Posts Tagged ‘premiere


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?




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.




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.




Craig McLachlan to do the Time Warp Again!



Last night at the opening night of GREASE at QPAC we knew Frosty was keeping us in the dark for just a few more hours before revealing who would play Frank N Furter in the return season (AGAIN!) of The Rocky Horror Show. He acknowledged Brisbane audiences and media for our support, our warmth and enthusiasm, noting that there is just no better place in Australia to open a show.



Producers Howard Panter and John Frost today announced that the coveted role of Frank N Furter in the new Australian production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show will be played by television and theatre star Craig McLachlan. The much loved iconic musical will open in January 2014 at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane followed by seasons at the Crown Theatre, Perth in February, and the Festival Theatre, Adelaide in March.


Fresh from shooting the title role in the second series of ABC TV’s top rating drama series The Doctor Blake Mysteries, McLachlan will again don the fishnet stockings of the character he played to great acclaim previously. Remaining cast members will be announced shortly.


“There is no one who can play the character of Frank N Furter like Craig McLachlan,”


said John Frost and Howard Panter. “Craig oozes that risqué charm that an actor playing Frank needs, as well as bucket loads of sex appeal. He captivated all of us in the audition room and we instantly knew Craig had to play Frank in our new production of The Rocky Horror Show. Audiences are going to love doing the Time Warp with Craig again.”


The Rocky Horror Show is a true classic and one of theatre’s most endearing and outrageously fun shows. It opened at London’s Royal Court Theatre on June 19, 1973, quickly developing a cult following, and was adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has the longest-running release in film history. This iconic brand holds a unique place in theatre history, a show which has defied the decades and continued to grow in popularity. In 2010 the music of Rocky Horror was showcased in the smash hit TV show Glee, seen by over 20 million people world wide.  Rocky Horroreven has its own postage stamp.


Millions of people all over the world have and continue to see  productions of The Rocky Horror Showand sung along to classics like Sweet Transvestite, Dammit Janet, I Can Make You A Man, Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, Over At The Frankenstein Place and of course The Time Warp.


Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show has not been seen in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide for 15 years. Tickets go on sale on Monday September 2. If you have voyeuristic intentions, you know what to do – buy a ticket for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity before madness takes its toll.


Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane


Season:                       From 10 January 2014

Price:                            From $59.90*

Bookings:          or phone 136 246


Save with Groups of 8 or more (07) 3840 7466

VIP, Premium Tickets & Packages visit SHOWBIZ.COM.AU or 1300 4 SHOWS



Songs For a New World: Sunshine Coast Premiere Tonight


Songs For a New World opens at The Lind Tonight!


How excitement! The Tipokis have teamed up, synched calendars and produced Jason Robert Brown’s Songs For a New World for the Sunshine Coast! Actually, I suspect it’s for a national tour, but we’re happy here being the outta’ town try-out audience. I hope it will go everywhere so you get to experience it too!


The show opens tonight at The Lind in Nambour, and Sam and I will see it tomorrow night.


In the meantime, I’ve been reading what Scott Miller had to say about the show.


One of the characters in Songs for a New World says “I don’t want to philosophize. I just want to tell a story.” And that line describes Songs for a New World perfectly; in fact, it tells a whole collection of stories. It’s not a book musical – there is no over-arching plot and no consistent characters throughout the evening. In its construction, it owes much toJacques Brel is Alive and Well and living in Paris and the theatre experiments of the 1960s. It’s a collection of independent scene-songs but it’s also more than that. In a 1998 review in St. Louis’ Riverfront Times, Mike Isaacson wrote, “Songs for a New World is that very rare beast: an abstract musical. There is no specific location other than the natural ambiguity of the human heart and mind.” And yet it has a very strong sense of unity about it. Even though many of these songs were actually written for other projects over the span of several years, this show feels like it was planned as a unified whole from the beginning.


It accomplishes this mainly because every song in the show is essentially about the same thing: those moments in life when everything seems perfect and then suddenly disaster strikes, in the form of the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, imprisonment, even suicide. But it’s even more about surviving those moments. It’s about the way we regroup and figure out how to survive in a new set of circumstances – a new world – even against seemingly overwhelming odds. These are songs about that new world, a world in which the definitions of family, distance, money, technology, the very nature of human contact is changing every day, a world in which the rules don’t apply as often as they do, a world in which the solutions our parents found don’t work for us, and a world in which today’s answers probably won’t apply tomorrow. For someone who has lost his job or lost a spouse, our everyday world becomes just as frightening, just as dangerous, just as uncharted as the New World was to Columbus.


