Archive for the 'Cabaret' Category

18
Dec
18

A Very Naughty Christmas – The Second Coming

 

A Very Naughty Christmas – The Second Coming

Understudy Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

December 6 – 16 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Elliot Baker & Sophie Christofis. A Very Naughty Christmas.

 

THE POLAR OPPOSITE OF CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT

 

Alex Woodward’s Understudy Productions returned to Brisbane Powerhouse for the holiday season with the naughtiest Christmas cabaret show in the city. It really should have run for another week. It’s the return of A Very Naughty Christmas and it’s only missing Miss Libby Hendrie, the gorgeous blonde triple threat in all of the marketing collateral. Other than that, there’s not a single disappointment; it’s perfectly designed to become a (strictly adults only) Brisbane Christmas Tradition.

 

Apparently, The Second Coming is nothing like last year’s production. But I missed seeing it, so from what I can gather it’s either lacking its original raw, really naughty edge, or it’s even more titillating and entertaining than before! We’re going to assume that the latter is the more common response because box office records. Also, Woodward is one of our excellent new producers who learns from each experience rather than giving up, packing up and moving on to another, bigger, brighter city. The lights are getting brighter in Brisbane and it’s largely because the indies, like Understudy, persist and survive – very well it seems – alongside the mainstage offers. (It’s also because table service survives at many of Brisbane’s better haunts. C’mon, Sunshine Coast!). Woodward always assembles the best of the best, both onstage and off, which makes it easier to garner support for each new project, and also makes the next tickets on offer from this company, for next year’s production of Sweet Charity starring Naomi Price, a very attractive Christmas stocking filler indeed…

 

Dan Venz directs a fierce and fiercely talented, unafraid, flamboyant cast. Each is a bit of a star in their own right, and not a bit reticent about performing this style of comedy. There’s a great deal of the individual in each very personalised role. Let’s face it, we’ve never seen Santa’s Helpers quite like these! Unlike last year’s rough and ready reverie, this script was written by Emily Christopher and Matthew Semple. It’s super speedy, stupidly funny and yes, very naughty.

 

Emily Kristopher & Stephen Hirst. A Very Naughty Christmas.

 

The role of Santa comes, of course, to Stephen Hirst, the host with the most…well, let’s just say he’s the most indecent Santa we’ve seen on local stages. Leading a completely politically incorrect, drug addled, intoxicated and very sexy band of elves, it’s no surprise to see an Austin Powers’ nude number eliciting raucous laughter, and equal measures of delight and dismay, when sight lines outside of the main seating bank offer sneaky peaks at a little more than the punters thought they’d paid to see, especially for those sitting in the right (or the wrong?) seats. Hirst is well known for his easy manner and wicked humour, his ability to take an audience along for the ride with a wink and a knowing grin; all qualities that serve him well here, lowering the tone a little nearer to bawdy, but lifting the standard of the show into the realm of Club Cumming, rather than just another cabaret show; yes, high praise indeed!

 

There was never any doubt that raunchy Aurélie Roque could steal the show, but she resists (that) temptation and plays nice – real nice – with performers and unsuspecting audience members. With powerhouse vocals and legs up to her ears, Roque leaves an indelible impression as always.

 

Emily Kristopher, having had two other productions in the Wonderland program, lets her hair and her guard down in this one. A substantial amount of the writing has got to be hers, such is the clever, concise dialogue, breathing space and overall pace. A versatile performer, her character is ridiculously cute, her comic timing is perfect and her voice is sublime. Sofie Christofis finds her place in this cast, establishing herself as the one to watch. I suspect she is to Understudy Productions what Stef Caccamo is to The Little Red Company.

 

Austin Cornish and Elliot Baker round out this devilishly talented cast. Cornish, given the opportunity to do so,  dances rings around the other elves, and Baker relishes his comedic role as the newest elf on the shelf with a shameful secret and a crush on Christofis. Cornish and Baker are further testament – as if we needed any further evidence ever – that the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (i.e. the Con) is training our next generation of triple threat superstars. Watch out, WAAPA. It’s a delight to hear each sing up a storm, in between their riotous workshop antics, and at times combining these elements to deliver, for example (and possibly, for a verse and a chorus too long), the viral Lonely Island number about a particular appendage in a boxMD Tnee Dyer (keys), Chris Evans (drums) and Elliot Parker (bass) appear to have just as much fun as we do. New arrangements of the most popular Christmas songs become fabulously dirty ditties with new lyrics; singalongs that you might not want to be caught on camera singing along with!

 

Understudy Productions had already gone to some lengths to fill the gap in the market, a chasm in fact, left by Oscar Theatre Co – now Oscar Production Co. A Very Naughty Christmas is potentially a neverending year-round series, like enough Club Cumming or Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, starring new and old talent, featuring new and favourite sketches and songs, and satiating new and returning audiences, as long as they’re over the age of eighteen. It’s a no-brainer to bring this show back to Brisbane Powerhouse each year at Christmas time (and in July!). If you missed the last two versions, you don’t want to be left out of a third.

