Posts Tagged ‘Rachael Beck


Into the Woods


Into the Woods

Harvest Rain

QPAC Concert Hall

October 1 – 4 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 




I met my husband during a production of Into the Woods. Have I told you this story? Probably. Poppy delights in the delivery, repeating it with a straight face precisely the way Sam tells it, and telling it proudly on Harvest Rain’s opening night to a random woman pre-show. “Daddy was the handsome prince and mummy was the witch and apparently, he says, nothing’s changed.” (You’ll have to wait to read the rest of the story. It’s not all Poppy-appropriate).


Harvest Rain uses the tagline, “You’ve seen the film, now experience the magic live on stage” to promote their production of the Sondheim-Lapine favourite. I was one of the eighties children to whom Michael Schulman referred in The New Yorker last year (although I was never too good for Lloyd Webber!), who felt excited and scared about the release of Disney’s movie version of Into the Woods, and then felt disappointed after finally seeing it. HR’s production, produced and directed by Tim O’Connor, doesn’t stray too far from the original Broadway version, which you can still find online. This is a good thing. When I was growing up we wore out a VHS tape of the first television broadcast of this brilliant PBS American Playhouse performance.


In 1989, from Thursday, May 23 to Saturday, May 25 the full original Broadway cast (with the exception of Cindy Robinson as Snow White instead of Jean Kelly) reunited for only three performances for the taping of the musical in its entirety for the Season 10 premiere episode of PBS’s American Playhouse and first aired on March 15, 1991. The show was filmed professionally with seven cameras on the set of the Martin Beck Theater in front of an audience with the with certain elements changed from its original nightly counterpart only slightly for the recording in order to better fit the screen rather than the stage such as the lighting, minor costume differences, and others. There were also pick up shots not filmed in front of an audience for various purposes. This video has since been released on Tape and DVD and on occasion, remastered and re-released. This video is considered to be the original Into The Woods. 


In defiance of previous, more lavish productions though, O’Connor makes a point of doing a couple of things very differently, depending largely on our imaginations and the skill of the actors, particularly in terms of the props used. Into the Woods is still one of the most challenging musicals to get right, with a complex score and a deeply nuanced book full of familiar fairytale characters making not-so-familiar decisions and changing the course of those well-known tales forever.




In a masterstroke (and a great improvement on the use of the same milling and seething and dressing device used in Jesus Christ Superstar), O’Connor establishes old-school storytelling in the style of Shakespeare’s mechanicals and retains, in the tradition of Pippin’s Leading Player, the use of the Narrator (the likeable Dean Vince) not only as storyteller, but also as a sort of master of ceremonies, seeking and presenting props, and gently persuading characters to act within the narrative bounds. He never leaves the stage…until he is pushed. The Baker (Eddie Perfect) and the Baker’s Wife (Rachael Beck) respond to the detail of his tale as he introduces it, Jack (Tom Oliver) takes from him a bicycle for a cow, Little Red Riding Hood (Kimberley Hodgson) loads him up with armfuls of bread, and Cinderella (Georgina Hopson) looks to him for reassurance as she goes to the tree in which her mother’s spirit resides (Natalie Greer). Vince is integral; he’s the golden thread weaving all characters together and should he find a little more Ben Vereen-ness by the end of the season (it’s a short one – one weekend!), he’ll serve as the perfect anchor too.


I wonder when we’ll see HR’s Pippin? I’d love to see that!



There is more movement than necessary in this production (not least during the Witch’s lament – somebody tell those stepsisters to stay perfectly still! #focus101), however; it’s without the usual impressive choreography from Callum Mansfield. This can almost be forgiven for there’s very little space on stage, in fact, barely enough for the happy couples at the end of Act 1 to gallop across it. Josh McIntosh’s multi-level design forces the action downstage, with several steps leading to an upper level (above an underutilised cavern partially concealed by a hessian curtain) taking centre stage and claiming much of the space. The only characters that use the steps to good effect (and without inducing barely audible gasps of the “don’t fall!” variety) are The Baker, Cinderella and Cinderella’s Prince (Steve Hirst). With the orchestra hidden behind “the woods” (though we barely glimpse them they sound sensational under the competent hand of Jason Barry-Smith), ultimately the darker subtext of the setting is lost, as all are pushed forward into Andrew Meadows’ brighter, whiter lights.




