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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

Shen Yun

Regent Theatre

A production that features traditional art forma that re now being revived along with exciting artistic innovations.
Shen Yun draws on China’s 5000 year-old-civilization presenting an entirely new program of dance and music.
The only set was a screen taking up the whole of the rear of the Regent Theatre Stage.
This was used for each item showing the natural beauty and temples from China.
The dancers were absolutely magnificent, timing spot on, standard excellent and costuming adding to the colour and enjoyment of such a production.
Classical Chinese dance is unique in that it combines in what the west calls acrobatics, tumbling with classic dance. From these roots acrobatics and tumbling became separate from dance.
The Shen Yun dancers included all these elements in their production showing the brilliance of their training giving the audience a wonderful appreciation of the arts of China and the amazing performance of the dancers.
One of these amazing dancers David Li was actually born in Sydney Australia and is now one of the Principal Dancers with the Company
An unusual aspect of the production was the juxtaposition of film and live action.
The huge screen showed great landscape scenes with people flying across mountain tops, buildings and rocks. They then flew down to the bottom of the screen where miraculously they appeared live on stage and continued on with the action. In some scenes the audience saw flights of girls flying down each side of the screen disappearing on each side of the stage where they appeared live on stage. Very effective and something new for Melbourne audiences.
A must see production and with five companies touring the world don’t miss it.

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

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Director: Catherine Garside.

Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre’s second season choice of play was Dale Wasserman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Set in a ward of a State Mental Hospital somewhere on the Pacific, North West U.S.A. the story revolves around Randle P. McMurphy who given a choice of gaol or the State Mental Hospital chose the hospital.
Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre had a good stage set of a theatre ward with centre rear doors, window to audience left and on audience right was the nurses’ station from where they kept their eyes on their charges.
Chris Shaw was Randle P. McMurphy, the inmate who upset the applecart and more particularly Nurse Ratched. Chris gave an inspired interpretation of the character, both in cheering up the other inmates and bringing Chief Bromden out of his cataleptic state.
McMurphy’s nemesis Nurse Ratched was given a wonderful portrayal by Angela Glennie who caught the unpopular dominating character with ease giving a great performance.
Chief Bromden was played by Rohan Francis. As Chief Bromden always in a cataleptic state except at certain times in the play all action stopped and the chief spoke to his late father, Francis caught the essence of the character and was excellent in his portrayal of cataleptic then coming out of it and then his final scene. A good contrast in acting styles all excellently handled.
A large cast including inmates, a doctor, nurses, wards men and tow party girls. All captured the correct feel to their roles and kept a high standard of the evening.
Not a happy play but there is some comic moments which somewhat defused the tragedy and tensions of such a story.

 

 

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 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

Forget Me Knot


Director: Gregor McGibbon.

For the autumn season The Basin Theatre chose David Tristram’s Forget Me Knot.
A story of Robert Zeinfeld who is found wandering the streets of Leicester at 4am without any idea of how he got there or who he is.
The basin set was two offices and two apartments. The offices were rooms in the local police station and the apartments were the homes of Roger Zeinfeld and of Monroe the police inspector.
A comedy with Robert Zeinfeld being identified one minute then identity denied the next. Rather confusing for the characters leading to some funny moments for the audience.
As the police inspector Monroe Stephen Barber projected well, showing his talent with the confusing identity problem and giving a good performance.
The mystery man Robert Zeinfeld was given a believable portrayal as the man who was always in doubt as to who he was. Julia, Robert’s wife was played by Elise D’Amico. A difficult performance trying to keep up with all the identity problems but D’Amico caught the essence of the character pleasing the audience with her interpretation.
Samantha, Monroe’s wife and something else was well handled by Tina Bono. A busy role that of a doctor asked by her husband to help identify the mystery man much to her embarrassment. Bono captured the role with finesse adding to the success of the evening.
The audience certainly enjoyed the evening judging by practically continuous laughter throughout the performance.

