Ladies in Black
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
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.
Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: Phil Osborne.
Nova Music Theatre’s final production for 2016 was Wicked the untold story of the witches of Oz.
Nova had a good set with scene changes moving smoothly and a screen backdrop which doubled as a film screen and for shadow play.
The costuming was exceedingly well done with good masks where applicable and for Glinda the good witch some good old fashioned ball gowns, not seen these days.
Elpheba, who became known as the wicked witch was played by Amy Larsen.
A wonderful performance with great acting scenes, a good rapport with Kristen Ryan (Glinda), a lovely singing voice, Because she was known as the wicked witch her costume was dull and evil like but her talent showed through and the audience, shall we say was a little more than sympathetic to Elpheba.
Galinda/Glinda who became known as the good witch was played by Kristen Ryan. Another good performance of the girl who had everything and expected everything but whose attitude changed during the course of the story. Good presentation, acting and singing. Both young ladies enhanced the production adding to the high standard now expected of Nova Music Theatre.
The young hero Fiyero was given a stirling performance by Mitchell Sanfilippo. He has good stage presentation, fine acting skills and a voice to suit.
Elpheba’s sister Nessarose was played by Chloe Towan. A difficult role as Towan was confined to a wheelchair for the majority of the play. A good interpretation of the character that did not turn out quite as expected.
Her helper, Boq, was played by Pasquale Bartalotta who gave a positive performance of the character inveigled into the position by Glinda. The head of Shiz University, Madam Morrible, was played by Bernadette Sheedy capturing the essence of the teacher who saw the potential in Elpheba but whose attitude changed during the course of the evening.
The monkeys were played by Lachlan Nash, Courtney Smith and Ellis Foster. Not an easy role as they were all bent over and running around the stage with the odd leap up the wall. The three really caught the feel of monkeys and were much enjoyed by the opening night audience.
Robert Clark was The Wizard. Clark gave a good realistic feel to the role of the wizard who was not quite what one expected. Another good player was John Pendergast as Professor Dillamond, the talking gat and last of the talking animals of Oz. His makeup was amazing and performance spot on.
In all a wonderful evening of theatre and Nova is to be congratulated on their high standard of production.
Bye Bye Birdie
Director/Choreographer: Drew Downing.
Music Director: Phill Scanlon
MLOC’s choice of production to close the 2016 season was the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie.
The story of a Rock singer, Conrad Birdie, who had just received his call-up papers and with the aid of his agents was to have One Last Kiss of a member of his fan club in a little country town in the State of Ohio.
The setting was simple. A raised platform at the back centre of stage with a screen on dame. This was used to full advantage as a shadow play and as a movie clip screen which added to the technical side of he evening very successfully.
The main characters were Conrad Birdie, his agent Albert Peterson, Albert’s Secretary Rosie Alverez, Albert’s mother Mrs Mae Peterson, Kim MacFee the girl fan selected for the one last kiss, her parents, Mrs Dorothy Macfee and Mr Harry Macfee and brother Randolph MacFee.
A large cast made up of the teenagers in town and other players involved.
Sam Petroulias was Conrad Birdie. Petroulias has good stage presentation and captured the role with fineness.
Conrad’s agent Albert Peterson was played by Paul Congdon. A hectic role as Congdon was on stage for practically the whole performance. He caught the role with ease and has a good touch of the comique which came out well in several scenes. Also a good rapport with Kelly Millard as Rosie his secretary.
Kelly Millard as Rosie Alverez gave a stunning performance and also added to by a pleasant singing voice. Poor Rosie, trying to show Albert that there was more in their lives than Conrad Birdie then trying to put up with Albert’s mother who was dead against a Latin American taking away her son.
Janet Reid was Mrs Mae Peterson, a fantastic nterpretation of the mother who would not let go of her son, even though he was in his 30s. Reid captured the essence of the frustrated mother with a great performance and her performance was one of the highlights of the evening.
Mr Harry MacFee was played by Michael Young. Mr Macfee’s daughter Kim was the chosen one the last kiss to be shown on the Ed Sullivan Show. At first Harry was against the whole idea but when he learned he was to be on TV his whole attitude changed. Young played the role excellently really giving the feel of a Dad being not recognised by his family to the TV night.
His wife Doris was played by Kirsty Hall. A good performance with a good scene when her daughter declared at fifteen she was a woman and demanded respect as such then bad news and she was a little girl again and needed her mummy. Hall handled the role with finesse.
Kim Macfee was the chosen one. Played by Katherine Gale who gave a remarkable and wonderful portrayal of such a character. Adding to her good acting performance she has a great and mature voice surprisingly in one looking so young.
Gale handled the role of a young teenager thinking she was very mature (well she as 15) to the girl who did need her mother after all. A good portrayal.
A large cast of young performers doing a great job and the theatre is lucky to have such a future in these actors.
A pleasant evening from MLOC and a company worth following.
Jesus Christ Superstar
CLOC Music Theatre
Director/Set Designer: Shaun Kingma
Musical Director: Tyson Legg
Choreographer: Tamara Finch.
CLOC Music Theatre’s director, Shaun Kingma, says in his notes that this is a “what if” version. He has set the action in a post apolytical world. To get the picture think of the last seven days of Jesus Christ’s life set in the world of Mad Max.
The set was amazing, smooth movement of the scenery, very stark and desolate with lighting suiting the staging.
The cast captured the feel of such a time with finesse. The choreography was excellent and the dancers were spot on with their timing and the presentation of their performances was very good.
Costuming was amazing, the priests’ outfits were very effective giving the impressions of darkness and evil. The stage presentations of all the cast showed their expertise and professionalism.
Daniel Mottau was Jesus. Dressed in white whereas the rest of the cast were in dark colours so stood out as was expected. A great interpretation and physically well done, suffering a whipping and then crucifixion where he was placed on a cross constructed from girders and then hauled up above the stage. A very demanding role handled with great care and professionalism. Scott Mackenzie was Judas Iscariot. A wonderful performance of probably history’s most despised man. Mackenzie carried the role with ease assign the high standard of the evening.
Kate Weston was Mary. A busy role excellently performed with a good rapport with Mottau.
A large cast of singers and dancers, all good voices and a magnificent production from CLOC Music Theatre
Babirra Music Theatre
Director/Costume Designer: Tyler Hess.
Musical Director: Anthony Barnhill
Choreographer/Set Designer: Craig Wiltshire.
This production of the old favourite Anything Goes would have to be the most unusual and possibly the best your correspondent has ever seen.
As the story takes place on board the SS American sailing across the Atlantic ocean Babirra placed two screens, one each side of the stage upon which was projected ocean scenes and at night the moon shining over the ocean thus giving the feeling the audience was really on a ship heading across the ocean. In act II there is a song Be Like a Bluebird. It opened with the comment “ An old Australian song by Melba” so on the screens they projected a view o he Australian bush with a blue parrot plus sound of a bird song, The parrot not only sat on a gumtree but took off and flew across the stage to the other screen and back again. A very effective and unusual scene.
The set changes on stage were smoothly done with entertainment from the SS American passengers performing in front of the changes
The costuming was superb and really suited the 30’s where the show is set.
The cast was outstanding and one memorable scene is the last number before interval when the main cast of dancers and then everybody came on with a tap dance sequence to the tune of Anything Goes. It was absolutely amazing, the standard very high, timing spot on and the audience nearly wore out their hands in applause.
Playing the evangelist Reno Sweeney was Sharon Wills. A great performance not only with her acting but with a good strong, clear singing voice. The hero of the story, who stowed away on the ship to be near his ladylove was Billy Crocker played by Adam Bianco. Another terrific performance, a great sense of comique, a good actor and a fine singing voice with a great rapport with Olivia Fildes,
Olivia Fildes was Hope Harcourt, engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh but was really loved by Billy Crocker. Fildes captured the role of the young ingénue with aplomb also a lovely singing voice and some of her scenes were a sheer delight. Her fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was played by Adam Jon. A great performer really going over the top as an English Lord in real Wodehouse style. An amusing entertainer and well appreciated by the audience.
The number 13 criminal in America Moonface Martin was given a highly amusing and well done performance by Ben Moody who captured the character with finesse. Moonface’s girlfriend Erma was played by Emily Mignot. Mignot really captured the dumb, gum chewing, gangster’s moll with ease giving a wonderful portrayal.
Another standout performance was given by David Miller as the purser, an over the top gay performance which was excellently balanced and performed.
The overall cast were outstanding and this is a production not to be missed.
We Will Rock You
Resident Director & Choreographer: Siobhan Ginty.
We Will Rock You opened in Melbourne’s Regent Theatre on September, 2016 to a packed house. This is a return performance after appearing at the Regent in 2005.
Ben Elton the director and writer said “ We chose Melbourne to mount the first show after London and it was there in 2003 that we were really able to put all the lessons we had learned in London into practice, subsequently reinventing the design and the staging, not the east of the new innovations was to get the band into view! Let’s face it this is a Rock Musical, the story is a celebration of live music. We wanna see the band for God’s sake. The resulting show was a much more fluid and rocking production and the first Australian show became the model for all subsequent productions world wide.”
Set design was primarily a set of stairs across the full length of the stage with visual effects behind. At the finale were stone walls and a large central gate.
Costuming was magnificent absolutely suiting the story line, very colourful and sometimes rather brief.
The lighting made the production, the use of lighting created a prison and emphasised the highlights of the production.
Playing Galileo, the boy with the remberance of the long forgotten past of people composing their own music and playing it on their own instruments, was Gareth Kegan. A good clear voice heard easily across the theatre, remarkable acting ability and a good rapport with Erin Clare as Scaramouche.
Erin Clare was the teenager Scaramouche who joined Galileo in his search for the mystery musical instrument. Clare was a great balance to Kegan, a good rapport and a wonderful voice, strong and clear, excellent presentation with good acting ability.
Killer Queen was played by Casey Donovan, an outstanding stage personality capturing the essence of the evil queen who did not like individualism. Another good voice with the plus of good stage presentation
A large cast moving well together and in the dance scenes timing spot on. The projection and energy of the dancers was amazing and the standard was very high.
A wonderful evening of a rock show with Melbourne’s opening night audience giving it a standing ovation.
The Production Company
Director: Roger Hodgman
An Australian premiere of a musical comedy whodunit Curtains.
A large excellent cast giving a high standard of production which was given a standing ovation by the Melbourne opening night audience
The orchestra was set to the rear of the stage with various curtains and sets moving in and out as required.
A fun story about a musical company rehearsing when he leading lady suspiciously dies. A stage struck police inspector not only takes over the case but tries to improve the shoe.
The Production Company is unique in giving a high standard production as least costly as possible. The cast usually only have two weeks rehearsal but when seen one would believe they had the usual proper rehearsal period.
The musical is a play within a play with the cast rehearsing Robbin’ Hood. The opening scene was set in the West with cowboys and girls. A well executed scene with timing spot on.
Simon Gleeson was Lieutenant Frank Cioffi the homicide detective in charge of the murder mystery. Gleeson caught the character with aplomb, a great stage presence and a good rapport with all particularly with Alinta Chidzey as Frank’s interest Niki Harris.
Chidzey as Niki Harris gave a great performance in the role working well with Simon Gleeson. \
The other love interest was between the writers, Georgia Hendricks and Aaron Fox.
Georgia was played by Lucy Maunder who gave a terrific performance in the role. Aaron was played by Alex Rathgeber who caught the essence of the character as envisaged giving a believable portrayal of such a character.
Nikki Wendt was Jessica Cranshaw the ‘star’ of the musical who did not quite see the show out. A short role well handled by Wendt.
Chu chin Chow
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director and Choreography: Robert Ray
Musical Direction: John Ferguson & Surcha Delaney.
A musical extravaganza of The Arabian Nights as told by Oscar Asche.
Oscar Asche was born in Geelong and went to London and wrote, directed and starred in the lead role.
GSOV set the play in Melbourne with Oscar Asche presenting his musical extravaganza to such Melbourne theatre notabilities J. C. Williamson and Frank Tait.
Kent Martin portrayed Oscar Asche as himself and as his character Abu Hasan.
A good stage presence by Martin who dominated his scenes in the true character of Oscar Asche presenting his production to the Melbourne entrepreneurs not hesitating to stop the show and criticise any performer he did not think was acting as he required. Martin really captured the essence of Oscar Asche giving a good portrayal of such a role.
Andrew McGrail played Abu Hasan and Chu Chin Chow in the first half but as Abu did not live did not live up to Oscar’s expectations was replaced by Oscar and relegated o the chorus. McGrail caught the role as envisaged giving a great performance.
Sarah Doran as Zahrat Al Kulub, played by Summer Bowen, who’s lover Omar was imprisoned by Abu Hasan who will murder him unless Zahrat agrees to spy for Hasan.
Bowen looked absolutely lovely and is a magnificent performer with a wonderful singing voice to balance her performance.
Cecil Humphreys as Kasim Baba was played by Ron Pidcock who caught the feel of such a character with finesse giving a stirling performance in the role.
Wensley Russell was Kasim’s poor brother Ali Baba and was played by Ron Mack. Mack gave a good interpretation of Ali and keeping up the high standard set by the company.
Ali’s son Nur al-Huda as played by Herbert Brown in the Oscar Asche version was played on stage by Torquil Syme. Syme was great in the role of the young man in love and trying to keep of trouble.
Kitty Reidy as Marjanah, Ali’s lover was given a great and moving performance by Ella Broome. A great stage personality, good acting and a lovely strong and clear singing voice all adding up to the expected standard of GSOV.
The costuming was outstanding, bright, colourful and captured the correct feel of he Arabian nights. The set was in the stage centre rear and comprised of stairs up, two columns surmounted by the eastern style onion domes with palm trees centre and a screen at rear which showed the relevant scene changes. A high standard of singing and acting from all the cast.
A never-to-be forgotten evening and if Chu Chin Chow returns to the stage do not miss it.
The Production Company
Director: Gale Edwards
Musical Director: Anthony Gabriele
The Production Company’s choice of show to open the 2016 season was Funny Girl.
Based on the life of Fanny Brice with her start in vaudeville to her success in the Ziegfeld Follies ad her marriage to Nick Arnstein.
The stage was simply set with stairs each side curving toward the centre with a raised platform and the orchestra on stage between the two arms of the stairs. This design worked very well with the actors coming in from the wings and also from the rear up and over the centre.
Fanny Brice was played by Caroline O’Connor. O’Connor was on stage most of the performance and give an excellent portrayal of Fanny Brice from her teen years to her mature years, successes and disappointments. A performance well loved by the opening night audience.
Her male interest and eventually her husband, Nick Arnstein was played by David Hobson, one of Australia’s best known operatic and recording artists. Hobson captured the character of the gambler and smooth worker with finesse giving a superb performance in the role.
Fanny’s mother, Mrs Brice, was given a wonderful portrayal by one of Australia’s favourite theatrical actresses Nancye Hayes. Hayes caught the essence of the show business mother and kept up the high standard of the production. With Mrs Brice there were her friends, Mrs Strakosh and Mrs O’Malley.
Mrs Strakosh was played by Susan-Ann Walker who captured the shrill voiced, loud mouthed friend with a genuine feel giving a great performance.
Mrs O’Malley was played by Judith Roberts. A good feel of the character. Projected with feeling and a stirling performance.
Florenz Ziegfeld was played by David Ross Paterson. Another great interpretation catching the essence of such a man.
Fanny’s friend Eddie Ryan was given a good portrayal by Luke Alleva who caught such a character with ease making Eddie feel realistic.
A well directed and smooth running production of a high standard as normally set by The Production Company.
Once Upon a Mattress
Diamond Valley Singers & Eltham Orchestra
Director/Choreographer: Tamblyn Smith
Once Upon a Mattress is an adaption of the Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy story The Princess and the Pea.
The set comprised of three towers which were spun around for different scenes. At stage rear was a stone wall and the stage floor was decorated in a stone pattern giving the impression of all being in a castle. Costuming was very good, suiting the era of the storyline.
A large cast all handling their roles with expertise. Some highlights were Meg Warren as Princess Winifred, just call me Fred, with Warren giving a first class portrayal as the princess from the swamp country not used to a big city. A great sense of the comique and a good presentation.
Prince Dauntless the Drab was played by Nicholas Durbridge A great performance catching all the finer nuances of such a character. Both Durbridge and Warren had a great rapport and were terrific together.
A fantastic performance was given by Rebecca Muratore as Queen Aggravain, Muratore was the nagging Queen who did not really want her son to get married and did everything she could to hinder any prospects for her son. Her husband King Sextimus The Silent was played by Malcolm Wilton. A good balance to Muratore, had lost his voice and could not speak, which suited the Queen. Wilton, not being able to speak made up for it with the fantastic facial expressions and body language. The Jester was played by Narada Edgar who added to the humour of the evening with her portrayal.
A well received production by the audience of such a light-hearted comedy and the company is one to add to your diary.
