Funk Engine Coming To The Foundry 616

Siebe-Pogson
Siebe Pogson

After a successful CD launch last year, Siebe Pogson and his band Funk Engine are back at Foundry 616 on the 11th of March, 2015. Pogson recently returned from a five week trip to the USA, a month of which was spent in New Orleans Louisiana, a place which many consider to be the home of jazz and funk. “Hearing the roots of the music you love is really inspiring for a composer,” Siebe commented. “Before all the music starts – and it doesn’t start till late in New Orleans – I’d often reflect on what I heard the night before and write something similar: anything from a bass line to a melody. As well as jazz, New Orleans has everything. Cajun music (Zydeco), rock, funk, blues, and soul it’s all there.  I learned SO much!” Continue reading

Swan Lake

The Australian Ballet – Behind The Scenes Of Swan Lake

Under the intent eye of Steven Heathcote the Australian Ballet took us behind the scenes of this famous production.

The curtain rose and Heathcote loomed out of the darkness and introduced himself. For many years a much loved principal dancer with the Company, he is now a ballet master.

Casually dressed in tshirt and trousers, Heathcote explained the daily hard grind of class, rehearsal and performance that make up  a dancer’s life.

The fluorescent worklights were on and the barres had already been shifted but it must have been a bit awkward for the dancers as the large circular ‘pond’ from the production was left in place and took up quite a bit of space. Continue reading

The Metropolitan Orchestra - Met Concert 1

Met Concert #1 @ Eugene Goossens Hall

Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Guest violinist Lisa Stewart gave an exciting performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

The TMO’s  Met Concert #1 was stunning! This first concert in the 2015 season contained a challenging programme of very well-known works from the Baroque and Classical eras. These challenges were met by the soloists, orchestra and conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with discipline, energy, artistry and genuine enthusiastic music-making. If this concert is an indication of what is to emerge from TMO in 2015, then its audiences are in for quite a year.

As in many previous Met Concert series, the format included works highlighting one of the orchestra’s principals and also a guest artist. TMO strings were showcased in both chamber music and string orchestra contexts. The string orchestra was augmented and inspired by the talented Australian violinist Lisa Stewart.

TMO Principal Clarinetist Andrew Doyle presented us with a fine Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K 581 with well-balanced playing from the TMO’s string quartet featuring Nataliya Lukich, Christina Ong, Luke Spicer and Steve Meyer. Continue reading

Transport XX to Auschwitz

Holocaust Film Series @ Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in conversation with filmmaker Inna Rogatch
Inset pic- Legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in conversation with filmmaker Inna Rogatch. Featured pic- The Gates to Hell- the gates to the Auschwitz concentration camp

In recognition of an overwhelmingly positive response to its inaugural season in 2014, the HOLOCAUST FILM SERIES, presented by the Jewish International Film Festival, returns to Melbourne and Sydney from 12 to 25 March.

Despite the austere title of this film series, the journey that this series invites audiences to embark on is not grim, but is one of courage, fascination and admiration for the people who have lived through some of modern history’s most challenging events. For it is only by facing the past and learning from their experiences, that we can continue to develop and appreciate the gift of life, whilst striving to banish the racial prejudice that still continues to motivate so many crimes.

The 2015 HOLOCAUST FILM SERIES is presenting 35 utterly compelling feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the world, all of which will be screening for the very first time in Australia, with no guarantee of repeat viewings beyond this film series. The eclectic range of stories showcased will enthrall, inform and give pause for reflection. Continue reading

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The Harbour Party @ Fleet Steps

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Colours everywhere in this beautiful harbour city of ours.  The last day of Summer and a dance party backgrounded by the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  Blue water, white sparkling ship sails and a mirror ball of epic proportion.  Dancin’ time at the Gay and Lesbian Harbour Party.

Reds hitting the huge mirror ball and the colours of sunset foreground the city skyline as the event hits its 3000 capacity.  It’s been in full swing since 3 pm.  The Parade and even the Parade Party are events which many people share with the LGBTQI community but this party tends to have a more niche community feel about the light and colour. Continue reading

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INTO THE WOODS @ Rockdale Town Hall

Into The Woods- inset
Production photos by Andrew Croucher Photography

Rockdale Musical Society with a very well chosen cast, is revisiting this Sondheim classic, for the first time since its production in 1994.

