Posts Tagged ‘BYTE





BYTE Youth Theatre

Buderim Aquatic Centre

May 12 & 18-20 2018


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



The most exciting inclusion in this year’s Anywhere Theatre Festival, BYTES’ Metamorphoses is performed entirely in a pool. Fortunately for the performers, and for those in the front row – the splash zone – the pool is heated! Testament to the imagination and sass of this creative team (Robyn Ernst, Jo Hendrie, Melissa Lanham and Travis Macfarlane), not even the Tony Award winning Broadway production used more than an ankle-deep body of water on stage. 


Evocative shapes and intelligent use rather than overuse of repetition and canons, seamless transitions and generally strong vocal work below an ever-changing series of gorgeous lighting states can be considered fairly standard now for this youth company. These elements, with Lanham’s touch all over them, combine to take us on a richly rewarding journey through a series of the ancient myths of Ovid, brought to life in the water using a combination of narrators, and characters particular to each story, as well as abstract configurations, using just bodies in and around the water.



Lanham’s choreography is always stunning and this time, like Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire could do, only backwards and in heels, she accomplishes it all in the waist-deep water of Buderim Aquatic Centre’s enclosed heated pool. The performers are tasked with swimming, diving and at one point (and it’s a highlight, and just one of many powerful and emotive images), almost death-rolling beneath its surface before coming together to create images of trees and corridors and ships. Performers swim up to play a leading role and sink away agin to re-join the company as their featured story draws to a close. The sense of ensemble is present at every moment, and the stillness that starts and closes the show is powerful; pure magic sub-surface energy and intensity, which informs well considered, economised action. The performers are strong and bold, and incredibly brave to commit to spending well over 90 minutes in the water during these cooler autumn nights. Costumes, conceptualised by Ernst and inspired by the water’s hues, are beautifully basic and effective.



Fragments of stories and commentary intercept the featured tales – King Midas, which feels cutely reminiscent of King Herod’s scene in Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, beautifully bookending the show, and Ceryx and Alcyone, Erysichthon, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pomona, Phaeton, Eros and Psyche, Baucus and Philemon – not all are well known but all are well told.


Metamorphoses is a coup for both BYTE and Anywhere Theatre Festival, which celebrates performances anywhere but in theatres. This is the most powerful and engaging production to fit the brief. Let’s hope we don’t need to wait until next year’s festival to experience this sort of inspired live entertainment again.


Press featuring students from MFAC


DURING Anywhere Theatre Festival in May each year, we see shows anywhere but in a theatre. In the most exciting production of this year’s program, Matthew Flinders’ Performing Arts students excel in a unique version of Metamorphoses for Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTE), performed entirely in a (heated!) pool. Featuring Zahra Voss, Natalie Ferris, Sia Tamba-Lebbie, Dominic Graves, Romy Salmond, Holly Wiley, Louisa Travers-Jones and Ben McCullough, this stunning retelling of the ancient myths of Ovid, demanding rigorous physical and vocal performances, is testament to the training and commitment of these talented performers. Drama HOD, Melissa White, acknowledges that these performance experiences are vital for students, offering them the opportunity to work with Industry professionals outside the classroom. Artistic Director of XS Entertainment, performance coach and critic, Xanthe Coward, said the show is “pure magic; a richly rewarding, brave and beautiful journey.”


Anywhere Theatre Festival continues until May 27 but Metamorphoses has just three performances remaining, on Friday and Saturday night at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 6pm. Bookings:



Special Guest Musical Theatre stars appear at BYTE & Matthew Flinders

The Sunshine Coast has welcomed some of Australia’s top musical theatre stars, with special events for students at Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTE) and Matthew Flinders Anglican College.




Yesterday, Chelsea Gibb and Amanda Harrison appeared at Buderim Memorial Hall for a discussion with Robyn Ernst’s BYTE Master Class students about the performing arts industry in Australia and overseas.


