8 In this issue
Greening Jemma ............................................................................. 8 Backstage at Wicked as Jemma Rix transforms into Elphaba Immersive Theatre ......................................................................... 14 When audiences become actors Once ............................................................................................. 16 Meet Australia’s ‘Guy’ and ‘Girl’ in the hit musical
Extreme Design ............................................................................. 18 Dust storms on stage and theatres turned back to front Small Musicals Take Centre Stage .................................................. 20 Helpmann Awards 2014................................................................ 22 J.C. Williamson Reunion ................................................................ 24 Remembering a very different kind of Show Business
Curtain Call Awards ....................................................................... 34 Ten years of Adelaide’s unique theatrical awards Performing Arts Course Guide ....................................................... 37 Tertiary Performing Arts training across Australia and New Zealand How Actors Make Ends Meet......................................................... 38 Kids Star In Opera Tour ............................................................... 102 Local choirs join the stars in Opera Australia’s Magic Flute tour
Regular Features Stage Briefs
Stage On Disc
Stage To Page
Amateur Stage Briefs
On Stage - What’s On
Schools On Stage
Choosing A Show
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74 4 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
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Editorial Dear theatre-goers and theatre-doers, I get a strong sense of déjà vu each time our September / October edition rolls around.
Producer John Frost, recognised twice at the Helpmanns, with the JC Williamson Award and Best Musical for The King and I.
Preparing a magazine of special interest for performing arts teachers and students, happy memories flood back of my years as a high school Drama teacher and - more particularly - a director of school musicals. Welcome, if you’re a teacher or student in one of the 2000 schools across Australia and New Zealand receiving a complimentary copy of this edition. I hope you enjoy our Performing Arts Course Guide, beginning on page 37. Our full online directory to Performing Arts courses will be available in mid September at www.stagewhispers.com.au/training Our Schools on Stage section features news and photos of a number of school productions. I’d love to hear about your production and include it in a future edition or online in our schools section. We haven’t forgotten our regular readers in this bumper edition though. As well as all of our regular features, we’ve gone backstage with Jemma Rix as she gets green for Wicked; met the leads in the Australian premiere of Once; checked out the international rise of ‘Immersive Theatre’; stepped back in time to the golden age of JC Williamson musicals and more. With our professional companies announcing their 2015 seasons, I look forward to our roundup of next year’s hot tickets in our November / December edition. As I write, we’ve just reached a new social media milestone. We're thrilled that 9,500 theatrelovers and thespians like the Stage Whispers’ Facebook page. Yours in Theatre,
Neil Litchfield Editor
Cover image: Before each performance of Wicked, it takes Jemma Rix nearly an hour in make-up to transform completely into Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of The West. Read Neil Litchfield’s interview with Jemma on page 8. Photo: James Terry. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 5
Finalists for the 2014 Rob Guest Endowment Award, Ben Bennett, Karla Tonkich (Grease), Andrew Cook (Strictly Ballroom), Joshua Robson (Les MisĂŠrables) and Angela Scundi (The Rocky Horror Show). Photo: Kurt Sneddon. Inset: Sixth finalist Monica Swayne, who had to fly back to Melbourne for a Wicked performance before the photoshoot. They will perform at a Gala Concert on Monday 13 October at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, where the judging panel will announce the 2014 winner.
Michael Falzon and Bobby Fox appear in Painted From Memory: The Music of Bacharach and Costello at Sydneyâ€™s City Recital Hall on 24 September. Taking its name from the Bacharach and Costello album, Painted From Memory, Michael Falzon, Bobby Fox and special guests perform a unique reimagining of this classic album along with other classic hits. Bookings 8256 2222 or www.cityrecitalhall.com. 6 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
In July, for the first time in five years, Melbourne had a “full house”, hosting a major musical theatre production in every heritage theatre in the city. To commemorate the occasion of the four major musicals playing simultaneously in Melbourne, the cast of each of the productions Les Misérables (Her Majesty’s Theatre), The Rocky Horror Show (Comedy Theatre), Wicked (Regent Theatre) and The King and I (Princess Theatre) assembled, in full costume, on the steps of Parliament House on July 5, 2014 for a historic photographic record.
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Jemma Rix as Wicked’s Elphaba. All photos: James Terry.
Online extras! Watch Jemma transform into Elphaba by scanning the QR code or visiting http://youtu.be/lbNeszL122M 8 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Jemma Rix has been playing Elphaba in Wicked since 2008. That’s six years of defying gravity, covered in green makeup. When Jemma spoke to Neil Litchfield, he began by asking how she keeps her performance fresh after so long, and how she copes with the make up. “The green is difficult. It’s a MAC makeup, so it’s good make-up for the skin; it’s not like paint or anything like that. My skin does get very sensitive, because there’s a lot of scrubbing to get it off, and I have to do it every day, and twice on Sundays. I never get it all off. I’ve always got this tinge of green on my hands, on my face, and in my hairline as well. It’s the tricky part of the job, but it’s such a cool role that you feel proud at the same time that you have the opportunity to play the Wicked Witch of the West. “Keeping it fresh is definitely something that is difficult, but having a really strong company and cast really does help with delivering a truthful performance every night. They’re all very open and free; they’ll deliver a line differently, so my reply will be a little bit different, though it’s something that the audience won’t feel. “I meditate a little bit, so when I’m on stage I try to be 100% Elphaba. I try not to let any other thoughts creep into my head. It’s hard to do, but it means that you are focused and in that moment, so by the end you’ve delivered 100% of the performance as Elphaba. That’s been my little trick. “Wicked is such an amazing musical, with a strong script and beautiful music, so I always feel challenged, and I’m always trying to be better. That really helps with doing it for such a long time.” The flying in Defying Gravity, however, is something that Jemma never tires of. “Defying Gravity is quite vocally challenging. You’re concentrating so much on singing that you don’t even feel the flying part. “When we’ve teched it in, and I haven’t sung and we’ve just gone up, it’s actually more scary because you’re concentrating on the levitation. But when you’re singing, you’re so
distracted at that point that you actually don’t notice it. “But you never get sick of it. When I finish that end note and the curtain comes down, and the lights go black, the response from the audience is amazing. You can never get sick of that feeling that they’ve had a wonderful time.” Jemma mentioned the sensitivity of her skin, so I was interested to know how she’s managed this aspect for these past six years. “Because my skin is so sensitive I have to use everything non-perfume, super-hydration, no chemicals or anything like that. Even when I’ve tried to use something natural with essential oils in it, my skin will just flare up. I have to be very, very careful, so when I remove the make-up I use Sorbolene cream, which is a very, very mild cleanser. Obviously it’s a moisturizer, but when you add water it turns into a cleansing agent. I use it as a barrier as well, before the green goes on. So that helps because the green doesn’t penetrate all the way through, but also when I jump in the shower after the show it comes off a bit easier. So my process is actually less-is-more.” So what ‘s involved in the nightly the make-up process, which transforms Jemma into Elphaba, as seen through the photographs (by James Terry) which accompany this article? “I have a make-up artist, Kelly Ritchie, who looks after me. I jump in the chair and I put on the Sorbolene.
We also put my hair in pin curls, because I have a wig that goes on as Elphaba. “Lucy (Durack) also comes in and does her pin curls in my room, and we have a catch up. We’re friends off stage as well as on. That really helps and gives value to the show and the friendship onstage as well. “I put on my moisturiser, and then a foundation, and that’s sort of my barrier. Then Kelly has the MAC makeup and big wide brush. She adds water to the make-up and starts lightly putting it on my face. As she’s doing that I also do my own hands, to midway up my arms, using a sponge. I have to paint my nails green as well. It’s a water based make-up, so its actually quite light, so even though the colour is quite dramatic, bright and vibrant, because it’s been diluted with water, it’s actually quite light on the skin, and almost feels like just a normal foundation. “What sets the make-up, once you’ve done the green, is another oilbased green. On stage obviously I get quite hot and sweaty, and so that holds the green on better. “Once you’ve done that we powder. Powder is the key for Elphaba to stay green. Otherwise it would just melt off. That sets the make-up together. I powder my hands and Kelly powders my face. Once the green is on, the procedure of putting the make -up on is relatively natural. (Continued on page 10) www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 9
“We have little spots in the show where we have to be touched up, so if “Elphaba is a schoolgirl, so the we’re sweating, Kelly will have a check make-up for Act 1, in particular, is over my face and make sure that the quite light, just some shading of the green is at full coverage. It depends cheeks and some soft detail around the where we are. In Melbourne, where we eyes, because she’s meant to look are at the moment, it’s quite cold, so quite young and natural at that point. you don’t get as sweaty as we got in “In Act 2 Kelly deepens the eyes, Manila, for instance.” deepens the cheeks, and darkens the Are there moments of the make-up eyebrows, so I look older and a little bit process which Jemma dreads? more mature. I retouch my hands as “The thing I don’t like is having had well, because at that point I’ve touched a shower after the show, and still a lot of things and the green starts to being a little bit green. It’s in my wear off. It does pretty well, but it hairline all the time, so when I get up does still come off, so I touch it up, in the morning and I look at pillow it’s and I darken my lips as well, with got this green tinge. I try so hard to black. I wear black lipstick in Act 2. get it off, but I always miss bits (Continued from page 9)
10 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
particularly in the hair, and that’s just there in case the wig falls back so there’s green there as well, and that’s always a little bit gross.” Does she end up ingesting any of the green make-up? “Sometimes if I’m talking, and Kelly’s got the big paint brush, it does definitely hit the tongue, but I think that the thing that Kelly and I both definitely ingest the most is actually the powder, because that’s obviously in the air. When we leave each theatre there’s a nice thick formation of powdered shelves and desks.” Does the make-up help Jemma establish the character of Elphaba each night?
“When the make-up is done, I don’t feel quite Elphaba yet. For me it’s definitely just before I go out. I’m all dressed in my Shiz uniform, I’ve got my boots and my glasses on, and it’s actually when I pick up the suitcase and I’m on the stage about to go out that I’m really in body as Elphaba, and feel 100% her. That’s my moment where I’m at full focus. When the green’s done, I’m not ready, or I might not have the wig on yet, so when I’m in that full outfit, and my feet are on that stage I really do feel like Elphaba then.” I wondered what insights Jemma has gained into the role over the years, since she first played Elphaba in 2008. “When I first started I was new to the actual musical theatre world, so I was learning on the job, and I learnt from watching Amanda Harrison, so I just watched and I learned; I wrote, and listened, and did all those things. Then once I took over it was my Elphaba and my experiences. “I was 23 when I first started, and I’m now 29, and my Elphaba has definitely evolved. It’s not just being
comfortable with the role, but growing as a human being outside work as well, and being able to think a little bit more maturely about Elphaba. Life experiences can deepen how you respond to different words and certain lyrics, and how you feel about different things, because you might have experienced them in life, whereas before I hadn’t. Wicked flies into Brisbane from February 2015, following its Sydney season, which begins in September. “I definitely grow every day, and that’s why I’m sticking at it. I really do feel that if I look at how I’ve evolved from the Elphaba back in 2008 to the Elphaba now, it’s a completely different character, vocally and emotionally. She’s a lot more detailed and a lot stronger. That’s developed because Elphaba is a bit older and has had some of those things happen to her. She’s still fighting, but she’s tired and exhausted and she’s giving up in ‘No Good Deed’. I feel I can add more
to that now than I could when I was a little bit younger. That’s just got to do with age and experience. I feel like I’m still learning and still getting better, and I think I’ll feel like that till my last show, for sure. “What makes Wicked so successful is that everyone can relate to the show and the characters in some way. With Elphaba, all she’s trying to do is good, and she just keeps getting things turned against her, no matter what she does, and it almost makes it worse; every time she tries a little harder it gets even worse for her. Things get misconstrued, and everything is just against her. But she keeps that strength, and keeps trying to move forward and deal with what she’s been given. “I can relate to that. Life is tricky sometimes, and you have hardships and things that happen, but you’ve got to keep moving forward. “And the younger Elphaba, when she’s being picked on at school. I mean we’ve all been picked on at some point, so that moment in the Ozdust (Continued on page 12)
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off each other, and I think the audience really felt that. Ballroom when she’s got that hat on, “That’s the brilliant thing with live and all the kids are laughing - it’s theatre; yes, it’s the same thing, but horrible, and I can go straight back to it’s not. You still get such a different a time at primary or high school when I buzz every night; every show is can relate to Elphaba, that I can bring different because every audience is up from my own life.” different. ‘No Good Deed’ also felt When it comes to a favourite really good last night, but it changes moment in Wicked, even after so many for me all the time, because I’m always performances, Jemma finds it different every day. Some things will fit impossible pin down one definitive well and I feel really connected.” answer. Those of us who follow Wicked on “It changes every night. Lucy and I Facebook and YouTube were quite have so much fun in the cat fight stunned by the rock star scenes at the scene, and last night the audience stage door on the closing night of made this response that they never Wicked in Manila. Just what was that made before - they all went ‘Oooh’ like? and Lucy and I almost lost it because it “It was insane. We felt like we were really took us by surprise. We were really, really famous, like Katy Perry or having a lot of fun, delivering the lines any of those people feel any day, but with little bit more sass, and playing for us it was insane. You can’t get the (Continued from page 11)
12 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
smile off my face even thinking about it now. “They just loved the show, and from the moment that we did publicity there, which was before Wicked had technically arrived, the response had just been such excitement, and so much love. I can’t put into words how that really affects you. You’re bringing this show to these people, and they’re so appreciative. They were so kind and so loving. “Every show there was just magic. They were so responsive; they loved everything about the show. You appreciate that as a performer because you get so much back. People don’t realize how much you actually get from an audience, and we just felt that so much. It was a really wonderful time for us.”
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Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston in Macbeth. Photo: Johan Persson.
Here Lies Love
When Audiences Become Actors Many of us retain an ingrained fondness for sitting comfortably in the dark, watching a beautifully lit and carefully manipulated story unfold on the other side of a fourth wall. Frank Hatherley reports that audiences should prepare themselves to be shaken up by a new wave of Immersive Theatre where dancing, roaming and even sleeping is part of the experience.
performance with audio-visual technology and art installations. Their venues have included a Moscow factory, a Kuala Lumpur hotel and, in 2008, the old Treasury building in Perth, Western Australia. Some groups avoid bricks and mortar altogether. In London, Fruit of the Apocalypse presents The Surrealist Taxi several times daily... in a taxi. Up to 3 passengers/participants at a time can book through their website. A trip/ Two UK theatre companies have lead the way into Immersive Theatre. event begins when your driver deals 5 Punchdrunk, formed in 2000, cards from “a surrealist deck of cards”. This determines the direction of your encourages audience members to journey and the distance you’ll travel. roam their productions and their “The performance,” their website performance spaces as they wish. states, “has been running continuously Their version of Macbeth, entitled Sleep No More, was first performed in since 1st July 2010.” New York companies specialising in London in a disused Victorian school. Audience members “explore the world Immersive Theatre include Third Rail Projects, whose projects include Then of the production in their own time, choosing for themselves what to watch She Fell, “combining a hospital ward, and where to go”. the writings of Lewis Carroll, and just Directors Felix Barrett and Maxine 15 audience members per show”. Speakeasy Dollhouse features a Doyle said in a program note that ‘Roaring Twenties’ event, The Bloody “exploring the space individually, the Beginnings, in a real off-Broadway audience is given the opportunity to Speakeasy. “Guests” (i.e. paying both act in and direct their own film; to revisit, to edit and to indulge customers) are assigned names and themselves as voyeurs”. roles to play, and are encouraged to In America Sleep No More played in dress and explore appropriately. “Unlocked doors or revolving all 44 rooms of the four storeys of a bookshelves should be entered,” goes deserted school in Massachusetts. The all-lower-case dreamthinkspeak the website advice. “Be nosy and talk company, based in Brighton, England, to strangers.” has toured widely, weaving live 14 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
And then there’s Jim Findlay’s Dream of the Red Chamber, which is subtitled a performance for a sleeping audience. You’ve guessed it: as the blurb explains, this “durational performance installation” invites its audience “to take an immersive journey... while they fall in and out of sleep”. This show/installation/sleepover played last May at the very heart of Broadway, in the famous Brill Building, and is “now available for touring”. All these far-from-mainstream events could have been recently dismissed by hard-hearted Show Biz impresarios as merely ‘experimental’. But ever-increasing audiences have caught the vibe, given it a try and recommended it to their friends. Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth was a huge 2014 New York success when it played immersively at the historic Park Avenue Armory. Audiences found themselves in the thick of blood, sweat and witchery in the vast drill hall. But perhaps the clincher has been the off-Broadway triumph of Here Lies Love. Written by David Byrne (of the great New York rock band Talking Heads) and English musician and record producer Fatboy Slim, the musical portrays the rise and fall of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Its off-Broadway run at the transformed Public Theatre has been
extended four times and an October transfer to London’s National Theatre will soon happen before the inevitable Broadway season. And rumours are rife that Australia won’t have to wait very long for a local production of this ultra-immersive 90minute show. One of its leading producers is Sydney based Rodney Rigby. The Public Theatre is transformed into a nightclub/danceclub, “a wholly immersive 360-degree scenic and video environment”. The audience stands
and moves with the actors throughout. Dancing is virtually obligatory: the show’s ensemble instructs you in the authentic Manilla dance steps. You become crowds at election rallies and you even get to vote. As the modular setting spins, cracks open and reconfigures, so ushers in neon-pink jumpsuits herd you into new positions. Ruthie Ann Miles has had a major success as the shoe-loving, non-stopdancing Imelda Marcos. She told Playbill that their immersive audiences nightly become part of the cast.
‘Immersive’ has become the New Big Thing. The more immersive your smartphone/tablet/desktop experience, the better. Art shows are immersive, games are immersive, so is internet shopping. Even school projects are immersive. The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that 75 11-year-old girls from a local school had raced through Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, each one dressed as Alice. They were studying Lewis Carroll. “When something is immersive like this,” said the school principal of the experience, “you have a deep engagement which can be highly emotional and very personal.” And no doubt Total Immersion is coming: just add headsets, ‘feedback’ gloves, specialised contact glasses, surround sound, cranial implants... As digital interactivity expanded in the 21st century, so did theatrical presentation reach out in new and exciting directions. We used to call it ‘experimental theatre’. I’m talking about the late 1960s and the 70s, when London, New York, Berlin - and soon Sydney and Melbourne - had groups of longhaired actors and directors breaking the long-established ‘rules’. The proscenium arch was usually
“The audience is directly in front of you, behind you, beside you, above you,” she said. “They're everywhere. I can't make it immersive for just half the audience. If this person's not looking at you, then that person over there is. “Someone is always holding you accountable to being completely open and available in this immersive experience.” As soon as suitable venues are found in Australia expect to see Here Lies Love downunder.
the first thing to go. There I was - 1969, England, Sheffield, The Little Theatre - part of the keen team performing our show, Pictures. No sets, no script, no seats for the audience. We formed them into groups, handed out pictures, improvised stories and encouraged them to act. Every show was utterly unpredictable. Who knew that we had invented Immersive Theatre? But of course we hadn’t. In Paris 30 years before, I later learned, there had been Antonin Artaud and his ‘Theatre of Cruelty’. He considered theatres with their proscenium arches, and playwrights with their scripts, as "a hindrance to the magic of genuine ritual”. Artaud put the audience in the midst of his productions so, he wrote, they would be “engulfed and physically affected by it”. Since the 60s, experimental theatre came in many guises, often without the framing of any sort of proscenium arch. Plays happened on thrust stages, transverse stages, in the round or, as ‘site-specific presentations’, just about anywhere. After video/digital games had shown the way, hip theatre audiences were soon happy to interact with stories and actors. It didn’t seem so unusual anymore. Audience members who like to be left alone will have to catch up. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 15
Once In A Lifetime Coral Drouyn talks to two special people about the long anticipated Australian production of Once. They sat together on the park bench in Ballarat, in the watery sunlight of a Victorian winter. They had only met a few days before, and were strangers to the city; yet they were drawn together by the future and the new intimacy that connected them….just a Guy, and a Girl…… No, I’m not writing a romance novel, though I could be. Everything about Once is romantic …the history, the film, the music and, most importantly, the connection between its two main characters…called simply Guy and Girl. The connection between a street musician and the girl who captivates him and becomes his muse is inspirational and unashamedly romantic. There can be few who haven’t heard the story of how writer/director John Carney and Glen Hansard, both Dublin musicians, decided to make a film that they could sell on DVD at their pub gigs. They simply based it roughly on Glen’s busking experiences and his meeting with Markéta Irglová on the streets of Dublin. It was never meant to be anything “special”, but the inner truth and simplicity of the story touched people’s hearts and the film was a smash across the world, with Glen and Markéta falling in love. Nominated for a myriad of awards, the pair succeeded in picking up the Oscar for best song for “Falling Slowly”. Glen quips how he gave his mother the Oscar to hold that night while he did the press circuit, and he hasn’t seen it since. No doubt she has it hidden away somewhere safe. That might have been the end of Once, but remember that all great fairy stories start with “Once” Upon A Time…. and this deeply personal story is the stuff that dreams are made of. With a new script by brilliant Irish playwright Enda Walsh, and a year of workshopping, Once the musical made it to Broadway; a simple show where the musicians are not in the pit but on 16 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
but we were only in Melbourne for a couple of days and I didn’t get much chance to look around. It’s very English to me, reminds me a lot of London the stage, but one built on the truth of which is home these days - so I actually the original relationship. feel very comfortable here. I would It swept all before it, conquering the probably find it harder to relax in harsh Broadway critics, receiving 11 Sydney. And Maddi doesn’t know Tony nominations and winning 8 of Melbourne well either.” Tom started out them. It touched the heart of London’s West End audiences, and believing he might be in September last year it was the next Rock God. announced that it would come to “You know how it Melbourne, courtesy of John Frost and Melbourne Theatre Company… and that brings us to the young couple on the bench, taking a break after some promotional “busking” on the Ballarat streets. Tom Parsons is English, hailing from Bristol on the west coast, Madeleine Jones is a Sydneysider, and their first meeting was indeed just a few days before. Not knowing anyone in Melbourne, and not even having met the rest of the cast (I spoke to them just a few days before rehearsals started), they spent most of their time between interviews hanging out together, drinking copious amounts of coffee and getting to know each other. “It’s really been a plus,” Madeleine says, “Because Glen and Markéta started out as strangers and Tom and I have had some one-on-one time together instead of meeting with the whole cast on the first day of rehearsals. I feel like that process of finding a connection during the first week of rehearsals has already been broken down. We have a head start.” Once. Photo: Jeff Busby. Tom agrees. “I really didn’t know a soul,” he says. “I’ve Online extras! been to Australia Check out the cast of Once during their once, in the arena costume photo shoot. Scan or visit version of Jesus http://youtu.be/pCOZ412U-F4 Christ Superstar,
is when you’re in High School and you can play guitar; you’re always in a band. After a while the band breaks up and you form another one, and you don’t think about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. You’re having too much fun.” But when school finished, Tom found himself at 18 “for whatever cliched reason” working in a shop, one of The Gap chain. “I hated it,” he says. “Who wouldn’t? And I realised there was no way I could spend my working life in a shop or an office, even if I barely made a living outside of that it didn’t matter. I just didn’t fit in that ‘round hole’. “Then another ‘square peg’ friend of mine told me he was auditioning for the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, and why didn’t I come along and try out. Well it was a trip to London and I had nothing to lose, and I was blown away when I actually got in. And I thought to myself, I don’t have to be a superstar. If I can make a living and pay my bills, I’ll be happy.” It paid dividends. Tom did some regional theatre before landing the
original JCS arena tour and a part in the West End production of Avenue Q. His new band TRIA also keeps him busy, but even when he saw the film of Once he thought, “Wow…that’s me, I could play that part.” Madeleine had strong family support when she said she wanted to be an actress. “Music was a part of growing up; we all played something and my instrument was piano. I took it very seriously up until I was about 12, practising every day, and I did a lot of singing in high school, but then I became more aware of acting and I knew I had to try. I was so lucky to get into ACA - The Actors Centre - in Sydney. They are the best for drama and they also have intensive courses in Musical Theatre and singing, so I took the singing course as well as drama. It was just superb training.” But training and talent don’t always guarantee work. Despite some interesting roles which earned her critical acclaim, Maddi trod the well worn path of so many talented actors. “Waitressing, working in a shop, waiting for auditions, and then for the
phone to ring. I graduated in 2009 and I can honestly say that, in the last five years, this year is the only one in which I have been able to support myself just on my acting work. It’s not for the faint -hearted. You have to keep believing this is what you were born to do, and you need strong support.” On September 26th all that will change, for a little while at least. So how do these two talented people feel about the biggest challenge they have faced so far? “Terrified,” says Maddi. ”My piano playing is rusty and so I am practising every day. This is the biggest role I have had so far, and I’m so excited…but yes, the terror is also a part of it.” Tom laughs, “I wouldn’t say I’m terrified, or I might not be able to perform, but there’s a lot of nervous energy to be released, that’s for sure. I’ve played leads before, but this is the pinnacle. Right now, this is a ‘Once in a lifetime’ chance…..” Which brings us full circle…
Once plays at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre from September 26, 2014.
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STC’s Macbeth. Photo: Brett Boardman.
logical connecting thread to when we did use it.” One extraordinary feature was the smoke which blanketed the entire theatre to resemble a thick Scottish “What people don’t know is that fog. tucked away out of view is where 60% “It was more smoke than I have of the lighting rig hangs. ever put on stage,” Schleiper agreed. “All the lights that are above or “In straight theatre 99.9 % of the time you are trying to sneak smoke on as behind the cast become above or in front. quietly and discretely as possible. By “If you sat there and looked at a the time the audience sees it they are theatre we have created in the seeing the end result, not the process auditorium, then that would be of the smoke machine. In this case we completely counter to the idea. very much wanted to declare it and “I bent over backwards to make also not just be atmospheric. We set sure the auditorium was clean and out to obscure the stage for about 12 devoid as it normally is, but there were minutes. a few tricks in there. I had to find Some lighting highlights centred hitherto unknown holes in the around Hugo Weaving as Macbeth. auditorium to install a combination of “The audience watched Hugo dimmable fluorescents and absolutely Weaving’s back, with him standing bog standard Fresnel lamps but small stage centre, looking at that vast ones you could hide. empty space of the auditorium,” “People arrived with an expectation Schleiper said. “I used a ton of that the whole show will consist of backlight at the far back of the theatre. actors clambering over seats. We were It made it look as empty and vast as extremely judicious about not over possible. using it and there was a perfectly “In the series of battle scenes he was swishing his sword. It was to show
Extreme Designs In the east and west, theatre companies have staged productions with incredible challenges. The Sydney Theatre Company staged Macbeth with the audience on the stage facing the auditorium, whilst The Black Swan Theatre premiered Dust - whipping up storm during a 32 scene play. David Spicer investigated the extreme theatrical challenges. Nick Schleiper was Lighting Designer for the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth, which placed the action in the auditorium of the Sydney Theatre and the audience on the stage. “When I was asked if I would need an extra budget for a huge lighting rig in the audience I said that would defeat the purpose of it, as it should feel like a perfectly normal view, just getting a perspective you are not used to,” Nick Schleiper said. 18 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Dust. Photos: Gary Marsh Photography he was completely exhausted, allowing MacDuff to defeat him. I used strobe lighting as a way of collapsing time. It was very simply done by three slow moving lights creating an ever sickening and concentrated strobe pulse.” Will this start a trend of turning theatres back to front? “I wouldn’t recommend not doing it. Only do if there is a damn good reason.” Emily McLean, who directed the World Premiere of Dust for the Black Swan Theatre Company in Perth, explained some of the production’s illusions. “The play was set on one day when Perth was completely enveloped in a dust storm. It had 32 scenes in a 90 minute show. “They ranged from being outdoors during the storm to being in a taxi, another character goes into the water and in all the time. It was powerful…they one scene a woman is enveloped in a were billowing. “For what was basically some rope plague of locusts. “We could not afford traditional and fabric, it was incredibly beautiful. scene changes. They all had to happen It was lit differently. It moved down or in the same space. up depending on how oppressive the “We started with a whole lot of storm was. When it rained it came down and fell. fabric on the floor, that had pick ups “We used no actual dust. If we into the rig. As the play started they rose into the roof of the stage. used real dust it just would have “They became a representation of landed on the floor in five minutes. the dust storm hovering above the set “We used a lot of haze. Two hand held hazers were manipulated by the
actors. It became almost like a ballet with different light capturing it. “For locusts, we had them projected onto large screens. They flew to the back and front of the stage. We thought about using puppets but realised in the vastness of the Heath Ledger stage space it wasn’t working. “For the car scenes we flew down a couple of benches, a steering wheel attached to a music stand and we projected the white line of the road onto the screen. It was very tightly lit. “We also felt there had to be a major transformation during the play. In the beginning there were two different height rostra…they were in the centre. As the play progressed they slowly parted. By the end they were on the wings and we had the wide blank space. “Overall it was exhilarating to read a script where the writer had not let the confines of budget or stage limit what she was doing. She just trusted that the people doing it would have the imagination and ability to deal with what she was writing. She was right our designer Fiona Bruce came up with an incredible design - which included having to axe through a door. A good designer will rise to these challenges.”
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Small Musicals Take Centre Stage
Sweet Charity. Photo: Kurt Sneddon.
The Hayes Theatre Co’s three Helpmann Awards have shone a spotlight on independent musical theatre companies. One of its gurus is Producer/ Writer and Director Neil Gooding. As well as producing The Hatpin, LoveBites and Thank You For Being A Friend, he is known as the writer of Back to the 80’s, the producer of big Pro-am productions in the suburbs and as an investor in more ‘arty’works. *David Spicer reports.
following production of The Drowsy Chaperone, the audience kept coming for a cabaret season, while even a season of a new Australian musical sold 2000 tickets. “We all banded together having done numerous small scale works around Sydney. It was hard work. Audiences didn’t know who was producing them or where to find them. “We felt if there was a home for small musical theatre and cabaret, there was a base audience for that.” Neil Gooding admits that Sydney Success usually comes slowly. Other times it hits like a hurricane. The team had some catching up to do on Melbourne. It has a range of venues which formed the Hayes Theatre in Sydney’s Kings Cross moved into their including Chapel off Chapel, venue in January and opened their first Theatreworks and 45 downstairs which provide similar support for producers. production only a month later. He says the dividend from Melbourne’s They were scrambling to get the venues is a generation of stars and run-down venue ready. Family creatives. members were enlisted to sew the curtains, sand blast the floors and “We thought it would take at least 12 months for people to even know David Campbell and his wife Lisa donated their living room furniture to where we were. That just happened overnight with Sweet Charity.” the foyer. He attributes that “instant” success “We were in there literally painting to the dedication and talent of the when the audience was walking in,” says Neil Gooding, chairman of the artists and creatives in the first season. “That is unique. Now we’ve got Hayes Theatre Co board. options. We can start doing a wider “Three hours later they were range of shows.” walking out and it exploded - Sweet Neil Gooding does not fit the cliché Charity was already selling out.” Word spread that it was the hottest of the struggling artist. He has several ticket in town. It sold out, so did the 20 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
other successful enterprises under his belt. In western Sydney he runs a theatre company called Packemin Productions. Twice a year it stages large cast pro-am musicals in the Riverside Theatre Parramatta. This year they were Annie and Beauty and the Beast. “I make it very clear which roles are paid roles and which are open for unpaid.” He says the cast enjoy rubbing shoulders with, and learning from, the professionals. “Artists like Amanda Muggleton and Wayne Scott-Kermond offer so much to a young cast. I throw everyone in one pot and it works in beautifully. “We are filling a gap in the market to see quite large shows with ticket prices less than $50. It is accessible for young families and we are attracting a lot of first time audience members.” A family tradition is that his two young daughters always appear on stage in one performance in the chorus. Neil Gooding has also tried his hand at less commercial new Australia musicals. Productions of The Hatpin and Breast Wishes were staged initially in Sydney and kicked on to either a
regional tour or community theatre and university theatre seasons. He was able to take these risks thanks to a nice little earner called Back to the 80’s. He wrote the juke-box musical filled with 80’s hits twelve years ago and it still has 100 + productions in schools and community theatres around the world each year. “My producing and directing risks are largely funded by the royalty stream of Back to the 80’s. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do things like The Hatpin without it.” Putting the musical together used his skills as a writer but also drew upon his background Neil Gooding. studying law and accounting. Negotiating with song publishers is a ‘challenge’. Now a decade on he’s written a 90’s show with actor and writer Nicholas Christo. “I said I would never do it. For 15 years people said am I doing the 90’s show. Then I was in the shower and had an idea!” The new work is called Popstars! The 90’s musical. It is not a sequel to Back to the 80’s but has a new storyline based on a Girl Band competing with a Boy Band. As well as music from icons such as The Spice Girls and The Backstreet Boys there are rap songs and some of the best of 90’s rock. “There is always a cycle for the next decade to be far enough in people’s memory to become retro. “There is also the pop culture of what was on television at the time (to draw upon) such as Seinfeld and Friends.” (*Here is a shameless plug by this writer. Popstars! The 90’s Musical and Back to the 80’s are available now at www.davidspicer.com.au)
As if Neil Gooding does not have enough to do, he is also directing a season of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion at the Arts Centre Melbourne in November and has set up a new wing of Packemin Productions during the summer holidays at the Concourse Theatre in Chatswood, for under 21 year olds. He’s also started dabbling in investing in Broadway plays and musicals. Not everything goes swimmingly all the time. Success can bring its own challenges. There has been a little push back against the Hayes Theatre in Sydney in the ‘blogosphere’. There were complaints that Hayes Theatre Co should not have been eligible for the Helpmanns as its actors are in a co-op and not paid award wages. Neil Gooding says, “everyone would love actors to be paid more.” But in a venue with only 110 seats and no Government subsidy this is not possible. The actors were paid a minimum fee and a share of profits. “The Producers are also in the coop, the same as the stage manager and lighting manager.” He says what Australia needs is a small theatre award as is the case in the US, to apply in the small and regional venues. Another hobby-horse of Gooding’s is having some Government funding for musical theatre. Why shouldn’t musical theatre be treated seriously like Opera, Dance and Drama he pleads? But Neil Gooding is conversely a good advertisement against Government funding. Go out and produce something people want to buy tickets to then reap the rewards.
