In week seven Top 80 of this eight week festival of short plays we are presented with another nine highly entertaining and varied plays. From a talk show gone wrong to a moving tribute to ANZAC, through an office romance to a meeting with Adam and Eve each of these original plays has plenty to offer the audience. Continue reading SHORT+SWEET THEATRE TOP 80 WEEK SEVEN SYDNEY 2018 @ AMPA – TOM MANN THEATRE
CAGE is a well written, dark and intense piece by up and coming playwright Jordan Shea. It focuses on three young Australian tourists visiting Thailand for very different reasons, and the dreadful consequences of a drunken spree one night. What happens when they take it too far in someone else’s country where the rules are very different – can they survive? Continue reading CAGE : DARK DRAMA AT 505 FOR FRESHWORKS SEASON
Week three Top 80 of this eight week festival of short plays is another entertaining and fun night with a great mix of plays to engage the audience. From a disastrous meeting with Santa, same sex-marriage to love with a bicycle and an art theft there is comedy, philosophy and drama a plenty. Continue reading SHORT AND SWEET: TOP 80 WEEK 3
FOUR FLAT WHITES IN ITALY is the first in Castle Hill Players’ 2018 series of productions. Written by the New Zealand playwright, Roger Hall, it is a comedy with some memorable one liners but it also looks at a deeper side of relationships. Being about two New Zealand couples if of course contains rugby and a few cutting remarks about Australia adding to the humour of the script. Continue reading FOUR FLAT WHITES IN ITALY: IN CASTLE HILL
A classic “who-dunnit”, this murder mystery farce by Charles Dyer, is an excellent end to Castle Hill Players highly successful 2017 season. It is set in some unspecified time in the past in the recently deceased Mr Barraclough’s gloomy mansion on the day of his funeral. Amongst the stormy weather in this isolated spot a cast of suspicious characters are assembled for the reading of his will. Two solicitors, Mr Blundell, played by Ben Freeman and Mr Mickleby, played by Jono Burt arrive, but are initially mistaken as undertakers and so the laughter begins. Their spot on timing and clever slapstick routines continue throughout the play.
Gathered at the house are the highly unpleasant stepdaughter Faith Barraclough, expertly played by Leigh Scanlon, Mabel the maid played with ingenious innocence by Holky Bramble, Agnes the hapless and worried cook portrayed by Anthea Brown, Anne Beale the secretary complete with seductive outfit and gorgeous hairdo, played most convincingly by Samantha Camilleri and Ted Johnson the somewhat threatening and sinister chauffeur, played by Ian Fletcher. Continue reading WANTED ONE BODY :CASTLE HILL PLAYERS ENDS THE YEAR WITH A MURDER MYSTERY
Featured image- Julian Floriano as Andrea and Mary Clarke as Dorcan in ‘Ladies In Lavender’. Production photos by Chris Lundie.
Castle Hill Players production of LADIES IN LAVENDER is a poignant, gentle comedy of sibling rivalry, love and lost dreams. Shaun McKenna’s play is an adaptation of Charles Dance’s screenplay for his 2004 film of the same name, which itself was itself based on a short story by William J. Locke.
LADIES IN LAVENDER tells the tale of two sisters, Ursula and Janet, who live in a close-knit fishing village in picturesque Cornwall in 1937. When the sisters discover an unconscious stranger on the beach and nurse him back to health their ordered life of cocoa before bed and the village jumble sale, is transformed.
Jennifer Leslie as Janet Widdington and Sandy Veline as Ursula Widdington are expertly matched and very convincing as the temperamentally contrasting sisters and Julian Florian is ideally cast as Andrea Marowski the young man they rescue. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘LADIES IN LAVENDER’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE
Production photos by Grant Leslie Photography
From the moment when Dolly Levi, played with joyous charm and wonderful exuberance by Michele Lansdown, walks onto the stage to the very last note the audience is enthralled by this classic feel good, romantic musical. HELLO, DOLLY! was first performed in 1964 with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers.
The musical rides on the shoulders of Dolly, a feisty Jewish widow in 19th-century New York who has an amazing talent for romantic meddling. Dolly is a rare independent woman, and she’s aware of that rarity, with comments such as “Marriage is a bribe to make the housekeeper think she’s a householder”. Though tough is some respects she too is looking for a husband and has her sights set on Horace Vandergelder, a well-known half millionaire of Yonkers. Christopher Hamilton is excellent in the role of Horace with just the right mixture of haughtiness, dignity and finally capitulation to the wiles of Dolly. Continue reading MIRANDA MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS ‘HELLO, DOLLY!’
