Posts Tagged ‘David Williamson

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. 

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.

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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…”

 

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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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! 

 

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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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19
Jun
13

Happiness

Happiness

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

The J Theatre

18th & 19th June 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Roland Makepeace (Mark Lee) knows what makes people happy. Why wouldn’t he? He’s an eminent professor of psychology who has devoted his life to scientifically investigating human well-being. But his theories are sorely tested when his wife Hanna (Anne Tenney) meets an old suitor Sam (Peter Kowitz) and his daughter Zelda (Erica Lovell) threatens to go right off the rails. This sharply observed comedy suggests that theory can sometimes fall well short of reality and that finding happiness is easier said than done.

 

It’s very funny – you’ll laugh and laugh – but you’ll also empathise with the characters. What I love is the irony of this professor of happiness surrounded by unhappiness when he’s done everything right. 
Only David can bring us this kind of irony.

DIRECTOR: SANDRA BATES

 

The Queensland Premiere of David Williamson’s new comedy, Happiness, happened without the playwright and his wife, Kristen in attendance, which was strange, making the night less of an occasion than it might have been with them there. It’s a pity that an overseas trip clashed with The Noosa Long Weekend Festival. It’s always such a pleasure to see them.

 

Happiness hasn’t been received well down south and that leads me to tell you that, unlike in previous years, the play has had its Australian premiere in Sydney, at Ensemble Theatre’s home in Kirribilli. That may not be widely known. “How lucky we are to be the first to see David’s work” was among several comments heard after the show. I didn’t correct the guy…

 

I guess I’m not a big fan of Ensemble Theatre, however; you know I’m a huge fan of David’s, and I usually enjoy his plays. And there it is. I love the writing of this one too – it’s sharp, funny, and typically Williamson, which you either love or you hate – it’s the treatment that baffles me. And by baffled I mean I don’t understand how Ensemble Theatre and Artistic Director Sandra Bates, can do exactly the same thing with great new material year after year.

 

The text is totally current; it’s sharp, witty, funny, and overflowing with wonderful social commentary and close observations about life and love and complicated relationships. Sure, we’ve heard a lot of it before, but I love the way Williamson offers a fresh take on tired old gender and political issues. The characters are complex and yet we see one layer only of each. Except for Mark Lee, who plays Roland, and to a certain extent Anne Tenney, who plays his wife. The character seems to be written for him, such is his authenticity in the role. I would like to say the same of the rest of the cast but when I see these performances, I feel like shouting out “STOP ACTING! And Chill!”, which is something I find myself saying to student actors when I perceive them to be trying too hard.

 

Despite my misgivings, the opening night audience LOVED the new Williamson, as they always do. In fact, Stephen and I were sitting behind a party of people who were almost overcome with emotion, who gushed and would like to have seen it again today.

 

Tonight is the final performance by Ensemble Theatre of David Williamson’s Happiness as part of the Noosa Long Weekend program. If you love David’s work, you must see it somewhere, sometime.

 

12
Jun
13

Join Robyn Archer on an epic musical journey at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival

Robyn Archer stars in the Queensland premiere of her cabaret show

Que-Reste-t’il?

 

 

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This will be wonderful! I can’t wait to see this show with my mum – we are long-term Robyn Archer admirers – and THEN we’ll also go to afternoon tea with Robyn on Wednesday (I’ll tweet it!). Her show is an epic journey through two centuries of French song, including works from Aristide Bruant through to Jacques Brel, Brigitte Bardot and Michael Morley. WOW!

 

Sung and spoken by Robyn Archer, musical direction and piano by Michael Morley and accordion George Butrumlic.

 

Que-Reste-t’il?

 

Monday 17 June 7pm at The J

 

 

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

 

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! THERE’S THE LOVELY AFTERNOON TEA!

 

 

Robyn Archer. Image by Heide Smith

Join Robyn Archer (and Mum and I!), for afternoon tea and a chat about Festivals in Australia, a topic Robyn is able to wax lyrical about, with a long list of Festival Director credits to her name.

 

Robyn Archer’s career took this turn accidentally, with an invitation while she was performing her show Le Chat Noir in Canberra to direct the festival, hosted by the national capital. She directed 1993, 1994 and 1995 editions and this began a remarkable string of Artistic Director positions at The Adelaide Festival of Arts (1998 and 2000), the Melbourne International Arts Festival (2002-2004).

 

She created Ten Days on the Island, an international arts festival for Tasmania, spent two years as Artistic Director of the European Capital of Culture, and advised on the start-up of Luminato in Toronto.

 

Helix Tree

Helix Tree by Bruce Ramus. Image by Angela Wylie.

In 2007 Archer created The Light In Winter for Federation Square in Melbourne, and in July 2009 was appointed Creative Director of the Centenary of Canberra 2013. She is in frequent demand as a speaker and public advocate of the arts all over the world.

