Tag Archives: Scott Irwin

MACK AND MABEL @ THE HAYES THEATRE

It was lights, cameras, action at the Hayes theatre for this very slick production of MACK AND MABEL, book by Michael Stewart and catchy music by Jerry Herman, directed by Trevor Ashley.

This musical, set in  Brooklyn in 1911, centres on the turbulent relationship between the two main characters  – Mack Sennet, a controlling, director of silent films with tyrannical tendencies and his  aspiring screen star, Mabel Normand.  

The production features an effective set design by Lauren Peters, featuring moving mirrors and projections on screens, and  wonderful lighting design by Gavin Swift and sound design by Neil Mclean.

We see that Mack’s memories shape the narrative and that they are very subjective.

An assured and appealing Scott Irwin plays Mack ‘I just wants  to make the world laugh’ who meets Mabel, a deli shop worker, played with verve and vivaciousness by Angelique Cassimatis.

Mack sees acting potential in Mabel and casts her in one of his comedy movies which he churns out prolifically. Mabel soon has the ‘acting bug’ which the lyrics to the song Look What’s Happened To Mabel describes well, ‘she is ambitious and has to say goodbye to bagels and knishes”.

The  acting troupe leave Brooklyn for studios in California and Lottie  Ames, played by the charismatic Deonne Zanott,  sings Big Time with the lyrics, “the cherry on top of the sundae… the shiny star on top of the tree.”

In the the song  I Won’t Send Roses Mack warns Mabel about his nature, ‘I’m preoccupied with me…Forgetting birthdays is guaranteed.” Later Mabel sings, “Who wants chocolates, they’d make me fat. I can get by without a gushing valentine. I know I will be left out on a limb.”

Scriptwriter Frank, played by Adam Di Martino, warns Mabel that, “Mack is a despot who doesn’t respect her as an artist”. Alas, Mabel loves Mack and ignores his advice.

For Mabel her meteoric rise to stardom isn’t enough and she meets the charming, suave yet phony director – William Desmond Taylor, played by Shaun Rennie, who has  a part for her in one of his upcoming serious films.

At one point Mabel, resplendent in fur coat and hat with silver handbag and shoes, (lovely costume design by Angela White who shows great attention to detail), sings Wherever He Ain’t.

Mack’s films are getting more involved and now feature bathing beauties – a scene of which is played out with stunning choreography by Cameron Mitchell.

Act Two reveals the five piece band under the musical direction of Bev Kennedy.

All of the actors wish for Mabel to return. Comedian Fattie Arbuckle, played by Stephen Valeri, sings when  When Mabel Comes In the Room ‘artificial flowers might even bloom’.  

The bumbling slapstick of the Keystone Cops, one of Mack’s creations, adds to his popularity and  success. 

Other song highlights include Mabel singing the heartfelt Time Heals Everything, ‘One fine morning the hurt will end’, and a tour de force rendition by Lottie of Tap Your Troubles Away, a treat for dance aficionados.  

Mabel’s life hits a downward trajectory. What’s to become of her? It is as if Mack has written the script to his own life and is unable to alter the ending. In retrospect, he is trapped by his own torturous demeanour and having regrets.

The more than marvellous MACK AND MABEL, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point,  is playing the Hayes Theatre until December 18. 

http://www.hayestheatre.com.au/

 

HIGH SOCIETY @ THE HAYES THEATRE

High Society-featured

Product placement is elevated to lyric replacement in a case of not who pays the piper but the Piper pays the production in Helen Dallimore’s elegant, swellegant staging of HIGH SOCIETY at the Hayes Theatre.

Piper Heidsieck champagne is the choice of the Lord household and the bottles are not only wrung out but sung about in a show that’s as bubbly as the beverage.

The play, of course, is based on the 1956 movie, HIGH SOCIETY, itself based on a play called The Philadelphia Story, which was a starring vehicle for Katherine Hepburn. Continue reading HIGH SOCIETY @ THE HAYES THEATRE

TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU

 

The cast of a a new musical about Tim Freedman and THE WHITLAMS
The cast of a a new musical featuring the songs of Tim Freedman and THE WHITLAMS

Everyone who adores the music of Tim Freedman and The Whitlams, should see this new musical with a strong autobiographical bent: TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU.

