Musical THeatre


‘The most beautiful thing in the world is a shoe’ .

Shoes can be art, lovingly crafted sculpture.
Kinky Boots has bounced into Sydney! Price and Son have taken over the Capitol to screams of delight from shoe people.

This bright bold and colourful musical with a huge heart will have you dancing in the aisles. It is often joyous , sexy and exuberant yet also deals with underlying darker issues. It is a story about self-acceptance,  personal growth, prejudice and the acceptance of outsiders .

Kinky Boots is the show that beat Matilda in the 2013 Tony Awards for best Musical – to some raised eyebrows.       Continue reading KINKY BOOTS @ CAPITOL THEATRE


Chatswood Musical Society’s Australian premiere of the Broadway  hit, IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, music by Barbara Anselmi and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, is 90 minutes of non-stop hilarity. With his production of the show,  Director James Worner has been able to spread the joy he felt when he saw the play on Broadway.

This is a roller coaster musical farce featuring nervous grooms, overbearing mums, unexpected guests, and the odd blushing bride.

The bride is Jewish. The groom is Catholic. Their mothers are gale force matriarchs. The audience related to, and many times laughed at, the familiar fears, expectations and tensions that come with family celebrations. As old relatives staggered about, young friends weaved in and out of the melee seeking reassurance. When the bride’s ex-boyfriend crashed the party, it was up to the sister of the bride to turn things around to enable the happy ending. Continue reading IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU : AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE OF A BROADWAY HIT MUSICAL


Blackout Theatre is kicking ass and taking names at Lend Lease Theatre in the Darling Quarter.

Add my name to the list: the list of supporters and advocates for this kick-ass community theatre and the list of audience members who absolutely loved DOGFIGHT on its opening night.

DOGFIGHT is a musical set in San Francisco, November 21st 1963 as the Vietnam War rages and Haight Ashbury is attracting the ‘love not hate’ unwashed . It was written with hindsight in the early part of the second decade of this century by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known together as Pasek and Paul, who won the Golden Globe and have been nominated for an Oscar for LA LA LAND. It did not wow at the time.

Here are some names for you: Derek Klena; Lindsay Mendez. They were in the original production. DOGFIGHT had a very successful season at the Hayes in 2015 but this is DOGFIGHT’s Australian amateur premier. Continue reading DOGFIGHT : ANOTHER OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION BY BLACKOUT THEATRE COMPANY


SOMEWHERE ELSE TODAY  tells the story of the Bennett family on one particular day of the year – Christmas Day.

Eli and Darcy do not want to spend another Christmas with Eli’s family, or in the Southern Hemisphere for that matter! George, the adopted son, has woken up with Brandi – last night’s one-night-stand – who just won’t leave. Jan is introducing her new boyfriend, Chuck, to everyone. Phil is sick of Christmas. Dorian is hungover. The Dog struggles for power with the men. And they haven’t even opened presents yet!

With lame gifts, clashing egos, a psychedelic retelling of the history of Christmas, and the fury of a woman scorned, this is just an ordinary Christmas with the Bennett family. Despite the craziness and chaos, the fights and over indulgence, Brenda Bennett, the matriarch, just wants to keep the family together – it is after all Christmas.

SOMEWHERE ELSE TODAY is an original comedy/drama musical written by Ludwig van Distortion and Coco Grainger. Paying homage to Phil Spector and Cole Porter, SOMEWHERE ELSE TODAY wants to do what Mozart and Leonard Bernstein did  with West Side Story and show a modern audience its own experiences on stage with accessible, yet complex, music propelling the drama.

Sunday 18 Dec 6:30pm
Monday 19 Dec, Tuesday 20 Dec, Wednesday 21 Dec at 7:30pm

VENUE –  New Theatre: 542 King Street Newtown NSW 2042

For more information  about Somewhere Else Today, visit

Find us on: YouTube | Facebook


The Hayes Theatre often finds unloved musicals and brings them back to life. It performs the function of an off Broadway music hall. Musicals have some  strange premises – a flesh eating plant in Little Shop Of Horrors, Mormons in The Book Of Mormon and a US Founding Father in Hamilton.

The Hayes has turned its attention to a musical based on the real life twin sisters Daisy and Violet Hilton, joined at the hip but otherwise possessing separate limbs and organs. They grew up touring America (and Australia) in a travelling freak show where they were cruelly exploited by their guardian, Meyer Meyers.

