Posts Tagged ‘Emma Dean

22
Aug
19

The Tempest

 

The Tempest

Zen Zen Zo

Trinity Parish Hall

August 16 – 31 2019

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

We all want to break the chains that hold us in our prison cell.

We all want to be released and find our way out of the damp dark well.

We all want to glide like wind – an eagle to the wild.

We all want a land that we can call home.

 

I arrive in time to park in the street, beneath trees boasting fairy lights and a sky alive with the Ekka fireworks; perfect! An Ariel checks the water level in each of the silver buckets placed Zen-Zen-Zo-ever-so-strategically around the outer edges of the rectangular lawn that separates Trinity Church from Trinity Parish Hall on its sweet little island in The Valley. It’s here that we’re greeted by the company’s new Executive Producer & Education Manager, Nicole Reilly, and then by our Ariel. He is our Ariel by the powerful magic to which performers and top speaker circuit salespeople are privy; he engages and connects in the half a moment we need to simply pay attention and follow. We’ve already been stamped on the wrist, door bitch style, and guided to a place to sit. Or stand. This is serious adulting; for audiences, making these choices is part of a more active and immersive theatrical experience.

 

The tempest of the title takes a long time to happen, like a storm building far out at sea that doesn’t hit until after midnight, and seemingly only in our dreams. So I guess the spell is taking effect. The opening sequence is all very atmospheric, with outdoor lighting to cast Prospero’s shadow on the high brick wall of the hall, and a violinist giving the multiple Ariels their cues to move together, thrusting now rather than gliding if you must know – and if you’re an actor or an actor in training you must know – and the unlucky ship’s crew entering and bracing, preparing for perhaps the most famous literary and theatrical storm of them all. Ross Miller gets the opening line here with an almighty Suzuki trained and Linklater influenced, “BRAAAAAAAACE”.

 

This opening sequence sets up for the audience that something different is happening, and at the same time, risks being considered sliiiiiiiiightly self-indulgent and slow moving. It serves the performers by giving them time to establish role and mood, and to rattle or settle the disparate energies of their audience. This is vital if they are to manage us and move us through the space. So for some time, they play with spatial relationships and focus, relying on super close proximity and pensive or sultry stares and postures, depending on the performer, to slightly unnerve some and thrill others. They usher individuals from one spot to another, for no apparent reason other than to change the vantage point, or provide a point of focus while nothing much else is happening. It sets the mood and it gives latecomers their only chance to see the show, since a strict lock-out period applies once we’re inside and there is nothing zen about challenging the lock-out at a Zo show. Just don’t bother. It’s a Lynne Bradley thing. You can’t win.

 

If you miss out on the show on any given night, what you can do is go for a lovely dinner nearby, or see what’s on offer at Ad Astra or Brisbane Powerhouse, an old Zen Zen Zo haunt. Speaking of which, another stomping ground, The Old Museum, appears to have been made affordable for brides-to-be but not performing artists. While it’s lovely to begin in nature and enjoy the warm and intimate timber surrounds inside the parish hall, both the Powerhouse and The Old Museum would have served this show well. This makes me consider the challenges of a company’s homelessness; without a permanent place to work again, one of our long-term leading theatre companies is left to fend for themselves and find a space each time they schedule a season. It’s all very well to live and breathe The Viewpoints, discovering the architecture and interesting existing spaces throughout the city, but there’s merit in the madness of settling down. I recently visited Dairakudakan’s tiny all-black-everything performance space in Tokyo, and recognised once again, the sense of belonging and security offered by a permanent home for artists. 

 

If I think about it for too long, The Tempest’s constructed, contrived start annoys me, but for those who frequently visit a traditional theatre space (without writing afterwards about their experience!), and especially for the school groups that this show appears to be geared towards, looking to see the curriculum at work in the real life business of the Performing Arts, it’s the perfect invitation to join the company on a journey inside and to another island, the home of Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, servant, Ariel, and slave, Caliban.

