Posts Tagged ‘helpmann awards

30
Jul
15

Anything Goes

 

Anything Goes

Opera Australia & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

July 25 – August 16 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

ANYTHING GOES has captivated millions with its delightful story of madcap antics aboard the S.S. American. When the ocean liner sets sail from New York to London, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely couples set off to find true love… proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. 

 

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With three Helpmann Awards announced the previous night, opening night of Anything Goes in Brisbane was always going to be an exciting affair. I wore sparkles, creating a major dress dilemma for the week because LA BOITE’S BIRTHDAY BASH! That’s right. Two of the shiniest occasions in Queensland’s theatrical calendar occur in one week and I’ve already been seen in my (more-twenties-than-thirties, let’s face it) sparkles. I’m not above being seen in the same frock twice but…

 

It’s times like these I have to ask myself

WHAT WOULD OUR CATE DO?

 

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

 

Well, there’s no Armani here yet, but it’s okay, don’t panic, I have more white in the wardrobe now, thanks to a fortune fortnight spent on Hastings Street during Noosa Long Weekend Festival and the smiling, sophisticated ladies at KOOKAI. Admittedly, all they had to do was to bag a couple of cute frocks, which I’d spotted on the rack and decided to purchase without even trying on (because KOOKAI), but still; they are lovely there. Go visit them if ever you find yourself in similar strife.

 

This dazzling production of Cole Porter’s classic musical comedy is indeed almost too de-lightful, too de-licious and too, too de-lovely for words. It’s not my favourite clever, convoluted, old-fashioned, funny because it’s so unlikely excuse for a plot – misadventure and mistaken identities on the high seas with enough theatrical evangelical shenanigans to create another show entirely – but the music is timeless and the comedy is pitched at a broad audience of loyal Porter fans and musical theatre newbies. Everyone will enjoy this one.

 

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Musical theatre queen, Caroline O’Connor, is superb as Reno Sweeney, as we knew she would be. In this demanding role, O’Connor earned the Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. She barely pauses for breath – unless there’s a laugh to be had (and there are plenty, with her knack for physical comedy most obvious in Friendship with Wayne Scott Kermond) – and with her suitably Ethel Merman styled powerhouse vocals, polished dance and comedic finesse, O’Connor steals the show. But only just because this is the strongest company we’ve seen in Frosty’s trilogy with Opera Australia.

 

Reno’s girls are standouts – hot, glam goddesses who get to strut and shimmy their stuff in a red-lit and racy Blow, Gabriel, Blow (Annie Aitkin, Bridgette Hancock, Hayley Martin & Samantha Leigh Dodemaide).

 

And the ensemble are all gorgeous, great, true triple-threats, with an abundance of very young-looking sailors on board… didn’t Fleet Street happen already?! The title number, reprised for the Finale, is the highlight of the show – precision tap at its best to leave you, unlike the company of #fitspo performers, gasping for breath! Helpmann Award winning choreography by Andrew Hallsworth is simply spectacular, brilliantly executed.

 

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Todd McKenney, perfect in the role of English fop, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, reminds me of Eric Idle in The English National Opera’s The Mikado (1997), which was watched and re-watched for years in our house, thanks to the miracle of VHS. We see this sort of silliness in a role attempted so often but it’s very rarely achieved. Todd McKenney nails it. And of course, he can dance! Act Two’s The Gypsy In Me showcases McKenney’s triple-threat skill set and has us in stitches. (N.B. McKenney doesn’t do the Sunday show). Wouldn’t you just love to sign up for a Todd’s Tour with Evelyn?!

 

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Alex Rathgeber’s Billy Crocker won him the Helpmann Award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical. A legit leading man, Rathgeber brings warmth, charm and natural comedy to Crocker, making the character seem more present than ever in the ludicrous plot, and giving Hope Harcourt (Claire Lyon) much to consider in her will-I-or-won’t-I-marry-him throes. In Act One, You’re The Top (with O’Connor) and Easy To Love (with Lyon) carry old-world, swoon-worthy charm. Lyon is lovely, elegant and perfectly matched.

 

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Wayne Scott Kermond and Deborah Krizak – Moonface Martin and the sexy, haughty Erma – bring hilarity to new heights; Krizak’s mercury-like moves in the constrictive cabin space and her Madonna attitude in Buddie Beware make her my new fave what-else-have-ya-got-for-us female. (She has in fact, got CABBARET, an ABBA biopic).

 

MD/Conductor, Peter Casey, leads a slick outfit – there are no disappointing horns here – and Dale Ferguson’s simple set adaptation (lit by Matt Scott) and sublime costumes (to make up for the simple set?) complete the look and feel of what is really a magnificent production, astutely directed by Dean Bryant.

 

Credited with the New Book Co-Author credit is Timothy Crouse, son of one of the original authors, Russell Crouse, but it seems there hasn’t been much of a re-write, which is a shame because contemporary audiences are looking for more than a name change for the Chinese. Aren’t we? Bryant’s production for Opera Australia and John Frost is glamorous, gorgeous and hilarious, and it won’t make a difference to box office sales to find fault with a slightly outdated book, but it’s worth noting that once this one is done there might be more to consider than star vehicles boasting terrific song and dance numbers that gloss over obvious racist undercurrents, which so many of the older, much-loved shows perpetuate within their stories. Of course, each reflects the popular themes and attitudes of its time. But does that deem them untouchable? South Pacific somehow seemed more relevant and The King and I not so much. The London Palladium Production of The Sound of Music certainly seems a stronger choice (and you can book for that now. Amy Lehpamer is going to be amazing).

