Posts Tagged ‘tom oliver

24
Nov
16

Wonderland – 10 Top Picks

Wonderland!

 

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Wonderland opens tonight! Get ready for three weeks of high energy entertainment in the intoxicating heat of Brisbane’s Summer nights.

Wonderland is Brisbane’s end-of-year carnival of surprise and delight.

With 31 shows over 14 days, you’re invited to flirt with the unexpected and step into a euphoric world of body bending antics and late night temptations…

 

1. Phelan Groovy

Don’t miss the star of Dirty Dancing in Phelan Groovy, part auto biographical, part celebrity dish and ALL entertainment. For if there’s one thing Kurt Phelan has learned through life, it’s to only say 10% of what he thinks. Now you get the other 90% but only from tonight until Saturday at 8:45pm.

 

 

 

2. Wild Heart

Grand Finalist of The Voice and one of Australia’s most gifted singer/songwriters, Ellen Reed, won the hearts of a nation with her soaring voice and unshakable spirit as the Team Jessie J favourite. In Wild Heart, a one night only concert on Wednesday November 30 with her band, we can experience her national television defining performances live in the Powerhouse Theatre, with soulful renditions of Sia’s Chandelier, Demi Lovato’s Stone Cold, and Pink’s Perfect. Ellen Reed will also debut her new single Wild Heart and perform her upcoming album of original tracks including Ask Me to Stay, Blur and Not Tonight. A special Wonderland treat, not to be missed!

 

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3. Smooth Criminal

Not only is Christopher Wayne one half of the global success story, The Naked Magicians, but he’s also producing some of the hottest shows we’ll see over the next couple of summers. Smooth Criminals brings together the odd couple of Australia’s entertainment industry, Luke Kennedy and Joel Turner. For one show only, on Sunday at 4pm, audiences will get the chance to experience Michael Jackson’s back catalogue as they’ve never heard before, when Kennedy (The Voice, Season 2 runner up, The Ten Tenors) and Turner (world champion beat boxer and platinum selling hip hop artist) join forces to share in their love for the greatest entertainer to ever live, in a musical experience like no other. This is the must-see Smooth Criminals.

 

Remember The Time from Chris Wayne on Vimeo

 

4. More Than A Boy

Starring Tom Oliver, More Than A Boy is a playful rite-of-passage about family and adventure, do-or-die situations and seemingly random events that build character and shape destiny. Featuring an eclectic mix of original songs written by Tom, Andrew McNaughton and Wes Carr (Australian Idol winner), theatre tunes and reworked contemporary hits, More Than A Boy magically weaves together the stories of a Croatian refugee forging a new life and a grandson who follows his dreams. Backed by a live band, get the adrenalin pumping and experience Tom Oliver shoot for the stars in this lively quest journey.

 

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5. The Lady of the House of Love

If you’ve never seen this show – or this artist – you’re in for a real treat. Performed by award-winning artist Sandro Colarelli, The Lady of the House of Love is a darkly eerie and exotic one-man show exploring the themes of desire and destiny. With original music composed by award winning singer-songwriter Jake Diefenbach, this combination of evocative narrative and stunning songs harks back to the darkest roots of cabaret.

 

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6. Other Women

This is the season’s sexiest circus-cabaret! Starring Lizzie Moore, Eliza Dolly, Rosie Peaches, Freyja Edney with a Chloe-Rose Taylor. Other Women: Temptress or tempting? Fast woman or free-spirited? If a man is a stud, what is a woman? Enter the world of Other Women: a provocative and witty circus-cabaret celebrating female sexuality and exploring sexual double standards. A thrilling live band, circus soloists and burlesque cheek electrify the stage in this World Premiere performance. Featuring an eclectic mix of songs by artists such as Nina Simone, Goldfrapp and Prince; Other Women explores promiscuity, and our contradictory views towards women and their sexual behaviour.

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7. Emma Dean in Concert

Heralded for her captivating vocals by the New York Post, Brisbane’s own Emma Dean is a consummate performer and has released over ten independent original albums/EPs.She has toured the world, performing alongside Jesca Hoop and Kate Miller-Heidke, and in support of Macy Gray, Jinkx Monsoon, Katie Noonan, Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls. Emma will be joined by her brother, Tony Dean to perform an eclectic catalogue of songs exploring love, loss and light. One show only on Saturday December 3 at 4pm.

 

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8. The Chaser’s Australia

Discover The Chaser’s Australia with Charles Firth and James Schloeffel. A very special multi-media presentation of The Chaser’s Australia. Covering politics, culture, religion, sport and jokes about Karl Stefanovic, it includes a special segment on Australian cooking, and why chicken salt is the only ingredient you’ll ever need. It also includes an extra special presentation on the environment entitled “There’s Absolutely Nothing to Worry About”, sponsored by the Minerals Council of Australia. If you only attend one event this year, you should probably go out a bit more often. The Chaser’s Australia; it’s everything you wanted to know about Australia, but were too apathetic to ask. One show only tonight at 7:15pm.

 

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9. Mills and Boom!

