Musical Theatre

WEST SIDE STORY : SIZZLES EVEN WITH THE RAIN

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

MIRANDA MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENT JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ SUTHERLAND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE

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.

 

 

 

NOLI ME TANGERE – INTERVIEW WITH ‘IBARRA’ AND ‘MARIA CLARA’

 

Miguel Castro (Ibarra)

NOLI ME TANGERE is a new Australian musical based on the novel, of the same name, by iconic Filipino nationalist and hero Dr. José Rizal, that inspired a nation during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines ‘The Noli’ (as it is called in the Philippines) was the “first major artistic expression of Asian defiance to European colonialism” and is now widely known as the great novel of the Philippines.

As we are at Riverside Theatres quite often and have been watching how many people pick up the flyer for the show to discuss it with curiosity and interest we wanted to bring our readers some insights into a new grand musical.  The Guide had the chance to put some questions to Miguel Castro who plays  Ibarra and Susana Downes, playing Maria Clara. Continue reading NOLI ME TANGERE – INTERVIEW WITH ‘IBARRA’ AND ‘MARIA CLARA’

CHICAGO COMING TO THE CAPITOL IN AUGUST

Sydney has secured the 2019 premiere of the multi-award winning, record breaking musical CHICAGO. Produced in Australia by John Frost and Suzanne Jones, this Australian production will premiere from August 20 at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.

The sassy musical will star some of Australia’s most talented performers. Starring as the irreverent and determined Roxie Hart, is one of our most versatile entertainers, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and joining her as the empowered and glamorous Velma Kelly is musical theatre star Alinta Chidzey. Much adored Casey Donovan joins the duo as the tough and sassy prison warden Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.

“We are so thrilled to have this incredible Australian cast join us in bringing this New York institution back to Australia. CHICAGO has everything that people love about Broadway, a story of fame, fortune and all that jazz, one show-stopping number after another and the most amazing dancing you’ve ever seen as well as the most sizzling score” said producer John Frost.

Producer Suzanne Jones added, “We cannot wait to see Natalie, Alinta and Casey make these iconic roles their own whilst supported by a slick ensemble cast. We are so privileged to have the most exceptional performers joining us on this production who are sure to bring the razzle dazzle!”

The Kander & Ebb musical has been seen by over 31 million people worldwide in 36 countries and is the winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy Award. CHICAGO continues to play on Broadway and around the world in multiple languages and is the longest running American musical in Broadway and West End history.

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer Billy Flynn to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

Whether you’re looking for your first Broadway musical, whether you’ve seen the Academy Award®- winning film and want to experience the show live on stage, whether you’ve seen it before and want to recapture the magic or whether you are after a perfect night of pure entertainment, CHICAGO always delivers.

https://chicagothemusical.com.au/

DATES
Season: From August 20th (performance times vary – see Ticketmaster for specific shows)

For more about Chicago, visit https://www.capitoltheatre.com.au/chicago/
Find us on: YouTube | Facebook

THE WIZARD OF OZ @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

In an interesting bit of synchronicity, this year is the 80th anniversary of  Rockdale Musical Society  as well as it being the 80th anniversary of the original movie of THE WIZARD OF OZ

As family shows go, this is one of the best as demonstrated by the many  families enjoying this matinee performance.

I’ll be short with the scenario as most readers will be familiar with it.  When a tornado rips through her home town if Kansas , Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to the magical land of Oz. They follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, and en route they meet a Scarecrow that needs a brain, a Tin Man missing a heart, and a cowardly Lion who wants courage. The wizard asks the group to bring home the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West to earn his help. Continue reading THE WIZARD OF OZ @ ROCKDALE TOWN HALL

TICKETS GO ON SALE TODAY FOR BILLY ELLIOTT THE MUSICAL

Universal Theatrical Group, Working Title Films, Greene Light Stage, Michael Coppel and Louise Withers Presents are delighted to announce that tickets for the Sydney season of Billy Elliot the Musical are now on sale at billyelliotthemusical.com.au

This 10th Anniversary Australian Tour will premiere at Sydney Lyric Theatre from October 10 followed by seasons in Melbourne at the Regent Theatre from February 2020, Crown Theatre Perth from June 2020, QPAC’s Lyric Theatre inBrisbane from July 2020 and the Festival Theatre at Adelaide Festival Centre from September 2020.

