Archive for June, 2012

29
Jun
12

La Voix Humaine

La Voix Humaine


Erica Field. Image by FenLan Chuang

La Voix Humaine

La Boite Indie & Motherboard Productions

The Roundhouse

27th June – 14th July

The human voice. The woman’s voice. The voice of the weaker sex?

Jean Cocteau’s classic one-woman show has been vividly re-imagined by Dave Sleswick and the multi-disciplinary performers of Motherboard Productions for La Boite’s Indie season. It’s the third of six daring productions in the series and it is sure to divide Brisbane audiences.

This is an intense and completely captivating interpretation of Cocteau’s hour-long monologue, using three performers to encapsulate and recreate the one role, of a woman scorned…though really, as we are asked to accept from the outset; she is simply a woman in love and holds no malice for the man on the other end of the telephone, who is about to marry another. To us, the audience as voyeur, she seems obsessive and slightly mad. That is, she becomes so, once she is interrupted several times by crossed lines and the telephone operator and she tires of hearing unsatisfactory responses to her lies (and confessions), from her lover on the other end of the line. Over the course of the conversation (remember, we hear only her side), she becomes distraught, self-pitying, depressed and suicidal.

But wait! Surely, this is not the picture of Woman that we expect to see on stage these days! This woman, in this enlightened age, must be in fact, our worst, most pathetic version of Woman. It may have been an accurate depiction in 1939 (and within a 1950’s context it may be more clearly depicted again in Francis Poulenc’s operatic version of the play) but the strong, independent, unwavering, contemporary woman we like to see? This is she? Really? Well, of course it is! She is quite possibly each and every one of us, regardless of our education, connections and enlightenment, sitting and waiting and agonising by the phone, only half-expecting her lover to call her back after they are cut off, perpetuating the Happily Ever After myth, making (the collective) us seem as pathetic as we always imagined ourselves to be. We try not to let this dependence on a partner’s attention make us who we are but we are also, at various times in our lives, slaves to it.

Merida

I took the six year old and her BFF to see Brave the other day. Would the rebellious Scottish princess Merida wait by the phone for her lover to call? If you listen closely, Disney Pixar tells us that indeed she will! She will, at some stage of her life, wait by the phone for the lover of her choice to call (as opposed to a suitor chosen for her by her parents, as tradition dictates). So nothing changes (though there is some hope for the sanity of the next generation), and there will no doubt be further technological advances so that a break up might one day be not over the phone, not via a text message but by a singular thought, in the first instance, transmitted by some telepathic state and thus saving agony over weeks or months or years of wondering, “Does he love me?” “Is he seeing somebody else?” and “Is this the end?”

At first, the woman – played at first by Noa Rotem – demonstrates tenderness and unwavering love and devotion that infuriates me  – clearly, she is unwanted, this guy is already out on the town (in the opera we actually hear a momentary lively jazz segment leaving little doubt about it) and already, completely over her; he’s moved on – but gradually, as her efforts to cajole her lover and win him back become more urgent, more desperate, I begin to recognise her self-doubt, her self-loathing and her self-destructive behaviour. Yes! I too have been that woman, sliding down the wall and wailing, “PLEASE GOD! MAKE HIM CALL ME BACK!” Yes! I know! Pathetic! But that was me. At one stage in my life, that pathetic woman was me.  And in Brave the sequel, it might also, one day, be Merida.

Sadly – and happily (and intriguingly) – the scale of human emotion hasn’t changed over time. The tumultuous experience of a woman (of a human), despised and discarded by another is common to all humans, across centuries and continents, the difference being, in how we choose to think about and respond to the awful situation we find ourselves in. The secret must surely be in our capacity to forgive and move on, our ability (our willingness) to draw from our reserve of resilience.

Erika Field presents the second aspect of Woman and Liesel Zink the third, though there may be audience members who struggle to accept the three women as one and who consider the possibility that they play three different women, almost in different eras. While I know and accept that the premise is three distinct voices within this woman, the voices are never conflicting enough to be truly representative of the multiple voices we each have inside us. Or are they? They become blurred, each unsure of her argument; this is also something we recognise and wish we had more control over.

It’s interesting to note that there is no place for social media in this production. We have Skype but not Facebook or Twitter (or Pinterest or Instagram). It just doesn’t go there. I wonder why not?

Liesel Zink. Image by FenLan Chuang.

Together, Field, Zink and Rotem transcend any notion of traditional “acting” and give us instead, raw emotions through incredibly physical performances, enhanced by multi-media and visuals by Brad Jennings and Stephen Maxwell, a challenging sound design by Lawrence English and simply beautiful, intimate lighting by Verity Hampson in an elegantly bare, simple set, incorporating a Japanese style sliding screen (upon which we see some of the surtitles and images) and beyond which we see the unused seats of The Roundhouse: a reminder that we’re in a theatre, experiencing a theatrical work.

