Tag Archives: Riverside Theatre Parramatta

A CHORUS LINE @ RIVERSIDE THEATRE PARRAMATTA

A CHORUS LINE opened on Broadway in 1975. This classic Broadway musical has a unique storyline, and is one of the greatest musicals of all time according to critics and audiences, winning 9 TONY Awards, the Pulitzer Prize and 9 Drama Desk Awards. Played a record-breaking 6,137 Broadway performances over 15 years. Helpmann Award-nominated director and choreographer Amy Campbell, has added brand new choreography.

Production photography by Robert Catto

Huge fan of all the Broadway stories told during A CHORUS LINE, and this Sydney production is quite the best of the best, and even better than when A CHORUS LINE was at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney. This cast is perfect, each singing voice is perfect, each dancer is perfection, the entire cast are triple-threats. Yes I am biased, the casting, the direction, the costumes, the lighting and the set-design, are the best I have ever seen for A CHORUS LINE, and I will be seeing this production multiple times during the run.

Following two postponements due to the pandemic, this brand-new Sydney production will finally lay bare the struggles that performers face to be seen, heard, recognised and respected. “The back stories behind these twenty amazing roles, are based on the real-life anecdotes of Broadway dancers interviewed by Michael Bennett in his East Side studio, during one weekend in January 1974. Rivalry and wine paved the way to a weekend of divulged secrets about their upbringing, coming-of-age, sexuality and careers.” Conceived and originally directed on Broadway by Michael Bennett, and features music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban.

Quite unexpectedly, this production of A CHORUS LINE has an interval.

NOTHING is last song before the interval.
DANCE TEN, LOOKS THREE is the first song after the interval.

Just loved the choreography and the  clever use of the extra mirrors, in the ex-girlfriend Cassie  (Angelique Cassimatis)  sequence, with the song “The Music and the Mirror”.

“What I Did For Love” is superbly presented, and an absolute delight.

The finale show-stopper is “One”, and the costumes for “One” looked beautiful in silver, that perfectly matched the silver back drops. Highly recommended.

DURATION of approx. 140 minutes including the 20 minute interval.

Extra special thanks go to their Voice and Dialect Coach – LINDA NICOLLS-GIDLEY as the words “21 years old, I was born on a full moon in Herculaneum, Missouri . . . I’m from St. Louis, Missouri” were all correctly pronounced for a native speaker born in Missouri USA.

ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES – The performance on Friday Night had two Auslan interpreters, bringing this musical to a brand new audience.

Sydney Festival presents the Darlinghurst Theatre Company production of A CHORUS LINE in association with Riverside Theatres.

A CHORUS LINE at RIVERSIDE THEATRE PARRAMATTA.
13th January until 22nd January 2022.

https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/a-chorus-line/

Production photography by Robert Catto
Production photography by Robert Catto

Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian

Original Broadway production produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp, Producer, in association with Plum Productions, Inc.
A CHORUS LINE is presented by permission of ORiGiN™ Theatrical on behalf of Tams-Witmark LLC, A Concord Theatricals Company.

STARRING
Zach – Adam Jon Fiorentino
Greg – Ryan Ophel
Don – Harry Targett
Mark – Maikolo Fetikoa
Mike – Lachlan Dearing
Al – Ross Chisari
Bobby – Max Bimbi
Larry – Brady Kitchingham
Paul – Ethan Ritchie
Ritchie – Tony Oxybel
Cassie – Angelique Cassimatis
Sheila – Nadia Coote
Maggie – Madeline Mackenzie
Judy – Angelina Thomson
Bebe – Natalie Foti
Vicky/Dance Captain – Molly Bugeja
Diana – Mariah Gonzalez
Val – Rechelle Mansour
Kristine – Suzanne Steel
Connie – Ashley Goh

CREATIVES
Director/Choreographer – Amy Campbell
Musical Director – Damon Wade
Music Supervisor – Andrew Worboys
Associate Director/Associate Choreographer – Sally Dashwood
Set Designer – Simon Greer
Lighting Designer – Peter Rubie
Costume Designer – Christine Mutton
Associate Musical Director – Zara Stanton

Company Manager – Jonathan Ware
Production Manager – Amellia Bruderlin
Stage Manager – Maree Delvecchio
Wardrobe Supervisor – Evelyn Everaerts-Donaldson
Head Electrician – Matt Quince
Voice and Dialect Coach – Linda Nicolls-Gidley
Assistant Stage Manager – Lillian Lee
Microphone Technician – Ashleigh King
Production photography by Robert Catto

ELYSHA MANIK
Assistant to the Choreographer/ Sheila cover and Kristine cover

NATASHA MARCONI
Diana cover

TIM DASHWOOD
Zach cover

https://www.darlinghursttheatre.com/achorusline

Production photography by Robert Catto





 

 

ALL MY LOVE @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

All My Love- first

The intimate Lennox Theatre at the Riverside  came richly to life with this gem of a historical play written by Australian writer, Anne Broadsbank.

