MARY POPPINS OPENS TONIGHT @ SYDNEY LYRIC THEATRE

Following a triumphant run of preview performances, the Australian company of MARY POPPINS is perfectly poised to fly at tonight’s opening night.

Playing to packed houses since May 15, everyone from couples on date nights to intergenerational families have come to see his new production from Cameron Mackintosh and Disney.

Stefanie Jones, who leads the all-Australian cast as Mary Poppins, has been overwhelmed by the response of the audiences so far.

“Performing to such generous audiences is always an honour, and we are all loving their reactions to this special show. The emotional heart of the story really connects to the adults in the audience, and hearing children giggling in the comedic moments lifts us all on stage. And I hope that everyone is as enchanted by the stage magic as I am every night!”

Several members of the original creative team for MARY POPPINS  have made the trip from the UK to celebrate the opening night in Sydney.

Co-creator and producer Cameron Mackintosh, who wrote the original treatment for MARY POPPINS in the shadow of the Opera House 22 years ago, is thrilled to be back in the Harbour City with his new production.

“Australia is one of my favourite places in the world to work, so it is just wonderful to be back in Sydney. I was incredibly proud of the last production of Mary Poppins here over a decade ago, and I can pay no greater compliment to this cast that I didn’t think of the first production once. They are simply soaring. This cast have made it totally new and the reaction from preview audiences is even better than last time. So I can only echo PL Travers’ words and say they are ‘practically perfect in every way’.”

Also in Sydney for the opening night is George Stiles, writer of the musical’s new music including Practically Perfect. Stiles has been delighted by the Australian company, who are in fine form.

“Hearing Stefanie breathe new life into our songs is a truly beautiful experience – I love watching and hearing her perform with such grace. She truly is practically perfect!”

Seen by tens of millions of people worldwide, the original Tony and Olivier award-winning production was hugely successful in Australia, breaking box office records and winning a record-breaking eight Helpmann Awards. Now, a whole new generation of theatregoers have the chance to experience this magical stage adaptation of the wonderful stories by Australian author PL Travers.

The original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman include the classic songs Jolly Holiday, Step in Time, Feed the Birds and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. New songs and additional music are by the Olivier award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Book is by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, and this production is co-created by Cameron Mackintosh. The producer for Disney Theatrical Productions is Thomas Schumacher.

This production of MARY POPPINS has orchestrations by William David Brohn with dance and vocal arrangements by George Stiles. It has a new sound design by Paul Gatehouse and new lighting by Hugh Vanstone and Natasha Katz. Co-choreography is by Stephen Mear. The reimagined set and costume designs are by Bob Crowley. Co-direction and choreography is by Matthew Bourne and direction by Richard Eyre.

MARY POPPINS is produced in Australia by Cameron Mackintosh, The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, and Michael Cassel Group.

The Australian premiere of MARY POPPINS is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.

Tickets are currently available for performances to 31 July 2022.
For more ticketing information including a schedule of performances, please visit
marypoppinsmusical.com.au.

Production photography by Daniel Boud

CITY OF GOLD : PLENTY OF RICHES TO BE FOUND IN WYATT’S PLAY

Simone Detourbet as Carina Black and Matthew Copperas Mateo Black  in  ‘City Of Gold’.
Two brothers, Matthew Cooper as Mateo Black and Meyne Wyatt as Breythe Black in City Of Gold

Breythe is a young indigenous actor who has been working on the East Coast in the entertainment industry for a while and is being increasingly dismayed by the cliched and disrespectful treatment that he, a  proud Woongutha-Yamatji man, is receiving.

His life dramatically changes when one day he receives a call from back home in Kalgoorlie that his father has tragically died, He returns home to a mourning, deeply troubled family who are cynically about his successful city slickers career.

Structurally the play works well as a powerful drama. I felt a bit iffy about Meyne’s decision to go outside the narrative to include a vehement monologue,  straight after interval, against the dominant white culture after interval. The audience loved it. I guess my tastes are a bit traditional.

The performances are all big and passionate and really drive home the power of Wyatt’s play. My pick of the performances; Matthew Copper as Breythe’s malcontent, at times aggressive brother, Mateo, Simone Detoiurbet is heartfelt and excellent as Breythe’s sister who is often found trying to keep the peace. There are some flashback scenes in the play that feature Breythe’s father and Trevor Ryan gives a fine portrayal. Ian Michael impressed as family friend Cliffhanger who always seems to be getting himself in trouble.

Shari Sebbens direction is taut and accomplished. The main action of the play takes place around the family home with a lovely design by  Tyler Hill.  Verity Hampson’s lights the stage with her usual high standard. Michael Carmody’s videos work well to add to the play’s depth. Rachael Dease’s  soundscape is understated and very effective.

Recommended, a Sydney Theatre Company and Black Swan State Theatre Company of Western Australia production,  Meyne Wyatt’s CITY OF GOLD is playing the Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company until JUNE 11 2022.

Running time : 2hrs and 10mins including one interval.

Performance start times
Mondays and Tuesdays  6.30pm; Wednesdays to Saturdays 7.30pm
Matinee performances Wednesdays at 1pm,  Saturdays at  1.30pm

http://www.sydneytheatre.com.au

Featured image : Trevor Ryan as Dad in City Of Gold. Production photography by Joseph Mayers.

ALL’S ONE THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS HENRIK IBSEN’S GHOSTS

Phil McGrath, Rachelle Schmidt Adnum

Something marvellous is happening in the Newcastle Theatre world.
This year 2 new theatre companies, launched primarily by younger practitioners, have grabbed hold of the classic realist works of late 19th/early 20th Century playwrights, Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekov, stripping them back in terms of set and even scenes and staging them in non-traditional theatre spaces.