The long anticipated musical, TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU, is now on stage in its World Premiere. Directed and produced by Neil Gooding, and stars Ian Stenlake (Guys and Dolls, Sea Patrol), Erica Lovell (Little Women, Spring Awakening), Scott Irwin, Toby Francis and Ross Chisari, and is inspired by and based on the song characters, stories and lyrics, of one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters, Tim Freedman.

On 4th December 2011, I saw the one workshop presentation of this new Australian musical at the Fusebox in Marrickville. The very early beginnings of TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU, was part of a New Musicals Australia Workshop Presentation, and this new musical had a very limited seven day rehearsal process, with a full professional cast and production team.

Based on an original story idea by Alex Broun, Tim Freedman’s classic songs have been cleverly crafted into an original storyline and very moving drama. Many years ago, all the band members were legends living in three blocks in the inner-west. Tightly paced, the story quickly moves backwards and forwards through time, as seen through the eyes of Tom, the 20 year old son of a former band member, and his Mosman girlfriend, whilst revealing all about the life-long friendships of his Dad’s Newtown band and the band mates’ lost youth, and the son finally discovers the whole truth about his father. In the words of Alex Broun, “Tim’s music and lyrics have always captured a timeless essence of human interaction – love, longing, loneliness.”

Highly Recommended, a great nights entertainment as this extraordinary cast of Sydney’s finest musical theatre talent, showcase THE WHITLAMS’ biggest hits from their four platinum albums, and their lyrics quickly move the story forward, and include: You Gotta Love This City, Laugh in their Faces, God Drinks at the Sando (yes The Sando has gone, so these days the “Botany View Hotel”), Buy Now Pay Later, Beauty in Me, No Aphrodisiac, Blow up the Pokies, Fall for You, Charlie No.1, Keep the Light On and Best Work.

Directed and Produced by Neil Gooding
Musical Direction by Andrew Worboys
Music and Lyrics by Tim Freedman
Book by Alex Broun and Tim Freedman
Based on an idea by Alex Broun

Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point

9 May 2014 until 1 June 2014

http://www.hayestheatre.com.au/

This show contains some coarse language and sexual references. May not be suitable for children under 13.

CHO CHO

CHO CHO1000

This innovative work, inspired by Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly”, uses a mix of drama, music, puppetry and Chinese and English language to deliver a strong and emotionally poignant evening. The setting of Shanghai in the 1930’s also supported this new interpretation.

The story of Butterfly always enthrals, whether in the well-known opera (which will be performed on the Harbour next year) or in the also well known and loved musical, Miss Saigon. Having said that, the line between opera and musical theatre is a thin one, and I would have described this new work as a chamber opera myself.

The music is a beautiful mix of English and Chinese theatre/opera traditions drawing on Kurt Weill, early 20th century jazz and old and modern Chinese theatre/opera music. There was also the use of what I suspect may be the Chinese equivalent of commedia dell’arte stock characters in the aunty and ‘marriage broker’.

I was not sure about the use of puppetry until the wedding night scene, when it was most incredibly effective in demonstrating the effective dismemberment of Butterfly’s soul.

This is a tightly woven work and draws the audience in intensely. In fact, I found the interval distracting and disruptive and would have preferred it delivered as a one-act production.

The star of the show would have to be Wang Zheng as Cho Cho, with her operatic credentials clearly on display not only in her beautiful singing but also her incredible stage presence, even when being the ‘voice’ of her puppet character in the flashback scenes.

I was also impressed with Du He as the aunty, whose beautiful and mellow voice had a few moments to shine when not in strong comic character. David Whitney as Sharpless was also memorable, playing the role of the lost ex-pat very effectively. Scott Irwin as Pinkerton was very believable. I must confess that I never see this plot in any form without being aware that in many parts of the world this situation is still occurring, which underlines the tragedy for me.

A special mention goes to the puppeteer who played the roles of Cho Cho’s child and the young Cho Cho. His capacity to efface himself, so that you saw and responded only to the puppet character and its story, was phenomenal!

I would recommend this show to all, but do sit at least three rows back so that you can read the surtitles.

The National Theatre of China and PlayKing’s production of the Sydney season of their award winning Chinese-Australian production Cho Cho, is playing six performances at The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood from September 24-28 and is then touring to Melbourne, playing the Arts Centre Melbourne from 2-6 October.