 

Make sure you’re amongst the first to hear of another season. While you’re at it, you might want to book for the return season of The Little Red Company’s Christmas Actually and then let QPAC know that you’d like to take the whole family to A Christmas Carol. But keep any version of A Very Naughty Christmas for yourselves. It’s a lovely, filthy treat especially for the big kids. Talk about filling the gap in the market!

 

 

Austin Cornish. A Very Naughty Christmas.

20
Sep
18

Mother’s Ruin

 

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin

MILKE & The Ginstress

La Boite, QUT & Brisbane Festival

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

September 18 – 22 2018

 

Reviewed by Nicole Reilly

 

For one week only, as part of Brisbane Festive 2018, La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre has been transformed into a boozy, magical gin joint. The cheekily self-proclaimed ‘threesome’, Maeve Marsden, Libby Wood and Jeremy Brennan, take their audience on a hilariously whirlwind, hazy and musical journey through the history of ‘mother’s ruin’, AKA gin.

 

The show begins with Maeve and Libby performing a Prayer to Gin, with Jeremy accompanying on piano, amidst the clutter of gin bottles of every shape and size strewn across the set. Don’t let the amount of empty bottles surprise you, the trio manage to pull gin bottles from anywhere and everywhere, with several hiding in the cleavages of Maeve and Libby to be retrieved mid-song.

 

Though the history of gin, and its reputation as a depressive tipple, is quite a downer, mostly due to the mistreatment of women throughout history, the expertise of these rising cabaret stars is in their ability to not take their narrative or themselves too seriously. As they race us through 18th century London, Libby confesses that it’s probably best for everyone if she just doesn’t attempt the accent, while Jeremy later remarks that he desperately wanted to do an accent because he’s “from NIDA!”. The songs and on-stage antics are equal parts cheeky, sexy and grotesque – with a memorable rendition of Fever by Libby ending in her dying of malaria after suffering from a range of delightfully disgusting symptoms on-stage – always with gin in hand. 

 

 

Both Maeve and Libby are incredibly dynamic performers, and unashamedly themselves (albeit heightened for stage), as they banter with the audience. They exude sexy, and their voices, together and individually, are mesmerising. Towards the end of the show, Maeve takes the microphone at the front of the stage and the other two disappear into a fiercely blue lit stage. I cannot even recall the song, it’s irrelevant, but Maeve’s ability to hold an audience, to captivate us with her authenticity and vulnerability was utterly engrossing. The audience was completely immersed in her world, which is a credit to her formidable skills as a performer.    

 

 

The passion and enthusiasm for their drink of choice, including the inclusion of a certified gin expert to their creative team, is infectious – if the gin bar of the Theatre Republic post-show is anything to go by! And so finally, after critically acclaimed sold out seasons at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, London Underbelly Festival, Sydney Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Fringe World Festival Perth, Adelaide Fringe and Festival of Voices, Mother’s Ruin has landed in Brisbane!

 

With a gin in hand, don’t miss this wonderfully silly and informative cabaret.

15
Sep
18

YUMMY

 

YUMMY

Yummy Productions

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

September 12 – 15 2018

 

Reviewed by Anthony Borsato

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised to see a drag cabaret take pride of place in Theatre Republic this year. I was even happier when I got to go along to this absolutely fabulous night out. After seasons in fringes around the world, YUMMY brought its campy humour and sequins to La Boite’s stage this week – Act 1 of Brisbane Festival – what a week! 

 

Featuring seven amazing performers – Karen from Finance, Benjamin Hancock, Valerie Hex (Producer, Director and BRIEFS performer, James Welsby), JandruzeZelia Rose (recently seen with Dita von Teese), Hannie Helsden and Joni in the Moon – YUMMY is a night of drag, circus, cabaret, burlesque and comedy. Each performer clearly has their own style and personality that is allowed to shine throughout the entire show. What is unique to this drag show is that YUMMY features both male and female performers, showing us more than just the traditional gay-man fuelled drag culture. I would love to have seen drag kings in the performance as well – but the night felt like a celebration of the ‘yummy’ nature of the camp and the feminine.

 

 

 

Was it the most cutting edge drag? No. Was it the best cabaret or circus? No. But it doesn’t need to be because it’s a fun night. Drag is, by its very nature, a political act – tearing down the walls of traditional gender roles and performativity but there is no doubt that the night is all about entertainment. The key to any drag show is that throw yourself into the nature of the night and if you do that you will have a truly fun time. This cast knows how to work a crowd and get the audience eating out of their hands. The audience was ingratiated into the scene by our MC for the night, a queen with one of the funniest names in the business; Karen from Finance. Karen told us at the very beginning to clap, cheer, scream, stamp the floor for everything we love – and then each act encouraged that. It is the oldest and most effective technique in the book – get the audience hooting and cheering for what they like, and the adrenaline and endorphins carry them through the rest of the great performance. It keeps you in the mood.

