Posts Tagged ‘john frost

14
Jul
16

We Will Rock You

 

We Will Rock You

John Frost

In Association With Queen Theatrical Productions, Phil McIntyre Entertainment

& Tribeca Theatrical Productions

QPAC Lyric Theatre

July 10 – August 20 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

wewillrockyou_erinclare_garethkeegan

Both on and back stage the Australian musical theatre community is quite simply second to none…

Ben Elton

wewillrockyou_PhotobyJeffBusby_R-683x1024

We Will Rock You isn’t just a title, it’s a promise.

The time is the future, in a place that was once called Earth. Globalisation is complete.

We Will Rock You has strong Australian roots. Some of the book was written in Fremantle and some of the enduring memories of the show for many in this country at least, are the characters created by Amanda Harrison (Oz) and Michael Falzon (Galileo) in the original Australian production. Prior to its first season here though, the show ran for 12 years in London and continues, somewhat inexplicably, to tour internationally. To the consternation of many critics, audiences love Ben Elton’s Queen musical!

The global obsession with this show can’t be attributed to its wafer thin book or its sparse set, which – for this tour at least – comprises Grease style bleachers, and a massive screen beneath a rock concert lighting rig. The lighting at least is impressive.

Jaz-Flowers-Thern-Reynolds-Erin-Clare-Gareth-Keegan-WE-WILL-ROCK-YOU-Jeff-Busby

The stars of this show are few but they are big, bold technicolor characters; larger than life and unforgettable. I love Erin Clare (Scaramouche) and Jaz Flowers (Oz) – we saw them both in Heathers – and MD David Skelton’s musicians: a 12-piece hard-core rock band that hangs out on the mezzanine and successfully bring Queen’s songs to life. Strangely, Don’t Stop Me Now is omitted…can anyone explain that?   

Jaz Flowers, with her powerhouse vocals and fierce energy effortlessly steals the show. When Flowers is on stage I can’t take my eyes off her. She is well matched in energy by Thern Reynolds, as the amusingly misnamed Britney Spears.

As the sassy Scaramouche Erin Clare shines. Is she not the most exciting next big thing?She’s gorgeous in this gutsy role and doesn’t shy away from the character’s rebellious nature; in fact, she relishes it. She even brings some sweetness and light to Somebody to Love and You’re My Best Friend (added to this reincarnation of the show) without losing the full extent of her vocal power or a tough chick exterior. Gareth Keegan appears to put a slightly gentler spin than expected on Galileo, The Dreamer, but it works well enough and together the pair creates some super cute romantic moments, whilst maintaining the sense of rebellion the show demands. It’s this real rockstar energy that drives the show and to their credit, it never feels as if the company is trying too hard.

wewillrockyou_ensemble_PhotobyJeffBusby_R-1024x655

It’s a strong ensemble, young and cute; they’re our rising stars, but they don’t get much to work with here. They must wonder what-the-what they’re doing from time to time, surrounding Killer Queen (a killer thriller Casey Donovan) with Simply Irresistible attitudes and hot pink feather dusters in hand and who knows where else, but at least they’re committed.

wewillrockyou_caseydonovan_PhotobyJeffBusby_R-1024x683

Brian Mannix has little to do in Act 1 but comes into his own after Interval with some of the show’s best one-liners. Perfectly cast, he has as much fun as we do. And that’s key to the success of this show. We Will Rock You is about disregarding everything manipulative and oppressive in our world, and finding the fun and irreverence in every moment. It’s a little reminder to keep our hold over technology, our independence from industry, religion and state, and hearts pumping with our favourite ancient smash hit rock song lyrics.

Featuring some of the best real rock music of all time, with its mass appeal spanning multiple generations, We Will Rock You is a bold, proud crowd pleaser.

 

wewillrockyou

 

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. 

 

AGJeff-Busby_2189_R-1024x683

 

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.

 

AGJeff-Busby_3373_R-984x1024

 

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.

 

AGJeff-Busby_2506_R-1024x683

 

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?!

 

AGJeff-Busby_1356_R-683x1024

 

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.