 

A small raised stage serves as the centre of the island, a striking setting that features a rowboat front and centre, jutting out as if dashed upon the rocks, holding Miranda in front of us, and under her father’s stern rule above us. Designed by Drew der Kinderen and Ben Adams, and alluringly lit by Simon Woods, the collaborative result is a place of mystery and magic; the audience  delights in moving around it, and we stand or sit as directed, or not; ultimately, the shape and pace of this show is as much about crowd control as creating the world of the play. I should mention that it was suggested we wear warm comfortable clothing in which we’d happily sit on the floor, however; having spent the previous weekend successfully participating in AusAct workshops wearing a pencil skirt, I decided to put this advice to the test. Conclusion? Strong core work required to frequently, elegantly, spiral up and down in said skirt; no problem.

 

 

Wayne Jennings is a stern and powerful yet playful Prospero; he’s imposing and omnipresent. He wields a magnificent hand-carved wooden staff and the thunder created with it as he drives it into the floor makes audience members jump, and not just the first time. I suspect its inclusion is, or was at some stage of the rehearsal process, also an actors’ dojo in-joke. As Prospero, Jennings is also gentle and generous when the story calls for it, as well as being an accomplished musician and MD. The title of MD is shared with performer and composer, Josh Curtis, who caresses a guitar that dreams of being a lute, and with Gina Tay Limpus, these two featured Ariels, willing slaves to the music as much as to their master, provide much of Emma Dean’s beautiful original score, with its intricate layers and harmonies, and tones and textures and pauses and catches of breath. Their voices blend sublimely and I can’t wait for their debut album.*

 

*unconfirmed

 

So let’s talk about the humble, completely unintentionally scene-stealing, Gina Tay Limpus. Seriously. Just for a moment; I mean, what on earth do we do with her now? After the show on opening night, I suggested putting her in front of Tarantino (there’s one degree of separation after Kill Bill, after all!), but this extraordinary talent could successfully transfer to any context anywhere in the world and make her mark there. Gina is one of the few female performers I know who properly stands in her power on stage. Talk about sovereignty. She’s a stand out, but you may not have ever heard of her, unless you saw DUSK at Brisbane Powerhouse or Alchemy staged in Southbank’s Cultural Forecourt during Festival 2018 (or my Insta feed during that time because #girlcrush and Kaylee Gannon’s costumes). Gina is the embodiment of our much discussed actor training and preparation, encompassing rich vocal work, and strong, sensual, controlled movement, fierce focus, harnessed, centred energy and that unnameable essence (though we may refer to it as ‘presence’), which has us hooked, not wanting to look away. But we must, because there are other gorgeous gifts in the vocal and physical performances of Travis Wesley (sinuous, sculpted), Ben Adams (hilarious, spontaneous and super fun as Antonio, opposite Siobhan Gibbs’ Sebastian), Maja Liwszyc (innocent, joyful, playful; she makes Miranda a tender temptress) and Luke Davis, the latter a relative newcomer to the tribe who’ll settle during the season as Ferdinand. He and Liwszyc connect beautifully, and sustain an extended bisoku sequence as the story continues elsewhere, their love for one another bringing time to a standstill. 

 

Alongside Director, Lynne Bradley, and a Caliban, Melissa Budd, Jamie Kendall has choreographed powerful and beautiful sections of this show. Not seeing him perform here could be considered a travesty, however; he’s another ready to fly. Zen Zen Zo proudly catches teaches and releases, and many of the performers return home at some stage, but this configuration shares a new, youthful ensemble energy. Special mention then, of Kai Woods, who appears with Nicholas Mohr as the King’s Men/Clowns and quietly, assuredly makes his presence felt.   

