Posts Tagged ‘lucy durack


The Wizard of Oz


The Wizard of Oz

John Frost & Suzanne Jones

QPAC Lyric Theatre

November 10 – December 3 2017


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.

– Marilyn Monroe


Andrew Lloyd Webber’s London Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz hits the right glittering rainbow tone for its Australian premiere in Brisbane. L Frank Baum’s beloved story, enjoyed by generations since 1900, is brought back to life in a revel of colour and rich scenery. While it seems remiss to miss making more of the famous field of poppies and the flying monkeys, particularly with such talented aerialists amongst the cast, we’ll remain focused on the otherwise visually arresting aesthetic and enduring appeal of the show!



However, we’ll also just take a moment to note that some of Jon Driscoll’s digital design appears to be used in lieu of  – or in front of – old-school scene changes during blackouts, which others love but by which I’m unconvinced. Without having the same effect as the original film’s black-&-white-to-Technicolor wow moment (remember when you thought the TV must be broken?), it lacks the edgy sophistication to put it at the same level as the rest of the design. The visual impact of both the Emerald City and the witch’s tower for example, reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, is more lasting. Perhaps, like a lot of things Lloyd Webber, it seemed like a good idea at the time and even just a few years later – this version of the show premiered in the West End in 2011 – the projections, including the pre-show scrim design – feel dated. Fortunately, none of these quibbles detract from the overall effect, which is supported by Hugh Vanstone’s cinematic lighting design.



Director and Co-Adapter Jeremy Sams has worked with Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to bring the YES vote boldly to the stage, which in and of itself is nothing new, The Wizard of Oz (1939) having been claimed long ago as a gay fave film, and Judy Garland the global gay community’s kween. The updates are witty and funny and apt. When the Lion (John Xintavelonis) declares, “I’m proud to be a friend of Dorothy,” he earns heartfelt applause from Brisbane’s loud and proud opening night audience. For some reason the Lion has become that camp character, and Xintavelonis gets the balance just right, without us feeling we’re being beaten over the head with a blunt object.



He’s an adorable, loveable Lion and with Alex Rathberger as the tap-dancing Tinman, and Eli Cooper as the vague, scrappy, very funny Scarecrow, these three make the iconic characters their own. The very definition of ensemble, they generously support Samantha Dodemaide in her breakout role. (Yes, you might argue that her breakout role was Kathy Seldon in Singing’ in the Rain but I’d maintain that more people will see and retain a lasting memory of her beautifully realised Dorothy).



Dodemaide is sweet enough and strong enough vocally to make this iconic role her own; she represents all the misunderstood little girls who run away from home and grow up into their big, full, open hearts along the way to their Emerald City. Somewhere Over the Rainbow is sincerely, superbly delivered to us in the most beautifully measured mix, to us and to Toto (this coveted role shared by the most well behaved and affectionate Australian Terriors we’ve ever seen, Trouble and Flick, trained by Luke Hura).


To sell a song that’s been over-sung for decades is a tough gig and Dodemaide, with perfect optimism, nails it.



The indomitable Jemma Rix reprises the green skin and ghastly cackle of Wicked’s Elphie, but this Wicked Witch is the original, and she’s comic book kind of nasty rather than really vulnerable and vengeful, her unforgettable lines delivered with fresh, fun, mischievous energy, and without a spit of sarcasm. In anyone else’s hands this could be the less meatier role and while it’s lacking depth on the page, Rix gives the Witch multiple dimensions and emotions, making her a proper James Bond movie worthy megalomaniac. Her black feathered gown is the fantastic creation of Scenic and Costume Designer, Robert Jones, reminiscent of Maleficent’s high fashion look, and with her conical high hairdo rather than the black peaked witches’ hat of old, this is a savvy and stylish design choice.



And is there a better fit in all the world for a good witch other than our beloved Lucy Durack? She’s as Glinda as Glinda gets, and again, reminiscent of the role in Wicked, Durack is just as sweet, but without being saccharine, and gentler and kinder from the outset. This role too contains less depth on the page and as testament to the skill sets of both these leading ladies, the characters are made just as relatable as their contemporary counterparts.