How far would you go, to make your wish come true? INTO THE WOODS challenges our perceptions of what makes a fairy tale, by taking many of those well-remembered classic fairy tale characters (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf, Jack and the Beanstalk and many more) and sends them all into the woods, all at the same time. Continue reading

Bette

Queen Bette @ The Old 505

Jeanette Cronin gives a great performance as Bette Davis
Jeanette Cronin gives a great performance as Bette Davis

Theatre people are much more superstitious than film people and Bette Davis began her career as a dancer and actor on the Broadway stage. It wasn’t until she headed to Hollywood in her early 20’s that she took the path to become the film actor we know from her one hundred movies.

The QUEEN BETTE we see at The Old 505 Theatre during Mardi Gras is definitely that brittle, elusive star at the apogee of her power but the rituals meant to attract good luck are still part of her makeup. Particularly rainy nights as a sign of a good show to come. The heavens opened tonight just before we arrived at the venue but there could have been a blizzard or sandstorm because this show, with this kind of performance, has no need of luck. Continue reading

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Lesbian Vampires Of Sodom @ The Kings Cross Hotel

Looking for another hit in the Mardi Gras line up? Lesbian Vampires of Sodom ticks all the boxes: it is hilarious and outrageously camp with great performances by the entire cast. When two very competitive female vampires cross paths, the fur looks set to fly. Starting in ancient Sodom, the jokes abound in the initial act where a young virgin is being prepared as a sacrifice for the Succubus. The play then fast forwards to the 1920s, where the vampires are both actresses who are vying for film roles (among other things). Mouth watering young lovelies are constantly a source of both lust and hunger for the vampires, though mostly hunger, with screamingly funny special effects. Their journey through time ends in Las Vegas, where Madeleine Astarte (Eliza Reilly) belts out a mean Cher number. Continue reading

Broken Consorts-Ensemble Offspring and Ironwood

Broken Consorts – Ensemble Offspring and Ironwood @ The Utzon Room

In rehearsal : Veronique Serret, Zubin Kanga, Jason Noble from Ensemble Offspring
In rehearsal : Veronique Serret, Zubin Kanga, Jason Noble from Ensemble Offspring

This collaboration by two groups well known to Sydney audiences is a significant one. It breaks down so beautifully many preconceptions of fixed genres, historical sound options and what audiences expect to hear from particular composer’s works.

BROKEN CONSORTS is a performance practice workshop which maintains the two groups’ period identities whilst premiering possibilities using an exciting blend of resources. The essence and energy of compositions from each period are maintained and the early music pieces in particular are further celebrated through inventive rescoring. The playing of very recent works, including the highlight of a premiere work commissioned for the event illustrates that such blending is not only possible but an interesting new direction.

Composer Damien Ricketson’s introduction to his 2003 work Trace Elements  explained his invention of a new notation based on tablature for early lute music. His work’s exploration of this and its potential in the parts for a flexible blend of strings and wind is consistent with the goals of the entire concert. The work’s elements of stasis as well as dramatic shifts were expressively delivered by Ironwood and Ensemble Offspring members together. Continue reading

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Sing A Long A Sound Of Music @ The State Theatre

Sound Of Music-inset

For die hard fans of the classic movie you can’t go past SING A LONG A SOUND OF MUSIC where audience members get to release their inner, favourite Von Trapp family singer.

SING A LONG A SOUND OF MUSIC promised an evening of wholesome, nostalgic entertainment where everyone from children to senior citizens were given the chance to celebrate the popular, iconic musical’s 50th anniversary. This it certainly delivered with style and panache,

I had an absolute ball with my eighty year old companion, singing in unison with hundreds of  devotees, who were helped with the film having surtitles.

