All posts by Carolyn Neumann

Highly qualified in things other then 'the Arts'; Carolyn's life long love of theatre, movies, comedy and music has meant that she has spent much of her life in dark rooms with strangers - sitting upright and paying attention. So now - please sit upright and pay attention...


Michele Lansdown. Pics by Blake Condon

Midlife crises faced by creatives are uncomfortably common. The tale of one faced by Italian film director Guido Contini is currently being performed at the Seymour Centre in Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit’s Tony Award®-winning musical NINE.

Set in 1960s Italy, the show is based on Federico Fellini’s ‘8 ½’. We witness the death throes of a marriage as Guido’s wife, his mistress and his leading lady turn away from him. He seeks refuge in fantasy and memories of himself at nine kept safe by his mother. Romantic and sexual episodes are juxtaposed with Guido’s Italian Catholic background giving the plot specific context. The cast were challenged to maintain their Italian accents.

Much of the action takes place in a spa as Guido desperately searches for an idea for a new film after several unsuccessful films. His female producer is insistent on the script deadline, even if it means a supposedly reduced box office.                     Continue reading NINE @ THE REGINALD THEATRE SEYMOUR CENTRE


Was Maria Callas, one of the most famous dramatic coloratura sopranos of all time, a diva both on and off stage? Was she more famous for her voice or for her affair with the mega-rich Aristotle Onassis? Who is better to answer these and related questions than Maria Callas herself.

MARIA B Y CALLAS  is an intimate look at the life of the legendary Greek-American opera singer completely in her own words.

Whilst she died in 1977 aged 53, this documentary film reminds us that her voice was truly remarkable and that the media hounding ensured that the public thought of her as a diva. The documentary is a chronological collection of interviews, performances, home movies, photographs, letters and unpublished memoirs from Callas.

The movie reveals the tussle between Maria, the ‘normal’ female desiring a ‘normal’ family life with children, and ‘Callas’ the international opera star who must please and appease audiences and the press. She collected recipes but never got round to making the dishes. Whilst having been married once and having a long public affair with Aristotle Onassis, she admits that destiny called her to be a diva and therefore motherhood was denied. Continue reading MARIA BY CALLAS : DESTINED TO BE A DIVA


Eliza Jackson knew she was going to be a star even before entering her teens. Her show THE VOICE BEHIND THE STARS proves her prediction. This show is the story of Marni Nixon (1930-2016) who was the ‘ghost singer’ behind many leading Hollywood actresses in over 50 movies. Eliza holds the stage in this solo performance with her voice, humour and authentic story-telling.

Eliza focuses on the music and the story by using a simple set on a blackened stage. The set has a microphone and music stand representing the recording studio, an armchair, table, tea set and record player for home and a centre screen projecting images of the range of actresses whose careers Marni Nixon enhanced by giving them her voice.

Marni Nixon, endowed with perfect pitch, began singing professionally in her teens, reinvesting all her earnings in the early years in singing lessons. Whilst she did have some work doing her own recordings and some opera, it is her ‘ghost singing’ for which she is most noted. She has been described as ‘the best film diva you (almost) never saw’.

Many of her contracts forced her to remain silent about her being the real singer behind stars such as Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood. We gain insights into the talent and personalities of these and other leading actresses such as Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr and Marilyn Monroe as Eliza interweaves storytelling with songs from My Fair Lady, The King & I and West Side Story to name just a few movies.

It was not until she was well into her twenties that Marni began her fight for and succeeded in getting the rights for all ‘ghost singers’ to be credited in the movie and to receive reasonable payment. Marni eventually did make it onto the big screen in acting and singing roles, including being cast in The Sound of Music as one of the singing nuns. Marni comforted herself with the success of three Oscar-winning films and the success of the leading ladies. She was also proud of the success of her three children: Andrew, an award-winning composer, Melanie and actress and Martha a psychologist.

Eliza Jackson writer, creator and performer of this show is an Australian-born, London-based actress and singer. NIDA trained, she is the Creative Director of UK-based theatrical production company Lambert Jackson.

Whilst Eliza too has been said to have perfect pitch, there are several humorous moments when she plays with various accents, personalities and class exaggerations which allow her to lower her musical guard. The story has enough of these moments and characters for the chronology to never become tedious. It is an absorbing tale. The overall message is bitter-sweet: “I’d let all these actresses dub their body to my voice”. The performance is one to relish.