Babirra Musical Theatre
Director: Chris Bradtke.
Musical Director: Ben Hudson.
Choreographer: Di Crough.
Babirra Musical Theatre’s choice of production for the 2016 season was Mary Poppins a theatrical version of Disney’s film Mary Poppins.
The sets were absolutely amazing. From the street scenes to the Banks’ home and scenes of London. Many scenes were projections onto a stage sized screen and added much realism to the production. With the amazing lighting and even rain the company thanks lighting designer Jason Bovaird and with excellent work from Richard Staples, set designer, Leonie Campbell, costume designer and Greg Ginger, sound designer.
Sometimes audiences don’t realise the amount of work off stage that has to go into a production and without the aforementioned people there would not be a show of the high calibre of Mary Poppins.
Stephanie John was Mary Poppins. An amazing and professionly handled performance. A great stage presence with good acting and singing John handled the role with expertise looking really comfortable as such a character even to the extent of looking calm and relaxed while flying across the stage.
Mary’s friend Bert was played by Angelo De Cata. He was Bert, an artist (street) a chimney sweep and a good friend not only to Mary but to the Banks children.
De Cata gave an outstanding performance in his character working well with John. A good stage presence and well appreciated by the audience.
George Banks the busy bank employee was played by Richard Thomas. Another good performer. projecting well and capturing the essence of George Banks. His wife, Wilfred Banks, was given a stirling performance by Megan Coe. Coe worked well with Thomas and had a great rapport with her two stage children, Eryn Saunders and Elliot Shute.
Eryn Saunders was Jane Banks and Elliot Shute was Michael Banks. The two played together with a great rapport, really catching the character of the two children looking for their Father’s love and being very naughty in getting rid of Nannies they did not like. Both good performers and one sees a future in theatre for both.
Miss Andrew, the very strict Nannie who had the father, the bank manager scared stiff not to mention the children. Played by Lizzie Matjacic who gave such a realistic performance it was a wonder that she wasn’t booed off stage,
One unforgettable scene was Feed the birds. Against a background of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the steps was the Bird Woman played by Carol Whitfield. A very moving number with a beautiful dinging voice from Whitfield. Setting the scene using projections were birds flying across the stage and settling with the Bird Woman. This added to the realism of the piece and gave the moving feeling as looked for in such a piece.
A great evening of theatre and enjoyed by the opening night audience.
The Sound of Music
May 19, 2016 saw the Melbourne opening of The Sound of Music at the Regent Theatre.
A magnificent production with well done sets of the Von Trapp home, the abbey, the concert hall ad the mountains. Sets were smoothly brought in and out with no delay thus enhancing the evening.
Cameron Daddo played Captain Von Trapp and although Daddo is an experienced actor he was a little disappointing in this role. Voice a little week and some scenes with Maria lacked a little spontaneity. He does have a good stage presence with good projection.
Maria was given a superb performance by Amy Lehpamer who captured the role with feeling. A lovely strong velar voice and her scenes with the children were an absolute delight. Jacqueline Dark was the Mother Abbess. Dark is an opera singer and her natural ability and training came to the fore in this production. She is also a good actress and had a sympathetic approach to Maria in her times of trouble.
The Baroness Schraeder was played by Marina Prior. A good stage presence, a lovely voice and a good rapport with Cameron Daddo.
Lorraine Bayly was Frau Schmidt the housekeeper. A good portrayal with a fine stage projection and worked well with the other cast members. A good comic performance was given by David James as the entrepreneur Max Detweiler. A friend of the Von Trapp family but also out for himself. James captured the part as envisaged giving a good interpretation of such a character.
Stephanie Jones was the eldest daughter Liesl. Jones had in her younger years played a younger daughter Brigitta. She handled the role with aplomb giving a wonderful portrayal of the young girl in her teens trying to come to grips between childhood and adulthood.
The telegraph boy, Rolf, who was keen on Liesl was played by Du Toit Brederkamp A good interpretation of the character with a good stage presence.
Franz, the butler, was well played by John Hannan capturing the correct feel or the tole.
The young children of the Von Trapp family gave outstanding performances. There are three sets of children and the opening night set were absolute brilliant. Spot on timing, working well together. Good voices and a delight to watch.
The ensemble were a credit to the high standard of the production and opening night in Melbourne concluded with a standing ovation.
Singin' in the Rain
Her Majesty’s Theatre
A stage version of the well known film starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor.
The stage version stuck closely to the film including the dancing in the rain scene where 12000 litres of water rained down on Don Lockwood (and the first three rows of the audience).
The production was set in the studios of Monumental Pictures with the orchestra at the rear and on a second story. On the stage were successful scene changes as the evening progressed.
Don Lockwood was played by Andrew Garcia. A great performance food movement and a pleasant voice and having a good rapport with Gretel Scarlett and Jack Chambers. Gretel Scarlett was Kathy Seldon, a young actress trying her luck in the movies and falling for Don Lockwood. A wonderful portrayal with Scarlett capturing the cor4rect feel of such a sweet young character. Jack Chambers was Don’s lifetime friend Cosmo Brown. Chambers excelled in the role capturing the essence of the musician/dancer as called for. The three worked wonderfully together and kept the high standard of such a production. Each were good singers and dancers and the dancing and singing in actual rain was very well received by the audience.
Erika Heynatz gave an excellent and superb performance of Lina Lamont, she, the silent movie star, of the high pitched voice not understanding that her voice was not one expected when talkies came in. Heynatz was absolutely brilliant as the dumb blonde and earlier in conversation with your correspondent said she loved that type of role and enjoyed every moment of it.
Veteran actor Robyn Arthur was Doro and Miss Dinsmore. Good stage presentation and handled the roles as envisaged. Mike Bishop was R. F. Simpson, the producer of Monumental Pictures. A great portrayal with some fun scenes with Erika Heynatz. The director of Monumental Pictures, Roscoe Dexter was portrayed by Rodney Dobson. Another great performer who did not have an easy kob directing Lina Lamont.
A wonderful production with the scenes from the Dancing Cavalier projected in black and white on a screen lowered from the flies working very successfully. The changing of the scenes was very smoothly done and the ensemble kept the high standard set by the three leading performers. The dancing was spot on, in line and no mistakes.
A great night of theatre in Melbourne and a standing ovation in respect of such a wonderful production.
CLOC Musical Theatre
Co-Director/Set Designer: Chris White
Co- Director/ Choreographer: Lynette White
Musical Director: Danny Forward.
CLOC Music Theatre opened the 2016 with the untold story of the witches of Oz in Wicked.
The sets were absolutely amazing with the highlight being the face of the Wizard of Oz. Designed and built by Chris White it was a giant face which when speaking had all the correct mouth movements and expressions consistent with the subject matter. Costuming was a delight ranging from glamour dress for Glinda and black plain dress for Elphaba to animal costumes, plus many changes for the company.
Rosa McCarty was the evil witch Elphaba. Not a very glamorous role as McCarty was green and dull black costume.
A superb performance with all the correct feeling fir the character. McCarty has a good stage presence which was evinced by her performance. Elphaba’s great friend Galinda later known as Glinda the good witch was played by Emily McKenzie. Another great performance and McKenzie has a good rapport with McCarty and both girls are a credit to any professional stage.
Elphaba’s sister Nessarose trapped in a wheelchair was given a good portrayal by Grace Kingsford. Fiyero, a handsome prince to whom Glinda fell in love, was played by Robbie Smith. An actor with good stage projection, interpreting the role with professionalism and worked well with both McCarty and McKenzie.
Lee Threadgold was the Wizard of Oz, an impressive role of a man who was not what he seemed. Threadgold captured the role with ease giving a smooth polished performance
A great character was Madame Morrible who helped Elphaba develop her talents. Carolyn Waddell gave a terrific performance as such a character. Munchkin Boq, who was in love with Glinda but was loved by Nessarose, was played by Hamish Anderson who caught the feel of such a character with finesse giving a good performance.
A well directed production with amazing dance routines with spot on timing and overall a wonderful evening of heater thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Nova Musical Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy.
Choreographer: Kristen Mihalos
Nova Musical theatre’s choice of production was the light-hearted musical comedy Legally blonde. A story of a blonde girl whose boyfriend went from California to Harvard Law School and then followed him there.
Sets were basic with different scenes flown in or slid in form the wings as required.
Congratulations must go to Kristen Mihalos, the choreographer, for the wonderful dancing scenes, spot on in the timing, good lines and great enthusiasm.
As Elle Woods, the girl who followed her boyfriend Warner to Harvard, Elise Cavallo caught the characterisation of the role perfectly giving a wonderful performance and capturing all the finer nuances of Elle.
Her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III was given a good portrayal by Leighton Irwin as the young man who thought he was too good for Elle.
Elle’s teaching assistant, Brenton Van Vliet who was the only person in the school on her side, was played by Emmett Forest. A good portrayal of the shy but helpful teacher who changed somewhat by the end of the production.
The lecturer for the Harvard Law School. Professor Callahan, was played by Jay Haggett Good presentation capturing the character as envisaged with a twist toward the end.
During the story line Elle has a Greek chorus, not seen by anyone else, advising her in song about what to do next. As the three choristers, Alexandra Samulenok as Serena, Caitlin Bond as Margot, and Shannon Salisbury as Pilar, gave good and performances with good voices to match.
The hairdresser, Paulette Bonafonté, who befriended Elle, was played by Katherine Elliott. A great comic performance with a good fun scene when the new delivery boy arrives.
A wonderful evening of theatre with a couple of small scene stealers in Bruiser, a chihuahua, and Rufus, a British bulldog. All adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
Little Shop of Horrors
Director: Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Andrew Worboys
Choreographer: Andrew Halesworth
May 5. 2016 saw the Melbourne opening night of a comedic horror show Little Shop of Horrors.
A packed house with Melbourne’s elite theatre people in attendance.
An unusual opening with a projection of a news story of a disaster read by one of Australia’s well known TV news readers.
The set comprised of Mushnik’s Flower Shop on skidrow flanked by two lamp posts complete with flickering lights and wires across the stage. Opening saw a Greek style chorus of three girls, Angelique Cassimates as Crystal, Josie Lane as Chifton and Chloe Zuel as Ponnette/US Audrey. All three did a wonderful portrayal of the requirements of the roles entering on and off very smoothly and added to the high standard of the production.
Seymour Kilborn, played by Brent Hill, Mushnik’s shop assistant and carer of Audrey II was given an amazing talented portrayal of the shy but determined assistant. An excellent performance. The love of Seymour’s life is Audrey played by Esther Hannaford. A lovely performance wit6h Hannaford catching all the finer nuances of the young quiet girl who puts up with more than ne should expect from her bikie/dentist boyfriend.
Tyler Coppin was Seymour’s boss, Mr Mushnik. Coppin captured the essence of the character with ease giving a first class performance.
Audrey’s boyfriend, dentist/bikie, Orin Scrivello DDS., was given a stirling portrayal by Scott Jonson particularly when he had Seymour in the dentist’s chair.
The outstanding character who nearly stole the show was Audrey II. An amazing puppet that grew from a tiny plant in a pot to taking up most of the shop. Speaking and singing, voiced by Brent Hill and named Audrey II by Seymour nearly stole the show.
A magnificent production received by Melbourne’s opening night’s audience with a standing ovation.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Director: Ben Giraud
Musical Director: Trevor Jones
Choreographer: Bernie Bernard
Lawler Theatre Melbourne was the venue for Vic. Theatre Company’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
A simply set stage with a background of yellow covered in bees. A small rostrum to rear of stage and chairs for the contestants in front with the winner’s cup on a dais on audience right.
The contestants’ costuming was relevant to the character and the age of each contestant. Rebecca Moore as the MC and Olive’s Mum gave a great performance handling the role with finesse. Henry Brett was Leaf Coneybear and Carl’s Dad giving a humorous and comical performance as Leaf and a good interpretation of Dad.
Chip Tolento was played by James Coley giving a great portrayal of such a character.
Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere whose two dads were bickering on stage was played by Sage Douglas who captured the essence of the character with ease giving a good portrayal of such a role.
Teresa Duddy was Marcy Park the contestant who could speak 6 languages. Duddy presented well with good stage projection. Matt Heywood was Mitch Mahoney a comfort counsellor helping as part of his court-mandated community service. Heywood certainly looked the part giving a great performance.
The poor girl who did not have the entrance money or a relative in the audience, Olive Ostrovsky was well performed by Jenni Little capturing the correct feel for the role.
A busy man on stage was the janitor played by Riley Nottingham a good interpretation of such a character. The Vice Principal Douglas Panch and also Olive’s Das was played by David Spencer who captured the characters as envisaged giving a good portrayal.
A terrific production with good singing and amazing lighting with over 300 lighting changes thanks to Jason Bovaird.
The choreography caught the feel of the contestants with the smooth flowing of the production leading to a great night of entertainment thoroughly enjoyed by Melbourne’s opening night audience.
Executive Director: Peter Rix
Director & Creator: Craig Loft
Musical Director: Joe Accaria
Velvet is a nightclub and a state of mind – a fantasy.
Inspired by Studio 54, a club made famous for its wild parties and hedonism. On one level Velvet is an amalgam of variety and concert forms that offers sheer entertainment to a disco disc sound track.
The Coopers Malthouse – Merlyn theatre was turned into a disco for the evening with plenty of flashing lights and mirror balls.
The program consisted of performances of the circus variety interspersed with songs and dance.
Opening number was Mirko Kõckenberger with an amazing balancing act on suit cases. Well cone, skilful and a great crowd pleaser. Each item was interspersed by song and dance with sassy sirens Rechelle Mansour and Chska Halliday. These two highly talented girls were on stage for practically the whole program both singing and dancing. An entertaining and excellent performance.
Singer songwriter Brendan Maclean was the young man finding his way through disco world. A good performance.
Joe Accaria had his work cut out as the DJ. Flat out the entire evening with great presentation.
Stephen Williams was the strong man and aerialist both solo and support for Emma Goh a wonderful aerialist giving solo performances and duos with Stephen.
A fun and skilful hoop man was Craig Reid. What that man could do with the hula hoops staggers belief. A comic performance but absolutely amazed Melbourne’s opening night audience.
But of course one cannot forget the legendary diva who stole the show Marcia Hines AM.
A very successful evening of disco and mixture of music, song and circus never to be forgotten by the audience.
Violet the Musical
Blue Saint Productions
Director: Mitchell Butel
Musical Director: Martine Wengrow
Choreographer: Amy Campbell.
Violet, a story of a girl facially scarred from a childhood accident and undertakes a journey across the USA to help remove her scar only to find that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
A simply set stage with a rear screen of any highway in America, a sloping ramp at the foot of the screen and tables and a bed brought out for the relevant scenes. Very effective and smoothly handled.
Violet was played by Sam Dodemaide, a good portrayal, a wonderful voice and worked well with the other cast members.
Violet as a child was played by Luisa Scrofani. Well done and had a good rapport with Damien Bermingham playing her father. Bermingham presents well having a good stage presence a fine performance and captured the essence of he father.
Barry Conrad was Flick the coloured soldier travelling with his soldier friend on the Greyhound bus. A good performance enhanced by a great voice. His friend Monty was given a wonderful portrayal by Steve Danielsen. Both players worked well together and had a good rapport with Dam Dodemaide.
A fine production with some outstanding scenes one memorable one was the TV rehearsal of the evangelistic service.
A popular production with the audience giving a standing ovation.
Fiddler on the Roof
Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Kelly Dickerson
Choreographer: Dana Jolly
Melbourne’s Princess Theatre was the venue for the production of The Fiddler on the Roof.
Starring Anthony Warlow who returned from three years on Broadway to play the milkman Tevye, and featuring Mark Mitchell as Lazar Wolfe, Sigrid Thornton as Golde, Nicki Wendt as Yente and Lior as Motel.
The sets comprised of three wooden walls outlining the various buildings of the village of Anatevka. When required the buildings were slid out and turned to whichever scene was called. Very basic but very effective.
A wonderful production with an outstanding performance by Anthony Warlow as Tevye. A good strong clear voice, top acting and a good rapport with his fellow players. A highlight was Nicki Wendt as Yente the matchmaker. A great performance of such a role with plenty of humour and pathos. An outstanding performance.
Mark Mitchell caught the character of Lazar Wolfe with aplomb and he with Anthony Warlow as Tevye discussing his future marriage to Tevye’s daughter Tzeitel and Tevye not understanding what was going on was excellently portrayed and caused great merriment from the audience.
Sigrid Thornton made a fair Golde putting up with Tevye’s demands and struggling to look after her daughters. Lior as Motel captured the correct feel of the young in love and poor tailor. Tzeitel. his intended . was given a wonderful performance by Teagan Wouters.
Enter Perchik, a university student from Kiev, who brings a taste of freshness to the village. Played by Blake Bowden who captured the young radical with realism and worked well with Monica Swayne as Hodel. One unforgettable and moving scene was at the railway station Hodel is going to join Hodel who has been sent to Siberia. Tevye and Hodel are waiting for the train in a moment that brought tears to the eye. Monica Swayne gave a great performance in the role and impressed the audience.