 

Anything Goes is a lavish production with a stellar cast. It would be a crime to miss Caroline O’Connor in this iconic role, in a riotous show that doesn’t claim to be anything it’s not. It’s pure entertainment and it’s honestly the most fun you’ll have at the theatre before you have your mind blown at Brisbane Festival.

 

Anything Goes must finish August 16 so be quick and book tix and dress nicely, and go and have some fun on board the S.S. American!

 

 

Production pics by Jeff Busby

 

28
Jul
15

Helpmann Awards 2015

 

Helpmann Award Winners 2015

 

Congratulations to all 2015 Helpmann Award winners

 

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) today congratulated all winners of the 2015 Helpmann Awards that were celebrated at a star-studded event in Sydney last night.

 

QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said in particular he wanted to thank the partners who have worked with QPAC to achieve nominations and awards wins at this year’s Helpmanns.

 

Kotzas said, “The high standard of artistic achievement that can be accomplished via our partnerships with artistic visionaries Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland for Brisbane Baroque, as well as closer to home companies such as Circa, Expressions Dance Company, Opera Queensland and Griffith University, along with our fellow Australian performing arts centres in Sydney, Melbourne Perth and Canberra has been proven by this year’s accolades. 

 

“Creating art is a collaborative process and this has underpinned our shared success at these Awards. Such partnerships have been cultivated throughout QPAC’s history of presenting live performance in Queensland and we have been celebrating these relationships throughout this, our 30th anniversary year”, said Mr Kotzas. 

 

camilleosullivan

 

CABARET

BEST CABARET PERFORMER
Camille O’Sullivan
Camille O’Sullivan – Changeling
Arts Centre Melbourne

COMEDY

BEST COMEDY PERFORMER
Judith Lucy
Judith Lucy – Ask No Questions of The Moth
Token Events

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

BEST AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
Chet Faker | National Tour 2015
Chet Faker, Frontier Touring, Artist Voice, Opulent, Future Classic & Perth International Arts Festival

BEST CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Vivid Live 2015
Destination NSW and Sydney Opera House

BEST INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
Ed Sheeran | X World Tour 2015
Ed Sheeran & Frontier Touring

 

frameofmind

 

DANCE AND PHYSICAL THEATRE

BEST BALLET OR DANCE WORK
Frame of Mind
Sydney Dance Company

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Rafael Bonachela
Frame of Mind
Sydney Dance Company

BEST FEMALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Chloe Leong
William Forsythe’s Quintett
Sydney Dance Company

BEST MALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Cass Mortimer Eipper
William Forsythe’s Quintett
Sydney Dance Company

BEST VISUAL AND/OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
The Paper Architect
Davy and Kristin McGuire and Perth International Arts Festival

 

lesmis
MUSICALS

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL
Andrew Hallsworth
Anything Goes
Opera Australia & John Frost

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
John Tiffany
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith and Frederick Zollo in association with the Melbourne Theatre Company

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Kerrie Anne Greenland
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Caroline O’Connor
Anything Goes
Opera Australia & John Frost

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Alex Rathgeber
Anything Goes
Opera Australia & John Frost

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Simon Gleeson
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST MUSICAL
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

 

faramondo
OPERA AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

BEST DIRECTION OF AN OPERA
Paul Curran
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
Anna Devin
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
Jennifer Rivera
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
Christopher Lowrey
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
Michael Fabiano
Faust
Opera Australia

BEST OPERA
Faramondo
Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC

BEST CHAMBER AND/OR INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE CONCERT
Les Arts Florissants and Le Jardin des Voix in Un Jardin à l’italienne
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival

BEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
Reflections on Gallipoli
Australian Chamber Orchestra

BEST INDIVIDUAL CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCE
William Christie
William Christie
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival

 

REGIONAL TOURING AND CHILDREN’S PRESENTATION

BEST REGIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
Festival of Circa
Circa

BEST PRESENTATION FOR CHILDREN
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co – production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

 

theglassmenagerie

THEATRE

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Kip Williams
Suddenly Last Summer
Sydney Theatre Company

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
Helen Thomson
After Dinner
Sydney Theatre Company

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Pamela Rabe
The Glass Menagerie
Belvoir

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
John Bell
As You Like It
Bell Shakespeare

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
Hugo Weaving
Endgame
Sydney Theatre Company

BEST PLAY
The Glass Menagerie
Belvoir

 

therabbits
INDUSTRY AWARDS

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Gabriela Tylesova
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co- production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Paule Constable
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Kate Miller-Heidke with Iain Grandage
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co – production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
Martin Lowe
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith and Frederick Zollo in association with the Melbourne Theatre Company

BEST SCENIC DESIGN
Geoff Cobham
Little Bird
State Theatre Company of South Australia in association with Adelaide Festival Centre

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Mick Potter
Les Misérables
Cameron Mackintosh

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
Kate Miller-Heidke – composer, Lally Katz – librettist, and Iain Grandage – musical arrangements and additional music
The Rabbits
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co – production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

 

journeyofthegiants

 

2015 HELPMANN AWARDS BESTOWED AWARD

BEST SPECIAL EVENT
ROYAL DE LUXE and PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of the Giants to the Streets of Perth

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

SUE NATTRASS AWARD®
ERIC ROBINSON

JC WILLIAMSON AWARD®
PAUL KELLY

 

anythinggoes_cast

 

Be ready to get on board as the hilarious Helpmann Award winning musical Anything Goes officially opens tonight (Tuesday 28 July) at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC).