Sydney Hopelessly Devoted by Elise Greig, featuring the music of Olivia NewtonJohn. Aug 26-31, Glen Street Theatre. LoveBites by Peter Rutherford and James Millar. Sept 10 - Oct 5, Hayes Theatre Co. Sondheim on Sondheim. Australian Premiere. Squabbalogic. Oct 1-18, Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. Miracle City by Nick Enright and Max Lambert. Oct 17 - Nov 16, Hayes Theatre. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim. Nov 18 - Dec 20, New Theatre. Beyond Desire by Neil Rutherford and Kieran Drury. World Premiere. Nov 21 - Dec 13. Hayes Theatre Co. The Legend of King O’Malley by Bob Ellis and Michael Boddy. Nov 26 - Dec 13, Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. Blood Brothers by Willy Russell. Feb 2015, Hayes Theatre Co. Man of La Mancha by Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh. Squabbalogic. Feb 25 - Mar 21, 2015. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. Triassic Parq. Australian Premiere. Squabbalogic. June 17 - July 4, 2015, Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. Melbourne Calvin Berger - the Musical by Barry Wyner. Australian Premiere. Sept 10 13. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler High Fidelity - The Musical. Music by Tom Kitt; lyrics by Amanda Green; book by David Lyndsay-Abaire; based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby. Australian Premiere. Sept 11 - 21. Chapel off Chapel. Parade by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry. Sept 17 - 28. 45 Downstairs. Carrie The Musical by Lawrence D Cohen, Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford. Sept 25 - Oct 12. Ghost Light / Moving Light Productions. Chapel Off Chapel. Passion by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Life Like Company. Nov 5 - 8. The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 21
Helpmann Awards 2014 David Spicer reports that Live Performance Australia finally got its act together for the industry’s big night even if audiences are in decline for some of its big ticket events.
All photos: Jim Lee.
Online extras! Check out our full list of winners by scanning the QR code or visiting http://bit.ly/1kWNO0E 22 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
A veteran arts reporter who retired this year quipped that at least she would not have to attend the Helpmann Awards anymore. It was more than ironic that the live entertainment industry often struggled to entertain its audience on its night of nights. But 2014 was different. The tyranny of being on live TV was dropped from the ceremony, so no longer were there pregnant pauses during ad breaks. A transfer from the Sydney Opera House to the Capitol Theatre, a terrific opening (from The Lion King) and closing song (from Les Misérables) and well-timed jokes from MC Jonathan Biggins made the three hours not perhaps whiz by, but at least travel at pace. There were guest appearances from “former Prime Ministers”. “Julia Gillard” said it was great to be appearing at something other than a royal commission. “Paul Keating” looked down at the audience and quipped that half this crowd will soon be filling out 40 job applications a month. Amidst the back-slapping there is some soul searching about where audiences are going. Figures released by Live Entertainment Australia show ticket sales are booming for contemporary concerts. Last year attendances increased by 14 percent and revenue was up by 30 percent thanks also to average ticket prices going up to $110 each. It was a bonanza for the promoters of Pink, who staged 18 shows in Melbourne alone. The Musical Theatre category however declined. Gross
revenue fell from Strictly Ballroom was $203.28 million in 2012 never going to win to $193.39 million in much as it was not 2013. Total attendance popular in the industry dropped by 6.2%. and it is the industry The Theatre category which votes. Eyebrows experienced overall gains were raised, however during the same period. that even Catherine Total attendances Martin was overlooked increased by 15.0%. for best costumes The awards themselves (despite sewing “two were dominated by Sydney million sequins”). and Melbourne companies. The issue which raised Opera Australia picked hackles was that the up six Helpmanns for Neil actors were “working for Online extras! Armfield’s 20 million dollar charity” in Sweet Charity Check out a video of Les Mis from The production of The Ring as Jonathan Biggins put it. Helpmanns. Scan the QR code or visit Cycle and The King and I (co They were a co-op instead http://youtu.be/tJ01NsDrXGo -produced with John Frost) of being paid the award was musical of the year. wage. It’s an issue that needs Heavyweight stars Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh to be sorted out. helped the Sydney Theatre Company dominate the drama But it’s worth noting that two of the Sweet Charity awards. winners were creatives (Best Choreographer Andrew The biggest controversy was over the success of the Hallsworth and Best Director Dean Bryant) and there are no Hayes Theatre Co’s production of Sweet Charity. The award rates for creatives. Sydney company picked up three Helpmanns and must It would also be a little rough for Verity Hunt-Ballard if have gone perilously close to being musical of the year. On she lost a chance to be honoured (as Best Female Actor) a shoestring in a 110 seat theatre, it blitzed Strictly just because she consented to being in a co-op in small Ballroom The Musical with an exponentially larger budget. venue.
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Nancye Hayes, Reg Livermore and Rob McMicking. All photos: Barrye Dickinson.
Remembering A Very Different Kind Of Show Business In our last issue Coral Drouyn revived memories of the halcyon days of Musical Theatre. In this second part she follows up with the personal memories of those who worked in those shows, and how they embraced each other again after 40 years.
them back in his mouth and continued with the number; Jill Perryman’s wardrobe malfunction when coming down a staircase which almost left her in nothing but tights and a bra in front of the audience; the older male singer who was supposed to tip his hat to the leading lady and pulled off his toupee It was a night of personal stories…. at the same time; the chorines who the singer/dancer who, on a big note, snuck out of the theatre to have dates while on tour; the star who stripped spat out his false teeth, pirouetted downstage, caught them and put naked at the top of a waterfall in New
24 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Zealand for all to see; the endless parties with Pounder and her husband, where a blind eye was turned, yet discipline reinstated at the theatre the following day - with Pounder never mentioning the offence; another “denture” mishap…this time with the teeth landing in a female singer’s décolletage; the fines imposed for being even one minute late for the half hour call, or for using an expletive in the dressing room (in one production the “Swearing Jar” had to be emptied several times just for the word “Bloody”); the lighted cigarette dropped down the front of a leotard just as a dancer was going on. They don’t appear in any books, or any history of theatre, but they are part of the memories of those who made their lives in the theatre. It was a time when no-one knew exactly what a “Triple Threat” was (that concept really started with A Chorus Line); when ensemble were called “chorus” and were divided into “singing” and “dancing”; when auditions were “cattle calls”. It was the world of musical theatre in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It was “The Firm” (J. C.
Williamson Ltd) who ruled, and chose the shows, and who got the breaks. But more than anything else, it was legendary choreographer and director “Pounder” (Betty Pounder) who shaped the world of musical theatre for 30 years, and - just a few short months ago - it came to life once more at “The Maj” in Melbourne. Kevin Coxhead is a highly thought of Interior Designer, yet few of his clients would guess that many years ago he donned his tap shoes and mini Tail Suit for Gypsy and other shows at “The Maj”. Even though the years had scattered the friends and colleagues of his early days, Kevin had never forgotten them and stayed in touch with those he could find. One of those people was JCW exdancer Joanne Adderley and, over a catch-up coffee, both bemoaned the lack of anything about Betty Pounder, or even The Firm in print or on-line. “Why don’t we start a Facebook page,” Kevin suggested. “There’s probably only a handful of us left - but at least it would be some sort of tribute to Pounder.” Kevin hastily put together a tribute page and invited anyone who had worked with Pounder to contribute. The result was over-whelming and soon old friends, convinced they were the only ones left, were in touch with each other by computer, even if they lived in another state…or half a world away. Doug Kingsman, who later became a successful set designer, discovered his entire collection of photos from The Firm’s shows and began posting them; Geraldine Turner posted about costumes and the people she worked with; and even John Farnham’s wife Jillian recalled her days in the chorus and how she met and fell in love with our pop icon when they were both appearing in Charlie Girl. It was logical that the three hundred or so members (by invitation only) would eventually ask the question… “What about a reunion?” Coxhead knew he had to produce something that would really do justice to the memory of Pounder. So, with “The Maj” on board, 100 or so former “troopers”, the youngest of whom were in their sixties…but many into their seventies and eighties, put on their beads and sequins and Lame and feather boas and false eyelashes (and that was (Continued on page 26) www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 25
(Continued from page 25)
just some of the chorus boys) and turned up on a Monday night (when the theatres are dark) and laughed and cried, and sang and drank champagne. There were songs, and recorded messages from former stars like Jill Perryman; there were tributes from people like John Newman, whose wife Tikki Taylor was a stalwart of Williamson’s shows, and whose theatre restaurant “Tikki and John’s” became a Melbourne icon; there was Dale Ringland, Musical Director of literally dozens of hit musicals; and Joan Brokenshire, who was part of almost all The Firm’s musicals…along with her Scottish husband Tommy Dysart (remember his TV ads “Not the Goggomobile” and “Is Don, is Good,”); there was a fashion parade of original costumes from The Firm’s archives, along with the dress Pounder wore for her “This is Your Life” TV episode; and there were the greats who are still performing, like Reg Livermore and Nancye Hayes. Some remembered old dance numbers and did steps together, some were not so sprightly and had to be helped to move from place to place….yet their eyes still sparkled in best “Pounder” tradition. But the best part of the evening was when everyone sat around and reminisced about Musical Theatre from the past. They spoke about respect. No-one ever called Betty Pounder “Betty”…it just wasn’t done and everyone was surprised that directors and choreographers now get called by their first names or even more familiar tags. To everyone, star or “chorine” alike,
Chorus people didn’t have agents; there were no private auditions, no negotiations. The word was spread through the casts of various shows when a new show was coming and when auditions would be. Will Deumer, who married dancer Lesley Graham, recalls the process. “You never got a call about auditions,” he says. “It just sort of filtered through the grapevine…Ten O’clock Monday morning…The Maj. This would be on a Friday or a Saturday so then you would spend the weekend trying to find out something about the show.” There was no Internet, and often no she was Miss Pounder information about the to her face or just show, and no chance “Pounder” behind her to learn a specific back. “I don’t think number that might we would have been suit. Lesley recalls, “By that familiar even if it eight o’clock in the morning a queue was allowed,” dancer would be formed from the stage door, Lesley Graham down Exhibition Street and around the remembers. “She was different to us, corner into Bourke Street.” she was our friend, and like a The auditions were all group godmother, but she still employed us auditions and sometimes Pounder and we respected that. We didn’t take would pull someone out early and tell anything for granted, and I think it’s them to stand downstage on the side. why we worked so hard…we wanted “You thought that meant you had her approval. She was strict, but always been rejected, only to find, some hours fair.” later, that you were the first one to be There were so many memories of chosen.” auditions from numerous sources that Then there were memories of seemed to piece together like a jigsaw. Pounder’s strict dress code. Though Betty Pounder’s This is Your Life gown
This page and opposite: A parade of original costumes from JCW musicals
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Tommy Dysart, Joan Brockenshire and Frank Howson
you will see cast members leave the stage door these days in jeans and hoodies, with trainers on; that was taboo in Pounder’s time. One of Pounder’s girls went to a first night after party in a very chic, very stylish, pant suit, only to be pulled up by Pounder, “Don’t let me ever see you in that again, you’re a lady. You don’t wear trousers in public.” The dress code was always a dress…or skirt and top, and stockings or panti-hose and proper shoes. “We even had to wear gloves,” recalls Lesley. It wasn’t any easier for the boys. “Jeans were a total no-no,” Will says. “The boys had to wear proper slacks and shirt, though she did draw the line at suits.”
Pounder wasn’t so concerned with how the principals dressed, but her “kids” were going to set an example. Pounder never had children of her own so she considered the chorus members her babies and she even became godmother to many of the next generation. There were poignant moments too…like the pair of tap shoes given to Pounder at the end of the run of No, No, Nanette; they was autographed by every single member of the chorus, and Pounder kept them for the rest of her life. Some of these marvellous performers went on to run dancing schools, or direct community theatre or even appear in community shows to
keep their hand in and play a lead role they had always coveted; some left the business completely and had not thought about it for years until Kevin reminded them. Who knows if there will be another reunion, but if you pass any of Pounder’s kids on the street or in the foyer of a theatre, you will know them by the twinkles in their wrinkles, and that perpetual sparkle, that was even more important than dance or singing skills. A Chorus Line gave us the marvellous number “Tits and Ass” - but for Pounder and The Firm the creed was “Eyes, tits, and teeth”, and a sparkle that came from deep within and lasted a lifetime. Without that, we might have nothing to smile about.
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London Calling By Peter Pinne Almost a century after they were conceived, P.G. Wodehouse’s immortal characters of Jeeves and Wooster make a welcome return to the West End spotlight when Robert and David Goodale’s play Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense opens at the Duke of York’s Theatre, on 30 October, 2014. Directed by Sean Foley, the cast includes John Gordon Sinclair (Jeeves), James Lance (Bertie Wooster) and co-author Robert Goodale (Seppings). The typically Wodehouse plot revolves around a perfectly delightful trip to the countryside which takes a turn for the worse, with Bertie Wooster unwittingly being called on to play matchmaker. If he can’t pull off the wedding of the season he’ll be forced to abandon his cherished bachelor status and marry the ghastly girl himself. Other characters in the story include Bertie’s newt-fancying acquaintance Gussie FinkNottle.
Geoffrey Nauffts, will be directed by Luke Sheppard, and commences previews 24 September for an official opening 25 October. The play revolves around gay couple Luke, devoutly religious, and Adam, an atheist. Their lives are turned upside down after an accident and Adam must turn to Luke’s family for support. On Broadway it played the Helen Hayes Theatre in 2010, where it was produced by Elton John and his partner David Furnish. Tim Price’s new drama, Teh Internet Is Serious Business, is a fictional account of the true story of Anonymous and LulzSec, and the birth of hacktivism. A 16-year-old London schoolboy and an 18-year-old Shetland recluse meet online, pick a fight with the FBI and change the world forever. It premieres at the Royal Court on 23 September, 2014. Directed by Hamish Pirie, the cast includes Kae Alexander, Natalie Drew, Amir Giles, Sarah Goulding, Kevin Guthrie, Hamza Jeetooa, Ferdinand Kingsley, Kerr Logan, Nathaniel Martello-White, Faith Prendergast, Quang K Van, Eileen Walsh and Sargon Yelda.
East Is East is a new, and very timely, play by Ayub Khan Din, which stars Jane Horrocks and the author, and gets its premiere at Trafalgar Studios 4 October 2014. Directed by Sam Yates, it’s about a Pakistani chip shop owner determined to give his kids a Muslim upbringing against a Casting has been completed for the new musical comedy backdrop of the depressed working-class environment of Salford in the 1970s. English mother Ella (Horrocks) gets Made In Dagenham which previews at the Adelphi Theatre from 9 October, and opens 5 November, 2014. The musical caught in the cross-fire, having divided loyalties between her is based on the 2010 British movie of the same name which marriage and the free will of her children. starred Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson, and has a Katherine Boo’s non-fiction book Behind the Beautiful book by Richard Bean, music by David Arnold, and lyrics by Forevers, which has been called “brilliant” and Richard Thomas. It will be directed by the Almeida Theatre’s “breathtaking”, has been adapted for the stage by current Artistic Director and wunderkind, Rupert Goold. Set playwright David Hare (Plenty, Amy’s View). It begins a in Essex in 1968, the story involves a woman, Rita, who season at the National Theatre on 10 November. Set in leads the Ford sewing machinists strike at the Ford Annawadi, a slum created on marshy land near Mumbai Dagenham plant, where female workers walk out in protest airport, the story revolves around a group of characters who against sexual discrimination, demanding equal pay. The include Zehrunisa and her son, who plan to recycle enough cast includes Gemma Atherton (Rita O’Grady), Adrian Der rubbish to fund a proper house; Sunil, twelve and stunted, Gregorian (Eddie), Isla Blair and David Cardy. who wants to eat until he’s as tall as Kalu the thief; Asha who seeks to steal government anti-poverty funds to turn Former Coronation Street star Charlie Condou, who herself into a ‘first-class person’ and Manju, Asha’s played Marcus Dent in the ITV series, will head the cast in daughter, who intends to become the slum’s first female the London premiere of Next Fall at the Southwark Playhouse. The Tony-nominated comedy drama, written by graduate. It stars Meera Syal, Stephanie Street, Shane Zaza and Gavi Singh Chera, with direction by Rufus Norris and design by Katrina Lindsay. The Young Vic’s smash hit 2014 production of Samuel Beckett’s existential classic Happy Days, starring Juliet Stevenson, returns 13 February 2015. In its initial production the critics went overboard calling it “Triumphant” and saying “Stevenson is rapturous” in the role of Winnie, a woman buried up to her waist in earth in the first act, and up to her neck in the second. Beckett’s surreal masterpiece was first mounted in 1961 in New York, in a production directed by Peter Hall with Peggy Ashcroft as Winnie. David Beames plays Winnie’s taciturn husband Willy. Design is by Vicki Mortimer, with direction by Natalie Abrahami. Stevenson’s most recent high-profile credits are for the movie Truly, Madly, Deeply, and the TV series The Hour. 28 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
heart-warming second-act anthems like “You’ll Never Walk Alone” were vile. Rodgers also had a waspish tongue. When asked to comment on Arthur Laurents for a magazine article she said, “Call me when he’s dead.” The memoir will be published next year.
August saw the closing on Broadway of three highprofile musicals, Rocky (August 17), and one week later Newsies and Bullets Over Broadway (August 24). Rocky Hugh Jackman returns to Broadway in a limited season was the victim of a soft box-office, only managing to take run of the hit London play The River, written by Jez $700,000 per week, plus the age-old fact that musicals Butterworth and directed by Ian Rickson, the team behind about sport are a hard sell to theatregoers. The show is still the hit play Jerusalem. The three member cast also includes a hit in its German language version in Hamburg where it’s Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo. Set in a wooden cabin been playing for 18 months. It was one of the most beside a river in the English countryside, the story revolves technically ambitious musicals of the current season, with a around a man with a passion for fishing - and two women mobile boxing ring that descended into the orchestra who visit him, separately, there. It asks the question, when during the final scene, costing $16.5 million, none of we find each other, are we trying to recapture someone which has been recouped. Newsies on the other hand was we once lost? The River previews from October 31, and only due to play Broadway for four weeks back in March opens November 16 at Circle in the Square. 2012, and became the biggest hit of the 2011-2012 season winning the 2012 Tony Award. In October it Terrence McNally’s 1986 play It’s Only a Play will be commences a 25 city, 43 week tour which kicks off in revived for an 18 week season at the Gerald Schoenfeld Schenectady, New York, prior to an official opening in Theatre, with previews beginning September 4. The starPhiladelphia, PA. Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, studded cast includes Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick, which had struggled since it opened due to lukewarm together for the first time since they starred in The reviews, lost all of its $15-million-plus capitalization. It’s Producers, Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley, Rupert Grint, with the second high-expectation musical this season directed Stockard Channing, Megan Mullally and F. Murray and choreographed by Susan Stroman to lose its entire Abraham, with direction by Jack O’Brien. It’s about a investment. The other was Andrew Lippa’s Big Fish. When playwright who is waiting for the reviews with his friends it closed, Bullets had played 156 performances following on opening night to see if his show is a hit. It’s bitchy, 33 previews. uproariously funny, and a must for theatre gossip geeks. It originally premiered in New York at the Manhattan Theatre Finding Neverland, the new musical about J. M. Barrie Club. and the creation of Peter Pan trying out at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has had a Encores have just announced the three musicals which troubled birth and it has not even reached Broadway yet. will make up their 2015 season; Lady Be Good (George & The show, based on the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp, Ira Gershwins), Paint Your Wagon (Lerner & Loewe) and is being steered by Miramax Films’ Harvey Weinstein. In its Zorba Kander & Ebb). The season begins February 4. original tryout at Leicester England in 2012, the book was Musicals Tonight have also announced their 2014-2015 written by Allan Knee, with music and lyrics by Scott season, their 17th, which will commence October 21, 2014 Frankel and Michael Korie, the Grey Gardens tunesmiths. with Carnival (Bob Merrill) and be followed on November 4 Fast forward to 2014 and those three gentlemen have by The Girl Who Came To Supper (Noel Coward). The 2015 been replaced, along with original director Rob Ashford. shows start March 3 with Whoopee! (Walter Donaldson & The musical’s new score is by Take That’s Gary Barlow and Gus Kahn), and follow March 17 with Hazel Flagg (Jule Eliot Kennedy, and the new book by playwright James Styne & Bob Hilliard) and April 16 with Pardon My English Graham who wrote The House for the National Theatre, (George and Ira Gershwin). London. The current production which is due to run until September 28 has been directed by AMT’s resident Artistic When Mary Rodgers died in June at 84, she was Director, Diane Paulus. During rehearsals Paulus asked the collaborating with Jesse Green, critic for New York cast for their opinion of the show. When Roger Bart gave magazine, on her autobiography. Rodgers, the daughter of his he was fired and replaced by Michael McGrath. It stars Richard Rodgers, was the composer of the hit musical Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly in Newsies) as J.M. Barrie, Laura Once Upon a Mattress, and the author of the best-selling Michelle Kelly (London’s Mary Poppins) as Sylvia Llewelyn book Freaky Friday. She was an astute business-woman, Davies, and Michael McGrath (Nice Work If You Can Get It) with a sharp mind and a sharp tongue. The book, which as Charles Frohman, the American produced who first most likely will be called Quite Contrary, will be honest presented Peter Pan in London in 1904. The musical is due about herself, her difficult relationship with her parents, on Broadway in Spring 2015. and her criticism of her father’s work. She thought all his By Peter Pinne
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Yank (Joseph Zellnik/David Zellnik) (PS Classics PS-1420). This cast recording springs from a York Theatre By Peter Pinne production in 2010. A gay One Touch of Venus (Kurt love story set in the Pacific Weill/Ogden Nash) (Jay Records during the Second World CDJay2-1362). This is the first War, the musical originally premiered at the New York complete recording of Kurt Musical Theatre Festival in Weill’s most commercial 2005. The show was Broadway score. Written in 1943, it followed Lady in the scheduled for Broadway but didn’t make it; no Dark and was his second fault of the material which is excellent. Ten men and one Broadway hit in a row. Jay girl tell a bittersweet story which was inspired by Alan Berube’s book Coming Out Under Fire. Bobby Steggart and Records recorded the score in Ivan Hernandez are perfect as the lovers and the score gives 2000 but have only just recently released it. It’s beautifully sung by an excellent cast them numerous opportunities to shine. Hernandez nicely headed by Melissa Errico (Venus), Ron Raines (Whitelaw croons “Rememb’ring you” a 40s sounding ballad which Savory), Victoria Clark (Molly), Brent Barrett (Rodney) and top and tails the show, and does well with “You, You”, while Steggart, with the guys, bounces through the title Judy Kaye (Mrs Kramer), with accompaniment by the and “Betty”, a salute to pin-up girl Betty Grable. National Symphony Orchestra conducted by JohnBeale Owen Andrew and Kelvin tune Harman Edwards and James Holmes. Weill’s score is a sophisticated Steggart and Hernandez also pull the emotion out of the lovers’ duets “A Couple of Regular Guys” and “Just True”. romp with literate lyrics by Ogden Nash about a Greek statue, which briefly comes to life. The hit of the show was Playing all of the female roles is the vivacious Nancy the languid beguine “Speak Low”, which is given an Anderson, whose voice was born to sing this material. exceptional vocal by Errico and Barrett. Errico also excels on Whether sounding like an Andrews Sister on the swinging “The Saddest Girl What Am”, or an ingénue on “Jill”, she the witty “I’m A Stranger Here Myself” and the sharp and indelibly makes her mark. Jonathan Tunick’s new eightshrewd “That’s Him”. Kaye, Lauren Worsham and Barrett have fun with “Way out West in Jersey”, while Clark brings piece orchestrations only add to the lustre of the recording, a wonderful edge to “Very, Very, Very” (“One way to be which has been handsomely packaged. very wealthy, is to be very, very, rich”). The score also features two ballets, “Forty Minutes for Lunch” and “Venus in Ozone Heights”, which showcase the flawless orchestra, along with three bonus tracks of songs that were cut. For those who have been longing for years to have this score on disc, this recording is mana from heaven, but for those unfamiliar with Weill’s work, it’s a masterful introduction to a composer who was the first to completely orchestrate his entire show including dance music. A formidable feat.
Stage On Disc
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Aladdin (Alan Menken/Howard Ashman/Tim Rice/Chad Beguelin) (Disney D001987702). The new cast recording of Disney’s latest Broadway blockbuster Aladdin augments Alan Menken’s five song animated film score with three songs that were originally written for the movie with lyrics by Howard Ashman, but dropped, and four new songs with lyrics by book writer Chad Beguelin. All told it makes for a very good commercial score. Menken and Ashman’s original vision for the movie had been to write pastiche 40s numbers in the style of Fats Waller and Cab Calloway for the part of the Genie. In the stage version the role is played by James Monroe Iglehart and his Tony Award -winning performance is captured in all its high-camp glory on the show’s showstopper “Friend Like Me”. Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed are an appealing pair of lovers, Aladdin and Jasmine, and get to sing the hit “A Brand New World” and one of Beguelin’s new numbers “A Million Miles Away” in fabulous Broadway belt voices, with Jacobs also scoring with “Proud of Your Boy”, a rescued Ashman gem. Jonathan Freeman repeats his film performance as Jafar, assisted by sidekick Don Darryl Rivera (Iago) and makes a meal of “Diamond In the Rough”, while “Somebody’s Got Your Back” is a great eleven-o-clock number for Jacobs and Iglehart. Bonus tracks include Menken accompanying Jacobs on a tender “Proud of Your Boy”, and Iglehart
having fun performing a different “Genie Medley” which includes tunes from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Hercules and Pocahontas. Jersey Boys (Bob Gaudio) (Rhino 6122798863). Nine years after Jersey Boys opened on Broadway, scooping up every award including the Tony and Grammy, it has finally made its way to the big screen. Not surprising as the story of the lives of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, their rise to fame and their brush with the Mafia, is one of the best jukebox musicals that has ever been created. There’s not much difference between the Original Broadway Cast recording and the soundtrack as both feature John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, but the soundtrack also includes some tracks by the original Four Seasons as well. In the movie the other members of the group are played by Erich Berger and Michael Lomenda, who both have Jersey Boys street-cred having played it on tour, and Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire). The transition from stage to film has meant some songs have been dropped but all the classics are still there: “Sherry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “My Eyes Adored You” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. Rating
Only for the enthusiast Borderline Worth buying Must have Kill for it
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Stage on Page By Peter Pinne P.G.Wodehouse - A Life In Letters - Sophie Ratcliffe (W.W. Norton & Co US$35.00) P. (Pelham) G. (Grenville). Wodehouse, affectionately called ‘Plum’, began his professional career writing a column for The Globe newspaper London in 1901 at the age of 20, and continued to write until his death in 1975. He wrote over 90 novels, innumerable short stories, the book and/or lyrics for 26 musicals, and thousands of letters, a good many of which form the basis of this entertaining book compiled by Sophie Ratcliffe. Wodehouse started a run of successful musicals when he wrote book and lyrics for Jerome Kern’s Oh Boy in New York in 1917. Later credits with Kern included Sally, Leave it to Jane, Very Good Eddie and Sitting Pretty. He worked with the Gershwins on Oh Kay! and Rosalie in the twenties, and with Cole Porter on Anything Goes in 1934. He was revered for his lyric writing during the twenties by later masters of the genre, Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter. His biggest song hit was “Bill” (“He’s just my Bill, an ordinary man”), interpolated into the original production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein ll’s Show Boat, sung by Helen Morgan.
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revival of Anything Goes, which is still produced today. Wodehouse had a long and important career which is revealed in this collection of expertly edited letters. Some of the recipients included Agatha But Wodehouse created his most Christie, Ira Gershwin, Guy Bolton, endearing and popular characters for a George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh and Sir series of light-hearted novels about life Arthur Conan Doyle. It also delves into amongst the English gentry with Lord his personal life with his 59 year Emsworth and his prize-winning pig at marriage to English widow Ethel Blandings Castle, and tales involving Rowley, his step daughter Leonora the empty-headed Bertie Wooster and Cazalet, and his love of dogs, especially his impeccable butler, Jeeves. The latter Pekinese. It’s a marvellously theatrical was musicalised by Andrew Lloyd book and the next best thing to an Webber and Tim Rice in 1975. autobiography, which he never wrote. Wodehouse lived through two The copious end pages feature an World Wars and was interned by the extensive index and detailed notes on Nazis in camps in Belgium and Poland the letters plus a select bibliography. in the Second. During his internment he kept writing books and made a An Unsentimental Bloke - The Life series of humorous radio programs on and Work of C.J. Dennis (Philip Buttress his internment, which were broadcast (Wakefield Press $34.95) on German radio to America. It was a C. J. Dennis’s Songs of a mistake he was to live with for the rest Sentimental Bloke was first published of his life. In England he was scathingly in 1915 and since that date has never attacked in the press and on radio and been out of print. It is the most there was even talk of charging him successful book of Australian prose with treason, which did not come to that has ever been published and the pass. In the 1920s and 30s most adapted Australian literary work, Wodehouse, who was born in Britain, having been made into a movie moved between London and New York (twice), a musical (twice), a ballet working in the theatre and later lived in (twice) and a play. France before his internment. When C. (Clarence) Michael J. (James) peace was declared in 1945 he moved Dennis was born in rural South permanently to America but found his Australia to an Irish-Catholic publican style of musical theatre had passed. father in 1876. His first efforts at There were revivals; Sally in 1948, poetry were published in Adelaide’s which was a flop, and a hit 1962 Critic and The Gadfly, the latter a
bohemian paper with a satirical slant. He later wrote for The Bulletin, where some of the content from Songs of a Sentimental Bloke was first published. Transforming a larrikin into a respectable young man using the vernacular of the street struck a chord with Australians who took the character of ‘the bloke’ and his sweetheart Doreen into their hearts. Dennis quickly followed with The Moods of Ginger Mick (1916), a sequel to The Bloke, and The Glugs of Gosh (1917), a book that explored the individual in society in satirical and humorous verse. Not everyone was happy at the success of Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. Fellow author and artist Norman Lindsay was so enraged at its popularity that he crucified a copy on a cross in his front garden. But the general public loved the Laureate of the Larrikin. Dennis made a fortune and spent a fortune, a lot of it on alcohol. He was married twice but neither marriage produced any children. One of the most interesting sections of the book is the wellresearched and detailed accounts of the stage and screen adaptations of Dennis’s iconic book. The most popular stage adaptation of Songs of a Sentimental Bloke was Albert Arlen, Nancy Brown and Lloyd Thompson’s musical comedy version The
Sentimental Bloke in 1961. To date it is the most successful Australian musical ever with an original score. It was adapted for television in 1976 with Graeme Blundell playing ‘The Bloke’. In 1985 Blundell wrote his own musical version with George Dreyfus composing the music. Arlen’s score was used when the Australian Ballet produced their ballet version of the work the same year. There had been an earlier ballet version by Laurel Martin for the Victorian Theatre Guild in 1952, and in 1955 John Antill (Corroboree) composed a score for a different ballet version, which never went ahead. The first film version, now regarded as a classic, was silent and directed by Raymond Longford in 1919, whilst the second, with sound, was produced by Frank Thring Snr. in 1932. The play version appeared in 1922 with Bert Bailey. In 1979 John Derum created a one-man-show version of the book and other Dennis prose for More Than a Sentimental Bloke. Philip Butterss brings authority and passion to this warts-and-all biography, uncovering little known facts in the life of this much-loved Australian author. It is a scholarly appraisal of his work and an honest look at the man and his demons. The book comes with colour and black and white photographs, a select bibliography, end notes and an index.
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Bell Goes Digital ABC Splash and Bell Shakespeare have created a new Australian voice for Shakespeare in the classroom, with a free, film-quality video series, Shakespeare Unbound, now available online. Schools across Australia can now access contemporary Australian performances of Shakespearean works, in a digital form. The video series is made up of 12 scenes from six of Shakespeare’s most famous plays: Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and The Tempest. These videos are paired with 12 commentaries from the director and cast that unpack the meaning of the work in a way that is relevant for Australian students. Each scene has been brought to life on film by some of Australia’s best known theatre actors, including John Bell, Tom Conroy, Ivan Donato, Kate Mulvany, Eryn-Jean Norvill, Damien Ryan and Hazem Shammas. This resource will provide teachers and students with a contemporary take on the life and work of William Shakespeare, engaging the new generation in a format that is interactive and educational. The 24 videos from the Shakespeare Unbound project are all available for free on the Splash digital education website: http://splash.abc.net.au
Tom Conroy in Hamlet. Miranda Tapsell & John Bell in The Tempest
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winners in each Curtain Call award category. “The Awards event also has a much wider intent,” said Gaertner. “It’s an opportunity for people in the Adelaide theatre community to celebrate their efforts together, network with others and reunite with colleagues past and present.” Well-known personalities have been comperes of the Awards during the past decade, including Tim Ferguson, Glynn Nicholas, Mel Greig, David Gauci and Johanna Allen. This year’s MC was Amelia Ryan, ambassador for the Adelaide’s splendid - though fleeting - get together as a full group? The event recent Adelaide Cabaret Festival. In 2014, as in the past, nominated international arts festivals are often in has proved the naysayers wrong, with the spotlight but the city has a feedback from attendees that it’s their performers included fresh-faced successful and enduring local arts favourite night of the year and for the newbies together with internationally established artists. Actors nominated very reason it was created - the fact scene too. Lesley Reed reports on a that everyone is there under one roof.” for Best Female Performance in their decade of celebrating SA’s theatre respective amateur or professional excellence. categories included delightful young local Abby Hampton (University of Every year an unlikely collaboration Adelaide Theatre Guild’s Romeo and occurs within the diverse South Juliet) and internationally recognised Australian theatre community. Miriam Margolyes (STCSA’s Hundreds of practitioners from both Neighbourhood Watch). professional and amateur theatre come These are just a few highlights of a together for a gala event to celebrate Recipient of the Richard Flynn Award for decade of ATG Curtain Call Awards. high achievement, with the Adelaide Sustained Excellence and Contribution to Shows from 2004 to 2005 started Theatre Guide Website’s Curtain Call Theatre in South Australia, Isabella Norton. the ball rolling, with professionals of Awards. 2014 has been a milestone year for Fine productions, outstanding actor such ilk as Barry Otto, who won the Best Male Performance gong (Pork the Awards. A glittering circus-themed performances, together with Chop Productions’ Last Cab to Darwin). tenth anniversary presentation dinner noteworthy technical and service Glyn Nicholas and Shaun Micaleff’s The at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre aspects of all theatre originating in Pleasure of Their Company was on Saturday, August 16, attracted 300 South Australia are nominated by successful that year in the professional guests. As always, high standard Adelaide Theatre Guide’s voluntary section’s Best Show-Comedy award. entertainment was provided by local reviewer team, who also decide the theatre groups. The current Website and Events manager Nikki Gaertner said when her predecessor Hayley Horton founded the Awards in April 2004 there was initial skepticism about whether the event would work with its mix of professional and amateur theatre. Event and “Curtain Call” Awards founder Hayley Horton, with Adelaide Theatre Guide Manager, Nikki Gaertner and Events Coordinator, Fiona DeLaine. “Why would people come?” she Inset: Best Female Performance (Amateur) award winner, Kate Dempsey for said. “Would everyone really want to Xanadu (Davine Interventionz). Photos: Nathaniel Mason.