The third daughter, Chava, was played by Jessica Vickers. Chava upset her father and family by falling in love with a Cossack and not one of her own people. Jessica Vickers caught the role as one would imagine defying her family traditions for the man she loved. Her intended Fyedka was played by Jensen Overend who was a good balance to Jessica and gave a good performance.
Some memorable scenes were the engagement announcement in the tavern where the Jews and the Cossacks danced their own dances then combined the Cossack dance with the Jewish dance. This was followed by the bottle dance where the dancers wore top hats balancing beer bottles on the hats. An amazing number. Another memorable moment was the dream where Tevye tells Golde the he dreamed that Tzeitel should marry Motel. One of the great production scenes in the show and the reaction by Golde, Sigrid Thornton was a picture.
A small but important part was the fiddler on the roof. Portrayed by Rob Theaker who came in and out of the show at varying moments A talented violinist who gave a good portrayal as such a man.
The Melbourne opening night audience were so over awes by the production that there was an immediate standing ovation.
Venue: Princess Theatre Spring St. January 5 – February 27. 2016
Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical
Director: Gary Young.
Musical Supervision, Arrangements & Orchestrations: Stephen Amos.
Choreographer: Michael Ralph.
December 22. 2015 saw the World Premiere of Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical opening in Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre.
A musical look at the life of Australia’s most successful and popular pops group The Seekers.
Commencing from when Judith Durham met the boys at the Treble Clef and following their trip to England and their rise to fame.
A well produced and directed production smoothly flowing with a simple and effective stage set of three walls, a movable staircase and a movie screen upper back showing relevant scenes.
The costuming was very well done with the apparel of London’s swinging Sixties bringing touches of nostalgia to many of the audience.
Pippa Grandison was Judith Durham. A wonderful portrayal of the girl from Balwyn capturing all the finer nuances of Judith and aided by a magnificent voice, well modulated, clear and well balanced.
Phillip Lowe was Keith Potger. Well acted, very well sung and a delight to see. Mike McLeish was Bruce Woodley. Another fine portrayal by a very talented performer. Glaston Toft was Athol Guy who added to the skills of the group with his excellent performance.
The four interpreters of The Seekers gave outstanding performances, working well together with a great rapport and giving the opening night audience a touch of the magic of The Seekers. Their talent is amazing and one realises how they were cast for such roles.
The scenes captured the essence of Swinging London of the sixties with the ensemble keeping up the high standard set by the leads.
A very moving moment was the finale. The cast and leads took their final bows in the time honoured fashion and then they split in half forming a V along the side of the stage. The rear wall split in two and entered the original Seekers. An instant standing ovation with prolonged applause thanking the cast and leads for a wonderful evening and thanking The Seekers on their stage appearance. Then each performer joined the Seeker they were portraying and took the bows together. A very moving moment.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
Sunday December 20. 2015 saw the opening night of Andrew Lloyd Webber’ Cats at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
An impressive set of a larger than life junkyard with occasional cars passing and a police car with sirens and lights full blast.
The cats came in from all directions with the performers on all fours weaving about like cats.
The show is from T. S. Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and an unpublished poem Grizabella The Glamour Cat. .
Costuming was magnificent with the cat outfits suiting the characters and the Asian costuming in The Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles.
The performances were of a high standard and the players not only used the stage but also the aisles of the theatre. One highlight was the duet from Old Deuteronomy and Jemima played by Jason Wasley and Stephanie Silcock. Beautiful strong and well trained voices and both had a great rapport.
A tap dancing sequence was remarkable and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The scenes from Macavity and Mr Mistoffelees were a standout adding to the enjoyment of the production.
Delta Goodrem was Grizabella giving a fine rendition of Memory. An enjoyable night except that from the dress circle the stage was rather dark as the shoe is set at night but was hard to make out the players and the various costumes.
But overall the crowd loved the show and gave it a standing ovation.
The Production Company
Director: Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Matthew Frank
Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth
The Production Company’s final production for 2015 was Jerry’s Girls a show about the music of Jerry Herman.
The director, Dean Bryant decided on something different and as The Production Company is known for its accessibility for the general public and as such a short rehearsal time enabling the company to keep the ticket price low.
Dean looking at this decided to show the audience what goes on behind the scenes in producing a show for The Production Company.
The stage at the Playhouse was set as a rehearsal room with a piano on audience left chairs and tables centre stage.
Jerry’s Girls were the cream of Australia’s lady performers; such as Rhonda Burchmore, Nancye Hayes, Silvie Paladino, Christie Whelan Browne, Virginia Gay, Claire Lyon, Kirby Burgess, Chelsea Gibb, Debora Krizak, Josie Lane, Natalie O’Donnell and the only man, Brent Hill.
Brent was the director of the new production of Jerry’s Girls and the cast actually played themselves.
There were various interactions between cast members and also with the director. Then each showed their talents in singing and dancing to Jerry Herman’s songs.
A delightful number was Deborah Krizak as the ageing stripper in Take It All Off but dinging Put It Back On.
Rhonda Burchmore showed her comic side when Brett was looking for an older woman for a special role and Rhonda disappeared behind the other girls. Nancye Hayes showed her talent as a versatile artist in singing and dancing Two-a-Day and I Was Beautiful.
The whole production was the girls rehearsing, showing how a show is put together and the finale was something else. As there were only 11 women in the cast and as they said “Jeanne Pratt wants 12” so the twelfth was found and the director Brent Hill came to the fore.
A wonderful evening of theatre with the audience learning how a production is put together.
Jesus Christ Superstar.
Director/Choreographer: Rhylee Howell
Musical Director: Matthew Hadgraft
MLOC Productions final show for 2015 was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.
Basic sets yet giving the feeling of the middle east and the story of the last seven days of the life of Jesus Christ.
A large cast making the stage very busy when all were on.
Jesus Christ was played by Ben Paine who caught the anguish of the persecuted Christ, having a pleasant and understandable clear voice. A good performance.
Carly Daley was Mary Magdalene, a lovely voice, worked well with Paine and projected well.
Omar Moustata was Judas Iscariot. Moustata has a very good stage appearance, a strong voice and good acing ability. Another strong performance was given by Tim Ryan as Pontius Pilate. Ryan also has good stage projection giving a good all round performance.
A production well appreciated by the opening night audience but there were a few technical difficulties, One that your reviewer has noticed before and opening night is the spot lights do not always hit the face of the individual but rather from the chest down. A shame for such an enthusiastic company which is obviously appealing by the delight the performers take in their roles and the appreciation of their audiences.
. Nova Musical Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy
Choreographer: Wayne Robinson.
Nova Musical Theatre’s choice for the spring season was the well known musical Grease.
The show opened with the Principal Miss Lynch giving the audience instructions and treating them as if they were students of Rydell High. As Miss Lynch Anne Dewar gave the character the right degree of personality suited to the role. An amazing performance.
Danny, the leader of the T Birds and who had fallen for Sandy Dumbrowski was given a good interpretation by Leighton Irwin. Irwin and Ruby Voss as Sandy had a good rapport and stage presence.
Ruby Voss as Sandy captured the innocence of the new girl to Rydell High who was regarded as a good girl away from family control for the first time. Voss gave a good performance and very successful in the change of character by the end of the production
The not quite good girl and leader of the Pink Ladies was Betty Rizzo played by Hayley Piterman. Another great performer who caught the essence of such a character as envisaged.
The scenes were well executed, timing spot on with no bad performances. In all a popular well produced show.
Jacka VC Legend of Gallipoli
Director: William Smith.
After making its debut at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre Jacka VC Legend of Gallipoli moved to the Capital Theatre Bendigo where the out of town audiences had a chance to see this new Australian Rock Musical about an Australian legend not remembered so much today.
William Smith picked up Michael Lawriwsky’s book Hard Jacka and could not put it down.
The result, Jacka VC Legend of Gallipoli, a new Rock Opera to appeal to all Australians both young and old about a legendary hero of the WWI , Captain Albert Jacka VC. Captain Jacka VC was the first Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Great War.
William James Smith was not only the director he also wrote the script, composed the music, created the lyrics and played the role of Jacka. The music is a sheer delight; the lyrics and dialogue are straight from Michael Lawriwsky’s Hard Jacka. Not only is Smith a versatile creator as an actor/singer he gave a good strong performance enhanced by a positive stage presence.
The setting comprised of scaffolding across the rear of the stage with steps each side and scaffolding in the auditorium audience right. Various scenes were set by furniture and fittings brought in as required.
Andrew J. Lees was Captain Harold Wanliss. Lees caught the character as envisaged giving a good performance and has a great rapport with William Smith.
A versatile performance was given by Leonie Thomson who played Colonel Dare, a nurse, a barmaid and Mrs Campbell. A good interpretation of such varying characters. Susannah Gridley was Jean Campbell the young Scottish girl smitten by the young Australian officer Captain Harold Wanliss on a small holiday in Scotland. Gridley caught the character with aplomb and gave a beautiful Scottish accent. In fact in this scene set in a Scottish hotel the actors had such strong Scottish accents it was hard for a mere Australian captain to understand them.
Two characters found in every Australian army were ‘Sailor’ Day and ‘Nugget’ Vernon. These two were into all kinds of trouble from gambling to petty thievery but in the field of action pulled their weight. Anthony Julian was Private Thomas ‘Sailor’ Day and also played the Tank Commander. A good performance giving the correct feel to such a character as ‘Sailor’.
Phillip Hunting was Private ‘Nugget’ Vernon. Hunting had the correct ambience for the not so bright ‘Nugget’ giving s fine a steady performance in the role.
Tarik Vann was Captain Edgar ‘Ted’ Rule. Another good portrayal of a man who was promoted through the ranks. Viktorija Fedorko played two roles as Private Delora and Private Geoffrey Veel. Fedorko presents well on stage and gave a good handling of both characters.
Chris Dziuba was Sergeant Anderson and General Gough. A well handled portrayal of both roles. Askin Ocal was Captain Steve De Araugo and General Godley. Ocal gave a good interpretation of such characters. Andrew McGrail, another versatile performer playing the Mayor, Pack, Host, and Dr. Laing. McGrail projects well and had as host a very strong Scottish accent. Sergeant Alf ‘Lofty’ Williamson was given a professional handling by Scott Bailey.
A long evening with good contrasting music from the battle scenes to the romantic scenes n Scotland where the music suited such an atmosphere and was a strong contrast to the war scenes/ our reviewer did feel that the production although well appreciated by the audience, could be tightened a little. A popularly received evening of Australian rock music about an Australian hero and should be taken up by more companies and bring Australia back to the young Australians who are not told enough about our own heroes.
The Boy from Oz
Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Danny Forward.
Choreographer: Louisa Mitchell
Babirra Music theatre chose to open the spring season with The Boy from Oz, a musical based on the life of Peter Allen.
As the audience entered the theatre one saw on stage a piano outlined with LED lights plus stool similarly decorated. An all black surround thus setting the mood for the life of Peter Allen.
The sets were basic, changing by sliding in and out of the rear and flown in when required. But the major effect was the absolutely magnificent lighting. All tabs were lit op on the edges, strip lighting across the rear and the spot lighting from above and from the bio box. This cannot be underestimated. Regular lighting designer Jason Bovaird had just flown in from London and is on his way to Broadway to light up a Broadway show. This production shows how lucky Babirra was to obtain his services.
His work complimented the show bringing it up to a high standard enhanced by the talented cast.
Opening in Armidale N.S.W. we see Peter as a small boy playing him piano and singing in a local pub. Peter was played by a very talented young lad Caleb Waterworth. A good performance by a very versatile young lad.
Peter the performer was played by Jonathan Guthrie-Jones. One cannot but just admire this talented young man. On stage for practically the whole performance Jonathon did not let up for a second. A good singing voice, a talented dancer, great stage presence and he caught the finer nuances of Peter Allen. An amazing and popular performance.
Melanie Ott was Lisa Minnelli, Good stage projection and a pleasant voice and worked well with Jonathon Guthrie-Jones. Lisa’s mother Judy Garland was played by Adrienne George who captured the role with aplomb. Primarily on stage for the first half and then unusual cameo performances for the second half..
Peter’s mother, Marion Woolnough was given a goof, moving interpretation by Gabrielle O’Brien. Greg Connell, Peter Allen’s partner was given a wonderful performance by Shaun Kingma. Not only good stage presence but an excellent voice to match.
Peter Allen’s backing trio was performed by Verity Brown as Linelle, Bianca Bruce as Karen and Nicole Kapiniaris as Shena. These three young ladies were on stage nearly all evening giving good performances which reminded somewhat of a Greek chorus.
The ensemble kept the high standard set by the main cast which was added to by the magnificent costuming the Rio scene just set the whole evening off.
Babirra put on a wonderful evening of theatre and one looks forward to their nect production.
The Drowsy Chaperone
CLOC Musical Theatre
Director: Alan Burrows.
Musical Director: Martine Wingrow.
Choreographer: Di Crough.
A story of a present day music theatre fanatic simply called the man in the chair. The play is set in his apartment where he plays his favourite musical theatre production The Drowsy Chaperone. As he plays the record the play comes to life and the cast appear in his apartment. This is also a play within a play as the man in the chair describes each character in the production and why they are playing their role.
CLOC came up with an amazing set design of such an apartment with furniture sliding in and out as required, the back scenes flown and slid backwards and forwards.
The man in the chair sat on audience left and acted as narrator as well as being involved. This role was played by Tony Burge who gave an outstanding, faultless and amazing performance.
The Drowsy Chaperone was Pam Christie Berkett who captured the essence of the twenties with an excellent portrayal as to why she was drowsy, always seen with a glass in her hand. The heroine of the story was an actress Janet van de Graaff who was o give up her stage career to marry Robert Martin. Janet was played by Michelle Hunt who gave a stunning performance as the star who was to give up her stage career to marry the man she loved regardless of her manager’s opinion.
Robert Martin was played by Blair Salmon. Salmon caught the essence of the tall handsome hero type with ease and worked well with Janet van de Graaff.
Robert’s Best Man George was portrayed by Kinloch Anstis. Poor George had a terrible job tr4ying to keep the bride and groom apart until the ceremony and then arranging the wedding. Anstis handled the role with finesse capturing all the finer nuances of such a character.
The laugh of the evening was Adolpho, a ‘modest’ man and a ladykiller in his own mind. Tim Minturn was excellent in the role playing it for all he was worth and the poses were a sheer delight.
The manager, Feldzieg, was given a great interpretation by Ric Birkett, another good performance adding the high standard of the evening. Kitty, the dumb blonde trying to take Janet’s place was given a terrific performance by Maree Barnett who captured the character with a great sense of comedy.
The bride’s mother Mrs Tottendale was played with gusto and expertise by Beryl Frees, a great performer and has good audience appeal. Another highlight was Phil Lambert as the underling. A smooth butler taking everything in his stride without faltering and on occasion getting his own back was excellently interpreted.
The two gangsters albeit pastry cooks were given a perfect timing and amusing performance by Zachery Alaimo and Damien Calvert. The aviatrix, Trix was portrayed by Julie Duke and by the end of the production her value to the story came to the fore. Drake gave a first class performance in the role and was well appreciated by the audience.
CLOC Musical Theatre kept up their high standard with the costuming, the sets and of course the production. Although the cast are not paid and it is non-professional theatre the production is equal to if not better than those musicals seen on the professional stage.
Nice Work if you can get it.
The Production Company
Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: John Foreman
Choreographer: Dana Jolly
The Production Company’s second production for 2015 was the Australian premiere of Nice Work if you can get it. A musical that opened on Broadway in April 2012 and ran for 478 performances with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, Book by Joe Dipietro inspired by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton.
The Production Company brings theatre to the masses with a concert version of the musicals and the cast have only two weeks rehearsal. The result! Amazing, a full blown performance by some of Australia’s best known performers and the standard is far higher than one would expect.
The orchestra was set to the rear of the stage on a 45 degree slope and in front were the various set changes as required. This worked exceedingly well with the cast assisting moving the various scenes very smoothly and hardly noticeable.
Set in July 1927 at Long Island New York in the era of Prohibition the story revolves around Jimmy Winter the young useless son who lives on a good allowance while enjoying life, his fiancée Eileen Evergreen, the daughter of Senator Max Evergreen and Billie Bendix, the feisty but beautiful bootlegger.
Rohan Browne was Jimmy Winter, a wonderful performer, a talented song and dance man and gave a stirling performance in the role. Billie Bendix was played by Esther Hannaford also giving an amazing performance from dressed as a boy to a lovely young lady and with Rohan having a great rapport which projected to the audience.
Jimmy’s fiancée Eileen Evergreen was played by Rohan Browne’s wife, Christie Whelan –Browne. Eileen was the self-proclaimed finest interpreter of modern dance n the world. And what a performance added by a wonderful voice. One unforgettable scene was Eileen in the bath singing Delishious then all the chorus girls appeared in twos from out of the bath. An hysterical moment and greatly enjoyed by the audience.
