LADIES IN BLACK is a thought-provoking comedy drama about the lives of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney Australia, with important female lifestyle messages that are still relevant today. Timeless and memorable coming of age story, focused on the naive bookish ultra-intelligent sixteen year old Lisa Miles. December 1959 she takes a summer job for two months, at Goodes department store, which is a fictional business that is loosely based on the Australian department store chain, David Jones Limited. The required work-uniform that all female counter staff wear, is the LBD (Little Black Dress) made iconic and famous by Coco Chanel when published in Vogue Magazine in 1926. Continue reading LADIES IN BLACK @ STRATHFIELD MUSICAL SOCIETY
Mosman Musical Society proudly presents an original show about a TV talent quest, its contestants and the crazy world of high stakes television, set to glorious showstoppers from the full gamut of musical theatre. Great characters, wacky conflict, love and romance, and just plain goofiness, with music everyone will know and love.
Written by Clare Gerber, who has had plenty of experience of television, and directed by Nick Bone, A Night On Broadway is a hilarious spoof on the world of the television talent quest in the age of Instagram!
The show tells the story of the battling contestants, the frustrated tv executive, and the result of the ultimate showdown on prime time, with songs from a huge range of classic Broadway musicals.
This is a true homage to Broadway, and very, very funny. The show will include a talented array of community theatre performers from all over town, with musical direction by Dominique Parker and choreography by Chris Bamford, production design by Alex Cotton, and creative direction by Susan Boyle. Director Nick Bone brings a wealth of experience in musical theatre.
DATES FOR THE DIARY
4 July 7.30pm, 5 July 7.30pm, 6 July 2pm, 6 July 7.30pm at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney
Manly Musical Society presents their gorgeous new production of Les Misérables, the world’s longest running musical. Featuring one of the most memorable scores of all time, this true modern classic musical is based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel, set in 19th-century France, the era of the Paris Student Uprising of 1832, the French Revolution. Follow the lifetime journey of parolee Jean Valjean, constantly chased by ruthless police inspector Javert.
This is a relatively new version of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. It’s a reworking by Ryan McBryde and Philippe Hersen with the Bee Gees soundtrack freshly engineered by Domenico Torti. The Australian adaptation has been directed by Karen Johnson Mortimer. The reworking has seen some of the script’s darker elements removed and replaced with a greater emphasis on the dancing and the show’s hypnotic soundtrack.
The retweaking works well and means that this much loved musical still has plenty of charge. From what I saw on opening night the show now has a generation of fans with the youngsters who attended. This Lyric Theatre production is a great spectacle with big production values; plenty of digitally generated imagery, set changes and a great lighting plot.
The coveted lead role of Tony Manero was played by rising star Euan Doidge. Any performer playing this role walks in the long shadow of the great John Travolta and considering this he acquitted himself very well.
Melanie Hawkins was like a dream as the ‘snobby’ Stephanie Mangano, the unrequited love interest of Tony and her dancing, as the best dancer in the nightclub, was exceptional. Continue reading SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER @ THE LYRIC
In this beautifully lyrical tale of love and struggle against oppression a highly talented cast draws the audience into this tragic yet uplifting story set at the tail end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. It is based on the Philippines’ national novel Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by Dr Jose P Rizal. There are several themes intertwined through the musical – the love between a man and a woman, the patriotism of the Philippines, what people will do for their country and the controversy and power of the Church. Continue reading NOLI ME TANGERE (TOUCH ME NOT) : A NEW MUSICAL
The celebrated musical SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER will have its opening night at the Sydney Lyric Theatre on Tuesday 2nd April, 2019, twenty years after its opening on Broadway.
Despite productions in Argentina, Holland, Spain, Germany and South Africa, to name but a few, Sydney’s exclusive season will be unique. Thinking out of left field the producers wanted to add something special to this ode to disco so they reached out to Australia’s disco queen, Marcia Hines. She accepted and sings two of her pop charting songs to add that little more oomph to the show.
The cast is packed full of award winning members as well as familiar faces. The show stars Euan Doidge of Priscilla fame, Bobby Fox, the Jersey Boys lead, Paulini, Melanie Hawkins, the lead dancer, ‘Tim O Matic’, Omaji, Natalie Conway and Nana Matapule
John Frost, the Executive producer, indicated that this production will have a greater emphasis on the dancing. Nevertheless the grittier parts of the musical, based on a story by Nik Cohn will not be overlooked.