The three girls deliver exceptional performances; bold, brave and highly polished in terms of their physical performances. The edgy contemporary choreography, devised in consultation with Brian Lucas, is executed inside and outside the confines of the set with vulnerability, strength and severity, the bodies moving jarringly and the limbs at odds with the organs, in perfect self-contradiction. The dance element is at once an arresting image of the woman at odds with herself and the ideal interpretation of this piece in a physical sense. In these bold hands, the play could easily be presented in its entirety as a dance piece. The vocal work is also impressive, supported by the amplification and distortion of multiple microphones placed throughout the set, with Rotem speaking the bulk of her lines in Hebrew.

Liesel Zink. Image by FenLan Chuang.

As voyeurs to this pitiful woman’s self-destruction, we are alienated on so many levels. We are continuously reminded that we are seeing a play, a theatrical version of events (and what Steven Mitchell Wright, of The Danger Ensemble, refers to as “theatrical theatre”), which may or may not have happened the way in which we have witnessed events played out. Stage directions are expressed explicitly and not followed, opening the show and setting the scene – but not – and in closing the show, when the figure of the woman mismatches the description of her, we are left wondering why we have been exposed to the stage directions at all. It’s a slightly unnerving, unsatisfactory end but then, so is the end of a relationship. And so is the end of a life. We leave it in an unfinished state, as if we are cut off mid-conversation. So many words are left unsaid. So many thoughts, feelings, issues…left unresolved.

Dave Sleswick is a director with guts and vision. Motherboard’s La Voix Humaine will have you thinking and feeling deeply. This is not just new world theatre; it’s a new world order. Motherboard is here to stay.

La Voix Humaine

Here’s a wonderful reminder about why we do what we do here, in this place, from The Escapist’s Helpmann Award nominated, Lucas Stibbard, currently touring his hit show, boy girl wall.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE. 

I have been asked, more than a couple of times, in recent months “What is great about the Brisbane scene?”. I usually babble for a bit about quality of life and the relatively strong network and the fact that you can make a go of it here without having to wait tables at Bondi 8 hours a day to pay rent. 

Tonight, however, I got a really good answer handed to me. (And forgive me Dave Sleswick if I get this wrong – please correct me.) Anyway, during his speech Dave spoke of the immense amount of support that the community had put behind the work – from it’s inception at Metro Arts, on through their Free Range Program, to further development with Brisbane Festival’s Under The Radar and the Judith Wright Center, on to being picked up by La Boite Independents Program and then rehearsed with the assistance of AusDance, Brisbane Powerhouse and Queensland Theatre Company, with visuals from Markwell Presents, as well as the 53 individuals who contributed $4,000 to their set-build. This combined with the knowledge that Motherboard Productions whilst producing independent art on a shoestring with a group of such talented creatives, cast and crew who have, no doubt, worked for little or deferred payment, have made something magical. By the end of Dave’s words I was a bit teary.

So why is Brisbane a good place to make work (despite the still lifting banana curtain that leads to our work so rarely making it south of the border and current incumbent political bungle)?

The answer is the community.

Lucas Stibbard

28
Jun
12

Brisbane Festival Launch

Brisbane Festival

Michelle Bull gives us the low down on this year’s Brisbane Festival!

Well, it’s that time of year again. That’s right Brisbane, it’s time to shine your shoes, slap on a fresh coat of lipstick and dive headfirst into what looks to be an absolute cracker of a Brisbane Festival in 2012!

From the 8th to the 29th of September, Brisbane City and surrounds will come alive with theatre, dance, cabaret, opera, art instillations, circus, pyrotechnics, comedy, family shows and more as the Brisbane Festival presents possibly its most thrilling lineup yet! As this year’s Festival launched to an excited and enthusiastic crowd, I realised just how huge this year’s Festival was and that with everything I wanted to see, just how huge my September would be!

La Soiree

La Soiree

With ‘Brisbane stories, artists and companies’ as a key focus of this year’s Festival, local talent will present our own stories alongside leading national and international acts. The popular Courier Mail Spiegeltent will once again play home to a stellar lineup including 
La Soirée (La Clique), Julia Stone, Lanie Lane, Archie Roach, Ingrid Michaelson, Jonathan Wilson, Mia Dyson, Horrorshow
, Nada Surf, and Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks.