Rockdale Musical Society’s DREAMGIRLS is a vibrant, highly entertaining production of this Tony Award and Olivier Award-winning musical.
With music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen the musical is based on the show business aspirations and successes of rhythm and blues acts such as The Supremes. Continue reading DREAMGIRLS : A FUN AND GLITTERING RIDE @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL
Deborah Brevoort’s play is based on the terrorist attack on December 21 1988 in which Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid-air, due to a time activated bomb in a suitcase, as it travelled from London to New York City. The explosion scattered pieces of the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the surrounding hills, Scotland, as well as the remains of the 243 passengers and 16 crew members. Twenty-one houses on the ground were destroyed, and 11 people there lost their lives. An international conflict arose in the aftermath and eventually the Libyan leader Qaddafi extradited two suspects in 1998, one sentenced to 27 years and the other acquitted.
THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE is a poetic drama, in the form of a Greek tragedy, takes place on a hillside near Lockerbie seven year after the attack as a woman roams searching for the remains of her son. It is a moving and intimate portrayal of the effects of grief. As one of the women say, grief is a guest who remains too long, and the characters must come to terms with loss and decide whether the desire for justice and hate should rule their lives or whether they can somehow turn these feelings around to a more compassionate approach.
Madelaine Livingston, played by Kim Schad, is a New Jersey housewife who lost her son but whose body was never found. Grief has been all consuming in her life as she cannot find closure and it is destroying her marriage to Bill Livingston, played by Stephen Snars. These people portray their loss in very different ways but cannot connect and support each other.
They meet Olive Allison, played by Michelle Masefield, a woman of Lockerbie with her own tragic story. Ollie and two women, played by Rebecca Fletcher and Anne Geenen, form the “chorus” and offer a special kind of grief counselling, telling their own tragic stories about that awful day when the plane crashed quite literally on their houses.
Directed by Bernard Teuben this is a dark and emotional journey set with very subdued lighting and traditional Scottish music. A touch of humour to lighten the atmosphere is found in the character of Hattie, played by Penny Johnson, who is a cleaning lady working for George Jones.
George Jones, played by Larry Murphy, is a US Government official whose job it is to burn the clothes of the victims found in the plane’s wreckage. The women, determined to convert an act of hatred into an act of love, want to wash the clothes of the dead and return them to the victim’s families in a symbolic act of cleansing.
This is a sentimental and touching production and very much resonates today when acts of terrorism proliferate. The play asks how do we respond?
THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE is playing till the 12th August. Performance times are Wednesday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s at 8.15pm and Sundays at 4.30pm at the Pavilion Theatre. Castle Hill.
For a lighthearted night at the theatre Rockdale Opera Company’s THE GONDOLIERS is just the thing. It is one of the most popular of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas with the witty words and twisting plot of Gilbert combined with the cheerful and lyrical music of Sullivan.
A strong cast of principles, under the direction of Ralph Bott, have a great rapport bringing the tale to life. Spencer Darby as Marco Palmieri, Michael Kallidis as Giuseppe Palmieri, together with Amy Balales as Gianetta and Charlotte Campbell as Tessa form the central four lovers whose fate is suddenly upturned with some new arrivals from Spain.
The Duke of Plaza-Toro, played in a highly comic style by Gordon Costello and his majestic wife the Duchess, Megan Chalmers, along with their dutiful daughter Casilda, Jessica Harper and attendant come secret lover Luiz played by Daine Ellicott arrive. Continue reading ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS GILBERT AND SULLIVAN’S ‘THE GONDOLIERS’
The audience thoroughly enjoyed itself on opening night with gales of laughter filling the Pavilion Theatre. Only the British do bedroom farce with that certain touch and this script is a wonderful example of the art of adding confusion to confusion in a seemingly logical way. Will it be possible to untie all the knots by the end of the play or will more be tied?