 

AGJeff-Busby_1291_R-683x1024

 

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

 

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

 

05
Jun
15

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage

 

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage

John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCallum & Joye Entertainment

in association with Lionsgate & Magic Hour Productions

QPAC Lyric Theatre

May 28 – July 19 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

kirbyburgess_kurtphelan_theaustralian

 

 

If you haven’t heard anything around the traps like, “WELL THE LAST TIME I SAW DIRTY DANCING…” or “I THINK I PREFERRED THE ORIGINAL BECAUSE…” you’ll love this production. It’s the scaled back touring version but look; all over the world there are people who haven’t eaten today. So how much you gonna’ complain? We’ve been seeing more and more mega musical theatre and dance productions stop by Brisbane (this one’s unashamedly a dance production), largely due to the concerted efforts of John Frost and those who would follow in his footsteps, and this is certainly not the worst of them, although it could be much, much better.

 

 

Kirby-Burgess-Baby-and-Kurt-Phelan-Johnny-c-Jeff-Busby-682x1024

 

 

It’s literally “the classic story on stage”, the famous movie brought to life, and people LOVE IT!

 

 

I enjoyed this Dirty Dancing, I really did, it’s lots of fun, but there are some things that miss the mark. Firstly, there is the obvious casting issue of Kurt Phelan as Johnny Castle, the sexy Kellerman’s dance instructor. Phelan’s a terrific dancer and he’s got a cool Kenickie style swagger, but Patrick Swayze he is not. Every other character has been created in the likeness of their movie counterpart and for the best effect, this approach should be consistent.

 

 

Kirby Burgess, the shining light of this show, presents a beautifully measured genuinely naïve Baby-who-becomes-a-woman; she’s possibly been asked to channel Jennifer Grey on stage (whilst retaining her own vibe, the mark of a natural performer), whereas Phelan must have been advised to forget Swayze’s portrayal and make the role his own. This he does and it only vaguely works, despite his prowess as a dancer. There’s nowhere near the same level of charisma, nor the depth of emotion in his interactions with Baby. BUT I CAN SEE THE YOUNGER PUNTERS ADORE HIM.

 

 

 

 

Some of the best moments from these two? The steamy end of Act 1 is as sexy as this show gets AND IT’S HOT – you’ll def want another daiquiri during Interval – and this is where we finally see a connection between our two leads. ABOUT TIME. We LOVE Baby’s secret solo dance practice in the Wipeout montage (even Rocky had a montage), and the gorgeous Love Is Strange “lover boy” scene in which the pitiful son of the owner of Kellermans, Neil (Gabriel Brown, either too young for the role or he’s playing it too young), interrupts Baby and Johnny in the studio. Burgess steals the scene with her parody of the parody of Johnny’s teaching style.

 

 

Secondly, the pace is super fast and sometimes the short scenes are so slickly delivered and abruptly finished that I feel we’re being cheated. Yes! Cheated! I want everybody to SLOW DOWN and indulge in some of the major moments, so that we can indulge in those moments – there are so many wonderful moments – and relive our delight and surprise of seeing the film for the first (or seven hundredth time)! It’s like watching the movie trailer but not the movie, and I feel there should be more…everything; more songs, more scenes, and more detail in order to fully develop the story because the story, as it’s told on stage, is lacking. Apparently, there is 40% more new material! But I want smooth transitions too.

 

 

And I’ll tell you something else. You’ll laugh out loud. Because I hadn’t read the reviews from Sydney and Melbourne (ain’t nobody got time for that!), I DIDN’T REALISE IT WASN’T A MUSICAL. I KNOW. I’M AN IDIOT. OF COURSE IT’S A DANCE SHOW. DIRTY DANCING. RIGHT? RIGHT.

 

 

Dirty-Dancing-by-Jeff-Busby

 

 

I was genuinely surprised when none of the leading characters broke into song!

 

I know my sharp intake of breath was heard (because I got a raised eyebrow from a woman nearby like, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!”) when Johnny didn’t even start singing She’s Like the Wind, the track Swayze wrote and recorded for the soundtrack of Grandview, USA (when it wasn’t used for Jamie Lee Curtis’s character, Swayze pitched it to the Dirty Dancing team). WHAT THE? I’m truly disappointed that the show’s creators thought this unnecessary.

