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DVD
Review
The Great Kat Guitar Shred

The Great Kat - www.greatkat.com

Reviewer Naja Kemp

A Superconductor of Electrical Current
Vibration of Exceptional Speed Artisan
Coaxing Siren of Vocals and Screams
Brings to Us, Her Version of:
Rossini's (the greatest composer of Italian Opera)
"William Tell Overture"

What a Brilliant Choice by " The Great Kat"
The High Priestess of Guitar Shred to perform for us. Composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini's "William Tell Overture", the Trials and the Adventures of Human Warrior Resilience. The Here Story - the Clash of Good vs Evil.
"The Great Kat" extends the form of the symphonic Story through the use of the many Instruments she plays with; Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Violin, Viola with Her Band of Impeccable Musicians.
Jeff Ingegno n Bass; Lionel Cordew on Drums and Midi Drums plus a Majestic Offering from Symphony Orchestra. Piccolo, Flute; Midi Oboes, Clarinets, Bassoons, French Horns, Trumpets, Trombones, midi Timpani - Triangle - midi Piatti.
All Instruments "The Great Kat" performs with layers many Sounds as if one is listening to an Enormous Orchestra that's amazing - Operatic; for instance like an impressionist Startling the world.
In "The Great Kat's " version of Rossini's "William Tell Overture" so exceptional and so, so fast lasting 1 minute 54 seconds, any Metronome Makers need to invent a :Speed Metal Metronome” and call it Speed Vixen Kat.
"The Great Kat" creates an image for the Mind to see, A Great Victory, like In Old Times when men made Ballads and told Heroic Stories.
Inspired by "The Great Kat's" music even visually I see "William Tell" the Mighty Marksman, the Hero of the Swiss, a Brave Patriot - stirs up rebellion by prodigious feats of Strength and Skill - just Like "The Great Kat" who shows NO FEAR, deals directly with agenda's - turns them around - Dramatic Yes!
"The Great Kat" has struck out A New Verse, She is "The Marksman" (Her Guitar like a Crossbow) She sends her Arrow, it's Adrenalin Like an Uprush of creative energy toward True Freedom.
Cruel Austrian "Gessler" forced "William Tell" to Aim at an Apple on Top of His Beloved Son's Head, "Tell" drew His Bow firmly and DID NOT MISS
"Tell" boldly tells His Persecutor " Gessler" if He missed, His 2nd Arrow to be sent right into "Gessler's " Heart, so then "Gessler" condemned "Tell"to a Dungeon.
Across Lake Lucerne, A Tempest Arose, A sudden Storm; literary I heard this Storm through the manuel dexterity of 'The Great Kat's' electrifying performance. (Speed Action).
No other person can drench music over me and it leaves me profoundly changed like 'The Great Kat' = and in=Synchronization; no other man could handle a rudder like William Tell so His captors released His shackles to help with the Boat Row,’ Tell' drove the craft against a certain rock seized A Crossbow and Leaped to shore. Services are held every year in Honour of the Rock. In Altdorf there is a Huge Statue of William Tell on the very spot He shot 'The apple from his Boy's Head'. This Hero is immortalised - by great Plays written and performed.
I Revel in Delight when I see pictures of 'The Great Kat'. She personifies Scandinavian Goddess, Her Crossbow - Her Guitar, Her dominatrix outfit and Ambient Person incandescent, like a Sky Goddess having Blokes eating out of Her Hands!'The Great Kat' Words toward male 'Castration' plus song 'Sodomize' maybe repulsive to some but it's Theatrical, like a Reflection on Women that have endured much, Sacrificed greatly and now in Modernity - the coin is flipped and today women can drag behind our males in Chains, the sexual segregation is OVER.
Life now has positive fresh energy, potential growth for Women in the Arts favourably and our Hero the brilliant Great Kat , the world's fastest female guitarist, the Female Genius of our modern Era.
Kat you certainly inspire my love of music and history.
Rock on Coaxing Siren.
Young Female Musicians in Melbourne Australia that I have spoken to, consider 'The Great Kat' one of the Greatest Guitar Goddess Genius of Modernity; they are asking their Parents to buy them Flying "V" Guitars.
Awaken men of Band "Apocalyptical" of Finland pack up your Cellos fly to New York - play music with 'The Great Kat' a suggestion I often hear; let her be your Valkyrie
Shine on Brightly - The Great Kat!

 

The Great Kat - Extreme Guitar Shred

Reviewer: Naja Kemp

Unprecedented Second D.V.D.
Here the Great Kat a complete Triumph, once again in Excellent style, Shredder Eaxtraordinaire!

ZAPATEADO VIDEO CLIP:

The Great Kat, Clad in The American Flag of Stars and Stripes, Her Guitar Triumphant portraying a propelling Freshness and Sparkle of Wit!
Life, Liberty, Land of the Free, of the Brave, Let Freedom Ring, Happiness.

The Great Kat has the Distinction of beiong One of the few Women to Inspire, to encourage more Women to take up Guitar. She is a Remarkable Visionary: whose Performance is both "Distinguished & Indivindualistic.

TORTURE CHAMBER VIDEO CLIP

The Great Kat plays her Guitar & Violin brilliantly tearing at a Tremendous Speed. Her Guitar Her Coporal Instrument like a Machine in Her hands diving to Earth Testing; 'ThePain Tolerance' of each member of her Band!

The Great Kat Deepens the Force behind each blow when Whipping a Band member into submission.

Kat uses Leash attachments, Gags, Crops, Blindfolds, Harness, Shackles, Paddles, Power Tools, Whips on Her men and when they are not to be found Pleasing, Kat brings out Gigantic Scissors to compel her Submissives into Shape: (A Medievil Head-Vice is a Great Invention for use on a Highly Inflated Ego, ie Slave); to End She receives a Rousing Ovation much favoured by her Men.

DOMINATRIX VIDEO CLIP

'The Great Kat Shredder Extraordinaire', holding a 3-pronged Spear; a Slave Licking Her Boots, in Obedience, to Mistress Kat, Seated and Upon Command.

CASTRATION VIDEO CLIP.

The Song Castration "The Great Kat Arrests Attention"

"A Flying "V" Guitarist Amazon"
Demonstrating the Swift, Irrevocable, Force of Fate & the Finality of Death!

LIVE IN CHICAGO VIDEO CLIP

The Great Kat Metal Mayhem Privilege!

Enthralling A Cheering Crowded Audience.

Adoring Fans on Stage, Bowing & Circulating The Great Kat Impressively Playing her Guitar behind her head.
Shredding in Perpetual Motion;
Inflaming All Passions to Frenzy!

WAR VIDEO CLIP

The Great 'Victorious' Kat declares War.
To Rule by Decreee is Passed.

The Great Kat's Guitar is an Electric Current, a Superconductor to Delight in.

 



The Great Kat Beethoven's Guitar Shred

Reviewer: Naja Kemp

The Great Kat was born in Swindon, England, she has performed - touring the world and is also a classical violin soloist. She studied in New York at the prestigious Juillard School of Music. She has created a new musical score known as Shred Guitar. A revolutionary musician in what your reviewer would call Speed Metal . She plays 300 beats per minute; a Metronome meter of rhythm measurement can only do 208 beats per minute.
The Great Kat Guitar Shreds 'Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Bach's Brandenburg concertoto #3: Bach's piece is light and merry and Kat has gracefully shaded this piece with counterpoint layering, constrating the staccato notes with finely tuned, profoundly innovative pieces; like a magician to reach into deep knowledge from nonrational sources, innovative new visions, perspectives, and creative inspiration for new possibilities, the bringer of the magificent for our greater good realm opening, calling us all into the future with The Great Kat.
She plays Flying V Guitar as The Sky Goddess ultimate, elctrifying, incadescent, revolutionary musician.
The Great Kat's original piece with her band's Torture Piece A theatrical paddling, chaining, blindfolding, vocalising and basically "Whipping her Bands Arses" reminds your correspondent of The Aztecs beautiful goddess (Venus or Xochiquetzal) descending into The Underworld after The Sky Monster shamefully breaking his 'vows of celibacy' submitting to his basic instincts with her
Xochiquetzal (Venus) was challenged to The Game of Life and Sky Master lost the ritual ball-game 'Peylota' and was sacrificed by The Sun. Xochiquezal rose from The Underworld accompanied by human blood sacrifice and fertility rites, covered with the blood of the dead. Fantastically performed by Kat, covered in blood, with her band inthe song Torture Techniques.
This Venus goddess of war, which is a symbol of the Venus Retrograde Cycle; Kat became The Goddess surrendering our outmoded values, releasing them and then attaining this rebirth of new conscious values.

 

DANCE

Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games

State Theatre

Producer, Director, Choreographer: Michael Flatley

A production that has to be seen to be believed. A masterpiece of dance theatre with Melbourne’s State Theatre packed to the rafters with not one audience member disappointed.
The dancers are the most energetic one had seen. The timing is spot on and with such a large cast this is very difficult but there were no slip ups with the precision of the footwork and the stance of the performers.
Instead of just a series of dance numbers a storyline was involved naturally good versus evil. As this is a touring company the sets were a little different to what was expected. A two level stage with steps leading up to the top level. The complete back of the stage was taken over by film clips setting the different scenes. These clips were magnificent and sometimes one wasn’t sure if the scenes were real or not.
Costuming was amazing from the traditional, and without giving away the storyline, to the modern, this was very effective and enhanced the production.
Beside the dancers there were two lady violinists, beside being talented players like everyone else on stage they were full of energy and danced up and down the stage while playing their violins.
The was also a singer adding to the success of the evening.
A great evening of dance so much so that a young (12 approx) lady was seen Irish dancing to the car park.
A standing ovation for a great evening of entertainment.

Our Land People Stories

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Macb
Choreographed by Jasmin Sheppard.

200 years ago in 1816 was the Appin massacre of the local indigenous people.
Jasmin Sheppard was felt a strong responsibility to tell the story.
Bangarra Dance Company gave her the opportunity.
The result, a wonderful production telling the story of the lead up and results of the massacre.
The dancers gave a great interpretation of Jasmin’s choreography with excellent performances. A simply set stage with a long table for discussion with Governor Macquarie and representatives of the D’harawal.
The dancers performed over and under and around the table miming out the discussions. As the talks fell through some dancers dressed as troops came in and shot the tribes people. This was well done by all the dancers giving the audience a feeling of sympathy about a little known fact of history showing the abuse of Australia’s first peoples/
Miyagan
Choreographed by Beau Dean Riley Smith & Daniel Riley.

Miyagan came from wanting to tell a Wiradjuri story, and reconnect back to the shared culture and heritage – it is narrated by the Wiradjuri kinship system.
Opening saw Yanhanha danced by Elma Kris, Deborah Brown and Jasmin Sheppard.  A great example of the Bangarra dancing with a good balance between the three performers.
The full company followed giving a spectacular performance with good timing, spectacular movements, and amazing energy. This was followed by eight dancers in the umber Dilbi. Well done with the standard already set by the company.
Act 2 was Nyapanyapa choreographed by Stephen Page.
Nyapanyapa is a proud Yolngu woman artist of whom the ballet is about her life.
Featuring dance interpretations of her paintings the company with the choreography showed the talent of the dancers in their feeling for the works. A very talented team taking the feeling of the indigenous people in a way that all van enjoy7 and understand the story being told.
Bangarra  Dance Theatre brings to its audiences a different kind of ballet. The music is resonant of didgeridoo and modern music together with the beating of the sticks really giving the feeling of the original Australians,
The dance too, varies from the European style where the dancers leap into the air with their grand jettes, seemingly on occasion float whereas the Bangarra company style seems to remember the ties with mother earth and do mot wish to leave it. There appear to be no grand jettes, no floating but much choreography on the ground using the  whole body along he ground or moving across the stage in a lowly position.
A wonderful evening of original Australian ballet which brings to the later Australians the talent and stories of the original Australians.

 

Blak

Bangarra Dance Theatre
Blak.
Artistic Director: Stephen Page.
Choreographer: Stephen Page & Daniel Riley McKinley

The Melbourne season commenced at the Playhouse in Melbourne’s Art Centre.
The evening comprised of three ballets, one for the men choreographed by Daniel Riley McKinley, one for the ladies of the company choreographed by Stephen Page and the last with all the company with homage to the legacy of the elders. Choreographed by Stephen Page and Daniel Riley McKinley.
The opening number Scar about a gang of boys presenting themselves , preparing their spirits for the physical and mental journey they have to take.
A cast of seven dancers giving a high standard of performance with the style seemingly adapted from standard indigenous dancing to that of the urban members. Dressed in jeans the men showed exuberance and energy, projecting well and really caught the feel of the urbanization of our indigenous people.
Yearning danced by the ladies of the company. This showed their progress through life from birth through identity with dance. A wonderful interpretation done with expertise with good projection and  high standard of the dance.
Keepers a joint production of both the girls and boys a homage to those who came before and a ceremonial celebration of traditional culture and knowledge. The dancers captured the essence of such keepers giving a wonderful performance which was really enjoyed by the opening night audience.
\Bangarra dance differs from classical ballet particularly where in ballet the dancers do high movements and jetes but with the indigenous dancers keep close to the ground quite often bent over but with great skill and dexterity.
A good evening of dance and enjoyed by the audience.

 

Burn the Floor


An Evening of Ballroom dancing +

The Palms at Crown Melbourne was the venue for the opening of the Australian season of Burn the Floor.
A global Ballroom Dancing phenomenon starring eighteen international championship dancers including several Australian dancers keen to show their talents to their home audiences.
The energy of these dancers is absolutely amazing. The dancing is nonstop with Act 1 opening with Inspiration which includes the Cha Cha, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Swing and added to with Samba, Jive and Rumba.
The standard of dancing is unbelievable and in one scene was reminiscent of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in one of their most famous numbers. The contrasting styles of the dance were tackled with ease and energy.
Following Inspiration was Things that Swing which included the Cha Cha, Swing, Quickstep Lindy and Jive. Twenty one dancers on the stage with fast and strong energetic movements did not obstruct but so skilful was the choreography the dancers moved smoothly around each other.
The costumes were fairly brief as needed with the amount of work put into the dance that anything else would have exhausted the dancers. There were 367 costumes and 94 pairs of shoes worn throughout the performance.
Some highlights were the waltz in dinner suit and ball gowns showing the grace and clamour one associates with the ballroom, then the jive ringing back memories of one’s younger days of the Saturday night Town Hall dancing. Another highlight was in Act 2 The Latin Quarter with the two Paso Doble numbers. A spectacular performance.
There were no sets but one number used chairs adding to the display. There are also two singers and two percussionists which kept the evening going.
The opening night audience seemed to be from every ballroom studio in Melbourne judging by the applause when different artists appeared. Your reviewer spoke to Jason Gilkinson, Director and Choreographer, who said that Melbourne is one of the company’s favourite cities and they feel like it is their home because of the support they receive from the local ballroom dancing groups. 

A most spectacular and energetic performance and for those lovers of ballroom dancing or lovers of theatre it should not be missed.

 


AMATEUR

 

Victoria

West Australia

 

Victoria

Ark Theatre Lilydale


Daisy


Director: Robert Trott.

September 2016 was Dementia Awareness month. Being aware of this the director Robert Trott and Ark Theatre agreed to produce Daisy a story of a wife and mother suffering from dementia.
Robert Trott decided on a basic set consisting of a table and chairs, a bed, desk and projector and a large screen on rear of stage which was used for scenes outside the room of the retirement home.
Rosy Cullinan was Daisy Campbell, the wife and mother who contracted dementia. A wonderful and very moving performance capturing the essence of such a character. Her emotions were spot on and one really felt for her.
Her husband Jim was also given a natural performance with the feeling of helplessness
In such circumstances. Their children, Petra and Will both gave good performances
With a little sibling bickering brought on by the strain of their mother’s illness. Both gave realistic portrayals of such siblings adding to the high standard of the show.
The production opened in the Campbell family home with Daisy gone missing. When found she denied being lost. The strain started to tell on Jim and it was decided to move to a facility where she would be cared for and Jim would not have so much strain both physically and mentally.
The Director of the Home was Judy Gleeson played by Kathie Kenyon. The programs notes tell us that Kenyon was a manager of Forestwood Close Retirement Village, so she fitted into the rule comfortably. A good portrayal of a director trying to keep the guests happy and organised.
Ben, a guest who befriended Jim and Daisy was given a fine portrayal by Darren Montgomery.
The play brought home to many in the audience the experience one goes through in such circumstances and to others what they have gone through.
A sad play but with some amusing moments and one that everyone should see. 

The ARKadian Authentic All-Women Old Time Music Hall

Director: Fiona Carter

A nostalgic evening of theatre set in a 1916 Music Hall with the requisite chairman and a difference to the usual old style Music Hall in that all the performers were ladies except for the doorman/caretaker who talked his way into a role.
A simply set stage with piano on audience left, curtains to the rear which when opened revealed a backdrop of a beautiful garden.  
An entertaining evening with the opening medley from the full cast and the words projected on each side of the stage encouraging the audience to join in.
The performer’s stage names added to the delight of the evening with the pianist Mrs Fiona Fingerscatter, Madam Harlie Quin, Miss Olivia Upstart, and Mistress Alison Heaven and of course Mistress Lily Dale.
Nostalgia set in with songs such as The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, She Was Poor but She was Honest, Drink to me only with thine eyes, Beautiful Dreamer, Under the Bridges of Paris and two monologues, Albert & the Lion & The Return of Albert.
The performers projected well, no microphones so one heard the true voices. Unfortunately some voices were rather quite and did need a little strengthening.
One funny scene was the Chairman Rossiter Pearce played by Ross Pearce.
He gave a stirling rendition of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Modern Major General  with all the ladies poking their heads out from behind the curtain, the tabs and the piano joining in the choruses much to the Chairman’s disgust.
A good fun night out thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.

 

Hotel Sorrento

Director: Michelle Swann.

Ark Theatre, a newcomer to the outer Melbourne theatre scene. It was founded two years ago and has performed several small productions. Hotel Sorrento is the company’s first major production and the audience was not only surprised but thrilled with the professionalism of this young company.
The story is of a family, Hilary who lives in seaside Sorrento with her father and 16 year old son. Pippa is visiting from New York, and Meg returns from England with her English husband. Three sisters, reunited after 10 years in different worlds, again feel the constraints of family life. It’s Meg’s semi-autobiographical novel, recently short-listed for the Booker prize, which overshadows their homecoming.
Ark Theatre has a magnificent stage which was put to good use for this production. Rear audience left was Meg’s English home. Centre was the pier at Sorrento with a very effective view of the sea, based on actual sand with lighting given the effect of water. Very well cone. Audience right was the family home in Sorrento showing the inside of the kitchen.
Marg a summer visitor to Sorrento was played by Ann Quinn, a good interpretation of the character. Her friend the local paper editor, Dick was given a good performance by Robert Trott. Hilary, the stay at home sister was excellently performed by Jennie Kellaway. The girls father Wal was played by Frank Unsworth, a fair performance catching the essence of the old man. Troy, Hilary’s son and Wal’s grandson was given a realistic performance by Caillon Souter. Meg, the sister from England was played by Rachel Negus. Negus caught the character with professionalism and projects well. Meg’s English husband, Edwin, was given great performance by Grant Lepon-Walker.
Pippa, the sister from New York, was played with a naturalistic feel by Elise D’Amico.
The players worked well together and the sisters from abroad commenced the play with touches of the accents of the countries they lived in but back with the Australian family and childhood home the accents over the evening slid back to their normal Aussie sounds.
A good production enjoyed by the opening night audience and Ark Theatre is a company to be added to your list of theatres.

 

Athenaeum Theatre Lilydale
Bookings: 61 3 9735 1777

Absent Friends

Director: Peter Roberts.

Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre’s opening season for5 2017 was Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friend.
A story of a group of friends who give an afternoon to cheer up their mutual friend Colin whose fiancé has just recently passed away.
Naturally all kinds of misdemeanour’s come to the fore and it is not quite the occasion first planned
Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre set builders did a wonderful presentation of a modern executive style house interior circa 1970s.
As the play opened Evelyn was seen sitting pushing a pram back and forward. She hardly spoke during the play answering questions with a grunt. Evelyn didn’t know Colin and it was obvious she came under sufferance. Donna Oxley caught such a character with aplomb giving a good performance.
Evelyn’s husband, John, an energetic fellow who did not seem able to sit still was given a fine interpretation by Trent Bockman. Diana, the hostess, always trying to do the correct thing no matter what he cost was given a stirling performance by Adrienne George. Her husband, Paul, a businessman who did not want to get involved gave a great interpretation by Stephen Freeman.
Marge, whose husband was home ill and kept ringing about the most inconsequential matters was played by Lindy Yates. Yates captured the essence of the character giving a good performance.
Colin, the reason for the gathering burst in full of life and not at all as was expected.
Div Collins as Colin gave an outstanding performance and portrayed such a character as envisaged.
 A good start to 2017 by Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre and an enjoyable evening for the first night audience.

 

Caught in the Net

Director Bob Bramble.

Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre’s August production was the Ray Cooney farce Caught in the Net.
A story of John Smith, a taxi driver with two families unbeknown to each other. The son of one family meets on the internet with the daughter of the other family and they plan to meet. When John Smith finds out he does his best to stop the meeting. This leads to much hilarity and includes two wives, the son and daughter, the lodger and the lodger’s senile father.
The stage was set as two apartments by looking as one large lounge room with different colours and two different entrance doors. Excellently done and there was no confusion about which home was which.
Vicki Smith, the daughter of John And Mary Smith, was given a wonderful interpretation by Annie-Emma Italiano. She caught the essence of a fifteen year old determined to have her way. Many of the audience could identify with such a headstrong daughter.
Gavin Smith, the son of John Smith and Barbara Smith was played by Andre Ayton. He gave a great performance as Gavin, being caught up in a mixed identity and not knowing exactly what was going on. A good portrayal of such a role.
Leeanne Jackson played Barbara Smith, the mother of Gavin. A good performer with some funny and frustrating scenes particularly trying to ring her husband. Jackson was amazing in these scenes.
Mary Smith, Vickie’s mother was played by Ana Della Rocca. Another good performer as her role called for her to be continually locked up without being told why. Della Rocca handled the character with a naturalness that projected well to the audience.
The cause of all this trouble the bigamist John Smith was played by Glen Baker. A busy role trying to keep his two children apart and each wife from knowing about the other. Very well done and a professional performance.
The poor lodger who had the unenviable job of keeping the two teenagers apart and keeping the wives apart was Stanley Gardner played by Andrew McIver. A most and I mean most energetic role and how McIvor kept up with the complex dialogue, the running around and handling the other players was absolutely incomprehensible. A fantastic performance and well loved by the audience.
The last but by no means the least was Stanley’s senile father, Dad, who was played by James McRae. McRae handled the role with ease and as Dad not knowing where he was and getting completely mixed up with passing messages on and wondering exactly where he was.
A first class production, very energetic for the players and heartily enjoyed by the audience. 

 

Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant
Director: Alan Burrows

Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre chose Kenneth G. Ross’s Breaker Morant for the May season.
A story of the Boer War and Lt. Harry (Breaker) Morant, Lt. Peter Handcock and Lt. George Witton who were court martialled for killing Boer prisoners even though they claimed that they were instructed that no prisoners were to be kept.
An interesting evening in that besides watching a play and excellent acting the majority of the audience were so incensed by the farcical trial that some made loud comments about the case. In fact so that one of the actors told your correspondent that they clearly heard at least one of the comments.
The stage was set as the Court Martial room in South Africa and audience right doubled as Lord Kitchener’s office with doors leading to outside where several scenes took place only heard by the audience.
Lt. Harry (Breaker) Morant was given a good interpretation by Edward Kennett. The production opened with the stage in darkness, a central screen showing film of the Australian countryside and on the edge of the stage Breaker Morant was situated reading some of his poems thus effectively setting the feeling for such a character, a bushman, horse breaker, soldier and trouble maker. Kennett captured the character with finesse and projects well.
Lt. Peter Handcock was played by Andy Fry. Handcock was a no nonsense bushman with little regard for protocol. Fry caught the correct feel of the role giving a good and realistic interpretation of same.
Lt. George Witton was the third man on trial. Played by Kirby Chenhall whose performance balanced the aforementioned and added to the high standard of the evening.
A superb performance was given by Ben Freeland as the defending solicitor Major Thomas. As defence solicitor Major Thomas was only given 24 hours to organise the defence, assemble witnesses and prepare the correct paper work whereas the prosecution had three months preparation.
Ben Freeland gave an amazing portrayal of Major Thomas with his verbal delivery, stage presentation and worked well with his fellow performers.
The President of the Court was played by Steve Paul, an arrogant character who was determined that the three were to be found guilty no matter what. Paul caught the character as envisaged giving a good portrayal.
Lord Kitchener was played by James Unkles. A good performance with realistic stage projection adding to the evening. The prosecutor Major Gordon was played by Scobie Parker who caught the role with aplomb giving a high standard as the character.
The remainder of the cast were primarily witnesses and also soldiers. Each witness gave good portrayals of the characters they were portraying which varied from different parts of England, Ireland and South Africa.
An interesting evening of theatre and as mentioned earlier unusual with so many of the audience becoming emotionally involved thus showing the success of the play.

The opening night was a special evening with members of the Creswick Light Horse in costume, members of the Boer War Association, Boer War Commemorative committee. RSL representatives, local councillors and other dignitaries.
The President of the Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre said after the performance at the after party:
“ Tonight’s performance is quite historical. Not only does it fall a few days before the Boer War commemoration ceremony at the Shrine next Sunday but the play also depicts an important event in the history of Australia.
The board of the Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre welcomed our guests and patrons and especially our honoured guests. Councillors from the Yarra Ranges Shire, representatives of the Boer War Memorial Committee, the Boer War Association, Rotary Victoria, the Lilydale and Mount Evelyn RSL’s, members of the press and the theatre community and guests of the cast.
The play was first staged at the Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne on 2nd February 1978, so this Athenaeum is an appropriate place for a reprise not only because of the connection but also because of the historical relevance of the building dating back to 1888.
Behind the theatre is one of the oldest war memorials in Victoria. An oak tree planted on 13th June 1900 commemorates the defence of Mafeking during the second Boer War.  The hero of that defence was Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Baden Powell who founded the Boy Scout movement in 1908. Baden Powell visited Melba at Coldstream in 1912 and there is an apocryphal story that he saw the tree.
The theatre has a long connection with the military and was used as a drill hall and Red Cross centre during World War I and in the foyer are the former Shire of Lilydale honour boards for both the First and Second World Wars.
You can read of this building’s remarkable story in three volumes, which were published in 2995 and were written by Anthony MacAleer who is also present tonight. Complimentary copies of this history are available for you to take home.
As the Boer War dragged on, Australians became disenchanted. The suffering of the Boer civilians in concentration camps and then n 1902 the court martial and subsequent execution of Lieutenant Harry Morant and Lieutenant Peter Handcock and the conviction of Lieutenant Peter Handcock made the war even less popular.
The Australian Government actually lodged strong protests with the British Government about the treatment of these men at the time.
Australian military lawyer James Unkles (who played Lord Kitchener tonight) submitted a petition to the Queen supported by the House of Representatives Petitions Committee to have these officers posthumously granted a pardon. The British Government denied the petition and James is continuing to lobby the Australian Government for an independent review. He is also preparing the case for review before the British High Court.
Tonight we are pleased to welcome Ken Ross who wrote the play. The script of Ross’s play was almost immediately converted into the screenplay for Bruce Beresford’s 1980 film Breaker Morant starring Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson.
Finally we must thank members of the Creswick Light Horse Troop for setting the atmosphere and the director of the play Alan Burrows and his cast for such an impressive performance.
We also need to mention and thank our backstage crew, lighting and sound technicians, our admin and ticket office and finally our front of house volunteers who will now serve supper and some delightful Rochford wine.”

 

The Vicar of Dibley 2

Director: Loretta Bishop

Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre’s opening production was The Vicar of Dibley. A fun evening to open 2016.
Adapted from the BBC TV series by director Loretta Bishop we see episodes The Engagement, Dibley Live and Love and Marriage.
A simple set comprising the rear of the church hall with stained windows with views of the countryside. Varying sets were moved in and out as the scenes warranted.
The cast were amazing, one could swear that they had just come over from the BBC to play their roles.
Louise Steele was the Reverend Geraldine Granger. And what a performance! Steele absolutely captured the essence of the vicar giving a stirling performance.
Claire Hanley practically broke the audience up with her portrayal of the deaconess Alice Tinker. She caught all the fine nuances of Alice and her body language was superb. Hanley and Andrew McIvor had a fantastic rapport and their scenes nearly brought the house down.
Chris Hodson was the President of the Council, David Horton who treated the village as his own fiefdom and disgusted at his son’s choice of partner. Hodson projected well in the role giving a great portrayal.
His son Hugo was played by Andrew McIvor. A magnificent portrayal and really captured the not so bright son of David Horton. His scenes with Claire Hanley absolutely stole the evening and the pair was highly acclaimed by the audience.
James McCrae was Jim Trott well known for No no no no yes. McCrae projects well giving a good performance . The council secretary, Frank Pickle, was played by Phillip Stephenson. Another great portrayal of the man that when asked to speak would not stop.
The rough outspoken farmer, Owen Newitt, on the council was played by Andy Fry. Like the others he certainly looked the part and his accent was so good one thought he had just stepped off the TV set.  Fry really caught the character of the shall we say not what one would expect to hear at a church council meeting. A wonderful performance of  rough and ready farmer.
A small role was that of David Horton’s brother Simon who came in to see his nephew get married. Simon was given a stirling performance b Andy Rhodes.
A great night of entertainment to open the 2016 season and one that will take a lot of living up to.

 

The Bakerey @ 1812

My First Time

Director: Helen Ellis

A story told by five people about their very first time. Yes that first time.
The play was performed in the Bakery@1812, an intimate theatre ideal for this production.
The set on audience left was a Tiki Bar and as the director pointed out in her notes this was added as just pure fun. This did break up some of the drama adding to the enjoyment of the play. The walls of the stage wee black with white writing projected on same.
The players opened the play in various forms of affection not leaving much to the imagination. They then moved to chairs where they sat and told their stories.
Each player was dressed in black all wearing the same outfits.
The two men were played by
Brett Hyland and Paris Romanis. Both caught the characters as envisaged giving good performances. The three girls were played by Melanie Rowe, Clare Hayes and Elise D’Amico. Good performances all round and each of the cast had a good rapport with each other.
An interesting play, not for the fainthearted, in fact six people showed their disapproval by walking out. Although a contentious subject the cast handled it with great skill and it was well directed and the audience had no reason to be dissatisfied with the evenin

 

The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell


Malcolm Sussman - Janine Evans - Nigel Leslie

Director: John Bishop.

A story about bush poet Daniel Gartrell set in his decrepit house and his only contact with the outside world is his daughter Sarah.
A magnificent set of the interior of the decrepit house with a view to rear of a mountain, red sky and trees. On the tabs each side of the stage were aboriginal dot drawings of Australian creatures. The music background was ideally chosen for sch a storyline comprising of didgeridoo music giving an eerie feel to such a production. A three handed play with Malcolm Sussman as Daniel Gartrell, the bush poet who is about to have a film made of his life.
Sussman gave a superb performance of such a character with good stage presence, a strong  clear voice and working well with his co-players.
Nigel Leslie was Craig Castevich, the young actor cast to play Daniel in the forthcoming film. Craig has come to study Daniel to get the correct feeling for the role. Nigel Leslie gave a great performance in the role capturing all the fine nuances as envisaged.
Daniel’s daughter, Sarah, was played by Janine Evans. Another wonderful performer catching the essence of such a daughter working well with her fellow players.
An interesting play, occasionally a touch of humour but a little Australian horror story.
Well produced and directed and in The Bakery@1812 gave an intimate fell for the audience. A great night of theatre and thoroughly recommended

 

Patient 12

Blake Stringer & Mark Phillips

Director: Dexter Bourke

The Bakery@1812 was the venue for Kevin Summers’ play Patient 12. A story of a badly injured soldier from WWI who is so badly injured he is unidentifiable. Three different people consider he is their relation and the play deals with the reaction to such a situation.
He Bakery@1812 was an ideal location for such a story. An intimate theatre bringing the audience close to the production and really getting the feeling of the players and their characters.
The stage was set in Caulfield Repatriation Hospital in 1919. Audience left saw the doctor’s office, centre was Patient 12s bed surrounded by a screen that when light behind it was turned on showed the action in and around the bed. Audience right was a waiting room and visitor’s exit. The set caught the period with authentic furniture of the time.
Blake Stinger was Percy, an inmate of the hospital and friend of Patient 12. A great performance as a soldier on the battle field and an excellent interpretation of a shell-shocked soldier in rehabilitation centre. Mark Phillips was Patient 12, another good performance in the role showing the various aspects in the life of a young soldier in the period of what was known as The Great War.
Graham Fly was Dr. Thomas. A man who lost his religious feeling after the South African war but sis his best for the patients under is dare. Fly gave an outstanding performance in the role. Denman, the possible Patient 12’s father was anti war., pro communism and upset his son joined the forces. Graeme Doyle caught such a character with professionalism giving a great performance. Alice, possibly Patient 12’s fiancée was played by Danielle Payet who captured the feel of a young woman whose boyfriend left to fight for King and country but not knowing if really or not that she cared for him. Payet projected well and gave a very good feeling to such a character.
Mr Durham and his wife Victoria Durham who thought that Patient 12 could be their son were given outstanding performances by Steve Saul and Paula Klement.
A great evening of theatre really capturing the life of 1919 following The Great War and showing how the Melbourne people handled life after such an experience.

 

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THE BASIN THEATRE
Bookings: 1300 784 668

Dangerous Curves

Director: Graham Fly.

The Basin Theatre’s choice of play for August was J. B. Priestly’s Dangerous Curves.
A story of a dinner party for friends and colleagues of a successful publishing company and what can happen when an ill-considered remark and a cigarette box sparks off a series of revelations.
A well executed set of the drawing room of the Caplan home in the north of England. This set really caught the feeling of such a home.
James Ness was Robert Caplan, a well performing player who caught the finer nuances of the character.
His wife, Freda Caplan was played by Tina Bono. Bono gave a stirling performance in the role with good stage projection and good voice projection. Alan Thompson was Charles Stanton, the worker from the rank and file who worked his way to the top. Thompson gave a great performance and had the correct feel with a working class accent and also good projection.
Gordon Whitehouse was a young man also caught up in the intrigue. Played by Nathan Unton giving a fine performance and working well with Tash Banguerra playing his young wife Betty Whitehouse. Betty was a nervous young lady who did not like what was going on and Banguerra gave a great portrayal of the role.
Olwen Peel was given a great portrayal by Sarah Brighton. A wonderful interpretation of Olwen adding to the success of the evening.
The guest writer who was also known to be a gossip, Maud Mockeridge was played by Robyn Pollock. A small but vital part and well played by Pollock.
The costuming suited the period with the men in dinner suits and the ladies in glamorous evening attire which varied from the extravagant to not so quite the thing.
A successful evening of theatre from The Basin Theatre.

 

Sleuth

Director: Chris Shaw

The Basin Theatre Group’s choice for the Mays season was Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth.
A story of a mystery writer and his wife’s lover and the games they get up to.
The Basin had an amazing set of the writer’s country home. Centre rear was a billiard room complete with a fully functional billiard table  Audience right rear was the writer’s study and central was the lounge room with chess set, two Egyptian type games sets ad audience left was a stairway to the upper rooms and passage. Very solid set and used to the utmost. Through the windows one could see out into the garden.
The writer, Andrew Wyke, was played by Peter Hatherley. A very good stage presence, well spoken and a good professional performance.
Wyke’s wife’s lover Milo Tindle was played by Justin Stephens. A good performance and both working well together. Stephens had an unusual role which he handled with finesse and projects well. An unusual story with a couple of twists which certainly kept the audience in its toes. The Basin Theatre Group and Director Chris Shaw gave the opening night audience a production to remember

 

Accomplice


Director: Gregor McGibbon.

An unusual play about a murder mystery but the audience can’t quite fathom out is it real or is it a play within a play or is it…?
A uniquely designed program in the shape of handcuffs and the cast list with no idea as to whom they are playing. In actual fact each member plays many characters and all skilfully done.
The stage setting was amazing on audience left was a bar like no-one has ever seen before. It was a full size waterwheel set against a stone wall. On talking to the director at the end of the show your reviewer was told that he actually made it for the production. It looked actually real. Centre stage was two stories with a well built staircase and on the upper floor were two doorways. Below was the main entrance and on audience left was the entrance to the kitchen and an open fire place. 
Steve Carroll upon entering gave a little speech about coming home form work.
He had mixed roles all of which he carried very professionally giving a good interpretation of such a character.
Sarah King gave a very energetic performance which by the end of the season will leave her exhausted. A good performance by a young lady with good stage projection and a strong clear voice.
Stephen Barber was the other male actor in the cast. Well acted in his role and a good rapport with the other cast members.
Elise D’amico gave a stirling performance working well with the cast and projected well.
An unusual and complex play with unaccountable twists and turns which took till the end to understand the production.

 

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BATS Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9702 2759

Rumors

Director: Bronwyn Egan.

  Rumors by Neil Simon is about the Deputy Mayor of New York's 10 th wedding anniversary party and what happens when the friends arrive only to find the hostess missing and the Deputy with a gunshot wound the head.
A cast of ten well balanced and played as the play demands over the top. Some screaming, duck shoving all which made the play the humorous production it was supposed to be.
A well set stage of two levels with the requisite number of doors for a farce. Plenty of action with the odd explosion and gunshots.
The players all presented well and had good stage presence. They captured their characters with comfort and although some were a little over the top it was as the writer wished. By Australian standards it can be a little hard to take but as it is a New York play it was quite acceptable in the context.

A good evening of hilarity well appreciated by the audience.

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Beaumaris Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9583 6896

Catchment Players of Darebin


Noises Off


Michael Fryan’s Noises Off is considered one of the world’s funniest farces. It is a play within a play. A touring company in England are performing Nothing On. The play opens with the rehearsal, then a few weeks into the tour where the audience see the reverse of the set and what happens behind the scenes then the final act where the tour is finishing and the deterioration of the cast relationships.
Catchment Players of Darebin rose to the occasion and presented a professional and amusing production.
A well constructed set showing the living room, in Act 2 showing the set in reverse which Catchment is to be congratulated on the smooth handling of reversing the set and then in Act 3 resetting to Act 1 scene.
The housekeeper of Nothing On was Mrs Clackett played by Dotty Otley aka Marg Weston. Weston captured the characters with professionalism and projected well. Ashley McPherson was Garry Lejeune who played Roger Trampolemain Roger was the house agent who had other things in mind when he took a young lady over the premises. A well executed performance and a hard physical portrayal excellently done.
Robyn Jane Lacey was Brooke Ashton who played Vicki the young lady being shown over the house. Lacey captured the dumbish young lady who had only one idea in mind but was caught up in all kinds of mayhem. A good and skilful performance. The married couple in Nothing On were Frederick Fellowes as Philip Brent and Belinda Blair as Flavia Brent. Frederick Fellowes was played by David Gardette who gave a memorable performance of the confident actor in the play but always apologising for every mistake no matter who made it.
Belinda Blair was played by Natasha Bassett who also gave a stirling performance in the role. The burglar, Selsdon Mowbray was played by Will Deumer who gave an amusing and professional portrayal.
The stage manager for Nothing On was Tim Allgood  played by Marcus Flood. Flood really caught the character of the overworked stage manager giving a great performance. The assistant stage manager was Poppy Norton-Taylor played by Lisa Pilkington.
Pilkington carried the role with  seemingly ease and appeared very comfortable in the role.
A tough production with the timing of the cast spot on and a highly appreciated production by the opening night audience.

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Dandenong Theatre

Get Smart

Director: Matt Caton.

  Get Smart is a play taken from the old TV series with all the regular characters. DTC captured the feel of the TV show not only the well known gimmicks, the shoe phone, the Telephone secret entrance to HQ.

Maxwell Smart was played by Rhys Martin who gave a fine performance capturing the feel of the original shall we say not so bright spy but successful in spite of himself with perhaps help from Agent 99.

Claire Bennie was Agent 99 a good performance and even looked like the original 99. Darren Calder was the frustrated chief who had trouble with Agent 86 Maxwell Smart. Calder gave a good interpretation in the role.

The Wong sisters (a take off of Charlie's Angels) were given a terrific performance by Imat Akelo-Opio as Mary Wong, Felicity Zanon as Shirley Wong and Natalie Burns as Betsy Wong.

The girl's choreography was exceptionally well executed and they certainly added to the production.

The production did start a little slow but as the show progressed so did the players who improved as the evening progressed.

 

Noises Off

Director Matt Caton

  Dandenong Theatre Company opened 2007 with a delightful farce Noises Off about a touring Rep Company in England and showing not only on stage but behind the scenes.

The set designer and construction team did a very good job in making a two story set complete with stairs, upstairs landing various doors both upstairs and downstairs without which any farce can succeed.

The cast lived u to the standard expected with no poor performances.

The program contains in an internal program which is for the touring company Otstar Productions.

Sharon Maine played Dotty Otley and as Dotty played Mrs Clackett in Nothing On, the lead and financier of Otstar Productions production of Nothing On. Sharon captured the role with ease and gave a great interpretation of the role.

Simon Papson was Lloyd Douglas the director. What a role makes one wonder why anyone takes up directing. Simon gave a great performance showing the patience and frustration of handling temperamental; actors.

James Ness was Garry Lejeune who played the young estate agent Roger with more on his mind than selling a house. James Ness handled both roles with the correct characterisation required. His partner of the afternoon was Vicki a young blond with the requisite curves and mentality expected. Laura Ireland as Brooke Ashton / Vicki gave a positive and delightful performance in fact with her walk and limited amount of clothing she brought to mind Barbara Windsor of Carry On fame.

Joe Dias was Frederick Fellowes who played the home owner Phillip Brent. Joe gave a fine interpretation of such a character.

Kym Davis was Belinda Blair who played Phillip Fellowes wife. Kym stood aloof as envisaged and gave a good feeling in the role.

Colin Morley was the assistant director of Nothing On. What a character running around taking actor's roles although it wasn't always necessary, run off his feet by the cast and director. A great performance and guaranteed to keep Colin fit.

The villain of Nothing On was Selsdon Mowbray played Peter Fowler. Selsdon was a good performer provided alcohol beverages were kept out of reach. Peter captured the role with finesse

Another delight was Poppy Norton-Taylor the stage manager played by Claire Benne. Poor Poppy another one run off her feet trying to keep the backstage and cast moving smoothly and trying to talk to the director Lloyd about a secret that will affect him. Claire was made for the role and gave a good natural performance.

A three act show that except being a little slow in act 2 flowed well and was enjoyed by the audience.

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Eltham Little Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9437 1574

Lost in Yonkers


Director: Terese Maurice-Ryan

It’s 1942, Arty and Jay, two teenage brothers must go to live with their stern German Jewish grandmother and their not quite with it Aunt Belle. Throw in Uncle Louie, a small time gangster on the run from fellow gangsters and one has the making of an interesting story.
ELT is to be congratulated on the set which was an apartment above a candy store. Magnificently done with the setting of all the expected fittings of such an apartment.
Angus Hamilton was young Arty, Angus, so the program tells us, is 11 years old playing a 13 year old. A great performance and a good rapport with Casey Filips as his brother Jay. Angus is a young man to watch and one I am sure we will see more of. The same goes for Casey Filips as Jay, another good performer particularly when standing up to his grandmother.
A highlight of the evening was the performance by Elizabeth Van Spronsen as Aunt Bella. An amazing portrayal really capturing the essence of the slightly retarded aunt who loved the boys and was a virtual slave to her mother until…
Xavier Ryan was Uncle Louis who kept looking discreetly out the window to see of the coast was clear. Ryan caught the characteristics of the role working well with the rest of the cast and projecting well.
His brother and the boy’s father was Eddie played by Drew Mason. Eddie left his sons in the care of his mother while he went across America as a travelling salesman. Mason gave a good feeling of the father who, through circumstances was not happy about leaving his boys with his mother. Throughout the play Eddie sends letters home and this was done by Drew under a spotlight hiding the rest of the set showing him reading the letters out as if the boys were at home reading same. A well done performance.
Jo Warr was the German Jewish grandma and made sure that her family neve forgot the fact and what she suffered in Germany. Warr projected excellently coming in with a walking stick used for getting attention by really banging it on stage. A good performance. A small role was Aunt Gert who visited for a short while. Aunt Gert also had problems and Candice Brittain made the most of the role.

A great evening of theatre with a high standard of performance by all.

 

It's My Party (and I'll Die if I Want To)

Director: Laura Bradley

A story of the Patterson family where the father Ron invites his grown up family to an evening of party pies and pavlova. He has some unexpected news and so have they!
ELT set designers and builders did a great job of the setting of a lounge/dining room plus the necessary doors on left and right of stage.
Phil Holmes was Ron Patterson, a rather pedantic man and very well played by Phil Holmes who captured the essence of such a character.
Ron’s wife Dawn was played by Pat Alcock. A pushed around wife who nevertheless stood up for her husband. Alcock gave a fine interpretation of such a role and added to the standard of the evening.
Ron’s son Michael was portrayed by Drew Mason. A good performance catching all the finer nuances of the business man who had a secret.
Ron’s eldest daughter Debbie was played by Felicity Ahern. Michael and Debbie didn’t get along with their younger sister. Ahern caught the role with finesse and worked well with Mason.
The younger sister Karen was played by Tamara Dahmen. Karen was a spoilt brat and a Daddy’s girl. Dahmen was excellent in the role with a good stage presence.
In the second act Ted Wilkins an undertaker entered. Ryan Purdey gave a realistic performance to the role and was rather bemused by the Patterson family’s goings on.
A well done smooth flowing play with an unexpected ending and was appreciated by the opening night audience.   

 

The Wisdom of Eve

Director: Susan Rundle

ELT’s August production was Mary Caswell’s The Wisdom of Eve.
Originally the story was the basis of the Academy Award winning film All About Eve which starred Betty Davis. Mary Orr wrote the play 14 years after the film first opened.
The stage was divided into two sets. Audience left was the dressing room of the stage star Margo Crane while audience right was the living room of the home of the writer Lloyd Roberts and his wife Karen.
Both well constructed sets suiting the essence of the play.
The story is of Eve Harrington, a fan of Margo Crane and how she inveigles herself into the lives of Margo and her friends the Roberts.
Susie Kazda was Even Harrington. A wonderful performance with Kazda really capturing the young naïve girl who turned out not quite so naïve and a trouble to the four friends. Very well done.
The leading actress Margo Crane was performed by Jana Menze. Another great performer handling the role with professionalism and expertise.
Her husband Clement Howell was played by Bill Mitchell. A man who did not like the way his wife took to Eve without knowing anything about her. Mitchell was Clement Howell taking off the role with ease.
Margo’s friend Karen Roberts was played by Lisa Upson. Karen was the person who introduced Eve to her friends. A good portrayal of the character.
Karen’s husband Lloyd was played by Tony Clayton. Clayton gave a good feel to the role with fine stage appearance.
The young stage manager Harvey was well played by Ben Mitchell. Another great character was the radio theatre critic Tully Thompson who was delightfully played by Candice Brittain.
Margo’s agent Hinkle was portrayed by Ryan Purdey who was a smooth talker and was rather taken with eve. Purdey handled the role with finesse adding to the high standard of the evening.
Margo’s dresser Celia who was shall we say ousted by Eve was played by Margaret Rawlinson. A small but important role and well handled by Rawlinson.
A good evening of theatre well produced and directed by ELT  ans a company worth going to see.

 

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1812 Theatre
Bookings: & Inquiries 61 3 9758 964

Steptoe & Son


Director: Christine Grant

1812 Theatre’s selection to open the 2017 season was 3 new classical episodes of Steptoe and Son.
The stage was divided into two. Audience left was the junkyard and audience right was the Steptoe home.
A very good set with the amount of junk and house fittings was absolutely amazing. Well suited for such a story.
Albert Steptoe was brilliantly played by Keith Hutton. A magnificent portrayal and one would swear that he had just walked off the TV show. Hutton captured all the finer nuances of such a character and had a great rapport with Ed Kennett who played his son Harold.
Kennett was the epitome of Harold, never succeeding in outsmarting his old Dad no matter how hard he tries. Kennett was outstanding in the role, really caching the original Harold’s accent and never let it waiver. The pair were well enjoyed by the audience adding to the high standard of such a production.
There were three scenes.
1 The Stepmother: Albert brought home a lady friend with long term relationship intentions but! The lady Emma was given a delightful and good performance by An Quinn.
2. Two’s Company: Albert again brings in a younger woman this time but things don’t always go as expected with some very unusual results.
The young lady, Daphne was played by Susie Sparks whose performance added to the standard of the other performers. A great interpretation.
Interval then Play 3. The Bath.
A most hysterical act with Albert having a bath onstage with a reminder in the program that there is partial nudity in this scene.
Keith Hutton and Ed Kennett excelled themselves in this act and adding to the enjoyment was Rosey Cullinan as Delia/Molly. Some of Cullinan’s expressions after certain actions were a sheer delight.
1812 Theatre with such direction and such a cast has set themselves a high standard to open the year and a challenge to keep it up for the rest of 2017.