All’s One staged a production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts in the Dungeon at Adamstown Uniting Church 19 – 22 May 2022 and a new female led company; Her Productions is mounting Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at The Lock-Up 25 – 29 May. Both companies are focusing the work into sparse and intimate spaces, with minimal sets and modern touches.

All’s One mission is to
“…foster a love and fellowship with the playwrights of old, not only Shakespeare — who gave us our name — but Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, all the way back to Euripides and Sophocles. We will bring established texts and ancient ideas to the youth of Newcastle. We will share Classic plays with Modern audiences that leave them affected and really transformed.

The question is why are these young thespians attracted to these early realism plays? Plays where sinister motivations, carnal, monetary and social status desires are laid open in stifling familial settings and themes of depression, secrets and ambitions are slowly unfolded like those rancid stinky carnivorous plants. Continue reading ALL’S ONE THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS HENRIK IBSEN’S GHOSTS

NIDA ANNOUNCES JUNE SEASON OF PLAYS

Falsettos, How I Learned To Drive, Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Seagull to be staged in NIDA venues over ten days offering a rich array of stories and ideas, presented by 130 of Australia’s most highly-trained practitioners and led by distinguished professional theatre artists.

Australia’s next cohort of sought-after creative storytelling talents will showcase an extraordinary depth and breadth of skills in the first of NIDA’s three live theatre seasons for this year. From 8–18 June, culminating in NIDA’s exciting annual Open Day, the NIDA June Productions Season kicks of a series of major events that launch graduating students into their entertainment industry careers.

The season showcases a Tony award-winning musical about a queer family trying to get it right, a Pulitzer-winning play about a damaged family getting it wrong, a newly-clothed classic about an artist reaching for the future, and an Australian Gothic myth about a mysterious past. This is a season of re-examined masterworks that speak to the here and now. A matchless musical, moving memory play, live cinema event, and gripping spine-tingler are helmed by leading Australian directors and feature the talents of the next generation of Australian storytellers.

The four beautifully and thoughtfully created shows, along with the end-of-year productions in October, are the best indicators of which actors will be starring in next year’s stage and screen productions in Australia and internationally.

And while NIDA’s June Productions Season is certainly a feature event for talent agents and other key industry players to observe NIDA’s newest output of Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Acting graduates, it is equally an opportunity for graduating Design for Performance, Technical Theatre and Stage Management, Scenic Construction and Technologies, Costume and Properties and Objects students in BFA courses to have their work seen. There is a huge demand for the specialised industry-relevant skills of these students across the cultural and screen sectors. In these COVID-affected times, students from the Diploma courses in Musical Theatre and Stage and Screen Performance are participating as understudies. Some 130 students are involved in presenting the NIDA June Productions Season.

“We were keen to give this year’s graduating students some particularly meaty works. They spent their first two years at NIDA training through COVID, and now they can hit the stage in ways that haven’t been fully possible until now,” says NIDA’s Artistic Director in Residence David Berthold, who curated the full season.

“The four works we’ve chosen are masterworks that will stretch every muscle these students have while speaking directly to contemporary concerns.”

The NIDA June Productions Season begins on Wednesday 8 June with two shows. Falsettos is staged on the NIDA Playhouse stage, and draws on the striking talents of six performers in the graduating Acting cohort who have trained in a special Singing Actor stream. “We needed to find a chamber music theatre work that suited them,” explains Berthold, who directs the Tony-award winning musical with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by William Finn and James Lapine.

NIDA is renowned for the participation of leading national and international artists, but this production will excel in artistic stature and is not to be missed. Berthold has assembled an outstanding team of professionals. On Falsettos he is joined by the legendary Michael Tyack AM as musical director, and as choreographer, the accomplished and celebrated Kelley Abbey. Guest artists Jensen Mazza and Julien Daher share the child role of Jason.  

Berthold says, “It’s a truly brilliant work of the contemporary American theatre – raw, complex, and full of humanity in all its flaws. It gets to the heart of how we love, how families are made, and how we grow. Its queer lens is both sharp and sensitive.”

How I Learned to Drive, performed in the NIDA Studio, will also open on 8 June, and is also a contemporary American theatre gem with its current Tony award-nominated Broadway revival a testament to its potency. “This Pulitzer Prize-winner was written by Paula Vogel in the 1990s, but the question of how men, and structures, treat women is in constant focus, and needs to be. The play traces the contours of contempt and survival, often with a blistering humour,” says Berthold. Tasnim Hossain directs How I Learned To Drive, fresh from her six-month term as NIDA’s Artistic Associate. Hossain was deeply involved in the curation of this NIDA June Productions Season (and the upcoming October season) and was personally drawn to direct Vogel’s play.

Opening on Thursday 9 June in the NIDA Space Theatre, Picnic at Hanging Rock will be directed by Claudia Osborne. Famous as a fine Australian novel as well as an iconic and groundbreaking film by Peter Weir, Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian story that prods at our colonial consciousness, says Berthold. “This terrific new theatre adaptation by Tom Wright gives the story to five schoolgirls who tell and tease out the events, even examining the story as myth. The female, the colonial and the mythic collide with primal forces that will make for a genuinely telling and terrifying night in the theatre.”

The fourth production, opening on Saturday 11 June in NIDA’s Reg Grundy Studio, will be a live cinema experience. This production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, in a new version by Benjamin Schostakowski, who also directs, reaches for an ideal match of form and content. “Over the last decade the genre of live cinema has become more and more sophisticated,” says Berthold.

“This dynamite play has at its centre a young artist trying to make a new theatre form. There are actually four artists in the story, caught in webs of love and longing, and in this live cinema telling we have the camera as witness. Chekhov, like all great dramatists, loved a metatheatrical game, and here that game is exploded in ways that I trust will lay bare both heart and art.”

