Posts Tagged ‘Harvest Rain Theatre Company


The Stars Shine Bright in Brisbane: Harvest Rain Season Launch 2014


Harvest Rain Theatre 2014 season launch

QPAC Playhouse

18th  November 2013

Attended by Meredith Walker


Harvest Rain stars shine in 2014


After 18 days of social media clues, Harvest Rain Theatre Company revealed its 2014 season in an all-singing, all-dancing launch at QPAC’s Playhouse. For the company’s 2014 season, its first as a fully professional company*, Harvest Rain will be continuing what it does best, presenting a trio of big musicals featuring an impressive list of Australian stars. The season features a golden oldie, a modern Broadway classic and a Broadway hit musical, ranging from the sublime to the silly, but all with promise of maximum entertainment.


Harvest Rain is fast developing a reputation for effectively reviving and recreating the classics.


The company’s 2013 Oklahoma proves that classic musicals can still be popular and the company aims to recapture the magic when it reintroduces the delightful musical Guys and Dolls to a modern audience in March.  After their acclaimed performances in Oklahoma, Ian Stenlake and Angela Harding will reteam in the show and the audience was reminded of their vocal talents, including through Stenalke’s dynamic performance of Luck be a Lady. The really big news, however, was that the company has recently signed Gold Logie winner Daryl Somers to play Nicely Nicely Johnson, a role made famous on the Australian stage by the late Ricky May. And Somers was in full schick mode as he hammed it up about his preparation for the weighty role. Auditions for professional ensemble roles are to be held in December.


Image by Nick Morrissey


Everyone is invited to the Jellicle Ball when the company presents Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats in an arena spectacular style show at the Brisbane Convention Centre for five performances in May. With over 500 performers taking to the stage, Cats promises to be a glorious production of immense scale. Indeed, it will be the largest production of Cats ever staged in the southern hemisphere. While the whimsical cats shone both on stage and as they slinked about the post-launch function, the highlight was undoubtedly headliner Marina Prior’s goosebumpy performance of Memory, the show’s haunting anthem.


Audiences are guaranteed a good time when Simon Gallaher and Jon English reunite thirty years after their Pirates of Penzance romp for the Tony Award winning Monty Python musical Spamalot, based on the cult 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After rousing renditions of Knights of the Round Table and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Lady of the Lake Julie Anthony revealed how she was coaxed out of retirement for the show, which will be staged in QPAC’s Concert Hall in October.


Harvest Rain has not only earned its place at QPAC, but its energetic approach to theatre making makes its works valuable resources for school groups. Indeed, shows such as Cats, provide an exciting access point to for school students to engage with a classic text, wether that text be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musical or its genesis, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Elliot, in a welcoming context. Not only this, but the company offers students the opportunity to engage with the arts on a practical level though their musical theatre internship program, in keeping with its aim to nurture young artists in their passion for the performing arts. Harvest Rain will also be conducting auditions for the Cats youth ensemble in early December.


The Arts in Australian schools is at a turning point; Australian students now all have an entitlement to education in the five art forms – dance, drama, media arts, music and visual art.


Companies such as Harvest Rain, should be commended for the manner in which they encourage young people to participate in the Arts more fully and to understand how the arts provide unique and valuable ways of making meaning.


Harvest Rain’s motto for 2014 is ‘the stars shine bright in Brisbane’ and if the 2014 launch is any indication, this is indeed the case, as the company adds to their list of the acclaimed artists who have trodden the boards in a Harvest Rain show over the past three decades.


*In 2014, Harvest Rain is giving young amateur performers from across South-East Queensland the opportunity to take part in a large-scale arena presentation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS, the largest production of the classic musical ever staged in the southern hemisphere.


Australia’s leading lady of musical theatre, Marina Prior, will star as Grizabella in this record breaking production, along with a core cast of professional musical theatre performers (auditions for the professional adult cast will be held in January 2014). Surrounding this cast will be a large youth ensemble made up of over 500 young amateur performers from across South-East Queensland.


If you want to be one of those young performers, then apply to audition today!



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.




Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Music by Richard Rodgers

Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

QPAC Concert Hall

17th – 20th April 2013


Reviewed by Michelle Bull


It’s funny how a good ol’ humdinger of a musical can make life seem less complicated. Collapsing into my chair at QPAC Thursday night; my mind was still stuck simultaneously tapping away at emails and memorizing the French translation of art song. But as a baton rose and the familiar strains of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma filled the Concert Hall, I mentally hit the esc key and took a breath of warm country air.