 

The new John Frost/Opera Australia production of Anything Goes was presented with three Helpmann Awards during last night’s star-studded awards ceremony at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre hosted by Todd McKenney. Caroline O’Connor won Best Female Actor in a Musical, Alex Rathgeber won Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, and Andrew Hallsworth won Best Choreography in a Musical.

 

Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini AM and leading Australian theatre producer John Frost AM were thrilled. “We are extremely proud of Anything Goes, and very happy for this well-deserved recognition for Caroline, Alex and Andrew,” they said. “The show was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike in Melbourne, and we can’t wait to open to Brisbane audiences tonight.”

 

22
Jun
15

Helpmann Award Nominations 2015

 

Helpmann Award Nominations 2015

 

If awards equate to success for you, the Helpmann’s are the top of the heap.

 

Because I’m vaguely on strike for a bit while David Williamson’s Dream Home has my attention, I’ll share the nominations as per suzygoessee because now that Augusta Supple is busy with other projects and I (still) need to know what’s happening in Sydney, I sometimes glance at what Suzy Wrong is seeing, and you know I like to share the blog love. Check her out!

 

 

This year’s Helpmann Awards, hosted by Todd McKenney, will be presented live at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on July 27 2015. Watch the live simulcast from wherever you are via foxtelarts.com.au

 

 

Todd-McKenney_Jim-Lee-Photo

 

 

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
ANDREW UPTON
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
CLARE WATSON
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
KIP WILLIAMS
Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)
SARAH GOODES
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
HELEN THOMSON
After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company)
JULIE FORSYTH
Endgame (Melbourne Theatre Company)
PAMELA RABE
Beckett Triptych – Footfalls (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
SARAH PEIRSE
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
JULIE FORSYTH
Night on Bald Mountain (Malthouse Theatre)
PAMELA RABE
The Glass Menagerie (Belvoir)
ROBYN NEVIN
Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)
SARAH PEIRSE
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
BRUCE SPENCE
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
GLENN HAZELDINE
After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company)
JOHN BELL
As You Like It (Bell Shakespeare)
LASARUS RATUERE
Kill the Messenger (Belvoir)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
HUGO WEAVING
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
HUNTER PAGE-LOCHARD
Brothers Wreck (Belvoir)
PETER CARROLL
Oedipus Rex (Belvoir)
STEVE RODGERS
Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Porn (Griffin Theatre Company and Perth Theatre Company)

 

BEST PLAY
CALPURNIA DESCENDING
Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company
ENDGAME
Sydney Theatre Company
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Belvoir
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
Sydney Theatre Company

 

endgame_stc

 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL
ANDREW HALLSWORTH
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
KATE CHAMPION and MICHELLE LYNCH
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Love Story on Stage (John Frost)
MICHAEL ASHCROFT and GEOFFREY GARRATT
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
STEVEN HOGGETT
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)

 

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
DEAN BRYANT
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
JOHN TIFFANY
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
LAURENCE CONNOR and JAMES POWELL
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
STUART MAUNDER AM
Into the Woods (Victorian Opera)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
AMY LEHPAMER
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
CLAIRE LYON
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
KERRIE ANNE GREENLAND
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
LUCY MAUNDER
Into the Woods (Victorian Opera)

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
CAROLINE O’CONNOR
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
HELEN DALLIMORE
Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents)
MADELEINE JONES
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
PATRICE TIPOKI
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

lesmiserables_patricetipoki_mattmurphy

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
ALEX RATHGEBER
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
BRENT HALL
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
CHRIS DURLING
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
COLIN DEAN
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI’I
Show Boat (The Production Company)
TREVOR ASHLEY
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
HAYDEN TEE
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
SIMON GLEESON
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
TODD MCKENNEY
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
TODD MCKENNEY
La Cage Aux Folles (The Production Company)

 

BEST MUSICAL
ANYTHING GOES
Opera Australia and John Frost
DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC LOVE STORY ON STAGE
John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCullum and Joyce Entertainment
LES MISÉRABLES
Cameron Mackintosh
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo

 

anythinggoes

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ANNA CORDINGLEY
Masquerade (Griffin Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia)
DALE FERGUSON
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
GABRIELA TYLESOVA
The Rabbits (Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company)
GARY MCCANN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC)

 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
GEOFF COBHAM
The Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera Company, South Australia)
NICK SCHLIEPER
Macbeth (Sydney Theatre Company)
PAULE CONSTABLE
Faust (Opera Australia)
PAULE CONSTABLE
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
RACHEL BURKE
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
CAMERON GOODALL and QUENTIN GRANT
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
KATE MILLER-HEIDKE with IAIN GRANDAGE
The Rabbits (Opera Australia)
MIKELANGELO and THE BLACKSEA GENTLEMEN
Masquerade (Griffin Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia)
TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)

 

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
ERIN HELYARD
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
MARTIN LOWE
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
TIMOTHY SEXTON
The Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera South Australia)

