Author Archive for Xanthe Coward

04
Aug
15

Grounded

 

Grounded

Queensland Theatre Company

The Greenhouse Diane Cilento Studio

July 29 – August 22 2015

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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If you want to see this year’s best performance and be part of the crowd who’ll say, “I saw her first” when she accepts an Academy Award one day, don’t miss Libby Munro in Grounded.

 

It’s an intense slow-burn one-woman drama and Munro is thrilling in it.

 

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2013 WINNER of the Matilda Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

 

You might have missed her in Venus In Fur – directed by Andrea Moor in 2013 – and wondered why ever since, since it’s one of the productions we haven’t stopped talking about.

 

Wesley Enoch explains simply, “A diva is a celebrated woman of outstanding talent…and Libby Munro is such a woman.”

 

George Brant’s brilliant insight into drone warfare from the female fighter pilot’s perspective is the best kind of contemporary poetry, without much of the punctuation you’d expect to see on a page, allowing the actor to find the natural cadence of the piece. On many levels it’s a quietly political piece but Grounded will endure and enjoy greater global success because it keeps the human story, like the heartbeat of Tony Brumpton’s soundscape for this superb production, at its core.

 

We walk into the Diane Cilento Studio – used for the first time in performance mode for Grounded – and hear the low hum of either the air con or the soundscape (it’s impossible to tell) and then see the indelible image of a woman in fetal position at the top of a small raked stage, a flight suit set below her. The suit, just for these opening moments, enjoys the most light. When she puts it on she doesn’t want to take it off, and says so. It’s part of her, her identity. It’s how she knows who she is. Later, she admits to having had sex in it. But only once.

 

The body becomes electric, the face becomes animated, almost like a child’s as she tells us with stars in her eyes, and Maverick arrogance and religious reverence, about the thrill of soaring through “the blue” in her Tiger, and laughing and drinking beer with the other Top Guns, her boys, at the end of each shift.

 

Then suddenly there’s the shock, surprise and delight that comes with love and the pink stripe of pregnancy, and the birth of a beautiful baby girl…who needs “attention”. We feel her confusion and commitment to both the family and the air force as she tries to adjust to the military’s version of “work-life balance”. We watch, dismayed, as she takes her place behind a screen every day for 12 hours at a time to become one of the Chair Force, wirelessly controlling a death-dealing reaper drone from a dark trailer in the Nevada desert. You can’t make out their faces but from their movement you can identify, without any doubt, The Guilty. Suddenly, we miss the blue too.

 

Through vivid description, though without morbid graphic detail (the economy of words and the measured pace saving us from the darkest corner of our imaginations), we see body parts flying through the air and what remains of the bodies merging with the grey sand on the screen as The Pilot “lingers”, safe from death, in her $11 million “eye in the sky”. The threat of death has been removed.

 

Can you imagine? The vivid pictures Munro paints with Brant’s prose will sweep you up and along on the journey so be ready; it’s one hell of a ride. You might feel your stomach turn – it’s the G-Force effect – or feel the need to shake it off and get your land legs back after such a tumultuous storytelling event.

 

Testament to the lasting impression this production leaves, on opening night there were many in the audience who stayed sitting in their seats after the curtain call, just sitting…perhaps hoping to be offered something stronger than champagne.

 

In what must constitute the acting masterclass of the year, Munro expertly shows us every tiny detail of her world, just as a “world builder” novelist does. We get a sense of the vastness, the magic of “the blue”, the comedy and tragedy of trying to schedule TV time, sex, sleep, and daycare drop-off “special time” in between 12-hour shifts surrounded by military males (staring at “military age” male targets). And all of this without the aid of over-zealous production elements, which are wisely kept simple, completely unfettered, thanks to an unassuming and super talented creative team, who have allowed the actor to take centre stage. No fancy projections here, just the blue-turning-grey of a quietly commanding abstract design to literally frame the actor…and the perfectly timed sound of a beating heart. (Designer Georgina Greenhill. Lighting Designer Ben Hughes. Sound Designer Tony Brumpton). Not that we can take our eyes off Munro for long to really study anything else in the room…