Harvest Rain Oklahoma

Bringing this classic to life are the Harvest Rain Theatre Company, directed by Tim O’Conner. With a line up that includes IAN STENLAKE as Curly McLain and ANGELA HARDING as the headstrong Laurey along with ANDY CONAGHAN, GLENN FERGUSON, MATTY JOHNSTON, VAL LEHMAN, ERIKA NADDEI, CASEY McCOLLOW, STEVEN TANDY and a strong ensemble.


This production of Oklahoma sees Harvest Rain transition to the larger scale professional stage and I must say, I think it suits them.


Transforming the Concert Hall stage to small town of Oklahoma was something challenging in itself. I had never seen the space extend to more than a cabaret set so I was surprised to see it playing host to a musical, but surprisingly, it totally worked. With lighting by Jason Genwright and a great set  by Josh McIntosh, a sense of intimacy was created, and it framed the production wonderfully.


Directed and produced by Harvest Rain’s Tim O’Conner; Oklahoma propels forward with a steady momentum, and the cast manage this pace and energy with ease.


Music Director Maitlohn Drew’s approach to the score has vigour and enthusiasm. An onstage orchestra adds to the picture, and I’m sure, feeds the cast with a musical drive reflected in their performance.


Likewise, Choreographer Callum Mansfield realises the choreography well; the well known dream sequence was well staged and executed by the cast. I wanted a little more from the grittier moments like the fight scenes and Jud’s possession/attack on Laurey, but in keeping with the era of the piece, it is suitably poised, works well enough and creates some great texture onstage.


Taking the reigns on cowboy Curly, Ian Stenlake is perfectly cast. His strong ringing tenor charming, endearing, and testament to the fact he has played this role before and completely made it his own. The onstage chemistry he shares with love interest Laurey plays out predictably, but is nonetheless engaging to watch.


Angela Harding as the headstrong Laurey is natural to the stage. There is sincerity and approachability in her light soprano that makes you want to listen; I felt her strengths vocally were clearly in her warm mid-range but she is a performer who gives and gives, and it is a joy to watch.

Angela Harding Just Like You

Love Ange’s performance? Catch her next week in her solo cabaret show Just like you … only different at Brisbane Powerhouse April 27th


Erika Naddei was also well cast as the cheekily promiscuous Ado Annie. Having seen Naddei only weeks before in Harvest Rain’s Tell me on a Sunday I knew this was a role that would show off her enthusiastic approach to characterisation and it clearly fits to a tee. With a wonderful ‘twangy’ belt she delivers an Ado Annie that bounces between exasperating and lovable all rolled into one.


I do believe essential to any musical’s success is a strong supporting cast and ensemble, and this is something that is apparent in this production. While there were a few little bugbears (inconsistency of accents, lost dialogue, and slightly unbalanced chorus numbers), overall each and every member of the cast was at 200%, which made for great onstage energy.


I particularly enjoyed Andy Conaghan as Jud Fry. His solo moment Lonely Room showcased his rich Baritone and his committed delivery fleshed out the tenderness and darkness of the character well. The moment was a welcome relief from the pace of the other numbers although I felt a darker side of Jud Fry could have been developed a little more. I found myself empathising with his character so much I was secretly rooting for him to get the girl (Sorry Curly!); perhaps a little more ‘grit’ might’ve swayed me?


Also grabbing my attention was Matty Johnson in the role of Ali Hakim. What a fun and holistic performance. From vocals to physicality, I felt Johnson delivered and enjoyed some great comic moments along the way.


Overall, I felt Oklahoma was a triumph for Harvest Rain Theatre Company, and probably one of the best productions I have seen from them in a while. Yes, it is squeaky clean wholesome family fun, but for lovers of Rogers and Hammerstein musical classics, they’re definitely doin’ fine in Oklahoma…. OK!



Bye Bye Birdie




Bye Bye Birdie

Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse

29th November – 9th December


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


I’ve seen a number of productions by the gang at Harvest Rain Theatre Company. One thing I love about them is their consistency to recreate classics with a youthful and energetic pulse. Bye Bye Birdie is no exception.  It was first performed on Broadway in 1960 so this show is not new. In fact I could guess many of the audience were already well attuned to the plot. Though camp and colourful, Bye Bye Birdie is or at least as originally a satire. Set in 1958 the story is remodelled off Elvis Presley. When rock n’ roll was a dangerous thing in a small town.