During a successful sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018, the Edinburgh Guide described Eliza’s performance as ‘magnetic and magical’. THE VOICE BEHIND THE STARS is next playing at the Fringe World Festival in Perth daily from 10th to 13th February, 2019



Soaring property prices, greedy real estate agents, unscrupulous foreign buyers, biosecurity threats, pretentious environmental concerns, are being played out with nudity, violence, homophobia and horror in 95 minutes in Newtown.

NOSFERATU : A FRACTURED SYMPHONY commands attention through strong acting performances and plot entanglement with one of the most iconic films of the silent era, Murnau’s 1922 film of the same name. It is this link which adds historical and literary depth to a seemingly contemporary story. Continue reading NOSFERATU : A FRACTURED SYMPHONY


Pick of the Litter, a “dogumentary” about puppies becoming guide dogs is not a tear jerking telethon marketing exercise. It is far better than that. It is a delightful, irresistible and interesting documentary. It is a story of love, struggle, competition, resilience and cuteness.

For the story, directors Dana Nachman and Don Hardy follow five puppies from birth through their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. It is an intense almost two-year journey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. In their quest they are supported by an array of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best, only the pick of the litter. Continue reading PICK OF THE LITTER



On a hot Sydney weekend afternoon in November fans of a near-octogenarian queued for the signing of his latest book. Stars on Stage A Conversation with Reg Livermore saw Reg Livermore return to The Independent Theatre to talk about the book and his life with ABC Radio presenter James Valentine. It was at the Independent Theatre that Reg Livermore did theatre training as a schoolboy. The two of them appeared relaxed as they conversed about life stages and the stages on which Reg had appeared in his career from early teens until now. These aspects appear in Stages – Reg Livermore A Memoir (Hardie Grant Books, 2018).

A true legend of Australian Theatre, from serious drama to cabaret and more, Reg Livermore has received more than a dozen major awards. He has been a performer, writer, designer and director and appeared on television. In the last few years, he has received three lifetime achievement awards.

In conversation, Reg reflected on some of the relationships, triumphs and tragedies that have shaped him both as a person and performer. Ensuring that he was speaking directly to the audience, Reg appeared variously energetic, sparkling, reflective, matter-of-fact and opinionated. Clearly he demonstrated that he is a person to be respected and listened to if one is at all interested in Australian theatre of the last 66 years and curious about possible life lessons as well as theatrical ones. He did not shy away from failure, had felt its sting and accepted it as part of life. He accepts failure but owns his triumphs. This may be key to his theatrical longevity. Continue reading STARS ON STAGE : A CONVERSATION WITH REG LIVERMORE


It may seem that going to the Seymour Centre to sit in on an intellectual discussion between two of the 20th Century’s greatest thinkers at the end of a long day at work or study may be too taxing for many. It is a credit to the acting and production skills of the cast and crew of FREUD’S LAST SESSION that audiences’ fascination with the men and the discussion sustains interest for the full 75 minutes of this play.

Nicholas Papademetriou as Freud and Yannick Lawry as C.S. Lewis confront each other and some of the biggest questions of human existence – love, sex, the existence of God, the meaning of life, love and sex. The dialogue is set against the chilling entry of England into World War II as it is being broadcast on the radio.



Whether or not you can afford an overseas holiday, you can still get your Happiness Passport. The Happiness Passport – A world of joyful living in 50 words is a delightful light reference book taking you through dozens of languages and cultures. It arrives amidst the current positive psychology and pursuit of happiness literature.

This global exploration of sayings and inspired illustrations is written by Dr Megan C Hayes, an academic researcher in Psychology, and illustrated by Yelena Brysenkokova, a fine artist and illustrator. The book provides its readers with an ‘internal cwtch’ [Welsh language indicating a warm, safe cuddle or hug]. Continue reading THE HAPPINESS PASSPORT : A DELIGHTFUL REFERENCE BOOK


Margaret Fulton “livened up the nation and taught them how to cook with a little inspiration and the Margaret Fulton book”. Words of the enjoyable lively musical, Margaret Fulton Queen of the Dessert, ring true to generations of Australian and English housewives. Her story portrayed by a cast of six and a keyboard player is a tale of fame and social struggle as a successful female in a conservative Australian society in the mid to late 20th century. It is not just a fun show, but a sociological reflection of gender issues and roles in Australia.

