Archive for the 'Noosa Long Weekend Festival' Category

24
Mar
17

Odd Man Out

Odd Man Out

Noosa Long Weekend

In Association With Ensemble Theatre

The J Theatre, Noosa

March 23 – 25 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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David Williamson’s Odd Man Out sold out in Sydney over an eight-week season. Secure in the knowledge that it would be another smash hit for Williamson and Ensemble Theatre, Noosa Long Weekend invited the company to bring the production to The J for an exclusive pre-festival fundraising weekend (4 performances only), launching the rebrand of the festival only weeks prior.

Noosa Long Weekend Festival is now Noosa Alive! presenting an exciting program of world class events over 10 days in July.

Williamson’s success is unparalleled in this country. His work not only reflects the many aspects of our individual lives and the broader societal values to which we subscribe but also, it brings to light the little details of our relationships, our connections with other humans. Always funny, always touching, always extremely intelligent, examining all the things we think we should be getting right and all the things we know are not right with the world, Williamson is a master of making misfortune a gift. We see his characters expand and grow in the advent of disaster rather than be defeated by life’s difficulties.

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While Anna Gardiner’s design (lit by Christopher Page) is contemporary and suitably symbolic, at times it feels almost too sterile, which is perhaps the point: it suits every scene and our focus remains on the performers. Alistair Wallace’s soundscape adds an interesting dimension, most effectively incorporated into the second act to up the pace and underpin the absurd comedy act required of Ryan in each new social situation. 

When a production is mediocre we don’t take much away from it (except perhaps a thought that we’ll not see that company again for a while, just while they work themselves out!). But when the actors excel in bringing a terrific, insightful script to life, we experience a degree of what the characters on stage are going through. This shared empathy is part of what makes live theatre so special, so vital, and how it’s possible to invest so much emotionally in what’s essentially a cute little love story. In the case of Odd Man Out, the story is much larger, and we feel more deeply than we expected to for Ryan, a high-functioning autistic physicist, and for Alice, a physiotherapist with a ticking biological clock; we quickly became complicit in her attempts to change Ryan, in a frustrating journey through life and love.

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In creating Alice, Lisa Gormley has discovered something beautifully gentle and natural, and building on it gradually, layer by layer, she develops incredible strength and purpose so that we understand completely by the end of the play, her unfailing love for Ryan and her determination to support him, in spite of the challenges he continuously throws at her. We see her undergoing the kind of transformation that can only come from a place of whole-hearted love and unwavering kindness. This role might be wasted on anyone else but Gormley gives Alice the necessary warmth and depth, and good natured sense of humour to enable us to believe in her crazy pursuit of happily ever after with a guy who seems incapable of understanding her needs, or communicating his own.

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Williamson has said to me that Justin Stewart Cotta (Dream Homes’s memorable “Lion of Lebanon”) is one of our finest stage actors – high praise indeed; I’d seen the proof of it during our brief rehearsal period and limited run of that production, directed by the playwright, for Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015 – and in Odd Man Out we see once again, Cotta’s knack for nailing a challenging character, bringing to this complex role a heartbreaking vulnerability that might remind you of Noah Taylor and/or Geoffrey Rush in Shine, and well-studied idiosyncrasies, which are likened in the play to Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond in Rainman. And in this moment, Williamson very succinctly makes a point about our lack of references in the mainstream, since the release of Rainman, to Autism Spectrum Disorder. In recent years we’ve seen a bit of a run on bipolar and depression and dementia in the movies, however; unlike sitting in a cinema and feeling somewhat removed from the situation, when we’re just metres away from the humans having to find a way to live with a mental illness or developmental condition in a world that doesn’t offer much assistance, we can’t help but feel for them, and wonder how, given the same set of circumstances, we might behave.

