When MAN OF LA MANCHA opened on Broadway 50 years ago, it was in an era where Martin Luther King was espousing I Had A Dream and the Kennedy’s were quoting George Bernard Shaw You see things and you say “Why?” I dream things that never were, and I say “Why not.”
No wonder then the linchpin lyric of this endearing and enduring show is The Impossible Dream, the musical mantra of Don Quixote, the knight errant tiller of windmills, who sees life as it should be, noble and elevated, not as it is, vulgar and base.
Independent music theatre company, Squabbalogic’s fiftieth anniversary staging of MAN OF LA MANCHA has an impossible dream realised – the securing of Tony Sheldon, lauded local Broadway star now domiciled in the United States, to play the poet paladin. Continue reading Man Of La Mancha @ The Reginald→
Want to hear a secret? BROADWAY UNPLUGGED. Pass it on. No wait. On second thoughts, I might want to keep it to myself. Let me think about this.
BROADWAY UNPLUGGED was launched mid-year in 2012 and has had successful events in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Last night it was at The Vanguard in Newtown. Created by George Youakim who was the MC for the night, the idea is to support the musical theatre industry by doing unplugged sessions. The monthly event provides a platform for performers to do what they do best in a supportive environment.
Since everyone knows that Monday is a day of rest for we theatre workers, why shouldn’t the stars of Squabbalogic’s MAN OF LA MANCHA wander in and do a set? Case in point, Musical Theatre royalty, Tony Sheldon, complete with Don Quixote scraggy chin. This is an artist who can fill a huge auditorium night after night in New York but we got to experience that wonderful dynamic range almost at a whisper as he joined with Ross Chisari for a taste of Cervantes and Sancho Panza. He backed this up with a number cut from HELLO DOLLY … the missing solo for Horace Vandergelder. Who knew? Continue reading Broadway Unplugged @ The Vanguard→
Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd: he served a dark and vengeful God!” After a visit to the New Theatre’s website advertising their current production of Stephen Sondheim’s SWEENEY TODD, with its graphic image of a throat being cut and a viewing of the teaser video with its huge blood splash finale, one might be forgiven for thinking a dark evening is in store. In lesser hands perhaps the show could float in gore like the 2007 movie. This production, however, focuses on an exploration of what it takes to make a monster. It seems that answer is … love!
Benjamin Barker arrives back on the docks of Victorian London. He is accompanied by his shipboard companion, Anthony Hope. Anthony knows this man as Sweeney Todd. He rescued Sweeney from a mysterious shipwreck and honours his vow not to ask questions even after a mysterious beggar woman confronts them both. Sweeney’s past is revealed as he revisits his old haunts and meets up with Mrs Lovett who recognises him at once as the man she adored from afar. She has even saved his silver razors and offers him her upstairs room as a barber shop. Continue reading Sweeney Todd @ The New→
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD is a show-within-a-show unfolding among the company of “London’s Music Hall Royale” in 1895. This musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Bankstown Theatre Company’s production makes for a highly entertaining evening. The very talented cast, director and production crew ensures the audience is part of the action and enjoys this music hall melodrama.
The musical is loosely based on the unfinished novel of the same name by Charles Dickens who, as “The Chairman”, played with flare by Les Asmussen our Master of Ceremonies for the night, says “Mr. Charles Dickens was full halfway through the creation of The Greatest Mystery Novel Of Our Time, when he committed the one ungenerous deed of his noble career: He Died, leaving behind not the slightest hint as to the outcome he had intended for his bizarre and uncompleted puzzle” Thus the audience is left to select the murderer from a range of suspects.
Rupert Holmes, who wrote book, music and lyrics, does not focus on the murder of Drood but rather on the antics of the characters that make up the musical hall troupe. The story is set in “Cloisterham” and deals with John Jasper, a Jekyll-and-Hyde choirmaster played with full gusto by Stephen Halstead, who is madly in love with his music student, the beautiful Miss Rosa Bud, acted & beautifully sung by Rebecca Carter. Miss Bud is, in turn, engaged to Jasper’s nephew, young Edwin Drood, portrayed by a very polished Courtney Glass. Drood disappears mysteriously one stormy Christmas Eve – but has he actually been murdered or…?
We’re into Act Two, the story is in choas, and the characters begin lobbying the audience for solutions to their problems. Was it the wicked choirmaster, Drood’s uncle? Or could it have been Helena or Neville Landless (Jessica James Moody and James Jonathon), the Ceylon born twins who both have their reasons for wanting Drood out of the way? Or perhaps the very Reverend Crisparkle (Simon Fry) who hides dark secrets or the comic drunken Durdles (Ben Dodd) or Bazzard (Robert Taylor) … or maybe the mysterious Princess Puffer (Victoria Wildie), almost everyone is a possible suspect! Deputy (Greg Thornton) and Mr James Throttle (Vince Cairncross) add to the strange assortment of characters in the mystery.
The director Christopher Hamilton ensures the action moves along in ordered madness. Musical direction by Jayne Hamilton supports the singers with two piano accompanists (herself and Greg Crease) which form the orchestra. A clever and effective use of a series of paintings directed onto a large background screen place the audience in different locations. The musical hall set and detailed costumes further enhance this Victorian atmosphere.
A fun night is had by all with different outcomes each night depending on the audience vote.
The final performance of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD is this afternoon at 4pm at the Bankstown Arts Centre, 5 Olympic Parade, Bankstown.
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