Posts Tagged ‘Naomi Price

30
May
17

Lady Beatle

 

Lady Beatle

La Boite Theatre Company & The Little Red Company

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

May 25 – June 3 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

John Lennon

We used to sing a song to Poppy when she was little.

Ladybug, ladybug, landed on my stinky toe….. It was so funny; we would giggle and sing bits of it intermittently for days at a time. It still makes me smile (and if we’re honest, we still sing it from time to time).

Did you even know that lady beetles don’t see colour? They see only grey. Perhaps I knew this once, or I should have known it, since my dad is an entomologist and no doubt has told me this and many other fascinating insect facts, but I think I’d forgotten. I’ve never forgotten rowdy closing night parties and random days and nights throughout my childhood, singing The Beatles’ songs at the tops of our voices. There are things that contribute far more than other things to the grown ups we become, and if The Beatles were part of your childhood or adolescent soundtrack too, you probably turned out alright. Poppy, now eleven, agrees that The Beatles are timeless, for every generation, “even if not ALL of my friends have a favourite Beatles’ song.” Poppy’s favourite Beatles’ song is, appropriately, Here Comes The Sun. If you know Poppy, you know how perfect that is.

I’ve been thinking about Lady Beetle Syndrome a lot. A major aspect of our Master of Professional Practice Performing Arts is psychology and self care, and the way in which we, as artists, look after ourselves and support each other. And just as the lady beetles don’t see their own bold beauty, despite our strengths and reflective practice, we often fail to recognise in ourselves the things that appear obvious to everyone else.

 

This sensational show, the third and final in The Little Red Company’s trilogy of pop culture cabaret productions starring Naomi Price (following the hugely successful Wrecking Ball & Rumour Has It), depended largely upon La Boite’s recognition of the company’s previous success and their faith in the creation of new product, even before the creators knew what it would look like. With only the title to start the process, La Boite held space, gifting the luxury of time to the artists, who were able to immerse themselves in a truly collaborative development period in between the demands of touring, managing to keep Rumour Has It on the road while writing and rehearsing Lady Beatle. I don’t think any of our artists strive to be owned by a venue, but La Boite’s Todd MacDonald, like QPAC’s John Kotzas, and our other industry leaders (at Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and Metro Arts), has certainly provided the vital support that makes it less stressful and more enjoyable to be an artist, or a company of artists, creating new work in Australia. Sam Strong was right to insist we begin to recognise that we are, indeed, leading from Queensland in so many ways.

Premiering on the 50th Anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this production is the ultimate deep and meaningful feel-good show, with a guaranteed touring life ahead of it. It goes to Adelaide and Noosa next, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t see it back in town in September for Brisbane Festival. Imagine, in the Spiegeltent! But like Rumour Has It, when it moved to more spacious venues, this show is bound to take on a different vibe, and I do love the intimacy of this first version, using cabaret seating in The Roundhouse, and allowing us to feel as if the stories are special secrets shared between Lady Beatle and her closest friends, i.e. anyone who loves The Beatles as much as she does.

Co-creators, Naomi Price and Adam Brunes, just about perfected contemporary cabaret with the many incarnations of Rumour Has It, but this time they’ve made the experience more personal. Rather than taking on multiple roles or an iconic role, Price is a complex, compelling, mysterious woman from Liverpool who loves The Beatles. She loves them more than anything else in the world. She was there at the Cavern in 1962 for their first ever performance, and recalls watching them running, with nothing to lose, towards the light at the end of a dark tunnel, and into a crowd of hundreds of screaming fans. No fear. Just running towards it all. In the music and personalities of the lads she finds her escape and inspiration, and a way back to a world in which she thought she’d never belong.

With The Beatles in it, the woman’s grey world becomes kaleidoscopic and full of promise.

A rousing, crowd pleasing Yellow Submarine sounds just the way we thought it might (and yes, we sing along), but new musical arrangements allow for a raw, sweet, pure Penny Lane and a dark, sombre, somehow sadder than ever Eleanor Rigby. Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, The Camerata, play Andrew Johnson’s original string arrangement (recorded, mixed and mastered by Geoff McGahan). In true sharing culture style, The Little Red Company has made this stunning track available to download for FREE. The Lonely Hearts Club Band comprises four lads who are easily among our country’s best musicians; we’ve seen the proof of it in previous productions. They are Jason McGregor, Andrew Johnson, Michael Manikus and Mik Easterman. They scrub up well, in suits by Leigh Buchanan. Price wears knee highs and a mod woollen coat dress to start and a sparkling classic red pants suit to finish; very Elle Macpherson/Goldie Hawn/Celine Dion, and both outfits are just right with her black bobbed hair. Jamie Taylor’s sound design and engineering is first class, and Jason Glenwright’s tubular lighting is both practical and magical, retaining the focus on the singer and the songs.