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Ryan is hyper-intelligent but emotionally stunted and socially anxious, and innocently offends everyone with whom he comes into contact, including Alice, his sharp wit and honest observations providing the play’s funniest and most uncomfortable moments. An awkward and highly entertaining scene involving good friends and wine (or is that friends and good wine?) puts the approach to the test with hilarious results. But without support from her parents or friends (that gorgeous Rachel Gordon as best friend Carla, let’s face it, is far more bitch than BFF), Alice has had to find a way to teach Ryan a new way to present himself to the world. The consequences are disastrous, giving us a mother of a monologue from Cotta, just in case we weren’t already convinced of his utter conviction in the role. These two bare their souls and connect with such genuine honesty and intimacy that we can’t help but be moved. A friend told me after the show that for him, in Ryan and Alice he saw his parents’ relationship, Autism included. And he could see he was the child, whom Ryan and Alice can’t quite agree to have…until we find ourselves at the neat, optimistic ending (there’s no spoiler there if you’re familiar with Williamson’s unashamedly, cleverly crowd-pleasing style). Look, there may have been a few tears shed.

Gordon, Gael Ballantyne, Bill Young, and Matt Minto beautifully flesh out the secondary characters, but this show rightly belongs to the effervescent Gormley, and to Cotta, in his most honest, detailed and nuanced work to date.

A Williamson play is always such a gift to actors and audiences, and this one, his best yet, so sensitively directed by Ensemble’s Artistic Director, Mark Kilmurry, offers greater insight than ever into the way humans behave and successfully – or not at all – relate to one another. 

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02
Mar
15

Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015 Now On Sale!

 

Noosa Long Weekend Festival presents our most exciting program yet!

 

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

 

You won’t want to miss David Williamson’s DREAM HOME or CATHERINE ALCORN or ROB MILLS or DUSTY LIVE IN CONCERT or AN EVENING WITH THE QUEENSLAND BALLET or MELODY BECK & JOHANNA ALLEN or ROB MILLS or JULIAN GARGUILO or THE MAGIC FLUTE! GO ON. BOOK NOW.

 

pre-sale

 

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

1. Online

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

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

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

magic-flute-australian-opera

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

04
Aug
14

The breakdown you have when you’re not having a breakdown and why I need a break

 

Life is crazy.

 

We are busy.

 

Craaazy busy.

 

It’s not new news. We’ve always been busy. Sometimes I delight in it (I’m easily bored).

 

I often hashtag #crazybusy and #xsneverstops but I don’t often stop to contemplate the implications of this. The other day I hashtagged #xsneverstopsbutxsmightneedto

 

This is why.

 

Last week I crashed my car. I was tired, I was at a roundabout, I looked and then didn’t look again quite soon enough, and I hit the girl in front of me. She had gone to go and she stupidly/safely, thinking better of it, had suddenly stopped again. Fuck! I knew I had no insurance and I was about to discover that neither had she. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be near enough to hit her. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be too tired to drive. Ordinarily I would have listened to that little inner voice inside of me that said when I got out of bed that morning, “Do the school run and go back to bed. Enough already. Stop.” Instead, largely because I’ve always associated that little voice with the onset of a migraine, I blinked, dressed, continued to ignore the little voice sans migraine, and headed to yet another event that followed hot on the heels of our 10 days and nights of fabulous Noosa Long Weekend Festival events.

 

For the last few days, while my car has been out of action, I’ve been in Toowoomba, where my grandparents have lived for as long as I can remember. (Of course there is history beyond that, before the beginning of my memory, and it’s an interesting story but it doesn’t matter for the moment).

 

I used to think of Toowoomba as a town of schools and churches but now I realise it’s actually an aged care mecca.

 

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My grandfather is 96 years old. My grandmother is 83. Grandpa still lives at home, and so did Grandma until she contracted pneumonia and suffered a serious fall last week, which put her into hospital and meant that the discussions about aged care facilities began again. Grandpa is actually still fairly “independent”. It’s as bewildering as it is impressive. He’s almost blind but he knows where everything is…as long as he’s in his own home. He sometimes spills the sugar when he’s making his tea but there is always somebody around at some stage to help clean it up.