Obviously I’m partial to the Handsome Prince archetype – I married one after all – but it’s not only this bias (and a slight resemblance to Russell Crowe in one of his better roles, in Master and Commander – must be the wig) that makes Hirst memorable. He nails it, and does a decent job of the Wolf as well, losing none of the original dark intent of this role, a flicker of the other, particularly in the physicality, and presenting a fine match for Hodgson’s spunky Little Red. Hirst’s sonorous vocals and confidant comedy (tongue placed firmly in cheek) are reminiscent of his Sir Galahad, of course, and are perfectly suited here. Despite being glossed over (for the sake of the children, just as Jack’s song seems to be?), his moment in the woods with Beck is delightful, and predictable in every arrogant male conquest sense of the word (insert eye roll here). By making a little a lot more of his princely entrances and exits he might have an award nom worthy body of work. Just saying.




It’s true that Hodgson has the plum role and in it she too is a stand out, absolutely gorgeous and genuinely hilarious, landing on every one-liner, providing much of Sondheim’s carefully placed light relief and witty wickedness in the only truly original take on a character in this production. Hodgson brings the moral tale intact but it’s repackaged for a new audience, fresh and funny and poignant. A graduate in 2013, Hodgson represents the bright talent and intuitive approach to performance that the Queensland Conservatorium of Music is nurturing under the guidance of Paul Sabey and co.




Another Qld Con grad (2014) and a finalist for this year’s Rob Guest Endowment Award, the disarmingly lovely Hopson effortlessly carries the Cinderella story and gives us one of the most insightful and mature readings ever of On the Steps of the Palace, which is no mean feat! Hopson, both vocally and emotionally, handles one of Sondheim’s greater musical challenges with care and consideration for this character’s decision making process. As well as some sweet moments between she and Beck (A Very Nice Prince), Hopson sets up Cinderella’s part in the relationship with the Prince, preparing us nicely for their inevitable (agreeable) decision to go their separate ways, as some of us must.




Eddie Perfect, Rachael Beck (these two really are lovely together), Penny Farrow and Tom Oliver also work just beyond stereotypes to bring us the reality of being childless and penniless, although Oliver would do well to drop the accent and give us the Australian voiced adult version of Giants In the Sky, which might give us a greater arc between the initial wonder and final realisation (and satisfaction) of Jack…and a valid reason to view him as Dash Kruck’s only real competition for the title role if there were to be a professional production of Pippin in the future. JUST SAYING.




Now, will we talk about the tall, leggy, sparkly elephant in the room? I love Rhonda Burchmore, but not in this role. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time of casting, but perhaps more through misdirection than any of her own choices (who ever really knows?), a commedia-esque mask in Act 1 (concealing desperately needed complex emotions) and too-too-too-high heels in Act 2 (making a comedy of each entrance and exit) make it difficult for Burchmore to really sell the nuances of this role. So many moments fall flat and there is no wide-eyed, amazed applause after her part in the Prologue or Last Midnight, which should retain an element of surprise, just as the transformation should, regardless of the number of times we’ve seen the show. Despite Natalie Greer’s work as Rapunzel, even Stay With Me somehow misses the mark. The role, rather than being approached as an extension or manifestation of some aspect of the performer, is treated as a star vehicle and the show is the poorer for it.


A friend commented after the show about Into the Woods being such a great ensemble piece, and with so many on stage there’s not really one who shines…but the Witch should shine and her presence should be felt even after she’s gone. We should be moved beyond words, horrified and full of feeling for the woman who fails so miserably at motherhood. Burchmore has the hardness but not the vulnerability or tenderness that even the wickedest witches among us must feel. Perhaps this Witch would have felt more comfortable on stage – and on those steps – in her Camilla kaftan and flat gold sandals, which were donned for the after party.