Rock and roll takes on a form in this era not as most of us are used to. Sorry Metallica, not tonight. KISS, you’re out too I’m afraid. In Bye Bye Birdie rock n’ roll is all about bright colours, slicked back hair and poodle skirts. The vivid costumes against the black floor of the Visy Theatre grab your attention as the cast sing and dance.

Retro is an understatement. But it is the only word I can give you before you walk into the Visy Theatre. I’m biased; I love the Powerhouse and all its individual charms. The Visy is smaller than average, two hundred seats max, so make sure you grab your ticket. It’s almost like an arena stage. The acoustics are fantastic along with whatever play is taking place on its floors at the time.

I guess the one flaw was not in the play but in me. Danny Lazar as Conrad Birdie delivered each song and made every girl in the room swoon.  Lauren Heidecker as Kim MacAffee had the kind of adorable stage presence that warms your heart whilst Morgan Kempster as her friend Ursula Merkle was easily pegged as comic relief.

But despite these wonderful performances the play wasn’t in my tastes I suppose is the way to put it. I’ve seen the retro musical done before. I’ve seen productions of Hairspray, Shout! and Charlie Brown (the latter another Harvest Rain production). To me they’re not the same but they’re all in the same vein. When I go to the theatre I’m looking for something different. Something to send a whole new thought-wave down my spine and through my fingers and sparking behind my eyes. Something, dare I be cliché? Challenging. Bye Bye Birdie is of a satirical nature but it’s from another time an another place far from the lands of Me. It is a classic – “good, clean, fun” – but it didn’t stir anything in me.

This is not to say it won’t stir anything in you. It certainly brought out laughter. Bye Bye Birdie brings out a reminiscence of old songs we’d nearly forgotten. Harvest Rain Theatre certainly has a reputation for reviving the classics. Most of their 2013 season will be old but not forgotten musicals. This year alone they put on some stunners; their performance of Hairspray was not one to be missed.  Now the team has done it again with this production of Bye Bye Birdie.

These guys may have young faces but they’re not unfamiliar with what they’re doing. Harvest Rain Theatre churns out musicals and I have no doubt will continue to put on some great classic shows. Like I said, their 2013 season is a great line-up. Get your tickets and make your way to the Brisbane Powerhouse for Bye Bye Birdie now before it’s too late and the busy Christmas season storms in.





Harvest Rain’s Australian Musical Theatre Workshop: applications now open

Harvest Rain Australian Musical Theatre Workshop

Harvest Rain Theatre Company is proud to be bringing some of the country’s biggest musical theatre stars to Brisbane for THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP from 7th – 18th January 2013!

This exciting two-week course brings Australia’s most experienced and respected musical theatre professionals together for two weeks of workshops, masterclasses and forums that no aspiring musical theatre performer in Australia can afford to miss!

Participants will be able to hone their singing, acting and dancing skills each day in a series of master-classes led by some of the most respected industry professionals from across Australia including multi-award winning choreographer Kelley Abbey and star of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, Mitchell Butel, as well as Toni Lamond, Margi de Ferranti, Jason Barry-Smith, Megan Shorey, Penny Farrow and more.

Throughout the ten days, participants also have the exclusive opportunity to take part in a series of industry forums and panel discussions where they will meet, interact with and learn from Tony Award winning producer John Frost, Australia’s leading lady of musical theatre Marina Prior, four time Gold Logie Award winner Lisa McCune, legend of the Australian stage  Nancye Hayes OAM, multi award-winning performer Rhonda Burchmore and award winning theatre producer and performer Simon Gallaher.

“This really is a chance of a lifetime for emerging musical theatre performers from all over the country to spend two weeks in Brisbane working alongside some of the best in the business,” says Artistic Director Tim O’Connor“This is the sort of workshop I would have wanted to enrol in when I was starting out! Having the chance to learn from people like Marina Prior and John Frost and our many other guests is something no performer can afford to miss out on!”

The workshops will be held at the Cherrell Hirst Creative Learning Centre in Spring Hill, Brisbane. The course caters for a range of ages, so participants can enrol in either teen workshops (12 to 15 years of age), young adult workshops (16 to 18 years of age) or adult workshops (19 years +).

The cost of the two week AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP is only $1,375 per participant and entry is by application only. Enrolment is open to performers Australia wide and there are a limited number of places available.

For full details or to submit an application, visit