Posts Tagged ‘cameron daddo


Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show


Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

Gordon Frost Organisation, GWB Entertainment and Howard Panter Ltd

QPAC Concert Hall

January 19 – February 11 2018


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



Don’t dream it, be it.


The message has never been clearer: you can be whatever you want to be. But somewhere along the way, has Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show taken this lesson a little too literally, and lost some sense of self?


It’s still a ridiculously fun, kitsch show (a ridiculous, fun, kitsch show) – it’s even retained a little bit of its naughtiness (the bed scene is still hilarious, although, thank Adam, not quite as lewd) – but it seems it’s not only the size of the production that’s been scaled back. With Craig McLachlan’s departure from this slick little mini-production from London and even less time allowed than in 2014 for the double entendres and sight gags to sink in, it’s no longer a wild and untamed thing. Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is practically PG.



In London, in 1973 the very first Rocky Horror Show genuinely shocked audiences, and with the 1975 release of the film (a dismal failure at first, and let’s not even speak of the appalling remake from 2015), based on the stage production by Richard O’Brien, this strange encounter of virgins and phantoms and aliens quickly became a cult classic. The show has played all over the world non-stop for 45 years, and in case you were unaware, an audience participation ‘script’ informs both screenings and live performances, although the Brisbane Cards 4 Sorrow crowd (if that’s who they were. Incidentally, their next floorshow is in March; check it out here) didn’t get much of a look in this time, the couple of determined callouts deflected without hesitation by Narrator, Cameron Daddo, superbly and very suavely his natural self in this coveted role). Perhaps they felt, after the initial bold outburst, that QPAC’s Concert Hall was not the place for it…


Tim Curry remembers the moment he realized that his performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in “The Rocky Horror Show,” the London stage precursor to the 1975 cult film, was no longer his alone.


David Bowie and his wife at the time, Angela, were in the audience that night in 1973. Onstage, Frank, the hypersexual alien mad scientist, was being held at ray-gunpoint by his former servants, Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn). They were about to shoot when Ms. Bowie shouted, ‘‘No, don’t do it!”


Indeed, the Concert Hall feels like the least likely space in which to experience Rocky Horror, but Mamma Mia! continues to claim the Lyric until February 4. According to one of the venue’s producers, we’ll likely see more of this use of the Concert Hall, which has historically been home to artists and acts of a slightly different ilk. Perhaps the precedent was set by Harvest Rain, with their full-scale musicals in this space before a move across the road, or had it been set already? It’s truly magnificent to have so much coming to Brisbane that QPAC (booked ahead for years you understand), must utilise every space, but by the same token, it’s a firm reminder that we are in desperate need of another performing arts venue in Brisbane that doesn’t also serve as a convention centre or conference location.


In exciting news for independent artists, presenters and producers seeking a brand new and intimate performance space, XS Entertainment is issuing an invitation to come play with us on the Sunshine Coast. 

Email for available dates and details. 


It could be said that this version of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show continues to suffer from its smaller scale, although probably not if you’ve never seen it live on stage before…



A couple of Rocky Horror virgins joined me on opening night, and despite some confusion surrounding the story and some horror/mock horror moments – cold blooded murder and beneath-the-bed-sheet sight gags – they enjoyed the show and the performances from a cast rocked by allegations against the previous leading man, made before the Brisbane season commenced, by Christie Whelan Brown, Erika Heynatz and Angela Scundi, cast members from the 2014 production and, for the record, as far as I can see, all without reason to fabricate anything against anyone to further their careers. (Honestly. The things people say). Regardless of our understanding of the facts, the women experienced something that negatively affected them.


It doesn’t matter if we would not be affected in the same way. What happens to a person happens to them in a way that no one else can ever fully appreciate. It is a person’s right to feel the way they feel about a situation. 


The producers had told us in the early press, “this is sure to be an even wilder and sexier night out than ever before…” and perhaps it is, if you don’t get out much. The reward this time, if you’ve seen the show before, is in the night out itself, the whole event of going to the theatre with friends, a bit of fun, and also, thankfully, in solid performances across the board.



