All posts by Maggy Franklin

Maggy Franklin has been a passionate attendee at all types of theatre and muscial theatre in Sydney for many years. She has a teaching diploma in Speech and Drama, has attended Darlo Drama classes, acted and directed in Crast Test Drama, directed at Short and Sweet Sydney, is involved in Actors Anonomyous and has worked as front of house for various theatres. An ex-high school teacher, she is now responsible for accrediting aged care homes, plays tennis, gets to the cinema whenever possible, and is a Lifeline telephone counsellor. She believes one can never go to too much theatre, and there is always something to be experienced at every production.

WANTED ONE BODY :CASTLE HILL PLAYERS ENDS THE YEAR WITH A MURDER MYSTERY

Photos: Chris Lundy

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

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘LADIES IN LAVENDER’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

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

MIRANDA MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS ‘HELLO, DOLLY!’

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!’

DREAMGIRLS : A FUN AND GLITTERING RIDE @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

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.

DREAMGIRLS  tells the story of a young female singing trio called “The Dreams” that crosses over to the pop charts in the 1960s to become music superstars, but at a price.

Dreamgirls is not just about exciting singing and dancing as it reveals the behind-the-scenes reality of the entertainment industry, the rivalries, the heartbreak and the tough business side of success.

The original trio, Deena Jones played by Sasha-Lee Saunders, Lorrell Robinson played by Jade Montalvo and Effie White played by Kaleigh Wilkie-Smith all have true, strong voices which harmonise beautifully together. My pick of the performances was by Claudio Acosta who plays Jimmy Early, a popular rhythm and blues star, with whom the Dreamettes, as the trio are originally known, are backup singers for. Continue reading DREAMGIRLS : A FUN AND GLITTERING RIDE @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

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.

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ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS GILBERT AND SULLIVAN’S ‘THE GONDOLIERS’

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’

PERFECT WEDDING : FAST PACED BEDROOM FARCE COMES TO CASTLE HILL

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

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING’ @ PAVILION THEATRE

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

THE BOLD, THE YOUNG AND THE MURDERED @ BANKSTOWN ARTS CENTRE

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

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘CALENDAR GIRLS’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

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

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘THE ACCUSED’ @ 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.

http://paviliontheatre.org.au/the-accused-2/

A NIGHT OF CZECH OPERA @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

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 @ PAVILION THEATRE, CASTLE HILL

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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 COMPANY PRESENTS ‘ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD’

Rockdale Opera Company (2) (1)

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’

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘ON GOLDEN POND’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

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 PRESENTS JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS

Jennifer Parbery
Jennifer Parbery

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

THE CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT ‘LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE’ @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

Love

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 – 

http://www.paviliontheatre.org.au

 

 

 

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENTS THE GAMES AFOOT; or HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

Games Afoot-second

 

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

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT TREASURE ISLAND @ THE PAVILION THEATRE

Treasure Island

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

WHAT WILL HAVE BEEN @ THE MAGIC MIRRORS SPIEGELTENT

What Will Have Been- Jamie Williams
Production photography by Jamie Williams

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

CASTLE HILL PLAYERS PRESENT A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES

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Inset pic- Ben Freeman and Annette van Roden. Featured pic- Mary Clarke, Annette Snars and Annette van Roden.

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

CHATSWOOD MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS WEST SIDE STORY @ THE ZENITH CHATSWOOD

Production photography by Scott Clare
Production photography by Scott Clare

When it first appeared on Broadway in 1957 West Side story, inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with its dark themes, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim together with Bernstein, West Side Story has become one of the most popular musicals ever to grace the stage.

West Side Story places star crossed-lovers Tony and Maria squarely at the centre of a gang war in the ethnic blue collar Upper West Side neighbourhood of New York City in the mid 1950’s. The two young, idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the established American Jets and the immigrant Puerto Rican Sharks.

