Thursday, 26 September 2013

Slutterati

http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/2013/09/slutterati/ a great show here's my thoughts for artshub Part of the Sydney Fringe, SLUTTERATI by Michael Gottsche has been developed with the assistance of the New Theatre where it is currently being performed. Under Louise Fischer’s sure direction, the excellent cast bring to life the biting, satirical script (which – warning – has lots of strong language) .The narrative is told clearly and the plot structure is quite strong. SLUTTERATI lampoons the narcissistic obsessiveness of the age of ‘celebrity’ and with a dark twist reveals a delicate personal story hidden underneath the superficial world of vanity and ambition. Who (if anyone) can you really trust? It is about the continual rise of gossip as ‘news’ and its insidious omnipresence in today’s society, how ‘news’ is not simple reportage of major events but in synch with commercial sponsorship. The set is quite sparse, – a sofa, several TVs, a desk and chairs. The scene changes, and there are lots of quick scene changes, are handled very smoothly, and in a quite cinematic way. Very handsome Matt Charleston gives a strong performance as Dan Paul Newman, a TV presenter who is caught in a world of rather inane TV programs, B Grade celebrity colleagues and boring parties. In the lead up to the Olympics, Newman wants to remind people he once was a top Olympic swimmer. But in a wave of a series of embarrassing scandals he discovers how quickly and easily his reputation can be smashed and his career crashes badly. It is all about ‘face’ and manipulation of the media as organised through Clark, his manager. Can the situation be saved? There is a sharp, almost Brechtian ‘nightmare’ scene, very well presented, where everything in Newman’s world comes crashing down. Stephen Wilkinson as Clark, Newman’s likable yet seedy, quite shady manager with a criminal background, gives the play some of its tensest moments. He brings a feeling of urgency to the story and makes us believe that the stakes are very high. Others in the cast include Rebecca Clay who plays Talia-Jayne, an early-evening commercial television presenter colleague of Newman’s, who regards herself as a serious journalist. With a toothy smile she certainly confidently looks the part, yet underneath is constantly aware of her superficiality .Her elegant, blow-waved, narcissistic self importance is underlined with a hint of caring phoniness. As Angela, his harassed first agent, Jorjia Gillis was terrific. The cleaner, Lily, who gets to know Dan Paul quite intimately, yet at the same time not at all, was well played by Kate Skinner. The theoretical division between Personal and Professional lives and confidentiality was stressed .And Amy Fisher was terrific as Amy Dunn, whose kiss and tell TV interview, sparks a crisis. A timely, very cutting analysis and critique of current media issues. Running time 75 minutes straight through. Michel Gottsche’s SLUTTERATI ran at the New Theatre, King Street, Newtown between September 19 and 23, 2013.

Madame Butterfly

This was part of the Sydney Fringe here's what I said on artshub http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/review/performing-arts/madame-butterfly-196670 Monday 16 September, 2013 Choreographers Martin and Michelle Sierra present an intriguing and original take on the famous story for Sydney Fringe. Sydney audiences were privileged to see Melbourne Dance Theatre’s version of Madame Butterfly as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. The production, which premiered at the Adelaide Fringe, is not your traditional ‘pretty pretty’ version by any means; rather, it claims to be a fusion of contemporary and neo-expressionist dance. Taking the story of John Luther Long’s book, made famous by the Puccini opera, this production tells the story in a pared down, almost abstract way, with minimal but very effective staging, impressive lighting, and a small cast. It is performed to a recorded soundtrack featuring the steady buzz of insects, rhythmic Japanese works and harsh, insistent drumming, and includes variations on two of the famous pieces from the Puccini opera: the humming chorus and ‘Un Bel Di’, as well as the Mendelsohn wedding march. The cast is excellent and technically the dancing is terrific. However, there is little real character development. Sierra’s choreography is ballet-based to a degree (no pointe work though) yet there is a major ‘contemporary’ influence too. Influenced by the German Expressionist Dance background in a style they call ‘Ausdrucktanz’, it’s a mix of intricate partnering, fluid classical ballet and contemporary dance fusion, with lots of unusual acrobatic lifts in the pas de deux , some quite ‘Bolshoi’ in style, with sometimes gymnastic contortions in leg and upper body extensions and lots of rolling floor work. In the lifts there was an emphasis on the long sizzling line of the extended leg. Some of the choreography, however, was stilted and repetitive. The ensemble unison work was excellent and performed with great energy and commitment. Visually the main theme was red. There was a very dramatic opening against a red floor and backcloth by Josh Twee – a powerful solo that included martial arts and breakdancing – and at Butterfly’s death she became a column of red, the cloth folded around her, Kabuki-like: visually, most exciting. Cho Cho San (Butterfly) was exquisitely danced in a dynamic performance by Yuiko Masukawa. Pinkerton, clad in a blinding naval white uniform, was terrifically danced by Michael Pappalardo. Their duets were intriguing with some quite difficult lifts. Kristina Bettinotti as Suzuki was caring and supportive. The ensemble of the Corps were also fine performers in their multiple roles. However , I found the final ‘Metamorphosis’ section, with all of the cast clad suddenly in black leotards with short white semi-transparent jackets, one moment performing cutting edge contemporary phrases of movement in the style of Lucy Guerin, and the next barefoot ballet in a cross between Giselle and La Bayadere a bit confusing and unsatisfactory. Were they all meant to be Butterfly’s spirit? This aside, Melbourne Dance Theatre’s production was an intriguing, very different take on the famous story. Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5 Melbourne Dance Theatre presents Madame Butterfly Concept and direction: Martin Sierra Choreography: Martin Sierra and Michelle Sierra Stage and Technical: Elizabeth Tori Cast: Yuiko Masukawa, Michael Pappalardo, Ashley Braybrook, Kristina Bettinotti, Martin Sierra, Elizabeth Tori, Emma Fildes, Olivia Montebello , Jocelyn Yee and Josh Twee Running time: One hour (approx) no interval The Forum, Leichardt 14-15 September Sydney Fringe Festival 2013.sydneyfringe.com 6-29 September