Estonia Dulworth, the Duchess of Woodford was given an outstanding performance by Gina Riley. The butler, Cookie McGee was given a great comic performance by George Kapiniaris. Senator Max Evergreen, the Senator who stood for Prohibition not noticing the hip flask, was given a strong and typical of the role by John Wood.
The police chief was portrayed by Tony Farrell who caught the essence of such a character, has good stage presence and suited the role perfectly.
The company were spot on in the timing and were of a high standard particularly given such a short rehearsal time.
A great evening theatre again from The Production Company and one cannot wait for the next production Jerry’s Girls in November.
West Side Story
The Production Company
Director: Gale Edwards
Musical Director: Guy Simpson
Choreographer: Michael Ralph.
The Production Company’s opening season for 2015 was West Side Story a musical set in the slums of New York’s upper West Side and adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.
Set between the gangs of the area, the Americans the Jets and the Puerto Ricans the Sharks.
The Production Company always produces a concert version and brings theatre to a low price which attracts many people who would not normally attend theatre.
The opening night of West Side Story certainly proved this. Melbourne’s State Theatre was absolutely packed.
The stage was set with the orchestra on audience right with the action centre and audience left. Forming a V was two cyclone wire fences with gates for entries and exits.
The dancing was absolutely superb, perfect timing, the dancers enjoying themselves and wonderful choreography.
The duet between Tony and Maria was a sheer delight. Tony was performed by Gareth Keegan is a great performer, good stage presence, well projected and a wonderful voice. He had a positive rapport with Anna O’Byrne as Maria.
O’Byrne has amazing experience for one looking so young. She has appeared and is based in London, and has appeared t the Bolshoi Theatre Russia. Needless to say when one views her performance in West Side Story one can see why.
A lovely and moving performance with a great rapport between herself and Keegan. Good stage presence and a performance which enhanced the production.
Equally good performances were from Deone Zanotto as Anita, Adam Fiorentino as Bernardo and Sean Mulligan as Riff.
A magnificent production which finalised with the Melbourne first night audience giving it a standing ovation.
Photography - Peter Kemp & Geoff Busby
The Merry Widow from Bluegum Creek
Diamond Valley Singers & Eltham Orchestra
Director: Lynette Counsel
Assistant Director” Graham Ford
Musical Director” Ian Lowe
Conductor: Marie-Louise Wright.
A variation of the original story inasmuch the story is set in the Australian Embassy in Paris in 1901.
This was the year that Australian colonies became the Commonwealth of Australia.
The widow who has inherited a sheep station and properties across Australia is on her way to Paris looking for a new husband. The Prime Minister sends a note to the Ambassador ‘she must marry an Australian or you are all out of a job,’
From here the story basically follows the original plot. The language spoken in the Embassy is colloquial Australian that the French interpreter has trouble understanding. In fact your reviewer wonders if some of the modern day generation would understand it.
A well set stage with three scene stages for the three acts. Smoothly changed and suited the period.
Gerald Fullarton was the Australian Ambassador Sir Zacharia Wentworth. A fun performance brilliantly executed with a good stage presence and voice to match. Sir Zacharia had two things which to him were most important, the ubiquitous chook raffle and the design for the new Australian flag.
His wife Lady Valerie Wentworth was played by Sabrina Surace. A good performer who had an affair with Viscount Camille De Rosillon. Sabrina carried the role well with a comic touch trying to avoid her husband and a pleasing voice to match.
The merry widow Mrs Anna Gladstone was portrayed by Teresa Ingrilli. A wonderful performer and a superb singer a great balance to Andrew Lees who played Danny MacQuarie the Embassy assistant attaché. Andrew and Teresa had a great rapport and their duets left the audience gasping with the quality of their voices.
Some other outstanding performances were from Michael Try as Michelin the only French employee in the Embassy. Michael had a full time job handling these uncouth Australians and trying to understand Australiese as he only spoke English, a great interpretation of the role.
Gary Short as the Marquis de Cascada and Gary O’Dwyer as Monsieur de St. Brioche gave outstanding comic performances in their efforts to seduce Mrs Anna Gladstone.
The Dancing Girls, Bianca Majchrzak, Jess Cook, Megan Metcalfe and Tessie Huisbosch added to the delight of the evening particularly with their rendition of the Can Can.
A great night of theatre and a show not to be missed.
Director: Jane Court
Musical Director: Ian Nisbet
Choreographer: Keir Jasper,
MLOC opened the 2015 season with a musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes the musical Spamalot.
A well set stage of a castle at rear and with the use of the fly tower various sets were flown in and oft as required.
A light-hearted musical comedy very well done with a high standard cast helping the production to flow smoothly. King Arthur was well played by Sam Marzden who has a great stage presence which enhanced his role. His frustration was well done when confronted by people who questioned his position as king and claimed they never heard of him.
The Lady of the Lake was Lisa Nightingale. A wonderful performance with a lovely voice to match. A good scene was in Act 2 singing the Diva’s Lament where she wanted to know what happened to her part. Excellently done both with the singing and the comic acting so necessary to this role.
The man to feel sorry for in the story is the King’s offsider Patsy. He carries the King’s luggage and claps coconut shells to resemble hoof beats. Nick Rouse caught the essence of Patsy with aplomb and gave a wonderful portrayal.
Sir Dennis Galahad the Knight of the Round Table who at the end was not quite what one expected was performed by Ben Moody who carried the role comfortably and projects well.
Sir Lancelot was played by Matt Bearup. Another well balanced performance and he had a good rapport with the company
A good smooth performance with the chorus and dancers not missing a beat and adding to the high standard of the production.
The Princess Theatre
Director: Dean Bryant
Music Director: Peter Carey
Choreography: Andrew Hallsworth
The Australian premiere of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes opened in Melbourne on May 31.
Dating back to the thirties Anything Goes still draws the crowd and although ships are no longer used to travel from A to B thanks to modern day cruises the audience still relates to such a show.
Melbourne audiences filled the Princess Theatre on opening night and there was no disappointment on such a magnificent production
In the first act the tap dancing scene left everyone spellbound. The skill and energy of the dancers were only equalled by their absolute in performing such a production.
The stage was set on board the SS America with the fore desk where all the action was taking and the orchestra was on the upper deck to the rear.
Different scenes were flown in and out as required.
Reno Sweeney was portrayed by Caroline O’Connor who returned to Australia from London especially to partake in this production. Caroline lived up to here reputation and gave an outstanding and energetic performance, as an actor, a singer and a dancer.
Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was played by Todd McKenney. One of Australia’s well known dancer, singer and performer. An amazing performance living up to his reputation and well appreciated by the audience.
The young couple of the story Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt were played by Alex Rathbeger and Claire Lyon.
Alex a young Australian performer showed his amazing talent and rapport with Claire. He has a great stage presence, a remarkable dancer and to top it off a wonderful singing voice. He captured the role of the young man falling in love with another man’s fiancée and did anything he could to win hr love.
Hope Harcourt, Billy’s intended was portrayed by Claire Lyon. A remarkable young lady. In a recent interview with your correspondent she said that she started with Opera Australia but also had dance and tap training prior. She loved the role and is definitely a young lady with a great future. She presents well, a skilful actor, and with opera training a voice to be reckoned with.
The cast were some of Australia’s best known artists such as Wayne Scott Kermond, Deborah Krizak, Carmen Duncan, Bartholomew John and Gerry Connolly.
A multi skilled ensemble added to the standard of the evening and Anything Goes opening was a great success with a standing ovation on opening night.
The King & I
Director: Alan Burrows
Musical Director: Ben Hudson
Choreographer: Di Crough.
Babirra Music Theatre chose Rodger & Hammerstein’s The King & I to open the 2015 season.
An amazing production and certainly a visual feast from the sets, costuming, cast and overall brilliance.
Appearing as Anna Leonowens the teacher the King of Siam contracted to each his children was Megan Coe. Coe gave a brilliant performance. A lovely voice, great stage presence and worked well with her co-star and all the children on stage.
The King of Siam was portrayed by Ju-Han Soon. Soon caught the correct feel of the king and has a good stage presentation, a good rapport with Megan Coe topped off by a good voice and a spectacular performance.
The two young lovers, Tuptim and Lan Cha were played by Janneke Ferwerda and Raphael Wong.
They had a great rapport and Wong has a brilliant voice in fact your correspondent feels possibly the best voice in the production.
The chief wife and mother to the heir of the throne, Lady Thiang was played by Josephine Grech. A lovely performer, a good stage presence with a voice to suit her performance.
The heir to the throne, Prince Chulalongkord was performed by George Missailaidis.
Missailaidis, a young man and considering his remarkable performance has a great theatrical future ahead. Anna’s son Louis was played by Luc Borgemann who projects well and gave a pleasing performance.
The Kralahome was portrayed by David Dodd who caught the character of the King’s Prime Minister with professionalism. As the Kralahome he was not happy about having Anna as teacher to the King’s children fearing her western influences would counter the authority of the King.
A wonderful production with a great moment with the play within the play The Small House of Uncle Thomas. A Siamese variation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Remarkably well done from the acting to the dance routines and the singing.
Babirra Music Theatre opened 2015 with a popular and well cone evening of theatre.
Ned the Musical
Director: Gary Young
Musical Director: Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer
Friday May 22, 2015 saw the world premiere of Ned the Musical at Australia’s newest theatre the Ulumbarra in the regional town of Bendigo.
A magnificent theatre built in the old Sandhurst gaol and seating for 933 persons. To enter one works past some of the old cells two of which are now the ticket box. While buying tickets you look up and find that you are standing under the old gallows.
Moving down the corridor to the foyer and then into the theatre. Very impressive particularly in size yet the stage can be seen from all angles. A most suitable setting for the story of one of Australia’s most notorious outlaws. Was he a villain or was he a folk hero?
The production opens with Ned being prepared for his execution with a backdrop of Ned’s desk mask which during the production is on display in the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Then the story moves back to Ned’s childhood where his father is arrested for horse stealing. Ned’s mother is left to raise the family singlehanded. A local trooper comes in and tries to get fresh with Kate Kelly and is attacked by her mother Ellen. Ellen is arrested and sentenced to three years gaol. Ned and his brother Dan and their friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne make for the hills and become the Kelly gang.
Ellen was portrayed by Penny Larkins who caught the essence of the mother who defending her family finished up in gaol.
Edward (Ned) Kelly was played by Nelson Gardner. A wonderful performance giving the correct feel as expected to one of Australia’s best known historical figure. The Kelly Gang Dan, Joe and Steve were played by Robert Tripolino, Connor Crawford and Brent Trotter. All three have great stage presence, projecting well and having a good rapport with each other.
The villain of the piece Constable Fitzpatrick was played by Nick Simpson-Deeks.
A good performance capturing the evil of such a character particularly in convincing his Superintendent that he was blameless while the Kelly family was at fault.
The play also concentrated on the women in Ned’s life. His mother Ellen and his sisters Maggie and Kate. Maggie was played by Alana Tranter and Kate was played by Hannah Fredericksen. Alana and Hannah gave great performances really giving the feeling of what the woman of the 19th century had to suffer for their menfolk.
An amazing production a well set stage giving the real feel of the Australian bush and life of the period. Excellent costuming and a wonderful evening of theatre.
A full house with many of the audience not only from Bendigo but form Melbourne and interstate.
The Ulumbarra Theatre lived up to all expectations and although about two to three hours drive from Melbourne definitely worth making the trip.
CLOC Music Theatre.
Director/Set designer: Chris White
Co-Director/Chorographer: Lynette White
Musical Director: Danny Forward.
CLOC Music Theatre’s choice of production to open the 2015 season was Mary Poppins. And in the words of Mary herself it was “practically perfect”.
An amazing production with a toss up which was better, the performers or the technical performance.
Opening was Bert the chimney sweep and Mary’s friend. Bert acted as narrator and friend to Michael and Jane. Robbie Smith was Bert. A well done performance. Robbie not only did some great dance routines including tap but kept the stage Cockney accent throughout.
‘Mary Poppins was performed by Rosa McCarty. A superb performance having a great rapport with the two children and no hesitation in the flying scenes where on several times the audience saw her fly across the stage with never a falter
Rosa handled her role with the aplomb expected of Mary Poppins taking every thing so calmly.
The old adage ‘don’t work with kids or animals’ certainly in this production one could see why.
On Saturday May 15 Michael was played by Caleb Waterworth and Jane was played by Alexandra Donovan. An amazing pair and with talent like these two the future of theatre is assured. A great pair of actors, driving away Nannies they did not like to behaving themselves for Mary Poppins. Their dance scenes were unbelievable, in the group dancing with the whole ensemble they more than kept their own plus their singing was out of the box.
Mr Banks, the initially rather gruffy father, was played by Lee Threadgold. Lee has good stage presentation, a strong personality working well with Kristen Beayani as Mrs Banks. His character ranged from the strong no-nonsense father for whom work came first to a loving Dad who finally put his family first. A great performance.
Kristen Beayani as Mrs Banks had her work cut out for her, trying to keep peace in the family, trying to find a good Nanny and trying to entertain her husband’s friends. Kristen handled the role with professionalism, projecting well and capturing all the finer nuances of such a character.
A rather poignant moment was Beryle Frees as the bird woman singing “Feed the Birds only tuppence a bag.” A wonderful moment and a very moving performance.
A small scene but very effective was the new nanny Miss Andrew. The effect on the family was absolutely amazing, especially Mr Banks. Carolyn Waddell captured such a character with finesse and added to the delight of the show.
A magnificent production and space does not allow all that should be said about this CLOC Production of Mary Poppins.
Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Nova Music Theatre’s choice of productions for 2015 was Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Evita.
A well set stage of a two story rear with a flight of stairs on each side which was used to the full.
Unfortunately in the first half of the show was disappointing with the orchestra not accompanying the singers but seemingly competing with the singers. The result was that the audience could not understand the words being sung.
The second half improved with the orchestra actually accompanying the singers.
Otherwise a very good production highlighting the main portions of the life of Eva Perȯn. Amy Larsen captured the essence of Eva from the age of six years and the life of Argentina’s most popular lady. A wonderful performance. A dominating performance was that of the narrator Che Guevara played by Will Sayers.
Sayers as narrator wandered cross the stage casually dressed no matter what the occasion was in the life of Eva. A good portrayal.
Juan Perȯn was played by Zachery Brown. Brown has a good stage presence, projecting well and had a good rapport with Amy Larsen.
The dancers were well drilled and overall the performers were of a high standard.
There was a good appreciation from the audience to the quality of voice from the artists.
Now the orchestra had been adjusted the production was well worth seeing
March 4 2015 saw Dirty Dancing open its Melbourne season at The Princess Theatre.
A wonderful evening of entertainment and a must for lovers of dance. An highly energetic and spectacular show.
A story that revolves around 17 year old Frances ”Baby” Houseman about to learn some major issues in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.
Set in New York’s Catskills Mountains at a resort where everything is organised for the guests which bores Baby.
The sets were basic but something that you correspondent has seen three times in the last month were film clips. The resort and the Catskills were shown through film projections on the rear of the stage, such as the lake, view of the resort and most effective and dramatic were the image of a field of long grass which took over the whole stage with Johnny Castle and Baby dancing through. We saw their heads and upper body then they fell and disappeared from site into the long grass. The scene then changes to the lake with the same effect except when they fell into the water the sound effect was such that one really thought that they had fallen under.
Johnny Castle was performed by Kurt Phelan. An amazing and outstanding performance of the resort dance instructor. His dancing was like one inspired, remarkable, energetic and wonderful to watch.
Frances “Baby” Houseman was played by Kirby Burgess. A good stage presence, dancing excellent and her scenes with Phelan were a sheer delight not to say what a wonderful rapport between the two.
An outstanding dancer was Maddie Peat; her splits were unbelievable plus being a good actor. Classic trained singer Mark Vincent made his musical theatre debut as Billy Kostecki, Johnny’s cousin. A good performance and when he sang the audience was silenced.
No poor performances from the large cast and overall a simple storyline with the emphasis on the dance resulting in Melbourne’s opening night a standing ovation. Not often seen on opening nights in Melbourne.
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Strictly Ballroom had its official Melbourne opening night on January 17, 2015.
Adapted for the stage by Baz Luhrmann from his successful film of the same name and after a year in Sydney it has now arrived in Melbourne to a tumultuous reception.
A wonderful piece of musical theatre with all the elements necessary with the young couple, the good guys and the evil villain types put together with great music and magnificent dancing the production could not go wrong and it didn’t.
A story about the Pan Pacific dance competitions where the judge and some of the ballroom managers do not like change and everyone must dance to lay down routines. But young Scott, much to his mother’s disgust wants to dance his own steps. As Scott Hastings the rebellious dancer Thomas Lacey was the ideal choice. A brilliant exponent of the art of the dance from classic ballroom to Spanish dancing to you name it. As well as being a consummate actor is also a very pleasant singer.