Ten Years Of Curtain Calls For Adelaide
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2009’s Best Technical Award epitomised the skills of theatre’s technical practitioners, with Geoff Cobham’s lighting design for STCSA’s Attempts on Her Life successful in the professional grouping. One amateur company surprised everyone in 2010 by winning two Best Show awards. Mixed Salad Productions achieved Best Drama and Best Comedy for The History Boys and Frankie & Johnny in the Claire de Lune respectively. In 2014 Bart Csorba achieved the amateur Best Male Performance award rs, iously You five.point.one's Notor for his unforgettable s. ard aw two of ner win performance in the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s Richard III. 2014 recipient of the Richard Flynn Award, Isabella Norton, embodies the ‘volunteering and service’ Mixed Salad Produ ctions' Best Show sentiments of this amateur award for : Comedy Five Women Wea ring the Same memorial award and is Dress at the initia l ATG Curtain Ca ll Awards. also representative of the spirit of community Patrick Jeremy and in an theatre in South Australia. thm Eleanor Bly Swell Productions' Isabella started her Passion. theatre experience in 1946 in a one-act play with Adelaide Repertory Online extras! Theatre, performing at Check out the full list of winners on our the Tivoli Theatre. She website. Scan the QR code or visit has acted in more than http://bit.ly/VHsHnh 70 productions since then, including in her 2009 Curtain Call Award-winning role in Matt Byrne Independent Theatre’s Strangers on a Clara in Passion,” said Patrick Jeremy. Media’s Driving Miss Daisy. Isabella is a Train received the amateur section’s He said, “It was fantastic to get her founding member of Adelaide’s St Best Show-Drama award and Mixed back to star opposite me again. We Jude’s Players and gives of her time Salad Productions achieved the Best managed it just in time before I took Show-Comedy amateur award for Five off on tour.” Patrick Jeremy is currently across all aspects of community theatre. performing in Helpmann-AwardWomen Wearing the Same Dress. Even after ten years, Adelaide In that first awards year Sunday in winning The King and I. Theatre Guide’s Curtain Call Awards the Park with George (Swell 2008 saw much-loved Don Barker are very young when compared to Productions/ State Opera Studio) win the professional award for Best Isabella Norton’s sixty-eight years in achieved Best Show-Musical and in Male Performance in The theatre but the successful Awards 2014 history has repeated itself with Homecoming, while Miss Saigon reflect the energy and endurance of achieved Best Show-Musical. Nancye Swell Productions winning again for theatre stalwarts like Isabella and are Passion. Hayes got the gong for Best Female “Eleanor Blythman starred opposite Performance in Six Dance Lessons in Six therefore likely to have a very long run indeed. me as Dot in Sunday and again as Weeks. Bart Csorba, winner of Best Male Performance amateur award for Richard III.
Paul Blackwell in Vere. Photo: Matt Netth eim.
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Schools Spectacular 2014 Its alumni include international artists Human Nature; musical director, pianist and composer John Foreman; 2013 The Voice finalists Diana Rouvas and Darren Percival; ARIA winners Paulini and Angus and Julia Stone; musical theatre stars David Harris, Lucy Maunder, Amanda Harrison, Julie Goodwin and Trevor Ashley; composer Gavin Lockley and country singers The McClymonts, Felicity Urquhart and Darren Coggan. What new talent from NSW public schools waits to be discovered in this year’s Schools Spectacular? When 3,600 performers from 400 public schools, including 33 Featured Artists, 2,000 dancers and a 1,300 voice choir take to the stage of the Qantas Credit Union Arena (formerly the Sydney Entertainment Centre) on November 28 & 29 for the 31st Schools Spectacular, how many will dream of following in the footsteps of 2014 The Voice winner Anja Nisse? “We see the potential in so many of them,” says Creative Director, Sonja Sjolander, “it just depends who makes it to that next step, but the pedigree is very strong. Who is going to be the next big star? I’d put my money on any one of the 33.” Not only will the young performers have the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience, but they’ll also to be seen on national prime time TV. “Teaming up with Network Nine, we were nominated for a Logie this year, which we’re totally stoked about,” says Sonja, “and we seem to be taking a slightly more commercial and contemporary angle with the show. That’s got some great benefits to the kids, because Schools Spectacular is more than just a life changing experience for some of them, but a career launching pad, as they find their feet in the entertainment industry. I think we’re at the cutting edge of where youth entertainment can go.” In terms of sheer size, scale and scope, the Schools Spectacular is unparalleled.
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“A lot of people really need to come along and see the expanse of the show,” says Sonja. “We’re still very proud to be in the Guinness Book as Records as the biggest largest show of its kind in the world.” Yet Sonja points to successes on a more personal scale. “We get incredible feedback each year of just how much the show means to the students. It provides a lot of hope, colour and excitement about the future to a lot of kids’ lives. And that’s why I love being involved in it. “There’s a lot of emphasis these days on ensuring that each individual child feels like they’ve had a special and unique experience. I do that in my role of director, right through to individual teachers who manage groups. “We’re hoping to have a segment this year where every child’s face is up on the big screen. For every child, three and a half thousand of them to see their face up there individually, is a special moment to what they’re achieving, and then they’re on their own trajectory.” Yet the Schools Spectacular has an educational reach far further afield than the arena stage, through the World’s Biggest Classroom’. “Our big aim is that the experience of the School Spectacular spreads beyond the arena performance and into schools around the state,” says Sonja. “The concept is that we pick up the theme of the show (‘This is Australia’ in 2014), and classrooms all around the state get involved in creative projects. It might be devising what Australia means to them; it might be something about their Australian culture and heritage; what they know about their own family; any project at all, and then we showcase a variety of those at the performance itself, and in various different locations around the state, including train stations, shopping centres, etc., to show that the scope and breadth of it goes well beyond a couple of performances.” www.schoolsspectacular.com.au
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How Actors Make Ends Meet Nicholas Christo (centre) as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Show. Photo: Jeff Busby.
Online extras! Watch Gillian Cosgriff’s show on life after graduation. Scan the QR code or visit http://youtu.be/AXH2yP0249I So you want to be an actor? How hard is it to get a job even if you complete training at an elite institution? What will you get paid even if you are successful? What do actors do between gigs? David Spicer has some of the answers and discovers that many performers are finding that writing their own material is the key to a successful career.
between ‘ jobs they take on. They include retail, casual secretarial, photography, tele-marketing and of course teaching. In many cases actors earn more from their day jobs than as artists. The Australia Council looked into it way back in 2001 in a report called Don't give up your day job. It found that actors earned around $22,000 a year from creative income and about the same from other work. Dancers Recently I was excited to meet someone who I went to High School fared worse with $16,700 a year of creative income. Overall artists earned with and learnt that he went to NIDA an average of $37,200, compared with to study acting. He had a role in a other workforce professionals who small professional production at the earned $54,400. time. I asked him what he did between But what is the situation today? Forbes Magazine told us that Hugh jobs? The answer was that he ran his Jackman raked in twenty million dollars own lawn mowing business. It gave him a reliable income and allowed him last year. We can dream on about that. Let’s be more realistic. What would to drop everything to attend an an actor be paid for being a lead in a audition or rehearsal. Actors are famous for being production for the Sydney Theatre Company? A reliable source told Stage waiters. But there are many other ‘in 38 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Whispers that a typical wage is around $1500 a week - above the award minimum of $1123. Now many just out of High School students with stars in their eyes would consider that a fabulous income. But consider that a major production might only run for a month. Rehearsal rates can be lower. Smaller companies pay less still. Co-ops can end up paying nothing. Also consider that someone starring in a main stage production is performing at the most elite live performance level available. This values them, if they received the same pay every week, with a wage of $75,000 a year. What would the equivalent elite Rugby League or Aussie Rules players receive a year? In New South Wales a teacher starts on a wage of $59,000 a year. Performers in musical theatre get longer runs of employment and
sometimes chorus members can be well paid too. A typical supporting principal wage in commercial music theatre is around $1750 to $2000 a week. Australia’s biggest stars ask for anything between $10,000 and (maybe if you are Anthony Warlow) up to $50,000 a week, but most principals are at the $2000 - $3000 level. Musicals, though, offer patchy job security. Shows close early or worse. The industry was shocked when a national arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in the United States was called off during the rehearsals. Many performers had packed up their homes to join the tour. The challenge also is that even receiving a performing arts degree at the tertiary institutions, which are hardest to get into, is no guarantee of receiving any work at all. Nicholas Christo graduated from the Musical Theatre course at WAAPA in 2005. “Lots of very talented people have not worked (on stage) since they left University. Not even from WAAPA and NIDA. But they have got the lovely HECS debt to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. It is not a guarantee of anything,” he said. “Some people jumped straight into teaching. One in my year opened a singing school.” Nicholas has just completed the eight month touring season with The Rocky Horror Show, which was one of his longest stretches of work. He has a degree in marketing also but chooses to work in retail between jobs so he stays fresh. “I can’t have a demanding job to deal with all stresses and deadlines. I think my brain would be too frazzled. You can’t do that and have to say I have an audition, I have to go.” But you also can’t just wait for the next audition. Many performers are discovering that writing their own material is the key to a successful career. One celebrated example is Richard O’Brien, the writer of The Rocky Horror Show. He penned the musical in downtime from his career as an actor in London.
Nicholas Christo has the writing bug. His most recent cabaret is a oneman soiree called Jim Morrison: Kaleidoscope. And he’s penned a new school and community theatre musical Popstars the 90’s Musical, written with Neil Gooding of Back to the 80’s fame. Another recent graduate is also making a career out of cabaret by ironically writing about her struggle to make ends meet. Gillian Cosgriff graduated from WAAPA in 2010. “I spent a year doing all the big auditions. They liked me a lot, but I didn’t get in,” she tells her audiences. Her career though has blossomed, though, by performing her own material. She writes the script and songs, performs and plays the piano. The first cabaret called Waitressing and other things I do well won awards and toured Australia. It included the job song listing all the work she has to do to get by. “When I go into that restaurant, I am an actor playing a waitress, and I am very good.” Writing and performing in her own shows has made her successful. She’s penned a second piece, This is why we can’t have nice things, has released two albums and now is getting recognition in other productions - making TV appearances on Offspring and House Husbands. Ana Polataivao a graduate of Toi Whakaari, the New Zealand Drama School, had a similar experience.
“In 2002 there were lots of zombielike actors, musicians, engineers but there was nothing like for us in the early days. “We were trained in institutions and we had to wait for months and months to get a call for a role anywhere. But we were not trained to wait but trained to make things.” So together with friends she formed a theatre company called the KKK (Killa Kokonut Krew). The Krew made their own unique brand of South Pacific theatre a success. The culmination was the creation of a full musical, The Factory, based on migrant experience of Ana Polataivao’s parents. The musical, dubbed New Zealand’s Les Mis, started in Auckland, and this year also toured Australia and ran for a month at the Edinburgh Festival. Not all performers though are a budding Stephen Sondheim or William Shakespeare. Nicholas Christo says aspiring actors have to be realistic. “We all know the drill. Riches don’t necessarily follow. People were shocked that (long running TV actress) Rowena Wallace was living on the pension when she retired. So what, a lot of people live on the pension. “You have to understand this, be financially responsible and make contingencies. “People should only consider a career as a performer if they are passionate about it.”
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NIDA 2015 Applications Now Open
NIDA’s 2014 production of Kandahar Gate. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams.
Think you have what it takes to be Australia’s next big success story of stage and screen? Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art is now accepting applications for their prestigious fulltime tertiary courses, offering the opportunity to train with the best in theatre, television and film. Entry to NIDA’s courses is highly competitive. Competition is strongest for NIDA’s internationally renowned Acting degree, but the centre is also Australia’s training ground for the artists who will be the creative force behind the scenes. Director/CEO of NIDA Lynne Williams says there are a range of study options on offer in 2015, including new undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in acting, design for performance, costume, properties and objects, technical theatre and stage management, and staging. “In 2015, in response to huge demand, NIDA is also introducing a full -time Vocational Education and Training (VET) Diploma in Musical Theatre.” An important part of preparing 40 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
students for their career is NIDA’s production seasons, when students from different disciplines work together to create full-scale theatre performances. These incredible collaborative efforts are a valuable opportunity for the students to work through the challenges of staging a professional theatre production. Many of those challenges are tackled by the Properties and Staging students. Joint Head of Properties Marcelo Zavala-Baeza says the props creator’s role in bringing these productions to life is quite varied, from sourcing existing objects to creating props from scratch. “This may include repairing and altering objects to fulfil the designer or director’s requirements, but on most occasions they have to build the properties from scratch. Commonly we source many properties from antique shops and dealers, as well as second hand shops. Another important place to find props is the internet, in particular eBay and Gumtree.” For NIDA’s recent production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About
Nothing, directed by David Berthold, third-year Properties student Hannah Crosby found it was actually easier to make the props herself. “There was a lot of custom furniture that had to be very structural because the actors would be climbing on it and interacting with it,” Hannah says. “The design needed folding chairs in the classic American Cape Cod style, as well as reclining chairs like something you would see next to the pool of an Italian villa. I don’t have a big background in woodwork so I had to quickly learn a lot about furnituremaking! “The design started out requiring the chairs to fold, but the week before opening-night I was told they were accidentally collapsing as the actors moved them around the set. I had to devise a clip system so the chairs could be fixed in place for the actors to interact with them, but could still be folded up to allow the tech team backstage to pack them away. When it comes to creating the environment for the actors and props to inhabit, set creators face similar
challenges in balancing the designer’s vision with real-world constraints. “As sets exist in an imagined world and often contain elements with heightened attributes either spatially or sculpturally, designers are prone to forget world-based physics. So the staging practitioner’s main challenge is realising designs and stage movements while obeying the structural and mechanical laws,” says Head of Staging, Nicholas Day. Nicholas adds that sets creation can go beyond just providing the physical environment in which the story telling takes place. “The aesthetics of the set can add dramaturgically to the play, suggesting unity, discord/tension or balance, etc.” For NIDA’s recent premiere of the new work by Stephen Sewell, Kandahar Gate, the set was an incredibly important part of helping tell the story but also a mammoth challenge. In their first year of studying at NIDA, the Staging students with Nicholas’ guidance had to create a gigantic Afghanistan sand dune inside
NIDA’s 2014 production of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams.
the NIDA Parade Theatre. At over five metres high, 16 metres wide and eight metres deep, it was a daunting project. Although the dune was a series of organic curves as seen from the audience, it was constructed from flat plywood. The dune also hid another secret - the wind-swept corrugations across the surface were actually rows of pool noodles covered in muslin and painted to look like sand. One of NIDA’s newer courses, the
three-year BFA Staging is the only degree of its kind offered in Australia, and one of only a few available in the world. Over the next two years, NIDA’s Staging students will be tackling many more challenges as they learn the hidden tricks to creating environments for the performing arts industry. To find out more about NIDA’s full-time courses, visit www.nida.edu.au/courses
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A Touch Of Chaos. All photos: Jeff Busby.
A Little Touch Of Chaos The Victorian College of the Arts is set to make the development of new work a permanent part of the study course for its Fine Arts Degrees, following the success of a season of A Little Touch of Chaos by James Millar and Peter Rutherford. David Spicer reports. A performing arts course at first blush is fertile ground for developing a new work. All those resources, talent and all that enthusiasm would make any writer of a new work lick their lips in anticipation. But shoe-horning it into the
A Touch Of Chaos
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demands of a course where all students need to be given a go is not so easy. Lecturers are obliged to choose works to stage to match the student numbers and talent in the course. The Victorian College of the Arts received a grant to develop a new Australian musical. From 100 submissions, six writing teams received $2000, three finalists an extra $6000 and the winner $30,000 plus a two week season. Lecturer Martin Croft said the standard of submissions was ‘mixed’, ranging from ideas on a page to musicals that had already been workshopped. Regardless of where they were up to, he said best model is not to rush the shows into performance. “I have seen so many shows workshopped for two weeks. The whole process is about putting on the show. Writers get nervous that such and such is coming. So we had two periods of workshop with no public showing. There was no expected outcome apart from developing the work. ” The three finalists included Bim Bom by Gary Young and Paul Keelan, previously the winner of the Pratt Prize, about a political clown during Russian revolution; Choices, a contemporary piece by Anthony Costanzo looking at parallel universes, and the winner, A Little Touch of Chaos by James Millar and Peter Rutherford, a musical centred around the loosely autobiographical story of a man leaving a religious cult and the baggage it leaves the next generation. The work had previously had an outing at WAAPA and also a reading in Sydney at New Musicals Australia, but this was a better resourced try out as it was staged for 12
performances in a 100 seat theatre. From the students’ perspective it was a valuable learning experience. “Normally they learn a show that is already set. In this case they helped shape the role rather than replicating it. “Even in the dress rehearsal when an entire song was cut. They had to learn what that is like.” The funding was also used to bring on board a professional director, musical director and designers, stage and production managers. “People working in the industry were mentoring students on production and design. They saw the writer’s vision through the workshops and had to adapt quickly.” Martin Croft says the project was such a success that he wants the development of new work to become a permanent part of the curriculum. “A Little Touch of Chaos was incredibly well received (it sold out the 1200 seats ). James and Peter were terrific in re -examining it. It is quite a different and more accessible show now.” Where to now for the musical? “This is the sort of piece the Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company should be doing. It is in the realm of Next to Normal.” Can you whistle any tunes? “People commented that the music was so beautiful. I had it going around in my head for quite some time.” The yardstick of the success of the project from the new work perspective will be where the musical goes next. At this stage nothing is confirmed. Martin Croft says however it is frustrating that the major subsidised theatres are reluctant to take on new musicals. “Subsidised theatres love musicals when they want to make money. It would be nice if they supported the art form as well.”
A Touch Of Chaos
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From The Bush To The Inner City Ballarat’s university degree course in Music Theatre opens a branch in the centre of Sydney.
When Sydney TAFE said that because of the changing nature of their courses they had some available space, we started negotiating with them. It’s the reverse of normal practice: a “The space on offer was actually a regional degree course so successful brilliant location for a Music Theatre that its style, content and enthusiastic course - right across the road from the course leader/deviser is coming to the ABC Studios in Ultimo. Big Smoke. “There were precedents to our The Ballarat Arts Academy, part of Parade Federation University in country Victoria, has been running a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) course with a fast-rising reputation. David Wynen, their energetic Dance and Movement lecturer, took over as Program Coordinator at a time when Higher Education changes were being widely discussed. TAFE (Technical and Further Education) colleges were looking to expand their horizons and enter into strategic partnerships with others, including universities. “Our FedU degree course has been very successful,” says David with enthusiasm, “and we’ve got a whole list of graduates out there working. 44 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
partnership, including an Information Technology degree that TAFE and FedU were delivering. And they’d recently launched their own Fashion degree. “But it’s our Music Theatre degree we’re going to deliver on their campus. You get the Federation University qualification on the Sydney TAFE campus.” Months of planning led to a ‘Gala Launch Night’ in August. “The launch was industry people and education people,” says David. “Four of our star graduates - now professional performers - came and performed. “And we got to announce that our patron and artistic mentor for the course will be Nancye Hayes. That’s a really big coup for us. “Last year Nancye saw our full-scale production of 42nd Street at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat. Nancye and I have known each other since we were in the original Australian production of that show in 1992. She was the star and I was a chorus boy, but we’ve stayed in touch.”
Thoroughly Modern Millie
David Wynen’s professional CV as performer, dancer, director and teacher is impressive and he continues to travel and work overseas, particularly in the States. Last year he taught at arguably America’s top Music Theatre college: Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He says while Melbourne has been the traditional hub of music theatre, opportunities for people who don’t wish to leave Sydney have been more limited. But will there be enough jobs for all these graduates? “Okay, we teach Music Theatre, but we’re also teaching life skills. We have ex-students who are Entertainment Managers at casinos, publicists, professional directors and choreographers. A lot of our graduates go into education. “The skills that you learn in the Music Theatre degree don’t necessarily lead you to The Lion King.” Will he now be based in Sydney? “No, I will artistically direct between the two. I need to make sure that the
students in Ballarat are getting the same education as the students in Sydney, that the overall vision, the branding is the same across the two campuses. “We’ve had so many top Sydney industry people enquire about teaching on the course. Once we’ve got the enrolment sorted, I’m hoping to
announce the raft of excellent professionals who’ll be teaching.” Official closing date for student applications is October 7, though Wynen says he could well be considering late applications through to the middle of November. Frank Hatherley
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Stephen Lloyd Helper, a Yale educated American, first came to Australia in 1979. “Am I Australian or American?” he muses. “I think of myself as both.” He’s had notable Broadway credits - from assisting iconic chorographer Jerome Robbins, to co-writing Smokey Joe’s Café, a jukebox musical that ran for over four years and is still on the Top 30 of the longest runs in Broadway history. As director, producer and/or writer he continues to stage productions of plays and musicals in Australia and has watched with interest the growth in Music Theatre courses. “I’m starting to hear about a lot of little tiny schools that are popping up here and there, uncredited, all trying to capitalise With a little help from a writer with Broadway credits on the X Factor shows, The Voice, all of that stuff. There’s been a successful one-year Certificate IV course in “People get a dream in their head Music Theatre at Sydney’s ACTT for some years. Under the and can get sucked in by - some guidance of Course Leader Stephen Lloyd Helper, it’s now certainly don’t have the rigour or grown into a new two-year Advanced Diploma course. the teachers who know the industry.” There’ll be 12 students on the first Advanced Diploma “The difference is like night and day,” says Stephen intake. “Our tutors will give each a high degree of personal emphatically. “The new course is more in-depth, more attention and individual classes. We’re not trying to be a vigorous, broader in its scope and way deeper in its factory here. When it comes to really honing your craft, you content.” can have too many students in the one class.” Before we continue, let me explain the acronyms. The A YouTube promo for the earlier Certificate IV course ACTT (Actors College of Theatre and Television) and the IFSS features an all-female cohort singing (and dancing) their (International Film School Sydney) are twin media and hearts out. Is it difficult to attract guys? entertainment industry colleges under the umbrella of the “Absolutely not,” he says. “In our first intake we have private JMC Academy, founded in 1982 by John Martin more boys than girls, which is really unusual. It’s 70% boys. Cass. Got it. The new course prepares students for theatre and screen I don’t even know why that happened, to be honest, but there you go. acting. “It’s possible it’s because it’s now a two-year course. “For after they graduate, they’ll need to exist beyond Cert IV tends to attract students who are, you know, Music Theatre, to be able to act in plays and in film and television, to spend much of their time in front of a camera. finished high school, not exactly sure this is what they want to do, might give it a try for a year. We do a lot of dance and singing training, but even those “But when you’re signing up for a two-year course you techniques and skills are always allied to acting a role and know that it’s very serious and you really don’t want to developing a character. waste your time. Of course many girls feel exactly the same “You are prepared to audition for commercials, to way. I can’t really explain it.” audition for plays, to be very well-rounded. WAAPA (the Western Australian Academy of Performing “Only a handful of people ever make a whole living out Arts) is generally regarded as the place to go to study Music of just one element - I mean just Acting, just Film or just Theatre. Does he ever feel in their shadow? Musical Theatre. We took a long time to develop this It was a risky question. “Look,” he says, “it may sound course, in order to bring together all the different skills a crazy but there are people who actually don’t want to go to modern performer needs. WAAPA, usually because it’s so removed from their own “Because we’re under the same roof there’s a whole support infrastructure. other school with budding directors, screen writers, “Or maybe they realise they’ve got to be capable of film cinematographers. All those students are going to be and television and they need training in it.” collaborating with our ACTT actors, so that’s a fantastic Frank Hatherley opportunity, for now and also beyond graduation.” David Copperfield as performed by 2014 Graduating Class. Inset: Stephen Helper.
A Music Theatre Course Grows Up
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An enquiry worth pursuing… There is no cure for curiosity and once a creative mind and appetite is alerted to something more, something bigger, something new, the rest takes care of itself. But the outcome must be something enticing and enriching. The pursuit of why we do what we do as humans, what drives us and how we react under certian stimuli, has always fascinated actors and audience alike. Indeed, it is the only real reason theatre/film and TV exist to hold a mirror up to nature - our human nature - and for us to contemplate who we really are and what we’re really capable of - good and bad, enlightened and toxic. My life’s pursuit has been exploring these ideas with actors around the world. Obligation-free… Now this is a fascinating dynamic. To be truly free, creatively and imaginatively, you must be free from obligation; free from ACA’s new venue in Leichhardt, NSW. Photo: Leyla Stevens. looking ‘good’, free from avoiding to look ‘bad’, free from For 34 years now I have been both fascinated and intrigued pleasing, being worthy, being ‘right’ or trying to be ‘enough’. by what inhibits and what releases an indivudual's deepest Yes we all have pressures and we have goals and desired creative drive and achievement. What are the key contributors outcomes from what we wish to achieve in the pursuit of art. and/or conspirators which allow someone to step into their inner But nothing must come in the way of our authentic interface resources and untaped potential? with the material at hand. We are committed yes, but not tied to A few come to mind: nor manipulated by external or internal obligation. Any An environment that calls you to account… educational environment of note understands this intrinsically. This means a vibrant, challenging yet resolute dynamic Australian actors have been making an enormous surrounds you which helps move you from what you think is contribution on the world's stages and screens for 3 decades or possible to what is indeed possible. The very nature of the more: none more so than the last 10 years. Take creative enquiry around you is robust and powerful, so both you your artistic education seriously. Make sure you know the culture and others leave the comfort zone and enter the stretch zone of the school you are applying for. Know what they stand for. here self-percieved boundaries fall away as new possibilities of Know what they hold true and value most. This is engagement are embraced. Real, authentic exploration is an extraordinary industry and you may well find your way to activated and each person’s natural ability and instinct simply making an extraordinary contribution to it. kicks in. Dean Carey, Creative and Founding Director, ACA
Artistic Education Of Excellence
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Sound Course For Employment Actors might struggle to get a job after they graduate, but for those who make sure that every member of the audience hears every word the opposite is the case. TAFE Queensland Gold Coast is reporting that four out of every five of its graduates from its Diploma of Sound Production has a job within three months. One happy graduate is Adam Harris. He’s secured his ideal job with the City of Gold Coast as Head Audio, Visual and Lighting Technician. Adam is in charge of the sound and lighting for a variety of performances including live band nights and theatre productions across the Gold Coast’s six community centres. Mr Harris said his new role is something he has wanted to get into for a long time and his studies at TAFE Queensland Gold Coast provided him
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with the industry relevant skills to secure his ideal job. “The skills I learnt at TAFE Queensland Gold Coast are extremely useful and I was able to immediately apply them across various applications within my new role,” said Harris. “The facilities at the Coomera location are state-of-the-art and I was able to gain experience using industry
standard equipment such as recording studios, which is fantastic as I am now responsible for the operation of the recording studios at some of the centres.”
The Diploma of Sound Production students develop skills and experience through various practical tasks, based on real workplace projects including recording sessions and live events. TAFE Queensland Gold Coast General Manager, Jenny Dodd, said that it’s excellent to see when students successfully gain employment in their field of study after recently graduating. “Our most recent graduate destination survey indicated that 79 per cent of graduates were employed three months after completing their course,” said Dodd. “Adam is already utilising his skills in a job that he was aiming for prior to commencing his studies. “Our aim at TAFE Queensland Gold Coast is to create a skilled and educated workforce to generate job security and to ensure the growth and development of the region.” Ms Dodd said TAFE Queensland Gold Coast takes pride in delivering industry relevant training and providing cutting-edge equipment which puts their students ahead of the rest in the job market upon graduation. TAFE Queensland Gold Coast’s current Diploma of Sound Production and Diploma of Music students will have the opportunity to undertake work experience in these community facilities with Mr Harris to obtain real world skills while studying. For more information please call (07) 55 818 300 or visit tafegoldcoast.edu.au
NASDA Celebrates th 20 Anniversary Over the last twenty years, some of Australasia’s most talented performers have passed through the doors of CPIT’s National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) in Christchurch, New Zealand. Akina Edmonds is one of those. Akina is an experienced singer, actress and vocal coach who has performed in some of the biggest shows in Australia, including her current role in The Lion King. The talented 26year-old studied at NASDA from 2006 and has been working in Australia ever since graduating in 2008. “In my time here I have been a cast member and understudy in Buddy Holly, Avenue Q, Hairspray, An Officer and a Gentleman, Children of Eden and am currently in The Lion King, understudying Nala and Sarabi,” she says. NASDA, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, offers a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree which combines singing, acting and dancing in a Music Theatre specialisation. “My training at NASDA was intensive and has given me the tools I have needed for the demanding life of a performer, as well as preparation for auditions, discipline and taking care of yourself during rehearsals,” Akina says. “I also learnt about pacing yourself in order to maintain performance stamina for 8 shows a week.” She says the hardest part about her job is keeping focused and selfmotivated through gruelling auditions and rehearsals but that the hard work more than pays off. “You get to work with so many amazing people. The talent which is out there can be scary but it also pushes me to try harder and there is great inspiration in
constantly being surrounded, and trained, by talented people. The highlight in this industry is getting the call to say you got the gig.” Like Akina, many NASDA graduates are now working in theatre all over the world. Head of NASDA Richard Marrett says several alumni have ended up in Australia performing in shows. “We are very proud of Akina, who has been cast in The Lion King, while Laura Bunting has been performing in Wicked and Charlie Panapa and Erin Simpson are well-known to New Zealand audiences as television presenters.” Other successful graduates include Kristian Lavercombe, who is well known as an actor and has been playing Riff Raff in the UK and Australian productions of Rocky Horror, songstress Kaylee Bell, who has graced stages around New Zealand, Australia (Toyota Starmaker 2013) and the USA, and Zachary Parore who has worked as a stunt performer and character actor and singer for Universal Studios Singapore. Marrett believes NASDA continues to be so successful because of the way the academy integrates the development of skills and theoretical knowledge with real world performance experience in its programmes. “The intensive, practical nature of the programme is a strength, as is the contribution and pastoral care of a team of multi-talented, experienced staff members.” Over the last twenty years, NASDA has continued to evolve to reflect the changing nature of the musical theatre arts industry. Marrett says “to be successful in the industry today performers need to be versatile and dynamic and over that time the programme has gained a reputation for providing high quality training.”
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The Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music (CQCM) is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is now proud to offer courses on its CQUniversity Mackay campus and also for students learning remotely. With a fully-functioning theatre and modern equipment, a roster of top performing artists as ‘industry mentors’, and on-campus accommodation, CQCM offers a great springboard for those keen to break into the music and theatre professions. Degrees in Music and Theatre offer intense training and development while fostering inspiration, creativity and passion. Degrees are also available via distance education, giving students the flexibility to study in their own home and at their own pace. It allows those who live in rural and remote areas, or internationally, to access university study without the need to relocate. Over the years CQCM graduates have been applauded for their ‘industry-readiness’. Graduates have forged careers in fields as diverse as opera, stage musicals, cabaret, television, films, studio recording and music teaching. Music Theatre graduate Liam Mcllwain is currently performing in Les Misérables in Melbourne. Liam is now an experienced professional with Thoroughly Modern Millie
Remote Music And Theatre Courses credits in major shows including Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Peter Saide, also a Bachelor of Music Theatre graduate, was cast as the Prince in a south-east Asia touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella opposite Lea Salonga. This provided a springboard to starring in the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys, playing the role of Bob Gaudio. Jordan Edmeades graduated from
the Conservatorium with a Bachelor of Music Theatre in 2008 and has since performed in over 15 countries. His performances have ranged from playing Basil Fawlty in the Fawlty Towers dinner show, to his own show called Champagne Cabaret at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a performance at the Sydney Opera House. In recent years CQCM’s theatre students have earned national recognition for helping teens survive Schoolies with their Choices touring production. They have also earned praise for helping kids stay healthy with their Mighty Foods productions, and by helping keep kids safe with their Safety Circus productions. Meanwhile, the music degree also features intensive individual training with professional musicians and the opportunity for performances in a range of settings and ensembles. A distance education option is available for both CQUniversity’s music and theatre degrees. Auditions for CQUniversity’s 2015 academic year are currently open. To book an audition, email email@example.com or phone 07 4940 7800. Visit www.cqu.edu.au/study for further information. www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 51
Spectrum: All The Colours Of Dance Trish Squire-Rogers shares the origins and ethos of Melbourne’s Spectrum Dance with Stage Whispers’ Coral Drouyn.
that means a dancing school of some kind, a chance to pass on your skills to others. For Trish, those skills were considerable. Trained by the great Tony Bartuccio, she built a career After 15 years of travelling the world, choreographing major events and dancer Trish Squire-Rogers was faced television shows, so it was hard to let go. with the inevitable dilemma of every “I was back in Melbourne between professional dancer. “Do I keep the false tours and I was teaching some casual hip eyelashes and tights going until they fall hop classes,” she tells me. Hip hop is a apart, along with my body, or do I look far cry from all of her dance training and for the new beginning, the next phase of technique, but Trish was interested in my life?” For many professional dancers urban dancing and could see it was the
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future. “This was more than ten years ago,” she explains, “and I turned up to teach this casual class. I was dressed accordingly over my leotard…tracky daks, hoodie, woollen hat pulled right down over my forehead. I burst into this dance studio, like some ‘Boyz from the Hood’ ready to rumble…..and there were all these tiny tots in tutus having a ballet class. Some screamed, some hid behind the teacher…I terrified them. Their teacher said, “I think you want the dance studio next door.” Trish can laugh at it now, but it was an embarrassing moment. It might have stayed just that except….jump forward two years … Trish was choreographing the dancers at Crown Casino for a special event when she met the blonde dance teacher whose class she had invaded. The two were able to laugh about what had happened and quickly discovered they had a lot in common. Katie Rappel had also danced overseas and in major Australian productions including “Dream Girls” and World Expo ‘88. Both had a connection to Tony Bartuccio, and both were interested in covering the full spectrum of dance, but at a professional level. Katie and her husband had started “Crazy Feet” Dance Academy and had a
purpose built dance studio building. Trish had registered the business name “Spectrum Dance”. It was inevitable that Trish would call Katie and ask, “Do you want to have coffee? I’ve got something to talk to you about.” That coffee turned into a business meeting and that, in turn, led to Spectrum Dance being formulated. “It was uncanny,” Trish recalls. “We were on exactly the same wavelength. In just 45 minutes we had mapped out a mission statement, a curriculum and a business plan. I know some people spend years fathoming those things out, but everything clicked for us. One thing we agreed on - this wasn’t for ‘hobby’ dancers - though we totally appreciate their needs. “We wanted an academy that turned out professional dancers who could do any style. I was doing so much choreography for events and often I had to find different dancers because they were locked into certain styles. Katie and I agreed we would find the best teachers available, including ourselves, and cover every conceivable style of dance. That Tyrone Anthony (now on the Asian/Australian tour of Disney Live)
meant a calculated risk, because we needed dancers who were open to learning all kinds of styles that weren’t initially on their radar….and it also meant that it wasn’t a case of who could pay for a course. If we wanted to make good dancers into GREAT dancers, we needed to take those with the greatest potential, and that meant a stringent audition process.” They needn’t have worried about the risk. Now in its eighth year, Spectrum Dance has perfected its curriculum and its commitment to triple threat performers, not just all-round dancers….there are drama classes, a music theatre course and even a talent agency which 80% of graduates go on to join. Not only do dancers learn their craft, but there’s someone there to help them get work. Trish runs the agency and one of the most sought after gigs is with the Melbourne Storm cheerleaders, whom Trish choreographs. They also have dancers working on three major cruise lines, in shows across the country and overseas, and for major corporate events.
