Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Addams Family at the Capitol Theatre

An absolutely glorious show

Go on, join the dark side. Treat yourself. Fans of the cult TV show and original comics will love this.Kooky , bizarre with dark humour this is enchanting and thrilling.This musical version of The Addams Family has an original story , inspired by the creations of American cartoonist Charles Samuel Addams and it’s possibly every father’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams,a dangerous young girl with a crossbow, is now grown up and has fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family ,Lucas Beineke. If that doesn’t cause problems enough, she confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother.All Wednesday wants is ‘one normal night’ of a family dinner to impress Lucas’ parents.
Now, Gomez Addams is ‘trapped’ and must do something he’s never done before – keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a seemingly disastrous dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents.Can Gomez salvage his marriage ? . There is also a secondary plotline with Uncle Fester’s love for the moon.
We follow Uncle Fester as narrator as he plots to help Wednesday and with the participation of the ghostly ancestors – will love conquer all ? Wittily scripted with some great musical injokes and visual sightgags this show in fact emphasises family love, fidelity and devotion .
The splendid cast under the excellent direction of Jerry Zaks have a glorious time. There are lavish ,spectacular sets sets ranging from huge cemeteries to glorious city skylines as well as plush interiors and dark dungeonsThe costumes are fabulous as are the lighting and special effects . ( eg the giant chameleon , the live curtain tassel etc ) .
Gomez Addams , strange yet  loving husband and father, is wittily played by John Waters who has a whale of a time.He steals the show with among other numbers ‘Trapped’ in Act1 , smouldering delightfully as the man caught between promises to his wife and his daughter, and is splendid in Act 2 with the ‘Tango de Amour ‘ in his desperate attempt to win  back Morticia .
Chloe Dallimore as Morticia is superb. A pale, tall, thin elegant Beardsley brushtroke she is magnificent. And boy does she have LEGS . ‘Ay carumba !’ as Gomez might say. She is darkly strange , a caring mother and loving wife, with a glorious cascade of long , dark hair. And she is a terrific dancer. She has at least two huge show stopper numbers , especially in Act2 – ‘Just Around the Corner’ and ‘ Tango de Amour’ . The Tango in particular literally stops the show. ( If the Tango was any hotter it would have to be censored !.) Totally magnificent and enthralling .      
Young Wednesday is splendidly played by Teagan Wouters.She is caught between her unexpected love for Lucas and her love for her bizarre family .
Lucas her boyfriend was marvellously played  by Tim Maddren . His parents , Mal and Alice Beinke are given great performances by Tony Harvey and Katrina Retallick. Their lives are all changed – as it turns out for the good – by Pugsley’s interference at the dinner party. Retallick in Act1 has a showstopper Sondheim like part in ‘Waiting’ that brings the  house down.   
Russell Dystra as Uncle  Fester is fabulous. There is a show stopping number for him in Act 2 ( ‘The Moon and Me ‘ ) that has some joyous, childlike floating Phillipe Genty like effects – and some wonderful umbrella manipulation by the ladies chorus. (There are also charming references to the Georges Melies classic silent movie.)The chorus of ghostly ancestors Fester raises from their graves  - ranging from Elizabethan , to dead WW1 soldiers and including Ballets Russes inspired outfits – was fabulous.They help Fester in his plot to aid Wednesday and Lucas.Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is sharp and snappy , excellent ‘Big Broadway Musical ‘ in style with some possible Murphy and Bourne influences.( Look out for the arrow scene ).The orchestra conducted by Luke Hunter sparkles.         
Pugsley , who just wants things to remain as they are and is terrified of losing Wednesday’s affection, is terrifically played by Liam Faulkner – Dimond .Meredith O’Reilly as Grandma has great fun being delightfully bizarre and naughty. Ben Hudson as Lurch is towering and imposing and is very effective (and surprising ! ) in the finale. 
Sinfully bizarre, wickedly delightful , this is darkly ultra cool and the audience absolutely loved it .   
 Running time 2 hrs 30 mins (approx) including one interval
The Addams Family Capitol Theatre opening 23 March ...
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Based on characters created by Charles Addams
Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Set and costume design Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott   
Choreography Sergio Trujillo
Original direction by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Lighting design Natasha Katz
Sound Design Acme Sound Partners
Puppetry  Basil Twist
Musical director Luke Hunter
Musical Supervisor Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Make up design Angelina Avallone 
Gomez Addams  John Waters
Morticia Addams  Chloe Dallimore
Uncle Fester  Russell Dykstra
Lurch Ben Hudson
Grandma Meredith O’Reilly
Wednesday Addams  Teagan Wouters
Pugsley Addams I saw Liam Faulkner- Dimond
The Beineke Family
Mal Beineke     Tony Harvey
Lucas Beineke Tim Maddren
Alice Beineke Katrina Retallick
Plus assorted Addams Family ancestors and the Addams Family Orchestra conducted by Luke Hunter