These two triple threats were relaxed and chatty, as they sat,  swinging their legs, on the edge of the stage and talked about how they got their start in the industry, what it’s like to be “stayers” in the industry and what differentiates a dancer from a “mover”. They discussed what it is that makes it all worthwhile, how to fit a family and the demands of being a mother into a real working career in the performing arts, and shared some valuable tips for auditions.


Run up a hill until your heart is beating SO fast and stop and sing. That’s what it’s like to sing when you’re nervous, with your heart beating that fast…You have to squish it all down! – Amanda


Gaining experience, skills and work outside of the arts industry is vital to sustaining a career in musical theatre, at least in this country, and so is having a close-knit group of like-minded friends to help you through the lows and celebrate the highs. Amanda noted that so many of the friends come from wherever you’ve studied and of course, from the productions in which you’ve been involved.




Both Chelsea and Amanda mentioned their concerns over the rise and rise of the Internet during their careers, and the damage that heartless, careless critics and bloggers can do to artists and to the industry. They explained very well that as artists they expect support and honest feedback. Chelsea admitted she doesn’t mind if an individual doesn’t love her interpretation of a character, or her tonal quality, but doesn’t see the need for a reviewer to resort to personal jibes and attacks. Amanda agreed and both advised staying away from what’s written about the show you’re in while you’re in it!


Today Matthew Flinders Anglican College students will have the opportunity to attend a Q&A session at Flinders Performance Centre during their lunch time.


Chelsea and Amanda will be joined by Simon Gleeson, Patrice Tipoki, Mark Vincent and Laura Tipoki. Patrice and Laura Tipoki are MFAC Alumni and Patrice joined us last year, with Lucy Durack and David Harris for a similar special event.


Patrice Tipoki_colour


If you haven’t booked yet for A Little Night of Music – Songs from the Silver Screen you can do so HERE



With this calibre of talent on stage together AT THE SAME TIME EVEN there really isn’t anywhere else you should be!



Brisbane and Gold Coast friends, are y’all coming up for this? IF NOT WHY NOT!?






The BFG – Inside Out Theatre Company’s debut


Inside Out Theatre Company

Lind Lane Theatre

9th -12th May 2013


Reviewed by Poppy Eponine


Today we went to see The BFG. It was raining and we made it in record time, to see the show that our friend Russell put on with kids outside of his school. (Well, some of them are probably from his school). Mum didn’t actually book online, which turned out to be a bad idea because they sold out the season and we had to wait and see if two people were not going to turn up. We were lucky that two people didn’t turn up, probably because of the rain, and we got to see it. It was amazing!


You should watch the show before you read the book but if you’ve read the book already the show is not scary because you know what’s going to happen. I read some of the book so I knew that it would be fun, funny and EXCITING to see live on stage! Mum says it’s important to tell you that the real story by Roald Dahl was ADAPTED for the stage by David Wood. So it’s not the WHOLE story by Roald Dahl but it IS his story and David Wood turned bits of it into a play.


Georgina Howarth & Giants The BFG

The BFG is not the only giant. There are bad giants too and the bad giants looked amazing with their spooky monster heads, blood on the tip of their teeth and painted costumes. They were fantastic costumes. Somebody must have put all their energy into making the beautiful costumes.


Those bad giants jumped around a lot and they bossed the Big Friendly Giant around. They shouted and they were like, “I’m the boss now!” There was a baby giant and his dad (not his real dad, just his show dad), and they were in orange. There was a green one and a pink one and a yellow one and a blue one. And a weird-looking camel lady, the queen of the Vikings, who was actually the Swedish queen. That was our friend Denise, who we saw before the show. They all had plenty of time to get ready.


I liked the Big Friendly Giant the most because he was so friendly to the kids. He was the one and only dream catcher giant. He felt a bit alone because he was different but he wasn’t sad about it. And he was the only giant with massive ears to hear lots of sounds to make sure he could keep hidden.


