Began professional career as dancer/singer with J.C.Williamson’s as part of an Arts Council- sponsored country tour with “The Sentimental Bloke,” followed by shows such as “Camelot,” and “The Boys From Syracuse.” Joined the Garnett H. Carroll circuit, performing at Sydney’s iconic Tivoli Theatre, in “The Windmill Revue,” and “Fade Out, Fade In.”
After a stint in the RAN, embarked on the Sitmar (Now P. & O. Cruises) Passenger Liner T.S.S “Fairstar,” working as Stage Manager for their Theatre on the Sea, and then was promoted to Cruise Director. Disembarked ship in 1983 and formed a double club act with the late Chris Shaw, (Female Impersonator), performing in all the clubs throughout NSW. Did a season at Sydney’s “Olde Bull ‘N’ Bush” Theatre Restaurant in William Street.
After retiring from full-time employment, performed in musical theatre with “The Lugar Brae Players” situated in Bondi. Last performed with Ashfield Musical Society, playing “Senator Wingwoah” in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Member of The Genesian Theatre Company, and currently teaches Line Dancing at the Eastern Suburbs Legion Club in Waverley.
Firstly, let me quote from the NewTheatre’s own website, which describes the play accurately:
“Being a 20-something queer is hard. Being a 20-something queer living in Sydney is… something else.
“Dating apps, capitalist nightmares, a rental market we’re not invited to and a semi-constant state of existential terror – look, we’ve only got 12 years until climate catastrophe; might as well flail around in a spin class and buy a reusable straw.
“An unstitched patchwork of queer lives in queer times, THIS BITTER EARTH looks at how we fight, bitch, love, confront despair and try to connect, all through the mess and the muck and the might of everyday queer existence.Continue reading THIS BITTER EARTH @ THE NEW→
Before we even enter the theatre, we are asked, as an audience, to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. I was happy to do both.
We were greeted by the actor himself and were drawn to him by his easy-going, genial personality. We warmed to him even before he had actually done anything onstage.
After a few short questions thrown to the audience, mostly about politics, and to which the audience readily reacted, the debate had already begun and would continue on after the show for those who wished to stay.
Even though no one could look less like Osama Bin Laden than fair-haired, rosy-cheeked Englishman Sam Redway, he convinces us that he has got into the mind of a man we have all come to know as the world’s worst terrorist simply by his superb acting skills and the fervour of his interpretation. And he does it without the use of makeup, and just the minimal use of costumes and props. Continue reading BIN LADEN : THE ONE MAN SHOW→
Jordan and Laura Vassallo took a brave step in choosing to produce and present this very difficult Sondheim classic for the inaugural show of their new company Bloom Creative Productions directed by Jordan. If they had any trepidations about their choice they needn’t have worried. In a lesser director’s hands this show may not have succeeded, but instead it was indeed a triumph.
The highly professional cast included:
Wayne Scott Kermond – The Narrator and Mysterious Man; Laura Murphy – The Witch; Nat Jobe –The Baker; Katie McKee – The Baker’s Wife; Elisa Colla – Cinderella; Matthew Predny – Jack; Daniella Mirels – Little Red; Siobhan Clifford – Rapunzel and Cinderella’s Mother; Haydan Hawkins – Cinderella’s Prince and The Wolf; Joshua Firman – Rapunzel’s Prince; Michele Lansdown – Jack’s Mother; Prudence Holloway- Cinderella’s Stepmother; Georgia Burley – Lucinda; Megan Stack – Florinda and Granny; Cameron Boxall – The Steward; Brittanie Shipway – Witch Voice ‘Cover’; Steph Edmonds – Lucinda and Steward ‘Cover’.
Taken from the tales of The Brothers Grimm, the story follows The Baker and his Wife, who wish to have a child. Cinderella, who wishes to go to The King’s Festival, and Jack, who wishes his cow would produce some milk. (Lots of wishing going on here, it seems.) The Baker and his Wife meet up with the neighbourhood witch, (every neighbourhood’s got one apparently) who reveals to them that she has placed a curse on their family, so the two set off “Into the Woods” to reverse the curse. There’s flesh-eating wolves, little girls in red capes, randy princes, grannies and giants, all with their own particular agendas. (All good kiddie fairytale stuff). Things don’t go to plan, but in the second act everything comes together like a well-baked Christmas pudding, and like all good fairy tales, it all ends happily.
Most musicals will usually have, perhaps two, four, six leads and the rest of the cast comprise the ensemble. In this piece there is no ensemble as such, but is replaced by the entire cast, thereby moving the action along by each member continuing the storyline.
Space doesn’t permit me to single out each performer, and it would be unfair to do so. Suffice to say that every actor was equal in vocal capacity as well as acting ability, and all gave a high-energy knock-out performance. Each performer complemented the other, and the overall blend was as close to perfect as both a director and an audience could wish for. Strong harmonies from the duets to the quintets.