 

The Vicar of Dibley


Director: Lorraine Bishop

!812 theatre’s choice of production to close 2016 was another three episodes in their previous productions of The Vicar of Dibley.
A great set comprising of the church hall and with various curtains etc changing into the church, vicar’s residence and David Horton’s home.
The Reverend Geraldine Grainger was given a stirling performance by Louise Steele. One would swear that she had just walked out of the TV series. Steele captured the finer nuances of the lady Vicar.
Trudie Sheppard was the Deakin, Alice Tinker. Sheppard’s performance was outstanding ,not only did she look like the original Alice from the TV series her body language had the character down pat and her voice was exactly what was expected of Alice.
David Horton, the leader of the community (in his own mind) was played by Chris Churchward. A good interpretation of such a role with the correct amount of arrogance expected of such a character.
David’s son Hugo, not quite such a bright young lad as expected was given a great performance by Allan Dinor. Jim Trott (No, no, no, yes fame) was well played by James McRae. Frank Pickle the secretary was given a wonderful portrayal by Fred Barker. Owen Newitt the insensitive farmer was well played by Graeme Doyle.
Alisia, the dear old soul whose cooking was always if not but nearly fatal, was given a fantastic interpretation by Patricia McCracken.
A popular choice and a wonderful, amusing finish to 2016 by The 1812 Theatre Company.  

 

Driving Miss Daisy

Director: Horrie Leek.

The 1812 Theatre’s choice of production was Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy. A story of a Southern Lady who cannot drive anymore and her Afro American chauffer who she at first despises but attitudes change throughout their time together.
The stage was set in two parts. Audience right was Miss Daisy’s lounge room. Very well executed giving the feel of the period. Audience left was Miss Daisy’s son Boolie’s office and also Miss Daisy’s car represented by three chairs. One in front and two at the rear. The actors never missed a beat in miming opening and closing the car doors even when the scene had finished.
Genevieve Ryan was Miss Daisy. A magnificent portrayal of the widowed Southern Jewish lady. The play takes place over a long period of time and Ryan handled the changes of a lifetime with skill and expertise.
Her chauffer Hoke, was played by Eyawn Harry. Hoke was a patient understanding man no matter what Miss Daisy said he took it in his stride. Harry captured the essence of such a character with aplomb giving a first class performance of the role.
Miss Daisy’s son,
Boolie Werthan was played by Andrew Ferguson. Boolie was a busy businessman who hired Hoke to chauffer for his mother. Ferguson had a busy role as the businessman and gave a good portrayal of the character. All three had great rapport and gave well balanced performances.
As the play takes place over many years Director Horrie Leek used the Assistant stage managers, Chris Hudson and Tim Byron to come on stage and quote the various historical happenings in the period of the story.
A well directed, smooth flowing play with good performances from the cast and great work from behind the scenes.

Sherlock Holmes and The Suicide Club

Director: Christine Grant.

A story of some of Europe’s most powerful men gather together to play a game. The game is murder and this is the Suicide Club. But now the club has a new member: Sherlock Holmes.
1812’s stage setting was simple yet effective. Stage rear was a large screen on which was projected the various scenes of the play. Stage Front was various movements of furniture when required to suit the relevant scene.
Sherlock Holmes was played by Frank Schrever who projects well and gave a good interpretation of the role. His old friend Dr. Watson was given a stirling performance by Chris Hodson who caught all the finer points of the character. Josiah Hilbig was Mr Williams and Mr Roundy, a fine illustration of such a role.
Pip Le Blond gave a great performance as the Suicide Club secretary where she was the assured secretary who stood no nonsense from the members to the commonly spoken stage magician. The change of character was exceedingly well done
Mr Henry, in a wheelchair, was given a good portrayal by Chris Proctor. Geoff Arnold played two roles, Mr Richards, a member of the Suicide Club and Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft Holmes. Arnold captured both roles as envisaged giving a good performance in each.
Another member of the club was Mr George played b y Michael Knuckey who also played Inspector Micklewhite. Another good performer who caught the role as expected,
Prince Nikita Starloff was played by Grant Lepan Walker who projects well and kept up a foreign accent suiting such a character.
Amy Jenkins was Christiane de LaBegassier, shall we say a friend of Prince Nikita. Jenkins gave a good positive performance in the role keeping up a French accent without losing it during the progress of the play.
Mrs Hudson, Lucy and Lady were played by Jennie Kellaway who captured the three roles with aplomb giving a good professional performance.
An interesting production from The 1812 Theatre appreciated by the opening night audience. 

 

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Encore Theatre
Bookings: 0500 842 538

Shakespeare in Saigon

Director: Cenarth Fox.

A story set in Footscray where a young Vietnamese girl who cannot speak English meets up with a retired English literature teacher who takes it on himself to teach her English but Elizabethan English.
Act 1 was set in David’s (the English literature teacher) school and home. A basic set giving the audience the feel of the area.
Act 2 is in David’s flat in Footscray. A well set stage of a poor low rental flat with furnishings suited to the period.
Alastair Rice was David. A good performer handling the role with finesse with some good scenes particular trying to speak and understand the Vietnamese refugee who cannot speak English.
Ai Diem Lee played Thanh, the young refugee who is taught the English of Shakespeare which leads to some funny moments. Lee captured the essence of Thanh giving a great portrayal of the character and was resplendent in her costuming, all the real outfits as mentioned in the program, supplied by her grandparents in Vietnam. This added to the authenticity of the play.
David’s mother Julia, who kept ringing David at some awkward times, was given a stirling performance by Shirley Cattunar.  
David’s pupil Juliet, at school before he retired was given a wonderful performance by Carina Field. The School Principal, Janice, who gave David’s farewell speech was admirably caught by Lynne Elphinston-Gray.
David’s ex-wife Judith was played by Joanne Gabriel who worked well with Rice also giving a good performance.

A good evening of theatre enjoyed by the audience

 

Table Manners

Director: Deborah Fabbro

Encore Theatre’s final choice for 2916 was Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manner.
 A story of Annie who looks after her elderly ill mother and wants a break to have a dirty weekend with her brother-in-law. But of course nothing goes right and does Annie have her weekend break?
The set design was excellent. An English dining room correctly furnished    with centre stage rear was a set of French doors overlooking trees and a lake. This scene was projected onto the rear of the stage and looked really 3D, Very good and added to the high standard of the production.
As Annie the director chose Maree Bennett. An excellent choice as Bennett really caught the characteristics of such a role giving a superb performance.
Annie’s sister-in-law Sarah who had to do everything her way, upsetting everyone else, was played by Monica Greenwood. Another great performance with Greenwood capturing the essence of such an annoying character. The family friend Tom, the local Vet,  was played by John Locke. A slow on the uptake, slowly speaking but liked by all was given a good interpretation by Locke.
Sarah’s husband Reg was played by Gordon Lyon. A quiet man who did what his wife told him. Well played by Lyon.
The troublemaker of the family, Norman was played by Lindsay Fletcher. Good stage presentation, ideal in the role and gave a good performance of such a character.   
Norman’s short-sighted wife Ruth was played by Audrey Farthing, who caught the essence of the character with aplomb. Her acting especially when Ruth would not admit to having to wear glasses was terrific.
A well cast play with a great set and a wonderful production from Encore Theatre to complete 2016.  

 

An Inspector Calls

Director: Lesley Batten

Encore Theatre’s choice of production for the July season was J. B. Priestly’s An Inspector Calls.
A leading Brumley family are celebrating an engagement when an Inspector calls re the suicide of a young lady. The effect on the family is what J. B. Priestley has written about.
A split set comprising a dining room and the lounge. Both exceedingly well done.
The head of the family, Arthur Birling was played by David Dodd. A good performance of the head of such a family. Dodd had good enunciation and captured the essence of such a character.
His wife, Sybil Birling was well caught by Linda Morgan who gave the correct feel to the lady of the house who, no matter what, never considered herself at fault. A good all round performance. The Birling’s daughter Sheila was well performed by Samantha-Ellen Bond. A well done interpretation of a character whose mood changes were very well handled.
Sheila’s fiancé Gerald Croft. Was given a good portrayal by Ben Mitchell. Mitchell caught the characterisation as expected covering all the moods and feelings of a newcomer to the family and now considered part of same.
Sheila’s  brother Eric Birling was played by Nelson Swanson-Hosie giving a good interpretation of the younger son who did not live up to the family’s expectations.
Inspector Goole was played by Michael Redmond. A stirling job catching the no-nonsense policeman who did not worry what status in life his interviewees held.
Several brief appearances were made by Paula Clement as the maid Erica. A small role but necessary with Clement handling the role with expertise.
A good evening of theatre from Encore Theatre Company.
 

 

The Dining Room

Director: Horrie Leek.

Encore Theatre and Director Horrie Leek chose A. R. Gurney Jr’s  The Dining Room for the April season.
A play of 18 vignettes set around a dining table in a dining room of a middle class American home.
Eleven players took on the difficult role of 58 roles ranging from the very young and the very old with all the people one would expect over a period of time to use a dining room and the use they made of it.
Encore Theatre’s set was a centre piece of the dining table with chairs in the relevant positions. White walls with doorways each side of the stage. A sideboard on audience left.
The characters ranged from children, buyers, young couples, older couples, different aspects of life from schooldays to infidelity to dementia.
The cast of 11 gave stirling performances each handling the changes of characters with professionalism. Very even performances were given with good presentation, voice clear and understandable giving the opening night audiences a wonderful evening of theatre.

 

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Hats Theatre Company

Still Under the Brim
Doreen, Mother Figure, Graceland

HATS has a tradition of one act plays so the July season saw the launch if three plays which Hats intend performing at the Ararat One Act Play Festival, Mornington One Act Play Festival and Anglesea One Act Play Festival in 2003.
The company opened the evening with Alun Owen's Doreen. A story of two boys and a girl. Doreen, John and Eric. The two boys had two girls up to a flat for dinner. One girl not liking what she thought might happen left. The two boys are left with one girl who appears to be quite happy to stay regardless.
Doreen was given a seductive and confident performance by Bianca Beer. Aidan Martin was Eric, a shy boy but it appeared that he was the one Doreen was keen on. Aidan gave a fine performance in the role capturing the character as written. John, the confident rather full of himself, was played by Sean Hand. Sean handled the role with finesse and projected well.
The second play was Ala Ayckbourn's Mother Figure. A story of a mother whose husband is a commercial traveller and leaves her alone for weeks at a time. This results in mother only talking to her children and cannot relate to other adults. The next door neighbours pop in and the play is a result of their visit.
Rosemary is the neighbour who visits after a request from the mother Lucy's husband who cannot raise her on the phone. Rosemary was played by Kate Baker who gave a good interpretation of the neighbour who was worried about Lucy's mental state. Rosemary's husband Terry came in to see why his wife was held up and falls into the dialogue and actions. Terry was given a great performance by Nick Beaton.
The mother Lucy was portrayed by Genevieve Ryan. Genevieve gave an outstanding performance of the mother who lived in a world of her own.
The third play was Ellen Byron's Graceland. The play is set outside Elvis Presley's home Graceland which is to be open to the public for the first time. Bev has arrived first; she is an Elvis devotee and is always first at anything connected to Elvis no matter what. Rootie, a young girl arrives and claims she was first and the story is about who was really first and why they should be. No action as such just sitting on chairs and talking, I feel that it could make a good radio play considering it appeared to be two people talking with little action.
Bev was played by Sheona Paxman, Sheona had the correct approach to the character and gave a good interpretation. Rootie was played by Sarah Lamb, a young actor who caught the role as envisaged.
A pleasant evening of theatre and HATS is a company worth adding to your diary.

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Heidelberg Theatre
Bookings: 03 9437 3039

Australia Day


Director: Joan Moriarty.

Heidelberg Theatre’s 2017 opening season was Jonathan Biggins’ Australia Day.
The storyline is about the small town of Coriole preparing for Australia /day celebrations.
The committee comprises the mayor, deputy mayor, the CWA president, local builder/developer, local Greens councillor and the local school teacher.
The stage was set in the local scout hall where the committee met to organise the Coriole Australia Day festivities.
A well set stage complete with the portrait of Lord Baden-Powell (the founder of scouting). Front of stage were two tables and chairs, rear was a sink, bench and frig.
Doors each side for the various entrances and exits.
Jim Thomson was Mayor Brian Harrigan, who had some ulterior motives in mind. Thomson caught the essence of such a character giving a good performance.
The deputy mayor, Robert Wilson, was played by Nick Freedman. Nick was more of a yes man to the mayor, was in line for mayor but did he really want the job? Freedman gave a stirling performance in the role really catching the feel for such a character.
Maree Bucknell the CWA President was played by Kate Hall. Hall has good stage appearance giving a first class performance to the character.
Darren Gregor was Wally Stewart, the local redneck who didn’t seem to like change and wanted everything the way it was always done. He had run ins with Councillor McInnes, a newcomer from Melbourne and a Greens councillor. Gregor gave a wonderful performance in the role and worked well with Maree Bennett who played Helen McInnes, the Greens Councillor.   
Bennett gave an outstanding performance as the Greens councillor and trying to update the Australia Day festival with remembering the first Australians much to the disgust of Wally.
The primary school teacher Chester Lee was played by Ju-Han Soon. Lee being questioned about his background commented I am an ABV Australian Born Vietnamese. Soon added humour to the play and appeared to be more Australian than the rest of the committee. A wonderful portrayal with a good stage presence and working well with the rest of the cast.
An Australia Day with a committee that anyone who has been on a committee would easily identify with, and a day that anything could happen and did. The costuming, set and backstage production set a great evening of entertainment from Heidelberg Theatre.

One Man, Two Guvnors

Director: Chris Baldcock.

Heidelberg Theatre Company’s final play for 2016 was Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors. A delightful light hearted comedy that had the audience in stitches from the opening to the final.
Upon entering the audience was entertained by a Skiffle Band on audience right of stage. Very entertaining and much enjoyed. They performed throughout the production filling in with scene changes and accompanying members of the cast who performed on the xylophone, a steel drum and a kazoo.
The man with the two Guvnors was Frances Henshall played by Benjamin Watts. An amazing and energetic performance by Watts who skilfully fell over at various interludes during the production. A great stage projection and voice strong and clear.
Man hungry Dolly, Charlie Clench’s book keeper was given a wonderful performance by Cat Jardine who caught all the finer nuances of the man crazy Dolly. Good stage projection and a good rapport with Benjamin Watts.
James Antonas was one of the Guvnors, Stanley Stubbs, a crook and a murderer, but also in love with Rachel Crabbe. Antonas gave a stirling performance as such a character and had good timing in some of the scenes where the timing was not only essential but could have been very damaging.
Rachel Crabbe was played by Diane Algate. Rachel was dressed as her dead twin brother and Algate also gave a fabulous performance in the role.
Ken McLeish was another Guvnor, Charlie Clench, employing Francis Henshall. McLeish captured the essence of such a character who was trying to get his daughter married off to another crook to settle a deal but naturally she has fallen for someone else. McLeish gave a great interpretation of the role.
  Charlie’s daughter Pauline was the real dumb type and madly in love with Alan Dangle. Pauline was played by Katey Lewis who gave a magnificent performance as the dumb daughter. Lewis was superb in the role really capturing such a character.
Her affianced, Alan Dangle, an aspiring actor, was played by Liam Gillespie. Alan struck poses every time he moved making sure the audience saw his best side. Gillespie really caught the character as envisaged with great stage projection, a good strong voice and worked well with the other members of the cast.
Harry Dangle, Alan’s father was Charlie Clench’s solicitor and was played by Nick Cheadle who presents well keeping the high standard of the production.
Wem Etuknwa was Lloyd Boateng friend of Charlie Clench and a good steel drum player in the calypso scene. Another good performance.
The two waiters were played by Jonathan Best and Sam Howard.
Best was the headwaiter Gareth who had a lot of trouble with his new waiter, Alfie. Best was great in the role and had a good rapport with Sam Howard.
Howard was the 87 year old waiter Alfie who was on the first day on the job. An absolutely amazing performance. His body language was outstanding and the way he walked was unbelievable and when he went up stairs he usually fell to the sounds of great crashing and it’s a wonder he could keep going on stage with all that happened to him. He has a great stage appearance and projection and was one of the highlights of the evening..
The ensemble consisted of Llaneath Poor, Gavin Baker, Christain Rhodes-Eolfe and Thalia Cairns Dudek. All keeping up the standard of the production and assign to the success of the evening.
A very successful end to Heidelberg Theatre Company’s 2016 season and was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

 

A Streetcar Named Desire


Director: Karen Wakeham

HTC’s production choice for September was Tennessee William’s A Sreetcar Named Desire.
A story of Blanche Dubois coming to live with her sister Stella and husband in a two room apartment in New Orleans.
HTC produced a realistic set comprising on audience left a wooden staircase to the upstairs apartment, audience centre and right was the two rooms of kitchen and bedroom with a bathroom to the rear. All giving a feeling of authenticity and very well done.
Claire Benne was Blanche Dubois, a southern lady down on her luck having no place to go except her sister’s. Benne gave an outstanding performance in the role and did not let the southern accent falter throughout the evening.
Aimee Sanderson was Stella Kowalski married to a ‘Polack” which was both a tempestuous marriage and a happy marriage.  Sanderson also gave a great performance in the role and had a good rapport with Warren Logan as Stanley Kowalski.
Logan as Stanley had a very energetic role, with a violent touch and not too happy about his sister –in-law moving in. Logan captured the role with finesse, projecting well and a good rapport with Sanderson.
Harold Mitchell, Blanche’s suitor, was given a stirling performance by Benjamin Watts.
The Kowalski’s landlady Eunice Hubbel was played by Katie Hall who handled the role with professionalism and captured the correct feeling of such a character.
Her husband, Steve, was given a great performance by Don Nicholson. Nicholson projects well and handled such a role with ease.
A good all round production with the high standard associated with the Heidelberg Theatre Company

 

God of Carnage


Director: Terese Maurici Ryan

Heidelberg Theatre Company’s winter program choice was Yasmin Reza’s God of Carnage.
A story of two families getting together to discuss a fight between their two sons. At first very civilised but then!
A cast of four presenting excellently, all with good stage presence and very professional in their performances.
Kathryn Maloney was Annette Raleigh, the mother of the boy who started the fight. A wonderful portrayal of a mother starting out very understanding but as the evening wore on her attitude changed. Maloney handled the role with expertise and gave the correct feel in the role.
Annette’s husband Alan Raleigh, was played by Robert Lloyd. A business man who could not be torn from his business no matter what time of the day and his whereabouts. Lloyd captured the role with such finesse the audience felt like going on the stage and giving him what for. A wonderful portrayal with Lloyd giving a realistic view of such a man.
Kylie Ryan was Veronica Novak, the mother of the boy who was the victim of the attack. Ryan captured the character with aplomb handling the range from a polite hostess to a distraught mother who could not entertain the idea that her son might have been in any responsible. A great interpretation of such a role with handling the change of mood with great professionalism
Veronica’s husband Michael, was played by Bryan Richardson. Michel was a sales person without the 24 hour attitude of Alan Raleigh. Another great performance with Richardson fulfilling the role as envisaged and not always agreeing with Veronica.
An excellent production from Heidelberg Theatre Company.

 

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Malvern Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9530 8586

The Mystery of Edwin Drood


Director/Choreographer: Alan Burrows.
Musical Director: Shirley White

At London’s Musical Hall Royale, the resident troupe is presenting their premiere performance of a flamboyant musical rendition of Charles dickens’ unfinished mystery novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Malvern Theatre opened with the cast on the stage and in the audience chatting about the show and settling the audience down with wisecracks about latecomers.
The stage was magnificently set with side and centre velvet curtains reminiscent of the old type music hall. The cast appeared in front of the curtains with the Chairman introducing the cast and their roles in the forthcoming production of  The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The cast left the stage and the centre curtains opened up on scene one. Scene changes were handled by the closing of the front curtain and the cast reverting to their music hall roles until the set changes were made. This was very efficiently and smoothly done and giving really a play within a play.
A large cast of 14 players which doesn’t leave any room for individual reviews. Needless o say they all handled their roles professionally with no poor performances and a very high standard of acting and singing.
A touch of tragedy and a lot of laughs particularly when the Music Hall section is on and the carryon of some of the artists.
 A different play wherein the audience become involved and are invited to vote on who they think the murderer is. These leads to an interesting conjecture. One would have to go to every performance and summarise the most times the one suspect is voted on. 
A wonderful and successful evening of theatre from Malvern Theatre and the director and cast are to be highly commended on such a great evening.

 

The Crucible

Director: Geoff Hickey

Malvern Theatre’s Autumn choice of plays was Arthur Miller’s acclaimed play The Crucible.
Written in the early fifties when America was suffering the McCarthy era where Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to national prominence by initiating a probe to ferret out communists holding prominent positions.
Miller set his play, a sinister parallel to the events in Salem Massachusetts in 1692  when paranoia and distrust hit the Puritan communities of New England summed up by the Salem Witch Trials.
Malvern Theatre presented a simple set well suited to the times, by judicious use of movement of furniture leading to the different scenes.
A large cast and although Malvern Theatre is technically an amateur theatre these players were as good as any professional production seen in Melbourne.
 The timing was spot on, the presentation was excellent. An emotional story as teenagers went into hysterics at the drop of a hat with the justice preferring to believe the teens rather than the people of Salem. The girls playing the teenagers did a wonderful job capturing the rebellious youth of the period and using their power to achieve their aims.
There was a deal of poignancy when husbands were confronted with their wives alleged guilt and the resulting action resulting from this. Good acting from all, very moving and although a long play it was so intense no one noticed the time pass
A great evening of theatre From Malvern theatre, Geoff Hickey and the cast. 

 

The Arcadians

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Society & The Malvern Theatre Company
Director: Robert Ray

Musical Director: Ben Kiley

The Arcadians is a musical play in three acts. First performed at the Shaftesbury Theatre London April 28 1909. First performed in Australia at the Theatre Royal Melbourne April 3 1910. First performed by Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria June 25 2010.

Act One is set in Arcadia where Father Time arrives suddenly and confesses that he had forgotten all about them. He also tells them of the monstrous Londoners who tell lies. No Arcadians would dream of such a thing.
James Smith is flying overhead and Father Time arranges for his plane to crash in Arcadia. James is thrown into the Well of Truth and given the name of Simplicitas.
Two of the Arcadians, Sombra and Chrysaea decide to take him back to London and plan to covert the Londoners with his help.
Simon Cooper played James Smith and of course Simplicitas. A very good interpretation of such different characters. Cooper projects well and has a good sense of the comique adding to the standard of his performance.
Catherine Northey was Sombra a well done professional performance. Chrysaea was played by Vanessa Petrie. Northey and Petrie played well together and Petrie’s performance was also an excellent portrayal.
Father Time was given an amusing interpretation by Ron Pidcock who caught the finer nuances of such a character. Pidcock also played Peter Dooley with aplomb.
Act Two was set at The Askwood Races which was a forerunner of the Ascot Scene in My Fair Lady. Wonderful costuming the ladies in black and white naturally with large hats. A romantic sequence with Maria Smith falling for Simplicitas not realising he is her husband James Smith. Anna Castle gave a great feel to the role and worked well with Simon Cooper. Other romances were between Jack Meadows and Eileen Cavanagh. Jack, a jockey thrown from his horse was well played by Bruce Raggatt and Eileen was given a professional performance by Julia Harper.
Act Three was set in the Arcadia Restaurant in London where Simplicitas after becoming enamoured with all the ladies was thrown back into the Well of Truth and returned to his old self, James Smith.
A very high standard of singing, some enjoyable dance scenes and a wonderful evening of theatre marred only by a some what small stage for the size of the cast. This by no means hindered the standard but did seem a little cramped.

 

 

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Mordialloc Theatre Company
Bookings: 03 9587 5141

The Crucible

Director Doug Bennett

  Arthur Miller's most famous play The Crucible is set in Salem Massachusetts in 1692 and is about the witch hunts of the period. What is more horrifying is that the play is based on the court records of the records of the time and all the characters in the play are historical and their fate is how Arthur Miller records.

Mordialloc and Director Doug Bennett used a revolving stage which was set as the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, the home of John Proctor, the exterior of the courtroom and the jail.

A well produced smooth flowing production with a high standard of performance.

Naomi Rukavina as Tituba the slave from the Barbados gave a fine performance leading the young girls of Salem in midnight dances and witchcraft.

The leading troublemaker of the girls was Abigail Williams who accused the local village people of various crimes to attain her own ends. Tanya Wenczel gave an outstanding portrayal of such a character.

A strong professional performance was given by Fernando Testa as John Proctor who was tortured and at first appeared to succumb to his persecutors but his wife and his conscience led to his final decision and its results. Glenn Hunt was the Reverend John Hale who was called in to investigate the claims of witchcraft. Glenn gave a good interpretation of the biased man who then when realisation as to what was happening tried to readdress his decisions and try to bring justice to the court trials.

Mary Kappner was a delight as Rebecca Nurse, the mother and grandmother who knew that the girls were lying and could not believe that the court was taken them seriously. A good performance.

Eric Heyes was the Deputy Governor Danforth who ruled the court. A most biased man who believed in the letter of the law regardless of the results. Eric Heyes gave a stirling

portrayal of the pedantic bigoted character.

The youngest member of cast Harriet Robertson played Betty Parris A young lady with a good performing future ahead.

A large cast making it difficult to choose highlights but all added to the standard of the evening and there were no poor performances.

A good evening of drama from Mordialloc Theatre Company.

 

 

Laying the Ghost

A story of an actress, her ex-husband, her student and her ex's current wife and the tragedy (or is it).
Mordialloc Theatre set builders showed the results of the off stage staff with the construction of the room of Margot Buchanan in a retirement home on the South Coast of England. The set was not only of the room but views of the garden, doors to other rooms which were also well constructed.
Margot Buchanan was celebrating her 70th birthday when Sadie Croft, a young actress, entered for advice and instruction on playing Juliet for a forthcoming play Romeo & Juliet.
Lorraine Kindler as Margot Buchanan gave a good performance as the somewhat bemused birthday girl with unusual events happening. Sadie Croft was played by Andrea Florence, a good interpretation of a young actress and also a mistress.
Eric Heyes was the ex-husband Sir Leo Buchanan. A fine stage personality and had a good rapport with Lorraine Kindler. His wife Lady Judy Buchanan was played by Christine Bridge. Lady Judy was caught between the ex-wife and without realising it her husband's mistress. Christine gave a great interpretation of the role. Margot Buchanan's friend Freda Deacon who was a medium always talking to ghosts which proved essential as the story progressed. Freda Deacon was given a good portrayal by Eryl Lowe. A lighthearted touch was the Superman character who delivered a birthday message. Martin Gibbs was Superman giving a comic touch to the evening.
A well executed play particularly the response of the actors when the ghosts entered and the cast could not see them. Not always easy to do when someone is in front of you and you have to act as if there is no-one there.
Mordialloc Theatre's audience enjoyed the evening.

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Peridot Theatre & Sherbrooke Theatre

 

A Play in a Day

 

A Play in a Day
A co-production from Sherbrooke & Peridot Theatre Companies.
Held on March 15. 2016

A Play in a Day is a rather unique experience for the theatre world.
Friday Night March 18, at 7.30pm 37 participants gathered at the Unicorn Theatre Mt. Waverley. A random ballot was held and teams on seven to eight people were formed – consisting of a writer, director, and five or six actors.
The range of skills and experience varied from polished performer to the total novice. Their collective goal – to write, direct and perform five short innovative plays all connected by just one theme. The theme was Elements.
The writers spent the night writing plays then on Saturday morning went over them with the directors. At 8am the actors arrived, received their scripts and commenced rehearsals.
\At 8pm the evening’s performances started.
Opening play was Void where Anastasia awakes to find herself in a world between reality and sci-fi fantasy.
 Six actors, a set comprising Anastasia’s bed and good costuming. Good performances but as could be expected a few dead moments while lines were remembered.
Play Two Essential Elements was three vignettes that did tie up together. Smooth acting, good dialogue, and the five actors did not falter. A good dramatic play/
Play Three Fire and Rain was set in a costume shop where five players as shopkeeper, business partner and customers helped each other out to deal with the elements. Not such a good production as the previous two plays. The sound of the rain was too loud drowning out some of the dialogue from some of the players whose voice projection could have been a little louder.
Play Four The Contents of Our Characters with six characters using elements of theatre for stage and real life. An interesting concept well handled by the cast.
Play Five Coming Up For Eyre was a lovely little horror story very well played by a cast of three. All obviously experienced giving great performances and leaving the audience will they ever be able to look at fresh vegetables again.
An enjoyable evening of theatre thoroughly enjoyed by the audience with the MC between shows interviewing a director, a writer and an actor about how each handled such a project.
All entertaining but two of the shows Essential Elements and Coming Up For Eyre would definitely be successful with a little work to extend them from a 15 minute production to a full length show.

 

 

 

Peridot Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 5988 0465
1300 138 645

 

The 39 Steps

Director: Bob Bramble

A fast packed who dunnit in the Monty Python style and a dash of Alfred Hitchcock leading to an entertaining night out. The hero Richard Hannay was given a wonderful performance by Brett Hyland, An energetic performance with some uncomfortable scenes which Hyland handled with aplomb.
The young lady, Annabella, whose misfortune was to meet Richard Hannay was played by Aimee Short, not only did Short have the uncomfortable job of playing opposite Hyland she also played Margaret and Pamela. Not an easy job switching characters throughout the course of a play but Short handled the challenge with expertise and added to the joy of the evening.
The two clowns were played by Katie MacFie and Mark Briggs, both gave great portrayals of such characters.
 Adding to the evening and acting as stage hands were the ninjas. Kate Deavin, Phil Holmes, Leanne Jackson, Kylie Lee, Con Sephton, and Lindsay Fletcher.
All worked well and smoothly in keeping such a complex play moving.
The set was on each side of the stage were built the old fashioned boxes where some of the action took place. On stage simple and easy to move props were applied. One example of ease props were doors, just a door frame and as the actor moved through same they swung the frame around to show coming through from the other side.
A great evening of theatre and a good start for the upcoming Peridot Theatre season.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses



Director: Peter Newling

Peridot Theatre’s August production choice was Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
A story of sexual politics amongst the aristocrats in pre-revolution France.
The action takes place in 1784 across several locations. These locations were amazingly designed for Peridot by George Trantor and constructed by the company.
On stage right was the home of La Marquise de Marteuil. Stage left was the home of Madame de Rosemonde and front stage was used for bedroom scenes and a field outside Paris.
Janine Evans was La Marquise de Marteuil. Shall we say not a pleasant person but Evans handled same with professionalism, projecting well and good harmony with the other performers. Voice a little soft in parts on opening night but no doubt will be rectified as the show progresses.
The utter cad of the evening was La Marquise’s ex-lover Le Vicomte de Vaimont played by Rowan Howard. A great performer, good stage presence, superb acting and portraying the utterly evil character with distinction.
His target one was the innocent 15 year old Cécile de Volanges, just out of convent school. Cécile was played by Genie Koulaeva.  A good performance handling the change from the innocent young lady to well you will have to see the production.
Very well handled and change of character exceedingly well done.
 Cécile’s mother, the very strict Madame de Volanges was given a good performance by Catherine Christensen. Handling such a role with finesse and working well with the rest of the cast.
Pedro Ramos was the Vicomte’s servant Azolan. Ramos caught the essence of such a character giving a great portrayal of the servant enjoying his master’s affairs and not hesitating to assist when required.
The Marquise’s second target was the married and faithful La Présidente de Touvel played by Gabby Llewelyn Salter. Salter captured the character with finesse really giving the feel of the determined woman sticking to her morals no matter what. A good performance.
Juliet Hayday was Madame de Rosemonde aunt of Vicomte de Vaimont who was also taken in by her nephew. Hayday projects well giving a good understanding of the role and gave a good portrayal.
The costuming was magnificent and hard to believe that this is an amateur company. The scenes were well done and the fight scene was excellent, some good training there.

A great evening of theatre well enjoyed by the opening night audience

Ancient Lights

Peridot Theatre

Director: Bruce Cochrane.

Peridot Theatre chose Shelagh Stephenson’s Ancient Lights for the June season.
A story of an American film star returning to England to catch up with old friends and spend Christmas together.
An unusual set with black curtains in a half circle around the fringe of the stage. A Christmas tree at the rear, one chair and cushions with two doors painted white given a contrast to the black surrounds.
Tom Cavallero, the American film star was given a good positive performance by Greg Barison.
Tom’s old friends are Bea and Kitty. Bea was played by Heather Lynne giving a good performance working well with the other cast members. Lynne has good stage projection and captured the role as envisaged. Kitty was Jeanne Snider, well performed with a good presentation and handled such a role with expertise.
Bea’s partner Tad was played by Tim Murphy. Murphy caught the essence of the character with finesse and was a good balance to the rest of the cast.
Claudia Hruschka was Iona, Tom’s partner. Iona was filming a documentary of Tom Cavallero and upset the whole crowd taking film at every moment. Hruschka caught the role so much so that even the audience were annoyed with her actions. Very well done and she handled the role with professionalism.
Ashleigh Herring was Joni, Bea’s daughter. A teenage girl who wanted to be the centre of attention, was excited to be on camera and would not obey her mother. Herring caught such a character so well that many of the audience talking after the show commented that they would love to have the opportunity to give her a clip over the ears. A great performance by Herring.
A good production with a some language which could upset audiences but was well handled by the players.  

 

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Sherbrooke Theatre Company
Bookings : 1300 650 209

Streel Magnolias

Director: Dexter Bourke.

STC’s Autumn play was Robert Hardin’s Steel Magnolias.
Set in the late 1980’s in Truvey’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana where the all the ladies who are ‘anybody’ come to have their hair done.
 STC had a stage set of such a beauty salon, with the hair washing area audience right, the two tables for hair setting in the middle and the waiting area audience right. A well set stage and perfect for the play.
Jenny Lutz was the proprietor Truvy. Lutz caught the essence of the beauty salon owner who was a friend and a good listener to all her customers. A good portrayal.
Her new assistant a young girl just moved into the town was Annelle, played by Georgie Mitchell. Mitchell gave a good performance in the role and came across as the shy, newcomer she was.
Jackie Hutchison was the rich lady of the town, Clairee who owned the local football team and then added the radio station to her agenda. Hutchison projects well and handled the character with aplomb.
Angela Trakyla was M’Lynn, a worried mother and a regular at Truvey’s Beau6ty Salon. Trakyla gave a nice and professional performance of such a character.
Her daughter, Shelby, was played by Tiffany Pickthall. Shelby was a young lady about to be married but there was a health problem. Pickthall gave an impressive performance as the young bride-to-be and what happened after the wedding. A great interpretation of the character.
The old misery of the ladies was Ouiser who once said “I am not cross I have just been bad-tempered for 40 years”.  Janet Withers as Ouiser really captured such a character and was loved by the audience.
 A moving play with all the elements expected of good theatre, well directed and enjoyed by the opening night audience.

 

Last Cab to Darwin

Director: Stephen Barber

STC’s final show for 2916 was Reg Cribb’s Last Cab to Darwin.
A story of a Broken Hill cab driver finding that he has cancer and wishes to take advantage of the new Northern Territory’s euthanasia laws.
STC has a white screen to stage rear on which was projected scenes of pubs and roads from Broken Hill to Darwin. Other sets comprised of various pieces of furniture moved in and out as required.
Max, the cab driver, was played by Damian Jones. An excellent interpretation of a man dying of cancer and driving to Darwin from Broken Hill about 3000 kilometres. Jones caught the feeling of such a character and as the evening progressed so sis his agony from he cancer which was well portrayed by Jones.
 His neighbour in Broken Hill, Polly, was played by Liz Matthews. A good performance of the aboriginal neighbour and even her voice gave one the feeling she was an original Australian.
A team of 10 actors played several roles each. All gave great performances in their various roles adding to the high standard of the evening.
A moving play with an unexpected finish. It is the stage version of the well-known film of the same name.
 A good finish to 2016 by Sherbrooke Theatre Company.

 

The Importance of Being Earnest

Director: Emma Barber

Sherbrooke Theatre Company’s August choice of production was Oscar Wilde’s famous The Importance of being Earnest.
A story of two young men, their prospective wives and their secret life.
The stage was used to full advantage with three sites, Algernon’s London house, the Manor House garden and the Manor House morning room. This was achieved by STC’s use of a projector and stage rear screen and respective furniture suiting each occasion on stage.
Jack Bell was Algernon Moncrieff, a smooth worker with few scruples. Bell gave a great performance as such a character capturing the essence required for the role.
Rohan Dimsey was jack Worthing, a fine man with a Manor House in the country and a house in London. In the country he was Jack but in London he was Earnest. Dimsey caught the role with aplomb and professionalism giving a good performance of the character.
Tony Bird was the butler Lane in the city and Merriman in the country. Bird had the correct stage presence for both roles which were quite different and Bird carried same with professionalism giving a stirling performance.
Gwendolen Fairfax, Jack Worthington’s intended, was played by Hannah Bird who gave a fine interpretation of the nuances of Gwendolen. Another good portrayal.
Cecily Cardew, Jack Worthing’s ward, was given a good portrayal with a good stage presence by Kathryn Brown.
A highlight of this play and indeed of this presentation is the role of Algernon Moncrieff’s aunt Lady Bracknell. A dominating character who expects every order to be obeyed without hesitation. Liz Matthews gave an outstanding performance as the character really capturing the envisaged feel of Lady Bracknell.
Miss Prism, Cecily Cardew’s teacher, was portrayed by Anna Plane who played the role with finesse, capturing the correct feel of the single mature woman with a secret.
The local canon, Dr Chasuble, was well played by Andrew Scarborough who projects well and was very convincing as the clergyman rather keen on Miss Prism.
A well done smooth flowing show enjoyed by the audience.

 

Cat on a Hot Tine Roof

Director: Tony Bird

Sherbrooke Theatre Company’s choice of play for the autumn season was Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Set in the younger son’s bedroom, the set comprised centre stage a bed. Audience left a cabinet and audience right a ladies’ dressing table.
Joe Dias was Brick the younger son who was a football player but now a sports broadcaster  but at the time of tis story he was hobbling around on a broken ankle.
Dias gave a superb performance as Brick, handling the crutch as if he really was crippled, a good rapport with his wife Margaret and a great scene in Act II with his father Big Daddy.
Brick’s wife Margaret was played by Laura Brough who also was the speech coach for the Southern State accent which was excellently carried by all performers.
Brough gave a wonderful performance in her role handling the character with professionalism with good stage projection.
Margaret’s sister-in-law Mae was played by Elise D’Amico, A not very nice character and very well portrayed by D’Amico.
Big Mama was played by Kerry Parkinson with all the finer nuances called for in such a role. Parkinson had a good rapport with both Glenn Barker and Joe Dias.
 A delight was Big Daddy very well played by Glenn Baker who captured the character with aplomb giving an outstanding performance.
Big Daddy’s eldest son Cooper was given a good portrayal by Brett Hyland, not a nice character with Hyland capturing the essence of Cooper.
 Cooper and Mae’s daughter Dixie was played by 10 year old Jessica Henderson. A small role but important and Henderson showed great talent, good stage projection and a young lady to keep an eye on in future.
The Reverend Tooker was given a good interpretation by Stephen Barber.
A good evening of theatre from Sherbrooke Theatre Company with congratulations to Director Tony Bird on this excellent production of s Cat on a Hot tine Roof.

 

 

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Stageworx

Killjoy

Director: Trish Carro

An interesting play about Carl being driven crazy by her ex-husband, Victor, and his new wife who employ every trick in the book to end Carol’s $1000. a week alimony.
Stageworx set builders developed a great set of the interior of Carol’s flat. Well furnished and suitable of the period. Lighting was spot on adding to the high standard of the production.
Tabitha Veness was Carol Sterling, the divorcee trying to renew her life and keep her $1000 a week alimony. Veness captured the character as envisaged giving a good well balanced performance. Carol’s ex, Victor Stirling, was played by Garry Bertrand who handled the role with finesse giving the correct feel of the said character.
Victor’s solicitor Rick Burrows, who was not quite the man Victor thought he was, was played by Michael Fenemore.  Fenemore as Rick charmed the leading ladies (with an ulterior motive) and was given a good performance in the role.
Victor’s new wife Claudia Sterling was given a great interpretation of the young woman married to a much older man, Her portrayal was a pleasure to see and she really caught the essence of  a young bride, but with a secret which surprised all.
Dean Mtrousis was Sonny (Stanley) Stirling, Victor and Carol’s son and worked for his father who kept him down. Mtrousis was the hopeless son capturing the essence of such a character. A good portrayal.
Ashleigh Boyce was Vicki Sterling, Carol and Victor’s daughter. Vicki was better thought of than her brother and Boyce gave a great performance as the daughter who helped plot with her brother the final result.
A play of plots and twists well performed and not easy in such an intimate theatre.

 

SSTAGStrathmStrathmore Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group ore Theatrical Arts Group
Bookings: 61 3 9361 0562

Close of Play

Director: Mel De Bono

Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group and Director Mrl De bono choice of play for the August season was Simon Gray’s dark comedy of bad manners Close of Play.
A very apt title for the choice as after directing 70 plays which includes 17 musicals not to mention as an actor appearing in 49 plays plus films, TV and opera, Mel De Bono is hanging up his hat and retiring from directing. He assured your correspondent that he will still be seen front of house and perhaps behind the scenes.
A story of Sir Jasper Spencer who cannot move and sits in a chair being unable to enter or perhaps not even knowing what is going in. His family visit and out comes the unnecessary truth about each member.
\Mel De Bono plays Sir Jasper who is unable to move or talk. Mel sat in a chair all through the performance without moving a muscle, except a slight turning of the head, no matter what was said or action taken.
Daisy was played by Margaret Rawlinson, Daisy looked after Sir Jasper and managed the house. A good performance giving the correct feel to the frustrations when the rest of the family ignored her instructions.
Matthew’s mother Jenny, who wanted to take her son away from the family was well played by Hayley Martin who projected well as the doting mother.
Gilbert Gauci was Matthew, a quiet boy who had a secret. Gauci presented well capturing the essence of the character.
Margaret, the wife of Benedict, was a successful novelist, and was played by Chloe Leah. A good performance capturing the correct feel of the character more interested in writing than family life.
Benedict, her husband, was played by Rhys Purdey. An upcoming alcoholic who was trying unsuccessfully to give up the drink was excellently handled by Purdey. Henry, brother to Benedict and a doctor who was always o call for different reasons that came to life during the play, was played by Chris Dosser. A well done portrayal capturing the trying to reform drinker but when offered a glass of Scotch has some difficulties. Benedict’s wife Marianne, who was pregnant and mother of several children was given a wonderful pereformance43 by Michelle Tanner. Tanner really gave the audience the portrayal of pregnancy with all the correct body language and upset about Margaret’s attitude on family.
A well done play well appreciated by the audience and a good farewell for Director, Mel De Bono.

 

Come Blow Your Horn

Director: Mark Stratford.

Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group’s autumn choice of play was Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn. A story of two young men one a playboy and the other a quiet homebody but!
A good set of a bachelor New York apartment with requisite furnishings suiting the period.
Alan Baker, the playboy brother was given a good interpretation by Rhys Purdey. Purdey has a good stage presence and a great rapport with Gilbert Gauci who played the younger brother Buddy. Gilbert Gauci as Buddy had a change of personality which was handled professionally. Both players as brothers worked extremely well together giving the feel that they were really brothers. This added to the success of the evening.
Julia Greacon was Alan’s not so bright girlfriend who tended to believe everything she was told. A good portrayal of such a role and Greacon captured the character with finesse.
Roderick Chappel was Mr Baker, the boy’s father who wanted his sons to marry and run their share of the business. Chappel gave a fair performance capturing the essence of the Jewish father who knew he was right no matter what his sons’ opinion might be. Gail Grove was the boys’ mother who could see both sides of the family and worried about the conflict between the boys and their father. A good portrayal.
Alan Baker’s other girlfriend Connie who he was a little more serious about was played by Claire Maree Ross, who caught the character as envisaged giving a stirling performance.
The woman was played by Tara McCarthy also handling the role with expertise.
An enjoyable evening thoroughly appreciated by the opening night audience.

 

Killing Jeremy

Director: Kris Weber

S.T.A.G. opened the 2016 season with Bridgette Barton’s Killing Jeremy  a story of Jeremy in intensive care after a car accident and a decision whether or not to turn off the life saving equipment.
The play opened in the round with the audience situated in a U shape with a hospital bed in the centre. The stage was used with a multi screen showing hospital scenes and the car accident. The setting was well used in the performance.
Jeremy was played by Xavier Ryan. Initially lying helpless in bed but as the play progresses moving from the past to the present Ryan had several roles carrying the changes very efficiently and capturing the essence of the character with finesse.
His partner Madeline, who was responsible for the accident, was played by Melanie Rowe who gave a stirling performance also having to play several roles. Portraying several roles is very difficult given that the players have to change characters immediately Both Ryan and Rowe handled these changes professionally giving audience pleasing performances.

 

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West Australia

Fawlty Towers

Reviewer: Brian Amos
Radio Eastern 98.1 FM

On Saturday September 12 I had the opportunity to go along to the Rockingham Theatre Company to see their production of Fawlty Towers 3. This was a wonderful evening of non-professional theatre with all the actors fulfilling their roles in a very professional way.
The action takes place and is centered on the Reception, Dining Room and Kitchen areas. Andy Walker as Basil Fawlty gave an outstanding performance of his role. Alison Gibson as Sybil Fawlty made you wonder if you were not watching the TV performer in person as her interpretation of the role was outstanding. Polly, played by Lorraine Craig gave a stirling performance in her role, as did Manuel played by Terry Winter. He played this role to the minute and gave a superb performance. Major Gowen was played by Barry Page who gave a most impressive performance. The part of Miss Tibbs was played superbly by Lorraine Page and it was great to see Lorraine treading the boards again. Another great performance was given by Roison Perrin as Miss Gatsby. To all the other players, congratulations as you all gave 100% in your roles.
During the performance the stage set has to be rebuilt with doors placed in the set and stairs removed and other set alterations and this was carried out with speed and perfection.
Rockingham Theatre Company also serves High Tea at interval, and this was more a meal than interval refreshments. I congratulate Rockingham Theatre Company for the welcome and the opportunity to see a first rate play performed by this company. If you are ever in Rockingham West Australia check out to see if there will be a production running and book to have a great night of non--professional theatre.

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BALLET

Coppèlia

The Australian Ballet
Coppėlia

The Australian Ballet’s final choice for 2016 was Coppélia.
A story of Doctor Coppėlius, a toymaker, and a village couple Franz and Swanilda.
Opening in the village square where the villagers are preparing for the Harvest Festival.
An amazing set of a village square with hoses, a town square and church.. The dancing was excellent, timing spot on and Dimitry Azoury’s, as Franz, grand jettes made him seem to float in the air. Ty King-Wall as Swanilda was a sheer delight; her solos were perfect, her acting very good and a great rapport with Franz.
Act II was inside Doctor Coppėlius’s  house where the village boys and girls broke into see what the Doctor was up to. Another amazing set with life size dolls (the dancers) all portraying the various dolls. Swanilda takes the place of the mechanical doll that Doctor Coppelius calls his daughter. Swanilda not only a great dancer but a good sense of the comique when putting on the act.
Act III is next morning outside the church for the wedding of Franz and Swanilda.
The full company on stage with the corps de ballet dancing with full control, timing excellent and giving the impression of enjoying themselves.
A good finish to 2016 by The Australian Ballet Company. .

 

Cinderella

Photo Jeff busby

PHOTO jEFF BUSBY

The Australian Ballet

Choreographer: Alexei Ratmansky
Music: Sergei Prokofiev.
Designer: Jérŏme Kaplan.