 

BEST SCENIC DESIGN

DAN POTRA
The Perfect American (Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland)
GEOFF COBHAM
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
MARG HORWELL
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
MATT KINLEY
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

BEST SOUND DESIGN
CLIVE GOODWIN
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
JD BRILL, CLAIR GLOBAL and EAGLES
Eagles | History of the Eagles Live In Concert 2015 (The Eagles and Frontier Touring)
MICHAEL WATERS
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
MICK POTTER
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)

 

BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
AIDAN FENNESSY, MUSIC AND LYRICS BY TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
ARENA THEATRE COMPANY
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
JOANNA MURRAY-SMITH
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)
NICKI BLOOM with songs and music by CAMERON GOODALL and QUENTIN GRANT
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
OPERA AUSTRALIA and BARKING GECKO THEATRE COMPANY
The Rabbits (Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company)
TAMARA SAULWICK
Endings (Sydney Festival and Insite Arts)

 

BEST AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
CHET FAKER | NATIONAL TOUR 2015
JIMMY BARNES | 30:30 HINDSIGHT GREATEST HITS TOUR 2014
KYLIE | KISS ME ONCE TOUR 2015
TINA ARENA RESET TOUR

 

kylie_kissmeonce

 

BEST CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL
BLUESFEST BYRON BAY
LANEWAY FESTIVAL
VIVID LIVE 2015
WOMADELAIDE 2015

 

BEST CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL CONCERT
ED SHEERAN | X WORLD TOUR 2015
FOO FIGHTERS | SONIC HIGHWAYS WORLD TOUR 2015
PAUL SIMON and STING – ON STAGE TOGETHER
THE ROLLING STONES | 14 ON FIRE

 

BEST COMEDY PERFORMER
JUDITH LUCY
Judith Lucy – Ask No Questions of the Moth (Token Events)
MATT OKINE
The Other Guy (Century Entertainment)
NAZEEM HUSSAIN
Nazeem Hussain – Legally Brown (Live Nation)
RONNY CHIENG
You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About (Century Entertainment)
SAM SIMMONS
Sam Simmons – Spaghetti for Breakfast (Token Events)

 

BEST CABARET PERFORMER
BECCY COLE and LIBBY DONOVAN
The Cowgirl and the Showgirl (Adelaide Festival Centre Trust)
CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN
Camille O’Sullivan – Changeling (Arts Centre Melbourne)
DAVID CAMPBELL and JOHN BUCCHINO
David Campbell Sings John Bucchino (Luckiest Productions)
KIM SMITH
Nova Noir (Adelaide Festival Centre Trust)

 

kimsmith

 

BEST BALLET OR DANCE WORK
FRAME OF MIND
Sydney Dance Company
MEETING
Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe
MOTION PICTURE
Lucy Guerin Inc
PRECIPICE
Rachel Arianne Ogle

 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
ANTONY HAMILTON
MEETING (Antony Hamilton Projects, Arts House and Insite Arts)
NATALIE WEIR
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
RAFAEL BONACHELA
Frame of Mind (Sydney Dance Company)
STEPHEN PAGE
Patyegarang (Bangarra Dance Theatre)

 

BEST FEMALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
CHLOE LEONG
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
ELISE MAY
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
JESSE SCALES
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
MADELEINE EASTOE
Giselle (The Australian Ballet)

 

BEST MALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
ALISDAIR MACINDOE
Motion Picture (Lucy Guerin Inc)
CASS MORTIMER EIPPER
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
DAVID MACK
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
JACK ZIESING
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)

 

theredshoes_elisemay

 

BEST VISUAL OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
BEYOND THE CIRCA
Arts Centre Melbourne and Circa
DISLOCATE’S “IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK”
Marguerite Pepper Productions
THE PAPER ARCHITECT
Davy and Kristin McGuire and Perth International Arts Festival
TABAC ROUGE
Produced by Compagnie du Hanneton, presented by Sydney Festival

 

BEST DIRECTION OF AN OPERA
DAVID MCVICAR
Faust (Opera Australia)
DAVID MCVICAR
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
LEIGH WARREN
Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera of South Australia)
PAUL CURRAN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)

 

FAUST_OA

 

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
ANNA DEVIN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
ANNA STARUSHKEVYCH
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
NICOLE CAR
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
TARYN FIEBIG
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)

 

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
CAITLIN HULCUP
Iphigenie en Tauride (Pinchgut Opera)
JENNIFER RIVERA
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
LATONIA MOORE
Aida – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (Opera Australia)
NICOLE CAR
Faust (Opera Australia)

 

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
CHRISTOPHER LOWREY
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
SHANE LOWRENCEV
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
TEDDY TAHU RHODES
Faust (Opera Australia)
WARWICK FYFE
The Flying Dutchman (Victorian Opera)

 

BEST MALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
ADAM DIEGEL
Madama Butterfly (English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Lithuanian National Opera)
CHRISTOPHER PURVES
The Perfect American (Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland)
CLAUDIO SGURA
Tosca (Opera Australia)
MICHAEL FABIANO
Faust (Opera Australia)
TEDDY TAHU RHODES
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)

 

BEST OPERA
FARAMONDO (Brisbane Baroque)
FAUST (Opera Australia)
MADAMA BUTTERFLY (English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Lithuanian National Opera)
THE PHILIP GLASS TRILOGY (State Opera South Australia)

