It is easy to become a fan of the group Josie and the Emeralds. Gigs see the group celebrating their identity as a modern viol consort in all senses of the term. The group plays early and contemporary music and collaborates with special guests from the local and overseas early music industry. Concerts contain repeats of favourites from the Josie and the Emeralds repertoire.
Miranda Musical Society sends an energetic Australian shout out to all lovers of the jukebox musical genre as it explores ‘The Legend of the Wild One’, Johnny O’Keefe. The challenges of this style with regard to historical and musical recreation are well handled. This is a production which flows extremely well from scene to scene, whether it be small vignette or major song and dance showstopper.
A consistently high standard of enthusiasm is maintained by the versatile and well-drilled ensemble cast. They are fine support for the characters of Johnny with love interest Marianne, the O’Keefe family and the promoter Lee Gordon. Choreographer Kira Nelson has added a very exciting and successful dimension to this show.
Principal parts in the story are well characterised. Erin Bruce’s German girlfriend to the rocker, Marianne, is acted with greatly controlled range and some delicious singing. Her version of ‘Crazy’ in Act Two is especially poignant.
Jonathan Acosta presents a believable picture of U.S promoter Lee Gordon, interacting comfortably with other principals and members of the ensemble. Luke Loseby takes us on a lively physical and vocal journey. He explores the references to the fledgling local rock n roll industry well.
There were some opening night moments in Act One for Johnny and ensemble which could have benefitted from a stronger and not so pitchy vocal delivery. This would have ensured a firmer beginning to the notion of the revolutionary ‘wild’ one born with super confidence. A great momentum however is created by concise direction in Act Two and numbers with Johnny with his fans are joyous.
This is a brightly costumed musical, with a set incorporating typical Australian materials and images. It is a fine example of the jukebox musical style, and you will enjoy the highs and lows of the legendary Australian story as told with lots of heart by this cast.
SHOUT! THE LEGEND OF THE WILD ONE opened at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre , 30 Eton Street, Sutherland on Wednesday 20th March and plays until Sunday 24th March, 2013.
© Paul Nolan
22nd March, 2013
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- SHOUT!, Johnny O’Keefe, Miranda Musical Society, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan
‘Consider yourself at home’ and ‘Consider yourself one of the family’ are lyrics sung by the Artful Dodger to beckon the orphan Oliver into Fagin’s gang. Likewise, the St George Theatre Company entices us and our families with the successfully high standards of their inaugural production.
The large cast has been well directed through the challenging pace and variety of scenes which OLIVER! demands. Inventive choreography and direction recreate the well-known ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’, ‘You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two’ and ‘Consider Yourself’. Street sellers pitching wares to the rich in ‘Who Will Buy?’ is poignantly expressed.
Principal characters of all ages relevantly and consistently realise their roles. Jack Paterson is a consummate Artful Dodger. Oliver Noakes as Oliver is clear-voiced and especially successful in the communication of the lost and vulnerable parts of his character.
A strong mention goes to Charmaine Gibb’s strong characterisation of Nancy, and her singing of the role. Her character development is well measured and is skilfully linked to Bart’s music. Bill Sikes was formidably sung and menacingly portrayed by Andrew Symes. The moments around his death however are somewhat rushed.
Osman Kabbara’s portrayal of Fagin is faithful to the classic model, but still has an engaging freshness. ‘Reviewing the Situation’ in Act 2 is well delivered. The adult caricatures of Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, as well as the Sowerberry couple, are extremely well drawn.
Perhaps even more vocal strength and raucous hunger is needed in the opening ‘Food, Glorious Food’. However, the movement of the sizable youth ensemble around the impressive set is a striking beginning alone. There is also much more gruel to be eaten through the run of the show.
This is a major classic suitable for all the family. It is supported by a strong orchestra. St George Theatre Company, “we’ve taken to you so strong”. Can we have more?
OLIVER! runs at the Hurstville Entertainment Centre until Sunday March 10, 2013.
© Paul Nolan
1st March, 2013
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- OLIVER!, St George Theatre Company, OLIVER!, Hurstville Entertainment Centre, Jack Paterson, Oliver Noakes, Charmaine Gibb, Andrew Symes, Osman Kabbara, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan
SING-A-LONG-A SOUND OF MUSIC returns to Sydney’s State Theatre with the same winning formula as in previous years. When a fan’s knowledge of any classic film is paramount, their avowed contribution to an audience-interaction event also elaborates on the flow of that film extensively. Many hills are alive with such an experience of the Oscar award winning movie. This theatre is alive with predictable and unpredictable reactions to the unfolding tale.
