Posts Tagged ‘The j


Infinite Space & Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013

Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013



A rather late launch in March, yes, on the Thursday leading into the Easter weekend, a Thursday known as Maundy Thursday, a fact I know due to my Lutheran schooling. OUR TWENTY-YEAR SCHOOL REUNION IS COMING UP! WTF? And did I miss the ten-year get together then? I don’t remember putting in an appearance. I only see school friends on Facebook. Can I tell them I invented Post-Its? Oh. No. It’s been done.




So at my Lutheran school, I sang on Maundy Thursday in Chapel, “They crucified my Lord and he never said a mumblin’ word…” That’s right. Every year I have that top soprano line in my head and only one of seven or something verses… “Not a word, not a word, not a word.” Funny the things you remember.



This was indeed a late-in-the-year launch, for a season of Sunshine Coast entertainment that has well and truly begun, across the three Council run venues, Lake Kawana Community Centre, The J in Noosa, and Nambour Civic Centre, the venue for the launch. Hmmm.


The Nambour Civic Centre is a little like Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane. The last time I was there, only recently actually, to see SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody, the best thing about the place was Stephen Mahey (needless to say, I’m excited to see him next as Kenickie!). Nambour desperately needs some love too. While the foyer is fairly open and inviting, with easy box office and bar access, it’s a shocking performance space, especially for dancers, and more importantly, for audiences.


I was sure I’d heard a rumour last year that a second lot of tiered seating was to come. Well, it hasn’t come yet! Tip for the punters: Don’t book floor seats at Nambour. Ask to be seated in the raked seating, from about 4 rows back or miss the entirety of any floor work. We were in row AA, the first of the raked seating, and missed most of it. (Don’t be fooled by thinking that the closer you are to this stage the better vantage point you’ll get. What you’ll get is a crookneck!).


afgroup-0021The launch event was held in the foyer by the bar, with drinks and too-hard-to-handle canapés laid on. I never take for granted good catering, with teeny tiny neat morsels, masses of serviettes and constant attention from the staff so there is no awkwardness or mess. While the staff did their utmost, they had little chance of winning and I dread to think how many super-size-me Malay chicken sticks and deep-fried meatballs (or were they arrancini balls?) were wasted because they were simply too large to eat while standing and talking with a drink in hand. It’s a practical decision, which has little, if anything, to do with the fact that you may or may not turn up hungry to these sorts of events. Thank goodness Poppy and I had already enjoyed wild rice and Catalan stew at home.


The launch was short and sweet, with technology allowing us a sneak peak at the entire season of Sunshine Coast Council’s entertainment program, including theatre, dance, music, comedy and children’s entertainment. I know that Sunshine Coast peeps had better be booking early for a heap of these shows – it’s a great selection – and my tip is that if you get organised you can possibly halve your trips to Brisbane this year. And introduce some new friends and family members to the joy of live theatre. My picks are Animal Farm, Art, Jack Charles, Daniel Gartrell, R & J, Giselle, The Ten Tenors, and the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow.  The kids should definitely get to Flipside Circus, Fluff, Possum Magic and The Wiggles. But wait! THERE’S A WIGGLES’ WOMAN NOW?! #forserious #whatofit



Following the launch, we were invited to attend Melbourne Ballet Company’s Infinite Space, comprising four separate pieces, choreographed by Resident Choreographer, Simon Hoy (and Robert Kelly, Co-Choreographer of In One Day). The highlight was seeing Alexander Bryce on a Sunshine Coast stage again, and I wondered why the names of the artists did not appear anywhere. An oversight? Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance members had to ask me, “Who IS that?!” because of course they were able to recognise him but couldn’t place him without a name to put to that familiar face and form. Bryce commands attention and I think we’ll see him moving well beyond Melbourne Ballet Company.