The Australian ballet commissioned Alexei Ratmansky to redo Cinderella.
And what a success! A three part ballet updated by leaving out the mice etc and no pumpkin coach. Instead a trip around the planets skilfully done with the aid of film and clever costuming.
The stepmother and stepsisters remain and nearly brought the house down. Amy Harris was Cinderella’s stepmother catching the essence of the character with finesse. Harris’s dancing was charming and excellent suiting the occasions of the various scenes as required. The two stepsisters Skinny and Dumpy were dances by Robyn Hendricks and Helen Hills. Their dancing was exquisite and timing was spot on. The hair styles would have played havoc with their balance but as true artists they appeared very comfortable in their roles.
Cinderella was danced by Lana Jones. A charming portrayal and when she appeared at the ball her pas de duex with Daniel Gaudiello were a perfect example of the art of ballet. Their performance was exemplary and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The opening scene in the palace was with the men in suits and the ladies also in business style suits. When the stepmother and stepsisters arrive they find they are out of touch and go to change. Meanwhile the others have changed to ball gowns so the step trio are still out of fashion. Their performances in this scenes were a sheer delight.
The dancing was a very high standard with dome unusual chorography that suited the story line.
The three scenes commenced in Cinderella’s home. Second scene was the Prince’s ball and scene three was the Prince searching the world for Cinderella.
The opening scene at the home was quite musing with dance teacher danced by Ben Davis trying to teach the sisters how to dance and behave at the Royal Ball while poor Cinderella is bringing ion the washing and cleaning up.  The dance scenes were a delight and quite funny.
Some magnificent set work with the Prince travelling by ship, train and car searching for the girl who left at midnight. This was done by projections giving the feeling of nearly life size ship, train and car.
The Australian Ballet has presented a magnificent evening of ballet but one will have to wait til it comes around again as the Melbourne season has sold out.   

 

 

Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake

Adam Bull & Amber Scott


Choreographer: Graeme Murphy
Artistic Director: David McAllister
Music Director: Nicolette Fraillon.

June saw The Australian ballet present Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake.
An update of the original story with the young Odette realising that her affianced Prince Siegfried is in love with certain Baroness. Already fragile Odett4e becomes so distressed that by royal command she is committed to a sanatorium.
Odette was danced by Amber Scott who gave an outstanding performance. Not only is Amber an excellent dancer her acting really caught the soul of such a character as Odette, Her dance scenes with Adam Bull as Prince Siegfried were the perfect example of partnership in ballet. The grande jettes from both were remarkable and the pair had a wonderful rapport which enhanced their performance.
Act 1 was the wedding scene in a park overlooked by mountains. A very well done set. The company dancers gave their all and the standard of the company is high and well appreciated by the audience.
Act 2 was the sanatorium with walls taking up each side of the stage with an alcove in the centre where Odette looked out across the lake of swans. A very dramatic scene when Prince Siegfried comes to visit.
Act 3 was an evening with the Baroness where Odette appears and takes over. Amber Scott was brilliant in this Act dancing from man to man and teasing the Prince.
The Baroness was danced by Lana Jones who also gave a stunning performance. The scenes with the two ladies fighting over the Prince were an absolute delight with the pas de trois a magnificent example of the dance.
Act 4 was set around the lake where Prince Siegfried realises he really does love Odette but it is too late. Some wonderful dance sequences in this scene as Odette disappears and the Prince realises that he has los her forever.  

 

Vanguard

Australian Ballet

Vanguard three ballets, The Four Temperaments, Bella Figura, and Dyad.
The Four Temperaments is subtitled A Dance without Plot and is an expression in dance and music of the ancient notion that the human organism is made up of four different humours or temperaments...
The stage had no sets just black tabs and black rear. The dancers were in black and white tights and leotards.
An amazing performance by the dancers, timing spot on and all gave a very high standard.
Bella Figura still a plain stage but the costumes were red dresses and topless for both male and female dancers. Again the dancers were delightful to watch and the standard remained equally high. Adding to the music this dance was added to by singers. With soprano Janet Todd and mezzo soprano Margaret Trubiano. This, although unusual, added to the production.
Dyad had the rear of the stage in black and white with the dancers dressed in white tights and leotards with black dots. The level of dance was even and the dancers showed their ability to the fullest.
A great evening of ballet enjoyed by the midweek audience

 

2 One Another

Sydney Dance Company

Choreographer: Rafael Bonachela

2One Another is about the experience of connecting and disconnecting.
This was exhibited through the dance and the setting. The only props were a bank of LED lights at stage rear and spotlights each side. These were efficiently used with the rear wall being a solid bank of lights or a single line following the dancers across the stage or mood moments and colour changing as the costume colours changed.
The dancers were in grey leotards and moved with precision and good timing. Various moves across the stage in groups from each side alternating and using dome unusual chorography.
The scenes changed from many dancers to pas de deux, pas de trios and small groups..
The body movements seemed to be rather distorted from the normal ballet movements with floor rolling, contortion type exercises plus a few lifts.
The stage was darker than normal giving a shadow effect and with the lighting backdrop changing with the music produced an interesting theatrical effect.
Part way through the performance the company changed to red costumes and the lighting changed accordingly.     
An interesting evening by the Sydney Dance Company and was enjoyed by the audience judging by the applause.

 

Swan Lake

Amber Scott, Adam Bull, photo Jeff Busby Adam Bull, Amber Scott Photo Jeff Busby

The Australian Ballet

Choreographer: Stephen Baynes.

 

September saw the State Theatre host The Australian Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. As 2012 is the 50th year of The Australian Ballet the company decided on Swan Lake as it was the first ballet performed by the company and the first live simulcast broadcast by the ABC.
A story of a Prince who falls in love with a girl Odette who has been condemned to be a swan for all but a few hours a night. Only a vow of true love and fidelity can break the spell.
Prince Siegfried was danced by Andrew Killen. An outstanding performance with his grand jettes making him seemingly float through the air. Killen’s acting also was excellent and his pas de deux with Lana Jones was a joy to behold.
Lana Jones was Odette the young lady under the magician’s spell and Odile the evil magician’s daughter who wins Prince Siegfried’s heart. Jones is a delightful and expert dancer with wonderful solos and pas de deux. After each movement the dancers had to interrupt their performance for bows acknowledging the audience applause. This is something not really seen before and happened after nearly every item.
A highlight was the dance of the cygnets. Reiko Homo, Eloise, Jessica Fyfe and Jade Wood gave a wonderful interpretation with perfect timing and projection.
The ballroom scenes were well executed with good performances from the corps de ballet. There were some acting appearances by Terese Power as Siegfried’s nurse and her husband played by Colin Peasley.  Guest artist Lisa Bolte, as the Swan Queen, showed that she has not lost her grace and artistry with her role.
As a celebration of 50 years Swan Lake was a great success also showing the love Melbourne audiences have for the classic dance.

Terrain

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Artistic Director: Stephen Page
Choreographer: Francis Rings

Described as a hymn to country Terrain transports us to Lake Eyre the place of Australia’s inland sea; one of the few untouched natural waterways in the world. Bangarra explores the relationship of indigenous people to country and how landscapes become a second skin.
By the use of nine dances Bangarra conveyed the image of relationship with skill and talent showing the expertise of this outstanding Australian company.
The dancers excelled in their numbers with wonderful timing, a great rapport added to by their high dance standard.
One number caught the audience’s attention was the second dance that of Shields.
Danced by the men’s ensemble and reflecting the struggle for Land Rights the dancers appeared carrying shields. By judicious use of the shields they represented the struggle between cultures. They lined up opposite each other and fought battles. The timing was impeccable and the dances were well choreographed. This brought to the stage the real feeling of the struggle our indigenous population has to go through to get recognition.
The only contribution to sets was a backdrop changing with each dance. The lighting was just as required and on reading the program we are told that Karen Norris went to Lake Eyre where the feeling of the area gave the rendition of the lighting we viewed on the night.
A very successful opening night with a standing ovation from the Melbourne opening night audience.

 

 

 

The Australian Ballet

 

Don Quixote


Choreographer: Rudolph Nureyev.

The Australian Ballet’s choice to open the 2013 Melbourne season was Don Quixote originally specially choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev for The Australian Ballet.
A three part ballet set in the house of Don Quixote, the Port of Barcelona, the plain of Montiel, Dulcina’s garden and a tavern outside the town.
The sets were very accurate really giving the essence of the area portrayed.
Don Quixote was performed by guest artist Stephen Heathcote who also coached the leading dancers. His performance was great in capturing the character of the somewhat deluded Don Quixote.
Two outstanding performers were Daniel Gaudiello as Basilio, the barber and the love of his life Kitri, danced by Lana Jones.
The highlight of the ballet was the pas de deux in the final act by Daniel and Lana. A pair of dancers with a great rapport, the grand jete’s were magnificent, their overall dancing held the audience breathless and at the end of their number the applause held the up the production for quite a while. Not only was their dancing terrific but they managed to keep the expressions suitable to the respective roles completely natural, not always easy when dancing so strenuously
Matthew Donnelly was the rich nobleman Gamache, who the inn keeper wanted his daughter to marry. Gamache was an absolute fop and as such Kitri, the innkeeper’s daughter wanted nothing to do with him. Matthew caught the correct feel for the character giving a good performance working well with the other dancers.
Another great dance was given by Laura Tong as the street dancer. Her performance was a credit to The Australian Ballet.
Friends of Kitri, danced by Ako Kondo and Reiko Hombo, added to the standard and delight of the evening. Both skilled dancers and they made their dances seem so effortless.
The corps have a high standard and all the performers certainly gave the impression of enjoying themselves being relaxed and as before stated seemingly so effortless.
A wonderful evening of ballet and as the first production makes it hard to wait for the next production.

 

Icons

Calvin Hannaford& corps de balletLana Jones

Celebrating Then Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary the Company decided on three ballets ie icons of The Australian Ballet.
Opening the evening was Sir Robert Helpmann’s The Display. Set in Sherbrooke Forest in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges which is the habitat of Australia’s unique Lyrebird.
The tabs and scrim were the forest and the Lyrebird appeared scratching through the undergrowth for insects, As the Lyrebird Rohan Furnell captured the feel of such a bird moving through the scrub and now and then raiding his remarkable tail which gave the name Lyrebird because of its resemblance to the Lyre,
The choreography was by Sir Robert Helpmann whose notes in the program advised that he spent hours observing lyrebirds in Sherbrooke Forest to get the right actions. This was certainly evinced in Furnell’s performance.
The entry of the Female did not disturb the bird and Rachel Rawlins interpretation of the role was exquisite. A wonderful solo and then later some excellent pas de deux with both Brett Simon and Ty King Wall.
A real life look at Australia’s outlook on life in the 50’s. Set at a picnic in the forest the girls came with food and cushions while the boys went to the opposite of the forest glade where they punched around a football and drank beer. The Leader danced by Brett Simon was paired off with the Female, Rachel Rawlins. Both had a good rapport and their pas de deux were a sheer delight. The Leader went back to his mates to enjoy a beer or two when the outsider entered. Seeing the female by herself he moved in and tried to take over. The Leader didn’t like this and a fight started. Great choreography of the men fighting and the results.
The second icon was Gemini choreographed by Glen TetleyA ballet for four participants and on September 4 was danced by Lana Jones, Adam Bull, Amber Scott and Rudy Hawkes. No sets but just a black background with flesh coloured tights showing off the dance movements to the best. A moving superb dance with the fluidity of the choreography showing the classical moves combined with modern dance. Well received by the audience.
The third icon was Beyond Twelve. choreographed by Graeme Murphy. The first movement Beyond Twelve expresses the decisions and dilemmas facing the pre-adolescent embarking on a career in dance. The stage was set with Australian Football gaol posts and the dancers dressed in footy gear showed their talents in Australia’s great game. Brett Chynoweth as Beyond Twelve showed the talent expected from The Australian Ballet projecting well and a joy to watch.
Beyond Eighteen the third icon was Calvin Hannaford as a teenager. Hannaford gave a remarkable portrayal and showed the talent leading him to the corps de ballet and a dancer to watch in the future.
A comic touch was given by Matthew Donnelly as Mother. A definite touch of a certain Dame Edna Everage in his performance.
An enjoyable evening given by The Australian Ballet in showing the three of their own ballets.

 

Onegin


Artistic Director: David McAllister
Music Director and Conductor: Nicolette Fraillon.

The Australian Ballet chose John Cranko’s Onegin for the inclusion in the June program. A story of Eugene Onegin who is bored with life in the big city and has come to the country with his friend Lensky to see if the visit can offer him any distraction.
He meets a quiet country girl, Tatyana, who falls in love with him although he just treats it as a light moment in his visit. Things progress out of control and Onegin finds life is not what he imagines.
The opening scene is set in Madame Larina’s garden where two ladies are gossiping when the neighbourhood girls enter. Olga, Tatyana’s sister is danced by Reiko Hombo. An excellent portrayal with wonderful dancing scenes and capturing the right feeling of mischief as she tries to get Tatyana to join the fun and stop reading all the time. The corps de ballet added to the enjoyment of the e3vening with a high standard of dance and acting.
Lensky and Onegin enter and are introduced. A lovely pas de deux from Madeleine Eastoe as Tatyana and Andrew Killian as Onegin. A well matched couple executing a wonderful example of the dance.
Tatyana’s bedroom scene had some interesting moved with Tatyana at the mirror except there was no glass but another dancer doing the identical moves. Very well done,
Tatyana’s birthday, a magnificent set with a baroque ceiling and very lavish. The whole company on stage with good portrayals of the ballroom dancing and the duets with Lensky danced by Daniel Gaudiello and partnering his fiancé Olga. Also Tatyana and Onegin with Tatyana finding that Onegin is not what he seems. Some great dance movements really telling the story.
A challenge is given and the inevitable duel happens. Onegin then disappears overseas for a few years and returns to find things somewhat changed.
The final act is where Onegin realises that the famous Baroness is the provincial country girl Tatyana. Some interesting scenes adding the high standard of the evening with the great dancing from the company.  

 

Infinity

The Australian Ballet opened its 50th year with Infinity a trio of new works with The Narrative of Nothing choreographed by Graeme Murphy. There’s Definitely a Prince Involved choreographed by Gideon Obarzanek after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Warumuk – In the Dark Night choreographed by Stephen Page.
A contrast of styles from the abstract of Graeme Murphy, the classic and traditional (albeit with a difference) to the indigenous Australian from Bangarra Dance Theatre.
The first of the three was The Narrative of Nothing. Graeme Murphy said he wanted to focus on the body form so he eliminated décor and the sets were lights. Centrally above the dancers was a lighting bar moving across the stage when called for. Each side of the stage were light banks with the lighting coming across in different patterns. This giving an effective enhancement to the dance.
The costumes were colourful and tight fitting successfully highlighting the body movement with the dancers choreographed from classical lines to abstract such as seemingly jerky movements and rolling across the floor reminiscent of waves along a river.
The dancers were superb in this number creating the narrative and illusion as called for.
 
The second number There’s Definitely a Prince Involved. Initially based on the traditional and classic styles plus costuming to suit and scenery flown in and out to suit the various scenes. Based on Swan Lake with music of Tchaikovsky. Opening the dancers performed the expected balletic style but then! Rather an eye opener for committed ballet fans where one dancer performed in a manner not before seen in ballet. This was also handled by several dancers individually with some expertise and added to the enjoyment of the number certainly bringing laughter to the audience.
The dancers appeared to enjoy their roles and the standard is very high with generally classical movements but not quite at various times. A very enjoyable number.

The third number is Warumuk – In The Dark Night. Choreographed by Stephen Page and performed by the Bangarra Dance Theatre and as Stephen says . Through Bangarra’s relationships with the communities of North East Arnham Land we hope to help rekindle interest in, and encourage all Australians to engage with traditional Aboriginal culture.”
An interesting mixture of traditional dance movements with ballet. The dancers are proficient in both styles and have a sensuous style peculiar to the traditional style. The dancers projected well giving a high standard of performance
An interesting and very unexpected evening of ballet and definitely recommended.

 

Peggy

Artistic Director: David McAlister
Executive Director: Valerie Wilder
Music Director & Conductor: Nicolette Fraillon

The Australian Ballet in this the 100th year of the birth of Dame Peggy van Praagh and 20 years since her demise decided to celebrate her contribution to Australian ballet. When Edvard Borovansky died Peggy moved across to Australia to take over the running of The Borovansky Ballet. The last evening of her first season with the company she made an appeal to the audience for support and in the audience was Harold Holt at the time treasurer to the Menzies Government. He went backstage and the result was The Australian Ballet Company.
Peggy also wanted a ballet school attached to the company and local personality Dame Margaret Scott founded the Australian Ballet School and since then the Company has not looked back. In fact on their first world tour the reception in Berlin was such that they created a record in curtain calls which has not been broken up to today.
The choice of ballets to celebrate Dame Peggy’s contribution to Australian ballet with Birthday Celebration, Garland Dance from The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Act one Pas de Deux, Cinderella Extracts and Gala Performance.
Birthday Celebration was performed by members of the company together with students from different levels of the Australian ballet School. A wonderful production showing the upcoming talent of our oncoming dancers.
Garland Dance was performed by Halaina Hills, Andrew Wright and artists from the Australian Ballet. Another well danced piece.
Giselle, Act One Pas De Deux danced by Principal artist Kirsty Martin and soloist Ty King-Wall. An exquisite example of the pas de deux with strong contrast between the dancers. A delight to enjoy.
Cinderella Extracts was danced by Senior Artists Miwako Kubota and Andrew Killian. Another great example of the talent from The Australian Ballet with such a number.
The highlight of the evening was with no doubt Gala Performance.
A ballet spoofing  three haughty ballerinas. The Queen of the dance from Moscow danced by Senior Artist Lana Jones, The Goddess of the Dance from Milan, danced by Principal Artist Danielle Rowe and the daughter of the Terpsichore from Paris Soloist Reiko Hombo. Partner to the Italian ballerina soloist Ty King-Wall, partner to the French ballerina Soloist Tzu-Chao Chou.
A delightful romp with the three ballerinas really going over the top brilliantly to please their audience. The ballerina’s had the correct balance for the over the top role and the exaggeration of the movements nearly had the audience in hysterics.
The background company kept up to the standard set and overall it is a production not to be missed.

The Australian Ballet produced a wonderful and enjoyable thank you to Dame Peggy Van Praagh who in her development of The Australian Ballet made sure she created an original Australian feel to her ballet company. This evening certainly proved that

 

The Silver Rose

 


Choreographer: Graeme Murphy.
Composer: Carl Vine

The Silver Rose is Graeme Murphy’s ballet adaptation of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.
Originally choreographed by Murphy for the Bavarian State Ballet it was offered to The Australian Ballet
A three act production with magnificent sets, costumes and lighting. On the evening your correspondent attended Danielle Rowe was The Marschallin, Luke Ingham was her young lover Octavian, Baron Orcha was danced by Adam Bull and Sophie betrothed to the Baron but in love Amber Scott and Sophie’s father was danced by Damien Welch.
Luke Ingham had an unenviable performance as he was on stage for the three acts almost continuously. A wonderful portrayal of the dance showing Ingham’s high standard. Danielle Rowe as the older woman The Marschallin gave a skilful and expert portrayal of an older woman with a young lover but realising that he cannot be hers forever.
Adam Bull gave a fine portrayal of The Marschallin’s impresario capturing the older man looking for a younger woman through his dancing. Amber Scott as the Baron’s fiancée but in love with Octavian gave a delightful interpretation of the young Sophie. Scott’s dancing is improving with each performance and now is a Senior Artist.
A light touch was the Paparazzi Annina a journalist and danced by Robyn Hendricks and Valzacchi the photographer dance by Brett Simon. Both worked excellently together and were a delight to watch.
A very glamorous ballet with extravagant costuming and amazing sets. 
A production highlighting the talents of The Australian Ballet

Paris Match

 

Suite en Blanc
Choreographer: Serge Lifar.
World Premiere June 19, 1943 by Paris Opera Ballet in Zurich.
Australian Premiere June 11, 1965 by Grande Ballet Classique de France at University Theatre Sydney.

Considered one of the showpiece ballets of the international repertory Suite en Blanc is what people first think what ballet is. The ballerinas all in white and the classical tu tu while the featured male dancers are in white the balance of men wear white tops and black tights.
The Australian Ballet of this classic. The opening was an amazing tableau of all the dancers. The effect just of the opening brought applause from the audience.
Opening with La Siesta exquisitely danced by Natasha Kusen, Vivienne Wong and Juliet Burnett. Followed by Pas de Trois with Danielle Rowe, Andrew Killan and Luke Ingham. Two men and one girl showing the contrast between the male and female dancers.
A plain stage which enhanced the dancers whose performance showed the grace, delicacy and beauty of such a ballet. A beautiful piece of artistry really enjoyed by the audience.

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Sydney Dance Company


Rafael Bonachela’s 360°

360° is the first production created in Australia by Sydney Dance Company’s new Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela. An energetic production bringing to the fore the skills and some gymnastic talents of the Sydney Dance Company.
A short program just on an hour in length with the dancers on stage continually the whole hour. The set was primarily two large mirrors in a V shape with the centre of the V at the rear of the stage giving some interesting reflections such as a soloist appearing as to be executing a pas de trois.
A large screen background with projections of cars fast moving through a freeway tunnel was a little distracting from the dances.
The standard of the dance was very good and some of the movements were a delight whereas others reached the grotesque in some of the body contortions. A small storyline seemed to appear with that of the eternal conflict between man and woman.
Much of the evening gave the impression of dancers doing their own thing then suddenly several dancers joined together in well executed movements.
An interesting evening of contemporary ballet but your correspondent feels that it would not be popular with traditionalists.

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New York Complexions Contemporary Ballet Tour

New York City’s most daring contemporary ballet company opened in Melbourne on February 26 at the State Theatre.
A production in three acts with music ranging from U2, American folk singer Odetta, Handel, and American Blues music.
An amazing evening of contemporary ballet. The only sets were a curtain and a chair. Lighting was excellent balancing the dancers with expertise.
There were no poor performers and unusual for contemporary ballet most of the moves were classical ballet movements which combined with the unusual for ballet music.
Act 1 was performed by the company showing the talent of such a group.
Act 2 contained five ballets opening with Gone a trio for three men performed by John Henry Reid, Phillip John Orsano and Joo Hwan Cho.   
An outstanding dancer was Joo Hwan Cho. He was relaxed, even in the most strenuous movements and looked if born to the roles.
Momentary Forevers with music from Handel and John Cage was given a good interpretation by Natiya Kezevadze and Juan. A fine example of pas de deux showing the high standard of the company.
The final number Rise explores the dizzy journey of life in all its complexity and ecstasy. The music was from U2 the first time U2 have allowed their music to be performed by a ballet company.
The dancers did justice to the music and amazed the opening night audience. As dancing the night was most enjoyable but! The music was far too loud and your correspondent wore ear plugs and still found it loud. After each interval many of the audience did not return. The sound was such that not only loud to the ears it was felt through the chest which cannot be too healthy. The music was recorded not live and I feel that sound engineers look to their operations and think twice about volume.

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The Kiev Ballet Tour

 

Swan Lake

Viktor Ishchuk Natalian Domracheva

The Kiev Ballet Tour arrived at The Palais Theatre Melbourne on the weekend of May 3rd & 4 th .

The Saturday production was Swan Lake . A traditional production in which the Kiev Ballet excels.

The company has some wonderful backdrops really giving the feel of the story.

The costumes were colourful and spectacular and when one realises the company is a touring company the maintenance of the sets and costumes must be difficult but very successful as evidenced on the production. A young company with great technical skills but could have a little more zest.

As Prince Siegfried Viktor Ischuk successfully showed the expectations of the character. A wonderful technical dancer catching all the movements as choreographed but could have given a little more zest to the character.

His partner Odette/Odile was danced by Natalian Domracheva. A lovely dancer with great ability and good acting performance. The pair balanced each other excellently and the pas de deuxs were a great example of the art of ballet.

The corps kept up the standard set by the leads and the audience enjoyed seeing a good performance of the classic Swan Lake .

 

The Sleeping Beauty

 

Sunday May 4 the Kiev Ballet presented The Sleeping Beauty.

Again the Kiev Ballet produced the classic production of the old well known story.

The scenes were well set with amazing backdrops and very colourful costumes representing the period. A complete tapestry of colour.

Aurora was danced by Tetiana Goliakova, a wonderful portrayal and a good example of a classic role performance. Sergii Sydorskyi danced the role of Prince Florimund. A great dancer with strength, agility and captured the feel of the classical role as the audience expected. A strong performer and a good partner to Goliakova.

Another asset to the company and who gave a wonderful, skilful and enjoyable performance was Shinobu Takita as the Lilac Fairy. A superb dancer in both the dance and acting. A light-hearted touch was given by Oleh Tokar as Carabosse the evil fairy who causes Aurora to sleep for 100 years. A fine comic performance skilfully done and a good favourite with the audience.

Two entertaining and well done performances were the entertainment with Puss in Boots and the White Cat. Excellently danced and obviously both enjoyed the characterisation as it was danced with such humour.

The Bluebird and Princess Florine was danced by Viktor Ishchuk and Natalian Domracheva. An absolutely wonderful pas de deux and solo performance from each dancer with both dancing good examples of the art of the ballet.

Both ballets bought back the classic style, the costuming and backdrops all added to the charm of the two productions and as the company is touring until June do make an effort to go.

This is the first tour of the Kiev Ballet which plans to tour every two years adding Australia and New Zealand to their list of countries to show the classic ballets and the talent of though a well established company the performers are young and a credit to the training and great ambassadors not only for ballet but for the Ukraine National Opera & Ballet.

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MUSICAL

 

Ladies in Black

Regent Theatre

Queensland Theatre Production
Director: Simon Phillips.

A story of Sydney in the 50’s about a young school leaver who obtains a summer job in a prestigious Sydney store in the ladies cocktail dress department.
A time when everything closed at 12 noon Saturday and did not open until Monday, a time when young ladies were  expected to work only for a few years and then get married and raise a family. A time when the refugees form World War II were arriving a trying to adjust to the Australian way of life.
Sarah Morrison was Lisa, the young school leaver on her first job albeit only temporary. A wonderful performance, working well with the other cast members and finding her feet in the big wide unknown world. Her father wants her to be secretary and then settle down and raise a family. Lisa shines at school and wants to go to university. There were some great scenes between Lisa, her father and mother who can see both sides.
Lisa’s father was played by Greg Stone who captured the essence of a 50’s father who did not understand the changes in society nor in his daughter’s wanting to find herself. A great performance. Lisa’s mother was played by Carita Farer Spencer. A mother who wanted her daughter to improve herself but did not want to antagonise her husband. Spencer caught the correct feel of the role giving a good performance.
Natalie Gamsu was Magda, the Hungarian immigrant who took a liking to Lisa and introduced her to a new world. Gamsu gave a superb performance capturing the European accent without faltering once and worked well with Morrison.
A great cast all faultless and bringing home in a delightful way the changing of the pre war Australians to a new way of life.
A must see show. 

 

 

The Book of Mormon

Princess Theatre

Director: Casey Nicholaw & Trey Parker.

The Book of Mormon had its Melbourne debut at the Princess Theatre on February 4. 2017.
A great opening evening with a beginning telling the story of the rise of the Mormons.
This was set in Salt Lake City with a good set showing the blue sky and open land of that section of USA. We see the section of the missionaries chatting about where they would like to go and where they actually were sent.
A great scene of the clean cut missionaries showing how they go from door to door and what happens next.
The two leads are posted to Uganda where they run into a tribe who have no time for missionaries and are under threat from a war lord.
Ryan Bondy as Elder Price and A. J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham gave great performances as the two naïve missionaries in Africa for the first time and finding it rather difficult than they were taught. Such as going to a native hut and not finding a doorbell or knocker to attract attention.
The young Ugandan lady who believed in them, Nabulungi, was given a wonderful and outstanding performance by Zahra Newman.
A good production loved by followers of South Parkwhich seemed to set the scene of the show. There were aspects of various productions, such as Darth Vader, Hobbits, Jesus Christ as he appears in South Park, a touch of The King and I with a very successful interpretation of The Little House of Uncle Thomas.  A magnificent set and the performers gave a wonderful portrayal in heir roles.
One slight flaw was the dialogue was rather too loud and on some occasions it was hard to understand because of this.
All in all a successful evening adding to Melbourne’s theatre reputation and opening night received a standing ovation.   

Wicked

Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: Phil Osborne.

Nova Music Theatre’s final production for 2016 was Wicked the untold story of the witches of Oz.
Nova had a good set with scene changes moving smoothly and a screen backdrop which doubled as a film screen and for shadow play.
The costuming was exceedingly well done with good masks where applicable and for Glinda the good witch some good old fashioned ball gowns, not seen these days.
Elpheba, who became known as the wicked witch was played by Amy Larsen.
A wonderful performance with great acting scenes, a good rapport with Kristen Ryan (Glinda), a lovely singing voice, Because she was known as the wicked witch her costume was dull and evil like but her talent showed through and the audience, shall we say was a little more than sympathetic to Elpheba.
Galinda/Glinda who became known as the good witch was played by Kristen Ryan. Another good performance of the girl who had everything and expected everything but whose attitude changed during the course of the story. Good presentation, acting and singing. Both young ladies enhanced the production adding to the high standard now expected of Nova Music Theatre.
The young hero Fiyero was given a stirling performance by Mitchell Sanfilippo. He has good stage presentation, fine acting skills and a voice to suit.
Elpheba’s sister Nessarose was played by Chloe Towan. A difficult role as Towan was confined to a wheelchair for the majority of the play. A good interpretation of the character that did not turn out quite as expected.
Her helper, Boq, was played by Pasquale Bartalotta who gave a positive performance of the character inveigled into the position by Glinda. The head of Shiz University, Madam Morrible, was played by Bernadette Sheedy capturing the essence of the teacher who saw the potential in Elpheba but whose attitude changed during the course of the evening.
The monkeys were played by Lachlan Nash, Courtney Smith and Ellis Foster. Not an easy role as they were all bent over and running around the stage with the odd leap up the wall. The three really caught the feel of monkeys and were much enjoyed by the opening night audience.
Robert Clark was The Wizard. Clark gave a good realistic feel to the role of the wizard who was not quite what one expected. Another good player was John Pendergast as Professor Dillamond, the talking gat and last of the talking animals of Oz. His makeup was amazing and performance spot on.
In all a wonderful evening of theatre and Nova is to be congratulated on their high standard of production.  

  

Bye Bye Birdie

MLOC
Director/Choreographer: Drew Downing.
Music Director: Phill Scanlon

MLOC’s choice of production to close the 2016 season was the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie.
The story of a Rock singer, Conrad Birdie, who had just received his call-up papers and with the aid of his agents was to have One Last Kiss of a member of his fan club in a little country town in the State of Ohio.
The setting was simple. A raised platform at the back centre of stage with a screen on dame. This was used to full advantage as a shadow play and as a movie clip screen which added to the technical side of he evening very successfully.
The main characters were Conrad Birdie, his agent Albert Peterson, Albert’s Secretary Rosie Alverez, Albert’s mother Mrs Mae Peterson, Kim MacFee the girl fan selected for the one last kiss, her parents, Mrs Dorothy Macfee and Mr Harry Macfee and brother Randolph MacFee.
  A large cast made up of the teenagers in town and other players involved.
Sam Petroulias was Conrad Birdie. Petroulias has good stage presentation and captured the role with fineness.
Conrad’s agent Albert Peterson was played by Paul Congdon. A hectic role as Congdon was on stage for practically the whole performance. He caught the role with ease and has a good touch of the comique which came out well in several scenes. Also a good rapport with Kelly Millard as Rosie his secretary.
Kelly Millard as Rosie Alverez gave a stunning performance and also added to by a pleasant singing voice. Poor Rosie, trying to show Albert that there was more in their lives than Conrad Birdie then trying to put up with Albert’s mother who was dead against a Latin American taking away her son.
Janet Reid was Mrs Mae Peterson, a fantastic nterpretation of the mother who would not let go of her son, even though he was in his 30s. Reid captured the essence of the frustrated mother with a great performance and her performance was one of the highlights of the evening.
Mr Harry MacFee was played by Michael Young. Mr Macfee’s daughter Kim was the chosen one the last kiss to be shown on the Ed Sullivan Show. At first Harry was against the whole idea but when he learned he was to be on TV his whole attitude changed. Young played the role excellently really giving the feel of a Dad being not recognised by his family to the TV night.
His wife Doris was played by Kirsty Hall. A good performance with a good scene when her daughter declared at fifteen she was a woman and demanded respect as such then bad news and she was a little girl again and needed her mummy. Hall handled the role with finesse.
Kim Macfee was the chosen one. Played by Katherine Gale who gave a remarkable and wonderful portrayal of such a character. Adding to her good acting performance she has a great and mature voice surprisingly in one looking so young.
Gale handled the role of a young teenager thinking she was very mature (well she as 15) to the girl who did need her mother after all. A good portrayal.
A large cast of young performers doing a great job and the theatre is lucky to have such a future in these actors.
A pleasant evening from MLOC and a company worth following.

 

Jesus Christ Superstar

Kate Weston & Daniel Muttau

CLOC Music Theatre

Director/Set Designer: Shaun Kingma
Musical Director: Tyson Legg
Choreographer: Tamara Finch.

CLOC Music Theatre’s director, Shaun Kingma, says in his notes that this is a “what if” version. He has set the action in a post apolytical world. To get the picture think of the last seven days of Jesus Christ’s life set in the world of Mad Max.
The set was amazing, smooth movement of the scenery, very stark and desolate with lighting suiting the staging.
The cast captured the feel of such a time with finesse. The choreography was excellent and the dancers were spot on with their timing and the presentation of their performances was very good.
Costuming was amazing, the priests’ outfits were very effective giving the impressions of darkness and evil. The stage presentations of all the cast showed their expertise and professionalism.
Daniel Mottau was Jesus. Dressed in white whereas the rest of the cast were in dark colours so stood out as was expected. A great interpretation and physically well done, suffering a whipping and then crucifixion where he was placed on a cross constructed from girders and then hauled up above the stage. A very demanding role handled with great care and professionalism. Scott Mackenzie was Judas Iscariot. A wonderful performance of probably history’s most despised man. Mackenzie carried the role with ease assign the high standard of the evening.
Kate Weston was Mary. A busy role excellently performed with a good rapport with Mottau.
A large cast of singers and dancers, all good voices and a magnificent production from CLOC Music Theatre

Anything Goes

Babirra Music Theatre

Director/Costume Designer: Tyler Hess.
Musical Director: Anthony Barnhill
Choreographer/Set Designer: Craig Wiltshire.

This production of the old favourite Anything Goes would have to be the most unusual and possibly the best your correspondent has ever seen.
As the story takes place on board the SS American sailing across the Atlantic ocean Babirra placed two screens, one each side of the stage upon which was projected ocean scenes and at night the moon shining over the ocean thus giving the feeling the audience was really on a ship heading across the ocean. In act II there is a song Be Like a Bluebird. It opened with the comment “ An old Australian song by Melba” so on the screens they projected a view o he Australian bush with a blue parrot plus sound of a bird song, The parrot not only  sat on a gumtree but took off and flew across the stage to the other screen and back again. A very effective and unusual scene.
The set changes on stage were smoothly done with entertainment from the SS American passengers performing in front of the changes
The costuming was superb and really suited the 30’s where the show is set.
The cast was outstanding and one memorable scene is the last number before interval when the main cast of dancers and then everybody came on with a tap dance sequence to the tune of Anything Goes. It was absolutely amazing, the standard very high, timing spot on and the audience nearly wore out their hands in applause.
Playing the evangelist Reno Sweeney was Sharon Wills. A great performance not only with her acting but with a good strong, clear singing voice. The hero of the story, who stowed away on the ship to be near his ladylove was Billy Crocker played by Adam Bianco. Another terrific performance, a great sense of comique, a good actor and a fine singing voice with a great rapport with Olivia Fildes,
Olivia Fildes was Hope Harcourt, engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh but was really loved by Billy Crocker. Fildes captured the role of the young ingénue with aplomb also a lovely singing voice and some of her scenes were a sheer delight. Her fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was played by Adam Jon. A great performer really going over the top as an English Lord in real Wodehouse style. An amusing entertainer and well appreciated by the audience.
The number 13 criminal in America Moonface Martin was given a highly amusing and well done performance by Ben Moody who captured the character with finesse. Moonface’s girlfriend Erma was played by Emily Mignot. Mignot really captured the dumb, gum chewing, gangster’s moll with ease giving a wonderful portrayal.
Another standout performance was given by David Miller as the purser, an over the top gay performance which was excellently balanced and performed.
The overall cast were outstanding and this is a production not to be missed.  

 

We Will Rock You

Regent Theatre

Resident Director & Choreographer: Siobhan Ginty.

We Will Rock You opened in Melbourne’s Regent Theatre on September, 2016 to a packed house. This is a return performance after appearing at the Regent in 2005.
Ben Elton the director and writer said “ We chose Melbourne to mount the first show after London and it was there in 2003 that we were really able to put all the lessons we had learned in London into practice, subsequently reinventing the design and the staging, not the east of the new innovations was to get the band into view! Let’s face it this is a Rock Musical, the story is a celebration of live music. We wanna see the band for God’s sake. The resulting show was a much more fluid and rocking production and the first Australian show became the model for all subsequent productions world wide.”
Set design was primarily a set of stairs across the full length of the stage with visual effects behind. At the finale were stone walls and a large central gate.
Costuming was magnificent absolutely suiting the story line, very colourful and sometimes rather brief.
The lighting made the production, the use of lighting created a prison and emphasised  the highlights of the production.
Playing Galileo, the boy with the remberance of the long forgotten past of people composing their own music and playing it on their own instruments, was Gareth Kegan. A good clear voice heard easily across the theatre, remarkable acting ability and a good rapport with Erin Clare as Scaramouche.
Erin Clare was the teenager Scaramouche who joined Galileo in his search for the mystery musical instrument. Clare was a great balance to Kegan, a good rapport and a wonderful voice, strong and clear, excellent presentation with good acting ability.
Killer Queen was played by Casey Donovan, an outstanding stage personality capturing the essence of the evil queen who did not like individualism. Another good voice with the plus of good stage presentation
A large cast moving well together and in the dance scenes timing spot on. The projection and energy of the dancers was amazing and the standard was very high.
A wonderful evening of a rock show with Melbourne’s opening night audience giving it a standing ovation.

 

Curtains


The Production Company

Director: Roger Hodgman

An Australian premiere of a musical comedy whodunit Curtains.
The orchestra was set to the rear of the stage with various curtains and sets moving in and out as required.
A fun story about a musical company rehearsing when he leading lady suspiciously dies. A stage struck police inspector not only takes over the case but tries to improve the shoe.
The Production Company is unique in giving a high standard production as least costly as possible. The cast usually only have two weeks rehearsal but when seen one would believe they had the usual proper rehearsal period.
The musical is a play within a play with the cast rehearsing Robbin’ Hood. The opening scene was set in the West with cowboys and girls. A well executed scene with timing spot on.
Simon Gleeson was Lieutenant Frank Cioffi the homicide detective in charge of the murder mystery. Gleeson caught the character with aplomb, a great stage presence and a good rapport with all particularly with Alinta Chidzey as Frank’s interest Niki Harris.
Chidzey as Niki Harris gave a great performance in the role working well with Simon Gleeson. \
The other love interest was between the writers, Georgia Hendricks and Aaron Fox.
Georgia was played by Lucy Maunder who gave a terrific performance in the role. Aaron was played by Alex Rathgeber who caught the essence of the character as envisaged giving a believable portrayal of such a character.
Nikki Wendt was Jessica Cranshaw the ‘star’ of the musical who did not quite see the show out. A short role well handled by Wendt.

A large excellent cast giving a high standard of production which was given a standing ovation by the Melbourne opening night audience

Chu chin Chow

Ron Pidcock Summer Bpwen

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director and Choreography: Robert Ray
Musical Direction: John Ferguson & Surcha Delaney.

A musical extravaganza of The Arabian Nights as told by Oscar Asche.
Oscar Asche was born in Geelong and went to London and wrote, directed and starred in the lead role.
GSOV set the play in Melbourne with Oscar Asche presenting his musical extravaganza to such Melbourne theatre notabilities J. C. Williamson and Frank Tait.
Kent Martin portrayed Oscar Asche as himself and as his character Abu Hasan.
A good stage presence by Martin who dominated his scenes in the true character of Oscar Asche presenting his production to the Melbourne entrepreneurs not hesitating to stop the show and criticise any performer he did not think was acting as he required. Martin really captured the essence of Oscar Asche giving a good portrayal of such a role.
Andrew McGrail played Abu Hasan and Chu Chin Chow in the first half but as Abu did not live did not live up to Oscar’s expectations was replaced by Oscar and relegated o the chorus. McGrail caught the role as envisaged giving a great performance.
Sarah Doran as Zahrat Al Kulub, played by Summer Bowen, who’s lover Omar was imprisoned by Abu Hasan who will murder him unless Zahrat agrees to spy for Hasan.
Bowen looked absolutely lovely and is a magnificent performer with a wonderful singing voice to balance her performance.
Cecil Humphreys as Kasim Baba was played by Ron Pidcock who caught the feel of such a character with finesse giving a stirling performance in the role.
Wensley Russell was Kasim’s poor brother Ali Baba and was played by Ron Mack. Mack gave a good interpretation of Ali and keeping up the high standard set by the company.
Ali’s son Nur al-Huda as played by Herbert Brown in the Oscar Asche version was played on stage by Torquil Syme. Syme was great in the role of the young man in love and trying to keep of trouble.
Kitty Reidy as Marjanah, Ali’s lover was given a great and moving performance by Ella Broome. A great stage personality, good acting and a lovely strong and clear singing voice all adding up to the expected standard of GSOV.
The costuming was outstanding, bright, colourful and captured the correct feel of he Arabian nights. The set was in the stage centre rear and comprised of stairs up, two columns surmounted by the eastern style onion domes with palm trees centre and a screen at rear which showed the relevant scene changes. A high standard of singing and acting from all the cast.
A never-to-be forgotten evening and if Chu Chin Chow returns to the stage do not miss it. 

 

Funny Girl

The Production Company

Director: Gale Edwards
Musical Director: Anthony Gabriele

The Production Company’s choice of show to open the 2016 season was Funny Girl.
Based on the life of Fanny Brice with her start in vaudeville to her success in the Ziegfeld Follies ad her marriage to Nick Arnstein.
The stage was simply set with stairs each side curving toward the centre with a raised platform and the orchestra on stage between the two arms of the stairs. This design worked very well with the actors coming in from the wings and also from the rear up and over the centre.
Fanny Brice was played by Caroline O’Connor. O’Connor was on stage most of the performance and give an excellent portrayal of Fanny Brice from her teen years to her mature years, successes and disappointments. A performance well loved by the opening night audience.
Her male interest and eventually her husband, Nick Arnstein was played by David Hobson, one of Australia’s best known operatic and recording artists. Hobson captured the character of the gambler and smooth worker with finesse giving a superb performance in the role.
Fanny’s mother, Mrs Brice, was given a wonderful portrayal by one of Australia’s favourite theatrical actresses Nancye Hayes. Hayes caught the essence of the show business mother and kept up the high standard of the production. With Mrs Brice there were her friends, Mrs Strakosh and Mrs O’Malley.
Mrs Strakosh was played by Susan-Ann Walker who captured the shrill voiced, loud mouthed friend with a genuine feel giving a great performance.
Mrs O’Malley was played by Judith Roberts. A good feel of the character. Projected with feeling and a stirling performance.
Florenz Ziegfeld was played by David Ross Paterson. Another great interpretation catching the essence of such a man.
Fanny’s friend Eddie Ryan was given a good portrayal by Luke Alleva who caught such a character with ease making Eddie feel realistic.
A well directed and smooth running production of a high standard as normally set by The Production Company.

 

Once Upon a Mattress

Diamond Valley Singers & Eltham Orchestra

Director/Choreographer: Tamblyn Smith

Once Upon a Mattress is an adaption of the Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy story The Princess and the Pea.
The set comprised of three towers which were spun around for different scenes. At stage rear was a stone wall and the stage floor was decorated in a stone pattern giving the impression of all being in a castle. Costuming was very good, suiting the era of the storyline.
A large cast all handling their roles with expertise. Some highlights were Meg Warren as Princess Winifred, just call me Fred, with Warren giving a first class portrayal as the princess from the swamp country not used to a big city. A great sense of the comique and a good presentation.
Prince Dauntless the Drab was played by Nicholas Durbridge  A great performance catching all the finer nuances of such a character. Both Durbridge and Warren had a great rapport and were terrific together.
A fantastic performance was given by Rebecca Muratore as Queen Aggravain,  Muratore was the nagging Queen who did not really want her son to get married and did everything she could to hinder any prospects for her son. Her husband King Sextimus The Silent was played by Malcolm Wilton. A good balance to Muratore, had lost his voice and could not speak, which suited the Queen. Wilton, not being able to speak made up for it with the fantastic facial expressions and body language. The Jester was played by Narada Edgar who added to the humour of the evening with her portrayal.
A well received production by the audience of such a light-hearted comedy and the company is one to add to your diary.

 

Mary Poppins

Babirra Musical Theatre

Director: Chris Bradtke.
Musical Director: Ben Hudson.
Choreographer: Di Crough.

Babirra Musical Theatre’s choice of production for the 2016 season was Mary Poppins a theatrical version of Disney’s film Mary Poppins.
The sets were absolutely amazing. From the street scenes to the Banks’ home and scenes of London. Many scenes were projections onto a stage sized screen and added much realism to the production. With the amazing lighting and even rain the company thanks lighting designer Jason Bovaird and with excellent work from Richard Staples, set designer, Leonie Campbell, costume designer and Greg Ginger, sound designer.
Sometimes audiences don’t realise the amount of work off stage that has to go into a production and without the aforementioned people there would not be a show of the high calibre of Mary Poppins.
Stephanie John was Mary Poppins. An amazing and professionly handled performance. A great stage presence with good acting and singing John handled the role with expertise looking really comfortable as such a character even to the extent of looking calm and relaxed while flying across the stage.
Mary’s friend Bert was played by Angelo De Cata. He was Bert, an artist (street) a  chimney sweep and a good friend not only to Mary but to the Banks children.
De Cata gave an outstanding performance in his character working well with John. A good stage presence and well appreciated by the audience.
George Banks the busy bank employee was played by Richard Thomas. Another good performer. projecting well and capturing the essence of George Banks. His wife, Wilfred Banks, was given a stirling performance by Megan Coe. Coe worked well with Thomas and had a great rapport with her two stage children, Eryn Saunders and Elliot Shute.
Eryn Saunders was Jane Banks and Elliot Shute was Michael Banks. The two played together with a great rapport, really catching the character of the two children looking for their Father’s love and being very naughty in getting rid of Nannies they did not like. Both good performers and one sees a future in theatre for both.
Miss Andrew, the very strict Nannie who had the father, the bank manager scared stiff not to mention the children. Played by Lizzie Matjacic who gave such a realistic performance it was a wonder that she wasn’t booed off stage,
One unforgettable scene was Feed the birds. Against a background of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the steps was the Bird Woman played by Carol Whitfield. A very moving number with a beautiful dinging voice from Whitfield. Setting the scene using projections were birds flying across the stage and settling with the Bird Woman. This added to the realism of the piece and gave the moving feeling as looked for in such a piece.
A great evening of theatre and enjoyed by the opening night audience.

The Sound of Music

Regent Theatre

May 19, 2016 saw the Melbourne opening of The Sound of Music at the Regent Theatre.
A magnificent production with well done sets of the Von Trapp home, the abbey, the concert hall ad the mountains. Sets were smoothly brought in and out with no delay thus enhancing the evening.
Cameron Daddo played Captain Von Trapp and although Daddo is an experienced actor he was a little disappointing in this role. Voice a little week and some scenes with Maria lacked a little spontaneity. He does have a good stage presence with good projection.
Maria was given a superb performance by Amy Lehpamer who captured the role with feeling. A lovely strong velar voice and her scenes with the children were an absolute delight. Jacqueline Dark was the Mother Abbess. Dark is an opera singer and her natural ability and training came to the fore in this production. She is also a good actress and had a sympathetic approach to Maria in her times of trouble.
The Baroness Schraeder was played by Marina Prior. A good stage presence, a lovely voice and a good rapport with Cameron Daddo.
Lorraine Bayly was Frau Schmidt the housekeeper. A good portrayal with a fine stage projection and worked well with the other cast members. A good comic performance was given by David James as the entrepreneur Max Detweiler. A friend of the Von Trapp family but also out for himself. James captured the part as envisaged giving a good interpretation of such a character.
Stephanie Jones was the eldest daughter Liesl. Jones had in her younger years played a younger daughter Brigitta. She handled the role with aplomb giving a wonderful portrayal of the young girl in her teens trying to come to grips between childhood and adulthood.
The telegraph boy, Rolf, who was keen on Liesl was played by Du Toit Brederkamp  A good interpretation of the character with a good stage presence.
Franz, the butler, was well played by John Hannan capturing the correct feel or the tole.
The young children of the Von Trapp family gave outstanding performances. There are three sets of children and the opening night set were absolute brilliant. Spot on timing, working well together. Good  voices and a delight to watch.
The ensemble were a credit to the high standard of the production and opening night in Melbourne  concluded with a standing ovation.

