Posts Tagged ‘Brisbane Powerhouse

14
Aug
17

Richard Grantham & ZEN ZEN ZO Present DUSK

RESTRUNG 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & ZEN ZEN ZO

 

Saturday August 19 2017 at 3:45pm & 9pm 

 

Hit pause on your fast-paced hectic life, and take a moment to slow down, breath, and be present at DUSK

 

Restrung 2017 delivers an all-star line-up of more than 50 international, national and local artists to explore the spaces between genres – classical, electronica, folk, jazz, rock, pop, minimalism and more.

 

The three-day program includes The Viola Cloning Project and Zen Zen Zo’s DUSK, and Collusion and Queensland Ballet Academy’s Muscle Memory: Reflex.

 

Third in the series of Restrung festivals, the program offers a joyous explosion of strings-driven music, dance, theatre and art that challenges musical and artistic boundaries: a roller coaster ride through the arcane, the forbidden and the gorgeous.

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is a moving meditation, a danced haiku, an opportunity to inhabit the “space between” (day/night; sound/silence; movement/stillness; life/death)

 

a regenerative space of unfolding potential…

 

Performer, Travis Weiner talks about

DUSK, ZEN ZEN ZO & RICHARD GRANTHAM –

 

There are 2 aspects of the show itself I can tell you about.

 

I’ve performed in all of Lynne’s shows since I started with the company in 2014 and this is probably the simplest but the most physically and mentally demanding choreography I can remember. That’s partly because some of it is just hard work and partly because Richard’s original composition can’t be broken into beats of 8. When we dance to his music, which is also in parts just him jamming, we have no musical beat to keep us in sync with each other. So almost the entire show is us kinaesthetically responding to each other. It’s an exciting challenge.

 

From a creative perspective it’s more complicated to explain what’s unique about this show. We were talking about this yesterday and we all see Richard as this god-like maestro summoning us as otherworldly spirits. I would say he deserves such a role. He is a very talented musician, and I wouldn’t say so lightly. The music he is able to create with literally one instrument and a bunch of pedals at his feet is mind blowing. It’s like he takes the concept of a one man band and turns it into a one man orchestra.

 

Our challenge was to create a movement score that kept Richard in focus for the majority of the piece. After watching Richard create his music I don’t think we would be able to steal too much limelight if we tried. His performance is simply fascinating.

 

Working with Zen Zen Zo is always a challenging experience because of the nature and standard of the work, but also very rewarding. Anyone who has trained with the company knows how exhausting an experience it can be. When it comes to a show the bar is set even higher and understandably so. Sometimes we look at each other and go, “can we actually do this for that long?” And then we do. I would say to anyone it is worth coming to see Richard play, even if he was on stage alone. But also to anyone who missed Zen Zen Zo’s sold-out In the Company of Shadows season last year, here is a second chance to see the performers from that show take to the stage again.

 

 

In the Company of Shadows from info@zenzenzo.com on Vimeo.

 

Bring a wine or a green tea and enjoy an afternoon or evening of mindfulness in the presence of these extraordinary artists.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

 

THU 17–SAT 19 AUGUST 2017

Two-Show Festival Pass (full)$110*

Two-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$100*

Three-Show Festival Pass (full)$150*

Three-Show Festival Pass (conc.)$135*

*An additional fee applies to each booking transaction. Single tickets $3 / Multiple tickets $6.

 

 

Composer: Richard Grantham


Directors/Choreographers: Lynne Bradley & Jamie Kendall


Lighting Design: Simon Woods


Design Consultant: Rachel Konyi


Costumes: Bill Haycock & Kaylee Gannaway


Performers: Richard Grantham with Jamie Kendall, Gina Tay Limpus, Aurora Liddle-Christie & Travis Weiner

 

 

 

12
Apr
17

I Am My Own Wife

I Am My Own Wife

Oriel Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

April 4 – 8 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like during the Third Reich. The Nazis, and then the Communists? It seems to me, you’re an impossibility. You shouldn’t even exist.

Doug Wright, I Am My Own Wife

I Am My Own Wife is the most incredible theatrical experience; an intimate and secretive (like, a secret society downstairs underground back room Weimar Cabaret performance…oh, wait), and one of our more memorable evenings at the theatre; it’s one that I’ll treasure not only for its extraordinary story, but more so, for its captivating star performer.