 

GUYS. LISTEN. WRITE THE SCENES. WRITE THE ADDITIONAL SONGS. LET THE LEADS SING THE SONGS. IT’S NECESSARY.

 

kirbyburgess_markvincent

 

I love Mark Vincent as Billy, who gets to sing a bit and does so beautifully. In the Still of the Night is a highlight and it’s a shame that a number of little moments involving him are glossed over because as a “non-actor” (I don’t know why we say that about singers, or let them say it about themselves. I take it back!), he brings a natural warmth to the stage, and we need more of it. I enjoy Eric Rasmussen’s musical numbers and you know I LOVE seeing the band on stage, and in this case I’m thinking that with such a slick outfit available it’s even more ridiculous to deny the other artists the vocal lines in the songs.

 

 

BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT I THINK. THE SHOW WILL SELL OUT.

 

 

It’s clear on opening night that the audience is comprised of many serious fans that know the film inside out and back to front. They pre-empt each iconic scene and all the classic lines.

 

 

keep-calm-and-carry-a-watermelon-45

 

 

My German homestay student, Nici, is one of the more obsessive ones. She joined us in January to attend one of the local high schools. The first film we all watched together at home was Dirty Dancing. SHE LOVES THE MOVIE AND LOVES THIS PRODUCTION. SO I BOUGHT HER THE SHIRT AND PROBS SHOULD HAVE ASKED HER TO WRITE THE REVIEW.

 

 

While I was at another opening night on the company’s night off this week she messaged me to let me know

 

 

BABY IS IN THE HOUSE!

 

 

kirbyburgess_legends

 

keep-calm-cause-nobody-puts-baby-in-a-corner

 

 

HA! OBSESSED.

 

 

Maddie-Peat-Kurt-Phelan_www.fabulous-femme.comcopyright--1024x682

 

The ensemble is excellent and full of energy. There doesn’t appear to be many of them on stage but they clearly relish their roles and given any opportunity to do so, dance up a storm. Adam Murphy is a stand out as Baby’s daddy, Dr Jake Houseman, because JUST LIKE THE MOVIE ONLY YOUNGER. AND MORE SUAVE, IN THAT OLD FASHIONED MISOGYNISTIC MUST-CHANGE-FOR-THE-SAKE-OF-MY-WIFE-AND-DAUGHTERS SORTA’ WAY. Chris Ostrenski is a suitably shallow, callous, gorgeous Robbie and Teagan Wouters OWNS the role of Baby’s sister, Lisa, although you’ll have to decide to love or loathe her carefully produced speaking voice. Maddie Peat is not my ideal Penny but I had expected any Penny to gradually let us get closer and closer as she breaks and begins to heal again, and not just high-kick her way through the show. Penny’s got a hell of an arc; hers is the toughest sub-plot to pull off and I just wasn’t convinced. BUT LEGS! YES! SHE’S GOT ’EM!

 

Now here’s a weird one. While most of the design elements work surprisingly well, the iconic let’s-get-outta-here field and lake scenes projected across a scrim really DON’T (are they supposed to? Really? Is it a joke?), AND there is a strange amused/bemused ripple of laughter as the splash of the sound effects are added. I think it feels, by this stage of the show, that we’ve accepted the questionable creative choices, shrugged them off and decided WHAT OF IT. IT’S STILL GOOD. This comes after a LOT of cheesy mime, which is well executed but IT’S WEIRD. WHERE’S THE CAR?

 

one-does-not-simply-do-the-dirty-dancing-lift

 

When it comes to the final scene and THE LIFT the crowd goes crazy and I decide WHATEVS. GET THOSE BUMS ON SEATS. What a great show to see and for its duration, not have a care in the world. How lucky are we?