Spring Dance cancelled

It is a great shame have I just learnt that the wonderful Spring Dance festival at the Sydney Opera House has been cancelled

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Opera Australia's Orpheus in the Underworld

This was fabulous I absolutely loved it
here's what I thought for Sydney Arts Guide
ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD- Reviewer Lynne Lancaster

Rachelle Durkin (Eurydice) and Andrew Brunsdon (Orpheus). Pic Lisa Tomasetti

Going to Hell has never been such fun. Riotous and exuberant this is a bright, colourful production that will have you clapping and tapping along.

The ‘traditional’ Orpheus and Eurydice legend is told, but is updated and Australianised by Jonathan Biggins and Phillip Scott with a twist. Did Pluto organise Eurydice’s death?

Boredom and revolution in Olympus are here used as a platform for social comment.  The opening curtain – red and gold with scalloped footlights and movie-like title – hints stylistically at what we are to expect. Under the glittering direction of Jonathan Biggins this production is fast paced, smooth and in parts risqué. It is sort of French Gilbert and Sullivan shaken and stirred with bits of Sondheim’s ‘ A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ and the naughty Carry On movies. ( Plus ‘Grease’, Elvis and other musicals – and Gluck’s opera among other things ).

There are groan-worthy jokes, plenty of marvellous special effects , sight gags , fireworks and a couple of very explosive, spectacular entrances .

Andrew Brundson as a rather foolish Orpheus is terrific with a way OTT 1950’s bouffant like quiff that needs a mention in the cast list by itself. He is excellent as the disappointed husband with a golden violin, very expressive face and great comic timing .

It is Rachel Durkin as Eurydice however ,who steals the show. Exquisitely tall, blonde and leggy she has a whale of a time being delightfully naughty. She is petulant and spoilt (and can’t stand Orpheus ) on Earth and terribly bored in Hades after a couple of days. Her aria in Hades in the bubble bath where she complains of being bored is a huge show stopper and her comic flirtation duet with Jupiter as a fly in Act 2 is glorious.

Todd McKenney as Aristeaus/Pluto is tremendous. As the bee keeper Aristeaus he has a great witty somewhat risque solo ( bucolic lambs and such like – very Ashton ‘ Daphnis and Chloe ‘ or ‘ La Fille Mal Gardee’ like – but with a  satiric twist ).Once his disguise is unmasked and he is revealed as Pluto he is dashing , charismatic and captivating , in fine voice and he leads the dancing magnificently.

Lecherous Jupiter, father of the various gods, was excellently portrayed by Christopher Hillier, tall and commanding in gold and white when required and delightfully silly in disguise as Louie The Fly when seducing Eurydice.

Suzanne Johnston as Public Opinion in yellow and newsprint ( a cross between Pauline Hanson and Julia Gillard?) is presented in a somewhat Brechtian style. Are we meant to think of the spectacular Sun/Emperor in Murphy’s TURANDOT when she is wheeled on at one point to confront Orpheus, towering above everyone?    

There is a splendid solo for Jupiter’s daughter Diana ( Jane Ede ) , in a stunning blue dress, who laments the loss of Acteon. And Cupid ( Katherine Wiles ) is delightfully played as a sort of cheeky punk Goth angel/fairy . Mitchell Butel as John Styx , Pluto’s lecherous, deathless servant , is magnificent. He is tall, green and Ent like in a coat with oversize epaulets and is a wonderful tool for lots of local government satire and other political comment.