From the opening set and musical numbers we are led through the pre-Margaret Fulton traditional Anglo-Australian households’ weekly menu. We reflect on the jingoistic times of the America’s Cup win and the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations. Whilst it appears that Australia is celebrating, Manon Gunderson-Briggs as Margaret Fulton is not in a good mood as she faces losing her home and sings about the “living icon blues’. Fortunately for the musical, this mood doesn’t last too long. We are introduced to her bohemian days in Sydney after escaping from Glen Innes. She marries her boyfriend after he returns from the war, has a daughter, escapes from factory work, moves away from Sydney, and returns to the Rocks in Sydney. In the second half of the show we see her through a few more romantic attachments and her ascendency through television and publishing land using her canny Scottish background and top sales work approach. Continue reading MARGARET FULTON : QUEEN OF THE DESSERT


With NSW in drought comes the timely musical Leap of Faith performed by the North Shore Theatre Company at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney until 14th October 2018. This Tony-nominated musical is based on the 1992 American movie of the same name which starred Steve Martin. The music is by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Janus Cercone and Slater.

The musical tells the story of ‘Reverend’ Jonas Nightingale, a part-time reverend and a full time con artist, who is travelling with his ministry. When his bus breaks down in the middle of small drought-ridden Sweetwater, a Kansas town, Jonas plans an impromptu revival to take the entire town for a ride within 3 days. Forced to pitch a tent, he invites the townspeople to his revival. However, the sheriff, Marla McGowan, is determined to stop Jonas from taking the people’s money. Yet her son, Jake appears to idolise Jonas. It’s a story about how people respond to being dealt a variety of ill fortune. It’s a story of resilience, inspiration and redemption. Continue reading NORTH SHORE THEATRE COMPANY TAKES A LEAP OF FAITH


With public warning announcements and sirens blaring through St Peters Town Hall the audience of all ages was on edge. Flying in from behind came a body in a red and black suit falling on top of his red suitcase.

It was the dramatic entrance of a well loved festival star, MR GORSKI (Daniel Gorski) in his Sydney Fringe Festival 2018 show. A mime and variety show artist with a lovable endearing persona, the audience is immediately on his side.

Daniel attributes some of his inspiration for performing to his upbringing in an eccentric, Polish artistic family environment that encouraged creativity. Originally from Melbourne, he has performed at a multitude of children’s, folk and fringe festivals throughout Australia and is known for playing Jango in the ABC Kids show ‘Hoopla Doopla’. Continue reading MR GORSKI AT THE SYDNEY FRINGE: OFF-BALANCE FUN



It appears that many of us want an “Inner West state of mind”. This is spectacularly demonstrated in one of the best Raves in town, Inner INNER WEST SIDE:THE MUSICAL. This UltraCult production is currently showing as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.

Though based in Sydney’s North Shore and Inner West, the story is more universally one of pretence, pretending to be someone you’re not. Andrea (Laura McDonald) a North Shore runaway chases the dream of becoming Newtown ‘cool’, whilst incidentally studying her Arts Degree. Naturally her allowance is cut by her wealthy parents, yet it remains well above any funding the locals may receive which they have to top up by working.

Her privileged background appears to drive her to rise to the top of any group she encounters so she quickly sets her sights on dethroning the incumbent Queen of Rave parties, Monica (Elouise Eftos). Continue reading INNER WEST SIDE:THE MUSICAL – RAVE ON!


A large crowd enjoyed the opening night of IT’S NOT CREEPY IF THEY’RE HOT at Bondi Pavilion Theatre as part of the 2018 Sydney Fringe Festival. It proved that Rosie Licence is a strong new playwright. Director Max Baume describes her writing as “brutally honest” and “painfully hilarious”.

