time to answer questions from Coral Drouyn. Few of us didn’t, at some time in our childhood, make shadow images on a bed sheet with the aid of a torch for our friends’ amusement. It’s a far cry from the hi-tech and sophisticated art of Pilobolus, about to tour nationally with their amazing shadow piece Shadowland. Shadowland incorporates choreography, original music by David Poe, shadow creations and the story of a teenage girl yearning for adolescent freedom who explores the world beyond her shadow. Seen by over half a million people worldwide, it’s not unusual to hear audible gasps of disbelief from the audience. So how exactly does the multi award winning Pilobolus create this theatrical magic? I truly don’t know – and if I did know I wouldn’t tell you. Magic ceases to enthral once you know how it’s done. We can know what it isn’t - it isn’t pre-filmed; or CGI or special effects, unless you count the astonishing use of human bodies as a special effect. It’s real and visceral and unfolds as we see it. As for how…well the company is protective of what it has developed, and understandably so. There are, however, some clues from Shane Mongar, Director of Productions, and Itomar Kubovy, the Executive Producer. I asked how the company worked in creating the shadow craft, rather than purely dance choreography, and at what stage the technical elements of lighting became integral? “Pilobolus was never a ‘pure’ dance company,” Itomar explained. “Since 1971, when the company was founded by a group of non-dancers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, the company has developed an idiosyncratic movement style that arose out of curiosity about the human bodies and how they could be combined to share weight to create sequences of composite images with arresting visual impact. We first experimented with shadow work in 2006, 35 years after the company was founded, but our approach has been consistent since the very beginning - combining bodies and sharing weight in the service of composite imagery.” “Tech was involved throughout the development of Shadowland,” Shane added. “Our designers are always a part of our creative process and collaborate with the creative team early in the creative process. Our creative team will often bounce ideas off of the designers, working together in true collaboration moving the artistic vision forward.” So it would seem that the process is organic, ideas can come from anywhere and then the process is to experiment with physical form in workshop development and see what works and what doesn’t? “We always begin with a generation of visual material and imagery,” Itomar elaborated. “We believe this allows the associative creative impulses of the group to generate material most efficiently. As we grow our buckets of
material we start to see patterns of theme, and subject matter emerges. Our storytelling, then, results from attempts to wrap a narrative around our library of images and visual sequences. “Creating shadow work has similar physical demands to the other choreographic and physical work we create. In addition there are many delicate techniques to shadowcasting and rules that are quite different from work in front of a screen. Optics, puppetry, concealment, physical control, group-think, and the ability to do many things at once, take dancers months and months to learn.” Ultimately, I suggest, it all comes down to the lighting, the main source. How is that controlled? “We cannot comment on the main light source,” Shane responded warily. “However, it is there from the beginning. We also use other light sources to create the shadow work. We have custom-made “hand held” lights … this allows the technology to work with the dancers in achieving a variety of unique shadows. These mobile lights also work in helping us create distance and perspective. But apart from them we don’t travel with any lighting rig of our own. Instead we give a strict and detailed lighting plot requirement list to the promoters and if a venue is unable to supply our needs we regretfully say no rather than compromise the show.” As Alice would say (Shadowland is not dissimilar to Alice in Wonderland) “curiouser and curiouser.” One thing is certain; Australia has never seen anything quite like Shadowland. Itomar sums it up perfectly. “Shadowland is unlike any other show I have seen - an Alice in Wonderland tale about the coming of age of a young girl through a surreal night of her dreams. Part circus, part dance, part theatre, part rock show, we trust Shadowland will leave Australian audiences amazed. Plus there’s a surprise ending that we are only performing in Australia. We can’t wait!!!” Neither can we.
Online extras! The incredible Shadowland needs to be seen to be believed. Scan or visit http://youtu.be/STK7AZ_Zs_E Tour details: Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre (May 28 – June 1); The Civic Theatre, Auckland, NZ (June 3 – 8); The Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane (June 10 – 15); State Theatre, Sydney (June 17 – 20); The Canberra Theatre (June 21 & 22); The Regal Theatre, Perth (June 25 – July 6) and Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide (July 9 – 12).
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 43
Light & Sound Feature
Will LED Kill The Luminaire Star? LED lights are becoming more powerful and more cost effective. They also have the advantages of colour control and much less heat and electricity usage. But traditional luminaire lights still dominate most theatre lighting rigs. How long before that changes? David Spicer put the hard word on Stuart Mitchell from Philips Selecon in New Zealand.
you can do LED theatres completely. The main hold-back is that everyone has still got their traditional tungsten infrastructure. DS: And they’ve got their Selecon ones which last a long time? SM: Yes and it is not just about the luminaires but it is about the dimmers, more importantly. You’ve got a lot of infrastructure built in through that power system. While it is still there they DS: How long before LED lights are may as well use it. DS: With Europe requiring theatres dominant in the theatre? SM: In the broad sense it will be 10 to save on power, will that radically to 15 years before it completely change the industry? SM: It will from a new build point dominates tungsten lighting. of view. They will change lamp DS: What is ratio now? specifications and as older luminaires SM: In civic and community theatres LED comprise less than 10% of need to be replaced it will be harder to replace them with existing tungsten the lighting rig. There are no fully blown LED rigs in NZ at this stage. It is product. DS: What is the rule of thumb for possibly going to change in the next couple of years and that is going to be the price difference between the two? a watershed for everybody. It will prove
44 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
SM: That is a two-edged sword. If you are buying a traditional mini Fresnel you will pay anywhere from $350 to $550 depending on the brand and type. You can buy very few LED Fresnels. We have the first one. At the moment an LED is two and half times the cost of a traditional tungsten one. But it does not run on a dimmer pack. It runs 150 watts max in comparison for a single mixed colour LED versus 650 watts for a Tungsten one. That 650 watt lamp will last you 400 hours. The LED Fresnel has an operation life of 35,000 hours. For a community theatre we would expect you would be running that Fresnel for 20 years with no colour changing and no lamp changing. No use for a dimmer. Over the length of its life it will probably cost you a 20th or a 30th …for power (plus man hours in maintenance). How does the cost
renewal in ten years’ time we will be having quite a different conversation. DS: And the price is coming down? SM: People are beginning to understand what is involved when they see a price. As I said before $400 or $500 v $1000 doesn’t sound very economic until you take the long term impact of LED into account. Even when a community theatre that is running 48 channels of dimming (which would be 12 to 20 kilowatts of lighting) come up to renew their gear, I can say I can make that 3 kilowatts and you can start to remove your dimmers and major power draw from building, they Online extras! will start to consider but not until that Stage Whispers takes a look at the gear becomes necessary. benefits of LED lighting. Scan or visit I’ve just done a generalised plan for http://youtu.be/Zas1Yv9VgH8 a new, small school hall and given them an LED option that had $5500 compare? In the long term the LED is do their change outs. We put nine less gear required because they won’t much cheaper. traditional dimmer packs into Toi need 3phase outlets, dimmer packs DS: What will be the tipping point Whakaari (NZ National Drama school) and the associated cable etc. These are for LEDs when the price comes down? two and half years ago. They asked me the savings that LED installations will SM: I don’t believe there will be a why we didn’t use LED. I said simply continue to make. Balanced with the tipping point. It will slowly continue its because you’ve got the dimmers. slightly higher purchase price of good march into everyone’s psyche as things When those dimmers come up for LED lights, the customers will make progress and different theatres have to really positive long term savings.
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 45
The Phantom Of The Opera Lighting Rig
The Phantom of The Opera “Masquerade.”
Jason Bovaird from Moving Light Productions was asked to provide technical management and lighting design for two productions of The Phantom of the Opera in Melbourne (Windmill Theatre) and Launceston Tasmania (Encore). He explains the soaring challenges posed by both productions.
46 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
for a number of the scenes, allowing the use of more fly bars instead of cloths. Encore Theatre Company, Launceston wanted a traditional feel with cloths but a fresh new modern look in terms of the lighting, similar to the 25th Anniversary The Phantom Of the Opera special. Working with Windmill was a challenge as the video projection involved moving images that needed to be clear and classy. A 10,000 lumen projector was installed and mapped with the images. With over 25 Movinglights in the rig the projector needed to also be rigged off LX 1 so there was no movement from the movinglights during the show. For both companies I chose to incorporate old school lighting with the rig consisting of 1.2k Fresnels for side fill wash, Source Four Zooms for Backlight The first question I asked both companies was whether they wanted the and Side decal wash and FOH wash. For Encore Theatre Company I rigged show staged traditionally or to have a 15 moving heads on the Orchestra bar fresh new look? and FOH Truss for the “25th Anniversary” With CLOC Music Theatre company opening look that the direction team having already staged the spectacular wanted, along with 12 washes and 10 World Amateur Premiere production in Mac 250 spots on the onstage bars. May, Windmill wanted to do the show slightly differently, using video projection Backlight consisted of 8 watt Led Pars
The Phantom of the Opera (Encore Theatre Company, Launceston.) “The Graveyard Scene, Act 2.”
and Fresnels as a soft flesh wash to balance the richness of the colour onstage. The wonderful thing about having a moving light rig in the show is that it allows you to create a spectacular moment such as “the Lair scene” where you want to be able to create an underground horror and yet have it still look majestically beautiful. In Launceston, Tasmania we were able to recreate all the bells and whistles of the lights moving throughout the audience of the eight minutes of the chandelier rising to give it that extra powerful impact during the key change. Encore Theatre Company engaged us to take full control of all technical elements of the show including engaging a rigger Kieren Santoso and Howard’s pyrotechnic company to provide a spectacular array of pyrotechnics throughout the show and all rigging elements such as the 2 metre wide chandelier, Raoul’s hanging noose and Buquet body drop. The director wanted pyrotechnics coming off the chandelier as it rose up in the air at various points. We worked with the pyrotechnic company to provide all the right risk assessments and management documentation for this effect along with the safe management of the chandeliers crashing to the floor at a great rate.
Never before had the Princess Theatre, Launceston had such large pyrotechnics nor complicated technical elements in shows. For the year ahead Moving Light Productions will have another Phantom of the Opera with Babirra Music Theatre Company in May, five national tour lighting designs on the road with Hit Productions, two new Australian Works in the making to be staged, and its regular clients such as RMIT Gallery, Life Like Touring, Wesley College, St Michael’s Grammar School, Emmaus College, Whitefriars College, corporate clients and many more.
Light & Sound Feature
Recently the team from MLP was appointed by ABC TV and Andrew Kay and Associates to production manage and create the beautiful and atmospheric lighting for the National Tour of Giggle and Hoot. Another exciting project has been providing advice on the lighting component for Wesley College on the construction of their 30 million dollar theatre. This was launched in February with state of the art lighting equipment. Moving Light Productions looks forward to working with new clients and can be found at www.movinglight.com.au
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 47
Light & Sound Feature
Steve Lawrence from Geelong Fireworks clears the air on what types of theatrical fog are available.
for a higher powered unit if not sure. Smaller, almost hand held units are available, but these can be very expensive. There are also vertical “We need fog in this scene.” foggers/horizontal foggers in this type No problems or famous last words? of system, for entrance effects, “steam” valves etc. At Geelong For fog that floats around and Fireworks we have specific fluids that above the floor level of the stage, standard fog machines are used. These allow for a short burst with no use a Fog Fluid, which is glycol based lingering “after fog effect”. (not glycerine) and is pumped over a The most requested fog scene is heated element, vaporizing the glycol low level fog… hello Phantom! One of the most used systems is the and voila! FOG! There are many units on the Le Maitre Pea Souper - basically a large market, all functioning much the same, plastic kettle into which a metal basket but with different outputs. One (think deep frying) is lowered. The drawback can be that low power units water in the kettle is heated to approx. only produce fog for a short time and 80°C and the basket contains dry ice have a longer reheat time. Always go pellets, which are best for this rather
than solid blocks. This gives a great low -level fog. Duration is around five minutes. Chauvet also produce a dry ice fog unit. Then there are systems that use water ice blocks and fog machines not the most effective system, since the fog produced lifts and the amount made is minimal. Cryogenic type systems are excellent though they do cost several thousand dollars. These use a very specific fog fluid. The liquid CO2 chills the fog vapour, giving an excellent low-level fog that stays low. Huge areas of fog and long duration are also possible. Of course you then need to take into account drifts, movement of sets and actors on stage and heat from lighting. Color low-level fog is something that has always been the holy grail of fog effects, and by this I mean the fog itself is actually colored, not by lighting etc. Geelong Fireworks has been working on this for some time, and have had success in producing a lowlevel color fog, but at this stage it is only available for outdoor or large indoor use due to the odor of the product. But as they say… watch this space! If you would like assistance contact Geelong Fireworks www.geelongfireworks.com.au (03) 5299 5078
48 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 49
Community Theatre and Me Bill Dalton has had some of the best times in his life with his local theatre company, Napier Operatic Society. It was where he met his wife, has eaten and drunk too much and dazzled onstage with his lack of talent. Now the Mayor of Napier, he reflected on the happy times as the keynote speaker at Musical Theatre New Zealand’s annual conference in his home town. The first show I was ever involved in was Chu Chin Chow during my last year at school in 1968. I was cast as the leader of a band of robbers and during last year’s election campaign, an old school mate asked if I was looking for my old job back. Such is the great respect we have for our politicians. Twenty years later in 1988 I took my eldest son down to the Napier’s Tabard Theatre to audition for a role in Oliver! I couldn’t believe it. The Musical Director was the late Barry Fell, the same fellow who had been the Musical Director of Chu Chin Chow all those years before. So I ended up in the back row of the chorus of Oliver! Barry was well aware of my talent! Later on I appeared as the fat Inn Keeper in Canterbury Tales. This was during a particularly stressful time. We were trying to get the new Tabard theatre finished and the Canterbury Tales was our opening show. Rehearsals were a shambles as we had the building crew working around us, which upset our extremely temperamental director. About every third rehearsal he walked out, promising never to return. Apart from being on stage, I was also the Production Manager. Those duties were not to be confused by my other roles as Chair of the Fundraising Committee and Chair of the Society. And it was as the Chair of the Society that on many occasions I wished our Director would keep his promises. But we got there in the end. I well remember opening night. Our Director insisted that we serve the sort of meal that was eaten by the masses at that 50 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Mayor of Napier, Bill Dalton.
Online extras! Experience Musical Theatre New Zealand’s big party in Napier and take a tour of the local theatre company’s amazing venue by clicking or scanning http://youtu.be/VICz9UcMGMk time in history. So we cooked exactly what the Director ordered, a sort of browny grey mutton stew. It was bloody awful and every single patron complained. And those of you who have production managed shows will understand that it was all my fault. But it was on the Napier Operatic float in the Lions Christmas Parade one year that I discovered my true niche in entertainment. I played a Christmas pudding. It was about 30 degrees and we were walking alongside one of trucks handing out lollies. The padding in the costume got so sweat laden that it all gradually sunk to the bottom of the costume, not a good look. Later I had a role in Me and My Girl and it was there that they discovered that I couldn’t even move my feet in time with the music. Every rehearsal I was shifted another row back until eventually they had me just out of sight in the wings. In that show I was sharing a dressing room with Robert Hickey. Our
Production Manager had banned all alcohol and, to be honest, Rob and I enjoyed a little sip now and then. So I went down to the chemist and got him to make me up a label saying “Singers Cough Elixir – take as often as required”, which we put on a large brown medicine bottle full of dry sherry. It was great until the Wardrobe Mistress discovered it and it was removed from our dressing room. Poor old Rob Hickey made the mistake of telling us one night that he couldn’t stand olives. They made him sick. Just a silly thing to tell us because in the show he was in a scene where he would pick a grape – off of a hat and eat it, at the front of the stage. So one night we removed the grape and replaced it with an olive. Ever the professional, Rob never missed a beat but when he got back to the dressing room – well it took it him a moment or two to settle down. I thought at one stage he was going to throw up all over our costumes.
By this time my theatre career was on a roll. Having observed my wonderful on-stage performances, Napier Operatic came to me and suggested a role that suited my talents. They asked me to be head wine waiter at the Tabard. Realising I wouldn’t be asked to dance I accepted like a shot. These were the days of mixing up big plastic containers of powdered orange drink and having fridges full of the bladders of the most evil, cheap cask plonk you could imagine. Sometimes we would help ourselves in the wine room. I well remember one night in particular. The kitchen were cooking huge rolls of pork. Before they sliced them on the slicer they peeled off huge slabs of crackling. (My colleague) Peter Shepherd crept down to the kitchen and stealthily grabbed a whole box of crackling. Great big slabs of the stuff. And he spirited it back to the wine room. We had a ball. Great chunks of pork crackling washed down with buckets of cheap plonk. The next day Shep was
The President of Napier Operatic Society, Mark Collier. His father and grandfather are also former presidents.
crook and went to the hospital. They gave him a blood test and his cholesterol level was right off their scale. They said he should have been dead. Thankfully he wasn’t and we got to have many more great nights in the wine room. So now I’ve moved onto a new role, that of the Mayor of Napier, and I can
assure you that there is plenty of theatre in that role as well. I decided on an open door policy and I have seen and been able to help some very good people. I’ve also seen every nutter in the village. Importantly though, I’m enjoying it. I have always felt that the more you enjoy your job the better you will do it.
New Zealand Musical Theatre Boom
Big community theatres in New Zealand are riding a wave of success and are spoiled for choice about what show to do next. The companies have the advantage of large theatre venues, with well-developed local audiences, and often own a building to rehearse and build sets in. As well, they are offered musicals not available to community theatres in Australia, where professional companies hold the rights. A national tour of Mamma Mia! commenced last month with its premiere in Auckland. Other tours of Hairspray and The Phantom of the Opera by a consortium of theatres are well under way. One company told Stage Whispers that it paid off a debt of close to a million dollars on the back of its success with Phantom. At the 54th annual conference and AGM of Musical Theatre New Zealand in Napier, the consortium of theatres were offered the rights to Wicked, Mary Poppins, Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical and Saturday Night Fever The Musical, which is also available in Australia. Hal Leonard Australia also flagged the future release of Billy Elliott The Musical. One producer from a company, which has a backlog of musicals to produce due to the Christchurch earthquake, says he has been offered so much good product that his head was spinning. Another noted that after years of meagre pickings of new releases, theatres have a smorgasbord of shows to choose from. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 51
Cast members of Chatswood Musical Society’s production of the Broadway version of The Pirates of Penzance (at Chatswood’s Zenith Theatre from May 2 – 10) photographed on board the James Craig. Photo: Alan Roy. Dorothy (Amy Winner) with Toto (Toby Jack) from Queensland Musical Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz, playing at the Schonell Theatre, University of Queensland from June 11 – 15.
Melanie Ott and Tim Cant in CLOC Music Theatre’s 42nd Street, at the National Theatre, St Kilda, from May 16 – 31. 42nd Street marks CLOC’s 100th production, in the company’s 50th year.
52 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Chloe McKenzie (Christine Daae) and Gavin Brightwell (Raoul, Victome De Chagny) in Willoughby Theatre Company’s The Phantom of the Opera.
Centenary Theatre Group’s Boeing Boeing playing at the Chelmer Community Centre from May 10 - 31.
For all the latest in Community Theatre news, check out the Stage Whispers website http://bit.ly/1ijtGn1 You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 53
Soran Khoshnow and Melanie Robinson in Castle Hill Players’ production of Female of the Species, at the Pavilion Theatre from May 2 – 24. Beenleigh Theatre Group’s Xanadu at Crete Street Theatre from May 2 – 17.
54 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
Cosi at Phoenix Theatre (Hamilton Hill, WA) from May 8 – 17.
Abby Hampton and Akkshey Caplash in University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s production of Romeo and Juliet, from May 3 – 17.
Twelve Angry Men at Melville Theatre (WA) from May 2 – 17.
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 55
Online extras! Check out all the latest auditions online. Scan the QR code or visit www.stagewhispers.com.au/auditions
56 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
GET NOTICED! Advertise your audition notice for just $65 in print, $45 for online, or a bundled price of $80 for both Call (03) 9758 4522 firstname.lastname@example.org
A.C.T. & New South Wales
Shelley Quinn (Miss Flannery); Astin Blaik (Millie), Jordan Ross (Trevor Graydon) in Savoyards production of Thoroughly Modern Millie at Iona Performing Arts Centre, Wynnum West, Queensland from May 31 to June 14.
A.C.T. Winging My Way to the Top. Written and produced by Karen Strahan and Jill Walsh. May 8 – 17. The Q, Queanbeyan. 6285 6290. Bartleby by Julian Hobba after Herman Melville. The Sreet Theatre / Made in Canberra. May 10 – 17. Street 2. (02) 6247 1223. Grumpy Old Women: Fifty Shades of Beige by Jenny Éclair and Judith Holder. Ben McDonald Ltd. May 10. Canberra Theatre Centre. (02) 6275 2700 Dame Kiri 70th Birthday Gala Tour. May 16. Llewellyn Hall, Canberra. 132 849. Admission: One Shilling. Devised by Nigel Hess. Andrew McKinnon and Phil Bathols. May 20 & 21. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. (02) 6275 2700. Love Letters by A. R. Gurney. Christine Harris & HIT Productions. May 21 – 24. The Q, Queanbeyan. 6285 6290.
Heart of a Dog. Jim McGrath adapts Mikhail Bulgakov’s satirical novella into a new musical. Made in Canberra. May 22 – 24. The Street Theatre, Canberra City West. (02) 6247 1223. The Government Inspector by Simon Stone (after Nikolai Gogol). Belvoir / Malthouse. May 28 – 31. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. (02) 6275 2700. White Rabbit / Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour. May 28 – 31. The Street Theatre, Canberra City West. (02) 6247 1223 It’s Dark Outside by Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs and Tim Watts. Perth Theatre Company / The Street Theatre. June 3 – 8. Street 1. (02) 6247 1223. Kismet. Book by Charles Lederer & Luther Davis (Founded on a play by Edward Knoblock). Music & lyrics by Robert Wright & George Forrest (from themes of A. Borodin). Queanbeyan Players. June 6 – 21. 6285 6290.
Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door by Melinda Schneider and David Mitchell. Jeff Lewis & Phil Bathols. June 13. Canberra Theatre. (02) 6275 2700 Henry V by William Shakespeare, Bell Shakespeare. June 14 – 28. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. (02) 6275 2700. Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography by Declan Greene. The Street Theatre. June 17 – 21. Street 1. (02) 6247 1223. The Home Front. Improvised Work. Made in Canberra. June 18 – 28. The Street Theatre, Canberra City West. (02) 6247 1223 Showtune. Canberra Repertory Society. June 19 – July 5. Theatre 3. 6257 1950 Managing Carmen by David Williamson. Christine Harris & HIT Productions. June 24 – 28. The Q, Queanbeyan. 6285 6290.
Advertise your show on the front page of www.stagewhispers.com.au
New South Wales The Lion King. Based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer, with choral arrangements by Lebo M. Disney Theatrical. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Ticketmaster. Strictly Ballroom The Musical by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Global Creatures and Bazmark. Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star. 1300 795 267. The Government Inspector by Simon Stone after Nikolai Gogol. Belvoir & Malthouse coproduction. Until May 18. Belvoir St Theatre, Upstairs. (02) 9699 3444. Don’t talk to the Actors by Tom Dudsick. Picton Theatre Group. Until May 10. Bargo Sports Club. 4677 8313. Cruise Control by David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre. Until June 14. (02) 9929 0644.