They have, as planned, garnered some of the best teachers and choreographers they could find, including the highly sought after Stephen Wheat who has appeared in such shows as Legally Blonde, Shout and Dusty; Yvette Lee - renowned choreographer in all facets of the entertainment industry including So You Think You Can Dance, Moonshadow and Rock of Ages; and Kim Adam, co-founder of Collaboration the Project and one of Melbourne’s best dancers and choreographers. All of the teachers have had impressive professional careers and it makes sense that if you want to be the best, you learn from the best. Spectrum Dance is now taking applications for 2015. It’s a gruelling course but such a satisfying one, and it pays dividends. As Trish says, “Some things are just meant to be. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t gatecrashed that tiny tots ballet class.” Check out the Spectrum website at www.spectrumdance.biz
Stephanie Casula, who has recently joined Caribbean Cruises as a principal dancer.
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and three to explore the areas of design that interest them and to develop specialist skills in their chosen area of practice. Design students also pitch for the design roles on the school’s major productions throughout the year. “Through my three years of study, I’ve had multiple opportunities to explore different aspects of design, including set design, light, projection, model making, site-specific devised work… just to name a few. Being able to experience all these different aspects of design has helped me find my own specific focus - costume design. “This year I worked as the costume designer for Toi Whakaari’s production with the Makeup Effects Group. She of As You Like It. One of the greatest then returned to Hong Kong to work aspects of being a student at Toi on events with companies including Whakaari is the opportunity to interact Smirnoff and HK Magazine, before and work with all the different deciding to apply for the Bachelor of departments involved in a major Design (Stage & Screen) course. production. As a costume designer my “I’m a film-maker alongside my work with a variety of other students studies at Toi Whakaari, working as an costumiers, actors, directors, art director/production designer/ technicians and managers - was a costume designer. I’ve also recently wonderful learning opportunity. been working in the realm of costume “I am graduating this year in for Opera.” November and hope to continue The Design programme at Toi working in costume for both stage and Whakaari focuses on key core skills in screen.” the first year and then allows students Applications for entry into the a great degree of flexibility in years two Design programme at Toi Whakaari for 2015 close on Friday the 10th of October. Alex G & Duke's costume from As You Like It.
New Design Course Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School’s three year Bachelor of Design (Stage & Screen) programme is the newest course in the suite of training opportunities on offer at New Zealand’s oldest dedicated tertiary training provider for the performing arts. The course is attracting students from a wide variety of specialist areas and backgrounds. One of these is third year designer Alexandra Guillot. Born in Hong Kong, she moved to New Zealand to attend secondary school. After finishing school she moved to Sydney to study special effects makeup and prosthetics
Check out Toi Whakaari’s most recent costume showcase. Simply use your phone or tablet to scan the QR code or visit http://youtu.be/YUJtVLwbxTk
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For more information about all our courses check out their website www.toiwhakaari.ac.nz
Why A Drama School’s Staff Matters
When considering which drama school is right for you, it’s important to consider the staff. After all, they’ll be teaching you how to do what they do; you want to know that your teachers are not only respected as performers, but that they have a deep commitment to passing on their skills and knowledge to the next generation. Most schools will showcase their staff on their website, so check out their credentials - where they trained, what they’ve been in, how long they’ve been teaching. Sometimes you’ll see familiar faces from TV or film, but don’t underestimate staff who may be primarily stage actors. They may not be instantly recognisable, but may still
have longstanding careers and expertise to share. For instance, on staff at Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art is Clare Moss, who has worked with just about every major theatre company in Australia - from the Melbourne Theatre Company to the Queensland Theatre Company to the Black Swan Theatre Company in WA - as well as having completed stints on Neighbours and other popular series in the past. But do you consider her a ‘household name’? Perhaps not. But she’s a professional actor who also loves to teach. Conversely, don’t be starstruck don’t pick a drama school on the basis of some youthful celebrity who is barely out of drama school themselves. They may have scored a role on a hit TV show, but do they have the wisdom of years to teach? Teachers, being actors themselves, may also take leave from their teaching posts from time to time to work on projects. It can also be a good thing; it means your teachers are still out there practising their craft. For many tutors, teaching is a very satisfying way to supplement their income as performers. But watch out for those teachers who are jaded or have been there too long. While it’s tough in the industry, you still need to learn your craft in an environment that’s safe, supportive, and creative.
Look for staff who care for students while also maintaining an objective eye. Often you can meet them and chat at school open days and performances. In addition to its permanent staff like Clare, Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art invites a range of guest speakers each year. These may be from local industry, touring shows, and others who are passing through town. Among the regulars is actor William Zappa, who is the school’s patron and helps facilitate industry connections. A good drama school will be wellconnected into the communities, both in-person and online, that are going to maximise your employment opportunities in the future. So yes - teachers are important in actor training institutions. Ultimately, you have your career to thank them for. For more information about Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art go to www.cada.net.au
Snapshots From Home
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Learn The Language Of Jazz Music is a language. It’s a form of communication that speaks to people universally. Just like any language, music has structure and expresses ideas and emotions. This is especially the case for jazz music. Each musical note is like a syllable, with a combination of notes creating a melody that can represent one’s opinions, ideas and emotions much like a combination of words and sentences can. To speak a language, you firstly need to understand the alphabet and simple words and sentence structures to be able to communicate. In music, this can be translated into understanding the 12 musical notes in western harmony. The next step is understanding the scales and arpeggios that transform notes into a logical order, much like syllables into words. This is how you start to speak the language of music. From there, like in learning a language, you begin to explore certain combinations of sounds that increase in complexity to express your ideas. The greatest thing about jazz music is that it is an improvised music set over a specific structure, just like having a conversation with someone. However,
56 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
language of jazz to give you the tools to express your ideas, opinions and emotions musically, no matter how simple or how complex. One of the graduates of JMI, Mel Lathouras, who is a vocalist working professionally in the music scene in Brisbane said: “When you want to learn a language fluently, you go and live in the country where it is spoken. It’s the same deal with jazz. I decided to study in an institution where its people are passionate about speaking the language. From my personal experience, JMI is the best jazz ‘language immersion’ program in Queensland. I feel very privileged to have learnt from the best in the jazz is a language that can transcend industry and I feel well equipped for my language barriers. You could be in a career as a jazz singer.” jam session with people from all over JMI offers a 3-year Bachelor of the world who cannot speak a word of Music in Jazz Performance that has your language and still make music been recognised and commended by together and have a fluent conversation some of the biggest international with each other. Having this skill can names in jazz including Wynton equip a musician to express themselves Marsalis, Aaron Goldberg, John Riley in any genre of music and the musical and James Morrison. opportunities are boundless. For more information regarding courses At Jazz Music Institute (JMI), the on offer at JMI visit focus is on learning the tradition and www.jazz.qld.edu.au
From Canberra To Hollywood
Screenwise CEO and Principal Denise Roberts remembers the young Stef well. “She had the unique ability to back up her acting skills with confidence and passion while under pressure,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure when you’re young and you have to perform in front of the big guns.” After her time with Screenwise, ever-focussed Stef attended professional workshops with AIPA, the Australian Institute for Performing Arts. In 2009 this led to her winning the prestigious Blair Milan Memorial Scholarship, which assists actors to live and train for a year in America. Now firmly based in Los Angeles, Stef did the rounds of auditions and try-outs. Small roles lead to a brief appearance in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). In the next two Hunger Games movies she’ll be playing one of the leads. On receiving the big news, Stef contacted Screenwise with a note of encouragement to help inspire fellow students at the school: “I hope this just inspires everyone at Screenwise not to give up on their dreams!!! Tell them to hang in there!!... Life changed forever. Aussie actor Stef Dawson hits The Big revenge drama - both shot in and Thanks for your support and hope to Time after much dedicated training in around New York. Sydney The unknown Aussie newcomer will see you sometime! xxx“ Frank Hatherley definitely have arrived. “I’ve been training for this since I While her red hair, blue eyes and was 13,” Canberra-born actress Stef elfin features ensured that Stef would be remembered by casting directors, Dawson recently told the Sydney her ‘overnight success’ had been Morning Herald. “It’s been a hard slog.” carefully planned and driven by It’s stardom she’s talking about, full dedicated training and hard work. -blooded Hollywood-style movie Always mad-keen on acting, the Canberra Girls Grammar School stardom. For Stef had landed a key role in the new two-movie adaptation student was driven by her mother to weekly acting classes at NIDA in of The Hunger Games: Mockinjay. Huge news, indeed: the first film in the Sydney. ‘young adult’ franchise took $765 After attaining a Performing Arts million at the international box office. degree at the University of Wollongong, in 2005 she enrolled on Part 1 is released this December the one-year Showreel Course at and Part 2 in December 2015. And Screenwise Film and TV School, a between these releases she’ll be seen playing the lead in two further boutique Sydney acting school offering independent movies - Creedmoria, a specialist, career-focussed courses in performing for screens big and little. comedy, and The Paper Store, a Stef Dawson
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 57
Cinematic Theatre Comes of Age The integration of live performance and the magic of the big screen is more popular than ever. Brad Jennings and Steven Maxwell have been pioneers of the art form. Their company Markwell Presents was founded in 2002 after the school teachers met and worked together to produce original work. Brad and Steven coined the term Cinematic Theatre to describe the fusion of live performance and screen technology. The integrated use of video projection during stage scenes and scene transitions allows the stage to always be live with action, to become continuous, therefore creating a flow that engages the audience. They have devised a comprehensive creative development to production process of integrating stage video and live performance, which they teach to arts educators and students so they can put into practise the conventions and elements that they utilise. Cinematic Theatre has become popular where they are based in Queensland and was recently added to the Senior Queensland Drama Syllabus as a contemporary style for study. With the publishing of their Cinematic Theatre Handbook by Playlab they are hoping to spread the style across Australian schools and inspire new media and theatre projects. Their first theatre collaboration was in 2001, when they produced Blow Out, written and directed by Jennings, managed by Maxwell at the Cow Shed, James Cook University. They have written and produced 14 new plays for young people featuring Cinematic Theatre since then. Markwell Presents has also worked with La Boite Theatre Co, QTC and Zen Zen Zo to design and integrate visual sequences for their main stage performances. Markwell Presents also produces the YAiR project, an annual ensemble program that is an opportunity for young theatre makers to work and play in a theatre venue with a 58 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Online extras! Hear the Directorâ€™s thoughts on the creative process behind Spill. http://youtu.be/3497_l82Apo
professional theatre company. YAiR brings together a group of 15 to 18 year olds who have been cast from an open audition, who then work on a theme and co-devise a one hour contemporary cinematic theatre performance. The production is then staged in a professional venue for a week, allowing the young performers to experience a performance season of dramatic work.
Markwell Presents provides positive learning experiences for secondary students in drama and film studies. They offer an extensive range of support services for drama and media teachers including professional development workshops, artist-inresidence programs, in-class workshops, text and script books and live performance DVDs. For more information visit their website www.markwellpresents.com
Getting The Most Out Of Your Performance Space
cabling to get systems to talk? Will you need more? What have you got already? Do you need to consider the compatibility of older technology versus new technology? For example, are you So youâ€™ve finally been given a budget control, installed sound reinforcement, using an analogue audio console and for your performance space to make it projectors, staging and hoists or stage want to move to digital technology? versatile enough to hold either a drapes. Loose equipment are items Can your existing gear be utilised? Legislation? graduation ceremony or a full musical such as lighting fixtures, microphones Are you up to date with all WH&S production, but where to start? Here and control desks. If you want an integrated system do and fire obligations, or do you need to are some pointers from Harris you have enough in your budget to have your existing facilities checked Movement Engineering. cover everything? If not, what about before you commence your spend? HME are fit out and equipment leasing? What do you do first? HME What is the space used for? experts within all areas of the Determining the purpose of the can assist in preparing a 3-5 year plan space is the key in answering how you designed to achieve your specific needs. Performing Arts; Staging, Audio, Video Expertise? and Lighting. We manufacture our own spend your budget. Is the space for Do you have internal expertise or brands and import directly from major assemblies, drama, musical European suppliers. In education we productions, recitals, a dance studio or will you have to look at someone understand how to work with you in will you rent it out? Thereâ€™s no point external? Remember professional order to get the best result from your investing in an automated fly system if equipment is not a home theatre system. Sometimes a little professional allocated budget. your main use of the space is school advice can go a long way. assemblies. Infrastructure? What is the focus of your budget If you would like to discuss your spend? Does your existing building have the next project Typically there are two focus points infrastructure to take the equipment call 1300 USE HME or email: of a budget. Installed infrastructure or you want to have? What load will the firstname.lastname@example.org roof hold? How much power do you loose equipment. Installed infrastructure are items such as lighting have? Do you have the right data
www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 59
Dean Sinclair as Sir Joseph Porter and Brendan Iddles as Captain Corcoran in the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney (formerly Savoy Opera) production of HMS Pinafore at Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre: Shore School, William St, North Sydney from Sept 26 to Oct 4. Photo: Tim Corr. Annie and the orphans from Savoyards Musical Comedy Societyâ€™s production of Annie, from 27 September to 11 October at the Iona Performing Arts Centre (Qld). Photo: Christopher Thomas.
60 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Strathfield Musical Society’s The Phantom Of The Opera Production Team pictured with Strathfield's patron Julie Anthony AM OBE. L-R: Brian Hughes, Kathryn Meekings, Julie Anthony, Melissa Stewart and Philip Clark. Photo: Ray Wing-Lun.
CLOC Celebrates One Elle of a Musical with the return to Melbourne of the effervescent and very pink Legally Blonde: The Musical. Melanie Ott is revelling in her second consecutive lead role with CLOC as Elle. This time, however, she has had to move over to share the spotlight with Taco the Chihuahua (pictured with Melanie), who has threatened to become quite the upstaging diva since being cast as Elle’s beloved ‘family’ member Bruiser. Sarah Watson plays eccentric and warm-hearted hairdresser Paulette Buonofuonte. Legally Blonde runs from October 3-18 at the National Theatre in St Kilda. www.cloc.org.au or 1300 362 547.
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On Stage A.C.T. Bell Shakespeare’s The Dream by William Shakespeare. Until Sept 13. Canberra Theatre Centre. (02) 6275 2700. The Magic Flute by Mozart. Opera Australia. Sept 4 - 6. Canberra Theatre. (02) 6275 2700. Rolling Thunder Vietnam by Bryce Hallett. Blake Entertainment. Sept 7. Canberra Theatre. (02) 6275 2700. Equus by Peter Shaffer. Canberra Repertory Theatre. Sept 25 - Oct 11. Theatre 3, Acton. (02) 6257 1950. The Gruffalo. Based on the picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Canberra Theatre Centre and CDP Productions. Sept 25 27. Canberra Theatre. (02) 6275 2700.
62 Stage Whispers
A.C.T. & New South Wales
The Wharf Revue. Sydney Theatre Company. Sept 30 Oct 4. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. (02) 6275 2700. The Harbinger by Mathew Ryan and David Morton. Critical Stages / Dead Puppet Society. Oct 1 - 4. Street Theatre 1. (02) 6247 1223. Pete The Sheep. Based on Jackie French and Bruce Whatley’s picture book. Adapted by Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge and Tim McGarry. Music by Phillip Scott. Monkey Baa Theatre Company. Oct 7- 11. Street Theatre 1. (02) 6247 1223. August: Osage County by Tracey Letts. Free-Rain Theatre Company. Oct 17 - Nov 2. The Courtyard Studio. (02) 6275 2700.
New South Wales Strictly Ballroom The Musical by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Global Creatures and Bazmark. Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star. Continuing. 1300 795 267. Wicked. Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. Based on the Gregory Maguire novel. From Sept 20. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Ticketmaster. The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein. John Frost / Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. From Sept 7. (02) 9250 7777. Macbeth by William Shakespeare. STC. Sydney Theatre. Until Sept 27. 9250 1777. Secret Bridesmaids' Business by Elizabeth Coleman. Arts
Theatre Cronulla. Until Sept 6. (02) 9523 2779. Accomplice by Rupert Holmes. Castle Hill Players. Until Sept 6. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground. 9634 2929. Oedipus Rex. Belvoir. Until Sept 14. Belvoir St Theatre, Downstairs. (02) 9699 3444. Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer. Theatre on Brunker. Until Sept 13. St Stephen’s Church Hall, Adamstown (Newcastle). (02) 4956 1263. Lost in Boston by Neil Simon. Newcastle Theatre Company. Until Sept 6. Newcastle Theatre Company Theatre, Lambton. 4952 4958 (3-6pm Mon - Fri). The Jack Manning Trilogy by David Williamson. Face to Face, A Conversation and Charitable Intent. Ensemble Theatre at The Concourse, Chatswood.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Until Sept 27. (02) 9929 0644. The Chosen. Adapted by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok from the novel by Chaim Potok. Moira Blumenthal Productions and Encounters@Shalom. Until Sept 14. Shalom College, UNSW, Kensington. 9381 4160. The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan. Roo Theatre Co. Until Sept 13. Harbour Theatre. (02) 4297 2891. Unholy Ghosts by Campion Decent. White Box Theatre and Griffin Independent. World Premiere. SBW Stables Theatre. Until Sept 20. (02) 9361 3817. Sydney Fringe Festival. September 1 - 30. www.sydneyfringe.com The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. State
Theatre Co. of South Australia. Sept 2 - 6. IPAC. (02) 4224 5999. Out of Fear by Dominic Witkop. Night Sky Theatre Company / Sydney Fringe. Sept 3 - 14. TAP Gallery Theatre, Darlinghurst. Rolling Thunder Vietnam by Bryce Hallett. Blake Entertainment. Sept 3. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr. Music and lyrics by Sammy Fain and Bob Hilliard, Oliver Wallace and Cy Coban, Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert, Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston. The National Theatre Company. Sept 3 13. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Sept 26 - Oct 4. Singleton Civic Centre. 0408 733 630. Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz. Ensemble
New South Wales Theatre. From Sept 4. (02) 9929 0644. Sydney Comedy Festival Showcase. Sept 4. Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. (02) 4990 7134. Sept 5. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Love, Life and Opera: Great Moments from Great Works. Opera Hunter. Sept 4 - 7. Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre, Warners Bay. (02) 4943 1672. Still Awake Still! by Jessica Wilson. Jump Leads and Jessica Wilson. Sept 5, Dubbo Regional Theatre; Sept 8 & 9, Capitol Theatre, Tamworth; Sept 12, Griffith Regional Theatre; Sept 16, Civic Theatre, Newcastle, (02) 4929 1977; Sept 19 & 20, Riverside Theatre Parramatta; Sept 23 27, Seymour Centre, Sydney. Essgee’s Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. Parkes
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Musical and Dramatic Society. Parkes Little Theatre. Sept 6 27. Year of the Abbott. Satirical Revue. Sydney Fringe Festival. Sept 6, 7 & 27. The Chippendale Hotel. Children of the Sun by Maxim Gorky, in a new version by Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre. Sept 8 to Oct 25. 9250 1777. The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Opera Australia and John Frost. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Sept 8 - Nov 2. 9318 8200. Noise Complaint by Sarah Gaul. Sydney Fringe Festival. Sept 9 - 14. Imperial Hotel, Erskenville. 9550 6087. Annie. Book by Thomas Meehan, Music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin. Miranda Musical
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On Stage Society. Sept 10 - 14. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. (02) 8814 5827. LOVEBiTES. Book and Lyrics by James Millar, music by Peter Rutherford. Wooden Horse Productions. Sept 10 - Oct 5. Hayes Theatre Co, Potts Point. (02) 8065 7337. Kryptonite by Sue Smith. Sydney Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia. Wharf 1. Sept 11 to Oct 18. (02) 9250 1777. Playwrights. New plays by Regional Institute of Performing Arts students. Sept 11 - 13. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. That Day in September by Artie Van Why. Wollongong Workshop Theatre, Gwynneville. Sept 11 - 13. (02) 4225 9407. Legally Blonde. Book by Heather Hach. Music & lyrics by Nell Benjamin & Laurence O'Keefe. Penrith Musical Comedy Company. Sept 12 20. Q Theatre - Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, 597 High Street, Penrith. (02) 4723 7600. The Things We Do, by Michael Meany, and Mad Marv - Road Worrier, by Richard Howard. Footlice Theatre Company. Sept 12 - 20. Newcastle Community Arts Centre, Hamilton East. 0405 154 174. Circus Oz 2014: But Wait...There's More. Sept 12 13. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Oh, What A Lovely War! By Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop ensemble. Phoenix Theatre. Sept 12- 27. Phoenix Theatre, Bridge St., Coniston. 0407 067 343 H.M.S. Pinafore. Gilbert & Sullivan. Savoy Arts Company. Sept 13 - Oct 4. Sept 13 at Bundanoon, Sept 21 at Collaroy and Sept 26 to Oct 4 64 Stage Whispers
New South Wales
at Smith Auditorium, Shore College. Somewhere, Beyond the Footlights by Jordan Shea. The Sydney Fringe Festival. Sept 13 - 16. 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. The Wharf Revue 2014. Sydney Theatre Co. Sept 16 20. IPAC. (02) 4224 5999. Four Dogs and a Bone by John Patrick Shanley. Brief Candle Productions and Sydney Independent Theatre Company. Sept 16 - 27. Old Fitzroy Theatre. The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman & members of Tectonic Theater Project. Lieder Theatre Company. Sept 17 - 27. Lieder Theatre, 52 Goldsmith St, Goulburn. (02) 48215066. The Chosen by Lachlan Philpott. Tantrum Youth Arts. Sept 17 - 20. Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre, Warners Bay. Oct 1 - 4. Australian Theatre for Young People, Sydney. (02) 9270 2400. Miranda by Peter Blackmore. Maitland Repertory Theatre. Sept 17 - Oct 4. Maitland Repertory Theatre. (02) 4931 2800. Blithe Spirit by Noël Coward. Maitland Repertory Theatre, at its theatre, 244 High St, Maitland. Sept 17 - Oct 4. (02) 4931 2800. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, adapted for the stage by Mark Kilmurry & Anna Crawford. Music by Daryl Wallis. Ensemble Theatre. From Sept 18. (02) 9929 0644. Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice. Holroyd Musical & Dramatic Society Inc. Sept 18 - 21. Redgum Centre, Wentworthville. 0497 051 798
Boeing Boeing by Mark Camoletti. Roo Theatre. Sept 19 - 27. Roo Theatre, Cnr Wentworth & Addison Sts, Shellharbour. (02) 4297 2891. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Canterbury Theatre Guild. Sept 19 - 28. Bexley RSL. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Belvoir. Sept 20 - Nov 2. Belvoir St Theatre | Upstairs. (02) 9699 3444. The Vegetable Plot LIVE. Featuring Luke Escombe and All Our Exes Live In Texas. Sydney Fringe. Sept 20 & 21. The Annex, 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. (02) 9550 6087. Jack and the Beanstalk by William Ford. Young Peoples Theatre Newcastle Inc. Sept 22 - Nov 15. Young Peoples Theatre Newcastle Inc., Hamilton. 0249 615340 (Fridays 4pm to 6pm and Saturdays 9am to 1pm) The Clegg Festival. Regional Institute of Performing Arts. Sept 22 - Oct 5. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Desperately Young at Heart by Robert Hoffman. Sydney Fringe. Sept 23 - 27. New Theatre, Newtown. (02) 9550 6087. Sydney Children’s Festival 2014. Sept 23 - 28. Seymour Centre, Chippendale. (02) 9351 7940. The Last Confession by Roger Crane. Starring David Suchet. From Sept 24. Theatre Royal, Sydney. 1300 111 011. The Witches by Roald Dahl, adapted from the stage play by David Wood. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre. Sept 24 - Oct 5. (02) 9361 3817.
Pete the Sheep. Adaptors Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge and Tim McgGarry. Composer / Lyricist Phillip Scott. Merrigong Kids. Sept 25 & 26. Gordon Theatre, Wollongong. (02) 4224 5999. Circus Anonymous. Sydney Fringe Festival. Sept 25 - 27. PACT Theatre, Erskineville. Free event (donations appreciated! Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Rockdale Musical Society. Sept 26 - Oct 4. Rockdale Town Hall. 0433 990896. Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling. Armidale Drama and Musical Society. Sept 26 - Oct 6. Hoskins Theatre, The Armidale School. HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Sydney. Sept 26 - Oct 4. Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre: Shore School, North Sydney. 0420 678 595. Howie The Rookie by Mark O’Rowe. Redline Productions and Vanessa Claire Productions, in association with Sydney Independent Theatre Company. Sept 30 Oct 25. Old Fitzroy Theatre. Is This Thing on? By Zoë Coombs Marr. Belvoir. Oct 2 26. Belvoir St Theatre, Downstairs. (02) 9699 3444. Monkey…Journey to the West. Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image. Oct 2 - 11. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. (02) 8839 3399 Johnny Come Lately by Brian McGinn (local playwright). Wollongong Workshop Theatre. Oct 3 - 11. (02) 4225 9407. Theatre located at 192 Gipps Road, Gwynneville. Pride and Prejudice Adapted by J.Hanreddy and JR Sullivan, from Jane Austen. Castle Hill Players. Oct 3 - 25. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground. 9634 2929.
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On Stage It Runs In The Family by Ray Cooney. Roo Theatre Co. Oct 3 - 18. Harbour Theatre. (02) 4297 2891. The Boys by Gordon Graham. Newcastle Theatre Company. Oct 4 - 18. Newcastle Theatre Company Theatre, 90 De Vitre St, Lambton. 4952 4958 (36pm Mon - Fri) Flowering Cherry by Robert Bolt. Pymble Players. Oct 8 Nov 1. Cnr Bromley Ave & Mona Vale Rd, Pymble. MCA Ticketing 1300 306 776. The Dream by Williiam Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare / Merrigong Theatre Co. Oct 8 - 11. IPAC, Wollongong. (02) 4224 5999. Beauty and the Beast. Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton. Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan and Musical Society. Oct 8 - 12. Maitland Town Hall. October 18. Newcastle Grammar School Park Campus Theatre, Cooks Hill (Newcastle). Oct 25 - 26. James Theatre, Dungog. Disneyâ€™s The Little Mermaid Jr. Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, book by Doug
Wright. Hunter Region Drama School. Oct 9 - 11. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Calpurnia Descending by Sisters Grimm. Created by Ash Flanders and Declan Greene. Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre. Wharf 2. Oct 9 to Nov 8. 9250 1777. Death and The Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. Oct 10 - 25. Phoenix Theatre, Bridge St. Coniston. 0407 067 343. The Odd Couple by Neil Simon. DAPA. Oct 10 - 25. DAPA Theatre, Hamilton (Newcastle). (02) 4962 3270. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Gosford Musical Society. Oct 12 - Nov 25. Laycock Theatre, Gosford. (02) 4323 3233. Checklist For An Armed Robber by Vanessa Bates. Stooged Theatre. Oct 15 - 18. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Jesus Christ Superstar. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Willoughby Theatre Company. Oct 16 26. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. 1300 795 012.
New South Wales Celtic Legends. XDR (Australia). Oct 16 - 17. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Emerald City by David Williamson. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre. Oct 17 - Dec 6. (02) 9361 3817. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Strathfield Musical Society. Oct 17 - 25. Latvian Theatre, 32 Parnell St. (02) 8007 7785. The Producers by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. The Regals Musical Society. Oct 17 - 25. Rockdale Town Hall. 0449 REGALS. The Wedding Singer. Music: Matthew Sklar. Lyrics: Chad Beguelin. Book: Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy. Engadine Musical Society. Oct 17 - 26. Engadine Community Centre. 1300 616 063. The Addams Family. Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, Music and Lyrics By Andrew Lippa. Based on Characters Created by Charles Addams. Shire Music Theatre. Oct 17 - 26. Sutherland
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Memorial School of Arts, East Parade. Jack and the Beanstalk. Adapted by Sarah Edwards. Lane Cove Theatre Company. Oct 17 - Nov 1. Lane Cove Public School, Austin Street, Lane Cove. 1300 306 776. King Lear by William Shakespeare. Griffith & Regional Association of the Performing Arts (GRAPA). Oct 17 - Nov 1. (02) 6962 8218 BH. Pete the Sheep. Adapted for the stage by Eva Di Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge, from the picture book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley; composerlyricist Phillip Scott. Monkey Baa Theatre. Oct 20 - 21. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. Henry V by William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Oct 21 - Nov 15. Sydney Opera House, Playhouse. (02) 9250 7777. The Wharf Revue 2014. Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Oct 22 to Dec 20. Wharf 1. 9250 1777.
Stage Whispers 65
On Stage Dags by Debra Oswald. Upstage Youth Theatre. Oct 22 -25. Firebug Photography Studio, Maitland. www.upstageyouththeatre.com.au Blue / Orange by Joe Penhall. Ensemble Theatre. From Oct 23. (02) 9929 0644 Nunsense by Dan Goggin. Bankstown Theatre Company. Oct 24 - Nov 2. Bankstown Arts Centre, Bankstown. 96761191. The Tap Pack. Oct 24 - 26. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. (02) 4929 1977. My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe. Tamworth Musical Society. Oct 24 - Nov 8. Capitol Theatre, Tamworth. Thoroughly Modern Millie. Music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Scanlan based on the 1967 Julie Andrews film. Eastwood Uniting Church Musical Society Inc. Oct 24 - Nov 8. Eastwood Uniting Church. (02) 8061 7195. A Horror Musical by Jenny Tibbits. Ruby Productions. Oct 25 - Nov 8. Emu Sports Club, Leonay Parade, Leonay. (02) 47355422.
66 Stage Whispers
New South Wales & Queensland
Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose (adapted from his 1954 teleplay). Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. Oct 31 Nov 8. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. (Comedy). Pigs Fly Productions. Oct 31 - Nov 15. Mittagong Playhouse Cnr Old Hume Highway & Bowral Road. The Odd Couple by Neil Simon. Woy Woy Little Theatre. Oct 31 - Nov 16. Peninsula Theatre, Woy Woy. (02) 4344 4737. The Hallelujah Girls by Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wood. Guild Theatre. Oct 31 - Nov 29. Guild Theatre, Walz St. Rockdale. (02) 9521 6358 Mon-Sat 9am to 5pm. Queensland Little Shop of Horrors by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman. Phoneix Ensemble. Until Sept 6. Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh. 3103 1546. The Addams Family by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. Until Sept 13. 3369 2344.
Swan Lake. Ballet by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa & Lev Ivanov. Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky. American Ballet Theatre. Until Sept 4. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 136 246 Rabbit Hole by David LindsayAbaire. Villanova Players. Until Sept 13. TAFE Theatre, Morningside. 3395 5168. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Until Sept 20. 5532 2096. The Furze Family Variety Hour. Drama. deBASE Productions / Brisbane Festival. Shopfront, Judith Wright Centre. Sept 27. 3872 9000. I Want To Know What Love Is. Drama. Good Room / QTC / Brisbane Festival. Bille Brown Studio. Sept 4 - 13. 1800 355 528. Control Alt Delete. Flying Fruit Fly Circus. Performance Space,
Judith Wright Centre. Sept 4 6. 3872 9000. Three Masterpieces (Bach/ Scarlatti/Bernstein). American Ballet Theatre. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. Sept 5-7. 136 246. 1984 by George Orwell. Cairns Little Theatre. Rondo Theatre, Cairns. Sept 5 - 13. 1300 855 835. Portrait of Dorian Gray by John Wickman. SQUIDS Theatrical Inc. Sept 5 - 13. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. Brisbane Festival. Various Venues. Sept 6 - 27. 136 246. Desh. Dance. Akram Khan Company (UK) / Brisbane Festival. Playhouse, QPAC. Sept 6 - 13. 136 246. A Dollâ€™s House by Henrik Ibsen. La Boite. Roundhouse Theatre. Sept 6-27. 3007 8600.
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Bookworms by Bernard Farrell. Centenary Theatre Group. Chelmer Community Centre. Sept 6-27. 0435 591 720. The Shadow King by Tom E. Lewis & Michael Kantor. Malthouse Theatre. Powerhouse Theatre, Brisbane. Sept 9 - 13. 3358 8600 Bombshells by Joanna MurraySmith. Gardens Theatre. Sept 8-9. 3138 4455. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Ipswich Musical Theatre Company. Sept 12 20. Ipswich Civic Centre. (07) 3810 6100. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Nash Theatre. Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm. Sept 13 Oct 4. 3379 4775.
The Perfect American. Opera by Philip Glass. Opera Q / Brisbane Festival. Concert Hall, QPAC. Sept 15 - 20. 136 246 Point and Shoot. Musical Theatre. Holland St Productions / QUT / Brisbane Festival. La Boite Studio. Sept 16 - 20. 136 246 But Wait…There’s More. Circus Oz. Playhouse, QPAC. Sept 17-20. 136 246. Deluge. Dance. Motherboard Productions / Brisbane Festival. Powerhouse. Sept 1720. 3358 8600. Let’s Misbehave. A 1920s Jazz Age Party. Top Hat Productions. Spotlight Theatre Company, Basement Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Sept 18 - Oct 5. 5539 4255,. The Button Event. Devised by Todd MacDonald with Bagryana Popov. QTC. Bille
Queensland Brown Studio. Sept 18-27. 1 800 355 528. Oklahoma! by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Tweed Theatre Company. Tweed Heads Cultural Centre. Sept 19 - Oct 4. 1800 674 414. The Lion King by Roger Allers, Irene Mecchi, Elton John, Tim Rice Mark Mancina. Lebo M, Julie Taymor, Jay Rifkin and Hans Zimmer. Disney Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. From Sept 21. 136 246. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. Sept 23 - Nov 8. 3369 2344. Scotch and Soda. Company 2 and the Crusty Suitcase Band. Performance Space, Judith Wright Centre. Sept 23-27. 3872 9000.