Presenting the show in concert style allowed both musicians and performers to immerse the audience in the brilliant music of Stephen Sondheim.
Musically directed by Peter Hayward, the fourteen-piece orchestra complemented the singers throughout, giving them all the support necessary for such a difficult piece. It undoubtedly gave the singers confidence in having the backing of such a fine ensemble.
Being a concert performance, there was no need for elaborate sets, so Designer Neil Shotter’s imaginative giant willow tree at the rear of the stage with branches hanging down at the front certainly gave the impression that we were, indeed, ‘into the woods.’
COSTUMES AND CHOREOGRAPHY
Audrey Currie’s idea of blending formal wear with character costumes worked quite well, and Cameron Boxall’s choreo kept the entire cast moving at a cracking pace.
Lighting Designer Sean Clarke and Sound Designer and Operator David Grigg met their various challenges with professional capability.
THE TECHNICAL CREW
Always too numerous to mention, but of course essential to the running of any professional show. Under the capable direction of Stage Manager Jonothan Page, all the crew, (well over thirty), obviously worked together as a coherent team to pull this piece together. Bouquets to all those not mentioned.
This was a thoroughly professional production in every single aspect, and the many members of the audience who gave it a very enthusiastic standing ovation after the final curtain, (well, blackout), obviously agreed.
A magic, blissful, highly enjoyable night of superb theatre.
INTO THE WOODS had a far too brief season at the Concourse, Chatswood playing between the 21st and 23rd March 2019.
The Post-Haste Players‘ ROMEO AND JULIET IMPROVISED is not Shakespeare as you know it. It may not even be Shakespeare ‘as you like it’, but the capacity audience at the Factory Theatre on Wednesday night 16 May certainly did like it.
Part of the Annual Sydney Comedy Festival, held at various venues around the metropolitan area, this Company has built up a huge following of ‘improv’ devotees. The company was established in 2011 by Michael Gregory and Oliver Burton, who share directing
credits, and who now act with the permanent cast, comprising Marco Mustac, Linette Voller, Lisa Ricketts and Bryce Halliday, who also provided appropriate musical accompaniment throughout the play. Featured also was veteran ‘improv’ performer Ian Campbell. Those of you who ever attended a live Mike Walsh Midday Show will remember him for his role in “warming up” the audience to get them in the mood for the show. Continue reading ROMEO AND JULIET IMPROVISED: POST HASTE PLAYERS→
The BBC Proms is the world’s largest classical music festival, an eight-week extravaganza of orchestras, conductors and soloists from home and abroad performing daily at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The event that caps off the festival, the “Last Night of the Proms,” is a lighter concert featuring popular classics and British patriotic music. The mood is celebratory: the audience joins in the festivities by waving flags and singing along!
The Willoughby Symphony Orchestra’s ever-popular “Last Night of the Proms” returned this year with a special event that was bigger and better than ever before! We were promised a “spine-tingling performance that would have our hearts thumping and our spirits soaring,” and everyone on stage delivered on that promise in spades.
From the creators of Bard to the Bone, last seen at a sold-out run at the Old Fitz Theatre, comes the next epic addition to the improvised Shakespeare canon,
“Improv,” or improvisation if you like, is a unique type of performing. It has a definite set of rules or principles which are used in the execution of the genre, and lends itself to comedy, which is the case in the production POST-HASTE HISTORIES.
The concept of the show is that it is built around a word chosen at random from a selection provided by the audience, taken from a dictionary of Shakespeare’s words. The word is written up on a notice board at the back of the stage, and the players have to make up an entire play, using the word as a basis for the plot.
The word chosen on the opening night was “Jerkin,” a sleeveless short jacket made of leather and worn by men around the 16th and 17th century. Shakespeare himself probably wore one or more Jerkins. You can only imagine the ‘one-liners’ which this word conjured up.Continue reading THE POST-HASTE HISTORIES @ KING CROSS THEATRE→
Recounting the tragic events of the Matthew Shepard murder, THE LARAMIE PROJECT tells a story dealing with issues of gay hate crimes, sexuality and the death penalty in rural America.
The senseless and vicious murder took place in Laramie, Wyoming in the States in 1998 and eight members of The Tectonic Theatre Company travelled to Laramie and conducted over two hundred hours of interviews with sixty local residents. From these interviews they crafted this play which expressed their views on the crime, on Laramie society, and on issues around the death penalty in America.
The Holy City of Godface : built by gods, ruled by gods, populated by gods.