 

YUMMY pulls in the audience expertly; so much so that the show seems to be over before you know it and you are left wanting more. The cast isn’t afraid to look silly and don’t take themselves too seriously.

 

YUMMY offers no journey or transformation for audiences; it is pure entertainment. And sometimes, that’s refreshing in such a dark, bleak evil world.

 

 

With so many unique acts it’s hard to pick a favourite. Stand outs include a mash-up of Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money and ABBA’s Money, Money, Money by Karen From Finances, Benjamin Hancock’s lipsync with a smart-phone muzzle, and maybe one of the best acts I’ve ever seen; Valerie Hex tap dancing to heavy metal/screamo music.

 

The demographic of YUMMY’s audience is unlike any I have ever seen at a drag show. They are likely drawn in by the Brisbane Festival and La Boite marketing, but what is great about YUMMY is that it works as an entry level performance into the drag world for those who know little about it. It has the traditional camp comedic elements that many would recognise as drag, an introduction to more experimental drag performance art, and burlesque/cabaret acts, which mainstream theatre audiences would be used to experiencing. It also provides more context to audiences whose only knowledge of drag comes from Rupaul’s Drag Race. Audiences enjoy the energy and the spectacle of YUMMY, from costumes to rival Lady Gaga’s, to acts that are well thought out and fun to watch.

 

YUMMY leaves the Theatre Republic tonight. If you get a chance to get along, sit back, have a couple cocktails, and throw yourself into the fun of the night. Switch off and be entertained.

 

 

 

27
Aug
18

Any Moment – a new musical by Bradley McCaw

 

 

Set over the course of 24 hours, Bradley McCaw’s original two Act revue is inspired by such works as Closer Than Ever, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change and Songs For A New World.

 

 

Each song and scene take place in the one town, as the musical drops into different people’s lives through the course of a single day. We begin at midnight, and progress through the ‘every day stories’ that unfold minute by minute. Hour by hour.

 

 

Inspired by the famous John Lennon quote, ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’ Any Moment explores what a minute in time truly represents. What purpose does a day hold? What unfolds in those little moments that happen without us noticing? It aims to highlight the beauty and fragility life, asking if the ultimate unifying theme for all human beings, is that all of our lives will play out… one moment at a time. Who knows what will and could happen… Any Moment.

 

 

Bradley McCaw, Lauren McKenna and Lizzie Moore had a wonderful chat about the project…

 

To create this album, OFPC is rewarding supporters of the project via a Kickstarter campaign. How does that work?

Brad: It’s a way of bringing in people at the beginning – for them to be part of making art happen by purchasing a ticket to a VIP concert event and have an original song written for them or someone they love!

 

Lizzie: This way, supporters become part of the creation of a brand-new Australian work. We’re building awareness of this wonderful musical, Brad’s work and as artists, we all come out of the project with a deeper level of involvement and sense of ownership AND an amazing studio recording of our vocals!

 

As performers and presenters/producers, how do we better support each other?

Lizzie: I am really passionate about engaging with artists and creatives who are looking to offer a hand down or a push up. I have found that the Australian industry is full of incredible talent but there can be an element of competing for scarce resources rather than buoying other people up. By supporting Australian creatives and new work, we lift the industry as a whole, and we build a greater and more engaged audience as well.

Brad: When I started out making theatre, I certainly felt less confident in my abilities and was really stubborn and found it hard to listen and engage with other professionals. Now, being a little older… I can overview what I do well and what I need to improve – to get to learn from other artists is genuinely one of my favourite things to do. To hear an artist sing my song and bring it to life – revealing both its flaws and the beauty in it – it such a privilege – because their skills make it possible for me to use mine. Perhaps that’s another way of looking at ‘support’ – that it can also be a process giving other artists room to do what they do well – and letting that improve and strengthen what you do and create.

What have you been doing recently?

Lauren: I have just finished up working on a play, Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic for the record-breaking season at The Alex Theatre in Melbourne. I am now working on an exciting new project called Mad World. It is an immersive theatre experience inspired by Alice in Wonderland and I am on board as Resident Director. 

Lizzie: The last 12 months for me have included a lot of touring all over Australia with Coal Miner’s Daughter (with country star Amber Joy Poulton as Loretta Lynn and me as her bestie Patsy Cline). We got to bring the show to Queensland for the first time— we sold out 4 performances at the QPAC Playhouse, which was exciting. I’ve also been working on a show with jazz legend Dan Barnett called Gin Swing.

Brad: Recently, I’ve been developing a new podcast called Making a Musical. I was in New York City speaking with writers, producers, marketers, folks on the street buying nick knacks – trying to tangibly understand why people like musicals – and what makes them a success. Season One takes place in New York.

Describe the moments that led you into showbiz?