 

 

Wesley leads a motley Caliban crew, featuring Budd, Amy Cooker, Grace Keane-Jones, Liam Linane and Joshua McLean, and their heightened physical presence and appearance is enough to prompt some audience members to lean back or move away, staying out of their penetrating gaze and lion’s breath! The juxtaposition of this energy against the gentle, gliding Ariels is apt. (Heidi Harrison, Georgia Politikis, Sho Webber, Jazz Zhao and our local neo-burlesque beauty, Lauren Story). Bradley uses the Ariels and Calibans to draw attention to the company’s training arm, and the featured performers to showcase the individuality and finesse that comes from Zen Zen Zo’s disciplined approach to performance making. That’s not to say that a sense of fun or play is lost along the way, in fact; play remains at the centre of the creative process, and it informs each performance to a lesser or larger extent, depending on the demands of the text and the talent of the company members. Bradley skilfully shapes this re-staging of The Tempest, utilising the gifts and talents of the ensemble members to support the storytelling, and inviting audience members to become their travel companions. Shakespeare’s classic story is perhaps more authentically delivered this way and certainly, it’s more clearly presented by Zen Zen Zo than by many English teachers – sorry not sorry, English teachers; work it out. Get that text up and onto the floor. 

 

If you can get a ticket – there are just 20 remaining – come to this show curiously, sans assumptions about the company, the style of theatre or the space in which it’s staged, and you’ll experience a little bit of magic that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. This reimagining of The Tempest is a physical, musical, whimsical journey offering an enchanting escape from the daily grind, and a sweet moment of relief from whatever heavy notion, frustration, grief or grievance has got you down. It’s a style and a vibe of performance that will seduce you, tease you, test you and gently release you, ready or not.

 

Brisbane, it’s time to accept that, ready or not, Zen Zen Zo is back.

24
Nov
16

Wonderland – 10 Top Picks

Wonderland!

 

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Wonderland opens tonight! Get ready for three weeks of high energy entertainment in the intoxicating heat of Brisbane’s Summer nights.

Wonderland is Brisbane’s end-of-year carnival of surprise and delight.

With 31 shows over 14 days, you’re invited to flirt with the unexpected and step into a euphoric world of body bending antics and late night temptations…

 

1. Phelan Groovy

Don’t miss the star of Dirty Dancing in Phelan Groovy, part auto biographical, part celebrity dish and ALL entertainment. For if there’s one thing Kurt Phelan has learned through life, it’s to only say 10% of what he thinks. Now you get the other 90% but only from tonight until Saturday at 8:45pm.

 

 

 

2. Wild Heart

Grand Finalist of The Voice and one of Australia’s most gifted singer/songwriters, Ellen Reed, won the hearts of a nation with her soaring voice and unshakable spirit as the Team Jessie J favourite. In Wild Heart, a one night only concert on Wednesday November 30 with her band, we can experience her national television defining performances live in the Powerhouse Theatre, with soulful renditions of Sia’s Chandelier, Demi Lovato’s Stone Cold, and Pink’s Perfect. Ellen Reed will also debut her new single Wild Heart and perform her upcoming album of original tracks including Ask Me to Stay, Blur and Not Tonight. A special Wonderland treat, not to be missed!

 

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3. Smooth Criminal

Not only is Christopher Wayne one half of the global success story, The Naked Magicians, but he’s also producing some of the hottest shows we’ll see over the next couple of summers. Smooth Criminals brings together the odd couple of Australia’s entertainment industry, Luke Kennedy and Joel Turner. For one show only, on Sunday at 4pm, audiences will get the chance to experience Michael Jackson’s back catalogue as they’ve never heard before, when Kennedy (The Voice, Season 2 runner up, The Ten Tenors) and Turner (world champion beat boxer and platinum selling hip hop artist) join forces to share in their love for the greatest entertainer to ever live, in a musical experience like no other. This is the must-see Smooth Criminals.