Seventy minutes, the length of this play, may not seem like a long time to spend on stage, but for the five cast members of
GODFACE, it must have seemed like an eternity. Not only do they have to play many human characters, they must also bring a myriad of puppet characters to life. The four male actors who work the puppets have to embody several different animals – supplying the voices while controlling their entire body movements. Continue reading MATRIARK THEATRE PRESENTS GODFACE @ 107 PROJECTS Inc REDFERN→
In THE MERCHANT OF VENICE Antonio, a Venetian merchant, has a friend Bassanio, who is desperately in need of money to court Portia, a wealthy heiress who lives in the city of Belmont. Bassanio asks Antonio for a loan in order to travel in style to Portia’s estate. Antonio agrees, but is unable to make the loan himself because his own money is all invested in a number of trade ships that are still at sea. Antonio suggests that Bassanio secure the loan from one of the city’s moneylenders and name Antonio as the loan’s guarantor.
So, in Venice, Antonio and Bassanio approach Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, for a loan. Shylock nurses a long-standing grudge against Antonio, who has made a habit of berating him and other Jews for their usury, which is the practice of loaning money at exorbitant rates of interest, and who undermines their business by offering interest-free loans. Although Antonio refuses to apologize for his behaviour, Shylock acts agreeably and offers to lend Bassanio three thousand ducats with no interest. Shylock adds, however, that should the loan go unpaid, he will be entitled to a pound of Antonio’s own flesh. Despite Bassanio’s warnings, Antonio agrees.Continue reading BARD ON THE BEACH PRESENTS THE MERCHANT OF VENICE @ THE GREEK THEATRE MARRICKVILLE→
Featured photo- internationally acclaimed Australian flautist,Virginia Taylor who performed Hindson’s new work.
The magnificent Willoughby Symphony is one of Australia’s most exceptional orchestral organisations – a professional symphony orchestra of outstanding quality, serving the community of Sydney’s North Shore and beyond. It has notched up yet another success, with their third concert of the year, BRILLIANCE. On the musical menu was Mozart’s Symphony No.35 in D, K385 (Haffner); Resident Composer Matthew Hindson’sHouse Music; and Danish Composer Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No.6.
Taking the place of resident Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, Dr Nicholas Milton, was the very versatile Maestro Stephen Mould, a regular guest with the WSO. Stephen is currently Chair of Opera Production and Senior Lecturer in Operatic Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music whilst also continuing his freelance activities as a conductor and accompanist.Continue reading WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA IN BRILLIANT FORM→
Featured pic- left to right- Alex Sarno, Jill Rowston, Clare Salon, Diane Churchill.
The humble ukulele, almost obsolete up until now, seems to be making a resurgence onto the entertainment scene all over Sydney. Having had its inception with most cultures throughout the Pacific Islands, its popularity has since spread world-wide.
Although there are many groups sprouting up almost everywhere, one group emerging as one of the leaders of the genre is SILVERBEAT. Based in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and comprising three females and one male member, their repertoire ranges from folk to country to easy listening popular standards. From Bob Dylan, through to The Springfields (think Dusty), and on to Credence Clearwater Revival, their four-part harmonies together with the gentle lilt of their “ukes” will take you on a relaxing journey to many well-known and loved tunes. Continue reading THE SILVERBEAT UKULELE GROUP TO PERFORM AT WORLD BUSKER DAY CONCERT→
Adapted from the Oscar winning movie musical, CALAMITY JANE is set in Dakota Territory, USA, in the time of the American Old West. The show tells the story of the small western mining town of Deadwood City which is about to undergo a calamity. The Golden Garter Saloon, owned by Henry Miller and his niece Susan, is preparing for the visit of a lovely New York entertainer, Frances Fryer. Due to a mix-up, Frances Fryer turns out be a man, Francis Fryer. Henry finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. In an attempt to save face, he forces Francis to do the show dressed as a woman. But all hell breaks loose when the audience realise they’ve been hoodwinked. Continue reading ROCKDALE MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS CALAMITY JANE @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL→
If you think that a show with a title like this would involve only dancing, you will be in for a big surprise. This play is so much more than that…
Richard Alfieri’s SIX DANCING LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS is a touching and very human comedy about a formidable retired woman, Lily Harrison, who hires an acerbic dance instructor, Michael Minetti, to give her private dance lessons —one per week for six weeks— in her luxurious apartment in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida.
What begins as an antagonistic relationship slowly blossoms into an intimate friendship as these two people from very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, fears, and joys, whilst dancing the Swing, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha and Contemporary Dance.
Michael and Lily learn to overcome their outward differences and discover an unlikely but profound connection. By the final lesson, Lily has shared with Michael her most closely guarded secret and he has shared with her his greatest gifts; his loyalty and compassion. A comedy with music and dance, the play also addresses the serious issues of ageism and intolerance. Continue reading SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD→
“The Killing of Sister George” is a ground-breaking comedy written by Frank Marcus, (who many will remember as a champion of lesbianism), which was named Best Play of the 1965-66 Season by The Theatre Critics Variety Poll and voted Best Play of the year by the London Theatre Critics and the London Evening Standard.