Stage Whispers 57
On Stage Encounter with Murder - an Uncle Bunny Murder Mystery by Kaz Getts. RAPA. May 1 – 10. Concord RSL Theatre. 9440 0013. His Mother’s Voice by Justin Fleming. bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company. Until May 17. ATYP Studio 1, Walsh Bay. 9270 2400. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. UpStage Youth Theatre. May 1 – 10. Tulloch Wines, Pokolbin. (02) 4998 7580. 49987580 Death by Chocolate by Paul Freed. Cameo Theatre Company. May 2 – 4, Sutherland School of Arts, Memorial Theatre and May 10 & 24, Kingsgrove Uniting Church Hall. (02) 9579 4591. Downtown – the mod musical by Philip George and David Lowenstein. SUPA North (Ballina). May 2 – 10. Ballina RSL. (02) 6686 2544. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. Roo Theatre. May
58 Stage Whispers
New South Wales
2 – 10. Roo Theatre, Shellharbour. 4297 2891. Educating Rita by Willy Russell. Adenau and 5 Minute Call Productions. May 2 – 10. The Factory Theatre, Adamstown. 0417 044 581. The Producers. Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks. Hornsby Musical Society. May 2 – 10. Hornsby RSL. 9477 7777. The Pirates of Penzance Broadway Version. By Gilbert and Sullivan. Chatswood Musical Society. May 2 – 10. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. 1300 66 22 12. The Female of the Species by Joanna Murray-Smith. Castle Hill Players. May 2–24. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground. 9634 2929 Quartet by Ronald Harwood. Guild Theatre. May 2 – 31. Guild Theatre, Walz St. Rockdale. (02) 95216358 MonSat 9am to 5pm.
The Mating Game by Robin Hawdon. Arts Theatre Cronulla. May 2 – Jun 14. (02) 9523 2779. Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography by Declan Greene. Griffin Theatre Company and Perth Theatre Company. World Premiere. SBW Stables Theatre. May 2 – June 14. (02) 9361 3817. Parramatta Girls by Alana Valentine. Riverside Productions. May 3 – 17. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. (02) 8839 3399. Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) by Will Eno. Sydney Independent Theatre Company. May 5 – 10. Old Fitzroy Theatre. 1300 367 264. Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door by Melinda Schneider and David Mitchell. Jeff Lewis & Phil Bathols. May 6 – 11, Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre, (02) 9250 7777; May 31, Civic Theatre, Newcastle, (02) 4929 1977 &
June 14, Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, Nowra. Travels With My Aunt Adaptation by Giles Havergac from the book by Graham Green. Pymble Players. May 7 31. 1300 306 776. Lake. Choreographed by Lisa Wilson. Road Work. May 7. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Masterclass by Terrence McNally. The National Theatre Company. May 7 - 10. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Stooged Theatre. May 8 – 10, Gloucester Shakespeare Festival; (02) 6558 1408, June 4 – 7, Civic Playhouse, Newcastle; (02) 4929 1977. Silly Cow by Ben Elton. Wollongong Workshop Theatre. May 9 – 17. Theatre located at 192 Gipps Road, Gwynneville. 02 4225 9407.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Truth, Beauty and a Picture of You by Tim Freedman and Alex Broun. Hayes Theatre Co. May 9 – June 1. 0498 960 586. Hairspray by Marc Shaiman, Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan and Scott Wittman. Penrith Musical Comedy Company. May 9 – 17. Q Theatre - Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith. (02) 4723 7600. Laughter & Longing. A medley of 5 short plays. Glenbrook Players. May 9 – 17. Glenbrook Theatre, Great Western Highway. (02) 4739 1110. Chicago. Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, Music by John Kander and Lyrics by Frd Ebb. Orange Theatre Company. May 9 - 18. Orange Civic Theatre. Seussical The Musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Tamworth Musical Society. May 9 – 24. Capitol Theatre, Tamworth. Annie by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin
Charnin. Coffs Harbour Musical Comedy Company. May 9 – June 1. Jetty Memorial Theatre, Coffs Harbour. (02) 6652 8088. Godspell by Stephen Schwartz. Phoenix Theatre. May 9 – 24. Phoenix Theatre, Coniston. 0407 067 343. Grumpy Old Women: Fifty Shades of Beige by Jenny Éclair and Judith Holder. Ben McDonald Ltd. May 9, Entertainment Centre Theatrette, Albury, (02) 6023 8111; May 11, Griffith Regional Theatre, (02) 6962 8444; May 13, IPAC, (02) 4224 5999 & May 14, Dubbo Regional Theatre, (02) 6801 4378. Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw. Newcastle Theatre Company. May 10 - 24. Newcastle Theatre Company Theatre, Lambton. (02) 4952 4958 The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. May 13 – June 1. Willoughby Theatre
New South Wales Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. 1300 795 012. Because I Said So… A Mother’s Day Celebration. Harbour City Opera. Featuring Juile Lea Goodwin. May 11 at 2.30pm. Balmain Presbyterian Church. Something to be Done. Creator and Performer: Gabriel McCarthy. May 13 – June 1. TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst. Faulty Towers - The Dining Experience. Lizotte’s Newcastle, Lambton. May 13. (02) 4956 2066. Scenes From an Execution by Howard Barker. Sydney Independent Theatre Company / No White Elephant. May 13 31. Old Fitzroy Theatre Company. 1300 367 264. Amanda by Mark Langham. Old Monk Productions. May 13 – 18. Downstairs Theatre, TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst. 0477 453 641
Advertise your show on the front page of www.stagewhispers.com.au
Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice. Engadine Musical Society. May 14 – 18. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. 1300 616 063. Petticoat Pioneers by Maureen O’Brien. Buttai Barn, Buttai (NSW). May 14. (02) 4930 3153. The Pirates of Penzance book and lyrics by W.S. Gilbert, music by Arthur Sullivan. Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan and Musical Society. May 14 – 18, St John’s Hall, Maitland. May 24 – 25, Hawks Nest Community Centre. May 31 - June 1, James Theatre, Dungog. Cain and Abel. Created by Kate Davis & Emma Valente. Belvoir & THE RABBLE co-production. May 15 – June 8. Belvoir St Theatre, Downstairs. (02) 9699 3444. Footloose. Music by Tom Snow. Lyrics by Dean Pitchford and Book by Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie. The Regals
Stage Whispers 59
On Stage Musical Society. May 16 – 24. Rockdale Town Hall. 0449 REGALS. Pyjamas in the Daytime by Grahame Cooper. Footlice Theatre Company. May 16 – 24. Newcastle Community Arts Centre, Hamilton East. Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice. Manly Musical Society. May 16 - 24. Star of the Sea Theatre, Stella Maris College, Manly. Dusty - The Original Pop Diva. Book By John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow. Shire Music Theatre. May 16 – 25. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay by Dario Fo. Campbelltown Theatre Group. May 16 - 31. Town Hall Theatre, Campbelltown. 4628 5287. Oliver! Based upon the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. Eastwood Uniting Church Musical Society Inc. May 16 – 31. Cnr Hillview Ave & Lakeside Rd. 02 8061 7195. 33 Variations by Moises Kaufman. May 16 – 31. Hunters Hill Theatre, 13 Margaret St Woolwich. 9879 7765 A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. Woy Woy Little Theatre. May 16 – June 1.
60 Stage Whispers
New South Wales
Peninsula Theatre, Woy Woy. (02) 4344 4737. Urinetown by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman. Dural Musical Society. May 16 – 31. Dural Soldiers Memorial Hall. 1300 306 776. Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling. Parkes Musical & Dramatic Society. May 17 – 31. Parkes Little Theatre. Mojo by Jez Butterworth. STC. May 17 to July 5. Wharf 1. 9250 1777. Twelve Angry Men by Sherman Sergel and Reginald Rose. The Richmond Players. May 17 – 31. Richmond School of Arts. 8006 6779. Fiddler on the Roof. Book by Joseph Stein, Music by Jerry Bock & Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Lithgow Musical Society. May 18 - 31. Union Theatre, Lithgow. Crazy: The Life and Music of Patsy Cline by Maureen O’Brien. Buttai Barn, Buttai. May 19 - 21. (02) 4930 3153. Third Annual SLIDE Cabaret Festival. May 9 – 31. (02) 8915 1899. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Hunter Region Drama School Actors Company. May 21 - 24. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977.
The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni adapted by Nick Enright and Ron Blair. Lieder Theatre Company. May 21 – June 7. Lieder Theatre, Goulburn. (02) 48215066. Djuki Mala (The Chooky Dancers). Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring. May 22, Orange Civic Centre, 6393 8111; May 23 & 24, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, 4723 7600; May 27, Civic Theatre, Newcastle, 4929 1977; May 28 – 30, Seymour Centre, 9351 7940; June 3, Capitol Theatre, Tamworth; June 4, Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, 4990 7134; June 6 & 7, Gordon Theatre, IPAC, Wollongong, (02) 4224 5999. Between the Lines by Maureen O’Brien. May 22 and 24. Lake Macquarie City Library, Cardiff. (02) 4954 8575. May 23. The Dungeon Performance Space, Adamstown United Church, Newcastle. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Murwillumbah Theatre Company. May 23 – June 8. Murwillumbah Civic Centre Auditorium. 02 6672 5404 / 1800 674 414. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. DAPA. May 23 – June 7. DAPA Theatre,
Hamilton (Newcastle). (02) 4962 3270. Brothers Wreck by Jada Alberts. Belvoir. May 24 – June 22. Belvoir St Theatre, Upstairs. (02) 9699 3444. It’s Dark Outside by Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs and Tim Watts. Perth Theatre Co. May 24. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. The Girls in Grey by Caroline Bock and Helen Hopkins. Critical Stages / The Shift Theatre. May 28, Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, 4990 7134; May 30, Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre, 6801 4378; May 31, Orange Civic Theatre, 6393 8112; June 3 & 4, Manning Entertainment Centre, Taree & June 6, The Glasshouse, Port Macquarie, 6581 8888. A Bit of Reflection - Season of one-act plays. Griffith & Regional Association of the Performing Arts (GRAPA). May 29 – 31. Griffith Regional Theatre. (02) 6962 8218 BH. Intercultural Collision. Regional Institute of Performing Arts. May 29 - 31. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Scarlet Pimpernell by Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton. Singleton Theatrical Society. May 30 – June 14. The Civic Centre, Singleton. Bloons & Blooms - 6571 2862.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Riverside Lyric Ensemble. June 3 – 7. Lennox Theatre, Riverside, Parramatta. (02) 8839 3399. Brad Checked In by Paula Noble. Sydney Independent Theatre Company / Citizen Content Productions. June 3 - 21. Old Fitzroy Theatre Company. The Government Inspector by Simon Stone, after Nikolai Gogol. MALTHOUSE / Belvoir / Merrigong Theatre Co. June 4 – 7. IPAC, Wollongong. (02) 4224 5999. Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. June 5, Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. (02) 4990 7134. June 6 – 8, Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Plaza Suite by Neil Simon. Henry Lawson Theatre. June 6 - 27. Henry Lawson Drive, Werrington. (02) 4729 1555. Withnail and I. Pencil Case Collective. June 7 - 14. Royal Exchange, Newcastle. (02) 4929 4969. M.Rock by Lachlan Philpott. Sydney Theatre Company and Australian Theatre for Young People. Wharf 2. June 12 to 21. 9250 1777. The Australian Burlesque Festival 2014: Tour Showcase. June 12, Byron Theatre, Byron Bay; June
26, Lizotte’s Newcastle, Lambton, (02) 4956 2066. Woman In Black. Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt. Roo Theatre. June 13 & 14. Roo Theatre, Shellharbour. 4297 2891. Ten Bells by Paul Ryback. Phoenix Theatre. June 13 - 28. Phoenix Theatre, Bridge St. Coniston. 0407 067 343. Answering the Call. Musical revue. Novocastrian Players and Theatre on Brunker. June 13 28. St Stephen’s Church Hall, Adamstown (Newcastle). (02) 4956 1263. Workshorts 2014 by local playwrights. Wollongong Workshop Theatre. June 13 – 21. (02) 4225 9407. Theatre located at 192 Gipps Road, Gwynneville. Assassins. Book by John Weidman. Based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Miranda Musical Society. June 13 – 22. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. (02) 8814 5827. Moon Over Buffalo by Ken Ludwig. Nowra Players. June 13 – 28. Players Theatre, Meroo St, Bomaderry. (02) 44210778 or 1300662808. Next to Normal by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. Arcadians Theatre Group. June 13 – 21. The
New South Wales & Queensland Arcadians’ Miners Lamp Theatre. (02) 4284 8348 Monty Python’s Spamalot by John Du Prez & Eric Idle. Blue Mountains Musical Society. June 18 – 22. EVAN Theatre, Panthers. Cruise Control by David Williamson. Merrigong Theatre Co. June 18 - 21. IPAC, Wollongong. (02) 4224 5999. Kila Kokonut Krew’s The Factory. June 18 – 21. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. (02) 8839 3399. The Violent Outburst That Drew Me To You by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Siren Theatre Co and Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre. June 18 – July 12. (02) 9361 3817. Richard III by William Shakespeare. Ensemble Theatre. From June 19. (02) 9929 0644. The Elements of Energy. Regional Institute of Performing Arts. June 19 – 21. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Ruthless! The Musical by Joel Paley and Marvin Laird. The Theatre Division. June 20 – July 5. Reginald Season at The Seymour Centre. (02) 9351 7940. West Side Story by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Ashfield Musical Society. June 20 – 29. Concord RSL. 9793 1331. Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne from the book by Kenneth Grahame. Maitland Junior Repertory Theatre, at its theatre in Maitland. June 20 – July 6. (02) 4931 2800. Death By Chocolate by Paul Freed. Castle Hill Players. June 20 – July 12. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground. 9634 2929. Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove. Feld Entertainment. June 20 22. Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Broadmeadow. (02) 4921 2121. Ruff 2 New Works in Progress. Merrigong Theatre Co. June 21.
Advertise your show on the front page of www.stagewhispers.com.au
Gordon Theatre, Wollongong. (02) 4224 5999. Company by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth. Newcastle Theatre Company. June 21 – July 5. Newcastle Theatre Company Theatre, Lambton. 4952 4958. Who Knows by Paul McIntyre. Sydney Independent Theatre Company / Kore Productions. June 24 – July 12. Old Fitzroy Theatre, Woolloomooloo. 1300 367 264. The Magic Hour by Vanessa Bates. Performing Lines WA. June 24. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Rigoletto by Verdi. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. June 26 – Aug 24. 9318 8200. Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice. Armidale Drama and Musical Society. June 27 – July 12. Hoskins Theatre, The Armidale School. Hedda Gabler. Adapted from the play by Henrik Ibsen. Belvoir. June 28 – Aug 3. Belvoir St Theatre, Upstairs. (02) 9699 3444. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Young Peoples Theatre Newcastle Inc. June 30 to Aug 2. Young Peoples Theatre Newcastle, Hamilton. (02) 4961 5340 (Fridays 4pm to 6pm and Saturdays 9am to 1pm). Queensland The King and I by Rodgers & Hammerstein. John Frost Production / Opera Australia. Lyrics Theatre, QPAC. Until June 1. 136 246. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. THAT Production Company. Until May 10. Studio 188, Ipswich. Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. Until May 31. 3369 2344.
Stage Whispers 61
Queensland Cabaret and Broadway legends, sisters Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway are bringing their cabaret show, Sibling Revelry to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival (June 21 & 22), Sydney (June 23) and Melbourne (June 25).
62 Stage Whispers
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To) by Elizabeth Coleman. Tweed Theatre Company. Until May 4. 1 800 674 414. Coppelia. Ballet by Leo Delibes. Qld Ballet & WA Ballet. Playhouse. Until May 10. 136 246. Art by Yasmina Reza. Cairns Little Theatre. Cairns May 2-20. Rondo Theatre. 1 300 855 835. High Society. Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry. Mousetrap Theatre Company, Redcliffe. May 2-17. 0439 954 719. The Woman in Black by Stephen Mallatratt, from the book by Susan Hill. Phoenix Ensemble. May 2-24. Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds. 3103 1546. A Tribute of Sorts by Benjamin Schostakowski. QTC & Metro Arts. May 7 – 17. Bille Brown Studio. 1 800 355 528
Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls by Philip Dean. Ellis Productions. Nambour Civic Centre, May 8, 5475 7777 & Gardens Theatre, Brisbane, May 9-10, 3138 4455. Fame by Steve Margoshes and Jacques Levy. SQUIDS Theatrical, Redcliffe. May 9 – 17. 0411 682 577. The Magic Flute by Mozart. Opera Australia / Opera on the Beach. May 9 – 11. Greenmount Beach, Coolangatta. Young Frankenstein by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Spotlight Theatre Company, Benowa, May 9-31. 5539 4255. Murder at the Music Hall by Mary McMahon. KSP Theatre, Burpengary. May 9 – 31. 3888 8580. Admission: One Shilling. Devised by Nigel Hess. Andrew McKinnon & Phil Bathols. QPAC, Concert Hall. May 9-10. 136 246.
Queensland & Victoria Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen. Nash Theatre. Merthyr Road, New Farm. May 10-31. 3379 4775. Boeing Boeing by Marc Camelotti. Centenary Theatre, Chelmer Community Centre. May 10-31. 0435 591 720 Avenue Q by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. May 10 – Jun 21. 3369 2344 Solo Festival of Dance. Expressions Dance Co. Cremorne Theatre. May 15-24. 136 246. The Magic Hour by Vanessa Bates. QTC. Bille Brown Studio. May 20-31. 1 800 355 538 Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door by Melinda Schneider and David Mitchell. Jeff Lewis & Phil Bathols. QPAC, Concert Hall. May 21-25. 136 246. Foootloose by Dean Pitchford, Walter Bobbie, Tom Snow and Kenny Loggins, Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar and Jim Steinman. Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang. May 23 – Jun 7. 5596 0300. Oliver! by Lionel Bart. Mackay Musical Comedy Players. May 23 & 24. MacKay Entertainment Convention Centre. Thoroughly Modern Millie by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. Savoyards. May 31 – Jun 14. Iona Performing Arts Centre. 3893 4321 Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, adapted by ‘Renoir’. Maryborough Players. June 4 – 7. Brolga Theatre, Maryborough. 4122 6060. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, adapted by Joseph Robinette. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. Jun 7 – Aug 2. 3369 2344. The Effect by Lucy Prebble. QTC & STC. Bille Brown Studio. Jun 7 – Jul 5. 1 800 355 528 The Wizard of Oz by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. Queensland Musical Theatre. Jun 11 – 15. Schonell Theatre. 0413 488 398
Advertise your show on the front page of www.stagewhispers.com.au
The Gondoliers by Gilbert & Sullivan. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Jun 14 –Jul 2. 5532 2096 Company by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth. Ignatians Musical Society. Jun 21 – Jul 5. Schonell Theatre, St Lucia. 3371 2751. The 13 Storey Treehouse by Richard Tulloch, adapted from the book by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton. CDP production. June 3, Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre, (07) 4972 2822; June 5, Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre, (07) 4961 9777; June 10, Cairns Civic Theatre, 1300 855 835; June 11, Townsville Civic Theatre, (07) 4727 97975; June 16 – 21, QUT Gardens Theatre, (07) 3138 4455; June 23 & 24, Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, 1300 655 299. Love Letters by A.R. Gurney. Christine Harris & Hit Productions. Jun 24-25. Gardens Theatre, Brisbane. 3138 4455. Romeo and Juliet. Ballet by Kenneth McMillan. Queensland Ballet, QPAC. Jun 27 – Jul 5. 136 246. The Breakfast Club by John Hughes, adapted by Drew Jarvis. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. Jun 28 – Aug 2. 3369 2344 Victoria Wicked. Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. Based on the Gregory Maguire novel. Regent Theatre, Melbourne. From May 7. Ticketmaster. Proof by David Auburn. Williamstown Little Theatre. Until May 10. (03) 9885 9678. Amadeus by Peter Shaffer. Geelong Repertory Theatre Co. Until May 4. Woodbin Theatre. 5225 1200. Heroes by Gérald Sibleyras Translated by Tom Stoppard. Peridot Theatre Inc. Until May 10. Wicked Sisters by Alma De Groen. Malvern Theatre Stage Whispers 63
On Stage Company. Until May 10. 1300 131 552. Talking Heads by Alan Bennett. Mordialloc Theatre Co. Inc. Until May 10. Shirley Burke Theatre. 9587 5141. Rigoletto by Verdi. Opera Australia. Until May 10. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 1300 182 183. Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky. Opera Australia. Until May 9. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 1300 182 183. Wael Zuaiter: Unknown by Jesse Cox. Theatre Works. Until May 11. (03) 9534 3388. Belleville by Amy Herzog. Red Stitch Actors Theatre. Until May 31. (03) 9533 8083. The Dixie Swim Club by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope & Jamie Wooten. Heidelberg Theatre Company. May 1 – 17. (03) 94574117. The Turk in Italy by Rossini. Opera Australia. May 1 – 13. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 1300 182 183. Annie by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan. Geelong Lyric Theatre Society. May 2 – 10. Playhouse Theatre, GPAC. (03) 52251200 The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett. Frankston Theatre Group. May 2 – 10. George
64 Stage Whispers
Jenkins Theatre, Frankston. 1300 665 377 / 9905 1111. Family Spirit by Pat Wollaston. Sunshine Community Theatre Inc. May 2 – 10. Yellow Moon by David Greig. MTC. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, May 2 – 16, (03) 8688 0800 & Geelong Performing Arts Centre, June 2. Sylvia by A R Gurney. Sherbrooke Theatre Company. May 2 – 17. Doncaster Playhouse. 1300 650 209. The Tender Land by Aaron Copland. Lyric Opera Of Melbourne. May 2 – 10. Chapel off Chapel. (03) 8290 7000. Gypsy by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents. Williamstown Musical Theatre Company. May 2 – 17. Williamstown Mechanics Institute. 1300 881 545. Djuki Mala (The Chooky Dancers). Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring. May 3, Hamilton Performing Arts Centre; May 5, The Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool, 559 4999; May 7, Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre, 5232 2077; May 8, Williamstown Town Hall, 9932 4074; May 10, Drum Theatre, Dandenong, 8571 1666. Night on Bald Mountain by Patrick White. Malthouse. May
5 – 25. Merlyn Theatre. (03) 9685 5111 (select 2). Cher Tréaor (Don’t Tax Me Too Much Darling!) by Francis Veber. Melbourne French Theatre. May 6 – 10. Collingwood College Theatre. 9349 2250. Grumpy Old Women: Fifty Shades of Beige by Jenny Éclair and Judith Holder. Ben McDonald Ltd. May 8. The Capital, Bendigo. 5434 6100. Ten Minute Quickies. Eltham Little Theatre. May 8 – 10. Eltham Performing Arts Centre. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Tim Kelly. Southern Peninsula Players. May 8 – 18. Rosebud Memorial Hall. Footloose. Music by Tom Snow (and others), lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and book by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie Latrobe Theatre Company. May 9 – 25. Latrobe Performing Arts Centre, Traralgon. My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. NOVA Music Theatre. May 9 - 24. Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading. 1300 304 433. Let’s Get It On - The Life & Music of Marvin Gaye. Starring Bert LaBonte. May 9 – 11, The Clocktower, Moonee Ponds, 9243 9191; May 13 – 25, The Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, 13 2849.