The play opens in the honeymoon suite of a hotel where the bridegroom wakes on his wedding morning, with his fiancée about to arrive any moment, and finds an unknown, very attractive girl in bed beside him. His best man arrives, his fiancée arrives, the girl is hidden in the bathroom pretending to be the best man’s girlfriend, the best man’s real girlfriend has to be kept ignorant of the fact and the chambermaid is coerced into being everyone’s girlfriend. By interval when the bride’s mother arrives chaos has ensued which only escalates in Act Two.
Daniel Vavasour plays Bill, the panicked groom, who has some doubt as to wherever Rachel, his fiancée, is really the perfect partner. Continue reading PERFECT WEDDING : FAST PACED BEDROOM FARCE COMES TO CASTLE HILL
THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING is the English translation of a Dutch children’s novel by Guus Kuijer. It was adapted for the stage by the Australian playwright Richard Tulloch and first performed in 2010.
This production by Castle Hill Players is an engaging insight into the world of young Thomas as we look at the adults’ moral codes through the imagination of a nine year old boy.
Set in Amsterdam in 1951 Brayden Sim brings to the main character, Thomas Klopper, a charming innocence as he comes to understand a little better the relationships of the people around him. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING’ @ PAVILION THEATRE
Can you guess “who done it”? This fun production by Bankstown Theatre Company will have you guessing to the very end. The long running soap-opera The Bold and the Young is in its last day with ratings tumbling and a cast with serious personality issues ranging from an obsession with soup, self-esteem problems to slightly psychopathic tendencies.
The executive producer give this motley mix of actors an ultimatum, either complete one episode overnight or the show will be cut. But shortly after the director is murdered and then in quick succession several of the other cast members meet the same fate. Can these unlikely Sherlock Holmes discover the murderer before the show is literally killed off?!
The cast of 13 actors gives this comedy/mystery by Don Zolidis a life of its own as it pokes fun at the characters in soap operas and the actors portraying these. I defy any audience member to pick the ending with several twists to ensure one’s interest is held to the very last. Continue reading THE BOLD, THE YOUNG AND THE MURDERED @ BANKSTOWN ARTS CENTRE
Featured image – Megan Hipwell, Leigh Scanlon, Margaret Olive and Annette Emerton in CALENDAR GIRLS.
CALENDAR GIRLS by Tim Firth comes from the popular 2003 film of the same name which starred Helen Mirren and Julie Walters.
The play is based on the true story of a Yorkshire women’s club that earned money for its village hospital by having members pose nude on an annual printed calendar. Presented by Castle Hill Players the show is a highly entertaining start to their 2017 season.
CALENDAR GIRLS is about friendship, loss, the strength and beauty of older women and community. The audience greatly appreciated the entire production with intakes of breath at the “nude” scenes and applause for the bravery of the actresses. There is comedy throughout but the jokes are gentle and the more serious moments are played with deep feeling and sensitivity. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘CALENDAR GIRLS’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE
Production photography by Chris Lundie.
Jeffery Archer’s THE ACCUSED is a courtroom drama with a difference, as the audience is the jury. This final play for Castle Hill Players 2016 season is a fitting end to a very successful, enjoyable and varied 50th anniversary seaon.
Dr. Patrick Sherwood, played in the original production at Windsor in 2000 by Jeffery Archer, stands trial accused of poisoning his wife in this enthralling courtroom drama set in the Old Bailey. Once the audience has made its decision the play continues – with one of two different endings, depending on its verdict. It is only at this time that we discover the verdict.
The evidence is presented to the jury by two of Britain’s best barristers, highly experienced, and entirely loathsome of each other.
Sandy Velini as Antonia Kersley QC and Matt Tredinnick as Sir James Barrington QC are the two stand out performances as they attempt to win the audience/the jury over with each witticism and barb.
The clever script slowly reveals clues about the murder having the audience believe one thing only to be convinced of a different truth when another witness takes the stand.
Jason Spindlow as the accused Patrick Sherwood bides his time in the dock till getting his say in the last act. Is he the grieving husband or the cunning murderer?!
His supposed lover Jennifer Mitchell, played by Ellen Northcott, is another contradictory character.
The witnesses are all colorful characters played by a strong supporting cast. Ken Fletcher plays the scientific expert Professor Alistair Forsyth, Sumesh Kannanmasseril is Masoud Hussein the pharmacist, Dennis Channells plays the porter Albert Webster, and David Hill is Detective Chief Inspector Payne. As Mr Justice Cartwright, Paul Houchin seems like he may have been sitting on the bench all his life. The jury bailiff (Alan Long)and guard (Ron Parnell) and assistants to the barristers, played by Sarah Sparke and David Allsopp, all add authenticity to the play.