 

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

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Director: Robin Miller

The 1812 Theatre’s choice of play for the Autumn season was Geoffrey Archer’s Beyond Reasonable Doubt where Sir David Metcalfe is defending himself on a charge of murdering his wife. The prosecutor, Anthony Blair Booth is an old opponent of Sir David’s and has a bias in his prosecution.
The 1812 opening set was absolutely amazing/ It was a courtroom brought to the stage. A complete courtroom, modern but with all the dignity of the real court.
The second act was the living room of Sir David Metcalfe. The set change was executed during interval and the change was so successful that it was hard to believe that the first half even existed. Commendations to the sets designer and crew for such a magnificent pair of sets and the change from one to the other.
The standard of the cast lived up to the standard of the sets.
Stephanie King was Lady Metcalfe, suffering from terminal cancer. King gave a very moving performance in this role and her scenes with Brett Hyland (Sir David Metcalfe) were very moving and emotional. Hyland as Sir David Metcalfe QC gave an outstanding performance, first in court where was defending the charge of murder and in the second half opposite Stephanie King where the tow had such a great rapport it was hard to believe that they were not man and wife in real life.
Sir David’s opponent in court, Sir Anthony Blair Booth QC was played by Tom Byron who also gave a stirling performance in the role, capturing all the finer nuances of the character.
Sir David’s house keeper, Mrs Rogers, who was not fond of her employer which showed when she was giving evidence, was played by Val Mitchelmore. A good interpretation of the character which showed her strong dislike for her employer.
James McRae was the family solicitor, Lionel Hamilton. Another good performer capturing the essence of the role.
Graham Fly was the judge Mr Justice Treadwell. Fly showed how the judge ruled the court, not standing for any nonsense. Fly gave a wonderful portrayal of the role.
Ian McMaster was Robert Pierson, Sir David Metcalfe’s junior counsel. Well played keeping up to the overall high standard of the production.

The balance of the performers reads like a whose who of the local theatre scene with all handling their roles with finesse and adding to the enjoyment of the opening night’s audience and keeping up to the high standard one now expects of The 1812 Theatre

 

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.

 

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Encore Theatre
Bookings: 0500 842 538

 

The Housekeeper

Director: Geoff Hickey

Encore Theatre’s choice of production for July was James Prideaux’s The Housekeeper.
A story of Manley and Annie.
Manley, a middle-aged rather crusty bachelor whose dominating mother has just passed away. So he decides to hire a housekeeper. Enter Annie, a bag lady who forged her referrals promised the earth so against his better judgement Manley hires her. But after three days Manley hates Annie and this is where the story opens.
Encore Theatre had an amazing set possibly one of the best your correspondent has seen at Encore. It was the interior of Manley’’s home, a mansion on the outskirts of London. Audience left was the entrance hall, Manley’s desk and window behind. Centre stage was a magnificent staircase leading up to the bedrooms and audience right was entrance to the kitchen and respective furniture to suit such a room.
Opening the show was the third day of Annie’s employment with Manley telling the audience all about how it started. With clever lighting effects the scene moves back to when Annie entered applying for the job of housekeeper.
After this scene the same lighting effect brought us back to the present time.
Manley was played by Keith Hutton. A great performance capturing the finer nuances of the middle-aged bachelor still dominated by his late mother’s memory and control. Hutton gave a stirling portrayal and had a good rapport with Ellen Miller as Annie.
Miller gave a wonderful performance as Annie who tried to make out that she was better than she really was. The contrast between Annie the housekeeper and then a change of outfit and attitude showed the talent of Miler’s acting.
An amazing evening of theatre thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and Encore Theatre is definitely worth adding to your theatre diary. 

 

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.
 

 

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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

All My Sons


Director: Chris McLean.