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Monkey…Journey To The West. Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image. Powerhouse Theatre. Sept 24 - 27. 3358 8600 Black Diggers by Tom Wright. QTC. Playhouse, QPAC. Sept 24 - Oct 12. 1800 355 528. Mr Wonderful by James Hobson. Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang. Sept 26 - Oct 11. 5596 0300 Annie by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Savoyards @ Iona Performing Arts Centre. Sept 27 - Oct 11. 3893 4321 Monty Python’s Spamalot by Eric Idle and John Du Prez. Harvest Rain. Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane. Oct 2-5. 1300 364 001 One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Dale Wasserman. Arts Theatre, Brisbane. Oct 4 - Nov 1. 3369 2344.
Stage Whispers 67
Queensland & Victoria
Sumner. Until Sept 20. (03) 8688 0800. Heroes by Tom Stoppard (adapted from Gerald Sibleyras's Le vent des peuplias). The Mount Players. Until Sept 20. 5426 1892. The Sublime by Brendan Cowell. MTC. World Premiere. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. Until Oct 4. (03) 8688 0800. George Dandin by Molière. Melbourne French Theatre Inc. Sept 2 - 13. Pop-up theatre, 203-205 Canning Street, Carlton. 9349 2250. The Last Confession by Roger Crane. Starring David Suchet. From Sept 2. Comedy Theatre Royal, Melbourne. 1300 111 011. Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Red Stitch. Sept 3 - Oct 4. Red Church, New Farm. Oct 31 Co. Until Sept 6. Brighton Arts Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda. 9533 8083. Nov 22. 3379 4775 & Cultural Centre. 1300 752 126. Bent by Martin Sherman. Cut Victoria Lunch Productions. Sept 3 Spike Heels by Theresa Les Misérables by Claude13. Theatre Works, St Kilda. Rebeck. Q44 Theatre Michel Schonberg, Alain 9534 3388. Company & Crazy Chair Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer. Productions. Until Sept 14. Farragut North by Beau Her Majesty’s Theatre, Chapel off Chapel. 8290 Willison. Williamstown Little Melbourne. Ticketek. 7000. Theatre. Sept 4 - 20. (03) Wicked. Music and lyrics by 9885 9678. 13 A New Musical. Music Stephen Schwartz and a book and lyrics by Jason Robert Waking Up Dead by Trudy by Winnie Holzman. Based on Brown. Book by Dan Elish and Hellier. fortyfivedownstairs & the Gregory Maguire novel. Robert Horn. Beaumaris HeLD Productions. Sept 4 Regent Theatre, Melbourne. Theatre Inc. Until Sept 6. 14. Fortyfivedownstairs. (03) Until Sept 9. Ticketmaster. 9583 6896. 9662 9966. The Other Place by Sharr You’re Driving Me Crazy! Los Here Comes The Night, Songs White. The Basin Theatre Trios Amigos. Until Sept 7. from The Van Morrison Group. Until Sept 6. 1300 Songbook with Melbourne 784 668 (7pm to 9pm only). Chapel off Chapel. 8290 7000. Symphony Orchestra. Sept 5 The Rise and Fall of Little and 6. Hamer Hall Children of Eden by Stephen Voice by Jim Cartwright. Schwartz and John Caird. PEP The Club by David Williamson. Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre Productions. Until Sept 6. Geelong Repertory Theatre Co. Inc. Until Sept 6. 9735 Doncaster Playhouse. 0418 Company. Sept 5 - 20. 1777. 549 187. Woodbin Theatre. (03) 5225 The Two-Character Play by 1200. Tennessee Williams. Winterfall The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Theatre Company. Until Sept Orr. Eltham Little Theatre Inc. Sh…Don’t Tell The Bride by Until Sept 13. Eltham Paul Rourke. Sunshine 7. The Theatre Husk, Performing Arts Centre. 0411 Community Theatre Inc. Sept Northcote. 713 095. 5 - 20. Dempster Park Hall. Chilling and Killing My 0439 653 800. The Effect by Lucy Prebble. Annabel Lee by Aidan MTC. Southbank Theatre, The Fennessy. Brighton Theatre
Ghost Light in association with Moving Light Productions will present the Melbourne premiere of Carrie: The Musical for a three-week season at Chapel Off Chapel from September 25, with Chelsea Gibb as Margaret White and Emily Milledge as Carrie White. Carrie will be directed by Terence O'Connell, choreographed by Lisa Minett, with lighting by Jason Bovaird, design by Jacob Battista and musical supervision by David Piper.
My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe. Prima Pine Rivers Musical Association Inc. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. Oct 9-12. 3283 0407 Angel Gear by Sven Swenson. La Boite Indie. Roundhouse Theatre. Oct 14 - Nov 8. 3007 8600. Women in Voice. 25th Anniversary. Performance Space, Judith Wright Centre. Oct 16 - 25. 3872 9000. Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Phoenix Ensemble, Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh. Oct 17 -Nov 15. 3103 1546. Dangerfield Park by Sven Swenson. La Boite Indie. Roundhouse Theatre. Oct 21 Nov 3. 3007 8600 Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Spotlight Theatre Company, Gold Coast. Oct 24 - Nov 15. 5539 4255. Once Upon a Midnight - An Evening with Edgar Alan Poe. Nash Theatre. Merthyr Uniting
68 Stage Whispers
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage That Good Night by Deborah Fabbro. Mordialloc Theatre Co Inc. Sept 5 - 20. Shirley Burke Theatre. 9587 5141. Let's Get It On - The Life and Music of Marvin Gaye. Starring Bert LaBonte. Sept 9 14. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. 132 849. Calvin Berger - A Musical by Barry Wyner. Sept 10 - 13. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. Amadeus by Peter Shaffer. Heidelberg Theatre Co. Sept 11 - 27. 9457 4117. Dora’s Pirate Adventure. Nick Jr. and Life Like Touring. Sept 11 - 13. The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. (03) 9281 8000 / 136 100. High Fidelity - The Musical. Music by Tom Kitt; lyrics by Amanda Green; book by David Lyndsay-Abaire; based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby. Pursued by a
Bear. Sept 11 - 21. Chapel off Chapel. (03) 8290 7000. Melbourne Fringe Festival ’15. Sept 17 - Oct 5. www.melbournefringe.com.au Parade by Jason Robert Brown. The Collective. Sept 17 - 28. fortyfivedownstairs. (03) 9662 9966. Almost Face to Face by Stephen House. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Sept 17 - 28. La Mama. (03) 9347 6142. Once Were Pirates by Emilie Collyer. Darebin Arts’ Speakeasy / Melbourne Fringe. Sept 17 - 27. Northcote Town Hall, Studio 2. (03) 9481 9500. MKA: Richard II. Darebin Arts’ Speakeasy / Melbourne Fringe. Sept 17 - 27. Northcote Town Hall, Studio 2. (03) 9481 9500. Death of a Salesman: The Sitcom. Darebin Arts’
Victoria Speakeasy / SeaSault / Melbourne Fringe. Sept 17 28. Northcote Town Hall, Studio 1. (03) 9481 9500. How Does Your Garden Grow by Geoff Bamber. Hartwell Players. Sept 19 - 27. Ashwood College Performing Arts Centre. 9513 9581. Glamping - with Bobby and the Pins. Melbourne Fringe. Sept 19 - 26. Fringe Hub Ballroom, Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne. The Riders by Iain Grandage and Alison Croggon, based on the novel by Tim Winton. Malthouse. Sept 23 - Oct 4. Merlyn Theatre. (03) 9685 5111 (select 2). King in Exile by Bradley Kendo. Nice Productions. Sept 24 - 27. Gasworks Arts Park. (03) 9699 3253 Marlin by Damien Millar. MTC / Arena Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre,
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The Lawler. Sept 25 - Oct 11. (03) 8688 0800. Carrie - The Musical. Music by Michael Gore. Lyrics by Dean Pitchford. Book by Lawrence D. Cohen. Based on the novel by Stephen King. Ghost Light in association with Moving Light Productions. Sept 25 Oct 12. Chapel Off Chapel. (03) 8290 7000. The Bald Prima Donna by Eugene Ionesco. Room to Play / Melbouren Fringe. Sept 25 - 28. 29th Apartment, St Kilda. (03) 9660 9666. Placebo. Melbourne City Ballet. Sept 25 - 27. Theatre Works, St Kilda. 9534 3388. Once. By Enda Walsh, music and lyrics by Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová. Australian Premiere. Princess Theatre. From Sept 26. 1300 111 011. A Jack and the Beanstalk Story by Michael Bentley. Essendon Theatre Company. Sept 26 -
Stage Whispers 69
On Stage Oct 4. West Essendon Community Centre. 0422 029 483. Desperately Young at Heart by Robert Hofmann. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Sept 30 - Oct 5. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. (03) 9660 9666. Still Awake Still! by Jessica Wilson. Jump Leads and Jessica Wilson. Oct 1, Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, Preston; Oct 3, Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading; Oct 8 & 9, Colac Otway Performing Arts Centre; Oct 11, Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Alice in Wonderland Jr. Young Australian Broadway Chorus / Melbourne Fringe. Oct 1 - 4. Chapel Off Chapel. 9660 9666 / 8290 7000. Elmo’s World Tour. Sesame Street. Oct 2, Alexander Theatre, Clayton, 03) 9905 1111; Oct 3 & 4, Regent Theatre, Melbourne, 136 100; Oct 6, Clocktower Centre, Moonee Ponds, (03) 9243 9191. The Lotus Eaters: a visceral spectacular by Jennifer Kingwell. Melbourne Fringe. Oct 2 - 4. Abbotsford Convent: Industrial School. The Sound of Waves by Gareth Ellis. Oct 3 - 12. fortyfivedownstairs. (03) 9662 9966. Legally Blonde. Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin. Book: Heather Hach. CLOC Musical Theatre. Oct 3-18. National Theatre, St Kilda. 1300 362 547. Complexity of Belonging. A project by Falk Richter and Anouk van Dijk. MTC / Chunky Move / Melbourne Festival. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. Oct 6 - Nov 1. (03) 8688 0800. The Guys by Anne Nelson. 1812 Theatre, Upper Ferntree
70 Stage Whispers
Victoria, Tasmania & South Australia
Gully. Oct 8 - Nov 1. (03) 9758 3964. Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday by Roslyn Oades & collaborators. Malthouse. Oct 9 - 26. Beckett Theatre. (03) 9685 5111 (select 2). Melbourne Festival 2014. Oct 10 - 26. www.melbournefestival.com.au Marzo. Dewey Dell. Arts House in association with Melbourne Festival. Oct 10 14. Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall. (03) 9322 3713. Guilty Pleasures. Book by Joshua Robson, Lyrics by Hugo Chiarella and Music by Robert Tripolino. Chapel off Chapel. (03) 8290 7000. Crazy for You. Book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. Babirra Music Theatre. Oct 10 - 18. The Whitehorse Centre. (03) 9262 6555. Fame. Altona City Theatre. Oct 10 - 18. Altona Theatre. 0425 705 550. The Mesh by Elise Hearst. ARTHUR and Red Stitch. Oct 15 - Nov 10. 9533 8083. Since I Suppose. Created by one step at a time like this / Suzanne Kersten, Clair Korobacz, Paul Moir, Julian Rickert. Presented by Arts House, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, one step at a time like this, Richard Jordan Productions and Melbourne Festival. Oct 15 - 26. Melbourne CBD to North Melbourne. (03) 9322 3713. The Temptation of St. Antony. Created by Four Larks (Mat Sweeney, Sebastian PetersLazaro & Jesse Rasmussen). Theatre Works. Oct 17 - 26. (03) 9534 3388. Quartet by Ronald Harwood. FAMDA. Oct 17 - 26. Foster
War Memorial Arts Centre. 0435 535 867 or 5682 2077. Werther by Massenet. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Oct 18 26. Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran. Potted Potter. Oct 22 to 2 Nov 2. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Theatre. When The Mountain Changed Its Clothing by Heiner Goebbels. Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica / Melbourne Festival. Oct 23 26. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre. 136 100. I’ll Eat You Last by John Logan. MTC. Australian Premiere. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. Oct 31 - Dec 20. (03) 8688 0800. Dracula by Bram Stoker, adapted by William McNulty. Malvern Theatre Company Inc. Oct 31 - Nov 15. 1300 131 552. Tasmania The Berry Man by Patricia Cornelius. Tasmanian Theatre Company. Until Sept 7. 6234 5998. Swamp Juice by Jeff Achtem. Bunk Puppets. Sept 4 - 6. Backspace Theatre, Theatre Royal, Hobart. (03) 6233 2299. Henry V by William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sept 4 - 6. Theatre Royal, Hobart. (03) 6233 2299. Junction Arts Festival. Sept 10 - 14. Civic Square, Launceston. (03) 6331 1309. Anything Goes by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse (book), Cole Porter (music and lyrics). Music Theatre Crew. Sept 12 27. The Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. (03) 6234 5998. HAMLET Heads or Tails by William Shakespeare. Sept 12
- 20. PT1 (theatre) 130 Murray St. Hobart. The Magic Flute by Mozart. Oz Opera. Sept 17, Princess Theatre, Launceston. (03) 6323 3666 & Sept 19 - 20, Theatre Royal, Hobart, (03) 6233 2299. Food by Steve Rodgers. Force Majeure / Belvoir. Sept 25 & 26. Theatre Royal, Hobart. Short+Sweet Theatre. Sept 30 - Oct 11. The Playhouse, Hobart. 03 6234 5998. Potted Potter. Oct 7 - 9. Theatre Royal, Hobart Sons & Mothers by Alirio Zavarce with and for the Men’s Ensemble of No Strings Attached. Oct 13 & 14. Theatre Royal, Hobart. (03) 6233 2299. Oliver! by Lionel Bart. Exit Left. Oct 15 - 19. Derwent Entertainment Centre. (03) 6223 1002. Festival of One Act Plays. Deloraine Dramatic Society. Oct 17 & 18. Deloraine Little Theatre. 0409 568 291. In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Oct 24 - Nov 8. The Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. (03) 6234 5998. The Vicar of Dibley by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter adapted from the original TV series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer. Encore Theatre Company. Oct 24 Nov 15. Earl Arts Centre, Launceston, (03) 6323 3666. South Australia The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Group Devised. On the Fly. Sept 2-6. Bakehouse Theatre Studio. John Waters - Looking Through a Glass Onion. By John Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta. Country Arts SA. Sept 5. Hopgood Theatre. (08) 8207 3977.
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On Stage Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Sept 11-20. The Arts Theatre. 8212 5777. A Bedfull of Foreigners by Dave Freeman. Tea Tree Players. Oct 1-11. Tea Tree Players Theatre. 8289 5266. Songs from Stage and Screen. Promise Adelaide. Oct 1. Burnside Town Hall Ballroom. 0447 677 615. Wunderkammer. Circa. Oct 1 - 4. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 131 246. Collaborators by John Hodge. Stirling Players. Oct 3-18. Stirling Community Theatre. Between Two Waves by Ian Meadows. State Umbrella. Oct 9 - 25. Bakehouse Theatre. White Christmas by Irving Berlin. Northern Light Theatre Company. Oct 10-25. Shedley Theatre. 8281 5026.
South Australia & Western Australia
My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company of SA. Oct 16-25. The Arts Theatre. BASS or 8264 3225. The Breakfast Club - Live On Stage by John Hughes. Matt Byrne Media. Oct 22-Nov 8. Holden Street Theatres. 8262 4906 or Venue Tix. One Slight Hitch by Lewis Black. Galleon Theatre Group. Oct 23-Nov 1. Domain Theatre. 0437 609 577. Young Frankenstein- The New Mel Brooks Musical. Marie Clark Musical Theatre. Oct 31Nov 8. Goodwood Institute Theatre. 8251 3926. Western Australia Be My Baby by Amanda Whittingham. Harbour Theatre. Until Sept 6. Set in a mother and baby home.
Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park. TAZTix: (08) 9255 3336. One Act Season by various authors. KADS. Until Sept 6. Season of short plays. KADS Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda. 9257 2668. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour. Perth Theatre Company. Sept 1-13. Imagine being 29 and unable to leave your country. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. Ticketek 132 849. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Class Act Theatre. Sept 3-13. Incorporating hip-hop music. Studio, Subiaco Arts Centre. Ticketek. 132 849. Speak Easy by Andrew Umnay and Jessica Herbert. Cabaret Soiree. Sept 4-6. Cabaret set in Jazz Era. Downstairs at the Maj, Perth. Ticketek 132 849. The Glass Menagerie by Tenesseee Williams. Old Mill Theatre. Sept 5-20. American classic. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth. 9367 8719. Tryptich by various authors. Darlington Theatre Players. Sept 5-13. Short plays. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount. 9255 1783.
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La Fille Mal Gardee. Choreographed by Marc Ribaud. West Australian Ballet and Queensland Ballet. Sept 5 -20. Family ballet. His Majesty’s Theatre, Hay St, Perth. Ticketek 132 849. Laughter on the 23rd Floor by Neil Simon. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Sept 6-21. Stars Peter Rowesthorn. State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge, Ticketek 132 849. The Brain from Planet X by David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel. Phoenix Theatre and Dark Psychic Productions. Sept 11-27. Australian premiere musical. Phoenix Theatre, Memorial Hall, Hamilton Hill. 9255 3336. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum. Stage Left Theatre Troupe. Sept 11 - 13. Stage Left Theatre, Burt St, Boulder. Spike Heels by Theresa Rebeck. Melville Theatre. Sept 12-27. Melville Theatre, Stock Rd, Palmyra. 9330 4565. The 39 Steps by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock. HIT Productions. Sept 13-20. Spy comedy. Subiaco Arts Centre. Ticketek 132 849.
Stage Whispers 71
State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge. Ticketek 132 849. Blood Wedding by Frederico Garcia Lorca. WAAPA Second Year Acting Students. Oct 1016. Classic of twentieth century theatre. Enright Studio, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 6895. Children of Eden. Book by John Caird, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. WAAPA Second Year Music Theatre Students. Oct 11-18. Musical based on the story of Genesis. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley. 9370 David Suchet, best known for playing Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, is touring 6895. Australia in The Last Confession, playing at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, from Hansel and Gretel by September 3 and the Theatre Royal, Sydney, from September 24. Englebert Humperdinck. WAAPA Classical Voice King Hit by Geoffrey Narkle - Oct 11. World Premiere The Phantom of the Opera by Students. Oct 11-18. Based and David Milroy. Yirra Yaakin about change and resilience. Andrew Lloyd Webber, on the tales of the Brothers Theatre Company. Sept 18Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Charles Hart and Richard Grimm. Geoff Gibbs Theatre, 25. Noongar Theatre with WA Fremantle. 9335 5044. Stilgoe. ICW Productions. Oct WAAPA, Edith Cowan cast. The Courtyard, State 2-11. Regal Theatre, Hay St, Blackadder The Third by University, Mt Lawley. 9370 Theatre Centre of WA, Subiaco. Ticketek.132 849. Richard Curtis & Ben Elton. 6895. Northbridge. Ticketek 132 Serial Productions. Oct 1-11. Storytime in the Hills. Surge by Liesel Zink, Matt 849. Based on the TV series. Old Roleystone Theatre. Oct 6-10. Cornell and Didier Thornton. Hills Festival of Theatre by Mill Theatre, South Perth. Children’s theatre. Roleystone LINK Dance Company. Oct 16various authors. Darlington The Ballad of Pondlife McGurk Theatre, Brookton Hwy, 18. Triple dance bill. West Theatre Players. Sept 19-21. by Rob Evans. Barking Gecko Roleystone. 9367 5730. Australian Ballet Centre, One act play competition. and Windmill Theatre Fluff. Westfarmers Arts and Studio I, 134 Whatley Cres, Marloo Theatre, Greenmount. Company. Oct 1-4. Pondlife AWESOME Festival. Oct 7-11. Maylands. 9370 6895. 9255 1783 McGurk was a troublesome For children. State Theatre Emerald City by David Dora’s Pirate Adventure by child. Subiaco Arts Centre. Centre of WA, Northbridge. Williamson. Stirling Players. Nickelodeon. Life Like Ticketek 132 849. Ticketek 132 849. Oct 17 - Nov 1. Stirling Touring. Sept 19-20. Borderline by Aimee Smith. Punk Rock by Simon Theatre, Innaloo. 9440 1040. Children’s show. Regal Oct 1-4. Dance. Studio Stephens. WA Youth Theatre. The Comedy of Errors by Theatre. Ticketek 132 849. Underground, State Theatre Oct 8-18. Violence at school. William Shakespeare. WAAPA DramaFest. Independent Centre of WA, Northbridge. Subiaco Arts Centre. Ticketek Third Year Acting Students. Theatre Association. WA State Ticketek 132 849. 132 849. Oct 18, Don Russell One Act Drama Festival. Sept Tom, Dick and Harry by Ray A Celebration of Musical Performing Arts Centre, 22-28. Hackett Hall, Floreat. and Michael Cooney. Theatre. Morning Melodies Thornlie, 9493 4577; Oct 23Hipbone Sticking Out by the Wanneroo Repertory Club. (Perth Theatre Trust). Oct 8. 24, State Theatre Centre, Ngarluma and Yindijibandi Oct 2-18. Comedy. Limelight Featuring Third Year WAAPA Courtyard, Free Entry; Oct 29, people. Big hART. Sept 29 Theatre. 9571 8591. Students. His Majesty’s Fremantle Arts Centre, Inner Oct 4. Aboriginal theatre. Theatre, Perth. Ticketek 132 Ninety by Joanna MurrayCourtyard, 9432 9555. State Theatre Centre of WA, Smith. Garrick Theatre. Oct 2- 849. The Secret Project by Suzie Northbridge. Ticketek 132 18. Australian two-hander. The Magic Chicken by Theatre Miller. WAAPA Second Year 849. Garrick Theatre, Guildford. Beating. AWESOME Festival. Bachelor of Performing Arts Farm by Ian Sinclair. Spare 9378 1990. Oct 9-12. Slapstick children’s Students. Oct 20-25. Parts Puppet Theatre. Sept 29 theatre. Studio Underground, Promenade style performance. 72 Stage Whispers
Just $40 a month to reach thousands of theatre goers. Contact Stage Whispers for details.
On Stage Location to be announced. 9370 6895. Bombshells by Joanna MurraySmith. HIT Productions. Oct 22-30. Six women on the brink. Subiaco Arts Centre. Ticketek 132 849. Gasp by Ben Elton. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Oct 25 - Nov 9. Revised version. State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge. Ticketek 132 849. Il Travotore by Guiseppe Verdi. West Australian Opera and West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Oct 30 Nov 8. Modern production. His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth. Ticketek 132 849. Cinderella by Rogers and Hammerstein. Kooliny Arts Centre. Oct 31 - Nov 15. WA Tony Award winning musical. Koorliny Arts Centre. 9467 7118. Northern Territory Cirkopolis. Cirque Éloize. Sept 25 - 27. The Playhouse, The Darwin Entertainment Centre. 8980 3333 Kinship. Choreographed by Stephen Page. Bangarra Dance Theatre. Oct 3, The Playhouse, The Darwin Entertainment Centre, 8980 3333 & Oct 17, Araluen Arts Centre, 8951 1122. Crimson Sky. Taikoz. Oct 24. Araluen Arts Centre. 8951 1122. The Book of Shadows by Timothy Parish. Brown's Mart Productions and The Cicada Collective. Oct 28 - Nov 8. Brown’s Mart Theatre. New Zealand Hound of the Baskervilles by Steven Canny and John Nicholson. Centrepoint theatre, Palmerston North. Until Sept 13. 06 354 5740. Hairspray. Music: Marc Shaiman. Lyrics: Scott Wittman, Marc Shaiman.
Western Australia, N.T. & New Zealand
Book: Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan. North Shore Music Theatre. Until Sept 6. SkyCity Theatre. iTicket. Totem. Cirque du Soleil. Until Sept 28. Alexandra Park Raceway, Auckland. Lungs by Duncan Macmillan. Fortune Theatre, Dunedin. Until Sept 13. 03 477 8323. Destination Beehive by Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry. Circa Theatre, Wellington. Aug 28 Sept 20. Circa 2. 04 801 7992. Death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath. Circa Theatre, Wellington. Until Sept 29. 04 801 7992. The Illusionists 2.0. Sept 2 13. The Civic, Auckland. 0800 111 999 Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Detour Theatre, Tauranga. Sept 3 - 20. 0800 224 224 Trees Beneath The Lake by Arthur Meek. Auckland Theatre Company. Sept 4 27. Maidment Theatre, Auckland. 09 2625789. Fawlty Towers by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Titirangi Theatre. Sept 4 - 14. 817 7658. The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan. Wellington G & S Light Opera. Sept 5 & 6. Wellington Opera House. 04 384 3840. The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan. Te Awamutu Light Operatic Society. Sept 6 - 20. Woolshed Theatre, Te Awamutu. 871 3259. Boys by Ella Hickson. Stagecraft Theatre, Wellington. Sept 10 - 27. iTicket. The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. London Palladium Production. Sept 12 - 21. St James Theatre, Wellington. 0800 TICKETEK (842 538).
Two Fish ‘n’ a Scoop by Carl Nixon. Howick Little Theatre. Sept 13 - Oct 4. iTicket. Closure by Ron Blicq. Dolphin Theatre, Auckland. Sept 20 Oct 11. The Little Yellow Digger by Betty and Alan Gilderdale. Tim Bray Productions. Sept 22 Oct 11. The PumpHouse Theatre, Auckland. 09 489 8360. The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. Fortune Theatre, Dunedin. Sept 27 - Oct 18. 03 477 8323. Mamma Mia! By Catherine Johnson, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Napier Operatic Society. Sept 27 Oct 11. Napier Municipal Theatre. Ticketek. The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
London Palladium Production. Oct 3 - 19. Civic Theatre, Auckland. (09) 970 9700. Beef by Vela Manusaute. Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North. Oct 4 - 18. 06 354 5740. Sons by Victor Rodger. Auckland Theatre Company. Oct 16 - 25. Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, Auckland. 800 BUY TIX (289 849). Blackadder Goes Forth by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. Wellington Repertory Theatre. Oct 23 - Nov 1. 479 3393. Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Auckland Theatre Company. Oct 30 - Nov 23. Q Auckland. 09 3099771.
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Stage Whispers 73
Rolling Thunder Vietnam Concept: Scott Barton. Script: Bryce Hallett. Blake Entertainment & QPAC Production. Director: David Berthold. Musical Director: Chong Lim. QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, 14-15 August 2014 and touring nationally. ROLLING Thunder Vietnam is an explosive, raw, and visceral experience - a look at the Vietnam War using a collection of rock ‘n’ roll songs of the era and a narrative culled from personal stories and letters from the front. Plotwise it follows the enlistment experiences of Johnny, a young man from a rural drought-stricken farm in Queensland, his love for his sweetheart Sarah, and his friendship with his American marine buddy, Thomas. Bryce Hallett’s narrative effectively juxtaposes what is happening on the battlefront with what is happening at home, making for an engrossing piece of concert-theatre. But this is a show about the songs and what classics they are; Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride”, Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle”, The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” and The Animals “We’ve Gotta Get Outa This Place”. They not only define the era, but instantly transport you back to a time of street protests, hippies, and the late sixties drug-culture. The cast of six work their butts off in a series of highenergy vocals, backed by one of the best group of rock musicians this country has ever seen led by current keyboard wiz Chong Lim. Fresh-faced Tom Oliver is believably gauche as Johnny and brings passion and grit to his vocals, especially the powerhouse finale “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Tall and striking, Matthew Pearce - a 74 Stage Whispers
Rolling Thunder Vietnam
recent NIDA graduate - drips with machismo as the Yankee marine, while Wes Carr’s second-act mouth-organ solo burned. Kimberley Hodgson delivers a heartfelt performance as the sweetheart left-behind, and is especially moving on “Killing Me Softly With His Song”. Vanessa Krummenacher and Will Ewing added some blistering backup vocals. Adam Garnir’s set with its four AV panels was simple and effective but it was the images, from audio visual designer Toby Harding, that brilliantly surprised. Surreal, beautiful and horrific, their impact was potent. Peter Pinne Book of Days By Langford Wilson. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Australian Premiere. July 8 - August 9. UNDER the perceptive direction of Elsie Edgerton-Till, this production is as fast-paced as the script demands. In a small town in Missouri, where life revolves around a factory, the fundamentalist church, and the community theatre, Ruth lands the title role in the local production of Saint Joan. When her wealthy boss is violently killed, Ruth suspects foul play, but comes into conflict with the forces of money and the church, unconsciously mirroring the character she is rehearsing. The twelve actors have to be on their toes. Not only are they playing a host of carefully crafted characters, they are on stage most of the time, watching, reacting, moving in and out of scenes and keeping the audience informed of the passage of time. On the open stage, set simply with a
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Dust. Photo: Gary Marsh Photography.
central tree and a few chairs, they are a tight-knit, committed ensemble. Kate Fraser plays Ruth, a demanding role that requires emotional range and energy. Lithe and athletic on the stage, Fraser’s physicality matches the passionate intensity she builds. Alex Norton plays her husband, Len, factory manager and creative cook. Their on-stage relationship is believable and sincere. As Norton’s mother, Martha, an ex-hippy now teaching at the local Christian college, Gael Ballantyne brings some delightful comedy and excellent timing. Mark Langham is expansive and strong as wealthy factory owner Walt Bates. Jeannie Gee plays his wife with a girlish simplicity that changes to fierce determination. As their son, James Simon Davey shows all the spoilt arrogance that is built into this character including the disdain and contempt he feels for the community and wife, Luann (Alyssan Russell). Elsie Edgerton-Till has brought skill and freshness to this production. She has realised the universal appeal of the characters and their messages, and the pace and timing that the play demands. Carol Wimmer Dust By Suzie Miller. Directed by Emily McLean. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth. June 28 - July 13. DUST, a new play by Suzie Miller, is a fascinating patchwork of stories set as a huge dust storm hits Perth.
Fiona Bruce’s design is amazing. Opening with a lowered lighting rig, the semi-industrial, draped set rises to create a strong feeling of dust hanging over multiple locales in Perth. Innovative use of hazers and excellent use of projections that merge seamlessly with the live action add greatly to the mood. Trent Suidgeest’s stunning lighting adds to the impression of the oppressive but beautiful red cloud over the city. Top-notch performances abound. All the cast play multiple roles and speedy transitions between characters are impressive. Benj D’Addario shines as vastly different Ian and David, a precise wedding planner and stressed FIFO worker. Charlotte Devenport is convincing as both panicking bride and depressed teenager. Caroline McKenzie delights the audience as nosy neighbour Lorraine and an elegant mother-of-the-bride. Ben Mortley is lovely as young man on a date Alistair, and charms in his brief appearance as a homeless man. Kelton Pell shows great depth as family man Eddie and is markedly different as jealous boyfriend Tony. Alison Van Reeken gives wonderful portrayals of artist Alice and her almost polar opposite Elektra. Gemma Willing is intriguing as Lara and has an ethereal air as ‘the woman’. I really enjoyed the performance of Nicholas Starte making his professional stage debut in the roles of Egyptian taxi driver Masoud and bridegroom Matthew. While its present incarnation is quintessentially West Australian and the stories have ring-of-truth local detail that brings them close to home, this is a story of humanity that would translate well to any city.
