All posts by Alan Hartstein

Alan has worked in the media business for nearly 20 years as an editor, writer and sub editor across a large number of newspaper, magazine and online newsletter titles. He has had a passion for stage and screen for as long as he can remember and has, he admits, never been backwards in coming forwards when it comes to having an opinion. His interest in the arts runs across the full spectrum, from opera, ballet and musicals, to symphony concerts to large music festivals, pub gigs and just about everything in between.


An exclusive collaboration between young Australian leaders, activists and performers will take to the stage at the 10th Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) to showcase the power of youth in an exclusive performance titled UNFORGIVABLE.

And in a true FODI-style twist, audience members are asked to pay what they believe listening to the leaders of tomorrow is worth by determining the ticket price themselves.

UNFORGIVABLE aims to ignite change through a collective youth voice giving the audience an opportunity to listen to some of Australia’s most compelling young leaders. Continue reading FESTIVAL OF DANGEROUS IDEAS : UNFORGIVABLE


Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney is proud to present ‘As I stepped out into the bright sun light’, a new solo exhibition by Richard Lewer that draws on the artist’s personal experiences of loss and responds to the pain and destruction caused by Australia’s bushfire disaster – opening 13 – 28 March 2020.

Comprising of paintings, drawings and ceramics, the exhibition is inspired by the Melbourne artist’s ongoing social realist practice of responding and reacting to the world he inhabits. Continue reading RICHARD LEWER : AS I STEPPED OUT INTO THE BRIGHT SUN LIGHT


Produced by Cross Pollinate Productions, EVERYBODY by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is coming to Sydney on 6 March at Kings Cross Theatre.

A finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Price, and described as “theatre rather unlike anything you might have seen” (The Huffington Post), EVERYBODY brings the talent of some of Sydney’s most exciting actors together for a unique theatrical experience where the actors’ roles are determined by a lottery live on stage at every show. This means that each performance has one hundred and twenty different potential casting variations. It is literally a different show every night. Continue reading EVERYBODY @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE


Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney presents It’s Not Real, a solo exhibition of new works by Australian artist Karen Black on 13 – 28 March 2020.

Black’s work explores loaded social and individual female driven narratives, traversing the complex interchange between the personal and the political.

Drawing on her background as a costume maker in the opera and theatre, as well as her own personal history, this new series of works comprises of a series of abstract portraits. All situated in the bedroom or looking out from a bedroom window into the garden (Black has recently left behind her precious garden), the works raise questions about the value, objectification and exclusion of women. Each painting spills in and out of its frame – made specifically for the individual work – making a psychological space for a personal narrative that may also be universal. Continue reading KAREN BLACK : IT’S NOT REAL


Celebrate with Mum in style! Discover a stunning hidden-Sydney venue and indulge in some of the opera world’s most beautiful music.

Opera Bites has once again partnered with The Castlereagh Boutique Hotel to bring you a sublime afternoon of the world’s best loved opera complete with a decadent sparkling high tea. As you step through the doors of this breath-taking heritage listed ballroom you’ll find yourself immersed in the world of operatic splendour.

Tickets include entertainment, sumptuous high tea and a glass of sparkling. Continue reading MOTHER’S DAY OPERA HIGH TEA


The Metropolitan Orchestra’s (TMO) first performance for 2020 will also be TMO’s first concert ever at the Everest Theatre within the Seymour Centre.

Conducted by Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, this ground breaking concert includes a world premiere by Australian female composer Keyna Wilkins written in collaboration with leading indigenous didjeridu player Gumaroy Newman.

Commencing with Mozart’s iconic Symphony No 40, this epic musical creation by the genius composer is as dramatic as any tale ever told, full of elegance and refinement, with opening bars that have mesmerised music-listeners for centuries.

Following this dazzling season opener, the orchestra proudly presents a world premiere of ‘Celestial Emu’ written by pioneering Australian female composer Keyna Wilkins in collaboration with leading Indigenous didjeridu player Gumaroy Newman and The Metropolitan Orchestra in a work based on the indigenous legend of the constellation “Emu In The Sky”, from the Kamilaroi people of Northern NSW.

Wrapping up the program is Prokofiev’s incredible Symphony No 1, “Classical”. Concise and playful, Prokofiev wittily juxtaposes his own daring musical language with typical melodic turns and gestures from Mozart’s time in one of the composers most famous works which will provide a thrilling climax to this inaugural performance.

The concert will take place on Saturday March 7, 2020 at 8pm at the Everest Theatre, the Seymour Centre.