 

phillipglasstrilogy

 

BEST CHAMBER AND/OR INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE CONCERT
GOLDNER STRING QUARTET, MUSICA VIVA INTERNATIONAL CONCERT SERIES NATIONAL TOUR 2015
Goldner String Quartet for Musica Viva Australia
LES ARTS FLORISSANTS and LE JARDIN DES VOIX IN Â JARDIN Ã L’ITALIENNE
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival
THE SIXTEEN
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House, Perth International Arts Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Australian National University of Music, Llewellyn Hall
STEPHEN HOUGH IN RECITAL
Sydney Symphony Orchestra

 

BEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER 3
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
REFLECTIONS ON GALLIPOLI
Australian Chamber Orchestra
TAFELMUSIK’S HOUSE OF DREAMS
Musica Viva

 

BEST INDIVIDUAL CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCE
ASHER FISCH
Beethoven Festival (West Australian Symphony Orchestra)
CHRISTIAN TETZLAFF
Christian Tetlaff (Melbourne Recital Centre)
EMANUEL AX
The Beethoven Piano Concertos (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)
WILLIAM CHRISTIE
William Christie (Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House, and Perth International Arts Festival)

 

BEST REGIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
FESTIVAL OF CIRCA
Circa
FOOD
Force Majeure and Belvoir
KELLY
Queensland Theatre Company
SONS & MOTHERS
Performing Lines and No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability

 

kelly_stevenrooke

 

BEST PRESENTATION FOR CHILDREN
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS
Circa and Queensland Performing Arts Centre
HANS CHRISTIAN, YOU MUST BE AN ANGEL
Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne
PETE THE SHEEP
Monkey Baa Theatre Company
THE RABBITS
Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company, in association with West Australian Opera, cocommissioned
by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

 

2015 HELPMANN AWARDS BESTOWED AWARD

 

BEST SPECIAL EVENT
PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROYAL DE LUXE
The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of the Giants to the Streets of Perth

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

 

SUE NATTRASS AWARD™
ERIC ROBINSON

JC WILLIAMSON AWARD®
PAUL KELLY

BRIAN STACEY AWARD 2015
JESSICA GETHIN

 

15
Jul
14

2014 Helpmann Award Noms Announced!

 

Helpmann Awards Nominations Announcement

QPAC Playhouse

July 14 2014

 

Attended by Meredith Walker

 

Independent theatre and Indigenous stories have important roles to play in Australian theatre. This was one of the messages to be taken from this year’s Helpmann Awards nominations announcement.

 

Since their establishment in 2001, The Helpmann Awards, named in honour of Australian dancer, actor, director and choreographer Sir Robert Helpmann, have aimed to recognise, celebrate and promote Australia’s live performance industry, similar to the Tony Awards on Broadway and the Olivier Awards in London.

 

Nominations for the awards in the fields of theatre, musical theatre, opera, music and dance were announced at simultaneous events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth. The Brisbane nomination event was hosted by internationally acclaimed, Queensland Ballet’s Artist Director, Li Cunxin, with local theatre figures Nelle Lee (shake & stir Theatre Company), Kris Stewart (Brisbane Powerhouse), Russell Mitchell (Opera Queensland) and Erica Hart (Queensland Music Festival) assisting in announcing the nominations within the 41 award categories.

 

With such a plentiful and diverse theatrical landscape from which to garnish nominations, it is of little surprise, perhaps, that the final nominee lists came from more than 700 nominees. And while the final list was predominantly in favour of New South Wales based shows (Opera Australia and Sydney Theatre Company dominate in the opera and play categories), there were opportunities for cheerful celebration of Queensland’s representation among the accolades.

 

Expressions Dance Company’s beautiful and poetic work, When Time Stops, whose world premiere featured as part of 2013’s Brisbane Festival, featured in two categories, Best Choreography in a Dance or Physical Theatre Production for Natalie Weir and Best Original Score for Iain Grandage.

 

natalie-weirs-when-time-stops-promo-2-pictured-edcs-samantha-mitchell-image-by-dylan-evans

 

The local accolades also include nomination of Ursula Yovich as Best Female Actor in a Play for her role as the titular character in 2013’s Queensland Theatre Company production of Mother Courage, which continued the political commentary theme of Brecht’s original text by examining the moral ambiguity around mining.

 

There were also nods given to shows seen on or forthcoming to Brisbane’s stages. Among the 11 Indigenous nominations across nine categories is the Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Festival Production Black Diggers, which explores the untold and exceptional stories of Indigenous Australian soldiers who fought for the British Commonwealth. The Best New Australian Work nominee is set to not only feature as one of this year’s Brisbane Festival highlights, but will be broadcast live to nine major regional centres across Queensland in a state-wide first.

 

black diggers-Jamie Williams-12

 

Malthouse Theatre’s The Shadow King, which will also feature at this year’s Brisbane Festival, is also represented, with nominations in four categories, Best Play, Best New Australian Work, Best Director of a Play (Michael Kantor) and Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play (Jimi Bani). The epic play, which reworks Shakespeare’s tragedy, King, Lear, in an Indigenous setting, incorporating a number of Indigenous languages is set to be an unmissable theatrical event.