The other thing that lends unity to this show is composer Jason Robert Brown’s musical habits. There are a handful of rhythmic, melodic, and accompaniment patterns that he obviously likes and that he uses frequently throughout the show. And because he wrote the opening number last, most of these patterns are gathered together in the opening to provide a nice musical framework for the evening. Also, the melody and sometimes the lyric of the opening are used throughout the show as transition pieces and even occasionally show up within other songs.


This is one of my fave songs from the show. I can’t wait to hear all of these incredible songs performed live by this awesome cast!





And how did the show come to be? Mr Miller can tell us.


Composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown came to New York City at age twenty, determined to write Broadway musicals. Because he had no contacts or connections, he decided to do a cabaret show of songs he had written for various past projects. He had the good fortune to run into Daisy Prince, daughter of the legendary Broadway director/producer Hal Prince, at a piano bar where Brown was working. Out of the blue, Brown asked Daisy Prince to direct this show he was putting together, having no idea if she had ever directed anything before in her life. She agreed immediately. They worked on the material for three years but still had no opening number and no clear idea what the show was about. As they discarded existing songs, Brown wrote new ones. Finally it hit him. In his own words,


“It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.”


They did a workshop of the show in Toronto, and then it was brought to the WPA Theatre in New York where it played a limited run of twenty-eight performances. The score was recorded in 1996 by RCA and released commercially. In 1998, Brown was given his first Big Time assignment – writing the score for the new musicalParade, opening at Lincoln Center in the fall of 1998, with a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and directed by Daisy’s dad, the legendary Hal Prince. Up until this point, Brown had done a lot of work writing orchestrations and vocal arrangements for other people’s musicals (including William Finn’s A New Brain) but now it was time for him to get the spotlight and no doubt he will become one of the strongest new musical theatre writers of this generation.


Starring Patrice Tipoki Arkins, Kuki Tipoki, Jennifer Vuletic and Mark Doggett, and Musically Directed by Laura Tipoki Songs For a New World runs for a strictly limited season July 18th – July 20th 7pm and a matinee on Saturday July 20th 2pm.

Book online or call 07 54411 814


Patrice-Tipoki-colour-2010 KukiTipoki lauratipoki markdoggett jennifer


Grease is the word!


GREASE is still the word, as Australian theatre producer John Frost yesterday revealed the cast and tour dates for his new multi-million dollar production of GREASE, which will open as an Australian premiere at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) on 27 August 2013.


In the lead roles of Danny and Sandy are musical theatre favourite Rob Mills and rising star Gretel Scarlett. Rob Mills made a name for himself in musical theatre performing Fiyero in the Broadway blockbuster Wicked in Melbourne and Sydney for two years, and will join GREASE after starring as Warner Huntington III in the hit musical Legally Blonde in Brisbane and Melbourne. Gretel Scarlett, who is a Queenslander, has played support roles in Wicked and Mamma Mia! and is excited to take on her first starring role.


Bert Newton returns to his radio roots to play the role of slick veteran disc jockey Vince Fontaine, while Todd McKenney dusts off his dancing shoes to star as Teen Angel, the good-looking, falsetto-voiced, Fabian lookalike. The role of All-American, rock-star student at Rydell High, Johnny Casino, has gone to Anthony Callea, returning to the musical theatre stage after success in Rent and Wicked.


Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies, will be played by Lucy Maunder (Dr Zhivago, The Threepenny Opera), and Kenickie will be played by Stephen Mahy (Jersey Boys, I Will Survive). The cast also includes Francine Cain (Frenchy), Chris Durling (Doody), Sam Ludeman (Sonny), Duane McGregor (Roger) and Laura Murphy (Jan).


GREASE is one of my favourite musicals, and with this top draw cast of musical theatre stars I have no doubt it will again be everyone’s favourite party musical,” John Frost said.


John Frost continued “I’m thrilled that Rob Mills will be our Danny, straight from his success in Legally Blonde, and that we have found a new leading lady in Gretel Scarlett. Both Rob and Gretel gave sensational auditions, and our UK creative team knew instantly that they were the ideal Danny and Sandy. And it’s wonderful again to be working with the wonderful Todd McKenney, the talented Anthony Callea and, for our sixth musical together, the irrepressible Bert Newton. What can I say about this cast – You’re The One That I Want!”


GREASE will open at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre Brisbane on August 27, with seasons to follow at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from October 13, and at her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne from January 2, 2014.


Grease. Image by Damian Shaw.

GREASE is the Number One Party musical, featuring all the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted To You, Sandy, Greased Lightnin’ and many more.


So get ready to dust off your leather jackets, pull on your bobby-socks and take a trip to a simpler time as ‘bad boy’ Danny and ‘the girl next door’ Sandy fall in love all over again.


Tickets on sale from Monday 8 April at 9.00am. To book go to or phone 136 246



WTF 2013 begins tonight!