Tickets available to the public for the June Productions Season are limited and always in demand. For further details including dates, times and venues click here.

WHAT’S ART GOT TO DO WITH IT? : THE DOBELL CASE

Reproduction of portrait of Joshua Smith by Sir William Dobell.  

The awarding of the 1943 Archibald   Prize to William Dobell for his
portrait of friend and fellow artist  Joshua Smith created a national
controversy.

Was it a caricature,  was it a portrait, was the  depiction even of a human  being – alive or dead?

This dramatised reading of a  play by Adam Cook explores  the public controversy, as  exemplified by the bitter court  case brought against the  Trustees of the National Gallery  of NSW, but also the lasting
private toll that it took on those  involved.

The dramatised readings will take place on Friday 17 June 2022 at 2pm and 6.30pm at the Warner’s Bay Theatre, Lake Street, Warners Bay, Lake Macquarie.

http://www.lakemac.com.au/dobellfestival

Presented by Strange Duck Productions Pty Ltd and Lake Macquaire City Council

 

THE BOB’S BURGER MOVIE: FUN BETWEEN THE BUNS

Arguably, the best Canadian Irish co production animated musical featuring a burger in a bikini, that’s THE BOB’S BURGER MOVIE, a feature film based on a popular animated television series.

I confess, I have never seen the tv series but that did not seem to impede my enjoyment of this highly amusing story of sink holes, skin flints, and sesame seed buns.

It’s a fair bet if you like The Simpsons you’ll appreciate THE BOB’S BURGER MOVIE which features the Belcher Family, cartoon cousins to the Simpsons, and a retinue not that far removed from good burghers of Springfield.

In the beginning of THE BOB’S BURGER MOVIE, Bob is having an existential crisis needing to apply for a bank loan. He is building a special burger as a bribe for the bank manager. Too bad the financier is not a meat eater.

To add to their woes, a massive sink hole opens up right in front of their shop so desperately needed foot traffic is diverted and desperate alternative marketing plans must be instigated, which has Bob’s bride dress up like a burger in a bikini.

Meanwhile, as their money pot thins, the movie’s plot thickens as a skeleton is found at the bottom of the sink hole, the remains of a homicide victim reputed to be a carnival worker who was employed at the local amusement park which is owned by the landlord of Bob’s burger joint.

A rich narrative with droll and dazzling dialogue, quirky characters that are extremely well drawn, excellent voice work, including characterisations from Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis, and a pace that never flags, THE BOB’S BURGER MOVIE provides real fun between the buns, beefed up wackiness and a moral that the family that works together can get out of any pickle.

THE VARIOUS METHODS OF ESCAPE @ ACTOR’S PULSE THEATRE

 

Rehearsal shot

The scenario to Amber Spooner’s THE VARIOUS METHODS OF ESCAPE: 

“Grace is 19 years old when she finally escapes 12 years in captivity. Once she returns to her family she is  determined to establish a normal life for herself, but her captor Gregory won’t leave her alone. The play  examines not only how Grace’s captivity affected her but also how it impacted each member of her  family. 

Written by Amber Spooner and Directed by Liviu Monsted, (Deadhouse: Tales of Sydney Morgue, STREET, In Waiting) and produced by Abe Bastoli/Liviu Monsted (with support from Actor’s Anonymous)  

Inspiration:  

Writer, Amber Spooner says “the show was inspired by Natascha Kampusch’s thoughts on her captor as  well as the victimization she experienced in her post captive years” 

Production History: 

The Various Methods of Escape is Amber Spooner’s first play, written as part of ‘The Hive’ program run  by “The Street Theatre” in Canberra in 2019. It was later developed through “Script In Hand”, an open  mic script development program run by “Actors Anonymous” in 2020. 

“Script In Hand” showrunner and  director, Liviu Monsted says he saw the audience’s fascination with the premise and decided to produce  the show with his company Mon Sans Productions, a company that focuses on developing new artists. Mon Sans Productions is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary.  

Surviving Covid:  

The show has battled through 2 years of Covid, with the first shutdown occurring on the night of the  shows initial promotional shoot in March 2020. Rehearsals restarted once more in February the  following year.  

Director/Producer Liviu Monsted states, “We had to replace a key cast member due to the pandemic  forcing them to move states. We watched the industry like hawks looking for a way back to normality; in  2021 we took our chances for an August run.” As the month of July drew to an end and the performance  was looking like going ahead, a week out, the second major lockdown in Sydney occurred forcing  another delay for the production and ticket owners. 

Lead actress Lucy Hadfield states, “It was devastating. I felt like a part of myself that I had become so  proud of had been torn out of me”. Finally after three months of tentatively waiting, Mon Sans  Productions booked a third attempt for May 2022.  

Liviu confirms, “I think keeping shows alive regardless of the delays is important; it speaks to the  importance of the craft that shows don’t get abandoned.” 

The Various Methods of Escape stars Lucy Hadfield (STREET) Chris Miller (DEADHOUSE) Meagan Caratti (HOME AND AWAY) Rosie Meader and Christopher Strickland. Lighting design by Mehran Mortezei

The Various Methods of Escape by Amber Spooner. 

When: Tuesday 31st MAY – Saturday 4th JUNE 

Starting Time: 7pm  

Where: The Actor’s Pulse Theatre. 

103 Regent St, Redfern NSW 2016 

Tickets: $35 Adult $30 Concession 

Bookings: Eventbrite.com.au 

 

ABLAZE: SET TO AMAZE

Family is gravity. And core to Tiriki Onus’ family is his grandfather, Bill Onus, a proud, articulate Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri man from Victoria, a truly heroic cultural and political figure who revived his people’s culture in the 1940s and ignited a civil rights movement that would, against enormous odds, change the course of history.