The standout, however, is Kristian Lavercombe, with more than a thousand performances to his name as Riff Raff. Again, he’s absolutely sensational, building vocally on the work we’d heard previously and deceiving us into thinking we’re witnessing Richard O’Brien’s soul take up residence in another body. Amanda Harrison holds her own as the Usherette and Magenta. (It’s a really tough gig to keep us enthralled throughout that opening number of obscure sci-fi references and plot points!)



It seems appropriate to note that one of the best ever in this dual role, Jayde Westaby, can be seen across the hall until February 4 as Tanya in Mamma Mia!



Brendan Irving is, once again, just beautiful as the all-singing, all-posing, all-glittering and glistening Rocky, bringing to life a scene that threatens to slow the bull-in-a-china-shop pace if it were not for his impressive posturing. The hand mic, used inexplicably by both Rocky and Frank-N-Furter for this scene and the following, loses its potency after about three seconds, becoming a distraction. I’ve never understood its inclusion. Also, Irving’s an aerialist and I’m still confounded as to why his considerable skill in the air hasn’t been incorporated by Director, Christopher Luscombe. The bizarre interruption of Eddie (James Bryers) also lightens the mood before it turns gruesome, with Frank’s response to the appearance of this unwelcome guest. Unfortunately, Hot Patootie is turned into an untidy non-event rather than featuring as the fully choreographed showstopper it might be (and wasn’t it, in 1992?). This time the morbid game of chainsaw cat and mouse played out across the stage is chaotic, but doesn’t add to the excitement of the show. This oddity, common in blockbuster smash hits demanding more of the marketing and publicity teams than of the touring company, occurs across the entirety of the show, with the exception of Lavercombe’s Riff Raff and Rob Mallet’s (adorable) Brad. The ensemble is rounded out by Michelle Smitheram as Janet, Nadia Komazec as Columbia and Phantoms, Bianca Baykara, Ross Chisari, Hayley Martin and Stephen McDowell. The on-stage band is ably led to light speed by MD Dave Skelton.


As for Australia’s newest superstar, Adam Rennie turns the role on its head to become the sweetest transvestite we’ve ever seen. It’s true, he’s missing some specificity and physical extravagance (Tim Curry speaks about creating the character here), at least on opening night, although he may have spiced things up and nailed more precise movement (and electrifying stillness) towards the end of the season, but he’s gorgeous and he makes it his own. His is a thoroughly entertaining performance, marked especially by sensational singing and his unique sweet and cheeky take on the role. In fact, whether or not he means to, Rennie comes across as just about the antithesis of McLachlan’s leering hyper sexual alien scientist. And despite being at odds with the character’s placement and purpose in the story, it’s refreshing, perfectly non-threatening, and perfect for this (political climate) light, fun, smash-hit re-staging, which really does appear to assume we’ve seen it all before, and also, that its audiences will continue to get younger and younger… (The film retained its R-Rating in some countries for the single silhouetted sex scene). QPAC advises: This show has rude parts…parental guidance recommended.


Why go back again and again to Rocky Horror? It makes little to no sense, neither its costumes (Sue Blane) nor its fluid sexuality are particularly shocking anymore, and we can watch the original film, which is arguably the best version anyway, whenever we like. But there’s something irresistible, isn’t there, about the electric energy of a live glam rock infused performance, and the permission to relinquish judgment and inhibitions, as well as the fleeting connection with strangers in a dark space, lost in time, and lost in space. And meaning.



Enjoy the ride and take what you will, again, from Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show.


The Sound of Music


The Sound of Music

Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost & The Really Useful Group

QPAC Lyric Theatre

March 17- May 1 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


When it was announced that The Sound of Music would stop by Brisbane, I was excited to see what could be done with it. I was ready to be impressed by a new, glossy, Palladium-famed and Frostified take on one of the world’s favourite musicals.

This revival is everything you might expect of a glossy musical blockbuster.