Although I actually want to see Price singing it, it’s fitting that a rendition of Blackbird comes literally out of the dark. Let It Be wraps a proper rock medley, and it’s an ear worm of inspiration and comfort, a reminder of the present moment, to continue to “hurry slowly” through life from the place of stillness and self-love that’s easy enough to find in our quieter moments, but so difficult to carry with us as we go into our busy days and nights.

Lady Beatle is mostly upbeat, but it has some beautifully charged and reflective moments, and while it’s a tribute, with its focus firmly on the life affirming, world changing music of The Beatles, we’re invited to go deeper to consider everything that’s precious in our lives right now. Price is in fine voice; she can twist and shout and whisper and croon and rock! The ultimate entertainer, she opens (and closes) the show with a bang, settling into a friendly, intimate tone from the outset, simply inviting us to join her on a trip down memory lane, into a world of tangerine trees, marmalade skies, and strawberry fields forever. It’s a brilliant concept, a massively appealing and entertaining show, superbly delivered. We’re left with a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to come.

When the band plays and the voice soars, and the entire sold-out opening night crowd sings along, you know you’re at one of the best new shows of the decade. You know you’ll get to see it again.

 

16
Jan
17

Rumour Has It

Rumour Has It

The Little Red Company

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

January 13 – 14 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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If you were around a few years ago, you might recall a random little cabaret space above a Swedish restaurant in Albion named Stockholm Syndrome. Sadly, the venue disappeared, but The Little Red Company’s Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele has continued to evolve since its short stint there, in front of sixty people per night during Queensland Cabaret Festival, leaping from stage to stage, and reaching a loyal band of followers as well as bringing brand new audiences to Cabaret, and to the world of sassy superstar singer-songwriter, Adele.

Created by Adam Brunes and Naomi Price on a patio one night over a bottle of gin, as all the best works are, the multi-award winning Rumour Has It was immediately a brilliant and poignant, hilarious and highly entertaining show. Each reincarnation has proved hugely satisfying and in its current form, the most impressive yet, Rumour Has It is more sophisticated and more memorable than ever. It’s ready to tour the world…but first, a national tour, beginning with the highly anticipated three-shows-only season at THE HOUSE OF POWER.

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For the first time, by popular demand, Little Red offered an all-ages version of Rumour Has It. Based on the success of their recent sell-out season in Kuala Lumpur – no (swearing) and thank you please, Madam – giving the youth a chance to see for themselves what all the fuss is about, however; it wasn’t the show Poppy and I wanted to see. My ten-going-on-thirty-year-old had patiently waited for her father to give up his +1 status and accepted there’d be a fuckload of swearing on Friday night, which was “in the context of the show”.

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In role as Adele, frocked up again in Leigh Buchanan’s sensational original designs (and delightedly, barefoot before the final number), Price shares delicious home truths about growing up in Tottenham, surviving/thriving after break-ups and gives us her cheeky, self-satisfied account of her meteoric rise to fame. The story segments, political references and razor sharp responses to audience input are fast, fresh and funny. Price is more adept in front of a live audience than most, the old patter landing as squarely as when we first heard it in 2012 and the new material testament to the bold wit of this writing duo, who have wisely updated the set list too, to include Adele’s latest hits. Hello is a stirring finish before the final encore, and the Adele Megamix 3000 created especially to give credit to the amazing musicians and vocalists with whom Price shares the stage.

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For the first time, the Camerata, Brisbane’s chamber orchestra, are featured throughout, adding depth to a Spice Girls medley (who would’ve thought!?), and rich layers to Adele’s catalogue of songs. The original string arrangements by Andrew Johnson are most notable after Interval (Sound by Jamie Taylor), taking Skyfall into the stratosphere while silver confetti rains down onto the stage. At the other end of the spectrum, during the acoustic Daydreamer, we’re not so much surrounded by bubbles (visually spectacular in a previous season), as witness to a gentle reminder that this is a show so good it insists on returning to us time and time again despite the challenges faced by Australian artists generally, i.e. coming up with dollars for special effects and spaces…