However when their great talent and charm was discovered by a vaudeville promoter, they were urged to seek freedom from their guardianship which in 1931 they succeeded to do. As a result they became a national sensation and amongst the highest paid stars of 1930s Broadway. The musical covers the period from an account of their mother’s rejection in a Brighton UK hospital in 1908 until their appearance in Tod Browning’s film Freaks in 1932. Continue reading SIDE SHOW @ THE HAYES


Rent: Blackout

Rarely have I wanted to encourage an audience to see a show as much as I want you to see RENT by Blackout Theatre Company playing at The Joan at Penrith. Rarely does an audience get the chance to see a Community Theatre thriving by virtue of dogged hard work and irrepressible enthusiasm. On its website Blackout suggests that after 15 years and 2 name changes (many theatre goers will recognize them as Blacktown Theatre Company) they are taking a fresh approach to Community Theatre.

RENT is a great example of grass roots theatre. It’s a big, engaging show with a huge cast and crew and if the rousing applause on Opening Night any indication, a community behind them. Though a harsh judge might find the production a little flawed, Blackout’s RENT is youthful and joyous and created with an energy that spills through the audience. Continue reading RENT @ THE JOAN SUTHERLAND PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE PENRITH


AT LAST – THE ETTA JAMES STORY saw its world premiere in 2013 and since then has played to packed theatres and thunderous applause throughout Australia and New Zealand. Having recently completed a sell-out season at Arts Centre Melbourne this incredible show returns once more to The Sydney Opera House – for one week only!

Starring the sensational Vika Bull the show tells the story of soul legend Etta James turbulent life and features some of her most beloved songs including Tell MamaI’d Rather Go Blind, her iconic signature song At Last and more.

Vika puts her heart and soul into this unforgettable show and is joined on stage by some Australia’s nest and funkiest musicians.
During a long career that saw her win six Grammy Awards and a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Etta James has influenced a vast array of artists. Sadly, her frantic recording and touring schedule coincided with her ever-growing addiction problems and over time she not only sang the blues…she lived the blues.

Mercifully, her passion for life and strength of character saw her conquer her demons and she continued to record and perform into her seventies.

This is her story.

AT LAST : THE ETTA JAMES STORY will play the Drama Theatre at the Sydney Opera House between July 12 and July 17.

For more about At Last – The Etta James Story, visit
Find us on: YouTube | Facebook



The revival of the musical adaptation of Roger Corman’s movie LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, which was a big hit at the Hayes Theatre earlier this year, is returning to a much larger and more accommodating venue, the Roslyn Packer theatre in Walsh Bay. The show is having a short season playing between the 20th and the 28th July.

These are some of my favorite photos from the Media Call before the show’s recent Hayes theatre season to whet your appetite.

Cast (3)
The cast
Esther Hannaford & Brent Hill
Esther Hannaford & Brent Hill
Supreme-esque Trio
Supreme-esque Trio
Esther Hannaford



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



Sinead Cristaudo and Nic Savage as Diana and Dan in Next to Normal
Sinead Cristaudo and Nic Savage as Diana and Dan in Next to Normal

This is such a wonderful show. Everything you want in a musical. It won Tonys for its score and orchestration and it won the Pulitzer. There is such lightness and dark to a piece that I can unashamedly say, since I first saw it last year, is my favourite musical. And as I explained to my friend in no uncertain terms as we travelled through Sydney’s peak hour traffic and pouring rain… I’m going to be very cross if they fuck it up!

They did not.

UNSW Musical Theatre Society has produced a thrilling production of NEXT TO NORMAL . It is irrelevant that this work is being done by students acting outside their age range, in a wartime shed that I performed in as an undergrad a lifetime ago, to an opening night audience of friends and relos. For me, this was a night to remember, a production to cherish and cast to keep an eye out for. Continue reading UNSW MUSICAL THEATRE SOCIETY PRESENTS NEXT TO NORMAL @ STUDIO ONE THEATRE, UNSW


Chorus LineThis is  a pure entertainment experience first seen in 1975, and coming from that time when the Broadway musical scene was in full unrivaled glory,

Be taken on a life affirming, two hour emotional roller coaster ride delivered in song and dance. A CHORUS LINE the entire cast delivers emotionally charged performances, and triumphantly delivers the ultimate expression, of what all musicals need to be.

Conceived by Michael Bennett, dancers try out for a new musical, before a very demanding director. Based on stories from real Broadway dancers, as remembered by fellow dancer and choreographer Michael Bennett. Book by Nicholas Dante and James Kirkwood, is still very fresh and marvellously creative, with its dancer audition line-up of twenty-six unique individuals. Full of life characters, with true-to-life back stories. Continue reading MANLY MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS A CHORUS LINE @ STAR OF THE SEA THEATRE MANLY


Willoughby Theatre Company - Catch Me If You Can - Grant Leslie Photography
Willoughby Theatre Company – Catch Me If You Can – Grant Leslie Photography

Live in living colour Willoughby Theatre Company have pulled out all the stops in their magnificent production, the NSW premiere of this bright , bold musical that is incredibly based on a true story.