Poppy’s definitive comment following the first piece, In One Day was, “It was about relationships.” And while I agree absolutely with her, because I saw masculine-feminine struggles, relationships, image, identity, sexuality, insecurity, manipulation and bullying, apparently we were waaay off the mark and it’s actually a work that “celebrates physicality and athleticism” and was created to “pay tribute to the city of Melbourne.” Well! Okay. But I have to tell you that the main homage appeared to be to the likes of Material Girl Madonna and Gaultier (I even thought of the original, disturbing The Beauty Myth book cover!), in dance gear that was nude ruched satin pin-up booty pants and tops. I know, I know, it’s a slight nod that I’ve taken to be total inspiration. Totally not the case. It’s just where my head goes. This garb is pretty plain in comparison. Simple. Functional. A little bit fun and shiny. And absolutely beautiful. It’s a pity we didn’t see more of the dancers, as they moved in and out of shadows that may or may not have been intentional…



Because I hadn’t been asked to review the show, because Poppy hasn’t been 100% this week, and because we have a massive weekend planned, we left after In One Day. The work that I’d really hoped to see (Infinite Space) was the final one of the night and sadly, I realised that we’d be missing it.


The Sunshine Coast is such a strange place for entertainment. We do festivals exceptionally well, particularly in Noosa. It was such a joy to spend the evening with our gorgeous friends, Trena and Murray. Trena is the publicist extraordinaire for Noosa Longweekend (and at least ten or eleven other fabulous clients), and in speaking with her, I realised that we are about to be flung head first into our crazy festival season. I knew it was creeping up on us but OMG HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS PEOPLE! As well as Woodford Folk Festival each year, we have Floating Land, Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, Noosa Longweekend, Noosa Jazz Festival and before any of that, we’re celebrating on Sunday at the Ocean Street World Festival! Everybody goes to the festivals. To get people in through the theatre doors is another matter entirely. But now there’s no excuse not to go more often to the theatres, is there?!


There’s some great stuff being offered in the council venues this year and it’s not just the shows I’m talking about. Check out the workshops, film festivals, and special events too. It’s easy to connect with the arts/venues arm of Council, via their Sunshine Coast Venues and Events website and Facebook pages. You can also subscribe to the e-newsletters so you’ll never miss a one-night-only show again. With the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance season, professional touring productions, fabulous dinner theatre, dance events and all of those festivals, there is literally TOO MUCH TO DO HERE! GET AMONGST IT! And if you stayed to see the rest of the show after Interval tonight, do let me know your thoughts!








Jeremy Culver & Charleene Closshey

Friday 10th August 2012

The J, Noosa

This is a show that happened – just once – almost purely out of synchronicity and the momentum of the universe a little while ago and it has stayed with me, tugging at my sleeve and whispering up at me until I could stop everything else for a moment and write about it. I look forward to its return to us and of hearing about its development and success overseas in the meantime.

Catharsis is a fantastic fusion of theatre, music, multi-media and live painting quite unlike anything I’ve experienced. It’s a living, breathing, beating work of unusual proportion and dimension. LA based production team, Jeremy Culver (also Writer and Director) and Charleene Closshey (also Musical Director and Actor), wanted to meld, seamlessly, up and coming Papua New Guinean painter, Jeffry Feeger’s process, with the art forms (drama and music), which they were accustomed to working within. Rather than being, as one might assume, a bio-drama about the artist himself, the play exists on its own and Feeger offers a commentary within it (behind it, around it), on the beauty of humanity. His work adds a deeper visual dimension to the action happening on stage and creates the reason for the work to exist beyond the evening’s performance.

So many elements contribute to this work working. The fact that Feeger paints a stunningly vibrant portrait live on stage in less than 2 hours is, by its own merits, impressive. In fact, for me, this was absolutely the highlight of the evening (outside of saying hello to the artist afterwards, who is brimming with exactly the same level of joy and intensity that we feel him emit during the show). As far as entertainment goes, to watch Feeger at work is almost enough.

A fascinating process, Feeger begins his work by raising a glass in Papua New Guinean tradition, red wine David Hart style, across the top of his canvas, allowing it to run down in rivulets, creating the foundation for a beautiful portrait of a woman, which gradually emerges out of layers and layers of colour. Feeger’s (untrained) approach is to apply the layers and then strip away the paint, much like a sculptor takes the clay or stone away, leaving a figure to appear out of the mass. The painting takes on many forms before we see Moy Sweetman’s strong, stunning face appear – there’s a mess of arteries and veins, the Tree of Life, a man’s haunting expression – but then, suddenly, there is Sweetman and her incredible aura is a rainbow of the kaleidoscopic colour we thought earlier might be a headdress of feathers…and perhaps it is. Feeger appears to know his subject intimately. He paints from a photograph, which he holds as he works.