Ben Gerrard saw the Tony Award winning production starring Jefferson Mays, which toured Australia in 2006 and “never in a million years would’ve imagined” that he would one day attempt to do the same, playing more than 30 roles in two acts over 90 minutes, to tell the true story of Berlin’s famous transvestite, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.

Pulitzer Prize winner, Doug Wright – he also wrote Quills, Grey Gardens and the stage adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid – joined Charlotte in Berlin for a series of interviews over several years, in which she shared her survival stories and precious collection of antiquities, satisfyingly represented in this production by tiny wooden boxes, all of different sizes, hidden intrinsically within the surface of a quaint three-legged table. Against a wall of yellowed official documents, the stories spill forth, in a precise German accent and with a slightly mischievous sense of humour, which makes us wonder how much of any story is actually the truth. Gerrard is so completely convincing as this enigmatic character that I feel as if this is who I would expect to meet after the show. But we know the real Charlotte died of a heart attack in her eclectic downstairs museum, aged 74, in 2002. She had survived the Nazi and Communist regimes, collecting clocks and phonographs and gramophone records (“re-cords”), and other items of interest, and had been involved in the black market before she operated as an informant. She established an underground bar in her basement for Berlin’s LGBT+ community – the last Weimar Cabaret of the the gay 1890s – and dressed as a woman in sensible all-black-everything.

Caroline Camino’s simple, sombre design, Hugh Hamilton’s moody, poor man’s lighting and Nate Edmondson’s evocative soundscape wholly support Gerrard’s multiple voices whilst remaining true to the main character’s obsessions with precious things. Perhaps Charlotte’s love of objects more than people stemmed from the fact that there were very few upon whom she could rely. But then we discover that she betrays a friend and colleague, Alfred, and we understand that her loyalties do indeed lie at home, where she doesn’t need anyone. Proudly and defiantly, she offers the utterance that became the play’s title, “I am my own wife”.

A tender scene depicts the day of enlightenment for he-who-would-be-she, Lothar Berfelde, when the support of a cross-dressing aunt manifests in her wry observation, having caught him wearing one of her frocks, which she’d long since discarded in favour of men’s pants, that “nature got it wrong”. She gives him a copy of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Die Transvestiten, which becomes Charlotte’s bible for her newly self-determined life. It’s a beautiful story in itself, a quiet nod to our instinctual nature, our desire to connect with others – or not – and our need to be seen. This is just one of many moments, so sensitively, meticulously crafted by talented Director, Shaun Rennie, in which Gerrard captures our hearts and our imagination.

Having seen Mark Kilmurry’s production of David Williamson’s Odd Man Out (twice!), I was delighted to see Rennie have the opportunity this year to be a “fly on the wall” at Ensemble, under Kilmurry’s expert eye.

My favourite space here, the intimate Visy Theatre in the stripped-back Brisbane Powerhouse is ideal, allowing us to feel as if we’re there in the dingy room with Wright and his subject, peering curiously over his shoulder as he chats with her. The stories – the bits and pieces of them – are incredible, almost beyond belief, as tales of oppression and horror are to those of us lucky enough to avoid similar life experience.

And then came the wall. And for us here in Eastern Berlin, it was finished, gay life. The bars, closed. Personal advertisements in the newspaper, cancelled. No place to meet but the tramway stations and the public toilets?

So I thought to give homosexual women and men community in this house. Yes. It was a museum for all people, but I thought, “Why not for homosexuals?”… And there was over the bar an attic. When a boy or girl met a man, and wanted to go upstairs, they could. Two men, two girls, a boy and a girl? it did not matter….

There’s no rush to get past the uncomfortable details, including a gruesome self-confessed murder (yeah, but did you do it?), but instead, the moments are precisely measured and the mood is mostly constrained. Even in the opening moments, we get a sense of mastery and secrecy, and immense trust when Gerrard enters the dimly lit space to find his light centrestage, and sweeps his eyes over his audience, making eye contact with many of us from just a couple of metres away before he disappears into the darkness again… Something unspoken has happened, a deal has been wordlessly sealed.

Gerrard is a beautifully poised and accomplished actor who knows every trick in the book and still comes across as genuine and whole-hearted, able to make a pact with the audience early, and establish that rare and magical, unbreakable personal connection until the end. Later, Gerrard communicates on the same intimate level; open, curious, completely trusting. The quietest, strongest presence in a foyer full of excited, delighted and completely satisfied opening night chatter.