 

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I should tell you, I’m very late to this party – the discussions actually began over five years ago – tentatively at first, and then, just two years ago, application forms were requested, facilities were visited and with great diplomacy and delicacy, the subject of moving to a care facility was broached again with Grandpa, who wouldn’t hear of it. Of course not. Stupid, really. What were they thinking? Or, in his words, I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

 

Last week Grandma suffered a fall and discovered that simply breathing was difficult. Mum and I have visited every day and each day, although there have been some ups and downs, she seems brighter and livelier, even “bubbly” and “ready to come home next week!” You can imagine the twinkle in Grandpa’s eye as he says this, knowing he wins, again. This, after so much talk (so many tears to hold back!), of not returning home but going into a home, and Mum’s sister, and Mum and I persisting with ongoing comparative studies of no less than eleven places in town (and well outside of it! “Highfields? Hmphf! Too far!”). Sometimes one of them will agree, “Oh yes, that does sound nice, doesn’t it?” And I feel like I’ve been here before. Oh wait. I have been. Different party, same theme, starring Sam’s mum. Good to have had a rehearsal. From one decision to another, and back again. It can drive a person crazy! The next part of the decision making process is obviously about letting go and taking a step back from the process itself. Ultimately, once again, the decision is rightfully Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. We might just need to change how we feel about giving them the space and time to work things out for themselves. To fumble with the remote control. To lose things, forget things. To spill the sugar. To see out their days in the comparative comfort of their own home…

 

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Some of the homes are actually lovely and others are, well, best left out of the conversation. You can tell when you walk into a place, whether or not somebody you love might like to spend the rest of their days and nights there. There is the matter of design, décor, landscaping, meals prepared on the premises, coffee shops, colours, smells, and warmly lit (or not) corridors to consider. There are either happy, smiling people working there and living there, or there are not. There are fees. And there are admission processes. And then there is Centrelink. Since July 1 2014 a whole lot has changed, making it difficult for families and administrators to fill the rooms available. That’s right. The rooms are there but most places won’t admit a person until Centrelink has processed a particular portion of the paperwork, which could mean a wait time of up to 10 weeks. Meanwhile, there are rooms – empty rooms. And conflicting information and advice from each facility and government agency. It makes it all so much more difficult. Stop. Spoiler alert!

 

 

That leads me to letting you know that I’m bowing out for a bit. I’m continuing to rely on our wonderful team of reviewers to keep up with the Brisbane scene. I still love theatre, I love seeing the shows, and I love having the conversations about them, but I need to take care of a few other things at the moment, including family matters, our growing business (hooray!) and also, me. I’ll keep doing some teaching, which earns me more money than reviewing (ie some as opposed to none), I’ll keep posting the reviews our writers submit, and I might even stick around on social media. I still love Instagram. I’m going to let you know about our upcoming events, including the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival (with special guest adjudicator Margi Brown Ash!), Keep Calm and Cabaret, and the launch of my sister’s book Dress, Memory and Brisbane Writers Festival. But this writer needs to get back to writing…and sitting and reading and dreaming, and drinking cups of tea with friends, and getting to know our child and her friends, and growing our food and talking with the chickens and walking on the beach.

 

I’ll see the things the Matilda Committee needs me to see and I’ll see the things I desperately want to see. It might not be your thing and for that I’m sorry, but not really, because I’m truly completely and utterly exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally drained. And frankly, I’m disappointed that you didn’t make it to see our recent things. They were really good. I know. Too busy. TOO FAR! (Insert the sigh of one who knows she is beaten by apathy more than by distance or time-poor existence). It’s okay. Really. You have your own stuff to work on too. Everybody, keep doin’ the work. There will always be someone (nearer) to see it.

 

If you’re a Brisbane based writer and lover of theatre do email me, or find me on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to have you on board.

 

29
Jul
14

And that’s a wrap! Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2014

 

And that’s a wrap! Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2014

 #NLWF2014 #NLWF14 #NLW14

 

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We’re back! But if you’ve been following on social media, you won’t have missed us at all! We’ve been tweeting and instagramming for the last 10 days from the 13th Noosa Long Weekend Festival! And what a festival!

 

Oh yeah. Right. There are still some theatre and cabaret reviews to catch up on…dating back to MAY. I KNOW. I’M APPALLED BY ME TOO.

 

But those will have to wait a little longer because you should really know what you’ve missed out on SO YOU CAN BOOK EARLY FOR NEXT YEAR’S NOOSA LONG WEEKEND FESTIVAL! Lock it in!