Outside of some of the performances, there’s little magic in Harvest Rain’s production, though the “simple and rudimentary” approach to the storytelling is a far cry from explaining it. After the light and breezy feel of Act 1 we’re left with the darker aspects of the story – of life – but not in any real, raw sense. When it comes to Harvest Rain I can never quite put my finger on what’s missing but here’s another example. The Mysterious Man (Ron Kelly) employs an inexplicable nasal tone throughout (and sports a blanket?! I can’t even…) until he reveals who he really is, a moment that becomes a missed opportunity between father and son while they are separated by physical distance, destroying any chance of a tangible connection for us to tap into (No More). Similar proximity between Jack and The Baker separates them at the very moment they need to be drawn together, as Cinderella and Little Red are (No One Is Alone). These are the inconsistencies now commonplace in O’Connor’s productions. For some unknown reason, he continues to miss vital moments in storytelling and relationships, as if the intimacy is too much. And yet, once again, this is an entertaining, enjoyable show, boasting considerable talent and perfectly suitable for the whole family. Who am I to question odd staging decisions?


There’s no denying the awesome effort that has gone into building the company, from its humble church hall beginnings to its current status as a formidable professional presenting brand, incredibly, without government assistance (though not for much longer, I’m sure), but let’s see casting challenges met and the bar continue to be raised. Cheers and here’s to the upcoming (Spectacular Spectacular) Hairspray!


Two midnights gone! And just 4 more shows – today at 2pm & 7:30pm and tomorrow at 1pm & 6:30pm.



Mother & Son


Mother & Son

QTC, Joint Ventures, Lascorp Entertainment & Fractured Limb Production     

QPAC Playhouse

February 21 – March 15 2015


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




Geoffrey Atherden penned the first episodes of Mother & Son in 1984 creating an instant classic. Now live on stage, 30 years later he has done it again. From the creator of the hit TV series comes a brand new stage comedy featuring everyone’s favourite forgetful mum in this trip down loss-of-memory lane!


Long-suffering second son Arthur, who has sacrificed so much to care for his mother Maggie, would just like a few weeks’ holiday with his new flame Anita. His philandering dentist brother Robert is no help, and manipulative Maggie is out to sabotage Arthur’s chances.


Vague but vicious and more arsenic than old lace, Maggie would have Arthur tied to her apron strings for life, if she could just remember where she put the apron …

“What do you do when someone you love is driving you up the wall?” Geoffrey Atherden


I was eight years old in Year 3 when Geoffrey Atherden’s classic comedy series, Mother & Son, first aired on Australian television. When I spoke with him on opening night, Atherden said he was delighted with the response from the Brisbane audience. With updates to include technological advancements and respite care options; Atherden’s new story serves a new set of characters. New as in same same but different.


Mother & Son live on stage is economically and comically crafted, slickly designed, and delivered by a company who is confident in its appeal to the masses. It doesn’t do to be too picky. We have to remember; there are generations for whom this is NEW. THAT’S RIGHT. THERE ARE KIDS OUT THERE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THE RE-RUNS! And for those of us who have, there are some lovely little touches to this production. (The pre-filmed Skype sessions are GOLD!). QTC Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch, made a really important point on opening night, reminding us, “It’s not just aping a character from TV, it’s creating a new character.”



The casting is spot on, with Noeline Brown as unlike Ruth Cracknell as she can be, in the role of the forgetful, overbearing elderly mother, Maggie Beare. She is all the right frailty and coarseness (at times she is surprisingly spritely!), and ultimately adorable, completely hopeless, winning our sympathy in the end. She throws excruciatingly caustic and careless comments in amongst gentler, more classic attempts at manipulation, which we can’t help but recognise because, sadly, WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE.


If we haven’t had to care for elderly parents and/or make decisions about their living arrangements, we know that one day we’ll need to.


Brown is a treasure, reminding us of every lovely difficult-to-get-along-with older lady in our lives.


