Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Anything Goes

ANYTHING GOES OPERA AUSTRALIA/GORDON FROST SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE SEPT 2015 The SS American has arrived in town to dazzle and delight .With its galaxy of Australian theatrical legends /luminaries and its classic Cole Porter songs it enthralled Melbourne and now it is Sydney ‘s turn. The luxurious ocean liner is evoked in clear,clean elegant lines. There are several scene changes throughout with sections of scenery being ‘flown’ in, or slid, or reversed. Matt Scott’s lighting is splendid , handled with elegance and aplomb .The ‘ship’s orchestra’ under the dynamic baton of Peter Casey , is situated on the top level of the set and often partially hidden from view. Hallsworth’s snappy choreography is full of excitement and verve and performed with great panache. This is one of those old fashioned musicals with a flimsy plot and HUGE production numbers .There are perhaps some similarities to “Guys And Dolls “, “On The Town” and “South Pacific “.The giant cast does the show enormous credit .It is set on a luxurious ocean liner of the 1930’s and is (briefly) about the romantic entanglements of three main couples and other madcap escapades aboard. The show is obviously of its era and now is perhaps in certain respects very old fashioned and racist and the slapstick and bawdy humour has worn extremely thin but with the glorious Cole Porter melodies and the fact that it is given such a vibrant , enthusiastic performance who cares. It is Caroline O’Connor’s show as Reno Sweeney . The petite firecracker walks on , takes command and sets the theatre alight. She has a whale of a time and numerous stunning costume changes. She is bold, sassy and totally commanding and has the audience eating out of her hand with her dazzling singing and dancing and great comic timing . She is splendid in “ I get a kick out of you ‘ and her leading the mega production eponymous title number to take us to interval has the audience absolutely SCREAMING. Her ironic version of “Blow Gabriel Blow “( part revivalist meeting , part Madame Arcati perhaps ) also brings the house down. Her four ‘angels’ are also hot! ‘The Gypsy in Me’ , the duet with Lord Evelyn is wickedly delightful too. Almost unrecognizable , Todd Mckenney portrays Lord Evelyn Oakleigh as one of those silly ass foppish aristocratic aesthete British with floppy hair ,a cane and glasses , sort of a cross between Bunthorne and Lord Peter Wimsey perhaps. Wonderful fun. Alex Rathgeber as Billy Crocker is tremendous- we discover hidden depths in his torn character- a finely nuanced performance. Hope Harcourt was sweetly played by Clare Lyon .Her “Goodbye Little Dream Goodbye “ was beautifully done and I loved the Astair/Rogers romantic tribute for ‘All Through The Night” for her and Billy. And their ‘It’s De-Lovely “ in Act 1 sizzles too . And what a stunning wedding gown for the finale! Rubbery ,boneless Wayne Scott Kermond was in fine form as Moonface the silly clumsy gangster and his ‘Be Like The Bluebird’ is much fun. Blonde leggy bombshell Erma is delightfully played by Debora Krizak .She is a stunning ,sultry powerhouse pretending to be an air head gangster’s moll and brings the house down with the hot and steamy ‘Buddy Beware’ in Act2 . The rest of the ensemble were excellent too . It’s de lovely ... Running time 2 hours 20 (approx) including interval Anything Goes runs at the Sutherland Auditorium Sydney Opera House 8 Sept- 31 Oct 2015 Book & Lyrics by Cole Porter Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman Director Dean Bryant Choreographer Andrew Hallsworth Musical Director Peter Casey Set & Costume Adaption Dale Ferguson Lighting Designer Matt Scott Sound Designer Michael Waters Reno Sweeney Caroline O'Connor Lord Evelyn Oakleigh Todd McKenney Moonface Martin Wayne Scott Kermond Billy Crocker Alex Rathgeber Hope Harcourt Claire Lyon Evangeline Harcourt Carmen Duncan Erma Debora Krizak The Captain Gerry Connolly Elisha J. Whitney Bartholomew John Luke Aljin Abella John Nicholas Kong

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Six Degrees of Ned Kelly

A great show as part of the Sydney Fringe .Here's my Sydney Arts Guide review is a fascinating, very enthusiastically performed hour long monologue during which we learn about Australian history and the assorted legends that have developed about Ned Kelly and his gang and the ‘six degrees of separation’ that intertwine the Kelly and Rowston families. Most people have heard of the Kelly Gang and love him or loathe him. Ned Kelly’s place in Australian history is assured. His armour cuts an imposing figure and is instantly recognisable even today and he has influenced many artists as well. One only has to look at the Nolan paintings. Whether your view is that the Kelly gang were a bunch of misguided youths who were a menace to society or a group of young men who were rebelling against injustice and fighting for a better life, both views are given an airing. Nora Moloney ran a pub in Wangaratta in the 1870’s. She kept a shotgun under the bar and thought Ned Kelly was ‘scum of the earth’. Apparently Australia’s greatest bushranger of all time was scared of her. Or so the family folklore goes… Nora was Melita’s great, great, great grandmother. In 1929, daredevil Malcolm Rowston nicked Ned Kelly’s bones from Old Melbourne Gaol or so he said… Malcolm was her grandfather. Did her grandfather really steal Kelly’s skull ? And on her grandmother’s side are the stories about Nora Maloney and Kelly true? You will have to see the show to find out. The show features the excellent use of film clips and other audio-visual s and sound clips. The show opens with Rowston in a Kelly ‘mask’ and a re-enactment of the (in)famous Glenrowan siege. There are fascinating insights into her family and historical research and her attempts to separate truth from legend. We see a snippet from an iconic silent film ,as well as Kelly country and the recent Kelly Weekend Glenrowan re-enactment. We learn how Rowston meets various people in her quest to discover the truth and other assorted facts about Ned and his gang. Much discussion is given to what really happened with Ned’s skeleton and skull and also what did or didn’t really happen to the other gang members– Dan Kelly Steve Hart and Joe Byrne. The huge tourism industry that has mushroomed, the barrage of books that have been written are mentioned and we meet some of the scholars, family and friends that Rowston encounters along the way, who swear they’re also connected to Ned Kelly – and will go to amazing lengths to prove it!! With witty incisive dialogue and physical humour, this is part comic monologue blended with semi TED talk. Some of Rowston’s stories blend folkloric myth and fact, some of them are honest and some of them are delightfully whimsical. She never mocks the people she has met even though she admits that some of them were perhaps a little crazy. Rowston with her very flexible face establishes a warm connection with the audience who listen keenly to her fascinating story with parts that will make you laugh and sections that will leave you wanting to know more- as well as want to run to the next Kelly weekend re-enactment. In going on this journey to better understand her family history, Rowston uncovers more of herself. As Joseph Campbell says ‘ Myth is much more important and true than history’ Running time – an hour. 6 DEGREES OF NED KELLY is playing Erskineville Town Hall until the 6th September and then moves on to Melbourne

Traffic Jam Galleries - Danielle McManus and Bronwen Newbury

The latest exhibition A charming exhibition has just opened at the Traffic Jam galleries featuring the works of Danielle McManus and Bronwen Newbury. Danielle McManus’ style is haunting and distinctive. Born in Sydney, McManus interweaves elements of her Maltese heritage with experiences of everyday life. McManus is influenced by the work of artists such as Frida Kahlo, Margaret Woodward, Arthur Boyd and Seventeenth Century European manuscripts. Her palette is rich and colourful showing a deep love for her home country and its vibrant colours. Her works could be used as book illustrations, whimsical and romantic, and featuring fluid lines. People in her idiosyncratic style often have slightly tilted heads, large eyes and curved arms. McManus’ paintings often tell a a narrative. An example is her work Letting Go about a World War 1 nurse and her lover’s letters. They are mainly clear, relatively simple compositions with a dramatic splash of colour placed within the work. There is the cheeky but thoughtful The Archer (Cupid) featuring a dangerous bow. The Performer is rather melancholic and Alice-In Wonderland like– note the white rabbit. Poppies feature again in the bottom third of the canvas and a single stem is delicately held in the middle of her body. Paper Boats again picks up on the fragility of childhood and lost romantic memories. Madam Butterfly is a small, delicate black and white work with turquoise butterflies and a girl with a Pavlova/Ballets Russes look- very appropriate. Rescue Me is an exuberant depiction of a boy and girl on a wooden toy horse pretending to be a prince and princess. Bronwen Newbury is based in WA. She especially flew to Sydney for the opening. Bronwen often paints groups or even crowds of people enjoying their leisure time whether it be boating, in cafes, at festivals or at markets. The main theme of her oeuvre is a rumination and ideas about togetherness, community, hedonism and the Australian delight and fascination with The Great Outdoors. There are some vibrant, energetic paintings of a game of cricket- Almost and At The Ready. There is also a long, narrow painting of a horse race- Winning Post. One can feel the explosion of energy as the horses dash past the post and the work also depicts the crowd’s excitement. In the current series there are also wonderful pictures of open spaces (similar to say Martin Place) and the crowds caught in the rain scurrying for cover- Rain Crossing. Also Newbury has included several beach scenes, and boating scenes that develop a rather abstract look with the dots and oblongs of beach umbrellas and towels viewed from above and exuding a hazy summer feel . I have only mentioned just a few of the works by these two interesting artists. Well worth a visit the current exhibition of works by Danielle McManus and Bronwen Newbury is on at the Traffic Jam Galleries until the 17th September.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Masterclass at the Hayes Theatre

MASTERCLASS BY TERENCE MCNALLY HAYES THEATRE AUGUST 2015 This is a totally mesmerizing,enthralling production about the life and times of the great opera Diva Maria Callas. It is a fictional re - imagining of one of the 1971 masterclasses that Callas gave in 1971 at the Julliard School in 1971 and we are in the audience . We see Callas’ approach to three students – Sophie, Tony and Sharon . Maria Mercedes as Callas is superb , hypnotic and powerful in a towering, intense performance , every inch a Diva . In stylish theatrical black she prowls and fills the stage like an uneasy tiger. At times she is starkly , dramatically lit so her face becomes the famous Callas mask of white face and red lips with huge expressive eyes. We learn about Callas’ life , her life with Onasis , some of her famous roles ( Tosca, Medea , Norma etc) and most importantly her life and approach to music and art , how she gave everything for it and ‘the theatre is a temple ‘ and you must be prepared to work, work, work and submerse yourself in the role . There are some haunting , passionate monologues and fiery interactions with the ‘victims’. At one point Callas, remembering herself singing at the top of her form, says: “That’s who I am. This voice.” as she remembers her performances at ,say ,La Scala or Covent Garden or the Met . And then there are here interactions with Manny ( Manuel ) Weinstock the accompanist as charmingly played by Cameron Thomas , who has worked with Callas previously and knows her approach. Young, enthusiastic Sophie De Palma , shy and gentle ,was delightfully played by Georgia Wilkinson in a beautiful very early short 1970’s pale apricot dress. Young and passionate she soaks up Callas’ advice like a sponge. Her chosen aria was from Bellinini’s La Sonnambula ( The Sleepwalker ). Tony Candolino ( Blake Bowden) the handsome tenor is at the beginning of his session arrogant and confident but under Callas’ blistering questions learns and changes. He sings Cavadarossi’s lovely aria from Tosca Act1. At the end Callas eventually grudgingly compliments him and wishes him well . He has aa fine voice but needs to do his homework more , but will go far ( or so we gather Callas thinks) . Sharon Graham ( Terese Duddy), fiery and passionate but petrified , who we also eet in Act 2 , wears an absolutely divine long sleeved pale green formal evening gown studded with pearls at the waist .It is perhaps a bit too formal for the occasion but is stunning. Her choice to work on is the difficult letter monologue from Verdi’s Macbeth. Callas harshly demolishes her before she sings a note and Sharon vanishes but then later she suddenly returns having decided to try again. Callas admires her courage and coaxes her, demanding the coldness and hardness necessary for the role and while acknowledging she has a lovely voice eventually says she isn’t really suited for the role. Sharon leaves, absolutely furious. The confrontation sparks Callas’ memories of her affair with, and abandonment by, Aristotle Onassis, and Mercedes as Callas delivers an intense shattering emotional climax . A riveting, passionate exploration of Callas and her life. Masterclass ran at the Hayes Theatre 11- 30 August 2015 Running time 2 hours 20 ( approx.) including interval Maria Callas – Maria Mercedes Many Weinstock Cameron Thomas Sophie de Palma Georgia Wilkinson Tony Candolino Blake Bowden ‘ Sharpon Graham Terese Duddy Stagehand Luke Holmes Director DanielLammin Costume Desogn Owen Phillips Lighting Design Brendan Jellie Sound James Hogan