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Andris Toppe and Leo Schofield

A great talk as organsied by the wonderful Friends of the Australian Ballet http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/2013/09/ballet-moves-at-the-waterfront/ Lucky Friends of the Australian Ballet were very privileged to hear two great men of Australian theatre give a talk on a delightful evening at the excellent Waterfront restaurant. Stunning Harbour views provided a glorious backdrop for the talk in the Trawler and Heritage rooms .Delicious canap├ęs were served ranging from hot and spicy mini salads to mini pies, rice balls and spinach and cheese puffs amongst other things. The wine flowed freely. Dapper Chairman of the Friends Greg Khoury introduced both speakers to an appreciative audience. Andris Toppe Andris Toppe is a multitalented dancer, choreographer and teacher, a Renaissance man of the theatre, who declared that colour and movement has been his life. His talk was entitled, ‘Variations on a Career in Dance’. He has travelled the world in a career encompassing classical ballet, contemporary dance, cabaret films, opera, puppetry, television, theatre and ice skating. Andris has performed with Ballet Victoria and both the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company amongst others as well as Les Grands Ballets Canadians including three seasons of their hit ‘Tommy’. He was the personal coach of Torvill and Dean, working on all their world tours between 1985 and 1998, –yes Andris can skate – and Ballet Master and Company Manager for various ballet companies including the Sydney Dance Company for many years and also the tour of the Paris Opera Ballet earlier this year. Using an excellent Powerpoint presentation, we learnt about his Latvian background, saw photos of Fonteyn and Nureyev when they were with the Australian Ballet … and the way Nureyev’s explosion onto the scene changed everything for male dancers. Andris talked about lots of the tours he has been on with the various companies he has worked for, his encounters with snow (Having to dig his way into his home after performances in Montreal, Canada when performing with Les Grandes Ballets Canadians ) he mentioned Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov who he worked with ( especially in their ‘Giselle’) : we saw photos of Andris in various productions of ‘The Nutcracker’ for assorted companies ( both traditional and non , and especially Graeme Murphy’s for the Australian Ballet ), and also saw him in ‘Glimpses’ , ‘Sequenza’ ,’Poppy’ and ‘Shades of Grey’ for Sydney Dance. There were wonderful rehearsal and performance photos of Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon. Also we saw his work with the Queensland Ballet (Asenbach in ‘Death in Venice’) , various works he has choreographed ( eg ‘Suite for a Lonely Child’), his touring with Julie Anthony , his trip to Darwin with Kookaburra Pond ( an Australianised version of’ Swan Lake’. He has also played Madge the witch in ‘La Sylphide’. He also talked about working with the Cuban National Ballet and Alicia Alonso in ‘Giselle ‘.We also briefly heard about the Japanese tour of ‘Swan Lake’ by the Australian Ballet .Andris then briefly talked about his work with the Hamburg Opera and Ballet, the Bolshoi recent tour and the recent Paris Opera Ballet tour and other things including meeting Bette Midler. Finally he mentioned his work at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne where he is Duty Manager. Busy isn’t the word! Leo Schofield Leo Schofield, who is renowned as one of the great arts practitioners in this country, gave a jovial ‘off the cuff ‘ ‘talk entitled, ‘How I got over Opera and learned to love Dance’. Leo was born in a small country town called Brewarrina, literally the ‘back of Bourke’. The first live theatre he ever saw was a production of Princess Ida at the old Theatre Royal and Leo was hooked. To him, opera and ballet are ‘acts of faith’. Although he saw performances by the Borovansky Ballet, (in particular, he remembers Borovansky as the Magician in a version of ‘Petroushka ‘) Opera was his major passion, but gradually he came to appreciate dance too. As he moved on from Verdi to Wagner and Strauss he also moved from the occasional Royal Ballet performance (most notably Bronislavia Nijinska’s re-staging of Les Biches, which he regards as one of the definitive performances of his life) to a deeper involvement presenting some of the great companies for the first time in Australia. Leo talked about the Royal Ballet performances and New York City Ballet dancers he had seen including Jacques D’Amboise and Allegra Kent. Leo has co produced the first tours to Australia by The Paris Opera Ballet, The National Ballet of Cuba, the Hamburg Ballet, Opera and Symphony Orchestra, and the first full tour by the Bolshoi Ballet. He has just announced the first ever tour to Australia by American Ballet Theatre to Brisbane’s QPAC. Leo has been director of Festivals across Australia including the Melbourne Festival and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. Mention was made of when he was director of the Melbourne Festival (in which he said he has been regarded in three phases, – villain, hero and traitor. He concluded with a long , convoluted story about how, after many years of trying, he was finally able to bring the Paris Opera Ballet to Australia. Both mentioned Ian Mcrae in their dealings with the Paris Opera Ballet in particular and both spoke with great personal passion. Proceedings were officially concluded with Leo drawing the various raffle prizes and there was time for talk afterwards. This Friends of the Australian Ballet talk by Andris Toppe and Leo Schofield was a special one off dinner event held at the Waterfront Restaurant, 27 Circular Quay West, The Rocks on Wednesday 18 Sept 2013.