Singin' in the Rain

Her Majesty’s Theatre

A stage version of the well known film starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor.
The stage version stuck closely to the film including the dancing in the rain scene where 12000 litres of water rained down on Don Lockwood (and the first three rows of the audience).
The production was set in the studios of Monumental Pictures with the orchestra at the rear and on a second story. On the stage were successful scene changes as the evening progressed.
Don Lockwood was played by Andrew Garcia. A great performance food movement and a pleasant voice and having a good rapport with Gretel Scarlett and Jack Chambers. Gretel Scarlett was Kathy Seldon, a young actress trying her luck in the movies and falling for Don Lockwood. A wonderful portrayal with Scarlett capturing the cor4rect feel of such a sweet young character. Jack Chambers was Don’s lifetime friend Cosmo Brown. Chambers excelled in the role capturing the essence of the musician/dancer as called for. The three worked wonderfully together and kept the high standard of such a production. Each were good singers and dancers and the dancing and singing in actual rain was very well received by the audience.
Erika Heynatz gave an excellent and superb performance of Lina Lamont, she, the silent movie star, of the high pitched voice not understanding that her voice was not one expected when talkies came in. Heynatz was absolutely brilliant as the dumb blonde and earlier in conversation with your correspondent said she loved that type of role and enjoyed every moment of it.
Veteran actor Robyn Arthur was Doro and Miss Dinsmore. Good stage presentation and handled the roles as envisaged. Mike Bishop was R. F. Simpson, the producer of Monumental Pictures. A great portrayal with some fun scenes with Erika Heynatz. The director of Monumental Pictures, Roscoe Dexter was portrayed by Rodney Dobson. Another great performer who did not have an easy kob directing Lina Lamont.
A wonderful production with the scenes from the Dancing Cavalier projected in black and white on a screen lowered from the flies working very successfully. The changing of the scenes was very smoothly done and the ensemble kept the high standard set by the three leading performers. The dancing was spot on, in line and no mistakes.
A great night of theatre in Melbourne and a standing ovation in respect of such a wonderful production.   
 

 

Wicked

CLOC Musical Theatre

Co-Director/Set Designer: Chris White
Co- Director/ Choreographer: Lynette White
Musical Director: Danny Forward.

CLOC Music Theatre opened the 2016 with the untold story of the witches of Oz in Wicked.
The sets were absolutely amazing with the highlight being the face of the Wizard of Oz. Designed and built by Chris White it was a giant face which when speaking had all the correct mouth movements and expressions consistent with the subject matter. Costuming was a delight ranging from glamour dress for Glinda and black plain dress for Elphaba to animal costumes, plus many changes for the company.
Rosa McCarty was the evil witch Elphaba. Not a very glamorous role as McCarty was green and dull black costume.
A superb performance with all the correct feeling fir the character. McCarty has a good stage presence which was evinced by her performance. Elphaba’s great friend Galinda later known as Glinda the good witch was played by Emily McKenzie. Another great performance and McKenzie has a good rapport with McCarty and both girls are a credit to any professional stage.
Elphaba’s sister Nessarose trapped in a wheelchair was given a good portrayal by Grace Kingsford. Fiyero, a handsome prince to whom Glinda fell in love, was played by Robbie Smith. An actor with good stage projection, interpreting the role with professionalism and worked well with both McCarty and McKenzie.
Lee Threadgold was the Wizard of Oz, an impressive role of a man who was not what he seemed. Threadgold captured the role with ease giving a smooth polished performance
A great character was Madame Morrible who helped Elphaba develop her talents. Carolyn Waddell gave a terrific performance as such a character. Munchkin Boq, who was in love with Glinda but was loved by Nessarose, was played by Hamish Anderson who caught the feel of such a character with finesse giving a good performance.
 A well directed production with amazing dance routines with spot on timing and overall a wonderful evening of heater thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

Legally Blonde

Nova Musical Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy.
Choreographer: Kristen Mihalos

Nova Musical theatre’s choice of production was the light-hearted musical comedy Legally blonde. A story of a blonde girl whose boyfriend went from California to Harvard Law School and then followed him there.
Sets were basic with different scenes flown in or slid in form the wings as required.
Congratulations must go to Kristen Mihalos, the choreographer, for the wonderful dancing scenes, spot on in the timing, good lines and great enthusiasm.
As Elle Woods, the girl who followed her boyfriend Warner to Harvard, Elise Cavallo caught the characterisation of the role perfectly giving a wonderful performance and capturing all the finer nuances of Elle.
Her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III was given a good portrayal by Leighton Irwin as the young man who thought he was too good for Elle.
Elle’s teaching assistant, Brenton Van Vliet who was the only person in the school on her side, was played by Emmett Forest. A good portrayal of the shy but helpful teacher who changed somewhat by the end of the production.
The lecturer for the Harvard Law School. Professor Callahan, was played by Jay Haggett Good presentation capturing the character as envisaged with a twist toward the end.
During the story line Elle has a Greek chorus, not seen by anyone else, advising her in song about what to do next. As the three choristers, Alexandra Samulenok as Serena, Caitlin Bond as Margot, and Shannon Salisbury as Pilar, gave good and performances with good voices to match.
The hairdresser, Paulette Bonafonté, who befriended Elle, was played by Katherine Elliott. A great comic performance with a good fun scene when the new delivery boy arrives.
A wonderful evening of theatre with a couple of small scene stealers in Bruiser, a chihuahua, and Rufus, a British bulldog. All adding to the enjoyment of the evening.

 

Little Shop of Horrors

Director: Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Andrew Worboys
Choreographer: Andrew Halesworth

May 5. 2016 saw the Melbourne opening night of a comedic horror show Little Shop of Horrors.
A packed house with Melbourne’s elite theatre people in attendance.
An unusual opening with a projection of a news story of a disaster read by one of Australia’s well known TV news readers.
The set comprised of Mushnik’s Flower Shop on skidrow flanked by two lamp posts complete with flickering lights and wires across the stage. Opening saw a Greek style chorus of three girls, Angelique Cassimates as Crystal, Josie Lane as Chifton and Chloe Zuel as Ponnette/US Audrey. All three did a wonderful portrayal of the requirements of the roles entering on and off very smoothly and added to the high standard of the production.
Seymour Kilborn, played by Brent Hill, Mushnik’s shop assistant and carer of Audrey II was given an amazing talented portrayal of the shy but determined assistant. An excellent performance. The love of Seymour’s life is Audrey played by Esther Hannaford. A lovely performance wit6h Hannaford catching all the finer nuances of the young quiet girl who puts up with more than ne should expect from her bikie/dentist boyfriend.
Tyler Coppin was Seymour’s boss, Mr Mushnik. Coppin captured the essence of the character with ease giving a first class performance.
Audrey’s boyfriend, dentist/bikie, Orin Scrivello DDS., was given a stirling portrayal by Scott Jonson particularly when he had Seymour in the dentist’s chair. 
The outstanding character who nearly stole the show was Audrey II. An amazing puppet that grew from a tiny plant in a pot to taking up most of the shop. Speaking and singing, voiced by Brent Hill and named Audrey II by Seymour nearly stole the show.
A magnificent production received by Melbourne’s opening night’s audience with a standing ovation.

 

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Director: Ben Giraud
Musical Director: Trevor Jones
Choreographer: Bernie Bernard

Lawler Theatre Melbourne was the venue for Vic. Theatre Company’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
A simply set stage with a background of yellow covered in bees. A small rostrum to rear of stage and chairs for the contestants in front with the winner’s cup on a dais on audience right.
The contestants’ costuming was relevant to the character and the age of each contestant. Rebecca Moore as the MC and Olive’s Mum gave a great performance handling the role with finesse. Henry Brett was Leaf Coneybear and Carl’s Dad giving a humorous and comical performance as Leaf and a good interpretation of Dad.
Chip Tolento was played by James Coley giving a great portrayal of such a character.
Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere whose two dads were bickering on stage was played by Sage Douglas who captured the essence of the character with ease giving a good portrayal of such a role.
Teresa Duddy was Marcy Park the contestant who could speak 6 languages. Duddy presented well with good stage projection. Matt Heywood was Mitch Mahoney a comfort counsellor helping as part of his court-mandated community service. Heywood certainly looked the part giving a great performance.
The poor girl who did not have the entrance money or a relative in the audience, Olive Ostrovsky was well performed by Jenni Little capturing the correct feel for the role.
A busy man on stage was the janitor played by Riley Nottingham a good interpretation of such a character. The Vice Principal Douglas Panch and also Olive’s Das was played by David Spencer who captured the characters as envisaged giving a good portrayal.
A terrific production with good singing and amazing lighting with over 300 lighting changes thanks to Jason Bovaird.
The choreography caught the feel of the contestants with the smooth flowing of the production leading to a great night of entertainment thoroughly enjoyed by Melbourne’s opening night audience. 

Velvet

Executive Director: Peter Rix
Director & Creator: Craig Loft
Musical Director: Joe Accaria

Velvet is a nightclub and a state of mind – a fantasy.
 Inspired by Studio 54, a club made famous for its wild parties and hedonism. On one level Velvet is an amalgam of variety and concert forms that offers sheer entertainment to a disco disc sound track.
The Coopers Malthouse – Merlyn theatre was turned into a disco for the evening with plenty of flashing lights and mirror balls.
The program consisted of performances of the circus variety interspersed with songs and dance.
Opening number was Mirko Kõckenberger with an amazing balancing act on suit cases. Well cone, skilful and a great crowd pleaser. Each item was interspersed by song and dance with sassy sirens Rechelle Mansour and Chska Halliday. These two highly talented girls were on stage for practically the whole program both singing and dancing. An entertaining and excellent performance.
Singer songwriter Brendan Maclean was the young man finding his way through disco world. A good performance.
Joe Accaria had his work cut out as the DJ. Flat out the entire evening with great presentation.
Stephen Williams was the strong man and aerialist both solo and support for Emma Goh a wonderful aerialist giving solo performances and duos with Stephen.
A fun and skilful hoop man was Craig Reid. What that man could do with the hula hoops staggers belief. A comic performance but absolutely amazed Melbourne’s opening night audience.
But of course one cannot forget the legendary diva who stole the show Marcia Hines AM.
A very successful evening of disco and mixture of music, song and circus never to be forgotten by the audience.

Violet the Musical


Blue Saint Productions



Director: Mitchell Butel

Musical Director: Martine Wengrow
Choreographer: Amy Campbell.

Violet, a story of a girl facially scarred from a childhood accident and undertakes a journey across the USA to help remove her scar only to find that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
A simply set stage with a rear screen of any highway in America, a sloping ramp at the foot of the screen and tables and a bed brought out for the relevant scenes. Very effective and smoothly handled.
Violet was played by Sam Dodemaide, a good portrayal, a wonderful voice and worked well with the other cast members.
Violet as a child was played by Luisa Scrofani. Well done and had a good rapport with Damien Bermingham playing her father. Bermingham presents well having a good stage presence a fine performance and captured the essence of he father.
Barry Conrad was Flick the coloured soldier travelling with his soldier friend on the Greyhound bus. A good performance enhanced by a great voice. His friend Monty was given a wonderful portrayal by Steve Danielsen. Both players worked well together and had a good rapport with Dam Dodemaide.
A fine production with some outstanding scenes one memorable one was the TV rehearsal of the evangelistic service.
A popular production with the audience giving a standing ovation.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Kelly Dickerson
Choreographer: Dana Jolly

Melbourne’s Princess Theatre was the venue for the production of The Fiddler on the Roof.
Starring Anthony Warlow who returned from three years on Broadway to play the milkman Tevye, and featuring Mark Mitchell as Lazar Wolfe, Sigrid Thornton as Golde, Nicki Wendt as Yente and Lior as Motel.
The sets comprised of three wooden walls outlining the various buildings of the village of Anatevka. When required the buildings were slid out and turned to whichever scene was called. Very basic but very effective.
A wonderful production with an outstanding performance by Anthony Warlow as Tevye. A good strong clear voice, top acting and a good rapport with his fellow players. A highlight was Nicki Wendt as Yente the matchmaker. A great performance of such a role with plenty of humour and pathos. An outstanding performance.
Mark Mitchell caught the character of Lazar Wolfe with aplomb and he with Anthony Warlow as Tevye discussing his future marriage to Tevye’s daughter Tzeitel and Tevye not understanding what was going on was excellently portrayed and caused great merriment from the audience.
Sigrid Thornton made a fair Golde putting up with Tevye’s demands and struggling to look after her daughters. Lior as Motel captured the correct feel of the young in love and poor tailor. Tzeitel. his intended . was given a wonderful performance by Teagan Wouters. 
Enter Perchik, a university student from Kiev, who brings a taste of freshness to the village. Played by Blake Bowden who captured the young radical with realism and worked well with Monica Swayne as Hodel. One unforgettable and moving scene was at the railway station Hodel is going to join Hodel who has been sent to Siberia. Tevye and Hodel are waiting for the train in a moment that brought tears to the eye. Monica Swayne gave a great performance in the role and impressed the audience.
The third daughter, Chava, was played by Jessica Vickers. Chava upset her father and family by falling in love with a Cossack and not one of her own people. Jessica Vickers caught the role as one would imagine defying her family traditions for the man she loved.  Her intended Fyedka was played by Jensen Overend who was a good balance to Jessica and gave a good performance.
Some memorable scenes were the engagement announcement in the tavern where the Jews and the Cossacks danced their own dances then combined the Cossack dance with the Jewish dance. This was followed by the bottle dance where the dancers wore top hats balancing beer bottles on the hats. An amazing number. Another memorable moment was the dream where Tevye tells Golde the he dreamed that Tzeitel should marry Motel. One of the great production scenes in the show and the reaction by Golde, Sigrid Thornton was a picture.
A small but important part was the fiddler on the roof. Portrayed by Rob Theaker who came in and out of the show at varying moments A talented violinist who gave a good portrayal as such a man.
The Melbourne opening night audience were so over awes by the production that there was an immediate standing ovation.
Venue: Princess Theatre Spring St. January 5 – February 27. 2016

 

Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical


Director: Gary Young.
Musical Supervision, Arrangements & Orchestrations: Stephen Amos.
Choreographer: Michael Ralph.

December 22. 2015 saw the World Premiere of Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical opening in Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre.
A musical look at the life of Australia’s most successful and popular pops group The Seekers.
Commencing from when Judith Durham met the boys at the Treble Clef and following their trip to England and their rise to fame.
A well produced and directed production smoothly flowing with a simple and effective stage set of three walls, a movable staircase and a movie screen upper back showing relevant scenes.
The costuming was very well done with the apparel of London’s swinging Sixties bringing touches of nostalgia to many of the audience.
Pippa Grandison was Judith Durham. A wonderful portrayal of the girl from Balwyn capturing all the finer nuances of Judith and aided by a magnificent voice, well modulated, clear and well balanced.
Phillip Lowe was Keith Potger. Well acted, very well sung and a delight to see. Mike McLeish was Bruce Woodley. Another fine portrayal by a very talented performer. Glaston Toft was Athol Guy who added to the skills of the group with his excellent performance.
The four interpreters of The Seekers gave outstanding performances, working well together with a great rapport and giving the opening night audience a touch of the magic of The Seekers. Their talent is amazing and one realises how they were cast for such roles.
The scenes captured the essence of Swinging London of the sixties with the ensemble keeping up the high standard set by the leads. 

 A very moving moment was the finale. The cast and leads took their final bows in the time honoured fashion and then they split in half forming a V along the side of the stage. The rear wall split in two and entered the original Seekers. An instant standing ovation with prolonged applause thanking the cast and leads for a wonderful evening and thanking The Seekers on their stage appearance. Then each performer joined the Seeker they were portraying and took the bows together. A very moving moment.   

 

Cats

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s

Regent Theatre

Sunday December 20. 2015 saw the opening night of Andrew Lloyd Webber’ Cats at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
An impressive set of a larger than life junkyard with occasional cars passing and a police car with sirens and lights full blast.
The cats came in from all directions with the performers on all fours weaving about like cats.
The show is from T. S. Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and an unpublished poem Grizabella The Glamour Cat. .
Costuming was magnificent with the cat outfits suiting the characters and the Asian costuming in The Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles.
The performances were of a high standard and the players not only used the stage but also the aisles of the theatre. One highlight was the duet from Old Deuteronomy and Jemima played by Jason Wasley and Stephanie Silcock. Beautiful strong and well trained voices and both had a great rapport.
A tap dancing sequence was remarkable and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The scenes from Macavity and Mr Mistoffelees were a standout adding to the enjoyment of the production.
Delta Goodrem was Grizabella giving a fine rendition of Memory. An enjoyable night except that from the dress circle the stage was rather dark as the shoe is set at night but was hard to make out the players and the various costumes.
But overall the crowd loved the show and gave it a standing ovation.

Jerry's Girls

The Production Company

Director: Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Matthew Frank
Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth

The Production Company’s final production for 2015 was Jerry’s Girls a show about the music of Jerry Herman.
The director, Dean Bryant decided on something different and as The Production Company is known for its accessibility for the general public and as such a short rehearsal time enabling the company to keep the ticket price low.
Dean looking at this decided to show the audience what goes on behind the scenes in producing a show for The Production Company.
The stage at the Playhouse was set as a rehearsal room with a piano on audience left chairs and tables centre stage.
Jerry’s Girls were the cream of Australia’s lady performers; such as Rhonda Burchmore, Nancye Hayes, Silvie Paladino, Christie Whelan Browne, Virginia Gay, Claire Lyon, Kirby Burgess, Chelsea Gibb, Debora Krizak, Josie Lane, Natalie O’Donnell and the only man, Brent Hill.
Brent was the director of the new production of Jerry’s Girls and the cast actually played themselves.
There were various interactions between cast members and also with the director. Then each showed their talents in singing and dancing to Jerry Herman’s songs.
A delightful number was Deborah Krizak as the ageing stripper in Take It All Off but dinging Put It Back On.
Rhonda Burchmore showed her comic side when Brett was looking for an older woman for a special role and Rhonda disappeared behind the other girls. Nancye Hayes showed her talent as a versatile artist in singing and dancing Two-a-Day and I Was Beautiful.
The whole production was the girls rehearsing, showing how a show is put together and the finale was something else. As there were only 11 women in the cast and as they said “Jeanne Pratt wants 12” so the twelfth was found and the director Brent Hill came to the fore.
A wonderful evening of theatre with the audience learning how a production is put together.

Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ben Paine & Caly DaleyBen Paine & Omar Moustata

MLOC Productions.

Director/Choreographer: Rhylee Howell
Musical Director: Matthew Hadgraft

MLOC Productions final show for 2015 was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.
Basic sets yet giving the feeling of the middle east and the story of the last seven days of the life of Jesus Christ.
A large cast making the stage very busy when all were on.
Jesus Christ was played by Ben Paine who caught the anguish of the persecuted Christ, having a pleasant and understandable clear voice. A good performance.
Carly Daley was Mary Magdalene, a lovely voice, worked well with Paine and projected well.
Omar Moustata was Judas Iscariot. Moustata has a very good stage appearance, a strong voice and good acing ability. Another strong performance was given by Tim Ryan as Pontius Pilate. Ryan also has good stage projection giving a good all round performance. 
A production well appreciated by the opening night audience but there were a few technical difficulties, One that your reviewer has noticed before and opening night is the spot lights do not always hit the face of the individual but rather from the chest down. A shame for such an enthusiastic company which is obviously appealing by the delight the performers take in their roles and the appreciation of their audiences.

 

Grease

. Nova Musical Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy
Choreographer: Wayne Robinson.

Nova Musical Theatre’s choice for the spring season was the well known musical Grease.
The show opened with the Principal Miss Lynch giving the audience instructions and treating them as if they were students of Rydell High. As Miss Lynch Anne Dewar gave the character the right degree of personality suited to the role. An amazing performance.
Danny, the leader of the T Birds and who had fallen for Sandy Dumbrowski was given a good interpretation by Leighton Irwin. Irwin and Ruby Voss as Sandy had a good rapport and stage presence.


Ruby Voss as Sandy captured the innocence of the new girl to Rydell High who was regarded as a good girl away from family control for the first time. Voss gave a good performance and very successful in the change of character by the end of the production
The not quite good girl and leader of the Pink Ladies was Betty Rizzo played by Hayley Piterman. Another great performer who caught the essence of such a character as envisaged.   
The scenes were well executed, timing spot on with no bad performances. In all a popular well produced show.

Jacka VC Legend of Gallipoli

.
Director: William Smith.

After making its debut at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre Jacka VC Legend of Gallipoli moved to the Capital Theatre Bendigo where the out of town audiences had a chance to see this new Australian Rock Musical about an Australian legend not remembered so much today.
William Smith picked up Michael Lawriwsky’s book Hard Jacka and could not put it down.
The result, Jacka VC Legend of Gallipoli, a new Rock Opera to appeal to all Australians both young and old about a legendary hero of the WWI    , Captain Albert Jacka VC. Captain Jacka VC was the first Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Great War.
William James Smith was not only the director he also wrote the script, composed the music, created the lyrics and played the role of Jacka. The music is a sheer delight; the lyrics and dialogue are straight from Michael Lawriwsky’s Hard Jacka. Not only is Smith a versatile creator as an actor/singer he gave a good strong performance enhanced by a positive stage presence.
The setting comprised of scaffolding across the rear of the stage with steps each side and scaffolding in the auditorium audience right. Various scenes were set by furniture and fittings brought in as required.
Andrew J. Lees was Captain Harold Wanliss. Lees caught the character as envisaged giving a good performance and has a great rapport with William Smith.
A versatile performance was given by Leonie Thomson who played Colonel Dare, a nurse, a barmaid and Mrs Campbell. A good interpretation of such varying characters. Susannah Gridley was Jean Campbell the young Scottish girl smitten by the young Australian officer Captain Harold Wanliss on a small holiday in Scotland. Gridley caught the character with aplomb and gave a beautiful Scottish accent. In fact in this scene set in a Scottish hotel the actors had such strong Scottish accents it was hard for a mere Australian captain to understand them.
Two characters found in every Australian army were ‘Sailor’ Day and ‘Nugget’ Vernon. These two were into all kinds of trouble from gambling to petty thievery but in the field of action pulled their weight. Anthony Julian was Private Thomas ‘Sailor’ Day and also played the Tank Commander.  A good performance giving the correct feel to such a character as ‘Sailor’.
Phillip Hunting was Private ‘Nugget’ Vernon. Hunting had the correct ambience for the not so bright ‘Nugget’ giving s fine a steady performance in the role.
Tarik Vann was Captain Edgar ‘Ted’ Rule. Another good portrayal of a man who was promoted through the ranks. Viktorija Fedorko played two roles as Private Delora and Private Geoffrey Veel. Fedorko presents well on stage and gave a good handling of both characters.
Chris Dziuba was Sergeant Anderson and General Gough. A well handled portrayal of both roles. Askin Ocal was Captain Steve De Araugo and General Godley. Ocal gave a good interpretation of such characters. Andrew McGrail, another versatile performer playing the Mayor, Pack, Host, and Dr. Laing. McGrail projects well and had as host a very strong Scottish accent.  Sergeant Alf ‘Lofty’ Williamson was given a professional handling by Scott Bailey.
A long evening with good contrasting music from the battle scenes to the romantic scenes n Scotland where the music suited such an atmosphere and was a strong contrast to the war scenes/ our reviewer did feel that the production although well appreciated by the audience, could be tightened a little.  A popularly received evening of Australian rock music about an Australian hero and should be taken up by more companies and bring Australia back to the young Australians who are not told enough about our own heroes. 

 

 


The Boy from Oz

Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Danny Forward.
Choreographer: Louisa Mitchell

Babirra Music theatre chose to open the spring season with The Boy from Oz, a musical based on the life of Peter Allen.
As the audience entered the theatre one saw on stage a piano outlined with LED lights plus stool similarly decorated. An all black surround thus setting the mood for the life of Peter Allen.
The sets were basic, changing by sliding in and out of the rear and flown in when required. But the major effect was the absolutely magnificent lighting. All tabs were lit op on the edges, strip lighting across the rear and the spot lighting from above and from the bio box. This cannot be underestimated. Regular lighting designer Jason Bovaird had just flown in from London and is on his way to Broadway to light up a Broadway show. This production shows how lucky Babirra was to obtain his services.
 His work complimented the show bringing it up to a high standard enhanced by the talented cast.
Opening in Armidale N.S.W. we see Peter as a small boy playing him piano and singing in a local pub. Peter was played by a very talented young lad Caleb Waterworth. A good performance by a very versatile young lad.
Peter the performer was played by Jonathan Guthrie-Jones. One cannot but just admire this talented young man. On stage for practically the whole performance Jonathon did not let up for a second. A good singing voice, a talented dancer, great stage presence and he caught the finer nuances of Peter Allen. An amazing and popular performance.
Melanie Ott was Lisa Minnelli, Good stage projection and a pleasant voice and worked well with Jonathon Guthrie-Jones. Lisa’s mother Judy Garland was played by Adrienne George who captured the role with aplomb. Primarily on stage for the first half and then unusual cameo performances for the second half..
Peter’s mother, Marion Woolnough was given a goof, moving interpretation by Gabrielle O’Brien. Greg Connell, Peter Allen’s partner was given a wonderful performance by Shaun Kingma. Not only good stage presence but an excellent voice to match.
Peter Allen’s backing trio was performed by Verity Brown as Linelle, Bianca Bruce as Karen and Nicole Kapiniaris as Shena. These three young ladies were on stage nearly all evening giving good performances which reminded somewhat of a Greek chorus.
The ensemble kept the high standard set by the main cast which was added to by the magnificent costuming the Rio scene just set the whole evening off.
Babirra put on a wonderful evening of theatre and one looks forward to their nect production.
  

 

The Drowsy Chaperone

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director: Alan Burrows.
Musical Director: Martine Wingrow.
Choreographer: Di Crough.

A story of a present day music theatre fanatic simply called the man in the chair. The play is set in his apartment where he plays his favourite musical theatre production The Drowsy Chaperone. As he plays the record the play comes to life and the cast appear in his apartment. This is also a play within a play as the man in the chair describes each character in the production and why they are playing their role.
CLOC came up with an amazing set design of such an apartment with furniture sliding in and out as required, the back scenes flown and slid backwards and forwards.
The man in the chair sat on audience left and acted as narrator as well as being involved. This role was played by Tony Burge who gave an outstanding, faultless and amazing performance.
The Drowsy Chaperone was Pam Christie Berkett who captured the essence of the twenties with an excellent portrayal as to why she was drowsy, always seen with a glass in her hand. The heroine of the story was an actress Janet van de Graaff who was o give up her stage career to marry Robert Martin. Janet was played by Michelle  Hunt who gave a stunning performance as the star who was to give up her stage career to marry the man she loved regardless of her manager’s opinion.
Robert Martin was played by Blair Salmon. Salmon caught the essence of the tall handsome hero type with ease and worked well with Janet van de Graaff.
Robert’s Best Man George was portrayed by Kinloch Anstis. Poor George had a terrible job tr4ying to keep the bride and groom apart until the ceremony and then arranging the wedding. Anstis handled the role with finesse capturing all the finer nuances of such a character.
The laugh of the evening was Adolpho, a ‘modest’ man and a ladykiller in his own mind. Tim Minturn was excellent in the role playing it for all he was worth and the poses were a sheer delight.
The manager, Feldzieg, was given a great interpretation by Ric Birkett, another good performance adding the high standard of the evening. Kitty, the dumb blonde trying to take Janet’s place was given a terrific performance by Maree Barnett who captured the character with a great sense of comedy.
The bride’s mother Mrs Tottendale was played with gusto and expertise by Beryl Frees, a great performer and has good audience appeal. Another highlight was Phil Lambert as the underling. A smooth butler taking everything in his stride without faltering and on occasion getting his own back was excellently interpreted.
The two gangsters albeit pastry cooks were given a perfect timing and amusing performance by Zachery Alaimo and Damien Calvert.  The aviatrix, Trix was portrayed by Julie Duke and by the end of the production her value to the story came to the fore. Drake gave a first class performance in the role and was well appreciated by the audience.
CLOC Musical Theatre kept up their high standard with the costuming, the sets and of course the production. Although the cast are not paid and it is non-professional theatre the production is equal to if not better than those musicals seen on the professional stage.  

Nice Work if you can get it.

The Production Company

Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: John Foreman
Choreographer: Dana Jolly

The Production Company’s second production for 2015 was the Australian premiere of Nice Work if you can get it. A musical that opened on Broadway in April 2012 and ran for 478 performances with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, Book by Joe Dipietro inspired by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton.
The Production Company brings theatre to the masses with a concert version of the musicals and the cast have only two weeks rehearsal. The result! Amazing, a full blown performance by some of Australia’s best known performers and the standard is far higher than one would expect.
The orchestra was set to the rear of the stage on a 45 degree slope and in front were the various set changes as required. This worked exceedingly well with the cast assisting moving the various scenes very smoothly and hardly noticeable.
Set in July 1927 at Long Island New York in the era of Prohibition the story revolves around Jimmy Winter the young useless son who lives on a good allowance while enjoying life, his fiancée Eileen Evergreen, the daughter of Senator Max Evergreen and Billie Bendix, the feisty but beautiful bootlegger.
Rohan Browne was Jimmy Winter, a wonderful performer, a talented song and dance man and gave a stirling performance in the role. Billie Bendix was played by Esther Hannaford also giving an amazing performance from dressed as a boy to a lovely young lady and with Rohan having a great rapport which projected to the audience.
Jimmy’s fiancée Eileen Evergreen was played by Rohan Browne’s wife, Christie Whelan –Browne. Eileen was the self-proclaimed finest interpreter of modern dance n the world. And what a performance added by a wonderful voice. One unforgettable scene was Eileen in the bath singing Delishious then all the chorus girls appeared in twos from out of the bath. An hysterical moment and greatly enjoyed by the audience.
Estonia Dulworth, the Duchess of Woodford was given an outstanding performance by Gina Riley. The butler, Cookie McGee was given a great comic performance by George Kapiniaris. Senator Max Evergreen, the Senator who stood for Prohibition not noticing the hip flask, was given a strong and typical of the role by John Wood.
The police chief was portrayed by Tony Farrell who caught the essence of such a character, has good stage presence and suited the role perfectly.
The company were spot on in the timing and were of a high standard particularly given such a short rehearsal time.
A great evening theatre again from The Production Company and one cannot wait for the next production Jerry’s Girls in November.

 

West Side Story

The Production  Company

Director: Gale Edwards
Musical Director: Guy Simpson
Choreographer: Michael Ralph.

The Production Company’s opening season for 2015 was West Side Story a musical set in the slums of New York’s upper West Side and adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.
Set between the gangs of the area, the Americans the Jets and the Puerto Ricans the Sharks.
The Production Company always produces a concert version and brings theatre to a low price which attracts many people who would not normally attend theatre.
The opening night of West Side Story certainly proved this. Melbourne’s State Theatre was absolutely packed.
The stage was set with the orchestra on audience right with the action centre and audience left. Forming a V was two cyclone wire fences with gates for entries and exits.
The dancing was absolutely superb, perfect timing, the dancers enjoying themselves and wonderful choreography.
The duet between Tony and Maria was a sheer delight. Tony was performed by Gareth Keegan is a great performer, good stage presence, well projected and a wonderful voice. He had a positive rapport with Anna O’Byrne as Maria.
O’Byrne has amazing experience for one looking so young. She has appeared and is based in London, and has appeared t the Bolshoi Theatre Russia. Needless to say when one views her performance in West Side Story one can see why.
A lovely and moving performance with a great rapport between herself and Keegan. Good stage presence and a performance which enhanced the production.
Equally good performances were from Deone Zanotto as Anita, Adam Fiorentino as Bernardo and Sean Mulligan as Riff.  
A magnificent production which finalised with the Melbourne first night audience giving it a standing ovation.

Photography - Peter Kemp & Geoff Busby

 

The Merry Widow from Bluegum Creek

Diamond Valley Singers & Eltham Orchestra

Director: Lynette Counsel
Assistant Director” Graham Ford
Musical Director” Ian Lowe
Conductor: Marie-Louise Wright.

A variation of the original story inasmuch the story is set in the Australian Embassy in Paris in 1901.
This was the year that Australian colonies became the Commonwealth of Australia.
The widow who has inherited a sheep station and properties across Australia is on her way to Paris looking for a new husband. The Prime Minister sends a note to the Ambassador ‘she must marry an Australian or you are all out of a job,’
From here the story basically follows the original plot. The language spoken in the Embassy is colloquial Australian that the French interpreter has trouble understanding. In fact your reviewer wonders if some of the modern day generation would understand it.
A well set stage with three scene stages for the three acts. Smoothly changed and suited the period.
Gerald Fullarton was the Australian Ambassador Sir Zacharia Wentworth. A fun performance brilliantly executed with a good stage presence and voice to match. Sir Zacharia had two things which to him were most important, the ubiquitous chook raffle and the design for the new Australian flag.  
His wife Lady Valerie Wentworth was played by Sabrina Surace. A good performer who had an affair with Viscount Camille De Rosillon. Sabrina carried the role well with a comic touch trying to avoid her husband and a pleasing voice to match.
The merry widow Mrs Anna Gladstone was portrayed by Teresa Ingrilli. A wonderful performer and a superb singer a great balance to Andrew Lees who played Danny MacQuarie the Embassy assistant attaché. Andrew and Teresa had a great rapport and their duets left the audience gasping with the quality of their voices.
Some other outstanding performances were from Michael Try as Michelin the only French employee in the Embassy. Michael had a full time job handling these uncouth Australians and trying to understand Australiese as he only spoke English, a great interpretation of the role.
Gary Short as the Marquis de Cascada and Gary O’Dwyer as Monsieur de St. Brioche gave outstanding comic performances in their efforts to seduce Mrs Anna Gladstone.
The Dancing Girls, Bianca Majchrzak, Jess Cook, Megan Metcalfe and Tessie Huisbosch added to the delight of the evening particularly with their rendition of the Can Can.
A great night of theatre and a show not to be missed.

 

Spamalot

MLOC

Director: Jane Court
Musical Director: Ian Nisbet
Choreographer: Keir Jasper,

MLOC opened the 2015 season with a musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes the musical Spamalot.
A well set stage of a castle at rear and with the use of the fly tower various sets were flown in and oft as required.
A light-hearted musical comedy very well done with a high standard cast helping the production to flow smoothly. King Arthur was well played by Sam Marzden who has a great stage presence which enhanced his role. His frustration was well done when confronted by people who questioned his position as king and claimed they never heard of him.
The Lady of the Lake was Lisa Nightingale. A wonderful performance with a lovely voice to match. A good scene was in Act 2 singing the Diva’s Lament where she wanted to know what happened to her part. Excellently done both with the singing and the comic acting so necessary to this role.
The man to feel sorry for in the story is the King’s offsider Patsy. He carries the King’s luggage and claps coconut shells to resemble hoof beats. Nick Rouse caught the essence of Patsy with aplomb and gave a wonderful portrayal.
Sir Dennis Galahad the Knight of the Round Table who at the end was not quite what one expected was performed by Ben Moody who carried the role comfortably and projects well.
Sir Lancelot was played by Matt Bearup. Another well balanced performance and he had a good rapport with the company
A good smooth performance with the chorus and dancers not missing a beat and adding to the high standard of the production.

 

Anthing Goes

The Princess Theatre

Director: Dean Bryant
Music Director: Peter Carey
Choreography: Andrew Hallsworth

The Australian premiere of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes opened in Melbourne on May 31.
Dating back to the thirties Anything Goes still draws the crowd and although ships are no longer used to travel from A to B thanks to modern day cruises the audience still relates to such a show.
Melbourne audiences filled the Princess Theatre on opening night and there was no disappointment on such a magnificent production
In the first act the tap dancing scene left everyone spellbound. The skill and energy of the dancers were only equalled by their absolute in performing such a production.
The stage was set on board the SS America with the fore desk where all the action was taking and the orchestra was on the upper deck to the rear.
Different scenes were flown in and out as required.
Reno Sweeney was portrayed by Caroline O’Connor who returned to Australia from London especially to partake in this production. Caroline lived up to here reputation and gave an outstanding and energetic performance, as an actor, a singer and a dancer.
Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was played by Todd McKenney. One of Australia’s well known dancer, singer and performer. An amazing performance living up to his reputation and well appreciated by the audience.
The young couple of the story Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt were played by Alex Rathbeger and Claire Lyon.
Alex a young Australian performer showed his amazing talent and rapport with Claire. He has a great stage presence, a remarkable dancer and to top it off a wonderful singing voice. He captured the role of the young man falling in love with another man’s fiancée and did anything he could to win hr love.
Hope Harcourt, Billy’s intended was portrayed by Claire Lyon. A remarkable young lady. In a recent interview with your correspondent she said that she started with Opera Australia but also had dance and tap training prior. She loved the role and is definitely a young lady with a great future. She presents well, a skilful actor, and with opera training a voice to be reckoned with.
The cast were some of Australia’s best known artists such as Wayne Scott Kermond, Deborah Krizak, Carmen Duncan, Bartholomew John and Gerry Connolly.
A multi skilled ensemble added to the standard of the evening and Anything Goes opening was a great success with a standing ovation on opening night.

 

The King & I

Mgan Coe & Ju-Han Soon


Director: Alan Burrows
Musical Director: Ben Hudson
Choreographer: Di Crough.

Babirra Music Theatre chose Rodger & Hammerstein’s The King & I to open the 2015 season.
An amazing production and certainly a visual feast from the sets, costuming, cast and overall brilliance.
Appearing as Anna Leonowens the teacher the King of Siam contracted to each his children was Megan Coe. Coe gave a brilliant performance. A lovely voice, great stage presence and worked well with her co-star and all the children on stage.
The King of Siam was portrayed by Ju-Han Soon.  Soon caught the correct feel of the king and has a good stage presentation, a good rapport with Megan Coe topped off by a good voice and a spectacular performance.
The two young lovers, Tuptim and Lan Cha were played by Janneke Ferwerda and Raphael Wong.
They had a great rapport and Wong has a brilliant voice in fact your correspondent feels possibly the best voice in the production. 
The chief wife and mother to the heir of the throne, Lady Thiang was played by Josephine Grech.  A lovely performer, a good stage presence with a voice to suit her performance.
The heir to the throne, Prince Chulalongkord was performed by George Missailaidis.
Missailaidis, a young man and considering his remarkable performance has a great theatrical future ahead. Anna’s son Louis was played by Luc Borgemann who projects well and gave a pleasing performance.
The Kralahome was portrayed by David Dodd who caught the character of the King’s Prime Minister with professionalism. As the Kralahome he was not happy about having Anna as teacher to the King’s children fearing her western influences would counter the authority of the King.
A wonderful production with a great moment with the play within the play The Small House of Uncle Thomas. A Siamese variation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Remarkably well done from the acting to the dance routines and the singing.
Babirra Music Theatre opened 2015 with a popular and well cone evening of theatre.

 

Ned the Musical

Ulumbarra Theatre

Director: Gary Young
Musical Director: Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer

Friday May 22, 2015 saw the world premiere of Ned the Musical at Australia’s newest theatre the Ulumbarra in the regional town of Bendigo.
A magnificent theatre built in the old Sandhurst gaol and seating for 933 persons. To enter one works past some of the old cells two of which are now the ticket box. While buying tickets you look up and find that you are standing under the old gallows.
Moving down the corridor to the foyer and then into the theatre. Very impressive particularly in size yet the stage can be seen from all angles.  A most suitable setting for the story of one of Australia’s most notorious outlaws. Was he a villain or was he a folk hero?
The production opens with Ned being prepared for his execution with a backdrop of Ned’s desk mask which during the production is on display in the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Then the story moves back to Ned’s childhood where his father is arrested for horse stealing. Ned’s mother is left to raise the family singlehanded. A local trooper comes in and tries to get fresh with Kate Kelly and is attacked by her mother Ellen. Ellen is arrested and sentenced to three years gaol. Ned and his brother Dan and their friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne make for the hills and become the Kelly gang.
Ellen was portrayed by Penny Larkins who caught the essence of the mother who defending her family finished up in gaol.
Edward (Ned) Kelly was played by Nelson Gardner. A wonderful performance giving the correct feel as expected to one of Australia’s best known historical figure. The Kelly Gang Dan, Joe and Steve were played by Robert Tripolino, Connor Crawford and Brent Trotter. All three have great stage presence, projecting well and having a good rapport with each other.
The villain of the piece Constable Fitzpatrick was played by Nick Simpson-Deeks.
A good performance capturing the evil of such a character particularly in convincing his Superintendent that he was blameless while the Kelly family was at fault.
The play also concentrated on the women in Ned’s life. His mother Ellen and his sisters Maggie and Kate. Maggie was played by Alana Tranter and Kate was played by Hannah Fredericksen. Alana and Hannah gave great performances really giving the feeling of what the woman of the 19th century had to suffer for their menfolk.
An amazing production a well set stage giving the real feel of the Australian bush and life of the period. Excellent costuming and a wonderful evening of theatre.
A full house with many of the audience not only from Bendigo but form Melbourne and interstate.
The Ulumbarra Theatre lived up to all expectations and although about two to three hours drive from Melbourne definitely worth making the trip.    

 

Mary Poppins

CLOC Music Theatre.

Director/Set designer: Chris White
Co-Director/Chorographer: Lynette White
Musical Director: Danny Forward.

 CLOC Music Theatre’s choice of production to open the 2015 season was Mary Poppins. And in the words of Mary herself it was “practically perfect”.
An amazing production with a toss up which was better, the performers or the technical performance.
Opening was Bert the chimney sweep and Mary’s friend. Bert acted as narrator and friend to Michael and Jane. Robbie Smith was Bert. A well done performance. Robbie not only did some great dance routines including tap but kept the stage Cockney accent throughout.
‘Mary Poppins was performed by Rosa McCarty. A superb performance having a great rapport with the two children and no hesitation in the flying scenes where on several times the audience saw her fly across the stage with never a falter
Rosa handled her role with the aplomb expected of Mary Poppins taking every thing so calmly.
 The old adage ‘don’t work with kids or animals’ certainly in this production one could see why.
On Saturday May 15 Michael was played by Caleb Waterworth and Jane was played by Alexandra Donovan. An amazing pair and with talent like these two the future of theatre is assured. A great pair of actors, driving away Nannies they did not like to behaving themselves for Mary Poppins. Their dance scenes were unbelievable, in the group dancing with the whole ensemble they more than kept their own plus their singing was out of the box.
Mr Banks, the initially rather gruffy father, was played by Lee Threadgold. Lee has good stage presentation, a strong personality working well with Kristen Beayani as Mrs Banks. His character ranged from the strong no-nonsense father for whom work came first to a loving Dad who finally put his family first. A great performance.
Kristen Beayani as Mrs Banks had her work cut out for her, trying to keep peace in the family, trying to find a good Nanny and trying to entertain her husband’s friends. Kristen handled the role with professionalism, projecting well and capturing all the finer nuances of such a character. 
A rather poignant moment was Beryle Frees as the bird woman singing “Feed the Birds only tuppence a bag.” A wonderful moment and a very moving performance.
A small scene but very effective was the new nanny Miss Andrew. The effect on the family was absolutely amazing, especially Mr Banks. Carolyn Waddell captured such a character with finesse and added to the delight of the show.
A magnificent production and space does not allow all that should be said about this CLOC Production of Mary Poppins.

 

Evita

Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne

Nova Music Theatre’s choice of productions for 2015 was Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Evita.
A well set stage of a two story rear with a flight of stairs on each side which was used to the full.
Unfortunately in the first half of the show was disappointing with the orchestra not accompanying the singers but seemingly competing with the singers. The result was that the audience could not understand the words being sung.
The second half improved with the orchestra actually accompanying the singers.
Otherwise a very good production highlighting the main portions of the life of Eva Perȯn. Amy Larsen captured the essence of Eva from the age of six years and the life of Argentina’s most popular lady. A wonderful performance. A dominating performance was that of the narrator Che Guevara played by Will Sayers.
Sayers as narrator wandered cross the stage casually dressed no matter what the occasion was in the life of Eva. A good portrayal.
Juan Perȯn was played by Zachery Brown. Brown has a good stage presence, projecting well and had a good rapport with Amy Larsen.
The dancers were well drilled and overall the performers were of a high standard.
There was a good appreciation from the audience to the quality of voice from the artists.
Now the orchestra had  been adjusted the production was well worth seeing

 

Dirty Dancing

Princess Theatre
March 4 2015 saw Dirty Dancing open its Melbourne season at The Princess Theatre.
A wonderful evening of entertainment and a must for lovers of dance. An highly energetic and spectacular show.
A story that revolves around 17 year old Frances  ”Baby” Houseman about to learn some major issues in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.
Set in New York’s Catskills Mountains at a resort where everything is organised for the guests which bores Baby.
The sets were basic but something that you correspondent has seen three times in the last month were film clips. The resort and the Catskills were shown through film projections on the rear of the stage, such as the lake, view of the resort and most effective and dramatic were the image of a field of long grass which took over the whole stage with Johnny Castle and Baby dancing through. We saw their heads and upper body then they fell and disappeared from site into the long grass. The scene then changes to the lake with the same effect except when they fell into the water the sound effect was such that one really thought that they had fallen under.
Johnny Castle was performed by Kurt Phelan. An amazing and outstanding performance of the resort dance instructor. His dancing was like one inspired, remarkable, energetic and wonderful to watch.
Frances “Baby” Houseman was played by Kirby Burgess. A good stage presence, dancing excellent and her scenes with Phelan were a sheer delight not to say what a wonderful rapport between the two.
An outstanding dancer was Maddie Peat; her splits were unbelievable plus being a good actor. Classic trained singer Mark Vincent made his musical theatre debut as Billy Kostecki, Johnny’s cousin. A good performance and when he sang the audience was silenced.
No poor performances from the large cast and overall a simple storyline with the emphasis on the dance resulting in Melbourne’s opening night a standing ovation. Not often seen on opening nights in Melbourne.

Strictly Ballroom


Director: Baz Luhrmann

Strictly Ballroom had its official Melbourne opening night on January 17, 2015.
Adapted for the stage by Baz Luhrmann from his successful film of the same name and after a year in Sydney it has now arrived in Melbourne to a tumultuous reception.
A wonderful piece of musical theatre with all the elements necessary with the young couple, the good guys and the evil villain types put together with great music and magnificent dancing the production could not go wrong and it didn’t.
A story about the Pan Pacific dance competitions where the judge and some of the ballroom managers do not like change and everyone must dance to lay down routines. But young Scott, much to his mother’s disgust wants to dance his own steps. As Scott Hastings the rebellious dancer Thomas Lacey was the ideal choice. A brilliant exponent of the art of the dance from classic ballroom to Spanish dancing to you name it. As well as being a consummate actor is also a very pleasant singer.
His new partner Fran was danced and performed by Phoebe Panaretos. Phoebe is also a good actor and singer added by her wonderful dance ability and the two had a great rapport which was well appreciated by the audience.
The costuming was excellent, bright colours and well suited for all the varying scenes.
Good sets, smoothly changing from a ballroom studio to an RSL hall to a milkbar and rear of same.
As Scott’s ineffective shy father, Doug Hastings, Drew Forsythe caught the character as envisaged but he surprised all at the end of the show. His wife, Shirley, who thought he was a dead loss was given a great interpretation by Heather Mitchell who captured the finer nuances of the mother who wanted to see her son win the Pan Pacific championship her way with no consideration for Scott’s feelings.
Another great performance was given by Fernando Mira as Rico, Fran’s father. Fernando is an internationally famed Spanish dancer born in Melbourne of Spanish parents. The scene at the back of Rico’s milkbar was a touch of Spain with guitarists and the company having a great party with Rico teaching Scott the elements of Spanish dancing. An amazing scene with the audience clapping in time to them music.
The master of the Pan Pacific dance competition was Barry Fife a man who would brook no change in established dance techniques. Robert Grubb really captured the essence of such a character. Robert has a terrific stage appearance giving a superb performance as the villain of the piece.
After an amazing finale members of the audience were brought on stage by some of the dancers where they joined in the final number.
Strictly Ballroom an amazing musical and should not be missed.