I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set her free.



Moy Sweetman Catharsis


Jeffry Feeger


Moy Sweetman, the founder of Frangipani Dreams, is the subject of the painting and also, the subject of the play. Within the play, she becomes the subject of a film. There are layers upon layers upon layers to this work, as there are to Feeger’s. For the purposes of plot and content, Sweetman invites documentary maker, Cat (Charleene Closshey) to tell her inspiring story (meanwhile, Cat’s own story gets complicated; her husband, a photographer played by AJ Meijer, is kidnapped and tortured while on assignment). Sweetman’s (real life) story is a tough one too – we’re likely to see it on Australian Story next – containing all the elements to make a great film. It’s incredibly sad and moving and inspiring, largely because Moy is of course, the locally revered angel that Feeger sets free before our eyes. The anticipation is palpable. It’s as if the audience is holding their breath until they see her appear on the canvas.

The concept is a bit of clever capitalisation on a simple idea to localise live theatre. It’s one that Tanya Lee has made successful in this country through touring The Corrilee Foundation productions, such as One Night in Emerald City, which we saw in Noosa in 2010. It makes perfect sense. Localise your characters and the situation so that we care more about the subject of the story. Catharsis contains a massive amount of local detail, which delighted the audience at the world premiere, at The J in Noosa on Friday 10th August 2012. A number of Noosa businesses and locals were used in a considerable amount of footage, filmed over 10 days prior to the performance and projected onto a screen behind the acting space. The footage, as well as featuring and celebrating the local community (where the money raised from ticket sales and the sale of Feeger’s portrait of Sweetman will stay), serves to strengthen the relationship between the two actors’ characters.

Local actor and playwright, Frank Wilkie, joined the Americans on stage in the role of Cat’s boss; he assigns her the job of telling Sweetman’s story. It was a pleasant surprise to see Wilkie, the consummate professional in any role, play a valuable part in this production. His naturally confident manner and his sensitivity added wonderful intimacy and flow to scenes that ran the risk of slowing the pace considerably with some pretty stilted dialogue. His role is the one that will be filled by a local actor wherever the play goes.

It’s a lot to take in at once: a complex double-plot, a musical score (consisting of original compositions by local duo, Nick and Liesl) and a live painting, all staged beneath beautifully evocative lighting by Travis MacFarlane, like some extraordinary extreme physical challenge for artists. (Network Ten will want first dibs on that!). At times I found myself watching Feeger rather than the action out front but perhaps that was the intention. I wish I’d seen Colin Friels in John Logan’s Red about New York’s abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko. I remember reading Raymond Gill’s (The Age) analysis of all the films and plays we’ve seen about angst-ridden, angry artists and I’m relieved that Catharsis does not fall into that trap. Archibald Prize winning painter, Lewis Miller, observed about films that explore the artist’s creative torment, “They all lapse into the same use of the angry artist attacking the canvas with paint. When you see painters work in reality, they usually put it on very carefully.” This is certainly the case with Feeger’s process, which overflows with love and admiration for his subject. There is something incredibly spiritual about it and in fact, fascinatingly (and brilliantly) the play was penned around the process. And by that, I mean that the play runs for the length of time it takes Feeger to complete his portrait.

Catharsis challenges our notion of what theatre is. Sure, the story could do with some tightening and clarity, the vocals could do with some fine-tuning and additional power in parts (the duet that leads into the dénouement is absolutely superb and made me wonder why we hadn’t heard the performers’ voices in full long before that point. Probably a style decision.), and the pieces could all be stitched together a little more seamlessly but this is a show that is destined to be seen by audiences all over the world. We are blessed to have witnessed its first incarnation in Noosa and to have had the opportunity to support local angel, Moy Sweetman, and her Frangipani Dreams. I hope Catharsis returns to us in its next life. I would love to experience this show again, whatever its form.