Iolanthe at the Zenith

a very good show here's my thought as on Sydney Arts Guide http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/2013/09/iolanthe/ Once upon a time, at a theatre near you, (be quiet, frogs!) the Savoy Arts Company presented a joyous production of IOLANTHE… First performed in 1882 , IOLANTHE is not as often performed as the ‘Big three’ of the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire ( ‘The Pirates of Penzance ‘,’ HMS Pinafore’ ,’ The Mikado’) and has a rather silly plot of fairies , peers of the realm, broken Fairy law and long lost love, amongst other things. There is also a Shakespearean like revelation scene towards the end but overall a somewhat Pantomime feel to this production which also exemplified the Romantic ideals of the day. It can be read as a deep political satire commenting on British government and law, power politics and corruption. (And was updated with Australian political comments too in the performance) . Director Janette Herok has guided the production with a light, sure touch. There is bare, minimalist staging, – incorporating just a low small raised set of steps /platform and some drapes. The production begins as a story told by the Fairy Queen ( very ballet class like in style ) and there is a fun prologue to the overture , that includes some very young fairies and some little silver and pink scooters . Under the excellent, enthusiastic direction of Stephen Malloch the orchestra played Sullivan’s delicious music well. The orchestra was quite squashed in the pit , the timpani spilling out stage left .Overall vocally and musically it was tremendous ,although there were a couple of points where the singers were temporarily drowned out by the music. If you listen carefully ,you can pick tiny musical phrases very similar to ones from ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ ,’ The Mikado ‘,’ HMS Pinafore ‘, ‘Yeomen of the Guard’ and ‘The Gondoliers’ in Sullivan’s score , which is to be expected from the of the fourteen operas Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on . Beauteous blonde Brigitte Martin as Iolanthe is stunning and sings superbly. She is captivating, sparkling and enchanting (no wonder the Lord Chancellor was enthralled). Generally she is joyously light and airy as befits a Fairy (she wears a wonderful green costume) and her pleading solo towards the end of Act2 ( My Lord ,a suppliant at your feet ) is quite sad, dark and heartrending . Bravo Our Fairy Queen, Anna McDougall, was tall and imposing , darkly commanding She wore an elegant long white gown with long flowing sleeves and silver makeup including on her eyelashes, and her outfit included a silver fish scale like corset front .At one point she wears a horned silver and white helmet like a Valkyrie. Her solo in Act 2 ‘O Foolish Fay’ was very moving . As the Lord Chancellor, Dean Sinclair is superb, a magnificent performance in the style of a Dennis Olsen or Christopher Hamilton. Sinclair is very elegant and ultra refined in his imposing black costume and wig. Yes he is lovesick (supposedly) but he is also very prim and proper. There are hints of Pooh Bah from The Mikado , especially in his ‘When I Went to the Bar’ in Act 1. His ‘Nightmare song’ in Act 2 was brilliantly done, quite tormented. And the trio “If you go in you’re sure to win” in Act 2, with Lords Lord Tolloller and Mountararat, stops the show uproariously. Our young, dark glowing heroine Phyllis was well sung and acted by Jessica Di Bartolo. A vision of loveliness, she was exquisite in her floral outfits. Strephon our hero was delightfully sung by handsome Anthony Mason in fine voice. He deals with the awkward fairy double entrendes very well. His light and clear yet strong tenor is perfect for the role and his solos and ensembles are terrifically performed. Lord Tolloller and Mountarat are wonderfully sung by Gordon Costello and Michel Handy in fine, showy performances. ‘Beefeater ‘Private Willis was excellently sung by Michael Bond (noteworthy for his solo opening Act 2 ‘”When all night long a chap remains “ ) and helping to provide the happy ending . The Fairy chorus was delightful and very well handled by Glenda Percival. The men’s chorus of assorted peers was in thrilling voice and very lavishly costumed (Their appearance in full Parliamentary regalia in Act 2 is hilarious). This was a most enchanting production. The running time was 2 hours and 40 minutes including one interval. IOLANTHE runs at the Zenith Theatre, Corner Mcintosh and Railway Streets, Chatswood until September 14, 2013.