Dame Kiri 70th Birthday Gala Tour. May 10 & 11. Melbourne Recital Centre. 132 849. 1984 by George Orwell, adapted and created by Shake & Stir Theatre. May 13 – 24, The Butter Factory, Wodonga, 6021 7433; May 27, Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre, 5722 8105; May 29, West Gippsland Arts Centre, Warragul, 5624 2456; May 31 – June 2, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat, 5333 5888; June 5 – 7, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, 5225 1200; June 11, Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre, 5232 2077; June 13, Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool, 5559 4999; June 16, Mildura Arts Centre, 5018 8330; June 18, Westside Performing Arts Centre, Mooroopna, 5832 9511; June 20 & 21, The Capital, Bendigo, 5434 6100. Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door by Melinda Schneider and David Mitchell. Jeff Lewis & Phil Bathols. May 14 – 18, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 1300 182 183; June 5, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat; June 6, Frankston Performing Arts Centre; June 7, Kernot Hall, Morwell & June 8, Playhouse, Geelong Performing Arts Centre.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Carmen by Bizet. Opera Australia. May 14 – 25. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 1300 182 183. The Girls in Grey by Caroline Bock and Helen Hopkins. Critical Stages / The Shift Theatre. May 15, The Clocktower Centre, Moonee Ponds, 9243 9191 & May 16 & 17, Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre, 5232 2077. Managing Carmen by David Williamson. HIT Productions and Christine Harris. May 14 & 15, The Capital, Bendigo, 5434 6100; May 28 – 31, Malthouse Theatre, 136, 100. Chicago by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. BLOC Musical Theatre. May 15 – 24. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat. 0400031990. Twelve Angry Jurors by Reginald Rose. Torquay Theatre Troupe. May 15 – 24. 5261 9035. 42nd Street by Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble, Al Dubin and Harry Warren. CLOC Musical
Theatre. May 16 – 31. The National Theatre, St Kilda. 1 300 362 547. Deathtrap by Ira Levin. Cathouse Players Inc. May 16 – 31. Chewton Senior Citizens’ Centre. 0448 371 623. Ugly Mugs by Peta Brady. Malthouse / Griffin. May 16 – June 7. Beckett Theatre. (03) 9685 5111 (select 2). S by Circa. May 16 & 17. Gasworks Moving Parts 2014. Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. Gemco Players Community Theatre Inc. May 16 – 25. (03) 5968 2844. The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman. The Basin Theatre Group. May 16 – June 7. 1300 784 668 (between 7pm and 9pm only). Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, adaptation by Gale Edwards. MTC. Southbank Theatre, The
Victoria Sumner. May 17 - June 21. (03) 8688 0800. Memorandum by Kate Hunter. Theatre Works. May 20 – June 1. (03) 9534 3388. RED by John Logan. Brighton Theatre Company. May 22 – June 7. Brighton Arts & Cultural Centre. 1300 752 126. The Government Inspector by Simon Stone, after Nikolai Gogol. Belvoir / Malthouse. May 22 – 24. The Playhouse, Geelong Performing Arts Centre. 5225 1200. Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon. STAG, Strathmore. May 22 – June 1. 9382 6284. Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose. Lilydale Athenæum Theatre Company Inc. May 28 – June 14. 9735 1777. Shadowland. Pilobolus. Arts Centre Melbourne and ATA All Stars. May 28 – June 1. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre.
Advertise your show on the front page of www.stagewhispers.com.au
Teleny. Adapted by Barry Lowe from the novel attributed to Oscar Wilde and his circle. FlyOn-The-Wall Theatre. May 29 – June 15. Chapel Off Chapel. (03) 8290 7000. Blood Brothers – The Play by Willy Russell. Beaumaris Theatre Inc. May 30 – June 14. Seussical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, based on the stories of Dr Seuss. Phoenix Theatre Company. May 30 – June 7. Doncaster Playhouse. The Speechmaker by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch. MTC. World Premiere. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. May 31 - July 5. (03) 8688 0800. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Babirra Music Theatre. May 31 – June 14. The Whitehorse Centre. (03) 9262 6555. Harold and Maude by Colin Higgins. The Mount Players. June 6 – 28. The Mountview
Stage Whispers 65
On Stage Theatre, Macedon. (03) 5426 1892. Retreat by James Saunders. Tangled Web Theatre Productions. June 11 – 15. Doncaster Playhouse. 0404 942 143 / (03) 9748 1468. Grounded by George Brant. Red Stitch Actors Theatre. June 11 – July 12. (03) 9533 8083. One Act Play Season 2014 - No Strings, In By the Half and Peter Stone by John Tilbrook, Jimmie Chin and Alison Knight. Peridot Theatre Inc. June 12 – 15. Unicorn Theatre, Mt Waverley Secondary College. (03) 9898 9090. But Wait…There’s More. Circus Oz. June 18 – July 13. Circus Oz Big Top, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne. 136 100. Aston’s Stones. Arts Centre Melbourne / Teater Pero. June 18 – 22. ANZ Pavilion. 1300 182 183. The Girls in Grey by Caroline Bock and Helen Hopkins. Critical
66 Stage Whispers
Victoria, Tasmania & South Australia
Stages / The Shift Theatre. June 18. Benalla Performing Arts and Convention Centre. 5762 5515. The Witches by Roald Dahl, based on the stage play by David Wood. Malthouse / Griffin. June 19 – July 25. Beckett Theatre. (03) 9685 5111 (select 2). The Vortex by Noël Coward. Malvern Theatre Co Inc. June 20 – July 6. 1300 131 552. Oliver! By Lionel Bart. PLOS Musical Productions. June 20 – 28. Frankston Arts Centre. (03) 9784 1060. Imperial Suite. Choreography: George Balanchine. Music Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Australian Ballet. June 20 – 28. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 1300 182 183. Unpack This. Redskin Productions. June 20 & 21. Gasworks Moving Parts 2014. Les Misérables by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and
Herbert Kretzmer. From June 22. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. Ticketek. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks by Richard Alfieri. Williamstown Little Theatre. June 26 – July 12. (03) 9885 9678. Loot by Joe Orton. Mordialloc Theatre Co. Inc. June 27 – July 6. (03) 9587 5141. The Good Person of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht. New translation by Tom Wright. Malthouse. June 27 – July 20. Merlyn Theatre. (03) 9685 5111 (select 2). RENT by Jonathan Larson. CenterStage Geelong. June 27 – July 12. Drama Theatre, Geelong Performing Arts Centre. 5225 1200. Tasmania 2014 Uni Revue - The Habbott, An Elected Journey. Old Nick Company. May 9 – 24, Theatre Royal, Hobart, (03) 6233 2299 & May 28 – 31, Princess Theatre, Launceston, (03) 6323 3666. The Talented Mr. Ripley. Adapted by Phyllis Nagy. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. May 16 – 31. The Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. (03) 6234 5998. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Devonport Choral Society. May 16 – 30. Devenport Entertainment & Convention Centre. 6420 2900.
Born From Animals by Tom Holloway, Finegan Kruckemeyer and Sean Monro. The Tasmanian Theatre Company. May 22 – June 1. Theatre Royal Backspace Theatre, Hobart. (03) 6233 2299. Managing Carmen by David Williamson. Christine Harris & Hit Productions. June 11, Princess Theatre, Launceston, (03) 6323 3666; June 12, Devonport Entertainment & Convention Centre, 6420 2900 1984. By George Orwell, adapted by Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij. shake & stir theatre co. June 24, Devenport Entertainment & Convention Centre, 6420 2900; June 26 – 28. Theatre Royal, Hobart. (03) 6233 2299. South Australia Neighbourhood Watch by Lally Katz. State Theatre Company of SA. May 2 – 24. Dunstan Playhouse. BASS 131 246. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. May 317. The Little Theatre, University of Adelaide. BASS 131 246. The Boy from Oz. Music, lyrics by Peter Allen. Book by Nick Enright. Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company of SA. May 817. The Arts Theatre. BASS 131 246 or 8264 3225.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Jesikah by Phillip Kavanagh. The State Theatre Company of SA. May 9. Hopgood Theatre. 8207 3977. Queens of the Outback. Country Arts SA. May 15. Hopgood Theatre. 8207 3977. Dame Kiri 70th Birthday Gala Tour. May 18. Melb. Festival Theatre, Adelaide. 132 849. Loves and Hours by Stephen Metcalfe. Galleon Theatre Group. May 21-31. Domain Theatre Marion Cultural Centre. 0437 609 577. Yes I Remember it Well. Country Arts SA. May 27. Hopgood Theatre. 8207 3977. Jesikah by Phillip Kavanagh. The State Theatre Company of SA. May 27 – 31. Space Theatre. Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The Little Fish. May 30- June 13. The Arts Centre, Port Noarlunga plus Marion Cultural Centre. 8326 5577 (The Arts Centre shows). She Loves Me by Joe Masteroff, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. Therry Dramatic Society. June 514. The Arts Theatre. BASS or Venuetix or 8296 3477. Adelaide Cabaret Festival – June 6 – 21 www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au /adelaide-cabaret-festival/ Variety Gala Performance. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 6. Festival Theatre. 131 246. Little Bird by Nicki Bloom with songs and music by Cameron Goodall and Quentin Grant. State Theatre Company of South Australia in association with Adelaide Festival Centre. June 6 – 22. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 131 246. Jazzamatazz by Ali McGregor. June 7. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre. 131 246. People in The Front Row Melanie. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 7 - 9. Dunstan Playhouse. 131 246. Perfect Tripod. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Adelaide Festival Centre in association with Smartartists.
South Australia & Western Australia
June 9. Festival Theatre. 131 246. Direct from Broadway, Anthony Warlow. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 10. Adelaide Festival Theatre. 131 246. The Cowgirl and the Showgirl. Beccy Cole and Libby O’Donovan. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 11 – 13. Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre. 131 246. Still Awake Still! Adelaide Cabaret Festival / Adelaide Festival Centre in association with Jump Leads and Jessica Wilson. June 14 & 15. Dunstan Playhouse. 131 246. The Australian Burlesque Festival 2014: Tour Showcase. June 19 & 20. Nexus Theatre, Adelaide. Doris Day – So Much More Than The Girl Next Door by Melinda Schneider and David Mitchell. Jeff Lewis & Phil Bathols. June 25. Adelaide Festival Theatre. 131 246. Western Australia Blood Brothers by Willy Russell. Port Theatre, Albany. Until May 17. (08) 98428044. Annie by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Kooliny Arts Centre. May 2 – 17. Family Musical. Koorliny Arts Centre. 9467 7118 Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray. Playlovers. May 2 – 17. Rueful social comedy. Hackett Hall, Floreat. 0415 777 173. It’s All Greek To Me by Noel O’Neil. Old Mill Theatre. May 2 17. Locally written World Premiere. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth. 9367 8719. So Much To Tell You by John Marsden. Garrick Theatre. May 2 – 17. Garrick Theatre, Guildford. 9378 1990. Twelve Angry Men by Sherman L. Sergell. Melville Theatre. May 2 - 17. Melville Theatre, Stock Rd, Palmyra. 9330 4565. Festen by Thomas Vinterberg, adapted by David Eldridge. WAAPA Third Year Acting Students. May 2 - 8. Based on Dogme film. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, Edith Cowan
University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare. WAAPA Second Year Acting Students. May 3 – 8. Dark comedy. Enright Studio, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. Kora. WAAPA Second and Third Year Dance Students. May 3 - 9. Collection of new works, Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. Tashi by Anna Fienberg. Imaginary Theatre. May 7. Children’s theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre – Boardwalk Theatre. 9550 3900. The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan. ICW Productions. May 7 – 10. Classic operetta. Regal Theatre, Hay St, Subiaco. Ticketek 132 849. Cosi by Louis Nowra. Phoenix Theatre. May 8 – 17. Australian comedy. Phoenix Theatre, Memorial Hall, Hamilton Hill. 9255 3336. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde. Adapted by Noah Smith. KADS. May 9 – 31. KADS Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda. 9257 2668. Giselle by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. West Australian Ballet. May 9 - 24. Romantic-era ballet. His Majesty’s Theatre, Hay St, Perth. Ticketek 132 849. The Trip to Bountiful by Horton Foote. Roleystone Theatre. May 9 - 17. Roleystone Theatre, Brookton Hwy, Roleystone. 9367 5730 Fiddler on the Roof by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein. Murray Music and Drama Club. May 9 - 24. Classic musical. Pinjarra Civic Centre. 0458 046 414. Dame Kiri 70th Birthday Gala Tour. May 13. Melb. Perth Concert Hall. 132 849. Wish by Peter Goldsworthy adapted by Humphrey Bower. Perth Theatre Company. May 14 - 24. Extraordinary love story and ethical conundrum. Studio Underground, State Theatre
Advertise your show on the front page of www.stagewhispers.com.au
Centre of WA. Ticketek 132 849. Death by Chocolate by Paul Freed. Stirling Players. May 16 31. Comedy thriller. Stirling Theatre, Innaloo. 9440 1040 As You Like It by William Shakespeare. Black Swan State Theatre Company. May 17 – Jun 1. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA. Ticketek 132 849 Groundswell by Natalie Allen and Tamas Moricz. LINK Dance Company. May 21 - 24. Dance – featuring guests from Beijing Normal University. Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. Admission: One Shilling. May 27. Stars Patricia Routledge and Piers Lane. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre – Boardwalk Theatre. 9550 3900. Calendar Girls by Tim Firth. May 30. Worldwide comedy hit. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre – Boardwalk Theatre. 9550 3900. Broken Glass by Arthur Miller. Graduate Dramatic Society. Jun 7 – 15. Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia. Oliver! by Lionel Bart. Mandurah Little Theatre. Jun 5 – 8. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre – Boardwalk Theatre. 9550 3900. The House on the Lake by Aiden Fenessy. Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA. Jun 6 - 22. State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge, Ticketek 132 849. Nunsense II by Dan Goggin. Wanneroo Repertory Club. Jun 12 - 28. Musical sequel. Limelight Theatre, Wanneroo. 9571 8591. Realism by Anthony Nielson. WAAPA Third Year Acting Students. Jun 13 - 19. X rated cutting edge comedy. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. Punk Rock by Simon Stephens. WAAPA Second Year Acting Students. Jun 13 - 18. Story of Stage Whispers 67
On Stage violence at school. Enright Studio, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. West Side Story. Based on a concept by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. WAAPA Second and Third Year Music Theatre Students. Jun 14 - 21. Regal Theatre, Hay St, Subiaco. Ticketek 1300 795 012. Columbinus by Stephen Karum and P. J. Paparelli. WAAPA Second Year Acting Students. Jun 14 - 19. Based on the Columbine High massacre. Enright Studio, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Schleffer. CDP. Jun 17 - 22. A mouse took a stroll. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge. Ticketek 132 849. Theatre Restaurant. Stage Left Theatre Troupe. Jun 20 - 28. Stage Left Theatre, Burt St, Boulder. Grease by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. John Frost. Jun 21 - Jul 18. Crown Theatre, Perth. Ticketek 132 849. Genesis. West Australian Ballet. Jun 25-28. Emerging Artists. Westfarmers Salle at WA Ballet Centre, Maylands. 9214 0707. Dust by Suzie Miller. Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA. Jun 28 – Jul 13. The world turns upside down. Studio Downstairs, State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge. Ticketek 132 849. Northern Territory Bastard Territory by Stephen Carleton. Brown’s Mart Productions, Knock-em-Down Theatre and JUTE Theatre Company. May 6 – 18. Brown’s Mart Theatre, Darwin. Gala 30th Anniversary Performance. The Duprada Dance Company and the Araluen Arts Centre. May 10. Araluen Arts Centre. 8951 1122. 68 Stage Whispers
Western Australia, N.T. & New Zealand
Djuki Mala (The Chooky Dancers). Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring. May 11. Darwin Entertainment Centre. 8980 3333. Melbourne International Comedy Festival Road Show. May 22, The Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre, 8980 3333 & June 10 & 11, Araluen Arts Centre. 8951 1122. Controlled Falling Project. ThisSideUp. May 24. Araluen Arts Centre. 8951 1122. Pete the Sheep. Based on the picture book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. Composer/ lyricist Phillip Scott. Monkey Baa Theatre Company. June 2 – 3. Araluen Arts Centre. 8951 1122. The Hoist by Sarah Hope. Brown’s Mart Productions, Corrugated Iron and Salt Theatre. June 10 - 21. Brown’s Mart Theatre, Darwin. The Australian Burlesque Festival. June 14. The Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre. 8980 3333. The Wiggles – Apples and Bananas Tour! Live in Concert. June 22. The Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre. 8980 3333. New Zealand The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Court Theatre, Christchurch. Until May 17. 03 963 0870. Whistle Down the Wind. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Lyrics by Jim Steinman, from the original novel by Mary Hayley Bell. Papakura Theatre Company. Until May 10. 09 3611000. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Hamilton Operatic Society. May 3 – 17. Founder’s Theatre, Hamilton. 0800 842538. Kings of the Gym by Dave Armstrong. Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North. May 3 – June 14. 06 354 5740. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – 70th Birthday Tour. May 6, Civic Theatre, Rotorua, 0800 111 999 or 07 350 22 44 & June 1,
Dunedin Town Hall, (03) 477 8597. Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton. Hot Pink. May 6 – 10. Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland. 09 970 9700 Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Theatre Whakatane. May 9 – 24. iTicket. Annie by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan. May 23 – June 8, St James Theatre, Wellington, 0800 TICKETEK (842 538); The Civic Theatre, The Edge, Auckland, June 13 – 29, 0800 111999. Yo Future by Jo Randerson. Barbarian Productions. May 7 – 9. Repertory House, Invercargill. 0800 BUY TIX (289 849). Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz. Auckland Theatre Company. May 8 – 31. Maidment Theatre. 09 2625789. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Howick Little Theatre. May 10 – 31. iTicket. Hair: The American Tribal LoveRock Musical. Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado. Music by Galt MacDermot. Rotorua Musical Theatre. May 16 – 31. Casa Blanca Theatre, Rotorua. 0800 111 999 Souvenir by Stephen Temperley. Fortune Theatre, Dunedin. May 17 – June 7. 03 477 8323. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa In Recital with Terence Dennis. May 24. ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland. 09 970 9700. Equivocation by Bill Cain. Circa Theatre, Wellington. May 24 – June 21. 04 801 7992. An Evening With Dame Kiri. May 29. TSB Theatre New Plymouth, 0800 111 999. God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. Titirangi Theatre. June 3 – 14. Run For Your Wife by Ray Cooney. Tauranga Repertory Society. June 4 – 21. 16th Avenue Theatre, Tauranga. 0800 4 TICKET.
Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) by Sheila Callaghan. Stagecraft Theatre, Wellington. June 4 – 14. iTicket. The Breakfast Club by John Hughes. Playhouse Theatre. June 7 – 15. 0800 BUY TIX (289 849). Dreamgirls by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen. Napier Operatic Society. June 19 – July 5. On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. Napier Repertory. June 11 – 21. Once On Chunuk Bair by Maurice Shadbolt. Auckland Theatre Company. June 12 – July 5. Maidment Theatre, Auckland. 09 2625789. ‘Way Out West’ Midwinter Mystery Dinner Show. Prime Productions. June 13 – Aug 12. Tauranga Racecourse. 0800 BUY TIX (289 849) The Fox on the Fairway by Ken Ludwig. Dolphin Theatre, Auckland. June 14 – July 5. A Weekend with the Brophies. Marlborough Repertory. June 16 – 29. The Boathouse Theatre, Blenheim. Hay Fever by Noël Coward. Detour Theatre, Tauranga. June 18 – July 5. 0800 224 224. Four Flat Whites in Italy by Roger Hall. Hawera Repertory Society. June 21 – 28. Hawera Memorial Theatre. TicketDirect. Secret Bridesmaids’ Business by Elizabeth Coleman. Nelson Repertory Theatre. June 22 – July 5. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. Tim Bray Productions. June 23 – July 19. The PumpHouse, Auckland. 09 4898360. The Addams Family – A New Musical by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickmann and and Rick Elice. Wellington Repertory Theatre. June 24 – July 5. Gryphon Theatre, Wellington. The Mercy Clause by Philip Braithwaite. Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North. June 28 – July 6. 06 354 5740.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
Scott & Fran at the Pan Pacifics in Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Photo: Jeff Busby.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical Book by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Music by various. Director: Baz Luhrmann. Set and Costumes: Catherine Martin. Produced by Global Creatures and Bazmark. Sydney Lyric Theatre. World Premiere. April 12. STRICTLY Ballroom The Musical is everything you would expect from a Luhrmann and Martin extravaganza - utterly gorgeous costumes and sets, loads of laughs, plenty of surprises and Australian as the Hills Hoist. But it is not yet everything you would expect from a musical. The take-off was spectacular. Every seat is colour coded so members of the audience can barrack for their dancing duo. Onto the stage to the strains of the classic Johann Strauss waltz come the contestants dressed in their ballroom gown finery. New lyrics add a fresh twist to the schmaltzy music. Then the dancers strip off to Samba their hearts out and we are introduced to the main players of this parable, which Baz tells us is fundamentally about the tyranny of authority stifling creativity and the legend of the ugly duckling. Having had our high cholesterol opening, suddenly the audience is served a diet of musical courses with strikingly different flavours. We go from classic Viennese waltz to a techno electro dance number I Can Fly, then a dollop of Time After Time, followed by Dance to Win with Russian influences and then a cheesy number called Heavenly Pineapple.
The audience felt a little indigestion at this point. Did the songs work as a casserole? Dropping songs from a new musical during the development process is a painful but essential element to success and the first act was a little on the long side. Just before interval the heartburn was eased. It came with a stirring and swirling adaptation from the opera Carmen where the family of ‘ugly duckling’ Fran broke in her new dancing partner Scott, in a joyful and energetic Spanish foot stomp. The second act was more satisfying as the narrative moved at a much faster pace. Love Is in the Air instantly lifted the musical into a more familiar realm and we got a chance to like Scot and Fran more. Thomas Lacey and Phoebe Panaretos shone on the dance floor in their roles of a lifetime. Thomas had a number of dazzling solo routines which he accomplished with panache. But no members of the cast delivered a moment that sent a shiver up your spine with their singing virtuosity. Robert Grubb as the evil Barry Fife had a handful with the over-the-top songs he was handed. One pitched him as a fascist leader, another with its flag waving resembled a scene from Les Misérables. The members of the opposing dance duos had many choice dance moves to ham up and lines like “If I was Scott I’d be spewing.” Will that stay in if the show goes to Broadway?
