MEGAN WILDING’S FIRST PLAY : A LITTLE PIECE OF ASH

Megan Wilding . Pic by Chandel Brandimarti

JackRabbit Theatre will present the world premiere of Megan Wilding’s A LITTLE PIECE OF ASH, a story about grief, loss, and the survival of the modern Aboriginal woman, at the Kings
Cross Theatre (KXT) from 12 th to 26 th April.

When Jedda finds out her mother Lilly has died, she’s confused, distraught and alienated. She doesn’t know how to grieve. Smoking and drinking hasn’t helped, and neither have the assortment of friends passing through offering all sorts of mismatched advice.

Her grieving is hindered as Jedda feels Lilly is there with her, following her, talking to her, so it doesn’t feel like she’s really gone. Soon Jedda realises it’s time to confront the figure following her; to deal with Lilly face-to-face. Continue reading MEGAN WILDING’S FIRST PLAY : A LITTLE PIECE OF ASH

FIERCE. RED LINE PRODUCTIONS AT OLD FITZ THEATRE

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Timely doesn’t really do justice to the prescience of FIERCE.  It’s almost impossible to watch the show, from Red Line productions playing at the Old Fitz, without that gut punch of ‘this is happening’.  A woman is a woman is a woman after all and there is a female centre to the story.  But this is hardly a narrative play, it is shaped to weave and duck and fly high above the mere telling of her fierceness.

Suzie Flack is an AFL star but has a real, unexplained, issue about joining a woman’s team.  Never known for missing a chance, the powers that be eventually put her in a men’s team.  No gender norming for Suzie: even the same dressing room as the men, with an initial shush on swearing, for her.   Familiarity breeds the contempt of these men and whether the bad behaviour that quickly appears is worse or normal we don’t know.  And then there’s the WAGs. Continue reading FIERCE. RED LINE PRODUCTIONS AT OLD FITZ THEATRE

‘WONDER’ – VOX : SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS @ UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Above : Composer Ella Macens, one of the several Australian composers featured in this programme. Photo credit : Darwin Gomez. Featured image : Vox members in rehearsal. Photo credit : Roland Kay-Smith.

Vox is the young adult choir under the umbrella of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Its latest concert, ‘Wonder’, presented original choral works and arrangements for choir which explored the joy and fragility of childhood.

This vivid hour of music was thoughtfully programmed and narrated by Vox’s conductor and musical director Elizabeth Scott is an asset to Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and wonder-ful musical parent to the talented vocalists of Vox.

The choir’s crisp and agile unison voice, a cappella precision, timbral diversity and impressive composite talents of Vox members in ensemble and solo roles were keenly showcased in this compact concert event. Continue reading ‘WONDER’ – VOX : SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS @ UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

SHORT+SWEET THEATRE TOP 80 WEEK SEVEN SYDNEY 2019 @ AMPA – TOM MANN THEATRE

There are eleven very different and very original plays, being performed live on stage this week, at Short and Sweet. A delicious comedy monologue provides laugh-out-loud entertainment, message plays about the drug menace, ghosts, relationships, millennials, comedies, dramatic intrigues and dramedy. Explore each ten minute play covering all manner of things, in a tasty assortment of live theatre treats vividly explored on stage during Short and Sweet Week Seven of “The biggest little theatre festival in the world”.

Every week there is a new Short+Sweet Top 80 program (Thursdays-Fridays-Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 6.00pm) together with a separate new S+S Wildcards program each week (Saturdays at 3.30pm and Sundays at 2.30pm). The annual Short+Sweet huge gala finals, all take place during April 2019.

Second year in this big new venue for S+S, and comfortably seating a maximum of 171. Top 80 WEEK SEVEN is a huge week of must-see comedic delights with each brand new play under ten minutes, Thursday 21st March 2019 until Sunday. The S+S festival has new shows every week for eight weeks, and runs through to April 2019.        Continue reading SHORT+SWEET THEATRE TOP 80 WEEK SEVEN SYDNEY 2019 @ AMPA – TOM MANN THEATRE

WEST SIDE STORY : SIZZLES EVEN WITH THE RAIN

They say rain on opening night of an outdoor show is a good omen. Well, Handa Opera’s West Side Story on Sydney Harbour must be in for one hell of a run after the deluge that set in for a solid hour right on cue for the prelude to Act I.