Amy Lehpamer is a lovely, strong, smiling Maria, but there is little connection between she and Cameron Daddo as Captain Von Trapp, although he is certainly lovely, authoritative enough and gentle in turns; I actually adore him. But The Sound of Music is essentially a love story that insists on shining through its dark political setting, and in this version we barely feel any sense of the complex love triangle between Maria, Georg, and Elsa Schraeder, played by Marina Prior, as only Prior can play her. She is regally and richly mischievous, elegant and gracious, and not a bit nasty. Offering a masterclass in making even the smallest role memorable, Prior is the very model of a leading lady, and I suspect if she were not so polite she might outshine Lehpamer in a couple of places. And suddenly it occurs to me that perhaps what I find lacking in Lehpamer is that elusive quality of capturing in a role something so captivating that we’re not even sure afterwards what made the performance so spectacular. It’s certainly a spectacularly executed performance (Lehpamer’s voice is superb! And her vowels!), but somehow it’s without the substance we need to see to be able to connect with her. In a rehearsal we’d say she’s “phoned it in” and demand the stakes be raised before opening night, despite seeing the blood, sweat and tears already evident behind a polished performance. On opening night in Brisbane I wasn’t convinced she was there to WIN.


I adore two distinct moments in this production, and whether these are the actors’ choices or the director’s guidance we’ll never know for sure. When Maria returns from the abbey she is greeted by the children and then left to face the Captain. Liesl shoos the children offstage and turns for a fleeting moment to tell Maria in clear solidarity, “We’ll be in the nursery.” This brings tears to my eyes and reminds me of the final scene in Labyrinth“Should you need us…” – and also, that my nearly-ten-year-old-going-on-twenty-year-old is already this heart smart. Given the same circumstances she would do exactly the same thing, reassuring me in a single glance that she’s with me even when she’s not with me. The other poignant moment (you’d think there’d be many more but no, not really, it’s all rather too rushed to have the same impact), is when Captain Von Trapp stumbles over the reprise of Edelweiss and Kurt, not Maria (as we like to recall from the movie) steps up to sing with his father. How strange that these moments are so few. One has to wonder what happened in between the eagerness to take on the project and the pressure to complete it…

The children’s scenes are all absolutely gorgeous, filled with pure joy, and overflowing with cuteness. On opening night they are Luke Harrison (Friedrich), Sophie Moman (Louisa), Sam Green (Kurt), Emma Cobb (Brigitta), Amelia Ayris (Marta) and Dana Weaver (Gretl). They are beautifully rehearsed by Children’s Director, Jonny Bowles, who has wisely allowed individual personalities to shine through, which gives the newly choreographed Do-Re-Mi a vibrant new look and feel (it’s been lifted to Supercalifragilistic level!). Given that the children are re-cast in each city, Bowles has an extraordinary gift.

Stefanie Jones, once she settles into the role of Leisl, is delightful and for me she’s the real star here, with a voice that will continue to strengthen and sweeten, and with the acting chops to earn more extensive stage and screen time. The famous duet with Rolf is rushed, but perhaps the pace represents the exuberance and excitement of young love. We miss the romance of the gazebo setting, but the choreography is flashy and swirly enough, and well executed by Jones and WAAPA graduate, Du Toit Bredenkamp, in an impressive professional stage debut.


So much is quite different in the stage version, so if you’re a loyal fan of the film you might be surprised with some of the song placements. I don’t think The Lonely Goatherd has ever worked as well as A Few of My Favourite Things during the storm scene; it’s much better played out in full for the amusement of the party guests. On the other hand, Something Good in place of Ordinary Couple is perfect, and we finally enjoy half a moment of the love that develops between Georg and Maria.


As Mother Abbess, Jacqueline Dark’s powerful rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain brings the house down but A Few of My Favourite Things, sung earlier with Maria in the stage version, does little to affirm the bond between them. The nuns are lovely, each establishing their individual characters from the outset (Johanna Allen is Sister Sophia, Eleanor Blythman is Sister Margaretta & Dominica Matthews is Sister Berthe). Following the suitably sombre entrance of the nuns through the Lyric Theatre aisles, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? is a light-hearted delight, with everyone narrowly avoiding overplaying everything. Lorraine Bayly is a sweet Frau Schmidt and David James a comical standout, just gorgeous, as Max Detweiler.