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 69
But no matter how quirky the demands of the director, the set and lighting designers came up with the goods. The most memorable was a sublime revolve where Fran and Scot danced on the roof of his parents’ dance studio under the ubiquitous Coke sign and Hills Hoist. Strictly Ballroom The Musical is a thoroughly entertaining night out but just needs a few creases in its frock ironed out. David Spicer Music By Jane Bodie. Stories Like These and Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre, Sydney. Director: Corey McMahon. Apr 4 - 26. THERE are lots of great tracks played during Music, Jane Bodie’s powerfully claustrophobic play, but the most disturbing music is playing in the unknowable mind of her mentally ill protagonist, Adam. It’s a devastating portrait of confusion, pain and lost identity. Bodie is a former Head of Playwriting at NIDA. Her technical excellence is here allied to a painful, personal knowledge of just such a devastating illness. Adam (Anthony Gee) lives alone in a cramped, messy flat (marvellously conjured on the smallest of acting areas by ace designer Pip Runciman). Grubby, barely coping, he plays his music, cooks himself unappetising frozen meals and stacks piles of unheeded correspondence around the floor. Into this locked-off world barge two young actors, Gavin and Sarah (Tom Stokes and Kate Skinner), who are ‘researching’ a play about mental illness. At first flattered and intrigued, Adam is utterly illequipped to deal with these ‘arty’ strangers, whose own stability is soon brought into question. The inevitable climax, though teetering on the edge of melodrama, is gripping and sad, marvelously sustained by a committed cast under the taut direction of Corey McMahon. Gee is terrific as the hapless Adam. Just as the visiting actors try (and signally fail) to understand him, so Gee attempts to act ‘normal’ with adopted facial expressions and exaggerated body movements. It’s a shocking yet tender portrayal of great sadness. Frank Hatherley
Theo (remarkably sung by Gareth Keegan, that most appealing of young leading men) falls instantly for the stranger, despite his long friendship with the beautiful Thalia (can Lucy Durack do anything that isn’t perfection?). With the island about to explode, who will be saved and who will be sacrificed? There are great songs in this score. Theo’s “I Will Run” seems to pay homage to “Corner of the Sky” (Pippin) and “Sun” has all the earmarks of an anthem. The wonderful Anne Wood, as Lotti, mother of Thalia and Chora (Emily Langridge) is superb giving maternal advice in “The Heart of A Man”, one of the cleverest and wittiest songs in the score. Thalia’s “Let’s Start a War” is a showstopper. Theo’s prayer “Are You There?” is a poignant emotional moment and “We’ll Be There” is a spiritually moving finale. With the exceptional talents of Bert LaBonte as Aeon, leader of the Moral Counsel and Theo’s father; the wonderful Melissa Langton as his wife; the always valuable Cameron McDonald as Solon (who narrates most of the story links), Lisa-Marie Parker, Sophie Carter (who sings up a storm) and young talents Joel Parnis and Ben Nicholson, this is a dream cast in any circumstances. The amazing composer/musical director accompanied them on Grand Piano without using a score it seems, just some notation above the lyrics. Robinson is a spectacular talent, and Atlantis now has a life off its own. It is a force to be reckoned with. Coral Drouyn
Good-Bye Miss Monroe By Liam de Burca. danceAtlas production. Director: Liam de Burca. Metro Arts, Brisbane. Mar 7 - 22. GOOD-BYE Miss Monroe tells the story of “forgotten legend” Hollywood dance-director Jack Cole and takes place in the days following Marilyn Monroe’s tragic suicide. Cole, who worked with Monroe on six of her movies, was a friend and confidante of the star. The play, set in Cole’s Hollywood Hills home, not only sketches in his working relationship with Monroe but also with Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Betty Grable and Gwen Verdon. Cole, a dance pioneer, is credited with inventing American show dancing known as “theatrical jazz dance”. Liam de Burca’s play effectively juggles the fascinating Atlantis – In Concert pieces of Cole’s story using two skilled actors. Matt Young’s By Matthew Robinson. Directed by Chris Parker. Chapel off unsentimental but honest portrayal of Cole manages to Chapel (Vic). World Premiere. Feb 23. hold the stage in his many soliloquies and is a effective foil ONE of the greatest thrills for any theatre lover is to be for the multiple muses of his co-star, Anna Burgess. She there at the birth of something truly special. A packed brings Verdon, Grable and Russell gloriously to life but it house witnessed the birth of Atlantis, a remarkable piece of was her performance as Monroe that was the highlight. work sired by the extraordinary Matthew Robinson, whose Nuanced and at the same time reverential, Burgess perfectly talent is, quite simply, mind-blowing. Musically, it is epic in captured Monroe’s famed luminosity. scope with sophisticated and witty lyrics. But over and Special mention should go to Elia Massimini’s wigs and above that it is a musical crying out for a Broadway de Burca’s costumes which helped create the mystique of production. these legendary movie queens. Several of Cole’s The story of the peaceful Atlantans, whose world is choreographic routines added to the show’s appeal; Gwen rocked when a beautiful stranger Maia (Kelli Rode at her Verdon’s Egyptian Dance from the 1951 movie David and finest) arrives by boat, thus proving there are others in the Bathsheba, and “Sing, Sing, Sing”, originally included in world, is powerful, and the triangular love story at the heart Cole’s 1930s club act, which was used as a finale. de Buca’s of book, is the stuff that all great musicals are made of. 70 Stage Whispers
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Good-Bye Miss Monroe.
direction was amazingly fluent considering Metro Arts’ postage stamp-sized stage. Apart from being a hard task-master and prone to fits of temper and abuse, very little of Cole’s personal life emerged; a pity because we wanted to know more. Good-bye Miss Monroe feels like its future could well be in the U.S., where the cult and obsession of all things Monroe is much larger than it is in Australia. Peter Pinne Barbie LIVE: The Musical Book by Diane Rodriguez. Music and lyrics by Robbie Roth. Director/Choreographer: Kobi Rozenfeld. Touring Australia, beginning April 5, 2014 at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne. YOU try hard not to get cynical as a critic, but sometimes you have nights that scream the warning “Not another musical”. Well don’t listen to that scream. Barbie LIVE isn’t meant for critics, it’s meant for young girls aged 4 -14 and their parents or grandparents, and it’s sparkaliciously awesome. Kobi Rozenfeld knows his stuff. His choreography is mighty fine, and the cast is terrific. They understand this is 1960s kitsch, but they treat it with reverence. Chelsea Bernier is ‘all that and more’ totes ‘to die for’ as Barbie. Kristina Miller as her best friend Teresa, who lacks the confidence to be a star, was her equal. The two “baddies” (well…mildly not so nice) are fabulously played by Courtney Cheatham (Raquelle) and Rebecca Warm (Peg). Great comedy work from both, admittedly painted with broad brushstrokes. The fabulously named Keir Kirkegaard
impressed with great warmth and dancing as Danny, Nick Bernardi was a fabulous “villain” in several guises and Austin Johns was charmingly nerdy as Ken. The anti-bullying message is simple and subtle…Barbie really has grown up. The music by Robbie Roth is unashamed pop, but there are at least two really singable songs in “I wish I had her life” and “Get Your Sparkle On”. Oh, and the costumes by Aviad Arik Hermann are all ‘heaven on a stick.’ There are more sequins than you’d see at Gay Mardi Gras. Loads of fun. Coral Drouyn The State of the Tasmanian Economy By Jonathan Biggins Blue Cow Theatre Company. Director: Robert Jarman. Theatre Royal, Hobart. Apr 10–12. THE State of the Tasmanian Economy, written by Jonathan Biggins for Blue Cow Theatre, is a comedy marriage made in heaven, set in Tasmania. Playwright and political satirist Biggins was commissioned to write a new comedy play for profit-share theatre company Blue Cow Theatre. The result was a funny, fast laugh-fest for the world premiere production, ideal for an experienced collection of actors. Biggins is fast with one-liners and Blue Cow actors Scott Farrow as Max, Guy Hooper as The Men, Jane Longhurst as The Women and John Xintavelonis as Steve handle the short, sharp lines efficiently and with their usual excellent comic timing. Max and Steve are two middle-ranking Tasmanian public servants, enlisted to solve the state’s financial woes, and given just four weeks to do it. Quirky characters abound in Tasmania and
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 71
Barbie LIVE: The Musical. Photo: EMS Entertainment/Mattell, Inc.
Guy Hooper hilariously played at least six of them as the Men. Scene changes were slick, thanks to a clever, rotating device, providing a deceptively simple and changeable set designed by William Dowd. Director Robert Jarman held it all together while allowing the actors to have their head. Forget political correctness – this belly-laugh comedy takes a poke at us with affection and good humour. Although topically and typically Tasmanian, this wickedly funny play could and should travel. We all need to laugh. Merlene Abbott An Iliad By Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson. Director: Lisa Peterson. Adelaide Festival. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre. March 4- 8, 2014. AN Iliad is a stunning and absorbing solo performance by Tony Award winner Denis O’Hare, who embodies an ageless poet retelling the ancient story and never-ending destruction of war throughout the ages. An Iliad is set against the backdrop of ancient and contemporary wars, blending modern language with translated verse in a powerful lament. From a gentle and amiable beginning peppered with amusing asides, O’Hare’s bravura performance builds into overwhelmingly dramatic and physical moments, peaking in a tirade when he lists the terrible wars throughout history and at times sinking into sudden, potently poignant moments of quiet. 72 Stage Whispers
We are drawn into the horrifyingly real narrative of Achilles and Hector as they battle to the death. We feel the anguish of young men who have battled for a decade and who no longer know why they are fighting. We feel the anticipation and grief of a young widow as she watches a messenger arrive, already knowing in her heart the chilling news he brings. We grieve for the father who risks his life to bring his dead son home. The sounds double bassist Brian Ellingsen coaxes from his instrument to add drama to the production are astounding and together with booming surround-sound effects from O’Hare’s voice, wonderfully effective. An Iliad is tender, funny, cruel, poignant and always gut -wrenchingly graphic in its depiction of war. Lesley Reed Playground Music and Lyrics by Nick Hedger. Performance Coach: Jason Langley. Movement Adviser: Cherie Hill. Chapel off Chapel. Feb 28 - Mar 2. NICK Hedger, Nick Hedger, Nick Hedger….I’m saying the name three times so that you never forget it. Playground is a showcase of music theatre pieces from the 6 shows that Nick has written to date – and he’s still only 23. This frighteningly gifted composer/lyricist/librettist/ arranger/actor/singer has assembled an all star cast of fellow WAAPA graduates (all bar one) for this offering which is set in a playground and loosely tied together by the themes of connection, young relationships and longing for home. The songs are lyrically sophisticated and witty,
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
with an effervescent sense of youth. Musically they are astonishingly diverse and play with dissonance and harmonies, always with a twist of the unexpected. Apart from the great voice of Hedger himself, who also directs the excellent band and stays at the piano for the entire show, the lineup of talent is a sheer delight. There’s the magical Emily Langridge – soon to be seen as Cosette in the new production of Les Miserables; Kerrie Anne Greenland, who will join her playing Eponine (what a marvel her version of “On My Own” will be!) and Erin Kennedy, who brings the same maturity she has added to many shows over the past couple of years. The blokes are equally well represented. The marvellous Brent Hill is joined by Ben Nicolson, another WAAPA wunderkind. Andrew “Hondro” Hondromatidis is the only ring–in, a graduate of the University of Ballarat Arts Academy. You won’t have heard any of these songs, but if you love Musical Theatre you should. These are the musicals you will be paying hundreds of dollars to see in a few years time. Coral Drouyn Fight Night The Border Project and Ontroerend Goend. Directed by Alexander Devriendt. Adelaide Festival. Queen’s Theatre. Mar 13 - 16. FIVE contenders in bathrobes. A ringmaster with stockstandard bow tie and microphone. The stage is set - but this competition will hinge entirely on talking, thinking, persuasion and manipulation. Subverting an audience’s expectations can be a risky enterprise, but the minds behind Fight Night have done it, and delivered a presentation that is as gripping and thrilling as it is clever and sly. Our hidden preferences, prejudices, and propensity for being persuaded…thanks to the power of technology, and the imagination of Fight Night’s creators, these traits are on display for all to see, with a minimum of noise or fuss until, perhaps, the moment when the results regularly arrive, and we may all feel the need to express laughter, surprise, shock. As with other forms of democracy, anonymity eases the process of declaration and involvement, but the way it is applied here, you will likely be confronted more than once with some challenging realisations and difficult truths. Is it purely coincidence that Fight Night arrives at the Adelaide Festival right when the South Australian election campaign reaches its peak? If so, it’s a most fortunate bit of timing. You may never look at the process of voting in quite the same way again... Anthony Vawser
finds herself arrested without charge, interrogated and blackmailed by ASIO into being part of an undercover operation. Sexual tension develops between the rookie spook and her handler (Brad Williams). Glenn brilliantly conveys her character’s sense of disorientation at being forced into this brave new world, but struggles to create a convincing chemistry with Williams, mainly because the script rushes through the development of their relationship. Williams’ delivery hints at doubts lurking beneath the surface of his outwardly officious spook, but these remain largely unexplored. Crook and Craig Behanna (who doubles as Chief and Criminal) are similarly limited by a script which forces them to play out stereotypes rather than fully developed characters, but they play their roles with a compelling intensity regardless. Ultimately, Notoriously Yours is an exercise in style over substance. Just as well that it has style to burn, making some startlingly inventive use of sound and video projection (conceived by Crook, Behanna and Williams with Tristan Louth-Robbins). Badham blocks the action creatively, generating suspense with cool, finely calculated precision. This is an entertaining potboiler, but one gets the impression it could’ve been so much more had it been an hour longer. This would’ve allowed for more complex character development and social commentary, making for a much richer theatrical experience. Benjamin Orchard
Diving Off The Edge Of The World Group devised. Tantrum Youth Arts. Newcastle Ocean Baths. Feb 14-22. THE Newcastle of another time came colourfully to life in this story about a long vanished oceanside Map Pool and the impact it had on the young people who are now senior citizens. The staging brought together past and present as the cast of 30 mainly young people and the 20 members of the development team and technical crew engagingly showed that initiative and enthusiasm are still very much a community-building attribute of the city’s residents. The audience became passengers on an imaginary cruise liner visiting Newcastle, joining the ship at the site of the Map Pool alongside the Ocean Baths where the history of the pool was outlined by actors playing a ship’s steward and the mayor at the time the pool was built in 1937. Ship crew members then took the passengers, split into three groups through the use of different-coloured passport -sized programs, to various sites in and around the baths complex that represented lands the liner visits. In one land, Memoria, passengers saw a video in which people talked about their memories of the Map Pool. In Postcardia, some of the youngest performers voiced the Notoriously Yours messages written on post cards by people who were Written & directed by Van Badham. Adelaide Fringe. Channel 9 Studios, North Adelaide. March 5 – 12. inspired to travel abroad by the pool’s world map. And in a COMBINING narrative tropes beloved of Hitchcock with third, Ghostlandia, there was a moving meeting on the 21st century technological angst, Notoriously Yours tells the edge of the map pool between a long-separated brother and sister. story of an ordinary suburbanite (Claire Glenn) who has a one night stand with a wanted hacker (Matt Crook), then Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 73
Rom Com Con.
There were incredibly beautiful moments in the audience’s journey, including the sudden appearance of several women in long white gowns at the top of a stairway. The climactic sequence, with a synchronised swimming ballet in the baths’ lap pool, was mesmerising. Diving Off the Edge of the World was an amazing achievement. Shows that involve audiences moving to different outdoor locations and actors having to quickly change characters and costumes along the way often sink. This one swam beautifully. The show was developed by directors Amy Hardingham and Lucy Shepherd in workshops around the ocean baths, with a host of professionals involved in writing, visual artwork, filming, composing and recording music, choreography, synchronised swimming training, and costume and prop-making. Ken Longworth Rom Com Con Presented by Mace and Burton. Adelaide Fringe. The Bakehouse Theatre. Feb 17 – Mar 16. LIZZIE Mace and Juliette Burton may have notched up more successive heartaches and disappointments than you’d wish on a sworn enemy – but they’ve never given up, nor have they lost their humour or high spirits, and their Rom Com Con is an utter delight; endearing, playful, poignant, funny, wise, wonderful! Part of the reason this show starts off on just the right foot – and stays there – is that the two women seem so genuine and thrilled to be there. Whatever percentage of 74 Stage Whispers
Mace and Burton’s odyssey is the truth (they both swear it all happened), it matters little when the journey is so enjoyable and engaging for an audience. Rom Com Con gets most of its vitality from our seemingly inexhaustible and relentlessly appealing hosts, narrating their inventive attempts to put the storylines and devices of romantic comedies under the microscope (and to the test), but they utilize multimedia in ways that are essential yet unobtrusive, amusing yet unexpectedly touching. Never so deep as to become too heavy, never so light as to become too fluffy, Rom Com Con is just about the perfect blend, and a rarity at the Fringe: a personal show that takes you on a journey yet avoids indulgence and always entertains. Anthony Vawser The Long Pigs Devised and performed by Clare Bartholomew, Derek Ives and Nicci Wilks. Insite Arts. 45 Downstairs (Vic). Mar 12 – 23. IT’S not often in the theatre you realise you are in the presence of creative genius – but this love-child of Sweeney Todd, Stephen King, Charles Dickens and the Ringling Brothers was simply sensational. Like the internationallyacclaimed Slava’s Snowshow, The Long Pigs harvested the rich, tragi-comedic terrain of Clown with unprecedented creativity and skill. Designers Anna Tregloan, Andy Turner and Amanda Carr transformed the familiar 45 Downstairs space into a
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
marvellously inventive industrialised environment. The finale not only punctuated the night with a startling clarity, but was also an unforgettable coup de theatre. Clare Bartholomew, Nicci Wilks and Derek Ives were terrifyingly good as the trio of disenfranchised, black-nosed clowns, raging against the popularity of their red nosewearing colleagues. It was a simple premise, yet with the clarity of Susie Dee’s finely-crafted direction, the complex layers were revealed with potent levels of pure imagination. Within Jethro Woodward’s masterful soundscape, this ensemble’s journeys, individually and collectively, were beautifully defined. This was an exploration of not only how different we are, but how different we aspire to be. And by celebrating the essence of our individuality, we just might be empowered to achieve great things. Geoffrey Williams
Proudly set in Perth, with some local references, it deals with relationships and romance. This is a really intriguing show and it shows how the language used by Shakespeare gives what we now think of as credence and importance to petty squabbles and jealousies. Will Dunlop’s plot structure is very clever and the way he merges subplots at the end, really clever. His use of language is really impressive and he has created some excellent characters. He is also really funny with his comedic language intelligent and his observational comedy superb. The play in its present form is problematic. It feels overlong and I found it excessively political even though I agreed with most if not all of Dunlop’s political sentiments. One character (apparently added since the initial reading) seems to exist only to sprout socio-political opinions and really doesn’t need to be there. I think, being the playwright’s first play, he felt a need to say everything right now, lest he never write again, but really he should edit this show judiciously, take it on to bigger and better places and Jurassic! That is one big pile of musical By Leigh Scott and Evan Kerr. Phoenix Theatre, Coniston use his brilliance to write more shows. (NSW). Mar 5 – 8. The delivery of lines in this show posed a rather IT’S nice to go to the theatre every so often not knowing interesting challenge to the actors. Handling the delivery what to expect, especially in Wollongong, where audiences beautifully and delivering excellent performances were do not usually have the luxury of seeing something brand Jordan Holloway, who played the immensely likeable Elliot, Rachael Chamberlain as love interest Claire and Jess new. A parody musical based on a dinosaur movie is going to Stenglein as barmaid and sometime cupid Alice. Cameron go one of two ways, bad or hilarious. I am happy to say it Leese made the most of his brief appearances as Michael was the latter. and Clayton Zwanenburg provided humour and wry The production values were very basic with not much observation as a Big Issue salesman. Monty Atherdon made set, just a couple of cardboard cutouts. When you first take a promising stage debut in an extremely difficult first role as your seat and see this, first thoughts are “what did I just central character Jamie. The cast as a whole formed an buy a ticket for?” However, it worked so well and having interesting and well-rounded ensemble. seen the show I could not think of any better way to do it. Simply set over two levels, staging was good. Lighting The great thing about this musical is it didn’t take itself was used to enhance focus under the direction of Alaric seriously; it was low budget, which is quite opposite to the Korb. Costumes were simple but thoughtfully chosen. I am pleased that I was able to witness the emergence movie Jurassic Park. It made fun of this fact. Everyone remembers that iconic moment in the movie when the first of this clever young writer and look forward to later dinosaur is revealed; one of the funniest moments was incarnations of Subscription to Love and further exciting when this scene was re-enacted onstage with the dinosaur plays by Will Dunlop. made out of the most basic of household garbage. The Kimberley Shaw script did not hold back either and may have offended people at times - there was swearing, inappropriate sexual Warts & All references, racial innuendos and the list goes on. But By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Long Run Theatre. Directed by somehow within the magic of theatre, it just worked! Bruce Hoogendoorn Writer/Director Leigh Scott has created a little gem here. Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. Apr 2–12. Along with Evan Kerr, who wrote the music for the piece, it SEVENTEEN-year-old Queenslander Simon, retreating at his grandmother’s house after an injury, gets more than he amazes me how at a young age these two pulled this off. Dean Matthews bargained for in the return of a deceased family member. This light-hearted tale of skeletons in the family closet, Subscription to Love sometimes subtle, often straightforwardly funny, well paced By Will Dunlop. Playlovers. Hackett Hall, Floreat, WA. Mar and well articulated, has much to recommend it. Characters 13-15. varied sufficiently to keep it unpredictable; the timing of line delivery was excellent; and the surprises were all happy IN this “Shakespeare Anniversary” year, when productions by Shakespeare, inspired by Shakespeare’s ones. Simon’s odd north American accent I found plays or about Shakespeare abound, Playlovers have taken a distracting; but every part was acted well. Special mention, different approach with the world premiere production of though, must go to Oliver Baudert, who played Simon’s Will Dunlop’s Subscription to Love. This brand new play is great-aunt Alice with surprising believability; and especially to Helen Vaughan-Roberts, who, in the role of Simon’s set in the present, has very contemporary themes, but is written a la Shakespeare in rhyme and iambic pentameter. grandmother Margaret, was utterly convincing. Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 75
Tim Walter and Andrea Demetriades in Sydney Theatre Company’s Perplex. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti.