Who would have imagined that while the wonderful Elise McCann was with Matilda the Musicalwinning a Helpmann Award for her work on stages around the country as Miss Honey, she was simultaneously making this humble little show happen, and having the most profound impact on a whole different sector of the community. If Oriel Group’s I Am My Own Wife comes anywhere near you, you simply must see it.

20
Mar
17

#First World White Girls: Botox Party

#First World White Girls: Botox Party

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Rooftop Terrace

March 8 – 12 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

First World White Girls is a proudly Queensland created phenomenon, inspired by an inexhaustible list of what is commonly referred to as #firstworldproblems

These are the things we should be ashamed of admitting are a problem, but we’re not ashamed because it’s all relative, isn’t it? What we don’t have we desire, and what we don’t have going perfectly for us is nothing less than lamentable, even while others are suffering.

This smash hit cabaret, direct from a sold out season at Adelaide Fringe Festival and Brisbane Comedy Festival, is the realisation of an original concept, which manifested in a little show at the Judith Wright Centre last year.

I didn’t love it, but I love its adopted little black baby, Botox Party. Judy Hains (trust fund princess, Tiffany) and Meggan Hickey (Noosa born and bred Maddison) take us through an irreverent hour or so of social catastrophes and gross injustice from their privileged point of view. From Tinder to Trump to celebrity style and puppies, climate change, labiaplasty and those little black babies (so wrong but so funny), the girls, accompanied by Max Radvan on keys, lead us through a number of hilarious recounts of their first world white girl problems and also, invite the audience to contribute their own issues to the show. This works much better this time, the pace vastly improved and the girls better able to handle the throws from the audience, rather than the original and rather time-consuming awkward reading of what we’d written before the show, the pieces of paper randomly drawn from a bucket (OR WERE THEY?).

The vocals this time are stronger and the harmonies slicker, with Hickey’s versatility a highlight in  multi-tasking singing/tap dancing hilarious new number, Snowflake. Hains giving us new insight into the ageing process via a sensational rendition of Memory. The original numbers, penned by Hains, are witty, catchy ditties with less forced rhyme than before (or are they better selling the songs?) and a greater degree of difficulty, which we see particularly in the satirical tribute to the disaster that is Donald Trump, complete with Patty Simcox inspired cheer choreography. The stakes have been well and truly raised, and we can’t fail to recognise these abhorrent creatures and their complaints, and laugh and gasp for breath with them.

I love that this show continues to evolve and prove itself to be just as current and as relevant as ever, making it much funnier and riskier than it has been before. This is the added value for audiences (and for return audiences), as well as for the artists, who obviously get to work more often doing what they love when we support the arts, so that good things can be made better and tour for longer.

Botox Party is pure fun, very funny entertainment, but the not-so-subtle satirical message marched out alongside every line is nothing less than deeply disturbing if we actually pause to think on it, and this juxtaposition makes for terrific theatre that we can enjoy time and time again, digesting as much or as little as we like. After the balloons deflate, our hangover lifts and our next Botox appointment looms, we might actually consider for a moment longer, what it is we really value in life. Or not. It’s probably too hard to even contemplate, right? Yet another #firstworldproblem #justenjoytheshow

10
Mar
17

Boys of Sondheim

 

Boys of Sondheim

Brisbane Powerhouse & Understudy Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Studio

February 2 – 4 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

I was a little bemused by the collateral for this one, a highlight of this year’s MELT Festival. Surely Stephen Sondheim is only recently recognised as “one of the most significant gay artists of the 20th Century”? I grew up with his music and have always recognised him as an artist. I don’t have people within my circles for whom this distinction is anything other than a source of pride and solidarity. MELT has a sense of wonderful community about it, which is typical at Brisbane Powerhouse, regardless of the programming; it’s my favourite venue as much for its vibe as its unlimited possibilities for performance and socialising, but during this festival there’s always something a little more electric (and eclectic) than usual. The energy is super charged and the collective pride shared by the artists and patrons during this time each year makes for an even more appreciative audience, and closer connections. The ‘standard’ of the stuff on show seems to be largely inconsequential. What it comes down to is this: we just want to hear our stories.

Sondheim’s music is some of the most intricate and difficult EVER. It’s not just about hitting the notes (nothing ever is), and given the chance to perform it, most artists will leap in the general direction and enthusiastically “perform” the piece. Some will even sell their song and earn heartfelt applause, and even fewer will leave someone in their audience in tears, or breathless and aching for…something that’s perhaps just out of reach.