 

 

 

 

In Conversation With Robyn Archer

Wednesday 19 June at RACV Resort

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

HAPPINESS BY DAVID WILLIAMSON

 

ERICA LOVELL

Erica Lovell, appearing in David Williamson’s Happiness

Directed by Sandra Bates and featuring Adriano Cappelletta, Glenn Hazeldine, Peter Kowitz, Mark Lee, Erica Lovell & Anne Tenney of Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre, David Williamson’s Happiness will give you something to think about!

 

Roland Makepeace (Mark Lee) knows what makes people happy. Why wouldn’t he? He’s an eminent professor of psychology who has devoted his life to scientifically investigating human well-being. But his theories are sorely tested when his wife Hanna (Anne Tenney) meets an old suitor Sam (Peter Kowitz) and his daughter Zelda (Erica Lovell) threatens to go right off the rails.

 

A sharply observed comedy, just as we have come to expect from David, suggests that theory can sometimes fall well short of reality. And finding happiness is easier said than done.

 

Rather than previewing the play in Noosa during the Long Weekend as has happened in the past, Ensemble Theatre have already given it a run in their home town (to mixed reviews!). I’m looking forward to seeing it myself!

 

Tuesday 18  and Wednesday 19 June 7:30pm at The J Theatre

 

Wednesday 19 June 2pm at The J Theatre

 

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

NOW HEAR THIS

A Radio National Storytelling Show

 

If you’re not at Happiness on Tuesday night, check out the fabulous story telling session at Noosa Arts Theatre, hosted by Richard Fidler and Melanie Tait, and featuring some very brave people sharing their stories to the theme “The First Time”. It’s like being around a campfire, only there’s a few more people listening.

 

Tuesday 18 June 6pm at Noosa Arts Theatre

 

Bookings online noosalongweekend.com

 

22
Nov
12

Caravan

Noosa Arts Theatre

 

Caravan

Noosa Arts Theatre

21st November – 1st December 2012

 

Directed by Jane Rivers

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Two weeks, three couples and one caravan…

 

what could possibly go wrong?

 

What a lovely, funny Aussie romp!

 

We know the couples. We recognise them instantly. They’re our best friends; the people we know and love and the people we love to hate. We recognise the qualities that come to the surface when the pressure is on.

 

Caravan

 

We see the Glamper, Monica (Sharon Grimley), who complains about no hot water and poor caravan conditions. Grimley’s sneer is priceless and her drunk acting is up there with the best we’ve seen on the Sunshine Coast. (It’s all about the equilibrium, kids! When we want to show “drunk” we do our best not to appear drunk!). Then there’s The Wet Blanket, Penny (Jenni McCaul), who suffers through years of horrendous holidays and then spoils the perfect trip with the truth, and the Too-Young-Girlfried, Gwendolyn (Anna McMahon), who has recently returned from a three year stint in an ashram in India. Of course their men have diametrically opposing agendas, which makes for a few additional mishaps. Frank Wilkie milks the physical comedy and earns his laughs. Brett Klease takes us over that edge and into hysterics with his facial and sexual antics, and Steve Mitchell, the English gadabout, amuses and frustrates everybody with the Too-Young-Girlfriend. They all want to enjoy the holiday but when past indiscretions begin to pour down with the rain, existing together in the damp, cramped quarters of the caravan becomes a challenge even for the best of friends.

 

Donald MacDonald’s script is one of two – he rewrote it – and this is the original, with all its action. Well known Sunshine Coast director, Jane Rivers, has put together a fine design (although we get some distracting shadows from the lighting design it’s an easy fix), and a top cast, which Rivers has running at a cracking pace; they’re slick and completely comfortable with each other.

 

This is a fast, funny show and I should tell you that the two week season is almost sold out!

 

Already popular with the Grey Nomads and the Summer Rain set, Caravan is a sure-fire hit! Get to the theatre on Weyba Road early, enjoy a drink with some friends and get ready to laugh out loud at Noosa’s latest offering.

 

Grey Nomads

The Grey Nomads, who were passing through and elected to see the opening night of Donald MacDonald’s Caravan while in Noosa. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Featuring: Frank Wilkie, Jenni McCaul, Brett Klease, Sharon Grimley, Steve Mitchell and Anna McMahon.

Performances:

Evenings: November 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and December 1 at 7:30pm

Matinees: Sunday November 25 at 2pm

Charity Fundraiser for Sunshine Butterflies: November 28 at 7:30pm

Bookings: 07 5449 9343 Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 12pm or online

David and Kristin Williamson

Kristin and David Williamson (Patron of Noosa Arts) at the opening night of Donald MacDonald’s comedy, Caravan. Image by Andrew Seymour.

Caravan Noosa Arts