In both his writing and his directing, Bruce Hoogendoorn has gone from strength to strength as he turns out each piece more interesting than the last, with increasing sophistication. Scene changes in this one, although usually as straightforward as could be, sometimes were very interesting, taking advantage of the coexistence of two simple sets at a time on stage; and the story resolves nicely at the end, the strands finally making sense, the characters having learned something valuable along the way. John P. Harvey
The actors – Andrea Demetriades, Glenn Hazeldine, Rebecca Massey and Tim Walters – use their own names, as von Mayenburg did in his original production. Artistic Director Andrew Upton suggests this shows “an openness in the performers and a preparedness to skate very close to their own identities”. “Skate” is an appropriate word for this production. The actors slip and slide at an alarming rate from character to character, relationship to relationship, situation to situation. The only things that stay the same are their names, the set and some props that accumulate and obscurely tie the scenes together. Perplex The apparent simplicity and space of the set, designed By Marius von Mayenburg. Translated by Maja Zade. Sydney by Renee Mulder, is intricate to the action, which at times is Theatre Company. Wharf 1 Theatre. Mar 31 – May 3. fast and furious and Sarah Giles has obviously had fun IF you like Theatre of the Absurd, and accept that life is directing. pretty absurd anyway, then you’ll love Perplex and laugh a Carol Wimmer lot. Von Mayenburg has borrowed from and intertwined the most accepted and recognisable characteristics of Stop Kiss absurdism in a play about identity – about how we see By Diana Son. Unlikely Productions, in association with ourselves, how we see others, how others see us – and how the 2014 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. ATYP Studio 1, easy it is to lose whatever control we might think we have The Wharf. Mar 5 – 22. of our lives. STOP Kiss is hands-down the best play in this year’s Put that together with a series of overlapping, seemingly Mardi Gras Festival. Diana Son’s beautiful love story under unrelated scenes and four characters that metamorphose the inspired direction of Anthony Skuse charms, excites and within them and confusion could reign. It doesn’t, because provokes. Amidst a homophobic act of violence, two von Mayenburg has kept a very tight rein on the writing. It women fall unexpectedly in love in what becomes one of is economic in the extreme, until perhaps the final scene, the most honest, detailed and heartfelt explorations of which pulls down the pace of the action and a little of the same-sex attraction to hit the mainstream stage. impact of the play. 76 Stage Whispers
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
When Callie (Olivia Stambouliah) offers to care for Sara’s (Gabrielle Scawthorn) cat while she settles into her Bronx teaching fellowship, the two find themselves sharing a mutual attraction. Both having had relationships with men, neither know how to address or express their feelings. What eventuates is a roundabout perusal of one another until a fateful attack during their first kiss. The charm of Son’s play and Skuse’s delicate vision is that Stop Kiss is a love story. The kind that has you smiling and laughing as the characters clumsily and awkwardly work up the courage to act on their feelings. A serious undertone about homophobia runs throughout the play, and the subtle political message hits home stronger because we care so much for the characters. Stambouliah’s cool-cat Callie plays brilliantly off Scawthorn’s bubbly Sara. The two have palpable chemistry. The entire supporting cast give moving performances. Gez Xavier Mansfield’s minimalist set design works with ATYP’s peculiar space, enhanced by Skuse’s direction to best utilise audience seating on two sides of the stage. Stop Kiss proves to be a brilliant start for new independent theatre company Unlikely Productions and perfect billing for the Mardi Gras Festival. Maryann Wright The Government Inspector By Simon Stone, with Emily Barclay; devised by the cast. Featuring a short musical by Stefan Gregory. Inspired by Nikolai Gogol. Belvoir. Mar 27 – May 18. ACTOR Robert Menzies enters first with the story that’s true – we are not seeing The Philadelphia Story as planned. The writer’s estate presumably objected to the radical reworking you’d expect from director Simon Stone. And so the company instead is staging Gogol’s 1836 satire, The Inspector General, well, sort of … And so we meet a group of agitated actors stranded in one cancelled play and desperately googling for an allegedly great Russian director who’s a genius with Gogol. Enter Gareth Davies, as an unloved actor trying out for a Belvoir impro audition. When the other actors presume him to be the great Russian director – just as the corrupt villagers in Gogol’s play wrongly presumed an anonymous clerk to be the visiting Inspector General – this mash of a play truly begins. Stone’s version is a play about play-acting, about playing to how people perceive us, yes, but still it’s all art about art. It’s a smaller world than Gogol’s but all is almost forgiven by the huge entertainment and hilariously in-house wit of this group-devised show (with writer Emily Barclay). The actors play hyped versions of themselves; it’s now all about their vanities, desperation, neediness, banter and joys. Mitchell Butel is typically mesmerising in his luvvy briskness; Greg Stone, angry but needy; Menzies, darkly misanthropic; Eryn Jean Norvill, insecure and promiscuous; Fayssal Bazzi, ever accommodating; and Zahra Newman, beautiful if petulant. Somehow we morph into a “bad” musical version of Gogol, expertly delivered by composer Stefan Gregory and choreographer Lucy Guerin. Meanwhile, Ralph Myers’
simple set keeps revolving through backstage and onstage glimpses of the madness. The Inspector General has had a complicated, quick and not original birth but it’s an inventive riot just the same. Martin Portus Mr Bennet’s Bride By Emma Wood. Newcastle Theatre Company. Directed by Julie Black. The NTC Theatre, Lambton (Newcastle). Mar 8 – 22. NEWCASTLE writer Emma Wood’s comedy about a young man forced to find a bride swiftly was a delight in this premiere production, with director Julie Black and the cast ensuring the laughter did not obscure the serious side of the situations. Wood uses references in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice to the backgrounds of the ill-matched parents of the Bennet sisters to show how they came together. But audience members don’t need to be familiar with Pride and Prejudice to enjoy the tale. While it is set in the late 18th century, the situations are timeless. James Bennet, the reclusive 28-year-old son of the owner of a large English rural estate, is given an ultimatum by his father, Robert, to wed within six months, or else be disinherited. The father is concerned that a cousin whose wife has just given birth to a son will inherit the estate if there is no male heir in the family. George Gardiner, the attorney who draws up the contract requiring James Bennet to marry, sees an opportunity for his 17-year-old daughter, Emily, to be the bride. So James finds himself caught between the manoeuvres of his father and those of the Gardiner family, and being attracted by the beauty of Emily. Dean Blackford made the anti-social James a sympathetic figure. His mother died when he was born and he has always felt that his father blames him for her death. There was a moving scene in which James and Lance Hawkins’s Robert have a heart-felt discussion, with Hawkins showing for a few minutes a softer, more human side to the dour father. And James receives needed support from his father’s widowed sister, Mary (Tracey Gordon). The Gardiners are a very different mix, with the father’s astute legal mind evident from the first moments Derek Fisher was seen as the attorney. His wife, Sarah, has a very different nature, and Alison Cox amusingly showed the flibbertigibbet essence of the woman. Cassandra Griffin’s Emily was certainly her mother’s daughter, chattering about military men based in the town. The actors in smaller roles contributed to the tale’s richness. When Malcolm Young’s Benedict Collins, the cousin who could inherit the estate, arrived, it was clear that he was checking on the assets he expected his family to acquire. Ken Longworth
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 77
Genevieve Lemon, Josh McConville, Danielle King, Ash Ricardo, Marcus Graham, Tracy Mann, Alan Dukes in Sydney Theatre Company’s Noises Off. Photo: Brett Boardman.
Noises Off By Michael Frayn. Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Jonathan Biggins. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Feb 17 - Apr 5. JONATHAN Biggins’ crackerjack production of Michael Frayn’s famous farce is a must for theatre people of every level of experience. Frayn’s delicious idea was to write a farce about a second-rate team of English pro-theatricals mounting a third-rate tour of a fourth-rate farce called Nothing On. Eventually everything that can go wrong does go wrong, not only to the 8-door setting (hilariously tatty design by Mark Thompson) but within the bored and increasingly irritated company, lead by former TV star Dotty Otley (spoton from Genevieve Lemon). The eyeball-pokingly bright costumes by designer Julie Lynch add to the increasingly desperate mix. Director Biggins has set the scene squarely in the mid-1970s, a time of acknowledged excess, which means the off-stage crew Director (Marcus Graham), ASM (Danielle King) and SM/ Understudy (Lindsay Farris) - are just as garishly dressed as the on-stage characters. Bell-bottom trousers and shoulderlength wigs are the order of the day. Josh McConville, as Dotty’s latest fancy, drives the play along with some excellent physical work. Ash Ricardo spends most of the night in her underwear while expertly channelling the vocal mannerisms of Betty Spencer, longsuffering wife in the 70s TV farce/series Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. 78 Stage Whispers
The opening night house was full of Sydney actors and theatre-luvvies. They absolutely adored it. Frank Hatherley The Judas Kiss By David Hare. Directed and designed by Jason Cavanagh. Co-director: Celeste Cody. Mockingbird Theatre (Vic.) Theatre Works. March 14 - 22. DAVID Hare’s searching drama about Oscar Wilde’s very public fall from grace is a mighty, flawed jewel of theatre literature. With this play, the casting of Wilde is everything – and in Chris Baldock we had a perfect incarnation. Baldock was mesmerising, and in the play’s punishing second act he was even better. As Wilde’s ex-lover Robert Ross, Oliver Coleman was superb. Coleman’s British rigidity was broken momentarily, in a divine moment, when Ross believed that Oscar was making an attempt to rekindle the intimacy they once shared. History, like Hare’s script, has been unkind to Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, and with so little to work with, Nigel Langley was excellent. Lauren Murtagh created a beguiling young Phoebe, while Soren Jensen was excellent as the hotel manager. Zak Zavod’s Arthur was delightful, and Nores Cerfeda was perfect as Galileo, in whose company Bosie found respite. Co-directors Jason Cavanagh and Celeste Cody did an outstanding job, and this ensemble was delivered to the stage with immense confidence in their craft and their performances. Geoffrey Williams
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Inheritance By Hannie Rayson. The Stirling Players (SA). Feb 21 - Mar 8. STIRLING Players’ production of Inheritance is innovative in its staging, while the interpretation is graphic in presenting the story’s family issues, endemic prejudice and the stark realities of farming life in rural Australia. The play tells the story of two Mallee families, each headed by one of elderly twin sisters, Dibs Hamilton and Girlie Delaney. Decisions need to be made about the future of Dibs’ farm. Tensions and long-held animosities flare and life-changing secrets are revealed. Peter Kentish is an absolute stand-out as Farley Hamilton, the increasingly demented grandfather; superb work. Julie Quick is excellent as Farley’s wife Dibs Hamilton; a woman torn between her love for her fostered partAboriginal son Nugget and her latent resentment of him. Ben Todd is genuine in his role as hard-working Nugget Hamilton. Tony Busch is terrific as the selfish gay son William Hamilton, a strong yet subtle performance. Joanne St Clair is equally good as his sister, Julia Hamilton. Madeleine Marin is both funny and strident as Dibs’ bigoted and polio-disabled elderly twin sister, Girlie Delaney. Deborah Walsh does a great job as outspoken, racist Maureen Delaney. Peter Davies completely embodies the debt-stressed drunk, Lyle Delaney. The creative use of film and projection are a credit to director Geoff Brittain and the designers/crew. Lesley Reed Macbeth By William Shakespeare. Director: Michael Attenborough. Queensland Theatre Company with Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe. Mar 24 – Apr 13. THIS brilliant, accessible production is played passionately with crisp and carefully articulated dialogue that makes sense. Michael Attenborough inspired many of our finest actors to elicit performances worthy of any world stage. Jason Klarwein (Macbeth) and Veronica Neave (Lady Macbeth) dominated the stage and spearheaded the superlative cast who worked as an ensemble, several tackling multiple roles with élan. The show burst onto the stage from a blackout accompanied by Phil Slade’s terrifying sound score, and a mystical primordial forest set (Simone Romaniuk, designer) that David Walter’s ingenious and ground-breaking lighting design revealed. The witches (Ellen Bailey, Lauren Jackson and Courtney Stewart) emerged, sluglike, from an underworld, writhed and intertwined (choreography: Nerida Matthaei) to deliver their prophesies. There is dirt, blood, violence and action aplenty in some heart-stopping fights and murders (fight director: Nigel Poulton), carefully rehearsed and realistically realised by the actors. I am reluctant to isolate other actors from this superb two-company combination. Director Michael Attenborough’s influence will flow down now through two
of our top companies and establish a standard to which they should all aspire. Jay McKee 1984 By George Orwell. Shake & Stir Theatre Company. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. Apr 1 & 2 and touring. NELLE Lee and Nick Skubij have transferred every frightening nuance of Orwell’s bleak 1984 into a very desolate third dimension which director Michael Futcher and designers Josh McIntosh, Jason Glenwright (lighting) and Guy Webster (sound) have captured on a dim stage where a giant wall of plasma screens make Orwell’s totalitarian society horrifically real. Here the citizens are afraid, weakened by hunger and oppression. Hidden cameras track their every move. They are forbidden to think or question – or to remember the past. Winston Smith, however, wants to cling on to his memories. Bryan Probets plays this haunted man with scary verisimilitude. His diminutive figure is dwarfed below the screens and the grey, decaying walls that surround him. At the end of the play, tortured and brainwashed, his anguished voice echoes as he screams his final acceptance. Big Brother has won. As Julia, Winston’s forbidden love, Nelle Lee is provocatively fearless, tempting fate in her relentless pursuit of love and black market symbols of the past. Nick Skubij and Ross Babuziente play several roles. Skubij is deceptively genuine as the antique dealer who tempts Winston and Julia into the bedroom above his shop and Babuziente’s portrayal of Winston’s simple neighbour is almost heartbreaking. David Whitney plays the hateful role of O’Brien, creating the guile of the tempter and the horror of the torturer in a very powerful performance. Carol Wimmer Clybourne Park By Bruce Norris. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Tanya Goldberg. Mar 19 – Apr 19. HERE’S another recent juicy Broadway/West End play, ignored by the Sydney Theatre Company but bringing packed houses to the Ensemble just across the harbour. It must have been difficult to overlook: Clybourne Park has won American playwright Bruce Norris an Olivier (2011), a Tony (2012) and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Norris thrills with some of the fastest, choppiest, funniest dialogue around, managed here by a very strong team of seven actors, all with terrific Chicago-esque accents. It’s really two thematically-linked one act plays on the same set but 50 years apart. In 1959, a family home owned by a stressed white couple (Richard Sydenham and Wendy Strehlow) is being sold to an off-stage black family, much to the pent-up outrage of a spluttering neighbour (beanpole Nathan Lovejoy) backed by the nervous local minister (Thomas Campbell).
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 79
All’s Well That Ends Well. Photo: Seiya Taguchi.
In 2009, the same house, now in disrepair, is wanted by a pushy white couple (Lovejoy and Briallen Clarke) who plan to push it over, aiming for a McMansion. The local black and liberal community are unhappy and, once again, carefully guarded racial tensions flare. Director Tanya Goldberg conducts proceedings at the required gallop. Paula Arundell – striking in two contrasting roles - gets to tell the filthiest joke I’ve ever heard on stage and the usually staid Ensemble first-nighters, after a shocked pause, howl with laughter. Frank Hatherley All’s Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare. Sport for Jove. Seymour Centre, Sydney. Mar 27 – Apr 12. GIVEN that All’s Well That Ends Well is a rarely staged, so-called Problem Play, William Shakespeare should thank his stars for director Damien Ryan. The play is a fairy tale mix of tragedy and comedy, and one of his most explicit about sexual politics. Lowborn Helena cures the crippled King of France and is allowed to choose her unrequited love, Count Bertram, as husband. Instead he rushes off to war-making in Italy, where Helena pursues him with an elaborate deceit to trick him into lovemaking and commitment. Ryan brings a very fresh contemporary storytelling to this creaky saga. The French court is here a crack regimental team, bristling with male prowess, and the Florentine sisters who aid Helen’s trickery also bristle with sexy, sassy power. 80 Stage Whispers
The production is busy with nudity and makes inventive use of iPads and smart phones. Ryan achieves all this smart wit and inventive gesture without one false note or without, seemingly, hacking into Shakespeare’s text and narrative. This dramaturgical rigour is brilliantly supplemented in the flexible set and modern costuming by Antoinette Barboutis, excellently lit by Toby Knyvett. Edmund Lembke-Hogan is gung-ho as the rather stupid Bertram and Francesca Savige engages as the virtuous, obsessive Helena. George Banders excels as the flawed, flamboyant servant Parolles – even if the long unfolding of his subplot becomes weary. Also finely played is Robert Alexander as the King of France and Sandra Eldridge as the dowager Countess. All’s Well that Ends Well is a thrilling, often tender production which plucks perfectly the play’s themes of love, sex and war play. Martin Portus East By Steven Berkoff. Black Water Theatre Productions (Vic). Feb 19 – Mar 9. SET in London’s East End, where Berkoff grew up, East is a brawling, cruel beast of a play – the perfect combination of quintessential Shakespearian thous and thees and an obscene rage against the savage impotence of private and personal ambition. Peta Hanrahan’s sexy, taut and carnivalesque production is as honorable as an ensemble can be to Berkoff, who has
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
made it his life’s work to constantly redefine the importance of lyricism and literacy – both vocal and physical – in the theatre. The performances from this extraordinary ensemble are jaw-droppingly good. The ensemble receives valuable support from the superb Alex Brittan at the piano. Lee Mason’s ‘Mum’ is outstanding, floating through the night in unadulterated obligation to her racist, misogynistic husband – the excellent buffoon Chris Bunworth. Mike (Adrian Auld) and Les (Michael Argus) deal with the lion’s share of the script brilliantly, delivering two outstanding, and at times hilarious, performances that avoid stereotyping on every level. Marissa O’Reilly’s performance as the contradictory Sylv is a revelation, such is the level of honesty and clarity in the faultless interpretation this young actress crafted. Geoffrey Williams The Gigli Concert By Tom Murphy. Darlinghurst Theatre Company and O’Punksky’s Theatre. Apr 4 – May 4. THIS play explores the pursuit of personal fulfilment through a series of meetings between a troubled builder and his “dynamatologist” (read: quack psychologist) in a drab Dublin apartment. The builder won’t reveal his name but says he wants to “sing”, preferably like the Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli. He overcomes a reluctance to return, interrupting unpleasant phone calls, drinking sessions and moments of dark self-contemplation implying that this quack needs more help than any patient he may receive. The Gigli Concert, often considered a masterpiece of Irish playwright Tom Murphy, is intense and unyielding. It’s not a play with obvious connections for an Australian audience but key moments stay with you long after you leave the theatre. The acting is superb. The lead performances by Patrick Dickson and Maeliosa Stafford are fearless, creating two characters that are not just real but won’t leave you alone. It would be hard to find a better production of an Irish play, certainly in Australia. It’s a fine play but would be stronger if it was shorter. Even if The Gigli Concert is about the endurance of the human spirit, it didn’t lift mine high enough. Peter Gotting
Jo Morris is a really likeable Stella Kowalski and her torn loyalties between her sister and husband is superbly played, Luke Hewitt is great as Harold Mitchell, love interest for Blanche and Nathaniel Dean is a strong and interesting Stanley. This is a beautifully designed production. Set and costume designer Christina Smith has created a set that manages to feel cramped and shabby on the generous Heath Ledger stage, using the full height of the stage, while her costumes tell stories about every character. Matt Scott’s lighting superbly captures evenings in Louisiana, while Ben Collins’ sound design incorporated the jazz tones of a lone saxophonist (the designer himself), an interesting infusion of mood and place. This production does feel a little languid and at times the pace seemed a little slow. This could be the combined effect of lengthened southern vowels, the hypnotic effect of nicely recreating a New Orleans summer and the fact that this is a very long play. A Streetcar Named Desire is a nicely polished and very well acted production that deserves its warm reception. Kimberley Shaw
This Year’s Ashes By Jane Bodie. Red Stitch Theatre (Vic). Mar 19 - Apr 19. JANE Bodie’s three character play about grief, guilt and commitment can seem a little trite and one dimensional in the first act. Ellen, a young woman so steeped in grief she can barely function in the world, spends her time getting drunk and screwing around as a way of not dealing with her pain. Ellen’s only real connection is to her dead father, with whom she shares the Australian Cricket team’s Ashes defeat of 2010. And then, in Act Two, the playwright unleashes the subtext and subtly draws us into Ellen’s world. A marvellous reversal of time, in the final flashback scene, explains all with delicate poignancy. It’s very clever writing and every emotional moment has the ring of truth. Rosie Lockhart is both brittle and heart-breakingly fragile as Ellen, set on a course of self-destruction. In the scene where she breaks emotionally, the pain was palpable; the emotion, real. Jeremy Stanford brought all of his experience to the role of the father, Brian, and yet, while I admired the craft, I wasn’t convinced by the character. A Streetcar Named Desire The true revelation of the piece is Daniel Frederiksen as a By Tennessee Williams. Black Swan State Theatre Company. composite of the men in Ellen’s life. Not given a name in Directed by Kate Cherry. Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth, WA. the programme, he is charming, witty, strong, weak, goofy Mar 15 - Apr 6. and manipulative. He is everyman, and yet it is as the SUCH is the buzz around A Streetcar Named Desire, that constant Adam, who knows more of Ellen than she does excellent ticket sales led to the scheduling of additional herself, that Frederiksen shines with decency and shows, even before the official opening night. compassion. He finds every moment in Bodie’s script, and Importing leading actors from the eastern states always then enhances it. Tim Roseman’s direction vacillates carries an element of controversy, but in the case of Sigrid between exciting and journeyman. Kat Chan’s set and Thornton playing the central role of Blanche Dubois, it costumes work a treat and sound and lighting in the tiny would certainly be justified. Utterly captivating, her multispace were admirable. layered performance overrides any suggestion of stunt Coral Drouyn casting and the show would be worth seeing for her performance alone. Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 81
Lady Windermere’s Fan By Oscar Wilde. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Allan Jeffrey. Mar 28 – Apr 12. OSCAR Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan is still relevant, one hundred and twenty two years on. The Hobart Repertory Theatre Society’s most recent production, under the direction of Allan Jeffrey, was a fine example of the comedy of manners genre: LWF shows that there are still hypocrisies in society. Although slick and well rehearsed, there were some dropped lines on opening night, which may have been due to nerves. Director Jeffrey concentrated on pace and action, rather than highlighting the fey campiness of Wilde dialogue, which does however demand good diction and voice projection. Relative newcomer Jean Henderson delightfully portrayed Lady Windermere, the believably sweet but narrow-minded wife. Jeff Michel showed poise and his usual good timing as Lord Windermere. Leiz Moore cleverly portrayed smart, witty Mrs Erlynne with humour and sympathy. Byron Rowan Smith played predatory Lord Darlington with elegance and just enough archness. Parker the butler, a non-speaking part, was a gem role for Jon Lenthall, hilariously showing loyalty, disapproval and class-consciousness. Newcomer Adelaide Reisz was a natural as the gossipy Duchess of Berwick. LWF was visually pleasing, with lovely costumes and bright colours, and an almost static but easily changed set, necessary for two different locations in this four act play. There was much to like about this well-mannered production, an example of good ensemble theatre. Wilde is still funny after all this time. Merlene Abbott
Ron Fitzgerald’s soundscape of evocative familiar tunes added to the atmosphere and the backstage crew ran the piece like a well-oiled machine. Jay McKee
On Golden Pond By Ernest Thompson. Mousetrap Theatre, Redcliffe (Qld). Mar 7-22. THIS is the best production I have seen of this play. It rollicked along, making light of the black humour, and forging believably rounded characters. It indulged the foibles we develop in old age, acknowledged our fears of inescapable death, ennobled family relationships and left us, by the end, elevated and walking out with a lighter step. Director Sandra Hines and her crew created a delightful holiday cottage by the lake. The real masterpiece, the backcloth, was a genuine work of art, devised and painted by the director herself and lit lovingly by David Scheiwe. The sunset over the lake was beautiful. It was great to see lead actors of a certain age playing parts into which they slipped comfortably like old feet into favourite slippers. Keith Wilson, as about-to-be-eighty Norman Thayer Jr and Carmen Heath (his wife Ethel), take a well-deserved bow for your performances. They were capably supported by Zita Anderson (as their daughter, Chelsea); John Honey, her about-to-be second husband Bill Ray; and Brad Turnbull, as the local mailman with the infectious laugh. The final character, Bill’s 11 yearold potty-mouthed son, Billy Ray, was played by Keaun Willis with great aplomb. He stole many laughs and hearts.