 

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A flawless brunette beauty, tall, slender and strong, even in the most sensitive, vulnerable moments, Munro has the striking looks and arresting presence of a supporting actress envied by leading ladies who fail to cast a similar spell over captivated audiences and can’t for the life of them understand why. The rich, nuanced vocal work is superb and the pace, as we leap across the hours, days, years, is as real-time as it gets. The performance is beautifully shaped and layered by Director, Andrea Moor. The repetition is almost too much at one point, but it serves to help us appreciate the strange routine of virtual warfare, which allows a fighter pilot to get the job done and make it home in time for dinner.

 

When you see Munro’s tour-de-force performance in the intimate space of the Diane Cilento Studio you’ll understand I’m not exaggerating. You’ll come under her spell and know too that she’s something special. She must be the spunkiest, sexiest, most compelling actress on an Australian stage right now. Hers is a sublime performance of a hard-hitting, game-changing text that could mean we won’t see Munro on a local stage for a little while after this season closes on August 22. Better be quick to book. Grounded is not to be missed.

 

04
Aug
15

La Boite’s 90th Birthday Ball!

 

La Boite’s 90th Birthday Ball

Roundhouse Theatre

Friday July 31 2015

 

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La Boite is a story of people, passion, purpose and place.

 

People like Barbara Sisley, who in 1916 found herself stranded in Brisbane when her theatrical touring company unexpectedly disbanded. She along with literature academic J. J. Stable formed the Brisbane Repertory Theatre Society in 1925 in response to the public’s growing appetite for high quality, locally-produced theatre. For twenty years, Sisley and Stable reigned supreme in Brisbane’s theatrical community.

 

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After decades of moving between large venues such as the Theatre Royal and Albert Hall, in 1967 the company finally found a home of its own.

 

Company members (including Muriel Watson, pictured left) converted an old Queenslander in Hale St, Milton into a theatre-in-the-round. Hollowed out, the house had the appearance of a box and the name ‘La Boite’ was born. In 1972, the company moved next door to the Blair Wilson designed theatre, which so many remember with such fondness. This remained home for three decades, before the move to our current Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove.

 

90 years of existence takes resilience and ingenuity.

 

La Boite has survived two World Wars, censorship, public outrage, politically-charged programming, changing tastes, floods and the constant flirting with failure that comes with walking the tightrope between risk and certainty.

 

To celebrate their 90th birthday, La Boite gathered hundreds of programs, posters and paraphernalia in a special online archive. Play your part by donating past programs, images, articles and uploading your personal anecdotes from La Boite’s eventful history. As the archive evolves, everyone will be able to search for their favourite production or fondest memory. Go to 90years.laboite.com.au to make your contribution.

 

Thanks to La Boite and the company’s Artistic Director, Todd MacDonald, we celebrated on Friday night in the space outside the theatre, under a spacious marquee, ninety years to the day after La Boite’s story was brought to life. Incredibly, I didn’t manage to actually get into the theatre or behind the green door and into the speakeasy, where there were cocktails to be had! At some point, early in the night, all the champagne was gone and for a little while the one goal was to get to the cocktail bar behind the green door! But there were too many friends to stop and talk to along the way so you will have to ask others about the vibe and the drinks offered in the speakeasy space. #missionfail

 

A combination of official formal proceedings, quirky performances from some of our faves, and the perfect set up for chance encounters and casual conversations made it a fantastic evening, fitting of the special occasion. We joined the masses using Uber and could have come from The Valley or Tenneriffe on our special occasion new member credit, however, I’d booked Rydges Southbank for the weekend, making our first Uber experience short and very sweetly priced! We love Rydges, they always look after us, and we enjoyed a stunning full-moon-over-the-river view, buffet breakfasts and a lazy Sunday morning after another late night, soaking up some sunshine in Soleil Pool Bar. With the added joys of a late check-out, and Southbank and its night noodle markets (part of good food month) right across the road, it was very hard to leave. #noodlemarkets

 

Thanks La Boite, UberRydges Southbank for helping us make a weekend of it!