Also, Durack’s spectacular sparkling gown allows her to enter from above, in full flight, descending like some glorious faery queen, and then the length of skirt, part of the scenery only seconds before, is whipped away to allow her to step into Munchinland. It’s a dazzling effect, but then Durack’s appearance always is.



Anthony Warlow is in top form as both Professor Marvel and The Wizard, bringing us an original wizened man of many tricks, with a genuine attitude of concern and care for Dorothy’s wellbeing (and, eventually, for her friends). Warlow emanates a warmth that makes both Marvel and The Wizard absolutely loveable.



The company includes the Sunshine Coast’s Rachael Ward, which is not the only reason she gets a special mention (although we’ll continue to claim her!), but also because our eyes are drawn to her every time she appears on stage. This is an exceptional ensemble – every performer looking and sounding sharp – so it’s no easy task to be a standout amongst them and yet, the statuesque Ward shines.


John Frost continues to bring the biggest and best looking musical productions to our venues, and I’ll be genuinely surprised if there’s anyone who is left unmoved by The Wizard of Oz this time around, with its updates and upscaled set (obviously, such a sap is in need of a heart). It’s retained a sense of nostalgia and allowed a whole new generation to see the land beyond the rainbow, and the love that – we have to hope – surrounds them at home.



David Harris brings his intimate cabaret Time is a Traveller to Brisbane Powerhouse

Son of a coal-mining dad and a secretary mum, this is the story of an Aussie country kid and what lead him to tread the boards in some of Australia’s biggest musicals.




Following an extended and sold-out season at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre, leading man David Harris, brings his intimate cabaret to Brisbane Powerhouse this Saturday August 9.

(Saturday is David birthday! Remember to wish him Happy Birthday!)


You may know David from productions such as The Pajama Game, Fiddler On The Roof, Breast Wishes, Children of Eden, Boy From Oz, Beauty and the Beast, Wild Party, John & Jen, Little Women, The Full Monty, Thoroughly Modern Millie or Legally Blonde


David Harris & Lucy Durack. Image by Jeff Busby.






Miss Saigon




Gutenberg! – The Musical



Damn Yankees



Into The Woods




Or from a special visit to Matthew Flinders Anglican College




Time is a Traveller weaves together the songs and stories that have helped David shape his career. From growing up in country New South Wales and the embarrassment of his first school musical, to the talent quests in RSL clubs, yodelling in the Swiss alps and the highs and lows of performing his dream role.

David’s latest cabaret is an intimate, personal and candid story of one of Australia’s most acclaimed leading men best known for his Helpmann Award nomination portrayals, of Chris in Miss Saigon, Fiyero inWicked and Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde.

In Brisbane David will be joined by Special Guest Ana Marina

Catch him in this intimate setting before he embarks for the bright lights of New York.



David Harris with Jordi Russell, currently studying at AMDA NYC



Legally Blonde the Musical

Legally Blonde The Musical

Music & Lyrcs by Lawrence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin.
Book by Heather Hach

Ambassador Theatre Group & John Frost

QPAC Lyric Theatre

19th March – 21st April 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Legally Blonde Opening Night

If you’re  following us on Instagram and/or Twitter, you probably had a say in which opening night dress I selected! This was the more elegant of the three, from Sunshine Coast vintage specialists in Mooloolaba Retournez-vous. Thanks girls! Image by Glowbored


“You never have to compromise.” Elle Woods


If I was to tell you you’d care deeply about the plight of a gorgeous blonde 4.0 Delta Nu Porsche-driving president who comes complete with a killer wardrobe and obligatory small dog, you’d …….laugh, right? Heather Hach



Omigod You Guys! Mad props to everybody involved! I LOVED Legally Blonde The Musical! Not only did it deliver on every single promise, it did so in STYLE! The sort of style Elle Woods would be proud of! I admit, I was dubious after the friends and live-tweeters at last week’s previews questioned the show’s saccharine sweetness, but this is largely what I loved on Thursday night; the show is unquestionably sweet!