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Dust is a wonderful new production, brought beautifully It’s impossible to avoid acclamation for the creatives’ to life by Black Swan. contributions also: Gary Farmer (assistant director); Luis Sidonio and Ivana Citakovic (designers); Chris Kelly (lighting Kimberley Shaw designer). White Porcelain Doll I have one reservation: detention teacher got only one Prying Eye Productions. Judith Wright Centre of intelligent written report. He screwed it up and tossed it Contemporary Arts. July 26 - Aug 2. out. (My response was ‘Ouch!’ That report touched on the NEW contemporary work White Porcelain Doll is neither truth of the 80s.) Jay McKee an installation nor an artwork to hang in a gallery. A crossarts performance piece, it embraces music, movement, theatre, lighting, sound and video arts. This is 3D tragic Green Screen silent performance. By Nicola Gunn / SANS HOTEL with collaboration from the White Porcelain Doll was inspired by the recent discovery cast. MTC Neon. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. July 24 in America of women who had been kidnapped as girls and Aug 3. AT the end of Green Screen, some text is projected on a kept in captivity until one escaped. It is Lizzie and Zaimon Vilmanis’ attempt to depict the suffering, resilience and strip of, yes, green screen: ‘…there was a good feeling determination of a woman in that situation. between us, even though nothing had happened.’ That Early scenes are accompanied by the repetitive sound pretty much covers the show. like a muffled drum stick across corrugated iron. We meet Three silent characters sit in a room, apparently waiting for something. A fourth arrives. The show’s creator, Nicola ‘him’ (Zaimon) moving erratically about a simple pink day dress spread over the back of an armchair. Then Gunn, appears and delivers a monologue with exquisite ‘she’ (Lizzie) appears and he tries to put the dress on her. comic timing and a great deal of charm. The point is the She fights his attempts until he dumps her, dress and all in futility of doing pretty much anything. She inflates a big metal trunk. From that point we feel insecure. mattresses and builds a platform. From the top, she throws Dan Black’s lighting and Rayadan Jeavon’s eclectic focus to the four characters in that room, asking us to sound design set the pattern from here on: leading us from imagine that they have gathered to protest the end of despair to acceptance - even fondness - between the humanity. But they don’t protest and humanity isn’t protagonists. Bruce McKinven’s elevated stage reveals a mentioned. They chat, do some dance moves and so on, trapdoor to an underground storage space, out of which and so connect and engender ‘a good feeling’ - in us too. ‘he’ often drags ‘her’. The import seems to be: the problems facing us are so The audience was spellbound. It’s impossible to escape overwhelming that we can only distract ourselves by your own thoughts. Even after the applause and bows, the connecting (briefly) in the face of the terror, failure and audience, still caught up in the thrall, were reluctant to defeat, and, in the end, death. move. Ms Gunn directs the show and is responsible, with Jay McKee Gwen Holmberg-Gilchrist, for production design. Ms Holmberg-Gilchrist also does the lighting design. The sound design (by Duane Morrison) creates an ironic counterpoint The Breakfast Club By John Hughes, adapted for stage by Drew Jarvis. Brisbane to the characters’ small concerns via an ominous sense of Arts Theatre. Jun 28 - Aug 2. impending doom, followed by doom itself. THIS show should attract everyone who enjoyed the The performers - apart from Ms Gunn - are Nat Cursio, 1980s film The Breakfast Club. It became a rite of passage. Tom Davies, Jonno Katz and Kerith Manderson-Galvin. As is so often the case with this sort of internally devised Act I introduced us to five disaffected, rebellious presentation, the talent of the performers per se exceeds adolescents from a private (US) college on eight-hour Saturday detention. We met teacher (and playwright, Drew the material they have invented and deliver. Jarvis) handing out sheets for his ‘prisoners’ to present their Michael Brindley assignment: “What I discovered about myself”; and his captives: charismatic young academic Brian (Jonty Martin); Bartleby indulged ‘princess’ Claire (Rochelle Nolan); sports jock By Julian Hobba, after Herman Melville. The Street Theatre, Andrew (Christo Barrett-Hall); man-mountain bully Bendor Canberra. July 26 - Aug 3. (Jeremiah Wray); and withdrawn Allison (Liv Wilson), every HERMAN Melville’s 1853 short story Bartleby, the one of them physically right for their parts! Director Susan Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street tells of a subdued law O’Toole Cridland certainly chose her cast shrewdly. And copyist, or scrivener, who, after several days of hard work in each one rose to her expectations! a law office, withholds all cooperation, responding with By the end, socialisation by close association of these little more than “I would prefer not to”. diverse ‘animals’ into a community won me over. So did The adaptive play’s staging in The Street’s cosy Theatre their splendid performances as an ensemble - convincing 2 is a rewarding production to attend, for all kinds of personality transformations to which we could finally reasons. identify. The set, which deteriorates as the play progresses, offers both realism and immediacy. A dream sequence, aboard 76 Stage Whispers
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Bartleby. Photo: Lorna Sim.
ship, almost has us rocking back and forth with the storm, and its lighting makes this scene in particular stand out visually. That sequence aside, the play is ripe with laughaloud moments, chiefly because all three actors fill their roles superbly. Max Cullen’s bumbling older character was so compelling that it was hard to shake the impression that it portrayed the actor himself. Much of the play’s energy arises from the desperate comic timing of Dene Kermond, as the older lawyer’s new partner, bursting with ambition and modern managerialisms to the point of nearhomicidicity in the face of Bartleby’s alien ways. Ben Crowley successfully paints both the quiet exterior and the internal commotion that evidently propels Bartleby on his course. All three actors were faultless, and the combination was electric. John P. Harvey Pale Blue Dot By Kathryn Marquet. La Boite Theatre Company (Qld). Roundhouse Theatre July 19 - Aug 9. THIS play is a significant addition to our locally written drama canon. Kathryn Marquet creates five memorable characters to engage us. She has a nifty style for creating engaging drama tempered with comedy. The title refers to the photograph of Earth taken in 1990 from Voyager 1 at the edge of our solar system. Whatever your opinions about aliens, this play will challenge them. They are peripheral to the personal crises of the five central
characters, but the possibility of their existence drives this story. Fraud investigator for an insurance company, Joel, (Hugh Parker), doesn’t enjoy his job and at home his life is fraught with a highly-strung wife (Lucy Goleby) and suspicions of something wrong with their baby. Caroline Kennison steals the stage as Greta, mother of a teenager who disappears for 24 hours and reappears in a field 200 km away; and Deidre Spinnaker, President of a Toowoomba UFO observers club. Ashlee Lollback (Storm, the girl at the centre of this alien experience), makes a spectacular debut at La Boite. Lucy Goleby doubles as Louise, who has also had an alien experience. Director Michael Futcher guided his cast through the premiere and splendid creatives Josh McIntosh (Designer), Jason Glenwright (Lighting Design), Gordon Hamilton (Composer & Sound Design) and Optical Bloc (Projections) supported the production. Jay McKee The Home Front Directed by Heidi Silberman/Produced by Catherine Crowley and Heidi Silberman. The Street Theatre, Canberra ACT. June 18 - 28, 2014 THE Home Front is a piece of improvised theatre which explores the lives of three women in Australia during the Great War. The actors are Catherine Crowley, Ruth Pieloor and Lynn Petersen. With ideas given by the audience, these
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three women explore life in 1916 in an unnamed town in Australia. We are introduced to these women by name, and then the story begins. Each performance is different, given the audience's input, and it would certainly be interesting to see another performance of this piece. It runs for approximately 85 minutes without an interval and it certainly makes demands upon the actors, requiring them to think on their feet, interact with each other in character while not having a prepared script, and to also use words and expressions of the time. Dianna Nixon is the language dramaturg of the piece. Lighting, sound and set design brings to light a house of the time, with simple utensils, baskets, treasured knick knacks, and chairs and tables. This was developed in "The Hive" program at the Street Theatre. Kudos to the whole team who have worked hard to bring to life the everyday happiness and trials which women at the home front would have experienced. Rachel McGrath-Kerr Gloria By Elaine Acworth. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. July 19 -Aug 16. GLORIA is a middle-aged woman struck down recently by a stroke and struggling through her diminished memory to make contact with a son she recalls abandoning for adoption before she took off to Europe to establish a reputation as a cabaret star. 78 Stage Whispers
When we enter, the performance space looks like a bomb site - disparate bits of set scattered wall to wall, with a hospital bed discreetly lit to one side. That’s Bill Haycock’s inspired design to represent fragments of Gloria’s memory. Lighting designer, David Walters, rose to the challenge of lighting Haycock’s complex design. Hidden in the corner opposite the hospital bed is a grand piano where Andrew McNaughton, real-life husband of Christen O’Leary (a tour-de-force performance as Gloria) provides live accompaniment from his overall sound design. Gloria relies on songs to put together the jigsaw puzzle of her past. McNaughton’s sensitive melodies to match the playwright’s lyrics are critical to her improvement. Naomi Price doubles as Maggie and Rose; Steven Rooke (Ned - Gloria’s son); Elijah Wellsmore (Ned and Maggie’s son); and Kevin Spink doubles as John and Walter. They work as a very effective ensemble. You’ll understand who they are when you see the play. Special congratulations to dramaturg, Louise Gough, and director David Bell, who cosseted this new work through the development process. No weak links in this chain of success. Jay McKee It’s Been A While By Jordy Shea. Smoking Gun Theatre. King Street Theatre (Sydney). July 16 - 19. JUST a few days shy of his 21st birthday, Jordy Shea enjoyed the thrill of a positive audience response to the
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premiere of his first play, that appropriately taps into many issues affecting young people. It’s been a while is a one act play about a group of friends who take a holiday on the beach to celebrate the end of school. The hedonism has authenticity, as the teenagers revel in their new found adult freedom to sample some of life’s elicit pleasures. There are five on the trip which proves to be an awkward number. Stephen Bracken as Dean and his friend Tom (Luke Holmes) get lucky with Josie (Kathryn Wenborn) and Maddy (Zara Stanton). This leaves the sensitive character of Nick (Chris Circosta) on the outer. A night of heavy drinking leads to tragic consequences. Years later they get back together but are still haunted by the mystery of that evening. Aided by tight direction from Lucinda Vitek, set and sharp lighting by Chrys Chandra the audience was kept on edge. Whilst not all the actors were experienced enough to portray the full range of emotions in the script it was a promising first outing of the play which could be expanded into two acts. David Spicer Le Noir - The Dark Side of Cirque TML Enterprises Production. Creative Producer: Simon Painter. Director/Choreographer: Neil Dorward. Composer: Julian Wiggins. Resident Director: Mathieu Laplante. Lyrics Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 1-17 August 2014 LE NOIR is a show in the nouveau cirque tradition that mixes a series of impossibly breathtaking circus acts with a whole lot of theatrical glitz. Dario and Vadym was a superb Duo Aerial Silk act that melded the world of dance and trapeze, Jessica and Jeronimo roller-skated on what must be the smallest stage in the world (1.5m) at break neck speed, while strong men Yano and Valeri sent the testosterone level soaring with their balancing act. But the big thrills were provided by two Australian premieres; Chilly and Fly’s Russian Aerial Cradle and Angelo and Carlos’ Colombian Wheel of Death. Both were set-up in the orchestra pit and both delivered nailbiting tension, especially the Wheel of Death where the two men performed amazing acrobatic feats inside two spinning wheels. Sal, the Emcee and comic, relied on audience participation and buffoonery for his laughs. His funniest moment was in a fat suit where he tried to seduce a female audience member at a picnic. Christopher Boon Casey’s brilliant LED lighting plot was also one of the stars of the night, as was Julian Wiggins score which had a bit of everything, rock, blues and traditional circus music. This is the first leg on Le Noir’s Australian tour and comes on the back of a sold-out world tour. I’ve no doubt they will be just as successful DownUnder. They deserve it because they’re not just one class act but a dozen. Peter Pinne
The Red Shoes Ballet by Natalie Weir based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson. Expressions Dance Company, QPAC & QUT Creative Industries Production. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. July 18-26. WHEN guest artist Sam Colbey as the Dark Angel burst onto the stage he gave Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes a dynamic shot in the arm. Dressed in a black leotard and whispy black coat, he leapt, slid, crawled and spiralled as he cast his spell over the ballerina Victoria. It was an explosive entrance and what followed was one of the best performances of the night. Among the others was the exemplary work of the five musicians who made up the Southern Cross Soloists, particularly violinist Victoria Sayles, who was as much a part of the evening’s success as the dancers. As the ballerina Elise May has the looks, style and grace the demanding role requires and excelled in her spectacular dancing in the dream sequence. The same sequence also provided Benjamin Chapman as The Weeping Angel with a chance to shine. Jack Ziesing as Victoria’s lover was an athletic and amorous partner and handled some difficult lifts and poses with ease. Natalie Allen as the older more mature Mirror Victoria brought an unmistakable depth of experience to the part, whilst Rebecca Hall as Young Victoria displayed a young woman with a desperate desire to succeed. Equally impressive was Daryl Brandwood as a classic Svengali-like Director. Bruce McKinven’s design with its cracked mirrors in various shapes was the perfect metaphor for the piece. Peter Pinne A Little Touch of Chaos By Peter Rutherford and James Millar. VCA Music Theatre Company 2014. Director: Iain Sinclair. Musical Director: Adrian Portell. July 17 - 26. WHAT a thrilling night of musical theatre. Having been privileged to see part of a rehearsal the previous week I’d eagerly anticipated the opening night of Chaos, a world premiere, and was not disappointed. This loosely autobiographical musical tells the story of Tom and his struggles with identity as a maturing young adult and the impact of his sister's death on the family. The parallel story is that of his father, Arthur, who, as a young adult, left the Exclusive Brethren and so was cut off from his family in his journey to adulthood. It was very effective. The parallels were emphasised by seeing father and son on stage simultaneously reflecting on their lives. This production is notable for the evenness in the strength of performances. The students worked strongly as a team, with all performers effectively portraying their roles. There were no weak links. Director Iain Sinclair, who specialises in new works, has done an excellent job. The characters were strong, the relationships intense and it was gripping theatre. There were moments of great pathos and others of high comedy, but what most impressed was that these were real people coping with unusual problems. I loved the car ride when
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Tom and Maxine sat on other actors’ knees with their arms around their bodies like seat belts. There were some lovely musical numbers but what struck me most was the beautiful choral singing, often a capella and off-stage. Simple boxes were brought onto the bare stage for scene changes and the lighting was effective. Graham Ford
Some of their stories are heart rending, some are harrowing, some will enrage and some will make you laugh despite yourself - all are extremely moving. All the performers were strong, with Kath Gordon a particular standout during her monologue recounting the experience of a positive woman sent to a family planning clinic for IUV treatment only to be rejected when her status became known. The Flick It was extremely disturbing to hear some of the By Annie Baker, directed by Nadia Tass. Red Stitch Actors’ prejudices and irrational fears that disclosure of HIV positive Theatre. Shebeen, 36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne. Aug 2 - status can give rise to.. Unfortunately, many of the stories 17. recounted in Status date not from the 1980s but the much ANNIE Baker won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with more recent past. Status makes the point that stigmatisation is used The Flick, and it’s easy to see why. This beautifully written and structured play gives us an honest, insightful and routinely in society to control and differentiate groups of heartfelt look inside the lives of three people working people and may well be something that will always be with together in a neighbourhood cinema, one of the last of its us. Therefore, one of the aims of this piece is to call it out kind to still be screening movies on film in this digital age. for what it is - awareness can bring empowerment. In this, Obsessive film fan Avery (Kevin Hofbauer) has taken the Status succeeds - thanks to the dedication of its cast and job while on a break from college as a means of indulging production team, who are to be congratulated for their his passion for the medium, only to be confronted by the thoroughly compassionate take on this difficult subject. mundane realities of sweeping up after shows and the Alex Paige staff’s predilection for skimming the box office receipts for ‘dinner money’. Alienated and suffering from depression, The Kangaroo in the Rock he’s initially wary of his fellow worker Sam (Ben By Richard Howard. Footlice Theatre Company. Fort Prendergast) and projectionist Rose (Ngaire Dawn Fair), but Scratchley, Newcastle. June 20 - 29. over time their working relationships blossom into PLAYWRIGHT Richard Howard’s look at three shipping friendship. incidents that were significant episodes in Newcastle’s As these characters reveal more of themselves during history was written for staging in outdoor settings at Fort the course of the play, evocative themes are played out Scratchley, the one-time fortress that overlooks the the awkwardness of intimacy, the frustration of finding entrance to Newcastle Harbour. your life may never turn out the way you want it to be, the The combination of his engrossing text, the lively ethical dilemmas that show you who your true friends are. performances, and locations that were part of the stories, Ms Baker’s fine writing is perfectly complemented by the made The Kangaroo in the Rock richly rewarding. performances of the three leads, all of whom were The audience was welcomed by Destiny, played by Sonja unwaveringly convincing and utterly committed to the Davis, the blue-garbed spirit of the harbour. integrity of the piece - even with front-row audience She set the scene by telling how the Awabakal people members placed so close as to be able to literally see up who were the area’s original inhabitants believed the their nostrils. adjoining Nobbys headland had become the hiding place The set design is effectively evocative of the decrepitude for a kangaroo that was threatened by other animals. of the dying single screen movie house, and director Nadia Then, looking beyond Nobbys towards the northern Tass has mined the script to bring out its nuances and breakwater, she explained that its rocks hid the remains of subtleties, expertly handled by her excellent cast. many wrecked ships, and launched into the story of one of Alex Paige them, the Eleanor Lancaster, that went down in 1856. The fort’s flagpole, a short walk away, became one of Status that ship’s masts, which stayed above the water with the Directed by Cameron Menzies. Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre crew members clinging to them before being rescued by Melbourne. July 23 - 27. Newcastle residents. STATUS is a confronting and provocative piece of The storytelling was taken over by Jan Hunt, as eighttheatre that presents real life stories exploring the social year-old Emily, the granddaughter of the then stigma faced by people living with HIV. The script has been harbourmaster, Captain Livingstone (played by Oliver Pink), drawn from interviews with HIV positive men and women who arrived to take charge of the rescue operation. The as well as their friends, family and carers including medical audience learnt how that shipwreck led to a significant professionals. change in the harbour’s shipping operations. The 60 minute piece is performed by four actors - Kath The second episode took place alongside one of the Gordon, Matt Hickey, Will Conyers and Brigid Gallacher fort’s ocean-facing guns that were fired at a Japanese each of whom play a range of different roles, illuminating submarine that shelled Newcastle in June, 1942, while the stories of a wide variety of people whose lives have World War II was raging. Oliver Pink became the soldier been altered by HIV diagnosis. who fired the first shots at the submarine, with Jan Hunt as 80 Stage Whispers
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Romeo And Juliet
a girl living in a Newcastle East house that was damaged in the conflict. The third sequence had the audience overlooking Nobbys Beach as it heard about the grounding of the bulk carrier Pasha Bulker on its sands in June, 2007, with Pink as one of the Filipino crew members who was rescued and Hunt as a scooter-riding child who came to watch the ship being pulled off the beach. Director Merilyn Hey and the actors, who had to change costumes swiftly, made this living history. Few theatre works achieve that. Ken Longworth Romeo And Juliet Ballet by Sir Kenneth MacMillan based on the play by Shakespeare. Music: Sergei Prokofiev. Music Director and Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia. Staged by Julie Lincoln. Queensland Ballet. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. June 27 July 5. SINCE taking the helm of Queensland Ballet, Artistic Director Li Cunxin has taken the company from strength to strength, and this production proves how far they have come during his brief tenure. Romeo and Juliet is opulent, splendidly spectacular and satisfying. It is the first time Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet has been mounted in Australia and this production is a remount of the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of 1992. Paul Andrews’ sets and costumes, John B. Read’s lighting, and Gary Harris’s swordfights, all of them recreating their Birmingham assignments, are not only impressive, but
brilliant in their creation of mood, time and place. From the opening crowd scene in the market-place, to the tragic finale, MacMillan’s 50-year old choreography still thrills with its energy and vision. Meng Ningning’s Juliet was headstrong and defiant and displayed exquisite control dancing on pointe and in her pas de deux work. Partnering her as Romeo was Hao Bin whose passionate performance was technically impressive but lacked emotional fire. Matthew Lawrence was a menacing force as Tybalt, whilst Alec Roberts and Vito Bernasconi brought bravado to Benvolio and Mercutio. Mary Li as the Nurse was delightful and sympathetic giving one of the best performances of the night. Lisa Edwards, Sarah Thompson and Sophie Zoricic livened every marketplace scene as the Harlots, whilst Steven Heathcote’s appearance as Escalus was memorable. With the stage sometimes awash with over 70 people, the ensemble scenes were lavishly big. Particularly striking were the robust and vigorous swordfights, and the colourful whirling dervishes in the mandolin dance. Adding to the magic of the evening was Prokofiev’s score which is the hands Andrew Mogrelia conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra came vividly alive. Peter Pinne Dark Voyager By John Misto. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Anna Crawford. July 24 - Aug 30. JOHN Misto’s new full-length play puts Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and vicious gossip columnist
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Walking Into Bigness. Photo: Pia Johnson.
Hedda Hopper on stage together. There are loads of laughs and a mention of every factoid, rumour and saucy speculation you’ve ever heard about the power quartet. Many of the opening night audience - perhaps even the majority - laugh almost continuously and, at the end, cheer the cast mightily. I am with them about the Ensemble’s excellent team of actors, but this particular Monroe/Davis fan soon grew weary of the constant camp clichés and unbarbed insults. It’s August 1962, the month of the first previews of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and the shockingly early death of La Monroe. At Hopper’s ‘Hollywood Babylon’ mansion (a pretend-opulent setting by Anna Gardiner), Davis (Jeanette Cronin) and Crawford (Kate Raisin) fight over top billing while Hedda’s butler/assistant Skip (Eric Beecroft) hides his preposterous intentions. Hedda (Belina Giblin) reveals that she gets her juiciest gossip direct from FBI boss ‘Gay Edgar Hoover’ (“I hope he chokes on his dildo!”). Marilyn (Lizzie Mitchell) joins the party just before the interval. Woozy, popping barbiturates and “cool with queers”, she floats through the second act before drifting to a wretchedly unamusing off-stage end. I have nothing but admiration for these splendid performers who, under the direction of Anna Crawford, bring the legends to recognisable life. It’s a fun night for some. To others it’s a cold-hearted, vastly elongated revue sketch. Frank Hatherley 82 Stage Whispers
Walking into the Bigness By Richard Frankland. Directed by Wayne Blair & Chris Mead. Malthouse Theatre Melbourne. Aug 1 - 23. WALKING into the Bigness recounts stories from the life of Richard Frankland, the indigenous Australian singer -songwriter, poet, filmaker, activist and playwright. While Mr Frankland and fellow musician Monica Weightman sit to the side of the stage providing subtle musical underscore, his stories and songs are brought to life by five actors, who alternately play Mr Frankland himself, or various other people with whom he comes into contact. This approach lends a certain disjointedness to the proceedings, especially during moments of overlapping dialogue. Played out against a strikingly designed, highly evocative set, the stories were intensely personal pieces from a man’s life, encompassing the unusual breadth of Mr Frankland’s experiences, which ranged from his early days as an abbatoir worker to his time as an investigator for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, only to later abruptly turn to his overseas warzone experiences. Offering a great deal of information for the audience to absorb, the storytelling structure seemed to falter a little in the second half - perhaps it was a case of trying to cover too much ground. The five performers certainly gave their all, delivering high-intensity performances with plenty of energy, but were constrained in their contributions by the structure of the piece, with its focus
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on narrative recounting of Mr Frankland’s stories at the expense of greater interaction between the actors as individual characters. There were however several strong monologues which Paul Ashcroft and particularly Tiriki Onus built to powerful climaxes. Mr Frankland and Ms Weightman took centre stage during the final moments, allowing Mr Frankland to introduce himself in the flesh and lead the company in a performance of his anthem Cry Freedom, giving a fittingly triumphant end to the performance. Walking into the Bigness offers an evocative glimpse into the indigenous Australian experience seen through the prism of a single life. Alex Paige
in Perth, Jacob Dugger, played Measles very impressively. Grumpy, elderly, Titan, was nicely portrayed by Graeme Cross. Relative newcomer Reece Darch, showed much promise as naive cattle dog Red and Brett Shircore made his stage debut as Spock. The bitches in the next cage included the confident Meg, nicely played by Amanda Watson. Rachael Maher was captivating as likeable, energetic Molly, Cally Zanick was convincing as gentle Jude and Alison Arrowsmith made a solid debut as Peppa. The humans in the cast are not given much to do, but were nicely played by Michele and Simone Dilston. Bree Vreedenburgh's costumes, nicely convey an anamorphic blend of character and dog. The main 'pound' setting which is assembled before the audience, is suitably Ettie’s Boys imposing and is a clever design by Jane Sherwood and By Ian McGrath. Moore Books SA. The Arch, Holden Dan Madgwick. Mel Kay's music adds an emotive touch. Street Theatres, Adelaide. Director: Tony Moore. Designer: While I believe that this show would be better as a one act play, I loved the concept and enjoyed Arena Arts’ Shannon Norfolk. July 11 - July 27. production. This is a pleasant show with a lovely message. THIS premiere production centres on the life of Ettie Rout, hailed as 'guardian angel of the ANZACs' and Kimberley Shaw damned as 'the wickedest woman in Britain'. Ian MacGrath's writing is generally sharp, engaging, Cowra No Hancho Kaigi (Honchos Meeting in Cowra) and literate, weaving an historical tapestry of intrigue that Written and directed by Yoji Sakate. Presented by Rinkogun Theatre. The Street Theatre, Canberra. Aug 6 & makes for an enjoyable and absorbing journey, even if occasionally a particular scene or element may feel 7. Australian Premiere. somewhat extraneous. HONCHOS Meeting in Cowra toured Australia to Joanna Webb brings an understated authority to the commemorate the 70th anniversary of the largest prisoner central role, as well as a charming sense of humour, and of war breakout ever in history, which took place in a POW camp in Cowra. 1104 Japanese POWs stormed the she does well to give this show the strong centre that it requires. She makes the period of Ettie's later life most razor wire, and 234 died. Yoji Sakate does not set out to poignant and touching. The remaining cast members are retell the story as a straight documentary. Rather, the presented with the challenge of successfully embodying events take place within a film being produced by an allmultiple roles, and they are up to the task. female media student collective. By framing the story as a The stage design is simple and sparse, aided by film within the play, Sakate is able (via his film students) intelligent and helpful use of multi-media projections and to interact with the prisoner characters to explore what textual captions. Skilful lighting design helps the small drove them to organise this mass escape in spite of their stage seem bigger, and the original music contributions comparatively fair treatment. What ensues is a provide a particularly striking prelude to the proceedings. conversation between modern Australian culture and the For those who wish to learn about the work of a past, and between Japanese culture pre- and post-World War II. As we see the production unit working to hone pioneer and quiet crusader, one of those people whose efforts in their time may well have done at least a little bit the movie, Sakate makes us aware of the creative process to shape the sort of social conditions we enjoy today, this of trying to piece together what happened from the show is likely to be one you will find worth seeing. evidence. Anthony Vawser In spite of the stylised presentation, the attention to detail of the props and research means the play gives a Mutts realistic sense of what it must have been like to live in the By Johnny Grim Arena Arts. Directed by Jane Sherwood. overcrowded huts. The dialogue is lively and full of wry LC Theatre, Belmont WA. Aug 8 - 17. humour. There’s music and militaristic dance punctuating THE world premiere of Mutts, revealed a warmthe scenes, and plenty of movement and drama as the hearted new play by Johnny Grim that tells of dogs in a tragedy builds towards its inevitable end. Honchos Meeting in Cowra was an emotionally and intellectually home for strays. The nine actors portraying dogs have obviously satisfying experience. researched animal behaviour and were strangely Cathy Bannister convincing as canines. The central character, Socks, was played with certainty by Willy Smeets. In what seems to be his first production Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
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Henry V. Photo: Michele Mossop.
Henry V By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Damien Ryan. Fairfax Studio. Australia-wide tour until November. THERE are those who say that Shakespeare is outmoded. Let them see this Henry V and then argue with the “Band of Brothers” that is Bell Shakespeare. Damien Ryan gives us a marvelous adaptation, bridging the historical gap by setting it in a school besieged by the World War II Blitz. A filmic montage opening sets back story of the plays for us… Overturned bookcases become the boats to Calais, with a terrific effect of the sea; stacked books become seats, newspaper hats-crowns, batsman’s pads-armour; pencils are daggers, croquet mallets - clubs; rolled up newspapers- swords. A plane crashes and the schoolboys take a German airman captive - his parachute becomes part of the set. There are parallels of deaths within both play and blitz; ghosts remain in the classroom, witness to how good intentions become a thirst for blood and revenge…but there is also unexpected schoolboy humour. Keith Agius gives gravitas to the aging, cardiganned Teacher, and his glorious voice impresses as the chorus and the King of France. Michael Sheasby is excellent as Henry V, the playboy determined to make good. Drew Livingston’s Welsh accent was in flux as Fluellen but he created splendid a capella vocal arrangements. Danielle King gives 4 terrific performances but it’s her Alice, to the delightful Eloise Winestock as French Princess Katherine, which enthralls. Matthew Backer is notable as the Dauphin, and the 84 Stage Whispers
remaining cast is uniformly good. It is, however, Damien Ryan’s vision that captivates us. Coral Drouyn Quills By Doug Wright. A Mockingbird Production. Arts House the Meat Markets, North Melbourne. Aug 2 - 15. GOOD theatre should be always evocative and, when possible, provocative and confronting. Director Chris Baldock doesn’t shy away from any of these in his production of Quills, about the (fictitious) last days of the infamous Marquis de Sade in Charenton asylum. Baldock has opted for the style of Melodrama, rather than naturalistic performance, and it makes the play more cohesive. He has added an ensemble of ‘Lunatics’ to the asylum, a brilliant visionary stroke, and even the suggestion that we may be viewing a play within a play. Adrian Carr (Marquis) gives a flamboyant and charismatic performance. It is made doubly impressive by the fact that Carr plays a good 60% of the play totally naked. Adam Ward (The Doctor) understands totally the style his director requires and delivers, but he is too boyishly youthful to play the doctor. Andrea McCannon is excellent as de Sade’s socially driven wife Renee, and Lauren Murtagh impresses as Madeleine. Dylan Watson effectively realises the Abbe’s journey into depravity and madness, yet didn’t - on opening night - have a real handle on the melodramatic style of acting the director has chosen.
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Jordan Armstrong and Andi Snelling complete the main cast and both are impressive. Jason Bovaird’s lighting design stunningly illuminates, casts shadows, creates illusions and is absolutely integral to the production. Mockingbird is no longer in the nest…it’s a fully-fledged and feathered creature that is flying high. Coral Drouyn Constellations By Nick Payne. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse. Aug 13 - Sept 7. CONSTELLATIONS has been a much-anticipated event on the 2014 arts calendar and it is well worth the wait. This is a story that traverses time and space. It looks deeply at relationships, brain cancer, string theory and bee keeping. It sounds like a tough sell, but there is no doubt that Payne is a stellar playwright and this production not only honours the text but also elevates it to another level. It is a challenging script to take-on for any company, but director Anthony Skuse shows confidence in his ability and his team. There is no set except for a raised black box on the stage and some random props. It is the script that Skuse lets shine through. The actors Sam O'Sullivan and Emma Palmer deftly stay on top of the flickering changes in time and space, each time managing to inject a fresh reality into the same scenario to highlight the "sliding doors" premise of the story. Palmer's portrayal of a woman struggling with expressive aphasia or loss of control of language due to a brain tumour is impressive. Overall this is exceptional theatre and something that is rarely seen in Sydney. Too often a production is over complicated when it doesn't need to be. Constellations is the perfect example of a piece of theatre that relies solely on the talent of the actors and the strength of the script and it is wonderful to watch. It is an exercise in economy and one that I wish there was more of. Whitney Fitzsimmons The Importance of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde. State Theatre Company S A. July 25 - Aug 16. OSCAR Wilde sub-titled the high farce that is The Importance of Being Earnest as A Trivial Comedy for Serious People. Well, there’s nothing trivial about its enduring capacity to delight audiences and this continues to be true with the State Theatre’s current Adelaide production of Wilde’s 1890’s classic. Directed by Geordie Brookman, the play stars Nancye Hayes as Lady Bracknell. The production is slick, uncomplicated and thoroughly satisfying, with the wit and satire of the script on show at all times. Nancye Hayes reflects this no-nonsense production in her portrayal of Lady Bracknell, played straight down the line, with no wiles. The character clearly believes every classconscious, disapproving, stuffy pronouncement she makes and the result is very effective.
Nathan O’Keefe is excellent as Lady Bracknell’s nephew Algernon Moncrieff. O’Keefe has fine comic timing and the capacity to nuance his performance with the slightest of expressions, yet he is at times also very physical. Yalin Ozucelik plays the more reserved John Worthing well, while Anna Steen gives a towering performance as his feisty, assertive love interest, Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax. Lucy Fry is delightful as Cecily Cardew and Caroline Mignone is terrific as prim Miss Prism. With his wonderful characterisations of both butlers, Merriman and Lane and in particular as Reverend Canon Chasuble, Rory Walker is an audience favourite. Lesley Reed A Doll’s House By Henrik Ibsen. Sport For Jove. Seymour Centre (NSW). July 17 - Aug 2. SPORT For Jove win again at making “old” plays new. Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is far from dated; its messages and meanings are potent and striking, and, in the hands of Sport For Jove, skillfully hit their mark. The tried and true story goes that Nora Helmer naively commits a crime in an act of love to save her husband’s life only to find - when her sins are exposed - that all the joy and happiness she thought to be true are baseless. Adam Cook’s direction allows audiences to hear Ibsen’s 130-year-old words with fresh ears. Long-abandoned turns of phrase sound hip and cool, and for once neutral Australian accents don’t sound crass. It helps that Ibsen’s words are delivered by fine acting talent. Anthony Gooley’s Krogstad is irritatingly pathetic but at the same time sympathetic, Francesca Savige’s Kristine is weak yet holds an inner strength, and Barry French’s Rank balances just enough enthusiasm with defeat. Annie Byron as Helen is lovable, and real-life brothers Bill and Tom Blake playing little Ivar and Jon (alternating with Massimo Di Napoli and Noah Sturzaker) are adorable. Douglas Hansell manages a semi-likable Torvald - a feat considering getting the audience to feel sorry for Torvald at all is a challenge. Matilda Ridgeway is a star. Her Nora is neurotic, detailed, impulsive and a thrill to watch. What’s next for Ridgeway? Something big I think. Maryann Wright Through These Lines By Cheryl Ward. Turnaround Productions and No Rest for the Wicked. Fort Scratchley, Newcastle. July 2 - Aug 5. THE tour of Through These Lines, a look at the relationships between nurses and soldiers in World War 1, got off to an excellent start with a season in Newcastle’s historic Fort Scratchley. The performance venue was a concrete casemate (storage room) beneath the gun emplacements, with the structure helping the makeshift service hospitals and other settings to come very much to life. The story’s central character is Sister Florence Whiting, a nurse first seen on a troopship travelling from Australia to Egypt late in 1914. Like other nurses, she flirts with on-
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board soldiers, and it’s a sign of the times that the nurses are eventually ordered to restrict themselves to their quarters but the military men are allowed to continue having freedom of movement around the ship. Florence becomes romantically involved with a lieutenant, William Davies, while they are stationed in Cairo, and they keep encountering each other, with the venues including a hospital ship near Gallipoli, Lemnos in Greece and the Western Front in France. Writer Cheryl Ward (who also plays a sympathetic but rule-abiding matron), director Mary-Anne Gifford and the actors bring out the hopes, dreams and realities faced by the story’s people, with the rigour of battlefront lives contrasted with the joyous news of marriages and births in letters from relatives in Australia. Well-placed humour is a feature of Cheryl Ward’s script, with a matron’s list of the things in Cairo that have led to soldiers being wounded including “climbing the pyramids”, something Ward discovered when researching her story. Kate Skinner, who plays Florence, is the only actor in a single role, with the multiple roles played by the others ranging from Gareth Rickard’s constantly re-appearing William Davies to a soldier who is briefly seen standing in a doorway singing in the hope of catching the attention of the nurses. Ken Longworth Glory Dazed By Cat Jones. Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). July 23 - Aug 23. DIRECTOR Greg Carroll gives us a totally satisfying realisation of Cat Jones’ powerful short play about the emotional “Casualties of War”, set in a pub in the depressing Midlands city of Doncaster. He has an exceptional cast and creative crew, but it’s Carroll who seamlessly pulls it all together. As Ray, an ex-soldier who has bashed an Asian man for changing the TV channel, Andre de Vanny gives a staggering performance. At first evaluation Ray is a dolt and a thug, with a modicum of charm that attracts women. But de Vanny has found in him so many layers that it’s a frightening and heartbreaking portrayal. Emily Goddard is compelling as bashed ex wife Carla. No victim, it’s the strength at the heart of an ordinary woman, protecting her children from the man she still loves, that she explores. Newcomer Jonathan Peck is impressive as pub manager Simon, a seemingly weak character with a Machiavellian twist. He knows when to push Ray’s buttons, how to destroy him, how to take his wife…and ultimately how to manipulate all those around him. It’s a great debut. Laura Jane Turner, as the slightly “thick” 17-year-old barmaid, is totally convincing and has that much lauded ability of listening and re-acting to everything that’s going on around her. Set Designer Peter Mumford has worked miracles in the tiny performance space. The raised stage is a square island; a symbolic boxing ring where life deals its knock out punches. 86 Stage Whispers
Fuelled by Cat Jones exquisitely layered text, this is Red Stitch’s finest offering of 2014. Coral Drouyn Richard III By William Shakespeare. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. June 24 - July 19 SHAKESPEARE has been banned but there’s a secret society dedicated to performing Richard III in a locked warehouse guarded by CCTV cameras. That’s the premise of Mark Kilmurry’s claustrophobic Ensemble production, mounted to celebrate the Bard’s 450th birthday. The multitalented Kilmurry, co-Artistic Director of the theatre, also stars as the bloodthirsty super-villain and, I assume, designed the setting (nobody gets the credit in the program). Via an onstage CCTV monitor, we watch six furtive actors arrive and silently prepare for the ritual. Occasionally we hear sirens passing by and helicopters flying overhead. It’s unclear for whom they are staging their production or why they chose to do Richard III. These questions aside, it’s a vigorous and highly entertaining production that we oversee. With Kilmurry’s skipping despot at its centre, and with Patrick Dickson’s upright Buckingham by his side all the other many parts regardless of age or sex - are shared between Danielle Carter, Matt Edgerton, Amy Matthews and Toni Scanlan. Kilmurry has a fine old time with a hump, withered hand, splayed legs and more than a touch of Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder (Season One). His full-length pratfall as he first attempts to mount the throne is a highlight. The splendid cast doubles and trebles away. I particularly enjoyed Matt Edgerton playing villainous henchmen Ratcliff and Catesby simultaneously. Frank Hatherley Macbeth By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Kip Williams. Sydney Theatre. July 25 - Sept 27. DOUBLE, double toil and trouble - sayeth the famous witches, and likewise with this hotly anticipated production of the Scottish play the question kept recurring - was it worth the trouble of turning the Sydney Theatre inside out? The audience was shoe horned into a temporary seating structure on the stage - staring at the 900 empty seats. The cast casually walk onto the stage in civilian clothes save for the odd prop. The set was just a blank table. Only basic house lights shone on stage and on the seats. The witches blew bubbles into tubs of water like pre-schoolers. Characters walk on, women playing men and men playing women. Is that Macduff or is it the stage manager? In the early moments only the extraordinary acting was holding it together. Hugo Weaving as Macbeth was booming, terrifying, and charisma personified. Melita Jurisic, dripping with bloody hands, was also sublime as the absolutely crackers Lady Macbeth. The only shame was that some of her best lines were trimmed. Then, at last, some magic started happening.