HTC chose Arthur Miller’s All My Sons for the July season.
A play about a family whose father’s business mace money out of supplying parts for American planes during WWII. Unfortunately some parts were faulty causing some fighter planes to crash.
The father also lost his older son in a plane crash during WWII.
HTC had a good set of a typical American backyard with the rear of the house centre stage and fences and gates to neighbours on each side.
Joe Keller, the owner of the business and father of the lost son and Chris the son who survived the hostilities and now works with his father in the business.
Joe Keller was given a stirling interpretation of such a role by George Werther who caught all the finer nuances as expected by Arthur Miller.
Keller’s son Chris was given a great performance by Liam Gillespie who had the right feeling for the character. Chris’s mother Kate Keller who refused to believe her eldest son was dead and still awaiting for him to return was played by Julie Arnold. A strong performance capturing the essence of the forlorn mother who no matter what could not could not be turned from her beliefs.
The girl from next door, Anne Deever, former girlfriend of the lost son and now in love with Chris was played by Claire Abagia. Another strong performance aided by a good rapport with Liam Gillespie. Abagia has a good stage appearance and caught the right feel for the role.
George Deever, Anne’s brother who tried to take Anne away as their father, Joe’s partner had been jailed for his role in the faulty parts manufacture. George Deever was played by Xavier Ryan, Good stage projection, moved and spoke professionly and gave a good performance.
The new next door neighbour Jim Bayliss, a doctor, who spent a lot of time with the Kellers was played by Gavin Barker. Barker presents well and worked well with the balance of the cast. Jim Bayles’ wife Sue was played by Sallyanne Mitchell. Mitchell had a great scene with Anne where she tells Anne that all the neighbours think that Joe is guilty. Both Abagia and Mitchell handled their roles with finesse producing a wonderful scene.

Another neighbour, Frank Lubey was played by Timothy Camilleri. Frank was a quiet man, a handy man who enjoyed the company of the Kellers. Camilleri projects well, good voice and good presentation. Frank’s wife, Lydia, was played by Kate Manicom. Lydia was a mother of three, a pleasant even going woman, well interpreted  by Manicom. A small role for a small boy was another neighbour, Bert was given a good performance by an upcoming Francesco Basile.
A good production keeping up Heidelberg Theatre’s expected standard

 

Pride and Prejudice

Director: Tim Scott

HTC chose Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice for the autumn production.
Opening with a Regency dance which introduces the company to the audience.
A large cast of experienced players bringing to the HTC stage a high standard production.
Mrs Bennett, she who was only interested in getting her daughters married off was given a great interpretation by Abi Richardson. Not only did Richardson have a good stage presence she really captured the essence of the character.
Miss Elizabeth Bennett, who took no nonsense from anyone, was given a stirling performance by Aimėe Sanderson. A good performance with a memorable scene where she was being told off by Lady Catherine de Bourgh played by Venetta Macken. Both performers excelled in their performances, working well with a great rapport and a great response from the audience.
Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy was played by James Antonas. Antonas had the correct attitude for the role but early on in the play his voice was a little quiet but improved as the evening progressed. He certainly had the right character for the role and captured the feel of Mr Darcy.
Jacob Pilkington was the cleric cousin, Mr Collins. who stood to inherit the Bennett home as there were only girls in the family. Pilkington gave a good performance in the role with the right nuances and deference to his patron Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
The costuming was exactly to the period and Wendy Drowley and her team deserve the highest congratulations for their expertise.
The set was circular with various panels sliding in and out to vary the changes of scenes. The dancing of the period was well handled and added to the enjoyment of the evening. HTC gave a wonderful evening of theatre and is a company to be added to one’s diary.

 

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.