Tiriki wrote and acted in the critically acclaimed musical drama, William and Mary, about the love affair between his grandparents, William and Mary Onus.
For Deborah Cheetham’s Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer, he
created the character of ‘Uncle Bill’ based on his grandfather and played that role.

Now, together with veteran film maker, Alec Morgan, he has made the extraordinary documentary, ABLAZE to further propagate the cultural importance of Bill Onus and the gravity of his actions and convictions.

Through rare archival footage, state-of-the-art animation, vividly created digital motion graphics and eye-witness accounts, ABLAZE is the compelling tale – part detective story, part contemporary opera – of how Bill and supporters brilliantly orchestrated their campaign for equality through performance, entertainment, film and sheer audacity and no apology.

The archival footage is pretty much proof that Bill was the first indigenous film maker in Australia, remnants of a picture thought lost, perished in flames shortly before its release after it had drawn the attention of Australian security services. The images it depicted are damning and run contrary to the prescribed history of Australia at the time, one that stubbornly persists in some quarters today and has impeded true reconciliation in this country.

It is asserted that Walt Disney invited Bill to America but that Australian government coverts conspired to prevent him from leaving Australia. Seems they ordained Bill was too dangerous to be let loose on the world stage.

A depiction of righteous resilience and resistance against the bastardry of racial prejudice and paranoia, ABLAZE is a tale of intrigue, subterfuge, sabotage and inspiration.

GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL: NOW SHOWING

This year’s German Film Festival officially launched with the crazy satire, A STASI COMEDY, a story of secrets, surveillance, and sex.

Fuelled by a soundtrack that includes Canned Heat and Leonard Cohen, A STASI COMEDY unravels like a trippy German Get Smart complete with bumbling agents, potty protocols, and a cheesy chief.

It’s controlled chaos or chaotic control, either or is applicable, in a spy vs spy spoof where the most sinister character is the Minister for State Security who throws parties where guests dress as aristocracy and would have your head for jaywalking. Presented in the film as absurd, in reality it is a tragedy, an illustration of how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Director Leander Haussmann shows all were part of the same hypocrisy in communist East Berlin in the 1980s, when twenty something Ludger is hired by the Stasi to infiltrate the counterculture scene in East Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, home to artists, bohemians and free-thinking radicals.

After falling in love with the mysterious Nathalie and sleeping with his first target, Corninna, Ludger ends up living two lives, one as an underground poet and one as a Stasi agent. Duplicity doubles and secrets snowball in this screwball Cold War comedy.

A STASI COMEDY is one of the many gems making their Australian premiere at the German Film Festival, but also of note is the exceptional retrospective and various sidebars in the event.

To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Goethe-Institut in Australia, a specially curated selection of outstanding German cinema from the last five decades will delight film lovers and includes:

The 1979 Academy-Award winning THE TIN DRUM (Die Blechtrommel) remains as strikingly original and continuously surprising as when it was first made. In Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of the eponymous Günter Grass novel, a three-year-old is determined to boycott the adult world and remain a child forever.

The 1980 film
SOLO SUNNY follows an aspiring singer on tour and in the underground music scene in East Berlin, capturing the East Germany of the 1970s and longings and frustrations of East German youth through its gritty-glitzy visuals and catchy soundtrack.

The 1998 smash hit RUN LOLA RUN (Lola rennt) is directed by Tom Tykwer and stars Franka Potente as the flame-haired Lola. After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

From 2003 comes the highly awarded audience favourite
GOOD BYE, LENIN! In his breakout role, Daniel Brühl stars as a young man who must protect his fragile mother, recently awoken from a coma, from learning that her beloved East Germany is no more after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

2015’s VICTORIA is a technical masterpiece which scooped the pool at the German Film Awards that yearA breathtaking cinematic adventure, shot in one continuous take, it follows a young Spanish woman who finds her flirtation with a local Berlin man turn potentially deadly on a night out with his friends.

Austria and Switzerland’s new cinema is profiled in the ‘Beyond Berlin’ sidebar. New Austrian Cinema, co-presented by the Austrian Embassy, features the Olympic biopic CHASING THE LINE (Klammer) which follows legendary Austrian downhill skiing legend Franz Klammer over several days during the 1976 Winter Olympics. RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS (Risiken und Nebenwirkungen) is a dark comedy from Austria starring Inka Friedrich and Samuel Finzi which follows a woman’s kidney transplant journey that threatens to break-up her friendships and marriage.

New Swiss cinema highlights include CAGED BIRDS (Bis wir tot sind oder frei), starring Marie Leuenberger and Jella Hasse. Based on a true story, this intriguing 1980’s drama delves into the unlikely alliance between a young lawyer fighting Switzerland’s antiquated prison system and a criminal. MONTE VERIT (Monte Verità – Der rausch der freiheit), is a gorgeous historical drama set in the early 20th century that centres on a young mother and a group of society dropouts who search for a free-thinking paradise at Monte Verità.

Based on the bestselling book, the wickedly funny comedy IT’S JUST A PHASE, HONEY (Es ist nur eine Phase, Hase) follows a couple approaching their 50s who set out to regain their long-lost youth. The crime-comedy THE BLACK SQUARE(Das Schwarze Quadrat) stars Bernhard Schütz and Sandra Hüller; two art thieves who have stolen a famous painting plan to meet their clients on a cruise ship and all does not go as planned. In the clever comedy CONTRA a law student prepares for a debating competition with the help of a cynical professor who has been given a final chance to redeem himself after a video of him insulting a student goes viral.