Interactive theatre is alive through the audience’s use of supplied props and others brought from home. Recurring jeering at characters as in pantomime and actions to accompany classic songs are well maintained by the crowd. Rules for such behaviour are clearly set out for the novices.
This concept pays tribute to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the production values of a much loved film. Accurate and confident singing abounds from all ages around the theatre. However, the emphasis is on the audience keeping busy and having fun. The costume parades never disappoint and make both the prelude to the screening and audience areas colourful.
Audience members can exercise their skills at comment and well-timed quips. Perhaps these are increasingly well-honed this century through social media activity. At times the result is a very dense and hilarious commentary posted in counterpoint to the unfolding of the 1965 film.
Sing-A-Long-A Sound of Music is refreshing as a performance event, which even in 2013 is under no advancing threat of losing its hilarity. It allows major fans of the Sing-A-Long-A style and others revisiting the movie the chance for a fun and uninhibited night out.
SING-A-LONG-A SOUND OF MUSIC played the State Theatre, Market Street, Sydney for two evening performances on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th February and a matinee performance on Sunday 27th February, 2013.
© Paul Nolan
24th February, 2013
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- SING-A-LONG-A SOUND OF MUSIC, Rodgers and Hammerstein, State Theatre Market Street Sydney, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan
The eleven short plays featured in Week Five of this annual festival illustrated many possibilities of the genre.
Variations in structure, script, concept and casting were in abundance for the audience to sample. A delicious tussle between comedy and drama existed within some of the best competition entries on this night. Other standout pieces were well-paced and focused in their construction, with streamlined scripts. They hurtled towards the twists and turns in their climax with energy.
The King Street Theatre audience was able to vote for their two favourite short plays of the night. Choosing just two was difficult on this night.
One of only two monologues on the night was THE PARTICLE COLLIDER, written by Sonal Moore. The hysteria of a stressed mother gone terribly wrong featured much familiar and easily accessible material. Its accelerating rant towards a train wreck climax was well performed by Brooke Doherty.
Also combining the intimacy of modern monologue poetry was SPEED DATING, by Tara Calaby. By manipulating the speed dating energy, successive monologues used the dating concept to poignantly summarise relationship futures in successful and meaty short play fast forward.
The night’s triumph of characterisation and big-picture flow within the short play framework was THE RENTAL COMPANY by Mark Cornell. Already awarded the first prize in the Brisbane Short and Sweet Festival for 2012, it entertained with classic quotes and more for an audience to subtly savour than merely its powerful stock characters.
Week Five of the Short and Sweet Festival continues at the King St Theatre, 644 King St, corner Bray Street, Newtown until Sunday 10th February. Performances Friday and Saturday 8pm and Sunday 5.15pm.
(c) Paul Nolan
8th February, 2013
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- Short and Sweet Week 5, THE PARTICLE COLLIDER, Sonal Moore, SPEED DATING, Tara Calaby, THE RENTAL COMPANY, Mark Cornell, Brooke Doherty, Sylvi Soe, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan
RENT is an important rock musical which deals with confronting material from the end of the 20th century. A high level of dramatic skill and credibility is needed to deliver each scene. The demanding score also challenges the strength of individual voices as well as well-blended ensemble energies.
The Shire Music Theatre’s director Phillip McIntosh and musical director Rebecca Gordon have nurtured some impressive results from the young cast. Some powerful voices are present in the storytelling.
A great variety of vocal nuance matches the attention to subtlety in the character interaction. In this passionate musical dealing with street people, impoverished artists, sexuality, drugs and AIDS, this cast excels in giving us a dose of relevant realism.
There is much to watch in the joyous chorus numbers, as Alphabet City characters interlock with their own individuality intact. Cast members wear their hearts not just on their sleeves but hold them tightly before us as they sing to conquer predicament.
Amongst the well-paced presentation of the story are some scenes which resonate beautifully outside their frames. The characterisations by Jonny Acosta as Collins and Sam Larielle as Angel have more than one such moment.
Principals Claire Duffy as Mimi, Chris Valliate as Roger and Daniel O’Connell’s Mark move the show forward in time with considerable energy and singing that consistently warms us. Kerstyn Walsh’s Maureen is a powerhouse. Her Over the Moon protest performance supported by masked ensemble members dazzles.
This production of RENT portrays all aspects of the story well. It is full of convincing voices and acting. Some fleeting moments of bad balance between voices and band occurred in Act two, but on the whole the blend was excellent. The set was successful and the cast moved on and off it well.
The chance to see such a well-managed version of this modern music theatre classic should not be missed.
The Shire Music Theatre’s production of RENT opened at the Sutherland Memorial Arts Theatre on Friday 30th November and plays until December 9.