We do good that the world might see that man is more than he appears to be & can give more than he appears to have.

Mother Rytasha

Frangipani Dreams

Jeffry Feeger Art


Catharsis – premieres in Noosa tonight!


U.S. based team brings international artists, three artistic mediums and a local cause together for one night only

Catharsis Synopsis

Los Angeles based production team Jeremy Culver (writer/director) and Charleene Closshey (composer/actress), along with acclaimed portrait artist, Jeffry Feeger will bring the world premiere of a new stage play, Catharsis, to The J Theatre Noosa tonight, Friday 10 August, 2012.

Listen HERE

The Catharsis concept combines drama, music and live painting on stage with each show featuring a unique, local subject angle. After the Noosa show, Catharsis will tour the world with shows planned for New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles and London in 2013. Whilst scripted, due to the unique subject matter in each location no two shows will ever be the same.

“Catharsis fuses the storytelling mediums of film and music with the romance of live portrait painting and drama, and then combines this with a philanthropic aspect to form a traditional theatre experience, said Jeremy.

“Our goal with each show is obviously for the audience to be entertained, but also to have some sort of cathartic experience, which is really the aim of all drama.”

Catharsis Moy Sweetman

Moy Sweetman, Founder of Frangipani Dreams

The inspiration for Noosa’s Catharsis will be the story of local charity founder, Moy Sweetman of Frangipani Dreams. The actors and audience will first ‘meet’ Moy on stage and hear her story via pre-recorded video interviews and audio clips. The narrative will then be integrated into the drama informing the nature of the acting and music. Simultaneously, Sweetman’s image will be painted live on stage by artist, Jeffry Feeger. The painting will be made available for sale at a future date.

Charleene, Jeremy and Jeffry first workshopped the concept of the show last year in California. They decided to premiere the show in Noosa due to the region’s well established reputation as a town both familiar and appreciative of the arts and because of the team’s personal connection with Moy – whom they met through local producer, Rae Smart.

“The unique format of Catharsis means that the audience’s money is retained by the local community and will be used for a greater purpose long after our show leaves town, Charleene said.

“We’ve heard so many wonderful things about Noosa including the community’s love of the arts and its generosity toward local causes.”


* Drama, music and live painting on stage

* Friday, 10 August 2012

* Play: 8:00PM – 10:PM (with intermission)

* After show soiree. Meet the actors and artist and viewing of Jeffry’s painting. Entertainment by Aussie-Swedish independent duo ‘Nick and Liesl’. Drinks available for purchase.

* The J Theatre * Tickets: $30. Net proceeds of ticket sales and the sale of the painting will be donated directly back to Frangipani Dreams.

* For more information visit

Charlene Closshey

Charleene Closshey

Charleene Closshey (SAG/AEA/BMI) is a performing artist in the truest sense of the word – a classically trained composer, violinist and vocalist, a stage and screen actor, and music and stage producer with training from Juilliard, NYU, and Circle in the Square. Recent screen credits include feature film “A Thousand Cuts”, television pilot “Terminal Kill”, and art film “Walking with Francis”. Stage credits include the original Los Angeles productions of “A War Cycle: Wounded” and “Sherwood Forrest” (world premiere), with lead roles in U.S. productions of “The Wild Party”, “Nine”, “Hair” and “Jekyll & Hyde”. A classically trained violinist, Charleene fuses jazz, rock, pop, blues, and swinging fiddle, sharing the stage with artists including Josh Groban, Charlie Daniels, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and the TransSiberian Orchestra. As a vocalist, Charleene has performed with Operafestival di Roma in Rome, Italy. Various albums available on and Amazon.

