Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Three Musketeers at the Genesian Yes the dashing quartet, Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan, and their swashbuckling deeds of derring do, are back in town at the Genesian theatre. This version, an adaptation by was a recent hot ticket at the Bristol Old Vic in the UK. Based on the much loved tale by Alexandre Dumas, the simplified yet still complicated twists and turns of this epic story of ‘heroism, valour, treachery, close escapes and above all honour’ are told in short, sharp scenes. Will D”Artagnan with the help of his friends retrieve the Queen’s necklace in time for her to wear it at the ball ?Will D’Artagnan officially become a Musketeer fulfilling his dream ? What of Constance, the Queen’s maid that he falls in love with? And what exactly are the Cardinal and Milady plotting behind the King’s back ? There’s fine ensemble work with some of the cast doubling and even tripling up on their roles. The production features dangerous, exciting sword play and some very sumptuous period costumes. The dancing for the ball scene in Act 2 was very well ‘executed’ with some morris dancing- rural folk dancing of North England origin- and even some more formal steps. Attentive audience members will notice allusions to The Sound Of Music and even another one of Dumas’ novels, The Count Of Monte Christo. Nicholas Carter makes for a handsome and dashing Athos. Chenier Moore is darkly captivating as the troubled Aramis who strives to be a clergyman, particularly in a very swish black and silver outfit that he wears at one point. No wonder that Sabine is interested! Hearty red haired, and sporting a very elegantly trimmed beard, Rai Trippet impresses in the role of the bold, extroverted Porthos. The handsome, charming, poor young nobleman, D’Artagnan from Gascony, was well portrayed by Taddeh Vartanians . Joanne Coleman gave a charming performance as his loyal; though tomboyish sister, Sabine. Anita Donovan impressed as the elegantly ringleted , sweet and beautiful Constance, the Queen’s maid, and, at times, looked like she had just stepped out of a Vermeer painting. John Willis-Richards embodied well the role of the scheming, evil Cardinal Richelieu, with his imposing. penetrating gaze.Through his wheeling and dealing we see the corrupt, seamy underside of the court. Elizabeth MacGregor reveled in playing the femme-fatale Milady, a mistress of disguises. Some of Elizabeth’s costumes were ravishing. Tim Van Zuylen portrayed his Majesty King Louis X111, donned in glittering gold outfits, with gusto. Here was a petulant, childish, stubborn and self-centered King. There were hints of Mozart out of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeas. Emma Medbury was stylish as the beautiful, passionate but, at times, rather thoughtless Queen Anne. Owen Gimblett’s versatile set of anonymous grey archways and steps flexibly catered to the plays’ many locations. This was a dashing adventure for all the family. Running time- 2 hours 20 (approx) including one interval THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas, as adapted by Ken Ludwig, is playing the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, in the heart of the CBD, until the 27th June. Cast Shane Bates Abbess/Mother Chenier Moore Aramis Nicholas Carter Athos John Willis-Richards Cardinal Richelieu Anita Donovan Constance/Adele Taddeh Vartanians D’Artagnan Theo Kokkinidis duke of Buckingham/De Bris Emmanuel Said Inkeeper/Basille Tim van Zuylen King Louis X111 Elizabeth MacGregor Milady Raj Trippett Porthos Emma Medbury Queen Anne/Elise Daniel Collins Rochefort Joanne Coleman Sabine Michael Walker Treville/ Father Creatives Mark Banks Director Kyle Rowling Fight Director Owen Gimblett Set design Susan Carveth Costume design Michael Schell Lighting and sound Debbie Smith Choreographer