All pics by Ben Apfelbaum
Shire Music Theatre is presenting HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL at its home venue the Sutherland Memorial School Of The Arts, East Parade Sutherland. The season of this fun musical ends this weekend.
DATES FOR THE DIARY
Thursday 28 March 8pm, Friday 29 March 8pm, Saturday 30 March 2pm & 8pm, Sunday 31 March 2pm
North Shore Theatre Company (NSTC) is ready to send its loyal audience into side-splitting laughter when it brings puppet musical comedy Avenue Q to The Independent Theatre, North Sydney from 26 April to 4 May.
Winner of the Tony Triple Crown for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, the hilarious Avenue Q tells the timeless story of a recent college graduate trying to find his way in the world in New York.
This critically-acclaimed musical is strictly for adults only despite featuring puppets and is R-rated, containing adult topics, offensive language, and an onstage portrayal of puppet sex.
Here are three words to set the scene for you: rude Sesame Street!”
DATES FOR THE DIARY
26 April to 4 May 2019 at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney
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.
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
Above: Jay Cullen as Judas Iscariot, Rickard Roach as Annas and Mark Gardner as Caiphas. Featured image: Kyle Nozza as Jesus Christ with ensemble. Photo credit- Grant Leslie Photography
This is solid entertainment and a stunningly updated version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original 1971 classic. Audiences will be moved and leave the theatre singing the well known music which has been excitingly repackaged. I still am.
Successful lighting, filmic rear-stage projection, a multi-level set design and a diversity of modern costuming ensure that this show is a visual spectacle throughout. These production values bring us an engaging, edgy and entirely believable piece of suffering.
It is a current and relevant retelling Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s nod at the Christian story of a sacrificed Saviour. It pushes creative boundaries quite far but not too far and delights our modern and very visual sensibilities.
Several ‘superstars’ grace this stage. Vocally, James Gander as Pontius Pilate is forever rewarding with warm controlled tone and measured swoop to his acting. ‘Pilate’s Dream’ was a well carved out signpost of foreboding and a well delivered mood changer.
Ileana Pipitone brought the role of Mary Magdalene to the Sutherland Entertainment Centre with an open directness of physical approach and truthful tone and expert blend in ensemble moments. These exchanges reached a relaxed intensity of colour in ‘Can we start again, Please?’ where she ably led the group emotional statement.
The shifting emotions in the final week of Jesus’ earthly life were sung with formidable clarity and with pleasing stage presence by Kyle Nozza. He demonstrates an amazingly keen and humble conversational lilt whilst delivering us some huge direct-hit notes. Challenging shifts between types of vocal voice and many chest voice high register exclamations were attacked with thrilling passion here.
Above: Ileana Pipitone as Mary Magdalene and Kyle Nozza as Jesus with ensemble. Photo credit: Grant Leslie Photography.
This show’s traditional larger-than-life King Herod as played by Lachlan O’Brien and dancers illuminates the stage here. It is such a theatrical number as this which proves audiences need to leave the lounge room and reality TV to discover emerging talent supplying the real deal live locally. Herod’s dancers are ably re-invented later as an angelic hoodie hip-hop troupe in another stellar stage innovation.
Acting highlights include the multifaceted edginess displayed by Jay Cullen in a restless yet vulnerable portrayal of the torments of Judas Iscariot. The temple priests are also a terrific presence with varied dramatic tone and attitude in equal portions. The busy ensemble are also believable and focussed as they move smoothly through the constant shifts of the stage storyboard.
Some moments exist where the active ensemble’s vocal part-singing and textural power could be stronger or more defined within the melee but these are brief. However the languid hypnotic mood created in the ‘The Last Supper’ scene. Here, gorgeous groove and well blended part singing are up with the most seamless to be found in any historical stage or screen version of this musical.
At all times the band played with well chosen tempi and with the necessary momentum this rock musical demands. They were at all times successfully sympathetic to the onstage sound level being produced.
The ‘John 19:41’ 39 lashes scene is one of this version’s many standout action segments . As led again consistently commandingly by James Gander’s’ Pontius Pilate it uses the assembled sinners of mankind to slash n mark the Saviour in what is indeed a directorial and choreographic master stroke. The macabre energy level and pace never wanes throughout this sequence.
Miranda Musical Society’s Jesus Christ Superstar concludes its run on Sunday Mar 23. Fans of blockbuster musicals should save the dates of September 25-29 for this group’s production of Les Misérables.