Readers might be familiar with the book and/or the movie starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. It is the astonishing tale of Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully scammed millions of dollars’ worth of cheques using various identities as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor. Musical aficionados will probably pick up fleeting references to Chicago, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Rent, City of Angels, Company, Grease and others. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS CATCH ME IF YOU CAN @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD



Bright , bold and colourful WONDERFUL TOWN is rarely performed these days in comparison with other Bernstein musicals.

This production represents the second collaboration between Squabbalogic and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs following on from the  Of Thee I Sing concert held. The show is a semi-staged version.

The large  orchestra, almost fifty in number, under the enthusiastic baton of Brett Weymark is on stage in a style similar to that of a swing band. And maestro Weymark participates in the plot at times. Continue reading SQUABBALOGIC AND SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS PRESENT WONDERFUL TOWN


Ben Elton introducing the performers at the Media Call
Casey Donovan - 'Killer Queen'
Casey Donovan and ensemble performing the hit song ‘Killer Queen’

All photos by Ben Apfelbaum who attended the Media Call held recently at the Lyric for the Guide. Featured pic- Erin Clare, Ben Elton, Gareth Keegan and Jaz Flowers.

It has finally come around, tomorrow night is the opening night, and the Australian premiere, of the rock musical extravaganza, WE WILL ROCK YOU, with the book by Ben Elton which he has fashioned around more than 24 Queen songs.

Elton’s show has travelled over 28 countries and been enjoyed by over more than 16 million  fans since it first premiered back in 2002.

For the shows’ Australian tour a first class cast has been chosen.  WE WILL ROCK YOU stars Gareth Keegan (Jersey Boys) as Galileo, Erin Clare (Heathers) as Scaramouche, Casey Donovan (The Sapphires) as Killer Queen, Brian Mannix (Uncanny X-Men) as Buddy, Jaz Flowers (Hairspray) as Oz, Thern Reynolds (Rock of Ages) as Brit, and (ABC TV’s Jack Irish) as Khashoggi. Continue reading WE WILL ROCK YOU @ SYDNEY LYRIC THEATRE, THE STAR


Michael Astill as Buck and Lauren Lofberg as Bonnie.
Michael Astill as Ted and Lauren Lofberg as Bonnie.

Seasoned theatregoers always find something to love in this crazy creative world of performance. Amateur through semi pro to professional, school concerts to Granny’s tap dance showcase. There’s always something unusual, exciting or unique to enjoy.

How unusual, exciting and unique though, to find a community based amateur show about which you love everything! BONNIE AND CLYDE at the Sutherland Memorial School of Arts is a cracker production. It’s slickly produced, really well sung with some terrific acting; it’s got a great set; costumes with purpose and brought together with intelligent stage and musical direction. And wigs … good ones! 12 by my count. Continue reading SMT PRESENTS BONNIE AND CLYDE : THE MUSICAL @ SUTHERLAND MEMORIAL SCHOOL OF THE ARTS


La Mancha principals 2

Above: Charmaine Gibbs as Aldonza, Christopher Hamilton As Don Quixote and Andrew Jackaman as Sancho Panza. Main image: an ensemble cast moment.

Miranda Musical Society’s 2016 season is underway with a production of high drama and of a consistently high standard.

MAN OF LA MANCHA, first performed in 1964, elaborates the tale by imprisoned author Miguel de Cervantes of his character Don Quixote. This Don is a do-gooder, a somewhat shambles of a knight, who with his offsider Sancho Panchez, encounters a harsh world through a very rose-coloured helmet. The tales are brought to life from the author’s manuscript by prisoners performing them in a Seville prison during the Spanish Inquisition. Continue reading MAN OF LA MANCHA@SUTHERLAND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE


Steph McKenna and Lachlan O’Brien in CITY OF ANGELS

Dark and gritty, this is a rarely seen musical and Rockdale Musical Society give it a terrific production.

This show is about the LA movie industry and also is a homage to 1940’s film noir – think classic Humphrey Bogart. Two stories are interwoven.

In our “real” world, bashing away on a typewriter, a hack writer named Stine is adapting his detective novel City of Angels for the cinema, at the insistence of producer Buddy Fidler. Continue reading ROCKDALE MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS CITY OF ANGELS @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

Boeing Boeing @ Bon Marche

A great cast bring BOEING BOEING to life. Back Row- Alex Radovan, Michael Mulvenna and Emily Burke Front Row- Abby Dixon, Rachel Versace, Same-Jo Adelman

With their final  production for the year the Backstage Theatre Society’s pledge to audiences is to ‘let me entertain you’, and I am here to report that’s exactly what they do, and they do it really, really well.