Other Times By Ray Lawler. Villanova Players. Director: Leo Wockner. The Theatre, Seven Hills TAFE, Morningside, Brisbane. Mar 14 29. RAY Lawler’s Other Times, from his Doll trilogy, picks-up on the characters of the Carlton boarding house a few days after the end of the Second World War. Barney and Roo are demobbed from the Army and take-up where they left-off with Nancy and Olive, Bubba is now a teenager, and Emma is still the same old grouch. Nothing much has changed, and nothing much happens plot-wise except the introduction of the German-Jewish refugee Josef Hultz who Lawler uses as a device to explore briefly the antipathy to ‘migrants’ at the time. Several of the cast were repeating their roles from Lawler’s Kid Stakes, which opened Villanova’s season last year. Leanne Shellshear was a standout as Olive in 2013, and was still head-and-shoulders above everybody else in this production. She admirably caught the frivolity and pathos of a woman who refuses to change in the face of changes happening around her. Almost matching her performance-wise was newcomer Madeleine Wright as Bubba. Michael McNish was again a believable Roo, as was Elizabeth Morris’s Emma. Less impressive was David Dellit’s Barney. Ken Hegarty had the nothing role of Josef Hultz but managed to invest feeling into what little there was of it.
82 Stage Whispers
Tuesdays with Morrie By Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). Mar 8 – 28. OUR early evening performance had the HOUSE FULL sign out. This production comes with many things going for it: a renowned director and older actor who together, have a reputation for creating top-notch performances; and a familiar, popular book. Most people know the story of the man who heard that a mentor from his college days was dying of a motor neurone disease. He determined to visit him, and a cerebral attraction led him to continue visiting Morrie every Tuesday until his death. It is a beautiful, seductive story. The play lives up to expectations, enhanced by splendid performances from two charismatic actors. Director Gary O’Neil chose a dignified pace; Jason Nash tackled the formidable role of Mitch Albom and grew through his role from a busy upwardly mobile journalist to a caring, sensitive human being; while Brian Cannon, as Morrie, softened Albom’s (and our) view of the world with philosophical aphorisms. We can’t avoid taking him and his messages of life to our hearts. It’s a sad journey for the audience, but life-affirming and joyous. I can’t remember an audience so reverent; you could have heard a pin drop. Jay McKee
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
The wedding party. Dimboola. Epicentre Theatre Company.
Karen Stokes’s set design was period appropriate, as were the costumes by Pat Wockner and Mary Woodall, with Leo Wockner’s pacy direction adding to the overall performance. Peter Pinne
Two Weeks with the Queen By Mary Morris, Theatre INQ Bridge Project. Director: Arminelle Flemming School of Arts Building, Feb 14 – 23. TWO Weeks with the Queen brought the audience to tears of laughter and sadness, emotions evoked by the six talented young actors of Theatre iNQ’s “Bridge Project”. Dimboola As Colin Mudford, the central character of the play, By Jack Hibberd. Epicentre Theatre Company. King Street James Thomasson presents a charismatic figure whose Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Mar 13 – 24. quixotic journey leads the audience to understand the value VIVID and rude, this production of the classic comedy of family, hope, love, and the need to say goodbye. was grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a 20 something Playing multiple and diverse roles, the accomplished five student director, born twenty years after it was written. -member supporting ensemble delivers an almost faultless Darcy Green set up an authentic looking wedding booze performance, defining each unique character. Many delightful moments brought hearty laughter, -up for the late 1960’s union of Protestant Morrie McAdam and Catholic Reen Delaney in the Mechanics Institute Hall, spontaneous applause and the occasional tear to the eye. Dimboola, Victoria. Director Arminelle Flemming cleverly used iconic When one of his stars got laryngitis the student director national colours in the characters’ dress and props to learnt the role of Horrie in a few days. Dimboola is still one of the most widely performed Australian plays because of the clever writing and the familiarity of the embarrassing characters. In the foyer after the performance people were still saying things like ‘he is my brother’, ‘she is my cousin’. It was also uncanny how Jack Hibberd had his finger on the pulse about inappropriate behaviour in the clergy, although these days we don’t laugh at it as you might have in the 1960s and 70s. Aiding this production was a lively four-piece band and an experienced acting ensemble. Standouts among the cast of 15 included Adam Delaunay as Knocka, who looked like he jumped straight out of a vintage Australian cartoon, and Kimberley Kelly, who was a scream as the young brat Astrid. Members of the audience also got into the spirit as wedding guests. This production is fun to perform and watch. David Spicer Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 83
denote Colin’s progress from Australia to England and back again. A setting of versatile blocks, which were constantly rearranged with the efficiency of well-planned choreography, was sufficient to denote changing locations. Donna Ahlers The Seagull By Anton Chekhov in a new adaptation by Hilary Bell. State Theatre Company Scenic Workshop, Adelaide Festival Centre. Feb 21 - Mar 16. THE Seagull is a story of unrequited love and unfulfilled dreams, sensitively directed by Geordie Brookman. The STCSA uses traverse staging with minimal stage dressing and props as an inspired means of disengaging audience members from their surrounds, effectively immersing them in the mood and story of this classic 1890’s piece. Rosalba Clemente is sublime as the superficial and vain actress Irina Arkadina. Renato Musolino embodies the moody, controlling novelist Trigorin. After Hollywood success Xavier Samuel has returned to his home town to play Irina Arkadina’s playwright son, Konstantin Treplev. His performance as the tortured young writer is excellent. Lucy Fry is wonderful as Nina Zarechnaya, the focus of Konstantin’s unrequited love. In the final act Fry’s performance is heartbreakingly real as Nina stands broken and desperate in the freezing rain. Paul Blackwell and Terence Crawford are terrific as the ailing Sorin and Doctor Dorn respectively, while Chris Pitman and Lizzy Falkland are delightfully amusing in their portrayals of verbose estate manager Shamrayev and his lustful yet sexually frustrated wife Polina. Audience favourites are Matilda Bailey as headstrong Masha and Matthew Gregan as the wonderfully warm and tender Medvedenko. Gregan is also fantastic in his additional capacity as composer and musician. Lesley Reed Inspector Drake and the Black Widow By David Tristram. Directed by Anne Simmons. 1812 Theatre. Feb 27 – Mar 22. ENGLISH playwright David Tristram specialises in creating hysterically funny plays mostly for community theatres - the perfect choice for 1812’s start to 2014. The plot, set in the 1930s, is just enough to hang the gags on. Sergeant Plod sends for the infamous Inspector Drake to help solve the murder of John Johnson (unseen)… stabbed in the back whilst wearing a dress. The two are thwarted by a series of women who look suspiciously alike and soon Inspector Drake finds himself targeted as the next victim. Experienced director Anne Simmons clearly has a ball with the play and her cast. Mike Roberts (Sergeant Plod) has had years of professional experience in areas where talking to the audience directly is part of the process, and he does it brilliantly. It’s Roberts who holds the play together and his timing is impeccable. 84 Stage Whispers
Brett Hyland is terrific as the flamboyant and inept Inspector Drake. He relishes every piece of business and makes it believable in context. Pip Le Blond has the unenviable task of playing eight characters. It’s a huge ask for any actress, and some work better than others. These three make a feast out of Tristram’s slice of comedy. Add to this 1812’s generous tradition of pre-show drinks, a free programme, and a delightful champagne supper, and this has to be the best value entertainment in the outer suburbs. Coral Drouyn The Removalists By David Williamson. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Mar 29 to Apr 19. FIRST time director Patrick Monteath has had a difficult time of getting his production of The Removalists to the stage; with numerous unavoidable cast changes resulting in him taking on the major role of Constable Neville Ross, and he proved he was equal to both tasks. He had assembled a fantastic cast which worked hard in telling this tale of wife abuse with a very strong emphasis on the physical violence dealt out by the police to the belligerent husband played by Sean Curran, reaching a much bloodied climax. Candice Dittman was the timid, long suffering wife with Kate McNair as her dominating older sister. Jack Henry portrayed the pugnacious Police Sergeant and Bruce Alker Jnr played the tea-making Removalist. Patrick was ably assisted by Lara Rix, who kept an eye on things while the Constable was wavering between indecision and aggression in his first day on the job. Graham Simpson’s choice of music added to the atmosphere and for the finale of the show parts of the scenery became the rear of the Removalist’s van and after closing the doors the driver asked the audience to get out of the way while he was reversing. Roger McKenzie Chapter Two By Neil Simon. Cairns Little Theatre. Director: Narelle Shorey. Feb 21 - Mar 1. SET in New York in the late 1970s, Neil Simon’s comedy Chapter Two revolves around the relationship between George, a widower, and Jennie, a recent divorcee. George confides in his brother Leo while Jennie has a close friend in Faye. The dialogue and action are fast-paced with all the actors getting to grips with their neurotic characters. Michael Gleed gives a strong and engaging performance as the emotionally troubled George, whose facial expressions mirror his emotions as he tries to establish a new relationship. Matt O’Connor (Leo) handles the dialogue best, especially the sharp one-liners. His energy also keeps the play pumping along. Shannon Logan (Faye) does a fine job in portraying a frustrated woman in the big city as the tension mounts. However, it is the performance of newcomer Leslie Ring as Jennie that steals the show. Perfect in the role, she evokes a woman who is desperately
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
looking for happiness but is afraid that it might just elude her. Well directed by Narelle Shorey, Chapter Two got Cairns Little Theatre’s season off to an impressive start. Ken Cotterill Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare. Canberra REP. Directed by Ed Wightman, Theatre 3, Acton, Canberra ACT. Mar 28 – Apr 12. THIS charming production of an old favourite is a pleasant way to spend an evening. Set in an undetermined time, the costumes are both bright and appropriate to the characters (credit to Heather Spong and her team), and the set design by Quentin Mitchell creates a modernist space lined with shiny, folded plastic for us to project our own imaginations on. The comic characters are among the strongest I’ve seen at a Rep production: Sam Hannan-Morrow as a wonderful Sir Toby Belch, Peter Holland as the perpetually-confused Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Kate Blackhurst as a marvellous Maria (one of the best I’ve seen) and Michelle Cooper as Fabian. They all exhibit clearness of diction, sparkling wit, and quick movement. Tim Sekuless as Feste the jester brings lightness and wisdom to the stage. Eleanor Garran is a delightful Viola in a demanding role. Jerry Hearn brings both gravitas and pathos to the role of Malvolio, and his facial and body expression at his ruination is a mix of pathos and bathos. The sound and lighting design both complement the set and the action, and neither is overdone. The choice of music is sometimes a bit excessive. More care needs to be taken with both projection and diction in several of the speeches, given the language and the need to be heard clearly without straining the larynx. All in all, this is a good production and moves along quickly, showing the skill of the directorial team and all those involved in bringing this classic play to the stage in the 21st century. Rachel McGrath-Kerr Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s novel, as adapted for the stage by Helen Jerome. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Mar 8 – Apr 13. THIS style of play gives Arts an extra edge over other Brisbane theatres: a big cast of talented actors, and a great night out at an affordable price. Everything falls together here – set and costume designs, astute direction, effective lighting and sound support, gracious pace making it a must-see for drama students: the British Empire/Regency period alive on stage, with actors who ‘live’ in their period costumes! It’s churlish to focus on individuals in this uniformly sterling cast, but some played more memorable characters and rose to their challenge: Barry Haworth and Pauline Davies (Mr and Mrs Bennet respectively); Wes van Gelderen, the oft-maligned Mr Darcy; Katherine Alpert as Elizabeth (the author’s mouthpiece); Elodie Boal, frisky, impetuous little sister, Lydia; Linda Shapcott, bringing class and rank to heel in her Sherman tank version of Lady Catherine de
Bourgh; Chelsea Indiana, eldest sister Jane and Trent Sellars, her eventual husband, Charles Bingley; Gabrielle Carbon, poor Charlotte Lucas lumbered with Joshua Parnell’s ostentatious chaplain, William Collins; and Phillipa Bowe, doubling as Lady Lucas and Mrs Gardiner … I could go on, but consider Jane Austen’s ironical observations of class manners in her era. Are Aussies as egalitarian as we pretend to be? Jay McKee Aftershocks By Paul Brown. DAPA. Directed by Callan Purcell. DAPA Theatre, Hamilton (Newcastle). Mar 26 – Apr 6. THE strength of this story about the 1989 Newcastle earthquake lies in its use of the words of ordinary people who were either in the destroyed Newcastle Workers Club or had a long relationship with the institution. It shows how people cope with unexpected disasters, often engaging in actions they’d never have seen themselves doing as they try to help others trapped or injured in perilous places after the building’s collapse. And their comments, taken verbatim from interviews and assembled into a warm and down-to-earth narrative by playwright Paul Brown, also show the impact their experiences in the quake had on their lives in the year following. The play was first staged in 1991, and this production confirmed the timelessness of its story, with director Callan Purcell and the eight actors all having been born several years after the earthquake. The performances engaged the audience’s emotions, with stunned silence at times and gentle laughter on other occasions. While most of the actors had multiple roles, as club employees, officials, patrons and nearby residents, two, Rachel Adams and Sean Doyle, played single figures who by play’s end represent the spirits of those who were caught in the centre of the quake. Adams was Lyn Brown, the club’s supervising cleaner, and Doyle a young cleaner, John Constable, who is a member of her staff. Constable saves Brown from a crumbling narrow ledge on the remains of an upper floor and covers her head as he takes her through a destroyed lower floor so that she won’t be further distressed by the sight. It was a moving sequence. John Constable was in the audience on opening night and went backstage at show’s end to express his gratitude to the production team for their staging of the tale. That confirmed their success. Ken Longworth The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui By Bertolt Brecht. Directed by Michael Jenn. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, Mt Lawley, WA. Mar 14 - 20. THIS fascinating Bertolt Brecht play is based on the rise of Hitler, re-imagined as Arturo Ui, a smalltime Chicago gangster who aims to take over the city’s grocery trade during the Great Depression. The audience entered to find a film set in preparation for filming The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, a quite
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 85
captivating display of the improvisation talents of these 3rd Year WAAPA Acting students that drew us into the experience, while maintaining some Brectian integrity. This show really highlighted the talents of the male members of the final year acting class, with some notable performances and no weak links. Aleks Mikic was unnervingly charismatic in the title role. Joel Horwood was disturbingly likeable as Ernesto Roma. Harry Richardson played well above his age, with quiet maturity as Old Dogsborough and Henry Hammersla drew much sympathy in his short appearance as the defendant Fish.. The ladies of Third Year Acting had less opportunity to shine in this production, delegated to supporting roles and cameos. The occasional cross gender role was handled nicely. The women formed a strong ensemble and gave added strength to the production as a whole. Shining in brief appearances were Kirsty Marillier as Dock Daisy, Jane Watts as a gorgeously over-the-top acting coach and Harriet Davies who stole the dying moments of the play as A Wounded Woman. It is easy to forget that the strong design team is also comprised of students. Set designer Olivia Tartaglia used the unusual stage space to its best advantage and used stairs to great effect, while Sarah Duyvestyn’s impeccably researched and recreated twenties fashion was styled effectively in monochrome, linking to the filmic opening and creating startling effects with occasional flashes of colour. Tim Baker’s lighting design was both complex and smooth. I look forward both to seeing these students in their final WAAPA productions and to the potential of their life after WAAPA. Kimberley Shaw Macbeth By William Shakespeare. Darlington Theatre Players. Directed by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount, WA. Apr 1-26. FEELING very Scottish without resorting to tartans or Scottish accents, Darlington Theatre Players’ Macbeth, directed by Douglas Sutherland Bruce, is a very solid production in many senses of the word The costuming is particularly impressive. Apparently inspired by Game of Thrones, the close to forty different costumes created by Marjorie De Caux are all multi-layered, heavy, fully-realised, well thought-out and beautifully constructed - with Lady Macbeth’s wardrobe being showstoppingly striking. Marjorie De Caux pulls double duty playing Hecate, almost unrecognisable and stunningly dressed. With almost every male character wearing and often brandishing heavy, real swords, the fight choreography by David Green (who doubled as The Bloody Sergeant) was unnervingly realistic. Solid, impressive performances abounded. Joe Isaia was excellent in the title role, working organically with real life wife Kylie Isaia as Lady Macbeth who presented an intriguing combination of beauty and evil. 86 Stage Whispers
Relative newcomer Richard Hadler was a strong, believable Banquo, David Bain brought depth to McDuff and Richard Coleman made a regal Duncan. There were an abundance of young men in their teens and twenties, with varying experience, but all convincing in their roles, augering well for the future of Perth theatre. Simply set, the lighting conveyed the darkness of Scotland well, but made it a little tiring for the audience, with actors occasionally playing just outside the light. Sometimes staging wasn’t helpful to the show. For those of us in the centre of the auditorium, Joe Isaia’s face was obscured during key parts of Macbeth’s otherwise brilliant “Is this a dagger I see before me?” speech. This is a very well planned, good, safe and reliable rendition of Macbeth. Kimberley Shaw A Midsummer Night’s Dream By William Shakespeare. Garrick Theatre. Directed by Peter Clark. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount, WA. Apr 1 – 26. THE Shakespeare Anniversary Festival is being held to commemorate the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare; three theatre groups in Perth’s hills are working together to present three strikingly different Shakespeare plays. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by Garrick Theatre, is set on the reproduction Shakespearian era stage - the standard setting for all three festival shows; simple additions help to establish the Palace of Theseus and a wood near Athens. The acting performances are of a very high calibre. Jesse Wood and Jayden Payne are a very young Theseus and Hippolyta but bring maturity and authority to their roles. The young lovers (Samuel Tye, Finn Alexander, Clare Thomson and Gemma Sharpe) work nicely as an ensemble and have distinctive, believable characterisations. The mechanicals are a strong team, with Rodney van Gronigen in his element as Bottom while Adrian Wood brings out quiet leadership as Quince. John Taylor and Jacqui Warner are mature and sensual fairy monarchs, while Krysia Wiechecki was a highlight of the show as an androgynous, dynamic, volatile yet loveable Puck. Nyree Clark’s costuming is highly creative and refreshingly original. Distinct colour themes define each group of characters and individual costumes give a lovely sense of each person. A central tree is used as an interesting and aesthetic setting device. Don Allen’s lighting design gives a lovely sense of place and is gorgeously organic, but the low light for an extended period was a little tiring. A very sexually charged production, it sometimes felt like it was aimed at Year Nine boys and played a little too much to the groundlings. On opening night, pauses sometimes felt too long. Otherwise, direction is very tight and the production is thoughtful and clever. It is clear that the actors have an excellent understanding of the language. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a quality production that provided entertaining viewing. Kimberley Shaw
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Hair Directed by Tanya Mitford, Music Direction by David King. Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAPA, Mt Lawley, WA. Mar 15 - 22. LATE last year the creative young things around Perth were excitedly sharing the gossip that WAAPA (now) Third Year Musical Theatre Students had been told not to cut their tresses or remove body hair over Summer as the first production for 2014 was to be Hair. Hair looks and sounds fabulous. To match the luscious locks and full beards, costume designer Georgia MetternickJones has produced an excellent 1967 wardrobe and Hair is presented on a playground designed by set designer Hannah Metternick-Jones, reminiscent of many I remember in the early 70s. I noted that costumes and set had a very similar feel, and a quick Google search reveals that the designers are twins. Music, under the care of David King, had the precision we expect from a WAAPA production. The eight-piece band played from behind a backdrop and the balance was good. Choreography, by director Tanya Mitford, felt free and spontaneous but was obviously impeccably formulated. The nudity for which Hair is famous or infamous was there, but not at the “traditional” point in Act One. The cast stripped down during the ‘bad trip’ of the second act, lending a different feeling and purpose for the nudity. It was subtly directed and bravely handled by the young cast, and the nudity added to the vulnerability and the humanity explored during this scene. WAAPA Third Year makes a superb tribe and showed a plethora of talent. Berger was powerfully played by Daniel Berini, while Claude’s conflict and confusion was captured well by Du Toit Bredenkamp. Lyndon Watts was both
WAAPA 2014 3rd year music theatre production of Hair. Photo: Jon Green
charming and strong as Hud. Stephen Madsen also stood out as Woof. Eloise Cassidy was an almost ethereal Jeannie and Sophie Stokes’ Sheila was a force to be reckoned with. Shannen Chin-Quan was a delicate Chrissy, whose song ‘Frank Mills’ was a quiet highlight. This was a really strong and well-received incarnation of Hair. Much of the charm of this production came from the inter-relationship of the tribe, which had a palpable unity and lovely strength. This is another very strong cohort from WAAPA who are going to be recurring features in our national casts in the years to come. Kimberley Shaw Forbidden Broadway By Gerard Alessandrini. Director: Anne Somes. Free Rain. Q Theatre, Queanbeyan, New South Wales. Mar 7 – 22. FREE Rain has presented a most entertaining evening full of Broadway fun and wicked humour which will appeal to fans of musicals and those who have enjoyed (or endured!) personally being in productions. Expertly directed by Anne Somes, with musical direction by Nicholas Griffin, Jacquelyn Richards’ choreography is fun and vibrant (and particularly knowing for the Fosse tribute!). The set is simple, lit well and versatile enough for the minimal props. Sound was consistently good. Acts come and go quickly, with these artists having the skill and ability to sketch a character, transform their voices and entertain the audience in the space of minutes. It is truly difficult to separate one fine singer from another and the casting was certainly strong.
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 87
Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes in The King And I. Photo: Brian Geach.
