Tag Archives: Parramatta Riverside

IN DIFFERENCE : DANCE ME TO THE EQUALITY OF LOVE

IN DIFFERENCE, part of FORM Dance Projects ‘ 2017 and also linked to the current Mardi Gras festival, is a challenging, at times confronting  work, dazzlingly danced by a tremendous cast, that challenges our thoughts and preconceptions in regards to  LGBTI marriage and (in) equality.

Craig Bary, with his co-creators and performers Kristina Chan, Timothy Ohl and Joshua Thomson, has devised a show that represents two real life couples, one of heterosexual and the other of homosexual orientation.

This work, through a series of ordinary and extraordinary everyday life moments, explores how we interact and express ourselves no matter what our sexual orientation is.

The bleak scaffolding set is shifted and rotated by the cast, allowing for fluid scene changes .Karen Norris‘ lighting is often shadowy and ominous. Eden Mullholland‘s soundscape thrums, beeps and pulsates, and includes songs as well as voice overs of various incendiary speeches about LGBTI marriage and equality. Continue reading IN DIFFERENCE : DANCE ME TO THE EQUALITY OF LOVE

Packemin Productions Presents Mary Poppins @ Riverside Theatre, Parramatta

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Packemin’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious production of MARY POPPINS is currently wowing ecstatic, cheering full houses at Parramatta Riverside. Bright, bold and colourful, it is an absolute treat.

This show is the now-standard much loved Disney/Cameron Macintosh version, slightly amended/trimmed from the London version which was seen here at the Capitol several years ago now. Matthew Bourne’s choreography is not retained but rather altered and adapted by Camilla Jakimowicz. Yes there are still the allusions to his Swan Lake.

Set in Edwardian times, the ever popular MARY POPPINS is based on the books by Australian author P.L.Travers, and narrates the tale of the rather dysfunctional Banks family, whose lives are changed completely and unexpectedly with the arrival of a new nanny, Mary Poppins. The Banks children, Michael and Jane, have rattled and disrupted a series of nannies of late. Will Mary Poppins be able to cope? Does she fulfill the selection criteria of both parents and children? You’ll have to see the show to discover what happens …

It is an EPIC production with a GIGANTIC cast (perhaps rivaling Opera Australia’s Don Carlos with the number of people on stage, especially in the major show stopping mega- production numbers like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Step in Time, both exuberantly performed and dazzling.

The costumes for Supercal appear far more Strictly Ballroom in design than Edwardian, or perhaps they are escapees from Wicked? They are very exciting and colourful. I saw the ‘White’ cast of children .There are marvelous, visually impressive unfolding/sliding sets and excellent use of projections/back drops/technical effects.

Penny McNamee is perfect as Mary Poppins. Looking stunning, with her iconic carpet bag and parrot umbrella, she has wonderful fun and sings and dances terrifically, weaving her spell over the audience. Crisp, elegant and extra super-efficient is she a magical being from another world, a wish fulfillment nanny?

Shaun Rennie is in fine form as Bert, who acts as theatrical magician and narrator. He sings, acts, dances – and flies- up a storm and plays the part with enormous relish. His subtler, quieter moments are handled well and contrast delightfully with the big numbers such as Step in Time and Supercal.

Order and precision are what are required by the actor playing Sam Banks, and Sam Moran, yes, the former yellow Wiggle, fits the bill well. Moran sympathetically develops his seemingly rather cold and wooden character to reveal the sad, torn, harried and stressed man inside in a splendid performance. His uncertain situation– facing a financial crash and unemployment– is still extremely relevant today.

Beautiful Kate Maree Hoolihan is terrific as Mrs Banks, a picture of Edwardian loveliness . We see how her character grows stronger as she strives to save the rather stormy Banks marriage.

The two children Jane and Michael were delightfully played by Stella Barahona and Brendan Godwin. Jessica Kelly has a whale of a time as the cook Mrs Brill and Michael Curtin is tremendous as clumsy, seemingly boneless Robertson Ay.

Natalie Davis-Pratt as the Birdwoman gives a touching performance. Mention must also be made of the impressive performances of Joshua O’Connor as Valentine and Joe Howe as Neleus .

Monique Lewis-Reynolds has a tremendous scene stealing time in Act 1 as Mrs Correy in red and gold for Supercal and a terrifying Beardsley black and white demonic ‘the Holy Terror ‘ a.k.a ‘The nastiest Nanny in the world ‘Miss Andrew (Brimstone and Treacle) moment  in Act 2. The battle between her and Mary Poppins here is intense and operatic– in this production I was  reminded of the battle between Caraboose and the Lilac Fairy in the ballet of Sleeping Beauty .

Playing the Game and Feed the Birds are presented with a light touch, not quite as dark as they can be, and far less is made here of Neleus the Statue’s search for his father than usual. Nevertheless a simply splendid production that will have you singing along and dancing in the aisles. Some of the really little ones in the audience may find it too long and appeared restless midway  through the second half.

The musicianship of the orchestra under the dynamic baton of Peter Hayward is exemplary.

In this show anything can happen if you let it ….There is theatrical magic at Cherry Tree Lane….

Running time 2 hours and 45 minutes with one interval.

MARY POPPINS is playing the Riverside Theatre  at Parramatta until 8th August.

For more details about this show visit https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/mary-poppins/

The Phantom of the Opera @ The Riverside

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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , Lloyd-Webber’s musical based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux , opened in 1986 in London. By 2011 it had been seen by over 130 million people in 145 cities in 27 countries, and it is now one of the world’s most popular musicals. Most of the performances of this season at Parramatta are extremely heavily booked, if not already sold out.