I also liked Sophie. Sophie was a little orphan. The Big Friendly Giant snatched her out with his great giant hands – he actually took Sophie out through the window – and now she will have to live with him forevermore. Sophie was the best main character as well as the Big Friendly Giant. They were the best actors and I completely know why they were chosen for those parts because they were so good. The Big Friendly Giant was exactly perfect just like in the book and he talked just like in the book. The actor got ALL of his words.


At the end the bad giants get captured and the Big Friendly Giant has to say goodbye. I got a bit emotional. I cried on Mum’s shoulder and I put my tears on Mum’s cheek as though she was crying too. But I was glad that everything turned out well for everybody. And everybody got to see the bad giants in the zoo.


Tim Gill The BFG

My favourite part of the story was when they go catching dreams and when they come back home they check what sort of dreams they’ve got and the third one is a bad dream so in the end they use the bad dream to give the bad giants nightmares. The golden dream is the best and the pink dream is a tiny bit like a nightmare but still good. And then it’s the green dream you don’t want in your head because it gives you nightmares. They used sparkling, glowing disco bracelets to show the dreams in jars. Before they put them in the jars, dancers were wearing them. There were dancers and narrators to help tell the story the whole time.


The lighting was terrific, they even got a special check to make sure they knew exactly when to do the lighting and nothing went wrong for the backstage people. Except for the projection, which was clever, but the Big Friendly Giant flicked on and off the screen when he was really behind the curtain. But it didn’t matter because the show must go on!


There were other clever things too, like a china doll for Sophie and puppets for the queen and her army men. They were funny and they kept laughing and talking in funny accents. The audience laughed and thought they were really funny.


The bad giants tried to eat all of Sophie’s friends but they escaped and they got tossed around but not eaten. And there were the funny fruits, snozzcumbers, that no one liked at all. But if you want to be as skinny as a line you had to eat them. But no person should be that skinny. Never, ever. Unless they are starving to death.


The BFG Inside Out Theatre Company

The BFG is the best show for kids I’ve seen on the Sunshine Coast and I hope Russell puts on more shows for kids because my mum and dad only do shows for grown ups. His shows are like the Harvest Rain shows for kids that we sometimes see in Brisbane, like James and the Giant Peach (Mum says it was adapted by David Wood too). Now we can see shows like that here on the Sunshine Coast!


Russell’s directing was excellent and he did an excellent job with all of the characters, and with so many kids involved. AND he told us he wants to start a school for kids who want to do shows. I think it’s an excellent idea because that’s what I do at BYTES but not all kids can do BYTES. If there was something like BYTES at Lind Lane Theatre lots of kids would want to do it and they would need to do more than six shows because they would sell out the season just like this one.


I will let you know what Russell and Judi and their Inside Out Theatre Company are up to next so you can get your mum to book online so you don’t miss out on a show!


P.S. This song wasn’t in the show but the scene is so funny with good sound effects so I wanted to put it up here anyway. It’s a little bit rude but it’s okay because it’s in the story so it’s in the context.












Poppy Eponine is nearly seven and she knows what she’s talking about.


1912 – Titanic

1912- Titanic

BYTE Master Class Actors

Buderim War Memorial Hall.

Friday 1 June 2012

Reviewed by Ayla Vashti in conversation with Xanthe Coward

Ayla Vashti is in Year 6 at Eumundi State School on the Sunshine Coast

Ayla Vashti and Poppy Coward at 1912 – Titanic

Ed’s note: Peta Beattie, with her original work, Romanov and now with this latest work, 1912 – Titanic under her belt, may not be as well known as some of the winners from our local playwriting competitions but she is undoubtedly one of our best local playwrights and I can’t wait to see more from her. This is a wonderful piece for any accomplished group of young (or old) actors to get their teeth into. I love the way Peta is able to balance the horror, terror and tragedy of life with the simple good humour of the everyday. Somewhere within all historical accounts, there are the ordinary people and how they felt at the time of the disaster that changed their lives. Peta manages to capture these thoughts and emotions and challenge ours.