 

Grease

Gretel Scarlett - Rob Miills

Regent Theatre

Director: David Gilmore
Resident Director/Choreographer: Natalie Gilhome
Musical Staging and Choreography: Arlene Phillips


Thursday December 11 saw the return of Grease to Melbourne playing at Melbourne’s magnificent Regent Theatre.
An outstanding production opening with plenty of audience participation. Miss Lynch the head of Rydell High School came on stage with a blackboard on which the words to a song were printed. Members of the cast were distributed throughout the audience and we all had to sing along with the usual cracks about misbehaving. This warmed up the audience who then enjoyed the production.
An amazing and energetic cast who were absolutely superb.
The audience were treated to individual spots from four of Australia’s stage and TV Royalty with Bert Newton as Vince Fontaine, Val Lehman as Miss Lynch, Tod McKenney as Teen Angel and John Paul Young as Johnny Cosino.
Rob Mills was Danny, the hero of the story, a young man who fell in love with an Australian girl at Rydell High. Rod gave an excellent portrayal of the character that big noted himself to his gang but was quite different with his new girl Sandy.
Sandy was played by Gretel Scarlett. Another wonderful performer with a lovely voice and in her solos you could have heard a pin drop. Gretel and Rob were the perfect couple having a great rapport and really giving the audience the authenticity of their characters.
The scenes were well set with smooth flowing between changes from the bleachers, the gym, the bedroom and an amazing change of car from a beat up old wreck to a classy shiny car that a teenager of the fifties would dream of.
Tod McKenney managed to sneak in a little from The Boy from Oz and John Paul Young got a couple of lines in from Love is in the Air.
The scene at the pyjama party when Sandy agrees to have her ear pierced was very good and the prom showed the talent of the cast with the dance contest.
One fault that your reviewer found is the sound in the first half was way too loud. The seats were actually vibrating and so was the human body. When a soprano hit a top note the voice was distorted because the sound men had the volume too high.
Overall the production was a great hit and opening night audience gave it a standing ovation which in Melbourne a sow has to be good to receive that.

 

Les Miserables

Her Majesty’s Theatre
Director: Laurence Connor & James Powell
Musical Director/Conductor: Geoffrey Castles

Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the venue for Australia’s production of Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary of Les Miserables.
This show has become the longest running musical in the world and with fiction turning to fact with the recent revolution on Ukraine where there were barricades in Kiev the students were singing The People’s Song and in the Hong Kong revolution at the barricades was a young 11 year old becoming a mascot for the revolution with her rendition of The People’s Song

The Melbourne production was absolutely outstanding. Opening with convicts chained to oars of a galley with a projection of the galley projected to the rear of the stage. This was very effective and set the mood for the evening.
The set was amazing, a combination of three storied buildings on each side of the stage, sets on tracks smoothly moved in and out and projections of Parisian street scenes taken from Victor Hugo’s own paintings which really gave a life feel to the performance
The standard of acting and singing could not be faulted although your correspondent did feel that the sound engineers could have tuned the volume down a little.
Simon Gleeson stole the evening with his portrayal of Jean Valjean. A polished actor and a wonderful voice and handled the ageing years with aplomb.
Javert was portrayed by Hayden Tee. Hayden captured the obsession of Javert who could only see right from wrong and although Jean Valjean was doing great things in the community Javert only was interested in the fact he was an absconder from his bail. A great performance and a good voice.
Emily Langridge was Cosette, a good performer capturing the essence of the innocent character. Chris Durling was the student Enjolas. Chris has good stage projection and gave a high standard performance.
Cosette’s fiancé Marius was performed by Euan Doidge. Euan also gave a good performance adding to the high standard of the production.
The comic section although in parts very sad were the landlord Thenardiér and his spouse Madame Thenardiér played by Trevor Ashley and Lara Mulcahy. A great comic performance with obsequious when trying to obtain money for little Cosette. Two wonderful performers with great stage presences and very popular with the audience.
Eponine was performed by Kerrie Anne Greenland giving a positive portrayal of the girl in love with Marius who just regarded her as a friend.
A positive theatre asset to Melbourne and the Australian audiences showed by the attendances.

Cats

Nova Music Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy

Nova Music Theatre’s choice of production for the October season was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats which is based on T. S. Elliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
A stage set in a churchyard which gave the feeling of a home for feral cats. Nova set designer and construction crew did an excellent job of achieving the correct atmosphere.
A large cast full of energy and talent. Costuming was superb and the actors racing around on all fours including at interval in the foyer and the audience really gave the impression of cats around the theatre.
Old Deuteronomy was given a great portrayal by John Leahy. Beside a good clear voice his acting and stage presentation was excellent. Grizabella, the old cat chosen to go to the Heaviside layer to be revitalised, was played by Lauren Page. Another great performance with the singing of Memories not to be forgotten.
The featured cats all lived up to the expectations of the audience and the ensemble lived up to all expectations.
A smooth flowing production and very professional and your correspondent has been amazed by the improvement of Nova Music Theatre in the last few years.

Crazy for You

Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Tyler Hess
Musical Director: Danny Forward
Choreographer: Craig Wiltshire.

Babirra’s choice for the October season was the Gershwin musical Crazy for You.
Set in New York and Deadrock Nevada. The New York setting was in the Zangler Theatre and in Deadrock in the town square and in the Deadrock Theatre. 
The story revolves around Bobby Child a song and dance man trying to make it into show business much to the disgust of his mother who wants him to work in the family bank. So his mother sends him to Deadrock to foreclose on the old theatre.
When in Deadrock Bobby meets with Polly Baker falls in love then finds that it is her and her father’s theatre he is supposed to foreclose.
The production was absolutely amazing, the costuming was superb in the New York scenes one could imagine oneself in the Folies Bergères and the contrast between the cowboys and the Zangler girls is something to remember.
The Deadrock set was represented by two giant western type hotel batwing doors. Upon opening same the audience was taken into Deadrock showing the hotel and the theatre.
Bobby Child was played by Jonathon Guthrie-Jones. A superb performance by a young performer who only improves each time he appears on stage. A good voice, fantastic energy and excellent dancing.
Polly Baker was played by Kristen Beayni who well balanced Jonathon and also giving a great and talented performance. Garry Barcham was the impresario Bela Zangler. Another good performer and one of the great scenes in the play was when Bobby disguised as Zangler meets up with the real Zangler in Deadrock. They were sitting on opposite sides of a small table and duplicated each other’s moves. The timing was spot on and it was hard to tell them apart. This scene nearly brought the house down.
Prior to interval was the tap dancing sequence with I Got Rhythm. All the girls and Bobby gave an excellent and highly energetic number which was enjoyed by all.
Act II set primarily in Deadrock was another highly entertaining sequence with terrific dance numbers, spot on timing and congratulations must be given to Craig Wiltshire the choreographer.
Overall a first class professional production and unfortunately space limits the reviews of so many of such a talented cast.

 

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director/Choreographer: James Rooney
Musical Director: Andy McCalman

2014 being CLOC’S 50th year the company decided to open the year with a classical musical 42nd Street. Then to complete the anniversary year to produce a modern, something new exciting and comic musical and the choice was Legally Blonde.
A story of a blonde graduate whose boyfriend was going onto Harvard Law School and did not feel she was the right choice for his new career.
To prove him wrong she decided to enter the Harvard Law School and show him she was not the dizzy blonde he thought she was.
CLOC Musical Theatre is to be congratulated on their set, casting, musical direction and a great smooth running musical.
Opening scene was a two storied set with members of Delta Nu Sorority celebrating the news that Warner Huntington III is to propose to their fellow member Elle Woods. Alas that is not quite what happened.
A great scene with professional dancing, good choreography and wonderful voices.
 A well acted intimate scene between Warner and Elle. Warner was played by Matthew Clayton who captured the essence of the character with flair.
Elle Woods was expertly and magnificently portrayed by Melanie Ott. Ott showed the transition from dizzy blonde to leading law student and from listening to every one else’s advice to becoming her own person with expertise and professionalism.
Her saviour at Harvard was Josh Gavin, a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who succeeded by sheer hard work. Josh was played by Emmett Forrest who gave a great understanding of Elle’s problems and also the change in himself from a hippy type to a suave lawyer. A good and smooth performance and a great balance to Melanie Ott.
Some good scenes were in the beauty parlour where her new hairdresser Paulette befriends her. Paulette was played by Sarah Watson who gave a good performance as the hairdresser who was a friend and also rather man hungry. When a certain delivery man entered the scenes has the audience in fits.
Amelia Rope was Vivienne Kensington Warner’s new girl who acted very badly toward Elle but did change her attitude later. Rope has a good stage presence and gave the role called for.
Professor Callahan who supported Elle’s application for admission to Harvard Law School and supported her but! Jan Sebastian caught the essence of such a character, projecting well and giving a good portrayal.
 CLOC and company gave a great evening of professional and amusing entertainment and finished the 50th anniversary year with two high and professional standard projections.
The first production for 3025 is Mary Poppins.

Show Boat

The Production Company

Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson
Choreographer: Dana Jolly

Show Boat The Production Company’s second production for 2014 was staged as a scaled down and concert version at the State Theatre Melbourne.
The orchestra was situated on stage on audience left and the action of the story was on audience right.
Stage rear was a raised platform in front of a screen on which the show boat Cotton Blossom was projected in silhouette. This was very successful in giving the feeling of the place and suiting the ideals of The Production Company.
Unique when it was first produced bringing African Americans to the stage and dealing with racial issues, gambling and wife desertion rather challenging for the time.
Today these concepts are officially non-existent but underneath today’s audiences can identify with same.
Highlights were of course Old Man River magnificently sung by Eddie Muliaumaseali’i. His performance nearly stopped the show.
Philip Gould was Captain Andy Hawks. Philip captured the character with finesse and had a great rapport with Judith Roberts as his wife Parthy Ann Hawks. Judith carried the role with expertise which is nothing like Judith in real life.  A dominating strict wife and mother not wanting her daughter to enter the show and not to marry the gambler.
Their daughter Magnolia Hawks was played by Alinta Chidzey and one unforgettable scene was her duet Only Make Believe with the handsome gambler Gaylord Ravenal.
Ravenal was played by Gareth Keegan who gave a good interpretation of the man who loved Magnolia and their daughter but could not face up to the responsibilities of married life and fatherhood.
Another good performer was Christina O’Neill as Julia Laverne the girl of mixed blood who was not welcome in Missouri.
A high standard production living up to the ideals of The Production Company.

 

The Phantom of the Opera

Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Neil Goodwin
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Di Crough.

Babirra Music Theatre’s 2014 opening production was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
An amazing production in which Babirra excelled itself.
The opening scene was the auction of the pieces from the now defunct Opera Populaire. Here we meet the now very elderly Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny bidding for mementos of the theatre’s past.
A well set scene with the performers projecting well and really giving the feeling of the moment.
Then the scene changed back to when the Opera Populaire was in its highlight. A rehearsal for the opera Hannibal. The audience broke into applause at the scene. Costuming of the Roman soldiers and the dancing girls was absolutely magnificent and the choreography together with the high standard of dancing was amazing.
Paul Batey was the Phantom. A great voice which was heard first before he appeared. Batey gave a great and professional performance with excellent stage projection and a good rapport with Georgia Wilson (Christine Daaé)
Georgia Wilson as Christine Daaé also gave an excellent performance. Her acting was spot on and her voice delighted the opening night audience. Wilson worked well with both Batey and Andrew Baker. (Raoul, Vicomte du Chagny)
Andrew Baker as Raoul, Christine’s old childhood friend and now her fiancé plus being patron of the opera gave a wonderful portrayal in the roles. A good clear voice, good stage projection and well appreciated by the audience.
Carlotta Giudicelli, the star of the Opera was given a great performance by Nikol McKail. She really caught the character of the prima donna who was threatened by the Phantom. Her acting performance was superb and enhanced by a lovely voice.
Carlotta’s partner in Hannibal was Ubaldo Piangi the Italian singer who was played by Shanul Sharma. Another great performance capturing the essence of the role as envisaged.
Madame Giry the ballet mistress was given a distinctive and great performance by Sarah Pascall. Projecting well Pascall has good stage appearance and also captured the role with ease.
The two new owners of the Opera House were Monsieur’s Richard Firmin and Giles André. Brett O’Meara and Cameron Waters were the two characters who did not believe in Phantoms until it was brought home to them rather dramatically. Both men gave good performances as the characters.
The whole cast were professional and mot a weak spot in the evening.
Babirra gave its audiences a new concept of Babirra and is now a company to really add to your diaries not to be missed
.

42nd Street

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director: Alan Burrowes
Musical Director: Bev Woodford
Choreographer: Susan Lewis.

2014 is CLOC’s 50th year and 100th performance so to celebrate such an occasion the company looked through the records and found that 42nd Street a show about putting on a show was one of the most successful shows in the company’s history with both cast and audiences.
So CLOC invited back Alan Burrowes and Susan Lewis, director and choreographer of the 1996 who have restaged a new version of this spectacular hit.
And what a hit!
The production opened with several players on each side of the theatre calling out that Julian Marsh is putting on a show, they run backstage and the curtain opens to an audition for the new musical Pretty Lady.
What a magnificent moment in CLOC Theatre productions. A tap dancing sequence with perfect timing and spectacular presentation. A newcomer to Broadway and show business was Peggy Sawyer who arrived late for the audition and then upset the director who kicked her out. Never fear in American show business there is always a happy ending. For the role of Peggy CLOC chose a very talented performer Melanie Ott. Melanie gave a fantastic performance in the role, a wonderful actress, great stage presentation and tap dancing one dreams of.
The star, Dorothy Brock, of Pretty Lady who was a former star and got this role because her current boyfriend a millionaire was financing the production. Dorothy was played by Pam Christie Birkett. A well cone performance capturing the essence of such a role and really giving the character the feel that was envisaged by the writers.
Julian March the director of Pretty Lady was played by Pam’s husband, Ric Birkett. Another great performer adding to the high standard of the evening was Tim Cant as  Billie Lawlor the show’s romantic lead. Billie felt for Peggy and Tim captured this role perfectly not only a good actor but a highly talented dancer.
A spectacular production and unfortunately space limits your correspondent’s wish to include more in an individual review. All the cast deserved an individual write up but such a large cast it is not possible. But CLOC can be proud of the evening and a really successful production to open the 50th year.  

The Pirates of Penzance

The Production Company

Director: Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Mathew Frank
Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth. 

Hamer Hall was the venue for The Production Company’s final production for 2013.
A concert version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s popular The Pirates of Penzance.
An amusing and delightful production thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.
The orchestra, dressed in period costume, were in centre rear stage with the performers in front of and around them. The pirate ship was represented by different portions carried on by the cast and holding in place. Very successful, The Pirate King was played by Adam Murphy who caught the essence of the character giving a wonderful portrayal, Frederic the pirate apprentice just out of his indentures (or so he thought) was played by Gareth Keegan. A great interpretation including dramatic muscleman type poses to enhance his physique. His future affianced Mabel was played by Claire Lyon. A sweet yet determined character who understood Frederic’s devotion to duty and in view of a certain paradox was prepared to wait till 1940 for his indentures to expire. Lyon captured the correct feel for the role and had a good rapport with Keegan
The delight of the evening was Frederic’s old nurse Ruth. Ruth got her directions mixed and instead of apprenticing .Frederic to a Pilot she apprenticed him to Pirate.
Genevieve Lemon was Ruth and what a performance. Lemon has a great comique sense which came to the fore in her performance. The outfits she had were extraordinary especially the wigs. She definitely stole the evening. But there was a little competition for the humorous side with Brent Hill as Major General Stanley. Hill gave a fantastic fun portrayal capturing the character with ease and giving the audience a enjoyable exhibition of comedy.
Another highlight were the policemen, they were dressed rather unusually. Older Australians would recognise the top half of the costumes which dated back to the 19th century and were commonly known as Jacky Howie singlets. That combined with blue shorts and bobby helmets added to the pleasure of the evening. They marched in a style of half a crouch reminding one of a line of gorillas but the cowardice when meeting the pirates out a lie to their appearance.
A terrific evening of theatre and a good finish to The Production Company’s 2013 season.

 

Guys & Dolls

Kelly Windle & Jon SebastianThe Hot Box GirlsSarah Watson& Scott Hili

CLOC Musical Theatre
Co-Director & Set Designer: Chris White
Co-Director & Choreographer: Lynette White.

CLOC Musical Theatre’s October production was a musical fable of Broadway based on the characters of Damon Runyon Guys & Dolls.
The venue, The National Theatre was exceedingly well set with scenes from Broadway, the Save A Soul Mission both internal and external, the café scene in Cuba and the sewer scene under Broadway and not forgetting the Hot Box Club.
The production wraps around the stories of four characters, Sarah Brown the mission girl, the gambler Sky Masterson, the floating crap game organiser Nathan Detroit and his fiancé of 14 years Adelaide Adams. Sarah was played by Kelly Windle who captured the essence of the sweet young girl trying desperately trying to keep her mission viable. Her sweetness remained until dinner in Havana Cuba where after drinking coconut milk her innocence disappeared. Windle was a delight and very professional in the role and the contrast before and after Cuba was a sheer delight.
The gambler Sky Masterson was played by Jon Sebastian who has a good rapport with Kelly and gave a superb professional; performance.
The great comic pair was Adelaide Adams and her fiancé of some 14 years, Nathan Detroit. Adelaide was performed by Sarah Watson who obviously enjoyed the role, giving a great performance with scenes from commiserating with Sarah about the foibles of the male sex to her performances at the Hot Box Club. As Nathan Detroit Scott Hili really captured the character giving a stirling performance and working well with Sarah Watson. Other fun characters were Michael Butler ad Nicely Nicely Johnson and a good scene was Nicely Nicely in the mission singing Sit Down Your Rockin’ the Boat. then there was Benny Southstreet played by Jason Mill, Rusty Charlie played by Barry Baker, Arvide Abernathy, sister Sarah’s uncle well played by peter Maver Harry the Horse played by Peter Smitheram and the blow in from Chicago Big Julie who lied playing with his own dice. No numbers painted on but he remembers where they were. Adrian Vanda gave a great interpretation of Big Julie.
A well rehearsed and professional show and although it is classified as an amateur production the only difference between it and a professional production the artists did it for love. On reading their bios n the program most of the performers are professional people.
A great night of theatre and CLOC is a company never to be missed,

Singin' in the Rain

Rohan Browne, Alinta Chidzey, Matt LeeGeoffrey RushGeoffrey Rush, Chrisite Whelan-Browne

Directior: Gary Young
Musical Director: John Foreman
Chorepgrapher: Simon Lind

The Production Company’s second production for 2013 was Singin’ in the Rain.
Taken from the famous film it is a story written around the change from silent movies to talkies. A good and entertaining look at the troubles these changes brought to the industry.
Dome of the silent stars did not have suitable voices for the new talkies. This was exemplified in this production by Christine Whelan-Browne playing Lina Lamont a blonde bombshell of the silent era who was shall we say not to bright. Her voice was pure high screeching Brooklynese. Whelan-Brown was superb in the role and stole the evening with her portrayal of the blonde who did not know why she was not allowed to talk at the after speeches.
The production as a whole was not one of The Production Company’s best. The dance of the title Singin’ in the Rain was done with the aid of lighting which was not successful. Some4 of the tap sequences missed the sound of the tap, either no taps on the shoes or not the correct flooring.
Rohan Browne was the main star Don Lockwood. Browne captured the role and gave a steady performance. Alinta Chidzey was the upcoming star Kathy Seldon whom Lina Lamont was determined to get rid off. Chidzey gave a fine performance and worked well with Browne and Lee.  Matt Lee was Cosmo Brown, Don’s oldest friend and workmate. As Cosmo Lee gave a great performance, having a great sense of the comic which came to the fore in his performance.  
As R. F. Simpson the head of Monumental Studios Robert Grubb gave a stirling performance capturing the essence of the character. Robyn Arthur was Miss Dinsmore / Dora Bailey giving a good interpretation of both roles.
Th production was generally enjoyed by the opening night audience but must comment you reviewer did not think it was as good as other performances done by The Production Company.     
                     

 

Hot Shoe Shuffle - The Tap Musical


Producer, Director & Co-Choreographer: David Atkins.
Co-Choreographer: Dein Perry

 Opening for a four week season at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne is David Atkins’s Hot Shoe Shuffle
A story of a missing father, his seven boys and a mysterious “sister”
The brothers are advised of a will from their father leaving them $1 million if in four weeks they can present his show Hot Shoe Shuffle.
Needless to say, the storyline is just to present a fantastic much appreciated and enjoyed musical show of the art of tap dancing and old style presentations
All the music is from the big band era played by a big band with such numbers as I’ve got to be a Rug cutter- Duke Ellington; Ac-cen-tchu-ate the Positive; I Get Along Without You Very Well – Carmichael; Shall We Dance – Ira Gershwin & George Gershwin; When I get My Name in Lights – Peter Allen  Puttin’ on the Ritz- Berlin and many other tunes of the era.
A cast of nine, eight men and one lady. Sets were easily moved and worked very successfully.
The tap numbers had to seen to be believed. Memories of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Anne Miller and Gene Nelson.
The timing of the dancers was spot on and the energy of each performer was amazing. Beside the dancing their acting came to the fore and created some humorous scenes.
The audience really caught the delights of the evening and gave a standing ovation and wanted the company to keep going until David Atkinson cried “Enough” when it was obvious they just could not go on any more.
A wonderful evening of musical and tap ans a production not to be missed.


 

Fiddler on the Roof

 

MDMS



Director: Paul Watson.
Musical Director: Ryan Jacobs.
Choreographer: Kaela Brushett

MDMS choice of production for the June season was Fiddler on the Roof.
A story about a village in Ukraine where both the Jews and the Cossacks are ruled by the Russian invaders.
The play revolves around Tevye the poor Jewish milkman, the Jewish settlement in the little village of Anatveka and his family and friends.
This musical is always done with a minimal set and   MDMS team produced an excellent version, minimal but easy to realise the scenes where the actions are set.
Tevye was played by Adrian Carr. A magnificent portrayal capturing the essence of the poor milkman. Very sympathetic when called for, giving some good comedy and excellent poignancy throughout his performance.
His wife, Golde, was given an understanding of such a husband performance by Victoria Zainal. A good balance to Carr,
Their eldest daughter Tzeitel was played by Adrienne George. A wonderful very moving performance particularly when she and her affianced Motel are begging Tevye to let them get married. Perchik, the student from Kiev, a radical and changes some of the customs also falls in love with Tevye’s daughter Hodel. He is played by Jason Mill who brought a realistic interpretation to the role. A good performance.
 Yente and Grandma Tzeitel was played by Sallyanne Michell. As Yente she really captured the character with good voice projection and god acting.
Bethany Eloise was Hodel who fell in love with Perchik. A good performance highlighted by a very moving scene when leaving her family for Siberia.
Motel, Tzeitel’s betrothed was given a fine performance by Matt Skinner capturing the character as envisaged.
Matt Jakowenko was Fyerdka, the Cossack who fell in love with Chaka much to the horror of Tevye. A good performance particularly as a Cossack dancer and the bottle dancer at the wedding.
Some very good scenes such as the Sabbath, the wedding, the village bar celebrating Tzeitel’s engagement and one very moving scene at the railway station with Hodel saying good bye to Tevye.
A smooth flowing high standard production with special mention of the dancers with great chorography and timing spot on.

Annie

Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Alan Burrowes
Musical Director: Danny Forward
Chorographer: Susan Lewis

Babirra Music Theatre chose an old favourite Annie for the Autumn season.
A well set stage with the different scenes realistically done, from the orphanage, the derelicts’ Hoover Town to Daddy Warbuck’s mansion. All well made and adding to the high standard of the production.
The cast was great, all working well together with only a couple of minor points of what could be done a little better although no doubt this will improve as the season progresses. The only small problem that your reviewer has was Nicole Kapiniaris as Miss Hannigan the CEO of the orphanage. She did seem to be a little too much over the top, The role does call for over the top performance but Nicole carried it a little too far. She has good stage presence a wonderful voice and is very talented but could tone it down a little.
On opening night Annie was played by Quinn Cameron, a young lady with for her age an amazing background of amateur and professional experience. She captured the role with finesse giving an excellent performance and was really Annie.
Zak Brown was Daddy Warbucks, a hard headed business man who got what he wanted mo matter what then meeting with Annie changed his life time outlook.  Brown gave a good interpretation of the character portraying Daddy Warbucks as envisaged
His secretary Grace Farrell was played by Lauren McCormack who presents well on stage showed a good and sympatric side to Annie and worked very well with the other cast members.
Harrison Wall was Miss Hannigan’s brother Rooster. A not a nice character but well presented by Wall. His young “lady” Lily St, Regis, was played by Kate Spruce giving a great portrayal of the dumb blonde type.
Drake, Warbuck’s butler was given a smooth and professional performance by Richard Burman.  President Roosevelt was portrayed by Peter Maver. Good projection and working from a wheel chair not always do easy.
A highlight was one of the orphans, Mollie, played by Olivia Sprague. An excellent performance and your reviewer predicts a great career ahead of her.
A good, smooth flowing production by Babirra Music Theatre and a high standard set for the rest of the year. 

Sweeney Todd

Robert Clark, Mark MonroeMike GardinerRobert Clarj, Emily Holland

Nova Music Theatre P/L.

Co-Directors: Chris & Lynette White
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Lynette White.

Nova chose for its Autumn production Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. A musical horror story about a wrongfully accused barber, his faithful wife and his lovely daughter plus the judge the cause of all their troubles.
The set was in two parts with stairs up each side of the stage, audience left was a two storied house with windows looking across to the audience. Audience left on the stairs as needed was a cell and otherwise led to a bridge across to the house. In centre stage was the main prop, Mrs Lovett’s pie shop and barber’s shop on top which included the famous barber’s chair. This set was reversed to show a parlour, the bakery and the cellar. Also it was wheeled on and off as required leaving the central stage as town square. These sets were massive, well constructed and moved smoothly throughout the performance.
Mike Gardiner was Sweeney Todd. A great performance capturing the broken hearted man and then the demon barber of Fleet Street. Gardiner really caught the look of evil giving credence to such a role. He presents well and added to the high standard of the evening. His co-plotter Mrs Lovett was played by Kate Burns who has a good stage appearance, a first class voice and gave a stirling performance as the evil, no-conscience Mrs Lovett,
The young sailor who saved Sweeney’s life and became a friend was Anthony Hope played by Johnathon White. Another good performer who as Anthony Hope brought out the good side of Sweeney Todd. White has a good clear voice, positive stage presence and payed the role as called for.
Sweeney’s missing daughter Johanna Barker played by Emily Holland was given a delightful portrayal by Emily Holland. Appearing as a sweet young lady whose step father, the judge, had rather non fatherish ideas about the future of his young ward. Holland was Johanna as envisaged giving a not only a sweet performance but when it came to determination she exhibited the change of character with finesse.
The young assistant Tobias Ragg was well played by Damien Calvert giving a good interpretation of the not quite bright young man who completely lost it.
The evil and cause of all the troubles was Judge Turpin played by Robert Clark. Clark projects well, has a good stage appearance enhanced by fine acting and balanced by a good voice.  
James Kearney was the Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli. A great comic performance, a good strong voice and what a change of accents. The mystery beggar woman was played y Ruth Bishop who caught the feel of such a street beggar and prostitute with complete professionalism. Beadle Bamford was played by Mark Monroe. Monroe with another good performance adding to the success of the evening.
Nova presented a well appreciated evening of theatre with accurate costuming and strong well made sets to balance the excellent performance of all the players
.

 

Legally Blonde the Musical

Princess Theatre

A story of a young girl Elle Woods whose boyfriend drops her as she is not bright enough for his future. He is on his way to Harvard Law School so Elle decides she loves no matter what and gets herself into Harvard Law School where, in the best traditions of American Music Theatre, she of course finds true love and one can guess the ending.
Simple sets moving in and out very smoothly and giving the correct feel to the relevant scenes.
Elle Woods was played by Lucy Durack. A good natural performance capturing the essence of the character. Durack has a good stage presence, a lovely voice and was well appreciated by the audience.
Her boyfriend Warner, who dropped her, was played by Rob Mills. He captured the arrogance and snobbery of the role with finesse and his scene with telling Elle that they were breaking up while she thought he was proposing was a delight.
Lucy’s friend Emmett the law teaching assistant who takes it upon himself to ensure that Elle succeeds was played by David Harris. Another good performance with Harris capturing the role as envisaged. Elle’s friend Paulette from the Hair Dressing Salon was performed by Helen Dallimore. Dallimore projects well and gave a great performance in the role. Brooke the suspect in the murder of her husband was played by Erika Heynatz who caught the character with aplomb and worked well with Durack.
The professor with more on his mind than lecturing was given a great and smooth performance by Cameron Daddo. Daddo has a superb stage projection and gave the role the realism called for.
A must mention is Bruiser who practically stole the show. Bruiser was Elle’s chihuahua and his obedience to the instructions showed his expertise on the stage.

A light frothy musical with Greek choruses that only Elle could see comprising of her old classmates from UCLA. A smooth flowing well directed production and one certainly enjoyed by the Melbourne audiences

 

The Phantom of the Opera

Toby Trscott, Laura Slavin Tim Minturn, Scott Hill, Phil LambertLaura Slavin, Toby Truscott

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Andy McCalman
Choreographer: Wendy Belli

CLOC Musical Theatre is very proud to present the World Premiere of the amateur production of The Phantom of the Opera.
Although CLOC presented an amateur production the production certainly was not amateur. Many of the cast have professional experience and some with international theatre. Such is the reputation of CLOC they are only too happy to perform and particularly in such a prestigious production.
The opening scene saw a sparse dilapidated interior of the old Paris Opera House where an auction is being held. The CLOC crew did a wonderful job of the set and following sets were absolutely amazing with what can be done, with a special chandelier, underground under the theatre, sailing across the underground lake, the ballroom scene and central staircase all of which shows how much goes on to make a successful production.
Toby Truscott was the Phantom. Truscott has superb stage presentation with an outstanding and unique voice so although in two different masks and disguised costume there was n hesitation in knowing who the personage was.
Laura Slavin was Christine Daaé. A versatile performance with Slavin opening as a ballet girl then with the lead singer dropping out (thanks to the Phantom) taking over the lead roles as an opera singer. Her talent both as a dancer, an actor and a singer is outstanding. Her voice was a sheer delight and her acting from the shy dancer to the girl fascinated by her Angel of Music was superb,
Patrick Hill was Raoul, Vicomte de Chagney sponsor of the Paris Opera and in love with Christine. Another well cast performer adding to the high standard of the evening. Beryl Frees was Madame Giry, the ballet mistress who was more in the know about the Phantom than she let on. Frees has excellent stage presence and gave an excellent presentation of such a character.
Unfortunately space precludes further reviews of the balance of the company but there were no poor parts all were excellent and well balanced making a very successful evening of theatre.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Peter Casey
Choreographer: Dana Jolly

Thursday January 31 saw the opening night of Chitty Chitty Bnag Bang at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne.
The curtain rose to an old wreck of a racing car with the performers re-enacting the race of the original Chitty Bang Bang at Brookland’s Race Track.
The children of Caractacus Potts, Jeremy and Jemima convince their father to buy the old wreck,
Caractacus Potts was played by David Hobson, a complete change from his usual stage appearances which id with Opera Australia playing leading roles. A wonderful tenor with superb acting to create a great performance. Caractacus’s girlfriend to be was Truly Scrumptious played by one of Australia’s leading music theatre players Rachel Beck. Beck played well across with David Hobson, a great rapport between the two and voice to balance Hobson’s.
The two children, Jeremy and Jemima were played by Beau Woodbridge and Lucille Le Meledo. Both gave outstanding performances working well with Beck and Hobson and made one feel that they were really a family.
A good comic role was given by Alan Brough as Baron Bomburst the man who still loved toys. His wife, Baroness Bomburst, who hated children, was played by Jennifer Vuletic. Another great performance with Vuletic capturing the essence of such a character. The two Vulgarian spies, Boris and Goran were given great comic performances by Todd Goddard and George Kapiniris. The evil Childcatcher was played by Tyler Coppin who gave a wonderful portrayal and also played the junkman in the opening scenes.
The sets were well done from Pott’s workshop to Lord Scrumptious’s Sweet Factory to the country of Vulgaria and the sewers of Vulgaria.
The old adage never work with children or animals was forgotten for this production. Besides having many children on stage thee were also at least six dogs rushing across the stage adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
The star of the show without doubt was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The flying car which also floated across water, Amazing scenes with the car going over a cliff and then flying across the stage with Caractacus, Truly, Jeremy and Jemima in it.
Apparently Chitty Chitty Bang Bang holds the Guinness World Record for being the most expensive prop in the history of British Theatre. It certainly stole the Melbourne opening night.
The production received the highest acclaim in Melbourne with a standing ovation from Melbourne’s first nighters, probably Australia’s most critical audience.  

 

The Wizard of Oz

Sarah Gousse as DorothyAnthony Julian & Susie McCann

MLOC Productions

Director: Lucy Nicolson
Music Director: Tanya Chaves
Choreographer: Keir Jasper.

MLOC decided to close 2012 with a show that everyone can be part of and enjoy with the production of The Wizard of Oz.
MLOC did not worry about the old adage of never working with animals or children. The Wizard of Oz has both and it must be reported that Toto stole his scenes. When placed on the stage by Dorothy he went exploring did not disgrace himself at all and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his performance.
Sets were simple yet effective, the tornado was represented by young ladies dancing and whirling across the stage. The costuming particularly for Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man was realistic bringing back memories of the film.
Dorothy was given a wonderful performance by Sarah Gousse who really captured the young girl lost in the Land of Oz and the trials she underwent to return home.
Cat Stephens was Miss Gulch the narrow minded land owner who did not like small dogs. She was also the Wicked Witch of the West both roles she played professionally and the touch of evil in her voice was enough to scare anyone.
John Davidson was Hank, the farmhand and Scarecrow who wanted a brain. In both roles Davidson handled with ease and was quite believable.
Professor Marvel and the Wizard was played by Graeme Marriott. A good stage presence and also captured the character as envisaged.   
Lion and farmhand Zeke were played by Colin Sephton a good characterisation of the two roles. Richard Green was Uncle Henry and the Gatekeeper a quiet role as Uncle Henry and a bombastic performance as the Gatekeeper, a great performance.
Anthony Julian was farmhand Hickory and the Tinman. As Hickory he looked the part and as the Tinman looking for a heart was very well done added by the difficulty of the tinman outfit.
Susie McCann was Aunty Em and Glinda the good witch. Another good contrasting performance.
The company was divided into three casts, The adult cast, the Emerald cast and the Ruby cast. The Wizard of Oz is a good production to give beginners a chance on stage particularly the Ruby and Emerald casts which with MLOC were all children from various ages.  They all carried themselves well and added to the amusement of the evening.
A pleasant evening of theatre belying the old theatre of don’t work with kids and animals.

 

Aida the Timeless Love Story

MDMS

Director: Robbie Carmellotti
Musical Director: Jess Barlow
Choreographer: Joel; Anderson.

 

MDMS chose Aida for the November production. Not the opera but the musical written by Elton John and Timothy Rice. The story is the same but told with a difference.
The production opens in the Egyptian wing of a today museum where amongst he crowd are two young people strolling along looking at the exhibits.
The exhibits are mounted on three stairways with three statues, one on each stand. The centre statue is Amneris a female Pharoah The statue comes to life and starts to narrate the love story of Radames and Aida and the scene changes to ancient Egypt where Radames has just returned from his latest campaign to find his soldiers have captured some Nubian woman. One attracts his attention and he sends off to his fiancé Amneris as a handmaiden little knowing she is the Nubian Princess.
Ed Deganos was the young man in the museum and Radames in ancient Egypt.
A first class performer looking really natural as a 20th century young man then a good projection as Radames Deganos had a good rapport with Gina Mets as first the young lady in the museum than as Aida in ancient Egypt. Mets has a good strong and pleasant voice which was clear and understandable to the audience. Mets also is a good actor and showed the correct emotions in trying to be a slave while she was really a Nubian princess.
The Princess of Egypt and Radames’ affianced was Amneris given a wonderful portrayal by Tori Whiteside. Whiteside captured the character of such a person which ranged from the not so bright to a jealous woman to an understanding girl when Radames realises he is in love with Aida.
A smaller character but one the story could not do without is Mereb, the Nubian slave of Radames who has a little business on the side. He recognises Aida and talks her into helping the other Nubian slaves. David Miles caught the character with ease projecting well and handling the changing moods from an out and out rogue to a hero of his people. 
Radames’ father Zoser who tried to manipulate his son’s life and marriage to the princess to enable him to become Pharoah. A good performance capturing the character as envisaged. He also played the Nubian king Amonasro where he was only seen in the prison after being captured by Radames.
The stage had a backdrop showing three scenes, one of the Nile then one of a pyramid, and another of a different Nile scene.  The costuming was quite good giving the feel of Egypt of the period. The production moved smoothly and was enjoyed by the young Saturday night crowd who obviously had friends on stage.

42nd Street

Adrienne GeorgeMaree Barnett, Grace O'Neill, Ashleigh PsailaMike Gardner, Grace O'Neill

Nova Musical Theatre

Director: Tim Schwerdt
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Scott Hili

A story of a country girl arriving in New York with the determination to get into a musical.
The production opened to a group audition performing a tap dance sequence. A fantastic scene with spot on timing and great presentation.
Peggy Sawyer the girl from out of turn turns up too late for the audition but later gets her chance and amazes all with her ability which in turn leads her to the main role.
Grace O’Neill was Peggy Sawyer. An amazing dancer with a wonderful voice plus great acting ability
Dorothy Brock, the star of the new show because her sugar daddy was financing same, was not quite right for the position. Adrienne George captured the essence of the spoilt star at the end of her career but doesn’t realise it. A great performance of a good actor, singer and dancer.
The director of the new show Julian Marsh, a determined strict but understanding director was given an exemplary performance by Mike Gardner.    
One of the co-writers of Pretty Lady the new show was Maggie Jones who followed up Peggy and supported her into getting into the show. Wendy Alberni as Maggie is a strong performer, good strong voice and a powerful stage presence.
Her co-writer was Bert Barry played by David Sly. Another good performer adding to the high standard of the Company.
The opening tap dancing sequence gave an indication of the standard of the production and the audience was not disappointed. A great musical and a wonderful evening of high quality theatre.

 

More Sex Please...We're Seniors

Tracy Harvey & Michael VeitchMichael Veitch, Mark Mitchell


Written by John-Michael Howson
Director: Pip Mushin
Musical Director: Peter Sullivan.
Choreographer: Alana Scanlan.

Opening saw the reception and lounge of the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village. A well set stage with a reception desk on audience right, lounge chairs centre, centre rear was a sliding door of glass leading out to the outside garden and audience right was a coffee making machine and further across was the notice board telling what was happening on the respective day.
We meet two couples who have come to check the village out to see if they plan to move in. Mac and Joan meet up with Roy and Myra. Naturally they do move in and the story is of there life in the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village and their international travels together.
Mac was played by Mark Mitchell and his wife Joan was played by Jane Clifton.
Mac is a happy-go-lucky bloke taking life as it comes an enjoying an Australian beer no matter where in the world he is. Mitchell captured the character with ease looking as if he was born for the part. Jane Clifton was Mac’s wife Joan. A good opposite to Mark Mitchell and a high quality of performance.
Roy was played by Michael Veitch rather more dignified than Mac but still they became good friends having a lot in common (as one does when we arrive at that age). Veitch was Roy and played well with Tracy Harvey as Myra, Harvey was great full of energy and as Myra always busy and active.
A highlight was Matthew Quartermaine as Mr Dogsbody. He did not speak but his character as the caretaker was a scream. It brought one back to the old silent movies with his performance and the expressions particularly fighting with the vacuum cleaner were an absolute delight. One surprise for your reviewer was that the singing by all was quite pleasant with popular songs having the words changed to suit the occasion. 
A basically simple story about two couples settling into the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village and how they made friends and also how they talked about their trip abroad. Many of the senior citizens in the opening night audience could relate to the medical problems and other problems of the age group typified on stage. A pleasant evening with not much depth but an enjoyable night out.

 

A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Mitchell Butel, Gerry Connolly, Dhane Bourne, Geoffrey Rush. Geoffrey Rush, Shane Bourne

Director: Simon Phillips.
Musical Director: Mathew Frank.

Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne was the venue for Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing happened on the way to the Forum.
The curtains were drawn and through them came Geoffrey Rush to an outpouring of applause. He narrated the story then the curtains opened to reveal the entire cast singing the opening number A Comedy Tonight. Although some performers weren’t trained singers they were all in tune and presented excellently.
Geoffrey Rush was Pseudolus the slave who would do anything to become free. Some of the circumstances he had would try anyone but Rush handled the role with finesse showing his talent on the stage.
His personal owner Hero was played by Hugh Sheridan. An unusual character in ancient Rome being a virgin and not really that bright. Sheridan captured the role as envisaged and gave a stirling performance. His own true love the courtesan Philia from the House of Lycus a virgin sold to the army veteran Miles Gloriosus was wonderfully portrayed by Christie Whelan-Browne. A real innocent dumb blonde who was in love with Hero but as she was sold to Miles Gloriosus she did what she was told.
Hero’s parents were played by Shane Bourne as Senex and Magda Szubanski as Domina. These two helped to make the show. Bourne captured the henpecked husband with aplomb and his scene when returning to find although in error that he had suddenly acquired a maid who was every man’s dream was a sheer delight. But when Domina returned unexpectedly things changed. Szubanski looked every inch the Roman dominating matron who spoiled her son and kept her husband in line.
Marcus Lycus who kept the House of Lycus where he sold slaves and young ladies etc was given a wonderful portrayal by Gerry Connolly capturing the essence of such a character. His scenes with Geoffrey Rush were an absolute delight.
Michael Butel was Hysterium the slave left in charge of House of Senex and to watch over Hero, Poor Hysterium what with Hero trying to get Philia and Pseudolus interfering he had his hands full. Butel played the role with finesse giving a great portrayal.
The general who had bought Philia from the House of Lycus was Miles Gloriosus who had quite an opinion of himself was played by Adam Murphy. Murphy had excellent projection so necessary for the role and gave a good performance.
Bob Hornery came out of retirement to play Erronius, the father of a boy and girl who were captured by pirates. He had to go around the seven hills of Rome seven times then he would find his missing children who by now were adult. Hornery gave a great performance in the role showing the talent that brought hi, out of retirement.
The show was held together by three performers, Adrian Browne, Brent Hill and Troy Sussman. They were the eunuchs, the soldiers and slaves. They were kept very busy in all their roles which not only called for totally different character changes but very quick costume changes. The three handled their roles with expertise and the smoothness of their many changes added to the high standard of the production. An enjoyable evening with the major performers of Australian, international stage, television and film.

 

Hairspray

Catchment Players

Directors: Nathan Firmin & Brad Fisher
Music Director: Andrew Houston
Choreographer: Nathan Firmin

Set in the 1960’s Baltimore where lovable plus-size heroine Tracy Turnblad has a passion for dancing and wins a spot on the local TV dance program the Corny Collins Show.
Catchment Players had well built smooth flowing sets setting the various scenes and added to the high standard of the production.
The heroine Tracy Turnblad was played by Phillippa Chalke who gave a wonderful performance as the character who being a little overweight (Phillippa, I understand had to be padded up for the role) did not seem likely to become a star but a dream is a dream and can be successful. Chalke has a good stage presentation, a fine actor, a delightful singer and obviously enjoyed her role.
Merryn Degnan was Amber Von Tussle the spoilt brat her resented Tracy’s rise to fame and with the aid of her mother did all she could to stop Tracy’s progress. Degnan’s performance was outstanding capturing the character comfortably, she projected well had the right nuances for the role aided by a good voice giving a good balance to Chalke.
Her mother Velma Von Tussle the producer of the TV show was performed by Bianca Giorgetti. A good humorous performance capturing the feeling of the overbearing mother who was prepared to put her daughter up over all others.
A great portrayal was given by Gemma Foster as Tracy’s nerd type mate Penny Pingleton. Foster has the sense of the comique, the body action of a shy, bespectacled half bent over girl giving a stirling and funny performance. Tracy’s parents Edna and Wilbur were well portrayed by Adrian Carr as Edna and Will Deumer as Wilbur.
Both gave highly professional performances bringing lots of laughs from the opening night audience.
A good evening of theatre showing the high standard of local theatre.  

Hello Dolly

Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Sue Salvato
Musical Director: Hamish Paterson

Choreographer: Cameron O’Reilly

Babirra Music Theatre’s October season’s choice was the well known musical Hello Dolly.
Set in a street in New York City, Vandengelder’s Hay and feed Story in Yonkers New York, Mrs Malloy’s Hat Shop and the Fourteenth Street Parade. Plus the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant and Courtroom.
The sets were fair and easily identifiable. 
Dolly Levi the widow and master of everything with business cards to suit every and any occasion was played by Victoria Zainal. A strong stage personality, with a rich voice aided by a wonderful professional performance which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Her intended, although he didn’t know till the end of the show,  Horace Vandergelder was played by Barry Baker.  Baker gave a positive and good portrayal of such a character with a good strong voice to complete the role.
Vandergelder’s clerks in his Hay and Feed Store were Cornelius Hacki and Barnaby Tucker. Hacki was played by Warwick Reid the elder of the two and the conspirator for a day off to go to New York to see the town and meet a girl.
Reid captured the essence of the character and gave a good performance.
His fellow clerk, Barnaby Tucker the younger and more innocent of the two was played by Matt Jakowenko. A good performance with Jakowenko really capturing the innocence as envisaged.
Irene Molloy, the owner of the Hat Shop, was played by Sarah Somers. A wonderful professional performance with excellent stage projection and capturing the role with aplomb. Her shop assistant Minnie Fay was played by Cara Green. Another good performance having a good rapport with Matt Jakowenko.
A large cast with no poor performances and another success for Babirra Music Theatre.

 

All Shook Up

Jonathon Guthrie-Jones Jailhouse Rock

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director/Choreographer: Craig Wiltshire
Musical Director: Danny Forward

 

All Shook Up is a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night incorporating some of the songs made famous by Elvis Presley.
CLOC’s production was outstanding. The scenes were a town square in a small town USA which were solidly built yet moved around very smoothly when changing from interior spots to different views of the town.
Opening scene was Jailhouse Rock with most of the cast performing. The set was a two story jail the costumes were Denham and prison stripes all black and white with the girls looking very glamorous. The singing was superb and the movements spot on. Throughout the production the choreography was excellent and congratulations go to Craig Wiltshire who not only choreographed the show but was also the director in which capacity he excelled.
An outstanding performance was given by newcomer to CLOC, Jonathon Guthrie- Jones. A great entrance on a motorbike, his effect on the young (and not so young) ladies of the town was remarkable. His performance was excellent only exceeded by his voice, strong and clear.
The young lady running her father’s garage, Natalie, fell head over heels in love when Jonathon as the Roustabout asked her to fix his bike. Melanie Off was Natalie and gave a great plus amusing performance especially when she became Ed and the Town Museum Curator Miss Sandra fell for Ed. This led to some great scenes and showed Melanie’s talent both in song and comedy.
On amusing character and great performer was Tyler Hess as Dennis, the town nerd and best friend of Natalie. Tyler’s interpretation of the character was a classic capturing the nerdish best friend who was actually in love with Natalie who just regarded him as a friend.
Other great performances were given by Natasha Bassett as Sylvia who ran the local bar and was mother to 1 year old Lorraine. Robert Harsley as Jim, Natalie’s father who became quite a surprise at the end. Rachel Ledgerwood as Miss Sandra the Museum curator. Kim Anderson as the stuffy non fun loving mayor Clary Riven as Lorraine the young girl in love with the Mayor’s son Dean against her mother’s wishes. Daniel Komesaroff was Dean a well portrayed role.
The whole show was really up to CLOC’s standard if not better as the company is not one to be missed.
CLOC is presenting The Phantom of the Opera for the next season and I strongly recommend you book early.