Special mention must also be made of the spectacular entrance and great performance of Stephen Smith as the buoyant, exuberant Mercury dressed in red and white.

Offenbach’s lilting, lyrical music was wonderfully played by the Australian Opera and Ballet orchestra under the scintillating direction of Andrew Greene.

Amber Hobson’s choreography is strong and works extremely well with very efficient handling of the huge ensemble numbers. The party in Act 2 which Pluto throws that includes the famous ‘can can’ sure is a huge, writhing , indulgent, hot and steamy orgy!   Frothy and enchanting like French champagne this could be a terrific introduction to opera for first timers , while more knowledgeable opera fans will joyfully succumb to Pluto’s wicked ways. Be there or be square !    

The show’s running time is 2 hrs 15mins (approx) including one interval

ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD is playing in rep on various dates during March at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House  

(c) Lynne Lancaster

17th March, 2013

This website is copyrighted to David Kary.
  David Kary
Mobile: (61) 0408278706.

NDT in An Evening WIth Crystal Pite

the latest NDT screening -  here's what I thought for Sydney Arts Guide


Filmed last month at the Lucent Theatre , their home in the Hague , this is the latest in the current season of screenings of works by the wonderful NDT ( Nederlands Dance Theatre ) , as always showcasing their superb dancing .

It is a striking and unusual double bill of works by Canadian Crystal Pite , who is the founder and artistic director of Kidd Pivot. Pite is also currently the associate choreographer of Nederlands Dans Theater and associate dance artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre.

To quote from the publicity blurbs : ‘Crystal Pite is renowned for her flowing, organic and poetic style, and with her surprising and innovative approach she has succeeded in bringing her dance to the attention of a wide audience. She is fascinated by familiar storylines of love, conflict and loss, and the body’s role in providing the illustrative shape of those stories’.

In this double bill two co-existing and contrasting worlds are established , in and ex- terior. The exterior is limitless and inhabited by shadows, the interior a visible, recognizable and known world.

While the dancing was sensational PARADE, the opening work, could be quite confusing , judging by other audience members reactions. Beckett like in influence (and not to forget the famous Picasso/Matisse /Satie/ Cocteau collaboration for Diaghilev) it is a meditation on life.

Sad , strange clowns ( representing ‘Everyman’ ) in tattered costumes , bald caps and tear streaked makeup  emerge from a tent ( a fragile symbol of creativity) . Tightly organized chaos ensues as the clown’s monochromatic world is interrupted by the very controlled, orderly marching band, which apparently is meant to ‘exemplify the tension between instinct and intellect, rational and irrational, unconscious and conscious.’.

There are birthday celebrations, hanging of a string of lanterns and various phrases of movement ( eg  shifting and stacking of plates , the passing of the cake) are repeated and echoed.

Ritual , shadows and rhythms are very important. There is instruction in the juggling of chickens, using nonsense words. The starry night sky, with the use of the cyclorama stretched across as an eclipse, was wonderful.

Some of it was fast, hyper and frenetic . At various points there are blocks of movement for the entire ensemble. Some of the movements are robotic. There is a wonderful, strange dreamlike pas de deux at one point with unusual lifts. But what is behind the symbolism of the giant bear and lions heads and the marvelous kite-like fish? ‘Frontier’ , which explores the concept of dark matter and the borderline between un/knowing and un/consciousness , is sometimes lyrical and floating , sometimes ominous and scary. Throughout there are dancers as ‘dark matter’ , in black like Japanese ‘Koken’ , who manipulate , support and quietly interact with the other dancers . Are they also meant to represent Death ? The choreography is at times avian with angular elbows.

There is a superb opening solo where the ‘dark matter ‘ support the woman . In another section a woman walks on the back of the ‘dark matter’ as if floating . There are a couple of extraordinary solos where it seems the dancers are trying to escape the ‘dark matter’ and can’t . There is a featured short glorious male pas de deux. Some of the work is ominous with much use of haunting shadows . At other points it is luminous with dappled, rippling lighting .

The music varies from a haunting, lyrical liturgical piece to techno beeps, crashes , throbs and hums. The finale with the exultant soaring music has the whole cast as the ‘dark matter’ writhing in a sculptural mass.

