All posts by Paul Nolan

Paul Nolan was born on the New South Wales North Coast. He has been involved with musical theatre and choral groups on the NSW North Coast and in Sydney. Paul has had poetry published in various periodicals. He is trained in classical piano and has a Bachelor of Music from the UNSW.


Reuben Kaye hosts THE RING
Reuben Kaye made a great host in THE RING

Anyone who says they are not slightly transfixed by gladiator style sport is lying. With this in mind, MC Reuben Kaye offered us a handful of talented international cabaret and burlesque stars in back to back battle.

The result was a string of live and uncensored ‘battle rounds’ from true entertainers which made that recent reality TV phenomenon look like a preschool craft class.

Slick traditional burlesque from Vespa White morphed into queer, confronting and ultimately very funny burlesque work from Betty Grumble and Aaron Manhattan.

Standout vocal visitor for the night was Natalie Gamsu, who rocketed from the stage and beyond with her riveting version of Bowie’s Space Oddity. She was ably supported by the smooth JC Thomas Band, whose loungy list of originals and clever covers linked the night’s less relaxed moments together.

The comic cabaret of Sheridan Harbridge gave me the most pleasure I have had from a voice and ukelele act for some time. She was a subtle superpower on the side of the cabaret artists. Speaking of superpowers, Reuben Kaye was a formidable force as the MC. His smile and style just became more glamorous through his performances which featured quick adult one liners, self-deprecating quips and plenty of local jokes.

His fabulous voice in a tender rendering of Men At Work’s Land Down Under was a patriotic tribute. The venue resounded with applause and the weeping of punters nostalgic for gap year backpacking days.

The Ring was a tantalizing taste of many cabaret and burlesque possibilities. It was festival-worthy and shocked many of us out of our working-week rut.



Phil Scott in one of his favourite impersonations as PM Rudd
Phil Scott in one of his favourite impersonations as PM Rudd

An instantly endearing raconteur, Phil Scott the incredibly gifted musician with proven satirical skills presented a spontaneous, hilarious and at times musically spellbinding summary of his career thus far.

A trip through his professional life illuminated even the darkest, most challenging corners of a challenging industry.

Hit songs were parodied with delicious humour which was often not politically correct. Comic rewriting of famous performers’ work or styles ensured successful caricatures with elastic facial expressions from Scott.

Excerpts from his Liberace show dazzled with appropriate grins, accent and keyboard fireworks during Bernstein/ Mozart/ Tchaikovsky/ Boogie mash-ups.

A cross-eyed performance as Peter Allen in hysterical comic disguise was a great moment, as was a defiant and successful Piaf rewrite, Je ne Requeste Rien from his nights as a frustrated fledgling cabaret artiste.

The clever yet tender ballad Take Another Little Piece of my Art touched us as only middle class break ups can.

The initial entry alluding to the reality TV ‘Survivor’ franchise and using camouflage costume created much less impact than ensuing choices in the night.

This show was a full and varied justification of Phil Scott’s reputation in the local and international cabaret scenes. It was an honest and lighthearted look at the essence of the art form, and a fantastic night out in a fine Sydney venue.

PHIL SCOTT IS A CABARET SURVIVOR played for one night only at the Slide Lounge, 41 Oxford Street, Sydney as part of Slide’s current Cabaret Festival.



Brilliant percussionist Claire Edwards
Brilliant percussionist Claire Edwards

The second season concert for the Metropolitan Orchestra (TMO) at the Independent Theatre, 269 Miller Street, North Sydney, was an exciting blend of new music and classics from the eighteenth century orchestral repertoire.

This enthusiastic audience was wowed by the world premiere of Daniel Rojas’ Chamber Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra.

The atmosphere, emotion, dialogue and sense of caricature needed throughout this imaginative work were warmly realised by the orchestra. Textural variation and creation of the necessary tone colours were beautifully handled.

Virtuosic work at the marimba by the joyous gem of a percussionist Claire Edwards also brought this successful new percussion concerto to life.

TMO framed this premiere with two favourites of the orchestral repertoire. Firstly a string orchestra arrangement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and then the  Symphony No.104 -‘The London’ –by Haydn.

The orchestrations of both classics were given freshness by conductor Sarah-Grace Williams’ thorough interpretation and attention to layers of motivic interest across the orchestra.

Tempo choices for the faster movements of both works were extremely vibrant but did work well, with cleanly defined themes. The folk-song inspired finale of the London Symphony dazzled.

TMO offers audiences an alto saxophone concerto, Mozart’s Symphony No.41 and some Mendelssohn for Met Series 3 on August 31 and Sep 1.

As always, it will enrich Sydney’s orchestral concert scene and should not be missed.



The cast of STEPPING OUT. Pic by Grant Leslie
The cast of STEPPING OUT. Pic by Grant Leslie

This show, based on a great book by Richard Harris, takes us to the world of adult education classes, in all its diversity. This production’s practical and convincing set enrols us immediately in the right atmosphere.

Class members bring much more than a need to learn for their ‘one night a week’ oasis from various routines of family, grief, abuse, and hunger for expression.

The ten characters contrast well and are consistent throughout. They have been well directed to enhance the tapestry of ensemble rehearsal moments and other comic or poignant scenes.

There are some great times to be had watching this talented group bringing STEPPING OUT to life. Dialect work is extremely effective.

Clever choreography works well with the cast dancing idiosyncratically as both learners and breakthrough stars.

Standout vocal moments are delivered often by this cast. Vocal balance with the supportive band mostly gives narrative clarity.

Margaret Short’s Rose delights in Don’t Ask Me. Penny Stewart’s version of Too Much shows the heartbreaking side to Mavis the dance instructor. The fruits of the class’ hilarious labours in the fiinale are well worth the wait and journey.

Turn up for this class. It educates all ages.

The Miranda Musical Society’s production of STEPPING OUT- THE MUSICAL, directed by Brett Russell with musical direction by Dean Turner and choreography by Natalie Leather , opened at the Sutherland Memorial School of the Arts, East Parade, Sutherland on Friday 14 June and runs until Sunday 23 June, 2013.





Joseph, Jacob and sons

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s groovy Genesis musical can be a tricky chameleon making its way across the desert. It contains back to back changes in musical style. Directors are challenged to draw countless caricatures. There are also shifting inspirations for ensemble or solo movement.

These requirements are met and celebrated in the current Chatswood Musical Society production. An enjoyable, expressive telling of the biblical story about the dream interpreter Joseph, son of Jacob, bursts forth with technicolour success.

The orchestra is led through changing musical styles clearly. It provides a controlled accompaniment for the cast. There is a good balance between voices of all ages and the instruments.

A big Old Testament shout must go out to the inexhaustible, well-costumed adult ensemble. We see securely characterised brothers, wives, and palace attendants manage several styles of music and comedy with clear, well-trained delivery. The slick full-ensemble choreography has impressive unison moments.

The omnipresent role of Narrator by Kathy Xenos is incredibly engaging. She is a natural singer and storyteller. Nathan Stark’s focused vocals, dancing and presence as Joseph are a gift to this production. Stark’s fresh, modern interpretation of Close Every Door from his prison cell, and the depths of Neil Shotter’s innovative set illuminates all darkness anywhere.

The role of Pharaoh has a cool Graceland edge in the hands of Brian M Logan. Briana Scutts prowls above the pyramids as Mrs Potiphar with her evil eye fixed on the latest slave to arrive in Egypt.

For my biblical buck, the beret goes off to the brothers’ Those Canaan Days, a great moment of chanson triste, complete with a dance duo at its climax. The famous Benjamin Calypso was another fine creation from this ensemble, with Edwin Estanislao joyous as brother Judah.

Take the time to see this colourful and talented cast of all ages tell a bit of the Bible through the styles of pop, calypso, rock n roll, country and western and more. It could fill a larger venue, perhaps without the use of a less than contemporary curtain to pull back when negotiating full cast on stage.

JOSPEH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT opened at the Zenith Theatre, Chatswood on Friday 10th May and is playing until Saturday 18th May, 2013.


Lachlan Edmonds-Munro, Matt Jones and Anita Donovan. Pic Grant Fraser

This early successful play by Noel Coward is very well recreated by the Genesian Theatre. The wickedly observant humour of a brave young Coward attacks the high society characters in often merciless exchanges. All cast are lavishly costumed and the bright, detailed sets are sufficiently opulent and accommodating.

In this production, as in many modern situational comedies of merit, the energetic young characters expose the hidden feelings of the adults and are joyously immune to any results of grown-up defences or idiocies.

Continue reading THE YOUNG IDEA


Elena Terentieva in Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE

If MTV had a classical cousin that promoted snapshots of great operas, ballets and instrumental music, then this pastiche from the Moscow Novaya Opera would definitely help ratings.

In OPERAMANIA, fourteen dramatic and comic moments from the well-known Italian, French, German and Russian repertoires are staged with awesome dramatic presence and vocal delivery. The singing is focused and passionate. Ensemble interaction and choreography is strongly characterised and interesting, following modern trends in costuming and direction.

But wait, there is more! The large orchestra which digs right into the famous accompaniments also performs five items alone, including medleys of much loved eighteenth century classics and nineteenth century polkas and marches. Even a Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto excerpt is thrown into the mix.

Katerina Kolpakova’s piano work also supports the stars of the Imperial Russian Ballet in the event’s first ballet interludes. Romantic period favourites by Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov are choreographed. Three Nutcracker excerpts and The ‘Grand Adage’ from The Sleeping Beauty continue the audience’s exposure to classics of Tchaikovsky’s ballet output.

The night is busy, but of such a high standard that the audience is repeatedly delighted and not confused. Outstanding solo singing pleases a bravo –shouting crowd. Yaroslav Abaimov in ‘Ah, lève-toi, soleil’ from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet will surely continue to bring such praise. Elizaveta Soina’s ‘Casta Diva’ from Bellini’s Norma is captivating. Balletic strength and elegance is well illustrated in the ‘Grand Adage’ from Sleeping Beauty.

This event enjoyed great acoustics in the City Recital Hall, and proceeded admirably despite cramped conditions. Instead of surtitles, a rather beautifully abstract slideshow of continental portraiture and landscape was suspended above the stage. Adjusting or deleting this may have created space, however such screens are becoming popular additions to modern concerts.

This is a thrilling event to tour Australia, and maybe is the next classical music and dance mélange to require a stadium. The extended standing ovation seemed to suggest such potential.

Moscow’s Nevaya Opera’s production of OPERAMANIA is playing the City Recital Hall on two further occasions, Tuesday 16th April and Wednesday 17th April, 2013.

© Paul Nolan

14th April, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- OPERAMANIA, City Recital Hall, Moscow Novaya Opera, Elena Terentieva, Sydney Arts Guide, Paul Nolan



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.



Luke Losely as JO’K surrounded by fans. Pic Andre Moonen

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


Oliver Noakes as Oliver and Jack Paterson as the Dodger

‘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


The classic 1965 film comes alive

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