Halimah Kyrgios was an amusing and almost uncanny Liza Minnelli, complete with wig and mannerisms. Nicola Hall brought Barbra Streisand “Back to Broadway” with a vocal transformation. Tim Dal Cortivo’s rendition of “It’s Too High” (a.k.a. “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables) showed his vocal experience and command of technique. Sian Harrington showed her comic timing and expression as Cosette, who, one must admit, really is “an obnoxious little waif”. David Spence made a great Phantom in “Mucous of the Night” and Georgia Pike as Ethel Merman was a treat, coercing the Phantom to embrace singing in a true voice without effects. This production is a fun evening for musical aficionados. Rachel McGrath-Kerr
red, crimson, turquoise and more gold leaf than you’d find in a Chiang Mai temple. Their designs won awards on Broadway in 1998 and they’re still the jewels of this revival production. Teddy Tahu Rhodes is charismatic as the King and sings the role better than most actors who have played it. There’s little chance for him to display his magnificent voice as he did in South Pacific, but he still commands the stage and delivers a fine reading of “A Puzzlement”. Australia has seen many Mrs Annas over the years but Lisa McCune is up there with the best of them. She swirls her hoop-skirted crinolines with finesse and captivatingly sings “Getting to Know You”. Together she and Tahu Rhodes polka their way around and around the stage in “Shall We Dance”. It’s spirited and draws audience The King and I applause but just misses in capturing the elusive emotion of Music: Richard Rodgers. Book & Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein the moment. ll. Opera Australia & John Frost. Director: Christopher Shu-Cheen Yu as Lady Thiang sang a beautifully Renshaw. Musical Director: Peter Casey. Musical Staging: controlled “Something Wonderful”, while Jenny Liu and Callum Mansfield. Lyric Theatre, Brisbane. Premiere – April Adrian Li Donni, as the young lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha, 19, 2014. Princess Theatre, Melbourne from June 10 and vocally soared on “We Kiss in a Shadow” and “I Have Sydney Opera House from September 9. Dreamed”. THE King and I is the perfect musical – exotic settings, a The iconic second act ballet “The Small House of Uncle timeless score, and one of the best books that has ever Thomas” has always been a highlight and in this production did not disappoint, while the first act’s “The March of the been written for the musical theatre. The libretto is so strong that it could be played in any lounge room without Siamese Children” pleased as usual. set and costumes and would still work. The orchestra under Peter Casey’s baton was tight and Fortunately we don’t have to let our imaginations run fast, and despite a clunky opening scene at the docks, riot because Roger Kirk and Brian Thomson have done that Christopher Renshaw’s direction was fluid. for us. Both designers have washed the stage with the most Peter Pinne opulent costumes and sets, so that Bangkok of the 1860s leaps breathlessly to life in all its colourful splendour with 88 Stage Whispers
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
The Addams Family By Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa. Stage Artz (Sydney). Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. Apr 4 – 12. JUST over twelve months since a stylish professional production opened and closed prematurely in Sydney, community theatres are getting their chance to take a bite from the Addams apple. In many ways this sort of musical is more suitable for community theatre than the professional scene in Australia. Relatively easy tunes to master, an assortment of different shapes and sizes and ages in the cast, in a production that has familiar TV characters in it, makes this a show which is fun to rehearse and perform. Director Samantha Neaves had a very small space to work on, that was further contracted by having the musicians on stage. It was a copybook example of making the most of modest resources. A bridge was built over the band. Members of the chorus brought on props where necessary and when Uncle Fester had to fly away, he simply ran up the stairs of the theatre through the audience. Who needs a fly tower anyway? The production was attractive and the band was on the money. Overall The Addams Family is a few good tunes short of being a classic and loses a little pace in the second act, but those companies who do it well will have a good time on stage and at the box office, at least for a few years. David Spicer Next to Normal Rockdale Musical Society. Director: Elle Zattera. Musical Director: Joshua Ransom. Choreography: Craig Nhobbs. Rockdale Town Hall. Apr 4 – 12. COMPELLING Pulitzer winning rock musical Next to Normal engages its audience with the life of Diana, a suburban mother and wife with a rapidly escalating bipolar disorder. It’s an unrelenting journey haunted by the spectral presence of her son, embodied as the young man he never lived to become, after dying as an infant. Charmaine Gibbs’ Diana evokes empathy, drawing us into her dark, intense life journey with accomplished acting, fine stagecraft and fabulous musical theatre voice. Her richly nuanced, truthful portrayal is cutting-edge community theatre. Ben James physicalizes and vocalises her dead son Gabe with youthful grunge rock energy. Emma Taviani taps into the layered, moving plot arc of Diana’s anguished teenage daughter Natalie convincingly, delivering on her portion of the rock score. As Diana’s husband Dan, Patricio Ulloa is sympathetic, steadfast, yet generally rather bemused, in what seems a rather thankless role. Julian Luke is pleasant and credible as Natalie’s patient, sketchily written love-interest Henry. Capable Tyler Hoggard’s youth works against his believability as the two doctors, clearly well beyond his years, though he delivers the vocals with assurance. He also
designed the effective skeletal set, well suited to the musical’s theme. Leading a splendid rock band, Musical Director Joshua Ransom keeps the show pumping throughout. Neil Litchfield Next to Normal Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Josh McCann-Thomson. Mar 28 – Apr 12. NEXT to Normal leads us through the life of a middleaged mother with a bipolar condition that is controlled by the spirit of her young son who died 16 years ago. Josh McCann-Thomson has staged this piece with sensitivity and the cast delivered his vision with a professional edge. Arlie McCormick gave a magnificent performance as the troubled mother and Stephen Hirst, as her ever-supportive husband, delivered a consummate characterization in dealing with this situation. As the son who died very young, Shaun Coleman brought the memories of the now eighteen -year-old to life in a compassionate manner and Heidi Enchelmaier was the daughter desperately wanting to be part of her mother’s world while dealing with the problems of being a typical teenager with a boyfriend, played by Lachlan Geraghty, who wanted to get close to his love but it was an uphill battle. Jayden Isgrove played the dual roles of the two Psychologists. Musically, the performers, under the vocal direction of Ethan Jones, were extremely strong and the orchestra, under the direction of Liam Cruz was competent. Occasional problems occurred when, due to the sound mix, some lyrics were overpowered by the music. Roger McKenzie Xanadu By Douglas Carter Beane, Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. Davine Interventionz. Directed by David Gauci. Musical Direction by Emma Knights. Choreography by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti. Adelaide Fringe. Star Theatre One. March 5-8. “A PLACE...where nobody dared to go...”? Apparently not - this season is officially sold out, and deservedly so. Director David Gauci’s courage and vision in bringing as infamous a story/spectacle as Xanadu to the Adelaide amateur stage had paid off wonderfully. Audiences who come for non-stop fun will not be disappointed. In the lead role of Kira, Kate Dempsey is simply sensational. She sings superbly, she skates smoothly, she is a star. Lindsay Prodea is given a far goofier version of the artistic Sonny Malone to play than Michael Beck did in the film, but he engages both our sympathy and our laughter. With a relatively small cast, and an even more compact stage, Gauci has achieved wonders. The costumes and set design are great fun, the choreography creates just the right amount of energy, and the four-strong band do a sterling job of recreating the pop/rock stylings of the Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newton-John hits. The success of this show proves that some stories are destined to live on longer than anyone expected at the time. An endearingly bad movie has become a genuinely
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 89
accomplished and enjoyable stage musical - and that’s not magic, it’s talent. Anthony Vawser Next to Normal Music by Tom Kitt Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Directed by Darilyn Ramondo. Doorstep Arts. Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Mar 14 - 22. THIS Pulitzer Prize winning musical is an emotional experience if it is done well. Doorstep Arts do it so well that it could be renamed Next to Perfect. Darilyn Ramondo’s sensibilities in paring back set and production to almost Japanese minimalism is exactly what the show needs to allow focus on story and emotional journey. Natalie O’Donnell is sublime as Diana Goodman, the broken wife. She sang beautifully, as one would expect, but it was the raw emotion, the unrelenting pain, which reduced so many of us to tears. Mark Dickinson’s Dan is confused and just doing the best he can. He sang the difficult songs beautifully and matched O’Donnell in the sublime subtlety of performance. Zoy Frangos, impresses as both of Diana’s doctors. They are roles that I have seen caricatured in the past, but Frangos brings empathy and understanding, along with another great voice. The three younger cast members are astonishing. Brent Trotter is a powerhouse as Gabe, the dead son who refuses to let Diana be free. His version of “I’m Alive” is electrifying. Kiane O’Farrell also impresses as Natalie, the daughter lost in the midst of the angst and desperate for recognition; and Clay Roberts, newly graduated from WAAPA, creates the best Henry I have seen. The very excellent Trevor Jones handles a skilled kick-ass band and kudos to sound and lighting. Some people will never “get” Next to Normal. That’s their loss. Coral Drouyn The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee By William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin. Adelaide Youth Theatre. Star Theatres. Feb 28 - Mar 1. FOR their Adelaide Fringe production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Adelaide Youth Theatre has cast some older actors than the company normally uses. The show is a tongue-in-cheek, sometimes ribald examination of America’s Spelling Bee circuit and includes delightful characters together with great songs. Directed by Brendan Cooney, the show contains standout performances. Tahlia Fantone is wonderfully sweet and vulnerable as Olive Ostrovsky and has a beautiful singing voice. Buddy Dawson is completely uninhibited and fantastic as Leaf Coneybear. Jamie Hornsby has just the right comical mix of likeable and annoying as William Barfee. Mel George is highly amusing as Rona Lisa Peretti, particularly with her facial expressions. Her vocal range is not quite up to some of the songs, though. Tom Bubner is a wonderful Vice Principal Panch. Mark Stefanoff, Georgia Broomhall, Georgia Bolton and Seb Cooper all produce fantastic characterisations. 90 Stage Whispers
The audience loves it, but the production could have been made even better with less volume from the band. Unfortunately, although the young musicians are great, the musical accompaniment overwhelms much of the singing, particularly during ‘whole cast’ songs. Lesley Reed Jungle Book - The Musical Based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling. Book and lyrics by Marcus Weber. Music by Michael Summ. King Street Theatre, Newtown. Apr 16 – 26. SOMETIMES a production is so unexpectedly good that you almost fall out of your seat in surprise. Where did this beautiful adaptation of The Jungle Book come from? Full of great tunes, superb characterisation and laughs, surely it could not have been its first outing? Ah there it was in the fine print. This adaptation has had 5000 performances throughout Europe. The royalties are still flowing back to the writer Marcus Weber to help him run his venue, The King Street Theatre in Newtown. The six and seven year olds in the audience were also falling out of their seat. Sometimes in excitement at the action on stage – other times to visit the bathroom. The procession to the toilet became so common that Maria de Marco as Bagheera the panther made it part of the act. Didn’t their teacher tell them to go before the show starts? The characters were very memorable. Mark Power as Baloo the bear was jolly and adept at picking flees from members of the audience. Mandy Fung looked hot as KAA the snake. Bernard Wheatley as Shere Khan the tiger had a torso as a sharp as a claw. Brett O’Neill was a veritable jack-in-thebox as the monkey King Louie, while Kyle Stephens as Hathi the elephant showed impressive skills on the trombone. There were lots of jungle-like plants on stage and ropes to swing off. This combined with a meet and greet in the foyer afterwards made it excellent school holiday entertainment. David Spicer Oklahoma! By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Miranda Musical Society. Director: James Worner. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. Mar 19 – 23. TRY for a moment to erase 70 years of musicals from your memory and come fresh to Oklahoma! as Paul Holmes’ orchestra strikes up the classic overture. As Curly, Eden Plaisted swaggers into a rustic farmyard (inimitably designed by Bob Peet), cocky, sharing cheeky banter with Anne-Marie McAdams’ warm, knowing Aunt Eller. Opposite Plaistead, Rebecca Carter’s Laurey balances vulnerability and independence, helping create a romantic relationship that prickles, then softens, then sparks, with credibility. Bob Peet’s farmyard set later smoothly transitions into the best imaginable version of Jud’s smokehouse. Elsewhere stereotypes are toned down. Sally Redman’s warm, engaging Ado Annie remains very funny, played
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
more for humanity than gags. Persian peddler Ali Hakim can now seem politically incorrect, yet pulling back the stereotype, he remains funny in Andrew Jackaman’s hands. Removing any blatant, melodramatic villainy, James Jonathan’s Jud Fry becomes a morose loner, with a quieter, palpable menace. Choruses and dances feel safe and familiar in style, but a vibrant young ensemble, brings exuberance to the apt, energetic choreography. Choreographer Jo Ansell’s reworking of the dream ballet effectively and economically tells the tale of Laurey’s hopes and fears. James Worner’s production balances a regard for tradition with freshness and youthful vitality. Neil Litchfield The Little Mermaid Jr Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Directed by Callum Hosking. Clayton Theatrette. Apr 3-13. LEAVING aside the obvious pride and adulation of the parents in the stalls, there are many worthy things about this very ambitious production; the brilliant colours, Director Callum Hosking’s vision for “Under the Sea”; the little roller skate wheels in the heels of shoes so that it seemed the fish were gliding through water, and the fact that all the music is pre-recorded as part of the package, so we had lush orchestrations with strings. Ruby Voss is an exceptional Ariel, endearing and wilful. She hasn’t matured vocally yet, but otherwise the performance was far beyond her years and experience. Matching her, and with great rapport, is Madison Jerram as Sebastian, The Crab. Miss Jerram has a marvellous sense of comic timing, and managed to get every possible laugh out of the script. Full marks to Jaz Harwood, one of the younger members of the company, for her infectious interpretation of Flounder – plus I could hear every single word that she said, and that’s a bonus. Callum Hosking, director and founder of Kidzact, is keeping his dream alive, and a great dream it is. Above all, Kidzact is giving young, would-be performers a platform, a taste of something they would otherwise never have. And their parents have every right to be proud. Coral Drouyn
contribute the essential energy and charm, generally establishing strong individual characters. Under David Lang’s assured musical direction the orchestra never puts a foot wrong, while the vocal interpretation, notably the choral work of the nuns, pleases. Stephen Halstead’s transition from gruff military man to loving father as Captain Von Trapp, along with the growing attraction between Maria and himself, are subtly and believably developed. Malcolm Purvis embodies the very spirit of musical comedy as Max, pairing well with Elizabeth Lowrencev in old-fashioned comic relief. As Mother Abbess, Megan Chalmers’ rousing ‘Climb Every Mountain’ balances some earlier inclination to rush dialogue. Among smaller supporting roles Veronica Saville’s irascible yet goodhearted housekeeper Frau Schmidt is a highlight. Nazi moments, with potential for real menace, tend to be played out in stereotype and melodrama. It’s disappointing in the end that scenic illusion couldn’t match some lovely performances and a splendid musical interpretation. Neil Litchfield
The Drowsy Chaperone By Bob Martin, Don McKellar, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Director: Jay James-Moody. Squabbalogic. The Hayes Theatre Co. (NSW). Mar 14 – Apr 6. MUSICAL Theatre Tragics … This is Your Life! In an affectionate theatrical pastiche of 1920s musical comedy, ‘Man in Chair’ (Jay James-Moody) shares his cure for the blues; playing the (vinyl) cast recording of his favourite musical, visualizing, then interacting with a fantasy production which springs to life in his tiny apartment. Jay’s wonderfully comic-timed Man in Chair is a quirky soul – by turns acerbic, then childlike in his wonderment and love for the genre. He sustains the double challenge of directing and performing with panache. This simple, cheery low budget production involves delicious low-tech gimmicks galore, incorporated into the spot-on set (Lauren Peters), gorgeously in on the gag. Also always in on the gag is Monique Sallé’s choreography. Hilary Cole’s wide-eyed, glamorous ingenue Janet Van De Graaf, bursting with delicious feigned naivety, nails her showstopper ‘Show Off’. Building on her recent The Sound of Music performance in Carrie, she now shows off her comic flair. By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Book by As dashing Leading Man Robert Martin, Brett O’Neill exudes campy debonair charm. Jamie Leigh Johnson Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Rockdale Musical Society. Director: Cathy Boyle. Rockdale Town Hall. Feb 28 – delights as an archetypal ambitious gold-digging dumb Mar 16. blonde. Michele Lansdowne, in the title role, tippling her ROCKDALE Town Hall’s asbestos scare has proven a witty way through the prohibition era show, also lands her blessing in disguise for local musical theatre companies, big number impressively. Tom Sharah is a wickedly OTT, with audiences and performers benefitting from enhanced politically incorrect lothario Adolpho. Ross Chisari proves facilities, access and technical upgrades. he’s a fine song and dance hoofer as the leading man’s Stage design must now compete with the sleek, stylish best friend George. Choreographer Monique Sallé’s highvenue, and in this production it is found wanting, a pity energy cameo, Trix, the aviatrix, flies in late for a joyous when The Sound of Music ticked many other boxes. barnstorming finale. Melissa Stewart is engaging as Maria, connecting with Sound Designer Jessica James-Moody ensures an excellent balance between Paul Geddes’ small jazzy behindthe children, radiating personal warmth, and delivering vocally. The youngsters playing the Von Trapp children the-scenes band and the vocals. Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 91
Pacific Overtures. Photo: Jodie Hutchinson
Enjoy this carefree flight of fancy with Squabbalogic to an age of less sophisticated musicals. Neil Litchfield
Andrew Kroenert, Tim Paige and Elinor Smith Adams. The set (Eugyeene The) and costumes (Chloe Greaves) are minimalist but effective. The four-piece orchestra under Robyn Womersley is always perfect and Rob Sowinski’s Pacific Overtures lighting design is effective throughout. Director Alister By Stephen Sondheim, John Weidman and Hugh Wheeler. Smith has added lots of humour in the ‘spaces between’ Directed by Alister Smith. Theatre Works. Feb 20 -Mar 9. that Sondheim always leaves. This is a small production and “WATCH This” burst onto the Melbourne scene last year some might wish for more elaborate staging and dressing, but it provides excellent and satisfying theatre. with an impressive production of Sondheim’s Assassins. Now, with exemplary casting and impeccable vocal skills, Coral Drouyn the company brings us Sondheim’s rarely performed Pacific Overtures. Dreamsong Anton Berezin, as the Reciter and the Shogun, is Music by Robert Tripolino. Book and lyrics by Hugo excellent. His fine singing and whimsical humour provide a Chiarella. Directed by Dean Bryant. Theatreworks, St Kilda. Apr 9-20. strong base for the cast to build on. Noni McCallum is delicious as the Madam in the highly suggestive “Welcome WHEN you put wunderkinds Tripolino and Chiarella to Kawagawa” – perhaps one of Sondheim’s most together with a fabulous cast and “flavour of the month” exquisitely naughty songs. Nick Simpson-Deeks and Adrian director Dean Bryant, in a biting satire on organised Li Donni are equally impressive as the “twin” sides of a churches, you can expect it to be something very special indeed. The thing is, it’s tantalisingly close to being there, burgeoning cultural war…Simpson-Deeks as the westernised fisherman Majiro brings his considerable acting but not yet. skills and voice to a difficult, underwritten role, and Li Tripolino and Chiarella give us a terrific pop score with Donni is an exciting talent as Kayama, a proud and noble lyrics that range from inspired to the inane/cheesy. The Japanese patriot who is seduced by Western culture. Both casting throughout is terrific but the brilliance of Brent Hill as the Real Jesus is the success of the show. His big number actors are at their best in the duet “Poems”, one of the “I Hate Conflict” is hilarious and Hill nails it as he does every highlights of the show. Bianca Baykara impresses vocally throughout and producer Sonya Suares is wonderful as the number I’ve ever seen him do. Connor Crawford as Chris tragic Tamate. Jacqui Hoy is joyfully larger than life as T…the “fake Jesus” is perfectly cast, and his Bieberesque Shogun’s malevolent mother and Leighton Young gives us “Just Have Faith” is a fabulous first act finale. Ben four delicious cameos, with the best being the old man Prendergrast (Pastor Sunday) is always charismatic. Chelsea Gibb plays the Pastor’s recording star wife, “Whitney”. Gibb reminiscing in the iconic “Someone in a tree”. The awesome cast also includes Reece Budin, Emma Clair Ford, is excellent throughout, even in her ill-conceived and 92 Stage Whispers
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
unbelievable 11 O’clock number “It Isn’t Fair”, which she is forced to do brandishing a machine gun. The marvellous Mike MacLeish gets to brilliantly play another Prime Minister; Emily Langridge brings suitable naivety to the pastor’s daughter, April; and Evan Lever and Alana Tranter are both excellent. The band, with Lisa Haney on vocals, is fabulous throughout. Andrew Hallsworth’s choreography is perfect, and the technical elements are all spot on. It just needs work on structure and storyline. Coral Drouyn Boy & Girl Oscar Theatre Company. Director: Emily Gilhome. Musical Director: Dale Lingwood. Choreographer: Dan Venz. Visy Theatre, Powerhouse, Brisbane. Apr 3-19. BOY & Girl is sexy, filthy, and outrageously entertaining. This raunchy gender-bending fusion of cabaret, musical theatre and pop has buckets of musical muscle. In boots, shorts and red-corset, Chris Kellett as the MC set the tone of the night with his lascivious and funny turn on “Wilkomen” (Cabaret), and later had great rude audience participation fun with “The Boom Boom Song”. One of the best vocal performances came from Jacqui Devereux (accompanied by the girls), who belted “Bring on the Men” (Jekyll and Hyde) in true diva style. Kimi Tsukakoshi sang a sweet “When Somebody Loved Me” (Toy Story 2), which was a terrific set-up for the hilarious Disney sequence which included two guys singing “Beauty and the Beast” and two girls doing “A Whole New World”. Second act included more pop than the first with salutes to Jessie J (“Do It Like a Dude”), Beyonce (“If I Were a Boy”), and Lady Gaga (“Born This Way”), with the Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build a Home” a nice quiet reflection from the funk. Final kudos must go to director Emily Gilhome, who gathered together such a super-talented cast (25 in all), and for getting them to deliver this sassy, glittering highheeled gender-switching show. Peter Pinne
Dale Selsby’s maternal-yet-knowing Marmee chimes in with a rich, mature music theatre voice. Diane Wilson’s indomitable Aunt March bears the hallmarks of the archetypal dowagers of Hollywood literary adaptations. Some of the male characters are less interestingly drawn, but Professor Bhaer comes across as the ideal lifefoil for Jo in Gavin Leahy’s sensitively layered performance, while Christopher Griffith’s initially grumpy Mr Laurence develops attractive warmth to become a sympathetic friend to the March family. Original artworks by Vince Cairncross are projected onto mid-stage screens, emulating illustrations for a period book. All are watercolours except for a striking pastel, which captures the essence of a period book-plate as backdrop to the melodramatic pantomime enactment of Jo’s gothic thriller novel. It’s a splendid scenic solution, moving the action along nicely, with the simple animated projection of a kite a very special moment. Costuming matches this genteel, but impoverished family of the period well. As always, one of our most experienced MDs Greg Crease and his splendid small band ensure a polished musical experience. Neil Litchfield
Anything Goes Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. MUSE – The Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble. Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre. Mar 26 – 29. WHILE Cole Porter’s songs are the enduring stars of Anything Goes, Georgina Spong’s choreography of this student production is the standout, with big, lively movement-based routines for mostly non-dancers, where shapes, patterns and variety build to showstopper finishes. Then there’s the wit and panache she brings to smaller routines. A splendid male ensemble, which most community theatres would kill for, responds splendidly to Ms Spong’s creativity, while the sailors’ quartet is probably the best I’ve Little Women The Broadway Musical seen on an amateur stage. By Allen Knee, Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein. I’d love MUSE to find a creative shoestring-budget designer, though sets for this no frills Anything Goes Bankstown Theatre Company. Director: Diane Wilson. sufficiently establish the setting as an ocean liner. Musical Director: Greg Crease. Choreographer: Edward Rooke. Bankstown Arts Centre, Olympic Parade, Bankstown. Natasha Stanton brings a mischievous sultry personality, Mar 21 - 30. comic skills and confident vocals to Reno Sweeney. Liam BTC created a very special ‘little’ family of trained, Beiglari has splendid timing and physical comedy as talented musical theatre performers, with a palpable Moonface Martin. Alex Andrews effectively nails the humour of eccentric Britisher Evelyn Oakley. Anna Colless rapport and a special touch of cross-generational casting, for their engaging community theatre production of gentle vamps archetypal gangster’s moll Erma cheekily. Genevieve charm musical Little Women. De Souza is sweet and attractive as Hope Harcourt, landing Rebecca Matheson grabs the strong-willed, tomboyish her songs attractively. Ant Sandler strikes a balance individuality and sometime-fragility of central character Jo between the intensity and parody of leading man Billy. In the autumn romance sub-plot, both Hope’s mother entirely, matching a warm, engaging characterization with Evangeline and Billy’s boss Whitney clearly belong to the an assured vocal performance. Hannah Farrant-Jayet’s oldest sister Meg is warm, same age bracket as the youngsters. You accept Sarah sympathetic and practical. Amy Toledano’s Beth touchingly Gaul’s dignity and stuffiness as socialite Evangeline, while convinces us she’s at peace with her own mortality. Amy is Jordan Shea makes the permanently drunken Whitney a broadly physicalized caricature. convincingly impetuous and precocious in Kate Selsby’s hands; selfish, yet endearing in her own way. Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 93
Jesus Christ Superstar
Musically, Josh Davies keeps everything together well, though occasionally the sound mix feels in need of adjustment. It’s just plain refreshing to head along to a MUSE production. Neil Litchfield
This light-hearted musical contains surprising emotional depth as well as a generous serving of music that anybody would tap along to and sophisticated enough to retain any musician’s interest, to lyrics universal enough to bring a tear to your eye. John P. Harvey
They’re Playing Our Song By Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager. HIT Productions, Director: Terence O’Connell. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. Mar 28 – Apr 5. THEY’RE Playing Our Song represents the real-life working and personal relationship between the musical’s real-life composer and lyricist, fictionalised as Vernon and Sonia respectively. And the actors playing Vernon and Sonia on this year’s tour of the show, Scott Irwin and Teagan Wouters, portrayed the pair’s halting, difficult, but understandable and ultimately warm relationship not only with conviction but also with the light-hearted touch that the story and the songs required. It’s a delight to see the stage-musical form suit so well the story it tells, and a rarer joy to hear its songs sung so accurately, making melody, harmony, and rhythm a relaxing pleasure to the ear, uncompromised by the tension of awaiting poor harmonies or, worse, wrong notes. The one, gorgeously constructed if simple, set was spectacularly lit by Jason Bovaird; and the all-important sound, though it stamped a certain reediness upon the tone of the female lead, was otherwise perfect in its volume, balance, and conveyance of great diction. Costuming was outstanding, and even the couple’s dancing was a pleasure to watch.