Darren Gilshenan is as insecure an Arthur as we would ever want to see on stage. I feel helpless, and irritated, and sorry for him. The odds are stacked against him but he doesn’t help himself so risks becoming an altogether unlikeable character. Fortunately, Gilshenan avoids the paper cut out version of the poor guy with a lovely mix of stubborn determination, sad resignation and genuine love for his mother. Rob Carlton, as the favourite son, Robbie – a selfish, philandering dentist no less – is an absolute scream and risks going completely OTT. He narrowly avoids doing so by clearly making real choices on stage that are as affecting as they are idiotic (and catastrophic!). Nicki Wendt brings Robbie’s wife, Liz, to glorious, glamorous, ferocious life at a whole new level of delicious snobbery. She’s every Real Housewife of Melbourne rolled into one. A superb performance.


As Arthur’s love interest, Anita, Rachael Beck’s effervescent energy brings much-needed warmth and lashings of kindness to the proceedings. She’s the smiley, bouncy, chatty friend you wish could come to every family dinner purely for mediation purposes. An interesting device, her every entrance comes with a new hot health tip for Maggie. It could get old but Beck’s delivery is so real that I see heads nodding to agree with her: Yes, yes that’s right! Vitamin B pills and crosswords are good for the brain!


I was more deeply affected than I had expected to be by the final dialogue, the most sensitive segment of the writing, which suddenly gave a much clearer meaning to everything we’d seen before. Nothing is glossed over as such, but for the sake of brevity and a rolling, easy pace, a multitude of “elderly” and “parenting” issues are dealt with in comedic shorthand. At first it feels as if some of the issues are dealt with at surface level only, but there is occasion to pause and in the end, in poignant The Notebook style, the message is abundantly clear; in the end we must just let ourselves love.


Mother & Son is probably the darkest light fluffy comedy you’ll see all year, regardless of age or family history, and long after the laughter fades it will have you thinking seriously about a few things. Atherden’s updated text breathes new life into an Australian classic that deals, as every decent comedy does, with the most difficult aspects of life. It’s a fine production, and won’t disappoint. You should go. And then go visit whichever elderly relative or neighbour you’ve been meaning to see…



Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Tim Lawson

QPAC Lyric Theatre

 28 November – 22 December 2013


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


What Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang lacks in substance, it makes up for in sweetness, and good old-fashioned theatrical magic (using the latest technology) for the whole family. The much-loved classic story of a well mannered, magical, rejigged racing car lacks a little in the plot department, but we knew that. What we didn’t know was just how easily this musical would affect us – each of us – because of its sense of wonder and uninhibited childlike spirit. Knowing the music from watching the film version at least a hundred times a year (you think I’m exaggerating!), I can’t help but think of Mary Poppins’ Spoonful of Sugar. (The same composers and lyricists, Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman, wrote Chitty’s songs).


In every job that must be done there is an element of fun; you find the fun and snap! The job’s a game! And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake…


Sorry. I know. It will be in your head all week now. In every moment of Chitty, it’s as if the company has sought to deliver the very same element of fun. It doesn’t matter that the show doesn’t actually make sense. Laugh! Gasp! Enjoy! And even more so, because every single cast member is exquisitely talented, and clearly loving their job. And although they are awesome, bringing amazing energy and wonderful sound and character to the show, unfortunately for the ensemble, the stars in this production shine very bright!


Toot Sweet


What an absolute delight to see David Hobson (Caractacus Potts) and Rachael Beck (Truly Scrumptious) paired, their vocals soaring and their eyes continuously flirting with the temptation to lock with one another’s, that is, when they are not gazing adoringly upon the children, Jeremy and Jemima. I had feared I might be disappointed actually, because I’ve seen nothing of Hobson since Baz Lurhman’s La Boheme on VHS when I was at high school (over and over and over! For years, it was La Boheme, Sondheim at Carnegie Hall, Clue, Twin Peaks and Rage. It was a rather eclectic, interesting household!). Hobson is no Dick Van Dyke but nor does he need to be. His delightful characterisation is just so, giving us neither too much, nor too little of the quirks and unique qualities of the inventor, and father of the two children. Hobson gives this role a completely new feel, and his antics are cute, his voice sublime, and his dancing up there with the best of ‘em. Hushabye Mountain is a poignant highlight.


Me ol’ bamboo, me ol’ bamboo, budda gudda budda gudda ol’ bamboo!


I never did get what they were singing during that number.