Happy As Larry

Here's what I said on artshub http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/review/performing-arts/happy-as-larry-196666 Print Email  Email to a friend Your email Please enter a valid email Your name Please enter your name Friend's email Please enter a valid email Friend's name Please enter your friend's name Add a message Hi, I thought you might be interested in this Please enter your message Close Related Articles The Graduate Freeze Frame Love in the Key of Britpop Run Girl Run Monday 16 September, 2013 Shaun Parker's choreographed response to one of life's big questions - what is happiness? - returned to Sydney for a short season. Happiness: how do you define it, and how do different people respond to it in varying degrees? How is it achieved? These are big questions and Shaun Parker perhaps has a few answers, based rather loosely on the ‘Enneagram’, Claudio Naranjo’s personality classification system which identifies nine types of people: the Perfectionist, the Giver, the Performer, the Tragic Romantic, the Observer, the Devil’s Advocate, the Optimist, the Boss, and the Mediator. Originally commissioned by the Australian Major Festivals Initiative, Parker’s Happy as Larry has toured to multiple festivals, and also visited 11 cities across France and the UK (including a sold out season on London’s West End) since its Sydney Festival debut in 2010. A sense of darkness lurks around the edges of this seemingly joyous work, which in this 2013 version begins with dancer Timothy Ohl with his back to us, drawing – on one part of a black wall stretching across the stage – a symmetrical square of stick figures, above which he then writes ‘You’ and an arrow pointing down, then a lone figure, and ‘Me’. An arc of balloons suddenly rises behind the wall, contrasting joyfully with the wall’s sombre darkness. Ohl presses a chalk switch he has drawn and voila! the stage lights come up and the rest of the cast enter. He presses another chalk switch and Nick Wales and Bree van Reyk’s soundtrack begins. They have developed a continuously morphing electronic score which features strong use of strings, quite lyrical in parts, as well as electronic booms, beeps and whistles, and finally a most exciting ‘beat’ number. Choreographically, Happy as Larry combines a free-flowing mix of classical ballet (its base), ordinary everyday movements, parkour, jazz, roller-skating, breakdancing, hip hop, acrobatics and highly physical contemporary dance which at times seems actually quite dangerous. The ensemble of dancers are very talented and also a diverse range of race, gender and body types, combining superb dancing and theatrical ability with a common joyous exuberance. The co-operative feats of counter point, balance, strength and dramatic interaction are agilely performed and most impressive. Jana Castillo as ‘The Performer’, after some breezy and scintillating demonstrations of ballet technique, suddenly finds her legs crumple beneath her; a similar event occurs to the athletic Joshua Thomson, who collapses after entertaining his colleagues (and the audience) with spectacular handstands, backflips, balances and turns. Roller-skater Lewis Rankin has some somewhat alarming crashes to the floor, but later a delighted high speed circling of the stage, and some good fun on pointe. Parker’s choreography includes a rich variety of styles, and the dancers respond with their acute rhythmic and dramatic sense, moving fluidly and easily through the work. There’s tenderness, too – in particular in a sequence where Ohl traces on the wall around the arms, head and body of Sophia Ndaba with his chalk as she entwines herself around him. And the male duets are sensational. Lyrical exuberance, of which there’s plenty, is contrasted with subtle melancholy. For example a girl dances happily while Ohl completes a big gold star on the wall. Thrilled, she jumps up and down against it, but then on turning discovers she has smudged it all with her hair. Pushed halfway back on the stage the double-sided revolving wall (designed by Adam Gardnir) is shifted around to change scenes, climbed up, leapt from, sat on top of, skated around, hung off and gradually filled with chalk drawings and words, graffiti like, on one side. Lighting Designer Luiz Pampolha has devised a complex design that highlights the lyricism and tension of this energetic performance. Joy is coagulated with fear in this work, and an ominous mood of foreboding pervades – fear of other people, fear of risks, of ageing, of revealing vulnerabilities, of being rejected. The cast sometimes struggle to relate to one another, depicting in a series of interactions and encounters the theme that the obstacle to happiness is often deep within ourselves. There is a serious message to this work – life is not all joy. We are on Earth and are sometimes injured. Happy as Larry is serious, tense, light-hearted, playful funny and chameleon-like, and advises us to continue in life’s journey. With our friends. Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5 Happy As Larry Director/Choreographer Shaun Parker Production Manager Guy Harding Music: Nick Wales and Bree van Reyk Dancers: Craig Barry, Jana Castillo, Toby Derrick, Josh Mu, Libby Zyrel Montilla, Sophia Ndaba, Timothy Ohl, Marnie Palomares, Lewis Rankin, Joshua Thomson Running time: 1 hour 20 (approx) no interval Seymour Centre, Chippendale 10-14 September