B Girl Gender bending rock God iOTA is back in a brand new, sexy as hell rock show that he has directed, and which he has scripted with his long time collaborator Craig Illot. The award-winning star of international smash-hits Berlin (with Sydney Dance Company ), Smoke & Mirrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Rocky Horror Show amongst others, iOTA brings his signature rock ‘n’ roll, vaudeville style to his new show. The somewhat confusing and convoluted plot concerns the story of a young woman, Rachel (Blazey Best), who has a mass of problems and challenges including an unhappy relationship with a fiery-tempered husband played by Ashley Lyons. In order to cope she manufactures a kind of fantasy world to slip into. In this world she reigns supreme as the gender bending glam rock superstar, Clifford North played by iOTA. Rachel’s two worlds do not go together well. At times the show is very dark with allusions to domestic violence. There is also social and political comment in some of the songs. At one point in the show North gets into philisophising, pondering the meaning of the chorus lyric to Kris Kristofferson’s famous song- Me and Bobby McGee- ‘freedom is another word for nothing left to lose’. The narrative is told in domestic vignettes acted on the forestage, yet when the band jumps in and iOTA appears there is little attention to storyline. The production has little dialogue, the show often seaguing seamlessly from song to song, reinforcing the feeling that this is more a concert than a musical. The exuberant, almost overwhelming energy from the cast is impressive. There are plenty of amazing, dazzling special lighting effects,– at times the stage is gently dappled. At other times it is blinding with a rock concert look. The set comprises mostly the stage for the quartet of sensational musicians, and then a slightly raised stage- three steps- for the huge and the huge lighting and sound rig. There is also a platform that rises and a window, table, chairs and lamps, at either side of the stage, representing the ‘real’ world. The band is brilliant. They are all dressed in white costumes- think late Elvis- and wear bizarre long hooded masks. A Kabuki style influence can be seen in the use of blue ribbons as tears from the eyes. There is a sizzling hot electric guitar solo and the keyboard player also deserves special mention. As Rachel, Blazey Best gives a dazzling performance. She is already on stage as the audience comes in to take their seats. She is acting enigmatically, crouched in an armchair, alone in the room. As the house lights dim she walks slowly across the stage to turn on a light. As rock god Clifford North iOATA is amazing . He struts, prowls, prances and poses chameleon like in his blue and silver suit with ostrich feathers. Other features of his appearance are his eerie blue make-up, his tattoos, his high platform boots and his white wig with blue streaks. His voice ranges from a whisper, in the ballads, to a rock God scream, and then everything in between. – to the Rock God scream and everything in between. B-Girl was created by Lunar Hare Productions, a company founded by Craig Ilott, iOTA and independent producer Phil Bathols. Running time 80 mins (approx) no interval. B-GIRL runs at the Playhouse until the 21st June. For more about B Girl, visit

Exhibition on Screen - The Impressionists and the Man who made them This is a dazzling, gloriously photographed film documenting an amazing exhibtion jointly curated by three major international museums. It looks at the work of the major Impressionists (Monet, Manet ,Cezanne, Degas, Sisley, Renoir, Cassatt, Morisot et al). Who were they behind the public face of their works? What is the story behind their works?How and why exactly did they paint? What is the source of their enduring appeal? What inspired them? All these questions and more are answered in this stunning film. Part of the broader ‘Exhibition on Screen’ series, THE IMPRESSIONISTS AND THE MAN WHO MADAE THEM is a hugely insightful documentary. The exhibition debuted in Paris’s Musée du Luxembourg last October, is finishing today at London’s National Gallery and next moves on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art between this June and September. Film director Phil Grabsky visits the curators and their teams in each of the museums to obtain insights not only into the paintings and their history but also into the process of putting on an exhibition of this scale. It is fascinating to see the differences and/or similarities in approach to the hanging and presentation of the exhibition. Which paintings group well together and why? The film and exhibition concentrate on the man now credited with inventing Impressionism as we know it: 19th century Parisian art dealer and collector Paul Durand-Ruel. Visionary Durand-Ruel was one of the first modern art dealers to offer support and solo exhibitions to the painters he worked with. His decision to exhibit the works of the Impressionists saved Impressionism from its near demise during a time when it had few prospects. We hear quotes from Monet and Pisarro extolling Durand-Ruel’s support and how he helped them financially in times of great struggle. Durand-Ruel was almost single-handedly responsible for financing Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cézanne and more, though he himself often came close to financial ruin. Through his perseverance, the Impressionists were eventually given the praise and attention that they richly deserved. We see stockroom catalogue books and catalogues of various exhibitions at the Durand-Ruel showroom, hear letters from Durand- Ruel and assorted Impressionists, learn more about the groupings and characters of both Durand -Ruel and various members of the Impressionists. The historical context of Impressionism is discussed in great detail as is the influence of Turner on some of the members of the group. In 1886 It was Durand-Ruel’s rather brave decision to exhibit the Impressionists in New York that captivated wealthy Americans, anxious for ‘the new’. In doing so Durand -Ruel kept Impressionism alive and filled American galleries with their much loved works. An interesting fact is that in 1889 it was an American gallery that first bought an Impressionist painting rather than a French, English or other European work. Alongside the curators of the exhibition from all three musuems are an assortment of experts, from across the worlds of art history and criticism, providing insight into Durand-Ruel’s striking and until now relatively little-known impact on the art world. We also hear from two of his descendants. We hear about the Paris art Salons and how hard it was to be accepted and hung and how this affected the group. Grabsky lets the camera linger lovingly over the paintings,sometimes showing us how they are displayed in context within the exhibition (for example Manet’s poplars, some of Degas’ dancers, some of Renoir’s works) or in extreme closeup detail, brushstroke and texture swirling. The Renoirs absolutely glow. A good addition is the passionate Romantic piano music that accompanies the pictures. For those of us unable to personally attend exhibitions of this quality, this particular Exhibition On Screen gives art lovers the opportunity to take in this great exhibition about the much loved Impressionist painters. Running time – 90 minutes without interval. ART ON SCREEN: THE IMPRESSIONISTS and the Man behind them is screening at selected cinemas from the 30th May. For more information visit-

