Returning to Australia is War Horse, the smash hit and Tony award winning music drama from the National Theatre of Great Britain. Originally based on a best selling novel written in 1982 by Michael Morpurgo, the play has a fairly even mix of performers on stage where about half are human characters and half are puppeteers for the extraordinary life size puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa.
It’s clear much time and attention has been spent studying the mannerisms and behaviour of the animals (horses and a comical goose) to provide realistic reactions from subtle nuzzling through to charging at a gallop. (Whoever would have thought that horses’ ears could express so much.) Wonderful puppeteer work that is rarely seen on the big stage. The program lists all performers alphabetically so even the principal roles get no extra attention.Continue reading WAR HORSE @ THE LYRIC THEATRE→
My favourite saying to calm things down at work is ‘It will be OK. It’s an Art not a Science’. But deep down I don’t really believe that. As theatre makers we might not be ‘makin a man with blonde hair and a tan’ but we do scientifically research, develop, test, monitor, feedback then hypothesise. And what grander scale could you have than the 40 year social experiment of the ROCKY HORROR SHOW?
So to further the experiment, I took a much younger friend with me to see the show. She had heard of it, knew The Time Warp of course, knew it was a phenomenon and knew that I was really excited to see it again. Anyone who has completed science class past primary school knows that experiments seldom completely succeed or fail, that there is a spectrum of achievement and this ROCKY HORROR SHOW tilts the balance almost completely towards success. The beast is loose in the grounds of the Lyric Theatre. Continue reading Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show @ The Lyric→
Directed by Jeremy Whelehan and produced by Kevin Spacey, the feature length documentary, NOW: IN THE WINGS ON A WORLD STAGE, reveals intimate behind the scenes moments as actor Kevin Spacey, director Sam Mendes and a troupe of over fifty actors and stage crew go on the road across three continents over ten months, staging over 200 performances of the Shakespeare classic, Richard III.
For those who have never seen Kevin Spacey on stage, his interpretation of Richard III is an absolute treat as are the choices available to a theatre company comprising of actors from America, the UK and Africa. In the film, as they journey from Epidaurus to Istanbul, from San Francisco to Sydney, the play unfolds in excerpts as the fate of the king is revealed, and the heaving, organic, rich production evolves. Continue reading On The Road With Richard III→
It always works! Combine catchy songs, teenage love, lyrics that everyone in the audience knows and an infectious beat – and you have a sensational evening! In Australia we have had Johnny “O’Keefe – the Musical, Buddy Holly – the Musical and Peter Allen – the Boy from Oz, to mention a few, which successfully invoked this formula. You could go a hundred times and still want more!
GREASE is no different. From the moment disc jockey Vince Fontaine (aka Bert Newton) sets the 1950’s scene as the DJ, until the end when Sandy (Gretel Scarlett) turns into “The One that Danny Wants” the audience and the cast have a fun time. A few hours without the Global Financial Crisis or the collapse of the USA Debt Ceiling is a great tonic for the mind. Surprisingly perhaps, most of the audience were from 9 to 35 with only a sprinkling of Baby Boomers who first saw Harry Miller’s production in the 70’s.
The temptation to compare the stage production with the Travolta/Olivia movie will always be there, but this cast put their own stamp on it. We sat next to one of Australia’s emerging young musical stars, and he was constantly leaping to his feet, applauding the dancing of Rob Mills as Danny and marvelling at the incredible range of Gretel Scarlett’s voice.
There were plenty of audience participation segments, led by Principal Lynch (Val Lehman), which were enormous fun! She had the “boys” and “girls” in the audience singing along to “Summer Nights”, as she pointed to the lyrics on a whiteboard. There were big voices and shrieks of laughter all around!
The highlights of the evening were Todd McKinney as the Teen Angel singing “Beauty School Dropout” and the boys dancing in the shower room to ‘Those Magic Changes’. Rizzo (Lucy Maunder) singing “There Are Worse things I Could Do” was powerful and moving.
This does not rate as a show that you should see if you’ve nothing better to do. You must find time to see it, particularly if you are feeling a bit miserable about the outside world.
GREASE is playing the Lyric Theatre at the Star where it will run till the end of the year after which the show then moves to Melbourne.
They don’t make them like this anymore. Musical theatre fans will adore this. It’s hard to believe that this is HOT SHOE SHUFFLE’s 21st anniversary revival! It’s one of those ‘old fashioned’ feel –good ‘let’s put on a show’ musicals that showcase the jaw-dropping talents of a superb cast.
The show when it opened originally led to a resurgence of interest and development in tap dancing (and led to Dein Perry’s ‘Tap Dogs’). It is very demanding and the cast have to be able to do the ‘triple threat’ as well as specialise in scintillating tap. The different sorts of tap styles are shown – from the elegant, top hat and tails of Fred Astaire contrasting with the freer, more showbiz style of Ray Bolger.
It’s a rather silly musical comedy plot about The Tap Brothers – all seven of them (yes seven! Spring, Slap, Buck, Wing, Tip, Tap and Slide). And yes there are ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ jokes, their long lost sister April (or is she?) and a dead father’s will with a huge fortune (Is he? And is the fortune real? All will be revealed).
The show dazzles and delights and is sheer joy. The dancing is phenomenal. The infectious rhythms have you dancing in your seat. It’s bold, bright and colourful (in the first half the brothers look at time like extra Wiggles).
In the second half especially there are some great lighting effects. There are also some film and theatre in-jokes ( ‘Star Wars ‘,’ ‘Dirty Harry’ ,’ Aliens ‘ and ‘King Kong’) for example in the corny but witty script)and are we meant to pick up allusions to ‘Singing in the Rain’ and Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’?
The band, hidden for roughly two thirds of the show is incredible. When we do get to see them, they are displayed in a marvelous 1930’s art deco/Glen Miller style set featuring a large staircase.
All seven of the incredible Tap Bros are marvelous, each of them having short solos, but special mention must be made of Spring ((Bobby Fox) who brings the house down and literally stops the show by causing a standing ovation in his jaw dropping solo in the Act 1 ‘Tap Jam’ . And his ‘Song and Dance Man’ solo in Act 2 is pretty brilliant too.
As their klutzy, two left feet (yeah sure) red haired ‘sister’ April we have the stunning Jaz Flowers. She is marvelous and leads her ‘brothers’ in a cheeky ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ in Act 1 and is a sultry glamorous, dreamy torch singer in Act 2 (‘How Long Has This Been Going On’ ?).
Theatre legend and the man who started the whole thing ,David Atkins , is delightful in his roles as Aloysius Shyster/Max King/Dexter Tap .He has a fabulous time throughout and is terrific in his rather poignant solo in the second Act ( ‘ Mood Indigo’ ).
The last part of the show is the ‘HOT SHOE SHUFFLE’ itself, the act the brothers are reunited for which pulls out all the glitzy stops to magnificent effect. So , yes, this includes a glamorous, very difficult tapping up and down lit staircases and a glow- in- the -dark cane tossing routine.
The delighted ‘Tap God’ rumbled his approval and the audience for opening night gave it a huge standing ovation at the end, the like of which I haven’t seen in years.
HOT SHOE SHUFFLE, with a running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes including one interval, is playing at the Lyric Theatre until Sunday August 4, 2013.
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