Beck is simply beautiful, bringing precisely the right amount of sweetness and light to the role of Truly Scrumptious, without being at all sickening, something that does not go unnoticed. Because she is absolutely gorgeous, all eyes are drawn to her, and when she sings she seals the deal, keeping powerful vocals in check to produce a truly scrumptious sound, pure and pretty. Doll on a Music Box is perfection. Her sass balances her sweetness nicely. Let’s have more of Ms Beck please, Mr Producer.


Truly Scrumptious and the children


Four children share the roles of Jeremy and Jemima and on opening night we enjoyed the performances of Jayden McGinlay and Emma Cobb (not pictured).


The way these two work together on stage is almost as synchronous as the pair of gorgeous creatures in the movie, who I always imagined must behave in exactly the same manner in real life, a thought which left me in awe of all smiling, singing siblings dressed in rags.


Caractacus Potts and the children


This production boasts 32 more super talented children, and their strong vocals and well-prepared characters come across superbly, particularly in one of the final scenes, beneath the castle where the Lost Children are kept hidden from sight. Props to their coaches and parents – this is our next generation of musical theatre stars and I’m so excited for them. Honestly, a more professional children’s chorus I’ve not seen. If you have kids who want desperately to perform, you’re going to have to fork out for two lots of tickets, because after the magic of experiencing it the first time, any ambitious young actor really needs to see the kids in this show a second time!


Keeping the children hidden are the Baron and Baroness, played to the max by Shane Bourne and Jennifer Vuletic. These two don’t miss a beat and together they almost steal the show with their slightly wicked, extremely weird, amusingly and frighteningly kinky relationship. I’ve never understood the need for their random duet and it made just as little sense to include it in this production. Just don’t try to explain it to the kids and it’ll go away. (I’m sure they just think it’s cute and funny…until they see the show again ten years later and ask you, “What WAS that?!”). Bourne’s little boy tantrums and teddy bear antics are perfectly juxtaposed against Vuletic’s slightly scary dominatrix ways, and together, if we must have them, they make a perfect pair. I say they very nearly steal the show because there is another pair competing for laughs, and they are by far the funniest element in this production.


They are the funny, foolish, bumbling spies, who are sent by the Baroness to retrieve the magical car from England and bring it home to Vulgaria as a gift to the Baron on his birthday. I love the physicality George Kapiniaris (Goran) and Todd Goddard (Boris) bring to their roles and, an absolute hit with the audience, surprisingly, they never overplay their parts, or overstay their welcome. These two are the clowning aspect of the show, in the very best sense of the term, bringing slapstick and silly voices to centrestage. In complete contrast, I almost feel sorry for Tyler Coppin (The Child Catcher), who moves quietly and serpentine-like, in the most balletic way; it’s a wonderful performance, but one which can hardly win audiences, being so creepy a role. He isn’t even granted applause during the curtain call on opening night but is instead met with boos and hisses! Perhaps this is the desired effect, as the response appears to be in good fun! We also enjoy Frank Garfield (Grandpa Potts) and his eccentricities. Garfield establishes a lovely relationship with the children, and with Caractacus, reinforcing the family themes.


Goran and Boris


The production boasts the most detailed, delicious looking costumes we’ve seen since Mary Poppins, and the magnificent set is complemented by lighting states that include an entire night sky (Designer Anthony Ward), lit by, Poppy is sure of it, “a million trillion stars! They shine like diamonds!” Of course, the most impressive piece – and the most expensive prop in musical theatre history – is the car. Chitty is beautifully conceived and comes to life vividly, making her a legitimate additional character, especially when she refuses to respond with engine or headlights unless one says, “Please!” Chitty actually appears to float upon the sea and fly through the air; it’s a triumph, and a brilliant appropriation for the theatre of amusement park technology.


Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…


With this stellar company, and a superb orchestra led by MD Peter Casey, Director, Rodger Hodgman brings Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to vibrant life on stage. It’s the musical we’ve loved to watch forever on film, regardless of it making sense or not! And this production has so many highlights you’ll have to choose your own! No matter what’s happened in your day, week, month, year, no matter what mood you’re in when you arrive, you’ll warm to Chitty quickly, and your heart will melt over the children. Your head will revisit your every notion about the family sticking together, you’ll laugh at the comical characters that barely justify their existence in the script, and you’ll leave feeling satisfied, happy to have had even a little childlike fun with the family at a time of year that challenges even the most patient parents.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is without a doubt the best thing you can do for the family this festive season. Treat yourself, and treat the children to a couple of hours of unforgettable fun and magic.


Images: Michael Dare



Noosa Long Weekend: 4 Seasons in 1 Night Starring Bobby Fox & Up Close and Personal with Michael Cormick & Rachael Beck!

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival begins next Friday June 14th!

How excitement!


Bobby Fox. Image by Kurt Sneddon.

We’re looking forward to attending the official opening night function, and the Queensland premiere of 4 Seasons in 1 Night starring Irish-born Bobby Fox, at The J Theatre.


You have just two chances to catch this fantastic performance from one of our top musical theatre stars…well, if you’re lucky, there might just be an additional 5pm performance on the Saturday. But don’t wait for it to be announced or you might miss out altogether!


4 Seasons In 1 Night stars stage powerhouse, Bobby Fox, renowned for his critically acclaimed performance of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Charting his experience with the show, from his first (not-so-successful) audition, to the final, exhilarating bow, 4 Seasons In 1 Night celebrates the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in an evening packed with anecdotes and cheeky secrets that will take you behind the scenes of one of Australia’s most successful stage shows of all time.


Bobby was handpicked by the man himself to play the role of Frankie Valli in the smash hit musical Jersey Boys, playing to sold out seasons in Melbourne & Sydney. Following his appearance at the Noosa Long Weekend, Bobby continues his role as Spring, the eldest Tap brother, in the hit musical Hot Shoe Shuffle. The show goes to Sydney in July.


Hailing from Longford Ireland, Bobby’s career highlights in include; 4 times Irish Dance Champion and touring with Irish productions such as Riverdance, Dancing on Dangerous Ground (principal understudy) and To Dance on the Moon (principal dancer).


Upon moving to Australia in 2002, Bobby began his professional musical theatre career and hasn’t looked back with feature roles in Mamma Mia, Leader of the Pack, Dusty – The Original Pop Diva., We Will Rock You, Spamalot and The Production Company’s Sweet Charity and Damn Yankies.


4 Seasons in 1 Night

The J Theatre

Friday June 14 & Saturday June 15 7:30pm

Possible additional show Saturday June 15 5pm

2 hours with intermission (we love intermission)

All seats $65

Bookings online



Rachael Beck.

Of course, if you’re not at The J doing pre-show drinks and pics and things with us, you might as well be at berardo’s restaurant & bar to catch Michael Cormick and Rachael Beck in Up Close and Personal! Intimate, real, honest and FUN! Michael and Rachael will take you on a musical journey through song, from classic musical theatre to modern romantic duets and stand-alone love songs and stories that will make you laugh and cry.


Rachael is one of Australia’s most in demand performers. Widely known for her performance as Belle opposite Hugh Jackman in Beauty and the Beast, Rachael has also appeared in numerous television productions and concerts. Television credits include Sam in Hey Dad for 4 years and most recently, City Homicide.


Other theatre credits include Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes’ Cabaret, Fantine in Cameron Macintosh’s Les Misérables, Maria in The Sound Of Music, Peg Hartigan in Summer Rain (directed by Robin Nevin) and Kathy Seldon in David Atkins’ Singin’ In The Rain.


Rachael appears with “Girls On film” in the corporate world: clients include the Commonweath Bank, Netball Australia and Westpac.


Xanthe Coward & Rachael Beck Live and Intimate with JRB 2011

Rachael also appears extensively in the concert and corporate arena, performing with Jeff Wayne on the Australian tour of War Of The Worlds and most recently with Jason Robert Brown on his Australian tour, which is when we met Rachael, post-show on the red lounge at Greystone, along with JRB, Georgia Stitt and Jeremy Youett!


Rachael is currently starring as Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which flies into Brisbane in November.