The host was Katrina Retallick, dressed as Maria in a dirndl. She kept the theatre crowd buzzing with excitement through the night. Continue reading

marika aubrey, ross chisari and tony sheldon

Man Of La Mancha @ The Reginald

Stephen Anderson, Glenn Hill and Courtney Glass in MAN OF LA MANCHA
Inset Pic- Stephen Anderson, Glenn Hill and Courtney Glass. Featured Pic- Marika Aubrey, Ross Chisari and Tony Sheldon in MAN OF LA MANCHA

When MAN OF LA MANCHA opened on Broadway 50 years ago, it was in an era where Martin Luther King was espousing I Had A Dream and the Kennedy’s were quoting George Bernard Shaw You see things and you say “Why?” I dream things that never were, and I say “Why not.”

No wonder then the linchpin lyric of this endearing and enduring show is The Impossible Dream, the musical mantra of Don Quixote, the knight errant tiller of windmills, who sees life as it should be, noble and elevated, not as it is, vulgar and base.

Independent music theatre company, Squabbalogic’s fiftieth anniversary staging of MAN OF LA MANCHA has an impossible dream realised – the securing of Tony Sheldon, lauded local Broadway star now domiciled in the United States, to play the poet paladin. Continue reading

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The ABO: Handel: Heaven and Harmony @ The City Recital Hall

Inset Pic- ABO Guests soloists Mariana Flores and Fernando Guimareas on their arrival in Sydney. Featured Pic- Mariana Flores in concert. Pics by Steven Godbee

This concert was a wonderful way for the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra to begin their 2015 season. Handel fans and lovers of Baroque music in general will relish this concert which was indeed ‘heavenly’.

The programme’s theme is music itself, built around Dryden’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. What one particularly noticed this time was the special organ with two angels in green and blue given a prominent place on stage, and unforgettable was the GIANT bouquet of lilies that graced the upper gallery.

Under the energetic and emphatic leadership of Paul Dyer the choir and orchestra on period instruments were scintillating, and Argentinean soprano Mariana Flores and Portuguese tenor Fernando Guimaraes made very impressive Australian debuts. Continue reading

John Bell, Gareth Davies, Kelly Paterniti, Zahra Newman in AS YOU LIKE IT

As You Like It @ The Playhouse

Inset Pic- Abi Tucker. Featured Pic- John Bell, Gareth Davies, Kelly Peterniti and Zahra Newman in AS YOU LIKE IT. Pics by Rush
Inset Pic- Abi Tucker. Featured Pic- John Bell, Gareth Davies, Kelly Peterniti and Zahra Newman in AS YOU LIKE IT. Pics by Rush

Bell Shakespeare has opened its 2015 season and its 25th anniversary year with AS YOU LIKE IT. As John Bell is retiring from the company he so successfully started in 1990, this production will be the last one co-directed with Bell and ongoing Artistic Director Peter Evans.

Bell and Evans open their program notes with, “Above the new Globe Theatre in 1599 stood the words, ‘Totus mundus agit histrionem’, which can be translated as ‘All the world’s a stage’, the monologue so beautifully delivered in the play by Bell’s restless and melancholic character, Jaques.

This motto seems to be reflected throughout the play, including the adaptable and minimalist set design by Michael Hankin, which, including 5,500 hanging flowers, could be set anywhere, anytime. Kate Aubrey’s radical costume design incorporates the 30s, 50s and 60s decades, further enhancing the timelessness of the world stage. Continue reading

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A cast of luvvies shine in this Marigold sequel
A cast of luvvies shine in this Marigold sequel

Second best in title only, this sequel to the surprise sleeper hit of some years ago is superior to the original and embellishes and endows its core characters with a much more interesting set of stories.

Sonny (Dev Patel) under the tutelage of Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) has made such a success of the best exotic Marigold Hotel that he wants to expand. He has his eye on another Jaipur property but needs a cash partner to proceed so he ventures to America and a meeting with a hotel magnate.