Friday, 20 September 2013

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

a stunning show that transfers well from stage to screen Matthew Bourne fans are thrilled ! http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/2013/09/matthew-bournes-sleeping-beauty/ From the opening dramatic, crashing chords, expect the unexpected. Chilling, thrilling, shocking and darkly disturbing this is a glorious reworking by Matthew Bourne of the Perrault fairy tale. This is the third of the big three Tchaikovsky ballets Bourne has choreographed (‘ Swan Lake ‘in 1995 ,’Nutcracker’ in 1992 ) so here you can pick snippets of tiny phrases from his ‘Swan Lake ‘ ( especially for example in the big waltzes ) and also his ‘Highland Fling’ and ‘Town and Country’ . The production is currently touring America. It has lavish, sumptuous sets and costumes courtesy of Les Brotherston and features the luxury of Bourne’s magnificent , sometimes fiendishly demanding choreography (especially difficult in some of the lifts and catches of the pas de deux). The opening is set in 1890, when the Petipa version was first produced for the Russian court. We’re given a brief summary of the back story: a desperate childless royal couple have been given a baby by Carabosse, but they have neglected to show their gratitude. (Most unwise!.) In the 1911 section , Aurora’s 21st birthday , are we meant to pick up references to Nijinsky’s ‘ Afternoon of a Faun’ and ‘Jeux ‘ in the choreography?! The basic plot structure of the traditional fairy tale is kept, with a major battle between good and evil .The scenic transformations and the Romantic use of the full moon are spectacular and breathtaking. The fairy solos (here they are called Ardor, Hibernia, Autumnus , Feral and Tantrum and are in tattered 18th century style costumes ) are all reworked by Bourne , but with tiny references to the original Petipa. In this version , to the ‘white cat’ music, Leo is uneasily trapped as a ‘guest’ at the vampire wedding at a strange nightclub. I liked the nifty updating to ‘now’ (well, 2011) with the tourists taking photos at the gates covered in roses, holding their mobile phones. In this version the Lilac Fairy becomes dazzling Count Lilac, strongly and superbly danced by Christopher Marney with spellbinding technique and elevation, and strange, dark eyes. Carabosse and her son who continues the curse, Caradoc, were brilliantly danced by Adam Maskell. As Carabosse he is evilly proud and commanding, dramatic in red and black (and note the black swan like costumes for her minions.) As Caradoc, he is mesmerizing and hypnotic and yet simultaneously sinister and enthralling. His dance at the party with Aurora where he hypnotises, manipulates and seeks to control her is chilling, and there is a strange dance with the sleeping Aurora when he is sitting for hours brooding, watching over her. Leo the gardener, our hero, was magnificently performed by Dominic North. He sacrifices his life for love at the end of Act 1 to (spoiler alert!) Count Lilac to become a vampire to survive Aurora’s century of sleep. But all ends happily – or does it?! Here the King in 1890 / 1911 is presented to look like the Tsar Nicholas or his cousin King George V and the Queen to be like Queen Mary or the Tsarina Alexandra ( and hints of the mother in Graeme Murphy’s ‘After Venice’ ). Aurora herself is first seen as a wayward, willful, tiny baby, who has a mind of her own. ( A wonderful puppet , that crawls along the floor and even climbs the curtains , scandalizing the harried governess Miss Maddox and the other servants).Then she blossoms and becomes the magnificent Hannah Vassallo . The ‘Rose Adagio’ becomes an ecstatic, swooning, swooping love pas deux for her and Leo with death defying leaps and catches. Do we see hints of Macmillan’s ‘Anastasia’ in the business with the boots in Act 1? Her hypnotised zombie like marriage to Caradoc is chilling and develops into a ritual sacrifice until she is rescued in the nick of time by Count Lilac and the now supernaturally gifted Leo (phew). It is also an allegory of sight and touch – both Leo and Aurora are blindfolded at certain points. And there is the dangerous prick of the poisoned dark rose thorn. And observe how tenderly in one of the pas de deux Aurora nuzzles Leo’s wings. This is was a dark, lush , lavish production that is both sinister and enchanting, – a thrilling , glorious reworking of this tale. Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ screens at selected cinemas 7- 15 Sept 2013. Running time 105 mins (approx) no interval