Lauren: The moment I always revisit in my mind is my year 4 teacher Mr. Cowan suggesting I audition for a community theatre production of The Secret Garden. They were looking for a 10-year-old girl to play the lead role of Mary Lennox. My very eccentric mother stormed into the church hall and announced, “My daughter doesn’t know the song from the show but she’ll be singing Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables!” 

 

Lizzie: Castle on a Cloud! I have a strong memory of treating one of my mum’s friends to an interpretive dance version, which involved a broom and a pillow as props. That song is a gift that keeps on giving!

 

 

Brad: I heard a recording of Anthony Warlow singing This is the Moment from the live Main Event record. I literally stopped what I was doing, sat down, staring at the cd disc spinning in my walk man… It was like a scene from a film. And I was hooked.

What will you cherish about this process / project / company?

Lizzie: It will definitely be the opportunity to be part of a project with so many talented performers, who are based in or have strong ties to Queensland. I am always excited to be able to work in my adopted home city.

 

Lauren: I love working in Brisbane.  Any excuse to get back up here and be a part of this incredibly rich and thriving arts scene is always welcomed.  The people here are a total joy to work with- passionate, hardworking and it is refreshing to be involved in this incredible project with so many wonderful Brisbane based artists. 

 

Brad: Honestly, working with people like Lizzie and Lauren is a real treat. I don’t take it for granted that to get something off the ground takes a lot of work and a lot of people saying – yes that’s a good idea! To have people willing to spend longer than a coffee date with you is a privilege! And to learn from them, with them, to make songs for their voices that will forever be apart of the musical theatre landscape – that’s the good stuff for me.

How do you make the moments count?

Lauren: Stop. Breathe. Enjoy. Share.

Brad: I can’t answer, sorry. I’m too busy doing exactly what Lauren said. She’s spot on!

What are your favourite moments / events in an ordinary 24hr period and what makes an ordinary moment extraordinary?

Lauren: I think there is something special about doing mundane things with passion and love. Making a cup of tea for someone? Make it with love. Savour even the simple walk to your mailbox. Life is so short – be unapologetically passionate and always full of love.    

Lizzie: I completely agree. Some of the most special parts of my day are the little ones: hearing the whirr of the coffee machine (my husband is making me a coffee!), drinking my first coffee (I have a problem) and the furiously wagging tails of my dogs Digby and Dudley when I arrive home – love and excitement turned up to maximum!

Tell us about recording this album? What was the best part? What was challenging?

Brad: it’s unfolding all at once. So with so many incredible artists we have a strict timeline for offering the pre-sale, but also recording at the same time. So I’m meeting with artists to workshop the song – then I’m orchestrating at various coffee shops around Brisbane… Then meeting with the band in the studio the next day.

 

It’s funny – I was just in New York and I sat down with someone from COME FROM AWAY, who outlined the exact same thing – that bringing that show to life and improving it and fixing it, while getting it to an audience is such a unique and strangely stressful but enjoyable process. And people like myself – don’t want to be doing anything else!

 

What do we need to see / continue to see in Australian musical theatre? What are your favourite aspects of our live entertainment scene? (And again, why do we need to support this project!).

Brad: There are so many causes in need of our time and effort. I personally, work on new art because I have always done so, and it is something that I enjoy and have made a living from. I would be foolish to say ‘ONLY SEE AUSTRALIAN MUSICALS!’ Because I couldn’t even do that!? But I feel there is a place for Australian stories, made here in Brisbane and around the world to find a place on our stages, the challenge for all of us is there doesn’t appear to be an overwhelming number of bridges that lift our stories to the centre of public attention – and without reaching a mass amount of people – it’s difficult to convince investors to give you a large suitcase of money to sing some show tunes!

What do you love about Bradley’s Old Fashioned Production Company? Is anyone else doing anything like this?

Lizzie: I think OLDFPC came about from Brad attempting to share his music and plays with an audience. Seeing his work develop and his craft grow you start to see a road that led to here, where he will – at the drop of a hat – tell you about his big dreams for the company – for it to become a home for new musicals and the artists that create them. I think Brad brings a unique skill and perspective – being so involved in musical theatre from different areas that makes OLDFPC particularly passionate and skilled at the craft of making musicals.

Brad: OLDFPC don’t stage existing theatre works – which I feel makes us different from other companies. We just focus on making new works and building a bridge between the audience and the artist from around the world, who both desire to experience something entertaining and new.

 

LAUREN MCKENNA

Lauren graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2011 as part of the inaugural Bachelor of Music Theatre class. Her breakout performance was in 2015 when she played the dual role of Martha/ Ms Fleming in the critically acclaimed production of Heathers at Hayes Theatre Co. which toured Australia in 2016. This earned Lauren rave reviews and the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Newcomer. 