Their vehicle is a classic old bedroom farce, Marc Camoletti’s bedroom farce, BOEING BOEING (1962).  Some may know this play from the 1965 film adaptation starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis.

The storyline is only a slight one. The focus is on a big-time player. Bernard has the kind of ultimate swinging sixties bachelor lifestyle. He has his own Paris apartment and a great polygamous lifestyle with three gorgeous airhostess fiancees: German Gretchen, Italian Gabriella, and American Gloria. A shrewd operator Bernard schedules the ladies in at different times, and insists that they call him if they arrive in town unexpectedly. Continue reading Boeing Boeing @ Bon Marche

O’Malley @ The Reginald

Photo: Afshar Hodar
Photo: Afshar Hodar

In Act Two of THE LEGEND OF KING O’MALLEY the main character strikes trouble trying to charm his way into the early 1900’s Labor Party. The devil on his shoulder advises him, “Less matter, more art”. That’s what he does to win them over. This set my theatrical brain to wondering … should this restaging of a silly and powerful work, balance matter and art or should it strive to be one or the other?!

Based on a possibly, somewhat, could have happened in parts kind of truth, the show tells us of King O’Malley. A Tasmanian politician elected to the Australian Parliament, O’Malley so obfuscated his origins that maybe he did sell his soul to the devil as we see in the first few scenes of the play. Continue reading O’Malley @ The Reginald

Sweeney Todd @ The New

Mrs Lovett with the Ensemble. Pics by Bob Seary
Lucy Miller as Mrs Lovett with the Ensemble in SWEENEY TODD. Pics by Bob Seary

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd: he served a dark and vengeful God!” After a visit to the New Theatre’s website advertising their current production of Stephen Sondheim’s SWEENEY TODD, with its graphic image of a throat being cut and a viewing of the teaser video with its huge blood splash finale, one might be forgiven for thinking a dark evening is in store. In lesser hands perhaps the show could float in gore like the 2007 movie. This production, however, focuses on an exploration of what it takes to make a monster. It seems that answer is … love!

Benjamin Barker arrives back on the docks of Victorian London. He is accompanied by his shipboard companion, Anthony Hope. Anthony knows this man as Sweeney Todd. He rescued Sweeney from a mysterious shipwreck and honours his vow not to ask questions even after a mysterious beggar woman confronts them both. Sweeney’s past is revealed as he revisits his old haunts and meets up with Mrs Lovett who recognises him at once as the man she adored from afar. She has even saved his silver razors and offers him her upstairs room as a barber shop. Continue reading Sweeney Todd @ The New

Company @ Star Of The Sea

A perplexed Robert and his three girlfriends
A perplexed Robert and his three girlfriends

Manly Musical Society’s final production for the year is a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY. This is one of the best productions of this timeless award winning musical comedy that I have seen.

Christie Wykes directs with a fresh new vision that is valid and intriguing. This essential Sondheim musical, features one brilliant show-stopping number after another, and is now gracing the stage in Sydney for a limited season.

From his 35th birthday party celebrations, we follow eternal bachelor Robert, as he tries to de-single himself, as a single man unable to commit, as compared to and seen beside the lives of his friends … four married couples. Robert investigates the importance of marriage, as he observes each and every flaw in his friends’ marriages.

Continue reading Company @ Star Of The Sea

Miracle City Resurrected


I confess to a bit of stress sweating in the first ten minutes of MIRACLE CITY.  I really felt like I was in the audience of an evangelical television program and this made for very uncomfortable viewing.  Just a bit too realistic for a traditional girl like me.  I swear if they had passed around a plate I would have been diving into my purse for some change.  This is a real time show which purports to happen during the live-to-air broadcast of that specialized Tennessee brand of family preachers and tele-evangelists in the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker mould.

In revival at the Hayes Theatre in Potts Point, MIRACLE CITY gives us the Truswells.  Initially presenting as the ideal family of faith, Lora-Lee (Blazey Best) and Ricky (Mike McLeish) are celebrating a 20 year marriage.  Witnesses to their love story are their 16 year old daughter, Loretta (Hilary Cole) and her younger brother, Ricky-Bob (Cameron Holmes). Together the family has a vision for place called Miracle City, an amusement park for faith and fun.