In the 100th Anniversary year of the tragedy of the Titanic, Peta Beattie thought it apt to tell the stories of some of the people involved in this famous historical event, in a series of short vignettes. We meet many characters over the first act of this new work and not all of them nice to know but all of them about to board the Titanic on her maiden voyage from Southhampton in the UK to New York City in the USA. Almost the whole first act is all about the different backgrounds of the people who would risk their lives by boarding the ship.

The first person we saw was drunk and had killed his wife. His name was William Mintram. I think the actor chosen for this character was a good choice because he acted the part with reality and we believed him. He looked like he meant it. We saw him again at the end, with his boy and the ghost of his wife (Saskia Wass) and it was very sad. The Fortune family was also played well. The father, Mark Fortune was very life-like and he acted like I would have thought him to be like if I had read about him before seeing him. Ethel Fortune was a very big telltale and I felt like I was there, listening to her gossip. Ethel and her two sisters were very different characters, each with their own qualities and they only got along when they had to reach a lifeboat to be saved. Their father was a stern man and very strict; qualities which the actor showed honestly and made me grateful that we are not living like those children did at that time, with such strict parents who make the girls marry and make the poor son stay and drown “a man”. Because they were so wealthy, this family could basically do whatever they wanted, just like all the first class passengers could do.

The other wealthy people included the famous Mrs Margaret (Molly) Brown, played by Brodie Shelley, whose performance we really enjoyed. She was relaxed and natural on stage. Another lighter character was the American actress, Mary Warner Marvin  (Katherine Ernst) and her husband (Riley Cope). This couple was lovely to watch and seemed to be a good match, working well together to get the comedy right. We also met a maid and her mistress (Ashleigh Holmes) and the husband of her mistress (Isaac Saunders), who was another awful male character (but he got his comeuppance in the end), another maid (this one Italian) and her mistress, the Countess de Rothes (Caroline McAllister) and a travelling companion. The women treated the Italian maid meanly and didn’t think about how she might like to spend her time on the ship. The only happy people seemed to be the poor people, most of them Irish, who were travelling on a different deck or working in the boiler room.

These Irish characters, very poor, third class passengers, were delightful, dancing and singing and joking around. One of the highlights of the show was their high-energy dance scene, which also managed to move the plot along because we saw the relationships developing as the dance went on into the night. One fellow, tall and gangly, with the largest hands and the longest fingers I’ve seen on a stage, was hilarious. At times his mate was too drunk to even walk straight but he stuck by him and I guess they drowned together at the bottom of the ship after letting the ladies go through to the deck. The taller actor provided a lot of the laughs throughout the play and Xanthe thinks he has a real Michael Crawford quality about him. Perhaps we’ll see him play P.T. Barnum next!

The interesting thing about this play is that it’s not just sad. There is a lot of humour in it because the people are the real people, based on newspaper reports and other print media of the day, their diaries, personal belongings and accounts from the people who knew them. The playwright must have done a lot of reading and research to write characters that so easily come to life. Xanthe said that she has made it easy for the actors, giving them beautifully drawn characters that we can relate to. We feel so sad to lose them because we’ve gotten to know them along the way. This is a gift to actors and the gift of a good writer.

Xanthe thinks the flow of the play was hindered by clunky scene changes and perhaps too many at that. It might be possible to pre-set some of the scenes in darkness so we are not waiting so long to see the story go on. Because it’s so unexpected to have to wait so long until disaster occurs, we need the story to go on quite quickly to get to it. Xanthe says that the tension built well all the same and I agree. The music, which already gave us clues about characters before the lights came up on each scene, and the way the characters start to get worried about taking the trip, help to build the tension. As my Uncle Sam said, we know what is going to happen. It’s not like the ship won’t sink in the end because it did. Because it’s true. It’s very sad to think of all those people, drowning or choosing to end their own lives before the sea took them. The actors made all the panic and terror seem real but unfortunately, we couldn’t hear a lot of what they were saying once the ship struck the iceberg because the music and sound effects were so loud. The volume of the impact made it very scary to be sitting there in the dark as people on stage screamed and ran for their lives. My little cousin, Poppy, was scared and Xanthe had to cuddle her until the awful time when everyone was just waiting for the ship to sink. The ship didn’t have enough lifeboats on board so many, many people died when they would have otherwise been saved.