Back home, he mistakes a guest for an inspector for the entrepreneur, is devastated that his old friend wants to cut in on his action and is of the perception that this pal has designs on his fiancé. Continue reading

ThePlot-featured

The Plot @ The Greek Theatre

Inset Pic- Julie Hudspeth, Nicholas Papademetriou, Dina Panozzo, Michael Kotsoholis and Dina Gillespie. Featured Pic- Maggie Blinco. Pics by Mark Micaleff Photography
Inset Pic- Julie Hudspeth, Nicholas Papademetriou, Dina Panozzo, Michael Kotsoholis and Dina Gillespie. Featured Pic- Maggie Blinco. Pics by Mark Micaleff Photography

In her new play THE PLOT, Greek playwright Evdokia Katahanas’ follows the  challenging journey of nursing home manager, Lily.

By the close of Katahanas’ play I had all the empathy in the world for Lily, who director Sophie Kelly so poetically described as being, ‘the rib cage protecting her patients’ .

What a tough gig she has! On one hand she has all the dramas involved in caring for her many and often difficult patients. On the other hand, she has to contend with the demands of corrupt, cantankerous, insensitive managers.

Dina Panozzo, one of our finest actresses, delivers a very touching portrait of Lily’s ‘heroic’ journey.  Continue reading

Tafelmusik - House of Dreams

Tafelmusik-House of Dreams @ City Recital Hall

Front Row: Chief Artistic Advisor violinist Jeanne Lemon, Narrator Blair Williams,Project Creator bassist Alison Mackay
Front Row: Chief Artistic Advisor and violinist Jeanne Lemon, Narrator Blair Williams,Project Creator bassist Alison Mackay

HOUSE OF DREAMS is not a typical early music concert, but its concept creates an excellent multi-faceted entertainment. Tafelmusik performs throughout with incredible energy, exquisite blend and an infectious joy in music making. The fine playing is further highlighted by a dramatic commentary which gives insight into the social and artistic routines of each composer’s city.

Tafelmusik’s performance formula also includes playing of the programme completely from memory. Unhindered by music stands or seating where possible the members move with great fluidity about the stage. Musical textures, structures and interactions between instrumental lines are greatly enhanced in this environment. Continue reading

a most violent year

A Most Violent Year

Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain plays Anna, Abel Morales’ Brooklyn bred wife in J.C. Chandor’s new film, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

Instant classic, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a clever subversion of the Godfather style crime dramas.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” says a frustrated Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III.

It’s a sentiment shared by Abel Morales in J C Chandor’s marvellous, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR.

The film follows thirty one days in the life of Abel Morales, brilliantly played by Oscar Isaac, a Latin American immigrant who, together with his Brooklyn-bred wife Anna, portrayed by the stunning Jessica Chastain, is building a small heating-oil enterprise purchased from Anna’s gangster father. Vowing to run the business legitimately, he discovers that the ladder to success is a crooked one, where simmering rivalries and unprovoked attacks threaten his business, family, and– –above all––his own unwavering belief in the righteousness of his path.

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history and plays out within a maze of rampant political and industry corruption. In those days, climatologists were predicting a New Ice Age, the United States had come through an oil crisis, and the idea of heating oil being a road to riches was a legitimate speculation for a young entrepreneur.

J.C. Chandor’s third feature, after the sensational Margin Call and fascinating All is Lost, examines one immigrant’s determined climb up a morally crooked ladder, where one misstep could have you fall into a moral morass, toward the place where best intentions yield to raw instinct, and where the most upstanding and principled are most vulnerable to compromise.

To add to the Godfather series allusion, Isaac looks like a young Pacino with a performance to reiterate the redolence. Isaac’s Abel is a cool, calm, charming, well-mannered and measured strategist.

Chastain is steely, confident, a cool blonde, a formidable femme fatale and ferocious lioness to her pride.

As their lawyer, Albert Brooks is an inscrutable counsel for hire, astute with the statutes, hunts with the hounds and runs with the foxes.

David Oyelowo gives gravitas as the assistant district attorney who is investigating the industry and Morales individual business affairs.

Allessandro Nivola plays a suitably slick competitor and Peter Gerety couldn’t get any more blue collar as a Teamster who calls a shovel a shovel and a spade a spade.

The score by Alex Ebert is evocative and the Original Song America for Me should have been an Oscar contender.

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a masterful, mature thriller, where ideals and pragmatism collide, crash and combust into a totally satisfying drama.