Continuing the fun after dark, late night Argentina will hit the stage in the form of Soema Montenegro, 34 Puñaladas and Franco Luciani (virtuosic harmonica player and ensemble).

Not to mention an abundance of comedy and family shows on offer, including Holly Throsby – See!  Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger and funny people Corinne Grant, Mikey Robins 
and Greg Fleet providing more than a giggle or two.

Soap - The Show

Soap – The Show

Sharing in the fun, both central and suburban Brisbane venues and streets will come alive with a kaleidoscope of performances, installations and displays. Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Judith Wright Centre, the Queensland Conservatorium, Southbank Parklands, La Boite, Moreton Bay College, Brookside Shopping Centre, QUT Creative Industries Precinct, Mt Ommaney Centre, Sandgate Town Hall and Roma Street will all play host to artists and events including:

Rufus Wainwright (presenting songs from his new album Out of Bounds…I’m a huge fan, highly recommend this one!)

Boundary Street (composed and performed by jazz legend James Morrison)

Soap – The Show (circus, comedy, cabaret)

Tom Thum

The Vienna Boys Choir

Circa (toted as sinuous, sophisticated, sensual and savage…sounds superb!)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Nijinsky (The Hamburg Ballet)

Mana (performed by Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company)

Angela’s Kitchen (Paul Capsis) (I have heard stories about how amazing this artist is, so I’m determined to catch this show!)

No Child… (Nijala Sun – New York)

Mass (Dancenorth)

The Wau Wau Sisters

Kodo & Taikoz

Argentine Music Concert

Kuss Quartet (presented by Musica Viva & Brisbane Festival)

Mnozil Brass

Mad (Meryl Tankard)

Tender Napalm (La Boite Theatre Company - another one on my must-see list)

Dance Energy (Dancenorth, Expressions Dance Company & Queensland Ballet)

L’Orfeo (Australian Brandenburg Orchestra)

L'Orfeo

L’Orfeo

 The Queensland Symphony Orchestra will offer up some fantastic works this year as they present Symphony Under the Stars along with Bluebeard’s Castle (featuring Lisa Gasteen & Daniel Sumegi), as well as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov (conducted by Edvard Tchivzhel, featuring Russian pianist Nikolai Demidenko).

Just across the way The Queensland Conservatorium will be presenting Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and Bottesini’s World (featuring double bass by Thomas Martin).

 

But wait there’s more!

 

Lighting the skies will be Santos GLNG City of Lights Laser Show, The Brisbane Airport International Lantern Garden all culminating in the mammoth Sunsuper Riverfire which is set to kick off at noon on September 29th.

Phew! So if you have plans for September, a sandy island getaway perhaps or leisurely road trip down the coast…cancel them immediately. There is NO WAY you want to miss this year’s Brisbane Festival!

With a creative treasure for everyone no matter what your artistic persuasion, from opera to dance, theatre, comedy or cabaret, Brisbane Festival 2012 is set to be the event of the year, so clear your calendar, dust off your glad-rags and jump onto the Brisbane Festival Website to grab your tickets before you miss out…

See you at the Festival!

Santos City of Lights

Santos City of Lights. Image by Geoff Francis.

26
Jun
12

The Nutcracker On Ice

The Nutcracker On Ice

The Nutcracker on Ice

Imperial Ice Stars

Lyric Theatre, QPAC

20th – 24th June 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Prepare to gasp, as I am about to make an awful confession. Until last night I never had seen nor had I known the story of the Nutcracker. Oh the horror, oh the shame of it all. I suppose you could call this one of those awkward and often times embarrassing moments for my Gen Y brethren. It’s a particular kind of shame too because I know a lot of people will turn their noses up at such a breath-taking and beautiful performance that offers a little something for everyone. This is theatre at its most reminiscent. I almost expected to see old ladies with opera glasses eyeing the stage from above and well-to-do men puffing away on pipes. The Imperial Ice Stars had taken me on a time warp into a gorgeous Christmas tale of enchantment and I loved every minute of it.

The Imperial Ice Stars officially began in 2004 lead by internationally acclaimed producers James Cundall and Tony Mercer. But don’t get the wrong impression. This pair isn’t the Mr. Bialystock and Mr. Bloom type of producers that might come to mind. They also adhere to the contributions of the former speed skater Vladislav Olenin. To the naked eye all of the cast could be called speed skaters if you asked me. The cast whips around the freshly laid ice stage then leap in the air, perhaps even toss their partners to the others making it look flawless. It’s all so exotic to me. The twenty-six strong cast are the crème de la crème of skating talent. They perform feats seen in Olympic events. Amazing stunts with names like double axles, triple flips and aerial whatsits and thingamajigs. Maybe I’m getting my names muddled. Needless to say, they do some impressive tricks.