You might be thinking I must loathe The Sound of Music but nothing could be further from the truth. When I sang Sister Sophia in a Sunshine Coast production, my sisters played Leisl and Brigitta, and it was so special to do a show together. We’d grown up watching – LOVING – the film, most often seeing it only up until the end of the Salzburg festival concert, when Mum would send us to bed because, “It’s too late and it gets too awful now.” It really does get awful, but this production lacks the same menace once the swastikas are revealed. The moment in which they are revealed is actually fantastically frightening. Suddenly we’re constrained in the space by German soldiers and the “black spider”. However, once we feel the immediate impact of this beat change (and believe me, it’s a chilling feeling of absolute horror, akin to the Tomorrow Belongs To Me moment in Cabaret), the story moves a little too swiftly and without enough depth and darkness to keep us invested.

This appears to be the general rule for the show i.e. a fast show’s a good show. Director, Jeremy Sams and Associate Director for Australia, Gavin Mitford, with Musical Director, Luke Hunter, have sustained a pace so swift that the poignant moments are kept to a minimum.

I’m disappointed that I don’t feel overly concerned for the family. It appears to be too easy to simply walk out of Austria and into Switzerland! This aspect of the design doesn’t help our imaginations. We watch the family traipse over the same rolling hilltops that Maria started on (on her knees?! Whatever for? Did I imagine that?), in the title number.


This pretty looking, perfectly polished production is nostalgic without tugging at heart strings, and sentimental without making the sensational mark.

New musical theatre audiences will likely be blown away by the talent and scale of the production. No, it’s not Palladium-sized but like all the other large scale revivals, this pared back touring version fits neatly into the Lyric. Authentically styled costumes and set by Robert Jones (the abbey and the interior of the Von Trapp house are at once imposing and perfectly contrasting designs), and atmospheric lighting by Mark Henderson will surely satisfy the most discerning viewer. But will they be moved? Will they get the enormity of the story? Do they need to? I think they must.

Why do we retell our stories if not to share the lessons we wish we’d learned? 

The Sound of Music is iconic and this production is certainly worth a look, but it may not leave the lasting impression you expect it to.


Legally Blonde the Musical

Legally Blonde The Musical

Music & Lyrcs by Lawrence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin.
Book by Heather Hach

Ambassador Theatre Group & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

19th March – 21st April 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Legally Blonde Opening Night

If you’re  following us on Instagram and/or Twitter, you probably had a say in which opening night dress I selected! This was the more elegant of the three, from Sunshine Coast vintage specialists in Mooloolaba Retournez-vous. Thanks girls! Image by Glowbored


“You never have to compromise.” Elle Woods


If I was to tell you you’d care deeply about the plight of a gorgeous blonde 4.0 Delta Nu Porsche-driving president who comes complete with a killer wardrobe and obligatory small dog, you’d …….laugh, right? Heather Hach



Omigod You Guys! Mad props to everybody involved! I LOVED Legally Blonde The Musical! Not only did it deliver on every single promise, it did so in STYLE! The sort of style Elle Woods would be proud of! I admit, I was dubious after the friends and live-tweeters at last week’s previews questioned the show’s saccharine sweetness, but this is largely what I loved on Thursday night; the show is unquestionably sweet!


So Much Better than the movie – sorry Reese but it is – the musical is fun, uplifting and surprisingly powerful in its light delivery of many heartfelt messages, which seem at first to be very thinly veiled, that is, until Elle succeeds in following her heart and ends up in the right place with the right friends and the right man. See? Sweet! Lucy Durack is the ideal Elle (she auditioned for 8 months to prove it to producers!), and without a hint of Glinda – okay, maybe just a hint – Durack is proving to audiences once again what makes her one of the hardest working (with a fractured foot on opening night!), and best loved leading ladies in the Australian musical theatre scene. She’s simply glorious as Elle Woods; full of joy, vulnerability, ambition and optimism, as befits the character, and it’s hard to take our eyes off her.


Blonde_web5_t620Hot on her heels though, are Helen Dallimore, the powerhouse voiced Paulette with perfect comic timing, and Erika Heynatz, the model-turned-television-presenter-turned-triple-threat! As Brooke Wyndham, Heynatz stops the show with Whipped Into Shape, making singing while speed skipping look like child’s play (and yes, I had already promised Poppy, when we watched the (MTV) Broadway footage online, that we’d practice this number together at home. We’re still learning the routine, actually, thanks for asking). Of course, as you would expect (I’m being facetious), there’s a Greek Chorus comprising Elle’s best friends from the Delta Nu sorority, and these are the girls who may need to listen to some of what Elle has to say about true self-confidence.