© Paul Nolan
3rd December, 2012
Tags: Sydney Theatre Reviews- RENT, Sutherland Memorial Arts Theatre, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan
Josie and the Emeralds, for their concert GIBBONS AND THE NEW, were augmented from its regular quartet of viol players and the versatile beauty of soprano Josie Ryan. Three guest viol players from Melbourne joined the regular group.
Due to the ensemble at hand, the audience were treated to all fantasias requiring six viol parts by the Renaissance master Orlando Gibbons. Communication was of a high quality across the ensemble in these pieces. Closeness of instrumental lines as well as tension and resolution were always appropriately dramatic.
Classic works including voice such as ‘The Silver Swan’ and ‘Fair is the rose, yet fades with heat or cold’ were finely presented amongst the fantasias. The former was chosen in an effective choose-your-own-encore activity by the audience.
As always with Josie and the Emeralds, the concert also featured arrangements of contemporary pieces. Piano miniatures by Ross Edwards worked well with the tone colours at hand in Brooke Green’s arrangements.
Josie and the Emeralds’ director Brooke Green composed two pieces for the viol ensemble and two more for voice with viols. These compositions drew on well varied musical influences. Her expert knowledge of the expressive possibilities of her ensemble contributed to the success of these interesting works.
As always, this ensemble provided an informed example of performance practice enhanced by clever programming. The expanded instrumental forces enabled new repertoire to be performed and an authentic seventeenth century retrospective resulted.
Soprano and Viol Consort Josie and the Emeralds presented GIBBONS AND THE NEW at the St Scholastica’s Chapel, Arcadia Road, Glebe on Saturday 18th November at 3pm. The performance was held as part of the annual Glebe Music Festival.
© Paul Nolan
21 November, 2012
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- JOSIE AND THE EMERALDS, Glebe Music Festival, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan.
This was an excellent evening of cabaret, or performance in any genre. It was a solid way to start the Australian Cabaret Series. Tyran Parke is a talented storyteller with a fine presence.
The warmth of Parke’s singing voice capably delivered a range of songs including very contemporary musical theatre numbers.
All personal tales were honest, realistic, soul-searching and even appealingly self-deprecating at times. In typical cabaret style Parke’s stories continued between an eclectic range of numbers, but were also smoothly woven between verses of songs.
This was pure entertainment. As a cabaret event it was slick and well-structured. It used Parke’s repertoire collected from experiences as an actor, musical theatre enthusiast and star, director and teacher.
Some stand out moments included a mash-up of Westside Story excerpts with spoken soliloquys from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Also, a song from the award-winning musical Next to Normal, which deals with the topic of bipolar disorder, was an expressive and worthwhile inclusion in the song-list. It was followed by a stunningly syncopated version of Windmills of Your Mind.
Tyran Parke’s well-paced cabaret tale hit the mark with its incredible range. Spoken and sung moments of comedy never failed. An audience hungry for more were entertained with an edgy elegiac encore from the point of view of nothing less than a stalker.
This was quality cabaret which was at no time pedestrian or clichéd. Such versatile artists are not to be missed.
Tyran Parke performed his show A LIGHT IN THE DARK for one night only at the Vanguard, 42 King Street, Newtown on Sunday 11th November. The show was the first production to take place as part of the inaugural Australian cabaret series.
© Paul Nolan
14th November, 2012
Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- A LIGHT IN THE DARK, Tyran Parke, The Vanguard, INAUGURAL AUSTRALIAN CABARET SERIES, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan
Following on from its production of MISS SAIGON, the Chatswood Musical Society rise once more to the challenges of yet another major musical. DUSTY- THE ORIGINAL POP DIVA is a well-constructed ‘jukebox musical’. Like SHOUT or JERSEY BOYS,
it is built primarily around the subject’s own hits.
An attractive, effective and practical set blends elements from various decades. This includes a well-lit modern backdrop. Behind the set a well-balanced band supports the changing moments on stage. Soloists and ensemble perform with relevant musical style as well as presence for each decade covered.
Recreations of early pop music TV shows delight and a celebrity gossip reporter tempts and taunts. The lure of the flower power movement, disco or nightclubs are all keenly depicted. Comic characterisations and humour are performed well and succeed in easing tensions.
Linda Hale thrills and educates audiences with her accurate depiction of the pop diva. Using a thorough approach to Springfield’s subtle-firecracker style of vocal delivery and gesture, Hale wrenches Dusty back to life. The on-stage confrontations between the adult Dusty and her teenage self, played expressively by Gabriella Glenn, are, at all times, highly focused
Bernadette Baran delivers a feisty version of Dusty’s mother, Kay. Her singing of ‘My Colouring Book’ in Act Two is well-timed and poignant. You can also feel and see her physical and emotional pain.