Michael’s theatre credits include The Rocky Horror Show, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Grease, Falsettos, Eureka, Sunset Boulevard, mama Mia, and the lead role in Beauty and the Beast, for which he received a MO Award.International roles include the lead in Phantom of the Opera, Calamity Jane, Romeo & Juliet, Chess, Evita and most recently, End of the Rainbow for the Edinburgh Festival and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production of The Woman in White. Michael has performed in numerous live and television concerts throughout Europe, including Royal Command performances of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserable, the Christmas Festival opening at Royal Albert Hall and frequent guest appearances on the Terry Wogan Show (BBC London).


Michael Cormick

One of the most sought after corporate and live performers in the local music arena, Smooth Sessions is Michael’s long awaited debut album — a cool mix of classic songs that harness Michaels unique vocal and intoxicating lyricism with his laid back delivery. It’s the perfect chill out album.


Up Close and Personal

Michael Cormick and Rachael Beck

Friday June 14th & Sunday June 16th 6:15pm for 6:30pm start

berardo’s restaurant & bar

3.5 hours dinner & show (we love dinner and a show)

$165 Bookings online


Rebecca Huntley Women and Power Forum
The first weekend of the festival also features The New Palm Court Orchestra; It’s Raining Me & Julie, Madly, Deeply; Flinders Quartet; One-Act Plays 2013; Wonderland Circa Zoo; Show Me the Magic; Teasing the Domestic; By the Book (Ramona Kovel); Harland’s Half Acre (David Malouf); Teas, Treats and Tales (Celebrity Chef Janelle Bloom).
AND the following forums:
  • Refugees Dilemma Here and Abroad
  • China: Just What Does It Make of Australia?
  • Women and Power (I’ll be live-tweeting it! Follow us on Twitter to join the conversation)



AND the following workshops:



  • Rythm Culture
  • Creative Writing with Sandy Curtis
  • iFilmaker




John Bucchino, Georgia Stitt & Friends in Concert

Lazy post disclaimer: in case you didn’t catch it over there, this is my Briz Tix review over here…

Featuring Marika Aubrey, Tod Strike, Andy Conaghan,

Angela Harding, Luke Kennedy and Madeline Cain

QLD Conservatorium Wednesday March 3rd

Your Management International and Harvest Rain Theatre Company

It’s shaping up to be a big year for Brisbane’s musical theatre scene, especially for those ambitious (some might say crazy) souls whose only desire is to join the industry as a “triple-threat” performer. Finally, I can see that there are real opportunities beginning to be presented, for aspiring artists to train and acquire work (in their preferred industry) in Queensland. Finally – dare I say it – we seem to be approaching a phase of development and commitment from some of the major stakeholders, which means our talent can choose to stay here, make their base here, find work here and then choose to play here, there and everywhere! Now, I didn’t say it’s happened yet. But now I see that it will.

For example, by the end of their third busy day, Griffith’s Queensland Conservatorium’s first ever intake of Musical Theatre students, thanks to the enigmatic Paul Sabey, had worked with Lucy Durack, John Bucchino and Georgia Stitt. Next week, they have Jason Robert Brown and Rachael Beck in their midst. Before the end of their second week of tertiary study, these students will have rubbed shoulders with some of the very best in the industry, within the re-vamped Con. The once dowdy foyer space has been completely transformed and now looks the part, providing a world-class venue, befitting of acclaimed artists such as Stitt, Bucchino and Brown. Incredible! How lucky these students are!

And how lucky we are, to have been given a taste of the best in the business already, with Harvest Rain’s Broadway to Brisvegas series last year bringing to The Powerhouse, Scott Alan, James Sampliner and Shoshana Bean. This year, in association with the dynamic Jeremy Youett, of Your Management International, we are truly blessed to have, again, a little bit of Broadway magic come to Brisbane.

Having attended the master class on Tuesday night, I was looking forward to hearing some of the songs performed again, this time by seasoned performers, accompanied by the composers themselves, in a recital setting. Most were familiar faces and voices: Luke Kennedy, Angela Harding, Tod Strike, Madeline Cain, Andy Conaghan and Marika Aubrey.