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Hugo Weaving in Sydney Theatre Company’s Macbeth. Photo: Brett Boardman
In a few seconds a dense fog shrouds the stage, blowing hard, instantly changing the whole atmosphere. There was relief too when some of the murderous action to take place in the dress circle and stalls. Ghosts wandering across the stage spooked Macbeth and the audience. There was also the thrill of being behind the curtain when it comes down, leaving us at close quarters with the demonic King of Scotland. One hour and fifty minutes, one act and the play is over. So was it worth the trouble of turning the theatre inside out? The answer is yes…but once is enough. David Spicer
empathetic lighting design and evocative but unobtrusive composition by Ash Gibson Greig. Much of the success of this production is due to Kate Cherry's thoughtful direction and to excellent acting performances. Greta Scacchi brings a touch of fame to the production in the way her character Arkadina brings a famous presence to the country setting of the play, and she convincingly portrays the exotic, aloof and overly passionate famous actress. She is a beautiful (and I imagine, deliberate) contrast to the familiar face of Rebecca Davis, who plays the downtrodden, melancholy and dowdy Masha in an excellent performance. Luke McMahon is strong as hot-headed, impulsive The Seagull Konstantin, nicely paired with newcomer Leila George who By Anton Chekhov, adapted by Hilary Bell. Heath Ledger shows a wonderful character journey in Nina. Michael Theatre, WA. Aug 9-31. Loney is likeable and well received as elderly Sorin. Andrew BLACK Swan State Theatre Company's production of The McFarlane finds depth in handsome Doctor Dorn. Ben Mortley is appropriately handsome and charming as Seagull is a well produced, expertly acted incarnation of the celebrity writer Trigorin. Adam Booth brings energy and Hilary Bell’s relatable, comparatively slick new adaptation, which remains true to Chekhov's original intention. personality to the Medvedenko - and is especially strong in Fiona Bruce's design deliberately embraces both the his silence. Sarah McNeill (Polina) and Greg McNeill traditional look of an 1890s theatre and a more 'avant(Shamrayev) are given less to do, but deliver solid garde meets modern realism' approach, in a lovely blend performances. This is a fresh, accessible and entertaining look at The that highlights a debate on theatre that takes place early in the play. Her costumes beautifully evoke the era and are a Seagull. wonderful insight into each character Kimberley Shaw A wonderfully atmospheric show, the strong performances are also supported by Jon Buswell’s Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
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Journey’s End By R.C. Sherriff. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Aug 816. HOBART Repertory Theatre Society is to be congratulated for presenting Journey’s End as an observation of the futility of war, rather than as a glorification of war. Journey’s End was an excellent vehicle for young actor Zachary Lennon (Stanhope) who shone as the conscientious but disintegrating officer who realised what was ahead. His performance was a fine example of character development, no doubt due to the experience and understanding of director Robert Jarman. In muted shades of khaki, brown and black, with beautiful lighting contrasts indicating the time of day and the action outside, we watched as the days ticked off, in March 1918, towards the tragic but inevitable end. Designer William Dowd conveyed the claustrophobia of a tight space and the difficulty under which the soldiers worked and lived. The set, a low-ceilinged dugout, was about half of the height of the stage, and behaved beautifully in projecting the actor’s voices. Diction and accents were capably handled throughout, even during quiet times. Congratulations to Kobi Hayes for a lovely, believable performance of Raleigh, the hero worshipper who grew up too quickly. Jeff Keogh (Osborne) John Lenthall (Trotter) and Kim Woodhead (Mason) were team actors as they would have been supportive and loyal army personnel. All actors did a wonderful job of understanding the clever writing and effectively conveying the full impact of this thought-provoking play. Merlene Abbott
Costumes, by the director, appeared appropriate for village life in the 1830s and were carefully chosen for each character. The cosy set, nicely designed by Keith Abbot, was furnished and finished with care. Cranford was a sweet production, providing gentle, genteel entertainment for discerning ladies and gentlemen. Kimberley Shaw
Playing Sinatra By Bernard Kops. St Jude’s Players (SA). July 24-Aug 2. WITH its fine production of Bernard Kops’ disturbing drama Playing Sinatra, Adelaide’s St Jude’s Players create spine-chilling psychological ‘atmosphere’ just as effectively as the professionals. Director Geoff Brittain has excellent insight into the sinister tension and intriguing nuances in the play, helped by one of the best performances by a male actor I’ve seen in Adelaide’s community theatre scene for many a year. Essentially, this is a story about suffocating control, mental illness, family dysfunction, dependence and despair. Anthony Clapp embodies Norman Lewis, living the mentally ill character from the opening curtain to the final moments. In Clapp’s hands Norman never becomes a caricature because he is so scarily real. Thoughts of Norman Bates from Hitchcock’s Psycho are never far away. As Norman’s sister Sandra, Cheryl Douglas is very effective in demonstrating the quiet suffering and despair experienced by this lonely spinster. Her numb sense of powerlessness comes across well, as do her conflicting emotions of duty to Norman and need for a life away from her brother’s frightening control. Andrew Horwood is terrific as Phillip de Groot, skillfully developing the contrasting sides of this man’s character. Ole Wiebkin’s set design is simply brilliant on the small Cranford stage. The cluttered rooms, particularly the gloomy, Adapted by Martyn Coleman from the novel by Mrs Gaskell. claustrophobic bedrooms, ooze the suffocating Directed by Ailsa Travers. Garrick Theatre (WA). July 10-26 hopelessness of the lives lived therein. DIRECTING matriarch, Ailsa Travers, having long reigned All the while, Ole Blue Eyes serenades the audience with as the Queen of Costume Drama, says that Cranford will be his hits, producing an eerily unsettling and frequently telling her last as a director. If that should prove true, it is a fitting soundtrack. directorial swan song - a beautifully produced period Lesley Reed drama, with some excellent performances. Kerry Goode is more than good in the central role of Purgatorio Miss Matty. Quietly owning the stage, she is believably the By Ariel Dorfman. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic. The centre of village life. Owl and the Pussycat (Vic). July 23 - Aug 2. Ellie Bawdon, a relative newcomer, performed ALL that is needed for fine theatre is a space to perform, gorgeously, showing a fascinating character journey as a good text, a connected audience, and talented people on young servant Martha. a quest for excellence. 5pound theatre and Attic Good support throughout, especially from Veronica Erratic have brought all those elements together for Fourie as prim spinster Miss Pole, Dale James as gentle Mrs. Purgatorio, by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, and the Forrester and the delightful Diana Graham as Miss Betty result is a stunning piece of theatre on a shoestring budget. Barker. Maryann Burke was sweet as Miss Mary; Graham Dorfman’s play explores the universal themes of Miles struck exactly the right note as Mr. Hoggins, while the Retribution (Revenge) and Redemption; but it delves more audience enjoyed Sue Vincent as pompous, unpleasant Mrs. deeply into more esoteric philosophy: Is love un-ending and Jamieson. all conquering? Can there be redemption without This show had two excellent community theatre debuts. acceptance and forgiveness? Celeste Cody’s direction is Heidi Davies was exceptionally impressive as down-to-earth masterful on all levels. Scot, Lady Glenmire and Ethan Acott charmed as awkward With the lack of any real set or props, all the theatrical Jem. magic is created by Jason Bovaird’s astonishing lighting 88 Stage Whispers
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design. The subtlety of whom he lights and how, is quite breathtaking. He tells the entire story, symbolically, through the simplest of devices exquisitely placed. Jason Cavanagh and Freya Pragt are simply astonishing as the man and woman. Pragt, who can be almost pin-up beautiful, is an animal… seething with passions and fury and pain and loathing (mostly for herself) which she cannot control. She is frighteningly wonderful. Cavanagh is so intense that it is difficult sometimes to watch. I am not ashamed to say he had me emotionally overwhelmed and crying. These four amazing talents combine in a night of superb theatre; the kind we always long for but rarely see. Coral Drouyn Ugly Mugs By Peta Brady. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross. July 25 - Aug 23. MELBOURNE playwright and actor Peta Brady has also spent years working as an outreach worker amongst sex workers. We begin in the morgue, with the Doctor (Steve Le Marquand) inspecting the corpse of a murdered Working Girl (Peta Brady), but one who won’t stop talking about what happened that fateful night. It’s a deliciously thrilling theatrical device and, on the slab, Murphy is brilliant - full of defiant humour, impudence and sad worldliness. Ugly mugs are those violent clients whose habits the sex workers warn each other about through a grassroots pamphlet. Le Marquand is totally convincing as the coolly enquiring Doctor and, later, also playing the murdering Ugly Mug himself. Less successful is the subplot concerning the teenager (Harry Borland) obsessed with a footy mad girl, who tragically is next in line as another female victim. Unexplained, and leaping between future and past, the boy is incarcerated. Brady also plays his visiting mother which, although another gritty performance, adds to the confusion around this subplot. Sara West though is beguiling as another toughly independent but younger female making do in hard times. Marion Potts directs a sparse, truthful if confusing production. It’s a credit to Brady’s performance and her authorial empathy for this world, if not her dramatic storytelling, that Ugly Mugs can be so moving. On the tiny Stable space, designer Michael Hankin delivers fine character-appropriate costuming and a sparsely brutal space, lit with cold neons by Lucy Birkinshaw. Martin Portus
return to Hirst’s house for a drink. Baldwin’s brilliant, multilayered portrayal is both nuanced and physical. The pathos is palpable. Contrasting wonderfully with the verbose, restless Spooner, John Edge’s alcoholic Hirst is remote, terse and stiff. A fine performance, with one of many highlights being Hirst’s drunken exit on his knees. When the younger men enter the play darkens and the audience’s confusion multiplies. Who are these two, really; are they Hirst’s employees or something much more intimate? Foster bursts in like a peacock on steroids. Matt Houston plays Hirst’s companion/ housekeeper with shrieking, high camp energy. At times this seems just a little too far over the top, but his performance is very effective and he contributes much to the sense of menace. Jonathan Pheasant is terrific as Hirst’s knowing and smilingly sinister butler/bodyguard, Briggs. He has wonderful stage presence and his comic timing is brilliant. Some may find this play frustrating, because, typical of Pinter’s works, it’s more of a happening than a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Its lure is its capacity to intrigue and make each of us contemplate what the truths behind the odd foursome might be. Fine direction by Warwick Cooper, with magnificent performances and wonderful staging. Lesley Reed
Arcadia By Tom Stoppard. Canberra Repertory. Director: Aarne Neeme. Aug 1-16. OCCASIONALLY a work comes along that captivates either by its mystery or by the cultural and scientific wealth it shares. Arcadia does both, and the joy of engaging with fellow audience members in such wealth and mystery makes it all the richer, a kind of cooperative-competitive sport without losers. Canberra Rep’s production is a seriously enjoyable intellectual sport, cleverly interweaving two periods: the 1800s, when the Age of Reason was giving way to Romanticism, and the early 1990s, in which a decade of greed and decadence was giving birth to one of extortion and overweening pride. It’s a tale in which findings of universal significance unfold among the everyday casual betrayals and overripe egotism that may mark the tales of even the humblest of the giants enriching our cultural and scientific heritage. To present such a rich banquet - appetisers of mystery and academic squabbling, main courses of exploration and disaster, desserts of punishment and exile, suppers of No Man’s Land dismay and delight - demands a certain fidelity to By Harold Pinter. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. Aug recognition of our collective makeup. The fine acting, near2-16. perfect diction, and perfect timing and staging of this THE University of Adelaide Theatre Guild has all the superb production not only met Arcadia’s demands for elements just right with its production of Harold Pinter’s No truthfulness; every aspect - including costumes, props, Man’s Land. lighting, and audio - was meticulous. It’s rich, memorable, Michael Baldwin is superb as the light-fingered, down and greatly enjoyable, and your life will be the poorer if you miss it. on his luck yet perennially egotistical poet, Spooner, who John P. Harvey has accepted an invitation by alcoholic upper-class Hirst to Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
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Managing Carmen By David Williamson. HIT Productions. Directed by Denis Moore. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. June 24-28 and touring nationally. POSSIBLY the only production I’ve ever seen in which a character’s transvestism was something other than a tacky sales gimmick, Managing Carmen is the tale of a top footballer’s increasingly bizarre relationships with his girlfriend, his agent-manager, his most ardent critic, his (belatedly announced) psychologist, and his shadow, as a secret hobby threatens to expose them all to ruin. Not truly realistic (Williamson’s psychologist confuses appetite with “normal” addiction, and the transvestite’s motives lack plausibility), the play is less an exploration of the wellsprings of character than simple drawing-room comedy. Its cast of five leaves no moment unturned, even in the scene changes, which the simplest of set alterations rapidly effected. Lighting was interesting, mostly realistic, and strong; and subtle soundscapes provided auditory realism. Perhaps the production’s single weakness was the dowdy uniformity of the supposed designer dresses in which our transvestite’s alter ego appeared. To see the characters interact unreservedly was a delight. Though all the male leads were particularly strong, Jamieson Caldwell, playing double-Brownlow-medallist footballer Brent Lyall, stood out, conveying more through posture, gesture, and expression than he could have in emphasising lines in the play’s most challenging role. Make no mistake: this is serious comedy, with no serious bone to pick. Come along prepared for a laugh, and you won’t be disappointed. John P. Harvey
credibility. However, director Kevin West and his fine cast got to grips with this and produced a compelling drama. Ken Cotterill
Speaking in Tongues By Andrew Bovell. Cairns Little Theatre Directed by Kevin West. July 4-12. SET in Sydney, Andrew Bovell’s intriguing play presents two contrasting acts linked by the mysterious disappearance of a woman. In the first act we meet two unfaithful couples embroiled in their own personal misery. In the second act, only two of the first act characters reemerge to continue the story. Director Kevin West has wisely opted for a minimal set to tell this complex tale. The direction is smooth, with the actors playing their roles with assurance. Warren Clements (Pete) and Meg Stubbs (Jane) work well together as a couple facing marital problems. Kane Sarota (Leon) and Natalia Crowe (Sonja) also look good together as the other couple immersed in relationship problems. Voice projection was possibly the only flaw in otherwise good characterisations. In the second act Sarah Urquhart, as the ill-fated Valerie, and Jodie Hogan (Sarah) gave excellent performances. Both actors had strong stage presence. There was also good supporting work from Piers Freeman (Neil), Kinloch Anstiss (Nick) and Ron Smith (John) in character roles. Bovell has relied on a number of convenient coincidences to link the two acts, which at times stretched
Morning Sacrifice By Dymphna Cusack. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Gold Coast. July 25 - Aug 9. SYDNEY 1938: the education system and teacher/ student expectations were quite different to the present day. Jim Dickson’s production took us into the Staff Room of a respectable school for young ladies and introduced us to idiosyncrasies and malicious snipes of women, divided in their ideals and views on punishment and the place of young girls in society. The atmosphere was cold and uninviting. The cast of seven teachers, the head teacher and the Headmistress worked their way through the consequences a student deserves for (what we today would not give a second thought) kissing a boy at the school dance. Strong performances all round were sure to bring back one’s own school experiences, whenever they were endured. The detail in the set dressing was true to the era and the costumes suited both period and characters. Efficient technical support has become a hallmark of Javeenbah’s productions. Roger McKenzie
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The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of Macbeth By David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr. Directed by Gail Storm. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount, WA. July 4-19. DARLINGTON Theatre Players' production was was very entertaining and a pleasant way to while away an evening. The cast appeared to be having a ball in this play within a play, as the Farndale women compete in a festival competition under the gaze of respected adjudicator George Peach - played in a very funny performance by Ray Egan. From the moment the show opened with a piano introduction from Gwynneth (Marjorie De Caux), this was a light-hearted, nicely presented, fun show. Neroli Burton was lovely as bossy chairwoman Mrs Reece, Rachel Vonk delighted as Felicity (her Gentlewoman was particularly clever), Siobhan Vincent was strong as Thelma, while Taneal Thompson made the most of physical comedy as the hapless Kate. Rodney Stickells-Palmer was fabulous as Henry who is forced by circumstance to play Lady Macbeth. No weak links in the "real" cast including Alyssa Burton, Fi Livings and Richard Coleman. Darlington Theatre Players have dedicated 2014 to Shakespeare and Shakespeare inspired plays and The Farndale Avenue … Macbeth was a delightful way to add a bit of fun. Kimberley Shaw
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Les Misérables By Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer. Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne from July 2; Crown Theatre, Perth from January 2015, and Capitol Theatre Sydney from March 2015. IF ANYONE else needs a good dose of theatrical splendour, this new production is a guaranteed cure. Beautifully mounted (set and image design by Matt Kinley), astonishingly lit by Paule Constable, evocative projection by 59 Productions, and with magnificent sound design by Mick Potter; it is splendid theatre. Simon Gleeson is the quintessential Valjean. His bitterness in the prologue, and his transformation into a man of compassion, are superb acting. Then there’s the voice, from a magnificent chesty baritone, up into falsetto headnotes that would make the angels weep, “Bring Him Home” reducing the audience to tears. Hayden Tee (Javert) strides the stage with true menace, and vocally he delivers everything one could hope for. “Stars” had the audience cheering and screaming for a good 30 seconds, and we held our breath during the painful Soliloquy. Trevor Ashley and Lara Mulcahy deliver the perfect Thenardiers; flesh and blood, just grotesque enough, and with delicious physical comedy. Ashley is a superstar in his own right, with a voice that soars; and the overblown Mulcahy is the perfect match for him. Patrice Tipoki is a beautiful Fantine with a great voice, but she didn’t eradicate the memory of the astonishing
Les Misérables. Photo: Matt Murphy.
Debra Byrne. Euan Doidge (Marius) and Emily Langridge (Cosette) are suitably sweet as the young lovers. KerrieAnne Greenland (Eponine) soared in the iconic “On My Own”, but it was her brilliant death scene in “A Little Fall of Rain” which marked her true potential. The remaining cast and ensemble were superb throughout, and a staggering 14 of the cast, including all four female leads, are WAAPA graduates. The orchestra was brilliant under the direction of Geoffrey Castles. There is a whole new generation of Musical Theatre addicts who will, and must, see this production live. There is magic to be had in the theatre…and sheer exhilaration. Coral Drouyn Company Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Book: George Furth. Igantians Musical Society. Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane. June 20 - July 5. IGNATIANS continues exploring Stephen Sondheim’s musical theatre canon with a well-sung and well-acted inthe-round production of his groundbreaking non-linear 70s musical Company. As the protagonist Robert, ex Ten Tenor Bradley McCaw handled his character’s material with professional ease; whether smoking pot, bedding his air hostess girlfriend April, or building the emotional impact of Robert’s ultimate cry-for-help “Being Alive”, he was right on the money. As his friends, Tammy Sarah Linde (Sarah) and Chris Kellett (Harry) gave strong performances as a couple trying to hide their eating and alcohol demons, as did the soon-to-be-
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divorced Jordana Peek (Susan) and Stephen Hurst (Peter), with Lauren Ware and Josh Whitten being delightfully funny as the trying-to-be-forever-young Jenny and David. Erika Naddei artfully delivered “Another Hundred People”, Lisa Marie Gargione’s Amy was brilliantly showy in “Getting Married Today” (although her partner Cameron Rollo had pitch problems), while Susan Stenlake revelled in the cutting put-downs of “The Ladies Who Lunch”. Heidi Enchelmaier, Aurelie Roque, and Erika Naddei were musically spot on as a 40s sounding Andrew Sisters trio on “You Could Drive A Person Crazy”, while the company scored with the opening title tune and the vaudeville-like “Side by Side” and “What Would We Do Without You”. Individually Chris Kellett, Josh Whitten and David Knijnenburg harmonised well on “Sorry Grateful”. Luke Volker’s 14-piece orchestra, hidden behind a glitter curtain, played with vigour and filled the Roundhouse with glorious sound. Catarina Hebbard, using every level of the theatre, intelligently made the piece work for the venue. It was masterful direction. Peter Pinne
staged with the highest of production standards to bring it off. Neil Gooding cherry picked many of the best Beauty and the Beast props that have been used around Australia in recent years to ensure it was a delightful evening. David Spicer
Ruthless! The Musical Book and Lyrics by Joel Paley. Music by Marvin Laird. Seymour Centre & The Theatre Division. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). June 19 - July 12. AFFECTIONATE musical comedy lampoon Ruthless! mashes The Bad Seed with All About Eve, then throws in lashings of Gypsy and Mame, all driven by a cute as a button sociopathic twist packaging a combination of Annie, Dainty June and Shirley Temple. Divas Geraldine Turner, Katrina Retallick, Margi De Ferranti and Meredith O’Reilly each individually grab their chances to make the intimate Reginald space their own, along with diva-on-the-rise Caitlin Berry, yet find themselves in a limelight-battle with child triple threat Madison Russo as Tina Denmark, the eight-year-old who would literally kill to play the lead in the primary school musical. Beauty and the Beast Combine these six forces of nature and it’s Diva Heaven. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Madison Russo’s cute Tina just loves to entertain, but Rice. Book by Linda Woolverton. Packemin Productions. scratch that sugar-coating and nasty, creepy little nuances Parramatta Riverside Theatre. July 18 - Aug 2. build till you finally meet the pint-sized sociopath. HALF way through the first act my 10-year-old daughter Katrina Retallick delights as OTT all-American mom Judy asked me whether this was a professional production? My Denmark, a delicious entrée for her startling Act Two answer was half professional - half community theatre. transformation, delivering great comic timing and vocals. The scintillating leaping and tumbling dancers and the Meredith O’Reilly brings a deliciously wry comic style to feast for the eyes dinner scene with golden dancing cutlery enigmatic theatrical agent Sylvia St Croix. caused confusion for starters. Both were of such a high Margi De Ferranti utterly nails two distinct comic standard that (save for the size of the theatre) most characters. members of the general public would find it difficult to As acid-tongued theatre critic Lita Encore, Geraldine separate the experience from a seat in a fully professional Turner launches quickly into the song ‘I Hate Musicals’, a production. made-to measure comic Broadway Belt tour de force for Under the direction of Neil Gooding this musical set a her. Her super-bitch characterization and one-liners are brisk pace throughout. pure delight. The interesting aspect, for more frequent theatregoers, Caitlin Berry makes up for her limited Act 1 is how the professionals in the cast compare with those opportunities with her sometimes ditzy, always ambitious, who are (how shall we put in sensitively) not paid. ‘All About Eve’ style PA. The paid ones, Scott Irwin as the Beast, Donna Lee as Lisa Freshwater’s direction is slick and snappy, Mrs Potts and Adam Scicluna as Cogsworth, performed to Christopher Horsey’s choreography is smart and witty, the the high standard you’d expect and no doubt the large cast musical accompaniment by Musical Director Brad Miller’s gained from the experience of working alongside them. small combo is exemplary, and Mason Browne’s set and Two others performed to such a high standard that it costume designs are constantly in on the gag. led to even more confusion no doubt for my daughter. Ruthless! is outrageous, unashamedly campy fun. 18-year-old Kelsi Boyden as Belle performed with a Neil Litchfield maturity and poise well beyond her years, and David Tucker as Lumiere was exquisite. Cats Adding further depth to the cast are three principals By Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum’s Book of who are current students or graduates of the Music Theatre Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. Harvest Rain. Brisbane degree at the Australian Institute of Music. Danny Folpp Convention Centre. Director and Choreographer: Callum looked the part as the vain muscular Gaston, Dave Collins Mansfield. Musical Director: Maitlohn Drew. July 4-6. played Lefou and Rebecca Matheson portrayed Babette. CAT lovers and lovers of Cats were in Moggie heaven at Beauty and the Beastwas the breakthrough musical Harvest Rain’s arena-style production of Andrew Lloyd production which set up the foundation for Disney Webber’s Cats. musicals. It ran on Broadway for over decade. It needs to be 92 Stage Whispers
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With a cast of over 800 adults, teenagers and juniors, the venue at times was a sea of writhing, slinking, magical feline activity. Producer Tim O’Connor’s vision to mount the largest production of the musical in the Southern Hemisphere paid off handsomely. It was gobsmackingly good. Praise, accolades and thunderous applause should go to director and choreographer Callum Mansfield who has pulled off an amazing feat of theatre that was always invigorating and marvellously theatrical. Heading the cast as Grizabella, Marina Prior not only brought gravitas to the role, having appeared in the original Australian production in 1985 as Jellylorum and Griddlebone, but a depth and presence, and was achingly melancholic singing the immortal “Memory.” In the role of Munkustrap, Dean Vince was vocally strong and commanding, while Patrick Oxley’s Old Deuteronomy had warmth and authority. Ethan Jones brought a ‘rock legend’ swagger to Rum Tum Tugger which was enormous fun. Stevie Bishop was an athletic Mr Missoffelees whose final disappearing trick drew gasps, while Dan Venz skipped and cavorted nimbly as Skimbleshanks the railway cat. Steven Tandy was a lovable Bustopher Jones and a heart-string pulling Gus the Theatre Cat. Other standout performances came from Astin Blaik as Jennyanydots, Callan Warner and Hanna Crowther as Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser, and Natalie Greer as Jemima. Augmenting the principal cast were students from Harvest Rain’s Internship Program, Brisbane Girls Grammar
School, Canterbury College, Clairvaux MacKillop College, Morton Bay College, Mt Alvernia College, Northside Christian College, Redlands College, St John’s Anglican College, St Josephs Nudgee College, and over 500 performers from across South East Queensland. They all deserve glowing admiration for the way they threw themselves into these feline roles with a discipline that verged on frenzy. Maitlohn Drew’s 16-piece band was punchy, Josh McIntosh’s set of rostra with revolve worked extremely well for the piece, with Jason Glenwright’s effective pin-spot lighting complementing the stage action at every turn. But it was Mansfield’s brilliant staging that drove this production and made it into something magical. Early on he had his entire cast, all 800 of them, tap-dancing in unison in the Old Gumbie Cat number. It was thrilling and from that moment on the show never lost its energy and drive. Talk about ‘wow’ factor. This production had it in spades! Peter Pinne The Mystery of Edwin Drood By Rupert Holmes. Bankstown Theatre Company. Olympic Parade Theatre, Bankstown. July 25 to Aug 3. CHARLES Dickens’ unfinished novel gets a different ending each night in this rollicking music hall style showwithin-a-show musical. Each audience gets to vote for the evening’s murderer, detective, and pairing of lovers.
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Spring Awakening. Photo: Chrissy McGuire.
Christopher Hamilton directs a lively production, incorporating a strong sense of 19th century music hall traditions. Direction and performances are attractively complemented by scenic art from Vince Cairncross, a lush crimson and gilt setting combined with his now trademark projections of water colours as backdrops, along the lines of a Victoriana slide-show. Bankstown has assembled a strong community theatre cast, though standing out in the title role is Courtney Glass, a performer with Broadway experience, whose stagecraft and finesse give her a sheer professional edge. Hers is an accomplished performance in the trouser role of Edwin Drood and a diva-licious glamour moment of pouting high theatrics. Strong performances all-round include Rebecca Carter’s heroine Rosa, particularly her haunting rendition of ‘Moonfall’; Ben Dodd and Greg Thorton’s low comedy antics; Simon Fry’s aptly posturing pastor; Stephen Halstead’s broody, sleazy John Jasper; Victoria Wildie’s enigmatic Princess Puffer; with Jessica James Moody and James Jonathon delightfully inscrutable as the sort of stock ‘Oriental’ characters, stage fixtures in the 19th century, who we’d now deem politically incorrect. At the helm as the traditional chairman, pivotal to Music Hall, Les Asmussen sometimes stretched the narration just a tad too long at the performance I attended. At dual on-stage keyboards, Greg Crease and musical director Jayne Hamilton provide impeccable 94 Stage Whispers
accompaniment, joining in on the spirit of the show when drawn into the action. Neil Litchfield Spring Awakening By Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, based on the original play by Frank Wedekind. Director: Sandra Neal Musical Director: Liam Mooney. Choreographer: Lynda Tama. Townsville Civic Theatre. Aug 13 - 23. WHEN the Townsville Choral Society announced that their next musical was to be Spring Awakening, a lot of people, including me, were quite surprised. This modern (2006) rock musical graphically touches on abortion, homosexuality, child sexual abuse and suicide…amongst other themes. It was a courageous decision to stage it. So, how did this Broadway hit cope with a plot written nearly 110 years ago but transformed into a 21st century musical? The answer is - wonderfully well. The story is still set in the original time, and continually jumping from the morals and attitudes of that era into modern idiom and rock music takes a little getting used to. The young cast is excellent. Finn Buckle and Amelia Doolan as the two central characters hold the story together with their totally believable love entanglement. Lachlan Greenland as the angst ridden Moritz is outstanding. In fact the entire ensemble is vibrant, energetic and virtually flawless. Rachel Cairns and Brett Greenland do a great job playing all the adult roles. Liam Mooney leads a band of nine talented musicians and they deserved the tumultuous applause they received
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on opening night. Director Sandra Neal has put together an amazing show. I was completely blown away by the cast, the music and the story. Ray Dickson
only way to do that is through a polished production. GMS scores well here. The vocal depth of the lead cast, the vibrant sets and costumes, the precision and execution of the choreography and the energy and commitment of the ensemble all added up to make this show feel far from The Sound of Music hackneyed and twee. The junior cast (of which there were By Rodgers and Hammerstein. Directed by Mark Barford, two) were all talented young individuals in their own rights Musical Direction by Ian Westrip. Regal Theatre, Subiaco - especially opening night's “Annie”. WA. July 10-19. Director Jillian Logan's strong acting background in THE Sound of Music opened to a deservingly musical and traditional theatre also proved a telling factor enthusiastic reception. This production had distinctly in the finesse of the lead performances. Comic turns by professional production values, a wonderfully lavish feel Jane-Ann Scott as Miss Hannigan, Joshua Keane as Rooster and was directed with warmth by Mark Barford. Hannigan and Jessica King as Lily St Regis were as good as Sara Chririchilli's set was imposing and impressive. Jenny you'd see anywhere, while veteran Tim Page had a field day. Villa's lighting gave vastly different atmosphere as we Energetic cameos by Alan Royal and Gareth Isaac kept the moved between locales. Costumes (Kristy Armstrong) were show humming along. conventional, accurate and lovely while sound (David Keys) Rose Cooper was nicely balanced and timed. The orchestra under the baton of Ian Westrip was The Wizard of Oz - Young Performers’ Edition. faultless, while vocally the production was outstanding. Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Director: Robert ICW's musical standards are simply unmatchable in local Coates. Musical Director: Andy Coates. Choreographer: productions. Alicia Haggar. Union Theatre, Melbourne University. July 10 The show opened with the wonderful chorale of nuns. - 12. Mother Abbess (Nola Formentin) delivered a glorious vocal YOUNG Australian Broadway Chorus hold classes for five performance and it was easy to see that this powerful, to eighteen-year-olds and obviously the advanced students measured woman was once an impulsive young girl. The end up participating in their major production. other principal sisters (Elsie Gangemi, Grace Johnson and And major it certainly was with a cast of “thousands”. Natalie Fulcher) delivered lovely performances. Well it certainly appeared like that on the small stage at the Stephanie Gooch's Maria was reminiscent of June Union Theatre. And what a talented bunch they were. Bronhill, a warm full voiced soprano. Ian Cross was a strict In a remarkably even cast, outstanding for me were the but charming Georg von Trapp who established strong tight choreography, the powerful chorus singing and the relationships with Maria and the children. colourful costumes. After attending an adult musical the The children were gorgeous. Alexandra Toussaintnight before where most of the chorus appeared to be Jackson, Adam Di Tullio, Zoe Crisp, Seamus Harrison, rhythmically challenged, it was refreshing to see these Stephanie Shaw, Katie Price and Caitlyn Steele created a energetic youngsters, who had obviously been well trained, believable family and beautiful harmonies. All were highly and moved as one. professional, establishing distinct, well-rounded characters. The chorus singing was equally impressive and powerful. Alexandra Toussaint-Jackson was a sweetly naive Leisl The songs weren’t difficult, but when harmony was whose duet with Rolf (Jake Tolich lovely in his first featured involved it was accurate. The costumes were very colourful role) was a delightful moment. and I loved the ones worn by the townsfolk of Oz who Excellent supporting performances abounded including spent their entire stage time walking on their knees. It Igor Sas' personable Max, Julia Hern's elegant Elsa Schraeder added an extra level. and Ian Toyne's stern Herr Zeller, as well as family servants The sets were basic but effective and changed quickly Donna Williams and Lauchlan Edward Bain. during blackouts. The direction was effective, with quite a The Sound of Music was an outstanding production. few entrances through the audience. The lighting was well Kimberley Shaw handled. Backing tracks were used and no-one missed a beat. Annie Jaimee Bennetts was a charming Dorothy with a lovely Music by Charles Strouse. Lyrics by Martin Charnin. Book By voice and I was surprised to find she was already attending Thomas Meehan. Gosford Musical Society. Director: Jillian Monash University. She looked much younger. Adrian Logan. Musical Director: Maryellen Gillard. Choreographer: Agisilaou, Joseph Baldwin and Joshua Erdelyi-Götzm were all outstanding as the lion, scarecrow and tinman, with Danielle Hochkins. Set Designer: Daryl Kirkness. Laycock Street Theatre, July 25-Aug 9. excellent voices. Jordie Race-Coldry played Toto the dog, THERE’S no doubt about it, Annie is one of those shows and that worked well. that just keeps coming back around. It's a perfect show for Stephanie Kavenagh was a suitably scary Wicked Witch community theatre with it's large, all-age cast. It's a simple, of the West and Ruby Voss a charming Glinda. At just over an hour this is ideal entertainment for warm-hearted and seemingly timeless story of an eternally optimistic little girl who wins the heart of the curmudgeon. younger people. The challenge for any director is to keep it fresh and the Graham Ford Longer versions of many reviews can now be found at www.stagewhispers.com.au
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Hairspray By Mark O'Donnell, Thomas Meehan, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Adelaide Youth Theatre. Director: David Gauci. Musical Director: Emma Knights. Choreographer: Nina Richards. Arts Theatre, Adelaide. Aug13-16. If ever there was a show to make you feel glad you bought a ticket, it's Hairspray; specifically, Adelaide Youth Theatre's new production. Georgia Brooomhall gives Tracey a warm, sweet, strong, impressively feisty characterisation. In tandem with the slyly funny Callum Byrne as Edna Turnblad, and the ever-likeable Brendan Cooney as dad Wilbur, a lovely family of sympathetic protagonists sits at the centre of this show. It's great to see Mark Stefanoff back on the Adelaide stage, filling the role of Corny Collins with sheer charisma, while Georgia Payze is impressive as the odious Velma. Jordan Tomljenovic is dazzlingly magnetic - not to mention acrobatic - in the role of Seaweed; Georgia Bolton - playing Motor Mouth - will leave you speechless at the strength and skill of her singing. Practically stealing the show was the superb comic performance of Emily Wood as Penny. This is a formidable ensemble, ladies and gentlemen, without a doubt. Projections and animations are integrated brilliantly, costume and set design feel just right, the band is capable and versatile, but sound levels were occasionally too timid. You'd be hard pressed to find a better time in town than Hairspray. This particular band of Adelaide Youth have demonstrated decisively that the future of local theatre is in good - and very talented - hands. Anthony Vawser The Hatpin By Peter Rutherford and James Millar. Directed by Graeme Johnston. Musical Direction by Paul Lawrence Olsen. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. July 11-26. THIS newish Australian musical was performed at the atmospheric, era-appropriate Old Mill Theatre. Darkly themed, it is inspired by the true story of Amber Murray who put her infant son in to care, with tragic results. It is hugely challenging emotionally and musically. Sarah Cosstick inhabited the luckless young mother beautifully and sang from the heart. The trio of young women 'in trouble' (Danni Close, Hayley Currie and Sarsi Elsberry) maintained beautiful harmonies and clearly established their stories. Madeleine Shaw played strange Clara Makin in an unnerving performance and her delivery of the title song, the climax of the story, was excellent. Agatha and Charles Makin were well played by Andrea Van Bertouch and Angelino Schintu, creating a formidable team and disturbingly believable characters. Judi Johnson played Harriet with rough kindness. Adam Salathiel gave authority to Justice Stephen, while Tim Prosser gave credence to the show-pony defence barrister. Thoughtfully blocked by Graeme Johnston, it was performed on an almost bare stage, nicely designed by Ben Davis. The backdrop, painted by Tim Prosser, with photographic realism, was amazing. Danni Close's film montage helped create the period. 96 Stage Whispers
The unseen six-piece orchestra, conducted by Paul Lawrence Olsen, played to a very high standard. The Hatpin was an intriguing show, with some excellent talent and a delight for those with an interest in Australian music theatre. Kimberley Shaw The Secret Garden Music by Lucy Simon, Book & Lyrics by Marsha Norman (based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel). Beenleigh Theatre Group. Crete Street Theatre (Q). June 27 - July 12. THE Secret Garden is a challenge for any production company and their audience. I applaud BTG for tackling it, at the same time updating their technology in lighting, set and effects areas. Director Roslyn Johnson chose her cast well. In return they gave her and Musical Director, Shane Daly, their all. There were many memorable moments: the robust chorus early in Act 1 when the Indian characters moved into the audience to join the onstage English characters (quadraphonic sound!); Neville and Archibald’s duet “Lily’s Eyes”; Neville, Archibald, Rose and Lily’s quartet in Act 2 Sc 2; and the overall performances of the juveniles, Laura Seiler and Jayden McGinlay (the ones I saw), especially in their song “Round-Shouldered Man”. The use of large period architectural and furniture pieces, moved on by the cast as needed, proved expeditious, and the ‘robin in flight’ (a Victorian-Regency motif indicating improving health) was a nice touch. The final scene with back projection and floral decoration everywhere lifted the finale to another memorable level. Well directed (acting, singing and movement), well designed (period sets and costumes) and accomplished performances onstage. My only criticism is with the orchestra. A scratchy, insecure overture does not transport an audience to another world. In performance, singers were secure enough to avoid being put off-pitch. Jay McKee Guys and Dolls By Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The Production Company (Vic). State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. Director: Gale Edwards. Musical Director: Guy Simpson. Choreographer Nathan M Wright. July 19 - 27. A CONGOMERATE of high-flying directors, stage actors past and present, and politicians and were on hand at the opening of this old favourite, featuring the slickly swingin’ strains of Orchestra Victoria atop a raised stage-wide scaffold. Chelsea Plumley, resplendent in red coiffure, captivates as Miss Adelaide, effortlessly oscillating between fragility and resilience. Her robust solo work pairs cleanly with quirky physical comedy, although some lyrics were undecipherable in Take Back Your Mink tonight. Bobby Fox’s (Nicely Nicely Johnson) performance is another high point, particularly with the company in a winning rendition of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat, notable for slickly sensational choreography. I longed for a reprise, but was denied.
