Tag Archives: Willoughby Theatre Company

Willoughby Theatre Company Fiddler on the Roof

WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD
OCTOBER 2019

Welcome to Anatevka .
Willoughby Theatre Company have brought us a magnificent production of this classic much loved musical . Directed by Andrew Beson , it was streamlined and most effectively staged , some parts of the show rather minimally , others with the various parts of the set that slid in/out/unfolded .
The cast was terrific (there are over 50 members of the ensemble) led superbly by Dennis Clements as Tevye.
While the show is now over half a century old the issues surrounding the story of a Jewish community in pre-revolutionary Russia are still vitally relevant today – the plight of refugees, enforced displacement and racism , and questioning one’s faith among others.
With its main character of Tevye the village milkman, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF asks why do innocent people suffer and depicts both the good and bad in life – we see how poverty and persecution (the rumours of pogroms, the intrusion and destruction at the wedding and all the people being driven from the village) are contrasted with love ( the weddings , Now I have everything ) and happiness.
New ideas as proposed by Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein are circulating and the world as Tevye knows it, overshadowed by chaos and war , is in turmoil and constantly changing. . Will Tevye and his family be able to adapt? Tevye is also shown as questioning his faith and being cold and implacable when he disowns his daughter Chava for marrying a gentile.
Act I , while rather long , incorporates some of the shows best-known songs including the exuberant Tradition, three of the daughter’s Matchmaker, the buoyant , show stopping If I Were a Rich Man and the haunting Sunrise, Sunset. In the shorter Act II the mood darkens noticeably as the community we have joined is unwillingly dispersed . Musically at times the show could be regarded as operatic, at other times perhaps liturgical (eg the beautiful celebration of the Sabbath prayer).
Step Edmonds choreography, based on that of Jerome Robbins , was tightly , crisply performed. It included circle dances, some Russian folk dance steps , traditional Jewish dances and social dances of the period and some showbiz/Broadway style moments.See if you can spot the allusions to West Side Story!
Dennis Clements as Tevye the milkman, who acts as our narrator and Everyman was fabulous , charismatic and captivating , performing with great delight . His inspired daydreaming If I Were A Rich Man stops the show. A leader of the community, he is an affectionate but rigorous husband and father, a humble yet honourable man embroiled in unexpected turmoil beyond his control. He also has a significant relationship with his God, talking to Him and at times questioning his (Tevye’s) faith.
As Tevye’s wife Golde Belinda Delaney was an impressive, respected tender matriarch delivering a strong performance and in terrific voice.
Their Do You Love Me in Act 2 was tender hesitant and delightful. , while The Dream in Act 1 with the rather terrifying Grandma Tzeitel looming and the ghost like ensemble was terrifically done.
Luke Holland was most engaging as Motel, the mild-mannered tailor who introduces a sewing machine to the village – then the latest in modern technology- and has the elated Miracle of Miracles to sing.
Imogen Abba (Tzeitel), Dylan Hayley (Hodel) and Mikaela Dane (Chava) as well as Katie McPherson (Shprintze) and Chloe McDonell (Bielke) gave impressive performances as the loving but determined to lead their own lives daughters and were thorough and eloquent throughout , with Hayley spirited and determined in Far From the Home I Love..The three would be suitors – Luke Holland (Motel), Matt Hourigan (Perchik), Aleksander Justin (Fyedka) – were all most effective in their roles and the chemistry between the various couples appeared convincing.. As the affluent village butcher Lazar Wolfe , who seeks a wife Clive Hobson was most distinguished.
Barbara Hannan’s matchmaker Yente was finely nuanced , we see how resilient she is . While she is generous and compassionate there is also a hidden . possibly cloudy side to her..
A most impressive version of this much loved musical now regarded as a classic.
https://theconcourse.com.au/fiddler-on-the-roof/
Willoughby Theatre Company’s FIDDLER ON THE ROOF runs at The Concourse Chatswood October 18 – 27, 2019.

Grant Leslie Photography – WWilloughby Theatre Company – Fiddler on the Roof

SWEET CHARITY @ THE CONCOURSE

 

Fun, laughs, good times …

Willoughby Theatre Company’s magnificent performance of SWEET CHARITY is thoroughly recommended for musical theatre fans.

Vibrant ,charming and colourful it explodes onto the Concourse Theatre stage and is superbly led by leading lady Amy Curtin.

Director Janina Hamerlok has assembled a great cast and there are huge crowds in the big production numbers (eg Rhythm of Life).