But it’s more than just tricks. They not only dazzle us with their deft movements and nimble bodies, but the pride and character is beaming from their faces. Their expressions, though over-reaching at times, are all part of this style of theatre. This ballet-like show pulls me back to another time when Christmas meant putting on your lovely frock or your dashing coattails. When children waited for Father Nicholas to bring that kite or dolly they’ve been praying for and the adults dance to ballroom music. In a touching way the old-fashioned nature of the play becomes warm and homely on the cold ice.

You must prepare yourself if you decide to see The Nutcracker on Ice. The homely traditionalism can become quite thick if you’re not expecting it. The Nutcracker it self is an old story that has been gracing the stage since the late 19th century. This adaption features orchestral overtones to the twenty-six cast members’ campy facial expressions and daring feats. In a magnificent way it really does feel like a ballet transported to the ice. There is magic hiding between the clouds of ice that burst from the cast members’ skates. The kind of magic that helps a darling young girl fall in love. A kind of magic that helps our Nutcracker defeat the Mouse King. Magic that takes you away to wintery dream worlds somewhere afar. If only there was magic to make the children in the audience sit still.

The Nutcracker on Ice is a wonderful journey. All you can do is grip the Imperial Ice Stars’ hands and hold onto your hat because they will show you it is possible to fly. I wish I could shake each individual skater’s hand and thank him or her for the bursting, sparkling, at times even flaming night of culture. But because that can’t be done the next best thing is to go see The Nutcracker on Ice yourself. The tour continues:

26
Jun
12

Hairspray

Hairspray

Harvest Rain Theatre Company

22nd June – 1st July 2012

QPAC Playhouse 

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

There seem three certainties when it comes to music theatre

1. The hair can never be big enough

2. The costumes can never be bright enough

(And in the words of Tracy Turnblad),

3.”You can’t stop the beat!”.

Well you most definitely could not stop the toes from tapping at the opening night of Hairspray by Harvest Rain Theatre Company on Saturday night as a packed Playhouse Theatre was swept up by the beat and left dancing in the aisles from the moment the curtain rose.

Set in 1962, Hairspray follows the story of plump teenage dreamer Tracy Turnblad as she realises her dream of dancing on the Corny Collins Show. As a consequence she wins the heart of teen idol Link Larkin and causes quite the kafuffle with her ‘hair-brained’ idea of equality and racial acceptance, inadvertently making her the face of integration. Throw in some catchy songs, good ol’ corny comedy and a whole lot of dancing, and you have an uplifting shout out to love, equality and all things good.

For all its catchy melodies and tongue in cheek humor, there are some pretty strong themes embedded in this production. Director Tim O Conner does not shy away from the more serious side of the musical and for that I am grateful, it adds just enough grit to give the production the weight it needs to legitimise its message and remain accessible and entertaining. It is the universal message of love that permeates the heart of this show however and resonates with its widely diverse audience.

The set design (Josh McIntosh) is the first thing that grabs my attention as the show opens with a cartoon-esque bed from which Tracy sings her opening number, a great visual effect and one that is matched tastefully and effectively throughout the show by a simple yet effective lighting design (Jason Glenwright) and theatrical costuming. Choreographer Callum Mansfied is to be praised for creating an engaging visual spectacle that truly maximizes the talents of the cast and provides a high energy and seamless production, allowing the chorus to bring a vibrant energy and demonstrate some great comic characterization. Likewise, Musical Director Maitlohn Drew delivers a musically vibrant score with drive and sensitivity to both the style and pace of the production.

The principal cast handle the demands of this high energy show expertly and with a great sense of ensemble. Casey McCollow as Tracy Turnblad is an engaging performer with a secure vocal sound and innate comic timing that characterizes the role skillfully. Playing opposite as love interest Link Larkin, Dakota Striplin is equally at ease vocally, with a wonderful timbre and energy to his sound. A capable and practiced performer, Striplin’s teenage-crooner look is a perfect match for the role, and overall he delivers a strong and likeable performance.

Simon Gallaher is a predictable crowd favourite as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad, and has the audience in stitches with his clever characterisation and sharp comic timing. Vocally, he manages the role with poise and refinement, indulging the audience with Edna’s amusing duet with Husband Wilbur (Gary Jones). Opposite Gallaher, Jones gives an entertaining and likeable performance as Wilbur Turnblad, bringing a comic clownish physicality to the role that is balanced by a comfortable vocal.

