Tag Archives: Les Asmussen

BROADWAY BOUND @ THE NEW THEATRE

Broadway Bound is a semi-autobiographical play by the late great American Jewish playwright Neil Simon. It is the last chapter in his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues.

I am  very partial to this kind of autobiographical play because of its structure. By this I mean that the play had a main character narrator who gives us a greater insight into the characters which I find particularly satisfying. It is a complex thing to do but Simon carries it out triumphantly. It creates a feeling of intimacy that draws you irresistibly closer to the play’s heartbeat.

The play works by way of a narrator who is Eugene, the Neil Simon character. He shares us with us the dramatic goings on within his family. The play starts with the time that Eugene and his brother Stanley are starting to make inroads in their writing careers, writing skits for CBS radio.

There are so many good moments. The interactions between mother and son especially the closing scenes…the moment when Kate polishes her beloved dining room table which the play ends on…

The interplay between the two brothers as they work on their comedy script to submit to CBS radio effectively conveys to the audience their rising level of excitement which is quite infectious.

The play was well directed by Rosane McNamara. Her love of the play shone through, infusing her enthusiasm into the lively performances of the actors.

The consistency and quality of the New York accents enunciated by the actors gave this play an authenticity which transported one to a working class suburb in New York in the late 40’s after his left the Army(Biloxi Blues was set in his army days).

Patrick Holman gave a well judged, very engaging performance in the main role of Eugene (the Neil Simon character).

Simon Lee gave a really energy charged performance as Eugene’s enterprising brother, Stanley.

Suzann James was very convincing as Kate, a typical conservative, over protective jewish mother.

Brett Heath gave a very sound performance as the boys father, Jack Jerome. Jack’s marriage to Kate is on the rocks and the boys can sense trouble ahead. Heath also played the role of a radio host.

Les Asmussen plays the boys warm hearted, socialist grandfather, Ben Epstein who plays a big part in their lives.

Susan Jordan plays Ben’s sister, Blanche, who tries to convince Ben to join his wife in the sunshine of Florida. Blanche has married into wealth and is in a position to help her brother out. Susan also plays the role of mrs Pitkin and a radio host.

Nick Curnow and Jesse Shore played voice parts (from the CBS radio program coming out of a vintage old radio) and weren’t seen on stage. 

A lovely set was designed by Allan Walpole featuring a family living room where most of the action takes place and then behind the family room are the boys two bedrooms. Further back is a little hallway leading to the bedrooms of the mother and grandfather.

If you want a rewarding night’s entertainment make sure that you are Newtown bound. BROADWAY BOUND is playing the New Theatre 542 King Street, Newtown until 15 December 2018.

www.mewtheatre.com.au

 

AUSTRALIA DAY COMMITTEE FORMED BY PLAYWRIGHT JONATHAN BIGGINS

Photos by Chris Lundie

AUSTRALIA DAY playing at the New Theatre is a lot of fun.  That could be it.  That could be all I need to write.  “Go and see it. It’s a good comedy!”

Ah but …. I love an “Ah but” moment in the theatre.  Jonathan Biggins doesn’t write in one dimension, he’s not a single noun kind of scribbler.  Few national treasures are and AUSTRALIA DAY is a whole mess of naming words.  All of which add up theatrical storytelling of the finest, most entertaining, kind.

We meet the Australia Day Committee of the small fictional town of Coriole, including a mayor with aspirations to be on the ticket for the House of Reps.  Cushy job in Canberra would be nice and Bryan Harrigan is a man with an eye for the main chance.  As is Helen.  She’s a member of The Green Party and pretty green.  Robert is the chair and often umpire. Maree is the CWA rep and Wally is a leftover from the days when men ruled empires and could say and do as they liked.  At their first meeting for next year’s events, there are concerns in committee about how the changing population of Coriole is affecting the traditional way of celebrating a national day.  Enter Chester.

Chester is the school rep by default  on the committee.  He’s a teacher and from an Asian background.  That means Chinese to Maree and Wally, it’s a tough room!  Lap Nguyen gives us such a fun character here.  Self-deprecating, amused beyond belief at the rest of this committee, not above baiting their prejudices and guilelessly positive.  Chester is beautifully written of course. Continue reading AUSTRALIA DAY COMMITTEE FORMED BY PLAYWRIGHT JONATHAN BIGGINS

Michael Gurr’s CRAZY BRAVE @ Chippendale

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Inset pic- by John Ma Featured pic- by Alinta Burton photography

Don’t read this review. Seriously. If you are a lover of unique, intimate and relevant theatre, simply open a new tab, go to the Sydney Fringe site and book tickets to CRAZY BRAVE. The reason for the urgency? This show is one of the must see of the Fringe season and word is already travelling.

Written by Michael Gurr, political speechwriter, most notably for Steve Bracks, author, broadcaster and playwright, CRAZY BRAVE was written in 2000 but it is as crisp and germane as if it was newly minted.

A motley group of young people who are pretty much against everything are contrasted with Harold, an old time commie whose rebellion against the establishment has landed him on hard times. Harold fought from within. The modern fight is more blatant. Where will your loyalties lie when you experience this show? Continue reading Michael Gurr’s CRAZY BRAVE @ Chippendale

The Mystery Of Edwin Drood

James Jonathon and Jessica James Moody in THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
James Jonathon and Jessica James Moody in THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD

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.