This was a lyrical, very strong work.  Together, PARADE and FRONTIER made for an exciting and challenging double bill. AN EVENING WITH CRYSTAL PITE screened at selected arthouse cinemas the weekend of the 9th and 10th March, 2013. An evening with Crystal Pite screens at selected cinemas March 9 & 10 Running time was 2 hours ( approx ) and the film included an interval which has a fascinating short documentary interview with Pite about the creation of the double bill and her work with NDT .

© Lynne Lancaster

11th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Movie Reviews- AN EVENING WITH CRYSTAL PITE, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynne Lancaster

This website is copyrighted to David Kary.
  David Kary
Mobile: (61) 0408278706.

Martin del Amo's Slow Dances for Fast Times at Carriageworks

An interesting programme
Here's what I thought for Sydney Arts Guide


Martin del Amo is best known perhaps for his amazing solo works such as ‘It’s A Jungle Out There’ ( 2009). He has also turned to exploring more choreographically for example with the 2012 Sydney Festival work, ’ Anatomy of an Afternoon’. For this latest work ’Slow Dances for Fast Times’, which  has been three years in development, del Amo presents twelve miniature, very intimate choreographic portraits.

Carriageworks has been transformed - it is as if we are in a plush theatre of a bygone age, entering on red carpet and the huge stage area of Bay 20 is niftily utilised, with elegant red velvet curtains, a chequered floor , scalloped footlights and a glittering mirror ball. Matthew Marshall’s dramatic lighting is excellent.

To an eclectic mix of music ranging from ABBA to opera, Radiohead to Dusty Springfield, we are treated to twelve quality short solos excellently performed by twelve different dancers of varying ages, physical build and cultural and artistic background. Drama, passion, humour and irreverence are sprinkled through-out.

Each solo presents a different view of society, is an examination of various points of view of an environment of perceived conformity and sameness – or are they?!

Moods are contrasted: Sometimes there is a feeling of hidden secrets revealed, at other times there is an improvisational air. All pieces are performed with passion and commitment.

Followers of Del Amo’s choreographic style will know that it can be somewhat minimalistic. There are twitches (and also some virtually orgasmic - or epileptic ‘fits’) . Generally speaking everything is extremely controlled. There is a particular use of the Fosse – like pose with arched back and star-like hands.

Del Amo’s choreographic style requires a long curved line at times and great fluidity. Isolation movements (for example a knee , a hip , of the neck ) are used , angular elbows and there are repeated phrases of movement.

An excellent opening was provided in ‘Always One Foot on  the Ground’ by the tall, imposing Elizabeth Ryan in white and gold who was smoothly robotic and angular ( to ‘Fidelity’ by Regina Spektor) .

In ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’ Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggai smoulders magnificently in a long blue-grey evening dress to a Spanish pop lament ( ‘Soy Infeliz’ by  Lola Beltran ). Is the conclusion, with her hair down meant to be wild, ‘Giselle’ like , or Butoh inspired?!

Luke Smiles in ‘Hurry up’ (to Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl ‘ ) has a wonderful, exuberant childlike solo full of runs and skips.

Benjamin Hancock gave an extremely different, fresh interpretation to that of Graeme Murphy’s of one of Canteloube's limpid and luxurious songs from the Auvergne, at times like a startled faun exploring the dawn of a new day.

Jane McKernan in ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ (‘Ruhe Sanft ‘– Mozart – as sung by Kiri te Kanawa) was amazing , limpid, elegant and floating in black for the concluding solo.

The final ‘bonus track’ involving the entire cast was a great crowd pleaser.

SLOW DANCES FOR FAST TIMES played at Carriageworks between the 6th and 9th March, 2013. The performance ran 1 hour and 10 minutes without interval.

© Lynne Lancaster

11th March, 2013

Tags: Sydney Stage Reviews- SLOW DANCES FOR FAST TIMES, Martin Del Amo, Matthew Marshall, Elizabeth Ryan, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggai, Luke Smiles, Benjamin Hancock, Jane McKernan, Sydney Arts Guide, Lynne Lancaster

Sydney Dance in De Novo

a glorious peice here's my artshub review

De Novo, the Sydney Dance Company’s latest production, is a riveting triple bill showcasing some absolutely superb, sizzling dancing. Technically the dancers are magnificent throughout, and they are in excellent form.