Pic Hugh Kretschmer

Penn & Teller will bring their record-breaking Las Vegas live show to Sydney for eight performances at the Capitol Theatre from 14 – 21 April 2020.

Penn & Teller’s Australian tour was originally scheduled for January 2020 but was unable to proceed due to Teller requiring urgent back surgery. As the Opera House’s largest internal venue, the Concert Hall, is closed while major renewal works are undertaken from February this year, the Opera House will now present the rescheduled season of Penn & Teller at the Capitol Theatre to accommodate the huge response and demand from audiences.

The life-long friends, with a career together spanning almost half a century, have redefined popular magic for over 40 years with their unusual mix of mind-blowing magic tricks, comedy and ‘blunders’. The pair are stars of the acclaimed Showtime series Penn & Teller: BS!, which received 13 Emmy nominations and was the longest-running series in the history of the network.

Their highly anticipated return to Broadway was the highest-grossing non-musical on Broadway for its entire six-week run. True pop culture stalwarts, the duo has performed in hit television shows, including Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and The Simpsons, and they share a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

They are also stars of the hit TV series Penn & Teller: Fool Us!, seen on ABC Comedy, which challenges up-and-coming and veteran magicians to try and fool Penn & Teller.

From April 14, step into Penn & Teller’s world of magical genius and let these masterful magicians teach you a trick or two!

PENN AND TELLER will play the Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket between April 14 and April 21. Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm and Sunday at 5pm.




In the first of its 2020 concert series showcasing classical music with a uniquely Australian edge, THE PHOENIX COLLECTIVE presents “Intricate Machines” – a concert inspired by mechanics, wheels, cogs, precision, construction & repetition. And they’ll play at five iconic, intimate venues in Sydney, the Central Coast and Canberra.

The imaginative program – an ode to the industrial revolution, the hum of a busy city and drive of a locomotive. Audiences will experience the complexity of Reich’s ‘Different Trains’ for CD and live quartet, Pärt’s mesmerising ‘Fratres’, Bach’s ‘Art of Fugue’ and Dvořák’s masterpiece ‘The American’ string quartet.

Launched by Charmain Gadd at her Crossroads Festival in 2018, the Phoenix Collective Quartet is a premier string quartet whose members come from the ranks of national and international orchestras such as Opera Australia Orchestra, Canberra Symphony, Sydney Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Kammer Philharmonie Köln, Boston Symphony, and Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Founded and led by violinist Dan Russell, an accomplished performer here and abroad, it also features Yuhki Mayne (violin), Ella Brinch (viola) and Andrew Wilson (cello).

The 2020 concert series comprises four different programs at each venue (Feb, May-June, Sept & Nov) with a feast of different genres on offer: the virtuosic flair of Italian Baroque, the purity of folk music, French impressionism, the intense emotions of the romantic period, contemporary/jazz fusions and the meditative calm of minimalism. All performed with a sense of intimacy, engaging stage presence and vivid musicality.

Phoenix Collective String Quartet:
Intricate Machines – (2 Hours with interval)
Steve Reich, Different Trains
Arvo Pärt, Fratres | J.S Bach, Art of Fugue
Dvořák String Quartet No.12 Op.96, American

The Phoenix Collective will play the Mosman Art Gallery on the 14th February at 7pm and the 15th February at 2.30pm.

Info & Tickets:





Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney presents an ambitious new solo exhibition by Australian artist by David Bradley of 21st century digital paintings on 15 February – 7 March 2020.

TRANSMISSION is the first solo presentation by the London-based artist at Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney and is the culmination of 15 years of practice dedicated to finding ways to paint in a manner that is distinctly of the 21st century, where the boundaries between picture, video, and virtual reality are blurred.

The exhibition title, ‘Transmission’, implies the passing of one thing to the next. From artist, to viewer, to collector. From history to present. From Instagram to world. From image to object. Continue reading DAVID BRADLEY’S SOLO EXHIBITION : TRANSMISSION


Producers Matthew Henderson and Neil Gooding are thrilled to present the Australian premiere of the Tony Award winning musical THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY.

This play is based on the best-selling novel and developed by the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning creative team of Jason Robert Brown (‘The Last Five Years, Parade’, ‘Songs for a New World’) and Marsha Norman (‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Colour Purple’). THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY will have its Australian Premiere in March 2020 at Hayes Theatre Co.

THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY  is probably best known as the hit Academy Award-nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Francesca Johnson is an Italian immigrant housewife living a happy existence on a farm in the American Midwest. However, while her family are away for a few days at the 1965 State Fair, she meets Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer on assignment filming historic bridges in the area. Continue reading THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY COMING TO THE HAYES


Flying into its ninth season, Night Owls will return to Darling Quarter from this Thursday 9th January until 25th January with a host of free family entertainment under the stars. Featuring live performances, face-painting, giveaways and a huge line-up of Hollywood blockbusters, the 2020 Night Owls film festival is one to mark in the calendar.

Everybody is invited as Darling Quarter comes alive from 5PM each night with face painting by Nat’s Fancy Faces. From 6PM, patrons will be treated to live musical performances from groups such as returning award-winning artists, The Beanies. January 9th will see the festival opened with Lah Lah’s Big Live Band. Continue reading NIGHT OWLS : FREE FILM FESTIVAL @ DARLING QUARTER


Gondwana Choirs proudly presents the 2020 Festival of Summer Voices, featuring Australia’s best young choral singers live in concert across four nights at UNSW.

More than 300 young singers from around Australia will converge on UNSW, Kensington on 16 – 19 January to perform four public concerts under the direction of Australia’s finest choral conductors. These performances set the standard for choral performance nationally with repertoire from around the world.

Led by Gondwana Choirs founder and Artistic Director Lyn Williams AM, the Festival of Summer Voices opens with the Overture concert on Thursday, 16 January at 7pm, showcasing all six Gondwana National Choirs ensembles: Junior Gondwana, Gondwana Novus, Gondwana Voices, Gondwana Singers, Gondwana Chorale, and a representative choir specially formed to perform in the 2020 World Choral Symposium. Continue reading FESTIVAL OF SUMMER VOICES : TWO DOUBLE PASSES TO THE GRAND FINALE


SHADES OF LIGHT by Sam Cosentino
With contributions by Talin Agon, Isabella Forte, Navid Ghasemi & Hanh Nguyen


One by one, four characters, each from a different cultural background, share a story, a private moment, a personal memory about someone they love and care about. Who are these characters? Are they connected? Are they misplaced or are they forgotten? Are they estranged from their families and communities or did they willingly leave them behind to find a “better life”?

Later, these four people find themselves together and trying to survive in a war-torn environment, somewhere between borders, the countries undisclosed. It is desolate; there is nothing green in the landscape, no evidence of water. The man is seriously wounded, unable to be moved, the woman by his side a medic. The other two females are an Italian translator and a Vietnamese news photographer.

Their paths have all crossed by accident, by circumstance. They are stuck together in limbo, between countries, between worlds. It is dangerous to move forward, to cross the border, and dangerous to go back. But they all have jobs to do, functions to perform, help they need to provide to others. With humour and pathos, they work through their dilemma, as individuals and as a group, and from this interaction, they will decide their next move.

“Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream,” Euripides.

The play runs for approximately 60 minutes with no interval, and is performed in English as well as Farsi, Armenian, Italian and Vietnamese.

Cast: Talin Agon, Isabella Forte, Navid Ghasemi & Hanh Nguyen
Writer/Director: Sam Cosentino
Original Music: Anthony Cable and Navid Ghasemi
Lighting Design: Isaac Sánchez Cabrera
Sound Design: Steve J. De Sousa
Producers: Walk Now Productions

Where: The Hellenic Art Theatre, Building 36, Addison Rd Community Centre
142 Addison Road, Marrickville NSW 2204
Dates: 10, 11 & 12 January 2020
Tickets: $30/$20
Time: Friday 10th, Saturday 11th @ 8pm, Sunday 12th @ 6:30pm
Thursday Night Preview, 9th January 2020 – Sponsors Night
Each performance will be followed by a Q&A

Featured image : SHADES OF LIGHT by Sam Cosentino. Pic by SoaP Productions.






Gerry Connolly is a familiar and much-loved face in Australia. A versatile actor, comic and musician, we have watched him in classics such as Fast Forward and Joh’s Jury and on stage in Urinetown and Nick Enright’s Summer Rain, in opera, with symphony orchestras and the regal opening of an envelope. Perhaps his most enduring performance has been his inhabitation of Queen Elizabeth II. Over four decades, his loving (and uncanny) representation of her, full of dry wit and surprising ingenuity, has become an Australian icon.

This brand new story brings to life many of Gerry’s brilliant alter-egos, from Her Maj, her son, her bête noir the Baroness Thatcher, her Australian PMs to other famous home-grown personalities… As the Queen nears the end of her reign, this show explores her history, her hidden personality, and the weird sense of intimacy that has developed for Gerry over decades of walking in the shoes of The Monarch. Continue reading THE RISE AND DISGUISE OF ELIZABETH R COMING TO THE HAYES


China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre (CNODDT) proudly returns to Australia in December for a concert production of the classic masterpiece Chinese opera Liu Sanjie. This is the first time this stunning concert format has been presented out of China.