This is a terrific revival of the now classic musical, which follows the disastrous love life of Charity Hope Valentine, an ever hopeful . hopelessly romantic, but comically ill- starred dance hall hostess in New York City. Charity , with her two best friends Nickie and Helene, work at the rather sleazy Fandago club . They have accepted that what they are doing is renting out their bodies to any man who will pay but dream of escape. Above all, Charity wants more than anything to be loved. Continue reading SWEET CHARITY @ THE CONCOURSE

SHREK THE MUSICAL: 9 OR 90 THIS SHOW IS A PURE DELIGHT

Production images: Grant Leslie Photography

Kafkaesque?  Did I hear “Kafkaesque”?  I did, I did hear it … Daddy Ogre said it!  SHREK: THE MUSICAL opens with a charming vignette about throwing a seven year old ogre out of the family home to make his own swampy way.

Couple of things going on here.  Unrestrained enthusiasm from the younger audience for the characters they know and love and hilarious asides and jokes for the grown-ups.  No wonder this audience, old and young, is so fired up.  There is nothing better than live!  It’s such a pleasure to plonk down in a nice seat at the Concourse surrounded by an excited audience and have the detail and performance excellence of Willoughby Theatre Company’s production squeeze all the love in the room.  “Cue the happy people.”

As Fiona and Shrek, Nikole Music and Jeremy Curtin grab the audience’s attention immediately.  It’s a very clever script in that way, no false mystery or waiting around for the main event.  Music is commanding and feisty from the beginning and Curtin’s grumphs and humphs are precisely what we need to see. Continue reading SHREK THE MUSICAL: 9 OR 90 THIS SHOW IS A PURE DELIGHT

WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘CHICAGO’ @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

This is a glitzy, bright bold and colourful production slickly staged by the Willoughby Theatre Company (WTC).

The show is a bleak, cynical, world weary look at life murder and corruption in Chicago of the 1920’s and includes audience favourites like All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘CHICAGO’ @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘WICKED’ @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

 

‘No one mourns the wicked’.

The Willoughby Theatre Company transport us to OZ in this, their latest splendid production. It is colourful and spectacular with some sensational staging. The cast is young, vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic.

For this version the front cloth is a green and gold revolving compass like design . (No looming dragon, sorry fellow OZians).

The orchestra as boisterously led by Greg Jones played magnificently, but in Act 2 a couple of times I thought the sound was a little overwhelming and was presented like a rock opera rather than a musical.

Now regarded as a modern classic WICKED by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holman, based on the book by Gregory Maguire tells the story ‘ behind the scenes’ of The Wizard of Oz and what really happened. Who is Elphaba, the ‘Wicked Witch of the West‘? Why is her skin green ? What is Glinda’s real name? Who were the Tin Man , Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion originally ? All these questions are answered in the show… Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘WICKED’ @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS MARY POPPINS @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

Matt Hourigan as Bert

 

Michaela Leisk as Mary
Michaela Leisk as Mary

Willoughy Theatre presented the now-standard much loved Disney/Cameron Macintosh version, with small adjustments from the London version which was seen here at the Capitol several years ago.Matthew Bourne’s choreography is not retained but rather altered and adapted by Declan Moore and Janina Hamerlok .

Set in Edwardian times, the ever popular MARY POPPINS is based on the books by Australian author P.L.Travers, and narrates the tale of the rather dysfunctional Banks family, whose lives are changed completely and unexpectedly with the arrival of a new nanny, Mary Poppins. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS MARY POPPINS @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS LEGALLY BLONDE @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

Legally Blonde-inset

Oh My God you guys, it’s PINK!

Yes, bright pink is the signature colour of this show from the very beginning. Excellently directed by Courtney Cassar, this show is high octane energy. Whilst seeming to be superficial this show does look at contemporary issues such as chauvinism, gender politics and the law.

Based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name, this musical tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority student who enrolls at Harvard Law School, complete with purse pooch, in an attempt to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She grows and changes as she discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial. No one really has faith in Elle Woods throughout the show, but she manages to surprise them when she defies their superficial expectations and transforms from law school embarrassment to valedictorian. Continue reading WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS LEGALLY BLONDE @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

Willoughby Theatre Company’s Evita @ The Concourse

Evita-inset
Lucy Hood plays the part of The Mistress. She delivers a great version of the classic ballad, ‘Another Suitcase Another Hall’

Willoughby Theatre Company productions just keep on getting better and better. This amazing production of this now iconic musical, with its huge cast, under the direction of Declan Moore, transports us to Buenos Aires. As we enter and take our seats, tango music softly plays.