It’s Mum’s birthday so I’m taking her out! Tonight we’re seeing the Australian premiere of Pan Pan’s production of Ibsen’s classic, A Doll House. I’m looking forward to seeing what this innovative Irish group have done with it. Tomorrow night, Sam and I will see Parah – another Australian premiere – by Malaysian theatre makers The Instant Cafe Theatre Company. Perhaps not the most romantic option in Brisbane for Valentine’s Day (read about it here), but we love doing dinner and a show together so it’s fine. And look, if you’re seeing anything at the Powerhouse, anytime of year, try the dining options at the venue. Bar Alto is excellent Italian cuisine in a sleek, dark interior, and Watt Bar + Restaurant is a little more relaxed, overlooking the water.

Watt Bar + Restaurant

You can’t really go wrong at WTF! There is so much on, showcasing many new and unique artists, as well as those we know and love, that even if you find you don’t LOVE a show, you’ll be glad you went, to experience the vibe and the theatre here, there and everywhere. There is literally something for everyone at WTF!

Hot on the heels of their presentation of The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane in New York, North America and New Zealand and following on from their beautiful interpretation of Beckett’s All That Fall in 2011, comes a new Irish production from Pan Pan for 2012: A Doll House.

In 1887 Strindberg claimed that ‘the theatre is a weapon’. Eight years earlier, Ibsen proved it with A Doll’s House. And he still does whenever the play is imaginatively performed. As Shaw prophesied in 1913: ‘There comes a time…when the parable of the doll’s house is more to our purpose than the parable of the prodigal son’.

Its Christmas and Nora Helmer is going crazy squirreling away presents and decorations, spending the money her husband hasn’t yet earned as the new bank manager. But don’t worry – Pan Pans version of Henrik Ibsens modern classic doesn’t dwell on the current recession. They’re looking at communication, relationships, and social conventions and how we are first and foremost human beings. After all, people shouldn’t always be thinking of themselves, especially women.

Gavin Quinn says of this production: Pan Pan’s new version of Ibsen’s A Doll House, (the world’s first great prose drama which at the time exploded like a bomb into contemporary life) will be the opening show of the ‘new’ Smock Alley Theatre. Smock Alley was originally a theatre in the 17th Century and hosted the Irish Premiere of Hamlet.

This version of A Doll House will examine the like- and unlikeability of these famous Ibsen characters and how they can still connect to today’s supposedly restless age.

“My conception of the audience is of a public each member of which is carrying about with him what he thinks is an anxiety, or a hope, or a preoccupation which is his alone and isolates him from mankind; and in this respect at least the function of a play is to reveal him to himself so that he may touch others by virtue of the revelation of his mutuality with them. If only for this reason I regard the theater as a serious business, one that makes or should make man more human, which is to say, less alone.”


Gathering to witness a performance may be the oldest of human rituals after sharing a meal.

Whether sitting in the sands of the Great Victoria Desert watching song cycles, watching wayang in an Indonesian village, or a musical in the West End, we are participating in the same ancient and very human ritual. In classical Greek and Roman societies, theatre was performed only in festivals. Brisbane Powerhouse gathers the best in contemporary theatre from Australia and around the world to create a true festival, a community gathering where our thoughts and emotions are shared. World Theatre Festival is about seeing a show, but it is also about sharing the experience with the performers and fellow audience members.

We are very excited about the program; it is strong, diverse and at times surprising. We encourage you to come along and come often; come with partners, friends or alone and be a part of World Theatre Festival.

Andrew Ross, Director
Sarah Neal, Head of Programming
Zohar Spatz, Producer

A Doll House







Driving Miss Daisy



Driving Miss Daisy

Gordon Frost Organisation

QPAC Playhouse

9th February – 24th February 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


I didn’t get the chance to meet James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury – I’ve been teaching Drama full time for the last couple of weeks and missed a heap of extra-curricular stuff – but I wondered, if I had done, what would I have said? My sister in law got it in one, “Well, you’d ask them, how ARE you? Are you WELL?”


It’s no less than amazing to see 83-year old James Earl Jones in front of us, and 87-year old Angela Lansbury climb an imposing staircase several times during Driving Miss Daisy, which enjoyed its Australian premiere on Saturday night at QPAC’s Playhouse. You know I love an opening night and this one was extra special because we don’t often see the likes of Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones on our stages. For that reason alone, you should book the last remaining tickets of the season. I will not even start on what John Frost has done for the theatre industry in Australia, it’s a long list of accomplishments; suffice to say, we are all a little bit in awe every time Frosty wins and at the same time, not in the least surprised.