Supporting the TV funds drive are the Citadel Singers (Marika Aubrey, Esther Hannaford and Josie Lane) and stage manager and preacher-in-training Billy (Jason Kos). The need for money to build this place for prayer and play is the driver of the story and brings the Rev Millard Sizemore (Peter Kowitz) into their family.  His help is conditional though and Ricky has to make a horrible decision.  And …well … Ricky is a bastard as far as I’m concerned.  See … I’m too involved!

MIRACLE CITY was first produced in Sydney in 1996 and after brief, bright flame of 4 weeks flickered out as the creative forces behind it moved on.  Written by the late Nick Enright with music from Max Lambert (who is Musical Director for this revival), the original director was Gale Edwards.  That season is spoken of in legendary terms.  Luckily we have Darren Yap to direct this renewal. He worked as Enright’s assistant in 1997 when a modified version was produced for WAAPA. Yap’s program notes indicate that this show includes influences from that outing.  With this pedigree, there would be a danger of making this a reverent affair but instead of baggage we have an exuberant, entertaining production with a big wow factor for such a small space.

The theatre is stripped to a black box and the set looks like nothing.  Just a large act curtain in a cable channel TV studio.  Yes, but a curtain that closes to hide, can also be opened to reveal.  The costumes too, look simple.  80’s glamour, nice suits, beautifully tailored ecclesiastical uniforms, red and blue or gold and black as the palette.  They too, hide and reveal.  Especially in the final scene.

And if we are talking about secrets hidden and conversations revealed, rich ambers contrast with glaring white lighting states to, literally, put the hypocrisy into relief.  In addition, the choreographer’s hand is not just evident in the movement to music but in the movement into on-camera personas and the donning of the ‘sugar smiles’.

Set Designer Michael Hankin, Lighting Designer Hugh Hamilton, Choreographer Kelly Abbey, Costume Designer Roger Kirk and Wig Designer Ben Moir have created the perfect structure for the cast to tell the story.

Everyone in this show is terrific and each performer brings their own story on with them.  The characters travel their arcs with absolute believability.  The voices are great and blend beautifully, the emotions are raw and available.  As I looked along the line of cast and band members when they took their bows, I was thinking that I couldn’t single out any one performance over another.  When they came back for the second bow, this ensemble didn’t form another line.  They clumped together on centre stage and that grouping said it all.

All the songs in this show are stand-alone gospel songs in a variety of styles from the rollicking “Raise the Roof” to a superbly rendered ballad, “Moving On”.  The proselytization was very well realized and several times during the show my suspension of disbelief threatened to draw an ‘Halleluiah’ to the lips.  There was a full house and a well-deserved standing ovation so you should get your tickets as soon as you can.  This highly talented group of artists may well move on after this season and another incarnation of MIRACLE CITY will enter the annals of theatre-lore.

 MIRACLE CITY is playing at the Hayes Theatre until November 16th.




A Nunsense To Remember

Melissa Goman as Sister Robert Anne

In our current world where a nun just won X Factor Italy and released a cover of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” we are perhaps more than ready for Bankstown Theatre Company’s (BTC)  energetic revival of NUNSENSE. Benedicte, BTC for sprinkling fresh holy water from an almighty font of talent on this comedy classic. The ambitious Sisters of Hoboken staging a benefit to bury the food poisoned within their order are brought to life in all their individual glory. Continue reading A Nunsense To Remember

Sondheim on Sondheim

SOS_Dean Vince, Debora Krizak, Blake Erickson, Rob Johnson, Phillip Lowe (pic Michael Francis)
Dean Vince, Debora Krizak, Blake Erickson, Rob Johnson and Phillip Lowe. Pic Michael Francis

One of the best shows on in town at the moment is wonderful Squabbalogic’s SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM currently running at the Reginald at the Seymour Centre. A dazzling celebration of some of Sondheim’s work. If you are a Sondheim or musical theatre fan this is for you. The cast has scintillating talent.

Theatre legend Stephen Sondheim is now 84 and this is the Australian premiere of this show which was originally devised by James Lapine in 2010.

Segments of Sondheim talking about his life are interspersed with songs from some of his shows.

Continue reading Sondheim on Sondheim

High School Musical

Amber-Dawn Finch and Gus Noakes play Sharpay and Ryan Evans

At the centre of any Disney musical is a great big heart. It is an experienced soul which lovingly demands sincerity and constant joy from its cast and creative team. Pulsing out from this core are themes of goodwill, tolerance, diversity and making a champion of the underdog.

Such priorities for HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL-ON STAGE set in an American high school sit well when taken on board by community theatre. Rockdale Musical Society upholds the Disney ideals as its well-drilled cast of exciting triple-threat individuals retell this modern franchised classic. The performers singularly and as a team score dazzling points right throughout this entertainment. Continue reading High School Musical