AJ Meijer

AJ Meijer

AJ Meijer (SAG/AEA) co-founded the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and was seen most recently in their productions of “The War Cycle: Wounded”, “The War Cycle: Nation of Two”, and “The War Cycle: Gospel According to First Squad”, for which he was nominated for an Ovation Award. Regionally, he last appeared as Lennie in “Of Mice and Men” at TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley. He has performed at the Ahmanson Theatre (LA) and spent four seasons performing at the Getty (LA), where he worked with the National Theatre of Greece in “Swallow Song” and created the role of Bigbuxo in the hilarious original musical “Tug of War”. AJ earned his theatre degree from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television. He also co-hosts a weekly, industry-focused podcast called Inside Acting

Jeffry Feeger

Jeffry Feeger

JEFFRY FEEGER – The Painter About Jeffry Feeger: Jeffry is one of the most exciting young contemporary visual artists to emerge from the Pacific region. From Papua New Guinea and largely self-taught, his work in realism has been met with high critical acclaim and has been seen all over the world, including galleries in China, UK, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. As a skilled live performance painter, he is the reigning champion of the Shanghai Artist Battle 2010, a live performance competition including artists from all over the globe. He’s recently taken his exciting brand of live painting into various public spaces, performing in front of Sydney’s iconic Opera House and at the UN Women’s Exhibit during the Pacific Art Festival in Honiara, July 2012. An inspirational young figure for people in his country, Jeffry routinely collaborates with performers from a variety of unique backgrounds to share the stories he finds passionate. Jeffry’s art is sold worldwide.

Jeremy Culver


Jeremy Culver is a Los Angeles-based writer and director known for delving into topics surrounding Truth and Love in environments of change, blending multimedia mediums to explore life’s mythical stories. His most recently completed art film, Walking with Francis, supposes the last days of St. Francis of Assisi, and has already received critical acclaim with Italian audiences. Currently in production is the documentary, Radical Kindness (featuring Martin Sheen), chronicling the life of Monsignor John Sheridan. Concurrently in pre-production is the feature film Evergreen, a romantic comedy about a musician who returns home to life on the Christmas tree farm and finds her true voice (from the Producers of Hit and Run in theatres August 2012), shooting January 2013.

Jeffry Catharsis

Charleene Jeffry Catharsis

Frangipani Dreams


The Noosa Longweekend begins!

The Noosa Longweekend opened on Friday night with stilt performers, magicians and The Magnets, a grown-up boy band, hailing from the UK: six sexy suit-clad guys, all singing, all dancing, all perfectly in role…as six sexy suit-clad guys, all singing, all dancing, all joking, all flirting, all about having and inspiring loads of fun.

True showmen, every one of them, this acapella group is unlike any other, offering the audience many opportunities to get involved and executing pretty tricky choreography whilst singing and/or beat boxing! Andy “imagine what he can do with those lips, ladies” Frost is quite simply, a phenomenon (fact, not fantasy) and his solo effort, creating a six part sound machine, stole the show.

Check this out:

The sounds they make are all their own. No instruments, no tricks (no auto-tune), just talent. It’s so refreshing! We saw them do their second (and final) Noosa show before they continue their Australian tour. We took Poppy and she loved them. She loved Patrick, actually, who twirled her – she was up dancing for most of the show – and met him after, as is her custom (her groupie antics rival those of her mama’s…apparently).

Poppy met Patrick & Fraser after the show.

Poppy may well be The Magnets’ youngest fan.

Get them while they’re young, Evita, get them while they’re young. Sorry.

I would have liked to have heard much more from Patrick Smith but I think that we will have to wait for that to happen outside of The Magnets at some stage. His is a good, pure, Irish voice! He is joined on stage by Fraser Collins (aka Colin Fraser; Poppy’s other favourite Magnet, with his beautiful base tones and tidy dreadies), Nic Doodson, James Fortune and Steve Trowell. Like every good boy band, there really is someone for everyone.

Fortune and Trowell’s arrangements of popular songs by the likes of Lady Gaga, Blondie and Bon Jovi are unique. They had audience members clapping, stomping (The J has a wooden floor so stomping is almost mandatory) and singing along – yeah, we heard you – and at one stage holding their collective breath. Or was that just me? Okay, it was just me; time stood stilll and I held my breath during a favourite of mine, A-Ha’s Hunting High and Low, which I will include here just because I can. Morten Harket should know he can still have me if he plays his cards right.

Oh. Ok. Embedding disabled by request. So here’s my other A-Ha fave, Take on Me, which The Magnets didn’t sing but…should.