 

Remember The Time from Chris Wayne on Vimeo

 

4. More Than A Boy

Starring Tom Oliver, More Than A Boy is a playful rite-of-passage about family and adventure, do-or-die situations and seemingly random events that build character and shape destiny. Featuring an eclectic mix of original songs written by Tom, Andrew McNaughton and Wes Carr (Australian Idol winner), theatre tunes and reworked contemporary hits, More Than A Boy magically weaves together the stories of a Croatian refugee forging a new life and a grandson who follows his dreams. Backed by a live band, get the adrenalin pumping and experience Tom Oliver shoot for the stars in this lively quest journey.

 

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5. The Lady of the House of Love

If you’ve never seen this show – or this artist – you’re in for a real treat. Performed by award-winning artist Sandro Colarelli, The Lady of the House of Love is a darkly eerie and exotic one-man show exploring the themes of desire and destiny. With original music composed by award winning singer-songwriter Jake Diefenbach, this combination of evocative narrative and stunning songs harks back to the darkest roots of cabaret.

 

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6. Other Women

This is the season’s sexiest circus-cabaret! Starring Lizzie Moore, Eliza Dolly, Rosie Peaches, Freyja Edney with a Chloe-Rose Taylor. Other Women: Temptress or tempting? Fast woman or free-spirited? If a man is a stud, what is a woman? Enter the world of Other Women: a provocative and witty circus-cabaret celebrating female sexuality and exploring sexual double standards. A thrilling live band, circus soloists and burlesque cheek electrify the stage in this World Premiere performance. Featuring an eclectic mix of songs by artists such as Nina Simone, Goldfrapp and Prince; Other Women explores promiscuity, and our contradictory views towards women and their sexual behaviour.

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7. Emma Dean in Concert

Heralded for her captivating vocals by the New York Post, Brisbane’s own Emma Dean is a consummate performer and has released over ten independent original albums/EPs.She has toured the world, performing alongside Jesca Hoop and Kate Miller-Heidke, and in support of Macy Gray, Jinkx Monsoon, Katie Noonan, Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls. Emma will be joined by her brother, Tony Dean to perform an eclectic catalogue of songs exploring love, loss and light. One show only on Saturday December 3 at 4pm.

 

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8. The Chaser’s Australia

Discover The Chaser’s Australia with Charles Firth and James Schloeffel. A very special multi-media presentation of The Chaser’s Australia. Covering politics, culture, religion, sport and jokes about Karl Stefanovic, it includes a special segment on Australian cooking, and why chicken salt is the only ingredient you’ll ever need. It also includes an extra special presentation on the environment entitled “There’s Absolutely Nothing to Worry About”, sponsored by the Minerals Council of Australia. If you only attend one event this year, you should probably go out a bit more often. The Chaser’s Australia; it’s everything you wanted to know about Australia, but were too apathetic to ask. One show only tonight at 7:15pm.

 

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9. Mills and Boom!

Join the Fanciful Fiction Auxiliary, a fictitious amateur writers’ group of oddball characters with fake hair, fake lashes, and real passion, for its personally acclaimed stage show. Mills and Boom! is a simply stupendous salon of bosom-heaving, lip-quivering ecstasy during which we regale you with our smouldering romance stories. Featuring Pascalle Burton, Carody Culver, Adam Hadley, Michelle Law, Ian Powne, Tessa Rose, Jackie Ryan, Leah Shelton, Lucas Stibbard, and Neridah Waters. One show only on Sunday December 5 at 5pm.

 

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10. House of Mirrors

The House of Mirrors is a grotesquely fascinating walk-through installation composed of a labyrinth of seemingly endless mirrors. Since the 19th Century, mirror mazes have been trapping and reflecting participants, challenging those that venture into them, both physically and psychologically, resulting in delight, amazement and sometimes, fear. The House of Mirrors includes Kaleidoscopic like chambers, voids, doorways and darkened breaks, the purist and most traditional form of a mirrored maze. No added gimmicks, no special effects, no special lighting, no sound track or soundscape.  The primary ingredients of carefully arranged mirrors, geometry and pure optical illusion.