The band, comprising Michael Manikus (keys), Jason McGregor (guitar), Scotty French (bass) and Mik Easterman (drums) is the slickest, and if you’ve supported the artists by taking home a CD of the show, recorded live at the Judith Wright Centre, you’ll also hear Brett Fowler on keys and Andrew Johnson on bass as well as Tom Oliver singing vocals (he’s currently touring in Velvet). On vocals this time, the incomparable Luke Kennedy returns to join sensational husband and wife team, Lai Utovou and Rachel Everett-Jones. Until you’ve seen this trio perform, you ain’t seen or heard backing vocals. They’re dynamic and disciplined, and they each shine, Price rightly giving them a moment in the spotlight before the night is over. (Previously, we’ve seen them in brighter light from the start and I’d love to see more of them again next time, rather than straining to see them against the black tabs. The same can be said of Manikus, disappearing at times into the shadows on the opposite side of the stage). I’ve always adored Jason Glenwright’s design featuring vintage lampshades and in THE HOUSE OF POWER the warm, glowing effect is not lost. Even in this spacious venue, we feel warmth and intimacy (and splintering pain during Someone Like You), and the genuine affection Price feels for her Brisbane audience, even those from Woodridge…

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The sound is heavenly (largely due to Price bravely investing as much of her personal story in the songs as her reading of Adele’s; it’s there in the intimacy and connection she creates with her audience with a superb voice, stronger than ever, and a great big open heart). Not to be discounted or taken for granted, it’s incredibly rare to get the same level of energy and commitment at the same time from such a large number of performers on stage (it’s what’s often missing from so many sold-out smash-hit mega musicals and why we come away from them satisfied but without minds blown), but this company radiates joy; it’s impossible to leave the show feeling anything less than rapture. Really. (Let’s add to the Little Red Must Write List, a Blondie show).

Rumour Has It has come of age; it’s the best it’s ever been. With all the pieces in place, this Rumour Has It is ready for Royal Albert Hall. Naomi Price is as good as Adele – better, because she’s ours – and this production is surely the country’s most accomplished showcase of the sort of humble, sensational Australian talent that’s consistently wowing overseas presenters and punters. And all this from a little Queensland company that could.

This is not the end. Rumour Has It is coming to a venue near you

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29
May
16

The Tragedy of King Richard III

 

The Tragedy of King Richard III

La Boite Theatre Company

La Boite Roundhouse

May 21 – June 11 2016

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

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History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.

– Napoleon Bonaparte

After a questionable start to the 2016 season, La Boite triumphs with The Tragedy of King Richard III – affectionately referred to here as Dick3 – the most intriguing, challenging and satisfying theatrical event of the year so far. An exhumation, a thorough examination by brilliant minds, Queensland Premier Drama Award winners, Marcel Dorney and Daniel Evans, this production not only brings together two of the country’s best writers, but gathers together on stage and off, a truly formidable team of creatives.

Undoubtedly our most fearless director, Evans is able to find compassion in raging fury and irreverent fun in serious ethical and political discourse, creating a new form of theatre; a new style of conversation that challenges and rewards deeply, actors and audiences.

This is the sort of show we expect to see come to us direct from an acclaimed season overseas, and perhaps premiere at Brisbane Festival (September brings Snow Whitethis Shakespeare, and a whole lot more to the table). It’s the sort of show that makes us question everything we thought we knew about theatre and history, and the way we continue to look at the world. It’s a show that turns you inside out, slams you upside down and spits on you, laughing, before reaching out to help you get to your feet again, asking with genuine concern, “Do you want a Milo?”

It’s lucky/exciting/apt for Queensland that our top two companies are starting to make a habit now of giving wings to slightly more unconventional ideas and the support to help them take flight. This one soars and I won’t be at all surprised if, just as La Boite’s Edward Gant did, Dick3 attracts the attention of some of the nation’s other major players. In fact, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t.

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Dick3 is one of the most designed productions we’ve seen in this space (Designer Kieran Swann, Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright, Composer Guy Webster), utilising the very air that exists between light and rain, and the cold, wet ground, surrounding the raised floor with a black catwalk containing hidden trap doors storing a stash of props and wardrobe pieces inside each space, and having performers take hold of lights for good reason, rather than as a token effort to involve them in the meta layers of the storytelling. 

Because this is certainly not Shakespeare. This is very un-Shakespeare – next level Shakespeare – and it comes with the confident “fuck you” of a generation of genuinely passionate theatre makers who strive for a little more than mediocrity (unlike the next), brilliantly combining box office appeal with original experimental storytelling, questioning far more than they end up divulging and forcing us to reconsider the known “facts” of the history of the world and, in this case, one of the most infamous of Shakespeare’s historical characters. 

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I’m gazing into blue space when Naomi Price appears in front of me, in a Kate Middleton inspired ensemble, with a hand held mic, which she raises to her mouth after pronouncing very loudly and clearly and properly and powerfully and Shakespearingly, “NOW…”  She firmly, politely tells us to turn our mobile phones to Off not Silent and asks that those who insist on leaving their phones on Silent, raise their gadget in the air and admit it. She asks those who didn’t decide – neither switching to Silent or admitting doing so – WHY? There is laughter and we are immediately relaxed and somewhat thrown by this direct address…

Price proceeds to stride around the catwalk and paint a picture that is so vivid, so real, we feel as if we’re in the carpark in Leicester in 2012, standing, shivering, wondering what’s come before us, and looking down upon the reviled bones of King Richard III.