 

 

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Malvern Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9530 8586

The Memory of Water

Director: Gayle Poor

Malvern Theatre’s choice of play for the June season was Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water. A story of three different sisters coming together for their mother’s funeral.
Malvern Theatre constructed a good set of the bedroom of the late Violet, mother to Mary, Teresa and Catherine.
Jessica Wilson-Smith played Mary, the second sister who had a boyfriend Frank who would not leave his wife and children for Mary.
Wilson-Smith gave a good character to the role, projecting well and a good rapport with the other cast members.
The elder sister, Teresa, married to Frank but not happy, was played by Louise Gracey. Gracey has good stage projection and gave a good performance of the tried to be dominating sister. The third and youngest sister Catherine, who whined and complained that her sisters never confided in her and treated her like a child. Catherine was played by Maree Burnett who caught the character as envisaged adding to the high standard of the evening. Violet, the deceased mother who appeared in a dreamlike sequence, well done by the director and lighting operator, talking to Mary was given a good interpretation by Christine Bridge.
Frank, Teresa’s husband was played by William Mulholland. Good stage appearance and a fine performance. Mike, Mary’s boyfriend was given a professional performance by Bruce Hardie.
An interesting production although the actors were a little quiet in the opening scenes/ Throughout the play Catherine smoked marijuana (herbal cigarette) the smell of which did float across to the audience and was not very pleasant.     

 

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 Female of the Species


Director: Natasha Boyd

Peridot Theatre’s May choice was Joanna Murray-Smith’s The Female of the Species. Loosely based on an incident in the life of Germaine Greer where Germaine was held hostage by a crazed teenager though this is hotly denied by the author.
Peridot Theatre had a very good set of the main lounge/workroom of the acclaimed feminist writer Margot Mason. The writer’s desk was on audience left and centre rear was French Doors. Doorways left and right rear leading to other rooms of the house.
Susie Sparkes was the feminist writer Margot Mason. A great performance under difficult circumstances such as being handcuffed to her desk for the majority of the performance. Sparkes handled the role with great feeling and really caught the character as envisaged.
Her nemesis, Molly Rivers, the young woman who blamed Margot for the death of her mother and her own disappointments in life. Reschelle O’Connor gave a stunning and energetic performance as the frustrated young woman.
Rachel Clayton was Margot’s daughter Tess. Tess didn’t have much time for her mother and did not know her father, nor did her mother. Clayton handled the role with professionalism catching the essence of the disappointed with life mother and worked well with the other performers.
Andrew McIvor was Bryan Thornton, Tess’s husband who was a business man with not enough time for his family and not strong or virile enough for Tess’s dreams.
A great portrayal with good presentation and captured the character with aplomb.
Frank, the taxi driver who took Tess to her mother’s country home was given a good interpretation by Michael Knowles.
Theo Reynolds, Margot’s publisher was portrayed by Paul Wanis who has a good stage presentation and gave a good performance.
An energetic and verbose play with the players on their toes at all times.

 

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.

 

 

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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

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Michelle Eddington

Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Alan Burrows
Musical Director: Ben Hudson.
Choreographer: Di Crouch.