South Pacific

This revival is glorious .Here's my Sydney Arts Guide review http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/2013/09/south-pacific/ Lush, lavishly lyrical evenings don’t come much better than this .This is a sensational return of last year’s smash hit, sold out, hot ticket, glorious production with some cast changes. The overall quality of the production is superb, it is rare to see such a splendid version as this is both in the exceptional cast and the terrific production values. It is easy to forget that this musical was very controversial when it premiered in 1949. At its centre are two parallel stories on a tropical island during World War 2 about racism and interracial relationships:- Nellie struggling to accept that Emile was previously married to a Polynesian woman , and Lieutenant Cable’s romance with Liat also battles prejudices. Nowadays, 60 years or so on, directors tend to treat the racial elements in the show as just another part of the story, rather than as being the throbbing heart of the show. Opera Australia production has based its production around director Bartlett Sher’s 2008 Broadway revival and it develops and explores the relationships and tensions that won Rodgers and Hammerstein the Pulitzer Prize. This is a sensitive, highly detailed yet sometimes deceptively simple production where each scene and the development of the characters are crystallised by Sher in great breadth and overall integrity. The show has had over 1000 performances on Broadway with 7 Tony awards and is still drawing in the crowds. Lisa McCune as Nellie Forbush gives a luminous, relaxed performance, positively glowing at times. We see her character change, grow and develop, facing up to internally held prejudices she doesn’t even realise she has , in a splendid performance. Her ‘ I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’ is much fun, and there is delicious comic fun in ‘Honey Bun’ during the Follies in Act 2. Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Emile, with his huge, richly dark majestic voice like melting chocolate, is sensational. Towering, he is charismatic , elegant and captivating , using all his Gallic charm to enthral Nellie, and us! A gentle and loving father, he is also capable of being strong, dangerous and sinister. Rhodes is in fine voice , delighting us with his magical ‘Some Enchanted Evening ’in Act 1 and his ’This Nearly Was Mine ‘ in Act 2 brings the house down . Lt.Cable is excellently played and sung by Blake Bowden who has a fabulous tenor voice. He succumbs to the magic of the Island yet cannot allow himself to marry Liat, the young Polynesian woman he falls in love with, because of what people might think back home. Again, he is battling prejudices. His yearning, dazzling ‘ Younger Than Springtime’ is magnificent . Christine Anu as Bloody Mary is superb. In some ways she is slightly sinister and has a finger in every pie with regards to events on the Island. Her ‘Bali Ha’i’ is mesmerizing and hypnotic. Gyton Grantley as Luther Billis, has a terrific energy and gruff humour, hiding a deeply caring heart, in particular enjoying himself when clowning around with McCune in ‘Honey Bun’ . He can sing, act and dance (and skip and trip from stage right to left with comic flair and secret nefarious dealings). The men’s chorus have much fun as exuberant seabees, sailors and more. ‘There Is Nothing Like A Dame’ with its precision timing was jaunty, boisterous and yet wistful. The ladies chorus (of nurses etc – for example in ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair ’) were also splendid. The set designs by Michael Yeargan were stunning and the lighting designs by Donald Holder glorious . I loved the lattice like shadow effects and the wonderful Island effects. The magnificent Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra under the glittering direction of Vanessa Scammell played the wonderful toe- tapping Rodgers score exuberantly. Some enchanted evening indeed, for both young and old. South Pacific runs at the Joan Sutherland auditorium, Sydney Opera House until Saturday November 2013. Running time is approximately 3 hours with one interval.