Sometimes I do a heap of research and read about previous productions, and their creators and directors and artists, I peek at what the critics have noted, I ask friends what they think, I catch up with the artists or message them to get a sense of where they’re coming from and what they want us to get out of the work. But this is a brand new work, a world premiere, and there’s no precedent except for every other celebration of Sondheim’s music ever. This is certainly a celebration, a tribute to one of the defining voices of musical theatre and mostly, an interesting and entertaining night out, but it’s not all I’d hoped it would be. After a brief development period, the show lacks the polish it needs to win us over completely. It has some heart and some guts, and it’s a great vehicle for its talented performers, but I’d like to see it again in 6 or 9 months time when it might know better what it wants to be.

A narrative penned by Anthony Nocera offers us mostly amusing fleeting glimpses of some of the joys and pitfalls of gay dating and loving and living. Not unlike Dean Bryant’s GAYBIES, the structure relies heavily on these brief monologues, delivered in turn by the actors, to break up the musical numbers, an assortment of somebody’s favourite songs, loosely stitched together in an it’s-interesting-to-be-gay overarching way. Unfortunately, towards the end, the narrative breaks up one of Sondheim’s greatest accomplishments and Being Alive is brought to a painful death by continual interruptions. This makes it almost impossible for Tim Carroll to build the song and bring it to its bitter sweet soaring end, and makes me wonder, why?

With only a few shows in this short season, the opening number needed to be ready for opening night, and the insecurity or reticence or something of three quarters of the cast members makes the first 8-10 minutes ever so slightly uncomfortable. This is so weird, because they’re all fantastic performers, but the music is challenging and the lesser known songs don’t help to win us over. I love Kurt Phelan’s choreography, utilising the catwalk and the narrow space in front of a gay-mancave-bar, the conceit being that these guys have gathered in someone’s home for a lovely champagne catch up.

Kurt Phelan, Sean Andrews, Stephen Hirst, Alexander Woodward and Tim Carroll certainly go to some lengths to expose the “soulful, masculine underbelly” of Sondheim’s work as well as much of the comedy (Hirst’s (Not) Getting Married Today is sidesplittingly funny), but we know there’s more to this lovely little show and I can’t wait to see it reborn and restaged sometime.

28
Feb
17

Matilda Awards 2016

Matilda Award Winners 2016

 

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Last week the Matilda Awards took place for the first time at Brisbane Powerhouse. Queensland artists were celebrated in a dazzling awards ceremony directed by Kris Stewart, and hosted by Melissa Western and Dash Kruck.

The committee has wanted to raise the bar for a little while now, and put on a highly entertaining and social event that honours our artists in a way that can be more genuinely felt by all in attendance (and by all those playing at home). Industry feedback has been very positive and the committee, working collaboratively with the newly appointed executive committee, will continue to consider suggestions from the artists and companies whom these awards were designed to celebrate. In 2016 the committee attended a record number of shows and added an award category to recognise physical theatre and circus arts in 2017 and beyond.

Thanks to ongoing Arts Queensland and Brisbane City Council funding, and an ever widening circle of fantastic supporters, the Matilda Awards and the annual ceremony can continue to evolve.

(Missing from pic, below, are committee members James, Baz and Elise). More pics on Instagram and Facebook. Search #matildas16

 

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GOLD MATILDA AWARD

Dead Puppet Society celebrating their exceptional body of work.

SILVER MATILDA AWARDS

Best Mainstage Production

Bastard Territory, Queensland Theatre Company and JUTE Theatre Company
George’s Marvellous Medicine, shake & stir theatre co and QPAC
Switzerland, Queensland Theatre Company
The Wider Earth, Queensland Theatre Company and Dead Puppet Society

Best Independent Production

Carrie: The Musical, Brisbane Powerhouse and Wax Lyrical Productions
Hanako, Brisbane Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse and Belloo Creative
True West, Brisbane Powerhouse, Troy Armstrong Management, Thomas Larkin and Annette Box
Viral, Shock Therapy Productions

 

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Best Musical or Cabaret

Carrie: The Musical, Brisbane Powerhouse and Wax Lyrical Productions
Hairspray, Harvest Rain Theatre Company
Terror Australis, Brisbane Powerhouse and Leah Shelton
Snow White, La Boite, Opera Queensland and Brisbane Festival