Mark Morris at the Sydney Opera House my review for Sydney Arts Guide Hotly anticipated the Mark Morris Dance Group has not been seen in Sydney since 2003. Mark Morris has more than thirty years and 150 works– including commissions from the world’s top ballet companies – to his credit His 20-strong ensemble of dancers were last in Australia for the Perth International Arts Festival . In this programme we saw four short works that exemplifies the company’s distinct style and reminds us why Morris is regarded as one of the finest contemporary choreographers. The works do not have sets as such, apart from a couple of chairs. They do feature tremendous atmospheric lighting. What is also important is Morris’s insistence on the use of live music,– a wonderful trio playing from the orchestra pit. Opening the programme was ‘Pacific’ originally premiered by the San Francisco Ballet in 1995. This showcased several aspects of Morris’ distinctive style- including the Graham and folk dance influences. The dancers have incredible ballon for their soft, fluid jumps. In ‘Pacific’ there is plenty of stylized posing with angular arms contrasted at times with the use of soft, seemingly boneless arms. The men are bare chested and in long skirts and the women in elegantly flowing, long sleeveless dresses. The colours are red, blue and green on white with the costumes dyed to make the dancers look like flowers. The long skirts emphasise the flowing, at times bell like movements. There are plenty of turns and fluid petit batterie featured in the ensemble work. There are some beautiful mini solos and unusual lifts and partnering in the pas de deux. It is all very stylized and formal yet simultaneously flowing and free. Although danced terrifically , ‘Wooden Tree’ , to Ivor Cutler’s songs, written ín the good Olde English style, was a little disappointing. The piece was quirky and funky. Many in the audience found the piece humorous though this wasn’t the case for me. The choreography was again quite formal and stylised with references to folk dances, square dancing and ballroom styles with lots of complicated, interweaving lines. The short sharp songs, using recorded music, questioned life, love and relationships. “Little Black Buzzer” is about a near-frozen telegraph operator sending signals from the top of the world while a circle of women stagger-steps around him in stuttering dot- dashes of movement. The repetitive chorus of the song is ‘written’ in Morse code. Moody and evocative, ‘Whelm’, set in a barren wasteland with frozen footsteps in the snow, was enigmatic, shadowy and mysterious. Other colleagues of mine cited Rauschenberg and Cunningham influences to All the performers were in black costumes– although at first with the lighting at the opening, it looked as if the men were topless in white trousers. Who was the mysterious veiled lady? Who was she grieving for? Was she a sister of Cocteau’s figure of Death? Who was the menacing hoodie figure?! Choreographically, it was as if the dancers were skating at times, at other times they were fancy, high stepping, show ponies. Much use was made of ‘fall and recover’. There were unusual backbends and lifts and a marvellous sculptural pas de deux. Slinky floorwork was contrasted with machine like, almost robotic sections in this bleak, dark, nightmarish fantasy. The final piece, “Festival Dance’, opened with a light, enchanting pas de deux. Hummel’s Trio was delicately yet exuberantly played. The costumes were in assorted shades of grey/black/white with red details and red underskirts for the women. Overall this work was charming and pleasant, with a delicate, rather wistful ending to the second movement. In the third movement I was reminded of Nijinksa’s ‘Les Nocces’ and other Ballets Russes influences (for example, the crossed over arms run). There were blocks of flowing, pulsating movement that rippled. The Festival Dance concluded with a gentle spotlit embrace. The evening was a wonderful celebration of this great company and its superb dancers. Running time 2 hours 15 minutes (approx) including one interval. THE MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP played played the Joan Sutherland Auditorium at the Sydney Opera House between the 3rd and 6th June. Share this:1Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)1Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)