 

 

There’s not a lot of deeper meaning here. Every opportunity to bring us the story we love in a new light is missed. (I’m not sure why we get a racial tolerance lesson towards the end either; we know when and within what context the story takes place, but perhaps it’s just as well, considering the timing of ABSINTHE opening across the bridge in King George Square, currently enjoying a similarly deliriously happy customer base despite its appalling spoken content… We shall overcome? Shall we? Really? Does anyone tell the truth anymore about what they’re seeing?

 

 

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage seems to be a simple case of GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT WE TELL THEM THEY WANT. And clearly, what we want is a frozen watermelon & rum daiquiri (it was delicious), a glittery merch shirt (I wore it to school yesterday), and an energetic, shiny show overflowing with nostalgic nods to its source material, reaffirming where we are as a nation in terms of popular entertainment. And where are we?

 

STUCK ON REPLAY, HAVING THE TIME OF OUR LIVES. AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. IS THERE?

 

dirtydancing1

 

 

18
Feb
15

Wicked

 

Wicked

Wicked Aust LLC & Gordon Frost Organisation

QPAC Lyric Theatre

February 15 – April 19 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Wicked_15_event

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, Wicked is back! The New York Times hailed it as “the defining musical of the decade” and once again, it’s not hard to see why. A new spectacular production comes to Brisbane for an exclusive season.

 

 

 AND LOOK WHAT ELSE! #howexcitement #wickedlottery

 

 

wickedlottery_press

 

If you’ve never seen the phenomenon that is Wicked you’re in for a treat! This latest touring production is spectacular in every aspect, and boasts some new cast members who each add their own nuances to the songs and scenes so familiar to so many of us. Oh yes! If this is not your first visit to Oz, don’t hesitate to book again; there are plenty of new magical moments to be savoured. As I’ve told skeptical friends and family members since opening night in Brisbane on Sunday, unless you actually dislike the book and the score, this production of Wicked is well worth the price of your Lyric Theatre ticket and it might just be your favourite version yet.

 

Based on Joe Mantello’s original Broadway Production Direction, Lisa Leguillou’s staging doesn’t appear to be any different (musical staging is by Wayne Cilento), but what I’m impressed with is the calibre of this company in her hands. There is no autopilot here, despite the involvement of some performers in this show since 2008. How does one DO THAT? (We have three-week seasons on the Sunshine Coast!). It’s not easy to make each performance appear as if it’s the first time the story is being told. I spoke to our last Aussie Wicked director, Kris Stewart, and he ‘reckons he must have seen more than 300 performances whilst working on it! Obviously, it’s vital to get the casting right, and he admitted it was a joy to see this cast and this production fresh and new, after taking a step away from the show.

 

Let’s talk about this cast. I love them. Like, LOVE THEM.

 

Suzie-Mathers-as-Glinda-in-WICKED-c-Maye-Wong

 

 

To challenge even the die-hard Durack fans, Wicked welcomes back the sensational Suzie Mathers (an original Australian cast member in 2008). Mathers graciously reclaims the role, offering a little less physical comedy at this stage, and a little more (operatic) vocal strength than you may have gotten used to in the last six years. Her sassy take on Glinda (The Witch Previously Known As Galinda) means she is every bit Elphaba’s perfect foil, and like any popular schoolgirl desiring even just a little bit to shake hands with the devil, we see very clearly her inner conflict as she struggles to find a way to have it all.

 

 

jemmarix

 

Jemma Rix IS Elphaba, and if you’re not completely enraptured by this woman on stage (and off; she’s just gorgeous to speak to), you must be on drugs. Or dead already. I know, I know, you can never forget your first, but Rix is the best we’ve seen here yet. Why? Because there is not an instant on stage when she is not fully living and breathing this role. It’s exhilarating and thrillifying to see and hear her in action. Much is made the world over of Elphie’s vocal tricks and riffs, but Rix keeps it simple; it’s strong and superior. Loathing and The Wizard And I gives us our first delicious taste of the talent that has seen her in this role since understudying it in 2008. And those big belts, Defying Gravity and No Good Deed, seal the deal. Would you like to know her tips and tricks for keeping in good voice? So would I! #staytuned

 

 

 

 

 

Fiyero_PhotobyJeffBusby

 

 