The format of the evening was very simply a stand and deliver concert, with John Bucchino’s work showcased in the first half and Georgia Stitt’s in the second.

John Bucchino casts an imposing presence and reveals a gentle soul. He plays (and composes) by ear. Knowing this makes his talent all the more extraordinary. His music is complex, multi-layered; it is beautiful and joyous and delicious…and fierce and cheeky and fun! It is real and it reminds us that life is supposed to be fun. And challenging. And confusing. And in life, we will have happiness and hurt and forgiveness and love and laughter and therapy and tears and hope. It is sophisticated stuff. Bucchino’s songs are about such simple things but they demand the deep emotional reservoirs and excellent technique of singers who are comfortable enough in their own skins to make sense of the context, make the personal connections and then tell the stories simply, confidently and above all, truthfully.

Georgia Stitt is gorgeous, vibrant, exuding infectious energy and offering the warmth of her generous heart in every smile. There’s also something cheeky and lovely and relaxed about her performance style, opting to sing a couple of her own songs – these are obviously closest to her heart at the moment – and it was endearing to hear from her, “Susan (Egan) sings it better than me but I enjoy it!” Stitt is an amazing talent, comfortable and confident, exactly as she sings in The Me of the Moment. Is it any wonder that she found her bashert in the witty, crazy-talented Jason Robert Brown?! Talk about a Power Couple!

Stitt’s music, like Bucchino’s, offers many unexpected gifts to singers, leading them through the whole gamut of emotions (and quite often back again), allowing plenty of opportunity to play. How lucky these singers are, to have been given the opportunity to play with two amazing artists of this caliber!

Testament to this was Marika Aubrey’s gorgeous rendition of I Get to Show You the Ocean, which Stitt wrote for her eldest daughter and which, by the end of the first chorus, had me in tears because, clearly, really, she wrote this song for my daughter and I! And so says every mother after every show, I’m sure. In Stitt’s Big Wings, Aubrey let loose her big ol’ country belt voice that further demonstrated her ability to sell a strong character.

Madeline Cain treated us to two contrasting numbers from Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle and The Song with the Violins (Bucchino) but my favourite was This Moment (Bucchino). Cain nailed it.

Brisbane has a true songbird in Angela Harding. Her interpretations seem genuine, she is present in every moment and her voice soars. Her comical ability comes through in the lighter numbers. I enjoyed a more mature interpretation of My Lifelong Love (Stitt) but for me, It Feels Like Home (Bucchino) was perfect.

Todd Strike took on the unenviable task of singing These Two, the song Stitt wrote as a wedding gift for her husband, giving it due respect and letting us in for half a moment, to catch the tiniest glimpse of the real, raw artist that likes to take refuge under that star quality exterior of his. I’m certain Strike has more to give.

Luke Kennedy is a bit of a darling on our Brisbane stages and I’m happy to say he did nothing to dent his reputation. Kennedy has an impressive vocal range and Bucchino’s Unexpressed was the perfect opening number. Stitt’s One Day More, no doubt won Kennedy a few new fans; these songs make it easy to fall in love with the singer and Kennedy plays the audience beautifully. Even as the married man of somewhat questionable behaviour (or perhaps because of it) in Platonic Affair (Stitt), he is irresistible.

Andy Conaghan is the consummate performer and in my opinion, brought to the stage a level of professionalism and self-confidence that put the final polish on the evening. His voice is superb and his easy manner completely charming. Bucchino’s Taking the Wheel and Grateful showed us two sides to Conaghan, while Stitt’s Air, if we were not already convinced, proved his technical ability and roguish, earnest appeal. I don’t mind making a big call and predicting that Andy Conaghan is going to be the Next Big Thing.

Until recently, it would have been unimaginable for Brisbane to be up to delivering anything like the Australian Concert and Master Class Series. The fact that it’s happening here, now, is testament to Brisbane’s determination to become a leading arts city in this country and indeed, its capacity to do so. What an exciting time to be a part of the performing arts industry here, when we are graced by the presence of the likes of Georgia Stitt and John Bucchino.

I can’t wait until next week. Bring on Jason Robert Brown and Rachael Beck!