Lauren performed her dream role of Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray Arena Spectacular tour in 2016 and as Jan in Grease Arena Experience tour in 2017 and 2018 (Harvest Rain).  Lauren has also appeared as Anathema in Good Omens (Squabbalogic), Heidi in [title of show] (Understudy Productions), Babette in La Cage Aux Folles (TPC), Jewel in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Mystery Musical for Squabbalogic) and Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest (Citizen Theatre).  Most recently, Lauren was swing (U/S Leanne/Susie/Sally) for Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic (TEG Live).  Lauren will soon perform the role of Rose in Meet Me In St. Louis for Neglected Musicals at Hayes Theatre Co. 

Lauren is a proud member of Actor’s Equity and is represented by Working Management.

In addition to performing, Lauren also works as a director, collaborator and acting coach.  She is passionate about mentoring young aspiring artists. 

 

Lizzie Moore is a singer and actor who has appeared on stage in London, New York and throughout Australia. She’s most recently appeared in The Last Five Years at Brisbane Powerhouse and has been touring Australia as Patsy Cline in the smash hit Coal Miner’s Daughter with country star, Amber Joy Poulton.

As a cabaret and concert performer, Lizzie has headlined for Sydney Festival, Ten Days on the Island and Festival of Voices; her show Cool Britannia was the fastest selling show at the 2015 Queensland Cabaret Festival, and her one-woman show On A Night Like This played to sell-out houses at Brisbane Powerhouse, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Chapel Off Chapel and BL_NK in London.

In New York, Lizzie appeared Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway: credits include Hot and Sweet (with Katie Finneran and Lea Michelle), La Femme Est Morte, You People, and Closer.

Lizzie’s theatre credits include Heidi in the Broadway musical: [TITLE OF SHOW] (The Seymour Centre/Squabbalogic), Hattie in Kiss Me Kate (Opera Queensland/QPAC), as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (Arts Centre Gold Coast), Deb in Ordinary Days (Tasmanian Theatre Company), Sally Bowles in Cabaret (Playhouse Theatre), Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (Darwin Entertainment Centre), the original company of Anthony Crowley’s The Wild Blue and Tin Hotel (Darwin Festival).

Lizzie is a graduate of the Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts with a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) and is represented by BMEG. www.lizziemoore.com

 

 

BRADLEY MCCAW

Bradley McCaw is a multi-instrumentalist, composer/playwright, performer, and orchestrator. His musical theatre works include The Oasis, A Little Princess, Any Moment and Becoming Bill. His published plays include The Game and Everybody’s Doin’ It.

He has received National awards from Queensland Theatre, New Musicals Australia, and Home Grown. As a performer he toured the world with International singing group The Ten Tenors, and was the winner of the 2012 International Cabaret Showcase touring his one-man show to festivals worldwide, including a sold out show on Broadway’s 42nd street (USA).

His recordings, Highlights from Becoming Bill, and Cabaret: Unauthorised Biography are available online www.bradleymccaw.com

 

To secure a personalised private performance by Bradley McCaw and an Any Moment cast member, pledge AU$1000 or more via Kickstarter

 

 

Any Moment features 17 new songs performed by: Kurt Phelan (She Loves Me, American Idiot), Tom Oliver (The Voice, Velvet), James Shaw (Chicago, Mamma Mia USA), Lizzie Moore (The Last Five Years, Kiss Me Kate), Lauren McKenna (Hairspray, Puffs), Trevor Jones (International Piano Man and leading academic), Judy Hainsworth (First World White Girls, Babushka Cabaret), Emily Kristopher (Single Asian Female), Alex Woodward (Underground Broadway Founder), Irena Lysiuk (The Owl & The Pussycat), Stephie Da Silva (Rent), Shaun Kohlman (Bare, Opera Queensland) and Kathryn McIntyre (Ladies in Black, Twelfth Night).

21
Jan
18

Matilda Award Nominations 2017

 

2017 Matilda Awards

 

I’m thrilled to have seen across social media, the overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement of the 2017 Matilda Award nominations.

 

Dash Kruck and Emily Burton: A Tribute of Sorts to the Matilda Awards in 2014

 

Tuesday 6th February, 2018 at 6:30pm for a 7pm start at Brisbane Powerhouse. Hosted by Bridget Boyle & Bryan Probets. Directed by Kris Stewart. Dress Code: After Five. Use #matildas17

 

Arts awards are always funny things – I feel like the Matildas, our long-standing performing arts awards in Brisbane, have been criticised more than most and yet, by the winners and nominees they are cited just as often as any other (very funny, that!) – and when we hear and see delight rather than gripes running through our community of artists, it makes it that much more worthwhile to be a part of the process.

 

As well as keeping up (sometimes barely) with our real lives outside of the theatres, we saw 64 eligible productions in 2017. On Tuesday February 6 we’ll find out which of those won the votes from our panel of ten hard-working and highly qualified judges.