 

Noosa Long Weekend Festival July 17 – 26 2015

 

There really is nothing like a Noosa Long Weekend – it’s 10 days of warm winter sunshine, beautiful beaches, the best accommodation, bars and restaurants, and top shopping, arts, literature, forums, food and fun! I honestly don’t know why you’d be anywhere else.

 

XS Entertainment has been involved before – we took Erotique to NLWF12 after sell-out seasons in a Mooloolaba shop front and at the Sydney Fringe Festival in 2010. We had developed Erotique after staging Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde, and never felt satisfied with the woman’s character, played at various times by Sharon Grimley and Sarah McMahon (and in Schnitzler’s original script was written as a male character, a fop; we hated him). The Woman we created was elusive but she’d been so strongly brought to life by Sharon, and then by Sarah, we couldn’t let her rest. Or, she wouldn’t let us rest. Sam proposed a new show, which would focus on The Woman, and he cast the three of us to play her – Sharon Grimley, Stephanie Brown and me. Steph was also engaged to choreograph the show, and once I faced facts and realised I was too busy (or too distracted) to write the thing myself, we collaborated beautifully and each wrote our own monologues and selected our own songs.

 

As far as process goes, Sam and I love to work this way, allowing the performers to sing the flesh onto the bones of their characters and discover for themselves why they end up doing what they do. Sam hasn’t always directed this way – he used to be bossier! I’ve loved seeing him discover a magical relationship mantra that goes something like, “Watch, listen, trust, adjust.” He didn’t tell me that, it’s just what I see. Perhaps he’ll disagree. We often disagree and so the two of us working together is not always ideal. The rehearsal studio can get quite heated at times, and it’s not anything to do with the eroticism of the show! Due to its adult content, this show has been particularly challenging to rehearse at home, where an eight-year old has learned to come to terms with getting her own dinner, tidying the kitchen and disappearing to put herself to bed twice a week. We don’t want that to ever happen again. However, everyone has certainly appreciated Poppy’s newly acquired barista skills. She was even making money from the Managing Carmen cast, who left a tip for her at the end of the night!

 

I don’t consider dancing to be my strongest point so Steph’s fabulous choreography was challenging for me. (With any luck, those of you who saw the show wouldn’t have known!). Don’t expect me to take on a dance role again anytime soon, although if I continue to get enquiries I’ll consider giving Burlesque classes. Seriously. Hopefully we’ll see some of those enquiring aspiring strippers work really hard before October on stylishly shedding their layers and singing and chatting away for our inaugural Keep Calm and Cabaret competition because here’s the thing: let’s keep the styles evolving. Some of the best feedback we got from audience members at Diabolique was:

 

I love the old burlesque but I love your new burlesque more.

 

You girls can sing!

 

The character was so strong and the story was so beautiful and sad we forgot you were nearly naked!

 

This is theatre to make you think.

 

It’s theatre on a high wire.

 

This is cabaret? I like this cabaret!

 

Highly sophisticated.

 

Mesmerising.

 

Beautiful theatre.

 

 

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We were lucky to have Travis MacFarlane stop by to design our lighting after just one viewing of the show.

 

Of course the audiences responded to Managing Carmen in an entirely different way. The production was cleverly staged, just as beautifully lit, and so funny, starring Frank Wilkie, Adam Flower, Simon Denver, Marina de Jager and Ashleigh Muekenberger.

 

“It was hard,” says Sam, of directing two productions at once. “The greatest challenge” he says, “was to keep two teams who were very different in nature, in style and in preparation, in my head at the one time.”

 

“I’m very proud to again prove that local talent can mix with our national and international talent. We can hold our own.”

 

I’ll offer some more reflections on the festival along the way, as we catch up on the reviews that are missing here.

 

In the meantime, check out Barry Alsop’s Eyes Wide Open Images from Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2014! Cheers!

 

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11
Jul
14

CATS – the arena spectacular spectacular

 

I THOUGHT I WOULD FINISH WRITING ABOUT CATS BEFORE THE NOOSA LONG WEEKEND FESTIVAL BEGINS. YOU MIGHT NOT HEAR FROM ME NOW UNTIL AUGUST.