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There is the smell of burning rubber, steam rising, mist swirling, rain falling, blood pooling, blue pouring and splashing and emptying across the stage, the concrete that becomes marble before our eyes, the sponge hump, the gnarled hands, the buckets, the handhelds, the dagger, the sword, the paper crown, the tarp, the blank pages of the book – it could be Harry Potter, an empowering choice for a child actor (he’ll take what he can) – and there is us. Always us, purveyors and interpreters and interlopers; I actually feel unwelcome at times, as if I’m at the wrong dinner party. And this is deliberate, because ultimately, who cares about so much of the history we’re told is true? Is it? If it is, what of it? If we’re sitting there, attempting to intellectualise or justify or reframe in a postmodern context anything that comes from the annuls, it’s shot down in flames and we’re offered an alternate view that suddenly seems more reasonable than our originally held belief. 

Always surprising, this show is the one extra Tequila shot at the end of the night that sees us agreeing with someone we’d presumed would never even make the guest list. Dick3 is an equaliser, a game changer. If the national culture leaned more towards arts than football, this is the match of the season, and could just as easily be seen in a stadium. Imagine that!

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It’s difficult to understand the reluctance to more reasonably support arts and culture. More Australians go to art galleries each year than go to the AFL and NRL combined. The creative industries employ more people than agriculture, construction or even mining, and indeed contribute as much as 75% of the economic benefit of the mining sector…

Let’s talk about STEAM rather than STEM. Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics should all be key parts of our education curriculum. Decades of research shows that artistic engagement nourishes all learning, so if we want an innovative, imaginative and well-rounded nation, let’s have one…

People have a right to arts and culture.

 

David Berthold, AD Brisbane Festival

 

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Price is so powerful in this space, with the vocals and stage presence to knock you flat. She sets the scene and establishes the connection with the audience, which the performers maintain throughout. We connect with each of them. We’re part of this story, part of history. Amy Ingram is a seductive, deliciously wicked delight, and Helen Howard an articulate, elegant, fearsome creature, just as she should be. In Howard’s hands, the act of lifting a chainmail sleeve from a bucket of blood and putting it on, blood dripping down her flesh and soaking into the fabric of her dress, becomes a fine art, pure (horrifying, mesmerising) seduction. Pacharo Mzembe is a prince, giving everything in this performance, which, having now seen so much of NT Live, appears to have come directly from the West End, such is his mastery of voice and movement, particularly in the thrilling fight sequences choreographed by Nigel Poulton (Assistant Fight Director Justin Palazzo-Orr). These are Poulton’s best bloody, sweaty routines to date, executed with ferocious intent by Mzembe and MacDonald. Todd MacDonald commands the space, his return to the stage a triumph in itself. When he’s not fighting or plotting or spilling blood he’s bringing to life a previously unknown version of William Shakespeare – a very funny one – and allowing himself to be directed by the actors who sit, watching critically, in the corners.

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But it’s 14-year old Atticus Robb, in his professional stage debut, who stuns us with a performance that is mature beyond his years, bringing passion and ambition, sincerity and vulnerability to multiple roles, including that of The Actor, Atticus. His is thrilling natural talent, most evident in a Richard III rockstar monologue that steals the show. This kid’s got it.

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The Tragedy of King Richard III is bold and brilliant, death-of-theatre-defying stuff, giving the Australian theatrical landscape permission to change again, to carry on evolving, despite its current challenges.

Without bringing Shakespeare to the stage, Dorney and Evans have brought Shakespeare’s essence and centuries of society’s most deeply held beliefs about ambition and power and connection and the human condition to an audience who thought they’d seen everything. Everything that is, until Dorney and Evans’ astute take on anything at all.

NOW… We’ll see if there are others who can keep up with the exhilarating pace set here.

Production pics by Dylan Evans

 

30
Nov
15

Ladies In Black

 

Ladies In Black

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

November 16 – December 6 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Kate Cole, Christen O,Leary, Naomi Price, Lucy Maunder, Deidre Rubenstein, Carita Farrer Spencer

 

She was fifty-two when The Women In Black was published in 1993 and it is one of her four novels to be set in Australia. It is difficult not to see Madeleine herself in the clever and sensitive young heroine, Lesley Miles, though the well observed lower middle class family background she describes with such affection was certainly not her own, as she grew up in the smart suburb of Castlecrag, on Sydney’s North Shore.