Continue reading The Phantom of the Opera @ The Riverside

Emerald City

Ben Winspear and Kelly Paterniti in EMERALD CITY. Pic Brett Boardman
Ben Winspear and Kelly Paterniti in EMERALD CITY. Pic Brett Boardman

Given that the definitive play about Sydney’s shallowness was first performed in 1987, audiences may well question the contemporary relevance of David Williamson’s EMERALD CITY.

And also ask how this intimate Griffin Theatre Company production works on the small screen as it were, seeing as this play is about the lengths to which people will go to bag a harbour view made its sparkling debut oh so appropriately all those years ago at the Sydney Opera House.

EMERALD CITY pits Melbourne against Sydney and values against cash in the shape of fortysomething Colin Rogers (Mitchell Butel) and his publisher wife Kate (Lucy Bell) who make the move from Melbourne to Sydney, the city that gives good hedonism and where vicious cocktail parties are a necessary evil. Continue reading Emerald City

FOOD

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FOOD is a magnificent collaboration between Force Majeure and Belvoir St and was originally seen downstairs at Belvoir in 2012. The script has been devised by co director actor/playwright Steve Rodgers.(Warning there are at times lots of strong language) .The result is a glorious fusion of physical theatre, straight drama and dance.

Champion’s choreography includes everyday movement, and fragile, tender, intimate gestures incorporating orchestrated incidental movement in slow-mo: imagined vignettes; thoughts expressed, physically, aloud; gestures of tender, gentle touch the characters wish they could lavish on each other, if only it felt safe, permissible and possible to do so. Champion has gone for intense nuance rather than a theatrical-choreographic combination , yet she also features a small solo or interactive sequence in which the characters express their innermost authentic feelings, as they transcend the roles that they have been cast in.

Continue reading FOOD

PARRAMATTA GIRLS

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This extraordinary, disturbing and challenging play storms defiantly onto the small stage of the Lennox at Parramatta. This play received its premiere production back at the inner city Belvoir theatre in 2007.

Playwright Alana Valentine has skillfully woven together true stories of women who were former inmates of the notorious Parramatta Girls Detention Centre.

Under the exceptional direction of Tanya Goldberg, and starring a galaxy of fabulous Australian actresses, this vibrant, confronting and sometimes quite witty and funny play enthralls and challenges whilst play exploring the defiance, endurance and psychological legacy of being labelled a ‘Home girl’.In Valentine’s play, eight former inmates return to the notorious Parramatta Girls Detention Centre for a reunion forty years after it was shut down. For the lucky few it’s a way to find healing, for others it’s a way to dispel the ghosts, for all of them it is a way to share the pain.

Tobhiyah Stone Feller‘s set is extremely effective, minimalist ‘Institution’- grey concrete rubble with smashed windows , heavy doors with rusty locks , cold, dangerous wire and the atmosphere of Jane Eyre’s Lowood.

The staging is also rather minimalistic, with a few tables /chairs/buckets as required which allows for the fluid ,cinematic scene and time shifts.Verity Hampson’s lighting is very atmospheric and effective with a wonderful use of shadows.

We discover both the physical and emotional/psychological scars that are at first glance hidden. Valentine’s play features some very powerful monologues and also includes story telling and songs. It is a tribute to the mischief and humour in the face of hardship suffered by countless girls, forgotten Australians who were victims of this harsh juvenile detention centre.

We hear some of the stories of abuse and neglect of the girls by the State and at the hands of the people officially appointed to look after them. There are nightmarish ‘play’ scenes where the inmates act out sentencing, pretend to be the Matron and the notorious ‘Doctor Fingers’.

We learn of the exhausting scrubbing punishment,the isolation cells and the semi-mythical ‘dungeons’. There is a coverall dingy grey uniform they wear when ‘inside’.  It is an analysis of their struggle to survive and beat the system – if they can. Harsh, streetwise girls are mixed with naive far more innocent ones who do not understand ‘the system’ and haven’t a hope of survival. On this return visit , some crack and dissolve in tears , can’t face going back,some snap and scream ‘let me out’ ,– yet the door this time can be opened any time they wish.

The girl’s babies – if they had them – were removed at birth and placed for adoption. We learn about desperate attempts at abortion and other attempts to get into sick bay, to escape even temporarily…

We have Judi’s (delightfully played by Annie Byron) opening monologue about billycarting and her being self conscious about her bleeding elbows and the harsh treatment she received. (At one point the rest of the women wear elbow bandages in solidarity).

Christine Anu is excellent as feisty Coral,who has a delightful monologue about a group bus trip to Kings Cross among other things. Later it is revealed that she is illiterate and the case workers have badly written up her reports.We see Coral become one of the leaders of the riots for better conditions , an act that most unusually unites all the women in protest.

There’s Lynette’s (wonderful Vanessa Downing )’s mantra of self worth – she is NOT a ‘waste of space’.

A haunting, delicate performance was terrifically given by Holly Austin as ghostly, tragic Maree. In one very sad scene she is forced to rip the arm off her beloved teddy bear, becoming one who falls through the cracks in the system until it is too late.

Hard, streetwise and brash ‘bad girl’ Melanie is given a tremendous performance by Anni Finsterer. We learn that outside she becomes a mother with fierce love for her children.

Sharni McDermott and Tessa Rose as Kerry and Marlene enable us to follow the plight of the many indigenous girls who were inmates ,the racism in the system and how badly they were treated too.

Sandy Gore as Gayle gives a great performance , ending the play on an ironically rather hopeful note with her monologue about all the charity money she raised and winning a motherhood competition.

A shattering, disturbing play with a glorious cast that is highly recommended. There is a fascinating display as the audience enters about the history of the Institution and a wonderful eerily atmospheric exhibition by Heidrun Lohr.

Running time 2 hours 20 mins (approx) including one interval. PARRAMATTA GIRLS is playing at the Lennox at the Riverside Theatres until the 17th May.