 

ACTUALLY THAT’S NOT TRUE BECAUSE, AS YOU’LL RECALL, WE’RE GONNA’ TWEET AND INSTAGRAM THE HELL OUTTA’ #NLW14

 

COME UP AND SEE US SOMETIME.

 

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The closest I will ever get to playing a cat.

 

CATS

Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Brisbane Convention Centre

July 4 – 6 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

When CATS first opened in Australia none of the members of this production’s mass ensemble were born. (When it opened in London I *might* have been just born. Alright, I *might* have been in preschool already but let’s not think too long about that).

 

CATS has been performed in over 20 countries and in over 250 cities.

 

The song Memory has been recorded by over 150 artists.

 

1700 meters of lycra and 2000 metres of faux fur were used to create the costumes.

 

Over 3000 pots of Kryolan make-up were used to create the make-up designs.

 

The dance floor comprises over 500 pieces weighing over 10 tonnes.

 

Over 1500 young performers auditioned for the mass ensemble and 800 were chosen.

 

The mass ensemble rehearsed on weekends for 6 months and the professional cast rehearsed for 3 weeks.

 

70 individual body mics were used in this production.

 

There are over 400 lights in the rig and over 400 stage management cues to call.

 

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This is the second largest production of CATS ever! (The largest featured over 3000 cats in London in 2013). That makes it the largest production ever staged in the Southern Hemisphere. I think I’ve finally worked out Harvest Rain’s caper.

 

THEY ARE AFTER THE NEXT OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY GIG

 

They’ve certainly proved with this super-sized production that they have the team to pitch something!

 

With more than #800cats on stage in the Brisbane Convention Centre, including a heap from the Sunshine Coast (and you know I know that drive! Well done, Mums and Dads!). At times it felt like we were caught in a musical epic about the bubonic plague, as hundreds and hundreds of cats swarmed into the space, looking for the first few moments more like rats than cats, upon a ship’s deck, which indeed, seemed to be where we were meant to be. That’s right. No garbage heap here. I actually overheard somebody explaining to his companion that the original had been staged on a rubbish heap and I was suddenly reminded that THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO HAVEN’T YET SEEN CATS. I KNOW.

 

I remember the first time I experienced CATS, at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre in 1989 (the Australian and New Zealand tour), in which Trevor Green played Skimbleshanks to great acclaim. We were sitting next to Trevor on opening night of Harvest Rain’s CATS and I thought I noticed the same consternation on his face that I too was feeling during Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, as the pace began to lag a little. Perhaps it was a trick of the light; Jason Glenwright’s rock star lighting design is a show unto itself! Anyway, what I remember most about that first experience was that the cats actually came through the stalls, purring and climbing all over us! Also, we were allowed on stage at Interval to see the set up close. Unheard of! Years later, Sam played Old Deuteronomy in a local production with Nathanael Cooper as Munkastrap. (Nathanael would probably prefer you didn’t know about that but I’m telling you because he did real GOOD!), and I’ll never forget my first singing teacher, Judy, who wore face paint and cute little cat ears to sing Memory at a closing night party at our place in Buderim. I think it was after a very successful Buderim run of Waltzes From Vienna.

 

These cats did not disappoint either, settling into various reposes upon the floor and on the stairs at points throughout the show when not dancing, keeping character all the while and delighting patrons with their cheeky grins and fabulously feline characters, upheld by all within my scope at least. Paired with the synchronised moggie moves of over 800 performers, including fifteen or more legit tap dancers, it’s a totes impressive effort!