 

I have mixed feelings about some dramatic changes to the configuration this year, as applications for all committee positions were welcomed and considered by the Executive Committee before Christmas. I hope it’s understood that the current committee had not been invited to vote or to comment on potential / incoming committee members’ applications (we actually don’t know, unless you’ve told us, who has been up for discussion); the decision is that of the Executive Committee, as per changes made in the interests of transparency, and to see an unbiased changing of the guards, which some industry friends had felt was overdue. However, I’m not sure what the issue with the previous method was, when we had recently welcomed the newest judges, Elise and Anna, after careful consideration as a committee of all applicants (and I think, before I came on board, that this was an invitation-only process, so I’m glad to have been a part of this necessary revision). But it certainly was not the recommendation of the active committee to take this new appointment process completely out of our hands, and it remains to be seen whether or not it’s the most effective means of “refreshing” the judging panel. Having said that, I’m no less excited to see the announcement – any day now, surely – of the 2018 committee members.

 

 

The committee has continued to respond to industry and Arts Queensland feedback in our efforts to add value and share as much as possible about the voting process and also, in our continued efforts to expand the reach of the awards, before the results are announced each year. Here’s a rundown by Deb Wilks of what’s been happening for the last couple of years to ensure the Matilda Awards continue to evolve and to serve the industry they’re designed to support.

 

I’ve adored working with the current panel of judges. Because I have this space in which to do so, I want to thank each of them for making it an absolute joy to attend productions with them over the last few years, and be involved in the highly rigorous voting process, involving lengthy discussions and lots of late nights! What a privilege it’s been to come to know and respect this panel of judges: Elise Greig, James Harper, Annette Kerwitz, Baz McAlister, Troy Ollerenshaw, Cameron Pegg, Olivia Stewart, Rosemary Walker and Anna Yen.

 

 

Nominations

 

One Gold Matilda Award honouring an individual, organisation or creative team for an outstanding contribution to Brisbane Theatre will be announced on the evening of 6th February, 2017.

Silver Matilda Awards will be presented to an artist or company for commendable work in each of the following categories.

 


Best Mainstage Production

American Idiot (shake & stir theatre co and QPAC)
Blue Bones (Playlab in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)
An Octoroon (Queensland Theatre & Brisbane Festival)
Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse (Opera Queensland)

 

 

Best Independent Production

Boys of Sondheim (Understudy Productions & Brisbane Powerhouse)
England (Nathan Booth & Matt Seery at Metro Arts)
Swallow (EG & Metro Arts)
I Just Came to Say Goodbye (The Good Room & Brisbane Festival)
The Forwards (Shock Therapy Productions, Zeal & Brisbane Powerhouse)

 

 

Best Musical or Cabaret

American Idiot (shake & stir theatre co and QPAC)
Boys of Sondheim (Understudy Productions & Brisbane Powerhouse)
Briefs: Close Encounters (Briefs Factory & Brisbane Powerhouse)
Joh for PM (Jute Theatre Company & Brisbane Powerhouse, in association with QLD Music Festival)

Best Circus or Physical Theatre Work

Landscape with Monsters (Circa with Merrigong Theatre Co at Brisbane Powerhouse)
Plunge (Seeing Place Productions in association with Bleach*)
Monsteria (presented by GUSH and Vulcana Women’s Circus in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Humans (Circa & QPAC)

The Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work

Blue Bones, by Merlynn Tong
Joh for PM, by Stephen Carleton & Paul Hodge
My Name is Jimi, based on a story by Dimple Bani, Jimi Bani & co-created by Jason Klarwein
Spectate, by Nathan Sibthorpe
Laser Beak Man, by David Morton, Nicholas Paine & Tim Sharp

 

 

Best Director

Daniel Evans, I Just Came to Say Goodbye (The Good Room & Brisbane Festival)
Lindy Hume, Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse (Opera Queensland)
Ian Lawson, Blue Bones (Playlab in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Paige Rattray, Scenes from a Marriage (Queensland Theatre)

Bille Brown Award for Best Emerging Artist

Meg Bowden, The Winter’s Tale (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)
Derek Draper, The Lonesome West (Troop Productions at JWCoCA)
Patrick Jhanur, Single Asian Female (La Boite Theatre Company)
Matt Seery, England (Nathan Booth & Matt Seery at Metro Arts)

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role

Ellen Bailey, The Forwards (Shock Therapy Productions, Zeal & Brisbane Powerhouse)
Margi Brown Ash, He Dreamed a Train (Force of Circumstance & Nest Ensemble with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Merlynn Tong, Blue Bones (Playlab in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Barbara Lowing, England (Nathan Booth & Matt Seery at Metro Arts)

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role

Sam Foster, The Forwards (Shock Therapy Productions, Zeal & Brisbane Powerhouse)
Bryan Probets, Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse (Opera Queensland)
Colin Smith, An Octoroon (Queensland Theatre & Brisbane Festival)
Steven Tandy, England (Nathan Booth & Matt Seery at Metro Arts)

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Christine Johnston, Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse (Opera Queensland)
Elise Greig, Swallow (EG & Metro Arts)
Helen O’Leary, Swallow (EG & Metro Arts)
Barb Lowing, Joh for PM (Jute Theatre Company & Brisbane Powerhouse, in association with QLD Music Festival)