It opens with the world premiere of Rafael Bonachela’s Emergence; an astonishing treat. Bonachela’s choreography demands laser sharp legs, a very fluid body and a long stretched line. Plotless, this new work is ‘about’ collaboration and the emergence of the new. It is perhaps a tiny bit reminiscent of Wayne McGregor in style; also detectable is the Murphy ‘walk’.

The dancers seem boneless yet angular at times and full of seamless bravura; the work itself is full of stretch and sizzle with fluid, flowing line as well as seemingly angular, robotic movements. There are some very difficult complicated lifts and partnering. Small shining solos are contrasted with ensemble work for the whole company in a writhing mass. There is also a terrific featured male pas deux, intimate and delicate.

The music by Nick Wales and Sara Blasko incorporates vocals by Blasko and beeps, hums, throbs and pulses. Benjamin Cisterne’s extraordinary lighting is superb. Sometimes only part of the stage is lit; at other we see a corridor of light. In some sections the lighting is rippling and reflective, at others it is like opening or closing venetian blinds. Glorious. Dion Lee’s costumes are most unusual – in the first section the dancers appear to wear (over skin coloured tops) half a jacket that at times entwine. Charmain Yap has an extraordinary sharp opening solo in a barely there white outfit.

The short middle work was Fanatic by Larissa McGowan, as seen in the Spring Dance season last year. It is a biting, witty satire on the cross pollination of Alien and Predator fans; a punchy, tightly choreographed piece (precision timing is crucial) which includes darkly acerbic voiceovers of some of the iconic lines from the films as well as a throbbing helicopter arrival sound effect. A vivid splash of bold red lighting was used for the films’ violence (and be aware: strobe lighting is also used). Natalie Allen in the Sigourney Weaver/Ellen Ripley role is amazing and Thomas Bradley and Chris Aubrey are terrific too. The audience absolutely loved it.

Cacti by Alexander Ekman (created for Nederlands Dance Theatre in 2010 and an instant hit) was given its Australian premiere as the final part of the bill. It is a thought-provoking crowd pleaser about the philosophy of art; how we observe and feel the need to analyse creative works. It is also – like Emergence – about the collaboration between musicians and dancers. Some of it is possibly reminiscent of Matthew Bourne in style.

The first half of the work features tightly choreographed percussive rhythms, with the dancers emerging from behind small, white, raised platforms. There are lots of slaps, complex beats, sound s effects and poses in frozen tableaux, and a terrific featured pas de deux towards the end where the dancers wittily comment (their thoughts in voiceover) about the audience, their performing relationships, and the work they are in. And yes, there are prickly cacti and lots of visual in-jokes as the dancers push, carry and dance around their individual, various-sized succulents.

The four terrific musicians are dressed in elegant orchestral black and the dancers in skin coloured tops with loose-fitting black trousers and tights caps, giving them a martial arts look. The work deconstructs modern dance and can mean everything or nothing.  

Taken as a whole, De Novo is a riveting, witty program that successfully blends biting social commentary with superb dancing. A marvellous chance to see some striking, original, contemporary dance showcasing some of Australia’s hottest talents.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sydney Dance Company present
De Novo
Running time: Two hours 10 mins (approx) including one interval

Emergence (world premiere)
Choreography: Rafael Bonachela
Music: Nick Wales and Sara Blasko
Costume Design: Dion Lee
Stage and Lighting: Benjamin Cisterne
Dance Director: Amy Hollinsgsworth
Cast: The Company

Choreography: Larissa McGowan
Concept: Larissa McGowan, Sam Haren, Steve Mayhew
Dramaturg: Steve Mayhew
Lighting: Benjamin Cisterne
Dance Director: Amy Hollingsworth
Performed by Natalie Allen, Thomas Bradley and Chris Aubrey

Choreography and Costumes: Alexander Ekman
Stage Design: Alexander Ekman and Thomas Visser
Lighting Design: Thomas Visser
Lyrics: Spencer Theberge
Repetitor: Nina Bokay
Cast: The Company
Musicians: Veronique Serret, James Eccles, Geoffrey Gartner and Mirabai Peart
Sydney Theatre
1 – 23 March