Please be aware that during busy period, long wait times are possible. We recommend if you pre-book a ticket and plan on experiencing House of Mirrors before another show, to give yourself ample time in case of lines. Your House of Mirrors experience could take anywhere between 5 minutes and 20 minutes, depending on how fast you solve the maze.

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10
Jun
16

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

 

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival 

Brisbane Powerhouse Performance Space

June 4 2016

Reviewed by Katy Cotter 

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Electric Moon’s spectacular show returned to the Brisbane Powerhouse for one night only as a part of Queensland Cabaret Festival, honouring the late and amazing David Bowie, and playing one of his greatest albums in its entirety. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was Bowie’s fifth studio album released in 1972, a concept album telling the story of a fictional rock star named Ziggy Stardust.

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The atmosphere in the Powerhouse Theatre was electric and I was sitting next to hardcore Bowie fans. A young girl had the iconic lightning bolt painted boldly across her face and she was talking excitedly to her mother about her favourite songs. Tickets were hard to grab a hold of, and no wonder. After Bowie’s tragic death back in January, this show’s popularity and importance has obviously grown dramatically. I could sense a unity within the room, that this incredible musician had changed lives. People had come from all over to celebrate the man as well as the music and they were certainly not disappointed.

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There is no denying the album is ‘far out there’ great with each song being a hit, but the performance was just supreme. The cast included 20 of Brisbane’s finest musicians. The eight lead vocals honestly blew me away, each embodying their own creation of Bowie’s songs. Lucinda Shaw was magnificent and dangerous as she took the stage first to sing Five Years. I thought to myself, “Can it get better than this? This woman is a freaking powerhouse at the Powerhouse!” It certainly did get better; the wind was knocked out of every audience member as the stunningly beautiful Emma Dean sang a soft and eerie version of Starman. Now there was one performer, Maria DeVita who seemed of a different breed. She was absolutely wild, stomping across the stage like a punk chic goddess while singing Hang on to Yourself. She almost made me want to start a mosh pit. Lastly, I have to mention my favourite was Daniel Hack. I hung on every word as he reached out to the audience, taking us along for the ride to outer space. His vocals were incredible and if I closed my eyes, there were moments I could swear Bowie was singing.

The show clearly would not go on without the 12 amazing musicians playing guitars, piano, strings, percussion, the list goes on! Where many are fixed on the singer, my eye tends to wander. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the beautiful lady on piano but she was the personification of joy. As her fingers danced across the ivory keys, her smile grew wider and I just wanted to run up and sit next to her. What a talent! My grandmother would have killed to have a piano-off with this woman. Is that even possible?

If these guys return, buy a ticket. You’ll leave feeling all the emotions, but all of David Bowie’s music seems to have that effect. I actually wanted to sneak back in and see the late show. I can’t imagine how exhausted and elated the cast must feel after two back-to-back shows. They are all simply terrific, and this show is a great night out. Vale Bowie.

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21
Oct
15

Women In Voice 2015

 

Women In Voice 2015

Judith Wright Centre & WiV

Judith Wright Centre

October 15 – 24 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Women In Voice (WiV), the fabulously fun and entertaining, long-running Brisbane institution returns to the Judy in its 23rd configuration.

Its successful formula this time features Emma Dean, Carol Lloyd, Yani, Alison St Ledger and Queenie van de Zandt in the guise of her alter ego, International Music Therapist, Jan van de Stool.

 

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Van de Stool appeared with WiV in 2006 and it’s her hysterical patter as MC that elevates this show to the next level. Unlike the diehard WiV fans that don’t miss a show I’ve attended intermittently over the years, impressed with some performances and with others, not so much. It’s the first time I’ve seen Van de Zandt’s character away from YouTube and, along with a stellar sounding band and Emma Dean’s superb performance, Van de Zandt as Van de Stool is the highlight of the night. Only Carita Farrar Spencer (and probs Bob Downe) comes close to entertaining a crowd in a similar fashion, and it’s with Farrar Spencer that Van de Zandt hopes to take WiV to Melbourne.