 

South Pacific

Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Lisa McCuneEddie Pefect, Lisda McCune, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Kate Ceberano

Director: Bartlett Sher
Musical Director: Andrew Greene

The production opened at Emile De Becque’s home with his two children singing Dites Moi. A very pleasant opening by two very talented youngsters.
This was followed by the entrance of Nellie Forbush and Emile De Becque.
Nellie was performed by popular Australian artist Lisa McCune. A wonderful performer, good stage projection, a good clear voice and managed to keep an American accent constant during the complete show. Emile De Becque was performed by Teddy Tahu Rhodes in his first musical. An opera singer who performs in opera around the world this was a different scenario for him. A great actor and voice absolutely filled the auditorium both when he sang and when he spoke, an outstanding portrayal even to keeping the French accent throughout the evening.
The next scene was on another part of the island. The set was amazing. The rear backdrop was the ocean excellently done with the hint of Bali Ha'i showing two mountains faintly through the mist. Lighting enhanced the mountains at the relevant times. On audience left to the rear was an aeroplane the Curtis P40 better known to the Australian pilots who flew it as the Kittyhawk. On audience right was Billi’s laundry a massive structure.
This scene was the Seabees and Bloody Mary. Played by Kate Ceberano who really captured the role of the Tonkinese woman who sold shrunken heads and anything else she could lay her hands on. A wonderful performance added to by a strong clear voice and another performer whose Tonkinese accent remained constant throughout.
Luther Billis was the Seabee conman who had a soft spot for Nellie was played by Eddie Perfect. Perfect had the ideal character for such a role and delivered a masterful performance.
Daniel Koek reprised his role of Lieutenant Cable from his portrayal of same in London. A strong performance giving the role the character as it was envisaged.
Celina Yuen was Liat, Bloody Mary’s daughter who was in love with Lieutenant Cable. A moving and god performance by Yuen capturing the role as called for.
An amazing evening of entertainment with a standing ovation for the Melbourne opening night. There was a little extra for the audience and the cast. As it is 60 years to the month that South Pacific was first performed in Melbourne they had five of the original cast members come up on stage.

The Seabees Pacific Islanders at Theatre entrance

Chess

The Production Company

Director: Gale Edwards

Chess a two part story of the cold war and the tussle between the American Bobby Fischer and the USSR World Champion, Boris Spassky.
Jeannie Pratt and The Production Company are to be congratulated on their interpretation of the famous chess game and the completer musical.
The State Theatre stage was raised and designed as a chess board with the backdrops also representing the chess board. Orchestra Victoria was split to each side of the stage, conductor on the left. This worked well although when all the cast was on it became a very busy stage.
The first half was set in Merano, Italy and when the chorus made their entries they were waving Italian flags. The costumes were varying patterns of black and white suiting the game. 
Martin Crewes was the American Frederick Trumper. An excellent interpretation of the obnoxious anti Soviet American. A wonderful voice to add his remarkable performance.
The Russian Grandmaster Anatoly Sergievsky was given an excellent portrayal by Simon Gleeson. He captured the mannerisms of the character showing dignity in front of Frederick Trumper’s childish antics and understanding of Frederick’s second Florence Vassy.
Florence Vassy was played by singer and actor Silvie Paladino, As a refugee from Hungary Paladino captured the character with style and expertise and had a good rapport with both Martin Crewes and Simon Gleeson.
Mark Dickson was the head of the Russian delegation. A superb interpretation of a Communist Russian leader capturing the accent and the projection it was hard to believe that he was not Russian nor had Russian ancestry. Bert LaBonte was Walter de Courcey a great performance of the man who was more interested the publicity than any personal feelings for either the players nor their assistants.
Anatoly’s wife Svetlana Sergievskaya was played by Alinta Chidzey A wonderful portrayal.
The second half was a complete change from the first. Set in Bangkok Thailand,  The colour and costumes were bright, cheerful and lightened up the audience and the whole production. One could hardly believe that it was the same show.
This would be one of the best interpretations your reviewer has had the pleasure of attending
.

Ken Mackenzie Forbes, Martin Crewes, Alinta Chidzey, Mark Dickinson. Gale Edwards, Bert LaBonte

Silvie Paladino

The Producers

The Production Company

Directors: Andrew Hallsworth & Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Vanessa Scammell

The Production Company opened the 2012 season with Mel Brook’s The Producers.
A story of a Broadway producer and a shy accountant trying to produce a flop to make money. Searching for the worst script, the worst director and the result a great evening of entertainment.
The Production Company specialises in bringing out a low cost production with ticket prices everyone can enjoy. But! This by no means denigrates the performances. The productions get better each year and The Producers was a fine example of this. In fact it had to be the best show to date by The Production Company.
The orchestra was at rear of the stage not leaving as much room as one thought was required. A large cast with the Broadway producer Max Bialystock played by Wayne Scott Kermond. A great performance played with just the right balance of over the top production as called for. His performances with the little old ladies who he hit for the money to finance his production were an absolute delight. The main little old lady Hold Me Touch Me a nymphomaniac type was given an excellent and energetic performance by Virginia Gay.
The shy accountant, Leo Bloom, who always had dreams of becoming a Broadway Producer, was played by Brent Hill. A terrific interpretation of the character moving the shy type to the go getter and good friend of Max and especially their Swedish secretary Ulla.
Ulla was given a wonderful portrayal by Christie Whelan Browne. A tall girl with excellent stage presentation and captured the dumb blonde with expertise adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
One of the many highlights was the performance of Franz Llebkind, the ex Nazi who wrote a musical Hitler in Springtime which Max and Leo thought the worst script they had ever seen so they bought it.
Trevor Ashley was Franz. Dressed in lederhosen plus a WWII German helmet. A complete and funny performance by Ashley nearly bringing the house down. The production was played as high camp to ruin the play and to run at a loss. The interpretation of high camp was exemplified by the worst director on Broadway Roger De Bris superbly intepretated by Mitchell Butel and his offsider Carmen Ghia played by Rohan Browne.
A highly amusing and successful evening so much so that an event seen rarely in Melbourne’s State Theatre a complete standing ovation.
The Production Company have something to live up to after this success.

After Party Photos


Rhonda Burchmore and daughter

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

MDMS

Director/Set Designer: Richard Perdriau
Musical Director: Glen Barnett
Choreographer: Felicity Bender.

Saturday June 16 your reviewer attended the MDMS production of How to Succeed in business without really trying. ,MDMS have always put on fair and reasonable productions but this production blew me away and not only yours truly but the other reviewers who were there. It easily equalled if not better that anything seen in the professional circuit.
A fantastic backdrop of New York covering the complete rear wall and on inquiry found that it was painted by the company. The view was from the offices of World Wide Wicket Corporation WWW. The changes in the story line were swiftly and smoothly completed and the costuming was excellent, different office uniforms for the girls and suits and occasional casual for the men.
The story is about a window cleaner who comes upon a book How to Succeed in business without really trying which he follows avidly and up to a certain point does exactly what it says.
The window cleaner, J. Pierrepont Finch was played by Tyler Hess. A remarkable and excellent performance capturing all the characteristics of such a character and worked well with the other players. But not only was Hess an outstanding player he also did the costume designs which were magnificent.
His girlfriend Rosemary was played by Stefania Gatt. A lovely voice and a great interpretation of the secretary who wanted J. Pierrepont Finch whether he wanted her or not. The Company President J.B. Bigley was played by Peter Smitheram. Another wonderful performer who gave an outstanding portrayal as the President with something or someone to hide. The President’s nephew and as he insisted by marriage, Bud Frump who was Finch’s nemesis, was played by Chris Handley. Handley gave an excellent portrayal of the character who went off to call Mom when he couldn’t get his own way.
The new secretary without any office skills was Hedy La Rue played by Lucia Craven. Hedy had skills not really suited to the office and her effect on the co-workers was a picture. Lucia Craven really captured the role keeping the American Twang throughout and was enjoyed by the audience.
Rosemary’s friend Miss Smith (Smitty) was performed by Candice Sweetman. A good comical performance keeping to the standard set.
J.B. Bingley’s secretary Miss Jones was played by Natalie Reid. A strong character with a powerful and good voice topped off with good acting ability by Reid.
Barry Baker was Bratt, an important member of the management staff. Baker has a good stage presence, a positive voice and gave another good performance.
A large cast moving around the stage quite comfortably, good singing from all and as mentioned at the beginning one of the best productions seen for quite a while.

The Witches of Eastwick

MLOC Productions Inc.

Director: Jane Court.
Musical Director: Martine Wengrow
Choreographer: Marilyn Young

A story of three lonely ladies in a quiet New England town of USA who wish for the perfect man. Added to by a strange little girl who portends doom for the town.
A large cast of 41 participants which did cramp the small stage a little but only on very few scenes were they all on at the same time.
Felicia Gabriel was the unofficial leader in the town. A woman of dominating character and a henpecked husband. Lucy Nicolson was superb in the role catching the character with aplomb and some scenes with her husband Clyde were an absolute delight. Both Nicholson and Colin Stephton had a good rapport and really gave the feeling of such characters. Stephton as Clyde gave a good performance as the he pecked husband who was finally driven too far.
The perfect man,
Darryl Van Horne was brilliantly portrayed Michael Young. He caught all the finer nuances of the evil newcomer who did not give a thought to anyone else’ feelings. Young’s portrayal with the three lonely ladies was a picture of theatrical performance which added to the pleasure of the evening.
The three lonely ladies were Jane Smart, Alexandra Spofford and Susie McCann.
As Jane Smart Lucy MacVicar portrayed an unsuccessful musician to whom Darryl encourages and has an affair. A good performance capturing the finer points of the character.
The prominent one of the three was Alexandra played by Erin Keleher. Another fine portrayal of the character of an artist whom Darryl enhances and also has an affair.
The third of the three Susie McCann, a journalist whose editor, Clyde Gabriel was in love with, was played by Sukie Rougemont. Another great performer changing from a quiet mousy type to outgoing fresh character who Darryl also seduces.
Other main characters were Michael, Alexandra’s son who was in love with Jennifer the daughter of Felicia and Clyde Gabriel much to Felicia’s disgust. Both gave good portrayals and worked well with each other
Darryl’s servant, Fidel, was played by Sean Coughlin. Although only speaking about two words at the end of the play the show would not have been the same without him. A wonderful performance of such a character. The little girl was played by Lily Nicolson. She opened the show coming out of a door on audience left quoting poetry portending the future of the town. Lily also appeared as part of the chorus and although still young she is a talent with a good future in theatre.
A good smooth production and a real family affair with six sets of family members from mothers and daughters, husband and wife and sisters.
A pleasant evening from MLOC.

 

Oliver

Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Sue Salvato
Musical Director: Ryan Jacobs

Babirra’s choice for 2012 opening season was Oliver. A musical based on Charles Dickens’ classic story Oliver Twist.
As a production it was superb. The settings were excellently designed, moved efficiently and gave the complete feel of London of the era. The timing of the artists was spot on; the choreography was good particularly with the number of players and the space to work in.
Oliver was played by Jordie Race-Coldrey. A wonderful performance added to by an excellent voice. This is a young man with a good stage future ahead of him.
Fagin, the evil criminal with a house full of young children who work for him as pickpockets, was given a great interpretation by Peter Roberts. Roberts really caught the essence of such a villain with god stage projection and the correct expressions as called for.
The Artful Dodger was played by Ryland Lack-Powell. Another good player.  The Dodger brought Oliver into Fagin’s den and taught him the tricks of their trade. A fine interpretation of the role.
Rosa McCarty was Nancy, Bill Sykes girlfriend. McCarty gave a wonderful performance in the role, taking pity on Oliver at the supreme cost and adding to the enjoyment of the evening with a beautiful and clear voice.
Matt Hillman was the ruthless Bill Sykes. Hillman captured the character with professionalism adding the correct touch of brutality to the role.
The Beadle, Mr Bumble was played by Martin Spottiswood. Spottiswood has good stage projection and carried the role with aplomb capturing the character as called for.
Some good scenes were Mr Bumble and Widow Corney before and their marriage and such a change.
The scene at London Bridge where Bill Sykes has Oliver and what happens, and of course in the workhouse when Oliver asks for more. 

Miss Saigon

Nova Music Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy
Choreographer: Wayne Robinson.

Nova Music Theatre in producing Miss Saigon brought to the stage an old story this time based on Madam Butterfly updated to the Vietnam War in the 1970s
A first class production with magnificent sets and bearable sound.
Cze-Hui Lee was Kim the innocent bar girl who fell in love with the young American GI. Lee has a beautiful voice and is a fine actor. She really captured the role as envisaged and had a great rapport with Stephen Coutts as the GI Chris.
Coutts captured the character of Chris with finesse giving a good performance added to by a fine voice, clear and precise. 
A leading character The Engineer, who ran the bar then escaping into Burma where he continued his nefarious activities as a pimp while plotting to get to America no matter what the cost, was given a wonderful portrayal by Shannon Pincombe.
John Thomas, Chris’s closest friend and who on return to America worked on behalf of the young half caste children left behind in Vietnam, was played by Matt Jakowenko. Jakowenko was perfect for the role and gave a good understanding portrayal of his friend’s troubles.
Johnathon White was Thuy, Kim’s cousin and they were betrothed as children. Thuy became a commissar in the North Vietnam government and tried to restore the family obligation with Kim. White captured the essence of the character really making the audience feel that he was Thuy.
Chris’s American wife Ellen was played by Emily Holland. A small role but very important to the story and Holland gave the correct interpretation to the role, projecting well and having a good voice to add to the joy of the evening.
A non-speaking role which the show could not do without was Chris and Kim’s son Tam. Played by young Oscar Geddes who gave a wonderful portrayal of such a role.
The effects were excellent and the backstage staff and sound engineers added to the standard of the evening particularly with the arrival and departure of the helicopter.
A good evening of entertainment and high standard of performance to keep up for 2012.

 

Sunset Boulard

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Andrew McCalman

CLOC’S 2012 production was Sunset Boulevard with music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.
A story of Norma Desmond, a retired silent screen star who wants to make a comeback or as she explains “a return”.
CLOC’s opening set was the garden of Norma’s mansion where the police are taking a body out of the swimming pool. A remarkably good set with the feeling it was a real pool.
An out of work writer Joe Gillis while being pursued by repossession agents hides in the driveway of an old mansion where he is befriended and offered a job by Norma Desmond who has written a script and wants Joe to tidy it up so she can present it to Cecil B. DeMille.
Joe Gillis was played by Mark Doran who gave a terrific performance in the role really capturing the at first slightly bewildered and then enjoying the comforts of the rich.
Maureen Andrew was Norma Desmond and what a find for CLOC. A magnificent performer, acting superb, rapport with her fellow artists excellent and singing with just the right inflexions and balance giving the audience a non-forgettable evening.
Norma’s butler, chauffer, general all round man and incidentally her first husband, Max Von Mayerling, was played by Phillip Lambert who caught all the fine and correct nuances for such a role. Lambert projects well, a good voice and a fine rapport with Andrew.
The girl who wanted Joe to write and loved him was Betty Schaefer, played by Alexandra Clover. Another great performance with a good stage personality  
Ken Jones was the legendary Cecil B. DeMille who was an old friend of Norma’s but considered she was past it. A positive performance capturing the essence of such a well known film director.
Overall a great production with some excellent scenes such as Joe’s getting fitted out with new clothes with a classic Hollywood tailor and his assistants.
The set construction particularly of Norma Desmond’s mansion was so effective that the audience broke into applause as it rolled forward. A huge two story indoor scene of a Hollywood mansion complete with sweeping stairway so essential to the scene. The finishing and furniture were well balanced and the overall effect was such it nearly stole the show. Other good sets were the entrance to Paramount Studios, the car chase done on film and projected onto the scrim.
A magnificent start to 2012 and a standard hard to beat.  

 

A Chorus Line

Saturday February 4 saw Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne present the opening night of A Chorus Line.
A story of seventeen dancers auditioning for eight spots in a chorus line for a new musical.
Unusual for a musical the only set were mirrors at the rear of the stage and one instance where mirrors were flown in fro a particular dance sequence. The placing of the mirrors and lightning placing were excellent and added to the enjoyment of the production. As the story is about the 17 auditionees and their director with the help of the assistant director there was no need for any set.
The dancers varied in height as the story foretold and definitely varied in character. The director demanded each tell his/her life story to enable him to judge their character. His brought on many and varied stories all done clearly and emotionally as required. The cast gave good performances in this scene some by demonstrating their ability as dancers or performers and acting with the type of background their character grew from.
All the cast were a high standard but Cassie played by Anita Louise Combe stood out. Cassie was a veteran dancer somewhat successful going to Hollywood but failing because she is more of a dancer than actress. She wants to restart her career with back to the chorus. Combe gave a first class performance in her solo scenes and her acting with the director Zach played by Joshua Horner were a great example of theatrical performance.
A short production with no interval but one which had the audience enthralled and  definitely a show to recommend.
Any retired or current chorus liners could certainly identify with A Chorus Line

Guest at opening night.

John Michael Howson Steve VizardTed Baillieu & family

John and Mrs So former Lord MayorAnthony CalleaWilliam McInnes and family

Shane Jacobsen & Felicity Hunter

 

Grey Gardens

The Production Company

Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson.

The Production Company’s final show for 2011 was the Australian Premiere of Grey Gardens a musical based on the true story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter ‘Little’ Edie Beale. One claim to fame is that Edith Bouvier Beale was the aunt to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Grey Gardens is the name of the Beale mansion in the Hamptons 175 Kilometres north of New York. Set in its heyday the mansion, a 28 room building, was the heart of social life and any successful parties were held there. But later mother and daughter lost their money and lived in squalor while Grey Gardens slowly disintegrated around them.
The opening was a scrim with a photo of the mansion at its best and then changed to the mansion at its worst. When the scrim flew out there was the mansion with the front cutaway in is prime.
In ACT 1 Pamela Rabe played the mother Edith Bouvier Beale. And in ACT 2 the mother was played by Nancye Hayes with Pamela Rabe as ‘Little’ Edie Beale.
Pamela Rabe was magnificent in both roles. She captured the essence of each character with finesse, has positive stage appearance giving reality to the characters. ACT 2 saw Nancye Hayes play Edith Bouvier Beale with a great portrayal and a wonderful rapport with Pamela Rabe.
ACT 1 saw Liz Stiles as young ‘Little’ Edie Beale. Her engagement party was planned for that afternoon and her mother was doing all the arrangements much against ‘little’ Edie’s wishes.  Liz Sales caught the correct feeling of the role of ‘Little’ Edie projecting well and a good rapport with the other members of the cast.
Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Bouvier who grew up to be Jackie Kennedy Onassis was played by Ariel Kaplan, a young actor with a great future and seeing her perform one knows that Melbourne theatre’s future is in hand.
Opening night saw Caitlin Vippond play Jackie’s sister Lee Bouvier. Another young actor destined for a good future on the stage. Her performance was excellent and the two young ladies together added to the strength of the evening.
John O’May was Major Bouvier & Norman Vincent Peale. In both roles O’May showed his excellent versatility as an actor changing from the different characters with ease.
Alex Rathgeber was Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr & Jerry. Another competent performer capturing both roles with ease.
Other performers were Bert LaBonte as Brooks Sr and Brooks Jnr with James Millar as George Gould Strong. Both performers added to the high standar4d of the production with their performances.
A challenge for the director and company and successfully done.

 


 
     
     

 

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H.M.S. Pinafore

Melbourne Opera Company

Director &Choreographer: Robert Ray.
Conductors: Greg Hocking, Raymond Lawrence.

A story of the H.M.S. Pinafore’s Captain Corcoran who wishes his daughter to marry The Right Honourable Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, but of course his daughter Josephine has other ideas.
A well set stage of a ship’s deck and forecastle. A large energetic cast all with good voices adding to the standard of the evening.
David Gould was outstanding in the role of The Rt Hon. Sir Joseph Porter. An amazing performance, great comic scenes and a good well balanced voice. A performer with good stage presence and had a good rapport with the other players.
Captain Corcoran was played by David Rogers-Smith. Another terrific portrayal by a magnificent tenor plus the positive stage presence and the upper class accent which did change later in the evening.
The Captain’s daughter, Josephine was wonderfully portrayed by Claire Lyon. Not only a lovely soprano but a great actor full of expression and her scenes with David Gould and David Rogers-Smith were a sheer delight. Her duet with Paul Biencourt was exquisite and her scenes with Biencourt added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Paul Biencourt was Ralph Rackstraw, the common sailor who fell in love with the captain’s daughter. Biencourt gave a stirling performance as such a character with a superb tenor and a great North England accent for most of the performance till a certain change in circumstances where he showed his ability as a top rate performer.
Andrea Creighton was the former nanny Buttercup who falls in love with Captain Corcoran. Another fine performer and a great character in the story. Creighton captured the essence of the role and kept the high standard set by the company.
The villain of the piece, Dick Deadeye was brilliantly captured by Roger Howell.
 A difficult role as he played the bent over, one-eyed villain who could not keep up with his shipmates in the hornpipe and other moves across the stage. A good strong and clear baritone presenting well across the auditorium.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter was accompanied everywhere by his sisters, cousins and aunts and Cousin Hebe kept him under control. Cousin Hebe was played on opening night by Jodie Debono who also gave a wonderful performance with a good stage presence.
The choreography was excellent, well designed and extremely well executed by the cast which was not easy as there was a large cast and not a large stage to work on.
A great evening of theatre and a production that hasn’t seen the professional Melbourne stage in over 20 years. 

 

Anna Bolena

Melbourne Opera
Director: Suzann Chaundy
Conductor: Greg Hosking

Melbourne Opera’s choice for the Melbourne spring season was Donizitti’s Anna Bolena the story of Henry VIII’s wife Anna Boleyn.
A large chorus which did make the stage a little busy but the voices made up for any discrepancy onstage.
Simple sets quickly to move and yet giving the impression of the period. Costuming was superb set in the Tudor period and when HenryVIII he WAS Henry.
Anna Boleyn was given a wonderful performance by soprano Elena Xanthoudakis. An excellent stage appearance, god acting and a lovely voice which enhanced her arias and duets.
Bass Eddie Muliaumaseali was Henry VIII, An outstanding performance, wonderful stage presence and as aforementioned the costuming was such that one really thought that King Henry was actually on stage. A very good actor and a magnificent bass voice creating a good balance when singing with Elena Xanthoudakis and Sally Wilson.
Mezzo soprano Sally Wilson was Jane Seymour who Henry had his eye on. Wilson gave a great interpretation of such a character, a wonderful voice and great acting to enhance her performance. Other members of the cast lived up to the Melbourne audience expectations and with the talented chorus Melbourne had a great night of opera particularly this was the Australian Premiere of Ann Bolena.

 

The Mikado

Savoy Opera Company
Director: Stee Cordelia.
Music Director: David Campbell

Savoy Opera Company’s spring season’s choice was The Mikado. The story of a wandering minstrel who falls in love with the ward of the Lord High Executioner. But the wandering minstrel is not quite who he seems.
The set was well cone with a Japanese flavour of houses, village square with authentic looking backdrops. The costuming was superb with a couple of highlights, Yum-Yum’s wedding outfit and the Mikado’s outfit.
Lyndon Green was the wandering minstrel, Nanki Poo, who fell in love with Yum- Yum the ward of the Lord High Executioner who planned to marry her himself.
Green gave a stirling performance in the role both as an actor and singer. One memorable moment was the duet with Green and Chriselise de Graaf as Yum Yum.
A great rapport with each other and the duet was well balanced.
De Graaf carried the role of Yum-Yum with aplomb, good acting well enjoyed by all and a lovely voice. Both Green and de Graaf have great sense of the comique which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Richard Burman was Pooh Bah the Lord of everything. A great comic role supremely handled by Burman. An energetic role and one requiring the sense of good stagecraft which Burman showed the master touch.
Poo Bah’s offsider was Pish Tush played by Darcy Carroll. A good portrayal capturing the essence of such a character.
The other two little maids beside Yum-Yum were Pitti Sing played by Beth Paterson and Peep-Bo played by Sian Williams. Both young ladies gave great performances in the role adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
An elderly lady, Katisha, who was in love with Nanki-Poo and was determined to get him no matter what was played by Jennifer Wakefield. A stunning performance of the character with a good stage presence and another good voice.
The Lord High Executioner, Ko-Ko was given a stunning portrayal by Luke Belle. A great touch of the comique, a good voice, great stage projection and a wonderful performance.
A great night of entertainment and Savoy Opera sticks to the original Gilbert & Sullivan story without updates and is very enjoyable.

 

Tannhãuser

Marius VlasLee Abrahmsen

Melbourne Opera
Tannhäuser
Director: Suzanne Chaundy
Conductor: David Kram

Melbourne Opera created a first by presenting Wagner’s epic Opera Tannhäuser in Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
A three act production with Act 1 set in the cave of Venue and on the roadside.
Act 2 is in the Hall of Song and Act 3 seven months later on the road and a shrine.
Sets comprised of a raised stage utilised in all three acts. Added to this was projection which was very effective, in the first act, caves and waterfalls, Act 2 an interior of the Hall of Song which when the curtain opened brought a round of applause from the audience. Act 3 was the pilgrim road which had a ramp down form the top to the main stage with mountain scenery at stage rear. All sets were used to the full and added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Romanian tenor Marius Vlad gave a stirling performance as Tannhãuser with a good clear voice enhancing the evening. His beloved Princess Elisabeth’s character was exquisitely captured by Lee Abrahmsen who gave a stirling performance and not missing a beat.
Venus, the Goddess of Love, was portrayed by Sarah Sweeting who captured the goddess with aplomb. A delightful performance sang with a mature and well done alto.
Manfred Pohlenz was Wolfram von Eschinbach a Minnesinger. A major role in which Wolfram was a friend to Tannhãuser and brought Tannhãuser to see Elisabeth. Pohlenz, a strong baritone, never faltered in this role giving a great performance.
A packed house for the Regent Theatre’s first opera and Melbourne Opera is to be congratulated on such a production and the success of same.  


 

 

La Bohème

Director: Gale Edwards.

The State Theatre was the venue for the Melbourne season of Opera Australia’s Autumn presentation.
Opening with Puccini’s La Bohėme Opera Australia is also celebrating its 60 years.
 La Bohėme was originally set in Paris of the 1830s, a burgeoning time for students, artists and performers.
Director Gale Edwards decided that a parallel world might e Berlin of the late 1820s and 1930s when Berlin became the most attractive and decadent city in Europe attracting artists and Bohemians from around the world.
The result was the setting is in a Spiegeltent where the internal scenes are the tenement, Café Momus, inside a toll gate and an inn.
Rodolfo a poet was portrayed by Gianiuca Terranova with Lianna Haroutourian as Mimi.
Act I where Mimi comes to borrow a light and Rodolfo falls in love. An amazing arias and duets with Terranova giving an excellent rendition of Che gelda nanina followed by Haroutourian’s lovely presentation of Mi chiamano Mimi.
Their duet of O soave fanciulla was an absolute dream and well applauded by the opening night audience
Jane Ede as Musetta projects well with a delightful voice and good acting capturing such a role with a naturalness which added to the high standard of the evening.
A very emotional final scene with the main characters together bringing a tear to some members of the audience
. An outstanding evening of opera with great performances from all, including Opera Australia’s  Children’s Chorus where future talent is sure to arise.

 

The Gondoliers or the King of Barataria

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera
Director: Adrian Glaubert
Musical Director: Timothy John Wilson

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera’s choice to open 201 was The Gondoliers or The King of Barataria.
The first act is set in Venice and as the story goes two gondoliers are choosing wives not realising that one was married at sic months and is the King of Barataria. The setting was a backdrop of Venice looking across the sea to Venice and foreground was a wharf where the two gondoliers arrived naturally by gondola.
They were welcomed by a bevy of local girls all wanting to marry them.
The two gondoliers wee played by Michael Dimovski as Marco Palmieri and Luke Belle as Giuseppe Palmieri.
Dimovski projected well with a good strong voice and a steady actor. Belle was amazing, caught all the finer nuances of such a character throwing himself into the role adding a touch of humour and aided by a good strong voice.
The Duke of Plaza Toro and his entourage enters, the entourage consisting of the Duchess, their daughter and the servant Luiz who was  also a drummer who beat on the drum at every possible moment sometimes to the despair of the Duke. 
The Duke was played by Renn Wortley who gave an even performance and worked well with Jennifer Wakefield as the Duchess. Wakefield was very good portraying the dominating wife and mother. A lovely voice to set of her performance.
The daughter Casilda was played by Kimberley Coleman giving a good performance and working well with Izaak Lea.
Lea was the servant Luiz, good projection, an amazing drummer and a pleasant voice with a performance suiting the role as envisaged.
The two wives of the gondoliers were Kristen Ryan as Gianetta and Erin Towns as Tessa. Both presented well, good clear voices and good stagecraft.
Act II was in the palace of Barataria where the two kings were doing al the work while their servants lolled around. In came the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Don Alhambra who is disgusted at what he sees. Playing Don Alhambra was Phil Elphinstone. A good comical performance done with a lot of energy and enjoyed by the audience.
The choreography was well cone, timing spot on and not do often seen in G & S works plenty of dancing. There were four dancers, three girls and one boy adding excellently to the evening’s entertainment.  A well balanced musical evening and overall a very pleasant night thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

 

The Yeomen of the Guard

Savoy Opera Company

Director: Stee Cordelia
Music Director: David Campbell
Conductor: David Singh.

Savoy Opera Company chose The Yeoman of the Guard for the 2015 spring season.
A story of Colonel Fairfax, soldier and alchemist, is confined to the Tower under sentence of death for sorcery. The charge has been falsely engineered by his cousin, who will inherit Fairfax’s estate should he die unmarried.
The story is about what happens and is he saved?
Savoy Opera Company has a magnificent backdrop of the Tower of London of the period of the story. The costuming is amazing, one would swear that the Beefeaters were the real men the costuming was so authentic looking.
Isaac Esler was Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Lieutenant of the Tower). Esler caught the character as envisaged giving a good performance in the role.
Colonel Fairfax the prisoner was given an outstanding performance by James Christensen. As well as being a good actor Christensen has a great voice eminently suited for the character.
Barry Fry was Sergeant Meryll (of the Yeomen of the Guard) A good stage projection with a high standard of performing such a role.
Sergeant Meryll’s son, Leonard Meryll was played by Lyndon Green. A small role but essential to the play. Green handled his role with aplomb giving a good performance.
Luke Bell had the unenviable role of the strolling player, Jack Point, in love with his protégée who was in love with someone else. Bell gave a wonderful portrayal of the player for whom things did not go at all as he expected and hoped capturing the finer nuances of the man in love which was not reciprocated.
Geoff Carson had the role of Wilfred Shadbolt ( Head Jailor and Assistant Tormentor) Carson stood out with his portrayal of such an unseemly character who took a delight in telling of his position of Assistant Tormentor.
The innocent heroine Elsie Maynard (a Strolling Singer and Jack Point’s protégée) was given a wonderful performance by Corryn Rattray, who added to the high standard and delight of the evening.
Another entertaining and wonderful performance was given by Carmen Carnovale as Phoebe Meryll (Sergeant Meryll’s daughter). Her scenes with Geoff Carson as Wilfred Shadbolt were an absolute delight. Carnovale is not only a good performer with a wonderful voice she also has a great sense of the comique as required for this role.
Another amusing and good performance was given by Lydia Klenek as Dame Carruthers ( Housekeeper of the Tower)
A very successful evening of a classic Gilbert & Sullivan with the Savoy Opera company being one of the few companies who do not mike their artists and thus one hears the true voices instead of the engineered voices which can distort the high notes and ruin the overall effect. 

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Patience

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Frank McCarty
Musical Director: Greg Hannan

GSOV moved across to Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre for the spring season and presented Patience.
A satire of the aesthetic movement of the time with the poets enjoying the attention of the ladies but do they really?
A simply set stage with a backdrop and a raised stage at rear. Opening saw the twenty lovesick maidens singing about the latest poet Reginald Bunthorne. Ron Pidcock was Bunthorne giving a good interpretation of such a character. Pidcock had the various graceful moves down flat giving an amusing and comic performance.
His rival poet, Archibald Grosvenor was given a great comic performance by Andrew Blair who not only caught the aestheticism of the poet but when changed to a normal working man one thought it was two different actors.
The Lady Jane was given a good and amusing performance by Andrea Toppe.
Sabrina Surace caught the correct feel for the simple milkmaid Patience who loved Archibald Grosvenor but because he was perfect she could not be selfish and keep him for herself. A lovely performance and a good pleasant voice.
The ensemble work carried well and the Dragoons were a picture particularly when they found their fiancées were in love with the poets and not them.

A pleasant evening of Gilbert & Sullivan enjoyed by the Darebin audience

Don Giovanni

Opera Australia

Conductor: Anthony Legge
Director: David McVicar

Opera Australia’s second choice for the Melbourne Autumn season was Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
David McVicar set the production at the end of the enlightenment age; it’s a dark world where class distinctions are very important. The set was magnificent, large archways on each side of the stage with a large decorated roof which doubled as a stairway from upper levels. The set was rather dark giving a Gothic feel to the performance and unfortunately to the audience sitting toward the middle and rear of the auditorium made it a little hard to see the performer’s expressions. 
Don Giovanni was performed by Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Rhodes has a good stage presence, great acting skills and a voice which challenged the expectation of the role with ease.
Donna Anna, who was betrothed to Don Ottavio and in the opening scene, was trying to avoid Don Giovanni’s attention. As Donna Anna Emma Matthews gave a wonderful portrayal and handled the aria Or sai chi l’onore with aplomb which was enjoyed by the opening night audience.
Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant was given an amusing and good performance by Shane Lowrencev. Lowrencev excelled in the scene of declaring his master’s catalogue of conquests across Europe.
The Commendatore, Donna Anna’s father was killed in a duel with Don Giovanni, was played by Jud Arthur. A small but essential role particularly in the last scene where he returns from the grave. Arthur gave an imposing performance added to by a great voice. Donna Elvira a lady abandoned by Don Giovanni and spent her time trying to get her revenge and helping other victims of Don Giovanni. She was performed by Jane Ede who gave a stirling performance of the role.
Zerlina, a peasant girl who Don Giovanni tried to seduce on the eve of her wedding was performed by Taryn Fieberg. Fieberg’s interpretation of Zerlina was excellent and her arias were enjoyed by the audience.
Her husband to be Masetto was performed by Richard Anderson who projects well and gave a good portrayal of such a character.
A good evening from Opera Australia adding to the high standard expected of the Company. 
  

 

Madama Butterfly

Opera Australia
Director: Moffat Oxenbould
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire

Opera Australia’s choice to open the Melbourne 2015 season was Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
A well set stage giving the correct feel of a Japanese house with sliding doors and a moat around it with two bridges across giving entry to each side of the stage.
 Set in Nagasaki the story tells of the love between Cio Cio San and Lt. Pinkerton an American sailor. Goro a marriage broker has rented a house for Pinkerton and arranged a marriage between Cio Cio San also known as Madama Butterfly and Pinkerton.
Hiromi Omura really captured the essence of Madama Butterfly with not only a wonderful voice as evinced with her duet Viene la sera with James Egglestone (Pinkerton) and the moving  Sai cos’ ebbe cuore but with her acting of such a role.
James Egglestone was the perfect Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. He was going through the ceremony but told the American Consul that he planned to marry an American girl in the future. A great performance with a matching superb voice and the capturing of such a terrible character caused the audience at the close of the evening to boo him outrageously.
Your correspondent was told that this was held by the cast as being a successful evening as Egglestone really captured such a rotten character.
Madama Butterfly’s maid Suzuki was played by Sian Pendry. Another wonderful performance and particularly moving where she supports Butterfly when the dreaded news is broken.
 The American Consul Sharpless who was understanding of Butterfly’s marriage and resulting shock and disappointment and trying to persuade Pinkerton not to rush into such an alliance was excellently played by Michael Honeyman. Honeyman captured the feel of the character and his delivery of Tutto ė pronto was a sheer delight.
Two dramatic moments were when Butterfly’s uncle the Bonze arrives and renounces her from her family and when a new suitor Yanadori arrives. A great spectacle adding to the high standard of the evening
A good opening for the Melbourne season from Opera Australia.

 

The Flying Dutchman

Victorian Opera

Artistic Director & Conductor: Richard Mills
Director: Roger Hodgman

A new beginning for the future of theatre was created by Victorian Opera and Deakin Motion. Lab.
Victorian Opera presented Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at Melbourne’s iconic theatre the Palais. The new beginning being the rear of the stage and both sides were film screens where 3D films took place. Each member of the audience received 3D glasses to view what was an amazing effect.
The story is of a Dutch captain cursed to sail the seas of the world until judgement day unless he can persuade a young lady to fall in love with him.
Set off a Norwegian fjord we see two life size sailing ships sailing through storms and tying up in the fjord. The 3D effects were absolutely amazing the audience is on one ship when the ghostly red sailed Flying Dutchman appears and nearly strikes the other ship. They then sail together to sit out the storm.
Another scene was on board ship where the cameras took you between decks really giving the impression the cast was really on board.
This will bring theatre into the future today.
The Palais Theatre has practically perfect acoustics and the opera singers love performing there.
For this production the Palais Theatre removed four rows from the front to allow space for the remarkable and talented Australian Youth Orchestra. An excellent choice of orchestra which played exquisitely and did accompany the singers instead of what happens too frequently, drowning them out.  
Opening sees Daland the Norwegian captain settling his ship and meeting with the Dutchman. Daland was played by Warwick Fyfe, a strong bass, a good actor giving a fine performance singing with great clarity and enunciation.
Oksar Hillebrandt was the Dutchman. A great stage personality a strong clear baritone
We hear his voice across the orchestra which magnificently portrays the storm with Oskar’s voice balancing to perfection. Lori Phillips was Senta, the daughter of Daland and a young lady whose story of The Flying Dutchman has made a deep impression and she is resolved to aid him in his quest from his curse.
Lori caught the character as envisaged added to by a wonderful voice which was enhanced by her duet with Hillebrandt.
Senta’s nurse was Mary sung and performed by Liane Keegan. Another great performance. Liane has good stage appearance with a magnificent contralto to match. An enjoyable performance both to see and hear.
The huntsman, Erik, who loved Senta, was performed by Bradley Daley. Erik could not understand Senta’s infatuation for the Dutchman and Bradley caught the essence of such a character with complete naturalness. A good tenor who projected well and balanced his role well with Lori Phillips.
A good strong chorus of both the men and women producing a very successful evening of opera in Melbourne.

 

Falstaff

Opera Australia
Director: Simon Phillips.
Conductor: Christian Badea

For Opera Australia’s final Melbourne season for 2014 the choice was Giuseppe Verde’s Falstaff. Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, a light-hearted plot about Sir John Falstaff who still considers himself irresistible to women even though he is rather overweight and not quite as young as he used to be.
He sends letters off to four ladies to arrange a rendezvous but the ladies compare letters and decide to teach Falstaff a lesson.
An amazing set opening in the tavern then quickly changing to the market place and buildings at rear of same. Both sets of buildings are two storied and the cast move swiftly up and down various stairways smoothly with the odd bit of congestion.
Warwick Fyfe was Falstaff, completely unrecognisable in the Falstaff dress until he sang the voice of Warwick cannot be mistaken and in this role not only was Warwick’s superb so was his characterisation of the role. A light touch was given by Falstaff’s followers, Bardolph and Pistol, played by Kanen Breen and Jud Arthur. Both captured the comique of such associates giving good performances adding to the comedy of the evening.
The ladies were Mrs Meg Page played by Jacqueline Dark, Mrs Alice Ford played by Jane Ede, Mistress Quickly played by Dominica Matthews and Nannetta played by Taryn Fieberg.
All ladies gave great interpretations of their roles and the way they treated poor Falstaff was a picture.
Good performances were given by Graeme Macfarlane as Dr Caius who wanted to marry Nannetta (far too young for him) and Michael Honeyman as Ford, Alice’s husband.
Fenton, Nannetta’s lover was given a great performance by Jonathon Abernethy.
One scene that stands out was in the forest where the cast are dressed as fairies, goblins and witches. The cast deserve high praise for this scene as they performed the whole scene on their knees.
A wonderful evening from Opera Au8stralia to finish the Melbourne 2014 season.

Don Pasquale

Rachelle Durvin, John Longmur, Conal Coad, Photo by J. Busby

Opera Australia

Director: Roger Hodgman
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire

Opera Australia’s second opera of the Melbourne Spring season was Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
A light-hearted Italian comic opera bought into the 1950’s by Director Roger Hodgman.
The stage was set as a town square showing the front of a restaurant and houses plus a fountain. Complete with the local townspeople riding bikes, a Vespa, two mafia types sitting at the outdoor café and where the various main characters make their entrance.
The stage had three revolves which turned the set around to form the interior of Don Pasquale’s home. A remarkable piece of stagecraft.
The story is about Don Pasquale, an older man who to spite his nephew wants to marry and have a son to leave his fortune to. But of course nothing ever goes to plan and gives the audience a lot of fun from a wonderful high standard cast.
Don Pasquale was given a wonderful performance by Conal Coad. A great actor and a fine Bass whose voice did not falter. One memorable scene was when Don Pasquale donned a wig to impress his new bride. The things that happened were a sheer delight.
His new bride to be, who happened to be in love with Don’s nephew was Norina played by Rachelle Durkin.
Durkin was ideal for the role, she has an impish manner and a good rapport both with Coad and John Longmuir. A good touch of the comique balanced by a fine soprano with a good clear enunciation.
John Longmuir was Ernesto, Don Pasquale’s nephew who was ordered out of the house. Longmuir carried the character with finesse added to by a good pleasing tenor voice living up to the high standard set by his felloe artists.
Don Pasquale’s friend (and friend to Ernesto) was Dr Malatesta played by Samuel Dundas.  Dundas has a good stage presence added to by a clear baritone which did not falter throughout the evening. His performance was a delight being well balanced between Don Pasquale and Ernesto with Don Pasquale not knowing what was going on between Ernesto, Norina and Dr Malatesta.

An entertaining evening and a good opera to introduce newcomers to opera. 

 

Tosca

Opera Australia

Director: John Bell
Conductor Andrea Molina

Opera Australia’s selection to open the Melbourne Spring season was Puccini’s Tosca.
The director was John Bell who reset the story from the Napoleonic Wars to 1943 when Italy was an ally of Germany. As John says this makes it more relevant and audiences can relate to the story.
Opening scene brought gasps from the audience with the opulence of the interior of the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. An amazing piece of work by Opera Australia’s design and construction team. This was enhanced by the sets of scene two and three.
The change to 1943 by John Bell did not make any difference to the original story but bringing it into living history gave the feel of realism to the story.
Steven Gallop was the escaped prisoner Cesare Angelotti who hid in the Attavanati Chapel. A good portrayal added to by a wonderful voice
Diego Torre was Mario Cavaradossi the artist and lover of Floria Tosca. Torre presented well and the duet Qual’occhio between Cavaradossi and Martins Serafin (Tosca) delighted the audience.
Claudio Sgura gave a stirling performance as the evil Baron Scarpia His stage presence is excellent and he really caught the evil of such a character.
The Te Deum scene had the full procession of priests, children’s choir and the public. A wonderful setting and the children’s choir certainly showed the upcoming stars of the future or opera.
Dramatic scenes in Act II where Scarpia demands that Tosca tells the whereabouts of Cavaradossi and Angelotti. This scene was excellently portrayed and the scenes between Torre and Serafin and Serafin and Sgura were a sheer delight all of course enhanced by the high standard of voice by the three.
This is where we hear the wonderful Vissi d’arte sung exquisitely by Martina Serafin.
Act III was changed from the original with scenes of the Jews rising from their sleep and being moved through a door to now we know where. This is where Mario Cavaradossi is told by Tosca that the firing squad has been fixed and he would survive.
The scene is set in a prison yard with high walls surmounted by barb wire unlike the castle battle mounts of Puccini’s original story. Tosca realises that Scarpia has gone back on his word and Cavaradossi is executed. The finale has the same ending but done differently but fits in with John Bell’s concept.
A successful production and well appreciated by the audience.

Ruddigore

Savoy Opera

Director: Stee Cordelia

Musical Director: David Campbell
Conductor: David Singh

Savoy Opera’s choice of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta to close the 2014 season was Ruddigore or The Witch’s Curse
The curse laid on the Murgatroyd family by a witch is that the inheritor of the title Baronet must do a crime a day or die a horrible agonising death.
The present baronet Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd faked his own death and hid out in a small village under the name of Robin Oakapple thus his younger brother inherited the title and the curse.

Savoy Opera presented a great set of a village square with houses each side and an amazing backdrop of a seascape and a huge lighthouse in the foreground. The costuming was brilliant suiting the period with aplomb.
The scene opens with a chorus of out of work bridesmaids singing about Rode Maybud, a young beautiful village maiden who changes fiancés at a drop of a hat.
Opening night saw Corryn Rattray as Rose Maybud and Zorah. A light lyric soprano whose voice projected beautifully and a wonderful actor in these roles.
The man she fell in love with was the farmer Robin Oakapple who unbeknownst to her was in reality Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd. Daniel Carison played parts and the program proudly announced that Daniel has just won the prestigious 2014 Royal Philharmonic Aria award. Daniel, only 21 year old bass baritone impressed the sold-out audience and won over the judges; bench.
So the Savoy Opera audience were privileged to see and hear such a talented young man playing the lead. His voice was up to the expectations of such an award winner and his acting also was up to the standard of his singing.
Robin Oakapple’s foster brother Richard Dauntless was performed by Stephen Carolane. Richard had just returned from years at sea and the pair was thrilled to be together. Stephen, besides having a good tenor   voice and a fine actor surprised the audience with his interpretation of the Sailor’s Hornpipe. An energetic number and very well executed.
Robin’s younger brother, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, who inherited the title under false pretences, was played by Phil Elphinstone. A good stage presentation together with a strong clear voice adding to the standard of the evening.
Rebecca Attwood-Frew was Mad Margaret the wife of Sir Despard Murgatroyd. A good projection of a mad woman who does recover albeit not quite altogether.
Rose Maybud’s aunt Dame Hannah was played by Lydia Klimek. An amazing portrayal not only a good voice, clear and strong, but a great actor and the scene where she was kidnapped by Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd’s servant Adam nearly brought the housed down.
Richard Burman was Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd’s servant old Adam Goodheart. Richard is a talented performer which was evident in his portrayal of such a character.
A well directed smooth running performance by the company with no weak spots and was greatly enjoyed by the audience.
  

USS Pinafore

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: David Lawson-Smith
Musical Director: John Ferguson

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria has taken HMS Pinafore from the 19th century to the 23rd century and renamed it to USS Pinafore.
Opening announcements re turning off mobile phones etc were done in the voice of a Dalek naturally if not obeyed would be EXTERMINATED.
This set the scene for an entertaining evening. At this point your correspondent must admit he is a Sci Fi fan from way back so thoroughly enjoyed the concept.
The stage was set as the bridge of the USS Enterprise although in this story it is the USS Pinafore. Centre was the captain’s chair and each side were the navigator and radio operator. Above the navigator and radio ops were two TV screens which not only showed the arrival of the admiral but also showed the words of each song. The words were updated to suit the new 23rd century version and was very successful.
Instead of the captain’s daughter Josephine falling in love with a lowly sailor she falls in love with a Vulcan Mr Rack.
Just to add to the similarity between Star Trek and Pinafore the captain’s name is now Captain Kirkoran.
The play revolves around the Star Trek story with dashes of Star Wars thrown in.
Admiral Joseph Porter leaves the satellite Deep Space 9 which is shown in the background and followers of Star Wars would recognise it as the Death Star.
The basic story is the same with the updated libretto sung to the original music.
Andrew McGrail was Captain Kirkoran giving a good performance with an excellent voice adding to his high standard portrayal.
Admiral Joseph Porter, he with many sisters, cousins and aunts, was given a stirling performance by Angus Grant. Jonathon Rumsam was Dick Deadeye. Rumsam caught the essence of the character projecting well and was appreciated by the audience.
Mr Rack including Vulcan ears was played by Adrian Glaubert who captured the pedantic character with professionalism.
Cousin Hebe was given a good performance by Phoebe Deklerk Another good portrayal and Deklerk has a fine stage appearance and handled the role with finesse.
Our heroine Josephine was performed by Josephine Grech.  Grech has an outstanding voice as well as a high acting standard. She handled her role with aplomb giving the right feel expected of Josephine caught between her father’s wishes and her own feelings for an alien.
Little Buttercup was still the same the bumboat lady selling delights to the crew. Anna Castle was Little Buttercup giving a fine characterisation of the role with a pleasant voice to match.
An interesting concept taking Pinafore into the 23rd century where the costuming was from Star Trek and the crew contained several aliens from different coloured human types and then a Vulcan, a cat person and an angel.
All in all an interesting concept and enjoyed by the audience.
At the end of the performance the orchestra played on and the entire audience stayed on to watch the orchestra as it rose from the pit to stage level and gave a brief summary of the show. A very enjoyable completion to a good night of entertainment.

 

Utopia Limited

Savoy Opera Co.

Director: Stee Cordelia
Music Director: David Campbell.