Babirra Music Theatre’s June season choice was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The original story is by Ian Fleming and the stage play is based on the MGM Motion Picture.
An amazing production from Babirra. A good energetic cast with the entire no no’s of theatre such as several dogs and plenty of children going against the old adage, do not work with children or animals. But the Babirra show with all this was a great success.
Tony Burge was Caractacus Potts the eccentric inventor whose inventions did not always work. Burge gave an outstanding performance in the role with great rapport with his two children and with Michelle Eddington as Truly Scrumptious.
Caractacus’s children were played by Lucy Sonnemann as Jemma Potts and Thomas Waterworth as Jeremy Potts. Both Lucy and Thomas gave wonderful performances capturing the essence of two children without a mother but idolising their father.
Michelle Eddington was the girl in Caractacus’s life, Truly Scrumptious, A lovely performer who had the right balance required for the role, worked well with Tony Burge and Thomas Waterworth and Lucy Sonnemann.
Grandpa Potts another eccentric dressed ion British army uniform of the time of the Indian Raj, was played very successfully by David McLean.
Phil Lambert was Lord Scrumptious and also the Baron ruler of Vulgaria. He excelled in both characters with his performance as the Baron an absolute delight.
Nicole Kapiniaris played both the Baroness and Miss Phillips. She handled both roles with aplomb and as the Baroness her scenes with Phil Lambert were very good. The two Vulgarian spies played by Cody Baldwin as Boris and Colin Morley as Goran added to the amusement of the evening with their interpretations of such characters.
The Toymaker and Coggins were played by Nick Rouse. A good interpretation of the two roles adding to the high standard of the evening. Anthony Julian was the Junk Man and the Child Catcher in which character he brought out the required evil of such a despicable role.
A star of the show was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the magical car. An amazing vehicle with air bags coming out from each side as the Potts travelled through water and wings and front piece as the car flew through the air.
Babirra and Director Alan Burrows are to be congratulated on how the car travelled along the road and how it sailed across the water and flew through the air. Travelling along the road had the audience in fits of laughter and on the water and in the air gasps of amazement.
Mention must also be made of Shine, the Potts family dog and her friends, Piper, Roxy, Brodie and Oscar. The dogs were well behaved on stage and carried out their performances professionally.
A great evening of theatre enjoyed by the opening night audience.  

 

Hello Dolly

The Production Company

Director: Gary Young
Musical Director: Vanessa Scammell
Choreographer: Kirsten King.

The Production Company chose the well known musical Hello Dolly to open the 2017 season.
The Production Company is unique in that the founder Jeanne Pratt AC wanted to bring good musical theatreto people who would not normally go to the theatre.
The Company specialises in promoting and showcasing new and established theatre talent and to stimulate the Melbourne and Australian theatre industry.
Originally conceived as “concert versions” the company rehearse for two weeks. The actors’ intimacy with the audience, the directors’ creative staging, and the choreographers’ dazzling contribution has grown each season. The casting mixes established stars with new talent.  With two weeks of whirlwind rehearsal and one week of technical rehearsal in the theatre shows such as Hello Dolly show the result of the hard work of the cast and crew.
The show and the company certainly showed the hard work resulted into an amazing evening.
The set was basic, a circular flight of stairs down each side of the stage with the orchestra in a round alcove in he centre stage. Along the top of the stairs were lattice type walls changing with each scene, very basic but set the scenes perfectly.
The star of the evening was Marina Prior who was the embodiment of Dolly Levi. A wonderful and delightful performance enhanced by Prior’s lovely voice. The man in Dolly’s life, Horace Vandergelder was played by Prior’s real life husband, Grant Piro.
Another excellent performer naturally with a great rapport with Marina, good acting and a pleasing dinging voice. Ermengarde, Horace’s niece, was played by Baylie Carson who captured the innocent always crying young girl with expertise. Her fiancé, Ambrose Kemper was portrayed by Jack Van Stavern also a good balance to both Carson and Prior.
Horace’s two employees, who added to the comedy of the show, were Cornelius Hackle and Barnaby Tucker played by Glenn Hill and Nigel Buckle. Both caught the comique essence the roles required giving great performance as two young innocents abroad. Some god scenes were with their new girls at Harmonica Gardens.
The two girls, Mrs Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay were played by Verity Hunt-Ballard and Imogen Modre. These two were excellent giving great and amusing performances particularly when they thought they were out with a couple of very rich men. This led to some embarrassing moments particularly for the innocent young men.
One great scene was of course Dolly coming back to the Harmonica Gardens. Marina Prior excelled in this scene showing why she is one of Australia’s leading ladies.
A very successful night out with a standing ovation from Melbourne’s first night audience/      

 

Godspell

Nova Musical Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Music Director: Shuko Hirose.
Choreographers: Wayne Robinson, Dean Robinson.