On opening night there appeared to be a little bit of competition going on. I felt like somebody should tell them, “Don’t sweat it, girls, remember, YOU GOT THE PARTS! FIND YOUR INNER ELLE” and make them sit down at Interval to watch the Rumor Has It episode of Smash, you know, when Karen is taught to FIT IN. I’m sure they’ve settled already.




The boys are no less impressive, with Rob Millsy Mills dripping charm as the apparently perfect boyfriend, Warner, Cameron Daddo oozing that awful, all-too-familiar “I can make you or break you baby so (a-hem) *kiss* me” vibe as the Professor, and David Harris delivering on all accounts as Emmett, to give us our fairytale ending. Not sure why we’re not seeing Harris regularly on Broadway yet but I’m glad he’s here for the moment! Omigod you guys, we should have asked him that! The male ensemble is strong, with its standout in Mike Snell, in his first actual role (as opposed to a succession of nameless ensemble roles, which have brought him this far), who sells his “package” with aplomb. Even with an Austin Powers sorta sight gag in there (really, it’s just a phallic reference but I thought it was time we all enjoyed a bit of Austin again!). Surprisingly, it’s not too much. In fact, as big and shiny as every element is, there is nothing overplayed or over produced to the extent that we question it. What this company, along with the extended creative team, and in particular Andrew Pole (Resident Director), have managed to do, is to stage in the Lyric Theatre, a shiny, glossy, sparkly, saccharine sweet Broadway smash-hit without losing anything of the original, except Laura Bell Bundy et al! (I’m including this link so you can appreciate even more, Lucy Durack, and our Australian daytime television talk shows. JUST SAYIN’ Y’ALL!).


The set is fabulous, the wardrobe is a new season Preppie-inspired fashionista’s dream, and the dogs, omigod you guys, the DOGS! If nothing else, the dogs in this show will steal your heart. You’ll be grinning from ear to ear over the too-cute antics of Bruiser (Sparrow, Quinn & Audrey) and Rufus (Luka & Harris).


Legally Blonde The Musical has so much energy, so much excitement, so much FUN and so much PINK! This production is the perfect example of the new John Frost brand of bread and circuses (we saw it in Mary Poppins); it’s not for the masses with nothing, but for the masses with everything, who demand more, much, MUCH more. Legally Blonde is seriously fun, super slick and shiny; it’s sublime entertainment for everyone.


Ha! You’re bending and snapping now, aren’t you?!




OMG YOU GUYS! Legally Blonde opens in Brisbane this week!

Legally Blonde



The worldwide smash hit musical



Thursday night at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre …



If you didn’t get tickets in your Christmas stocking, you’d better get them NOW!



Preview performances continue on Tuesday 12 March and Wednesday 13 March.

Tickets to the preview performances are only $69.90

Legally BlondeElle Woods can handle anything.  So when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her for someone ‘serious’ she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School and win him back.

With some help from new-found friends Paulette, Emmett and her Chihuahua, Bruiser, she learns that it’s so much better to be smart.

The all-star Australian cast includes LUCY DURACK (Wicked) as Elle Woods, ROB MILLS (Wicked, Young Talent Time) as Warner, DAVID HARRIS (The Boy From Oz, Miss Saigon) as Emmett, HELEN DALLIMORE (Into the Woods – UK) as Paulette, ERIKA HEYNATZ (Australia’s Next Top Model) as Brooke Wyndham and CAMERON DADDO (Beaconsfield, Packed to the Rafters) as Professor Callahan.

Nominated for seven Tony Awards® and ten Drama Desk Awards in its first year on Broadway, and having won seven major theatre awards in London, including the Olivier Award for Best Musical, LEGALLY BLONDE is an international sensation.

LEGALLY BLONDE is a joyful, uplifting, inspirational musical that guarantees a great night at the theatre. Welcome to the sorority!