Guest Conductor: David Singh

A story of a fictional South Pacific island of Utopia where the King Paramount has sent his eldest daughter Princess Zara to an English college with the hopes that on return she will help civilize his people.
When Gilbert & Sullivan wrote this operetta Princess Kaiulani of the independent monarchy of Hawaii attended a private school in England.
Also two decades earlier Anna Loenowens wrote her book about her six-year stint ad governess to the children to the King of Siam.
This was obvious and the setting in Act One was certainly modelled on Hawaii plus the ladies of the island wore muumuus and the men lap laps.
In Act 2 the setting was changed to an English style drawing room and the cast were dressed in the English fashion which the island ladies were very uncomfortable.’
The settings and costuming was amazing and excellently done.
The performers lived up the standard set with 18 main stars and a large chorus.
King Paramount the first was given a great and comical performance by Andrew Long.
His Wise Men, Scaphio and Phantis were played by Geoff Carison and Mathew Cookson. A great comic pair with good stage presentation and acted the role of the evil types with aplomb. Their voices added to the high standard of the evening. 
The eldest daughter of the King is Princess Zara who was sent to England for her education. She returned with six advisers to change the islanders from their easy going life to the English style of living.
Princess Zara was given a wonderful and expert performance by Catherine Bolzonello
Catherine has a superb stage presence, a delightful voice and a great actor.
The Lady Sophy the princess’s English governess was portrayed by Lydia Klimek.
A good interpretation of the character and Lydia captured the role as envisaged.
A high standard production by Savoy Opera Company well appreciated by the opening night audience.  

 

The Turk in Italy

Opera Australia

Director: Simon Phillips
Conductor: Anthony Legge.

Opera Australia’s 3rd Melbourne production was the delightful The Turk in Italy.
If you have a friend who thinks opera is to heavy and only for the pure opera lovers this is the opera to introduce such friends to the art.
A light-hearted romp by Rossini about the poet Prosdocimo who is trying to find a plot for a farce he is writing. Prosdocimo is portrayed by Samuel Dundas who as the writer acts as narrator for the evening. Good stage projection with a clear and good baritone adding to the high standard of the evening.
Opera Australia and Simon Phillips changed the setting to the 50’s and what a great job it is. On audience right was a round two story bar with residence above set on two revolves one inner and one outer.
Audience left was the gypsy camp and beach scenes. Opening scene was the male chorus coming in with deck chairs and the female chorus entering in 50’s bathing costumes and after a small struggle to set up the chairs the ladies sat.
The story is based on Fiorella although married to an older man, Geronio, had a lover Narciso but heard about Selim the Turk coming to town set her cap for him.
Soprano Emma Matthews was Fiorella, who met the vocal challenges of the role with ease and her acting was perfect for such a character.
Geronio, who was the older man and her husband, was played by bass Andrew Moran. Perfectly cast as the cuckolded husband Moran was enjoyed by the audience in the role.
Selim’s former slave who still loves was Zaida played and sung by mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley. A delightful performance with a wonderful voice and Anna suited the character.
Tenor John Longmuir was Fiorilla’s lover Narciso who was very upset about Fiorilla’s attraction for Selim the Turk. Another great performance.
The one performer who in this correspondent’s opinion stole the show was Shane Lawrencev as Selim the Turk. An amazing performance of comedy, superb stage craft, great projection and a bass that was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

A wonderful evening of fun and opera well directed and performed by all

 

Rigoletto

Gianluca Terranova

Opera Australia

Director: Roger Hodgman
Conductor: Renato Palumbo

Opera Australia opened its 2014 Melbourne season with Verdi’s Rigoletto.
A well set stage opening with the Duke’s palace where the Duke of Mantua is describing his latest love.  The Duke was played by Gianluca Terranova, an outstanding performance both as an actor and of course a singer. His magnificent voice dazzled the Tuesday night audience and enhanced the evening.
Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester, was portrayed by Warwick Fyfe who has a good stage presence and captured the cruelty of the jester and the strictness but kindness to his daughter with aplomb. He also added to the delight of the audience with control and beauty of his voice.
Gilda, the Jester’s daughter was played by Irina Dubrovskaya who captured the essence of the young innocent and protected girl who fell in love with the Duke.
A good performance and Dubrovskaya has a good rapport with Fyfe.
The production was excellent with a high standard of performance from the cast and orchestra.
A great start to the 2014 Melbourne season.  
  

 

The Grand Duke

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Richard Burman
Musical Director: John Ferguson.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria opened the 2013 season with an opera only previously done twice in Victoria.
The Grand Duke or The Statutory Duel. A story of a theatrical touring group whose comedian challenges the Grand Duke to a statutory duel and wins. This win gives him the title of Grand Duke and all the Duke’s responsibilities including three wives.
The company presented a well set stage of the market square of Speisesaal and the Hall of The Grand Duke Palace. The costumes added to the evening all leading to a great evening of entertainment.
A very smooth flowing performance with the artists keeping good timing and movements.
Peter Hanway was Rudolph, Grand Duke of Pfennig Halbpfennig A good performance with a strong clear voice adding to the high standard of the production. Ludwig, the leading comedian who after winning the statutory duel became the Grand Duke was played by Paul Tooby. A stunning performance showing good comedy particularly with the marriage scenes and a good voice to match.
Andrew McGrail was Dr Tannhäuser, a notary. McGrail projects well, a good strong clear voice both in speaking and singing and was enjoyed by the audience.
Lydia Kovesi was Julia Jellicoe, an English comedian with the theatre company and as the leading lady was to become the Grand Duchess. A wonderful portrayal, good acting and a lovely voice.
Overall the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria gave a wonderful evening of entertainment and a chance to see a little known and not often seen the last collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan.

 

Princess Ida

Richard Burman & Lydia KovesiLydia Kovesi,Lucas Wilson-richter, Paul Tooby, Andrew Blair

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Ron Pidcock

GSOV presented Princess Ida for the October season. Unlike Gilbert’s other works Princess Ida is based on the work of another author, Tennyson’s The Princess.
Inspired by the emotive power of the story Gilbert made two stage adaptations of the poem. The second was Princess Ida in 1894 at the height of the Savoy Opera success.
The opening scene was the Pavilion in King Hildebrand’s Palace. Simple set with a beautiful backdrop of a road, river, mountains, valley and castle in the distance.
This is where we meet King Hildebrand and King Gama. King Hildebrand was played by Renn Wortley a stirling performance, Wortley had the correct Royal stance required by such a character with an imposing stage appearance and only exceeded by the voice which typified his stance.
King Gama, only happy when he had something to grumble about, a man stooped and going off at everyone he met was given a masterful performance by Richard Burman who excels in these roles and this performance certainly saw why. Added to the performance his voice and diction was clear and well sung.
Hilarion the Prince who was affianced to King Gama’s daughter Princess Ida was played by Adrian Glaubert. A good stage appearance, excellent voice and fine acting ability with a good rapport Lydia Kovesi.  Kovesi gave a superb performance in the role with just the right mannerisms for a feminist particular in the period the story is set. Her stage presence was excellent, voice a sheer delight and acting wonderful.
Lady Blanche, the 2IC of Castle Adamant, the ladies’ University, was a good 2IC who had a secret desire to rule the university which was put to good advantage in the story. As Lady Blanche, Jennifer Wakefield captured the essence of such a character and added to the high standard of the production.
Comic relief was given by Princess Ida’s brothers. Arav, Guron and Scynthius. Played by Lucas Wilson, Paul Tooby and Andrew Blair. They came out dressed in armour and singing how they would manage the affair without modern education but ad military men. A fine performance from the three.
Prince Hilarion’s friends Cyril and Florian were played by Charles Cornwallis and Darcy Cornwallis. Another high standard performance. Lady Psyche, one of the lecturers, is amazed when confronting the new “lady” students to find that Florian is her brother. She keeps the secret and Elyse McDonald in the role gives a great portrayal and projects well.
A n interesting and very high standard evening of G&S and a production not to be missed

Partenope

Opera Australia

Conductor: Anthony Legge
Director: Christopher Alden

Partenope by Handel premiered in King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London 24 February 1730.
Opera Australia brought the opera up to the early 20th century in fact giving a Noel Coward and Salvador Dali feeling to the production.
The opening scene is set in a salon rather than a court room. A semi circular staircase on audience left with a table and chairs with a large door behind on audience right.
Partenope was seen playing cards with her suitors as they entered down the stairs.
Partenope was played by Emma Matthews who gave a stunning performance. Her voice was magnificent and this was echoed by her acting. She covered all aspects from serious to comedy excelling in her presentation.
Her suitors. Emilio as performed by John Longmuir called in especially for the Tuesday May 6 role as Kanen Breen was indisposed. Longmuir appeared very comfortable in the role and looked as if he was doing it all the time. Good stage presentation, a marvellous voice and fine acting.
Arsace was originally played by an alto castrato so Opera Australia cast a female mezzo, Catherine Carby in the role. Carby captured the character with finesse working well with Matthews and Victoria Lambourn. A fine voice and great acting ability Catherine added to the success of the evening.
Arsace’s lover Rosmira (whom he deserted) was played by Victoria Lambourn. In the role Rosmira disguised herself as a young man Eurimene.  As Eurimene she told Partenope that she/he loved her so nobody would suspect her sex.
Lambourn was a delight in this role. Acting ability superb and her aria’s stopped the show with the audience’s applause.
A wonderful fun evening of opera with many laughs from the audience and a fine finish to the Melbourne Autumn season.

 

 

Aida

Opera Australia

Conductor: Renato Palumbo
Director: Graeme Murphy

 

Opera Australia’s second opera for the Melbourne season was Verdi’s Aida.
The set was basic comprising of a large white triangle at rear of the stage which was reflected onto the stage. This was used as a screen with all the scenery of such a lavish production projected on same. The idea was very successful bringing to life the splendour of ancient Egypt as Graeme Murphy saw it.
The costuming was first class adding to the colour and extravaganza of Aida
A mixture of opera and more ballet than usually seen in operas which brought home the richness of the Egyptian court. The dancers were of a high standard and the choreography was seemingly copied from the pictures on the Egyptian Tombs.

Radames the Egyptian general who fell in love with the Ethiopian Princess Aida was performed by Carlo Barricelli. A wonderful portrayal exemplified by an outstanding voice. His scenes and duets with both Daria Masiero as Aida and Deborah Humble as Amneris Princess of Egypt were a sheer delight.
Daria Masiero as Aida had great stage presence, good acting and a voice to delight. Masiero had a good rapport with Barricelli which added to the standard of the evening.
Deborah Humble was Amneris, Princess of Egypt and in love with Radames. A good performer working well with Masiero and Barricelli. Her voice was only enhanced by her acting and was greatly appreciated by the audience.
Amneris’s father, the King of Egypt was portrayed by Jud Arthur. Another good performance and a good stage presence with voice to match. Aida’s father the King of Ethiopia. Amonasro was played by Michael Honeyman. Honeyman has a great stage projection, fine acting abilities and a voice which delighted Melbourne’s audience.
A great evening of opera with all the glamour expected and a high standard of performance by Opera Australia.

A Masked Ball

Opera Australia

Director: Alex Ollė
Conductor: Andrea Molino

Verdi’s A Masked Ball as directed by Alex Ollė and presented by Opera Australia bought the evening into a rather Orwellian 20th century. This appeared to be a little detrimental to the production in that everyone was dressed the same plus they were all masked making it hard to identify the different characters.
The stage was starkly set which took away the feeling of a ball in 1792 which one imagines glamour, glorious settings, intrigue and the pleasures of such settings.
The voices were superb and Josė Carbò was outstanding with his aria ‘Eri Tu’ left the audience stunned.
Lorina gave a well acted well sung amusing performance as Oscar the King’s page. Csilla Boross was superb as Amelia, wife to Count Ankasrtrőm and the King’s lover. Her acting was good and her voice held the audience in suspense.
The performers were good actors with excellent voices, the orchestra was excellent but your correspondent feels the modern Orwellian production was not suited for this opera.

 

 

Salome

Opera Australia

Conductor: Simon Hewett
Director: Gale Edwards

Opera Australia’s final Melbourne production for 1012 was Richard Strauss’s Salome. A story of King Herod, John the Baptist and religious leaders who come to t meeting to decide whether John the Baptist is who he says he is or a fake.
Herod’s step daughter Salome a young girl on the eve of womanhood and very precocious at that, plus demanding what she wants she wants.
The State Theatre stage was set with a large dining table at the rear with a background of animal carcases. Centre front was the dark pit in which Jokanaan a prophet (John the Baptist) was imprisoned. Lighting was basically red giving a sombre view of the bloodthirstiness of the plot.
The costuming was of the present day to the time of King Herod which actually worked quite well.
 A young Syrian Captain of the Guard, Narraboth was performed by David Corcoran who captured the character of a man in love with Salome and would do as she wishes even though it meant his death. Corcoran added to his acting abilities with the high standard of his voice
John Pickering was Herod. An amazing performance with good acting ability plus the added value of a top voice. Herod’s wife Herodias was performed by Jacqueline Dark. Dark and Pickering were one of the best teams seen for a long while. They had a great rapport and obviously enjoyed their roles. Dark’s voice added to the standard of the evening and the two were really enjoyed by the audience.
Salome was given a great interpretation by Cheryl Barker. A magnificent voice and Barker gave the feel of a spoiled brat who forced her stepfather Herod to obey her wish.
Jokaneen (John the Baptist) was performed by Thomas Hall. He was not on view in the opening as he was imprisoned in a cistern. He came to the audience’s attention in his opening number. A good strong baritone the audience was nearly stunned when this voice came seemingly out of nowhere.
A one act opera very successfully done by Opera Australia and a fine finish to the 2012 Melbourne season.

Jacqueline Dark & John PickeringCheryl Barker

Lucia di Lammermoor

Giorgio Caoduro, emma Matthews, Stephen Smith, Jonathon Abernethy

Opera Australia

Conductor: Guillaume Touriaire.
Director: John Doyle.

A very dark opera and the set was built to match. The opening curtain was painted as clouds just prior to a storm. The backdrop was identical to the front with flys dropping at various times painted the same design.
The costuming was also drab with mostly no bright colours but black and grey dresses for the ladies and similar colouring for the men. Lucia di Lammermoor was the exception, opening she had a gold dress but covered with a grey cloak. Later she was in a white wedding dress and then a white night dress added with red from a murder.
The opera opened with an aria from Jonathon Abernethy as Normanno, an officer in Enrico’s household. Abernethy’s voice did not project across the orchestra in this scene although later in the evening his projection improved.
Emma Matthews was Lucia di Lammermoor and her first number Regnava nel silenzio stunned the audience and the applause held up the production until it finished.
Following was the duet Verrano a te sul’aure/ with Edgardo performed by Aldo Di Toro. This too, stunned the audience with the afore mentioned effect.
Giorgio Caoduro was Enrico, Lucia’s brother who was trying to marry her off to Arturo to save the family and his life regardless of what Lucia wished.
Edgardo went to France and while away Enrico arranged the wedding of Lucia and Arturo. Edgardo returns to late and one of the famous scenes begins with the great sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento? Chi troncò dell’re il corso? Arturo. Edgardo returns to late and one of the famous scenes begins with the great sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento ? Chi troncò dell’re il corso?
Edgardo went to France and while away Enrico arranged the wedding of Lucia and Arturo. Edgardo returns to late and one of the famous scenes begins with the great sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento? Chi troncò dell’re il corso?
This too was greatly appreciated by the audience.
The climax was Lucia’s mad scene. Emma Matthews was outstanding in the role. Her voice is amazing, just the correct vocals, clear, strong and getting the correct notes as expected. Her acting in this scene was superb. Coming out in a white nightdress, covered in her husband’s blood she thought her lover Edgardo was there and addressed him much to the horror of the wedding guests.
Highlight singers were Emma Mathews, Giorgio Caoduro, David Parkin, Teresa La Rocca, Aldo Di Toro and Stephen Smith.
At curtain call when Emma Matthews came forward she received a standing ovation. This has not been seen by your correspondent at any opera prior to this evening.

 

Madama Butterfly

Opera Australia

Conductor: Giovanni Reggioli
Director: Moffatt Oxenbould.

The story of the 15 year old geisha girl who married the American Lieutenant Pinkerton and after he left Japan remained true to him in spite of his use of her as a temporary relief whilst in Japan.
Madama Butterfly was performed by Hiromi Omura who gave a wonderful portrayal capturing the essence of the young devoted bride of the American. Her voice delighted the audience and added by her acting ability completed the character of Madama Butterfly. Omura was a sheer delight in the role and the audience was hushed every time she sang.
Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton was performed by James Egglestone. A great portrayal. His duets with Omura were excellent and his acting proved so well that I t final bows he was booed as he came on to take his bow. This was then applauded on his performance. Your correspondent noticed as he entered and was booed there was a small smile as he obviously realised that the booing was a credit to his performance as such a revolting selfish example of the attitude of a visiting sailor.
Madama Butterfly’s maid Suzuki was played by Sian Pendry. Another wonderful and moving performance enhanced by a lovely voice.
Amoving and dramatic moment was during the wedding ceremony Butterfly’s uncle the Bonze arrives and denounces her. Jud Arthur as the Bonze has a great and impressive stage presence giving one of the highlight performances of the evening.
Barry Ryan was Sharpless the United States Consul who disagreed with Pinkerton’s attitude and when the moment came to tell butterfly the bad news could not bring himself to do it. His and Omura’s duet Ora a noi added to the poignancy f the moment.
The set was a Japanese style with the paper type walls a floor surrounded by water which was well made use of particularly when dozens of candles were floated across same.
The rear and side walls were raised and lowered for entries and exits.
A well enjoyed evening of opera enjoyed by the audience.  
  
 

 

The Mikado

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Diana Burleigh
Musical Director: Christopher Stock.

An unusual opening to The Mikado with the Director Diana Burleigh giving a talk on the changes she made to this production. Following the talk the show opened with the Wadaiko Rindo Japanese Drumming giving a performance of the art of Japanese Drumming. A very interesting way to set the atmosphere of Japan for The Mikado.
An energetic and expert example of drumming performance with not only expert drum work but good stage work from the drummers. Timing was excellent and the performance was most enjoyable.

Then The Mikado. As the director explained in her opening talk that when The Mikado was written not much was really known about Japan. Now the country is well known and this production showed same. The opening scene portraying the Gentlemen of Japan had the gentlemen dressed as Ninjas some armed with bamboo poles and others doing exercises in Ninja fashion. The words of the song were unchanged and the chorus were great and gave a good performance with well balanced voice control.
The set was comprised of three Japanese arches decreasing in size to the stage rear.
Two sets each side of the arches and the rear were made of paper, as in Japanese hours, imported from Japan.
Costuming was excellent with Yum Yum’s wedding kimono the genuine article and Katisha’s robe also genuine and worth many dollars.
Brett O’Meara was Nanki Poo giving a good portrayal with a fine stage presence and a good clear voice with a positive rapport with Kate Amos as Yum Yum.
Kate Amos really caught the character of Yum Yum having just the right comedy touch added to by a lovely voice.
Her sisters Pitti-Sing and Peep-bo were played by Jessica Heard and Bethany McAleer. Both high standard performers adding to the standard of the evening.
Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner of Titipu was played by David Millar. Millar caught the essence of such a character giving some good portrayals especially in the scenes with Stefanie Mc Aleer as Katisha.
McAleer was great as Katisha with extra makeup to make her more like the character than usual. A good performance and enjoyed by the audience.
Renn Wortley was Poo-Bah Lord High everything, capturing the snobbish expressions of the above everyone else station in life. His characterisation was superb giving an enjoyable performance;
Andrew McGrail was the noble lord Pish-Tush dressed in Japanese clothes with a turban looking like an English Bobby. Another good performance.
A very successful evening enhanced by the talk and the Japanese drummers.

 

Cosi Fan Tutte

Melbourne Opera

Director: Suzanne Chaundy
Conductor: Greg Hocking.

Melbourne Opera’s July production was Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte.
A light hearted romp of indiscretion between two young couples and the results of same.
The company set the opera in the 60s as quoting the director Suzanne Chaundy “The 1960s is a relatively recent period that most resembles the sort of world Mozart and da Ponte was depicting. The sexual revolution is at the core of or production. Set in Melbourne, Don Alfonso, a hangover from the 1950s runs a bar and restaurant frequented by Australian Soldiers, after being jilted for the umpteenth time he renames his establishment Cosi Fan Tutte (Women are Like That).
The opening set was the Don Alfonso’s restaurant, simply set with bar on audience left and tables, chairs audience right.
Don Alfonso was played by baritone Roger Howell. As well as having a great voice Howell has a great sense of the comique giving a wonderful portrayal in the role. His cohort Despina was sung and played by soprano Andrea Creighton. A good balance to Howell both in singing and in the comic acting as called for by this role.
The two young soldiers in Australian uniform were played by tenor Roy Best as Ferrando and baritone Phillip Calcagno as Guglielmo.
Ferrando was in love with Dorabella who remained faithful, well for a while. A good pair with good rapport and nice duets. Guglielmo was in love with Dorabella’s sister Fiordiligi who did not give up her love as readily as her sister.
Dorabella was played by mezzo soprano Victoria Lambourn.  A delightful performance with a really mischievous touch. Her scenes were not to be missed and although allegedly promising to be faithful was first to succumb.
Her sister Fiordiligi was portrayed by soprano Daniella Caldar.  Fiordiligi was the more serious sister and did not give up her feelings for Guglielmo as quickly as her sister.
Caldar gave a good performance and her solo nearly brought the house down. As the story is set in the sixties the flower people came to the fore. The chorus were dressed in the style of the hippies of the time bringing back some memories of Woodstock and life against the Vietnam War. Our two heroes came back to their unknowing fiancés as Indian Love Gurus. The contrast between seeing the clean cut Diggers going off to battle and the Indian Love Gurus it is no wonder that the girls didn’t recognise their fiancés.
These scenes were an absolute delight and the acting of the main cast was fully equalled by the standard of voice creating a very enjoyable evening of opera.

 

The Merry Widow

photo J. BusbyPhoto J. Busby
David Hobson & amelia Farrugia Photo J. Busby

Opera Australia

Conductor: Brian Castles-Onion
Director: Giles Havergal

The Merry Widow is a story about the widow Countess Hanna Glawari whose inheritance was a large bank account so large her country of Pontevedro would be bankrupt if she moved it.
The Countess is in Paris with the Archduke in contact with the Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris to stop any attempts of the Countess remarrying to Frenchman thus the country losing its capital.
Amelia Farrugia was the Countess.  A sterling performance with good acting and a wonderful rendition of Vilja
Count Danilo Danilovitch, a playboy working in the Paris Embassy of Pontevedro, is the man the Ambassador Baron Mirko Zeta wishes to marry off to the Countess
David Hobson gave a wonderful portrayal of the role with a strong clear voice and superb acting expertise.
The Baron Mirko Zeta was given a great comedic performance by John Bolton Wood. Bolton Wood has the right comic yet talented approach for thee style of roles plus the correct voice for such a character.
Some of the highlights were the duets between David Hobson and Amelia Farrugia, the Baroness Valencienne Zeta and her lover M. Camille de Rosilion. The Baroness was performed by Katherine Wiles and the lover M. Camille de Rosilion was played by Henry Choo. Both worked well together with an excellent rapport plus the addition of their wonderful duet. The two French Society beaus who were competing for the hand of the Countess Hanna Glawari were played by Samuel Dundas and Warren Fisher. Both added to the enjoyment of the evening with their conspiring and fighting for the Countess’s attention.
A good evening and an operetta to introduce non opera lovers to the world of opera. 

 

The Barber of Seville

Opera Australia

Conductor: Andrea Licate
Director: Elijah Moshinsky

Opera Australia set the 2012 production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in the 1920s. Excellently done and opening scene was a set designer’s masterpiece. \
A row of houses adjoining each other about half a metre high with one larger house in the centre. This was the home of Dr. Bartolo. The houses were made small as they were in the background even to the extent that when Dr Bartolo came it he was represented by a puppet.
To the front of the stage were musicians hired by Count Almaviva to woo the Dr’s ward Rosina. A good scene.
The set of the Doctor Bartolo’s house was a complete interior of a two storied mansion with bedrooms and hallway on the first floor and entrance hall, surgery, waiting area and lounge room on the ground floor. All were used efficiently by the cast.
John Longmuir was Count Almaviva, in love with Rosina, the ward of Dr Bartolo who also wished to marry her. Longmuir gave a wonderful portrayal and rendition of such a character Rosina was performed by Sian Pendry giving a first class performance with a fine duet between herself and Longmuir. Also a first class actress adding to the standard of the evening with her performance.
The barber and busybody Figaro was given a stirling performance by Josė Carbo. A good stage projection enhanced by a good touch of the comique and rendering a fine baritone.
Andrew Morgan was Dr Bartolo in love with his ward and having trouble with Count Almaviva. His scenes were excellent and he had a good rapport with Carbo.
The period of the opera was the 1920s and it was give a style of the old films such as Buster Keaton and the Keystone cops particularly in Dr Bartolo’s house hen the police were called although following the style of the Keystone Cops was more reminiscent of the police in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.
A very pleasant evening of entertainment and a good opera to introduce non-opera lovers to.   

 

Ruddigore

The Bridesmaids & Richared Dauntless (Michael Petruccelli

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director & Choreographer: Ron Pidcock
Musical Director: John Ferguson.

Alexander Theatre Monash University was the venue for Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria’s production of Ruddigore.
A melodrama of the late Victorian style with Sir Despard Murgatroyd as the obligatory villain, Robin Oakapple the hero, Rose Maybud our heroine and Richard Dauntless the handsome sailor and a gallery of ancestor portraits which play  vital part in this amazing story.
A well set stage with Act 1 the Cornish Fishing Village where the scene opens with the bridesmaids singing about Rosebud. The bridesmaids are a professional group who are in despair as there has not been a marriage in the village for six months.
A well set scene with a good performance both acting and voice from the girls.
Sweet Rosebud, an orphan who does everything by her book of etiquette was performed by Michelle McCarthy. A great interpretation with McCarthy capturing the essence of such a sweet young lass and to add to her role a wonderful voice.
Her love, Robin Oakapple who is really the evil Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd was played by Brett O’Meara. A good performance added by the change from a prosperous and shy farmer to the evil baronet Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd.
Robin’s foster brother the sailor Richard Dauntless was played by Michael Petruccelli. He was asked to woo Rosebud on Robin’s behalf but fell for her himself. Petruccelli gave a great interpretation of the role capturing the correct mannerisms and with a fine voice to match added to the evening’s performance.
Peter Hanway was the current evil baronet Sir Despard Murgatroyd who found that his older brother was alive and therefore he changed from the evil character to one spending his time doing good for the sick and the poor. Hanway caught the character of such a role and was good in the change of persona. Sir Ruthven’s faithful retainer old Adam Goodhart and then when his master changes so does he and becomes Gideon Crawle. A good well balanced portrayal enhanced by his fine voice.
Anna Castle had an interesting role as Margaret the bride left at the alter when the curse descended on Despard causing her to become rather simple. Castle really was Mad Margaret giving a positive performance in her character as Mad Margaret and later as the wife of Sir Despard doing good works but on occasion slipping back into her former self.
 Jennifer Wakefield was Dame Hannah another left at the alter and resolving to be an old maid for the rest of her life. Wakefield added to the standard of the evening with her performance in this role.
A wonderful evening of Gilbert & Sullivan and a company not to be missed.

Andrew McGrail, Jennifer Wakefield, Michelle McCarthy, Michael Petrucelli

Brett O'Meara, Peter Hanway, Anna Castle

 

The Magic Flute

Opera Australia
Conductor: Paul Kildea
Director: Matthew Barclay

Opera Australia chose Mozart’s The Magic Flute for its second Melbourne season. A light hearted opera being excellent to introduce children and even adults to opera.
A production with amazing costuming and sets, bright colours and unique performances.
Opening we had Andrew Brunsdon as Tamino a Prince looking for wife, who is attacked by a serpent. Brunsdon caught the character with finesse with not only a good clear tenor voice but a well done acting performance.
Tamino is saved from the serpent by three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night. The three were dressed in all black with faces painted black and carried face masks with mouths set in different expressions. Their chorography was well done and the voices equalled their acting standard.
The bird catcher Papageno was performed by Andrew Jones. Another great performance with Jones having a good touch of the comique and a clear strong voice with good control.
Lorina Gore was the Queen of the Night having good stage projection a fine voice which could have had a little more depth. Pamina was the daughter of the Queen of the Night and the story’s heroine. Played by Taryn Fiebig giving a wonderful portrayal and working with a positive rapport with Andrew Brunsdon.
Adding to the enjoyment of the evening was Kanen Breen as Monostatos the villain of the piece.   An amusing performance, unusual make up and a good strong tenor which the audience really enjoyed.
David Parkin was Sarasto the leader of the Temple who was initially thought a villain but proving to be the quite the opposite. A great performance with a good stage presence.
An interesting production with strong emphasis on puppetry which particularly the bears handled by three puppeteers to each bear.
A good opera to introduce newcomers to opera especially children of which there were many on Melbourne’s opening night. 

 

 

Trial by Jury & H.M.S. Pinafore

Savoy Opera

Director: Stee Dixon
Musical Director: Brian Clough

Savoy Opera’s 2011 season opened with Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore.
Trial by Jury was the first collaboration by Gilbert & Sullivan and while only a short piece its success led to the rise of Gilbert & Sullivan and even to this day although written more than a century ago their work is still being played across the world.
Trial by Jury opened the evening. Savoy have a good set of a courtroom with the judge’s box, jury box and public box.
The Learned Judge was given a comic and great performance by Richard Burman
Burman has a good sense of the comique and timing was spot on.
The Plaintiff (she who was left at the altar) was in full wedding outfit assisted by hr bridesmaids was portrayed by Lucinda Fitzmaurice. A very good actor working well with Burman and a delightful voice which was a little soft as the performance opened but did improve over the evening. Fitzmaurice captured the essence of the deserted bride and added to the standard of the production.
The Defendant was performed by Montgomery Wilson. Wilson has a good stage projection fine voice and a suitable personality for such a role. As the Defendant he was ignored by the jury when he pleaded his case but loved by the bridesmaids and ladies in the public box. Matthew Cookson was Counsel for the Plaintiff having no trouble in obtaining the Jury’s sympathy for his client. A good performance and another actor with good stage presentation. Jeremy St. John was the usher who had his hands full keeping the Jury in their box when the Plaintiff was appealing to them. A good portrayal of such a character.

HMS Pinafore followed opening with an excellent set of the forecastle of HMS Pinafore. The front of stage was the foredeck and rear was the wheel and forecastle.
Andy Payne was the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter KCB First Lord of the Admiralty capturing such a character with finesse.
The Commander of the HMS Pinafore Captain Corcoran was performed by David Campbell who handled the role comfortably and like Payne having a pleasant voice suited for the persona.
The hero, Able Seaman Ralph Rackstraw who was in love above his station was given a good portrayal by Stephen McNealy. McNealy projects well and worked professionally with Lucinda Fitzmaurice.
Fitzmaurice was he Captain’s daughter Josephine who, by falling in love with Ralph Rackstraw fell in love below her station. The lovers were a delight to watch and being a G & S production the ending was what was expected.
 A wonderful and good comic performance was given by Matthew Cookson as the evil Dick Deadeye.
Sir Joseph Porter’s cousin Hebe was played by Julie Houghton. A domineering role with an excellent clear voice and a great performance.
Little Buttercup was portrayed by Penny Valk who captured the role with ease and worked well with David Campbell.
A good evening of G & S just showing how a good show can last the years.

 

 

 

 

Patience

Savoy Opera Co.

Director: Stee Dixon
Musical Director: Brian Clough.

Savoy Opera Co closed the 2010 season with Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience.
A take off of the Aesthetic movement represented by two poets, Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor.
The Company opened with the twenty love sick maidens singing about their love of Reginald Bunthorne.
Savoy Opera Co does not use personal microphones and the result is pure voices not artificially enhanced so instead of the usual distortion the audience enjoys the original sound and good singing.
The ladies of the company presented themselves well and gave good performances. The set was a magnificent castle and a good backdrop added to by authentic looking costuming ranging from the ladies outfits to the aesthetic dress of the poets and add the soldier’s uniforms. This all added to the colour of the evening.
Patience, the milkmaid who thought this aesthetic movement was a lot of rubbish was given a stirling performance by Lucy Pfeifer. A good stage appearance with a lovely voce and suiting the part as envisaged.
Stephen White was Bunthorne. A great performance of the foppy aesthetic poet, a picture with all the girls following him everywhere he went. His rival, Grosvenor was played by Stephen McNealey. Who had the same following but was an old childhood sweetheart of Patience and much to the disgust of his followers left the aesthetic movement. McNealey gave a good performance and showed his talents with the complete change of character.
Jennifer Donohue practically stole the show as Lady Jane who would not desert Bunthorne no matter what he wished. A first class performance both as an actor and as a singer.
A popular production and at the end the orchestra pit rose with the audience staying on to listen to more music from the Savoy Opera musicians.

 

 

Opera in the Vineyard

Sally Anne Russell, Lorina Gore, Tarito Carbo, Joshua Bloom
A Mozart Gala.
Conductor: Brian Castles-Onion

 Balgownie Estate Vineyards was the Victorian venue for A Mozart Gala.
The evening opened with a little village of food and wine tasting and because of the inclement weather was held in the conference centre. Some were guests and had dinner in the restaurant.
After the meals the audience moved down to a large and well heated marquee
The evening opened with a speech of welcome from Judith Whelan representing the  sponsors.
The cast was then introduced by the conductor Brian Castles-Onion who in himself is quite a comedian. The conductor and the performers were dressed in Mozart era costumes which added to the mood of the performance and evening.
For the music we had a string quartet with Rob John String quartet Manage and Violinist.
Suzanne Ng violin, Shani Williams Violin and Leah Cooper Cello.
After the Overture Le Nozze Di Figaro Bass Baritone Joshua Bloom opened with Non Piu Andrai from Le nozze di Figaro.
Following Bloom Tarita Carbo Soprano sang Porgi Amor from Le nozze di Figaro.
Lorina Gore and Joshua Bloom gave the duet Perche, Crudel Finora also from  Le nozze di Figaro
Mezzo Soprano Sally Anne Russell was the next artist with Volche Sapete also from Le nozze di Figaro.
Not only were the cast excellent singers and in good voice for the evening they were also very good performers They have a good rapport with each other and individually were very entertaining. Tarita Carbo has a real sense of mischief and some of her expressions were a delight. Lorina Gore and Joshua Bloom gave a superb and fun performance Sally Anne Russell gave a fine entertaining performance not only as a singer but a good sense of the comique.
The conductor Brian Castles-Onion was also the pianist and narrator and introduced each performance with a touch of humour which added to the enjoyment of the evening.
The string quartet shared the stage with the singers giving the correct balance to the voices.

A very pleasant evening enjoyed by the audience who braved the elements which did not deter lovers of opera

Sally Anne Russell, Lorina Gore, Tarito Carbo, Joshua Bloom

 

 

Victorian Opera

 

The Bear

John Bolton Wood & Jessica Aszodi

Director: Talya Masel
Conductor: Oliver-Philippe

A story of the widow Popova who cannot forgetCuneo et her deceased husband and refuses to see anyone. Luka, her servant tries to get her to face life. Into her life comes Smirnov, ‘a bear of a man’ demanding reparation for debts incurred by her late husband.
The matter comes to a duel except that Smirnov has to teach Popova how to handle a pistol and while doing so love raises its heads.
Popova was excellently portrayed and showing her strong vocal ability, by Jessica Aszodi A wonderful performance. Her servant Luka was played by Andrew Collins who captured the servant worried about his employer’s love life.
Smirnov was given an outstanding performance by the perfect man for the role, John Bolton Wood. Besides being a great singer Bolton Wood has a wonderful sense of the comique which is perfect for the character of Smirnov.
An entertaining production well appreciated by the audience.

Angélique.

Gary Rowley & Theresa Borg

Director: Talya Masel

Conductor: Oliver-Philippe Cuneo

Angélique.is married to Boniface a potter, but n
ot a happy marriage in fact so much Boniface puts her up for sale. But the purchasers realise what a harridan she is and return her. Even the devil who drags her down to hell returns her as she makes Hades hell for even the devil.
An overt the top opera which was a great success. The second night was different as Samuel Dundas who played Boniface was taken ill and was relieved by Adam Murphy acting and James Payne singing.
Murphy only had seven hours notice so had to read the lines. He really captured the character and gave a wonderful performance. James Payne stood on the side in normal dress and sang the requisite numbers also giving a high standard to the songs.
 Angélique was played by Theresa Borg who captured the harridan with ease and added a beautiful voice to the production. The agent trying to sell Angélique was Charlot played by Gary Rowley. A good interpretation of such a character. The costuming was exaggerated to the extent that the audience burst out in laughter and applause when the Italian, the Englishman,  the King of Bambaras and the Devil appeared. The set was that of a typical farce with doors and windows opening everywhere and even a pole for
Angélique to slide down.
These two operas are a perfect to introduce someone to opera who have the old idea that it is too classical to see.
Victorian Opera are dedicated to bringing to its audiences small little known operas for the enjoyment of Victoria Opera lovers.

Cosí fan tutte

 

Opera Australia

Director: Jim Sharman
Conductor: Olivier-Phillippe Cunéo

Cosi fan tutte is a light-hearted opera about two young officers who boast to their friend Don Alfonso about the fidelity and devotion of their fiancées. Don Alfonso bets that, given the chance the girls would forget their promises and take new lovers.
The two young officers’ agree and so the opera commences.
OA had a basic set with white panels and a sloping stage.
A two act production that in Act! did tend to drag a little resulting in some audience members not returning after interval.
Henry Choo as Ferrando, engaged to Dorabella, gave a positive performance. Choo’s voice is very good in this character and he has a good stage presence.
Luke Gabbedy was Guglielmo, engaged to Fiordiligi, another good performance
The two girls, Fiordiligi and Dorabella were played by Hye Seoung Kwon and Sian Pendry. The two had a good rapport and wonderful voices. Their acting was very good and captured the roles as envisaged.
 Tiffany Speight was Despina, the young lady who did her best to make the sisters forget their finances and enjoy themselves while the boys were serving on the front. Speight not only has a wonderful voice she has a great sense of the comique and captured the role with finesse. Don Alfonso was played by José Carbò. A good interpretation of the man who bet the young officers that their fiancées would not stay faithful.
A fine performance and Carbò had a natural approach to the character.
A pleasant evening of Mozart’s works but the first act did seem to drag a little.

 

 

Opera in the Vineyard - The Three Tenors

 

Balgownie Estate, Yarra Valley Victoria was the venue for The Three Tenors evening.
The evening opened at 5pm with wine tasting, various stalls including various foods and books. A pleasant evening although a little damp underfoot. Sitting at outside tables enjoying meals and a wine or two while making new friends and enjoying the wonderful views of the Great Divide and the Dandenongs.
At 7pm the audience moved down to the marquee for the evening performance.
The producers are thrilled to pay tribute to the legendary moment of July 9, 1990 when history was created when opera greats, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and José Carreras met on stage at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and became widely known as The Three Tenors.
To remember that evening Balgownie Vineyard and 4-D International presented a memorial and mischievous evening from today’s Three Tenors, the internationally acclaimed Jorge Lopez-Yañez, Jose Medina, Dennis McNeil and as a special treat the performance also included Niki Vasilakis acclaimed as one of the most exciting violinists to have emerged from Australia.
The evening was hosted by Julia Zemiro probably best remembered as co-host of the SBS Broadcast of the last Euro Vision broadcast. 
The overture was The Bartered Bride by the orchestra which was followed by the Three Tenors with Granada. Then each tenor gave individual performances.
Following the Tenors Niki Vasilakis performed a special arrangement of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.    
Act 1 gave two performances from each artist and The Three Tenors.
The Three Tenors both individually and solo not only gave a great vocal performance but were quite amusing with their treatment of each other.
Niki Vasilakis gave a wonderful performance with the violin with the audience spellbound by her playing.
Act opened with a Neapolitan medley from The Three Tenors with the audience joining in when they knew the songs. Each tenor then gave a solo performance and Niki Vasilakis performed a Concert Fantasy from Bizet’s Carmen. Very popular with the 700plus strong audience.
 The evening was enjoyably and amusingly hosted by Julia Zemiro who had a great rapport with the audience and not only a good MC but a wonderful entertainer.
Opera in the Vineyards is an annual event and it is recommended to book early as the dinner and show package was booked out in June.

 

 

 

PROFESSIONAL

 

3 Sisters

Produced by Metanoia Theatre

Metanoia Theatre
3 Sisters
Director: Greg Uflan

Metanoia Theatre situated in the Mechanics Institute Brunswick cleverly used its design skills and the acting skills to produce Chekov’s 3 Sisters.
 A very small acting space well utilised by the company by judicious use of boxes, screens, and of all things, leggo.
The performers had unusual costuming with old suits and jackets with the borders and epaulets done in white paint. The standard of production was quite good and the actors were well balanced but occasionally some of the dialogue was rather quiet.
A pianist played throughout the performance as background music mostly quiet but sometimes a little loud making it hard to hear the cast.
To give the Russian feel to the story come actors spoke Russian (very well) and on one occasion an interpreter read from a book at rear of stage giving the translation about what was said.
An unusual evening of theatre, actors doing a good job, set changes went smoothly and the audience enjoyed the evening.

 

Arround the World in 80 Days

Alex Theatre St. Kilda
Director: Terence O’Connell

A challenge for any director and three performers is the production of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
A very successful interpretation of the well known story by Tony Halse who adapted the story for the stage and Director Terence O’Donnell who made sure it was the success he looked for.
The stage setting was well cone with a giant clock at rear showing the time changes across the journey, many cogs and wheels and boxes used to denote ships, trains and even an elephant. The scenic design was magnificently done by Merinda Backway, the costuming excellently handled by Lucy Wilkins.
The lighting which really set off the production was skilfully executed and designed by Jason Bovaird.
The players were as Phineas Fogg the adventurer who was challenged to go around the world in 80 days was played by Ian Stenlake. Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout was played by Pia Miranda and Inspector Fix from Scotland Yard was played by Grant Piro. 
Each player also played all the individuals one met on such a trip varying from porters, public servants, consular officials, sailors, sea captains, etc.
A very hectic performance which each player interpreting the roles with the aid of changes of hats, changes of costumes and all changing accents to suit the respective characters.
Ian Stenlake, Pia Miranda, and Grant Pia captured their roles with finesse having a great rapport with each other which eventuated in excellent performances. An excellent night of theatre thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.

 

Proof

Artefact Theatre Company. Photography Theresa Harrison.

Director: Emily O’Brien-Brown

A story of Catherine, a young lady who looked after her father, a famous mathematician, in his last years. Catherine has inherited her father’s genius but worried that she might inherit his debilitating mental illness.
A well set stage of the rear of a Chicago weatherboard house where the action takes place on the rear veranda.
Catherine was played by Madeleine Jevic. A great positive performance capturing the moods of such a character. Her sister Claire was played by Anna Burgess. Another good performance of the sister who sis not inherit their father’s genius but had moved to New York and supported the family. Burgess has a good stage presence and carried the role with aplomb.
The father’s former student Hal was played by Mark Yeates. Well presented, with a good rapport between himself and Jevic. A well done performance.
The Father Robert was given a stirling performance really capturing the character as envisaged by Roy Baker.
The four players all projected well with an equally good rapport giving a positive evening of theatre. 

A Different Way Home

Chapel Off Chapel.

Director: Zoe Warwick.

A one man production performed by Michael Dalton. A black comedy which conveys the need for families to communicate.
The stage was well set, audience right was the entrance to a English flat with a hallstand. Stage centre were two chairs, a glass cabinet containing the crockery one would expect to see in such a lounge room. Audience left was the kitchen area.
Act 1 was Leslie, as Leslie Michael entered placed his hat on the hallstand moved across to the left chair and sat. Then he talked to the audience as if we were one person just having called in. This was very effective giving the feel of intimacy and that the audience was one person. Leslie told us about his life, occupation his sister and her family and every now and then asked if we would like a cup of tea getting up to make it then going back to his chair without doing anything.
Michael presented the character of Leslie excellently, capturing all the finer nuances of the middle aged bachelor living with his mother, and keeping up the correct accent of Leslie.
The second act we meet Maureen, Leslie’s younger sister. Her story varies somewhat from Leslie which is the essence of the play showing the need for families to communicate. Michael was Maureen and gave a superb interpretation of Leslie’s sister. One would not recognise that the two characters were actually played by one man.
A wonderful interpretation of two different and contrasting characters and a very successful evening of theatre.  

 

St. Martins Youth Arts - I Saw the Second One Hit

St. Martins Youth Arts Centre
I Saw the Second One Hit.
Director: Clare Watson.

Fourteen years ago two planes flew into two towers and like Romulus and Remus millennia ago, ignited a battle over Western Civilisation.
As the towers fell in New York, twin girls were born in suburban Australia.
I Saw the Second One Hit asks us to take a look at this different world that these twins, now teenagers, inhabit their beliefs, their fears, their politics and their calisthenics.
Upon entering the Tower Theatre at Coopers Malthouse Theatre you were assailed by a TV broadcast of an American breakfast show of the morning of 9/11.
The stage was set with only a chair in the centre and a back curtain of reflective strips.
Enter a young teenager who sat in the chair and told the audience of her life, She was joined through this narrative by her twin sister and each told their own story. They called themselves mirror twins as one was left handed and the right handed. For the conversation scene they were dressed in suits and then went off stage returning in costume designed as opposite pattern.
All the time the TV broadcast was going on and the girls using calisthenic moves struck different poses.
The girls were twins Juliette and Madeline Hemphill born in 2001. Their timing was spot on, projection and voice excellent and these two teenagers have a good future in theatre.

 

 

Circus Oz

Circus Oz
But Wait …There’s More

Melbourne’s own Circus Oz returns to the Big Top at Birrarung Marr for the4 June/July season. But Wait … There’s More is a satirical look at today’s culture of infobesity and consumer overload around all the STUFF, STUFF   and STUFF.
Opening the audience saw a large wicker basket on stage. Then! The top opened and out came a musician who went across and started playing. He was followed by the rest of the cast all coming from out of the box. In fact your correspondent was told that they all jammed on each other as the basket was brought in.
An amazing cast all experienced in all aspects of circus, each has a specialised performance but all can do everything.
An unusual unicycle performance was done by Kyle Raftery and April Dawson.
Kyle rode the unicycle then April joined in with an acrobatic display on Kyle’s shoulders, swinging around Kyle’s neck and all the4 while Kyle was unicycling around the ring. Then he moved onto a larger (about 2metres) where they continued in with on one occasion April was standing on Kyle’s shoulders while circling.
Derek Llewellin gave an amazing display on a large hoop and then together with all the cast on the flying trapeze. The cast were very experienced and gave a delightful and comic performance.
Another twist was the diving through hoops. This time the hoop was square in the shape of a TV screen. Two performers had a game controller then one dived through the TV and the other controlled his movements by the remote. Then the two did the diving backwards and forwards above and below. An enjoyable twist.
A medium style circus but with the performers reminiscent of a large circus. A pleasant evening thoroughly enjoyed by the audience on a particularly cold Melbourne winter evening. However the Big Top is well heated.

 

PESCADO


A circus cabaret fusion
Directors: Carita Farrer Spencer and Hayden Spencer
National Institute of Circus Arts.

NICA second year students precented Pescardo a presentation of their works cone cabaret style and set in the ocean.
This was very effectively done with the lighting and costuming plus movements adding to the conception of underwater.
Opening we saw scuba divers swimming up and down. A two storied set with the students on the upper story watching the scuba divers plus singing with a band.
The usual performance of circus arts such as foot juggling, trapeze with a twist. One performer was caught in a net and was raised and lowered while doing the exercises associated with this act but looking like struggling to survive which unfortunately didn’t.
Then members came out with fish baskets actually containing Indian Clubs. A magnificent display of juggling from two to eight performers tossing to each other.
In the rear we saw a student on a unicycle on the slack wire. Very well done.
Another good scene was the drowning sequence where the whole cast swam around trying unsuccessfully to save a human swimmer.
The finale was exemplary with the two deceased victims appearing as angles complete with wings.
A very high standard of circus arts particularly considering the production was performed by the second year students.  

