Above: Charles McComb as Roger. Featured image: the full ensemble sing ‘Seasons Of Love’
Giacomo Puccini, was the composer of La Boheme the opera on which the musical RENT is based. He adored the chance to present confronting plots with a range of characters, as well as scenes both joyous and tragic. He wedded music to an operatic libretto which demanded naturalistic performances dripping in genuine chemistry.
Puccini would love this visceral and evocative Rockdale Musical Society production of RENT as deftly directed by Kate Berger. The clear treatment of Jonathan Larson’s score by musical director David Lang would also titillate Puccini’s musical drama palette, which savoured purely atmospheric soundscapes over which a tapestry of exuberant and decaying energies were colourfully contrasted.
Rockdale Musical Society’s wintry 2017 RENT succeeds amongst assorted attempts by community theatre contemporaries due to the fiercely believable quality which imbues all singing, and action on the stage. Many of the main characters are superbly well cast and chemistry between the main Bohemists struggling to find love and avoid death in a poor and drug-filled neighbourhood cuts keenly. Continue reading ROCKDALE MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS ‘RENT’ @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL→
In the first few minutes of BUGSY MALONE vast numbers of bad guys are done in by vicious cream pie attacks and random bystanders are felled by crazy string machine guns. Little Chicago circa 1920s is littered with speakeasy staff and speak quickly mob bosses. By the time we get to Fat Sam’s Grand Slam and the body count is piling up, we are so glad that there are over 50 young people in the cast … we just don’t want the fun to end through lack of upright citizens.
Because, from the top of the show, Hills Musical Theatre Company’s BUGSY MALONE, performed exclusively by kids (from 10-16 years) is joyous, thrilling, incomparable community theatre. It’s a treat for all ages and a testament to what young people can do if we prepare them, support them and let ’em loose!
There’s a mob war happening, you see. Fat Sam is being out-armed by Dandy Dan who has managed to find a supplier for a secret weapon. Splurge guns! No longer are the streets slick with the failed hurlings of mano-on-mano flans, this new invention targets victims directly where it hurts. Fat Sam needs to get those guns and he has the green stuff to hire the best driver in the business, our narrator and all round good guy, Bugsy Malone.
In 1974, to keep his four kids entertained on long car trips English Filmmaker Alan Parker (who would direct a huge variety of films from FAME to MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) made up a story about a Chicago gangster from snippets of memory of films and books he had encountered. His eldest son, Alex, insisted that the story had to be about kids. When Parker decided to make a film of his amusing tale he enlisted Paul Williams to write the music and went on a talent search for young people. Jodie Foster and Scott Baio were just two names in the film and when it became a musical in 1983, Micky Dolenz from The Monkeys directed a young Catherine Zeta-Jones to wide acclaim.
Now for a new list of names. Any one of these kids could be the next generation of Australian musical theatre stars. They are remarkably talented and focused in a family friendly show with Hills MTC’s traditionally high production values.
Let’s have a quick chat about that first. Peek at the early promo images for the show and you will see kids in school musical costumes. Dangling sleeves, Dad’s cut down suit. Go and see the show now and you will see superbly envisioned costumes (Rebecca Demary- co-ordinator).
Every child’s costume fits them, so do their hats and shoes and ties and furs and fans and pom pom fringes. Each change, and there are many, gives the young artist a character to bring on with them. The showgirls look glorious in their beaded and sequined and fringed gold flapper dresses and then they come out in the second act in equally lush silver costumes. Just brilliant! Continue reading HILLS MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY PUT ON A CRACKER PRODUCTION OF ‘BUGSY MALONE’→
The Willoughby Theatre Company transport us to OZ in this, their latest splendid production. It is colourful and spectacular with some sensational staging. The cast is young, vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic.
For this version the front cloth is a green and gold revolving compass like design . (No looming dragon, sorry fellow OZians).
The orchestra as boisterously led by Greg Jones played magnificently, but in Act 2 a couple of times I thought the sound was a little overwhelming and was presented like a rock opera rather than a musical.
Now regarded as a modern classic WICKED by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holman, based on the book by Gregory Maguire tells the story ‘ behind the scenes’ of The Wizard of Oz and what really happened. Who is Elphaba, the ‘Wicked Witch of the West‘? Why is her skin green ? What is Glinda’s real name? Who were the Tin Man , Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion originally ? All these questions are answered in the show… Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘WICKED’ @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD→
Once upon a time there was a small intimate theatre that decided to put on a musical called BIG FISH and the show became a smash hit and just grew and grew…This captivating musical has a heart bigger than the Nullarbor Plains.
The show is presented as a ‘chamber opera’ in what the producers have called the ‘twelve chairs’ version. Under Tyran Parke’s refined, accomplished direction, and thrillingly staged, the brilliant cast bring this story to magnificent life.
The small orchestra as led by Luke Byrne are invisible behind the scenery – we never see them but they are terrific. The set – young Will’s bedroom with seashell ruffles at the back for the mermaid – allows for fluid scene and locale changes including the moving in and out of beds and tables etc. Continue reading BIG FISH : A MUST SEE @ THE HAYES→
‘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 .
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.
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
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→
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 Mama, I’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.
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.
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.
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→
This 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→
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→
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. WEWILLROCKYOU 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→
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→
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→
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→
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→
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→
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.