His new partner Fran was danced and performed by Phoebe Panaretos. Phoebe is also a good actor and singer added by her wonderful dance ability and the two had a great rapport which was well appreciated by the audience.
The costuming was excellent, bright colours and well suited for all the varying scenes.
Good sets, smoothly changing from a ballroom studio to an RSL hall to a milkbar and rear of same.
As Scott’s ineffective shy father, Doug Hastings, Drew Forsythe caught the character as envisaged but he surprised all at the end of the show. His wife, Shirley, who thought he was a dead loss was given a great interpretation by Heather Mitchell who captured the finer nuances of the mother who wanted to see her son win the Pan Pacific championship her way with no consideration for Scott’s feelings.
Another great performance was given by Fernando Mira as Rico, Fran’s father. Fernando is an internationally famed Spanish dancer born in Melbourne of Spanish parents. The scene at the back of Rico’s milkbar was a touch of Spain with guitarists and the company having a great party with Rico teaching Scott the elements of Spanish dancing. An amazing scene with the audience clapping in time to them music.
The master of the Pan Pacific dance competition was Barry Fife a man who would brook no change in established dance techniques. Robert Grubb really captured the essence of such a character. Robert has a terrific stage appearance giving a superb performance as the villain of the piece.
After an amazing finale members of the audience were brought on stage by some of the dancers where they joined in the final number.
Strictly Ballroom an amazing musical and should not be missed.
Director: David Gilmore
Resident Director/Choreographer: Natalie Gilhome
Musical Staging and Choreography: Arlene Phillips
Thursday December 11 saw the return of Grease to Melbourne playing at Melbourne’s magnificent Regent Theatre.
An outstanding production opening with plenty of audience participation. Miss Lynch the head of Rydell High School came on stage with a blackboard on which the words to a song were printed. Members of the cast were distributed throughout the audience and we all had to sing along with the usual cracks about misbehaving. This warmed up the audience who then enjoyed the production.
An amazing and energetic cast who were absolutely superb.
The audience were treated to individual spots from four of Australia’s stage and TV Royalty with Bert Newton as Vince Fontaine, Val Lehman as Miss Lynch, Tod McKenney as Teen Angel and John Paul Young as Johnny Cosino.
Rob Mills was Danny, the hero of the story, a young man who fell in love with an Australian girl at Rydell High. Rod gave an excellent portrayal of the character that big noted himself to his gang but was quite different with his new girl Sandy.
Sandy was played by Gretel Scarlett. Another wonderful performer with a lovely voice and in her solos you could have heard a pin drop. Gretel and Rob were the perfect couple having a great rapport and really giving the audience the authenticity of their characters.
The scenes were well set with smooth flowing between changes from the bleachers, the gym, the bedroom and an amazing change of car from a beat up old wreck to a classy shiny car that a teenager of the fifties would dream of.
Tod McKenney managed to sneak in a little from The Boy from Oz and John Paul Young got a couple of lines in from Love is in the Air.
The scene at the pyjama party when Sandy agrees to have her ear pierced was very good and the prom showed the talent of the cast with the dance contest.
One fault that your reviewer found is the sound in the first half was way too loud. The seats were actually vibrating and so was the human body. When a soprano hit a top note the voice was distorted because the sound men had the volume too high.
Overall the production was a great hit and opening night audience gave it a standing ovation which in Melbourne a sow has to be good to receive that.
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Director: Laurence Connor & James Powell
Musical Director/Conductor: Geoffrey Castles
Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the venue for Australia’s production of Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary of Les Miserables.
This show has become the longest running musical in the world and with fiction turning to fact with the recent revolution on Ukraine where there were barricades in Kiev the students were singing The People’s Song and in the Hong Kong revolution at the barricades was a young 11 year old becoming a mascot for the revolution with her rendition of The People’s Song
The Melbourne production was absolutely outstanding. Opening with convicts chained to oars of a galley with a projection of the galley projected to the rear of the stage. This was very effective and set the mood for the evening.
The set was amazing, a combination of three storied buildings on each side of the stage, sets on tracks smoothly moved in and out and projections of Parisian street scenes taken from Victor Hugo’s own paintings which really gave a life feel to the performance
The standard of acting and singing could not be faulted although your correspondent did feel that the sound engineers could have tuned the volume down a little.
Simon Gleeson stole the evening with his portrayal of Jean Valjean. A polished actor and a wonderful voice and handled the ageing years with aplomb.
Javert was portrayed by Hayden Tee. Hayden captured the obsession of Javert who could only see right from wrong and although Jean Valjean was doing great things in the community Javert only was interested in the fact he was an absconder from his bail. A great performance and a good voice.
Emily Langridge was Cosette, a good performer capturing the essence of the innocent character. Chris Durling was the student Enjolas. Chris has good stage projection and gave a high standard performance.
Cosette’s fiancé Marius was performed by Euan Doidge. Euan also gave a good performance adding to the high standard of the production.
The comic section although in parts very sad were the landlord Thenardiér and his spouse Madame Thenardiér played by Trevor Ashley and Lara Mulcahy. A great comic performance with obsequious when trying to obtain money for little Cosette. Two wonderful performers with great stage presences and very popular with the audience.
Eponine was performed by Kerrie Anne Greenland giving a positive portrayal of the girl in love with Marius who just regarded her as a friend.
A positive theatre asset to Melbourne and the Australian audiences showed by the attendances.
Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy
Nova Music Theatre’s choice of production for the October season was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats which is based on T. S. Elliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
A stage set in a churchyard which gave the feeling of a home for feral cats. Nova set designer and construction crew did an excellent job of achieving the correct atmosphere.
A large cast full of energy and talent. Costuming was superb and the actors racing around on all fours including at interval in the foyer and the audience really gave the impression of cats around the theatre.
Old Deuteronomy was given a great portrayal by John Leahy. Beside a good clear voice his acting and stage presentation was excellent. Grizabella, the old cat chosen to go to the Heaviside layer to be revitalised, was played by Lauren Page. Another great performance with the singing of Memories not to be forgotten.
The featured cats all lived up to the expectations of the audience and the ensemble lived up to all expectations.
A smooth flowing production and very professional and your correspondent has been amazed by the improvement of Nova Music Theatre in the last few years.
Crazy for You
Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Tyler Hess
Musical Director: Danny Forward
Choreographer: Craig Wiltshire.
Babirra’s choice for the October season was the Gershwin musical Crazy for You.
Set in New York and Deadrock Nevada. The New York setting was in the Zangler Theatre and in Deadrock in the town square and in the Deadrock Theatre.
The story revolves around Bobby Child a song and dance man trying to make it into show business much to the disgust of his mother who wants him to work in the family bank. So his mother sends him to Deadrock to foreclose on the old theatre.
When in Deadrock Bobby meets with Polly Baker falls in love then finds that it is her and her father’s theatre he is supposed to foreclose.
The production was absolutely amazing, the costuming was superb in the New York scenes one could imagine oneself in the Folies Bergères and the contrast between the cowboys and the Zangler girls is something to remember.
The Deadrock set was represented by two giant western type hotel batwing doors. Upon opening same the audience was taken into Deadrock showing the hotel and the theatre.
Bobby Child was played by Jonathon Guthrie-Jones. A superb performance by a young performer who only improves each time he appears on stage. A good voice, fantastic energy and excellent dancing.
Polly Baker was played by Kristen Beayni who well balanced Jonathon and also giving a great and talented performance. Garry Barcham was the impresario Bela Zangler. Another good performer and one of the great scenes in the play was when Bobby disguised as Zangler meets up with the real Zangler in Deadrock. They were sitting on opposite sides of a small table and duplicated each other’s moves. The timing was spot on and it was hard to tell them apart. This scene nearly brought the house down.
Prior to interval was the tap dancing sequence with I Got Rhythm. All the girls and Bobby gave an excellent and highly energetic number which was enjoyed by all.
Act II set primarily in Deadrock was another highly entertaining sequence with terrific dance numbers, spot on timing and congratulations must be given to Craig Wiltshire the choreographer.
Overall a first class professional production and unfortunately space limits the reviews of so many of such a talented cast.
CLOC Musical Theatre
Director/Choreographer: James Rooney
Musical Director: Andy McCalman
2014 being CLOC’S 50th year the company decided to open the year with a classical musical 42nd Street. Then to complete the anniversary year to produce a modern, something new exciting and comic musical and the choice was Legally Blonde.
A story of a blonde graduate whose boyfriend was going onto Harvard Law School and did not feel she was the right choice for his new career.
To prove him wrong she decided to enter the Harvard Law School and show him she was not the dizzy blonde he thought she was.
CLOC Musical Theatre is to be congratulated on their set, casting, musical direction and a great smooth running musical.
Opening scene was a two storied set with members of Delta Nu Sorority celebrating the news that Warner Huntington III is to propose to their fellow member Elle Woods. Alas that is not quite what happened.
A great scene with professional dancing, good choreography and wonderful voices.
A well acted intimate scene between Warner and Elle. Warner was played by Matthew Clayton who captured the essence of the character with flair.
Elle Woods was expertly and magnificently portrayed by Melanie Ott. Ott showed the transition from dizzy blonde to leading law student and from listening to every one else’s advice to becoming her own person with expertise and professionalism.
Her saviour at Harvard was Josh Gavin, a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who succeeded by sheer hard work. Josh was played by Emmett Forrest who gave a great understanding of Elle’s problems and also the change in himself from a hippy type to a suave lawyer. A good and smooth performance and a great balance to Melanie Ott.
Some good scenes were in the beauty parlour where her new hairdresser Paulette befriends her. Paulette was played by Sarah Watson who gave a good performance as the hairdresser who was a friend and also rather man hungry. When a certain delivery man entered the scenes has the audience in fits.
Amelia Rope was Vivienne Kensington Warner’s new girl who acted very badly toward Elle but did change her attitude later. Rope has a good stage presence and gave the role called for.
Professor Callahan who supported Elle’s application for admission to Harvard Law School and supported her but! Jan Sebastian caught the essence of such a character, projecting well and giving a good portrayal.
CLOC and company gave a great evening of professional and amusing entertainment and finished the 50th anniversary year with two high and professional standard projections.
The first production for 3025 is Mary Poppins.
The Production Company
Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson
Choreographer: Dana Jolly
Show Boat The Production Company’s second production for 2014 was staged as a scaled down and concert version at the State Theatre Melbourne.
The orchestra was situated on stage on audience left and the action of the story was on audience right.
Stage rear was a raised platform in front of a screen on which the show boat Cotton Blossom was projected in silhouette. This was very successful in giving the feeling of the place and suiting the ideals of The Production Company.
Unique when it was first produced bringing African Americans to the stage and dealing with racial issues, gambling and wife desertion rather challenging for the time.
Today these concepts are officially non-existent but underneath today’s audiences can identify with same.
Highlights were of course Old Man River magnificently sung by Eddie Muliaumaseali’i. His performance nearly stopped the show.
Philip Gould was Captain Andy Hawks. Philip captured the character with finesse and had a great rapport with Judith Roberts as his wife Parthy Ann Hawks. Judith carried the role with expertise which is nothing like Judith in real life. A dominating strict wife and mother not wanting her daughter to enter the show and not to marry the gambler.
Their daughter Magnolia Hawks was played by Alinta Chidzey and one unforgettable scene was her duet Only Make Believe with the handsome gambler Gaylord Ravenal.
Ravenal was played by Gareth Keegan who gave a good interpretation of the man who loved Magnolia and their daughter but could not face up to the responsibilities of married life and fatherhood.
Another good performer was Christina O’Neill as Julia Laverne the girl of mixed blood who was not welcome in Missouri.
A high standard production living up to the ideals of The Production Company.
The Phantom of the Opera
Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Neil Goodwin
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Di Crough.
Babirra Music Theatre’s 2014 opening production was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
An amazing production in which Babirra excelled itself.
The opening scene was the auction of the pieces from the now defunct Opera Populaire. Here we meet the now very elderly Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny bidding for mementos of the theatre’s past.
A well set scene with the performers projecting well and really giving the feeling of the moment.
Then the scene changed back to when the Opera Populaire was in its highlight. A rehearsal for the opera Hannibal. The audience broke into applause at the scene. Costuming of the Roman soldiers and the dancing girls was absolutely magnificent and the choreography together with the high standard of dancing was amazing.
Paul Batey was the Phantom. A great voice which was heard first before he appeared. Batey gave a great and professional performance with excellent stage projection and a good rapport with Georgia Wilson (Christine Daaé)
Georgia Wilson as Christine Daaé also gave an excellent performance. Her acting was spot on and her voice delighted the opening night audience. Wilson worked well with both Batey and Andrew Baker. (Raoul, Vicomte du Chagny)
Andrew Baker as Raoul, Christine’s old childhood friend and now her fiancé plus being patron of the opera gave a wonderful portrayal in the roles. A good clear voice, good stage projection and well appreciated by the audience.
Carlotta Giudicelli, the star of the Opera was given a great performance by Nikol McKail. She really caught the character of the prima donna who was threatened by the Phantom. Her acting performance was superb and enhanced by a lovely voice.
Carlotta’s partner in Hannibal was Ubaldo Piangi the Italian singer who was played by Shanul Sharma. Another great performance capturing the essence of the role as envisaged.
Madame Giry the ballet mistress was given a distinctive and great performance by Sarah Pascall. Projecting well Pascall has good stage appearance and also captured the role with ease.
The two new owners of the Opera House were Monsieur’s Richard Firmin and Giles André. Brett O’Meara and Cameron Waters were the two characters who did not believe in Phantoms until it was brought home to them rather dramatically. Both men gave good performances as the characters.
The whole cast were professional and mot a weak spot in the evening.
Babirra gave its audiences a new concept of Babirra and is now a company to really add to your diaries not to be missed.
CLOC Musical Theatre
Director: Alan Burrowes
Musical Director: Bev Woodford
Choreographer: Susan Lewis.
2014 is CLOC’s 50th year and 100th performance so to celebrate such an occasion the company looked through the records and found that 42nd Street a show about putting on a show was one of the most successful shows in the company’s history with both cast and audiences.
So CLOC invited back Alan Burrowes and Susan Lewis, director and choreographer of the 1996 who have restaged a new version of this spectacular hit.
And what a hit!
The production opened with several players on each side of the theatre calling out that Julian Marsh is putting on a show, they run backstage and the curtain opens to an audition for the new musical Pretty Lady.
What a magnificent moment in CLOC Theatre productions. A tap dancing sequence with perfect timing and spectacular presentation. A newcomer to Broadway and show business was Peggy Sawyer who arrived late for the audition and then upset the director who kicked her out. Never fear in American show business there is always a happy ending. For the role of Peggy CLOC chose a very talented performer Melanie Ott. Melanie gave a fantastic performance in the role, a wonderful actress, great stage presentation and tap dancing one dreams of.
The star, Dorothy Brock, of Pretty Lady who was a former star and got this role because her current boyfriend a millionaire was financing the production. Dorothy was played by Pam Christie Birkett. A well cone performance capturing the essence of such a role and really giving the character the feel that was envisaged by the writers.
Julian March the director of Pretty Lady was played by Pam’s husband, Ric Birkett. Another great performer adding to the high standard of the evening was Tim Cant as Billie Lawlor the show’s romantic lead. Billie felt for Peggy and Tim captured this role perfectly not only a good actor but a highly talented dancer.
A spectacular production and unfortunately space limits your correspondent’s wish to include more in an individual review. All the cast deserved an individual write up but such a large cast it is not possible. But CLOC can be proud of the evening and a really successful production to open the 50th year.
The Pirates of Penzance
The Production Company
Director: Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Mathew Frank
Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth.
Hamer Hall was the venue for The Production Company’s final production for 2013.
A concert version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s popular The Pirates of Penzance.
An amusing and delightful production thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.
The orchestra, dressed in period costume, were in centre rear stage with the performers in front of and around them. The pirate ship was represented by different portions carried on by the cast and holding in place. Very successful, The Pirate King was played by Adam Murphy who caught the essence of the character giving a wonderful portrayal, Frederic the pirate apprentice just out of his indentures (or so he thought) was played by Gareth Keegan. A great interpretation including dramatic muscleman type poses to enhance his physique. His future affianced Mabel was played by Claire Lyon. A sweet yet determined character who understood Frederic’s devotion to duty and in view of a certain paradox was prepared to wait till 1940 for his indentures to expire. Lyon captured the correct feel for the role and had a good rapport with Keegan
The delight of the evening was Frederic’s old nurse Ruth. Ruth got her directions mixed and instead of apprenticing .Frederic to a Pilot she apprenticed him to Pirate.
Genevieve Lemon was Ruth and what a performance. Lemon has a great comique sense which came to the fore in her performance. The outfits she had were extraordinary especially the wigs. She definitely stole the evening. But there was a little competition for the humorous side with Brent Hill as Major General Stanley. Hill gave a fantastic fun portrayal capturing the character with ease and giving the audience a enjoyable exhibition of comedy.