Best New Australian Work

Bastard Territory, Stephen Carleton
St Mary’s in Exile, David Burton
The Wider Earth, David Morton
Viral, Sam Foster & Hayden Jones

Best Director

Caroline Dunphy, Motherland
Ian Lawson, Bastard Territory
David Morton, The Wider Earth
Zoë Tuffin, Carrie: The Musical

Best Male Actor

Matthew Backer, Switzerland
Sam Foster, Viral
Benhur Helwend, Bastard Territory
Thomas Larkin, True West

Best Supporting Male Actor

Julian Curtis, True West
Jackson McGovern, American Buffalo
John McNeill, Endgame
Silvan Rus, Twelfth Night
Steven Tandy, Bastard Territory

Bille Brown Award for Best Emerging Artist

Masako Mizusawa, Hanako
Sophie Perkins, Carrie: The Musical
Paige Poulier, Twelfth Night
Emily Weir, Tartuffe

Best Female Actor

Kerith Atkinson, A Slight Ache
Andrea Moor, Switzerland
Sophie Perkins, Carrie: The Musical
Kimie Tsukakoshi, Hanako

Best Supporting Female Actor

Jennifer Flowers, Endgame
Libby Munro, Disgraced
Paige Poulier, Twelfth Night
Emily Weir, Tartuffe

Best Set Design

Aaron Barton & David Morton, The Wider Earth
Georgina Greenhill, American Buffalo
Leah Shelton, Terror Australis
Anthony Spinaze, Switzerland

Best Costume Design

David Morton & Aaron Barton, The Wider Earth
Kris Bird, Bastard Territory
Karen Cochet, Snow White
Jessica Haack, Twelfth Night
Josh McIntosh, George’s Marvellous Medicine
Leah Shelton, Terror Australis

Best Lighting Design

Jason Glenwright, Carrie: The Musical
Jason Glenwright, The Tragedy of King Richard III
Ben Hughes, Switzerland
David Walters, The Wider Earth

Best Sound Design / Composition

Dane Alexander, Hanako
Tony Brumpton (Sound Design), Lior & Tony Buchen (Composition), The Wider Earth
Rob Pensalfini & Silvan Rus, Twelfth Night
Steve Toulmin, Switzerland

Best Audio Visual Design

Tiffany Atkin & John Grist, Hanako
Justin Harrison (AV Design) & Anna Straker (Illustration), The Wider Earth
optikal bloc, Terror Australis
Nathan Sibthorpe, Viral

 

krissteart_rosemarywalker_matildawards2016

 

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27
Jan
17

A Night at the Musicals

 

A Night At The Musicals

Brisbane Powerhouse and Strut & Fret Production House

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

January 25 – 29 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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MELT Festival exploded onto the Brisbane scene this week with its iconic pastel inflatable icy poles, brightly coloured cocktails, stilettos galore, a glitter cannon and a wall of 100 naked men.

 

Joel Devereux’s FOODP*RN is a photographic exhibition of perfectly plated portions of nude males, all thoroughly enjoying an array of condiments and special treats. What I can only imagine was a series of very messy shoots, smothered in chocolate sauce, covered in milk and cream and popcorn, dripping with glistening syrup, shaking toffee apple maraccas, balancing buns on top of buns and grasping bananas as if their love lives depended on it. If you’ve been following this project on Instagram, you will have seen the admiration Devereux has for each of his subjects, and the care with which he has approached each shoot as a unique show-within-a-show, something that comes through in the final result. The figures, even those in repose, leap out of a whirl of colour with the energy of the unconcerned, completely comfortable with the brief and clearly proud to be a part of such a magnificent celebration of so much deliciousness. There’s a sense of mischief about the piece as a whole and in its parts is so much variety – something for everyone – and so much delight that I can’t imagine anyone standing in front (or above) the work without a smile on their face.

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MELT celebrates queer art and culture, and not only those who identify as LGBT but those who support them. It’s Brisbane’s most diverse and original festival, flamboyant and genuinely friendly. I was proud to be a part of the program last year, appearing in Dean Bryant’s GAYBIES directed by Kris Stewart, with the likes of Bec Mac, Margi Brown Ash, Barb Lowing, David Berthold, Brad Rush, Christopher Wayne, Kurt Phelan and Lizzie Moore. You’ll see Moore (with Brad Rush on keys) return to the Powerhouse during MELT with her hilarious cabaret, On A Night Like This: The Erin Minogue Experience and Phelan in Kris Stewart’s exquisite Boys of Sondheim. Other MELT highlights this year include RENT, Hedwig 15, An Evening With Amanda Palmer and A Night at the Musicals. Cake Face, Queer Comics, Virtual Drag and the MELT Portrait Prize round out the visual arts component of the festival.