NT Live The Hard Problem

This was awesome I loved it What exactly is consciousness? Is our identity the product of what Francis Crick calls “a vast assembly of nerve cells”? How much is human behaviour the product of altruism or egoism? Is there a God?! These are some of the questions that Tom Stoppard asks in his deeply moving and explorative play, THE HARD PROBLEM. This is the first new play by Stoppard in nine years and it has been produced as part of this years’ NT Live season. It also represents Nicholas Heytner’s final and very stylish production as the Artistic Director of the National Theatre. In the world of brain studies and evolutionary science Stoppard’s work asks the hard difficult questions of life and the meaning of existence. The main character Hilary is played by Olivia Vinall. We are first introduced to her as a young psychology researcher anxiously preparing for a job interview. Having obtained a much desired research post at a swish brain science institute, she is then able to conduct experiments on adult motivation and to sanction other experiments on child behaviour patterns. The play is elegantly written, as always, by Stoppard ( ég his Arcadia ‘ and ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’) and very challenging morally and intellectually at various points. Stoppard postulates that consciousness can’t be explained in purely mechanical computer/scientific terms and that there are intrinsic values that depend on an overall moral intelligence that can’t be defined and analysed. The play is replete with witty dialogue and some wonderful, soaring monologues including one where Spike dismisses Raphael’s famous painting Madonna and Child as a ‘woman maximising gene survival’. The multi-purpose single flexible set fluidly covers the time lines and various location changes. It also features a fabulous hanging chandelier of tentacled flashing lighting- designed by Bob Crowley and Mark Henderson- that looks like a collection of neurons in the brain. The production features some glorious, passionate Bach piano sequences, as played by Benjamin Powell, for the bridging music between scenes. As Hilary, Vinall glows, – we see her transform from nervous interviewee to a vibrant, confident researcher and academic. Hilary’s story isn’t a simple one. She is haunted by her past. She gave up her daughter for adoption at birth and longs to find her. Vinali’s performance is multi-layered and dazzling. There are more moral questions towards the end when Hilary has to decide what to do when she discovers a most important undisclosed fact about the paper Bo, (her protege excellently played by Vera Chok ) did all the stats for and she has just published . Spike, at first her tutor and then a mentoring colleague, her occasional lover who is terribly clever but appears to lacks warmth, is played by the handsome Damien Moloney. Hard punching billionaire guru of the institute Jerry, a financial bigwig dealing with the tricky unpredictability of the financial markets who is fascinated by the Problem, is magnetically played by Anthony Calf. Other performances are equally fine- Jonathon Coy plays Hilary’s stressed departmental boss, Parth Thakebrar plays mathematician Amal, and Rosie Hilal and Lucy Robinso play Hilary’s friend, Julia and her partner Ursula. Stoppard’s challenging thought provoking play offers a defence of virtue and the possibility of hope in this world,- a quest for absolute values and a belief in the possibility of selfless virtue. Running time is just under two hours without interval. The film also includes a behind the scenes short documentary. Great value, THE HARD PROBLEM, part of the NT Live screenings, is playing selected cinemas from Saturday May 23. There is no interval but this includes a ‘behind the scenes ‘ short documentary as well .The Hard Problem , part of the NTLive screening series is at selected cinemas from May 23 . For more about NT Live The Hard Problem, visit