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Kurt Phelan, American Idiot (shake & stir theatre co and QPAC)
Travis Ash, He Dreamed a Train (Force of Circumstance & Nest Ensemble with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Kurt Phelan, Joh for PM (Jute Theatre Company & Brisbane Powerhouse, in association with QLD Music Festival)
Anthony Standish, An Octoroon (Queensland Theatre & Brisbane Festival)

Best Set Design

Georgina Greenhill, The Lonesome West (Troop Productions at JWCoCA)
Josh McIntosh, American Idiot (shake & stir theatre co & QPAC)
Jonathon Oxlade & David Morton, Laser Beak Man (Dead Puppet Society, Brisbane Festival & La Boite)
Simona Cosentini & Simone Tesorieri, My Name is Jimi (Queensland Theatre)

 

 

Best Costume Design

Anthony Spinaze, Rent (Matt Ward Entertainment at Brisbane Powerhouse)
GUSH, Monsteria (GUSH, Vulcana Women’s Circus & Brisbane Powerhouse)
Jessica Haack & Kaylee Gannaway, The Winter’s Tale (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)
Anthony Spinaze, Joh for PM (Jute Theatre Company & Brisbane Powerhouse, in association with QLD Music Festival)

Best Lighting Design

Jason Glenwright, Lady Beatle (La Boite & The Little Red Company)
Andrew Meadows, Ruddigore (Opera Queensland)
Geoff Squires, He Dreamed a Train (Force of Circumstance & Nest Ensemble with Brisbane Powerhouse)
David Walters, Blue Bones (Playlab in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)

Best Sound Design

Dane Alexander, I Just Came to Say Goodbye (The Good Room & Brisbane Festival)
Travis Ash, He Dreamed a Train (Force of Circumstance & Nest Ensemble with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Tony Brumpton & Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music), Laser Beak Man (Dead Puppet Society, Brisbane Festival & La Boite)
Guy Webster, Blue Bones (Playlab in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)

Best Audio Visual Design

Justin Harrison, Laser Beak Man (Dead Puppet Society, Brisbane Festival & La Boite)
Justin Harrison, My Name is Jimi (Queensland Theatre)
Nevin Howell & Nathan Sibthorpe, Spectate (Counterpilot & Metro Arts)
Nathan Sibthorpe, Blue Bones (Playlab in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse)
Nathan Sibthorpe & Ben Knapton, He Dreamed a Train (Force of Circumstance & Nest Ensemble with Brisbane Powerhouse)

 

 

29
Nov
17

WURST

 

WURST

Brisbane Powerhouse & Jacqueline Furey

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

November 23 – 25 2017

 

Reviewed by Rhumer Diball

 

 

Armed with a lineup of  chiseled “Menu Men”, Jacqueline Furey and her team grace the Brisbane Powerhouse’s Wonderland festival with Wurst: a delicious assortment of meal-themed stripteases and cabaret acts. Hostess Jacqueline Furey sports a collection of glamorous gowns and an elegant demeanor as she serves up the diverse evening of comedic cabaret and beguiling burlesque. A collection of sexy male performers, affectionately referred to as the “Menu Men”, come together to present a selection of bawdy, cheeky and tantalising acts. Be it ballet or hip-hop finesse, an enthralling exhibition of acrobatic ability, or cheeky exploitation of accents, the erogenous men demonstrate their diversity and embrace their distinct backgrounds throughout every performance.

 

Graceful Furey lays out the food-themed showcase like courses in a sexy feast of flavoured variety. From raunchy roast dinners to sweet yet sultry ice cream and milkshake mess for dessert, the show is loaded to the brim with variety to suit a range of tastes. While the focal food theme allows for sweet dance numbers – highlights include a cheeky lollipop trio and a playful whole-body baking demonstration, the showcase unfolds in a staggered progression of underlying premises and unpredictable maturity levels. Performance content may link together with a lens of food or audience devouring of the young men overall, however the ordering of the pieces ensures that one theme, style or performer entices the audience with distinctive substance and well paced deliveries. The acts also range in stimulating intensity and physical exposure, keeping the audience on their toes during unpredictable skits during what could have been a predictable lineup of repetitive strip sequences.

 

 

The only downfall of the work is the choice to include two considerably similar hip-hop dance sequences. Perhaps the recent Magic Mike popularity justifies the inclusion of one clichéd grey-singlet adorned, hip-hop dance work to break up the indulgent food-based content, however two in an evening offered little more than diverting movement. The two acts also lacked in the striptease element that the show promises, leaving audiences calling out for more if only to match the physical reveal reached in the other acts. This audience teasing helped to rekindle appetites for the remaining performances mid-show, but unfortunately rendered the respective floor grinding and muscle manipulation uncanny and undistinguished.