Don’t think of the film. This production is gentler, quieter (and there are no continuity issues!); the play glides along at its own comfortable pace, the same pace James Earl Jones sets with his slow and steady steps. His characterisation is such that we don’t get much of THAT voice, instead we get the voice of the coloured man who drives for Miss Daisy and, over time, becomes her best friend. Without going to the exhaustive – and potentially damaging – effort of changing his vocal pitch, James Earl Jones becomes Hoke Coleburn. Because that’s what great actors do. They step out onto the stage (in this case, to a spontaneous round of applause), they play the role, fit the bill, embody the character. Sometimes it’s a surprise to audiences – to find that the actor plays a new role distinct from anything that’s come before – and the more great actors audiences see, the more accustomed they become to this phenomenon we call “acting”. I can’t stress enough how natural these performances are. Nothing is in earnest unless the situation calls for earnestness from the character. These are completely genuine, truthful performances. Of course we expect nothing less from this calibre of actors but even so, it’s a pleasant surprise to sit and receive the goods. A masterclass in subtlety, these performances are among the best you’ll see in a lifetime.


James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines in DRIVING MISS DAISY (c) Jeff Busby

James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines in DRIVING MISS DAISY. Image by Jeff Busby


Another multi award winner, Boyd Gaines, who played the same role, Miss Daisy’s son, Jewish businessman Boolie, opposite James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave on Broadway, fits this production perfectly, his character offering the voice of reason and defeat in conversations with his mother. It is he who hires Hoke, insisting that his mother, Daisy, is no longer fit to drive. Gaines balances heightened emotion carefully with real, raw dismay, and the manipulation and acceptance of his mother.


Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in DRIVING MISS DAISY (c) Jeff Busby

Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in DRIVING MISS DAISY. Image by Jeff Busby.


Miss Daisy was born, she tells us, in 1876. That was eleven years after the end of the American Civil War and a year after a Civil Rights bill had been enacted in the United States Congress. Under this, everyone, regardless of colour, was guaranteed equal treatment in “public accommodations”, including theatres, restaurants, schools, transport and restrooms… Yet it was almost a century before the Civil Rights Movement with which most people are familiar really made a difference to people’s lives.


Alfred Uhry has cunningly illustrated that long journey by putting on stage two unforgettable characters from different sides of the race divide who are nevertheless, in some ways, alike. Both are sharp, opinionated, demanding respect, clinging to dignity but lacking control in their lives, Hoke because he is poor and black, Daisy because she is growing old.

Source: Program Notes


Angela Lansbury & James Earl Jones in DRIVING MISS DAISY (c) Jeff Busby

Angela Lansbury & James Earl Jones in DRIVING MISS DAISY. Image by Jeff Busby.


Daisy Werthan is the 90-year old that, at least in body, you hope you’ll be. Well, I hope I’ll be…without the prejudice. I don’t know about you, but I know very few 90-year olds. My grandfather is one and he’s in Toowoomba, bedridden. Angela Lansbury’s Daisy is the quintessential Jewish matriarch of the Deep South, and so spirited; full of the energy we desire in our later years. It’s only in her final moments that we see the stark contrast: a vulnerability and fragility that, finally, brings tears to my eyes. An extended standing ovation indicated that the emotional impact was widespread. And it’s not just because these actors are famous. It’s an exquisite, very special piece of theatre. We all know the effect of a good show is felt long after the curtain closes.


Director David Esbjornson, who made his Broadway debut with Driving Miss Daisy, ensures the political story pervades at every level, and digital elements are put to good effect, as we see images thrown across the back wall, of history in the making. Particularly disturbing is the white washed sign just outside the state of Georgia, warning the pair that they have crossed over into KKK country. A mottled paint job gives a grainy finish to projected photos and footage, like so many collective memories. A gentle golden light breaks up the shadows in the house, and delineates different areas used for phone calls and private conversations (Lighting Peter Kaczorowski). A cinematic underscore beautifully establishes mood and the passing of time (Music Mark Bennett).


The car device, which is set by the actors on a miniature revolve using a bench, a chair and a steering wheel on a stick, unexpectedly works a treat. The representation of the vehicle is the only abstract arrangement on stage and yet it’s completely acceptable. I heard behind me, “That’s clever!” and indeed it is; cleverness in its simplest, most economical, old-fashioned and dynamic theatrical form. A shifting staircase, and furniture pieces that glide on and off stage magically, provide a number of other interior settings and remind us that with a generous budget and a brilliant design team, simplicity can be achieved. The high-tech mechanicals certainly help but imagination and the suspension of disbelief are still key. The actors are the focus and the characters leave an indelible impression. The final moments are a superior gift.


Two old souls, just people; best friends until the end. And it’s at the end that we realise we’re the same, in spite of our pride, our age, our embedded prejudices…we’re all just people.


James Earl Jones in DRIVING MISS DAISY (c) Jeff Busby

James Earl Jones in DRIVING MISS DAISY. Image by Jeff Busby.