Author Archive for Xanthe Coward


Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015 Now On Sale!


Noosa Long Weekend Festival presents our most exciting program yet!


You know these events SELL OUT! In fact, many events have already sold well during the exclusive pre-sale for Friends & Patrons. Become a Friend or Patron this year so you don’t miss out again next year!






There are 3 easy ways for you to secure your festival event tickets:

1. Online

2. Telephone* (07) 5329 6560 – The J Theatre Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm.

* A transaction fee of $3.50 applies to all telephone ticket sales.

3. Counter sales The J Theatre Mon-Fri 9am 5pm.



For the first time ever, Opera Australia will bring a fully staged production of its much loved Opera, The Magic Flute to the Sunshine Coast.


Direct from Melbourne, the professional cast and orchestra complete with an authentic Egyptian tomb set, lighting, costumes and wigs will perform one night only, on Tuesday July 14.


“It’s a magical way to kick off our 2015 festival” said an excited and proud Festival Director, Ian Mackellar. …“It couldn’t have happened without the wholehearted support of Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini AM and festival event sponsors, Settler’s Cove and Tourism Noosa.”


The logistics surrounding this ‘one performance only event’ equates to Noosa’s own G20 manoeuvres.


With no existing stage large enough, a 48 foot Semi will roll into town and transform the Noosa Leisure Centre into a major performance space capable of staging the full production of this Mozart masterpiece in front of 700 people.


The ability to pull off such an event, confirms the Noosa Long Weekend Festival as the major regional Arts Festival in the Country.


President Johanne Wright said “The collective vision of Opera Australia and our sponsors has enabled us to make this special performance accessible to as many people as possible and this will be reflected in the ticket price.”


Lyndon Terracini AM, Artistic Director of Opera Australia said “Opera Australia is thrilled to be bringing Mozart’s The Magic Flute to the Noosa Long Weekend Festival. I’m personally tremendously excited about this event and I know all the cast and of course the legendary director Michael Gow are just as excited as I am. It’s a wonderful production…”



I Might Take My Shirt Off


I Might Take My Shirt Off

Brisbane Powerhouse & Sharpened Axe

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

February 13 – 14 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward






Dash Kruck is an absolute starry star. A dead set legend. A really funny, talented guy.


His debut cabaret show, I Might Take My Shirt Off, is by far the best we’ve seen for a loooong time on the scene, which you might be forgiven for feeling, is a little flooded at the moment. Let’s face it. CABARET IS STILL THE NEW BLACK. We see so much of it, and so much of it is raved about that when a particularly well written, tightly structured and superbly delivered show hits our stages it’s noted. Not only duly noted, but already returning to Brisbane Powerhouse later this year it seems, if the Facebook comments are anything to go by…



“I wanna bring your show back, yo.”

Kris Stewart



TRANSPARENCY. SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW #teamgooding #illridewithneil


Directed by Emily Gilhome, I Might Take My Shirt Off, shares Lionel’s struggles in love and life, as he pens and performs an original cabaret show at the advice of his hilariously OTT German Nazi-therapist. FACE THE FEAR. Everyone knows cabaret is terrifying, and this is a thrilling show because THERE IS REAL FEAR THERE. Or so it seems. Dash is so convincing in the role that there are times throughout the evening when we actually hold our collective breath and think, “God I hope he’ll get it!”




Stories of sex, booze, boys and mythical beasts abound. Original songs by Dash and Chris Perren are diverse in style and consistent in quality. There’s not a dull number among them, each has its place and purpose. THERE’S EVEN A HIT SINGLE BALLADY TYPE NUMBER. YES, BALLADY IS A WORD. (I expect to see this soundtrack available for purchase on iTunes next year. Yes, I do). Dash is well respected as an actor and singer (we loved him in A Tribute of Sorts, Spamalot, Spring Awakening, Jesus Christ Superstar, [Title of Show] and the Matilda Awards named him Best Emerging Artist in 2007 and Best Actor in 2012). This show is the perfect vehicle to take him to the next level, put him on the circuit, and get him into the elusive, illustrious INNER CIRCLE OF CABARET.


I think I said this about his performance in [Title of Show] –

“On stage, Dash Kruck totes stole the show for me, with his endearingly cheeky, naughty approach to, well, everything in life. His Broadway moves and his ability to connect with those on stage and off. I’m confident I can recommend you go see anything at all that Dash appears in. This includes his kitchen when he is washing the dishes and IGA when he is doing the grocery shopping. Dash is bound to make any event just as entertaining.”






As tender and wonder filled as it is funny, and as skillfully built as any headline act that might come to us with far more fanfare, I Might Take My Shirt Off is a real contender for the bigger festivals, and could do with a return tour after a stint somewhere like, oh I don’t know, OFF-BROADWAY. If you experienced it you know that’s not too far-fetched. It’s so meta too, that theatre and cabaret students (and their teachers) should be in the back row taking notes at every performance. As Lionel ticks off all the elements of the genre, using his devastating break up tale to pull us through the ringer with him, I hear a whispered comment behind me that signals hope for the masses: “So this is cabaret… It’s great! I like it!” HOORAY!




My favourite parts of the show involve a martini and a dragon. Not at the same time. But I love the implicit 007ness of one and I’m swept away by the mythos of the other, not to mention impressed by Dash’s command of the vocals. I think of Anthony Warlow’s performance in The Secret Garden of Race You To the Top of the Morning (just go to the link and let it play while you read on, because there is no I Might Take My Shirt Off Live at Brisbane Powerhouse recording…yet). Like Elise McCann as Lucille Ball, Dash is confident enough to take his time and allow us to suffer vicariously through him. We believe every word…and every strategically placed awkward pause. N.B. Sitting towards the back of the crowd doesn’t mean Dash won’t see you and invite you to be…involved.




Dash demonstrates complete trust in the genre and in his wide-ranging ability. A great director will help a performer to realise the possibility of success from the outset. These two – Dash Kruck and Emily Gilhome – are a good match of talent, intellect and guts. To pull off a first attempt at cabaret so convincingly, is a pretty clear indicator that Dash Kruck is here to stay. But perhaps not here here to stay. Dash can take this show anywhere, and like Rumour Has It, Wrecking Ball, and The Divine Miss Bette, I’ll happily see it again and again. There is substance here, and a magical alchemy, which turns crazy late-night gin-conceptualised ideas into theatrical GOLD. I do hope Dash enjoys performing this show as much as we enjoy seeing it, because we’re going to keep demanding it!




For more outrageously funny stuff at Brisbane Powerhouse check out the Brisbane Comedy Festival! Until March 22 2015.



Assemblies For One Body


Assemblies for One Body

Metro Arts & Rhiannon Newton

Metro Arts

February 25 to March 7 2015


Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway





Assemblies for One Body is about the live act of dancing, and the tension between this live-ness, repetition and choreography.


Rhiannon Newton, Choreographer/Performer



Assemblies for One Body was an intense experience on its first hot and humid night. About 30 of us sat in one row of chairs around the edge of the Basement at Metro Arts – a cellar-like room with plain wooden floor and raw brick walls. On the wall opposite the entrance, sound artist Kynan Tan sat at a computer, with eight subwoofers on the floor in front of him, like conical bowls.


Choreographer/Performer Rhiannon Newton was in the room, warming up. She stripped down to simple black shorts and singlet, and started performing a movement sequence. The movement style was outwardly relaxed, earthy, with no pointed feet. The apparent softness and ease was deceptive –


Newton’s energy and stamina were impressive, as she repeated the sequence over and over.


Starting in one corner of the room, she lifted her right leg, and then stepped, jumped and circled to the furthest corner from the starting point, stopping and raising her arm. At a loud electronic click or bang, she started the sequence again.


The sound thrummed and reverberated, swelling in intensity (but never to a painful point) and dying away again to more of a low hum. At times the conical sides of the speakers were visibly throbbing. I wondered if they would start to move around the floor, but this didn’t happen.


The intervals between the punctuating click grew shorter and the steps smaller and less distinct, and then the intervals lengthened again. Occasionally Newton smiled ruefully at the click signalling the restart of the sequence. The sequence also changed, along with the starting position. With the new movement came a resurgence of energy, which also then waned.


On several occasions, the lights (which were full on in the room most of the time) dimmed and blacked out – giving Newton, and the audience, some respite before the next round of repetition. Twice before the final blackout, the audience clapped as this happened, perhaps thinking that the performance had finished, or perhaps in tribute to Newton’s stamina.


The performance lasted around 30 minutes. As it went on, I started to wonder how Newton could keep going. Was she going to dance until she dropped? Was she forcing the audience to intervene when we couldn’t bear to see how exhausted she was? Thankfully, she stopped before this point.


After the continual movement, the winding down and the increasing tiredness and dishevelment of the dancer, the end was a natural finish. The trajectory of the performance was a building and maintaining of energy, and then an inevitable winding down.


In her program notes, Newton says she has a particular interest in repetition. Repetition can be used to induce a trance-like state. Newton’s performance echoed ritual dance to reach an altered state of consciousness (with the cave-like setting adding to the effect).


But the variation in movement and pace, and the formless throbbing of the speakers, created a tension that worked against the audience going into a trance. At the finish, the applause was loud and sustained.


Book for the show here.


Book for Bodied Assemblies Workshop here. Well, try and then see note below. And then call Metro Arts anyway, because you never know…

*Workshop registrations close at 4.30pm, Friday 27 February. A $1.65 booking fee applies to each workshop registration. To discuss workshop options please contact reception at Metro Arts on 07 3002 7100. Ticket price includes one complimentary ticket to the performance Assemblies For One Body



Trailer – Assemblies for One Body from Rhiannon Newton on Vimeo.


Opening Night Style at QPAC: Everybody Loves Lucy




Opening Night Style at QPAC: Everybody Loves Lucy


On Tuesday night at QPAC’s Cremorne, the gorgeous fifties’ frocks were out in force for Luckiest Productions’ cabaret festival hit, Everybody Loves Lucy, starring Elise McCann. I didn’t love, love, LOVE it but I LOVED McCann’s superb performance. Read my review here.

You only have today and tomorrow to catch it so go and enjoy!


Everybody Loves Lucy


Dress Code: Pinup Doll retro fifties frocks, baby!


Pre-show drinks: Cremorne Theatre Foyer Bar




Dress: Basque at Myer


Shoes: Zou Zou at Myer


Mum wearing Jayson Brunsdon Black Label at Myer. Scarf from St Petersburg, Russia.





See more social pics on QPAC’s Facebook page.


Everybody Loves Lucy


Everybody Loves Lucy

QPAC & Luckiest Productions

QPAC Cremorne

February 24 – 27 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




Lucille Ball? Game changer. Yeah, you know her. Actually, when I asked around at school, the kids didn’t know her. That made me feel old. She’s the funny female figure stomping grapes in a barrel, on the TV screen in the hotel room as Julia Roberts sprawls across the carpet eating strawberries and laughing her head off in Pretty Woman. Oh, right. You never saw Pretty Woman either… THAT makes me feel really old!



Everybody Loves Lucy, directed by Helen Dallimore, and penned by the star of the show, Elise McCann, and Luckiest ProductionsRichard Carroll, is not quite all it wants to be yet, but it IS entertaining and enlightening; it’s a lovely, light evening of expert impersonation and an old school celebrity reality television story. I’d be interested to see the role in the hands of Francine Cain who, in lieu of a McCann Clone, is also touring the show (Go see her on the Gold Coast March 2). I guess we’re accustomed to multiple companies touring the same show on a grander scale (think of Wicked’s nine professional productions at any one time in the world!), but not so the smaller cabaret pieces and this is testament to the show’s instant popularity, and the good business sense of Luckiest Productions.


McCann MAKES this show and it’s just as well! After all, what use is a tribute if there is no similarity between the performer and the original artist? Here’s an artist who presents the iconic comedienne in minute detail; the characterisation both “on air” and off is exquisitely studied and presented with skill and finesse. We get all the comedy, but we are also gifted with an insight into the imagined mental and emotional state, first through song and then, intermittently, via the musings of an ordinary housewife and mother, who enjoys her gin and represents US ALL. ALTHOUGH, I DON’T DO GIN. (I did it once. Try everything once, right?). A very clever device, this character keeps us in the political-social loop as the times rapidly change and women everywhere followed Lucy’s lead in the pursuit of independent work and play.




The physical comedy is natural and bold, the facial expressions hilarious (THE WINK!), and the voice lilts and builds and holds and diminishes to a whisper, as the storytelling requires. Joined by multi-talented Musical Director, Nigel Ubrihien, who appears on stage as Desi Arnaz (he’s fantastic – I would like to have seen him reappear as Desi by the end so our “on air” couple could give us that last look), McCann takes us through years of television sitcom success. We also see, on the other side of the camera, the couple’s failed marriage, despite every effort to keep up appearances. It’s the classic balance of comedy and tragedy, drawn from real life, making it all the more devastating.


The sadness emanating from the dressing room would get you down without the clowning; succinct excerpts from the original skits, which punctuate the storytelling and remind us that it was Desi who called the shots but Lucy who delivered the goods. And these scenes are so good because McCann embraces each one as if it had always been her own story. The comedy is completely natural, with the ballet lesson bringing the house down, and the Vitameatavegamin commercial taking the cake. This is McCann at her comical best!




In complete contrast, she sings lovingly to her baby in utero. It’s a simply played and suitably stunning moment, and she takes her time with it, thank goodness. When the performer is confident enough to make us wait while she takes her time to work through many layers of conflicting emotions we are also able to invest more deeply in character. We travel with McCann, on a journey that takes her far away from where she started. So far away, in fact, that we end up seeing the ordinary housewife and mother again! This doesn’t work as well as somebody (everybody) had probably hoped it would. On opening night it meant that the mood fell flat, and I thought, “It’s just me” until I spoke with a couple of normal people (ie not industry types. Ready, normal people?!), who were not sure how they felt about the show by the end of it! One of them had expected hilarity for the finish, and another had been waiting for another (funny) song. Oh well. All you gotta’ do is make one person happy, right?


I’m reluctant to say it – I wanted to be blown away by this production – but for me the show doesn’t quite hit the mark. It has all the elements, but despite its fluid transitions and a story mostly well told, there’s some flow lacking in the structure. The opening number, Make ‘Em Laugh, lacks punch and feels like it hits us before we’re ready for it (are we really not quite ready for it?!). With the beautiful blend of comedy and potential for tears, it quickly makes up some ground, but goes awry again with a television interview in an attempt to neatly wrap up the narrative. Clearly, audiences everywhere (else) LOVE IT! (NOOSA AUDIENCES WOULD LOVE IT!).


It’s McCann’s performance I adore; it’s perfectly pitched, and delivered with all the highs and lows to crack open our hearts. McCann makes us remember why everybody loves Lucy.


Final shows today (Thursday February 26) at 1:30pm & 6:30pm and tomorrow (Friday February 27) at 1:30pm & 7pm.




Opening Night Style at QPAC: Mother & Son



Opening night style at QPAC: Mother & Son


Mother & Son on stage, thirty years after the smash hit television series, is a lovely, funny, very enjoyable, surprisingly emotional evening out. Read my review here.


Mother & Son


Dress Code: unofficially a little bit vintage


Pre-show drinks: Russell Street Wine Bar




T-shirt: Death Suite


Pants: Lilya


Shoes: Jane Debster


Jewellery: Renee Blackwell Design


Mum wearing her classic black from the vault. Jewellery from on board the ship whilst cruising the Panama Canal. It’s a Jackie Onassis collection piece, inspired by this piece.


Shoes by trippen.




Everybody Loves Lucy opens tonight!


fall in love again…. with Lucy at QPAC




Queensland will fall in love with Lucy all over again as Everybody Loves Lucy brings the larger-than-life character from one of America’s most popular sitcoms to the stage 24-27 February 2015 at (QPAC).


Lucille Ball was the Queen of American comedy for decades. Her signature role in I Love Lucy saw her win the public’s hearts and reign supreme as television’s biggest star.


Now, see the wacky, fearless, and totally endearing Lucy come to life on QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre stage in this superbly-written intimate cabaret that has been described as equal parts hilarious and thought-provoking.


Brimming with Lucille Ball’s irrepressible spirit, acclaimed Australian theatre star
Elise McCann (Mamma Mia, South Pacific) presents a tribute to a true trail-blazer, joined by musical director (and sometime ‘Desi’) Nigel Ubrihien.


Lucille Ball broke the mould for the way women were allowed to behave on TV. Joined by her real-life and on-screen husband Desi Arnaz, she held up a fun-house mirror to every marriage in America – exaggerating and making amusing every idiosyncrasy of married life. But as Lucy’s popularity thrived, her relationship with Desi suffered both professionally and privately.


Her own marriage may have fallen apart, but Lucille’s brave and outrageous depiction of married life saw her credited with saving the marriages of millions of Americans.


Intelligent and well-executed, with a generous serving of laughs, Everybody Loves Lucy is one that is not-to-be missed for the trail-blazer inside all of us. Book here.





Starring Elise McCann
With Nigel Ubrihien
Written by Elise McCann and Richard Carroll
Directed by Helen Dallimore
Musical Director Nigel Ubrihien
Choreographed by Christopher Horsey
Dramaturge Merridy Eastman
Dress Design by Tim Chappel



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