 

But wait. Why not pair Women in Voice with Women of Letters? I KNOW. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!

 

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Emma Dean opens the show with a suitably eclectic, precisely stitched together set, featuring superb arrangements by Stephen Russell (MD, piano & mandolin) of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Fiona Apple and Bjork. She also sings (and drums with style) a fun, sassy song about a hot knife and pound of butter, which we first heard in Noosa when we hosted Dean and Francesca de Valence in an intimate “home” concert. What is that song called?

 

Recently returned from a stint in NYC, Dean’s unique voice and vibe are stronger than ever; she’s delicious enough to send a shiver down my spine on more than one occasion, and she’s a clear favourite with the audience on opening night.

 

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Carol Lloyd, Aussie rock legend, suited up and still in strong voice, appears to come with her league of loyal fans and with them she is a hit. For me, it’s the gentle acapella arrangement of Calling All Angels, shared by the women, which strikes the right chord and lifts this rock ballad to new heavenly heights.

 

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“World Music Mama” Yani and Alison St Ledger bring new stories to the stage their way. I’ve never enjoyed a St Ledger set so much – so much story – and Yani’s voice is pure and Woodford Folk Festival hungry (or perhaps I am! I think we’re all yearning for it…not long now!). It’s in these moments especially, looking around at an appreciative audience, that we can clearly see the success of the formula.

 

In each WiV production we enjoy such diverse talent and personal stories from some of the best artists around. It’s always a mixed bag so you can’t really ever lose, and if you take a few friends and book a cabaret table (the best way to enjoy an evening of cabaret, let’s face it!), you’ll have loads of fun during and lots more to discuss after the show.

 

This lineup won’t disappoint.

Go, book a table, take in a drink and enjoy.

 

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01
Apr
14

Sunshine Coast Arts Friday March 28 2014

 

SCD Arts Friday March 28 2014

 

Xanthe Coward

 

Sometimes this post is a bit late so to cover all bases and not miss anything arts related on the Sunshine Coast you should probs buy the Sunshine Coast Daily on a Friday (yes, on a Friday now. How is that working for you? Did you prefer the Saturday section? I know I did!). I post the column here anyway, and it’s just as well because that means I can highlight here for you the MUST SEE events each week!

 

This week, it’s Songs of Love and War for ONE NIGHT ONLY THIS SUNDAY APRIL 6 at 6pm at Noosa Arts Theatre. It’s actually a house concert. That’s right. Sam and I are hosting and you’re invited! We’ll have our Twenty8 oils burning and the cash bar open so you’ll feel right at home. Come on down for a relaxing, enjoyable evening with friends at our second home. It will cost you just $25 (or just $20 if you’re a student or pensioner) to catch two amazing singer/songwriters – Francesca de Valence and Emma Dean – in the one all ages show. The girls are off on a whirlwind tour so we’re very lucky to have them stop by in Noosa. Remember, to get your invitation email xanthe@xsentertainment.com.au and bring your cash on the night. Invitations available at the door so tell your friends but be warned: STRICTLY LIMITED NUMBERS. Cash bar from 5:30pm.

 

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We’ve had a facelift!

 

No, not me, though I’m sure I’m almost due for one. Check out the new-look Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance website livetheatre.com.au designed by the talented team at Noosa’s Design Central. This is your one stop shop for production and audition details on the Sunshine Coast. Book tickets and keep up to date with Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival news, auditions, workshops and special events for local performers and lovers of live theatre.