The director Bernard Teuben draws the cast together to provide the audience with a humorous and intriguing evening. I am not going to reveal the opening night audience’s decision – go and decide for yourself! I am very tempted to go back in the hope of seeing the alternative ending.
THE ACCUSED is playing the Pavilion Theatre Castle Hill until Saturday 10th December. Performance times – Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8.15 pm and Sundays at 4.30 pm.
Featured image – Frances Carlile and Kate Wilmot.
Rockdale Opera Company’s production of THE BARTERED BRIDE, a comic Czech opera, is a fine night’s entertainment.
The original version of the opera by Bedrich Smetana premiered in Prague in 1886 with the first English version at Sadlers Wells in 1935.
Director Luise Napier has very successfully updated the words to suit the present day and apart from some judicious cuts musical director Julia de Plater has maintained the music as originally composed.
The road sign for kangaroos, koalas in the tree and a dunny ensure there can be no mistaking the setting has been changed from the original Bohemian country village to a rural town in Australia. This shift works very well as it is a small Czech community celebrating May Day. Much of the original culture is preserved such as a czech folk dance around a may pole, yet comic highlights are added with touches such as the dancing koala and the occasional use of a broad Australian accent.
The story involves the secret love between Mařenka and Jenik but as the villagers gather to celebrate the festivities of the day these two do not join in as Mařenka’s parents are arranging her marriage to Vasek, wealthy grazier Micha’s son. Continue reading A NIGHT OF CZECH OPERA @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL
BOEING BOEING is a classic farce and in Castle Hill Players production, under the clever direction of Stephen Snars, audiences are given all the expected misadventures and misunderstandings of the characters ensuring a fun filled night at the theatre.
Excellent comic timing from all the talented cast makes the most of the hilarious situations in which they find themselves and of course the set, designed by Jemima Snars, has several doors and entrances to allow numerous secret, and not so secret, comings and goings. Written by the French playwright Marc Camotetti and translated by Beverley Cross the play sees a life of meticulous precision unravels before our eyes. Continue reading BOEING BOEING @ PAVILION THEATRE, CASTLE HILL
Rockdale Opera Society’s production of ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD won’t disappoint in any respect. It is filled with love, hatred, betrayal, murder and scandal. With a story like this, set to Offenbach’s divine score, sung by a highly talented cast supported by a polished orchestra, this is a highly entertaining and dramatic night at the theatre.
ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD by Jacques Offenbach, originally premiered in Paris in 1858 in two Acts as an ‘opera bouffon’ to a libretto by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy. The work was later revised as an ‘opéra-féerie’ in four Acts in 1874 and it’s this version that the Rockdale Opera Society presents. The new English translation is by Greg Condon, Christopher Hamilton, James McCarthy and Simone Young with some revisions by Ralph Bott adding to the comedy and orchestrated by Jon Smith. Continue reading ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS ‘ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD’
ON GOLDEN POND is the classic award winning 1979 play by Ernest Thompson which was later adapted into the memorable 1981 motion picture starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. This play is part of a very special season for Castle Hill Players as they celebrate their 50th anniversary season.
While On Golden Pond has much witty sarcasm and humorous one-liners, it also looks at the themes of love, connections, and letting go of the past to allow the flowering of broken relationships.
The story centres on an older couple Norman and Ethyl Thayer and explores the effects of the turbulent relationship their daughter Chelsea shared with her father growing up and the difficulties faced by a couple in the latter years of a long marriage. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘ON GOLDEN POND’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE
Miranda Musical Society’s production captures the audience with a very moving musical revue of the work of the late Belgian songwriter and performer.
Jacques Brel was a major influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers such as David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, and English translations of his songs have been recorded by many top performers including Ray Charles and John Denver.
Brel died in 1949 but his songs endure, as do the English versions by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman which form the basis of this show which first opened in New York in 1968. Continue reading MIRANDA MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS
LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE is yet another moving and highly entertaining production to be presented by Castle Hill Players in this their 40th anniversary year. The play, written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephronis, is based on the book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman and was first played in New York in 2008.