Sexy Galexy's Manliness Mission - Reviewer Naja Kemp

Your Ultimate Destination for This Year's Melbourne International 2015 comedy Festival Show
is

"Sexy Galexy's - Manliness Mission"

A Live Interactive Comedy cabaret DRAG KING SHOW with audience Participation including; Dance, Music and Film Media.
From The Aussie Bush to an Award-Winning DRAG KING!
"Manliness Mission" is a Captivating Insight on; 'How to Get Your Guy On!' - says "Sexy Galexy".
With insatiable curiosity I headed out to a "THE 86", A Bar and Cafe Club at 185 Smith Street Collingwood it has a Venue Room, with a dance floor, D.J. Booth, Seating and a Stage with Gold-Trimmed Long Red Curtains, also Sexy Bar Attendants serving up Excellent Cocktails.
The audience gathers, the Curtains part. In Rapid-Fire Action and with a Bolt of Stage Luminescent Pyrotechnics a Goddess Transforms into a Legendary Dazzlement DRAG KING DYNAMITE!
This "MANLINESS MISSION" is Astoundingly HYSTERICAL!
"SEXY GALEXY'S IMPECCABLE COMICAL MOJO - is on
the MARK!!!"
"SEXY GALEXY" the Very Saucy Comedian, Liberates Herself from oppressors, who Lack in 'SPARK', Sexy conquers stagnant attitudes. "SHE SEXY", The Great Redeemer serves up to US; A Prime Cheeky Visionary Stage Surprise!
See this show "MANLINESS MISSION" in The Comedy Festival and I can Assure You, that You will Crawl out-of-your old shag-pile Skin of Restriction, turning Perception Reversals around as "SEXY GALEXY" Lists All of Her Manskills even unshakeably true; to Her, CHIC-MENSWEAR-CUSTOMISING on a QUEST for Original Manhood Styling, which is much more than just 'Sporting a Great Beard'!
"SEXY GALEXY'S MAN-MERGING THEOREM." Likened to the Mathematical fibonacci Sequence on:- "What It Takes To be A Man''!
The KEY FORMULA :- A MAN MAKE-OVER!' Demonstrating to SHOW-UP all of Us, that remain fixed in some State of Obsession, Duality of Programmed Twisted Barbwire.
With Spicy Acuity "SEXY GALEXY" will Cut - the Barbwire, showing Mastery of Intuitive Creativity - Amazing Us with HER, Original Ideas in 'MAN-SCAPING; HAIR SCULPTING, Man-Dancing, Man-Fighting (she even educates on, How to Treat the Ladies Right and everyone all Ecstatic with Excitement!)
The Resulting Equation = Self-Realisation 'PEACOCKING' An Ultimate Dance-Off; 'Every Angle of the Dangle'. "YES! DAZZLE MAN-TASTIC, EMBRACE YOUR INNER MAN and GET YOUR GUY ON!" - states Sexy Galexy!
Be 'Populace Heroes' and 'Stand Tall'! Have a innuendo - 'GET LEI'D PIZZA' down at THE 86 CLUB; FEEL LIKE a Super-Hero in the Club's Bathreoom ie. 'Superman Wallpaper'. Take On "Sexy Galexy's The Mun-cho-Man super Hero - MANLINESS MISSION"; You can even Photo Shoot "Sexy" after the show!
A triumphant show, bursting with Laughter. Congratulations to "SEXY GALEXY" and Director "CAT COMMANDER"' to whom I reward with excellence and have become an 'Enthusiastic Devotee'!

Season: March 27 - April 19 - Fri & Sat: 8PM - Sun: 7PM at THE 86, Address: 185 Smith St. Collingwood.

 

 

Absinthe


Spiegel World
Rooftop at Crown

Inspired by the absinthe-drenched cabarets of Late-19th century Europe, Absinthe is an adult-themed cocktail of circus, burlesque and vaudeville for a 21st century audience, hosted by the outrageous Gazillionaire and his sidekick Penny.
The over 100 year old Spiegel tent was erected on the roof of Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Seating 750 opening night was fully booked and no one was disappointed in the show.
Opening with the chair juggler who built a tower of chairs while holding a drink tray and wine bottle the performer couldn’t have done better, with the audience holding it’s collective breath throughout the performance.
An act not often seen these days was the young lady fire eater. What she did with the fire sticks was something your reviewer had not seen before. There was the usual into the mouth and out then setting various parts of her brief costume on fire with amusing after effects. Added to the performances were the angels around the perimeter of the central stage giving comic performances with one young lady a very good singer keeping the entertainment going while the different items were set up.
Of course we had the MC for the evening, the outrageous Gazillionaire and his very attractive assistant. Their patter would bring a blush to a sergeant-major and definitely not a show for the younger generation.
The production also had some wonderful acrobats and trapeze artists with an interesting dance with a balloon, what can be dome with a giant balloon will astonish you. Then we ballet dance pas de deux like never been seen before. Wonderfully executed and a terrific rapport.
The finale was an high wire act. A little restricted by the space but absolutely amazing with double deck wire walking plus a wheel put to good use.
An interesting evening of circus entertainment in an unusual venue the Spiegel Tent on the roof of Crown Casino. 

 

Avenue Q the Musical

Chapel off Chapel

Director: Stephen Wheat
Musical Director: David Wisken

A story of the people who live on Avenue Q, their troubles, friendships, romances and lives.
A large cast comprising of people and puppets. Each puppet was handled by one to two people. An admirable fact was the puppeteers did not try to be ventriloquists but the expertise of the puppeteers was such that the audience forgot the humans and concentrated on the puppet characters.
The human element was the building superintendent Gary Coleman yes the TV Gary Coleman excellently portrayed by Zuleika Khan. Christmas Eve was given a great and positive interpretation by Leah Lim. Christmas Eve’s boyfriend was Brian played by Michael Lindner. Another great performer and a perfect foil for Leah.
The puppeteers were absolutely excellent. Never faltering in the performance and as I said earlier one forgot that the puppets were not human. They were similar to the Muppets but the storyline certainly wasn’t.
Good music and the cast have wonderful voices. A mention must be made about the superb lighting Jason Bovaird is to be highly praised for such a wonderful display which certainly added to the success of the production.
A definite production not to be missed and the opening night audience couldn’t get enough. So keep your eyes open for Trifle Theatre Company.

 

Don Bradman Lives Next Door


Writer/Director: Cenarth Fox

A play set in heaven about two of the world’s most famous cricketers, Dr. W. G. Grace and Sir Donald Bradman.
A two handed play with David McLean as Dr. W. G. Grace and Damian Jones as Fred Ashley-Cooper writer or edited more than 100 cricket books and thousands of cricket obituaries. He worshipped Dr. Grace.
A small stage with some garden furniture and covering the rear of the stage was a screen in which various scenes were imaged. For heaven there was a garden scene and  as the play moved on the various scenes of the cricket life of Dr. Grace and Don Bradman appeared on the screen. Very effectively done and added to the story of the play.
Cenarth Fox on to be congratulated on his research into the two great cricketers and even audience members who were not cricket followers learnt something and enjoyed the production.
David McLean was Dr. Grace. A stirling performance capturing the correct arrogance of such a personality.
Damian Jones was Fred Ashley-Cooper the writer who wanted to write a book about Dr. G. Grace. A great performance as the writer who on occasion got under the doctor’s skin and then getting out of trouble. Both actors balanced each other with finesse and projected well.
Cricketers and non-cricketers will certainly Love this play. Not only it has good acting, amazing historical interest but both players have been trained in musical theatre and gave some scenes straight out of vaudeville with straw hat and cane.
A very enjoyable evening of theatre and definitely a show not to be missed.  

 

 

Totem

Cirque Du Soliel

Opened in Melbourne Wednesday January 21at the famous Flemington Race Course Totem took Melbourne by storm.
Totem is circus designed to be a fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind.
Opening scene is described as Carapace. A giant turtle represents the origin of life on earth. The cover is whipped away and the carapace skeleton is revealed to be partially built of gymnastic bars. These were excellently exhibited by Jonathon Buese, Umihiko Miya, Roman Ponomarov, David Resnick and Caoliang Wang.
Amazing performances by these artists.
 Following the Carapace was hoop dancer Eric Hernandez Costuming was outstanding, inspired by the traditional ceremonial clothing of a number of North American Indians it added to the hoop dancing. A visual and excellent treat of what can be done with a simple set of hoops all done to the beat of drums thus keeping up the North American Indian flavour.
Then we had the rings trio. A set of rings lowered from the roof with two young men competing with each other until a young lady arrives to show them it’s done. A very spectacular production with the competition between the three adding to the normal rings exercise. Performed by Yann ARNAUD, Vladimir NOVOTNY, Gael OUISSE Alevtyne TITARENKO, Olli TORRKEL.
 After the ring s was to me the one of the highlights of the evening and one of the most amazing pieces of juggling and balance ever viewed on a stage. Five young ladies entered on specially made light weight seven metres high unicycles. After circling the ring and doing some terrific moves they then removed tin basins from their heads and placing one at a time on one foot tossed them onto each other’s heads. Then they all circled one member and kept firing the basins by foot onto the solo performers head. This, mind you, wile still balancing and riding their  two metre unicycles. The team members were BAI Xiangjie, HAO Yuting, HE Xuedi, WU Yurong and YANG Jie.
Then appeared the fisherman (clown) a rowboat entered from audience left whereupon Phillippe THIBAUDEAU promptly lit a fire in the boat and started to fish. A great piece of comedy enjoyed by all.
Pavel SAPRYKIN was the hand balancer. Using a circular stand Saprykin exhibited his very high talent as a hand balancer.  
The Crystal Ladies, Marina TSODIKOVA AND Svetlana TSODIKOVA followed with foot juggling. Dressed in costumes shimmering with crystals the two girls juggled crystal impacted cloth squares with up to four cloths spinning in the air swapping form foot top foot and then across to each other. A magnificent display of the juggling art.
 Then came evolution. Entering the stage the first primate, then the apes and Neanderthal man, Cro-Magnon man and finally today’s man in a suit with a briefcase and answering his mobile phone.
After intermission we saw Marcus FURTNER with his devil sticks Great manipulation of what can be done with plain ordinary sticks and all done to a Spanish beat.

Guilhern CAUCHOS and Sarah TESSIER showed what can be done on the fixed trapeze. Besides being excellent trapeze artists they added to the performance with their romantic play on boy trying to impress girl and he results of this impression.
Chris CHIAPPINI was the scientist representing reason and the quest to understand the universe. He had a laboratory with a large transparent cone in which he stepped and juggled many different balls all with interior lighting and changing colour with each move.
Jan MONASTERO and Phillippe THIBAUDEAU entered one in a motorboat and the other water skiing behind. The usual fun ensued with in and out of the boat.
This was followed by hoop dancers Eric HERNANDEZ and Shandien LARANCE.
Again dressed in North American Indian fashion these two gave a great display of hoop manipulation finishing with the hoops as a circle and an eagle.
Then another highlight, on a small 18 metres in diameter round stage shaped like a drum were Denise GARCIA-SORTA and Massimiliano MEDINI. Dressed in white and silver North American Indian style the pair were on roller skates. Magnificent performance whirling around on such a small area what the two could do had the audience’s hearts in their mouths.
The finale was the Russian bars. Two men to each bar holding each end while a third man stood on the centre and was tossed into the air doing all types of exercises normally seen at the diving pool. They were tossed this way and that, from one bar to the other without a mishap
A wonderful evening of entertainment with excellent lighting, amazing stage presentation with the use of film techniques giving a realistic theme to the various scenes. 

 

7

7
A triple bill of short contemporary circus works as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014.

The National Institute of Circus Arts is presenting 7, a gripping triple bill performed by second year students.
7 days in a week. 7 colours in a rainbow. 7 seas. 7 continents. 7 deadly sins…
The number “7” is significant and varied in its interpretation and meanings which s why it was selected as the theme for this triple bill.
Number 1 was called On the 7th day.
With Corie Hurry on the chair balancing. What a remarkable performance with chairs rising and Corie moving up with the chairs showing amazing talent and professionalism.
Mark Graham and Steven Finnegan raced in and started to quarrel then each hopped into an Ariel hoop suspended from the ceiling and what they did was most unexpected. Rising and falling, swinging back and forward to each other and doing gymnastics as the hoops were moving. A remarkable performance.
Madeline Robbins gave a great display of hula hoops. Opening the performance with one hoop and what she did was intriguing but then more and more hoops came her way and she started with them all together around her waist then with a few twists she had the hoops up and down across her whole body.
Mark Graham, Steven Finnegan and Stephanie Mitchell nearly brought the house down with their interpretation of what can be done with handstands.
Number two was Apartment7
Life in a flat occupied by students. On stage were various white goods common to home life such as refrigerator, washing machine and a sofa. Well out of the refrigerator came one student, out of the washing machine was another and the sofa had two girls sitting on same when through the middle came another student. This scene included National Express with the whole cast, Dance Trapeze with Elke Uhd, more handstands with Stephanie Mouat, Fridge Adagio with Maggie Fayne and Marty Evans, and a special highlight was Ping Pong Manipulation with Marty Evan, Adam O’Connor-McMahon. What those two could do with ping pong balls absolutely astounded the audience. This was followed by a slack wire performance by Simone Sallé who amazed all with her sense of balance and flair of showmanship.
This was followed by all the cast n the clothes scene. Clothes flying across the stage while various members of the cast are in and out of the fridge, rubbish bin and washing machine. The last item was the high wire act. Curtains were drawn across the rear of the stage to reveal a high wire rigged out. There were two performers. Adam O’Connor-McMahon and Stephanie Mouat. They commenced with what one would expect then came the stunner. Adam walked across with Stephanie standing on one foot on his head. Adam walked back and forward with Stephanie on his head with both looking quite relaxes as if it was the normal thing to do. An amazing performance.
Number three was #ashtag 7
A world of touch screens, keyboards and smiley faces where the pandemonium of automation and computerisation are brought starkly to our attention.
This was shown by the whole cast with intro acto followed by Jilibalu Riley, Miriam Cawley and Alex Jean with aerial forest. An amazing up and down ribbons from the floor to the ceiling. One thing seemingly not taught at NICA is the law of gravity. The ease which the students climb the ribbons, the aerial hoop, the Chinese Pole and he cloud Swing flabbergasted the opening night audience.
A wonderful evening of circus and when you realise that these are the second year students what is in store for the third and final year performances.  

 

The Last Confession

 

A play of power and tradition set in the Vatican at the time of Pope John Paul 1st who wanted to bring the church into the 20th century against the wishes of the Curia who consider they know what is best for the Church.
The play centres on Cardinal Giovanni Benelli who is responsible for the election of the Cardinal from Venice Albino Luciano to become Pope John Paul 1.
The opening scene is between Cardinal Giovanni Benelli and his confessor, where Cardinal Benelli is threatening to publish his last confession which is about what happened to Pope John Paul 1st who mysteriously died only after 33 days in office. His ideas and possible removal of the leading bodies of the Curia made the death even more suspicious.
The stage was set in front of St. Peters and comprised of several doors which alternately reversed to show the exterior and the interiors.
David Suchet played Cardinal Giovanni Benelli who was a narrator as well as the investigator into the death of Pope John Paul 1st.
A marvellous performance from the man better known as Agatha Christie’s Monsieur Poirot. On TV he has a soft Belgian accent, on stage his diction was amazing no matter which way he faced the audience could hear him clearly, A strong clear voice echoing across the whole auditorium. His acting could not be faulted and when he appeared  took over the stage but when he was not the centre of the play he in no way upstaged his fellow performers.
The cast of 20came from Canada, Australia, England and the USA. The players worked well together in a smooth well directed evening of theatre. 
David Suchet at the media launch told us that when told about the upcoming world tour he insisted on Australia being included because the majority of his fans of Poirot were Australians. He has now visited Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide and after Melbourne on to Sydney. He is so impressed by Australia that he wants to come back each year for two months.

Empire

Spiegelworld’s Empire
Venue: Crown Casino Roof

A new type show arrived in Melbourne Thursday March 13. After a successful season in New York and Sydney, Melbourne has now played host to a wonderful evening of entertainment.
An unusual venue that of the roof top of Crown Casino, completed with outside bar, tables and chairs, a takeaway food caravan and most interesting, one person hammocks to enjoy your drink and Melbourne’s balmy Autumn weather prior to the show.
The Spiegeltent is erected on the roof. An interesting history. The Spiegeltent is a large travelling tent, constructed in wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass.
The Famous Spiegeltent perhaps the most lavish decorated of all was built in 1920 in Belgium and holds 300 – 350 people.  It is now owned and managed by Australian pianist and theatre producer David Bates.
This venue is ideal for the production Empire a variety show of contortionists, quick change artists, roller skating, of burlesque, acrobatics and the finale the most amazing balancing act ever seen.
The show opened with Miss A in a plastic bubble suspended above the audience. A wonderful display of contortionist art.
Oscar and Fanny, the hosts of the show took over next with an hilarious quick change exhibition. A hoop was raised over Fanny then dropped and she was completely changed in a second or two. Then Oscar tried it and the female audience were treated to a strip completely unexpected.
This was followed by Memet Bilgin Rigolo with a large spinning top which ran up and down a large piece of driftwood. An interesting and ingenious performance.
 Denis Petaov and Maria Beseimbetova were roller skaters. The circular centre stage is only 3 metres wide and what these two skaters did was absolutely incredible. The audience had their hearts in their mouths watching as they spun around with Maria flying through the air in various positions.
The hosts Oscar and Fanny returned with a burlesque act assisted by a “volunteer” from the audience, rather raunchy but very entertaining.
Yasu Yoshikawa demonstrated various hoops rolling around with great timing and leaving the audience wondering how he did not come off the catwalk.
Followed by Vlad Ivashkin and Aiusha Khadzh Khamed who gave the evening a magnificent routine where Vlad tossed Aiusha up onto his hands she standing on dame plus some beautiful movements.
Oscar and Fanny returned with a banana routine which your correspondent will not describe, but hilarious non the less.
Last and left the whole audience absolutely amazed was Memet Bilgin Rigolo with the most incredible balancing act ever seen. Commencing with a feather balancing on a small palm branch he added branch after branch 14 altogether then the whole is suspended on one branch balancing on the floor. One puff of breath to the feather and the whole collapses.
A very great evening of perhaps cabaret leaving a standing ovation for the opening night.  

 

Uncle Vanya

La Mama Courthouse Theatre

Ruth Sancho & Stephanie Osztreicher

La Mama Courthouse Theatre
Uncle Vanya
Translated by Greg Ulfan & Joseph Sherman
Director: Greg Ulfan

La Mama produced Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at the Courthouse theatre. Primarily a basic stage set comprising of three tables to the rear, three boxes used as tables, desks and cupboards. Lego pieces scattered across the floor and used as food, wine bottles, glasses and assorted props as required. All articles efficiently used.
The production seemed a little slow with several pauses which are instrumental to the plot but did seem a little long. Background music was by guitarist Chris Bolton who had the correct volume for such a background piece but your reviewer feels that a balalaika would have given more atmosphere to such a traditional Russian play.
The performances ranged from reasonable to well! One very hard to understand with the dialogue was Sonia played by Ruth Sancho Huerga. Ruth a Spanish performer’s dialogue was incomprehensible when spoken rapidly, her performance was fair but she played the Spanish woman too much instead of the Russian young lady who actually owned the estate her father wished to sell.
Her father a retired professor Alexander Serebrakoff was played by Scott Gooding. A good stage appearance but did not appear to have captured the role successfully.
Marina, in the story the old nurse, played by Zoe Stark who also played MME Voitskaya mother of Serebrakoff’s first wife did not quite get the age of her characters correct. Helena, Serebrakoff’s second and much younger wife, was played by Stephanie Osztreicher. A fair performance but perhaps too much made of the physical side of such a character.
Uncle Vanya was portrayed by Joseph Sherman who gave a strong performance but at times went too much ‘over the top’. The doctor Michael Astroff , was played by Leslie Simpson. A good stage presentation but like Sherman a little ‘over the top; in his performance. The impoverished landowner who was always there but nobody seemed to notice was Ilia (Waffles) Telegin. Portrayed by Eric Myles also a guitarist and gave a small performance as part of his role, projected well and was a fair performer.
Overall a slow play with some too long breaks and the cast seemingly not working together as on would expect.

 

Cranked Up - Circus Oz

Circus Oz opened its Melbourne season with Cranked Up to celebrate its 35th birthday and the beginning of the building of the new specially designed headquarters.
The theme of Cranked Up showed this with the cast dressed primarily in overalls and general builders outfits.
This company are amazing with normal circus acts only put together in their own inimitable way. The backdrop was the skyline of Melbourne with a large crane in front of same. The band was placed in front of this and the show ring was in front of the band. The audience was in a semi circle around the ring.
The artists were amazing. There appeared o be no specialists, each artist not only was talented in one way but could do many other circus tricks from clowning to acrobatics., from aerial to tumbling and many could juggle.
One girl juggled a table on her feet from the top of the table to balancing each leg on her feet. Other artists balanced on rolls and boards. Even just to balance the boards on the rollers was hard enough then to balance one’s self on the top was sheer genius.
We had the usual trapeze artists and balancing on each other’s shoulders.
The show was a little jerky with what appeared to be too long breaks between items.
But the opening night crows certainly enjoyed the evening and it was great to see our own home grown show that now travels the world back in its home city. 

NICA Leap of Faith - Circus in Motion

National Institute of Circus Arts Australia
Leap of Faith – Circus in Motion.
Director: Matthew Jessner.

Leap of faith is performed by 24 students from the final year Bachelor of Circus Arts.
Director Matthew Jessner said. “The show is about the individual and collective engagement of the artists on stage more do than an act of decision to perform feats. It is that instinctive moment when it all has to converge and manifest as theatrical action”.
 An amazing display by these final year students with the expertise of long term performers. One lesson apparently not taught in this course is the Law of Gravity because when you see the Chinese Pole Performers, the ribbon acrobats and the trapeze gravity does not appear to be of any significance.
The varying performances are basically familiar but these students add a theatrical touch with a positive rapport between performers, moving swiftly and excellent timing between items making the evening flow smoothly.
Some items leave the audiences’ hearts in their mouths such as falling from the top of the building onto a crash mat and the trapeze.
Not only does the performance show the abilities of the students as circus performers they also show their skills in the dance with the finale of Act 1 a group ensemble choreographed by Danny Golding.
A wonderful evening of entertainment and with the high standard of performance you know that you will see these students perform across the world in top companies.

 

OVO - Cirque du Soliel bookings: www.cirquedusoleil.com/ovo

Thursday January 2 saw the Melbourne opening night of Cirque du Soliel’s OVO.
OVO is a circus of human performers and no animals like the old fashioned traditional circus. The performers do all the traditional tumbling, Ariel, contortionists, juggling, stilt walking etc. But! With a great difference.
OVO takes you into the day in the life of insects opening with Dragonfly of Orvalho, Ants, Cocoon, Butterflies, Firefly, Creature, Flying Scarabs, Web Spiders, Fleas, Spiderman, Secret Love and Crickets.
Dragonfly was portrayed by Vladimir Hrynchenko. An unusual piece of apparatus shaped like a sloping S with a handstand on top where Hrynchenko showed amazing talent at balancing on his hand plus sliding along the slope. A great display of athleticism and balance.
The normal juggling with the feet was done by the Ants with a difference. The barrels were shaped like kiwi fruit slices and corn cobs. They lay on their backs juggling with their feet and not only juggled the articles but with each other. Tossing one ant across to the other over and above. Excellent timing and presented very smoothly.
Other highlights were the Flying Scarabs. The team dressed as scarab beetles were on   the trapeze high above the audience with three spots, one each end and one in the middle.  The aerialists took off from each spot and gave a superb example of trapeze work.
After interval we had the Web Spiders. A contortionist dressed as spider and in the middle of the web showing her extraordinary flexibility.
One of the major highlights were the crickets on the trampoline and the rock wall
Very spectacular the performers were dressed as crickets and climbed up and down, across and around the wall as if they were real crickets Not only did they climb up and down but with the aid of the trampoline they were transported from the floor to the top in one easy leap. When you had several up and down in perfect timing the result was spectacular.
The costume design was amazing using polyester, lycra, stretchy fabrics, crystalette, transparent fabrics and expanded foam creating the designer’s version of what she thought insects would look like. The result certainly gave the overall impression of insects and with the different types of apparatus not usually seen in a circus the effect given as the company planned a day I the life of an insect.
A great evening of entertainment and Melbourne’s opening night resulted in a standing ovation.
Weatherwise an unpleasant evening with a top temperature of 40 centigrade but with modern technology the Big Top was air conditioned and the audience was most appreciative. The season ends March 24 do do not miss out and book on www.cirquedusoleil.com/ovo

 

War Horse

The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures R05_0003R05_0004
Warhorse

New Year’s Eve Melbourne saw the Australian premiere of War Horse the acclaimed story of Joey the horse and World War I seen through the eyes of the forgotten members, the horses.
The State Theatre stage was all black with a tear like white strip across the stage. This was used as a screen with projections of the country side, villages, the war and peace.
A large cast of performers showing farmers, horse traders, villagers, army men and officers on both sides.
Added to the performers were the puppeteers without whom there would not be a show.
The storyline of course is about Albert Narracott who raises the horse Joey from a foal only to see him sold to the army. So Albert is determined to go to France and find Joey.
Some of the dialogue was not to clear and speaking to people after the show your reviewer was told by some non native English speakers that they found some of the dialects very hard to understand. During sections of the production there was the song man who gave a singing narration but could not be understood too clearly.
The acting was good and the way Albert played by Cody Fern worked with Joey was outstanding,
The puppets made the production. Each horse was controlled by three men, two inside the body and one at the head seemingly leading the horses around. The realism was so well done that the audience did not see the puppeteers but accepted the horses as being alive. Joey and Tophorn started out as rivals and became friends but although both were the puppets and stars of the show the audience accepted them as real horses with their own personalities particularly the scene where they are struggling to tow a piece of heavy German artillery one could feel their strain and anxiety.
 There was also a puppet goose being pushed around on a wheel but again the personality was such that it appeared real. The feeling for the puppets was so great that when Joey’s friend Tophorn succumbed there were many tears from the audience.
 Although the script seem to lack a little the overall production was amazing. The war scenes really took one to the battlefields of France and the suffering the French went through. The story did not take sides as it showed the war from the horse’s point of view and this worked very well. The film clips gave the feel of the period and the countryside.
A great evening of entertainment unfortunately with a few minor flaws which did not stop the Melbourne opening night audience rising as one giving the show a standing ovation which is rare in Melbourne.

Opening night guests

Belinda Jombwe as Emilie CastCastTanya Lemp regular first Nighter

 

NICA Made to Fit

National Institute of Performing Arts

Co-Directors: Mean Jones & Meredith Kitchen

Made to Fit is a performance that features the Second Year Circus Artists.
Although Second Year artists these young performers rate very highly in their chosen specialities and showing how versatile they are.
From trapeze to wire walking, tumbling to contortion, and aerial rings to adagio.
The artists not only perform circus specialities they turn them into a story acting it out by the use of the many and varied talents.
The wire walkers were just such an example. There were three wires of three different heights and the students not only balanced themselves in the traditional method, they moved from one level to the other, they danced and one rode unicycle on same. An outstanding performance.
The vertical ribbon performers seem to forget the law of gravity with the movement up and dropping form the ceiling height leaving the majority f the audience with their hearts in their mouths.
 Using commonplace objects such as a modern plastic rubbish bin wheeled in by a student which opened to reveal three young girls followed by a young man. To fit four people in was certainly an art of contortion.
While individual items were being performed other students were crossing the stage in the most individualistic ways possible from a unicycle to wheels and double wheels.
There were individual items, group displays, comedy and dancing all nonstop and everyone doing a little of all.
A very interesting evening with all the members of the audience left breath taken at he high standard of the second year students.

 

Don Juan on Trial

Rachel Audige, Catherine Jackson-=Grose, Severine Roman, Damien Kenny, Ana Gonzalez, Catherine Blanchy, Photo Michael Bula MFT. INC. Damien Kenny, Catherine Blanchy. Photo Michael Bula MFT.INC.

Melbourne French Theatre

Director: Marco Romero

 Set-in a French chateau where La Duchesse se Vaubricourt, La Comtesse de  la Roche-Piquet Mademoiselle de la Frotte, Madame Cassin and a nun named Hortense de Hauteclaire have all fallen victim to Don Juan. As punishment for his sins it is agreed that Don Juan will be forced to marry his most recent victim.
The production  is only spoken in French, there were two screens one on each side of the stage area where the full dialogue was in English. This must have been a little disconcerting for the actors as sometimes the English was read quicker than the dialogue was spoken causing occasional laughter before the spoken word reached the comedy lines.
The stage was simply set with a piano on audience right, chairs on audience left with scrims to the rear with varying scenes projected on same. Candles were across the rear of stage and the piano giving the feel of an old building.
Damien Kenny was Don Juan. Puzzled as o why he had been summoned and much to the disappointment of the ladies he claimed not to recognise any of them. A good performance and a positive stage presence.
His valet Sganarelle was played by Marc Buret who caught the character as envisaged. La Duchesse se Vaubricourt was played by Catherine Jackson-Grose projecting well and the correct feeling for the role.
La Comtesse de la Roche-Pique was performed by Rachel Audigé. Audigé caught the essence of such a character giving a fine portrayal. Mademoiselle de la Tringle a novelist who denies even knowing Don Juan much less been seduced by him. An arrogant role well performed by Catherine Blanchy.
 The last victim, who Deon Juan was supposed to marry, was played by Magali Berquand. A wonderful portrayal with Berquand really capturing the shy young girl who was not quite all she seems.
A highlight of the evening was given by Ana Gonzalez as the nun Hortense de Hauteclaire. A small person with a French nun’s habit but very forceful and when a long dialogue, very emotional was completed and she stalked out the audience broke into loud applause.
Séverine Roman was Madame Cassin. Another good performer with the correct stance as befits the period. The maid Marion who denied falling for Don Juan was given a good interpretation by Lilia Kessouar.
Angelique’s brother and Don Juan’s friend Le Chevalier de Chiffreville was played by Fabrice Castain . Castain played the role with expertise giving a moving and touching performance.
A great evening of theatre and although in French in an English speaking country this did not deter the English speaking members of the audience. With the screens giving the translations and the clarity of the performers the play was easy to follow and for those of us who studied French in their high school days it was amazing how much cam back.
The Melbourne French Theatre is definitely one to add to your director

 

The Mousetrap

Gus Murray, Jacinta John, Christy Sullivan, Robert Alexander. Travis Cotton, Justin Smith.

Comedy Theatre
Director: Gary Young

To celebrate the 60 years of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap the rights have been released for a limited period.
The Australian tour opened in Sydney and now is at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne.
Set in a snowed in boarding house run by Giles and Mollie Ralston who have just bough the old mansion and this is their first time as boarding house proprietors
A magnificent set of the Great Hall at Monkswell Manor. Full wall panelling, large rear window showing snow falling throughout production. A fire burning on audience left with respective chairs, tables and fittings suited the period. Gus Murray was the co-proprietor Giles Ralston. A good English accent with a plus stage presence giving an understanding performance of the character.
Giles’s wife Mollie was played by Christy Sullivan who caught the character as envisaged. A nice performance and a good rapport with Murray.
Linda Cropper was the retired magistrate Mrs Boyle, an unpleasant character always criticising the Rolstons lack of knowledge on how to run a guest house Cropper gave a stirling performance as Boyle really capturing the type of character as written.
A light-hearted touch was given by Travis Cotton as the architect Christopher Wren. A rather disturbed young man well performed by Cotton. The mystery late comer Mr Paravicini was played by Robert Alexander. Another great performer with Alexander having a good stage projection with the character.
The mysterious young lady Miss Casewell was given a good interpretation by Jacinta John. Major Mitchell was played by Nicholas Hope who had the bearing of the military man as envisaged. Another good performer.  The policeman Detective-Sergeant Trotter who arrived on skis during the storm was performed by Justin Smith. Smith gave the correct style of a policeman interrogating the guests using the soft touch and the antagonistic touch. A proper police feeling as the role called for.
Costuming and hair styles were correct for the period of 1952 creating the atmosphere as expected for this Agatha Christie delight.

 

Nutcracker on Ice

The Imperial Ice Stars



Artistic Director & Choreographer: Tony Mercer.

The Imperial Ice Stars returned to Melbourne and the State Theatre with their new production The Nutcracker on Ice.
Many of the performers were seen in the last tour of Swan Lake on Ice and showed no loss of talent but only improvements.
The original ballet story was followed fairly closely but with some additions making an entertaining evening. The movements were taken from normal skating competition moves but by having such a storyline gave greater scope to the performers to enhance their expertise and not be hampered by the rules of competition. 
The opening scene is set in the home of Dr. Pavlov on Christmas Eve. A party is being held and we meet Dr Pavlov’s daughter Marie and her brother and sister and their friends enjoying the evening. A wonderful set of the interior of a St. Petersburg home with terrific costuming for the performers. A very busy skating scene with each guest showing their techniques and trying to outdo each other. After seeing competition skating it was enjoyable to see the skaters so obviously enjoying themselves showing off their talent without the restrictions of competition.
Not only do the cast skate but Herr Drosselmeyer skated by Vadim Yarkov not only an excellent skater but a surprisingly good magician much to the delight of Marie and siblings. Marie was performed by Anastasia Ignatyeva capturing the feel of the little party girl and giving an exquisite example of skating. Her pas de deux with the Nutcracker Prince, Bogdan Berezenko, left the audience in raptures.
The second scene after the party was well done showing a corner of the party room brought down to mouse size plus mouse hole where the evil Mouse King and his cohorts entered. Again a very energetic scene what with Marie and the Nutcracker Prince fighting off the mice with the aid of two cats. Some superb skating by all members.
The second half was through the land f the Snowflakes to the Prince’s Kingdom of Sweets. Here we see the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and a solo by the Prince.
This was followed by Chocalot the Spanish dancers who not only skated excellently but were accompanied by fire with small wands with fire at each end.
China was represented performing the tea dance. A wonderful interpretation of the art of skating, dancing and acting.
Followed by La Cafè from Arabia who not only skated with expertise but did aerial tricks on two ribbons as if they were on a trapeze.
Following La Cafè Candy from Russia and four Cossack dancers not only skated but gave great acrobatic feats.
At the end of the show (story) the company let their hair down relaxing by skating across the stage in every skating move one can imagine.
A fantastic evening well appreciated by the Melbourne audience.

 

 

Eat, Pray. Laugh!

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Dame Edna says Farewell Possums

Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the chosen spot for Barry Humphries’ final bow for Melbourne audiences.  While his famous creations are not officially retiring, Australia’s greatest Dame insists that this will be her final Australian tour
And one evening no one will ever forget.
Opening scene was a typically Australian suburban backyard. Audience right was the back of a house with an outside dunny well used during the sketch. A lawn, an outside shed, a barbecue, a hedge to the rear and a grand piano also covered with lawn.
This is the home of Australia’s famous cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson. And on came Sir Les, his usual blustering self spluttering all over the stage, starting the barbie then dragging a young couple up from the audience, the young lady to butter the bread and her partner to cook the rissoles while Sir Les disappeared into the dunny with the appropriate sound effects.
He introduced his gardener Wang with the usual racist remarks. Wang was also the pianist doing a great job in spite of Sir Les. Sir Les then introduced a new character but as the show is still touring I won’t let on more than the character is easily recognisable and very relevant to the news today. In fact it was heard that maybe it is too relevant and may shock some people. Needless to say the whole Sir Les’s act is very politically incorrect, racist, abusive and disgusting and the audience loved it. Only Barrie Humphries could get away with it.
Beside Sir Les Patterson there were two couples both dancing and singing plus an acrobat and some scenes with the five were a great addition to the evening.
Then the next scene was the ghost of Sandy Stone reminiscing about his old life and what happened to his wife after he passed on. Barry was brilliant in all scenes showing the magnificent showman that he is.
After interval the set was now a hedge to the rear and empty in front. Then the entry of Dame Edna Everage. Nothing minor about this entry. Behind the hedge entered a full size elephant covered in gold and in the howdah Dame Edna. The four dancers and the acrobat helped Dame Edna off with the aid of a ladder but Dame Edna didn’t quite make it genteelly.
A laugh a minute for the rest f the evening and a Barry Humphries show is one not to sit too near the front. What with a lady texting and someone drinking water nothing escaped the Dame’s eyes and embarrassment all around. Several audience members were called up. There were a couple of refusals but four eventually succumbed.
Then Dame Edna threw gladiolas inter the audience and the ushers brought around enough for everyone to have one. The completion of the show was a framework of gladiolas through which was projected a film compilation of Barry Humphries life in the entertainment world Barry then came out as Barry Humphries thanking the audience and then leading the singing with everyone waving their gladdies.
A typical evening of Barry Humphries showing the skills of this master showman and indeed if it is really his final tour that is one person who will be sorely missed not only in Australia but across the world.

 

NICA Lucy and the Lost Boy

2012 Graudates.


A new Circus Work featuring NICA’S Graduating Artists

The Graduating Class chose to show off their three years study chose to do same as a story Lucy and the Lost Boy.
Inspired by the evocative and bold street art of Melbourne’s iconic laneways the story combines rich imagery, bold visuals, Live and sampled music alongside breathtaking circus and street based choreography.
It shows three guardians of the street in helmets, green overalls and yellow shirts trying to catch graffiti artists.
The company come out in hoodies miming painting graffiti. This is shown by the use of film on the large area of wall at the rear of the performance area. The film clips we see Melbourne, various areas where the action takes place and the view as one enters is scaffolding and a wall of graffiti.
The company skilfully perform acrobatics, pole climbing, slack and tightrope walking, balancing, net and rope climbing and trapeze.
This is not achieved with the usual equipment. By using green large rubbish bins, wheelbarrow, a large rubbish container the performances are amazing and bring home all sorts of possibilities.
The skills of these young artists is of a very high standard shown by the ease in which each performs their role. There are various costume changes, skilfully and smoothly done; live and recorded music, chases in and out of various objects and people with not an accident happening even as it looks like everyone will bang into everyone else.

A very successful evening and the future looks bright for the 2012 graduates

 

How to Train Your Dragon

circling the ArenaSarah McCreanor & Rarmian Newton

Melbourne was the venue for the World Premiere of How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular and inspired by the Academy nominated DreamWorks animated film How To Train Your Dragon.
RZO Dragon Productions, Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the phenomenon  Walking with Dinosaurs-the Arena Spectacular, and DreamWorks Theatricals have brought high flying, fire breathing dragons to life in an unprecedented live entertainment event for a world wide audience.
HiSense Arena was the Melbourne venue and looking at the size of the dragons no other venue could possibly given the area required.
The storyline is about a Viking village whose members are out to kill dragons. But Hiccup, the chief’s son has other ideas much to his father’s disgust.
He befriends Toothless a friendly dragon who helps him in his quest. Toothless is a medium size dragon who takes Hiccup flying around the arena. The audience were overwhelmed by the dragons, the animatronics were absolutely amazing such as the dragons had definite personalities. There were the standard style dragons, some not quite so familiar and Red Death the giant dragon with a 60 metre wing span.
The scenes such as the Viking village, the Dragon Arena, the cages, the countryside, the ocean and islands were all done by the use of film projected on the rear wall and the floor. Scenes with Hiccup flying and falling and climbing were skilfully done by Hiccup on the back of Toothless and on the cliff side falling and climbing were done by Hiccup hanging on a rope while the film moved around him accordingly. Also when the Vikings were attacking the dragon’s nesting grounds the same effect was used. This proved most effective giving the illusion that the scenes were really happening.
Hiccup was given a wonderful, good projection and energetic performance by Ramian Newton. His girl friend Astrid, was played by Sarah McCreanor. An excellent performance and not easy as on several occasions not only flying on the back of Toothless but suspended from the ceiling while she and others fought the dragons in the air.
The cast comprised of world class circus and acrobatic performers who had all their skills put to the test and very successfully too. A show not to be missed and although aimed at the younger generation the parents and grandparents certainly seemed to enjoy the evening.

 

 

The Rock

Theatre Works

Director: Andrea Jenkins

Theatre Works presented a Kurunpa Live Arts production in association with Black Duck Collective, as part of the 2011 Selected work Season.
An unusual play and as the director says in her notes although the idea came from the Chamberlain story we didn’t want to simply retell the story instead we wanted to use it as our skeleton to create a fictitious myth around. Other influences were a climber who jumped from Uluru and Picnic at Hanging Rock.
These influences created Jenkins’ fascinating evening of theatre.
Set in the round with audiences completely in a circle the players used the circular area to the utmost.
The stage area was set as desert surrounded by rubbish and from your reviewer’s seat on audience right was Uluru.
Four actors playing Uluru, the Dingo, Child and Mother.
Uluru was both a player and a set. Uraine Mastrosavas dressed in a flowing red outfit which resembled the rock gave a good performance, opening the show and moving small rocks across the stage and in front of the audience and then on top of Uluru where she became part of it.
Gabriella New was both choreographer and Dingo. As Dingo she captured the essence of such a character with a good rapport between herself and Emily Thomas as Child. Her choreography added to the performance of the evening.
 Emily Thomas as Child had the innocent look and actions of a child just wanting to play with her friend Dingo, and then as the story progressed she handled the various scenes and differences in her life with aplomb and finesse.
Her Mother was given a great portrayal by Muriel Spearim.  A good understanding if a mother losing her child and some very difficult physical scenes which Spearim handled comfortably although your correspondent feels that cramp could enter with ease.
An interesting evening of theatre and something rather different for Melbourne audiences. 

 

 

Shadow Boxing

Swamp Fox Productions

Director: John Bishop

Swamp Fox Productions is a small professional company in Fern Tree Gully at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. They plan to bring alternative theatre to Melbourne’s outskirts and audiences who perhaps find the inner city theatres not so easy to get to.
The company’s autumn production was James Gaddas’ Shadow Boxing.
A short play but very intense. One actor, Ron Kofler as Flynn the boxer who as the son of a boxer tried to be better than his father.
The Bakery@1812 studio is ideal for this production. It was set as a makeshift training facility which could be anywhere. The layout comprised of three walls, a TV screen, a boxing bag and a weight lifter’s exercise couch with weights accordingly se.
Ron Kofler entered in a hooded outfit which was later removed to a shirt and track pants
A stirling and energetic performance by Kofler who not only did all the exercises on the equipment on stage, shadow boxing and really working out without a hint of puffing in his dialogue. As Kofler said to your correspondent after the show
“ the director tells me how hard I worked by the level of perspiration on my T-shirt”.
On the rear wall there was a film of a boxer from the Caribbean who killed a man in the ring who questioned his sexuality. Shadow Boxing was an interpretation of his story.
A well worth going to see production and Swamp Fox is a company to look out for.

 

'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Malthouse Theatre

Director: Marion Potts

A production that over the centuries since it was written in 1633 has been banned more often that it has been produced. Malthouse Theatre Melbourne and Director Marion Potts decided to actually produce it.
As Potts says “ ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore is not so much about incest or the actions of two individuals as the moral compass of a whole society. The chain reaction prompted by the two siblings is precipitated in the first two scenes of Ford’s original text. It’s in fact the chain reaction, more than the event itself, that becomes the focus of its subsequent four (and a bit) acts: the hypocrisies and moral inconsistencies of a much bigger world are suddenly revealed, benchmarked and forced to be played out”.
An unusual; stage setting comprising of two containers end on to the audience with the bio box on audience left. Supported by the two containers was a two length container side on and with two sides open. This was the main performing area and above this was a harpsichord.
Costuming was 21st century with the harpsichordist in a ball gown.. On the stage level was one performer with a mobile phone texting various girls and boasting how he could get any girl her wished. On the first level the main action took place with the rear of the stage area a painting of the renaissance period interspersed by slits where the actors made their entrances and exits.
Not a play for the tender hearted or the squeamish with the story of incest and murder,
Good performances from all the cast with the added enjoyment of singing from Julia County the harpsichord player and Elizabeth Nobben as Annabella.
A controversial play in its subject matter but the audience appreciated the opportunity to see such a contentious story.

 

The Tell-Tale Heart

Martin Niedermair Photo by Jeff Busby

Malthouse Theatre

Director: Barrie Kosky.

Adapted after Edgar Allan Poe by Barry Kosky.
A story of a murderer, why he did it and his after reaction.
A simply set stage centred by a staircase reaching from the floor of the stage to the top. On audience left hardly visible was a piano and pianist. All the action took place on the staircase moving from near bottom to the top. The actor slid down on a few occasions which after the season closed he would not be feeling too comfortable.
The opening was a spotlight on the character’s face with a two minute silence then the pianist commenced. The light gradually illuminated the player and then he told his story.

A single act production very well handled by Martin Niedermair Not only could he act but also handled the singing sequences excellently. Although a solo performance the audience were kept alert by the standard of Niedermair’s performance and the expert lighting design and music played by Michael Kieran Harvey.

 

Swan Lake on Ice

The Imperial Ice Stars

Artistic Director/Choreographer: Tony Mercer.

Melbourne’s State Theatre was the venue for Swan Lake on Ice. The settings were superb from the lake scenes to the interior of the Royal Palace. The set designer is Australian Eamon D’Arcy who captured the feel of the Russias in his designs.
The story had elements of the ballet version except with two dancers playing Odette and Odille and a different ending, only this time done on ice.
The movements were based on normal competition skating moves but done in a story line as Swan Lake gave a feeling of continuity and added to the spectacular.
Odette was performed by Olga Sharutenko and Odille by Olena Pyatash. Both girls handled their roles with grace and top professionalism really capturing the characters and setting a high standard of skating.
Prince Siegfried was performed by Andrey Penkin who also gave a moving and well acted display of a skater playing a role instead of just skating for a competition. Vadim Yarkov was Baron Von Rothbert the evil baron trying to marry his daughter to Prince Siegfried. A great portrayal and really caught the essence of evil as called for.
A light touch and a really great performance as a skater was given by Benno, the Prince’s loyal companion played by Rusian Novoseltsev.
A beautiful, graceful and stunning interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lakewell produced and directed
A standing ovation and then the cast gave a stunning demonstration of skating skills, gymnastics and pure enjoyment of their art.

 

Circus Oz

 

 


see It to Believe it!

June sees Circus Oz  back in its hometown Melbourne with its latest presentation before taking the show on its next tour.
A delightful evening with an amazingly talented cast obviously enjoying themselves and throwing that difference from other circuses the Australian larrikin feel.
 From the trapeze to the ceiling to floor ribbons where the cast have obviously forgotten the law of gravity as they roll up and down the ribbons run up poles as if they were on the ground. One new act was the old grandad in a wheelchair on one side of the tent covered with a cloth a magical pass a puff of smoke and lo grandad plus wheelchair is not there but on top of a palm tree on the other side of the tent.
A veritable miracle and then the old codger starts his balancing tricks on the swaying palm.
Back down to juggling where it commenced with just the usual one and two jugglers but being Circus Oz this is not enough one juggler ad up to five passing him from all angles
Of course we must not forget the kangaroos. What with singing and acrobatics the wonder is with those large tails, red boxing gloves, joeys in pouches how they managed  to what they did.

All in all a wonderful evening of circus and something the whole family did enjoy. .

 


Below

A story of two English half brothers working in a West Australian Mining town Both now are miners but one is an ex boxer with a past.

The play was the inaugural production for Ferntree Gully's new entertainment venue The Bakery. The Bakery is designed for experimental theatre, small productions and productions not normally seen in the local theatre scene.

Below is perfect for this venue. A cast of three with the audience sitting on two sides and very close to the players giving really intimate theatre.

Donna Cohen was Sarah, Dougie's wife. Donna gave a great positive performance, very physical Her husband Dougie was played by Ron Kofler. Ron was a great balance to Donna giving an excellent performance also a very strong role which Ron handled with finesse. Keith Hutton was Dougie's half brother John. Keith added to the standard set by Ron and Donna giving an excellent portrayal.

The scene was set in the kitchen of a mining town home of the fifties (laminex furniture) and a boxing ring. John was shown fighting but no one else in the ring but the portrayal was so great the other boxer absence was not noticed.

An excellent and flawless production, flowed smoothly and superb acting. Swamp Fox have set themselves a high standard to keep to and their next production is eagerly awaited.

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RERegionalGIONAL

Hanging on to Vaudeville.

The last of Australia 's vaudevillians Reg Gorman is on the Regional Theatre circuit reminiscing about his life in show business and bringing back memories of the old vaudevillian days.

He opens his show with a screen showing excerpts of his TV and film career.

Then Reg enters and quietly sits on a lounge chair and chats about his life in show business. The feeling is that we are sitting at home talking over old times with an old friend.
Reg's first sketch is about the elixir of life. This shows his incredible range of expression and talent. An amazing performance.
The production then varied from TV and film which brought back many memories of past productions showing Reg as a comedian and character actor to singer and drama acting. Between the TV and film excerpts Reg showed us why he is a tradition in Australia 's performing arts. With several sketches with impersonations of such previous stars as Roy Rene better known as Mo Macackie, George Wallace ad many others. His characterisation was excellent and really brought back the stars of yesteryear.
The sketches varied from solo, talking, silent and with a partner. Reg showed the talent which does appear to be lost since the days of vaudeville where every artist had to be versatile
An energetic performance and thoroughly enjoined by the audience. Reg Gorman has the art of holding the attention of an audience, giving the feeling that you are sitting with an old friend and holding the attention of all for the duration of the performance. The result was that the show seemed to end too soon and one could go on for more time.
This is the expertise of a true artist and when the show comes around again do not miss it.

 

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