Tony is a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang leader, Riff, while Maria is the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. This is a story of their struggle to survive in a world of pointless hate, violence and prejudice. Continue reading CHATSWOOD MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS WEST SIDE STORY @ THE ZENITH CHATSWOOD

ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

Rockdale Opera Co- main

This delightful and humorous presentation of The Marriage of Figaro by Rockdale Opera Company continues their long tradition of presenting high quality Gilbert and Sullivan operas, operetta and grand opera sung in English.

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO is a comic opera in four acts composed in 1786 by Mozart with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The Opera is based on a stage comedy by Beaumarchais La Folle Journée which is a sequel to his earlier play, Le Barbier de Séville.

The opera is set in Count Almaviva’s castle in Seville in the late 18th Century. In Le Barbier, Count Almaviva, with substantial help from Figaro, wooed and won the lovely Rosine away from her crusty old ward and would-be husband, Dr. Bartholo.

Continue reading ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

GHOSTS @ DEPOT THEATRE MARRICKVILLE

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Henrik Ibsen’s intense psychological drama, GHOSTS, was written in 1818 and first staged in Chicago Illinois the following year. Like many of Ibsen’s plays it is a scathing commentary on 19th century morality. Touching on issues such as free love, euthanasia, religious hypocrisy and venereal disease, the drama was reviled and dammed in the press of the time. This production, as translated by William Archer, is the second play to be presented by the recently formed Depot Theatre Company, previously the Sydney Independent Theatre Company.

The setting is the mid twentieth century and under the direction of Julie Baz the play comes to life and remains relevant to today’s audience.

GHOSTS opens with Jacob Engstrand, played with much sleaze and hypocritical virtue by Zac McKay, trying to convince as he tries to convince his purported daughter Regina to come work at the sailor’s establishment he wants to open. Emily McGowan plays Regina, a self-assured flirt at the start of the play, and is too proud of her job as Mrs. Alving’s maid to join her father.

Pastor Manders enters and tries to convince Regina to help her father. From the start David Jeffery brings out the self-righteous and unbending religious fervour and justification of everything the Pastor says and does.

Mrs Helen Alving is a complex character, a mix of a liberated and free thinking mind trapped within the conventions of her time. Julie Baz brings out the tormented nature of Helen’s struggle as she battles the ghosts of her sordid marriage and the consequences of her past decisions.

Helen is not the only victim, as it is soon revealed that her son Oswald, newly returned home after years pursuing a career as an artist in Paris, has terrible secrets of his own.

Steve Vincent as Oswald is very credible as he portrays his character’s gradual deterioration and the nature of his tormented relationship with his mother.

No one in the family is exempt from this growing web of lies and dark secrets.

We learn the truth of Helen’s maid Regina and her relationship with Helen’s late husband and the moral dilemmas that this poses. By the end Regina, as well as all the other characters, have their plans shattered and they are each forced to face the consequences of their past actions.

A plain but effective set by David Jeffery, and an evocative soundscape add to the power of this production as you can feel the audience’s emotions change in sympathy, encouragement or anger as the characters reveal their histories and their true selves.

Julie Baz’s revival of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play GHOSTS is playing at the Depot Theatre, Marrickville until Saturday 24th October. Performances are Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm.

CAST: – David Jeffrey- Pastor Manders, Zac McKay – Jacob Engstrand, Emily McGowan- Regina Engstrand, Julie Baz- Mrs Helen Alving, Steve Vincent- Oswald Alving.

CREATIVES:- Julie Baz- Director, David Jeffrey- Designer, Stage Manager- Mehran Mortezaei.

The Fall Of The House Of Usher @ Pavilion Theatre Castle Hill

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This adaptation by Jack Neary of the classic Edgar Allen Poe short story takes the challenging, haunting tale and re-invents it as a fast-moving 1930’s detective thriller, while still maintaining Poe’s basic story of family treachery and madness.

Director Paul Sztelma sets the scene for this dark tale in a dim sitting room complete with old family portraits, cobwebs, trails of smoke and candles. In front of this scene the play opens in the police interrogation room with tough New York detective Michael Shauhgnessy, played very convincingly, by Stephen Snars interrogating James Brookfield, an up-and-coming writer of crime novels from New York City. Continue reading The Fall Of The House Of Usher @ Pavilion Theatre Castle Hill