Now, look, we’ve seen a couple of awesome Fiyeros. I love David Harris (his connection with Rix was palpable, probably the most passionate Australian pairing) and I love Rob Millsy Mills (I can’t wait to see him a little closer to home…a-hem. Details soon). Like these two, Steve Danielson brings his own gorgeous spring and step, and vibrant, cheeky energy to the role. He reminds me of Stephen Mahy (who is back in April as Brad in The Rocky Horror Show, but sorry Brisvegas fans, you’re gonna’ have to join the party in Sydney or Melbourne to catch THAT fine performance!). Like Millsy, who took a little while to be happy being Millsy being Fiyero, Danielson now needs to settle and trust and BRING IT!

 

 

madamemorrible

Maggie Kirkpatrick does her thing even better than before, as Madame Morrible. I love her subtext, and she is believably regal and enviable and finally, completely detestable. And what a joy it is to welcome once again, a wizard who can sing the role. Simon Gallaher is perfectly cast (props to Frosty for that inspired call), and for that we say – no, we sing – thank goodness! Although rather more rotund than your parents might remember him being in the early years at QPAC, kids, Gallaher is light enough on his feet and delights us with his song. He is truly The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and because he is so lovely in the beginning we feel for Elphie more than ever in the chaotic winged monkey moment of his betrayal. And, it’s true, he also earns our sympathy in the end because Gallaher brings a certain poignancy, which I’m not sure we’ve seen before. Poppy loves this revelation this time (I think, at the age of five in 2011, she might have missed it!).

 

 

 

 

wicked_simongallaher

 

 

 

nessarose_jeffbusby

 

 

Emily Cascarino (Nessarose) and Edward Grey (Boq) are sweet and suddenly strong (and ultimately tragic) in their sub-stories, and the ensemble is top notch. Transitions between scenes and songs are seamless; this show is a well-oiled machine after all!

 

 

boq_edwardgrey

 

 

Wicked has one of the best books in contemporary musical theatre (Book by Winnie Holzman, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel, with Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz), despite some anomalies. I’m with Poppy, who says, “It’s so clever, the way The Wizard of Oz weaves through it and we actually SEE Dorothy, with her two plaits and her bucket of water in the shadows to melt the witch…” (And then, “Poor Elphie. Does Glinda ever find out her friend is not dead? They should tell her. Someone should tell her. And tell her DAD!”).

 

 

The last time Poppy experienced Wicked she remembers that the dragon, the winged monkeys, and the shadow segment featuring Dorothy frightened her. “But not this time, because I saw the monkeys moving to their places. They were hiding but we could see them in the set. They were pre-set.” John Frost has always said this is a show for 8 to 80 year olds and he’s right. For younger audience members the themes are a little challenging.

 

 

The superb look and sound of the show is thanks to a plum creative team, with costumes by Susan Hilferty, wigs and hair by Tom Watson (Tom, while you’re in town, please stop by our two major theatre companies and help them with their hair. Just some phone numbers will do. Thanks ever so.), lighting by Kenneth Posner, sound by Tony Meola, and musical direction by David Young. AND THAT’S NOT ALL. So fork out for the glossy souvenir program y’all, and read about the amazing people behind the scenes who make the amazing people on stage look and sound their best!

 

 

wicked_trailer

 

I don’t believe you can ever be disappointed by this show. Unless you’re my dad and you simply don’t like the book or the score. I KNOW. WHAT EVEN… AM I THE DAUGHTER OF A GYPSY PEDDLER?

 

This Wicked is my fave so far. A polished, pitch-perfect show, it’s no wonder Wicked remains so popular worldwide. It’s highly sophisticated (and hummable!) contemporary musical entertainment for the masses, and it will make your heart sing all the way home and your spirit soar for years to come. You’ll be changed for good.

 

Images by Jeff Busby

 

23
Apr
14

The King and I

 

The King and I

Opera Australia & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

April 19 – June 1 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

EVEN THE SOUVENIR PROGRAM IS LAVISH!