ALL MY LOVE charts the story of the relationship between two major Australian literary figures, starting with how at the end of the 19th century, Mary Gilmore a literary icon and radical socialist was introduced to a young Henry Lawson. The playwright used as her source, the poems and letters that they wrote to each other over time.

As their friendship developed, Mary found herself caught in the midst of an intense relationship between Henry and his formidable Suffragette mother,  Louisa.  (Louisa is an invisible, dominating presence through the play). What ensues is the start of a love affair including a secret engagement which is  then thwarted by a devastating deception. Continue reading ALL MY LOVE @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA

INDIAN EMBRACE

. Pic Chris Lundie
Neel Banerjee, Ambika Asthana, Lucy Rasheed and James Herrington
in INDIAN EMBRACE. Pic Chris Lundie

Carol Dance has written an entertaining play about three Australian siblings having a family reunion in Varanasi, India, their mother’s dying wish, and their interaction with the Indian family running the guesthouse where they stay. This scenario allows an interesting look the differences and similarities between Indian and Western families, philosophies, societies, and cultures.

As any westerner who has visited India knows the country is overwhelming and this is captured in the play and woven into the story. This is captured in the narrative and balanced with the changes in modern Indian society and melded with the very interesting dramas of two families.

Vikram Singh, played wonderfully by Shashidhar Dandekar, runs the guesthouse and has a strong relationship with John (Steven Menteith), a long term frequent guest at the hotel. John has not visited his Australian home for many years. The youngest son, family man Chris (James Herrington), has arranged the reunion by bringing their sister Pamela (Lucy Rasheed), the high flying businesswoman sister from New York to Varanasi.

Vikram’s son, Ashwin (Neel Banerjee) is in the army and is mostly absent. His wife, Roopa, (Ambika Asthana) assists in the running of the guesthouse and has ideas to rescue it from its faded grandeur and modernise their practises. Vikram is more in favour of maintaining traditions. Roopa and Ashwin want to immigrate to Australia. Roopa is the character that links the themes explored in the play of traditional and modern values, Eastern and Western concepts and male and female roles. Ambika superbly performs this role with realism, humour and spirit.

These themes are also looked at from John’s perspective, as an aid worker, and Pamela’s role in managing a call centre in Varanasi for the company she works for in New York. What will benefit the poor and oppressed of India better? Will it be aid projects or jobs brought in by international businesses? This philosophical conflict is reflected in the well played out family squabbles of the Australian family. The different approaches of East and West are reflected in Pamela’s attempts to manage Sanjay (Neel Banerjee again), the call centre’s incompetent but very agreeable local manager.

Director Lenore Robertson has nicely brought together this production. A fairly simple set is brilliantly enhanced by projected images of Varanasi, the night sky, sunrise and Indian motifs. Richard Neville’s lighting design is a highlight of the play.

A weakness in this current production is that whilst the Indian actors have a good handle on their characters, this is not the case with the three Anglo Saxon actors who fail to fully realise their characters.

Steven Menteith has an awkward aloofness and does not engage with the audience. Lucy Rasheed plays the sister well but is not convincing as a international businesswoman. James Herrington is believable as the Aussie family guy confronted by India’s squalor and in his charming encounters with Roopa, however he does not capture the right tone or emotion outside this framework.

The Nautanki Theatre Company’s premiere production of Carol Dance’s INDIAN EMBRACE played the Lennox Theatre, Parramatta Riverside Theatres between August 21 and 25, 2013.

HAIRSPRAY

Corny Collins girls with Alyssa Wilkins as Amber Von Tussle. Pic Grant Leslie
Corny Collins girls with Alyssa Wilkins as Amber Von Tussle. Pic Grant Leslie

Bright, bold and colourful with HUGE ensemble numbers this is a fabulous production of this much fun musical . Readers might be familiar with the 1988 John Waters film or the 2011 live stage version performed at the Lyric (although there are some changes) .

The show is set in Baltimore,  America,1962: just prior to the seismic appearance of The Beatles. Think black and white TV programs like ‘ I Love Lucy ‘, ‘The Beverley Hillbillies ‘, huge beehive hairdos, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Elvis… as all-American as apple pie.( and the flag as front curtain)  But just underneath the brightly coloured neon lights and sort of cartoonish effects  ripple the blatant sexism,  racism and turbulent politics of the era. ( See the protest march Tracy leads and the way she fights for integration) .The set and costumes designs are bright and colourful , semi cartoonish and perhaps with a hint of Jersey Boys ? Jakimowicz’s  choreography was typical of the TV show of the time , ‘Bandstand’ish and the cast performed it with relish.And  the hidden band under muscial director Peter Hayward  was magnificent .