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Sport for Jove's Merchant of Venice Under the excellent direction of Richard Cottrell Sport For Jove have brought us a most impressive, tense version of one of Shakespeare’s troubling plays, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Although classified as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, with a mostly happy ending, there is plenty of sinister drama happening behind the scenes. This production, with the play a little abridged, is slickly and briskly delivered. Cottrell’s version sets the events just before the Second World War. Mostly the men are in expensively cut elegant suits, the women dressed in lovely flowing dresses. Anna Gardiner’s set design places the characters in a very posh, gold and white art deco world featuring revolving doors and sliding panels. This Shakespeare play examines issues of hate, greed , resentment, racial intolerance and seeking revenge for long held grudges, but also shows the other side- the need for compassion and mercy. At the centre of Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is its troubling anti-Semitic portrayal of the main character, Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. Nowadays productions have to consider adjusting their versions to be acceptable to contemporary views while still remaining faithful to Shakespeare’s original. As the production is set in pre-WWII, we are encouraged to see Shakespeare’s aspersions in a context relating to the rise of Nazism. John Turnbull as Shylock is fascinating– he is cold, implacable and chilling in the courtroom scene. Full of vigour he is sinister and dangerous.Yet we also see good sides to his character and can, to some degree, sympathise with his lust for revenge without mercy. It is a stylish , mesmerising performance at once precise and, at the same, time powerful. Portia, played by the beautiful Lizzie Schebetsa, is elegantly portrayed . Portia is shown as thoughtful and extremely clever revealing an intelligence and strength that continues throughout the play. Her famous ’Quality of Mercy’ speech was very impressive . As Portia’s true love Bassanio, the very handsome Christopher Stalley was resolute, bold and determined- a delight to watch. As the second pair of lovers, Gratiano (Bassanio‘s friend ) Damien Strouthos as Gratiano (Bassanio’s friend) and Erica Lovell as Nerissa (Portia’s lady-in-waiting/companion/confidant) provided charming, necessary comic relief when needed. James Lugton was quiet and understated in his delicately nuanced and measured performance as Antonio, the eponymous merchant of the title who stands to lose everything. There was fine ensemble work from the supporting cast. Special mentions…Michael Cullen who showed excellent comic timing playing Lancelot Gobbo, Bassanio’s servant and one of Shakespeare’s clowns. Lucy Heffernan as Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, was sweetly determined and enchanting. Jason Kos was stalwart as her suitor Lorenzo. Aaron Tsindos revels in his over the top portrayal of the arrogant Prince of Morocco, almost stealing the show. Richard Cottrell provides audiences with an interesting, enigmatic ending. Summing up, this was a very challenging, thought provoking and exciting production of this dark Shakespeare comedy. Running time 2 & ½ hours including one interval. Sport for Jove’s production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is playing the York theatre at the Seymour Centre until Saturday 30th May. For more about this production visit Share this:3Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)3Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)

The ACO in Mostly Mendelssohn

This was divine This incredible concert had the ecstatic audience cheering at the end. Led by Satu Vanska and with amazing guest artist Stefan Jackiw the ACO was in glorious, inspired form . First was the enchanting Mendelssohn String Symphony No. 9 in C Minor , ‘La Suisse’ . The first movement opened sharply then became brighter and faster with flourishes of the repeated dance like melody. The second movement was divine, heartbreaking and lyrical. It had a semi Baroque feel as well as similarities to Mendelssohn’s ‘ Midsummer Night’s Dream’ music and included glorious cello sections. It was ravishing, full of exquisite beauty. The third movement had a very busy opening with hints of Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’’. Again the melody was stated and repeated , with circling flourishes and scurries. This movement had a dramatic,operatic feel at times. It developed to become a dialogue between the two sections of the orchestra that were slower and more lyrical but the work was brought to a conclusion with brisk flourishes. The second work, the Bottesini ( arr. Rofe) Grand Duo Concertante for double bass and violin featured the extraordinary talents of the ACO’s own Maxime Bibeau on his late 16th century Gasparo da Salo double bass and the astonishing special guest Stefan Jackiw on violin. Jackiw had his eyes closed, succumbing to the music while Bibeau stared intently in concentration at his fellow soloist. There was tight, synchronised playing by both. At times it was dynamic and fiery, I thought of Bizet’s‘ ‘Carmen’, at other times waltz like. Mostly the two soloists tossed the melody back and forth in dialogue as equals with the body of the orchestra acting as accompanying chorus. Jackiw’s bravura playing was superb , the violin soared passionately and there was some blisteringly fast fingering at times as well as the playing being achingly emotional. After interval we heard the playful Wolf ‘Italian Serenade’ which sounded far more contemporary than the other previous works. It was swirling and pulsating with slinky violin passages. The main bulk of the second half of the programme was the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64(arr. Tognetti) again featuring Jackiw. Tognetti’s arrangement strips the music to its bare essentials. Jackiw stood relaxed , as in a martial arts or fencing pose, lunging to one side with bent knees. The first movement was darting soaring and lyrical, with dazzling mesmerizing playing by Jackiw. The violin sobbed and yearned during the breathless finale of the movement. The second movement was mostly slower and was more an ‘aria’ for the soloist contrasted with some short sharp sections .It was magnificent and once more we heard some dazzling playing in the sparkling third movement as we were whirled towards the finale. Jackiw‘s playing confirmed the impression he had made in the Bottesini : it showed he has a well projected and warm tone, technique that is assured and with a delicate yet powerful aura of mastery. At only 30 and already a major talent, Jackiw is a name to keep a look out for. Running time – just under two hours including interval. THE AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA: MOSTLY MENDELSSOHN played the Sydney City Recital Hall on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th May. Program MENDELSSOHN String Symphony No.9 BOTTESINI Gran Duo Concertante for Double Bass and Violin WOLF Italian Serenade MENDELSSOHN (arr. Tognetti) Violin Concerto in E minor Artists Stefan Jackiw Violin Satu Vänskä Lead Violin Maxime Bibeau Double Bass For more about Australian Chamber Orchestra Mostly Mendelssohn, visit