The charismatic Heidi Enchelmaier is goofily likeable as Penny Pingleton and quickly becomes a favourite with her wonderful physicality and commitment to the role. Playing opposite William Moyunuu as Seaweed is a capable performer with a rich velvety lower register and great commitment to character, although at times I felt a little more energy was needed in his sound and delivery of text, which became a little hard to understand and muffled over the music. Together they create an onstage chemistry that is natural and wonderfully believable.

Astin Blaik plays the ditsy and mean spirited Amber Von Tussle, and is engaging and consistent in her characterization topped with a wonderfully diva-like vocal tone. Playing Amber’s mother Velma Von Tussle; Liz Buchanan is elegantly snooty and possesses a wonderfully smoky vocal colour that gives the character just a touch of the femme fatale. Tod Strike is as cool as Guy Smiley in the role of Corny Collins, and delivers an elegant and refined characterisation of the popular TV host with a vocal presence that is secure and equally as charming.

For me the standout performance from the night was Rachel Dunham in the role of Motormouth Maybelle. Aside from the Act 2 knockout solo I Know Where I’ve Been that showcased her rich, legitimate and heart-wrenching vocal, Dunham consistently gave an honest and vibrant onstage energy that enlivened each of her scenes. An absolutely captivating performer who made this role her own.

So what are my final thoughts? Hairspray is the embodiment of a fun yet socially significant musical. From the spine-tingling moments of sincerity to the sugary sweet and boppy tunes that will be stuck in your head for days on end, it’s a lot of meaningful fun and Harvest Rain do it complete justice. And while driving home I did feel a little nauseous and in need of some heavy metal music or hard core indie art to balance the equilibrium, the closing number kept ringing in my ears and bringing a little smile to my lips…apparently you really can’t stop the beat!

26
Jun
12

Virginia Gay: Dirty Pretty Songs

Dirty Pretty Songs

Virginia Gay

Judith Wright Centre

20th June

Reviewed by Andy Clark

From All Saints to All Dirty

Before I go to any Show or Festival I usually familiarise myself absolutely in what I am about to see. However, just watching one video online told me that seeing Virginia Gay sing Dirty Pretty Songs was going to be spectacular.  I was not wrong. I had never seen All Saints or Winners and Losers and had only previously seen VG on Adam Hills’ Gordon St.

I left the Judith Wright Centre with a smile from ear to ear that had been on my face from the moment VG entered the auditorium and teased the audience at the tables with a pantomime-esque “She’s behind you!”, to her Popergasmic Encore tribute to one of her idols.

Once VG got to the stage singing Let’s Do It on the … and making loving movements toward the grand piano and one of her accompanying threesome and anything else she could prod her chest or buttocks at, she talked about how it is a challenge growing up with the name Virginia Gay, but that she gained solace that at least she was not named Vagina Faggot.

She then went into a song about being Freaky and how we all have a bit of something freaky in us. I related to this sentiment rather too easily. VG can turn a classic song into a sexy, sultry piece like she did with Mondo Rock’s COME said the Boy.

Compare these 2 versions of this song:

The song that got me smiling BIG was VG’s version of Guy Sebastian’s Like It Like That. Instead of singing this song, just try saying the lyrics slowly & they become really DIRTY. Virginia did this superbly.

I knew VG was going to do a rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, but I didn’t recognise it ’til about the 29th “Hello” of her sexy sultry voice. Walking away from her mic, VG stood in front of the grand piano and started to sing with just a quiet, gentle piano accompanying her. It built and drifted and again I didn’t recognise it early; it was Radiohead’s High and Dry, which again, I knew was coming; this version was enchantingly different & DIRTY.

This show was like The Kransky Sisters mixed with Ross Noble and Elaine Paige.

VG’s encore was Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. My beaming grin grew as she started it as if it were in an opera and then, when I thought it could get no better, Virginia moved into steamy jazz mode and completed an unforgettable evening with her best song of the night.

26
Jun
12

The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years

Ignatians Musical Society

20th – 23rd June 2012

QPAC Cremorne Theatre

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

Chances are that unless you are a die-hard musical fan, you may not have heard of The Last Five Years. From its initial premiere in Chicago in 2001, this unusual and demanding song cycle written by Jason Robert Brown has had somewhat of a cult following amongst musical theatre circles. Since discovering it about five years ago, I have been a big fan of both the cycle and its composer and so it was with excitement that last Saturday night, I joined an intimate audience at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre to see it’s latest Brisbane revival, presented by Ignations Musical Society.

The Last Five Years follows the five-year relationship between struggling actress Cathy Hyatt and emerging writer Jamie Wellerstein, as they juggle their emerging careers with the ups and downs of their relationship.