 

Gender blending Raven and physically diverse Dan are the standout Menu Men of the night, offering up twists to traditional role archetypes and stretching the recipe for where the evening’s content could reach. Traditionally handsome and classically trained Dan Venz plays with the subtle eroticism of his ballet body and the assets that come with tight-fitting white stockings. In stark contrast is Raven sporting a dramatic white mask with intense lashes and black crosses over his nipples while performing as the night’s stand alone drag queen. With a shocking opening 50s housewife skit exploring roast chicken sensuality and a dominatrix dog training session breaking comfort levels at the lineup’s climax, Raven’s acts were definitely the most provocative and potent.

 

 

Amongst the diversity and intensity of the male acts, the night’s hostess’ performance was equally as praiseworthy. Despite an innuendo segment being delivered overdone for a contemporary cabaret context, Furey’s overall performance is elegant and erotic from start to finish. However, amongst poised audience captivation, it is Furey’s humane responses to audience heckling and humble admittance to hilarious speech stumbles that pushes her performance beyond a stale, simplistic cabaret host that is seen far too often. Furey entices her audiences with glamour and prowess but truly wins them over with her sassy humanity and well-timed sense of humour.

 

With rich yet simplistic costumes and stage design the production focuses on the raw attraction of the performers and their presence on stage. By combining an array of performance strengths and fusing together styles and techniques from both cabaret and burlesque, Wurst forefronts the power of simplicity and reinforces the joy of a playful night at the theatre.

 

25
Nov
17

There’s Something About Mary(s)

 

There’s Something About Mary(s)

Brisbane Powerhouse & Cassie George

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Studio

November 23 – 26 2017

 

Reviewed by Amelia Walker

 

 

Wearing a black lacy slip and sloshing around a glass of rosè, Cassie George is the hot mess we all know from university. In her autobiographical show There’s Something About Mary(s), Cassie details her love life in a familiar story of ‘crazy girl’ stereotype, falling in love with practically every man she meets.

 

From overly dramatic teen flings, to misguided crushes on an unavailable best friend, Cassie manages to crack jokes and belt pop ballads about her cringe-inducing missteps in love. If there is a term for that balance of awkward humour that makes you snort-laugh, Cassie coined it.

The audience is taken through a chronological look at Cassie’s romantic endeavours, briefly visiting her Christian upbringing with a well-placed handjob joke. I wanted to hear more about this religious impact on Cassie: what was her take on the repression of her clearly active sexuality? It had the potential to be a thread that was perhaps revisited more through humour or through personal development, but instead served as another ‘plot point’ for Cassie to bounce off.

Her ability to laugh at herself, her circumstances, and her series of bad luck was inviting as an audience member. She lured us in with self-deprecating humour, and then made me lean back into the kind of discomfort that only my dad’s worst jokes can do. Outrageous humour had a place to land in this theatre full of friends.

Working on an ‘actor’s budget’, this production did well to create the feeling that it was taking place inside the bedroom of a young woman. This operated in conjunction with lighting to give Cassie just enough dramatic flair to stage dream sequences and even a dance that had the potential to be sexy if not for Cassie’s spectacular ability to take everything over the top.

The ‘queen-in-waiting’, as she calls herself, uses a cart-load of colourful terms to reference one of the biggest influencers in this struggle of romance: her gay, male friends. Cassie has nothing but love these people, and when she tells her story it is done with an endearing honesty. I worry, however, that naming her sample of gay, male friends ‘the entire gay community of Brisbane’ is at best a joke that doesn’t land, and at worse, a step back for representation.

Luke Volker’s onstage presence went a long way to bring something new and different to this delightfully tragic cabaret. His musical direction allowed Cassie to shine in what I believe worked best for her: self-referential jokes punctuated with an overly enthusiastic smile and an unhinged laugh.

Volker also managed to bring back some humanity to the gay men in Cassie’s life, as they sometimes only served as a backdrop to her extremely heterosexual cabaret. Navigating how to avoid making queer people merely a functionary element in a story about someone who is not queer is difficult. Rather than existing just for sassy comments and an indulger of gossip, Cassie finally gave some depth to her queer friends by acknowledging their flaws. It would have been satisfying to hear more about the struggle of a self-identified unhealthy symbiotic relationship, but it was only addressed briefly.

 

The underlying love story here is a platonic one between Cassie and a community she fully emerged herself in, but I’m not sure why it took the backseat so often. Love on just about every angle has been covered, so it felt like a missed opportunity that the intricacies of well-developed friendships were glossed over. The show was most successful when celebrating friend love and all the difficulties that come along with it.

 

There’s Something About Mary(s) is a fun new work that has a place in a theatre space such as the Powerhouse’s Wonderland Festival. Although it felt inspired by the problematic women behind the “gay best friend” trope, it was able to laugh at itself and acknowledge the troubles in desiring such a relationship. Celebrating friendship and platonic love in the age of Tinder is a nice spin on the saturated topic of young women and romance. And I can always get behind a rendition of Cher’s Believe.