 

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La Boite 90th Birthday Ball images by Paul Sickling. See more on Facebook

 

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Insta images by XS Entertainment

 

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03
Aug
15

A Few of My Favourite Men for one night only in Sydney

 

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So y’all might have noticed I don’t post too much publicity here ahead of events anymore. This is because

 

a) I am time poor

 

b) I am poor

 

We bloggers and writers take time to write stuff – the sort of time that you spend doing your job that pays you by the hour – and sometimes, like when there are bills to pay and artists to treat on Hastings Street, we need an incentive that is a little more inspiring than, “I’d love you to share this with your networks”. However, there are times when I’m happy to copy and paste stuff for a cause or a company I feel strongly about (otherwise you can enquire about my rates to promote your show or special event. I thank you). The Corrilee Foundation is a fave of mine.

 

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Our good friend, Tanya Lee, has always done incredible work with The Corrilee Foundation (you’ll remember One Night In Emerald City, which gave me another chance to work with the professional Sydney cast of a David Williamson play in our favourite destination to make and stage a show, Noosa), and this month she’s staging an extra special event, featuring a few of her favourite men on stage together for one night only, next week on August 12 at the basement, Sydney.

 

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So far the impressive line up includes Wil Anderson, Mikey Robins, Tim Rogers, Tony Squires, Dave Field, Geoff Morrell, Terry Serio, Jeff Duff, Peter Northcote, Dario Bortolin, Lloyd G & Greg Agar. 

 

The Evening will include Auction Items and Raffle Prizes.

 

Join Tanya Lee and a few of her favourite men for an evening of live music, banter and awesome images from Tony Mott

 

 

All funds raised will assist the Mirabel Foundation in its vital work to support children orphaned or abandoned due to parental illicit drug use.

 

The Mirabel Foundation was established in Victoria in 1998. It is the only organisation in Australia specifically addressing the needs of children who have been orphaned or abandoned due to parental drug use.

 

The tragedy of drug‐related deaths is compounded by the children left behind. Children without family may find themselves in foster care, sometimes separated from their siblings. Many go into the care of extended family (kinship care), usually with elderly grandparents who have little or no financial or social support. These are Mirabel children.

 

Mirabel is currently supporting over 1400 children and young people, the most profoundly overlooked casualties of substance abuse in our society.

 

“My Daddy is always sick and his medicine makes him sleepy.” Tahana, 3 years

 

Tahana is 3 years old and has recently moved to live with her great aunt Ruby. Her Mum is in prison for drug-related crime and her Dad is unable to care for her due to his addiction to drugs. Tahana knows a lot for a 3 year old and has remarkable survival skills. She can find a way to reach food in the highest of cupboards and can work the DVD player like a teenager.

 

Ruby was asked to care for Tahana when Child Protection found her wandering the streets looking for food. Ruby is committed to the long-term health and happiness of Tahana and says that she wants her to have a normal childhood. She has started attending Mirabel’s kinship carer support groups where she has met lots of people in a similar situation to herself.

 

Tahana and Ruby spent a cherished weekend together at Mirabel House where they strengthened their relationship away from the stresses of day to day living. They are looking forward to the next Family Day where Tahana can begin to make friends with children just like her – friendships that Ruby hopes will continue when Tahana is old enough to join Mirabel’s Recreation Program and Therapeutic Children’s Groups.

 

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You can support the amazing work the Mirabel Foundation do with kids like Tahana and have a terrific night out with friends when you join Tanya Lee and a few of her favourite men at the basement next week.

 

Book tickets here

 

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30
Jul
15

Opening Night Style: Anything Goes

 

 

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Opening Night Style at QPAC: Anything Goes

 

 

1930s inspired cocktail frocks were on point on Tuesday night at QPAC for the glittering opening night of Opera Australia and John Frost’s Anything Goes. I opted for a more 20s styled Miss Anne because SPARKLES.

The show is as de-lightful, de-licious and de-lovely as you would expect! Read my review here and see it before the ship sails – must finish August 16.

 

 

Anything Goes

 

Dress Code: Cocktail

 

Wearing

 

Dress: Miss Anne via Retournez-vous

 

Shoes: Guess & Voodoo Glow Toeless #sorrynotsorry

 

Hair: Suite Three Hair

 

Poppy wears Origami via Myer and above, vintage jacket from the vault of her bestie, Mira.

 

 

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30
Jul
15

Anything Goes

 

Anything Goes

Opera Australia & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

July 25 – August 16 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

ANYTHING GOES has captivated millions with its delightful story of madcap antics aboard the S.S. American. When the ocean liner sets sail from New York to London, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely couples set off to find true love… proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. 

 

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With three Helpmann Awards announced the previous night, opening night of Anything Goes in Brisbane was always going to be an exciting affair. I wore sparkles, creating a major dress dilemma for the week because LA BOITE’S BIRTHDAY BASH! That’s right. Two of the shiniest occasions in Queensland’s theatrical calendar occur in one week and I’ve already been seen in my (more-twenties-than-thirties, let’s face it) sparkles. I’m not above being seen in the same frock twice but…

 

It’s times like these I have to ask myself

WHAT WOULD OUR CATE DO?

 

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

 

Well, there’s no Armani here yet, but it’s okay, don’t panic, I have more white in the wardrobe now, thanks to a fortune fortnight spent on Hastings Street during Noosa Long Weekend Festival and the smiling, sophisticated ladies at KOOKAI. Admittedly, all they had to do was to bag a couple of cute frocks, which I’d spotted on the rack and decided to purchase without even trying on (because KOOKAI), but still; they are lovely there. Go visit them if ever you find yourself in similar strife.

 

This dazzling production of Cole Porter’s classic musical comedy is indeed almost too de-lightful, too de-licious and too, too de-lovely for words. It’s not my favourite clever, convoluted, old-fashioned, funny because it’s so unlikely excuse for a plot – misadventure and mistaken identities on the high seas with enough theatrical evangelical shenanigans to create another show entirely – but the music is timeless and the comedy is pitched at a broad audience of loyal Porter fans and musical theatre newbies. Everyone will enjoy this one.

 

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Musical theatre queen, Caroline O’Connor, is superb as Reno Sweeney, as we knew she would be. In this demanding role, O’Connor earned the Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. She barely pauses for breath – unless there’s a laugh to be had (and there are plenty, with her knack for physical comedy most obvious in Friendship with Wayne Scott Kermond) – and with her suitably Ethel Merman styled powerhouse vocals, polished dance and comedic finesse, O’Connor steals the show. But only just because this is the strongest company we’ve seen in Frosty’s trilogy with Opera Australia.

 

Reno’s girls are standouts – hot, glam goddesses who get to strut and shimmy their stuff in a red-lit and racy Blow, Gabriel, Blow (Annie Aitkin, Bridgette Hancock, Hayley Martin & Samantha Leigh Dodemaide).

 

And the ensemble are all gorgeous, great, true triple-threats, with an abundance of very young-looking sailors on board… didn’t Fleet Street happen already?! The title number, reprised for the Finale, is the highlight of the show – precision tap at its best to leave you, unlike the company of #fitspo performers, gasping for breath! Helpmann Award winning choreography by Andrew Hallsworth is simply spectacular, brilliantly executed.

 

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Todd McKenney, perfect in the role of English fop, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, reminds me of Eric Idle in The English National Opera’s The Mikado (1997), which was watched and re-watched for years in our house, thanks to the miracle of VHS. We see this sort of silliness in a role attempted so often but it’s very rarely achieved. Todd McKenney nails it. And of course, he can dance! Act Two’s The Gypsy In Me showcases McKenney’s triple-threat skill set and has us in stitches. (N.B. McKenney doesn’t do the Sunday show). Wouldn’t you just love to sign up for a Todd’s Tour with Evelyn?!

 

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Alex Rathgeber’s Billy Crocker won him the Helpmann Award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical. A legit leading man, Rathgeber brings warmth, charm and natural comedy to Crocker, making the character seem more present than ever in the ludicrous plot, and giving Hope Harcourt (Claire Lyon) much to consider in her will-I-or-won’t-I-marry-him throes. In Act One, You’re The Top (with O’Connor) and Easy To Love (with Lyon) carry old-world, swoon-worthy charm. Lyon is lovely, elegant and perfectly matched.

 

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Wayne Scott Kermond and Deborah Krizak – Moonface Martin and the sexy, haughty Erma – bring hilarity to new heights; Krizak’s mercury-like moves in the constrictive cabin space and her Madonna attitude in Buddie Beware make her my new fave what-else-have-ya-got-for-us female. (She has in fact, got CABBARET, an ABBA biopic).

 

MD/Conductor, Peter Casey, leads a slick outfit – there are no disappointing horns here – and Dale Ferguson’s simple set adaptation (lit by Matt Scott) and sublime costumes (to make up for the simple set?) complete the look and feel of what is really a magnificent production, astutely directed by Dean Bryant.

 

Credited with the New Book Co-Author credit is Timothy Crouse, son of one of the original authors, Russell Crouse, but it seems there hasn’t been much of a re-write, which is a shame because contemporary audiences are looking for more than a name change for the Chinese. Aren’t we? Bryant’s production for Opera Australia and John Frost is glamorous, gorgeous and hilarious, and it won’t make a difference to box office sales to find fault with a slightly outdated book, but it’s worth noting that once this one is done there might be more to consider than star vehicles boasting terrific song and dance numbers that gloss over obvious racist undercurrents, which so many of the older, much-loved shows perpetuate within their stories. Of course, each reflects the popular themes and attitudes of its time. But does that deem them untouchable? South Pacific somehow seemed more relevant and The King and I not so much. The London Palladium Production of The Sound of Music certainly seems a stronger choice (and you can book for that now. Amy Lehpamer is going to be amazing).

 

Anything Goes is a lavish production with a stellar cast. It would be a crime to miss Caroline O’Connor in this iconic role, in a riotous show that doesn’t claim to be anything it’s not. It’s pure entertainment and it’s honestly the most fun you’ll have at the theatre before you have your mind blown at Brisbane Festival.

 

Anything Goes must finish August 16 so be quick and book tix and dress nicely, and go and have some fun on board the S.S. American!

 

 

Production pics by Jeff Busby

 

28
Jul
15

Helpmann Awards 2015

 

Helpmann Award Winners 2015

 

Congratulations to all 2015 Helpmann Award winners

 

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) today congratulated all winners of the 2015 Helpmann Awards that were celebrated at a star-studded event in Sydney last night.

 

QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said in particular he wanted to thank the partners who have worked with QPAC to achieve nominations and awards wins at this year’s Helpmanns.

 

Kotzas said, “The high standard of artistic achievement that can be accomplished via our partnerships with artistic visionaries Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland for Brisbane Baroque, as well as closer to home companies such as Circa, Expressions Dance Company, Opera Queensland and Griffith University, along with our fellow Australian performing arts centres in Sydney, Melbourne Perth and Canberra has been proven by this year’s accolades. 

 

“Creating art is a collaborative process and this has underpinned our shared success at these Awards. Such partnerships have been cultivated throughout QPAC’s history of presenting live performance in Queensland and we have been celebrating these relationships throughout this, our 30th anniversary year”, said Mr Kotzas. 

 

camilleosullivan

 

CABARET

BEST CABARET PERFORMER
Camille O’Sullivan
Camille O’Sullivan – Changeling
Arts Centre Melbourne

COMEDY

BEST COMEDY PERFORMER
Judith Lucy
Judith Lucy – Ask No Questions of The Moth
Token Events

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

BEST AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
Chet Faker | National Tour 2015
Chet Faker, Frontier Touring, Artist Voice, Opulent, Future Classic & Perth International Arts Festival

BEST CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Vivid Live 2015
Destination NSW and Sydney Opera House

BEST INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
Ed Sheeran | X World Tour 2015
Ed Sheeran & Frontier Touring

 

frameofmind

 

DANCE AND PHYSICAL THEATRE

BEST BALLET OR DANCE WORK
Frame of Mind
Sydney Dance Company

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Rafael Bonachela
Frame of Mind
Sydney Dance Company

BEST FEMALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Chloe Leong
William Forsythe’s Quintett
Sydney Dance Company

BEST MALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Cass Mortimer Eipper
William Forsythe’s Quintett
Sydney Dance Company

BEST VISUAL AND/OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
The Paper Architect
Davy and Kristin McGuire and Perth International Arts Festival

 

lesmis
MUSICALS

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL
Andrew Hallsworth
Anything Goes
Opera Australia & John Frost

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
John Tiffany
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith and Frederick Zollo in association with the Melbourne Theatre Company

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Kerrie Anne Greenland
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Caroline O’Connor
Anything Goes
Opera Australia & John Frost

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Alex Rathgeber
Anything Goes
Opera Australia & John Frost

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Simon Gleeson
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST MUSICAL
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

 

faramondo
OPERA AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

BEST DIRECTION OF AN OPERA
Paul Curran
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
Anna Devin
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
Jennifer Rivera
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
Christopher Lowrey
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
Michael Fabiano
Faust
Opera Australia

BEST OPERA
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST CHAMBER AND/OR INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE CONCERT
Les Arts Florissants and Le Jardin des Voix in Un Jardin à l’italienne
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival

BEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
Reflections on Gallipoli
Australian Chamber Orchestra

BEST INDIVIDUAL CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCE
William Christie
William Christie
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival

 

REGIONAL TOURING AND CHILDREN’S PRESENTATION

BEST REGIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
Festival of Circa
Circa

BEST PRESENTATION FOR CHILDREN
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co – production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

 

theglassmenagerie

THEATRE

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Kip Williams
Suddenly Last Summer
Sydney Theatre Company

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
Helen Thomson
After Dinner
Sydney Theatre Company

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Pamela Rabe
The Glass Menagerie
Belvoir

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
John Bell
As You Like It
Bell Shakespeare

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Hugo Weaving
Endgame
Sydney Theatre Company

BEST PLAY
The Glass Menagerie
Belvoir

 

therabbits
INDUSTRY AWARDS

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Gabriela Tylesova
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co- production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Paule Constable
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Kate Miller-Heidke with Iain Grandage
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co – production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
Martin Lowe
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith and Frederick Zollo in association with the Melbourne Theatre Company

BEST SCENIC DESIGN
Geoff Cobham
Little Bird
State Theatre Company of South Australia in association with Adelaide Festival Centre

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Mick Potter
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
Kate Miller-Heidke – composer, Lally Katz – librettist, and Iain Grandage – musical arrangements and additional music
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co – production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

 

journeyofthegiants

 

2015 HELPMANN AWARDS BESTOWED AWARD

BEST SPECIAL EVENT
ROYAL DE LUXE and PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of the Giants to the Streets of Perth

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

SUE NATTRASS AWARD®
ERIC ROBINSON

JC WILLIAMSON AWARD®
PAUL KELLY

 

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Be ready to get on board as the hilarious Helpmann Award winning musical Anything Goes officially opens tonight (Tuesday 28 July) at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC).

 

The new John Frost/Opera Australia production of Anything Goes was presented with three Helpmann Awards during last night’s star-studded awards ceremony at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre hosted by Todd McKenney. Caroline O’Connor won Best Female Actor in a Musical, Alex Rathgeber won Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, and Andrew Hallsworth won Best Choreography in a Musical.

 

Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini AM and leading Australian theatre producer John Frost AM were thrilled. “We are extremely proud of Anything Goes, and very happy for this well-deserved recognition for Caroline, Alex and Andrew,” they said. “The show was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike in Melbourne, and we can’t wait to open to Brisbane audiences tonight.”

 

28
Jul
15

Slammed

 

Slammed

Crosstown Artists

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

July 23 – August 1 2015

 

Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

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Creating a new work can be both joy and challenge and both of these aspects are evident in the realisation of Stefanie Brooke Harper’s Slammed on stage following its release as a text for school study. As a resource, it is a work that promises to explore “the life and hard times of everyone you know” through examination of thought-provoking themes and contemporary social issues, which is, of course commendable in intent, for exposure brings understanding and there are few vehicles for understanding more effective than the theatre. And in this regard, the theatrical fulfilment of the show certainly delivers what it promises on the page and a whole lot more; this is the problem.

 

The story begins in a fictitious but familiar contemporary Australian high school with a classroom scene of teacher trying to engage her Year 10 class, clearly featuring students of varying interest levels, in study of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. This is one of many engaging schoolroom scenes, whose exaggerated authenticity produce some genuinely funny moments. These also serve to showcase a naturalism in dialogue and realness of connection with audience members. However, the story of Slammed is about more than just the students, with teachers refreshingly given backstories alongside those of the teenage characters. This allows opportunity to explore a multitude of social issues which, unfortunately, is ultimately to the show’s detriment, as indicated by the increasingly restless audience as the show’s duration approached the 2.5 hour mark.

 

By adding backstory, the play moves beyond dramatic familiarity into the tragedy of real people’s lives, however, this is not used sparingly so works against itself. Minor and unnecessary scenes (such as the provision of an Act Two divorce backstory to an insignificant character, from a narrative perspective) seem only to have been included to ensure coverage of a wide variety of teenage experiences and parenting styles and actually detract from overall cohesion. However, while some of the narrative threads are a little stereotypical in this regard, they are well-written and powerfully acted, meaning that any initial cliché is easily overlooked.

 

The cast is a large one, of varying experience and abilities. Chris Kellett anchors the ensemble in his contrasting parental roles, but features so infrequently that his talents seem wasted. And newcomer Dane Brady, as protagonist Jake Ryan, neglected by his father and abandoned by his mother, is authentic in his conveyance of sullen teenager, to the impairment of vocal projection and audience engagement when so many of his Act One lines are delivered with back to the audience and his poetry slam moment is sans gesture as enhancement of message.

 

In contrast, Daniel Hurst delivers a memorable performance as bullying victim David Lawson, particularly in his poetry slam, which is delivered with an entertaining rhythm that sets it apart from the others, even if its environmental focus is quite superfluous to the central narrative. And as genuine, well-meaning teacher Fiona Finlay, Gabriella Flowers gives a measured, nuanced and natural performance that captures the cadence central to her character’s demeanour.

 

Staging is simple and functional, allowing audiences to look thorough the walls of people’s lives to see that all are slammed in some way. This versatile use of the Visy Theatre space is of particular credit to the show’s creatives, given that the work was originally devised for a standard proscenium stage. However, with scenes established so effectively, the use of technology to announce locations and time of day seems tokenistic.

 

With its fusion of thought-provoking ideas and contemporary, edgy elements, Slammed has much to offer audiences. It is full of moments of truth and connection, making it an easily accessible piece for young people and non-theatre goers. And its passion in dealing with so many important social issues is to be applauded, even if, in its current cluttered form it serves as illustration of the truth of the cliché that less is more.

 

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