Nova Musical theatre’s choice of production to open the 2017 season was Godspell.
A modern day version of the Gospels from the Bible with music by the master composer Stephen Schwartz and text by John-Michael Tebelek. Nova’s production has been thoroughly updated and revitalised to take account of modern audiences’ needs and tastes.
The stage set was three flights of wide stairs one each side of the stage with a central  staircase, on top of the stairs was a platform surrounded on three sides by bars.
A spectacular evening of song and dance, bright colour with today’s costumes even to a selfie.
Leighton Irwin was Jesus, a good interpretation, good stage presence assisted by a pleasant, clear singing voice. Will Sayers was Judas/John the Baptist. Another dominating stage presence, good acting skills and worked well with Irwin.
Nick was played by David Wright, a fine interpretation and projected well.
Ellen Leyden as Ann Maria stunned the audience with a remarkable and beautiful voice adding to a wonderful performance.
The other principals, Marcus Favrin as Telly. Daniel Bugge as George, Penny Vaik as Lindsay, Sian Dickenson as Uzo, Jessica Marshall as Morgan and Chloe Towan as Celisse, all gave good performances, projecting well and their singing was a nice standard adding to the enjoyment of the evening. The ensemble added to the standard of the production which was enjoyed by the opening night audience.
A well directed smooth flowing production keeping with the high standard developed by Nova Music Theatre.

My Fair Lady

Charles Edwards.Anna O"Byrne

Regent Theatre

Director: Julie Andrews
Musical Director: Guy Simpson

Choreographer: Christopher Gattelli

May 16, 2017 saw the opening night of My Fair Lady at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
This is the Diamond Jubilee of My Fair Lady so Lyndon Terracini AM Artistic Director of Opera Australia and John Frost AM Managing Director of the Gordon Frost Organisation thought being the 60th anniversary asked Dame Julie Andrews if she would like to direct the Australian production. The answer was yes!
When Julie was asked is the production faithful to the original her reply was “In almost every aspect. After his death, Oliver Smith’s designs passed into the hands of his assistant, Rosaria Sinisi. She had all the glorious renderings, the drawings, dimensions, the ground plans for My Fair Lady, so with her help we were able to create them. Knowledge of the costume designs resided mostly in the hands of John David Ridge who was Cecil Beaton’s last assistance. He is a talented designer in his own right and has been as faithful as possible to Beaton’s original sketches.”
The staging of the sets at the Regent Theatre was absolutely amazing. True to the 1956 production but with a marked improvement to the lighting as technology has improved quite considerably since 1956.
The crew must be commended for the smooth and fast turnaround of the very difficult changes.
The cast are the cream of Australia’s theatre with Melbourne’s own international star Anna O’Byrne as Eliza, Reg Livermore as Alfred P. Doolittle, Robyn Nevin as Mrs Higgins. Mark Vincent as Freddy Fyansford-Hill, Tony Llewellyn-Jones as Colonel Pickering, Deidre Rubenstein as Mrs Pearce and Glen Hogstrom as Zoutan Karpathy.
Adding to the distinguished cast is leading English actor, Charles Edwards as Professor Higgins.
Charles Edwards and Reg Livermore have pleasant singing voices but when Mark Vincent sang his voice nearly brought the house down. Anna O’Byrne also added to the high singing standard with her lovely, clear and concise soprano. 
Edwards as Professor Higgins captured the misogynist, not really understanding his fellow humans and his dogmatic attitude all echoed in his song A Hymn to Him.
O’Byrne was Eliza, with all the finer nuances of the Cockney Flower girl to the sophisticated young lady as taught by Professor Higgins. A lovely and excellent portrayal. Eliza’s father Alfred P. Doolittle was given a wonderful performance by Reg Livermore whose interpretation of the role was an inspiration. One particular scene stands out in the piece of “Get Me to the Church on Time” this being one of the highlights of the evening. Another highlight is the Ascot Gavotte with the stunning black and white outfits.
Robyn Nevin was the perfect Mrs Higgins who was not quite sure of Eliza Doolittle but got to appreciate her as she got to know her. Nevin gave a good strong performance in the role.
Mark Vincent was a perfect Freddy Fyansford-Hill, a great scene was “ On the Street Where You Live”, which showed the extent of his talent as a vocalist, as well as good acting ability.
  Tony Llewellyn-Jones was the perfect Colonel Pickering, the right understanding of Eliza’s difficulties with Henry Higgins and his treatment of Eliza as a lady all carried out with experience, style and wonderful projection.
Deidre Rubenstein gave a great performance as the housekeeper, not hesitating to tell the professor what she thought when he was trying to educate Eliza at 3am. Rubenstein carried the role with flair and talent.
A smoothly and well run production bringing back many memories f those who saw the earlier editions and on Melbourne’s opening night, a standing ovation.