Evita at the Concourse Willoughby Theatre Company productions just keep on getting better and better. This amazing production of this now iconic musical, with its huge cast, under the direction of Declan Moore, transports us to Buenos Aires. As we enter and take our seats, tango music softly plays. Greed, power and corruption ooze through this show. There is much cynical manipulation of the common people and unacknowledged hypocrisy. The musical, told in flashback- it starts with Eva’s funeral- tells the story of the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The narrative of the show follows Eva’s early life, rise to power, charity work, international tours and eventual death at a young age of cancer.The narrator/commentator figure of Che acts as an everyman figure. There is one gigantic set for the entire production with revolving doors, sliding panels allowing for mainly fluid, almost cinematic ,scene changes. Lighting by Sean Clarke is dramatic and atmospheric. There are umpteen amazing costumes throughout, ranging from colourful yet poverty stricken garb to Eva’s many ultra glamorous, sumptuous gowns. The orchestra under the baton of maestro Greg Jones is tremendous and performed Lloyd Webber’s rather astringent, challenging rock opera with gusto. Alert listeners will notice hints of his other scores for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ . Amy Gough’s choreography is sometimes inspired by the tango music whilst at other times feels more stylised and formal. As our heroine, of sorts, Eva Peron, Virginia Natoli, similar in looks to Nicole Kidman, dazzles . We see her grow from ambitious minx to radio star, and then transform into the stunning First Lady of Argentina. At times she is progressive and poignant yet we also we see the hard, ruthless and aggressive side of her. Natoli handles the difficult and extremely demanding role very well, fiery and passionate at times, dancing up a storm and stopping the show with her iconic ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ . Clive Hobson as Juan Peron is tremendous, – distinguished looking yet slightly sinister, with a terrific voice and displaying a great deal of tenderness at the tragic end. Imposing and charismatic, Che, cynical , questioning and demanding was well played by Rob Hale. Tango singer Augustin Magaldi , who was Eva’s first lover, is slickly played by Jeremy Curtin. Peron’s former mistress, evicted by Eva, was memorably played by raven haired beauty Lucy Hood who exquisitely sang the haunting ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’. The huge boisterous crowd scenes show Eva’s popularity with the common people and mention must be made of the children in the cast – Julia Manias made the most of a beautiful poignant solo in the second half of the show. This is an exciting, enthralling and captivating production. Running time 2 hours 30 mins (approx) including one interval Willoughby Theatre Company’s production of EVITA is playing the Concourse at Chatswood until the 31st May. For more about Willoughby Theatre Company’s Evita, visit