 

MD Maitlohn Drew leads a confident lot of cat wig clad musos, and the music, which is usually easy to get sick to death of – c’mon, be real, it is – was actually really enjoyable. I even loved lots of little moments largely because of the music. Mostly, if I’m completely honest, I ACTUALLY LOVE CATS. I love CATS because of Sarah Brightman, Elaine Paige, Macavity the Mystery Cat and RUM TUM TUGGER. Unfortunately, HR’s Rum Tum (Ethan Jones) gave us more Ty Noonan than Mick Jagger and you know I’m a big fan of Ty’s stuff but it has its place, and it’s place is not in Lloyd Webber’s CATS. (WE LOVE YOU, TY!). That’s not to say that Jones disappointed anybody else on opening night – he was a hit! Mungojerrie (Callan Warner) and Rumpleteaser (Hannah Crowther), though a bit breathless, wowed us with their acrobatic song and dance routine and it’s testament to Harvest Rain’s training program that these two – two of the strongest of the core ensemble, along with Munkastrap (Dean Vince), Mr Mistoffelees (Stevie Bishop) and Jennyanydots (Astin Blaik) – are stand outs in terms of their performance flair, energy and vocal and physical prowess. (It should be noted that I felt Jones redeemed himself in his rich contribution to Magical Mr Mistoffelees). CATS is considered a dancers’ show, sure, but it’s a much more entertaining dancers’ show when the dancers can hold a tune and convey character.

 

Steven Tandy makes a delightful Bustopher Jones and a lovable Gus. Our leading lady of musical theatre, Marina Prior, is an apt choice for Grizabella, giving the famous role a beautiful blend of fragility and fallen grace, not to mention making a pristine appearance in her Wheels & Dollbaby at the after party.

 

 

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Choreographer and Director, Callum Mansfield has always worked meticulously and he had his work cut out for him on this one – we know that CATS is really the choreographer’s show – and word is that Mansfield started work on this production a year ago. Actually, Mansfield choreographed Harvest Rain’s 2007 production of CATS, at their teeny tiny Sydney Street theatre in New Farm, with Designer Josh McIntosh and Producer, Tim O’Connor. Mansfield was 17 years old. During that original run he’d said, “For a choreographer and dancer, Cats is THE dream gig. It’s athletic, energetic and joyful and it’s a challenge to ensure that the choreography reflects the feline movements of the characters while also communicating with the audience.” He also played Mr Mistoffelees in that production. We can only imagine his horror delight when O’Connor suggested staging the show again but this time, on a much larger scale! This time Mansfield says (and this I LOVE), “…here was my chance to provide 800 young performers with the same kind of opportunity that was given to me. Whether they were eight or eighteen years old, I set out to make this experience an enjoyable journey of music, dance and storytelling that would solidify their passion for performing and help them on their way.”

 

Mansfield has BOOKS of choreography – I’d love to see those – and this time he engaged two assistant choreographers (Jennifer Miller& Courtney Underhill), and thirty-nine dance captains to lead the mass ensemble in “tribes” of different colours. Wow! And yikes! And it’s because of these sorts of logistical nightmares that no one else comes close to even attempting anything of the size and scale of this production. I’m not even joking about the Olympics’ bid.

 

I’m actually convinced now that Harvest Rain can (and will) do anything.

 

Look, if you hate CATS you would still have hated it after seeing this production – just face it, you’re a Hater and not even Harvest Rain’s eight million cute kids in furry costumes can cure you – it’s still a whimsical non-story using the poems by T.S. Eliot in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, about a bunch of cats with human qualities who come together for the Jellicle Ball, the cat event of the year, akin to Damien Rossi’s Oscars’ party, obviously, during which (the Jellicle Ball, not the Oscars’ party), one cat will be chosen to become elevated to somewhere vaguely above us. Of course that cat is Grizabella, an outcast and set up beautifully to be the underdog who comes out on top, literally, disappearing via smoky scaffolding into the mystical realm of the Heaviside Layer. The tales within the tale are beautifully realised, allowing for the most plot-like non-plot I’ve seen in a production of CATS.

 

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Apparently, without Marina Prior signing on as the Glamour Cat, this production would never have gone ahead, and whether or not her star power has attracted just as many audience members as family members of the kids involved, what it does do is this – it reaffirms Harvest Rain as one of our premiere performing arts companies, giving them the sort of street cred that only Prior’s sort of star power can buy (check out the cast of Spamalot!), and it gives the younger members of the company a legit role model and mentor. Just as those of us who are *slightly older* looked to Sarah Brightman before her crazy-ass experimental pop chart electronica era (I saw her live on stage, y’all. She sang off key), these aspiring performers look to Marina and her industry peers. It’s obviously been such an awesome opportunity, on so many levels, to be part of Harvest Rain’s Wakakirri Creative Generation Arena Spectacular Spectacular Rock Challenge CATS! Congrats, all! I’m looking forward to seeing all your lovely new faces, although perhaps not all at once, on a stage somewhere again soon!