The audience, dressed to the nines for the red carpet, rushed to purchase ponchos and attempted to keep dry for a few desperate minutes, before giving up. We all resolved to ignore the fact that we could see nothing through our glasses (someone really must invent windscreen wipers for spectacles), our hair and make-up which took hours to do was now undone in a matter of moments, our dry-clean-only gown and suede handbag were beyond salvaging, and our $20 program turned to pulp. After all, if the actors could sing and dance in the rain, we could sit and watch in the rain.

With good humour, determined to enjoy ourselves, we applauded and cheered as the actors burst onto the stage full of life, seemingly unaffected by the great flood. The fast-paced twirls, leaps and lifts, not to mention the scaling of ladders taking place on the raked stage seemed downright dangerous – an OH&S nightmare. Thankfully the dancers were all wearing sneakers and the floor had a rough surface, making the feat of their triple and quadruple pirouettes all the more impressive. Continue reading WEST SIDE STORY : SIZZLES EVEN WITH THE RAIN

MIRANDA MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENT JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ SUTHERLAND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE

Above: Jay Cullen as Judas Iscariot, Rickard Roach as Annas and Mark Gardner as Caiphas. Featured image: Kyle Nozza as Jesus Christ with ensemble. Photo credit- Grant Leslie Photography

This is solid entertainment and a stunningly updated version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original 1971 classic. Audiences will be moved and leave the theatre singing the well known music which has been excitingly repackaged. I still am.

Successful lighting, filmic rear-stage projection, a multi-level set design and a diversity of modern costuming ensure that this show is a visual spectacle throughout. These production values bring us an engaging, edgy and entirely believable piece of suffering.

It is a current and relevant retelling Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s nod at the Christian story of a sacrificed Saviour. It pushes creative boundaries quite far but not too far and delights our modern and very visual sensibilities.

Several ‘superstars’ grace this stage. Vocally, James Gander as Pontius Pilate is forever rewarding with warm controlled tone and measured swoop to his acting. ‘Pilate’s Dream’ was a well carved out signpost of foreboding and a well delivered mood changer.

Ileana Pipitone brought the role of Mary Magdalene to the Sutherland Entertainment Centre with an open directness of physical approach and truthful tone and expert blend in ensemble moments. These exchanges reached a relaxed intensity of colour in ‘Can we start again, Please?’ where she ably led the group emotional statement.

The shifting emotions in the final week of Jesus’ earthly life were sung with formidable clarity and with pleasing stage presence by Kyle Nozza. He demonstrates an amazingly keen and humble conversational lilt whilst delivering us some huge direct-hit notes. Challenging shifts between types of vocal voice and many chest voice high register exclamations were attacked with thrilling passion here.

Above: Ileana Pipitone as Mary Magdalene and Kyle Nozza as Jesus with ensemble. Photo credit: Grant Leslie Photography.

This show’s  traditional larger-than-life King Herod as played by Lachlan O’Brien and dancers illuminates the stage here. It is such a theatrical number as this which proves audiences need to leave the lounge room and reality TV to discover emerging talent supplying the real deal live locally. Herod’s dancers are ably re-invented later as an angelic hoodie hip-hop troupe in another stellar stage innovation.

Acting highlights include the multifaceted edginess displayed by Jay Cullen in a restless yet vulnerable portrayal of the torments of Judas Iscariot. The temple priests are also a terrific presence with varied dramatic tone and attitude in equal portions. The busy ensemble are also believable and focussed as they move smoothly through the constant shifts of the stage storyboard.

Some moments exist where the active ensemble’s vocal part-singing and textural power could be stronger or more defined within the melee but these are brief. However the languid hypnotic mood created in the ‘The Last Supper’ scene. Here, gorgeous groove and well blended part singing are up with the most seamless to be found in any historical stage or screen version of this musical.

At all times the band played with well chosen tempi and with the necessary momentum this rock musical demands. They were at all times successfully sympathetic to the onstage sound level being produced.

The ‘John 19:41’ 39 lashes scene is one of this version’s many standout action segments . As led again consistently commandingly by James Gander’s’ Pontius Pilate it uses the assembled sinners of mankind to slash n mark the Saviour in what is indeed a directorial and choreographic  master stroke. The macabre energy level and pace never wanes throughout this sequence.

Miranda Musical Society’s Jesus Christ Superstar concludes its run on Sunday Mar 23. Fans of blockbuster musicals should save the dates of September 25-29 for this group’s production of Les Misérables.