I wanted to get into musical theatre…so I became a drag queen.

– Jonny Woo

 

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Jonny Woo and Le Gateaux Chocolat raise the bar with their cabaret show, A Night at the Musicals, a self-effacing, funny look at a few of their favourite musical theatre things. Given the extraordinary talent of its stars, this show has the potential to evolve into a much slicker and more sophisticated something, but perhaps this is not the intention – ever – within the world of drag. Is it? I don’t know. I just love Trevor Ashley’s new-found class, which he brings to his latest show Liza’s Back (is broken), and the precision and artistry of impersonators such as Simply Barbra / Steven Brinberg, as opposed to the original misogyny of ugly “tacky drag”.

Drag is for everybody.

– Jonny Woo

 

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Perhaps it was RuPaul’s Drag Race or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on stage, or Slide or the Butterfly Club, or Trashley’s latest work that’s helped to change the face (or the sound) of the drag scene here, but I had long been under the impression that even the most popular drag acts were lip syncs rather than singers and for me, no matter how good the lip synching, it’s not as satisfying as hearing a great voice live. Jonny Woo and Le Gateaux Chocolat have great voices, and when Woo indulges in some old-school lip synching, it’s highly effective. In the first instance we hear the ensemble of Les Miserables while he contorts his face and posture to mimic every single character actor in At the End of the Day and later, we hear Liza Minelli singing Mein Herr as Woo dons giant jazz hands and dances around and over an audience member seated in a cabaret chair centre stage. There’s nothing “ragged” about it, Woo is cheeky and carries out the original choreography with precision. It’s extreme clowning, the grotesque in a good way, and the statuesque Woo makes it both alarming and completely charming to watch.

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Le Gateux Chocolat’s indulgence is different, giving us a shamelessly Star Wars inspired Phantom of the Opera and then a quick rundown on how Fantine comes to chop her hair off before he sings superbly, I Dreamed A Dream. In what becomes a running joke for the rest of the night, he runs the opening words together (no one ever really knows the intro, do they?) before getting to the bits that really matter. And let’s not neglect to mention a glorioius rendition of Let It Go, with Woo’s budget conscious SFX, absolutely hilarious. His voice is rich, sonorous, just beautiful, but whenever we begin to take him too seriously, he breaks the slightly more sombre mood and breaks into a fantastic scat or free dance until we have tears of laughter streaming down our cheeks. 

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Before the night is over we’re invited to offer suggestions and sing along to Summer Nights. There is no Funny Girl, despite hearing something from the soundtrack as we take our seats before the show. There is no Chicago or South Pacific orThe King and I or Singin’ In the Rain. No West Side Story or Oklahoma or Avenue Q. There is no Into the Woods or The Book of Mormon. No Aladdin. If you’re a serious musical theatre fan you might take the opportunity to shout our your suggestions during the requests segment of the show. You’ll be rewarded with an acapella excerpt of your preferred musical numbers. A Chorus Line complete with high kicks and The Lion King are the highlights for us.

In true, trusted Strut & Fret style, A Night at the Musicals offers a riotous evening in an intimate space, which we could easily enjoy again. If you haven’t yet come across Le Gateaux Chocolat or Jonny Woo – I just adore them both – this is your chance to discover a whole new beautiful world of quality high class camp entertainment. 

16
Jan
17

Rumour Has It

Rumour Has It

The Little Red Company

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

January 13 – 14 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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If you were around a few years ago, you might recall a random little cabaret space above a Swedish restaurant in Albion named Stockholm Syndrome. Sadly, the venue disappeared, but The Little Red Company’s Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele has continued to evolve since its short stint there, in front of sixty people per night during Queensland Cabaret Festival, leaping from stage to stage, and reaching a loyal band of followers as well as bringing brand new audiences to Cabaret, and to the world of sassy superstar singer-songwriter, Adele.