 

Also featuring at the 2014 Brisbane Festival will be Best Cabaret Performer nominee Sarah Ward (for Between The Cracks) as her fabulous character creation Yana Alana. Last seen early this year at WTF’s 지하 Underground Up Late, this much loved cabaret provocateur will feature in the intimate Tears Before Bedtime, in the September festival.

 

The star of the night, however, had to be Hayes Theatre’s first production, the musical Sweet Charity, which scored a total of eight nominations, one more than its high profile Sydney counterpart, Strictly Ballroom the Musical. This is particularly significant given that the new, intimate not-for-profit Potts Point Theatre (named after Australian musical theatre legend, Nancye Hayes) has at its focus, the provision of a permanent home for small-scale, independent musical theatre and cabaret.  

 

sweet_charity_1

 

For a nation with a relatively young theatre history, our artistic achievements fare well across the many genres of our vibrant and dynamic preforming arts industry. However, we cannot afford to take this for granted or slip into complacency. And as long as we have new work and independent shows of the calibre of those nominated at the 2014 Helpmann Awards, then the future is looking exciting indeed.

 

After five years at the Sydney Opera House, this year’s Helpmann Awards will be staged at the Capitol Theatre on August 18, where they will be hosted by Jonathan Biggins (author of this year’s QTC opening work, Australia Day). The ceremony will take place on the set of The Lion King and will feature musical performances from The Lion King, Les Misérables, Strictly Ballroom and Djuki Mala (Chooky Dancers). As in previous years, Foxtel’s Arena channel will officially broadcast the Awards night in August.

 

 

25
Jun
13

Helpmann Awards Nominations 2013

 

Helpmann Awards Nominations 2013

 

By Guy Frawley

 

Helpmann Awards

The nominations for the 2013 Helpmann Awards were announced last night at simultaneous events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth and a long list of nominees have been put forward for a chance at winning a coveted award come July 29th.

 

For the full list head on over to the Helpmann Awards official website.

 

 

The nominees flying the flag for Queensland are

 

Best Female Actor in a Play

Christen O’leary

End of the Rainbow

Queensland Performing Arts Centre & Queensland Theatre Company

 

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play

Hayden Spencer

End of the Rainbow,

Queensland Performing Arts Centre & Queensland Theatre Company

 

Best Female Performer in an Opera

Sarah MacLiver

L’Orfeo

Brisbane Festival & Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

 

Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera

Wolf Matthais Fredrich

L’Orfeo

Brisbane Festival & Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

 

Best Individual Classical Music Performance:

Simone Young conducting The Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner (concert performance) & Symphony No. 2 in C Minor Resurrection by Gustav Mahler, Soloists from the Hamburg State Opera with the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra Presenter(s) Queensland Performing Arts Centre & Events Queensland

 

Best Music Direction

James Morrison

Boundary Street

Blackswan State Theatre Company & Brisbane Festival

 

Best Symphony Orchestra Concert

Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner (concert performance)

The Hamburg State Opera with The Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra Presenter(s) Queensland Performing Arts Centre & Events Queensland

 

Symphony No 2 in C Minor, Resurrection, by Gustav Mahler

Soloists from the Hamburg State Opera with the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra Presenter(s) Queensland Performing Arts Centre & Events Queensland

 

Congratulations to all those who were nominated and as the presenters pointed out, 822 entries were received across 41 categories this year, making the selection process an enormous task. It would appear that the classical music and opera scene in Brisbane is doing some amazing work and is being recognized accordingly, but the list did leave me wondering how there could only be two other nominations from Queensland (Christen O’Leary & Hayden Spencer both for their roles in QTC’s End of the Rainbow). I hope no-body takes umbrage with my neglecting a mention to Barry Gibb, Keith Urban & Geoffrey Rush for their nominations but considering the first two are really international acts who happen to be from Queensland and the latter was nominated for a show that wasn’t performed here I didn’t really group them in with the Queensland theatre scene.

 

Cameron Woodhead over at The Age has written an interesting opinion piece on the state of the Helpmann Awards in general.

 

“Like the Oscars or the Tonies, the Helpmanns are decided by a broad college of industry voters. Unlike Hollywood’s top gongs, where the nominated films can be watched by voters at leisure, or Broadway’s, where most of the nominated shows appear in a single city, the Helpmanns aim to cover live performance across an entire continent.”

 

 

Whilst I agree the very concept of a continent spanning theatre awards would appear to be a daunting task, the two examples he offers up for contrast are themselves plagued by their own critics. Eligibility for the Tonies is restricted to roughly 40 key theatres in Manhattan and every year the same cries of the Oscars selection being comprised primarily of old, white men is raised. Regardless, Woodhead’s criticism of the Helpmann Awards is certainly food for thought.

 

At this point I should point out that it was also announced last night that Destination NSW will be further sponsoring the event by contributing over the next twelve months to a travel fund for judges to fly interstate to view work they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see. (Are you paying attention Tourism and Events Queensland?)

 

Do the Matilda awards make this whole issue null and void? Queensland theatre has it’s own night of recognition to celebrate the success and achievement of the local industry. Although I do imagine the thought of beating out a Blanchett or a Rush would be a terribly validating experience.

 

Yes the awards are Sydney and Melbourne centric, but let’s be realistic, that’s where the bulk of Australia’s professional theatre is being produced and performed. Is Queensland still playing catch up to its southern sister cities (sigh)? Or is this an issue of a judging panel that isn’t having the chance to see the great new work that’s coming out of this city? I’d love to hear your comments below.