STOMP

Like wow like amazing this was sensational http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/reviews/performing-arts/stomp-196644 One of the best shows in Sydney at the moment, in a blink and you will miss it tour. One of the best shows in town at the moment, in a blink and you will miss it tour, this show will leave you breathless with excited enjoyment and wishing there was more. In some ways STOMP is sort of similar to the great Aussie show Tap Dogs, but STOMP was devised and developed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in the UK. The phenomenon began with their ‘Bins’ in 1983 and has become a global hit. In this current version, the amazing cast of eight have industrial strength exuberant high octane energy and lead us on an exploration of rhythm. They are also fabulous percussionists and actors and have incredible very witty comic timing. There is no speech as such, just the universal fascination with rhythm and sound. Are the cast a contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Mechanicals, waiting around for a rehearsal to begin? They are clad in very casual streetwear. There is hilarious interaction between the various characters. At a couple of points the cast seem quite bellicose, with their anger directed towards the audience. The lighting effects are amazing. The two level set is huge and heavy, like an outdoor tin shed with assorted props. (A lot of the props are brought on/off by the cast but also there are a huge amount fixed on stage). For one section, some of the cast are in a harness and ‘fly’ while energetically playing the huge installation of various items in the top area. From a far smaller viewpoint the zippo lighter sequence deserves special mention – sheer magic. There is no real plot or structure as such, rather a series of vignettes that explore the percussive use of ordinary everyday objects. Wonderful use is made of everything from a rolled newspaper to a frog chorus of various sizes of plastic pipes. There are hilarious visual gags (some a little naughty). Extraordinarily complicated rhythms are developed, some Flamenco in style, others reminiscent of Taikoz drumming. Sound is important: from the gurgle of a squishy plastic bag to hard metal pipes, ordinary everyday objects reveal the unexpected. Light and shade in sound and rhythm are varied, everything from a tiny click (fingers or a lighter) to pounding, throbbing, pulsating drums. Those of us in the first few rows could see the dust swirling in the fast and furious broom sequences. One of the funniest sequences was the ‘reading the paper’ segment, which had the audience in hysterical tears of laughter. There is also a sequence with crashing, flapping shopping trolleys, and a fun sequence with paint tins of various sizes and sounds. Another sequence of note is the one with... are they inflatable life buoys? Yes, this production does include everything! Towards the end, with the now famous silver dustbin lids, there is a whirling, knightly fight that is also in part choreographed like a glamorous fan dance. Magnificent ensemble work features throughout, including where a wonderful pole stamp rhythm sequence is developed into a toss and catch sequence straight out of a musical (think ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’ from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for example). Audience interaction at particular points is encouraged, with clapping or stamping of certain rhythms led by the company. An exuberant, joyous evening with something for everyone. Stomp Created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas Lighting design - Steve McNicholas Technical supervisor and sound design - Mike Roberts Tour Lighting - Paul Emery Sound - Rebecca Richardson Tech Stage Manager - Steven Draper The Company: Phil Batchelor, Paul Bend, E Donisha Brown, Adam Buckley, Ivan Delaforce, Leilani Dibble, Asha Jennings-Grant, Michael Landis, Angus H Little, Cameron Newlin, Jeremy Price and Ian Vincent Running time: 1 hour 40 mins (approx) no interval Theatre Royal, Sydney 10 – 15 September