 

 

 

ENRIGHT ON THE NIGHT @ THE GENESIAN THEATRE

I love shows like this where one gets to know some things about the person behind the work. Work wae there plenty of in Enright’s case. He left a large canon of work and his plays are still regularly performed on our stages.

These are just some of my jottings from the show.

Enright was born in Maitland  and went to school at Riverview where he was Drama Captain. He was obsessed with theatre from very early on. There’s a story of how he stood by the stage door at the Capitol theatre attired in his school uniform so he could meet Nancye Hayes.

He was a prolific poet with many of his poems having a light, comic touch.

With his film script Lorenzo’s Oil, which he co-wrote with George Miller, he was offered the chance to settle in Los Angeles but he rejected it, wanting to stay based in Australia. He was very patriotic and he wrote definitively Australian characters with Aussie vernacular.

There’s a lovely scene during the play where the Peter Allen song ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ is sung with audience participation. Some may not know that Enright wrote the book to the international hit that was The Boy From Oz. Continue reading ENRIGHT ON THE NIGHT @ THE GENESIAN THEATRE

YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN – the musical

Charles Schulz’s beloved PEANUTS comic strip, comes brilliantly alive on the stage, in Clark Gesner’s family-friendly Broadway musical comedy, YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN. Explore one day in the life through the eyes of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang friends, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, Linus, and Snoopy. Charles Schultz’s PEANUTS comic strips have delighted countless generations with their joyful innocence.                            Continue reading YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN – the musical

THE BED PARTY: EXTENDED SEASON

Truth in advertising, the set of THE BED PARTY is a bloody big bed, big enough for a quintet of quilt comrades to congregate for a party of polemics and queer politic.

It’s the boudoir of Jasmine and Finn, but it becomes the platform for their flatmates to trundle out their troubles and woes.

First to claim the cot, in a coitus interruptus moment, is Tara, equivocal and prevaricating in her sexuality, insisting she is bi, but bemoaning the fact that blokes abuse her. She is anxious to debrief about her recent dud date, which incenses Jasmine to the point of furore.

Into the fray comes Bri, former flatmate, who has just fled her new lover, Kelly, over issues of procreation. Kelly craves parenthood which is anathema to Bri. Continue reading THE BED PARTY: EXTENDED SEASON

THE CHOIR OF MAN @ THE STUDIO

 

Blokes singing in a pub, some good banter, a bit of tap dancing, some practical jokes and the playing a few musical instruments sounds like a great night out. The infectious bonhomie of this show is hard to resist. Added to this are their delightful harmonies, a pleasing balance of voices and free beer. Before the show the audience is encouraged to walk up to the bar on stage and grab a beer. Again, this is hard to resist.

The narrator weaves together a story about the merits of an intimate local watering hole, the benefits of friendship with diverse characters, and some references to their partners so that they can launch into some superb arrangements of popular songs such as Queen’s Somebody to Love, The Pina Colada Song, The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset and The Impossible Dream.

With the help of some participation from a talented lady chosen from the audience their rendition of Eagle-Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight is one of the funniest songs of the night. The line “So take this wine and drink with me” helped to continue the alcohol infused evening’s theme.

Just as I was beginning to think these nine men from UK are a choir that have added some dialogue and choreography they took out their instruments and played guitar, piano, banjo, trumpet, ukulele, melodica and drums. It’s a more dynamic show than a straight choral performance and features some very talented artists.

THE CHOIR OF MAN, brilliantly directed by Nic Doodson is a fun show and is highly recommended. The audience was clapping and cheering, up on their feet and having a great time. THE CHOIR OF MAN is playing the Studio at The Sydney Opera House until 7th April, 2019.

 

ONCE IN ROYAL DAVID’S CITY @ THE NEW

Its Christmas and theatre director Will Drummond is having a huge mid life crisis.

Nothing is certain any more. His parents are suddenly old, his professional world is changing, everyone around him seems to be losing faith and losing the plot and it feels as if society had lost its soul.

For Will, it’s going to be a time of reckoning and a journey of discovery towards a deeper if not especially comfortable awareness of himself.

One of  Australia’s leading playwrights this Michael Gow play was first performed at Belvoir Street in 2014. with BHrendan Cowell in the lead role.

This is a dark play with Will dealing with his mother’s demise as a result of pancreatic cancer. I have to say that I found it particularly dark as I lost my own mother as a result of this very insidious and fast moving form of cancer. Continue reading ONCE IN ROYAL DAVID’S CITY @ THE NEW

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