Liu Sanjie in Concert is a made-for-touring performance that tells the inspiring story of courage, hope and love for the most iconic figure of Guangxi Zhuang ethnic group – Liu Sanjie, a legendary folk singer known as the Chinese ‘Song Fairy’. With her songs, it is said she gives a voice to the impoverished and sings about her yearning for love.

The concert features the renowned folk songs from the original and much loved film that has entertained millions for over half a century. Performed by 56 artists, including two of China’s acclaimed performers Ning Jiang and Pan Wu, with a 40-person choir and accompanied by Biyan Duan on piano. Continue reading THE LEGEND OF THE CHINESE SONG FAIRY COMING TO THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


Trevor Ashley’s hilarious new adults-only show, THE LYIN’ QUEEN, opens at the Sydney Opera House on 26 November for a very limited season. Demand for tickets has been high so this riotous romp will transfer to the Eternity Playhouse as from 10 December for 13 performances only. Expect ridiculous puppets, song parodies, and more out of date politicians than a Liberal party fundraiser.

Parodying everything from The Lion King to CATS, Australian politics to disaster flicks (one and the same really), Home and Away to The Masked Singer, THE LYIN’ QUEEN, a riotous musical comedy brings together the multi-award losing team who brought you Fat Swan, Little Orphan TrAshley and the smash hit The Bodybag. Continue reading THE LYIN’ QUEEN @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE


A new Aussie drama Two Quarters Full by Iley Jones is having it’s World Premiere at Flight Path Theatre on November 5th and will run until November 10th.

Produced by Moontan Productions and starring Misha Mehigan, Molly Haddon, Alannah Roberston, and Cheng Tang ​Two Quarters Full ​is an intimate 1-act play exploring grief, love, and the turbulent relationships that it’s characters share. When a not so by the books lawyer is suddenly confronted with potential unemployment, death, and his estranged brother showing up on his doorstep, Christian’s and the lives of those around him are thrown into dysfunction and insecurity. Grief is prominently what’s explored, the grief that we hide from the ones we love and sometimes even ourselves. Continue reading TWO QUARTERS FULL @ FLIGHT PATH THEATRE


The WONDERLAND ARTS FESTIVAL  is Sydney’s newest art event.

Presented by Tamarama Surf Club, the event will be showcased in the main hall of the Club, right on the doorstep of Tamarama Beach.

You are invited to come and browse great art direct from some of the very best emerging artists.

The festival will run concurrently with ‘Sculptures By The Sea’ from Wednesday 6th to 8th November, 2019.

Funds raised during the event will help our ‘Club Renovation’ campaign.

Artists are warmly encouraged to apply.

The exhibition is open to the public on Wednesday 6th November between 10am and 6pm and Thursday  7th November from 10am to 6pm, Friday 8th November between 10am to 6pm.

Tamarama Surf Club is located at 1a Pacific Avenue, Tamarama.


The final concert in The Metropolitan Orchestra’s eleventh season will cap off another incredible year of music-making with an energised performance setting the scene for an electrifying new year when TMO officially launch their 2020 concert season.

Conducted by Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, Met Concert 5 begins with an absolute concert favourite, Borodin’s ‘In The Steppes of Central Asia’. This thematic work sets the scene for an incredible night filled with wonderful musical imagery. Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 is one of the most famous and most performed violin concertos of all time. TMO introduces their vivacious concertmaster, Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich as soloist for this lyrical and complex work for violin. Continue reading THE METROPOLITAN ORCHESTRA MET CONCERT 5 : BRUCH AND SIBELIUS


Darcy and her reluctant sister enter the world of a virtual reality video game where they are caught up in jobs as drug-ring receptionists. Inside, IT histories are available to all other players, and there’s no way of knowing if those you meet are real or simulated. Lies, scheming, and blossoming romances make for one hell of a game.

DON’T HATE THE PLAYER is playing the Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo between October 8 and October 12



A concert in memory of the late Bruce Alcorn. Featuring Jocelyn Fazzone on flute. Conductor Werner Ruecker.

Including music by contemporary Australian and Japanese composers, as well as familiar classical pieces, and more!

The concert will take place at the Northen Beach Uniting Church Balgowlah, 122 Condamine Street, Balgowlah on 22nd September at 2pm

Tickets $20/$15/under 12 free, Tickets  ate available at the door.