So Much Better than the movie – sorry Reese but it is – the musical is fun, uplifting and surprisingly powerful in its light delivery of many heartfelt messages, which seem at first to be very thinly veiled, that is, until Elle succeeds in following her heart and ends up in the right place with the right friends and the right man. See? Sweet! Lucy Durack is the ideal Elle (she auditioned for 8 months to prove it to producers!), and without a hint of Glinda – okay, maybe just a hint – Durack is proving to audiences once again what makes her one of the hardest working (with a fractured foot on opening night!), and best loved leading ladies in the Australian musical theatre scene. She’s simply glorious as Elle Woods; full of joy, vulnerability, ambition and optimism, as befits the character, and it’s hard to take our eyes off her.


Blonde_web5_t620Hot on her heels though, are Helen Dallimore, the powerhouse voiced Paulette with perfect comic timing, and Erika Heynatz, the model-turned-television-presenter-turned-triple-threat! As Brooke Wyndham, Heynatz stops the show with Whipped Into Shape, making singing while speed skipping look like child’s play (and yes, I had already promised Poppy, when we watched the (MTV) Broadway footage online, that we’d practice this number together at home. We’re still learning the routine, actually, thanks for asking). Of course, as you would expect (I’m being facetious), there’s a Greek Chorus comprising Elle’s best friends from the Delta Nu sorority, and these are the girls who may need to listen to some of what Elle has to say about true self-confidence.


On opening night there appeared to be a little bit of competition going on. I felt like somebody should tell them, “Don’t sweat it, girls, remember, YOU GOT THE PARTS! FIND YOUR INNER ELLE” and make them sit down at Interval to watch the Rumor Has It episode of Smash, you know, when Karen is taught to FIT IN. I’m sure they’ve settled already.




The boys are no less impressive, with Rob Millsy Mills dripping charm as the apparently perfect boyfriend, Warner, Cameron Daddo oozing that awful, all-too-familiar “I can make you or break you baby so (a-hem) *kiss* me” vibe as the Professor, and David Harris delivering on all accounts as Emmett, to give us our fairytale ending. Not sure why we’re not seeing Harris regularly on Broadway yet but I’m glad he’s here for the moment! Omigod you guys, we should have asked him that! The male ensemble is strong, with its standout in Mike Snell, in his first actual role (as opposed to a succession of nameless ensemble roles, which have brought him this far), who sells his “package” with aplomb. Even with an Austin Powers sorta sight gag in there (really, it’s just a phallic reference but I thought it was time we all enjoyed a bit of Austin again!). Surprisingly, it’s not too much. In fact, as big and shiny as every element is, there is nothing overplayed or over produced to the extent that we question it. What this company, along with the extended creative team, and in particular Andrew Pole (Resident Director), have managed to do, is to stage in the Lyric Theatre, a shiny, glossy, sparkly, saccharine sweet Broadway smash-hit without losing anything of the original, except Laura Bell Bundy et al! (I’m including this link so you can appreciate even more, Lucy Durack, and our Australian daytime television talk shows. JUST SAYIN’ Y’ALL!).


The set is fabulous, the wardrobe is a new season Preppie-inspired fashionista’s dream, and the dogs, omigod you guys, the DOGS! If nothing else, the dogs in this show will steal your heart. You’ll be grinning from ear to ear over the too-cute antics of Bruiser (Sparrow, Quinn & Audrey) and Rufus (Luka & Harris).


Legally Blonde The Musical has so much energy, so much excitement, so much FUN and so much PINK! This production is the perfect example of the new John Frost brand of bread and circuses (we saw it in Mary Poppins); it’s not for the masses with nothing, but for the masses with everything, who demand more, much, MUCH more. Legally Blonde is seriously fun, super slick and shiny; it’s sublime entertainment for everyone.


Ha! You’re bending and snapping now, aren’t you?!




Legally Blonde Stars Share Stage Secrets with Students


Wow, I just haven’t had a chance to put this together for the blog until now, but you might remember that a few weeks ago, I arranged with Cinnamon Watson Publicity for leading Australian musical theatre stars Lucy Durack and David Harris to join Patrice Tipoki on stage, to share their hot tips for aspiring performers, and tales of their own theatrical journeys during a special visit to my favourite Sunshine Coast school (you know Sam was a Foundation Student!), Matthew Flinders Anglican College in Buderim. I’m lucky enough to be invited to teach there sometimes so it was the obvious thing! Of course I couldn’t have the students missing out on such a fabulous opportunity! Also, I didn’t want to miss the chance of quickly capturing some pics with these guys on the day. They are always so busy on opening nights and I don’t do the Stage Door Thing anymore either. So even though I think I look generally EXHAUSTED this year (it could be the longer, darker hair. It could also be the lack of restorative sleep), I seized the day and stopped for those shots, along with the most eager students! Thanks to Tully Grimley and Mr Quirk, we now have the pics to prove it…




So it was on an ordinary Monday afternoon, before Year 8 Drama, that I facilitated a Question and Answer session with the stars, which we realised was as valuable to staff as it was to the students so all were made welcome, and even Mr Price managed to pop in! You might have seen the Channel 7 news story, or caught the feature in the Sunshine Coast Daily.


Patrice, a former Flinders student and Music Scholar, was delighted to catch up with her good friends Lucy and David, who are starring in Legally Blonde the Musical, which opens in Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre on Thursday.


Lucy will play leading lady Elle Woods made famous by Hollywood actress Reece Witherspoon, and David will play heart-throb Emmett.



The leads of this year’s Flinders musical, Guys and Dolls, joined other students in the hour-long Q&A session with the theatre stars, hosted in the College’s Performance Centre.


Questions included how the stars discovered their passion for the theatre and tips to help their performances.


While Lucy and Patrice studied together at WAAPA (Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts), David unsuccessfully auditioned for both WAAPA and NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art), but then scored a role in The Boy from Oz.


“If one door closes then go knock on another one,” David told his young audience.



David said he first found himself on the stage back in Year 8 when no-one would try out for the school musical.


Drama was just a hobby and he always thought he would become an architect. But after spending just two days at university, David decided that he was destined for a career on stage.


Lucy said when she was at school she did not have such an amazing facility to use as the Performance Centre, however, she found inspiration in her passionate drama and music teachers.


“I was heart-broken when the school musical was over every year,” Lucy said.


Like David, Lucy started a university degree (appropriately, for the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde it was Law), but after a semester she was “miserable” and headed back to the theatre.



Lucy, who auditioned for eight months to get the role in Legally Blonde, said some of the best advice she could give to aspiring actors was to learn their lines – “then you can focus on everything else that is going on around you”.


David encouraged the students to find their “spice”. “We all have our individual spice flavour – know what your spice is and use it,” David said.


Patrice, who was one of the youngest to be invited into WAAPA at just 16, encouraged the students to enjoy all the experiences on offer while at school.


Patrice, who graduated from Flinders in 2000, was raised in a musical family and has been performing all her life. Her credits include starring as Nala in The Lion King, We Will Rock You touring Australia and Japan and most recently in the hit musical, Wicked. Patrice has moved back to the Sunshine Coast where she lives with her husband and two young daughters.


Both Patrice and David said their next big dream roles would be from Les Miserables, while Lucy is working on a project and would love to star in that when it is produced.







This article was published originally on

Thanks to Debbie Southern


OMG YOU GUYS! Legally Blonde opens in Brisbane this week!

Legally Blonde



The worldwide smash hit musical



Thursday night at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre …



If you didn’t get tickets in your Christmas stocking, you’d better get them NOW!



Preview performances continue on Tuesday 12 March and Wednesday 13 March.

Tickets to the preview performances are only $69.90

Legally BlondeElle Woods can handle anything.  So when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her for someone ‘serious’ she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School and win him back.

With some help from new-found friends Paulette, Emmett and her Chihuahua, Bruiser, she learns that it’s so much better to be smart.

The all-star Australian cast includes LUCY DURACK (Wicked) as Elle Woods, ROB MILLS (Wicked, Young Talent Time) as Warner, DAVID HARRIS (The Boy From Oz, Miss Saigon) as Emmett, HELEN DALLIMORE (Into the Woods – UK) as Paulette, ERIKA HEYNATZ (Australia’s Next Top Model) as Brooke Wyndham and CAMERON DADDO (Beaconsfield, Packed to the Rafters) as Professor Callahan.

Nominated for seven Tony Awards® and ten Drama Desk Awards in its first year on Broadway, and having won seven major theatre awards in London, including the Olivier Award for Best Musical, LEGALLY BLONDE is an international sensation.

LEGALLY BLONDE is a joyful, uplifting, inspirational musical that guarantees a great night at the theatre. Welcome to the sorority!