Created by Adam Brunes and Naomi Price on a patio one night over a bottle of gin, as all the best works are, the multi-award winning Rumour Has It was immediately a brilliant and poignant, hilarious and highly entertaining show. Each reincarnation has proved hugely satisfying and in its current form, the most impressive yet, Rumour Has It is more sophisticated and more memorable than ever. It’s ready to tour the world…but first, a national tour, beginning with the highly anticipated three-shows-only season at THE HOUSE OF POWER.

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For the first time, by popular demand, Little Red offered an all-ages version of Rumour Has It. Based on the success of their recent sell-out season in Kuala Lumpur – no (swearing) and thank you please, Madam – giving the youth a chance to see for themselves what all the fuss is about, however; it wasn’t the show Poppy and I wanted to see. My ten-going-on-thirty-year-old had patiently waited for her father to give up his +1 status and accepted there’d be a fuckload of swearing on Friday night, which was “in the context of the show”.

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In role as Adele, frocked up again in Leigh Buchanan’s sensational original designs (and delightedly, barefoot before the final number), Price shares delicious home truths about growing up in Tottenham, surviving/thriving after break-ups and gives us her cheeky, self-satisfied account of her meteoric rise to fame. The story segments, political references and razor sharp responses to audience input are fast, fresh and funny. Price is more adept in front of a live audience than most, the old patter landing as squarely as when we first heard it in 2012 and the new material testament to the bold wit of this writing duo, who have wisely updated the set list too, to include Adele’s latest hits. Hello is a stirring finish before the final encore, and the Adele Megamix 3000 created especially to give credit to the amazing musicians and vocalists with whom Price shares the stage.

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For the first time, the Camerata, Brisbane’s chamber orchestra, are featured throughout, adding depth to a Spice Girls medley (who would’ve thought!?), and rich layers to Adele’s catalogue of songs. The original string arrangements by Andrew Johnson are most notable after Interval (Sound by Jamie Taylor), taking Skyfall into the stratosphere while silver confetti rains down onto the stage. At the other end of the spectrum, during the acoustic Daydreamer, we’re not so much surrounded by bubbles (visually spectacular in a previous season), as witness to a gentle reminder that this is a show so good it insists on returning to us time and time again despite the challenges faced by Australian artists generally, i.e. coming up with dollars for special effects and spaces…

The band, comprising Michael Manikus (keys), Jason McGregor (guitar), Scotty French (bass) and Mik Easterman (drums) is the slickest, and if you’ve supported the artists by taking home a CD of the show, recorded live at the Judith Wright Centre, you’ll also hear Brett Fowler on keys and Andrew Johnson on bass as well as Tom Oliver singing vocals (he’s currently touring in Velvet). On vocals this time, the incomparable Luke Kennedy returns to join sensational husband and wife team, Lai Utovou and Rachel Everett-Jones. Until you’ve seen this trio perform, you ain’t seen or heard backing vocals. They’re dynamic and disciplined, and they each shine, Price rightly giving them a moment in the spotlight before the night is over. (Previously, we’ve seen them in brighter light from the start and I’d love to see more of them again next time, rather than straining to see them against the black tabs. The same can be said of Manikus, disappearing at times into the shadows on the opposite side of the stage). I’ve always adored Jason Glenwright’s design featuring vintage lampshades and in THE HOUSE OF POWER the warm, glowing effect is not lost. Even in this spacious venue, we feel warmth and intimacy (and splintering pain during Someone Like You), and the genuine affection Price feels for her Brisbane audience, even those from Woodridge…

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The sound is heavenly (largely due to Price bravely investing as much of her personal story in the songs as her reading of Adele’s; it’s there in the intimacy and connection she creates with her audience with a superb voice, stronger than ever, and a great big open heart). Not to be discounted or taken for granted, it’s incredibly rare to get the same level of energy and commitment at the same time from such a large number of performers on stage (it’s what’s often missing from so many sold-out smash-hit mega musicals and why we come away from them satisfied but without minds blown), but this company radiates joy; it’s impossible to leave the show feeling anything less than rapture. Really. (Let’s add to the Little Red Must Write List, a Blondie show).

Rumour Has It has come of age; it’s the best it’s ever been. With all the pieces in place, this Rumour Has It is ready for Royal Albert Hall. Naomi Price is as good as Adele – better, because she’s ours – and this production is surely the country’s most accomplished showcase of the sort of humble, sensational Australian talent that’s consistently wowing overseas presenters and punters. And all this from a little Queensland company that could.

This is not the end. Rumour Has It is coming to a venue near you

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