Jesus Christ Superstar By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Redcliffe Musical Theatre. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. Apr 4 – 13. THIS production has enough energy to light Redcliffe peninsula for a week. Children with parents from the 70s and 80s were introduced to JCS through their parents’ record collection. Now many of them are up on stage recapturing that rock’n’roll generation adrenaline rush. Last year’s Phantom of the Opera was a huge success. The entertainment potential of this show has not diminished, but there were a few rough edges on opening night. Everyone remembers Judas, Jesus, Mary and Herod from any show they see. Clay English (Judas), Simon Chamberlain (Jesus), Erika Nadei (Mary Magdalene) and Dale Shearman (Herod) should linger in patrons’ minds across coming generations (Herod always attracts unbalanced attention because Webber and Rice realised they needed to release the building tension in act 2. In this production the dancers made the most of that opportunity). Choreography (Meredith Johns) is street-modern, defining Jesus’ connection with ordinary people – many eye -catching performances there. The simple double-level set, with steps to suggest a
94 Stage Whispers
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
town square, is effective, and use of video (design by Clay English) adds a new dimension to the show. So much admirable work. Madeleine Johns, her team, cast and crew have pulled together another hit. Jay McKee
The entire ensemble is impeccable, backed up by a remarkable orchestra under the direction of Ryan Christoffersen. Special mention must be made of the excellent work of Kate Andrew and Ricky Romeo as the “comic relief” characters, diva Carlotta and her paramour Ubaldo. Breast Wishes Every cast member was a local and none disappointed. Directed by Terry Hackett. KADS Town Square Theatre, The cast and crew of the Townsville show have every Kalamunda (WA). Feb 21 – Mar 15. right to celebrate the success of one of the finest musicals BREAST Wishes is aptly subtitled “an uplifting musical” to grace Townsville’s stage. They performed ten shows, and and as well as being a really cute pun, the sentiment applies seven, including the final five, were completely booked out beautifully to KADS’ presentation, which, despite some in the 1,000 seat Civic Theatre. That speaks for itself. confronting subject matter, leaves its audience feeling Ray Dickson good. Whistle Down The Wind Music and lyrics are by Bruce Brown (the lyrics are By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman. CPAC (Vic). excellent) with the book by a plethora of writers – Merridy Director: Lee Geraghty. Musical Director: Kent Ross. Eastman, Jonathan Gavin, Richard Glover, Wendy Harmer, Choreographer: Robert Mulholland. Feb 22 – Mar 7. Sheridan Jobbins, James Millar and Debra Oswald, an THE Victorian premiere of Whistle Down The Wind was occasion where an ensemble approach works well. a powerful performance. There are some particularly memorable moments. Fiona This relatively dark show involves a lot of children and Forster’s performance of “Mills and Boon and Me” is very two strong leads. Mitchell Stewart as “The Man”, the funny and gorgeously performed, while Stacey Gay’s “Dear fugitive found in a barn who the children believe is Jesus Puppies” is beautifully poignant. Sandra Sando is lovely in Christ, had a commanding presence and a terrific tenor both her roles, but her appearances as Irene, the voice. He was well matched by seventeen-year-old Emily professional bra fitter, run the gamete from very funny to Hansford, playing the fifteen-year-old Swallow, with beautifully moving. another great voice complemented by strong acting. There The cast form a nice ensemble and play a convincing was real chemistry between the two. family. Rounding out the cast are the lovely Cassee Lazic As Swallow’s two younger siblings, Matilda Weaver and and lone male John Bevan. Soren Adkin were also strong. Austin Moore, well known to Presumably there have been hassles with music and G&S fans, played their father and had a lovely voice. John unfortunately the balance meant that it was difficult to hear Black was an intimidating Sherriff and Richard Green a slimy all of the obviously witty lyrics. Otherwise, vocal direction Snake Preacher, but the many roles were all well taken. and musical backing, by Belinda Flindell, was solid. The production was good, with a structure at the back Choreography by Claire Taylor was quirky and nicely being changed to reflect the different scenes and sets being executed. moved on and off as the action progressed. There were no While not every song hits its mark, the vignettes were dull moments. The choreography was interesting and well nicely performed and the heart of this show is lovely. A feeldone. good show with an important message, it really does fulfil As with the last show I saw at CPAC, the orchestra was the promise of its subtitle. fine in the more intimate numbers, but once the drummer Kimberley Shaw joined in, the words were lost, including some underscored dialogue. If this problem could be rectified they would be The Phantom of the Opera By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. snapping at the heels of the major companies in Melbourne. North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre. Directed by Graham Ford Bill Munro. Townsville Civic Theatre. Apr 2 – 13. AS The Phantom makes its amateur rights progress through smaller capital city and regional theatre companies, each will, of course, elicit remarks along the lines of “ours is as good as the professional production I saw in London” or Sydney, or New York. There is always a certain amount of parochialism in the statement, but that does not detract from the excellence of so many of the productions. Townsville’s NQOMT has presented a spectacular show. Playing the Phantom, Kelly Stone is brooding, dark and menacing. Sophie Ricca, just 19 years old, has a voice that brings out the splendour of her beautiful, innocent and Get noticed on the Stage Whispers manipulated Christine. Both stars cannot be faulted, and website with a premium listing Sophie has the world at her feet after this performance, which stunned audiences. www.stagewhispers.com.au/directory-central
Stage Whispers Directory Premium listing: $20
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 95
Wedding fireworks at Madama Butterfly. Photo: James Morgan.
Madama Butterfly By Giacomo Puccini. Opera Australia. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Mar 21 to Apr 12. AMERICAN property developer B F Pinkerton is subdividing a little slice of Japanese waterfront paradise just off the Botanical Gardens, where Sydney’s brightly lit skyline and passing ferries provide an aptly striking panorama for this modern take on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The idyllic natural setting of the first act, a green slope topped by an attractive grove of trees, is marked out with tell-tale white chalk lines, clearly being carved up for development. International masters of outdoor theatrical events La Fura dels Baus have eloquently created a spectacular Sydney event that is both entertaining and pertinent, resonant of Greek Tragedy in its epic style and proportion, topped off with the kind of fireworks display this city so loves. Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura gives a stunning, vocally exciting and achingly vulnerable portrayal of the tragic 15-year-old geisha. Otherwise harsh and arrogant, Russian tenor Georgy Vasiliev brings a convincing seductive romanticism to his seductive vocals with Butterfly. Michael Honeyman voices reason on deaf ears as the sympathetic, decent Sharpless, via his warm, rich baritone. Mezzo-soprano Anna Yun convincingly portrays the
Online extras! Can’t get to the show? Watch a clip now by scanning the QR code or visiting http://youtu.be/LwV7nfbJDHI 96 Stage Whispers
deepening concern of steadfast, caring Suzuki. Bass Gennadi Dubinsky led a menacing Japanese Mafioso emphatically as The Bonze. Tenor Sitiveni Talei’s delightful cameo as wealthy suitor Prince Yamadori is almost upstaged by his maritime entrance. During an extended interval huge cranes lift massive skeletal concrete constructions of the now-failed property development into place. In cut-offs and an American flag TShirt in the Second Act, the illusion of Butterfly as a teenage mother seems all too credible. Hiromi Omura’s “Un bel dì” (One beautiful day) tears your heart to pieces. We know the happy ending she sings of is impossible, though we’re still romantic enough to want it. The extraordinary experience of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is as much a great Sydney event as an opera performance. Neil Litchfield Eugene Onegin Music by Tchaikovsky. Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and Tchaikovsky. From the verse novel by Aleksandr Pushkin. Directed by Kaspar Holten. Opera Australia. Arts Centre Melbourne. Apr 16 – May 9. FROM the moment the curtains open on Mia Stensgaard’s deliciously romantic set, to the first notes of Tchaikovsky’s exquisitely lyrical score, you know that Eugene Onegin will be something special. Kaspar Holten has given himself space to explore as director. His storytelling is crystal clear and he gives new subtext and subtlety to Pushkin’s classic verse novel. Holten brilliantly portrays the younger Tatyana and Eugene with two superb dancers/actors, allowing the older Tatyana and Eugene to “see” their inner child through remembering the past. Nicole Car is exquisite as Tatyana. Not only is the voice very special, with a brilliance and clarity that never fails, and especially bright in her top register at full power, but she also brings great acting skills to the role. Paulo Szot has a rich baritone voice but he seemed rather too stolid in the first act. However, with far more to do in the second half of the opera, and a greater physical agility, we understood why he is a Tony Award winner for best actor in South Pacific. James Egglestong brings his charm and light lyrical tenor to the role of Lensky the poet, Sian Pendry’s beautiful Mezzo is in full flight as the wilful Olga, Tatyana’s younger sister, and Jacqui Dark (a marvellous comic nurse) and Domenica Matthews (Madame Larina) remind us again how lucky we are to have such voices in Opera Australia. The comic charisma of Kanen Breen was captivating in the cameo role of M’Sieur Triquet; and Adrian Tamburini is
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
impressive as Zaretsky. The astonishing Bass of Daniel Sumegi seals the stamp of excellence. The chorus showed yet again why it is so highly regarded on the world stage, and brilliant French conductor Guillaume Tourniaire proved himself a star in his own right. Eugene Onegin is bittersweet but totally satisfying. Coral Drouyn Rigoletto Opera by Giuseppi Verdi. Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, after Victor Hugo’s play Le Roi s’amuse. Opera Q. Lyrics Theatre, QPAC. Mar 15-29. THERE was some fine singing on display in Opera Q’s new very grand production of Verdi’s 150-year old Rigoletto, which has been updated in director Lindy Hume’s concept to Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy. Vocal honours of the night went to Elena Xanthoudakis, as Gilda. Expressively sung, hers was a beautifully controlled performance which even had her adding lustre to the score’s famous soprano aria ‘Caro nome’. Jud Arthur was a brilliant Sparafucile delineating the part with menace and violence, helped by his street-thug dress with hoodee and tatts, while Dimity Shepherd’s Maddalena was a perfect sister in crime. The other standout vocal was Andrew Collis as Monterone. Although the character’s on-stage appearances were brief, it was powerful and memorable. Rosario La Spina, making his first appearance with Opera Q as the Duke of Mantua, scored with a vigorous and audience-pleasing version of the opera’s most popular aria ‘La donna mobile’, whilst Rigoletto veteran Michael Lewis was at times compelling in the title role and rose spectacularly to the occasion in the Act 3 quartet ‘Bella figlia dell’amore”. The Opera Queensland Chorus looked stylish with the girls especially sexy and lascivious in the party scenes, whilst the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (who could probably play this score in their sleep) delivered a performance with gusto under maestro Johannes Fritzsch. Peter Pinne
Games of Love and Chance Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University. Mar 29. VICTORIAN Opera opened their 2014 season with a concert at Monash University. Apart from being an undoubted triumph, it highlighted the gulf between the former VSO and VO. While the VSO concentrated on spectacular performances of the major operatic works, which eventually killed it, VO performs less popular works, therefore not competing with Opera Australia. For a concert like this they could have employed one of the professional orchestras, but instead formed a partnership with Monash University and utilised the Monash Academy Orchestra. This meant we had almost a hundred musicians on stage, able to really generate the power required for the prelude from Die Meistersinger. Under the firm hand of artistic director Richard Mills, they then accompanied a Mozart quintet from The Magic Flute, scaling down appropriately. What a marvellous experience for these music students and they acquitted themselves so well. Richard was also a congenial host. Another arm of VO is their training program, a collaboration with Melbourne University Conservatorium. Here six singers and a repetiteur not only get training at the University and through VO, but also gain experience with the opera company. They were all on show here, mainly in well-balanced ensembles. I was particularly impressed with mezzo Elizabeth Lewis and baritones Matthew Tng and Nathan Lay. The program also featured graduates of the Masters program, Olivia Cranwell, Carlos Barcenas and Jeremy Kleeman, who showed the benefit of the training they’d received. Olivia’s aria from the early twentieth century Australian opera Stella by Marshall-Hall was a revelation. Guests included the magnificent mezzo Roxanne Hislop and Australian legend, soprano Lisa Gasteen. The large audience was enraptured throughout and under no doubt that their tax-payer dollars were being well spent. Graham Ford
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stage_whispers Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stagewhispers Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 97
complications that follow make for some funny reading and even funnier dramatisation. All four actors work incredibly hard in a very demanding and extremely energetic performance, which they seem to enjoy immensely. The songs are fast and funny, the choreography simple but amusingly effective. James Browne’s set works effectively in its simplicity, with a bit of a ‘wow’ moment when the shearing shed becomes Shaun’s salon. Carol Wimmer
Pete the Sheep. Photo: Heidrun Lohr.
Pinocchio Created by Rosemary Myers with writer Julianne O’Brien. STC / Windmill Theatre / STCSA. Director: Rosemary Myers. Playhouse Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Apr 11 – May 4. THE much loved, much reworked 1882 adventures of Pinocchio, that Pete the Sheep naughty, fib-telling wooden puppet, gets a mainstage Adapted by Eva De Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Easter holiday season at the Playhouse. Parents, beware Eldridge from Jackie French’s book, illustrated by Bruce this is not your regular, cozy, one-act theatre treat for ‘kids Whatley. Composer / lyrist: Phillip Scott. Monkey Baa of all ages’. This is a full-length, high-volume update, Theatre Company. Darling Quarter Theatre, Sydney. Mar 29 ‘recommended for ages 7+’, but likely to be best – Apr 24, then touring. appreciated by sophisticated teens. HOW important it is that companies such as Monkey Though there are pantomime moments and some Baa continue to make great theatre for kids. Their newest eagerly-accepted audience participation, younger children production is a musical adaptation of the book by Jackie will be baffled when our willful hero’s quest for personal French and Bruce Whatley with foot-tapping music and development leads him to stardom in the evil Stromboli’s funny lyrics created by the multi-talented Phil Scott. Add to television reality show. It’s a lengthy, rambling tale without this the experienced and comedic imagination of Jonathan an obvious take-home ‘message’, not to my young Biggins as director, and you can predict that there will be companions, anyway. good theatre. The characters – the shearers, the sheepdogs and the sheep – are vividly brought to life by Andrew James, Nate Jobe, Todd Keys and Jeff Teale. In Biggins’ words “… we’ve been blessed with an energetic and multi-talented cast who can switch from shearer to sheep to sheepdog with only the change of a hat.” In doing so, they all work incredibly hard and fast. In the shearing shed, old hands Ratso, Big Bob and Bungo and their sheepdogs (Tiny, Brute and Fang) are joined by newcomer Shaun, accompanied by Pete, his sheep sheep, who speaks politely to the sheep rather than harassing them. Shaun is also a pretty radical shearer and when the sheep refuse to work for the sheepdogs, Shaun is ousted from the shed. At Pete’s suggestion, he sets up a salon in town and the
Stage Whispers Books
Visit our on-line book shop for back issues and stage craft books
98 Stage Whispers
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
What is certain, however, is the brilliance of the design and presentation of the show. After seasons in Adelaide and Melbourne, Rosemary Myers’ production is smoothly terrific, on a merrily revolving set by Jonathon Oxlade that acts as the screen for video projections of the highest quality by Chris More. More’s bright, unsettling concepts keep the action moving - from puppet-maker Geppetto’s urban workshop to landscapes and seascapes of real beauty and creepiness. The hard-working cast of eight is led by Nathan O’Keefe as an appealing Pinocchio. All tackle the rock-based songs of Jethro Woodward with a will, though his lyrics are too often lost in the sound mix. Frank Hatherley Panic Group developed. Open Cage Ensemble. 48 Watt, Newcastle. Apr 3-12. THERE was an amusing but telling scene in Panic that had two boys fighting each other while wearing protective cages on their heads, arms and other parts of their bodies. It showed the anxiety and fear experienced by many young people and their belief that they need to keep their problems caged up. This production was aimed at encouraging people to talk about their personal problems and in that way hopefully resolve them so they can lead happier and more productive lives. Director Erika Gelzinnis, a theatre performer and educator who has had her own low points as well as observing those of young people she came into contact with, drew on the experiences of more than 50 people in putting together Panic. A work-in-progress staging of Panic at last year’s Newcastle This is Not Art Festival led to audience members sharing their problems, with this 60-minute final version including 22 actors aged mainly 12 to 18 presenting themed sequences that often brought together song, instrumental music, dance and circus-style athleticism. School traumas, including bullying, exclusion from groups and difficulties in focusing on studies and preparing for examinations, were prominent in the early stages. The subsequent look at life beyond school, with unkind remarks and actions in sport and social activities, struck a nerve among adult audience members. And issues such as having to cope with a parent leaving home and family, and an aged relative declining in health and mental capacity, also drew a strong emotional response. A very effective sequence had people talking about the dreams that haunt them while they sleep, with the actors moving around the large stage setting that incorporated platforms, stairs, ladders, timber beams, rugs and an open window, with a striped rocking horse among the props. And the musical team provided numbers ranging from a drum duel to an optimistic final song, When I grow up, I wanna be, performed by composer Cosmo Gelzinnis and the whole cast. Ken Longworth
PERFORMING ARTS MAGAZINE MAY/JUNE 2014. VOLUME 23, NUMBER 3 ABN 71 129 358 710 ISSN 1321 5965
All correspondence to: The Editor, Stage Whispers, P.O. Box 2274, Rose Bay North 2030, New South Wales. Telephone/Fax: (03) 9758 4522 Advertising: email@example.com Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org PRINTED BY: Spotpress Pty Ltd, 24-26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville, 2204 PUBLISHED BY: Stage Whispers PRE-PRESS PRODUCTION & DESIGN BY: PJTonline Solutions, email: email@example.com DISTRIBUTED BY: Gordon & Gotch, 25-37 Huntingdale Road, Burwood, 3125 DEADLINES For inclusion in the next edition, please submit articles, company notes and advertisements to Stage Whispers by June 3rd, 2014. SUBSCRIPTION Prices are $39.50 for 6 editions in Australia and $60AUD elsewhere. Overseas Surface Mail (Airmail by special arrangement). Overseas subscribers please send bank draft in Australian currency. Maximum suggested retail is $6.95 including GST. Address of all subscription correspondence to above address. When moving, advise us immediately of your old and new address in order to avoid lost or delayed copies. FREELANCE CONTRIBUTORS Are welcomed by this magazine and all articles should be addressed to Stage Whispers at the above address. The Publisher accepts no responsibility for unsolicited material. Black and white or colour photographs are suitable for production. DISCLAIMER All expressions of opinion in Stage Whispers are published on the basis that they reflect the personal opinion of the authors and as such are not to be taken as expressing the official opinion of The Publishers unless expressly so stated. Stage Whispers accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any opinion or information contained in this magazine. LIMITED BACK COPIES AVAILABLE ADVERTISERS We accept no responsibility for material submitted that does not comply with the Trade Practices Act. CAST & CREW Editor: Neil Litchfield 0438 938 064 Sub-editor: David Spicer Advertising: Angela Thompson 03 9758 4522 Digital production: Phillip Tyson 0414 781 008 Contributors: Merlene Abbott, Cathy Bannister, Rod Bertram, Jason Bovaird, Ken Cotterill, Ray Dickson, Coral Drouyn, Graham Ford, Greg Ginger, Peter Gotting, Frank Hatherley, John P. Harvey, Shirley Jensen, Steve Lawrence, Neil Litchfield, Ken Longworth, Rachel McGrath-Kerr, Jay McKee, Roger McKenzie, Dean Matthews, Benjamin Orchard, Alex Paige, Peter Pinne, Martin Portus, Lesley Reed, Kimberley Shaw, David Spicer, Anthony Vawser, Geoffrey Williams, Carol Wimmer and Maryann Wright.
Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
Stage Whispers 99
Meeting A Stage Legend We were not so much part of an audience - more a congregation to worship at her feet. Bernadette Peters shimmered and sparked onto the stage. She flirted and flitted those long red juicy curls, still impossibly attractive for the age at which Wikipedia dobs her in, but which a gentleman would not publish. The sermon was musical theatre at its most sultry, beautifully wrapped in delicious lighting and musical accompaniment. Performing songs originally written for a man is a trademark. Two of them were a tribute to her late friend and former on-stage partner Peter Allen. The lyrics of one of his hits were tweaked to become. If you were wondering who I am…I’m just a woman… unlike any other woman. But the biggest musical influence on Bernadette Peters is, of course, Stephen Sondheim. She’s starred in many of his classics on Broadway and relished reprising many of the best. There was also a performance of an original song written and composed by Bernadette devoted to the love of her life – her pooch.
Bernadette Peters, David Spicer and Rebecca Spicer
I am wondering if her pet is quite as fluffy as its master. I took my daughter Rebecca who was very nervous about meeting Ms Peters - mainly because she had laryngitis and was terrified of causing an international incident by giving it to her. I warned Ms Peters about this and she graciously allowed this photo as long as Rebecca kept her distance. Saturday Night Fever the Musical I am thrilled that community theatres in Australia and New Zealand will be the first countries in the world to have permission to stage Saturday Night Fever the Musical. It’s based on the iconic 1970’s movie starring John Travolta, created by Adelaide born Robert Stigwood, with music by the Brisbane raised Bee Gees. The first community theatres to stage it will be announced soon. New Zealand Comedies What’s in a name? Well a great deal if you write plays. New Zealand playwright Devon Williamson explained to me that catchy titles are a vital ingredient in his success, when I dropped into his home town of Tauranga, Adding to his stable, listed on the page opposite, is his new release Over Paid, Over Sexed and Over Here. David Spicer
Online extras! Check out this video to see what makes Devon tick. Scan the QR code or visit http://youtu.be/hH9fgMSqYc8 100 Stage Whispers May - June 2014
ORDER YOUR MUSICAL AND DRAMA CATALOGUE
Apply now to stage Saturday Night Fever the musical in your local community. Featuring the timeless music of the Bee Gees, based on the movie which made John Travolta a superstar. Start spinning your Disco Ball! Visit www.davidspicer.com.au to read scripts, listen to music and see show videos. Order catalogue email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone/Fax 02 9371 8458. Write to PO Box 2280 Rose Bay North NSW 2030
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 1