Greed, power and corruption ooze through this show. There is much cynical manipulation of the common people and unacknowledged hypocrisy. The musical, told in flashback- it starts with Eva’s funeral- tells the story of the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. Continue reading Willoughby Theatre Company’s Evita @ The Concourse

WTC’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Jesus Christ sits down to his Last Supper. Pic Perfect Images Photography
Jesus Christ sits down to his Last Supper. Pic Perfect Images Photography

This is a dazzling, superb version of Lloyd Webber and Rice’s rock opera JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR that takes one’s breath away.

Willoughby Theatre Company‘s (WTC) revival, directed by Stig Bell is a contemporary reworking of the now classic 1970’s musical that burns , including contemporary choreography,slang and ironic allusions to modern day life that make it as fresh as if it was written yesterday .

In a strong ,powerful piece of theatre , Lloyd Webber and Rice take us through the last week of Jesus’ life and ministry,as based on the Gospels . This includes Palm Sunday ,the Last Supper and end with the events of Good Friday and Mary Magdalene sobbing over Jesus’ inert body.

The cast is excellent featuring magnificent leads and a large, terrific ensemble.  Continue reading WTC’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

42nd STREET

The glitz and glamour of Broadway at the Concourse
The glitz and glamour of Broadway at the Concourse

‘Julian Marsh is putting on a show’. With those magic words we enter the world of ‘42nd Street’  the classic musical given a spectacular revival by Willoughby Theatre Company . With its well-known  songs such as’ The Lullaby of Broadway ‘,’ Shuffle off to Buffalo’ and’ 42nd Street’ itself , this is a dazzling ,  dynamic version in the style of ‘Singing In The Rain’ and other great old musicals of the 1930’s and 40’s . There are plenty of sweeping  scene changes and masses  of costume changes for the giant cast .

Most of us have dreamed of being lucky Peggy Sawyer, a young chorus line hoofer who strikes it lucky and becomes a Broadway star overnight. All- singing,  all – dancing this is a ‘traditional’  musical  that has several HUGE production numbers ( eg ‘ We’re In the Money’ , The Lullaby of Broadway, ‘42nd Street’ ) with the wonderful cast going full out. It is an inspiring love letter to Broadway and generations of anonymous chorines . Under the excellent direction of  Janina Hamerlok the production is full of exuberant joy and energy with fine ensemble and leads  . The orchestra under the vibrant, enthusiastic  leadership of Mark Pigot played tremendously  ( listen out for the in-jokes ).

It is sheer escapism really and perhaps now a trifle dated but still enchanting and marvellous fun. The hard grinding slog of being a Broadway gypsy is emphasised as is the fact that it is set during the Great Depression. Choreographically it is very obviously of its period ( 1933). Neary has tried to retain the flavour of the period with hints of the Ballets Russes , other musicals of the era and Busby Berkely spectaculars showcasing the beautiful chorus girls ( especially in ‘Dames’ and ‘Shuffle off to Buffalo’ ) . There is also lots of explosive fast and furious tap , fabulously performed in show stopping glitzy numbers that bring the house down ( eg ‘ We’re in the Money ‘).

Our heroine, Broadway baby Peggy Sawyer , who gets her big chance, was wonderfully played by blonde, toothy Skye Roberts. Fresh and innocent she sings and dances up a storm in a sensational performance and changes and grows (observe her final ‘Chicago’ like exit). Diva Dorothy Brock was terrifically played by Susan Gavran. Sharp and dominant she is every inch a leading lady . Their duet ‘About A Quarter to Nine’ was haunting and poignant.

Brock’s manager/agent Abner Dillon is played with southern Kentucky charm by Warren Blood . We also see a tremendous performance of her charming true love Patrick Denning by Scott Clare who is dashing, gallant and debonair and simultaneously  a little dangerous.  There is much dramatic tension,– could he get shot and killed ? Or does he manage to escape?!

Hulking Julian Marsh, demanding and intense, an archetypal slave driver impresario with a theatrical vision was wonderfully played by Jeremy Curtin who gives a very impressive performance. Does Marsh fall a little bit in love with his new star?!

A fine performance of charming Billy Lawler was given by Simon Thompson. Tall and terrific, what a terrific dancer! Mention must also be made of the fine performances of Laura Sheldon as Annie and Katherine Schmitt as Maggie among others of the excellent ensemble . Musical comedy! The two most glorious words in the English language ! , as Marsh declares .

A great revival of this classic musical that will have you singing and dancing when you leave the theatre and checking out tap dance classes …Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway ….Running time 2 hours 40 (approx) including interval.

42ND STREET runs at the Concourse Chatswood until 27th October, 2013.