Marcus’ play tells the story of television actress June Buckridge, nick-named “George” because of her character name, “Sister George” in the series. She is about to be written out of the popular TV show “Applehurst”- mainly because of her scandalous off-camera antics. As the gentle, kind-hearted nurse on the popular British soap opera, everyone loves her. But the actress who plays her is an abusive, cigar-chomping, gin-swilling lesbian. When gossip begins to swirl about the personal habits of the actress, BBC executives decide to kill off the beloved character, thereby unleashing George’s true brutality.
We learn that the relationship between George and her flatmate’ “Childie,”swings from being loving and affectionate one minute, to screaming rows the next. Always coming off worst, poor Childie has to show contrition by subjecting herself to the most humiliating actions before she is forgiven by her merciless and sadistic partner.
Accused of molesting two catholic nuns in a taxi, George incurs the ire of the Head of Religious Broadcasting, who puts in a complaint to the BBC board on behalf of the Mother Superior of the convent where the two novitiate nuns reside.
When George is reprimanded by BBC TV Executive, “Mercy Croft’’, she gives a very ‘high-camp’ description of the episode, making a joke of it. But Mercy does not see the funny side of it, and plots to have George sacked from the show, eventually succeeding in getting rid of her. While visiting George to keep her informed regarding the change in the show, Mercy begins to take more than a passing interest in Childie. She sets about to cause a split between the two.
When the final decision is made to take George out of the show by being struck and killed by a ten-ton truck, she is offered the job of doing the ‘voice-over’ of a cow for a children’s animated series as compensation. She tries everything she can to prevent this happening, but eventually, when everything fails, she realises that her TV career has come to an ignominious end. When the final scene shows George, alone and desolate, practicing rather pitiful cow sounds, it is obvious that she has finally resigned herself to her fate.
The all-female cast moves the action along at a riveting pace, keeping the first-night audience eager to see how the drama will eventually unfold.
“Madame Xenia” is the flamboyant downstairs neighbour and is played by Sarah Jane Kelly. Her characterisation if perfect and her accent is consistent throughout. As she flits in and out of the play, she adds a delightful comic relief to the otherwise rather dark scenes.
Helen Stuart’s Mercy Croft displayed the character’s fake charm, and plays the role with all the conniving and cunning required.
Deborah Jones (George) and Natasha McNamara (Childie) both bring a lifetime of experience to their performances, and play off each other convincingly in their scenes together. Their actions and reactions complement each other perfectly, each giving the other plenty of room to explore and depict their particular character traits.
Even with the advantage of working with such experienced actors, Director Peter Mountford still needed to possess a high degree of sensitivity towards the difficult subject matter. Evidence of his success came from the standing ovation received at the conclusion of the play.
Judith Hoddinott’s set successfully depicted a typical London flat circa 1964 and made full use of the space available in the relatively small theatre.
In an industry where ‘word of mouth’ is much more valued than any amount of paid advertising, word will quickly spread that this is a ‘must see’ event, and those intending to go should get in early before the ‘’HOUSE FULL’’ signs start going up.
THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE, presented as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian MARDI GRAS FESTIVAL 2016, is playing the King Street Theatre. 644 King Street, corner of Bray Street, until 4th March. Performances are Wednesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays 5 pm. until March 4.
Last Thursday evening a smiling Greg Khoury, Executive Director of The Concourse Performing Arts Centre at Chatswood, welcomed myself and fellow UPSTAGE members with a short familiarisation speech, after which we were treated to a complimentary champagne buffet dinner. Whilst dining, I mingled with other members who, like myself, simply love going out to the theatre.
In an effort to publicise this wonderful entertainment venue, the UPSTAGE scheme was set up by Development Manager, Zoe Davies, who spoke about the history of the scheme.
“The membership scheme was set up just over a year ago to let people know that the Concourse was up and running, and was doing incredibly well, having the second largest venue after the Opera House. But we really wanted to get to know our audience more. UPSTAGE is not a money-making scheme by any means. In fact, the cost of staging our many events throughout the year far outweighs the membership fee.
“For the small outlay of $50 dollars per year, members are initially given two free tickets to any show at the Concourse in the first year of membership. They are also given free drink vouchers, discounted parking, and advance notice of upcoming functions. It’s all about giving our loyal patrons who come here all the time something more. But of course it’s really about the events. We set it up firstly to entice people to come to the venue, and once they’ve been here, we know they will want to come back again and again. Continue reading THE UPSTAGE MEMBERSHIP SCHEME @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD→
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