The American Dream expressed in ‘Hairspray’ is that of our heroine schoolgirl Tracy Turnblad, who craves an appearance on teenage heartthrob Corny Collins’ ( Kyle Sapsford) TV show (‘I know every step, I know every song’) – but will she ever get a chance? Who will be Miss Teenage Hairspray (as sponsored by Ultraclutch)?

From the opening ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ it is obvious that this production is blessed  by an exceptionally strong and dynamic Tracy Turnblad our leading lady ( Jessica Rookeward) who is tremendous. She catches the high school would be TV star just right. She is a splendid singer and a groovy dancer to boot .Fabulous!  Her character’s struggle to realise her dream, and also her moral fight for racial equality, are wonderfully portrayed.

Her gum chewing best  friend Penny Pingleton  is excellently played by Mikayla Williams . It’s interesting to note how Penny changes from mousy, homebound, rather ordinary girl to a trendy 1960’s swinger almost unrecognizabkle in a sultry dark gold outfit. Particular mention must be made too of Atunasia Lasalosi as Seaweed , who is an incredible , hot performer of cool , smooth moves .Way to go , man !
Tall , luscious Motormouth Maybelle was delightfully played by Cle Morgan , with a smoky creme caramel voice and delivery ,  who stops the show with her ‘Big Blonde and Beautiful’ and ‘I know Where I’ve Been’ and other soul-like songs .

Haughty Velma von Tussle, Amber’s scheming mother , was wickedly played by Michele Lansdown as a cross between Norma Desmond and Cruella Deville. She has potentially show stopping numbers  in Act 1 ( ‘Miss Baltimore Crabs’  and ‘Velma’s Revenge’) but gets her come uppance at the end. Or does she?

Amber was delightfully played by Alyssa Wilkins just right as the self centred scheming school girl TV star .

There is one section ( ‘Mama I’m a big girl now ‘) where we see the three mothers and daughters – Tracy and Edna, Amber and Velma, and Penny and her mother – all singing at once (a sort of split screen/stage effect) where the daughters are trying to remind their mothers they are grown up and break free of parental restrictions that was excellently done.

Tracy’s father, Wilbur, joke shop owner , was given a fine performance by Wayne Scott Kermond who played him for laughs and pulled out all his terrific bag of showbiz tricks .His ‘Timeless to me’ duet with Edna (Jon English ) is much fun. Gravelly voiced English as Edna , Tracy’s mother, has great stage presence .He plays Edna ‘pantomime dame’ in style and it is obvious it is a man. ( And there are in-jokes about rock singers ) . Sorry  but I found the Mr Pinky’s hair and dress makeovers a little disappointing .

Very handsome young Elvis –like Link , a star of the ‘Corny Collins Show ‘, Tracy’s eventual boyfriend , was tremendously played  by  Christopher Glynn. We see him grow and change and become both more self aware and caring about outside issues.

Look out for Ayanda Dladla as Little Inez – a dynamite young talent !

A cheeky , inspirational production the cast obviously have a whale of a time and the packed audience loved it too … You can’t stop the beat …

HAIRSPRAY, running time 2 hours and 30 minutes, is playing at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta until August 10.

 

THE TAP PACK

THE TAP PACK hits the mark

Fred Astaire reportedly said:- “Do it big, do it right and do it with style.” He also said: “I just put my feet in the air and move them around.” The guys last night, the Tap Pack, were guilty on both counts.

The dancing was terrific, the banter was, in the main, was very good. And any quips that were a little corny were in the style of the Rat Pack that the show was not a tribute to!

There were slight standout turns from Jesse Rasmussen, Dion Bilios and Thomas J Egan but you got the feeling that any one of the five could have ‘handled’ (“I got this.”) any of the routines. The solo songs from the other two performers also stopped the show.
My only criticism was that the early harmonies could have used drilling or perhaps a little vocal coaching and that the band needed to ‘go for it’ a little more in their number. I also thought the show could have gone longer with perhaps a slightly less abrupt denouement and finale but that’s surely an endorsement of the quality of the entertainment all round.

I was also surprised at the difference in the cast when they finally came out into the foyer. My impression was of a larger group which speaks volumes for their stage presence and filling the space!

Well done. This show deserved a longer run!

THE TAP PACK is only playing for 3 performances, two performances yesterday and a final performance tonight at at 7.30pm at the Parramatta Riverside.

© Allan Chapple

23rd March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- THE TAP PACK, Sydney Arts Guide, Allan Chapple