Another highlight were the policemen, they were dressed rather unusually. Older Australians would recognise the top half of the costumes which dated back to the 19th century and were commonly known as Jacky Howie singlets. That combined with blue shorts and bobby helmets added to the pleasure of the evening. They marched in a style of half a crouch reminding one of a line of gorillas but the cowardice when meeting the pirates out a lie to their appearance.
A terrific evening of theatre and a good finish to The Production Company’s 2013 season.
Guys & Dolls
CLOC Musical Theatre
Co-Director & Set Designer: Chris White
Co-Director & Choreographer: Lynette White.
CLOC Musical Theatre’s October production was a musical fable of Broadway based on the characters of Damon Runyon Guys & Dolls.
The venue, The National Theatre was exceedingly well set with scenes from Broadway, the Save A Soul Mission both internal and external, the café scene in Cuba and the sewer scene under Broadway and not forgetting the Hot Box Club.
The production wraps around the stories of four characters, Sarah Brown the mission girl, the gambler Sky Masterson, the floating crap game organiser Nathan Detroit and his fiancé of 14 years Adelaide Adams. Sarah was played by Kelly Windle who captured the essence of the sweet young girl trying desperately trying to keep her mission viable. Her sweetness remained until dinner in Havana Cuba where after drinking coconut milk her innocence disappeared. Windle was a delight and very professional in the role and the contrast before and after Cuba was a sheer delight.
The gambler Sky Masterson was played by Jon Sebastian who has a good rapport with Kelly and gave a superb professional; performance.
The great comic pair was Adelaide Adams and her fiancé of some 14 years, Nathan Detroit. Adelaide was performed by Sarah Watson who obviously enjoyed the role, giving a great performance with scenes from commiserating with Sarah about the foibles of the male sex to her performances at the Hot Box Club. As Nathan Detroit Scott Hili really captured the character giving a stirling performance and working well with Sarah Watson. Other fun characters were Michael Butler ad Nicely Nicely Johnson and a good scene was Nicely Nicely in the mission singing Sit Down Your Rockin’ the Boat. then there was Benny Southstreet played by Jason Mill, Rusty Charlie played by Barry Baker, Arvide Abernathy, sister Sarah’s uncle well played by peter Maver Harry the Horse played by Peter Smitheram and the blow in from Chicago Big Julie who lied playing with his own dice. No numbers painted on but he remembers where they were. Adrian Vanda gave a great interpretation of Big Julie.
A well rehearsed and professional show and although it is classified as an amateur production the only difference between it and a professional production the artists did it for love. On reading their bios n the program most of the performers are professional people.
A great night of theatre and CLOC is a company never to be missed,
Singin' in the Rain
Directior: Gary Young
Musical Director: John Foreman
Chorepgrapher: Simon Lind
The Production Company’s second production for 2013 was Singin’ in the Rain.
Taken from the famous film it is a story written around the change from silent movies to talkies. A good and entertaining look at the troubles these changes brought to the industry.
Dome of the silent stars did not have suitable voices for the new talkies. This was exemplified in this production by Christine Whelan-Browne playing Lina Lamont a blonde bombshell of the silent era who was shall we say not to bright. Her voice was pure high screeching Brooklynese. Whelan-Brown was superb in the role and stole the evening with her portrayal of the blonde who did not know why she was not allowed to talk at the after speeches.
The production as a whole was not one of The Production Company’s best. The dance of the title Singin’ in the Rain was done with the aid of lighting which was not successful. Some4 of the tap sequences missed the sound of the tap, either no taps on the shoes or not the correct flooring.
Rohan Browne was the main star Don Lockwood. Browne captured the role and gave a steady performance. Alinta Chidzey was the upcoming star Kathy Seldon whom Lina Lamont was determined to get rid off. Chidzey gave a fine performance and worked well with Browne and Lee. Matt Lee was Cosmo Brown, Don’s oldest friend and workmate. As Cosmo Lee gave a great performance, having a great sense of the comic which came to the fore in his performance.
As R. F. Simpson the head of Monumental Studios Robert Grubb gave a stirling performance capturing the essence of the character. Robyn Arthur was Miss Dinsmore / Dora Bailey giving a good interpretation of both roles.
Th production was generally enjoyed by the opening night audience but must comment you reviewer did not think it was as good as other performances done by The Production Company.
Hot Shoe Shuffle - The Tap Musical
Producer, Director & Co-Choreographer: David Atkins.
Co-Choreographer: Dein Perry
Opening for a four week season at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne is David Atkins’s Hot Shoe Shuffle
A story of a missing father, his seven boys and a mysterious “sister”
The brothers are advised of a will from their father leaving them $1 million if in four weeks they can present his show Hot Shoe Shuffle.
Needless to say, the storyline is just to present a fantastic much appreciated and enjoyed musical show of the art of tap dancing and old style presentations
All the music is from the big band era played by a big band with such numbers as I’ve got to be a Rug cutter- Duke Ellington; Ac-cen-tchu-ate the Positive; I Get Along Without You Very Well – Carmichael; Shall We Dance – Ira Gershwin & George Gershwin; When I get My Name in Lights – Peter Allen Puttin’ on the Ritz- Berlin and many other tunes of the era.
A cast of nine, eight men and one lady. Sets were easily moved and worked very successfully.
The tap numbers had to seen to be believed. Memories of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Anne Miller and Gene Nelson.
The timing of the dancers was spot on and the energy of each performer was amazing. Beside the dancing their acting came to the fore and created some humorous scenes.
The audience really caught the delights of the evening and gave a standing ovation and wanted the company to keep going until David Atkinson cried “Enough” when it was obvious they just could not go on any more.
A wonderful evening of musical and tap ans a production not to be missed.
Fiddler on the Roof
Director: Paul Watson.
Musical Director: Ryan Jacobs.
Choreographer: Kaela Brushett
MDMS choice of production for the June season was Fiddler on the Roof.
A story about a village in Ukraine where both the Jews and the Cossacks are ruled by the Russian invaders.
The play revolves around Tevye the poor Jewish milkman, the Jewish settlement in the little village of Anatveka and his family and friends.
This musical is always done with a minimal set and MDMS team produced an excellent version, minimal but easy to realise the scenes where the actions are set.
Tevye was played by Adrian Carr. A magnificent portrayal capturing the essence of the poor milkman. Very sympathetic when called for, giving some good comedy and excellent poignancy throughout his performance.
His wife, Golde, was given an understanding of such a husband performance by Victoria Zainal. A good balance to Carr,
Their eldest daughter Tzeitel was played by Adrienne George. A wonderful very moving performance particularly when she and her affianced Motel are begging Tevye to let them get married. Perchik, the student from Kiev, a radical and changes some of the customs also falls in love with Tevye’s daughter Hodel. He is played by Jason Mill who brought a realistic interpretation to the role. A good performance.
Yente and Grandma Tzeitel was played by Sallyanne Michell. As Yente she really captured the character with good voice projection and god acting.
Bethany Eloise was Hodel who fell in love with Perchik. A good performance highlighted by a very moving scene when leaving her family for Siberia.
Motel, Tzeitel’s betrothed was given a fine performance by Matt Skinner capturing the character as envisaged.
Matt Jakowenko was Fyerdka, the Cossack who fell in love with Chaka much to the horror of Tevye. A good performance particularly as a Cossack dancer and the bottle dancer at the wedding.
Some very good scenes such as the Sabbath, the wedding, the village bar celebrating Tzeitel’s engagement and one very moving scene at the railway station with Hodel saying good bye to Tevye.
A smooth flowing high standard production with special mention of the dancers with great chorography and timing spot on.
Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Alan Burrowes
Musical Director: Danny Forward
Chorographer: Susan Lewis
Babirra Music Theatre chose an old favourite Annie for the Autumn season.
A well set stage with the different scenes realistically done, from the orphanage, the derelicts’ Hoover Town to Daddy Warbuck’s mansion. All well made and adding to the high standard of the production.
The cast was great, all working well together with only a couple of minor points of what could be done a little better although no doubt this will improve as the season progresses. The only small problem that your reviewer has was Nicole Kapiniaris as Miss Hannigan the CEO of the orphanage. She did seem to be a little too much over the top, The role does call for over the top performance but Nicole carried it a little too far. She has good stage presence a wonderful voice and is very talented but could tone it down a little.
On opening night Annie was played by Quinn Cameron, a young lady with for her age an amazing background of amateur and professional experience. She captured the role with finesse giving an excellent performance and was really Annie.
Zak Brown was Daddy Warbucks, a hard headed business man who got what he wanted mo matter what then meeting with Annie changed his life time outlook. Brown gave a good interpretation of the character portraying Daddy Warbucks as envisaged
His secretary Grace Farrell was played by Lauren McCormack who presents well on stage showed a good and sympatric side to Annie and worked very well with the other cast members.
Harrison Wall was Miss Hannigan’s brother Rooster. A not a nice character but well presented by Wall. His young “lady” Lily St, Regis, was played by Kate Spruce giving a great portrayal of the dumb blonde type.
Drake, Warbuck’s butler was given a smooth and professional performance by Richard Burman. President Roosevelt was portrayed by Peter Maver. Good projection and working from a wheel chair not always do easy.
A highlight was one of the orphans, Mollie, played by Olivia Sprague. An excellent performance and your reviewer predicts a great career ahead of her.
A good, smooth flowing production by Babirra Music Theatre and a high standard set for the rest of the year.
Nova Music Theatre P/L.
Co-Directors: Chris & Lynette White
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Lynette White.
Nova chose for its Autumn production Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. A musical horror story about a wrongfully accused barber, his faithful wife and his lovely daughter plus the judge the cause of all their troubles.
The set was in two parts with stairs up each side of the stage, audience left was a two storied house with windows looking across to the audience. Audience left on the stairs as needed was a cell and otherwise led to a bridge across to the house. In centre stage was the main prop, Mrs Lovett’s pie shop and barber’s shop on top which included the famous barber’s chair. This set was reversed to show a parlour, the bakery and the cellar. Also it was wheeled on and off as required leaving the central stage as town square. These sets were massive, well constructed and moved smoothly throughout the performance.
Mike Gardiner was Sweeney Todd. A great performance capturing the broken hearted man and then the demon barber of Fleet Street. Gardiner really caught the look of evil giving credence to such a role. He presents well and added to the high standard of the evening. His co-plotter Mrs Lovett was played by Kate Burns who has a good stage appearance, a first class voice and gave a stirling performance as the evil, no-conscience Mrs Lovett,
The young sailor who saved Sweeney’s life and became a friend was Anthony Hope played by Johnathon White. Another good performer who as Anthony Hope brought out the good side of Sweeney Todd. White has a good clear voice, positive stage presence and payed the role as called for.
Sweeney’s missing daughter Johanna Barker played by Emily Holland was given a delightful portrayal by Emily Holland. Appearing as a sweet young lady whose step father, the judge, had rather non fatherish ideas about the future of his young ward. Holland was Johanna as envisaged giving a not only a sweet performance but when it came to determination she exhibited the change of character with finesse.
The young assistant Tobias Ragg was well played by Damien Calvert giving a good interpretation of the not quite bright young man who completely lost it.
The evil and cause of all the troubles was Judge Turpin played by Robert Clark. Clark projects well, has a good stage appearance enhanced by fine acting and balanced by a good voice.
James Kearney was the Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli. A great comic performance, a good strong voice and what a change of accents. The mystery beggar woman was played y Ruth Bishop who caught the feel of such a street beggar and prostitute with complete professionalism. Beadle Bamford was played by Mark Monroe. Monroe with another good performance adding to the success of the evening.
Nova presented a well appreciated evening of theatre with accurate costuming and strong well made sets to balance the excellent performance of all the players.
Legally Blonde the Musical
A story of a young girl Elle Woods whose boyfriend drops her as she is not bright enough for his future. He is on his way to Harvard Law School so Elle decides she loves no matter what and gets herself into Harvard Law School where, in the best traditions of American Music Theatre, she of course finds true love and one can guess the ending.
Simple sets moving in and out very smoothly and giving the correct feel to the relevant scenes.
Elle Woods was played by Lucy Durack. A good natural performance capturing the essence of the character. Durack has a good stage presence, a lovely voice and was well appreciated by the audience.
Her boyfriend Warner, who dropped her, was played by Rob Mills. He captured the arrogance and snobbery of the role with finesse and his scene with telling Elle that they were breaking up while she thought he was proposing was a delight.
Lucy’s friend Emmett the law teaching assistant who takes it upon himself to ensure that Elle succeeds was played by David Harris. Another good performance with Harris capturing the role as envisaged. Elle’s friend Paulette from the Hair Dressing Salon was performed by Helen Dallimore. Dallimore projects well and gave a great performance in the role. Brooke the suspect in the murder of her husband was played by Erika Heynatz who caught the character with aplomb and worked well with Durack.
The professor with more on his mind than lecturing was given a great and smooth performance by Cameron Daddo. Daddo has a superb stage projection and gave the role the realism called for.
A must mention is Bruiser who practically stole the show. Bruiser was Elle’s chihuahua and his obedience to the instructions showed his expertise on the stage.
A light frothy musical with Greek choruses that only Elle could see comprising of her old classmates from UCLA. A smooth flowing well directed production and one certainly enjoyed by the Melbourne audiences
The Phantom of the Opera
CLOC Musical Theatre
Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Andy McCalman
Choreographer: Wendy Belli
CLOC Musical Theatre is very proud to present the World Premiere of the amateur production of The Phantom of the Opera.
Although CLOC presented an amateur production the production certainly was not amateur. Many of the cast have professional experience and some with international theatre. Such is the reputation of CLOC they are only too happy to perform and particularly in such a prestigious production.
The opening scene saw a sparse dilapidated interior of the old Paris Opera House where an auction is being held. The CLOC crew did a wonderful job of the set and following sets were absolutely amazing with what can be done, with a special chandelier, underground under the theatre, sailing across the underground lake, the ballroom scene and central staircase all of which shows how much goes on to make a successful production.
Toby Truscott was the Phantom. Truscott has superb stage presentation with an outstanding and unique voice so although in two different masks and disguised costume there was n hesitation in knowing who the personage was.
Laura Slavin was Christine Daaé. A versatile performance with Slavin opening as a ballet girl then with the lead singer dropping out (thanks to the Phantom) taking over the lead roles as an opera singer. Her talent both as a dancer, an actor and a singer is outstanding. Her voice was a sheer delight and her acting from the shy dancer to the girl fascinated by her Angel of Music was superb,
Patrick Hill was Raoul, Vicomte de Chagney sponsor of the Paris Opera and in love with Christine. Another well cast performer adding to the high standard of the evening. Beryl Frees was Madame Giry, the ballet mistress who was more in the know about the Phantom than she let on. Frees has excellent stage presence and gave an excellent presentation of such a character.
Unfortunately space precludes further reviews of the balance of the company but there were no poor parts all were excellent and well balanced making a very successful evening of theatre.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Peter Casey
Choreographer: Dana Jolly
Thursday January 31 saw the opening night of Chitty Chitty Bnag Bang at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne.
The curtain rose to an old wreck of a racing car with the performers re-enacting the race of the original Chitty Bang Bang at Brookland’s Race Track.
The children of Caractacus Potts, Jeremy and Jemima convince their father to buy the old wreck,
Caractacus Potts was played by David Hobson, a complete change from his usual stage appearances which id with Opera Australia playing leading roles. A wonderful tenor with superb acting to create a great performance. Caractacus’s girlfriend to be was Truly Scrumptious played by one of Australia’s leading music theatre players Rachel Beck. Beck played well across with David Hobson, a great rapport between the two and voice to balance Hobson’s.
The two children, Jeremy and Jemima were played by Beau Woodbridge and Lucille Le Meledo. Both gave outstanding performances working well with Beck and Hobson and made one feel that they were really a family.
A good comic role was given by Alan Brough as Baron Bomburst the man who still loved toys. His wife, Baroness Bomburst, who hated children, was played by Jennifer Vuletic. Another great performance with Vuletic capturing the essence of such a character. The two Vulgarian spies, Boris and Goran were given great comic performances by Todd Goddard and George Kapiniris. The evil Childcatcher was played by Tyler Coppin who gave a wonderful portrayal and also played the junkman in the opening scenes.
The sets were well done from Pott’s workshop to Lord Scrumptious’s Sweet Factory to the country of Vulgaria and the sewers of Vulgaria.
The old adage never work with children or animals was forgotten for this production. Besides having many children on stage thee were also at least six dogs rushing across the stage adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
The star of the show without doubt was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The flying car which also floated across water, Amazing scenes with the car going over a cliff and then flying across the stage with Caractacus, Truly, Jeremy and Jemima in it.
Apparently Chitty Chitty Bang Bang holds the Guinness World Record for being the most expensive prop in the history of British Theatre. It certainly stole the Melbourne opening night.