The Goethe-Institut is also pleased to present the popular sidebar “Kino for Kids”, films especially curated for children, teens and families. This year’s programme includes:

MISSION ULJA FUNK –12-year-old astronomy geek Ulja, armed with a stolen hearse and a classmate as driver, journeys across Eastern Europe to monitor the impact of an asteroid.
A SECRET BOOK OF FRIENDSHIPTHE GREATEST ADVENTURE OF THEIR LIFE (Nachtwald) –Two boys set out on a search for a legendary cave in the Black Forest during their summer holidays in this tender story.
SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS (Die Schule der magischen Tiere) – A live-action family film that centres on the new girl at an unusual school, where the children receive a magical animal as a companion.
TALES OF FRANZ (Die Geschichten vom Franz) – Family comedy based on Christine Nöstlinger’s bestselling book series about a primary school student, the smallest in his class, who seeks the advice of an influencer much to the scepticism of his best friends.
THE WALL BETWEEN US (Zwischen uns die Mauer) – When Anna from West Germany and GDR citizen Philipp meet in East Berlin in the mid-1980s, it is love at first sight, but the love-struck teenagers are separated by the heavily guarded border.

Tickets are now on sale visit www.germanfilmfestival.com.au

Sydney:24 May – 19 June, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central

TOP GUN: MAVERICK

TOP GUN: MAVERICK is that rare bird, a sequel as good if not better than it’s progenitor.

Thirty odd years after the first film, Tom Cruise’s Maverick is still pushing the envelope, a test pilot testing the patience of the brass and the capacity of his own brass balls.

He should have made Admiral by now, like his pal Iceman, but he’s a lowly lieutenant, a decorated dog-fighter somewhat of a dinosaur in the dawning age of the drone.

After a supersonic act of subordination, instead of being canned, Maverick is posted to a teaching position to impart his combat skills to a team of top guns so that they will be ready to fly a precision mission against a nuclear enrichment plant run by an unidentified rogue nation.

Complications arise when it is revealed that, Rooster, the son of his deceased buddy, Goose, is one of the trainees. There’s a bristling resentment brewing in Rooster and a patina of guilt covering Maverick over Goose’s demise, creating a looming front for an emotional storm.

The fire and bite of battle is exuberantly executed, with exhilarating aerial choreography and Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Maverick succeeds in keeping about him the mischief of youth to soften the discipline of maturity. It’s no longer about solo ego, it’s about team building, and Maverick has to tutor these individual over-achievers into a crack squadron.

It’s a poignant moment when the fliers are back for debriefing after a failed training exercise that would have proved fatal in reality and Maverick barks “Don’t tell me. Tell the families of your fallen comrades.”

Poignancy is also to be found in a reunion between Maverick and Iceman, acknowledging Val Kilmer’s struggle with throat cancer and their evolved dynamic as characters.

Serious insolence infused with boldness and passion, TOP GUN: MAVERICK is a smart, big, blockbuster studio picture that delivers laughs, thrills, excitement and a little romance. High octane pop corn.

THE LISTIES – MAKE SOME NOISE @ MONKEY BAA THEATRE

AWARD-WINNING KIDULT COMEDY DUO “THE LISTIES” present their latest new show “MAKE SOME NOISE”

“THE LISTIES” are Richard Higgins and Matthew Kelly.

“MAKE SOME NOISE” is the perfect audience participation show for very young children. Their new “Musical Owl Bum” includes craft disasters, their running gag “bum crack roadie” that worked every time, as did the broken glass jokes and the banana jokes.

Whole audience participation sketch AIR GUITAR was an amazing experience for the parents and their young children.

The last comedy sketch was “wacky arm waving inflatables”, a just stunning finale.

Just perfect for young children from 4–400 million, and their parents (dinosaurs allowed). Continue reading THE LISTIES – MAKE SOME NOISE @ MONKEY BAA THEATRE

MAIGRET: A MOROSE NOSE FOR MURDER

There’s a melancholic mantle to MAIGRET, Patrice Leconte’s pensive policier based on Georges Simenon’s eponymous sleuth.

Gerard Depardieu puts his own indelible stamp on one of the most beloved characters from 20th century crime fiction, the titular Inspector Jules Maigret via a contemplative crime drama from director Patrice Leconte, famously known as the helmer of Monsieur Hire, The Girl On The Bridge and Ridicule.

Set in Paris, a few years after World War II, the body of a beautiful young woman is discovered, dressed in an elegant evening gown. There is nothing to identify her, and no witnesses. Pensive and world-weary Inspector Jules Maigret endeavours to piece together her story, and in doing so uncovers details about her past and character. During his investigation, he encounters Betty, a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the victim, and also triggers tragic memories closer to home.

True to its roots, a source material that has stood the test of time and countless cinematic renditions, MAIGRET takes some cinematic liberties while giving full reign to Depardieu to amply flesh out the sympathetic sleuth, a detective attuned to the defective aspects of human frailty, an observant listener, a pursuer of truth but not a dispenser of judgement.

In perhaps his best work in years, Depardieu makes a big impression as this beloved pipe smoking sleuth, bringing a dogged dignity to the detective embodying and evoking Simenon’s description “Maigret, heavy and slow, gave a feeling of immobility. He was there like a sponge, slowly soaking up everything that was oozing out around him.”

Maigret does not go looking for the assassin so much as for this young girl stabbed with a knife that no one seems to know. The quest to identify the victim and not the perpetrator is paramount, the plot all the more poignant since Maigret himself would have had a daughter of that age if she had still been alive. And the presence of Betty and his innate protection of her, has the film verging on Vertigo

MAIGRET is not a thriller in the classic sense, with investigation,clues, resolution, but about obsessions, darkness, and humanity, delivered in a nifty ninety minute package.