 

 

Les Miserables

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director: Chris Bradtke
Music Director: Andy McCalman
Choreographer: Wendy Belli.

CLOC Music Theatre’s opening production for 2017 was Les Miserables.
An excellent and exciting production showing the high standard one expects of CLOC and the reason it is one of the most sought after both by the audiences and performers in Melbourne.
The sets were basic, excellently done, smoothly changed when called for. The sides and rear of the stage were tabs which were used as film screens for the various changes such as street scenes, building exteriors and backdrops.
The cast were amazing, no flaws and all adding to a very high standard of performance.
Jean Valjean, the convict who was released after 19 ears gaol was given a wonderful performance by Mark Doran. Doran really captured the character with finesse, magnificent acting ability particularly ageing throughout the story, a good strong clear singing voice and a good rapport with his opposite numbers.
Javert, the pedantic police inspector pursuing Jean Valjean across France and the years was given a natural and excellent portrayal by Shaun Kingma. A good stage presence assisted by a good strong voice and superb acting. One good scene was Jean Valjean and Javert singing a duet. Very moving and excellently performed.
Kim Young was Fantine the factory girl kicked onto the street and went downhill to the extremes a woman can go. Young captured the essence of the poverty of the period, giving an outstanding performance and added to the success of the evening.
 Fantine’s daughter Cosette as an adult was played by Emily Morris who captured the sweetness and innocence of the character. A fine performance with a lovely voice suiting the role perfectly.
Her suitor Marius was given a good portrayal by Daniel Mottau. A good stage presence, fine acting and a good voice.
The two villains of the piece were Thėnardier and Madame Thėnardier, played by Scott Hill and Melanie Ott. Bothe had a great rapport, working well together with a good sense of the comique. A large cast chosen from 400 auditionees leading to such a high standard production thoroughly enjoyed by the audience so much so that after each song the audience applauded making a longer evening than expec

 

Aladdin

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre is the setting for Disney’s amazing production of Aladdin.
A bright, energetic and colourful production appealing to all ages and enjoyed by all who have been to see it.
The choreography was excellent, highly energetic and spectacular enhanced by the great standard of the dancers. Not only just dancing but high jumps, clashing swords and lovely ladies.
Aladdin was given a superb performance by Ainsley Melham, an amazingly talented young man, not only a wonderful dinger, dancer but also very athletic in jumping from building to building and handling the change from beggar to prince with aplomb.
The Princess Jasmine was played by Hiba Elchikhe. Another wonderful portrayal by an extremely talented young lady. Not only a good singer but a great actor with a good rapport with Melham.
A man that stole the show as Genie was Michael James Scott. He is in practically every scene with a great onstage personality, a good dancer and a great voice.
Aladdin’s three friends, formerly thieves and then his private guards.
Kassim played by Adam-Jon Fiorentino, Babkak played by Troy Sussman and Omar played by Robert Tripolino. All gave outstanding performances, worked well with each other and added to the amusement of the evening.
The Grand Vizier was given a good and evil performance by Adam Murphy. The Grand Vixier’s offsider; Iago was given an amazing and great comical performance by Aljin Abella. George Hanare was the Sultan, another good performer adding to the high standard of the production.
The sets were outstanding, from the market square n the village of Agrabah, to the buildings that rose and fell to Aladdin’s treasure cave and several magical tricks that left the audience gasping.
The dancing was of a high standard and very spectacular with wonderful jettes by the men and lovely graceful movement by the ladies.
Aladdin a great asset to Melbourne’s theatre scene which has already opened more tickets as this review is being written.   