The production received the highest acclaim in Melbourne with a standing ovation from Melbourne’s first nighters, probably Australia’s most critical audience.
The Wizard of Oz
Director: Lucy Nicolson
Music Director: Tanya Chaves
Choreographer: Keir Jasper.
MLOC decided to close 2012 with a show that everyone can be part of and enjoy with the production of The Wizard of Oz.
MLOC did not worry about the old adage of never working with animals or children. The Wizard of Oz has both and it must be reported that Toto stole his scenes. When placed on the stage by Dorothy he went exploring did not disgrace himself at all and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his performance.
Sets were simple yet effective, the tornado was represented by young ladies dancing and whirling across the stage. The costuming particularly for Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man was realistic bringing back memories of the film.
Dorothy was given a wonderful performance by Sarah Gousse who really captured the young girl lost in the Land of Oz and the trials she underwent to return home.
Cat Stephens was Miss Gulch the narrow minded land owner who did not like small dogs. She was also the Wicked Witch of the West both roles she played professionally and the touch of evil in her voice was enough to scare anyone.
John Davidson was Hank, the farmhand and Scarecrow who wanted a brain. In both roles Davidson handled with ease and was quite believable.
Professor Marvel and the Wizard was played by Graeme Marriott. A good stage presence and also captured the character as envisaged.
Lion and farmhand Zeke were played by Colin Sephton a good characterisation of the two roles. Richard Green was Uncle Henry and the Gatekeeper a quiet role as Uncle Henry and a bombastic performance as the Gatekeeper, a great performance.
Anthony Julian was farmhand Hickory and the Tinman. As Hickory he looked the part and as the Tinman looking for a heart was very well done added by the difficulty of the tinman outfit.
Susie McCann was Aunty Em and Glinda the good witch. Another good contrasting performance.
The company was divided into three casts, The adult cast, the Emerald cast and the Ruby cast. The Wizard of Oz is a good production to give beginners a chance on stage particularly the Ruby and Emerald casts which with MLOC were all children from various ages. They all carried themselves well and added to the amusement of the evening.
A pleasant evening of theatre belying the old theatre of don’t work with kids and animals.
Aida the Timeless Love Story
Director: Robbie Carmellotti
Musical Director: Jess Barlow
Choreographer: Joel; Anderson.
MDMS chose Aida for the November production. Not the opera but the musical written by Elton John and Timothy Rice. The story is the same but told with a difference.
The production opens in the Egyptian wing of a today museum where amongst he crowd are two young people strolling along looking at the exhibits.
The exhibits are mounted on three stairways with three statues, one on each stand. The centre statue is Amneris a female Pharoah The statue comes to life and starts to narrate the love story of Radames and Aida and the scene changes to ancient Egypt where Radames has just returned from his latest campaign to find his soldiers have captured some Nubian woman. One attracts his attention and he sends off to his fiancé Amneris as a handmaiden little knowing she is the Nubian Princess.
Ed Deganos was the young man in the museum and Radames in ancient Egypt.
A first class performer looking really natural as a 20th century young man then a good projection as Radames Deganos had a good rapport with Gina Mets as first the young lady in the museum than as Aida in ancient Egypt. Mets has a good strong and pleasant voice which was clear and understandable to the audience. Mets also is a good actor and showed the correct emotions in trying to be a slave while she was really a Nubian princess.
The Princess of Egypt and Radames’ affianced was Amneris given a wonderful portrayal by Tori Whiteside. Whiteside captured the character of such a person which ranged from the not so bright to a jealous woman to an understanding girl when Radames realises he is in love with Aida.
A smaller character but one the story could not do without is Mereb, the Nubian slave of Radames who has a little business on the side. He recognises Aida and talks her into helping the other Nubian slaves. David Miles caught the character with ease projecting well and handling the changing moods from an out and out rogue to a hero of his people.
Radames’ father Zoser who tried to manipulate his son’s life and marriage to the princess to enable him to become Pharoah. A good performance capturing the character as envisaged. He also played the Nubian king Amonasro where he was only seen in the prison after being captured by Radames.
The stage had a backdrop showing three scenes, one of the Nile then one of a pyramid, and another of a different Nile scene. The costuming was quite good giving the feel of Egypt of the period. The production moved smoothly and was enjoyed by the young Saturday night crowd who obviously had friends on stage.
Nova Musical Theatre
Director: Tim Schwerdt
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Scott Hili
A story of a country girl arriving in New York with the determination to get into a musical.
The production opened to a group audition performing a tap dance sequence. A fantastic scene with spot on timing and great presentation.
Peggy Sawyer the girl from out of turn turns up too late for the audition but later gets her chance and amazes all with her ability which in turn leads her to the main role.
Grace O’Neill was Peggy Sawyer. An amazing dancer with a wonderful voice plus great acting ability
Dorothy Brock, the star of the new show because her sugar daddy was financing same, was not quite right for the position. Adrienne George captured the essence of the spoilt star at the end of her career but doesn’t realise it. A great performance of a good actor, singer and dancer.
The director of the new show Julian Marsh, a determined strict but understanding director was given an exemplary performance by Mike Gardner.
One of the co-writers of Pretty Lady the new show was Maggie Jones who followed up Peggy and supported her into getting into the show. Wendy Alberni as Maggie is a strong performer, good strong voice and a powerful stage presence.
Her co-writer was Bert Barry played by David Sly. Another good performer adding to the high standard of the Company.
The opening tap dancing sequence gave an indication of the standard of the production and the audience was not disappointed. A great musical and a wonderful evening of high quality theatre.
More Sex Please...We're Seniors
Written by John-Michael Howson
Director: Pip Mushin
Musical Director: Peter Sullivan.
Choreographer: Alana Scanlan.
Opening saw the reception and lounge of the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village. A well set stage with a reception desk on audience right, lounge chairs centre, centre rear was a sliding door of glass leading out to the outside garden and audience right was a coffee making machine and further across was the notice board telling what was happening on the respective day.
We meet two couples who have come to check the village out to see if they plan to move in. Mac and Joan meet up with Roy and Myra. Naturally they do move in and the story is of there life in the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village and their international travels together.
Mac was played by Mark Mitchell and his wife Joan was played by Jane Clifton.
Mac is a happy-go-lucky bloke taking life as it comes an enjoying an Australian beer no matter where in the world he is. Mitchell captured the character with ease looking as if he was born for the part. Jane Clifton was Mac’s wife Joan. A good opposite to Mark Mitchell and a high quality of performance.
Roy was played by Michael Veitch rather more dignified than Mac but still they became good friends having a lot in common (as one does when we arrive at that age). Veitch was Roy and played well with Tracy Harvey as Myra, Harvey was great full of energy and as Myra always busy and active.
A highlight was Matthew Quartermaine as Mr Dogsbody. He did not speak but his character as the caretaker was a scream. It brought one back to the old silent movies with his performance and the expressions particularly fighting with the vacuum cleaner were an absolute delight. One surprise for your reviewer was that the singing by all was quite pleasant with popular songs having the words changed to suit the occasion.
A basically simple story about two couples settling into the Guantanamo Palms Retirement Village and how they made friends and also how they talked about their trip abroad. Many of the senior citizens in the opening night audience could relate to the medical problems and other problems of the age group typified on stage. A pleasant evening with not much depth but an enjoyable night out.
A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Director: Simon Phillips.
Musical Director: Mathew Frank.
Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne was the venue for Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing happened on the way to the Forum.
The curtains were drawn and through them came Geoffrey Rush to an outpouring of applause. He narrated the story then the curtains opened to reveal the entire cast singing the opening number A Comedy Tonight. Although some performers weren’t trained singers they were all in tune and presented excellently.
Geoffrey Rush was Pseudolus the slave who would do anything to become free. Some of the circumstances he had would try anyone but Rush handled the role with finesse showing his talent on the stage.
His personal owner Hero was played by Hugh Sheridan. An unusual character in ancient Rome being a virgin and not really that bright. Sheridan captured the role as envisaged and gave a stirling performance. His own true love the courtesan Philia from the House of Lycus a virgin sold to the army veteran Miles Gloriosus was wonderfully portrayed by Christie Whelan-Browne. A real innocent dumb blonde who was in love with Hero but as she was sold to Miles Gloriosus she did what she was told.
Hero’s parents were played by Shane Bourne as Senex and Magda Szubanski as Domina. These two helped to make the show. Bourne captured the henpecked husband with aplomb and his scene when returning to find although in error that he had suddenly acquired a maid who was every man’s dream was a sheer delight. But when Domina returned unexpectedly things changed. Szubanski looked every inch the Roman dominating matron who spoiled her son and kept her husband in line.
Marcus Lycus who kept the House of Lycus where he sold slaves and young ladies etc was given a wonderful portrayal by Gerry Connolly capturing the essence of such a character. His scenes with Geoffrey Rush were an absolute delight.
Michael Butel was Hysterium the slave left in charge of House of Senex and to watch over Hero, Poor Hysterium what with Hero trying to get Philia and Pseudolus interfering he had his hands full. Butel played the role with finesse giving a great portrayal.
The general who had bought Philia from the House of Lycus was Miles Gloriosus who had quite an opinion of himself was played by Adam Murphy. Murphy had excellent projection so necessary for the role and gave a good performance.
Bob Hornery came out of retirement to play Erronius, the father of a boy and girl who were captured by pirates. He had to go around the seven hills of Rome seven times then he would find his missing children who by now were adult. Hornery gave a great performance in the role showing the talent that brought hi, out of retirement.
The show was held together by three performers, Adrian Browne, Brent Hill and Troy Sussman. They were the eunuchs, the soldiers and slaves. They were kept very busy in all their roles which not only called for totally different character changes but very quick costume changes. The three handled their roles with expertise and the smoothness of their many changes added to the high standard of the production. An enjoyable evening with the major performers of Australian, international stage, television and film.
Directors: Nathan Firmin & Brad Fisher
Music Director: Andrew Houston
Choreographer: Nathan Firmin
Set in the 1960’s Baltimore where lovable plus-size heroine Tracy Turnblad has a passion for dancing and wins a spot on the local TV dance program the Corny Collins Show.
Catchment Players had well built smooth flowing sets setting the various scenes and added to the high standard of the production.
The heroine Tracy Turnblad was played by Phillippa Chalke who gave a wonderful performance as the character who being a little overweight (Phillippa, I understand had to be padded up for the role) did not seem likely to become a star but a dream is a dream and can be successful. Chalke has a good stage presentation, a fine actor, a delightful singer and obviously enjoyed her role.
Merryn Degnan was Amber Von Tussle the spoilt brat her resented Tracy’s rise to fame and with the aid of her mother did all she could to stop Tracy’s progress. Degnan’s performance was outstanding capturing the character comfortably, she projected well had the right nuances for the role aided by a good voice giving a good balance to Chalke.
Her mother Velma Von Tussle the producer of the TV show was performed by Bianca Giorgetti. A good humorous performance capturing the feeling of the overbearing mother who was prepared to put her daughter up over all others.
A great portrayal was given by Gemma Foster as Tracy’s nerd type mate Penny Pingleton. Foster has the sense of the comique, the body action of a shy, bespectacled half bent over girl giving a stirling and funny performance. Tracy’s parents Edna and Wilbur were well portrayed by Adrian Carr as Edna and Will Deumer as Wilbur.
Both gave highly professional performances bringing lots of laughs from the opening night audience.
A good evening of theatre showing the high standard of local theatre.
Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Sue Salvato
Musical Director: Hamish Paterson
Choreographer: Cameron O’Reilly
Babirra Music Theatre’s October season’s choice was the well known musical Hello Dolly.
Set in a street in New York City, Vandengelder’s Hay and feed Story in Yonkers New York, Mrs Malloy’s Hat Shop and the Fourteenth Street Parade. Plus the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant and Courtroom.
The sets were fair and easily identifiable.
Dolly Levi the widow and master of everything with business cards to suit every and any occasion was played by Victoria Zainal. A strong stage personality, with a rich voice aided by a wonderful professional performance which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Her intended, although he didn’t know till the end of the show, Horace Vandergelder was played by Barry Baker. Baker gave a positive and good portrayal of such a character with a good strong voice to complete the role.
Vandergelder’s clerks in his Hay and Feed Store were Cornelius Hacki and Barnaby Tucker. Hacki was played by Warwick Reid the elder of the two and the conspirator for a day off to go to New York to see the town and meet a girl.
Reid captured the essence of the character and gave a good performance.
His fellow clerk, Barnaby Tucker the younger and more innocent of the two was played by Matt Jakowenko. A good performance with Jakowenko really capturing the innocence as envisaged.
Irene Molloy, the owner of the Hat Shop, was played by Sarah Somers. A wonderful professional performance with excellent stage projection and capturing the role with aplomb. Her shop assistant Minnie Fay was played by Cara Green. Another good performance having a good rapport with Matt Jakowenko.
A large cast with no poor performances and another success for Babirra Music Theatre.
All Shook Up
CLOC Musical Theatre
Director/Choreographer: Craig Wiltshire
Musical Director: Danny Forward
All Shook Up is a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night incorporating some of the songs made famous by Elvis Presley.
CLOC’s production was outstanding. The scenes were a town square in a small town USA which were solidly built yet moved around very smoothly when changing from interior spots to different views of the town.
Opening scene was Jailhouse Rock with most of the cast performing. The set was a two story jail the costumes were Denham and prison stripes all black and white with the girls looking very glamorous. The singing was superb and the movements spot on. Throughout the production the choreography was excellent and congratulations go to Craig Wiltshire who not only choreographed the show but was also the director in which capacity he excelled.
An outstanding performance was given by newcomer to CLOC, Jonathon Guthrie- Jones. A great entrance on a motorbike, his effect on the young (and not so young) ladies of the town was remarkable. His performance was excellent only exceeded by his voice, strong and clear.
The young lady running her father’s garage, Natalie, fell head over heels in love when Jonathon as the Roustabout asked her to fix his bike. Melanie Off was Natalie and gave a great plus amusing performance especially when she became Ed and the Town Museum Curator Miss Sandra fell for Ed. This led to some great scenes and showed Melanie’s talent both in song and comedy.
On amusing character and great performer was Tyler Hess as Dennis, the town nerd and best friend of Natalie. Tyler’s interpretation of the character was a classic capturing the nerdish best friend who was actually in love with Natalie who just regarded him as a friend.
Other great performances were given by Natasha Bassett as Sylvia who ran the local bar and was mother to 1 year old Lorraine. Robert Harsley as Jim, Natalie’s father who became quite a surprise at the end. Rachel Ledgerwood as Miss Sandra the Museum curator. Kim Anderson as the stuffy non fun loving mayor Clary Riven as Lorraine the young girl in love with the Mayor’s son Dean against her mother’s wishes. Daniel Komesaroff was Dean a well portrayed role.
The whole show was really up to CLOC’s standard if not better as the company is not one to be missed.
CLOC is presenting The Phantom of the Opera for the next season and I strongly recommend you book early.
Director: Bartlett Sher
Musical Director: Andrew Greene
The production opened at Emile De Becque’s home with his two children singing Dites Moi. A very pleasant opening by two very talented youngsters.
This was followed by the entrance of Nellie Forbush and Emile De Becque.
Nellie was performed by popular Australian artist Lisa McCune. A wonderful performer, good stage projection, a good clear voice and managed to keep an American accent constant during the complete show. Emile De Becque was performed by Teddy Tahu Rhodes in his first musical. An opera singer who performs in opera around the world this was a different scenario for him. A great actor and voice absolutely filled the auditorium both when he sang and when he spoke, an outstanding portrayal even to keeping the French accent throughout the evening.
The next scene was on another part of the island. The set was amazing. The rear backdrop was the ocean excellently done with the hint of Bali Ha'i showing two mountains faintly through the mist. Lighting enhanced the mountains at the relevant times. On audience left to the rear was an aeroplane the Curtis P40 better known to the Australian pilots who flew it as the Kittyhawk. On audience right was Billi’s laundry a massive structure.
This scene was the Seabees and Bloody Mary. Played by Kate Ceberano who really captured the role of the Tonkinese woman who sold shrunken heads and anything else she could lay her hands on. A wonderful performance added to by a strong clear voice and another performer whose Tonkinese accent remained constant throughout.
Luther Billis was the Seabee conman who had a soft spot for Nellie was played by Eddie Perfect. Perfect had the ideal character for such a role and delivered a masterful performance.
Daniel Koek reprised his role of Lieutenant Cable from his portrayal of same in London. A strong performance giving the role the character as it was envisaged.
Celina Yuen was Liat, Bloody Mary’s daughter who was in love with Lieutenant Cable. A moving and god performance by Yuen capturing the role as called for.
An amazing evening of entertainment with a standing ovation for the Melbourne opening night. There was a little extra for the audience and the cast. As it is 60 years to the month that South Pacific was first performed in Melbourne they had five of the original cast members come up on stage.