As love interest and American musical influence, the character of Reno is excitingly portrayed with formidable range and truth by Miriam Ramsay. It is satisfyingly sung and danced.
A large quantity of props is used to enhance the demands of this show’s long list of sometimes short scenes. Perhaps this was at times too detailed. Scene changes were at times demanding but mostly smooth, thanks to a hard working crew.
The jukebox-musical DUSTY- THE ORIGINAL POP DIVA verges on the bio-musical with its meaty story and creative arrangement of musical material. In this current production’s genuine and joyous guise, this show should not be missed.
Chatswood Musical Society’s production of DUSTY opened at the Zenith theatre, corner Railway and MacIntosh streets, Chatswood on Friday 2nd November and runs until Saturday 10th November, 2012.
© Paul Nolan
3rd November, 2012
Tags: DUSTY- THE ORIGINAL POP DIVA, Chatswood Musical Society, Linda Hale, Gabriella Glenn, Bernadette Baran, Miriam Ramsay, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan.
This was an energetic attempt at presenting a very well-known musical. The show contains fine characterisations, situational humour, excited ensemble moments and subtle sideways glimpses at vulnerability. These all were in evidence to some degree in this version.
The extended stage and steps to the top of the ‘guesthouse’ accommodated the variety of scene locations, and there was good variety of lighting. The placing of action on the auditorium floor was successful except for some partially obscured low scenes in front of the stage.
Fiona Murphy’s whorehouse madam, Mona Strangely, displayed elegance, courage and was reliable vocally. Michael Heming’s TV personality Melvin P Thorpe was a strong caricature with a formidable wig.
Another important layer to the cast was Doatsy Mae, the ubiquitous diner waitress turned social commentator. Nicole Taylor played this part strongly, and her Act 1 number Doatsy Mae was delivered well and in a bittersweet style.
Other memorable musical moments were Mona and her girls singing Lil’Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place, and the Girls’ beautiful Hard Candy Christmas. Ray Pittman showed himself to be comfortable in song with his Good Old Girl number late in the show.
The introduction of burlesque themes into the Texas story brought stunning outfits onto the stage, blending with aspects of the set. Some of the burlesque posturing did not appear to be as comfortable for the cast as did the choreography. The concepts may be said to have a jarring effect on the original story and its core concerns.
Some sound and balance issues were present on the night I attended, as was some occasional fluency of dialogue, but these are sure to be addressed quickly throughout the run.
Overall, this show entertained and the action or music never dragged. Y’all of age go and enjoy!
The Canterbury Theatre Guild’s production of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, directed by Ray Pittman and James Russell, opened at the Bexley RSL on Friday 12th October and runs until Sunday 21st October, 2012.
© Paul Nolan
13th October, 2012
Tags: Sydney Theatre News- BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, Bexley RSL, Canterbury Theatre Guild, Fiona Murphy, Michael Heming, Nicole Taylor, Ray Pittman.
Water is a precious but potentially dangerous commodity. This stage production follows of a handful of characters that are all drowning to some degree.
The overlapping narratives presented are disappointingly somewhat hackneyed with regards to originality of subject matter. However, their clever combination and method of depicting circumstance shows the narratives are a vehicle only for introducing us to a modern stage experience. This fluid piece washes over us with very interesting resonances.
Throughout this piece we watch a passionate scientist struggling with family, depression and educational administration. A sportsman attempts balancing ambition and romance and a workaholic government employee will collow even the most dfficult brief to succeed.
Water and our changing environment links all three. Characters rejoice in water and suffer because of their obsessions with it. The underlying theme though is really one of need-usually to be loved and accepted.
Through the use of cutting edge production techniques, particularly audio-visual, lighting and sound, Filter Theatre succeeds in conveying the intensity of the protagonist’s agonies. This is done using short scene fragments and constant changes from one narrative situation to the next.
Music and stage management crew on stage give the drama a workshop directness and spontaneity. Most rewarding was the original music, sound effects and live foley performances by Tim Phillips.
The talented cast work precisely together to weave the stories. Timing is of great importance in this work, and the actor’s work was slick. They support each other well in a cornucopia of characters and accents, which surface for extremely brief but effective moments.
The concepts for use of the stage, video technology and performance versatility in WATER make it a worthwhile event. Its structure will have you working hard at times as an audience member, but the enhancement of the storytelling here makes for a rewarding entertainment.
A Filter and Lyric Hammersmith production, WATER created by Filter and David Farr, opened at the Sydney Theatre on the 12th September and runs until the 23rd September, 2012.
© Paul Nolan
15th September, 2012
Tags: Sydney Theatre Reviews- WATER, Sydney Theatre, Filter Theatre Company, Lyric Hammersmith Productions, David Farr, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan.