Author Archive for Xanthe Coward


See Hayden Tee on the Gold Coast!



Well, this is awesome! Hayden Tee, who will share the stage with our good friends, Patrice Tipoki (Fantine) and Simon Gleeson (Valjean), when he steps into Javert’s shoes for the new Cameron Mackintosh 25th Anniversary Les Miserables, comes to the Gold Coast first!





Born in New Zealand and trained at Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), Hayden Tee is acclaimed for his work as Performer, Director and Recording Artist in Theatre, Concert and Cabaret throughout New Zealand, Australia, the U.K and the U.S. 

Since locating to the USA in 2010 Hayden has appeared in a number of productions including originating the role of Jack Worthing in the new Gordon/Gruska musical Being Earnest, playing Edward Rutledge in 1776, Cinderellas Prince/ Wolf inInto the Woods (Director Susan V. Booth, Alliance Theater co), King Arthur in Camelot (dir. Ted Pappas, Pittsburgh Public Theatre), Freddy Einsford Hill In My Fair Lady (dir. Charles Repole, North Shore Music Theatre) and Captain Hook / Mr Darling in Peter Pan (dir. Michael Lichtefeld). Hayden recently played the role of Jack in the new musical version of The Importance of Being Earnets titled Being Earnest written by Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska at the New Works festival in CA under the direction of Robert Kelly.

Hayden appeared as Marius in the 20th anniversary West-end production of Les Miserables (dir. John Caird / Trevor Nunn, London UK), Thomas Andrews in Titanic: The Musical (dir. John Diedrich, Sydney AUS) (A.T Award nom.), Professor Bhaer in Little Women The Musical, (dir; Stuart Maunder, York Theatre, Kookaburra, AUS) (Glugg Award), Lt. Joe Cable inSouth Pacific (dir. Joanne Robinson, Adelaide AUS)(A.T.G Award nom), the tours of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (dir. Darren Yap, AUS), Songs for a New World (dir. Peter Cousens, AUS), The Wizard of Oz (dir. Nancye Hayes, AUS) and created the role of Cuddlepie in the workshop of The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (dir. Neil Armfield, Sydney AUS).

Hayden will appear at Flutterbies Cottage Cafe on Friday May 2 and Saturday May 3 under the musical direction of Nigel Ubrihien, whom we know from his appearances at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival!

Dinner and show packages available for just $75 (show only $55)

BUT WAIT! There’s more…

You can also catch Hayden when he appears as the Celebrity Guest Artist for The Greenroom Project, which returns to The Arts Centre Gold Coast on Monday May 5. The Greenroom Project is Australia’s first live cabaret talk show, with host, Matt Ward. Jam packed with on the couch interviews, celebrity guest artists, industry news and gossip, musical performances an open mic segment and showcasing 5 of the hottest up and coming musical theatre and cabaret artists around! All accompanied by musical director Brad Rush.


The King and I


The King and I

Opera Australia & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

April 19 – June 1 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




I’m not kidding. If you’re ever going to spend $159.90 on a theatre ticket (and another twenty bucks on a program), make it this time, for this show. Whatever you come away thinking about the issues of race and subservience, etc, etc, etc; if you’ve gone in expecting to be entertained you will be entertained! Director, Christopher Renshaw, and a lovely, big, full-scale musical theatre/opera budget have made sure of that.


The King and I. Image by Brian Geach.


Moments after I posted a pic of the proscenium and the immense red panels on stage, four Buddhist monks entered the Lyric Theatre, carrying incense. Not long after taking our seats we’d picked up on the evocative scent and the soothing sounds of meditation bells (Poppy downloaded a similar sounding app for my iPhone). I love this multi-sensory live theatre experience – we did the same for audiences in an empty surf shop in Mooloolaba when we staged the return season of Erotique, only it was Twenty8 Romance & Intimacy essential oil blend burning in diffusers we’d placed throughout the space – the scent is more important than you might think, adding an extra dimension to the challenging task of transporting us to another time and place.


The time is the 1800s and the place is Siam, the name given by foreigners to Thailand before 1939.


It feels like a street I walked down in Yogyakarta (though the prominent scent then was durian!), or the opening moments of Miss Saigon, all exotic, chaotic street, market and bar business. “One of us will be Miss Saigon.” Oh. Right. (I’m surprised the budget didn’t stretch to a live snake actually, aren’t you?)… And out of the noise and the mist of the harbour enters Lisa McCune, to a smattering of applause; she’s the uncertain but certainly bold Miss Anna, English schoolteacher. With her is a young boy, Riley Brooker, as her son, Louis. (The role is shared between Brooker, and Bailey Kelleher). They are very English, very proper, and they very precisely sing the first of many favourite Rodgers & Hammerstein’s songs, I Whistle a Happy Tune. Flanked by enormous red elephants beneath the proscenium, we know that the palace of the King of Siam will be breathtaking and now we’re as excited and as nervous as they are; we can’t wait to see it (and to meet the King)! When the bejewelled panels slide out magically to reveal a multidimensional panelled set of immense proportions, there are audible gasps from the audience – I think one of them is mine – because this is the most gorgeous, lavish set we’ve seen in an age, and it’s a rare pleasure (Set Design Brian Thomson). At Interval I hear, “Oh, it’s very opera.” That’s fitting, considering this is another collaboration, after the success of South Pacific, with Opera Australia. I’m sure there must be a third in pre-pre-pre-production discussion stages – the chemistry between McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, whether real or imagined y’all, is too good to let go of just yet. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Also “very opera” is Jenny Liu in the role of Tuptim, the young girl sent to the King as a gift from Burma. Liu traverses lightly between opera and musical theatre in a beautifully measured performance, perfectly matched by star on the rise, Adrian Li Donni as Lun Tha. Their moments together are delightful and tears may well as the music swells during their first act duet We Kiss in a Shadow and second act duet I Have Dreamed. But it’s Shu-Cheen Yu (Lady Thiang) who almost steals the show when she sings fervently to Anna Something Wonderful. (Singers, go ye and see her sing this because, singers, this is why we sing). Under the expert musical direction of Peter Casey, this orchestra is ideal; rich and sumptuous.


The King and I. Image by Brian Geach.


I say she almost steals the show because despite the fine performances of everybody else in this production – including that of Teddy Tahu Rhodes, which is as solid a performance as we need in this role, as the spoilt, sexist, too-slow-to-evolve King of Siam – this is McCune’s show. A strong adult ensemble, which delivers The Small House of Uncle Thomas just as we love to see it done, with reverence and tradition and terror and sadness and joy (Choreographer Susan Kikuchi), and a cute children’s chorus can’t compete with McCune; not with her smile or her on stage style, which is helped immensely in this production, it’s true, by Roger Kirk’s multi award winning designs. There must be at least six costume changes for McCune (I lost count!), and each gown is superb. My favourites – the boudoir robe (Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You?) and the ball gown (Shall We Dance?) – are exquisite. And it’s during the exuberant Shall We Dance that Teddy Tahu Rhodes successfully navigates the masses of fabric and literally sweeps McCune off her feet! For half a moment her eyes widen in surprise at the shock of a higher-and-faster-than-must-have-happened-during-rehearsals lift or twirl or swirl or something. But it doesn’t matter, in fact, for those who catch it, the expression adds to the thrill of the dance and when the King announces, “Again!” we want to experience it again too. It’s actually a travesty that there is no reprise and repeat of that polka. We have enjoyed, however, a reprise of Hello, Young Lovers; it’s the gentlest show stopper ever and it takes my breath away in an entirely different way.


I should mention that the young boy who plays the eldest son and heir to the throne does an almighty job in this lovely little role and really shines by the end of the night, as he psyches himself into being King. Incidentally, unlike at the conclusion of the movie, I don’t shed a tear when his father the King dies. He’s set so far back! I feel bad for not feeling sadder but then, suddenly, before we’ve had time to actually finish even exhaling, the media is ready to capture an Australian premiere standing ovation in Brisbane, and the brightest white light from a television camera makes me feel like all the emotion of the show is wasted! As long as the media gets their shot! A cheap shot!


I should also mention that I still feel it’s a crap ending. Isn’t it? So sad, so thinly veiled with hope for the new world order. I mean, for the King to decide to fade away that way? What even is that!? GET UP! Let’s face it, the production is pure escapism and it’s why we love the old shows. Well, there’s still something terribly irksome about aspects of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Carousel, Oklahoma and Show Boat but (The dancing! The songs!) …there is also something glorious and heartwarming in a good old fashioned, glittering romance. Sam disagrees. Sort of.


The King and I. Image by Brain Geach.


“It’s entertainment Viagra. Is there a place for it? Yes, there is. But telling a Rodgers and Hammerstein story in such a lavish way in 2014 is important for reasons you’re not even thinking about. Is it important because the story is important? No, it’s outdated and irrelevant, like South Pacific was. But it’s nice and I applaud Frosty for being bold enough to roll out two old girls in a row and make them work.”


“So you think there should be more of it?” I’m hopeful. Sometimes I just love an entertaining show, you know? And this one is entertaining AND good! Also, this conversation should not end in a fight. It’s late, it’s a school night, and I’ve got to get a move on and write the column too, and you know how long it takes to add links and images here (the big images are back! Hooray!), plus I was going to make real breakfast before school, after yoga and meditation and my morning pages… C’mon! Get to the point, Sam.


“I don’t think there should be more of it; I think there should be less of it, but if it’s going to be done, let it be done by John Frost. It hasn’t even had new life breathed into it, has it? It’s just a new, good, fun take on a much-loved show with a great, golden set. They’ve just done it the way it should be done. The remnants of the baby boomers are being tapped – the oldies want the oldies and they want them done with that girl from Blue Heelers.”


I’m appalled. I retort, “She looks twenty-two and she sings like a bird!” Wait. Did he just call me old?


“You loved it and you should. It’s beautiful, colourful, it cost a lot of money and it let you get away for a couple of hours. Good. It’s all good. I’m going to bed.” Clearly, this conversation is unfinished.


The King and I. Image by Brain Geach.


Meanwhile, Poppy has appeared to check whether or not I’ve finished Our Review Of The King and I because she has to go to bed too. “It’s a school night, Mum.” She has something to add: “I loved it, it was beautiful. I love the movie but it’s sad. I loved how there was gold glitter that rained down on us at the end! It was awesome.”


And there you have it; as good a reason as any to go see this beautiful, lavish, ravishing, dazzling, all-the-superlatives production. #outofthemouthsofbabes



Sunshine Coast Arts April 11 – 18 2014


SCD Arts Friday April 11 2014


Xanthe Coward



There is always so much on, is it any wonder we struggle to fit it all in? But with the new-look Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance website, at least we have no more excuses when it comes to finding out about what’s on. The website ( has all the audition, production and booking details you need to see and be involved in local live theatre. With tickets just a click away it makes scheduling a fun social night out or a hot date at the theatre a no brainer. Enjoy full-scale musicals, dramas, comedies, reviews and one-act plays at a theatre near you. Get involved by emailing your local theatre company or jumping onto their Facebook page and offering your skills and enthusiasm. Community theatre is a hobby for some and a training platform for a professional career for others. No matter your level of involvement, from audience member to cast member, you’ll be glad you connected with other local theatre lovers and theatre makers. For details check out



Ira Levin’s intriguing murder mystery, directed by Chris Mills, will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! Suspense mounts steadily as the plot twists and turns with devilish cleverness in this play within a play. Season continues April 9, 11 & 12 at 8pm and April 12 at 2pm. Bookings or call 5441 1814


Pirates to Pinafore

It’s an all-star cast of performing the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan in just 89 minutes! Starring Philip Gould as Sir Arthur Sullivan, alongside veteran comic actor, Brian Hannan as W.S. Gilbert, Pirates to Pinafore delivers all the hits and highlights of the thirteen G&S operettas we have come to know and love, including songs from Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado. Noosa Arts Theatre April 11 &12 at 7:30pm. Matinees April 12 at 1pm & April 13 at 2pm. Bookings or call 5449 9343


The Gentleman Magician

Bruce Glen, The Gentleman Magician, says, “Magic isn’t just for children – why should they have all the fun?” It’s a one-man magic show for adults only, which will challenge you to explore your imagination without a single top hat or rabbit involved. Noosa Arts Theatre Saturday May 3 at 1pm & 7:30pm. Bookings


Mothers’ Celebration Concert

Treat mum to a very special concert featuring Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir and Oriana Youth Choir singing all her musical favourites from their extensive repertoire. A scrumptious afternoon tea is included in the ticket price. Buderim Memorial Hall Sunday May 4 at 2pm. Bookings



Directed by Anne Grant, Barmaids is about Val and Nancy’s response to change when management decides to replace them with topless popsies. Saturated with humour, karaoke, and a chook raffle too. The Lind from May 16. Bookings




Sweet Charity

Charity Hope Valentine is a taxi dancer who longs for love, but has bad luck with men. Auditions at Coolum Civic Centre Monday April 7 at 8pm and Wednesday April 9 at 7pm. Details


Jerry’s Girls

Jerry’s Girls celebrates the music and lyrics of award-winning Broadway composer, Jerry Herman, in a two-hour musical evening. Information night at Noosa Arts Theatre Wednesday April 16 at 7:30pm. Auditions at Noosa Arts Theatre Wednesday April 30 at 7pm (soloists) and Sunday May 4 at 10am (ensemble). Details


 SCD Arts Saturday April 19 2014



The King and I


Local performer, Patrice Tipoki (Fantine in the upcoming touring professional production of Les Miserables and recently seen in A Little Night of Music for MontroseAccess and Tipoki Productions’ Songs For a New World), made her professional musical theatre debut as one of the Royal Children in Gordon-Frost’s 1991 production of The King and I.


Tomorrow night John Frost and Opera Australia present the Australian premiere of the acclaimed revised production of The King and I at QPAC. Final tickets for the limited seven-week season were released this week so I hope you got online and got yours. Why is it important to see this production? For the same reasons it’s always important to see as much excellent live theatre as possible. A wonderful show with a rich story and endearing characters, sumptuous costumes and memorable music (with songs dubbed by Marni Nixon, you’ll recall, for Deborah Kerr in the movie version), which lifts us up and carries us away for a little while to another world. Live theatre is the ultimate escapism. And for those of us who are involved at some level in the industry, it also helps us to recognise and appreciate what “good” looks and sounds like. And we must know what good is if we’re going to claim to produce it!


This particular production features 37 Brisbane children on stage. Many of them, just as Patrice did, are making their debut professional appearance. There are so many reasons to catch this lavish production. Bookings



James Millar Joins Jesus Christ Suoper


Special guest at this year’s Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance Soiree, James Millar, has secured a role in the US Arena Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, which we saw here last year.


James is first understudy to Pontius Pilate, and joins Incubus lead singer, Brandon Boyd (Judas), Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams (Mary Magdalene) and Ben Forster (Jesus) in a 50-city tour. For details check out



Bruce Glen The Gentleman Magician

This is a truly intriguing one-man magic show without involving a single top hat or white rabbit. Bruce Glen, The Gentleman Magician, will challenge you to explore your imagination. Marvel at extraordinary magic, together with “tall tales and true”, inspired by the charm and wonder of some of our greatest storytellers. Noosa Arts Theatre Saturday May 3 at 1pm & 7:30pm. Bookings


Mothers’ Celebration Concert

Celebrate mum with Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir and Oriana Youth Choir and enjoy a lovely afternoon tea at Buderim Memorial Hall Sunday May 4 at 2pm. Bookings



A great Australian comedy written by Katherine Thompson and directed by Anne Grant, Barmaids tells the tale of Val and Nancy as they face the prospect of being replaced by topless popsies. The Lind from May 16 at 8pm. Bookings




Jerry’s Girls

Jerry’s Girls celebrates the music and lyrics of award-winning Broadway composer Jerry Herman in a two-hour musical entertainment. Auditions Wednesday April 30 by appointment via



The King and I previews in Brisbane Tonight!

“The most ravishing show you may ever see…”


How excitement! Are you one of the lucky ones? Are you seeing it first?




The King and I presented by Opera Australia and John Frost opens as a glittering national premiere at QPAC on Saturday 19 April 2014 and previews tonight! If you didn’t secure seats already, you still have a chance to see this sumptuous production…


Final tickets have been released for the Australian premiere season of the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece, The King and I which will play for strictly limited seven week season in QPAC’s Lyric Theatre until Sunday 1 June 2014.


Australia’s favourite leading lady and four-time Gold Logie winner Lisa McCune plays English governess Anna Leonowens opposite internationally acclaimed baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the King in the Brisbane and Sydney seasons, hot from their success performing together in the national tour of South Pacific, also presented by Opera Australia and John Frost.


In the roles of British Diplomat Sir Edward Ramsey and Captain Orton is John Adam (The School For Wives) while The Kralahome is played by Marty Rhone (The King and I – West End, Godspell). Lady Thiang will be played by Chinese-born Australian opera singer Shu-Cheen Yu (The King and I – 1991 Australian tour) and in the roles of the Burmese young lovers Lun Tha and Tuptim are Adrian Li Donni and Jenny Liu.


The ensemble performers are Bianca Baykara, Novy Bereber, Iggy Cabral, William Centurion, Leo Cornelius, Jade Coutts, Teresa Duddy, Vivien Emsworth, Elle Evangelista, Carolyn Ferrie, Chris Fung, Kiana Gallop-Angeles, Erin James, Ella Jarman, Patrick Jeremy, Leah Lim, Anna Magrath, Seann Matthew Moore, Matthew Nguyen, Alexis Pedraza-Sampang, Hayanah Pickering, Marcus Rivera, Michelle Rozario, Ariya Sawadivong, Victor Siharath, Nicholas Sopelario and Yong Ying Woo.


The Brisbane production also stars 27 Queensland children aged 5 to 13, many making their stage debut in The King and I.


The principal role of Prince Chululongkorn will be shared by Timothy Ho and Sebastian Li, and principal role of Louis Leonowens will be shared by Riley Brooker and Bailey Kelleher. Jayden McGinlay will understudy the roles of both Louis and Prince Chululongkorn.


The 22 children who will play the young princes and princesses of Siam are Hannah Bahr,   Leilani Joy Burke-Court, Mia Byrne, Katitlin Cheung, Lucy Chin, Oliver Chin, Izellah Connelly, Chloe De Los Santos, Rocco Frediani, Jai Godbold, Jessica Kim, Kai Koinuma, Chloe Liew, Cameron McDonald, Lachlan McDonald, Siaa Panapa, Rhetta Pulou, Charlotte Rubendra, Jayden Siemon, Laila Mia Steele, Zayden Stevens and Shivani Whala.




The King and I was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth musical together and is considered one of the jewels in their crown. It was based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, which took its inspiration from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a British governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam (now Thailand) in the early 1860s.


The beautiful score includes the songs “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Getting to Know You”, “Shall We Dance?” and “Hello, Young Lovers”.


A hit on Broadway in 1951, where it starred Gertrude Lawrence (who died during the season) and Yul Brynner, the show ran for three years before touring. The first London production opened in 1953, enjoying similar success. In 1956 it became a famous film starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner who won an Academy Award for his performance.


John Frost’s now legendary Australian production premiered at the Adelaide Festival Theatre in 1991. Directed by West End director Christopher Renshaw and starring Hayley Mills as Anna, it played to sell out houses around the country. In 1996, the production went on to win four Tony Awards on Broadway: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical (Donna Murphy), Best Scenic Design (Brian Thomson) and Best Costume Design (Roger Kirk). The Broadway season was followed by a US tour. In 2000, the production opened at the London Palladium with Elaine Paige as Anna where it played for nearly two years before embarking on a UK tour.


Christopher Renshaw has returned to Australia to revive the production, with its stunning Thai-inspired set design by Brian Thomson, sumptuous costumes by Roger Kirk, lighting by Nigel Levings, sound design by Michael Waters and musical direction by Peter Casey. Susan Kikuchi has recreated the original Jerome Robbins choreography as well as the choreography of her mother Yuriko who appeared in the 1951 Broadway production and the 1956 film.




The Ultimate Vegas Show


The Ultimate Vegas Show

M2 Productions

Jupiters Casino

April 11 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


Ok. Lemme’ just copy and paste for a bit. Trust me. It’s the best way.


Showgirls. Legends. Feathers. Sequins. Highkicks. Juggling that astounds. Magic…


From April 11, all the sizzle and spectacle of a true Las Vegas show will be celebrated at Jupiters Hotel & Casino as entertainment maestro Michael Boyd stages The Ultimate Vegas Show!


The Ultimate Vegas Show mixes world class magic and illusions with one of Las Vegas’ top jugglers and performance artists, and pays tribute to Dean Martin and other legendary greats through Australia’s best impersonators, all framed by a bevy of gorgeous Vegas Showgirls and boys and supported by a live band!


The Ultimate Vegas Show pays homage to the showgirl and all of her feathers, sequins, high kicks and heels; mixed with breathtaking magic and illusions and incredible juggling by Vegas sensation Romano Frediani who is flying in from Nevada for the season. 


The show is choreographed by Todd Patrick, one of Australia’s dance leaders who began his formidable career with Disney and then Versace, Dior, Issey Miyaki, Gucci and Chanel across Europe and Asia. As a dancer he worked internationally, one of the highlights being as the principal in The Lido in Paris. He has worked with Australian music’s best including Guy Sebastian, Vanessa Amorosi, Zoe Badwi, Hi-5, Kate Ceberano and Dannii Minogue as well as international DJ’s and pop artists including Inaya Day (New York), Barbara Tucker (New York), Peyton (London), DJ Frankie Knuckles (New York) and Tune in Tokyo (Melbourne). 


There. I think that’s all they would like me to tell you. That’s what you’re supposed to see. Well. If this is the ultimate Vegas show, Vegas can have it.


There’s something going on between the point of M2’s conceptualisation of these shows and the result. The last one, Cabaret de Paris didn’t enamour me to Michael Boyd’s style of production and I recall being very kind. (This is me being very kind). I’m beginning to wonder whether Jupiters themselves believe their hype. Brett Annable took to the stage first – the management seem to do this at Jupiters – and introduced the show, presumably for the sake of the punters who’d already had so much to drink in The Vegas Lounge AKA The Atrium Bar that they’d promptly forgotten what it was they were seeing. Following the opening number, we met David Cotter who has, apparently, “perfected the ultimate Dean Martin”. Whatever that looks and sounds like. If Cotter’s act had been approved for inclusion in any show I’d put money into, I’d be asking for it back. (NEVER PUT YOUR OWN MONEY IN THE SHOW!). I don’t think that’s too harsh. His lack of command over vocal pitch, pace and comic timing, his complete lack of charisma and confidence with the lyrics, not to mention the script, ultimately reveals him as a con, and by con I mean contender for the most laughable up-late karaoke you can imagine. I’M BEING KIND.


Ultimate Showgirl Show Collage


Poor Elvis doesn’t fare much better here. Dean Vegas is an internationally renowned entertainer with the Key to the city of Tupelo, where Elvis was born. HE IS THE ONLY ELVIS TRIBUTE ARTIST TO EVER RECEIVE THIS HONOUR. So naturally, I was looking forward to being suitably impressed. Here’s what I was impressed with:


Todd Patrick’s choreography is just fine; in fact, it’s really the most consistently entertaining aspect of the show. The dancers execute their high kicks, lifts, and lots of feather-touting strutting and sexy salsa, and in a strange jungle sequence that opens with a dance remix of Knock on Wood (Ha! I know!), and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, we witness for the first time in at least a decade, many, many canons and double pumps. But it works. Although, it has to be said; it did make me think of Showgirls, that dreadful, dreadful film Sam made us watch again for Diabolique research. Don’t ask. Whatever, Sam.


The dancers are terrific (I CAN DO TERRIFIC FAN KICKS!), albeit missing from the final moments of a routine halfway through the show when a mid-curtain descended in front of them, separating them from Elvis, who noticed nothing, so committed was he in finishing the number. There were other technical glitches, which by rights should have happened during previews, but then, WHAT EVEN ARE PREVIEWS IN THIS COUNTRY? I know. Don’t answer that. The dancers really are fine, and the girls are gorgeous and leggy and possibly all size 4 AND beautifully fit not hospitalised so I’m actually in awe of them. The boys come across at first as underfed and boyish, that is until they appear in their Copacabana costumes, revealing, importantly, very well worked upon ABS.


VEGAS SHOW_kickline


Romano Frediani is hopefully the only genuine LA talent (because IMAGINE the frustration in paying everybody to actually come from Vegas and ending up with only one genuine personality and bona fide born entertainer on stage). He is the real deal, and the only real hit, gauging by the vibe on opening night. (Compared to the toilet/bar break during Dean Martin’s big romantic number, this guy turns out to be a showstopper). We take a little while to warm to him but then, after simply juggling (no, it’s not simple, is it?), Frediani embarks on a ring tossing and catching act that has the house in stitches…and involved! Obviously, the success of this act is that he continues to fail…until he wins, and what a win it is! He is rewarded with the only genuine standing ovation of the night, from just a few, but this is as opposed to just a few standing up to make their escape, as people do, well before the end of the final curtain call. YOUR CAR WILL STILL BE THERE IN FIVE MORE MINUTES. CAN YOU STAY AND APPLAUD PLEASE? IT’S RESPECTFUL TO THE ARTISTS, WHO ARE NOT NECESSARILY TO BLAME FOR A SHOW THAT DOESN’T MATCH ITS PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL OR THE ORIGINAL VISION.


Michael Boyd does some pretty neat tricks, and brings out some pretty assistants. I do enjoy keeping up with the latest illusionist assistants’ look, which appears to be Black Milk Clothing meets custom made Roman Gladiator dominatrix style. It will catch on, you wait. And look, I don’t want to know the secrets behind the illusions, but I don’t want to be able to hazard a guess at how they’re done either so perhaps a bit more care with a couple of these acts will make them even more thrilling.




The band, led by MD Mal Wood, is fantastic, and it’s fantastic to see them on stage.


To be completely honest, I don’t understand Jupiters’ audiences and I don’t accept that there are no better ideas or creators out there. M2 Productions are not doing our Performing Arts industry any favours at the moment, except of course for consistently employing dancers, choreographers and costumiers, and for this I applaud Boyd and Jupiters. But can we up the anti already? I’ve given it two goes. Three strikes and you’re out!






Flipside Circus

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

April 9 – 12 2014


Reviewed by Poppy Eponine




Before we even got to the theatre, Aroha had to do some acrobatics to get into a tricky car park. We (sensibly) ran across the road to make the show on time and (carefully) raced up the steps to find four seats together in the top row of the tiered seating. We had very good luck all day. We could see everything. EVERYTHING!


This is a circus show of a different kind, without animals, fancy costumes or a Ringmaster, but with extremely talented kids of various ages, who clearly love what they do. What they do, for 60 minutes without an interval, is tumble – forwards and backwards – stand on the shoulders of their friends, hang and twist and twirl on ropes and hoops and swings, leap over each other and jump giant red flags, juggle yellow squishy balls, and keep five plates spinning.


I just have to put in, not wanting to spoil the show if you’re going to see it, but do you want me to tell you just one little bit of an actual act? There is a really funny, circus performer. He started off singing along with some music and the other performers kept putting more and more shirts on him. This is something that made me think of my cousin because no matter what happens, even if somebody sits down in the seat that Oscar wants, he just keeps doing what he’s doing, in this case, singing. In this way the little boy was like a clown at the circus and some people laughed and some people didn’t. Maybe they didn’t get it. I screamed with laughter. I got it.


Even though the costumes weren’t fancy, they were funny and just good for the acts with big, beautiful, colourful flowers on most of them. One girl wore a bathing cap of flowers. No one wore shoes. Barefoot is better for circus.




The performers are really brave. They take awesome risks, physical risks, and surprised us by climbing over each other. The smallest kids climbed up onto the tallest kids. Sometimes this was to get to the equipment above their heads. Sometimes they just jumped on each other for fun and games. By climbing and balancing, the whole cast of kids create a very fun-looking and extraordinary wall. Mum says they’ll remember they did that and use that extraordinary shape in physical theatre one day at school!


The music changed only once. I don’t mean they play just one song – there are lots of songs – but the music suddenly becomes dangerous and an older girl swings on the high rope with a safety rope attached to her belt, and she looks quite groovy. There was a lot of clapping and screaming because her act was so risky.


I loved the fun and games in the foyer afterwards. There were: hoops, spinning plates, devil sticks and soft juggling balls. This meant that the show could go on for us and we stayed until no one else who had seen the show was still there. Amanda asked if Flipside gets the Poppy Seal of Approval and yes! Definitely! It was the most awesome, spectacular and amazing circus we’ve seen this year.


Flipside teaches other kids too. You can do their classes and holiday workshops at their studio. Even kids who don’t normally do circus – anyone can do it! Because I’m on the Sunshine Coast I’m doing a different class next week here but if you’re in Brisbane you should definitely check out Flipside for your kids. They will love it! And they will love this show! But two shows sold out and the last one is tonight so see here if there are any tickets left for you.







Oscar Theatre Co

Brisbane Powerhouse

April 3 – 19 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




Trust Oscar to put on the sexiest show in town! Their girls are hot and their boys are hotter, regardless of your preferences. But what makes this show spectacular spectacular is a lot more than the eye candy – these kids can sing and dance y’all! And they always have done – you’ll remember Spring Awakening and Next To Normal – and this show, which evolved as the Lightspace Cabaret Series, is the next logical step, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Oscar is here to stay. And thank Adonis for that!


There’s a blatant message behind this show, and that’s SAME (SPECTACULAR SPECTACULAR) SAME. I hope to all the Greek Gods that you’re not still struggling with the notion of same-sex relationships (if you’re reading this blog, let’s face it, probs not!), but if you are, you sad, sad excuse for a human being, all the more reason to climb into an old sofa in the front row and HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!


While some are still insisting on trying to fit cabaret into a neat little box, Oscar goes beyond definition to create a gender-bending, mind-blowing phenomenon that you’ll experience and want to experience again, immediately. It’s not often we see something with the awesome, powerful, positive sexual energy to lift us out of our seats shouting, “Again! Again!” And look, no, it wasn’t just me. A packed house roared their appreciation at the end of the show, already having clapped and squealed throughout it in pure delight. Being able to bring drinks into the space is obviously essential to the atmosphere, but actually, during Interval, Adam and I lounged – literally – and chatted away, taking in the high-voltage vibe and wondering aloud, “Where does Emily FIND these performers?” Or do they find her?


In Chris Kellet we have an Emcee in true Cabaret tradition. To open with Wilkommen makes perfect sense, setting the ambience with ease (helped already, before we even begin by the band, led by MD Dale Lingwood and cast members strategically placed posed amongst the punters), and allowing us – especially those of us right under the, er, noses of the performers, admire an entirely new perspective on the number, choreographed by Dan Venz. The impact of the full company is felt at once, and not again until an extraordinary homage to West Side Story, ringing out that core message loud and clear, to bring the evening to a close. The voices are rich and full, befitting the well-loved score, and we are convinced. There is indeed a place for us, no matter who (or what) we are. In between, of course there is naughtiness! And some standout performances, including a gorgeous Andrew Sisters style arrangement of Call Me Maybe (Conor, Dakota & Dan), Conor Ensor’s touching Sandra Dee/There Are Worse Things I Could Do, Aya Valentine’s riotous take on My Girlfriend Who Lives In Canada, the expertly executed Cell Block Tango (all the boys), and Single Ladies (Garret, Adwan & Andy). Oscar’s very own Bath Girl seems an odd – but  not – inclusion and I hope there’s another show for her (and her South Pacific cum Rubby Ducky parodying boy chorus); it’s as if this one couldn’t NOT go into the final mix, but there might be a better fit within a future vision. And there are moments of contemporary dance that almost take away from the vocalists’ work, but I let those moments slide because the dancers are good; precise and emotionally present, earning their place in the shared space. THIS TIME.




It’s with surprise and delight that I take on board the gender-bending vocals and physicality of the cast (who knew Rizzo could be such a sensitive guy?), and so it’s with some surprise also, that I realise later Bring on the Men is performed entirely by the girls, as per its original context from Jekyll and Hyde. And would that not have been an interesting piece for the boys to explore?


If for no other reason, you should probs see this show before we lose Venz to Vegas; surely that’s his destiny, or at least within his sights. Not only a hot, sharp mover and shaker, he’s choreographed the whole thing, beautifully lit by Jason Glenwright. Now THAT’S more like it, Mister! Light up those guys and dolls! Very clever, the way Ms Gilhome gets people together to create a little somethin’ somethin’…




This little somethin’ somethin’ is absolutely sizzling so see it before it sells out! Or… Perhaps it’s already too late and you will only have everybody else’s party stories to go by. That’s sad. For you. This fun fiasco finishes next weekend. Get on it, get a ticket and get to it!



Aaand roll credits…



Director: Emily Gilhome

Choreographer: Dan Venz

Music Director: Dale Lingwood

Lighting Designer: Jason Glenwright

Designer: Falco Fox

Assistant Director: Jack Kelly

Photography Design: Joel Devereux


Band: Dale Lingwood, Gene Stevens, Justin Bliss, Daniel Robbins


Company: Adwan Dickson, Aimee Butterworth, Andrew Kanofski, Ash McCready, Aya Valentine, Chris Kellett, Claire Walters, Conor Ensor, Dakota Striplin, Dan Venz, Danny Lazar, Ellen Reed, Garret Lyon, Jack Kelly, Jacqui Devereus, Jakob Evelyn, Kimie Tsukakoshi, Michael Hogan, Shannon Metzeling, Shelley Marshall, Vanessa Friscia, Josh Daveta






Metro Arts & Julie Vulcan

Metro Arts Basement

April 1 – 4 2014


Reviewed by Meredith McLean




We all take journeys in our lives. You might take a journey on the bus to work. You take a journey to the coast for a weekend away. Some of us go on personal journeys and find the tourist attractions of our own lives that help us change. When you close your eyes and dream, that is a different journey into the psyche all of its own. Sometimes we have a clear heading and know exactly where to go through these journeys. But people are afraid to admit most of the time we just drift along. Julie Vulcan’s durational performance encapsulates this in her experience called DRIFT.


Some journeys are clearer than others. Drift is not one of them. Prepare to be at first mystified, then petrified and finally unsatisfied. To be fair, each session of Drift offers something different so perhaps your experience would be different. But I can only share what I felt on my night drifting through on a strange vessel.


In the first phase, the mystification, we try to quietly tiptoe down the stairs into Metro Arts submerged basement theatre. The stage looks fragile and beautiful with the lights hanging about the rafters, and we are about to enter it. Lined up in the room are rows of beds covered in straw. Sure enough, it is our job to lie in them and wait.


During the phase of petrifaction, or perhaps a kinder word, purification, you are approached. You receive a strange edible bead in your mouth and Julie places wireless headphones on your head. Your mind is filled with ethereal music and voices. Meanwhile, Julie gives you a surprisingly relaxing hand massage. I found myself drifting off while she massaged my hand and filled my nostrils with sweet, hand oils. Once you have been completely mesmerised by this experience she covers you in a silvery space blanket and leaves you to rest.


And that’s all. After that you lie there, drifting in uncertainty, “Do I go?”, “Do I stay here?”, “What’s next?”. But that is all. This is what disappointed me. I was sure there was something else she could do. The experience was so odd and consuming, that once nothing else happened it was unsatisfying.


Quietly, we got up and we left with a small hand-made boat in our hand.


I’m still not sure of the point, or if there was supposed to be one. But I do know I would like to see more of this kind of theatre around Brisbane. It is odd and intriguing and bizarre. But ultimately, it is wonderful and shows amazing potential.


Go to Metro Arts to find more peculiar journeys to satisfy your curiosity.




Sunshine Coast Arts Friday April 4 2014


Well, I haven’t been very consistent with this column going up here have I? (I’ve been consistently late with it!). I don’t know who actually reads it in print either, and I’m feeling disillusioned about promoting anything of any calibre on the Sunshine Coast when it sometimes seems, at least from where we are standing, that quite often people here just can’t be bothered to support the arts, or their friends who are creating it and bringing it to their back yard, despite their supposed love of theatre and live music. And friend status. Oh, did I type that out loud? I know. I’m wrong, obviously. Whatever. Prove it by turning up to things again. We’ll go on making things and bringing things because we love live entertainment, and we believe wholeheartedly in supporting the artists who are interested in building industry. But it’s disheartening to say the least, when the no-shows, those who are apparently completely uninterested, are so many of the people we know. I KNOW. IT’S THE SUNSHINE COAST. WE KNOW PEOPLE. DISAPPOINTING.














Also, there is actually no excuse for not knowing what’s on. Not in our hyper-connected, immediate world of news feeds and links to events. So leave your excuses out of it. You either care enough to click on a link and find out the details for an event (and make arrangements to be there), or you don’t. And if you’re one of those who don’t give a rats about what’s on, don’t be the same person who complains that there is nothing on. It’s simply not true. Yes, we’re all busy. SO WORK IT OUT.  Manage your week so that live entertainment is scheduled and becomes a part of the week! Check Facebook, Twitter, Insta and and go see something. READ THE PAPER. PHONE A FRIEND. AND GO SEE SOMETHING. It’s likely there is one degree of separation between you and the artist in any show on any stage here . The friends involved will be delighted to see you there and they’ll be more likely to take an interest in what you do too.


Here is most recent arts column to have appeared in the Sunshine Coast Daily. If you pick up a paper on Fridays and see it in print, and if it elicits any sort of response from you at all, do let me know.


SCD Arts Friday April 4 2014


Xanthe Coward


During school holidays there is usually a heap on for younger children but what about the tweens and teens? This Sunday, music fans have the chance to catch award-winning performers in Caloundra and Noosa. Popular artists of the calibre of Emma Dean and Francesca de Valence don’t often swing by the Sunshine Coast. We know what a challenge it is to find a live music venue locally, but singers must sing, so XS Entertainment brings the two enchanting songtresses to Noosa Arts Theatre for an intimate “house concert” on Sunday at 6pm. On the same afternoon, catch our very own Oriana Choir and Oriana Youth Choir in a special showcase concert at Caloundra Uniting Church at 2pm. Details below.


Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir Showcase Concert


In the lead-up to the Queensland Eisteddfod, where they’ll defend their title of Grand Champion, Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir presents a one-off showcase concert on Sunday April 6 at 2pm at Caloundra Uniting Church. All ages. Bookings call 0431 542 343




Songs of Love and War


Award-winning Brisbane/New York based songstresses, Emma Dean and Francesca de Valence perform new songs and old favourites from their extensive repertoires, exploring themes of love, heartbreak and what it truly means to be a fighter. Start the holidays with friends and fantastic music. One night only Sunday April 6 at Noosa Arts Theatre. Tickets $25 ($20 concession). Cash bar open from 5:30pm. All ages. Bookings email






Ira Levin’s intriguing murder mystery, directed by Chris Mills, will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! Suspense mounts steadily as the plot twists and turns with devilish cleverness in this play within a play. Gala opening night tonight at The Lind at 8pm. Season continues April 5, 9, 11 & 12 at 8pm and April 6 & 12 at 2pm. Bookings or call 5441 1814




Pirates to Pinafore


It’s an all-star cast of performing the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan in just 89 minutes! Starring Philip Gould as Sir Arthur Sullivan, alongside veteran comic actor, Brian Hannan as W.S. Gilbert, Pirates to Pinafore delivers all the hits and highlights of the thirteen G&S operettas we have come to know and love, including songs from Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado. Noosa Arts Theatre April 11 &12 at 7:30pm. Matinees April 12 at 1pm & April 13 at 2pm. Bookings or call 5449 9343




Sweet Charity

Charity Hope Valentine is a taxi dancer who longs for love, but has bad luck with men. Auditions at Coolum Civic Centre Monday April 7 at 8pm and Wednesday April 9 at 7pm. Details


Jerry’s Girls

Jerry’s Girls celebrates the music and lyrics of award-winning Broadway composer, Jerry Herman, in a two-hour musical evening. Information night at Noosa Arts Theatre Wednesday April 16 at 7:30pm. Auditions at Noosa Arts Theatre Wednesday April 30 at 7pm (soloists) and Sunday May 4 at 10am (ensemble). Details






QTC and Grin & Tonic Theatre Troupe

QPAC Playhouse

March 24 – April 13 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


With Super Star funding to bring out one of the UK’s most respected directors, a stellar local cast and Queensland’s original Shakespearean company co-producing QTC’s Macbeth, what could go wrong? At first glance, absolutely nothing, it’s perfect! Isn’t it? It must be… But then there’s that thing that happens when you leave the theatre and don’t know what to say about a show. And then ponder it for well over a week before writing anything about it. And then ever so vaguely fear the repercussions for speaking a different truth. But not really. But… Well, you know.


After much thought, it appears even to me that I should see this production again. My response after the first viewing is troublesome, and apparently, starkly contrasting to popular opinion. I know this because we had our first 2014 Matilda Award committee meeting last week and the discussion centred around the fact that others are raving about Macbeth. That’s okay. Great! What would we have to talk about if we all agreed on everything? The fact here is that I left this show unsettled for all the wrong reasons. I’m so disappointed that I’m so disappointed.




Strangely, but not, the stars of the show are the set, sound and lighting. Simone Romuniuk’s design is incredible, fantastic, all the superlatives, comprising from the deepest recesses of her intriguing mind, ancient trees bound in places in bandages and promising fairy folk or some other population of wild, climbing, cajoling forest creatures (although not delivering – we’ll get to that) and multiple levels – wide, deep steps that serve as the floor of each place in the play, all magically lit by David Walters against an eerie soundscape by Phil Slade.


The opening moments are truly magnificent, despite going on for slightly longer than necessary. The powerful impact of the first few flashes of bright white light and the beating of battle drums is diminished after several moments, nevertheless succeeding in setting the high-stakes and raising our expectations. Mine are not entirely met. I don’t feel for anyone other than Banquo and Macduff, and eventually, it’s true, for Lady Macbeth, because what woman doesn’t recognise the self-doubt, self-loathing and slow descent into madness after the manipulation of a man has gone horribly wrong? Just saying.




The witches – those infamous wyrd sisters – come organically from the earth; writhing, twisting and melting into one another, in the best sense of the words. It’s a bit too Wakakirri and I don’t love it but others appear to. OMG THEY LOVE IT. Perhaps they are the few who haven’t seen the like before. Perhaps they don’t get out much. Something similar this way comes quite often when we combine the female form, contemporary dance, dirt, body paint and torn bits and pieces of costumes that serve as only a semblance of modesty. (What? Ohhhh, the school bookings! Right!). Despite the highly physical performances and their clear commitment to the roles, I feel that Ellen Bailey, Courtney Stewart, and particularly Lauren Jackson, are underutilised. (Jackson shines in a different light for a moment as Lady MacDuff).



And look, if there’s a Year 12 cohort looking for Semester 2 Physical Theatre inspiration, by all means…



But what strikes me is this: why have that awesome set towering over them and not have them appearing out of it (and disappearing into it)? I was literally waiting with baited breath to see the witches drop down from Romaniuk’s trees and scramble up their immense trunks, never really leaving the space. Imagine noticing, from time to time, as the plot thickens, each gorgeous figure stretched out along a twisted, damaged limb high above us, watching the entire world of the play unfold…




Jason Klarwein’s Macbeth is at first glance dark and brooding and moody and…mostly shallow. There, I said it. There are moments – glimpses – of the real thing but I don’t very often feel I can believe him with so much surface level stand and deliver going on. What’s worse, and deeply inconsiderate, is that Klarwein gives his Lady Macbeth nothing; there is no connection between he and Veronica Neave, at least not for us, and while she works hard at it, Neave lacks the intensity, ferocity and super sexiness of the manipulative (merry) murderess. (She could do with a little more Velma Kelly-ness. It wasn’t until later, when I was washing the blood off my hands, I even knew they were dead.) It’s her eyes wide shut scary obsession with the blood on her hands, which finally convinces me of Neave’s take on the famous wife. In the most controlled, contained manner, she gives everything she’s got and it’s affecting to say the least.



And what about the boys? Well, let’s just get this out of the way. Wouldn’t you think getting so many good-looking males on stage demands a shamelessly exhibitionist, shirtless, all-in sweaty bloody brawl *or something* at some stage? Yes, I thought so. A missed opportunity, after some fighting falls a little flat. Not the extreme violence we were warned about. However, no matter how desensitised we might be, Macbeth’s death is just about as bloody as it gets, and it’s a fantastic, highly theatrical moment. It’s actually, ironically, as real as we’re ever gonna’ get on stage. Interestingly, like Neave’s, it’s Klarwein’s final convincing moments that resonate most with me. I enjoy performances by Steven Rooke, Thomas Larkin, Timothy Dashwood and Lucas Stibbard, but the standouts are Andrew Buchanan as Macduff, who is as broken as he can be upon learning about the death of his family, and Tama Matheson as Banquo, who is just perfection, obviously. Can we keep him now? These two, vocally and emotionally pitch perfect from the outset, along with the fine enunciation and vocal expression from every cast member, make this Macbeth a dream for English teachers and students, thousands of them apparently, and that can only be a good thing. How wonderful to get every word perfectly clearly, when so often it’s the Round Robin reading of the play or the attendance at a less precise production that turns a student off Shakespeare for life. Director, Michael Attenborough, has given us that at least. So while it’s not my favourite staging, it may well be yours.


Yes. It’s the Macbeth we had to have, and far from turning anyone off Shakespeare, it’s placed the bar in a rather odd spot, neither raising or lowering it, but offering something plainer than it is wrapped up to appear and without cinematic images flickering across its dense set (I know right? This is a good and novel thing!), which will wow the first timers, satisfy the English teachers, and well and truly suffice for all those smart enough to keep quiet when good money has been supposedly well spent. Oops. Okay. Clearly, I don’t fit any of those descriptors and I don’t feel this production was a good fit for me.






None of this changes the fact that you must see it. In fact, I’m sure you already have done. Good. See you at A Tribute of Sorts.



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