Dead Man Brake

Print a powerful moving show at Merringong here's my artshub review http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/reviews/performing-arts/dead-man-brake-196480 Take a box of tissues and allow time to recover afterwards if seeing this show: it packs a great emotional punch. A wonderfully written though chilling piece of verbatim theatre, Dead Man Brake marks ten years since the appalling Waterfall train crash. Playwright Alana Valentine (Run Rabbit Run, Parramatta Girls) has used the words of survivors and victims’ families, as well as emergency services workers and the inquiry transcript itself, to explore what actually happened and why. At 6:24 am on Friday31 January 2003, a State Rail train left Sydney on its southern journey to Wollongong but never reached its destination. Just past Waterfall station the train left the tracks. The incident claimed seven lives and injured dozens more in what is now known as the Waterfall Train Disaster. Valentine’s play about the event and its aftermath includes some poetry and extraordinary singing and music, leading to some very stirring performances. Particularly after the extended opening song, overlapping speech rhythms are used, and the script seems akin to a church service in parts, an acknowledgment of the formalised rituals of grief, though at times one is unsure whether this is a musical or a play. Dark humour is employed to lighten the mood; Katrina Retallick as ABC journalist Nonee Walsh brings vibrancy and colour as she relates how technology conspired to make her miss a major news scoop. All the cast play multiple roles, character differences indicated by a slight change of costume (hat, head scarf, apron, another shirt, etc). From the verbatim reports we get a graphic idea of the train speeding and how the first carriage ‘flew’ off the tracks. Vivid quotes from survivors and rescuers tell us into what happened next. The small ensemble all give excellent performances. Sabryna Te’o in a glamorous long blue dress opens the show with an extended vocal solo; her character’s presence seems akin to a concerned spirit of the land watching over all. We have monologues from priests, paramedics and police who rescued survivors, and from survivors themselves, with graphic descriptions of their injuries. The powerful grief of family members of those who did not survive resonates strongly. We also learn how survivors and SES rescuers coped after the event – or not – with post traumatic stress. Philip Hinton as Lieutenant Colonel Don Woodland, chaplain and trauma officer, has a long, powerful monologue about the power of prayer and the search for answers which concludes the show. The very plain set features a few folding chairs, a tilted and broken powerline, and a grey concrete curve: the train track or the curve of an amphitheatre. By the end of the play it has been graffitied. Daryl Wallis, the composer/sound designer, is situated stage right and is visible throughout. Perhaps significantly, the show’s running time is roughly equal to the length of the journey to Wollongong from the Sydney CBD by train. With Dead Man Brake, Valentine has fashioned a respectful yet shattering and harrowing play that is gripping and compelling, wonderfully performed. Rating: 4 stars out of 5 Merrigong Theatre Company present Dead Man Brake By Alana Valentine Director Anne-Louise Rentell Lighting Designer Toby Knyvett Set Designer Anne-Louise Rentell Costume Designer Imogen Ross Sound Designer Daryl Wallis Cast Alicia Battestini, Nicholas Brown, Gerard Carroll, Phillip Hinton, Drayton Morley, Katrina Retallick and Sabryna Te’o Running time: 100 mins (approx) no interval Gordon Theatre, Illawarra Performing Arts Centre 28 August – 7 September (Pictured: Photo: Heidrun Lohr)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Cole Porter Celebration coming up!

COLE PORTER CELEBRATION Celebrate a bygone era of music and opulence! Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House Thursday September 19 at 8pm & Saturday September 21 at 2pm Featuring from left to right Rob Mallet, Kerrie Anne Greenland, Caleb Vines and Julie Lea Goodwin Over two rich performances Sydney Philharmonia’s Festival Chorus and Orchestra will feature four of Australia’s emerging stars. Together, they will transport audiences to a bygone era through the music of one of the world’s greatest composers. Countless times over its 93 year history, Sydney Philharmonia has supported emerging artists, including singers, musicians and composers. We're delighted to be collaborating with four emerging artists in this witty and entertaining program." SPC Chairman Sara Watts “Porter’s melodies are addictive” says Rob Mallet who has recently toured nationally as Buck in Hot Shoe Shuffle. “The wit in his lyrics is magical and relevant today! I feel as rich as he was when I sing them! " "Cole Porter is actually my favourite composer of all time” says mezzo soprano Kerrie Anne Greenland. “His lyrics are timeless, sophisticated and witty and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to sing some of his best work." The Cole Porter Celebration will be a wonderful union of musical theatre and choral music when these extraordinary young graduates from WAPPA and the Sydney Conservatorium join the much feted Festival Chorus and Orchestra to belt out classics such as Begin the Beguine, Night & Day, Blow Gabriel Blow, Anything Goes and I Get a Kick Out of You. “Cole Porter's songs are a record of time of decadence and exuberance. His songs are urbane, witty and at times, darn right rude!” Conductor Brett Weymark. Tickets - $45-$90 (plus booking fees) www.sydneyphilharmonia.com.au or 02 9251 3115 www.sydneyoperahouse.com or 02 9250 7777 Promotional tickets are available for both performances: Contact Lisa Parragi 02 9251 2024 or email lisa@sydneyphilharmonia.com.au for more details.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Sydney Opera Society 7 Sept event

The SYDNEY OPERA SOCIETY invites you to a special election day event Featuring Dr David Larkin, Musicologist from The Sydney Conservatorium of Music Examination of Wagner’s Ring Cycle Leitmotifs Come to our new venue Willoughby Uniting Church 10 Clanwilliam Street, Willoughby (just off Penshurst Street between Church and Forsyth Streets) On Saturday 7th September 2013 2pm Stay and enjoy the best afternoon tea in Sydney and a chat The Sydney Opera Society Pay at door