 

The interplay of the saleswomen (who dressed in black in 1960, when the novel is set, just as they do now) is so convincing, so comprehensively realised, that I assumed Madeleine had a holiday job there while a student, but she insisted this was not the case, ‘although I often went shopping there with my mother’.

  

Bruce Beresford – Madeleine and Me (Foreword, The Women In Black)


Deidre Rubenstein, Naomi Price, Kathryn McIntyre, Kate Cole, Sarah Morrison, Christen O'Leary, Lucy Maunder, Carita Farrer Spencer

 

Mum had Madeleine St John’s novella on her Kindle and neglected to mention the fact until a week out from opening night of QTC’s brand new musical based upon the text…a busy week! I read it in tiny snippets between everything else happening and loved it! Without even trying to imagine how the light-hearted look at the women of Sydney’s (imagined) Goodes department store could ever be turned into a musical, I enjoyed St John’s candid writing. When Tim Finn read it, having picked up a copy one day at Brisbane Airport, he was inspired to write a musical.

 

With its catchy tunes, intriguing characters, witty lyrics and fabulous frocks, Ladies In Black is an instant classic.

 

Finn’s score is a satisfyingly contemporary mix of pop, rock, jazz and musical theatre, and the book by Carolyn Burns retains the social political thread and lovely laconic wit of the original text. Simon Phillips’ savvy direction and a stellar cast bring the sweet stories of the ladies to life.

 

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The show opens with an elegant riot of vivid colour and a catchy little tune, I Got It At Goodes, which not only reminds me of another (actual) department store’s jingle but also, for some reason, of Katie in Calamity Jane, singing Keep It Under You Hat. It’s cute, and sets the tone for something not nearly as serious as we might have expected. That’s not to say Finn hasn’t addressed a multitude of national sins, it’s just that it doesn’t delve deeply, darkly into them. Why should it? We’re merely obliged throughout to glance at the inherent misogyny and casual racism of our country and at the very least, asked to question it. With a deft hand, a full heart and a mischievous wink, Finn has neatly interwoven all the issues still relevant today.

 

Kathryn McIntyre, Deidre Rubenstein, Kate Cole, Lucy Maunder

 

Another little ditty, Bastard, is set to become an Australian classic. In the context it comes complete with precision teacup choreography and an ire that seems to have faded with the curtains, leaving a sort of 1950s secret women’s business resignation (and plenty of eye rolls) in its place. The audience is in fits of laughter. What a beauty!

 

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I Just Kissed A Continental is a favourite on opening night too, and one of the show’s highlights; a gorgeous, giggle inducing ensemble number that showcases the delectable voice and style of Naomi Price.

 

If you’ve seen her before you know she’s a standout and it’s this role that reaffirms what Brisbane has known for some time now – she’s a shining star with a very bright future. Price positively glows, and despite the number of amazing women on stage my eyes are drawn to her. She’s completely bewitching.

 

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Kate Cole has a similar magical presence on stage, relishing the role of the Buyer, Miss Cartridge, her uber confidence and staunch support of the sisterhood at once formidable and awe-inspiring. I can see now the basis for the rave reviews and Green Room nom for her performance in Grounded (Red Stitch) and I wish I’d seen it too.

 

Carita Farrar Spencer succeeds in making memorable and very moving, the most unrewarding role in the show. Lesley’s Lisa’s mother is a quiet champion of women’s rights, or at least of her daughter’s rights if not her own, and so beautifully and delicately captures the qualities of every ordinary housewife and mother of the fifties, I feel it’s her story that could be afforded more time and care. Think Pleasantville…or the quieter moments of Mad Men. The tone is exactly right. Let’s see more of her story in future developments.

 

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Christen O’Leary is Magda, the Slovene who cares for the Model Gowns of Goodes and the women who can afford to take the best dresses out on the town. She’s the uptown Rizzo of the “reffos”, with snazzy style and the sassy attitude to match. She’s intimidating until you get to know her (few are bold enough to do so), and in the most efficiently fairytale godmotherly way, she takes Lisa under her wing to groom her for the real world. O’Leary brings the gowns to life, endowing them with individual personalities as she introduces them to us by name. They become characters themselves and we grow so fond of “Lisette” – the gown that Lisa has her eye on – that, surprisingly, the stakes are raised sufficiently to set up a truly happy ending.

 

As far as the story goes, it really is Lisa’s show though, and Sarah Morrison, in her QTC debut, is glorious as she grows up and into the perfect cocktail frock to conquer the world AND remain the apple of her daddy’s eye.