 

I’m not kidding. If you’re ever going to spend $159.90 on a theatre ticket (and another twenty bucks on a program), make it this time, for this show. Whatever you come away thinking about the issues of race and subservience, etc, etc, etc; if you’ve gone in expecting to be entertained you will be entertained! Director, Christopher Renshaw, and a lovely, big, full-scale musical theatre/opera budget have made sure of that.

 

The King and I. Image by Brian Geach.

 

Moments after I posted a pic of the proscenium and the immense red panels on stage, four Buddhist monks entered the Lyric Theatre, carrying incense. Not long after taking our seats we’d picked up on the evocative scent and the soothing sounds of meditation bells (Poppy downloaded a similar sounding app for my iPhone). I love this multi-sensory live theatre experience – we did the same for audiences in an empty surf shop in Mooloolaba when we staged the return season of Erotique, only it was Twenty8 Romance & Intimacy essential oil blend burning in diffusers we’d placed throughout the space – the scent is more important than you might think, adding an extra dimension to the challenging task of transporting us to another time and place.

 

The time is the 1800s and the place is Siam, the name given by foreigners to Thailand before 1939.

 

It feels like a street I walked down in Yogyakarta (though the prominent scent then was durian!), or the opening moments of Miss Saigon, all exotic, chaotic street, market and bar business. “One of us will be Miss Saigon.” Oh. Right. (I’m surprised the budget didn’t stretch to a live snake actually, aren’t you?)… And out of the noise and the mist of the harbour enters Lisa McCune, to a smattering of applause; she’s the uncertain but certainly bold Miss Anna, English schoolteacher. With her is a young boy, Riley Brooker, as her son, Louis. (The role is shared between Brooker, and Bailey Kelleher). They are very English, very proper, and they very precisely sing the first of many favourite Rodgers & Hammerstein’s songs, I Whistle a Happy Tune. Flanked by enormous red elephants beneath the proscenium, we know that the palace of the King of Siam will be breathtaking and now we’re as excited and as nervous as they are; we can’t wait to see it (and to meet the King)! When the bejewelled panels slide out magically to reveal a multidimensional panelled set of immense proportions, there are audible gasps from the audience – I think one of them is mine – because this is the most gorgeous, lavish set we’ve seen in an age, and it’s a rare pleasure (Set Design Brian Thomson). At Interval I hear, “Oh, it’s very opera.” That’s fitting, considering this is another collaboration, after the success of South Pacific, with Opera Australia. I’m sure there must be a third in pre-pre-pre-production discussion stages – the chemistry between McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, whether real or imagined y’all, is too good to let go of just yet. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

 

Also “very opera” is Jenny Liu in the role of Tuptim, the young girl sent to the King as a gift from Burma. Liu traverses lightly between opera and musical theatre in a beautifully measured performance, perfectly matched by star on the rise, Adrian Li Donni as Lun Tha. Their moments together are delightful and tears may well as the music swells during their first act duet We Kiss in a Shadow and second act duet I Have Dreamed. But it’s Shu-Cheen Yu (Lady Thiang) who almost steals the show when she sings fervently to Anna Something Wonderful. (Singers, go ye and see her sing this because, singers, this is why we sing). Under the expert musical direction of Peter Casey, this orchestra is ideal; rich and sumptuous.

 

The King and I. Image by Brian Geach.

 

I say she almost steals the show because despite the fine performances of everybody else in this production – including that of Teddy Tahu Rhodes, which is as solid a performance as we need in this role, as the spoilt, sexist, too-slow-to-evolve King of Siam – this is McCune’s show. A strong adult ensemble, which delivers The Small House of Uncle Thomas just as we love to see it done, with reverence and tradition and terror and sadness and joy (Choreographer Susan Kikuchi), and a cute children’s chorus can’t compete with McCune; not with her smile or her on stage style, which is helped immensely in this production, it’s true, by Roger Kirk’s multi award winning designs. There must be at least six costume changes for McCune (I lost count!), and each gown is superb. My favourites – the boudoir robe (Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You?) and the ball gown (Shall We Dance?) – are exquisite. And it’s during the exuberant Shall We Dance that Teddy Tahu Rhodes successfully navigates the masses of fabric and literally sweeps McCune off her feet! For half a moment her eyes widen in surprise at the shock of a higher-and-faster-than-must-have-happened-during-rehearsals lift or twirl or swirl or something. But it doesn’t matter, in fact, for those who catch it, the expression adds to the thrill of the dance and when the King announces, “Again!” we want to experience it again too. It’s actually a travesty that there is no reprise and repeat of that polka. We have enjoyed, however, a reprise of Hello, Young Lovers; it’s the gentlest show stopper ever and it takes my breath away in an entirely different way.