Featuring music by the legendary Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, choreography by Peter Darling and direction by Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot the Musical has been seen by over 12 million people worldwide.  Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, it is the recipient of 85 awards internationally, including 10 Tony Awards, 5 Olivier Awards and 8 Helpmann Awards.

Starring as the tough but supportive ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson will be Kelley Abbey, one of Australia’s most accomplished performers, internationally renowned choreographer and award-winning creative director.Kelley began her career in the long running TV series E Street before starring on stage in productions including Sweet Charity, Grease the Arena Spectacular and Fame the Musical. Her incredible choreography earnt her a Helpmann Award forThe Boy from Oz Arena Spectacular as she has proved to be one our country’s most creative and innovative doyens of dance and live performance. It is only fitting that she now steps into the shoes of Mrs Wilkinson to guide Billy through his unique dance journey. Continue reading TICKETS GO ON SALE TODAY FOR BILLY ELLIOTT THE MUSICAL

THE THINGS I COULD NEVER TELL STEVEN @ LIMELIGHT DOWNSTAIRS @ Limelight on Oxford, 231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

 

Steven’s intimate hidden secrets are gradually revealed, in this delicious one act musical of under 80 minutes, with music and lyrics by Australian Composer/Lyricist Jye Bryant, a well paced new musical with wonderful lyrical harmonies performed by a great cast of four.

Steven is often missing with work-related excuses, and has four important people involved in his life; his Mother, his Father his Wife and his grinder Ex-Boyfriend.

These four characters, all share their most intimate details about their life with Steven, and the many many important things that they struggle to tell Steven, and have failed to tell Steven. There are many relationship damaging secrets, of course Steven also has his own secrets.
Continue reading THE THINGS I COULD NEVER TELL STEVEN @ LIMELIGHT DOWNSTAIRS @ Limelight on Oxford, 231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

REHEARSALS UNDERWAY FOR SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

1977  was a huge break-out year for John Travolta with the monster hits Grease and Saturday Night Fever  bringing enormous financial success both at the box office and from the purchases s of the soundtracks.

I confess that I saw both these films whilst sojourning in exotic locations.  This caused me to suspend all critical faculties such that I adored both films.

If I had to pick a favourite it would have to be Saturday Night Fever and in particular its gritty back story.   I was also partial to its disco beat and dancing.

Continue reading REHEARSALS UNDERWAY FOR SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

Joe Kalou as Jesus

Neil Gooding and Packemin Productions have brought a sensational version of this ‘rock opera’ to Parramatta Riverside Theatres. The strong, powerful production is fresh and vibrant and simultaneously full of great attention to detail and yes respectful too even though perhaps a touch controversial in a couple of aspects.          Continue reading JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

THRONES : THE MUSICAL PARODY @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

This June, the Sydney Opera House will premiere the latest edition of Thrones!, the uproarious musical parody of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Fresh off the back of a series of sold-out seasons in Edinburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago, Thrones! follows a group of avid Game of Thrones fans preparing to watch the final season of the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire”.                          Continue reading THRONES : THE MUSICAL PARODY @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA : WE HAVE A DOUBLE PASS TO GIVE AWAY

Hornsby Musical Society is proud to present ‘Cinderella’ in the Hornsby RSL Showroom. The timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA, this Enchanted Edition is based on the 1997 teleplay which starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother.

With a wicked stepmother and two jealous stepsisters who keep her enslaved and in rags, Cinderella stands no chance of attending the royal ball. When her fairy godmother appears and magically transforms her reality into a dream come true, Cinderella enchants the handsome Prince Charming at the ball, but must face the wrath of her enraged stepmother and sisters when the spell wears off at midnight.

Sydney Arts Guide has one double pass to giveaway to the performance on Friday April 12. Be the first to editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com   The winner will be advised by email and the tickets will be for collection at the Box Office on the night of the performance                   Continue reading RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA : WE HAVE A DOUBLE PASS TO GIVE AWAY