What makes this show so ultimately heartbreaking is the structure of its narrative. The show opens with Cathy (Bethan Ellsmore) beginning at the end; the demise of the relationship, and continuing through to conclude with the dizzy beginnings of their burgeoning romance. This is contrasted by Jamie (Tim Dashwood), who tells the story from the start of giddy young love to the heartbreak of a bitter divorce. The couple collide and interact directly only once in the middle of the production, before separating once again to continue on their opposite journeys.

It’s a tricky structure to wrap your head around and one, which I’m sure, was initially confusing for a few audience members. That’s why from the outset I have to say I was surprised by the lack of a program. Later I found there was a digital copy available online but for a production that’s composition is quite non-traditional, it would’ve been nice to have something more tactile and immediate to reference. The structure became more obvious gradually but a short description of the narrative would’ve been a welcome accommodation to give a little context and background for those audience members not as familiar with the story as some.

This being said, the challenge of a non-traditional narrative is well realised by director, Travis Dowling, whose clever use of staging mirrors the progression of the relationship from each of the characters perspective along their journey as well as providing a sense of intimacy and fragility.

The set itself is simple, with minimal props and lighting used to convey changes in time and place. Resisting the temptation to over clutter, the set design (Tim Wallace) is functional and intimate, adding to the contemporary feel of the production.

Despite each character moving in opposite directions, the accessibility of the setting (along with repetitive motives in the score) provides a steady connection between both characters despite their emotional journeying in opposite directions.

Musically, the score is rich with moments for the audience to indulge as one characters excitement is faintly echoed with a musical reminder of the others heartbreak and this seesaw effect carries on throughout the production leaving the audience in a quasi limbo land of emotions by the end.

Led by Musical Director, Ben Murray, the score is delivered live with sensitivity and wonderful sense of duet with the performers, seeming to exist almost as another voice at times. Contemporary in nature, with the popular catchy feel characteristic of a Jason Robert Brown score, the music helps to facilitate a heartfelt connection to the narrative, tugging at the heartstrings of anyone who’s ever been in love.

Bethan Ellsmore as struggling actress, Cathy Hyatt, is gutsy and fearless in this vocally demanding role. The challenges that present themselves in starting the show from such an emotionally charged place do nothing to distract Ellsmore from balancing a legitimate vocal with an honest and courageous approach to the text.

Likewise Tim Dashwood as up-and-coming writer, Jamie Wellerstein, is authentic in his characterization and also vocally secure. Despite occasionally losing vocal presence through some energetic staging, Dashwoods’s commitment to unraveling the dimensions of this character made for a compelling performance.

Despite the challenges of finding a connection through what are essentially two individual journeys, Ellsmore and Dashwood establish an onstage chemistry that seems to communicate even when they are not, a credit to both the direction and artistic investment by the performers.

It is refreshing to see a small Brisbane Theatre Company like Ignations embracing a challenging and relatively unknown theatre production, and doing so to great artistic success. Within a musical theatre scene that is often saturated by predictable and large, elaborate productions, it is exciting and inspiring to see a stripped back, contemporary work that relates to its audience and unapologetically reflects the raw, gritty and beautiful underbelly of love.


18
Jun
12

Kids’ Acting Workshops

The 2012 Noosa Longweekend is well and truly underway!

On Saturday, I took some acting workshops for kids

(and on Sunday, I got to work with some fabulous teen and adult actors).

As you can see, we had heaps of fun laughing, playing, imagining and improvising!

Thank you so much to the Noosa Longweekend’s Photographer, Barry Alsop (Eyes Wide Open Images)

for capturing these wonderful moments during the kids’ acting workshops.

There is so much more still to come!

N.B. David Williamson’s When Dad Married Fury is now SOLD OUT!

Don’t forget Erotique at Noosa Arts Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

Click on the program below to book online.

 

 

Kids' Acting Workshops at the Noosa Longweekend

17
Jun
12

2012 National One-Act Playwriting Festival Results

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of this year’s One-Act Play Festival!

(the finalists of the National One-Act Playwriting Competition)

Congratulations to Brisbane playwright Debra Chalmers on taking out top honours in this year’s National One-Act Playwriting Competition, winning $3000 sponsored by Macquarie Private Wealth, with her comedy, Here’s The Thing.

Debra also won the Audience Choice Award and a Publishing contract with Maverick Musicals.

Here’s the Thing is Debra’s second play!

Winning Playwright Debra Chalmers

It should be noted that without the long-term support of Macquarie and Maverick Musicals, this competition would not be what it is. Thanks must also go to long-time supporter and a major force behind the continuation and evolution of the festival, Synda Turnbull (has Synda been made a Noosa Arts Theatre Life Member yet? IT’S TIME!), to the reading panels, the guest adjudicators and all of the wonderful Noosa Arts Theatre and Noosa Longweekend volunteers.

Cast of the winning play in the National One-Act Playwriting Competition Here’s the Thing by Debra Chalmers
Best Actress (centre) Jodie Bushby

Hugh O’Brien – 2nd place ($2000) Three Angry Brides

Rainee Skinner - 3rd Place ($1000) Boy in the Cardboard Box.

Sue Clapham – Best Director (Boy in the Cardboard Box)

Stephen Moore – Best Actor (Boy in the Cardboard Box)

Jodie Bushby – Best Actress (Here’s the Thing)

3rd Place: Boy in the Cardboard Box by Rainee Skinner
Best Actor (right) Stephen Moore. Adjudicator’s Award (left) Gail Evans).

Adjudicator’s Awards (special mentions) to Nathan Hynes and Gail Evans.

2nd Place: Three Angry Brides by Hugh O’Brien
Adjudicator’s Award Nathan Hynes

17
Jun
12

Let the Sunshine

Let the Sunshine

Let The Sunshine

Gardens Theatre

15th – 16th June 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Since moving to Brisbane I’ve been mostly quiet about my coastie heritage;

Coastie [Coh-stee] noun A person who originates from the Sunshine Coast. Often mistaken for a bogan.

…but I couldn’t help but be a little proud as I laughed at David Williamson’s jabs at the coast. Let The Sunshine is Williamson’s hilarious, satirical play is about two polar opposite couples struggling with their children who have inevitably fallen in love. It’s been described as part Romeo & Juliet, part Meet the Parents. It had me laughing the minute the stage had lit up.

Rick’s parents are a left wing pair played by Toni Scanlan and Dennis Coard. They go by Toby and Ros; Toby’s specialty being documentaries raging against the southeast Queensland coastlines being ruined by development. Emma’s parents on the other hand are Ron and Natasha. Natasha spends her days in gym pants’ getting facials and Ron is a development manager responsible for half the high rises on the Sunshine Coast. The two couples struggle to maintain a healthy state as “frenemies”.

This arrangement seems permanent until Rick and Emma meet at a birthday gathering gone wrong. It’s a case of opposites attract and the rest goes like clockwork from there. The whole concept is a hilarious send-up of some stereotypes that I have to admit isn’t too far off. What stirred in me the most though were the little jabs at Sunshine Coast I couldn’t deny were absolutely true. Noosa and its six-dollar coffees as well as the Sunshine Coast’s club scene or lack there of it had the crowd snickering. But it was the hilarious comments coming out the parents’ stereotypes that have the audience roaring.

The characters of Emma and Rick our star-crossed lovers as it were come off as a little flat. However I find this is no fault of the actors Ryan Hayward and Hannah Norris who do everything they can to make the characters live through the stage. The two-dimensional nature of their characters fall upon Williamson’s shoulders I feel. They are very carved out concepts. Emma, a young lawyer who thinks she wants to achieve but is more or less making the effort for her parents’ approval. Rick, the thirty something failing musician still running on the fuel of his mother and father’s encouragement. They are both truisms of Williamson’s creation.  The platitudes of their psyches, flaws and feelings are nothing new I have come across. But there is hope because we are forgetting this is a satirical comedy. There just isn’t time to develop some deep meaningful pair of lovers before the punch lines hits us. I did take note though of Hannah Norris’s character arc in her role as Emma and how it changes as the play progresses. In a way, character development has been sacrificed for the greater good.

The greater good in question is fantastic. It is projected across the stage and echoed back by the laughter of the audience. The banter of Natasha and Ron, played by Ally Fowler and Peter Phelps respectively, is witty and mocking of many households on the Coast. I must admit I couldn’t help but see a little bit of my own parents in them and found the whole situation even funnier.

Let the Sunshine

The cast as a collective reflects familiar faces. The baby boomer counterparts of the cast have all made a name for themselves through Australian television and overseas. Ryan Hayward and Hannah Norris, our example of opposites attract, have both extensively contributed to theatre down south and internationally.

Having had an interview with Hannah Norris earlier, there were hints that a social message also underlies the jokes in Let The Sunshine. I had been expecting something very singular and straightforward but found flourishes of individual messages are given to the audience behind the sly face of comedy. This isn’t a show parading feminism but it does take note of women in the working environment. It can’t be called a claim for peace but there are references to the summer of love and what that dream means today. This is no meeting for the Greens going on but there are undertones of urbanization and what it means for the Queensland coastlines. You have been warned. This is a satirical comedy and in being such a concept messages are handed to us through the crack of a joke.

It’s not on everyone’s mind I know but I have to say I sighed over the fluidness of the scene changes. For me I get a little shiver of satisfaction when a play runs well. It is never emphasized enough how much a production loses when you notice the stage hands or see the actors bumbling to find their next position. The smooth cog-like manner of Let The Sunshine is a credit to director Denis Moore. Each actor stepping purposely into the shadow then reappearing through another spotlight to signify a transition of scenes without so much as a hiccup between lines gives me goose bumps to watch. Under Moore’s stage direction it’s a clear a working family unit has grown during the rehearsal of this production.

Let The Sunshine is a charming comedy that beguiles the audience with some hilarious actors as well as some cheeky observations. The visuals and the dialogue leave the audience chuckling in their seats. Many times even clapping mid-scene. I hope you were able to catch it during this brief Brisbane visit.


16
Jun
12

The Flying Orchestra

Out of the Box

The Flying Orchestra

QPAC Lyric Theatre

13th – 17th June 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

I had no idea what to expect when seeing The Flying Orchestra as part of the Out of the Box Festival For Children at QPAC. Was it puppetry with an orchestra aside in the pit? Was it going to be some sort of multimedia performance? I found my seat and admittedly felt a little lost in the sea of small, excited children. But by the time The Flying Orchestra had finished I was genuinely sad for the show to be ending.

The orchestra makes us sing, they make us clap. They take us on journeys in the dark or holidays to the beach. No matter what your age there is no accounting for how fun it is to punch a giant beach ball bouncing along the crowd.

Everyone, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this, literally everyone has asked me, “Do they actually fly?” or my favourite, “How do you dangle a double bass on a wire?” Alas, no aerodynamics are involved. However, the stage is so intuitively set that you feel they really are highflying it around the ceilings of the Lyric Theatre.

Unfortunately in these sorts of situations you have to prepare yourself for the crying child sitting in the row behind and the poor, embarrassed mother trying to calm it down. Nonetheless the music composed by Musical Director, Chong Lim, is played so beautifully and amplified so wonderfully in the Lyric Theatre that the nondescript infant’s wails are all but drowned out.

Chong Lim is one of Australia’s most respected Music Directors. He has written compositions for famous shows we all love like Dancing with the Stars as well as prestigious endeavours like the Sydney 2000 Olympics and the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Lim’s vision was to “present our young audience (and accompanying adults!), the magic of music and its ability to paint many emotional pictures”. After seeing the production this ideal is superbly achieved. Music has always had an effect on people and when you see the show you’ll grow attached to the musicians too. You begin to feel like were all friends being brushed along the breeze with them. The kids especially will burst out in a fit of giggles as they bumble about trying to help anyone they encounter.

All of this would never have happened if not for the inspiration of Clare McFadden’s book. The story is so enchanting it’s a no brainer that the story so easily lifted from page to stage. The puppets in the show are all remodelled after her own illustrations. The love in her story isn’t a flash in the pan either. She has been involved in helping the community and inspiring art in young children. Her drive to inspire our kids to love, laugh and create is pulsing through this production.

This show made me feel like there is a Flying Orchestra out there in the sky. Very soon making their way to Brisbane. Then maybe Dane Alexander’s percussion and antics could make me laugh or Liz Young’s beautiful violin could make me feel safe. Leo McFadden’s guitar and encouragements did in fact make me sing along. I only wish the Flying Orchestra could swing by Brisbane on a winter breeze and perhaps play an upbeat, orchestral take of Eye of the Tiger so I could find some scrap of motivation to study.

Regardless of whether or not there is a Flying Orchestra out there the musicians were certainly as real as you or me. You and your children are being treated to some incredibly talented people. These are no buskers that QPAC has picked up off the corner of Edward Street. Luke Carbon on clarinet and saxophone and Wayne Jennings on cello dazzle us all the while looking like they’re having the time of their lives. It is one thing to play as beautifully as the five musicians on stage have. But it is another thing entirely to play while dancing on stage, running to and fro and even engaging the audience to sing along.

Commanding this wonderful show is director, Peter Wilson. His contributions to puppetry have spanned over the last four decades. His dedication to each detail, each movement and every child’s laugh beats through those on stage. Especially puppeteer Tak Hoyoung’s acrobatics of which will have your child gasping and clapping.

Not one person I could see in the rows of seats around me was silent. Everyone was singing or clapping, mothers were sighing at the tender moments and children were bouncing in their seats laughing at the silly moments. I would see The Flying Orchestra again in a heartbeat. There is no question that this is a must see with your family.

Final 4 shows today and tomorrow at 10am and 12:30pm. Book online.




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