 

 

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

Scott Irwin gives a strong solo performance in Stephen Helper's SIGN OF THE TIMES. Pic Wendy McDougall
Scott Irwin gives a strong solo performance in Stephen Helper’s SIGN OF THE TIMES. Pic Wendy McDougall

I left NIDA’s Studio theatre after seeing Stephen Helper’s A SIGN OF THE TIMES thinking that was really, really good.

Seeing so much theatre, as I do, I don’t usually have such a strong, positive reaction.

Since, I have had some time to reflect on what made Helper’s show stand out.

I ruled out some things. The storyline wasn’t really anything special. A guy, simply called Man, tells his story of a difficult life- breaking up with his wife…losing their child to cancer… giving up his professional job to take a mundane job doing the traffic signs at construction zones. Quirky…The difficult stuff of life… but nothing that really hits you between the eyes….

Another thing that I ruled out was the strong production values. A NIDA assisted production, Helper, who also directed the show, had a very strong creative team supporting him and they of-course produced the goods. Plenty of shows have strong production values. Lots…

So, what was it about this show?! I put it down to a few things. Most of all, it was the intimacy and openness generated, both by the writer in his script and Scott Irwin in his performance. This show was all about sharing, reaching and touching the audience with this guy’s journey and perspectives on life.

In some ways, the character of Man reminded me of Woody Allen,- unloading his personal stuff to his  audience, quoting from intellectuals… Remember Woody Allen’s direct address to the camera in ANNIE HALL that made it such stand-out. There’s something similar in A SIGN OF THE TIMES. Man walks across to the side of the stage and talks directly into the  side stage light as it it was a camera.

As Man says towards the end of the play to the audience, paraphrasing,- I have decided what to do in my life, soon the play will be over and you will have to go out and make decisions in your own lives.

Well worth a look, A Follies Company in association with NIDA Independent production of Stephen Helper’s A SIGN OF THE TIMES opened at the NIDA Studio Theatre on Friday September 13 and plays until Sunday September 22, 2013.

 

 

THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG

“It was lovely” exclaimed one of the 200 grey brigade as she left the Theatre Royal on Friday night. THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was more than lovely, it was very entertaining.

The plot is simple enough, loosely based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager (before she married Bert Bacharach). Wisecracking reclusive (“You know you are unpopular when insurance salesmen stop sending you calendars”) composer (Vernon Gersch), meets insecure, flaky, effervescent lyricist (Sonia Walsk). After a short courting period (“Falling” and “Playing Our Song”), they decide to collaborate (“collaboration went out of fashion after World War II”) and move in together.

Their relationship undergoes some conflicts (“I work when I want to, not when you want me too”) between work and love so that, as Vernon says, “I don’t know whether I’m working with the girl I live with, or living with the girl I work with” but by the final curtain Sonia has matured into a self-confident lady, Vernon begs forgiveness, and they live apart, but happily ever after.

The quick repartee between the two characters was a bit like seeing THE ODD COUPLE (another Neil Simon comedy gem), set to music. Add the lyrics of one of the most prolific popular lyricists of the last 30 years in Carol Bayer-Sager, combine it with the catchy music of Marvin Hamlisch, and you have a night which will send you away humming.

THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was first shown in Australia at the old Theatre Royal 33 years ago when John Waters played Vernon, and the then singing and dancing ex Bandstand star Jacki Weaver played Sonia Walsk. In this revival, directed by Terrence O’Connell, Danielle Barnes loses nothing in comparison with the legendary Weaver. Her dancing would adorn any Broadway production and her voice was impressive. Scott Irwin played Vernon and while he was outshone by Barnes his performance was also very enjoyable.

The biggest negative is that the musical only runs in Sydney until Tuesday 7th May 2013. If you are doing something on Monday or Tuesday night that can be postponed grab the phone now and ring the Theatre Royal. You will be very hard to please if you don’t come out of the theatre saying that it was “lovely”.

THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG

“It was lovely” exclaimed one of the 200 grey brigade as she left the Theatre Royal on Friday night. THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG was more than lovely, it was very entertaining.

The plot is simple enough, loosely based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Bayer-Sager (before she married Bert Bacharach). Wisecracking reclusive (“You know you are unpopular when insurance salesmen stop sending you calendars”) composer (Vernon Gersch), meets insecure, flaky, effervescent lyricist (Sonia Walsk). After a short courting period (“Falling” and “Playing Our Song”), they decide to collaborate (“collaboration went out of fashion after World War II”) and move in together.

Continue reading THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG