Sunday, 31 May 2015

Anything Goes REVIEW, May 31, 2015 ****

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter
Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse
New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman 
Produced by John Frost & Opera Australia 
Princess Theatre, from May 31, 2015
Brisbane from July 28 & Sydney from Sept 8
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sunday, May 31, 2015
Stars: ****
Review also in Herald Sun NEWS  & Arts Online on Mon June 1, 2015. KH
Pic by Joe Calleri

Cole Porter’s 1934 musical, Anything Goes, is a deliciously effervescent soda pop laced with a sharp shot of bourbon.

Caroline O’Connor is the big fizz in this production, bringing her formidable singin’ and dancin’ talent and idiosyncratic characterisation to the role of Reno Sweeney, a vivacious club singer who moonlights as a dodgy but sexy evangelist.

Dean Bryant’s stylish production, with exuberant choreography by Andrew Hallsworth, features a chorus of sassy showgirls and tap-dancing sailors on board the S.S. American en route from New York to England.

Porter’s incomparably witty lyrics, cunning rhymes and singable melodies bring to life this tale of unrequited love, mistaken identities, screwball comedy and happy endings – the perfect antidote to the blues of Depression Era America.

Goofy gags come thick and fast accompanied by racy dialogue peppered with innuendo, loose morals, hard drinking, religious satire and unashamed racial stereotypes.

O’Connor delivers I Get A Kick Out Of You with impeccable timing, vocal quality and detail in her performance of both lyrics and tune, then combines pretty tones and boldly belting notes in You’re The Top, her peppy duet with Alex Rathgeber.

After an audacious, almost blasphemous version of Blow, Gabriel, Blow, O’Connor and the dynamic chorus lift the roof with the impudent crowd-pleaser, Anything Goes, that boasts an arduous and percussive, 7-minute tap routine at the close of Act One.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Dreamgirls, May 29, 2015 ***1/2

Music by Henry Krieger, Book & Lyrics by Tom Eyen, produced by Stage Art 
Chapel off Chapel, May 29 until June 14, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herberton Fri May 29, 2015

Review also in Herald Sun in print and online on Mon, June 1, 2015 KH
 Thando Sikwila, Anna Francesca Armenia, Zenya Carmellotti; Photo:  Belinda Strodder. 

There is plenty to like in Terence O’Connell’s production of Dreamgirls, but it is the phenomenal voice and feisty presence of Thando Sikwila that grab the audience by the collar and make them whoop and cheer.

The Voice television competition launched Thando’s public profile but it is her consummate and effortless control, thrilling, soulful tones and flawless delivery that will sustain her singing career.

Thando embodies the sassy bravado and egotism of Effie White, the vocal powerhouse of fictional 1960s, all-girl trio, The Dreamettes, and she justifies O’Connell’s casting of an acting novice.

Dreamgirls is a backstage tale about friends, Effie (Sikwila), Deena (Anna Francesca Armenia) and Lorrell (Zenya Carmellotti) who are discovered at an amateur competition then become backing vocalists for Soul music legend, Jimmy (Gareth Jacobs).

Their rise to fame and fortune is marred by rivalry, an ambitious manager, broken loyalties, shattered loves and the replacement of the troublesome but ineffably talented Effie, by the more obliging Michelle (Sharon Wills).

Thando performs her songs with passion and nuance, character and emotional truth, and her heart-wrenching version of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going (made famous by Jennifer Hudson in the 2006 movie) demonstrates her ability to connect to lyrics and emotion without losing any vocal clarity or richness.

Anything Goes, Preview to opening on Sun May 31, 2015

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter
Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay, Russell Crouse
New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman 
Produced by John Frost & Opera Australia 
Princess Theatre, from May 31, 2015
Brisbane from July 28 & Sydney from Sept 8
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

See review upcoming in next post, Sunday May 31, 2015.
 I will review this on opening, this Sun, May 31, 2015. I am also seeing a preview tomorrow, Sat 30 May. 
A review of Dean Bryant & Andrew Hallsworth's July 2011 production of Anything Goes for The Production Company (different version) is at this link:
All pics below are by Joe Calleri, taken at Media Call on Friday, May 29, 2015
Pic by Joe Calleri

Dean Bryant - Director
Choreographer - Andrew Hallsworth
Caroline O’Connor as Reno Sweeney
Todd McKenney - Lord Evelyn Oakleigh
Wayne Scott Kermond - Moonface Martin
Alex Rathgeber - Billy Crocker
Claire Lyon - Hope Harcourt
Carmen Duncan - Evangeline Harcourt
Debora Krizak - Erma
Gerry Connolly - The Captain
Batholomew John - Elisha J. Whitney

Pic by Joe Calleri

Back catalogue of my reviews 1994-2015

If you have a look at the blog, you'll see that I am uploading past reviews.

 I am now back to November, 1998, although there is a smattering of reviews from years prior to 1998 already loaded.

Have a look.

It is fascinating (for me, at least) to see what was running in Melbourne at that stage. Companies come and companies go. Life goes on and so does the theatre. Kate :-)

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Rivers of China, May 22, 2015 **1/2

By Alma De Groen, by Don't Look Away
Theatre Works, May 21 to 30, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Fri May 22
Stars: **1/2
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Monday May 25, 2015 & later in print. KH
Alexandra Aldrich & Rob Meldrum pic George Darsas

The misty, smoke-filled performance space is a fitting reflection of the opaque and metaphorical story of Alma De Groen’s 1986 play, The Rivers of China.

The play is a poetic, feminist, revenge-story set in two time periods and, although it won two Premiers’ Awards in Victoria and NSW in 1988 when it was considered experimental, in 2015 it seems peculiar and dated.

De Groen’s central character is Australian-Kiwi short story writer, Katherine Mansfield (Alexandra Aldrich), who travels to Fontainebleau in the 1920s seeking treatment for her tuberculosis and ‘a cure for her soul’ from charlatan healer, Gurdjieff (Rob Meldrum).

Meanwhile, in a dystopian world of gender inequality where women have total power and no male writers exist – even in the past – a seriously injured Man (James Cook) awakens in a hospital bed and declares that he is really Katherine Mansfield.

Under Phil Rouse’s direction, the first half has a mesmerising quality, a measured pace, poetic, metaphorical language and the performances, particularly those of Aldrich and Meldrum, are compelling; we want to know what happens next.

The Waiting Room, May 21, 2015 ***

By Kylie Trounson, Melbourne Theatre Company
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until June 27, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday May 22, 2015, and later in print. KH.

William McInnes (Carl), Belinda McClory (Zoe), Brett Cousins (Raf): Photo Jeff Busby

The Waiting Room, by Kylie Trounson, is in equal parts annoying and entertaining theatre because some didactic dialogue and pointless scenes undercut the otherwise affecting drama, wacky comedy and exceptional cast.

Trounson is the daughter of Australian IVF pioneer, Alan Trounson, and her script tries to cover far too much ground:  her father’s early successes and failures, her parents’ marriage, ethical debates about IVF, two childless couples facing IVF in 1978 and 2012 and a single woman seeking a sperm donor.

In addition to all of these narrative elements and a pile of research, Trounson, played by Sophie Ross, places herself bang in the middle of her play to act as – what? – a narrator, observer, participant?

And here is the maddening bit: Kylie, the character, keeps interrupting the action and interaction of her characters to talk to us, her dad and others about why she is writing the play, agonising over its themes and narrative threads and convincing us why she should be in it.

Although this unbalances the play, it is saved by impeccable performances by Greg Stone as the unassuming Alan, William McInnes as Professor Carl Wood and comic cameos, Belinda McClory as a despairing IVF patient, Brett Cousins as her daffy partner, Kate Atkinson as a bevy of women and Ross as Kylie.

A Singular Phenomenon, May 21 2015

By Aphids
Created by Lara Thoms with Aaron Orzech & Liz Dunn
At Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse from May 21, 2015

I am not reviewing this show. KH

Original Project Development / Tristan Meecham

Sound Design / Robert Jordan
Lighting Design / Katie Sfetkidis
Production Manager / Bianca Eden

Ned, May 22, 2105

A New Australian Musical
Music & Lyrics by Adam Lyon
Book by Anna Lyon
Book & Design by Marc McIntyre
Ulumbarra Theatre  Bendigo

I'm not seeing or reviewing this show. KH 

Director: Gary Young 
Cast includes:
Nelson Gardner as Ned
Connor Crawfordas Joe
Hannah Fredericksen as Kate
Penny Larkins,  Alana Tranter, Robert Tripolini, Will Rogers, Brent Trotter

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Greatest Love of All, May 15, 2015 ****1/2

The Whitney Houston Show
Athenaeum Theatre, until May 23, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****1/2
Full review also  published online in Herald Sun on Mon May 18 then later in print. KH

Belinda Davids’ thrilling tones, consummate vocal control and staggering four-octave range are as close as a singer can get to a replication of Whitney Houston’s voice.

During Davids’ tribute show, The Greatest Love Of All, the bevy of Whitney fans were delirious with delight at her channelling of Whitney’s recognisable voice and her exhilarating performance of hits from Whitney’s 29-year career that ended tragically in 2012.

The repertoire includes: How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Didn't We Almost Have It All, I'm Every Woman, Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Step by Step with a finale of I Will Always Love You.

The warm and charming Davids has an effortless, natural voice although, like Houston herself, Davids had no formal vocal training – something that can lead to vocal damage as it did for Whitney.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

MTC Neon Festival of Independent Theatre May - July 2015

In case anyone is interested in these shows, see below. I am not reviewing  them. KH 

MKA: Theatre of New Writing MKA’s Double Feature 14 – 24 May

The Zoey Louise Moonbeam Dawson Shakespeare Company Calamity 28 May – 7 June 

Dirty Pretty Theatre The Lonely Wolf (or an incomplete guide for the unadvanced soul
11-21 June

Dee & Cornelius SHIT 25 June – 5 July 

Elbow Room We Get It 9 – 19 July 

Rawcus Residency 20 - 25 July

The Last Tuesday Society Pimp My Play 25 July