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.   



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
     
     

 

OOperaPE

Iolanthe

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: Diana Burleigh

A story of fairies, a fairy who married a human, their son Strephon, a half fairy, the House of Lords and the Lord Chancellor.
A simply set stage yet giving the essence of feel to the performance.
A large cast working smoothly, projecting well and a delight for the audience.
The costuming was excellent with some unusual twists at the final scenes.
Ron Pidcock was the Lord Chancellor. A great and amusing performance set off by a good voice. A very entertaining Lord Chancellor.
Earl Monterarat, played by Alfred Anderson and Earl Tolloller played by Darren Rosenfeld added to the humour and enjoyment of the evening. Private Wills was performed by Robin Halls who caught the feel of the member of the Guards who was not easily distracted. A good performer.
The half fairy, half human, Strephon was given a good performance by Andrew McGrail. A very pleasant voice, good acting and a fine rapport with his beloved Phyllis played by Phoebe Deklerk.
Deklerk gave the role the innocence called for with some good acting scenes with the House of Lords who all loved her. Adding to her acting abilities was balanced with a very pleasant voice.
Iolanthe, Strephon’s fairy mother was given a wonderful interpretation by Nadia Miglardi. She has a good stage presence, a lovely voice, good acting ability and was great opposite Andrew McGrail and Ron Pidcock.
Another good performance was given by Alexandra Amerides as the Queen of the Fairies.  Amerides projected very well, a good voice balanced by a wonderful portrayal of such a role.
A delight was the Lord Chancellor’s train bearer who kept in step even in the dance movements, had good stage presence and was played by young schoolboy Evan McGrail.
Overall a fine evening of G&S but the first half was a little stilted with not much movement from the singers but the second half improved to the audience’s enjoyment.

Carmen

Opera Australia
Director: John Bell

 Opera Australia opened the Melbourne season with Bizet’s Carmen.
The gypsy girl who loved to be free and loved many until she met Don José, which meeting changed both their lives.
Director Kohn Bell changed the setting to modern day Havana from the Seville of Bizet’s setting. Havana, as Bell says, has old Spanish buildings and the very popular music of the Habanera came from Havana.
Opera Australia produced a very Havana inspired stage set of the older Spanish buildings set in a city square giving the audience and players the real feel of the story.
Costuming was bright and colourful and even brought onto the stage at various scenes was a VW Kombi van and a truck instead of mules in the original storyline.
A large cast including the Opera Australia Chorus and the Children’s Chorus which included several gymnasts. All appeared with great projection and the gymnasts giving a great demonstration of their art.
The lead role, Carmen, was exquisitely and excellently performed by Rinat Shaham who is acclaimed as one of the worlds’s most acclaimed Carmens. Her Melbourne performance was outstanding and certainly proved her reputation.
Carmen’s latest love was the Corporal told to arrest her, Don José, given an outstanding performance by tenor Dmytro Popov. The duet between Shaham and Popov showed why they are considered some of the world’s best.
Don José’s fiancé, Micaȅla, girl form his village, was performed by Stacey Alleume, another soprano whose voice is a sheer delight to hear. A wonderful portrayal with the correct innocence for the role.
Escamillo the toreador was performed by Shane Lowrence.
A great performance with good stage presentation, a positive faultless baritone and thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience. 
An amazing evening of opera welcomed enthusiastically by the opening night Melbourne audience.

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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