 

The awards will be broadcast by FOXTEL live and exclusive on Monday July 29 at 8:30pm EST on Arena. Hosted by Eddie Perfect and Christie Whelan Browne at the Sydney Opera House.

 

 

22
Nov
12

A Chorus Line…the revival replica

A Chorus Line

 

A Chorus Line 

TML Enterprises 

QPAC Lyric Theatre

16th November – 2nd December 2012

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

“A classic Broadway musical for a new generation.”

…but just what is it telling them?

 

For a “timeless musical” (certainly one of the most loved movie musicals of all time), this one sure feels dated. And long. No interval, kids. As the lights came up at the end of the show on opening night in Brisbane, all I could do was sit and think, “Wow. Wow. WOW. THAT’S IT?! WHAT WAS THAT?!” I was in shock! That was the finale? That was the show I grew up singing and dancing to in the living room? That was the song (Nothing) that I sang as my contrasting monologue at auditions for tertiary studies? That was the girl (Cassie) too good for the chorus line? Okay. It’s fair to say that you might have loved this production. In fact, you probs did. It’s probs just me. Is it just me? I know Caroline Hutchinson was there on opening night; perhaps it should be a Mix FM segment after you’ve all seen the show. Because you should see this show. And then let me know what you think.

 

What I think is this: Tim Lawson et al saw the revival production on Broadway and thought we should see it here. But what we are seeing here is not what they saw there. It’s a copy and it’s lost its heart and soul somewhere between New York City and here. Did no one take on the responsibility of breathing new life into Michael Bennett’s original work? Instead of a fresh and vibrant new version, we get a vague, half-arsed homage to a vision that, for a whole new generation is questionable, and to the older ones, those more familiar with it, almost laughable.

 

A Chorus Line is a show about dancers, about heart and soul and blood and guts and sweat and tears. You don’t do it without investing a substantial amount of self. Like any show, you give it your all…and then a little bit more. The last time we saw A Chorus Line was on the Sunshine Coast and the heart and soul that went into that production came across very clearly. Choreographer and Producer, Paul Attow, staged a production in 2004 in Nambour  (I know, right?), something he’d always wanted to do. In fact, putting on A Chorus Line meant so much to him that he mortgaged his house to do so. After 2 successful combined theatre companies’ musicals, the stakes were high, and the production was a hit and most of the performances were as “professional” as we’d seen. As an example, let’s consider Brett Klease’s performance, compared to the monochromatic outbursts from this current Zach (Joshua Horner). Now, let’s get one thing straight. We don’t care what else you’ve done. Sure, a long list of Broadway or West End (alright, or reality TV show) credits could indicate immense talent but I say you’re only as good as the guts you’re willing to give in the show you’re in. Unfortunately, it appears that Horner tried to be as least like Michael Douglas as possible (Douglas made the role famous in the 1985 film), and in complete contrast, comes across as harsh, loud and just plain irritable. Klease, on the other hand (currently performing in Caravan at Noosa Arts Theatre), in 2004, was able to show the many colours, tones and textures that make up the complex man who cast and directs the Broadway show for which 17 hopefuls line up. In the line-up is his past love, Cassie.

 

Most of these current performers seem…un-stretched. I feel like they want to go there but there’s been no one to say, with a sparkle in their eyes, “GO THERE! DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT!” Perhaps they did go there in 4 previous cities in Australia, perhaps not. This production has received mixed reviews and I know singers, actors, and dancers, dance teachers and non-performers have all loved it. But I want to go on those massive journeys with the characters, not just watch them from afar. I want to feel the same way I do when I watch the movie, or the doco, Every Little Step. I mean have you SEEN that doco? It’s amazing, about how the show came together originally, after Michael Bennett sat down with a group of dancers and a couple of bottles of wine one night, and recorded everything they had to say about the industry, their lives, their loves and their tough skins. It’s real. On the other hand, I haven’t been this unaffected by the stories in a live show since David Atkins’ odd production of West Side Story.

 

 

Paul (Ross Hannaford) nearly went there, Diana (Karlee Misipeka) nearly went there and then, with the exception of Will Keith as Greg, we watch cardboard cutouts strutting about (Samantha! I mean Sheila! Really?! Others love her.), that didn’t get anywhere near revealing a full personality, despite the fact that this is the show in which to do so. THIS IS THAT SHOW. We should see more than the iconic poses from each character. We should see more than Cassie and Zach shouting at each other downstage. Geez. What was that? IS IT JUST ME?

 

A Chorus Line

 

Luckily, we saw A1 dancing and enjoyed some top voices. (Well, you know if Maggie can’t get “At the Ballet…” you might as well get up and leave but Nadia Komazec underplayed Maggie beautifully, belted that top note and made that number). Look, some of them were maybe thinking, “God, I hope I get it!” on opening night rather than actually getting it. Apparently there were no previews in Brisbane? Perhaps that would have solved the sound issue for the Lyric Theatre (Paul White, we miss the bigger, bolder, brassier sound from Marvin Hamlisch’s score! Is it a System Sound Associates thing? I heard similar comments about the sound for Carmen. In fact, the best sound I’ve heard in the Lyric Theatre in a while was at Rock of Ages.). God, I hope they’ve learned from that.

 

The problem is not what will the audience like (well, clearly that’s a challenge for the investors, promoters and venues), but will this be the pinnacle of Australian musical theatre at this time? What does excellent currently look like, sound like? This? Really? Just this? And there’s the problem. As far as aspiring musical theatre performers (and their teachers) in Australia can ascertain, the current touring production of A Chorus Line is what excellent looks like, sounds like.

 

The quality of a production ultimately lies with the director and while Baayork Lee is my favourite Connie, and while she has remained faithful to the original production’s look and choreography (as noted, the choreography is executed by all with aplomb), I just don’t think that beyond the dance, she’s done all that she can with it. On the other hand, perhaps she has and, ultimately, that’s the problem with this little revival replica.

 

 

19
Nov
12

CIRCA

 

Circa

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

13th – 24th November 2012

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

In the circus we don’t need words to communicate. Instead we have the most magnificent expressive vehicle of all – the human body.

Yaron Lifschitz

 

 

The Helpmann Award winning Circa is in Brisbane for a short season and if you can get along to see it, in this crazy busy time of office parties, formals, ballet concerts, other Helpmann Award winning productions currently vying for your attention, and pre-Christmas drinks, you’ll admire the skill and enjoy the show.

 

Without a plot, props or any sort of set, Circa puts on the floor in front of us what they do best. And that’s circus. It doesn’t try to be anything else. It doesn’t need to. It’s enough – the individual and collective skill, and the bodies trembling with effort – it’s raw and it’s authentic, in the original sense of the word and not in the thousand-dollar-a-day-seminar kinda way.

 

CIRCA

 

The tone of the show is distinctly Australian and it feels like we could be just as easily standing around with beers at a barbeque in somebody’s backyard, egging each other on to try newer and harder tricks. “G’arn! Do it on yer head!” In fact, I’ve been to that barbeque! And so have you! It’s outrageous fun and has the audience in giggles from the outset, when a performer’s body suddenly appears, as if flung into the lit space from offstage. Other performers are not far behind and we soon get a sense of freedom, abandon and true blue Aussie larrikinism in the comical actions that follow.  Key to this is the lighting design, which provides changing spotlights, and later, fluidly moving shadows and bubbles of light, in which the bulk of the action takes place. It’s cheeky, friendly and funny. The performers are uniformly excellent and in this beginning is the essence of their production; it’s that abandon and bright, carefree Australian attitude. The daredevil display, an astonishing physical feat, followed by a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a grin, as if to say, “Yeah. I can do that. What of it?”

 

CIRCA

 

The inspiration could easily have been the re-discovery of a selection of basic acting exercises, which are familiar to those of us with any experience in a high school drama class – teachers, tertiary students and actors will attest – it’s lovely work, building on the basics; leading body parts, balances and counter balances, and meeting actors in the space. And a wonderful relaxed calm pervades, despite the daring of each feat. Sometimes you wish a show were more polished, precise and perfectly performed but in this, the mighty effort, the trembling and the vocal effects add to the overall charm of a show that doesn’t claim to be anything more than what you see and feel in the space. I’m happy to report that, as Director, Yaron Lifschitz aimed to do; the courage, openness and humanity of these performers find a way into the audience’s hearts.

 

CIRCA

 

Not without its more sombre moments, Circa manages to affect us with an intriguingly French soundtrack, baffling my husband, who wanted desperately to hear something less specific (no, not Australian). In complete contrast, I love the French aspect; it adds a sophisticated air and a sort of momentary sadness – a yearning – that somehow, for me anyway, circus has always had. Listening to a certain U2 song right through Year 10 may have something to do with that. The rope act is particularly poignant because of the mood the music creates. And then of course we up the anti again when we hear Cohen singing I Came So Far For BeautyI just love that song (I ruined a cassette tape back in the day, listening over and over and over again to Jennifer Warnes’ version from her album Famous Blue Raincoat), and at this point I glance over and notice Sam seems to have forgotten his gripes about any of the music. I’m glad to add another shared song to the mix tape of our lives!

 

Poppy says of Circa, “It was awesome! There was lots of excitement! Sometimes you wouldn’t usually see a girl picking up a boy. But I thought she would be strong enough because she’s in the circus. The ropes and the hula hoops were very funny.” Poppy is not an atypical audience member; she’s well versed in circus speak and she’s not as easy to please as you might think, having seen multiple Cirque du Soleil shows. She talked about the bodies moving through the light and the comedy right through our beautiful dinner at bucci after the show.

 

Queensland audiences are developing quite a taste for circus and the more discerning types will have already seen Circa. Actors, directors and choreographers too must have noticed the distinct dance theatre style continuing to develop with shows like Circa’s (yes, you know dance theatre; it’s what we used to call “physical theatre” and you’ve seen it executed exceptionally well in productions such as Stockholm and Tender Napalm at La Boite). It’s fascinating to see this sense of theatre and dance merging, all the while developing within a circus framework as well as a theatrical one. It’s such a delicious thing. I can’t wait to see more of it!

 

If you haven’t yet had a taste of Circa, you’re in for a real treat.

 

“Circa is like a meal. Full of ingredients and flavours you know but in combinations that are utterly new and often disconcerting.”

Yaron Lifschitz

 

 

CIRCA