 

I should mention that the young boy who plays the eldest son and heir to the throne does an almighty job in this lovely little role and really shines by the end of the night, as he psyches himself into being King. Incidentally, unlike at the conclusion of the movie, I don’t shed a tear when his father the King dies. He’s set so far back! I feel bad for not feeling sadder but then, suddenly, before we’ve had time to actually finish even exhaling, the media is ready to capture an Australian premiere standing ovation in Brisbane, and the brightest white light from a television camera makes me feel like all the emotion of the show is wasted! As long as the media gets their shot! A cheap shot!

 

I should also mention that I still feel it’s a crap ending. Isn’t it? So sad, so thinly veiled with hope for the new world order. I mean, for the King to decide to fade away that way? What even is that!? GET UP! Let’s face it, the production is pure escapism and it’s why we love the old shows. Well, there’s still something terribly irksome about aspects of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Carousel, Oklahoma and Show Boat but (The dancing! The songs!) …there is also something glorious and heartwarming in a good old fashioned, glittering romance. Sam disagrees. Sort of.

 

The King and I. Image by Brain Geach.

 

“It’s entertainment Viagra. Is there a place for it? Yes, there is. But telling a Rodgers and Hammerstein story in such a lavish way in 2014 is important for reasons you’re not even thinking about. Is it important because the story is important? No, it’s outdated and irrelevant, like South Pacific was. But it’s nice and I applaud Frosty for being bold enough to roll out two old girls in a row and make them work.”

 

“So you think there should be more of it?” I’m hopeful. Sometimes I just love an entertaining show, you know? And this one is entertaining AND good! Also, this conversation should not end in a fight. It’s late, it’s a school night, and I’ve got to get a move on and write the column too, and you know how long it takes to add links and images here (the big images are back! Hooray!), plus I was going to make real breakfast before school, after yoga and meditation and my morning pages… C’mon! Get to the point, Sam.

 

“I don’t think there should be more of it; I think there should be less of it, but if it’s going to be done, let it be done by John Frost. It hasn’t even had new life breathed into it, has it? It’s just a new, good, fun take on a much-loved show with a great, golden set. They’ve just done it the way it should be done. The remnants of the baby boomers are being tapped – the oldies want the oldies and they want them done with that girl from Blue Heelers.”

 

I’m appalled. I retort, “She looks twenty-two and she sings like a bird!” Wait. Did he just call me old?

 

“You loved it and you should. It’s beautiful, colourful, it cost a lot of money and it let you get away for a couple of hours. Good. It’s all good. I’m going to bed.” Clearly, this conversation is unfinished.

 

The King and I. Image by Brain Geach.

 

Meanwhile, Poppy has appeared to check whether or not I’ve finished Our Review Of The King and I because she has to go to bed too. “It’s a school night, Mum.” She has something to add: “I loved it, it was beautiful. I love the movie but it’s sad. I loved how there was gold glitter that rained down on us at the end! It was awesome.”

 

And there you have it; as good a reason as any to go see this beautiful, lavish, ravishing, dazzling, all-the-superlatives production. #outofthemouthsofbabes

 

15
Apr
14

The King and I previews in Brisbane Tonight!

“The most ravishing show you may ever see…”

 

How excitement! Are you one of the lucky ones? Are you seeing it first?

 

lisamccuneandteddytahurhodes

 

The King and I presented by Opera Australia and John Frost opens as a glittering national premiere at QPAC on Saturday 19 April 2014 and previews tonight! If you didn’t secure seats already, you still have a chance to see this sumptuous production…

 

Final tickets have been released for the Australian premiere season of the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece, The King and I which will play for strictly limited seven week season in QPAC’s Lyric Theatre until Sunday 1 June 2014.