 

 

03
Jul
14

XS Entertainment at Noosa Long Weekend Festival!

 

Well, by now you will have booked your tix to see our shows at this year’s Noosa Long Weekend Festival! What!? You haven’t!? YOU WILL MISS OUT! 

 

Managing_Carmen-200

I haven’t had time to even tell you about what we’re doing, unless you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram, where you will have seen some sneaky peaks at both productions, which we present in association with Noosa Long Weekend Festival.

 

BOOK NOW!

 

 

Managing Carmen is David Williamson’s comedy about a cross-dressing AFL player, directed by Sam Coward. Even if you’ve seen this play before, you’ve never seen it like THIS! That’s right. It’s been Samified AND David Williamson approved. You’ll love the quirks and fast pace of this, what we think might be Australia’s first real farce; one of David’s wittiest observations on relationships and the whole massive media machine within the world of sport.

 

Diabolique is completely different. Dark and sexy, this challenging drama plays at the edges of burlesque and cabaret to tell the intriguing tale of a woman whose life is ruined by a series of questionable choices and one diabolical decision.

 

Diabolique. Image by Peter Trainer.

 

Diabolique. Image by Peter Trainer.

 

Three women play one (yes, it’s me with Sharon Grimley and Stephanie Brown), and we think you’ll love it! We can tell you that considering and sourcing costumes with Adam Flower, who plays Brent Lyall in Managing Carmen has been fun and FUNNY! (Although you won’t see the Honey Birdette on HIM!). Yes, sadly for students (probably happily for their parents), you won’t get in to see this one; it’s 18+

 

We always set out to challenge our actors and audiences with content, themes and skills to start conversations. Who knew we were exotic dancers in another life? Expect to be pleasantly surprised and suitably challenged!

 

My other hot tips for Festival tix? Well, you’ve already missed out on Michael Griffiths and Rhonda Burchmore. Forbidden Broadway, Night of Comedy, Puccini and Fettucini, our inaugural Festival Wrap Dinner and Mandy Sayer are also SOLD OUT! Get in quicker next year! If you can still get tix today, book for Bruce Beresford’s Bonnie & Clyde, Catherine Alcorn, Melody Beck, Anna Goldsworthy, any of the four fantastic forums on offer this year, and of course, Managing Carmen and Diabolique, all almost SOLD OUT! And it’s no wonder with THESE LEGS ON SHOW!

 

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XS Entertainment and Noosa Long Weekend Festival will be live-tweeting and Instagramming so frock up and be ready to say hi, get your Cocktail Capers VIP Pass, visit the restaurants, mingle with old friends and meet some new ones. One of the things I love most about the Noosa Long Weekend Festival is that you meet the most amazing people! I’m especially looking forward to our inaugural opening night Carnivale on Hastings Street. Get ready to get amongst it! Oh, and look out for Bronte and Tara in that crowd! They’ll be helping me cover all things social media related for the ten days of arts, literature, food, forums and FUN! SEE YOU THERE! X

 

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18
Jun
14

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things in Sydney

 

Musical comedy sensation Gillian Cosgriff brings her award-winning show, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, to Sydney for the first time as part of the Hayes Theatre Co inaugural cabaret season.

 

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Following her successful debut show, Waitressing… and Other Things I Do Well, Gillian is doing less waitressing and more of the other things. These may include: drinking, text messages, profanity, sex, grammar, hangovers, and Band-Aids.

 

Gillian’s hilarious original songs will make you glad these things haven’t happened to you.

 

Winner Best Cabaret Melbourne Fringe 2013

 

Winner WA Arts Editor Award Fringeworld Perth 2014

 

Green Room Award for Original Songs 2014

 

June 19, 20 & 21 2014 at Hayes Theatre Co, Sydney 8:30pm