The play is organized as a series of monologues and uses a cast of five women playing over 30 parts delightfully linking matters of life and love with matters of the wardrobe. A woman named Gingy, played with feeling and compassion by Annette Van Roden, tells her life story which is woven in and out of the tales of the other characters. The play follows Gingy through several marriages, motherhood and other turning points, each marked by various items of clothing.
The show features various comic interludes about the agonies of the dressing room (“I don’t know who this is cut for”), the mortification of bra-buying (“The training bras are over here”) or the hurtful words of mothers (“Is that what you’re wearing?”), not to mention unfortunate prom dresses, high heels and one perfect shirt. Everyone in the audience will relate to some of the one liners as we have said them, listened to them or been their recipients.
One of the highlights is the monologue “I hate my purse” played with wonderful comic skills by Sandy Velini. Her character’s great frustration is her habitual inability to keep her purse properly organised and hygienic. In the chaos of its interior she sees a reflection of her own life but she does finally discover the perfect bag to manage the problem.
What these stories are really talking about are mother/daughter relationships, romance and the men who come and go, family dynamics and sometimes just getting through the pain life contains. The more substantial stories usually have a strong emotional component, connecting the memories of a dress or a pair of shoes to certain pivotal moments in the women’s lives.
Directed by Meredith Jacobs, the ensemble also including Mary Clarke, Leigh Scanlon and Kate Gandy, work beautifully together to bring life, fun and feeling to their characters.
The production features original music composed by Joshua McNulty who conducted and recorded the score with live musicians from the Canaria Scoring Orchestra.
The show also gives theatregoers the opportunity to put on that something you have never been game to wear even if it is just a fancy assessor. At every performance one “frocked up” audience member will be selected go in the competition to win tickets to the next production plus receive a complimentary beverage and snack from the Foyer Bar.
For a night that is funny and poignant, witty and sometimes sad, get to LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE at the Pavilion Theatre, Doran Road, Castle Hill Showground.
Performance times are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8.15pm and Sundays at 4.30pm.
Tickets $27/$22. Bookings –
This show is the Castle Hill Players’ second production for their 50th anniversary season, and it’s another highly entertaining night at the theatre.
Winner of the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Awards – Best Play, this is a comedy thriller that intrigues from the opening play within a play scene to the surprising last scene. It’s a wild and funny ride that will grab you from the start to the very last moment.
It is 24th December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette (Jason Spindlow), admired the world over for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle which he shares with his mother Martha (Elizabeth Gilbert) for a weekend of celebration. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENTS THE GAMES AFOOT; or HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS @ THE PAVILION THEATRE
A rollicking night of high adventure, action and pirate treasure, not to mention voluminous quotes from the Bard is a great way for the Castle Hill Players to kick off their 50th anniversary year.
Based on the classic novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Ken Ludwig’s adaptation, well directed by Jeremy Johnson, has added a few touches to the original. Ludwig frames the action as Jim Hawkins’ memory of the fateful treasure hunt. He also adds a complex backstory in which Jim’s Shakespeare-loving dad had a dubious connection with Long John Silver, a device that enables Jim to see the pirate as being akin to a surrogate father, with the two of them swapping quotes from the Bard. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT TREASURE ISLAND @ THE PAVILION THEATRE
Since 2004 Circa has been creating powerful works of circus art that blur the lines between movement, dance, theatre and circus. Under the direction of Yaron Lifschitz the dynamic trio of two male and one female acrobat use everything at their disposal – trapeze, aerial ropes, balance poles and each other’s bodies – to thrill and astound the audience.
Live violinist Rebecca Seymour plays Bach amongst a soundtrack of electronica. The three performers are perfectly in tune with each other’s bodies as the music surrounds and enfolds them and us from the very start to their final embrace. Continue reading WHAT WILL HAVE BEEN @ THE MAGIC MIRRORS SPIEGELTENT
For a fun night of madness & mayhem Castle Hill Players A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES is just the thing. Written by John Stanley in 1973 the director Meredith Jacobs has filled the stage with a collection of crazy characters that keep the audience entertained and laughing to the very end.
The central character is Myra Marlowe, a television actress fed up with the demands and pressures of her career, who leases a cottage in the tiny hamlet of Beaver Haven in order to escape Hollywood and write her autobiography. The role requires an actor who can carry the entire show on her shoulders and Annette van Roden does just that. She is wonderfully cast and very believable in her role. Continue reading CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES