Alicia Tripp is a seasoned arts and music critic, as a former journalist for the ABC’s Limelight and State of the Arts magazines. She has a degree in Media & Communications, English and Music from the University of Sydney. As a pianist and a piano teacher, music is her first love. Having been a ballerina as a child and teen, she feels a strong connection to dance. In recent years she has passionately studied and learned to speak several languages, but still feels that the richness and complexity of the English language cannot be trumped. Reviewing Sydney’s premiere concerts, operas, ballets and stage shows allows her to combine her passion for music, dance and the written word.
They say rain on opening night of an outdoor show is a good omen. Well, Handa Opera’s West Side Story on Sydney Harbour must be in for one hell of a run after the deluge that set in for a solid hour right on cue for the prelude to Act I.
The audience, dressed to the nines for the red carpet, rushed to purchase ponchos and attempted to keep dry for a few desperate minutes, before giving up. We all resolved to ignore the fact that we could see nothing through our glasses (someone really must invent windscreen wipers for spectacles), our hair and make-up which took hours to do was now undone in a matter of moments, our dry-clean-only gown and suede handbag were beyond salvaging, and our $20 program turned to pulp. After all, if the actors could sing and dance in the rain, we could sit and watch in the rain.
With good humour, determined to enjoy ourselves, we applauded and cheered as the actors burst onto the stage full of life, seemingly unaffected by the great flood. The fast-paced twirls, leaps and lifts, not to mention the scaling of ladders taking place on the raked stage seemed downright dangerous – an OH&S nightmare. Thankfully the dancers were all wearing sneakers and the floor had a rough surface, making the feat of their triple and quadruple pirouettes all the more impressive. Continue reading WEST SIDE STORY : SIZZLES EVEN WITH THE RAIN→
The new Robin Hood, said to “make the classic cool again”, has previewed in Sydney and is sure to be a hit. With the generation too young to know Prince of Thieves, that is.
There is no doubt that the target audience is under thirty. Robin of Loxley is played by the boyish Taron Egerton, whose face looks like it belongs on a teenage bedroom wall. It is interesting to see Maid Marian, played by Eve Hewson, in an updated modern role, as a passionate, fearless young activist. A buff, street-cool Jamie Fox plays a character which is a fusion of Little John and the Moor played by Morgan Freeman in the 1991 film.
The film, or rather, the movie itself is huge and fast and loud. Full-on action. We’re talking Rocky-style fitness and battle training, fast and furious chariot races, and Nicholas Cage/Bruce Willis scale explosions. Robin Hood is almost a super-hero. And the ending is an opening for a sequel. All the ingredients for a box office success.
Pertinently, the shameless luxury, corruption and inhumanity of religion are centre-stage (including an admission from the Cardinal that hell is an invention of the church rather than God, to keep people in fear.) Tim Minchin is a cool and ironic addition as Friar Tuck, grateful for being liberated after his de-robing.
This Robin Hood strives neither to be historically accurate, nor faithful to the legend. And, as mentioned, it is certainly no Prince of Thieves. But then, how could anyone beat the combined magic of Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater and Alan Rickman? Or could I just be showing my age?
This October Sydney Dance Company brings us another exciting new Australian contemporary dance work, Forever & Ever. The show is a double bill, commencing with an older work by Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela, and finishing on a high with a curious, engaging and forceful newly commissioned choreography by internationally acclaimed Antony Hamilton.
Bonachela’s Frame of Mind needs no introduction in the performing arts community, as in 2015 it won four Helpmann Awards, including ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best Dance Work’. Frame of Mind is emotionally charged, intense to the point of being stressful and exhausting. And yet you don’t want it to end. It is so fascinating and complexly beautiful. It is a real treat to sit in the first few rows, right in front of the Australian String Quartet playing Bryce Dessner’s dramatic contemporary-classical soundtrack live on their exquisite 18th century instruments.
Griffin Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare’s latest co-production, The Misanthrope, transposes Molière’s satire of ill-manners, hypocrisy, and prudishness, into contemporary Australian queer culture. It is a fun, funny frolick, in the vain of a mardigras float, and almost as shallow.
Molière is France’s answer to Shakespeare. Writing in the mid-1600s, he had a flair for rhythm and rhyme, and both his storytelling and characterisation were razor-sharp, depicting human frailty with wicked wit. Justin Fleming’s translation gives the classic work a contemporary Australian edge, whilst maintaining the rhyme throughout, in clever, often ingenious ways. Griffin and Bell together staged a modern Fleming translation of Molière’s The Literatti in 2016. That was a roaring success, side-splittingly hilarious, and remains one of the best pieces of live comic theatre I have ever seen. The Misanthrope falls short of such high praise, whilst still being entertaining.
Director Lee Lewis places the action in a studio, amidst the production of pop music videos and fashion shoots. The set and costumes are eye-catching, and the composition and sound design tie everything together, creating a fun context, immediately recognisable as entertaining. It is also a context which is easily turned on itself for laughs, as we all know how superficial, vain and hypocritical the entertainment industry can be. Hence, there are some strong moments of self-reflexive comedy as a result of this choice of setting. However, the recontextualised story doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Continue reading THE MISANTHROPE- FUN, LAUGHTER AND FABULOUS QUEERISM→
THE TURK IN ITALY is not one of Rossini’s best known or best received operas, but this risqué OA production is sure to entertain most. (Just don’t take your kids or your prudish mother-in-law.)
Director Simon Philips premiered this playful retro adaptation in 2014 and returns this year with the same cartoonish set design and candied costumes, as well as much of the original cast.
The plot is by no means serious drama and does not stand up to critical examination. But it is laugh-out-loud funny. This is opera buffa, after all. It is meant to be ridiculous, and is by its’ very nature full of gender and race stereotypes, with not one fully formed, complex character. Continue reading THE TURK IN ITALY – MODERN AUSSIE OPERA→
Oh to be a kid again! And to be a kid nowadays! There was no such thing as the annual winter holiday pantomime when I was at school. I remember watching my mum and dad get all dressed up to go to the theatre, leaving us at home with a babysitter and a video tape. It seemed like such a fantastic, sophisticated world that I would never know of. I dreamed of The Opera House, The Capitol, The State, without really having any idea what went on inside those hallowed walls. Now, due to the success of Cinderella, Snow White, Aladdin, and Peter Pan & Tinkerbell, it has become a winter school holiday tradition for parents to take their young children along to the State Theatre for a live show designed specifically for them.
English born Bonnie Lythgoe is the beaming creator of this whole idea. After decades of involvement in the performing arts as a dancer and choreographer for film and TV, Lythgoe turned her hand to the production and direction of fairy tale adventure pantomimes several years ago. She has enlisted the talent of some big name stars from the world of “serious” theatre (meaning for adults) and has almost formed a new genre of live show, one that, like some of the great Disney Pixar films of the last decade, manages to cross the age barrier and reach both the parent and the child. Sleeping Beauty, A Knight Avenger’s Tale is pitched to ages three to 103. Continue reading You Beauty! – State Theatre Panto ‘Sleeping Beauty’ a Roaring Success→
Bell Shakespeare opens the 2018 season with the love story of the world’s first celebrity couple. Before Kim and Kanye, there was ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. Theirs was a love for the ages. Antony and Cleopatra’s affair certainly did not ‘wear the rose of youth upon it’. Passionate, grand, cynical, yet completely without corruption, this middle-aged love endured despite politics, war, and marriage to other partners. The Egyptian Queen and the Roman General-cum-Ruler lived, loved and led the world in the tumultuous decade succeeding the assassination of Julius Caesar, during which period Rome went from a Democracy to an Empire and Egypt saw the decline of her last Pharaoh. The play is set in a fascinating point of history and revolves around some of the most famous and powerful characters this world has ever seen. Continue reading BELL SHAKESPEARE’S ‘ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE→
Opera Australia’s sophisticated and yet accessible production of Carmen has something for everyone. Opera aficionados who feel they have seen it all will enjoy and appreciate the insightful and adroit directorship of theatre legend John Bell. Opera novices will be entertained by the near musical theatre level of dancing and acrobatics, as well as chuffed to recognise many of the tunes. Continue reading ‘CARMEN’ @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE→
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