The Production Company
Director: Gale Edwards
Chess a two part story of the cold war and the tussle between the American Bobby Fischer and the USSR World Champion, Boris Spassky.
Jeannie Pratt and The Production Company are to be congratulated on their interpretation of the famous chess game and the completer musical.
The State Theatre stage was raised and designed as a chess board with the backdrops also representing the chess board. Orchestra Victoria was split to each side of the stage, conductor on the left. This worked well although when all the cast was on it became a very busy stage.
The first half was set in Merano, Italy and when the chorus made their entries they were waving Italian flags. The costumes were varying patterns of black and white suiting the game.
Martin Crewes was the American Frederick Trumper. An excellent interpretation of the obnoxious anti Soviet American. A wonderful voice to add his remarkable performance.
The Russian Grandmaster Anatoly Sergievsky was given an excellent portrayal by Simon Gleeson. He captured the mannerisms of the character showing dignity in front of Frederick Trumper’s childish antics and understanding of Frederick’s second Florence Vassy.
Florence Vassy was played by singer and actor Silvie Paladino, As a refugee from Hungary Paladino captured the character with style and expertise and had a good rapport with both Martin Crewes and Simon Gleeson.
Mark Dickson was the head of the Russian delegation. A superb interpretation of a Communist Russian leader capturing the accent and the projection it was hard to believe that he was not Russian nor had Russian ancestry. Bert LaBonte was Walter de Courcey a great performance of the man who was more interested the publicity than any personal feelings for either the players nor their assistants.
Anatoly’s wife Svetlana Sergievskaya was played by Alinta Chidzey A wonderful portrayal.
The second half was a complete change from the first. Set in Bangkok Thailand, The colour and costumes were bright, cheerful and lightened up the audience and the whole production. One could hardly believe that it was the same show.
This would be one of the best interpretations your reviewer has had the pleasure of attending.
The Production Company
Directors: Andrew Hallsworth & Dean Bryant
Musical Director: Vanessa Scammell
The Production Company opened the 2012 season with Mel Brook’s The Producers.
A story of a Broadway producer and a shy accountant trying to produce a flop to make money. Searching for the worst script, the worst director and the result a great evening of entertainment.
The Production Company specialises in bringing out a low cost production with ticket prices everyone can enjoy. But! This by no means denigrates the performances. The productions get better each year and The Producers was a fine example of this. In fact it had to be the best show to date by The Production Company.
The orchestra was at rear of the stage not leaving as much room as one thought was required. A large cast with the Broadway producer Max Bialystock played by Wayne Scott Kermond. A great performance played with just the right balance of over the top production as called for. His performances with the little old ladies who he hit for the money to finance his production were an absolute delight. The main little old lady Hold Me Touch Me a nymphomaniac type was given an excellent and energetic performance by Virginia Gay.
The shy accountant, Leo Bloom, who always had dreams of becoming a Broadway Producer, was played by Brent Hill. A terrific interpretation of the character moving the shy type to the go getter and good friend of Max and especially their Swedish secretary Ulla.
Ulla was given a wonderful portrayal by Christie Whelan Browne. A tall girl with excellent stage presentation and captured the dumb blonde with expertise adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
One of the many highlights was the performance of Franz Llebkind, the ex Nazi who wrote a musical Hitler in Springtime which Max and Leo thought the worst script they had ever seen so they bought it.
Trevor Ashley was Franz. Dressed in lederhosen plus a WWII German helmet. A complete and funny performance by Ashley nearly bringing the house down. The production was played as high camp to ruin the play and to run at a loss. The interpretation of high camp was exemplified by the worst director on Broadway Roger De Bris superbly intepretated by Mitchell Butel and his offsider Carmen Ghia played by Rohan Browne.
A highly amusing and successful evening so much so that an event seen rarely in Melbourne’s State Theatre a complete standing ovation.
The Production Company have something to live up to after this success.
After Party Photos
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Director/Set Designer: Richard Perdriau
Musical Director: Glen Barnett
Choreographer: Felicity Bender.
Saturday June 16 your reviewer attended the MDMS production of How to Succeed in business without really trying. ,MDMS have always put on fair and reasonable productions but this production blew me away and not only yours truly but the other reviewers who were there. It easily equalled if not better that anything seen in the professional circuit.
A fantastic backdrop of New York covering the complete rear wall and on inquiry found that it was painted by the company. The view was from the offices of World Wide Wicket Corporation WWW. The changes in the story line were swiftly and smoothly completed and the costuming was excellent, different office uniforms for the girls and suits and occasional casual for the men.
The story is about a window cleaner who comes upon a book How to Succeed in business without really trying which he follows avidly and up to a certain point does exactly what it says.
The window cleaner, J. Pierrepont Finch was played by Tyler Hess. A remarkable and excellent performance capturing all the characteristics of such a character and worked well with the other players. But not only was Hess an outstanding player he also did the costume designs which were magnificent.
His girlfriend Rosemary was played by Stefania Gatt. A lovely voice and a great interpretation of the secretary who wanted J. Pierrepont Finch whether he wanted her or not. The Company President J.B. Bigley was played by Peter Smitheram. Another wonderful performer who gave an outstanding portrayal as the President with something or someone to hide. The President’s nephew and as he insisted by marriage, Bud Frump who was Finch’s nemesis, was played by Chris Handley. Handley gave an excellent portrayal of the character who went off to call Mom when he couldn’t get his own way.
The new secretary without any office skills was Hedy La Rue played by Lucia Craven. Hedy had skills not really suited to the office and her effect on the co-workers was a picture. Lucia Craven really captured the role keeping the American Twang throughout and was enjoyed by the audience.
Rosemary’s friend Miss Smith (Smitty) was performed by Candice Sweetman. A good comical performance keeping to the standard set.
J.B. Bingley’s secretary Miss Jones was played by Natalie Reid. A strong character with a powerful and good voice topped off with good acting ability by Reid.
Barry Baker was Bratt, an important member of the management staff. Baker has a good stage presence, a positive voice and gave another good performance.
A large cast moving around the stage quite comfortably, good singing from all and as mentioned at the beginning one of the best productions seen for quite a while.
The Witches of Eastwick
MLOC Productions Inc.
Director: Jane Court.
Musical Director: Martine Wengrow
Choreographer: Marilyn Young
A story of three lonely ladies in a quiet New England town of USA who wish for the perfect man. Added to by a strange little girl who portends doom for the town.
A large cast of 41 participants which did cramp the small stage a little but only on very few scenes were they all on at the same time.
Felicia Gabriel was the unofficial leader in the town. A woman of dominating character and a henpecked husband. Lucy Nicolson was superb in the role catching the character with aplomb and some scenes with her husband Clyde were an absolute delight. Both Nicholson and Colin Stephton had a good rapport and really gave the feeling of such characters. Stephton as Clyde gave a good performance as the he pecked husband who was finally driven too far.
The perfect man,
Darryl Van Horne was brilliantly portrayed Michael Young. He caught all the finer nuances of the evil newcomer who did not give a thought to anyone else’ feelings. Young’s portrayal with the three lonely ladies was a picture of theatrical performance which added to the pleasure of the evening.
The three lonely ladies were Jane Smart, Alexandra Spofford and Susie McCann.
As Jane Smart Lucy MacVicar portrayed an unsuccessful musician to whom Darryl encourages and has an affair. A good performance capturing the finer points of the character.
The prominent one of the three was Alexandra played by Erin Keleher. Another fine portrayal of the character of an artist whom Darryl enhances and also has an affair.
The third of the three Susie McCann, a journalist whose editor, Clyde Gabriel was in love with, was played by Sukie Rougemont. Another great performer changing from a quiet mousy type to outgoing fresh character who Darryl also seduces.
Other main characters were Michael, Alexandra’s son who was in love with Jennifer the daughter of Felicia and Clyde Gabriel much to Felicia’s disgust. Both gave good portrayals and worked well with each other
Darryl’s servant, Fidel, was played by Sean Coughlin. Although only speaking about two words at the end of the play the show would not have been the same without him. A wonderful performance of such a character. The little girl was played by Lily Nicolson. She opened the show coming out of a door on audience left quoting poetry portending the future of the town. Lily also appeared as part of the chorus and although still young she is a talent with a good future in theatre.
A good smooth production and a real family affair with six sets of family members from mothers and daughters, husband and wife and sisters.
A pleasant evening from MLOC.
Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Sue Salvato
Musical Director: Ryan Jacobs
Babirra’s choice for 2012 opening season was Oliver. A musical based on Charles Dickens’ classic story Oliver Twist.
As a production it was superb. The settings were excellently designed, moved efficiently and gave the complete feel of London of the era. The timing of the artists was spot on; the choreography was good particularly with the number of players and the space to work in.
Oliver was played by Jordie Race-Coldrey. A wonderful performance added to by an excellent voice. This is a young man with a good stage future ahead of him.
Fagin, the evil criminal with a house full of young children who work for him as pickpockets, was given a great interpretation by Peter Roberts. Roberts really caught the essence of such a villain with god stage projection and the correct expressions as called for.
The Artful Dodger was played by Ryland Lack-Powell. Another good player. The Dodger brought Oliver into Fagin’s den and taught him the tricks of their trade. A fine interpretation of the role.
Rosa McCarty was Nancy, Bill Sykes girlfriend. McCarty gave a wonderful performance in the role, taking pity on Oliver at the supreme cost and adding to the enjoyment of the evening with a beautiful and clear voice.
Matt Hillman was the ruthless Bill Sykes. Hillman captured the character with professionalism adding the correct touch of brutality to the role.
The Beadle, Mr Bumble was played by Martin Spottiswood. Spottiswood has good stage projection and carried the role with aplomb capturing the character as called for.
Some good scenes were Mr Bumble and Widow Corney before and their marriage and such a change.
The scene at London Bridge where Bill Sykes has Oliver and what happens, and of course in the workhouse when Oliver asks for more.
Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy
Choreographer: Wayne Robinson.
Nova Music Theatre in producing Miss Saigon brought to the stage an old story this time based on Madam Butterfly updated to the Vietnam War in the 1970s
A first class production with magnificent sets and bearable sound.
Cze-Hui Lee was Kim the innocent bar girl who fell in love with the young American GI. Lee has a beautiful voice and is a fine actor. She really captured the role as envisaged and had a great rapport with Stephen Coutts as the GI Chris.
Coutts captured the character of Chris with finesse giving a good performance added to by a fine voice, clear and precise.
A leading character The Engineer, who ran the bar then escaping into Burma where he continued his nefarious activities as a pimp while plotting to get to America no matter what the cost, was given a wonderful portrayal by Shannon Pincombe.
John Thomas, Chris’s closest friend and who on return to America worked on behalf of the young half caste children left behind in Vietnam, was played by Matt Jakowenko. Jakowenko was perfect for the role and gave a good understanding portrayal of his friend’s troubles.
Johnathon White was Thuy, Kim’s cousin and they were betrothed as children. Thuy became a commissar in the North Vietnam government and tried to restore the family obligation with Kim. White captured the essence of the character really making the audience feel that he was Thuy.
Chris’s American wife Ellen was played by Emily Holland. A small role but very important to the story and Holland gave the correct interpretation to the role, projecting well and having a good voice to add to the joy of the evening.
A non-speaking role which the show could not do without was Chris and Kim’s son Tam. Played by young Oscar Geddes who gave a wonderful portrayal of such a role.
The effects were excellent and the backstage staff and sound engineers added to the standard of the evening particularly with the arrival and departure of the helicopter.
A good evening of entertainment and high standard of performance to keep up for 2012.
CLOC Musical Theatre
Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Andrew McCalman
CLOC’S 2012 production was Sunset Boulevard with music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.
A story of Norma Desmond, a retired silent screen star who wants to make a comeback or as she explains “a return”.
CLOC’s opening set was the garden of Norma’s mansion where the police are taking a body out of the swimming pool. A remarkably good set with the feeling it was a real pool.
An out of work writer Joe Gillis while being pursued by repossession agents hides in the driveway of an old mansion where he is befriended and offered a job by Norma Desmond who has written a script and wants Joe to tidy it up so she can present it to Cecil B. DeMille.
Joe Gillis was played by Mark Doran who gave a terrific performance in the role really capturing the at first slightly bewildered and then enjoying the comforts of the rich.
Maureen Andrew was Norma Desmond and what a find for CLOC. A magnificent performer, acting superb, rapport with her fellow artists excellent and singing with just the right inflexions and balance giving the audience a non-forgettable evening.
Norma’s butler, chauffer, general all round man and incidentally her first husband, Max Von Mayerling, was played by Phillip Lambert who caught all the fine and correct nuances for such a role. Lambert projects well, a good voice and a fine rapport with Andrew.
The girl who wanted Joe to write and loved him was Betty Schaefer, played by Alexandra Clover. Another great performance with a good stage personality
Ken Jones was the legendary Cecil B. DeMille who was an old friend of Norma’s but considered she was past it. A positive performance capturing the essence of such a well known film director.
Overall a great production with some excellent scenes such as Joe’s getting fitted out with new clothes with a classic Hollywood tailor and his assistants.
The set construction particularly of Norma Desmond’s mansion was so effective that the audience broke into applause as it rolled forward. A huge two story indoor scene of a Hollywood mansion complete with sweeping stairway so essential to the scene. The finishing and furniture were well balanced and the overall effect was such it nearly stole the show. Other good sets were the entrance to Paramount Studios, the car chase done on film and projected onto the scrim.
A magnificent start to 2012 and a standard hard to beat.
A Chorus Line
Saturday February 4 saw Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne present the opening night of A Chorus Line.
A story of seventeen dancers auditioning for eight spots in a chorus line for a new musical.
Unusual for a musical the only set were mirrors at the rear of the stage and one instance where mirrors were flown in fro a particular dance sequence. The placing of the mirrors and lightning placing were excellent and added to the enjoyment of the production. As the story is about the 17 auditionees and their director with the help of the assistant director there was no need for any set.
The dancers varied in height as the story foretold and definitely varied in character. The director demanded each tell his/her life story to enable him to judge their character. His brought on many and varied stories all done clearly and emotionally as required. The cast gave good performances in this scene some by demonstrating their ability as dancers or performers and acting with the type of background their character grew from.
All the cast were a high standard but Cassie played by Anita Louise Combe stood out. Cassie was a veteran dancer somewhat successful going to Hollywood but failing because she is more of a dancer than actress. She wants to restart her career with back to the chorus. Combe gave a first class performance in her solo scenes and her acting with the director Zach played by Joshua Horner were a great example of theatrical performance.
A short production with no interval but one which had the audience enthralled and definitely a show to recommend.
Any retired or current chorus liners could certainly identify with A Chorus Line
Guest at opening night.
The Production Company
Director: Roger Hodgman
Musical Director: Kellie Dickerson.
The Production Company’s final show for 2011 was the Australian Premiere of Grey Gardens a musical based on the true story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter ‘Little’ Edie Beale. One claim to fame is that Edith Bouvier Beale was the aunt to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Grey Gardens is the name of the Beale mansion in the Hamptons 175 Kilometres north of New York. Set in its heyday the mansion, a 28 room building, was the heart of social life and any successful parties were held there. But later mother and daughter lost their money and lived in squalor while Grey Gardens slowly disintegrated around them.
The opening was a scrim with a photo of the mansion at its best and then changed to the mansion at its worst. When the scrim flew out there was the mansion with the front cutaway in is prime.
In ACT 1 Pamela Rabe played the mother Edith Bouvier Beale. And in ACT 2 the mother was played by Nancye Hayes with Pamela Rabe as ‘Little’ Edie Beale.
Pamela Rabe was magnificent in both roles. She captured the essence of each character with finesse, has positive stage appearance giving reality to the characters. ACT 2 saw Nancye Hayes play Edith Bouvier Beale with a great portrayal and a wonderful rapport with Pamela Rabe.
ACT 1 saw Liz Stiles as young ‘Little’ Edie Beale. Her engagement party was planned for that afternoon and her mother was doing all the arrangements much against ‘little’ Edie’s wishes. Liz Sales caught the correct feeling of the role of ‘Little’ Edie projecting well and a good rapport with the other members of the cast.
Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Bouvier who grew up to be Jackie Kennedy Onassis was played by Ariel Kaplan, a young actor with a great future and seeing her perform one knows that Melbourne theatre’s future is in hand.
Opening night saw Caitlin Vippond play Jackie’s sister Lee Bouvier. Another young actor destined for a good future on the stage. Her performance was excellent and the two young ladies together added to the strength of the evening.
John O’May was Major Bouvier & Norman Vincent Peale. In both roles O’May showed his excellent versatility as an actor changing from the different characters with ease.
Alex Rathgeber was Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr & Jerry. Another competent performer capturing both roles with ease.
Other performers were Bert LaBonte as Brooks Sr and Brooks Jnr with James Millar as George Gould Strong. Both performers added to the high standar4d of the production with their performances.
A challenge for the director and company and successfully done.