 

Australia’s favourite leading lady and four-time Gold Logie winner Lisa McCune plays English governess Anna Leonowens opposite internationally acclaimed baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the King in the Brisbane and Sydney seasons, hot from their success performing together in the national tour of South Pacific, also presented by Opera Australia and John Frost.

 

In the roles of British Diplomat Sir Edward Ramsey and Captain Orton is John Adam (The School For Wives) while The Kralahome is played by Marty Rhone (The King and I – West End, Godspell). Lady Thiang will be played by Chinese-born Australian opera singer Shu-Cheen Yu (The King and I – 1991 Australian tour) and in the roles of the Burmese young lovers Lun Tha and Tuptim are Adrian Li Donni and Jenny Liu.

 

The ensemble performers are Bianca Baykara, Novy Bereber, Iggy Cabral, William Centurion, Leo Cornelius, Jade Coutts, Teresa Duddy, Vivien Emsworth, Elle Evangelista, Carolyn Ferrie, Chris Fung, Kiana Gallop-Angeles, Erin James, Ella Jarman, Patrick Jeremy, Leah Lim, Anna Magrath, Seann Matthew Moore, Matthew Nguyen, Alexis Pedraza-Sampang, Hayanah Pickering, Marcus Rivera, Michelle Rozario, Ariya Sawadivong, Victor Siharath, Nicholas Sopelario and Yong Ying Woo.

 

The Brisbane production also stars 27 Queensland children aged 5 to 13, many making their stage debut in The King and I.

 

The principal role of Prince Chululongkorn will be shared by Timothy Ho and Sebastian Li, and principal role of Louis Leonowens will be shared by Riley Brooker and Bailey Kelleher. Jayden McGinlay will understudy the roles of both Louis and Prince Chululongkorn.

 

The 22 children who will play the young princes and princesses of Siam are Hannah Bahr,   Leilani Joy Burke-Court, Mia Byrne, Katitlin Cheung, Lucy Chin, Oliver Chin, Izellah Connelly, Chloe De Los Santos, Rocco Frediani, Jai Godbold, Jessica Kim, Kai Koinuma, Chloe Liew, Cameron McDonald, Lachlan McDonald, Siaa Panapa, Rhetta Pulou, Charlotte Rubendra, Jayden Siemon, Laila Mia Steele, Zayden Stevens and Shivani Whala.

 

lisamcuneandkids

 

The King and I was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth musical together and is considered one of the jewels in their crown. It was based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, which took its inspiration from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a British governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam (now Thailand) in the early 1860s.

 

The beautiful score includes the songs “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Getting to Know You”, “Shall We Dance?” and “Hello, Young Lovers”.

 

A hit on Broadway in 1951, where it starred Gertrude Lawrence (who died during the season) and Yul Brynner, the show ran for three years before touring. The first London production opened in 1953, enjoying similar success. In 1956 it became a famous film starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner who won an Academy Award for his performance.

 

John Frost’s now legendary Australian production premiered at the Adelaide Festival Theatre in 1991. Directed by West End director Christopher Renshaw and starring Hayley Mills as Anna, it played to sell out houses around the country. In 1996, the production went on to win four Tony Awards on Broadway: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical (Donna Murphy), Best Scenic Design (Brian Thomson) and Best Costume Design (Roger Kirk). The Broadway season was followed by a US tour. In 2000, the production opened at the London Palladium with Elaine Paige as Anna where it played for nearly two years before embarking on a UK tour.

 

Christopher Renshaw has returned to Australia to revive the production, with its stunning Thai-inspired set design by Brian Thomson, sumptuous costumes by Roger Kirk, lighting by Nigel Levings, sound design by Michael Waters and musical direction by Peter Casey. Susan Kikuchi has recreated the original Jerome Robbins choreography as well as the choreography of her mother Yuriko who appeared in the 1951 Broadway production and the 1956 film.