IT’S NOT CREEPY IF THEY’RE HOT is the third play written by Rosie Licence. Blending verbatim theatre, slam poetry and new music, we follow twelve friends, who aren’t that great at being friends. A range of contemporary topics are raised including body image, feminism, explicit pics and internet advice. From the early threatening question: “You’re not going to tell him are you?” this 120 minute play in which much is said has a searing message about what is not talked about. Continue reading IT’S NOT CREEPY IF THEY’RE HOT – A HOTBED OF HILARITY


The Gauntlet Image: Amelia Found

A sea of sound washed over and around the audience as it swept up the internal stairs and circled in foyers of the Sydney Opera House on Saturday 1st September. THE GAUNTLET was being performed as part of the Antidote Festival at the Sydney Opera House September 1st and 2nd, 2018.

THE GAUNTLET has been described as an immersive choral experience in which the “lyrics” are formed from interviews with twenty of Sydney’s “interesting citizens” – social, political, cultural and environmental activists – about global, local and personal issues.
It is a tonal, musical, theatrical movement installation of Sydney stories performed by Sydneysiders however temporary that may be. Continue reading THE GAUNTLET – A SEA OF POLYPHONY


After 19 years of touring UK and Europe, BEYOND THE BARRICADE got a standing ovation from some audience members at their State Theatre concert in Sydney as part of their current six weeks Australian tour.

The audience knew it was not going to be as spectacular as seeing the actual shows as the four singers (including a singer on keyboard) and three other musicians brought familiar tunes in concert mode. As Andy Reiss has explained “We don’t use backing tracks, so every musical note is played and sung live, giving a dynamic feel to the show.” There were times when the singers’ ‘performances’ could have been a bit more ‘dynamic’ too, particularly in the first half. Continue reading BEYOND THE BARRICADE: IN SYDNEY AS PART OF A NATIONAL TOUR


This image: Laure Prouvost, Swallow, 2013. Courtesy of Laure Prouvost and LUX, London Featured image:Emily Parsons-Lord, melting gallium performance installation, 2018

For their second exhibition, Cement Fondu Directors Megan Monte and Josephine Skinner have paired Turner Prize Winner Laure Prouvost (in her Australian gallery debut) with Sydney based artist Emily Parsons-Lord, in a playful and seductive multi-media exhibition intersecting human sensuality, nature and technology, SENSE.  In coming weeks this will be enhanced with live music and performance by other artists.

As viewers we are challenged with how we use our senses to perceive and understand our environment. Our impulse to change our environment using technology, science, hypothesis and superstition is revealed. Continue reading SENSE – EMILY PARSONS-LORD & LAURE PROUVOST AT CEMENT FONDU


Production Images: Liz Arday.

In the Sydney premiere of YOURS THE FACE by LZA Theatre the audience watches a video installation projected on an actor and the backdrop pinned by large photographic lights, currently on in the Blood Moon Theatre, Bayswater Road, Kings Cross.

Daniela Haddad sustains an hour-long solo duologue story about a photograph by a male Australian photographer of a female American model meeting in London. The strong accents and colloquialisms readily separate the characters and readily lead to audience laughter. The model Emmy as well as the photographer Peter are a long way from home. -a long way from mother figures and their traditional values. Continue reading YOURS THE FACE – WE WATCH, WE PARTICIPATE

The Exquisite Hour @ the Independent Theatre

José Carbó Trio – Images by Will Perez Ronderos

L’Heure Exquise (The Exquisite Hour) presented by the José Carbó Trio is resoundingly successful in answering a question posed by Australia’s leading baritone, José Carbó. What if he were to be accompanied by two guitars instead of the usual piano or even orchestra when singing operatic songs?

Spectacularly, many of the arrangements in this concert were developed in collaboration with two young emerging classical guitarists, Andrew Blanch and Ariel Nurhadi. Together they form the José Carbó Trio. The trio first appeared together on stage at Canberra’s 2015 Voices in the Forest concert, where they performed music from Carbó’s ARIA-nominated album My Latin Heart. The third concert in their current Australian tour was held on 11 March 2018 as part of the Independent Theatre’s popular Prelude in Tea series – which always includes a most generous afternoon tea. Continue reading The Exquisite Hour @ the Independent Theatre


The audience of TIME STANDS STILL are welcomed into the home of Sarah and James, and into the rawness of relationships between physically and emotionally injured people; internal and external conflict, and naivety conversing with jaded worldliness. The Tap Gallery is currently home to a robust innovative production of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Don Margulies’ Tony award nominated play.