CALENDAR GIRLS @ GUILD THEATRE ROCKDALE

The concept of a nude calendar isn’t new but replacing the typical bikini model or buff fireman with your average middle-aged Women’s Institute (WI) member is entirely novel. Based on a true story, the calendar girls of the Knapeley branch of the WI did exactly that and became international sensations for their trouble.

The Women’s Institute, the British version of the Country Women’s Association in Australia, is a community organisation that brings women together for charitable purposes, but it also forms a large part of the social networks for these women who bond over workshops, community engagement at fetes and fairs, and fundraising.

CALENDAR GIRLS, as adapted by Tim Firth from the film of the same name, represents the type of tight-knit relationships fostered in the WI when telling the story of how the community, and the world, rallied around one branch’s goal to raise money for a new settee for their local hospital. When Annie’s (Peggy Leto) husband John (Brian McGann) dies of cancer, she turns to her WI friends and especially best friend Chris (Yolanda Regueira).

They want to do something big and funny to raise money in John’s memory and make him proud, so they concoct the idea of a nude calendar starring themselves! It takes some coaxing, but the rest of the branch, excepting the president Marie (Deirdre Campbell), get on board and the calendar becomes a greater success than they could have ever imagined. With international attention and pressures from all angles to leverage their new fame, the central message of their mission becomes muddled, threatening the love and friendship at the heart of the WI. But, eventually, Annie and Chris clarify their perspectives and reprioritise what they have above what they’ve lost. Continue reading CALENDAR GIRLS @ GUILD THEATRE ROCKDALE

AUSTRALIA ENSEMBLE UNSW : CYCLES  @ SIR JOHN CLANCY AUDITORIUM UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES

Program : 

Beethoven – Trio Op 87 (1794) for flute, clarinet and bassoon

Glanville-Hicks – Concertino da Camera (1946)

Greenbaum – Easter Island (2008) for flute, bass clarinet, piano and string quartet

Brahms – Piano Quartet no 3 in C minor op 66 (1875)

Performers: Lisa Osmialowski, David Griffiths, Andrew Barnes, Ian Munro, Dene Olding, Dimity Hall, Irina Morozova, Julian Smiles.

Election night in Australia was a wet one in Sydney but it didn’t deter a good size audience from making their way to the Sir John Clancy Auditorium in UNSW, Kensington. Here, the Australia Ensemble NSW performed their third concert of the season titled “Cycles”.

Opening with Beethoven’s woodwind “Trio”, opus 87 were three highly experienced artists: Lisa Osmialowski flute, Andrew Barnes bassoon and David Griffiths clarinet. Many ensembles – even professional ones – tend to begin their concerts a little jittery and take a few minutes to settle down. Not with this collective though. From the first note they were polished and aligned, maintaining a lovely relaxed tempo. The opening movement was truly charming. The Adagio was solid as a rock with each musician highly sensitive to the other’s input. The three players standing in a semi-circle allowed space to physically move a lot more than when seated. They took full advantage of this freedom to add emphasis and expression; lead the tempo, then to stand back allowing each to shine in their solo moments. Continue reading AUSTRALIA ENSEMBLE UNSW : CYCLES  @ SIR JOHN CLANCY AUDITORIUM UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES

EVICTED! A MODERN ROMANCE TO PREMIERE @ SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL

Following a tough few years for the arts community, emerging Sydney filmmakers, Rowan Devereux and Sophie Saville are proud to announce that their latest work and first feature film, ‘Evicted! A Modern Romance’ will be premiering at Sydney Film Festival in June.

The feature debut of regular collaborators Rowan Devereux and Sophie Saville, starring Amanda Maple Brown, Will Suen, Rose Haining and Clare Cavanagh, EVICTED! A MODERN ROMANCE casts an amusing, yet critical, millennial eye over the job and housing market.

Devereux and Saville used the first lockdown in 2020 to begin development and pre-production on the feature film. The film was fully financed through private investment and a crowd-funding campaign using the Australian Cultural Fund, at the end of 2020. Filming began in early 2021 while COVID restrictions were in full swing. This is a truly Sydney centric, homegrown film, with everything shot in and around the city’s inner west and all cast and crew sourced from the vibrant Sydney filmmaking community.

The film follows four housemates on the verge of eviction, as they trawl Sydney’s fraught rental market in search of a new place to call home. With an impending eviction hanging over their heads, freshly unemployed Maggie, gig-economy worker Will, and feuding couple Isabelle and May embark on a seemingly futile hunt for an affordable share house. Along the way they encounter kitchen toilets, one-way attics, and an alleged haunted house. As Will forms an unlikely friendship with a war veteran, Isabelle hits it off with her local barista, and endless mishaps, coincidences and hook-ups gone wrong abound.

The film will be showing at Sydney Film Festival on the 16th and 18th of June 2022, for full details including the trailer visit:

https://www.sff.org.au/program/browse/evicted-a-modern-

 

 

 

WISDUMB : WHIP SMART STAND UP BY JESS FUCHS

Charismatic Jess Fuchs performed her very funny routine as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival 2022 to a full house in one of the Laneway rooms at the Enmore theatre. She pointed out that her father was sitting in the front row and streaming the show to her mother who was ill and could not attend. She waved and said “Hi Mum.” There was no reply and Jessie turned to the audience, relieved that her Mum was on mute.

 I immediately thought of the scene in the excellent Apple TV series, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, where her father inadvertently attended one of her shows. This was to the respective horrors of her father and to Mrs Maisel. Fortunately, the uncomfortable scenario portrayed in The Marvellous Mrs Maisel was not present in Jess Fuchs’ performance. The similarities between WISDUMB and The Marvellous Mrs Maisel did not end there as both performers are from Jewish backgrounds, they both reference sexual matters and tell many jokes involving their parents in their routines.  Continue reading WISDUMB : WHIP SMART STAND UP BY JESS FUCHS

YOUNG BODIES / SOMEBODY’S : GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO

Lulu Quirk, Samantha Lush and Erica Nelson in ‘Young Bodies/Somebody’s

YOUNG BODIES/SOMEBODY’S  is an impressive first play by young Sydney playwright Miranda Michalowski.
Two sisters, June and Anna, face the harsh realities of adult life when their mother Dawn tells them that they will have to move out of home because she is quitting her  apartment as she is going to move in with her boyfriend.