The Magnets are all class and UK charm. You would expect nothing less after finding out that they were “discovered” and taken from the street to somewhere like Hogwarts School for Boy Bands and Boy Banditry where they learned, among other things, Westlife’s chair move (yes, that one; if you’re a fan like my good friend – a good Irish girl – Karen Stewart, you’ll know the one). These guys though, are completely self-deprecating and, in light of the boy bands we love so much to hate, they manage to make their entire act look effortless. And that is what I call a performance! And THAT is what I call performance fit! Yes, ladies! The next logical step for this group is to remove shirts at some stage during the evening…I mean, during the evening’s program…I mean on stage…I…I’m just sayin’.

Look, they have promised to return (no surprise that they’re lovin’ Noosa) so next time The Magnets are in town, you will have no excuse; GO!


One Night In Emerald City

One more sleep until I spend One Night in Emerald City, on stage, with some pretty impressive Aussie talent.

Yes. I know. I should be sleeping. But I’m a bit excited…well, excited and scared.

I will be sharing the stage with Robyn Nevin, Paula Duncan, David Field, Ita Buttrose, Bob Ansett, Mikey Robins, Lucy Bell, Ian Roberts, Felix Williamson, Jim Berardo and Daniel MacPherson. Our comperes will be Shane Bourne and local Zinc FM breakfast show host, Sammy Power.

Apparently, according to my sources, who have all been at The J in Noosa already this evening, to support the premiere of the locally produced short film Cyber Sin, everybody is in fine spirits! I was sorry not to have been able to make this special event too, but our QAVA students keep turning up to classes!

Look, I would like to tell you that I have my lines down. I would like to tell you that, just like Ken Baumann (and so many others, though his is the most recent impressive interview with an actor), I read the script a couple of times and just HAD IT. In fact, I would like to tell you that I know exactly what I’m wearing, what I’m doing, whether my hair will be straightened or styled in water waves (thank you Suite Three)…but no. I got nothin’. We have come to the eleventh hour and I’m freaking out like my four year old. That’s right. Not a typo. Not just any four year old, my four year old; who graduated from daycare yesterday (are we celebrating or are we celebrating mediocrity?!) She refused to perform the well-rehearsed little concert they’d put together for the proud parents. She’d been singing Home Among the Gum Trees for several weeks. She was so ready! But she was happy with her decision. She was a beautiful audience member, in her red sari for Diwali (Nanny and Bugsy-Pa have just returned from India and her head is full of stories and her arms bright and shiny with bangles). She was so proud of her friends and she mingled with them afterwards, congratulating them, as four year olds do, over pink “champagne” and sausages in bread.

Perhaps stage fright is partly genetic. I think I hid behind my mother’s (her Nanny’s) skirts until I was four. Or in Grade Four, I don’t remember which; I’ve blocked it out. Perhaps Poppy is simply a child who knows her own mind (and heart). It has taken me years to work out that there are times I love being on stage and there are other times when I love teaching and directing. Above all, I have loved having a choice in the matter.

Clearly, I had to respect her decision (it was worded so eloquently), “Mama, I want to watch my friends today. We are the audience today.” No amount of coercion from teachers, friends or friends’ (stage) mothers could convince her to change her mind. So we enjoyed watching her friends perform.

We also had a little conversation later, about sometimes just having to do the show…


Mama: You know, sometimes, you don’t have a choice and the show must go on and that means you must go on.

Poppy: I know, Mama. Like your shows.

Mama: That’s right, like my shows; the audience turns up so we do our show.

Poppy: Okay, Mama; I will do the show the next time the audience turns up.


I hope, when the audience turns up tomorrow night I will feel ready to do the show, rather than sitting and enjoying watching it! I really would like to see it! I love a good playreading! One of the best pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen was a staged reading directed by Michael Gow, of David Williamson’s Let the Sun Shine.

After a read with the cast in the morning and a read on stage with them in the afternoon, I’m hoping I’ll feel as confident as I did walking into the audition! We shall soon see!


If you’re there, enjoy and make sure you say hi at our little soiree after the show!