 

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Intensive Improvisation Workshops

 

Sunshine Troupe Inc will host a series of intensive improvisation workshops with a difference – learn strategies to work with people of all abilities in the creation of fun skits ready to be performed at the end of the one-day workshops. Your skit will be considered for inclusion in the new Sunshine Coast Community Inclusive Theatre Restaurant due to “pop up” later this year. Work under the guidance of 25-year experienced Florence Teillet and her team, to learn valuable improvisation skills and new ways of creating opportunities for people with unique abilities. Cost $10 (includes refreshments). Numbers limited. Saturday April 5 at 9:30am – 12:30pm at Parent to Parent, corner of Connection Road & Aurshire Road (near The Big Cow). Bookings veronica_wain@yahoo.com.au or call 0433 433 204

 

Four Weddings and an Elvis

 

Sandy, the four-times-married-three-times-divorced owner of a wedding chapel in Las Vegas has seen her fair share of matrimonies. Four of her most memorable are featured in this fun musical. Coolum Civic Centre March 28 & 29 at 7:30pm and March 30 at 2pm. Bookings livetheatre.com.au or call 5446 3500

 

Deathtrap

 

Ira Levin’s intriguing murder mystery, directed by Chris Mills, will enthrall audiences from start to finish. A devilish play within a play. The Lind, Nambour April 4, 5, 9, 11 & 12 at 8pm and April 6 & 12 at 2pm. Bookings livetheatre.com.au or call 5441 1814

 

Oriana Choir Showcase Concert

 

Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir will present their showcase concert for one performance only on April 6 at 2pm. Bookings livetheatre.com or call 0431 542 343

 

Songs of Love and War

 

XS Entertainment presents Emma Dean and Francesca de Valence in Songs of Love and War, in a house concert style show at Noosa Arts Theatre. One night only Sunday April 6 at 6pm. Cash bar available. Limited numbers. Invitation only. To get your invitation email xanthe@xsentertainment.com.au

 

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Pirates to Pinafore

Following the tradition of Promac Productions previous smash hit musicals The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance comes the wonderfully entertaining new production Pirates To Pinafore. With an all-star cast featuring Australian musical theatre and London West End star Philip Gould as Sir Arthur Sullivan, alongside the hilarious veteran comic actor Brian Hannan as W.S Gilbert, international soprano Alison Jones as Leonora Braham and Chris McKenna as Richard D’oyly Carte, Pirates To Pinafore delivers all the hits and highlights of Gilbert and Sullivan’s thirteen operas in a cascade of tremendous solos, duets and trios. Noosa Arts Theatre for April 11 & 12 at 7:30pm and April 12 at 1pm & 13 at 2pm. Bookings livetheatre.com.au or call 5443 9343

 

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12
Oct
12

Geppetto

 

Geppetto

 

Geppetto

Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

Friday 5th October

 

Reviewed by Andy Clark

 

Geppetto Into the Woods

I was anxious about the launch of Geppetto’s EP at The Judy, as it fell at the end of a week where my favourite band had released their 6th album on Monday and I had the absolute pleasure of watching the greatest guitarist on earth perform in Brisbane on Wednesday.

 

But I had nothing to fear. Emma Dean and  Jake Deifenbach have been performing together for over 6 years. Their voices and musical styles are absolutely complimentary and blend together like the perfect doubles partnership at Wimbledon. Seated across the stage from each other, with Dan Hirsch drumming occasionally, like an experienced musical umpire, Emma & Jake fire shots at each other from their keyboards and lungs. Each shot is returned with precision and accuracy and the audience are the winners, lapping up each exchange as if it were Laver v Court on Centre Court.

 

Within Geppetto’s set there were plenty of songs that could match MUSE’s Olympic anthem for awesomeness and creativity, whilst Emma and Jake continued to swap positions from their grand piano and keyboard as each rally ended.

 

Despite no guitar in sight, Geppetto created an atmosphere which was as out of this world, as Joe Bonamassa’s guitars had created at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre two nights earlier.

 

The opening song and title track of the Into The Woods EP has intricate piano parts and Emma’s voice made me think of Kate Bush’s vocal genius. Emma is one of very few artists I have heard live who gets anywhere near the Goddess Ms Bush. The opening act Silver Sircus seemed to like performing songs by their Music GODs. Although their interpretation of Life on Mars was ok, their cover of Nick Cave’s Little Water Song lacked the depth and imagination of the version of this song on Triple J’s Like a Version 2 from 2006 on which Emma Dean played violin. If anyone is to attempt to cover Kate Bush I think they need to have an upper range to allow this. Emma could do this, but unfortunately Silver Sircus double faulted with their version of Kick Inside. I’ve been searching for over 30 years for a voice who can cover Kate Bush and I think Emma is in a very small group who can do this. Others include recent ARIA Winners, Florence & this year’s ARIA nominee glaring omission.

 

Geppetto performed some covers superbly.  Jake delivered a heartfelt version of Secret Love whilst the acapella version of Anthony and The Johnsons’ For Today I am a Boy as the first encore left the audience breathless.

 

Part way through the set Emma discussed how she is sometimes perplexed by why she continues to do what she does, whilst all around her many friends are getting married, buying houses and having babies. Two Geppetto song titles maybe reflect what Emma’s friends might encounter in that it is All Fun and Games to start with, but too often in 2012 it ends up being This is Where the Trouble Starts.

 

I hope Geppetto continue performing for years to come and Pinocchio can wait to be created.

 

Geppetto

 

 

04
May
12

An End To Dreaming

An End To Dreaming

Emma Dean & Jake Diefenbach

Judith Wright Centre

Friday 27th April

Reviewed by Andy Clark

My Favourite Sin(ger)s

Some singers are made to sing together – Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach are definitely one of these perfect pairings.

I first saw Emma and Jake perform the lead song of their An End to Dreaming show before The Dresden Dolls played The Arena on Valley Fiesta Friday in 2006. That performance was emphasised by the specifically placed members of Zen Zen Zo in the audience, who performed above us, after we were all asked to sit on the floor. The song was a like a multicoloured chrysalis that was beautiful in it’s own way, but is primed for greater things in the future. It was showcased again as their Grand Finale number in 2009 when Emma and Jake did their Downside Up show at The Judith Wright Centre.

Friday night’s performance started with two very young and talented Brisbane singers who may one day be as accomplished as E&J. Pixie and the Halloran intersperse their beautiful songs with simultaneous talking that has been rehearsed to a tee. Dressed like they have just pranced in from the bottom of the garden, these Fairy-like singers bounce off each other’s voices with a lovely balance and only occasionally does the blend of their voices not create a dreamy sense of magic in the heads of the audience. James Halloran’s booming mellow voice dominated their show for me, which is hardly surprising as Indigo (Pixie) is unbelievably, only 16 years old; she is totally enchanting and will be a star before she’s 20.

However, they are but an appetiser for THE Show that is about to be unleashed on the lucky throng. Emma and Jake appear in the middle of The Judy between the tiered seats and the circular tables as if by magic. Cloaked in what look like black capes, they weave their way toward the stage, where their cloaks are seen to be blood red. Their show goes through stages of development from The Darkness with Emma’s song Black to The Light, via The Awakening, The Reckoning and The Healing, with a special moment when they perform the superb Stuck in the Mud.

Jake’s keyboard acrobatics are a sight to behold and he compliments Emma’s piano, violin & melodium. Their voices are very similar and merge and mix with each other so perfectly I hope they perform together forever.

The show climaxes with the 2012 version of An End to Dreaming, which meanders it’s way from deep and dark to spectacular and dramatic and it is a delight to see how this song has evolved into a multilayered, multicoloured butterfly.

Then just when you think it’s all over, they return for an awesome rendition of My Favourite Sins, to cap off an exceptional evening. Next stop for this spectacular show is the New York International Fringe Festival. Maybe the next stop after that should be not Briz Vegas, but Las Vegas?