This comes as a huge shock to the two young women who have to grow up very quickly. As the playwright wrote in her program, note –

“The play is about feeling like a deeply messy person and not wanting to break out of the cocoon of being a kid and to live in the real world.”
Anna and June  have both  led very obsessive lives. 21 year old Anna is still busy exploring her sexuality, having many  encounters with men who do not treat her respectfully. Anna is obsessed with getting good results with her university swim team. The stress of  the two women having to make a new life for themselves away from the family home, sees them get on each others nerves and argue over the slightest of things.

Continue reading YOUNG BODIES / SOMEBODY’S : GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO

THEATRESPORTS ALL STAR GALA 2022 @ ENMORE THEATRE

For the last night of the 2022 Sydney Comedy Festival, THEATRESPORTS ALL STAR GALA has improvising delicious side-splitting comedy delights. This show fully delivered massive entertainment with all the amazing all-improvising all-star quick-witted comics.

Spectacular improv comedy scenes/stories/songs and complimented by clever improvised music, all unrehearsed and imagined into life by the quick witted comic teams. THEATRESPORTS ALL STAR GALA provided each specific challenge, each time with crazy quite ridiculous restrictions, much like those seen on television with shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Thank God You’re Here”.

Skits were initially timed to be 2 or 3 minutes each, and these constantly fast remarkable and inventive performers, and in their uncontrolled way, they plunged unhesitatingly and fluently into their improvisations. Continue reading THEATRESPORTS ALL STAR GALA 2022 @ ENMORE THEATRE

THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : CHAMBER CONCERT #2

 

Principal players of The Metropolitan Orchestra join as a Nonet for this fabulous afternoon of fine music within the beautifully refurbished Leichhardt Town Hall. Boasting an outstanding selection of music from Australian and international composers including a world premiere, this intimately passionate performance will warm a wintery afternoon.

The concert includes the Bukovina odyssey from Australian composer Stephen Lalor which draws loosely on the string playing traditions of the Bukovina region (north Romania/Ukraine) and Carpathian Mountains with music highlighted by the Roma (gypsy) improvisational styles. Commencing with a lilting waltz followed by an energetic dance section, Carl Nielsen’s Little Suite For Strings will take the listener through a range of emotions from the dark and serious Praeludium through to a triumphant and exuberant finale. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA : CHAMBER CONCERT #2

HATCHING: EGGSISTENTIAL CRISIS

A little bit The Birds, a little bit Psycho, HATCHING hitches itself to Hitchcock in its best bits and aside from some silly sliding into the schlock, gets the spine tingling and the geese bumping.

From Finland, HATCHING (Pahanhautoja) centres upon Tinja, a 12-year-old gymnast desperate to please her mother, a woman obsessed with presenting the image of a perfect family to the world through her popular blog.

Initilly one thinks that mum is a sort of Stepford Wife, but it soon becomes apparent that she is more the manipulator, the facade of perfect family manufactured to suit her social media niche.

When a bird flies into the family’s overly set designed living room causing avian mayhem in a feverish feathered frenzy, mum breaks the bird’s neck more after Tinja has subdued it.

Shortly after, Tinja finds an egg, presumably that of the winged deceased and decides to incubate it, fashioning a nest in the belly of her teddy bear. And the egg begins to grow.

Hanna Bergholm’s film ramps up the sequence of unease for the first half hour before the egg cracks and the actual hatching happens, plateaus in fledgling flight in the middle section then pumps up again for a final confrontation full of sub-textual metaphor.

Siiri Solalinna is beautifully poised as Tinja, desperate to please her mother in the pursuit of gymnastic perfection and deal with the cuckoldry of her father. Confused and fragile, is it just hormones hatching homicidal thoughts or inate protection of the nest?

Stealing the show is Sophia Heikkila in a killer performance as the self obsessed mother, a her way or the highway matriarch whose projected picture perfect world she lives in provokes its very destruction. Vivacious and gregarious, her gorgeousness is a thin veneer of the vile, a guile that is mesmerisingly attractive.

Päivi Kettunen’s production design is exquisitely demonstrative, featuring floral wallpapers and garishly girly decors, belying the dark forces at play.

 

HERCULE POIROT’S FIRST CASE : THE START OF AN ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER

The Genesian Theatre Company has performed numerous Agathie Christie plays over the years. The murder mystery genre in Christie’s very capable hands has proved very popular with its loyal audiences.

Christie, however,  is not the author of its current show It is a stage  adaptation, by prolific American  playwright Jon Jory, of Christie’s first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles.   The play’s title is appropriate, the novel  heralded the first appearance of Detective Hercule Poirot who would become Christie’s most famous character.

Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in in a village in England near the country manor of Emily Inglethorp, a friend who assisted him in starting his new life. Poirot’s friend, Hastings, arrives as a guest at her home. When Emily is killed, Poirot uses his great  detective skills to solve the mystery! Plot twists and red herrings abound in Jory’s whipsmart adaptation. Continue reading HERCULE POIROT’S FIRST CASE : THE START OF AN ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER

‘AUSTRALIAN MONODY’ : NEW RECORDING FROM THE MARAIS PROJECT

 

               

Above:  The striking cover of the album ‘Australian Monody’ (Move MCD633) Cover artwork by Susie Bishop, cover design by Lydall Gerlach. Featured image : The Marais Project

A recording from The Marais Project -and there are now over six of them- always promises a bold juxtaposition of music from several eras, countries and styles. Local and guest musicians play Baroque and later works in their original form and also in innovative arrangement. There are vocal and instrumental tracks and often new compositions from Australian composers as well as from The Marais Project artists themselves.