Sarah, a photo-journalist, and her boyfriend, James, a war-correspondent, are passionate about reporting on the world war zones. The play opens with them back home in Brooklyn, ‘grounded’ by injuries sustained in the Middle East. In their damaged condition, they attempt to regain domesticity which is starkly contrasted to their tales of chaos and danger in Iraq. James circumnavigates Sarah’s crutches as he attempts to cushion her and cover his sense of guilt. He had returned to the United States before Sarah’s accident, after suffering a breakdown. Continue reading TIME STANDS STILL @ THE TAP GALLERY


GRACE UNDER PRESSURE, has been written at a time where there are current media reports of suicides of young doctors and high levels of mental illness in the medical profession. There are frequent cases of ongoing workplace bullying and harassment and overwork.

The Seymour Centre is presenting this important verbatim play as part of The Big Anxiety -festival of arts + science + people; and the Great Ideas Performance Series 2017. Co-writers David Williams and Paul Dwyer in collaboration with the Sydney Arts & Health Collective have developed a harsh rendition of stories from many doctors and nursing staff from hospitals across NSW. Continue reading GRACE UNDER PRESSURE : THE MEDICAL PROFESSION UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT


Chatswood Musical Society’s Australian premiere of the Broadway  hit, IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, music by Barbara Anselmi and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, is 90 minutes of non-stop hilarity. With his production of the show,  Director James Worner has been able to spread the joy he felt when he saw the play on Broadway.

This is a roller coaster musical farce featuring nervous grooms, overbearing mums, unexpected guests, and the odd blushing bride.

The bride is Jewish. The groom is Catholic. Their mothers are gale force matriarchs. The audience related to, and many times laughed at, the familiar fears, expectations and tensions that come with family celebrations. As old relatives staggered about, young friends weaved in and out of the melee seeking reassurance. When the bride’s ex-boyfriend crashed the party, it was up to the sister of the bride to turn things around to enable the happy ending. Continue reading IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU : AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE OF A BROADWAY HIT MUSICAL


A sense of fun and joie de vivre is the dominant theme in two current exhibitions at the Australian Design Centre (ADC) : Annie Gobel: Edge In and Chili Philly: Crochet Social. The ‘wearable sculptures” jewellery by Annie Gobel and colourful garment pieces by Chili Philly both intrigue and delight the senses.

Annie Gobel Edge In.

This exhibition is presented by the ADC in collaboration with the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

Annie is Indonesian born and Melbourne based. As well as exhibiting around Australia this young artist has recently exhibited in Japan.

Beginning with a thick bold outline, the jewellery is simply set against corrugated cardboard backdrops, which are closer to skin tones than stark white walls. The texture also lifts the works and allows pastel colours to shine. The objects are often candy coloured enamel and some of the playful pieces are made from toys. This renders them more tactile and enticing.

Chili Philly Crochet Social

Melbourne based artist Phil Ferguson goes by the name Chili Philly. His work is being exhibited in partnership with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, with one of the organisers describing it as ‘fun, camp and clever’.

Philly’s wearable art often takes the form of everyday objects, mainly food-related, which are transformed then captured as self-portraits and uploaded on Instagram. They sprang from the foods surrounding him in his earlier hospitality jobs.

The transformations use wool, acrylic and poly-filler. The video and photographic aspects are less self aggrandisement than an avenue naturally allowing his self deprecating humour to gain a wider audience.

His brightly coloured crocheted garments have gained a strong following on social media in the past few years, especially since March 2016 when this art became his full-time occupation.

At the launch of this exhibition the majority of the full house were obvious fans, many adorning food based head gear, crocheted and other. Their dedication was all the more extraordinary given the Sydney heatwave, as they queued for selfies with the creator.

Some serious trained crochet craftspeople wonder how he does it. He remarked that he started each work only knowing only one stitch, and he continued working to meet  more people when new in town – hence the ‘social’ aspect.

The Wrap

Both exhibitions of jewellery and garments are fun and induce play. The Australian Design Centre organised kids’ and family workshops with the artists. Young attendees at the launches were impressed by the work. The exhibitions are truly fun for all ages.

The Australian Design Centre is located at 101-115 William Street Darlinghurst. The exhibitions are on display until the 15th March.

Featured image is from the Chili Philly Crochet Social exhibition. Pic by Simon Cardwell.