At Parramatta , this was great! Here's what I said for Dance Informa The New Zealand Dance Company recently hurtled onto the stage at Parramatta with Rotunda, a work presenting gut-wrenchingly powerful performances from eight dancers. Part of a current national tour, the performance was linked in with the current ANZAC and Gallipoli remembrances. Rotunda is a work choreographed and created by NZDC Artistic Director Shona McCullagh and Musical Director Don McGlashan in collaboration with the amazing cast, who has extraordinary technique, sensational yet explosive soft jumps, and at times, seems boneless. It features costumes reflecting the World War 1 period and presents a score that blends old hymns, such as Jerusalem as a haunting tuba solo, with other classics, including the stirring, elegiac Nimrod variation by Elgar and contemporary brass works by Don McGlashan and Garath Farr. The entrance through the audience by the smartly uniformed City of Holroyd Brass Band (led by Marc Taddei and drummer Cameron Lee) is thrilling and has enormous impact. New Zealand Dance Company’s ‘Rotunda’. Photo by John McDermott. A looming, shadowy figure stoops to pick up a fragile piece of material that is almost ectoplasmic. Redolent of memories and guilt, there are also allusions to the ballet Raymonda. Rotunda’s narrative follows the story of boys dressed in khaki-like colours flirting with girls in red and white. The group bonding through playful, innocent war games eventually changes to show these boys becoming shattered men fighting in WWI. It continues to express the horrific nature of the trench warfare and battles, together with the loss and grief of those who waited back home and/or the men suffering from what was called “shellshock” and is now referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is terror, madness and despair, a grieving soldier trying to revive his fallen friend. Choreographically, there is relentless precision (hinting at military training) and there are martial arts moves incorporated. Much fun is had with the band leaders’ mace, which becomes everything from an aeroplane propeller, to a gun, to a fishing rod and other objects. Incredible swooping, swirling lifts are also featured. There is also a haka contrasting with other far more ritualised, stylised sections. There is an eerie circle of large fans making the silk scarf waft and float as the group tries to keep the memories of their fallen comrades alive. A tumultuous battle scene with the effective use of white banners as projection screens and shadows are also included. There are also projections of dramatic red and white banners with the names of the fallen. Throughout the work, moods change from buoyant and excited to broken and burdened as men arrive home, now dysfunctional and damaged. The work concludes with a final poignant section on recovery and memoriam. Overall, Rotunda is an emotionally involving, tremendously danced work and I am eagerly looking forward to future visits by the company.


A terrific first play 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 Verification (type the code in the image) Invalid security codeGenerate New Image Close Related Articles Venus In Fur The Sydney premiere of David Ives' play within a play is polished, professional and beautifully cast. The Dream This Australian Ballet's crowd-pleasing retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is gorgeous and it is not the only joy in this triple bill. Unveiled: Latest announcements (locked) A musician remembered, and an expanded program at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair are amongst this week's announcements. Children and Art Tyran Parke crafts a compelling family narrative with honesty, tenderness and immense talent. Lynne Lancaster Wednesday 13 May, 2015 Challenging and confronting, ​Samson is an extremely impressive first play by Julia-Rose Lewis. Image: Lisa Tomasetti Challenging and confronting, ​Samson is an extremely impressive first play by Julia-Rose Lewis. One that asks the big questions of life – our purpose for being, death, and God’s existence. Lewis’ play focuses on three teenagers trying to come to terms with the death of a never seen close friend, Samson. A newcomer to the area, nicknamed Rabbit (Benjamin Creek) slowly befriends Essie (Ashleigh Cummings) which greatly disrupts the dynamics of the group and leads to a vicious fight. Set in a remote outback town, the residents of which have very limited futures, Essie is desperate to escape. The four close-knit friends live a seemingly carefree existence until one tragically drowns, a defining catalyst which causes suppressed feelings and emotions to surface. Guilt ,grief and despair are evident. Amidst issues ​of racism, gender, family illness, religion and sexuality, the way friendships change as children grow from adolescence into mature adults is examined with an honest,warm eye. The story is almost cinematic, told in short, sharp scenes. At one point the quartet, while overlapping, appear in different times and places. The terrific young cast of four give passionate performances, full of vibrant energy and passionate commitment. As fragile, vulnerable Essie, with braided hair and a defiant attitude, Ashleigh Cummings is terrific, almost unrecognizable as the same person who plays Dot in the Phryne Fisher mysteries. Benjamin Creek is delightful as cheeky, handsome Rabbit who is also a great dancer. Charles Wu is most impressive as conflicted Sid, whose dead end job gives him nightmares and wants to be Beth’s companion, now that Samson has passed away. Beth is played with intensity by Belinda Jombwe. The almost multi level set is light in colour with dappled lighting and takes up the entire tiny stage of Belvoir downstairs. It becomes a hidden place where the friends hang out. A jagged wooden sculpture and a cross, decorated with teddy bears, flowers etc are ‘the memorial’ for Samson that Beth, in particular, fusses over. Overall, Samson is a challenging thoughtful play about friendships and guilt, with fine performances by all of the cast. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Samson By Julia-Rose Lewis Director Kristine Landon-Smith Composer /Sound designer Kim Bowers Lighting Ben Hughes Set & costumes Michael Hili CAST Rabbit Benjamin Creek Essie Ashleigh Cummings Beth Belinda Jombwe Sid Charles Wu A co-production between La Boite Theatre Company and Belvoir Downstairs Theatre​ 7–31 May 2015