 

The men play pivotal roles, each responsible for filling in some of the gaps, because has there ever been a shop girl who tells the whole truth to the friends on the floor? Certainly not Patty, whose husband takes off for a little while to leave her to “cope” Lucy Maunder brings grace and gorgeousness to this simpering role. As her husband, Andrew Broadbent enjoys as much as the audience does, an extended moment in the mens’ room, lamenting and singing whilst pissing, as you do.

 

Greg Stone is the delightful foil to O’Leary’s Magda. They have some wonderful moments together, their easy humour and teamwork refreshing. Bobby Fox is Fay’s swoon worthy “sweet Hungarian”, Rudi, perfectly fitting the bill as the intelligent, bold as brass newcomer to the country, on the hunt for an Australian wife. Fox is a dancer and doesn’t miss an opportunity to step nimbly through a couple of outstanding musical numbers.

 

Under MD Isaac Heyward, playing orchestrations by Guy Simpson, the band is present on stage and could perhaps become a more integral part of the mirrored pillared design, which is beautifully, stylishly conceived by Gabriela Tylesova (also responsible for the frocks, with Costume Superviser, Nathalie Ryner), and lit elegantly by David Walters, as opposed to simply sitting upstage, out of the way. This makes perfect sense only for the party scene, which consists of the company providing silhouettes behind a scrim as O’Leary delivers the monologue from the original text, greeting and observing her guests in a civilised flurry of hostess-with-the-mostess excitement and charm. I have to admit, I had expected a big song and dance number at this point!

 

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The fabulous frocks, the detailed score, the beautifully drawn characters and witty scenes, even the funny forced rhymes support a charming tale, insightfully, carefully shaped by Director, Simon Phillips. Set to become part of the lexicon, this is a show that genuinely delights and entertains. See this talented cast bring to life Tim Finn’s Ladies In Black in Brisbane before December 6 and in Melbourne in January 2016.

 

10
Oct
15

Rumour Has It

 

Rumour Has It

Queensland Theatre Company

& the little red company

Bille Brown Studio

October 7 – 17 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Slicker and funnier and more affecting than ever, the little red company’s Rumour Has It returns to Brisbane, this time as a (DIVA) highlight in QTC’s 2015 program.

 

It feels different in the Bille Brown Studio, with a bank of tiered seating behind a section of cabaret tables – the first time we’ve seen this set up here – and it’s not quite as intimate as earlier versions, staged at Stockholm Syndrome, berardo’s restaurant & bar and also at Slide Sydney and Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel. Oh, and an unforgettable performance at the Matilda Awards in 2012! Ironically, the most intimate atmosphere was created in April 2013 in a much larger space at the Judith Wright Centre. (Let’s not forget that it was largely due to Lewis Jones’ support at the Judy that this show continued to grow).

 

I guess you never forget your first (few), but this latest version sees the show and its star in their best shape so far. It’s inspired programming for something mostly unseen by the state theatre company’s outgoing Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch. Price tells me she remembers performing for 850 people, a 25-minute version of the show (for QUT’s 25th Anniversary Gala in 2014) in a room so big that some of the guests thought she actually was Adele. This was Enoch’s only experience of the production. Luckily, Rumour Has It has proven to be a sure bet wherever it goes. Are you listening, Las Vegas???

 

I’m certain there’s a Celine show waiting to happen…

More gin, anyone?

 

Nobody but the indomitable Naomi Price could bring us such an authentic, dynamic performance as someone else whilst retaining so much of herself in the show. It’s convincingly Adele but it’s completely Price, and there are very few performers we can count in that particular talent pool. I’m thinking of Catherine Alcorn (The Divine Miss Bette, Go Your Own Way), Christie Whelan Browne (Britney Spears the Cabaret), and Elise McCann (Everybody Loves Lucy). Price has the uncanny ability to read an audience early, set and change the mood as if at the flick of a switch and keep us captivated with her charm, her wicked sense of humour and sheer vocal power. And she can sell a story.

 

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This version of the show (120 mins + interval), updated to reflect the current political climate and Jessie J’s take on the merits of “artists” v “entertainers”, comes dangerously close for half a moment to getting uncomfortably…personal. (Don’t worry, our favourite mimicry of Celine Dion and Amy Winehouse is still in there and again, the patter surrounding each performance is just as good as Price’s impersonations – I hear actual hoots of laughter at this point!). The new addition though – Jessie J making an appearance in Taylor Swift’s place – is absolutely priceless. (If you missed The Voice you might also miss the relevance of this delightful little jab). The impersonation is on point, and bookended by “Adele’s” typical witty wickedness, the final dig landing bang on target, proves once more that we can never underestimate the value of brilliant writing, or of precision timing in terms of its delivery #bangbang #boom

 

Generously acknowledged by Price and rightly so, is her world-class cast of musos and backing vocalists, some of the busiest in the country; together they make a slick, sexy band in a class of their own. They are Jason McGregor (Musical Director & guitars), Michael Manikus (piano), Andrew Johnson (bass), Mik Eastman (drums), Rachael Everett-Jones (vocalist), Tom Oliver (vocalist) and Luke Kennedy (vocalist). With original arrangements by Price, McGregor and Manikus, and vocal arrangements by Price and Kennedy, there’s simply no better sounding company. The creative team is just as impressive: Adam Brunes (writer), Jason Glenwright (lighting designer), Jamie Taylor (production manager & audio engineer and thank goodness, the sound is spot on), and Nathalie Ryner & Leigh Buchanan (costuming). A special mention goes to Dextress Hair’s Rebecca Hubbard, who perfected the wigs for this production.

 

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If everyone involved in this production can keep juggling their creative commitments Rumour Has It – now one of Australia’s most loved original cabarets – might not be local for much longer. With Adele’s third album about to be released, an international stint couldn’t be more perfectly timed… Anyone?

 

If you’ve never seen Naomi Price in “the Adele show”, now’s your chance.

 

Rumour Has It is world class and without a doubt the most entertaining evening of the year. Don’t miss it this time.

 

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Production pics by Dylan Evans Photography

 

 

See more of Naomi Price in QTC’s Ladies in Black

November 14 – December 6 2015

 

Naomi Price joins Andrew Broadbent, Kate Cole, Carita Farrer Spencer, Bobby Fox, Kathryn McIntyre, Lucy Maunder, Sarah Morrison, Christen O’Leary, Deidre Rubenstein and Greg Stone.

Directed by Simon Phillips, the world premiere of Ladies in Black – a magical modern-day fairytale – features original music by Tim Finn.

 

23
Aug
14

Wrecking Ball

 

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Wrecking Ball

Brisbane Powerhouse

Visy Theatre

May 28 – 31 2014

 

Hannah Montana is dead.

 

The postmortem is inconclusive. Natural causes? Or hot-mess murder gone platinum?
Childhood friend Miley returns home to Nashville for the wake. Forget the funeral, it’s the party she’s come for.
In this open letter to you – her pouters and doubters – Miley takes a sledge hammer to Disney dreams, teen idols and tabloid fantasies.

 

This is one eulogy you’ll kill to see.

 

Wrecking Ball hails from the creators of the critically acclaimed Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele and is the ultimate coming of age party, starring Naomi Price.

 

We saw Wrecking Ball at Brisbane Powerhouse in May. This is the new show from brazen creative team, Adam Brunes and Naomi Price; the perfect precursor that night to Rhonda Burchmore’s Vinyl Viagra.

 

Wrecking Ball came at us hard and fast…gently, and left me feeling like I knew Miley – and Naomi – a little better.

 

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Look, I’m no Smiler but I’m a big fan of our super talented friends, so when Adam Brunes and Naomi Price told us after the final Adele show last year that the subject of their next creative process was to be Miley Cyrus I tried to be optimistic. In truth, I was skeptical, and more than a little scared for them. Miley? Really? Was Brisbane ready to twerk? Was there even an hour’s worth of material to Miley’s story? Well of course there was, and there’s more – much more – to this show than the token twerk. It’s quite an unexpected result.

 

In the hands of less intelligent, less compassionate creatives we might suffer through a cheap, crass parody. Instead, we’re treated to deeper insight into the imagined world of Miley, and what we can only imagine might be a very real part of Price’s world.

 

Wrecking Ball somehow avoids delivering an over simplified slut and strut success story, opting instead for a sensitive exploration of what makes Miley tick. And twerk. A rather unorthodox premise establishes that Hannah Montana is dead and we’re all in attendance at her wake in a barn with a band dressed in denim and cowboy boots. Brilliant! And we love the band! (Mik Easterman, Andrew Johnson, Michael Manikus, Jason McGregor and Rachel Everett-Jones. In Rachel’s absence this weekend, Georgie Prestipino will be appearing).

 

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But what actually is it about Naomi Price? Her voice is perfection, her booty is hot, and her allure is electric to say the least, letting us in on a whole new level of energy and sophistication, regardless of the role. And she’s a master of mimicry without losing anything of herself. I’m not sure how she does it. And I don’t think it can be taught. However, what Price offers is a masterclass in what I’ve been hashtagging #neocabaret. No, it’s not the dark, gypsy, gothic Diabolical Streaks style (it doesn’t need to be); it’s a brand new and bold cabaret, which sets its own ground rules and then sets out to break them.

 

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So many moments are suggestive of this intuitive new approach to “cabaret”, its traditional shape, form and feeling, but let’s use just one. Achy Breaky Heart, rather than being the pinnacle comical moment, is presented as the moment of Miley’s father’s heartbreak. We know the opening to the song and I feel the full house collectively cringe, but we feel compassion rather than pity, and we’re struck with sympathy rather than hilarity. It’s a magical moment, a mood changer, and Brunes and Price do it every time. (In Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele it was most noticeable in Daydreamer).

 

This show is an unusual expression of celebrity, challenging us to accept and forgive the quirks rather than judging and condemning them.

 

Wrecking Ball will return, it will tour, and already, in its debut, this show has reinforced Naomi Price’s place at the top of the Australian cabaret tree. At the same time, we’ve found new respect for Miley Cyrus along the way. Hannah Montana not so much.

 

For one night only, catch Naomi Price as Miley Cyrus inWrecking Ball at The Basement, The Arts Centre Gold Coast 8pm TONIGHT!

 

 

18
Oct
13

Women In Voice: 20th Anniversary

 

Women In Voice

Judith Wright Centre, Red Chair & Annie Peterson

Judith Wright Centre

15 – 19 October 2013

 

SEASON SOLD OUT

 

Honouring 20 years of amazing female artists with a stunning array of distinctive voices.

 

The iconic music series Women In Voice comes to the Judith Wright Centre for the very first time! Cabaret, rock, soul, disco and pop will collide for a 20th birthday celebration like no other, featuring Carita Farrer Spencer, Annie Lee, Naomi Price, Alison St Ledger and Jac Stone.

 

Women in Voice is a phenomenon. A courageous concept showcasing talented female vocalists in an upfront, uncomplicated manner, resulting in one of the liveliest, funniest and longest-running series Brisbane has ever produced.

 

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From humble beginnings, Women In Voice has come a long way, but it’s still a bit of a pot luck show, with an emcee who talks more than she sings this time (Alison St Ledger) and a line-up that doesn’t necessarily include your favourite styles of music, songs or singers. What the WIV series continues to do, after 20 years, is to support old and new female vocalists in Brisbane, providing a platform and a loyal following.

 

The epitome of the so-called “WIV Tragic”, St Ledger belts out the big numbers, including the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey’s History Repeating, a lacklustre opening number, which she makes up for in the final emotional number; a stirring tribute to the WIVs we’ve lost – Chrissie Amphlett and Sue Dwyer. Over 20 years there have been 68 WIVs and St Ledger is one of the stalwarts. We’ve also seen Annie Lee – she of The Kransky Sisters – and Carita Farrar Spencer. These two seasoned performers bring their own brands of comedy to the stage and I adore them both. On opening night the audience seemed not quite as enamoured of Lee (she takes a bit of getting used to, like Flacko or The Birdman), but Farrar Spencer brought the house down with her Diva De Janeiro act, a hilarious drunken Diva performance, honed especially for us “Lisbon” folk. Farrar Spencer sure knows how to entertain a crowd! Her style is unique, and her comic timing impeccable.

 

Newbies, Jac Stone and Naomi Price hold their own, with Stone establishing a brand new set of followers the second she appeared on stage (there was an intake of breath near me and all around, whispers of “gorgeous girl!”), and a lovely, mysterious voice; simultaneously simple and age-old. This girl is a faery; an old soul who must have had previous lives in the clubs of Paris and New Orleans.

 

Price offers a different study of herself with an all-male-sung song set, having established herself as Queensland’s Christie Whelan long ago, but lately, with her sell-out Adele show. Jason Robert Brown’s I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You was a treat for JRB fans (I think there were three of us), and John Farnham’s Burn For You is the kind of new classic only Price can create…from out of thin air. This was completely unexpected and just beautiful. Get it on an album, girlfriend, quickly! Price brought an additional level of sophistication to the evening, purely by being the self-assured, super talented performer that she is.

 

I loved Lil Fi’s special guest appearance, complete with ukulele (the woman is just fantastic), but I was sorry there were no other WIV faves included in the line-up, though I spotted a couple more in the audience, among them Kacey Patrick, and I enjoyed the girls’ homage to Patrick’s extraordinary vocal bird calls.

 

The musicians who share the stage with the singers in this series are led by MD Stephen Russell, who is also Pianist, and Jamie Clark (Guitar), John Parker (Percussion) and Helen Russell (Double Bass) – they are superb, suiting every style.

 

Women In Voice: 20th Anniversary is completely sold out but when it comes around again, at least you know to book early and enjoy an eclectic mix of performances, showcasing some of Australia’s best female performers.