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Marry the Man Today is a cleverly written, and wrought, crowd-pleaser. The Crapshooters dance, Luck be a Lady, warmly received, and the ‘Hot Box Girls’ are delightful, making a pleasant change in an overwhelmingly male dominant script. The State Theatre is a broad canvas, perhaps too wide for such a minimalist production. Creative lighting and a pleasing collection of costume changes (some to-die-for millinery) cover for this, with the focus firmly on cast and content. Although one wonders though if the costuming isn’t rather too glamourous for the demographic and setting, this is a worthy production, and a feel-good night out, particularly in the second half where momentum swells. Lucy Graham Rent By Jonathan Larson. Directed by Paul Watson.. Centrestage Productions. Geelong Performing Arts Centre - Drama Theatre (Vic). June 27 - July 12. THE considerable talents of Paul Watson as Director/ Designer are inherent to this beautifully crafted, truthful production. The arrowhead stage gives a sense of extra dimension and Watson’s blocking creates a sense of 3D filmic deep focus. It’s cleverly married to panelled shutters at the windows of the top floor apartment, which also double as screens for live action film - so we have stills, live video feed from Mike’s camera (subjective) and film.
Douglas Costello is excellent as Roger. His powerful rock voice is shown to advantage throughout, but there are also soft, moving moments. Gina Mets as Mimi is so intense, so compellingly tragic, that her beauty actually works for the role and not against it. Jess Barlow (Maureen) is charismatic and made “Over the Moon” both a comic and vocal treat. Matt Skinner is a revelation as Mark, whose closest relationship is with his camera. Jaye Thomas Nelson is strong as Angel, and effective in the death scene, but for me he was a little too male drag queen. Denise Devlin is a knock-out as Joanne. Her “Take Me or Leave Me” duet with Maureen is a battle royale. The tango with Mark is quite marvellous, with the bonus of all sexual combinations in the couples dancing, and Venessa Paech’s choreography is excellent throughout. Adam Stafford gives a nicely rounded portrayal of Benny, making him more opportunist than ratbag. Brad Treloar leads a fine, if too loud, band, and the ensemble were uniformly terrific throughout. This is simply excellent musical theatre. Coral Drouyn The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee By Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn. Underground Productions. Hamilton Town Hall, Brisbane, Qld. Director: Danielle Carney. June 27 - July 12. THE annual spelling bee, and all the hoop-la that goes with it, has become a cornerstone of American Culture and Underground Productions’ version even had a “Bake Stall” to help the audience through this competitive institution.
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Stage Whispers 97
All Shook Up
The first production ever of Legally Blonde in Canberra is a success. Mikayla Williams is fantastic as Elle, showing the emotional gradations that the character experiences during her personal journey. Emmett is played by Dave Evans and Warner is played by Damon Grebert-Wade, both comfortable and confident in their respective roles. Jenna Roberts makes for a Paulette with heart and soul, and her rendition of “Ireland” is a show-stopper. The set makes clever use of a small-ish stage, leaving plenty of room for the energetic and talented dancers (particularly noticeable in “Omigod You Guys”). The projection screen is well-used, and is integrated for the advertorial “Whipped Into Shape”, with a very fit Brooke (played by Madison Hegarty). Nicely done! The orchestra has very experienced musicians in it and its crispness and attitude comes out, perfectly complementing the singers. There were moments where several throat mics cut in and out which made some bits rather hard to follow, but that’s what happens with technology sometimes. Legally Blonde The Musical A review isn’t complete without mentioning the two Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. doggy stars of the show, who elicited oohs and aahs as Book by Heather Hach. Free Rain. Directed by Derek Walker. soon as they came on stage. Bruiser, played by Bella, and Produced by Anne Somes and Chris Neal. ANU Arts Centre, Rufus, played by Mosey, are simply perfect for their parts Acton, ACT. 4-27 July 2014. and have impeccable stage manners (apart from upstaging OHMIGOD you guys! This is pink, fluffy, fabulous and humans, which is only natural). with a heart bigger than Elle. There are sparkles, happiness, Rachel McGrath-Kerr determination, bad hair days, fantastic shoes, and choreography that will make you wish you’d stayed in dance class a bit longer. Staged in a suburban Town Hall, the atmosphere was cutthroat as the contestants battled they way through words most of which I’d never heard before. The contestants: Ethan Dean (Leif), Emma-June Curick (Olive), Jack Treby (Chip), Samantha Samer (Logannie), Kimie Tsukakoshi (Marcy) and Matty Johnson (Barfee) excelled as they employed their well-honed idiosyncrasies to master the never-ending list of words. As the spelling bee’s M.C., Danika Saal was saccharine in controlling the whole shebang; much to the chagrin of Jack Kelly’s Deputy Principal while Josh Daveta’s portrayal of Mitch Mahoney (serving out his Community Service by overseeing the Spelling Bee’s smooth running) was a joy to behold. Under the capable direction of Matthew Samer, the music and singing was an integral part of the production and Bonnie Mullins choreography was as varied as the cast members themselves. Roger McKenzie
98 Stage Whispers
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All Shook Up The Music of Elvis Presley. Book by Joe Dipietro. Directed by Liam Kilgour. ARC (Vic). Banyule Theatre, Heidelberg. July 4 - 12. WELL bless my soul…Elvis is alive and well. ARC is a young company and their energy infuses this production with an infectious sense of fun. Director Liam Kilgour has stamped his debut with some crisp blocking, fine comic moments, and excellent handling of the large and talented cast on a relatively small stage. Ryan Purdy (Chad), channeling his inner Fonz, is a delight to watch. Shannon Pendrey (Natalie/ED) is extraordinarily pretty, but she spends over half the show disguised as a bloke (to get closer to Chad) and we happily suspend disbelief. ARC’s President, Nathan Slevin, is especially appealing as the nerdy Dennis, making him a three dimensional sympathetic character. Add to the mix Johnathon White’s crowd-pleasing gawky Dean, Ashleigh Psaila’s full on Lorraine and the terrific performances of Felicity Eastwood (Sylvia) who stops the show with “There’s Always Me”, Steven Kent (Jim) and Merryn Degnan (Miss Sandra), who are solid throughout and the larger-than-life Verity Brown, who makes an indelible impression as Mayor Matilda Hyde. Nick Durbridge (Sheriff Earl), speechless until late in Act 2, still makes his presence felt. The ensemble is vocally very strong, with a few bars of a remarkable solo by Sasha Hennequin. Catherine Spanti has done an amazing job in keeping the choreography fresh. Musical director Rebecca Dupuy-Purcell and the band excelled. Rock On and God save “The King”. Coral Drouyn The Great American Trailer Park Musical By David Nehls and Betsy Kelso. Roleystone Theatre, WA. Directed by Lorna Mackie, Musical Direction by Krispin Maesalu. July 18 - Aug 9. I HAD the pleasure of seeing a matinee of The Great American Trailer Park Musical. The story about the residents of Armadillo Acres Trailer Park was told by Betty (a good anchor performance by Cicely Binford) and her friends Linoleum (a nicely brash Cassie Skinner) and Pickles (Therese Cruise using her curves to great advantage). This trio worked beautifully together and delivered well-sung, cleverly acted performances, playing multiple characters and storytelling with ease. Agoraphobic Jeannie Garstecki was nicely portrayed by Joanna Taylor, delivering a beautifully managed performance. Her wayward husband was well played by Mitch Lawrence. Caroline Perks looked great as Pippi, playing the leggy, exotic dancer with energy. Her slightly unhinged boyfriend was powerfully yet playfully played by Tom Hutton. The actors were well supported by a solid four-piece band 'inside' one of the three trailers on the fancifully decorated stage. Music, under Krispin Maesalu’s care, was well produced. Niquelle Rhodes' choreography was quirky and clever.
A particularly outstanding element of this production was the amazing wigs and gorgeously tacky costumes. With 25 expertly styled wigs and innumerable well-chosen costumes, they became entertainment in their own right and a credit to designer Lynda Stubbs. The Great American Trailer Park Musical was well performed, great entertainment and a fun night out - well worth the trip into the hills. Kimberley Shaw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Young People’s Theatre. Directed by Katy Booth and Emily Taylor. Young People’s Theatre, Hamilton (Newcastle). June 30- Aug 16. WITH the exuberant contemporary songs in mind, directors Katy Booth and Emily Taylor set in present-day Australia this musical version of the Biblical tale about a young man who is sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. The title garment that is given by farmer Jacob to his favourite son became a multi-coloured version of the waterproof coats worn in rural areas, and the Ishmaelites who initially purchase Joseph were bikers. Potiphar, the powerful and wealthy Egyptian who buys Joseph, was an airline owner, and Pharaoh a prominent television reality show host who rules the airwaves, but has worrying issues on his mind, delivered in the Elvis Presleyinspired rock’n’roll of The Song of the King. The production had two alternating young casts and I had the pleasure of seeing both, with the rousing westernstyle One More Angel in Heaven in which the brothers deceitfully tell their father that Joseph is dead being an especial pleasure as the actors energetically performed Annabel Fleming’s hoedown-style choreography. The costumes likewise reflected the nature of the songs, with the female chorus clad in glittering dresses for Pharaoh’s first TV appearance. And the lighting design enhanced the Technicolor of the title, with the stage filled in turn by each of the many colours mentioned in the song that accompanies Jacob’s gift of the dreamcoat to Joseph. Ken Longworth Downtown! Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein, Peter Charles Morris. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Directors: Cilla Scott and Kim Reynolds. Aug 8 - 30. THIS “feel good” production was a hit from the very first note to the last curtain call. Full of the hits of the sixties, Downtown is a tribute to all the stars of that groovy, mod music and the cool singers like Lulu, Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield that gave us hit after hit. Heading up the all-star cast were Caroline Taylor, Greta Brinsley, Steffanie Kriz, Sarah Newton and Lucy MacIntosh, who were supported by 5 talented back-up singers and 5 fabulous dancers under the baton of Musical Director Matt Dennett with choreography by Kim Reynolds and assistant Paulo Natividad.
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Stage Whispers 99
Elegies is a beautiful celebration of life with that distinctive New York spirit at its heart, as director Stephen Wheat clearly understood and communicated through his terrific team. Accompanied by Vicky Jacobs' understated, elegant piano, they brought Finn's characters to fully dimensional life, in songs which run the full gamut of human emotions. Much of the show is about coming to terms with death through an appreciation of life, about human resilience and the triumph of the spirit - and everyone in the cast performed the often confronting, emotionally revealing material with absolute conviction and often great depth. Company Every performer had their moments, but particularly By Stephen Sondheim and George Furth. Newcastle noteworthy were Martin Croft, who delivered his elegy to Theatre Company. NTC Theatre, Lambton. June 21 - July 5 Mark's All-male Thanksgiving with beautiful subtlety, and COMPANY was just that for musical theatre lovers. Its Anne Wood who was utterly compelling. story of a bachelor on the verge of middle age who Alex Paige observes the relationships of his married friends as he tries to decide whether he should wed was a lively and at times Sweet Fanny Adams moving work in this production by director Adelle By Peter Pinne and Don Battye. Nambour Lind Lane Richards. Theatre. Directed by Errol R J Morrison. July 12 - 26, Daniel Kavanagh brought out the conflict within Forty years ago Australian composers Peter Pinne and bachelor Robert, particularly in the richly melodic Don Battye created the musical Sweet Fanny Adams, an Someone is Waiting where he mused on the women in his unashamedly simple tale of two Sydney brothel madams, life and how they compared with the wives in his social Fanny Adams and Kitty Lang. Billed as a musical romp circle. through the seedier side of Sydney in the 1930s, the two The songs often have dialogue between verses, a lead characters are loosely on the infamous madams Tilly pattern which worked well, as in the delivery of the Devine and Kate Leigh (recently profiled in Underbelly: Andrews-Sisters-style You Could Drive a Person Crazy by Razor). the women in Robert’s life - former country girl Kathy Director Errol Morrison has cast a mix of experienced (Sandy Aldred), passionate New Yorker Marta (Rachelle and less experienced actors, which he is able to get away Schmidt) and air hostess April (Katie Wright) - when they with given the style of the piece. But his direction needed were shown in turn in discussion with Robert. to be much tighter. Actor Anne Grant stood out as the no And while there are no big dance numbers given the nonsense title character Mrs Fanny Adams, who stands up focus on intimate connections, Jo Ford’s choreography to everyone - the police, the judge and her downtrodden was bright and imaginative. husband. David Frank relished his role as the crooked The show also offers an engaging variety of musical judge whose character made frequent salacious comments styles, with Getting Married Today beginning with a hymn to the audience as the quasi-narrator / Music Hall -like announcement of a wedding, then bride-to-be Amy chairman. (Stephanie Priest) voicing her marriage fears in a bouncy Also worth mentioning were the confused young Gilbert-and-Sullivan-style mode, and groom Paul (Drew lovers, sweet little Nellie the pride of the Mallee (the not Holmes) offering a more enthusiastic greeting to the so innocent and big money earner for the rival brothels) nuptials. As I said, this staging was indeed good company. played by Mandi Hardcastle and Charlie the well-meaning Ken Longworth cab driver/bagman played by the affable Jacob Shannon. Whilst the cast were mostly actors, not singers, at most Elegies: A Song Cycle. times they still managed to give a respectable ‘Rex Harrison’ style vocal delivery. By William Finn, directed by Stephen Wheat. Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, Melbourne. Aug 11. Full marks to the costume and make-up department AWARD-winning composer and lyricist William Finn's who managed to create authentic period costumes and Elegies: A Song Cycle was brought stylishly to life last hairstyles, with the set department providing a simple but night at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club by five skillful and effective backdrop sketch of the notorious Palmer Street. committed performers. It seemed for all the world as if we Movable set pieces created the various scenes through the production. were in an intimate Manhattan cabaret room, so deeply did the cast draw us into an intricate world of love, Although firmly rooted in the typical Australian format remembrance and loss, recounting stories from the lives of and style of the 1970s, this show still has great appeal. various characters whose fates were at times intertwined. Paul Dellit The set consisted of a rostrum of curved multi-level platforms and included the 3 piece band in full view of the audience. The non-stop action with one hit following another was linked together by an “agony Aunt” from a local newspaper voicing advice and (unwanted) opinions. Performed as a 90 minute non stop homage to that era of Carnaby St fashion and The Beatles, resulting in the audience being enveloped with a warm fuzzy feeling. The technical support was excellent and contributed to an exciting theatrical experience. Roger McKenzie
100 Stage Whispers
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New School Musicals New Shows from ORiGiN Theatrical CONNECTED - The Cyber Bullying Musical ORiGiN™ Theatrical is excited to introduce Connected by Craig Christie A pop/rock musical written specifically for high school students to highlight the issues surrounding cyber bullying. An exciting and engaging production with a fast paced narrative and an edgy original contemporary soundtrack. Connected is a pop/rock fable of four teenagers caught in a situation they can’t control, as their lives online have real world consequences. Preview performances will be staged around Sydney in November 2014 and available for school productions in 2015. For details visit www.connectedthemusical.com.au or facebook.com/ConnectedTheMusicalAustralia Evie & The Birdman ORiGiN™ Theatrical announces Evie & The Birdman by John Field. A country boy heads to the big city to sign a music recording contract and make his fortune. A wild, original piece of contemporary, pop musical theatre with a very memorable and varied score. It’s fast moving and aimed at high school students, young adults and all those who can remember being young. http://oztheatrical.com/evie/
Choosing A Show New Broadway Juniors from Hal Leonard Hairspray Junior Hey there teenage Baltimore! It’s time to kick off your shoes, raise your hair and get on down with Hal Leonard’s latest theatrical release; Hairspray JR! From the wacky 80s John Waters film, to the hit Broadway musical, to the unforgettable John Travolta in the hit 2007 musical-film, Hairspray has made its landmark in theatrical history as one of the most uplifting, hilarious and moving musicals of all time. Peter Pan Junior It’s time to bring Walt Disney’s classic adaptation of the story of the boy who refused to grow up to a new generation 50 years after its screen debut. This action packed tale is sure to excite young casts and audiences alike. Wendy Darling loves to tell stories to her brothers, Michael and John. But when her father announces she must move out of the nursery, Peter Pan comes to visit the children and whisks them away to Never Land. Their adventure introduces them to the Lost Boys, Mermaids, Indians and even the infamous pirate, Captain Hook! Xanadu Junior It’s time to believe in magic with Xanadi JR! It’s 1980 and the magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, as he strives to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time - the first roller disco. But, when Kira falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation and chaos abounds. This roller skating, musical adventure about following your dreams, rolls along with a hit score composed by pop-rock legends Jeff Lynne and John Farrar which has been adapted for the MTI Broadway Junior Collection.
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Schools On Stage Wagga Wagga Regional Children's Chorus rehearse ahead of The Magic Flute performance in Wagga Wagga, NSW. Photo: Aidan Corrigan.
Local Kids Star in Opera Tour Choirs of local kids across the country are having the opportunity to appear alongside stars of Opera Australia in the touring production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Chorusmaster Alex Pringle shared the joys of his road trip, training young choirs, with Neil Litchfield.
leader since March, when we got all the choir leaders together. We provided some backing tracks and teaching resources. “I build a set out of chairs, or music stands, or whatever is lying around. At the first rehearsal we basically do all the staging, and in the second one we work on some music, and then usually within two days the opera has caught up, Alex Pringle was standing on a tree stump by the front gate of his friends’ place, just outside Bathurst, the only so I’ve moved on to the next place. I’m always travelling place he could get reception for our phone interview. two to three days in front of the opera, which sadly means I Another rehearsal with the local children’s choir lay ahead, rarely get to see the fruits of my labour.” On performance day, after the company arrives in town, before he headed off to Armidale to train another young the children arrive at the theatre at about 4 o’clock. chorus, continuing the road trip he began in July, always just one step ahead of Opera Australia’s touring production “They get into their costumes, and then they have about of The Magic Flute. half an hour onstage with the cast, then another hour This year’s national tour of The Magic Flute introduced setting a couple of things, then they’re literally on stage the Regional Children's Chorus program, allowing a chorus that night. “It’s worked really well. The director Michael Gow has of 24 local primary school-aged children to learn to sing songs from The Magic Flute ahead of the opera arriving in made them a really integral part of the show. They’re on stage six times, and it really wouldn’t be the same without their town, then rehearse and perform with the professional cast as part of the performance. them. “The venue in each town finds a children’s chorus,” “They become this integral part of the show, and when the bows are happening at the end they always get the Alex explained, “whether that be getting a local singing biggest round of applause. It’s brilliant to see the look on teacher to put together a choir, or approaching a local their faces, going ‘this is awesome’. They will remember school.” Enter Alex. that forever. “I rock into town in the morning, then after school, “It’s literally introducing hundreds and hundreds of kids to a world of opera and theatre that they wouldn’t have from 4 to 7, two days in a row usually, we have two three otherwise experienced.” hour rehearsals. They’ve been working with a local choir
102 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
Alex loves his job. “I’m having the time of my life. Everyone has been so wonderfully receptive to the whole thing. “I’m finding it absolutely fantastic how much these kids are able to take in during two rehearsals. “I’m a choir specialist. I’m from Sydney and I take choirs, youth orchestras, and things like that, but the staging is relatively new to me. It’s amazing to see how much information they can retain, but also, it’s awesome that every choir we go to, you can see this light in their eyes.” What has made the job so wonderful? “I received a card from a young girl in Dandenong saying, ‘Thankyou for teaching us opera songs. I love opera.’ It was just so sweet. “The first choir we went to was from Yarraman Oaks Public School, just outside Dandenong. I don’t think they had a choir before they put this together, but the lovely teacher there was just absolutely determined to do it. These kids had never come into contact with opera at all, but in the end they were exposed to the whole world of theatre, and they also were absolute experts in opera. “They’d be sitting backstage watching the Queen of the Night aria, just listening and going ‘Ooh, she was better last night’. “I work them quite hard - and there’s a lot of information to retain. When we get in that room it’s like a whirlwind. It’s ready, set, go … we’ve got three hours to do this … go. Honestly, there is this sense of focus in the room. Because you’re saying, we’re putting you in an adult setting, you’re stepping into a professional show, you’ll be expected to perform like professionals … and they really step up to it. There’s not one choir that I’ve been to where I haven’t felt they’ve taken on that challenge. “A lot of kids back in Sydney for their weekly choir don’t really get to experience what that feels like; to actually commit to something that full on.”
This image and below: Students from Yarraman Oaks Primary School rehearse for Dandenong performance of The Magic Flute. Photo: Albert Comper.
One choir, at Kinross Wallaroi School, Orange, moved Alex to tears. “When we started the rehearsal, I went, yes, you guys are going to be good. Your singing is gorgeous and you’re doing everything. “If it’s a weekday rehearsal we do two afternoons, but if it’s on a Saturday, we do 10 till 1, then 2 till 5, which is a long time for kids to concentrate. “In the last half hour we usually do a straight run. In the music we’d done before that, we took all the sections, and individually worked all the different parts, because there’s three parts. It’s really challenging. “We got to the end, and we were staging it and got to our first entry and started singing. I stopped the music and said, ‘look we just spent the last two hours and you sang amazingly. Can you just show me what we were talking about please? And then they did, and they sang absolutely beautifully. “It just shone like a diamond - their singing was absolutely gorgeous. I just couldn’t help myself. There was a tear in my eye, and that was beautiful.”
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Schools On Stage
The Addams Family
The Addams Family Brentwood Secondary College In the past 11 years, the Performing Arts program at Brentwood Secondary College has grown from one production a year to three. It is a staple in the school community and brings together a range of students, staff and industry people to ensure the best educational experience. Under the guidance of the senior drama teacher, The Addams Family was one of the biggest productions undertaken by Brentwood. It allowed the students to take the Addams Family we have grown up with from TV and movies and give them their own unique spin. The show itself was a roaring success, from a growth perspective for the actors and their development of multifaceted characters, and the box office with a record number of audience members coming through the doors. This show does what Performing Arts is meant to do for our students; give them an opportunity to extend their abilities and work as a 'family' to create a product we are all proud of. The Addams Family has been a show that we are all proud of. Joel Batalha - Head of Senior School. Rights available from ORiGiN Theatrical. Funny Girl Roseville College Funny Girl is a much loved musical that celebrates the life of the famous Vaudevillian, Fanny Brice. From Fannyâ€™s determination to be discovered, to the height of her fame as a Ziegfeld star and the disastrous end to her marriage, Funny Girl is a moving tribute to the life of a determined, talented woman. Funny Girl relies heavily on the talent of its supporting
104 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
leads to engage the audience and drive the narrative forward with compassion and hilarity. As such, Sophie Bass as Mrs Brice, Amelia Skinner as Eddie and Ellie Dudley as Nick Arnstein, professionally supported the talented Charli Lucas who sang, danced and acted the role of Fanny Brice with a maturity far beyond her 15 years. The set, in a clever use of stairs, paid homage to the world of the Ziegfeld Follies, whilst transforming into the “down at heel” stoop of Mrs Brice’s saloon on the Lower East Side. Clever lighting and glamorous costumes transported the audience into just after the world of early 20th Century New York. The band, conducted by Ms Noni Katada, was sensational. Funny Girl was an hilarious, moving, stylish and dazzling production. Kelly Young - Director. Rights available from Tams Witmark.
Young Hercules as a sure-fire hit with your production team and your audiences. Bruce Darroch - Principal Available at www.maverickmusicals.com - Suitable for junior - intermediate aged students. Brontë Ravenswood School for Girls Fifteen students from the Year 11 Drama class at Ravenswood School for Girls produced Polly Teale's Brontë in June this year. In five weeks the girls produced a stunning production of this play which goes on a journey through the extraordinary lives of the Brontë sisters and Victorian England. One of the features was the set, which
Young Hercules Te Waotu School As a director of both school and theatre group shows for over 20 years, I have worked with a large variety of material both good and not so good. I am a fan of the Maverick Musicals catalogue as I find that there is always a degree of consistency and quality to the shows on offer. Last month, I directed Young Hercules and was absolutely thrilled with the result. Young Hercules has all those ingredients that we look for - great characters that kids love to play, both comedy and drama, a narrative that hums along (no dull bits!), short punchy memorable songs (easy to teach, easy to put movement to) and best of all, was loved by our audiences. I would strongly recommend www.stagewhispers.com.au Stage Whispers 105
Schools On Stage
included the edges of the performance space and the upstage wall covered with pages torn from books. The design captured the literary landscape and mood of the play, and evoked the domestic world of the Bronte parsonage and the kitchen table from which these young women wrote some of the most passionate literature in the English language. “Three Victorian spinsters, living in isolation on the Yorkshire moors.” Polly Teale’s Brontë outlines the incredible tale of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Living in the 1800s, a time when women would never have considered making a living from writing, these intelligent, imaginative sisters poured their passion and creativity into what would become worldwide bestsellers, which have transcended time. The Yr 11 Drama class created the set, sourced costumes and props, worked on lighting and promotion, helped direct and produce, and of course prepared their performances. The result was an intense and moving production. Zoe Sadler (Yr 11), Director and Drama Captain. Rights available from Dominie Drama. What’s New Pussycat? Carwatha College P-12 Judith Prior’s What’s New Pussycat? was presented at Carwatha College P-12 in May. It was a purrrrrrr-fect show for our P-12 College. Based on the classic story of Puss in Boots, the show is a laugh a minute with many show106 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
What’s New Pussycat?
PERFORMING ARTS MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014. VOLUME 23, NUMBER 5 ABN 71 129 358 710 ISSN 1321 5965
stopping songs for the whole family. Brothers Harry and Simon are saddened by the loss of their father, but conniving brother Tom has plans for the family farm and their riches. Thank goodness Harry quickly learns that Puss is a very special cat who has plans of her own. Show stoppers such as Single Ladies, One Way or Another and, of course, What’s New Pussycat? had both the cast and audience dancing throughout the adventure of the characters. With an accessible script and musical score for students of all ages and abilities, What’s New Pussycat? gave many students of all year levels a chance to develop their performance skills in all areas and enjoy the process from the beginning of rehearsals to the performance of the show. Kate Whittaker. Rights available from David Spicer Productions. Jesus Christ Superstar St Helena Secondary College, Eltham Victoria. Our director Mr Chris Hewitt took this Andrew Lloyd Webber classic and gave it a modern spin. Jesus was a reporter for the people and the priests were Wall St moguls. Chris Hewitt took our school production flying into the 21st century with the use of projections of imagery and camera work onto screens along with mobile phones as modern day candles. It created an emotive and exciting show that had standing ovations at every curtain call. We at St Helena are very excited to have Chris as our director along with very talented students and crew and we look forward to seeing what spectacular event Chris will direct next year. Cathie Murphy. Rights available from ORiGiN Theatrical.
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Jesus Christ Superstar
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The Boy From School And Dallas
moral support from Hugh Jackman himself. He sent them a signed the poster Community Overnewton Anglican and wrote: School production “To all the cast and crew of BFO at Last year a high school teacher Overnewton Community College, have wrote to me to ask if her students a great night for the opening. could stage The Boy From Oz. My first “Break a leg and shake those reaction, as the agent for the show, maracas.” was that this was a little ambitious. Lyn Dahl has no regrets about The main challenge is finding a 17 taking on the project. year old who can dance, sing and act “We had a brilliant time up a storm. Plus, handling the issue of performing this wonderful a gay relationship is not always smooth show. And we have received sailing for adolescents and a Christian rave reviews.” school. From the pictures you can Lyn Dahl from Overnewton see it was a slick production Anglican Community School in and already other schools Melbourne was persistent. She had a with triple treat teenage boys budding Hugh Jackman in the guise of and dancing girls are lining teenager Jon Reeves. Also the school up to stage The Boy From participated in programs to encourage Oz in future years. tolerance on issues of sexuality. Another premiere of They did request that the character this musical took place in of Peter Allen be slightly less affectionate in a few scenes, which was perfectly acceptable. The ambitious school sought some
Dallas Texas in August. The community theatre rights have been released in the United States and the Uptown Players scored the regional premiere. I love the idea of musical theatre performers in the USA practicing their Australian accents. I bet they are not as well versed as we are at American accents. The lead Alex Ross, though, had an easier time as he was raised in England. Four out of the city’s five reviewers loved it - which was a much better reception than when it debuted on Broadway in 2003. Nancye Churnin from the Dallas Morning News wrote that the timing is now perfect for the show in the US. “Looking back, one wonders
Overnewton Anglican Community School production
Online extras! You can see how they staged it at by scanning the QR code or visiting http://youtu.be/St92MdgZwUU 108 Stage Whispers September - October 2014
about something the critics didn’t discuss - how difficult it may have been in 2004 to sell a musical about an entertainer who leaves the closet. “That’s the year state initiatives against gay marriage were considered a winning strategy to rally the religious conservative vote for President George W. Bush. Now, with the march toward marriage equality gaining traction, this regional premiere gains poignancy as the portrait of man’s difficult journey to know, accept and celebrate himself. ” David Spicer Uptown Players production
MUSICAL AND DRAMA CATALOGUE 2015 Order your free copy now www.davidspicer.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (02) 9371 8458
Hacienda Del Toro
Mr Bennetâ€™s Bride
Stage Whispers September/October 2014