Royal Ballet Swan Lake

This was superb .Here's my Sydney Arts Guide review This particular version by Sir Anthony Dowell for the Royal Ballet is now almost thirty years old. I have previously seen it with other casts, both live in London at the Royal Opera House and on screen, and it is still enthralling. SWAN LAKE is now regarded as one of the definitive classical romantic ballet, and this is a magnificent ‘traditional’ version, using the well known Ivanov/Petipa choreography. The story of doomed love and an evil sorcerer is elegantly portrayed. There are fascinating close ups of maestro Boris Gruzin and the terrific Orchestra of the Royal Opera House who give a splendid performance. Designer Yolanda Sonnanbend has set the production in Russia in the era of Tchaikovsky with plenty of gold and a wonderful mirror effect is used in Act3. In Act 1 the colours are predominantly autumnal. There is wonderful ensemble work from the corps de ballet throughout. The swans in unison are tremendous . The corps are also well drilled peasants and courtiers. The pas de trios in Act1 was vibrant and the national dances in Act 3 were exciting. Natalia Osipova, originally from the Bolshoi and now a Royal Ballet principal, in the challenging dual role of Odette/Odile is sensational. Technically superb , she is ravishing. As Odette, Osipova is noble ,yet complex and vulnerable. An enchanted, ethereal, mysterious moonlit creature with a luminous, long extended ‘line’. As laughing, villainous Odile, she is vibrantly, evilly enchanting , a glamorous femme fatale in black. As Prince Siegfried, Matthew Golding, who looks a bit like Brad Pitt, has incredible elevation and a fabulous, clean technique. Mostly, Golding is the stiff aristocrat, aloof and withdrawn, but we also the passionate side that he tries to hide. Golding’s solos in Act 3 in the ballroom are tremendous, and he is an attentive, thoughtful dance partner too. The pas de deux are sensational. The ‘white’ Act 2 pas de deux with the sobbing violin is sculptured beauty, and the audience is mesmerised. In Act 3 the ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux is dazzling and dynamic with Osipova effortlessly captivating Siegfried with the fizzing bravura 32 fouettes. Gary Avis as the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart is a mysterious, almost hunch backed owl like creature in the ‘white’ acts 2 & 4 , with a powerful menacing presence. In the ballroom scene in Act 3 he has a Mohawk punk hairdo and is a malicious, controlling presence. In this version the national dances are shown as Von Rothbart’s creatures who areconjured up to distract the court. Elizabeth Mcgorian as the Queen Mother gives an imposing yet finely nuanced performance and displays elegant mime. I have heard that this is the last time the Royal Ballet will perform this particular version. Catch it if you can. Running time – allow 3 & ½ hours Includes two intervals and special interviews and introduction by Darcy Bussell. Part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season, the Royal ballet in Swan Lake runs at selected cinemas 8-13 May For more about Palace Opera and Ballet :The Royal Ballet in Swan Lake. Share this:6Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)6Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)

Sydney Buses

Dear Sydney Buses .Why do you drive so stop / start jerkily and/or as if you are driving a Grand Prix racing car ? Why do drivers park more than 10cm away from the curb at odd diagonal angles so it is very awkward to get on/off ? Lynne