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Suddenly Last Summer @ The Drama Theatre

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Inset Pic- Eryn Jean Norvill as Catharine. Featured Pic- Susan Prior as Mrs Holly, Paula Arundell as Sister Felicity, Eryn Jean Norvill as Catharine, Robyn Nevin as Mrs Venable and Mark Leonard Winter as Doctor in Tennessee Williams’ SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER

This current Sydney Theatre Company show at the Opera House has that wow factor.

Kip Williams stunning production of Tennessee Williams brilliant play is a must see.

Within  a few minutes of the play starting we are completely immersed in Williams’  disturbing, hypnotic world.

The play’s title refers to the death the summer previous of Sebastian Venable. Whilst we never get to meet Sebastian on stage, the play is all about charting Sebastian’s journey, telling his story, and the terrible circumstances surrounding his  death.  Continue reading

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Hats Off To the Hits @ The Seymour Centre

Ruhi Lavaki with friends produced a rousing rendition of the Paul McCartney classic, Let It Be
Ruhi Lavaki with friends produced a rousing rendition of the Paul McCartney classic, Let It Be

Volunteers are very much the backbone of our society. Almost everyone I know does something in their precious spare time. Human nature knows a good cause when we feel it. Last night we theatricals, theatre lovers or music lovers put our hand in our pocket for a cause we knew well. The bonus was a wonderful night of live music, talented artists, belly laughs and tender moments at HATS OFF TO THE HITS!, part of this year’s Mardi Gras Festival.

Blackout to begin. The tension rising. Our anticipation tingling. And then Boom. The ‘Queen’ medley from ROCK OF AGES. The urge to dance was assailing, and everyone in my row was tapping something. This intro song set the scene for the night. Queen was followed by a mash-up of It’s Raining Men (huge applause) and I will Survive (bigger applause) before the hosts hit the stage.

The redoubtable Jan Van De Stool and the long suffering Garry Scale had their backs to us when we first saw them. After a quirky discussion about whether the stage revolve had actually been installed, they turned to greet us.

The greeting that came out of Jan Van Der Stool’s tastefully made-up lips was so obscene and hilarious that my friends and I were still nudging each other and laughing through the whole first act. It is unrepeatable not just because I don’t want to infringe her copyright of the phrase but because all your firewalls would come screaming up! Suffice to say that you can say ‘Macbeth’ in this theatre for the rest of its life and never need to reverse the curse.

The hosts never let up with a repartee that featured clever writing and perfectly timed delivery. Not just funny but gracious, knowing and wise. They guided us through an enormous variety of over 90 performers and musicians. As well as plenty of singing and dancing there were some great skits including a hilarious Rose and Gina spoof.

There was something for everyone. My boyfriends loved Mathew Mitcham’s reverse strip from his diving togs to a suit while singing. My girlfriends loved the brilliant Girls on Tap. I loved Mark Trevorrow and Dawn Service and Paulini. My friend next to me loved iOta and Andrew Bukenya’s ‘Boogie Shoes’ . The woman in front of me clearly adored the Whitney Houston medley. And so on. If I had room I would name everyone!

Really, the night was so slick, professional and so well directed that it might have been impossible to find a unifying highlight. However, these are performers of skill and a director this good knows where to find the place of quietude. A night of celebration could be tastefully tilted towards upbeat music but not last night!

Let it Be just before interval featured 12 year old Ruhi Lavaki , the Choir of the Café at the Gate of Salvation, and Queenie Van De Zandt at her best. The performance was breathlessly beautiful. Mixed with a slight echo and lit simply, it soared to enrich the spirit and inspired the audience to give it a standing ovation.

Since 1997, Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fight Aids Inc. (OSC/EFA) has raised nearly a million dollars for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV and HIV-related illnesses and HATS OFF! is now an institution every year at Mardi Gras. Artists, technicians, crew, front of house and raffle sellers volunteer. Their Facebook page says they made nearly $ 45,000 last night. Congratulations and HATS OFF to all concerned.

This one night only fundraiser played the York Theatre at the Seymour Centre on Monday evening, 23rd February.

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