Apparently, we heard the actual music that was played by the musicians as the ship sank. It was a beautiful hymn, Nearer My God to Thee, which was played very well by a violinist, Henry Jeaffreson. This made the end much sadder. It’s strange how some music sometimes has that effect.

There are some things that might have been similar to the James Cameron film, or any other film for that matter, because it’s a true story. The difference in this play is that we see more of so many more of the people. This would be a great play for schools to do because so many kids can have a role. But they must be good actors to make us believe them and be happy that they are telling the true story of the Titanic. I hope they would have the same beautiful costumes too.

The whole cast came out at the end, after the ship sank, like ghosts, to sing the hymn and we wanted them to take a bow but they didn’t, they just left. It was a strange, sad way to end the show and I would have given them all an extra round of applause if they’d stayed to take a bow. Xanthe says after such an extraordinary, emotional journey, we all needed to be reminded that it was just actors on stage and we needed to give them their applause because they earned it. Maybe the director would let them take a bow next time, or not necessarily bow but, like Xanthe says, stand and take their applause.

Ed’s note: taking two young girls to see this incredibly sad story played out before us was a bit of a gamble but they got so much out of it and the discussions we’ve had since have been very valuable (and at times, very entertaining!). This was a good reminder that we all go away with something very different from the theatre and also, that most children still do not see enough drama outside of the cinema or the living room. The BYTE Master Class Actors have done an incredible job bringing these people to life. It’s clear that Director, Robyn Ernst has allowed time and space for the actors to fully realise their characters and, working together, they deliver a pretty slick production to commemorate beautifully, those who perished with the Titanic 100 years ago.


Rocket Boy Ensemble: Romeo & Juliet opens tonight

Rocket Boy Theatre Ensemble will be making its theatrical debut on the Sunshine Coast tonight at the Buderim Uniting Church Hall.

In an attempt to engage younger audiences with classic theatre delivered in a contemporary setting, the new Coast ensemble will perform Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. “We feel that the main exposure to Shakespeare is in schools and is often used as reading material rather than performance”, said Rocket Boy Director Ms. Carney. “Shakespeare was written to be performed and we wanted to provide an opportunity for young people to see the play performed in a way that they can engage with. The ensemble will be offering a unique experience for Coast theatre goers as the performance has been produced entirely by young performers, many being graduates of The Buderim Youth Theatre of Excellence (BYTE).

Rocket Boy will attempt to challenge the traditionally classic approach to theatre on the Coast by bringing a more experimental style to the stage. “I want Sunshine Coast theatre to take more risks,” Ms. Carney said. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for younger performers to stage a production. We have an opinion and a vision and are excited to share it”. The Cast ranges in age from 17-23 and all are passionate about their involvement in the industry.

Rocket Boy believes that the themes of the play are universal, which is why audiences continue to engage in the classic tale of love. “I love theatre that takes traditional techniques and puts a new spin on them”. “The young lovers think love can conquer all and they can overcome what is happening. It’s beautiful, naive but beautiful”, Ms. Carney said.

Opening tonight, the play will run for three nights, through to Sunday February 12.

Watch Rocket Boy Ensemble’s Romeo and Juliet trailer here. Book tix by emailing

Read about the removal from print media, of Queensland Theatre Company’s controversial image to promote their production of Romeo and Juliet.

Listen to Fiona Jolley and Melanie Zanetti’s comments, in conversation with ABC Radio National

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