Australian Monody (Move Records MCD 633) is in keeping with this pattern of recordings. Its themes are not for the faint-hearted.  The subtitle is ‘Reflections on light and darkness, love and loss’. The precise, plaintive instrumental and vocal colours associated with The Marais Project are well suited to this vibe.

We are treated across the tracks to the plaintive tone colour combinations in rotation from two viola da gambas (Artistic director Jenny Erikkson and Catherine Upex), nine-string guitar, nine-course lute and theorbo (Tommie Andersson), violin and soprano (Susie Bishop) and countertenor (Russell Harcourt).

The three interesting Antipodean monodies appearing  in the first half of the recording draw on our heartstrings and conscience. Gordon Kerry’s response to the massacre by an Australian gunman at a Christchurch mosque in 2019 was commissioned for Marais Project. Its penetrating Old Testament text is delivered with clarity and poise by soprano Susie Bishop, whose violin lines are heard in effective melancholy mix with viola da gambas and theorbo.

Above: Artistic Director and founder of The Marais Project, Jenny Eriksson

Following straight on from this meditation  are two  songs from Sydney’s early troubled colony. The Aboriginal Father and The Aboriginal Mother are a pair of songs from a time when cruelties and violence were commonplace. Composer Isaac Nathan attempted to blend cultures, concerns and musical contours. We hear them now in a new era, and a new light, accompanied by nine-string guitar, violin and viola da gamba.

Other noticeable pairings can be found on this CD. Two songs from Henry Purcell ltake us back to he Baroque.  Firstly, O dive custos Auriacae domus laments the death of British Monarch Queen Mary from smallpox . Here it features the blend of soprano and countertenor in a nicely balanced duet.

Early keyboard specialist Anthony Abouhamad joins the ensemble adding depth to the sentiments to both Purcell pieces on continuo organ. In the second Purcell song, we hear Harcourt’s fine counternor alone in the disc’s only church music inspired offering, Purcell’s homely An Evening Hymn. 

To open the recording is Alice Chance’s Precious Colours, a choral work commissioned by The Marais Project . This fusion composition based on the First Nations legend of the butterfly losing its wing colourings in the snow has beauitiful intensity and elegantly rendered directness in its new guise of two vocalists and early strings.

 

Above : countertenor Russell Harcourt

The successful vocal blend of accomplished countertenor Russell Harcourt and Marais Project regular Susie Bishop took the roles of mythical couple Pallah-Pallah and Ballah-Ballah in this tender borrowed tale.

Paired with this piece at the album’s conclusion is the  identical and equally successful vocal and instrumental ensemble for  Australian composer Carl Vine’s Love Me Sweet. This song, like that of Pallah-Pallah and Ballah-ballah, emphasises the fragility of attachment, of the shades of emotion at play when in a couple. This local work,in  new arrangement by Tommie Andersson, was originally destined for an Australian mini-series, ‘The Battlers’ on the Seven Network.

Preceeding Vine’s piece is John Dowland’s Now Oh Now I Needs Must Part (1597), a song of love soon to be lost .  Adding to the full ensemble strength of vocalists and early strings is Tommie Andersson’s 9-course lute and touching solo moment.

Above: Tommie Andersson played early guitar, l;ute and theorbo on this recording and also arranged colonial songs by Isaac Nathan and ‘Love Me Sweet’ by Carl Vine.

From within the ranks of The Marais Project, Susie Bishop impresses as a composer, vocalist and violinist in her comforting Lullaby for a Broken World is a gentle extended instrumental encasement of the text here, featuring viola da gamba and nine string guitar.

Immediately after this comes If, from a film about the suffering and hopes of the trapped Anne Frank during WW2. Michael Nyman’s music is nicely arranged by Jennifer Eriksson for countertenor and early instruments. This is a highlight and a great showcase for The Marais Project as well asthe versatility of Harcourt as performer. His skill in interpreting a eange of text and searching  tone impress here.

Two works towards the end of Australian Monody offer us the lightness of instrumental music after some dark texts. This comes in the form of an original piece composed by Jennifer Eriksson, La Petite Tarantelle reflecting her Project’s celebration of the expressive gesture of the viol and Marin Marais’ accomplished music for it.

The Marin Marais work chosen for this recording preceeds Eriksson’s nicely characterised offering. It is Marais’ Suite in A minor (Book V).  Its sunny, bittersweet blend is delivered on viola da gamba and theorbo in swathes of experienced, exemplary dialogue, rounding out the recording’s keen humanity with fine, wordless music to make the spirit dance.

 

 

THE CARETAKERS : A GRIPPING, ATMOSPHERIC READ

Set in Paris in 2015 and 2016 , this  excellent book by Amanda Bestor-Siegal opens grittily like a sudden TV news alert with the mysterious death of a nine year old French boy, Julien. The family’s American au pair Alena is accused , but is she falsely arraigned – so what really happened?

The book is set in the world of young American au pairs working for rich French families in Paris, in particular the posh , wealthy suburb of Maisons-Larue, before, during and just after the 2016 terrorist attacks.

There are six main character ‘voices ‘we meet, learning about their lives before the incident. The au pairs slip away to the clubs and cafes of the city centre while the rich, embittered wives seek notice from their aloof, seemingly always away husbands and sample revenge. Continue reading THE CARETAKERS : A GRIPPING, ATMOSPHERIC READ

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