Join the Fanciful Fiction Auxiliary, a fictitious amateur writers’ group of oddball characters with fake hair, fake lashes, and real passion, for its personally acclaimed stage show. Mills and Boom! is a simply stupendous salon of bosom-heaving, lip-quivering ecstasy during which we regale you with our smouldering romance stories. Featuring Pascalle Burton, Carody Culver, Adam Hadley, Michelle Law, Ian Powne, Tessa Rose, Jackie Ryan, Leah Shelton, Lucas Stibbard, and Neridah Waters. One show only on Sunday December 5 at 5pm.

 

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10. House of Mirrors

The House of Mirrors is a grotesquely fascinating walk-through installation composed of a labyrinth of seemingly endless mirrors. Since the 19th Century, mirror mazes have been trapping and reflecting participants, challenging those that venture into them, both physically and psychologically, resulting in delight, amazement and sometimes, fear. The House of Mirrors includes Kaleidoscopic like chambers, voids, doorways and darkened breaks, the purist and most traditional form of a mirrored maze. No added gimmicks, no special effects, no special lighting, no sound track or soundscape.  The primary ingredients of carefully arranged mirrors, geometry and pure optical illusion.

Please be aware that during busy period, long wait times are possible. We recommend if you pre-book a ticket and plan on experiencing House of Mirrors before another show, to give yourself ample time in case of lines. Your House of Mirrors experience could take anywhere between 5 minutes and 20 minutes, depending on how fast you solve the maze.

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20
Apr
13

Next To Normal

Next to Normal

Music by Tom Kitt and Book & Lyrics by Brian Yorkey

Oscar Theatre Company

QPAC Cremorne

18th April – 4th May 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

It’s got to be one of our greatest fears, up there with shark attacks, road accidents, plane crashes and public speaking; the prospect of losing our mental faculties has got to be one of the most terrifying things in a lifetime. I’m already terrified of losing my memory. Maybe it’s why I write. Maybe it’s why I Instagram. Maybe it’s why I married Sam (Mr XS has a memory like an elephant, which makes up for mine, which is more comparable to a butterfly with an average life span of seven or so days). Maybe it’s why The Notebook feels so personal and I’m unable to watch it without crying my eyes out and leaving a pot of tea to go cold. EVERY TIME. And we’re not even going to mention Silver Linings Playbook.

 

Theatre is a mirror. And what I see in Next to Normal is a woman who lost control a long time ago. And nothing anybody can do will help her regain it. That’s terrifying.

 

In Australia we know that one in four people suffer from a diagnosed mental health condition. I know; I’ve linked to a source that states it’s one in five (the 2007 ABS figure) but did you know that Sam has a day job in the upper echelons of STEPS Group Australia? He says it’s now one in four. And I believe him. Think about that. That’s somebody you know (or several people you know). Or…it’s you.

 

We also know that the statistics are usually the last we hear of it. Chronic depression and mental illnesses, more often than not, just don’t rate a mention. In fact, there’s an awful lot of discussion about discussing mental illness. We’ve all shared the Facebook meme or re-tweeted somebody’s sensitive plea for greater tolerance, support and understanding of mental illness (R U OK?). Terrific! Great job! Now, where’s our greater tolerance, support and understanding of mental illness?

 

Standing in this room,

Well I wonder what comes now.

I know I have to help her,

But hell if I know how.

And all the times that I’ve been told

The way her illness goes.

The truth of it is no one really knows.

 

– Dan Goodman, Next to Normal

 

The Pulitzer Prize winning Next to Normal boasts an intelligent book, which gives us a glimpse into the simple horrors of living every day in an unstable way, and great insight into what it must feel like to live with a mentally unstable person. The impact on loved ones is horrendous, and the end result of long-term mental illness can be disastrous on several levels.

 

549701_10151373546983379_1584428554_nIf you happened to come across, as I did (nerd alert), the reviews of the original Off-Broadway production in 2008, you might have noticed among them, the Observer’s John Heilpern’s reflection on the show as being “kitschy, twitchy, depressing”. And perhaps it was, in its second life, Off-Broadway before a few (more) rewrites. The greatest challenge of staging any theatrical piece is surely to bring it into a place of relevance for the actors and audience and in this director Emily Gilhome has outdone herself. Resisting the temptation to take certain characters and scenarios completely off the scale of believability, as may have been the case in earlier productions elsewhere, Gilhome gives us a beautifully realised vision. This Next to Normal is astutely directed and unflinchingly lays bare the bones of depression, the breakdown of the family unit, the medical and pharmaceutical shenanigans along the way, and suicide. Mr Heilpern should see this production. It’s disturbing.

 

The bitter brilliance of Next to Normal is that it doesn’t answer any of our questions about mental illness or about the wide range of treatment options available. In fact, it sees us walking away with even more questions. This theatrical piece is in fact a shattered mirror. Can you see something of yourself? Terrifying.

 

On opening night, the opening number (Just Another Day) suffered from a couple of sound and pitch issues, and for me, what came across as unusually (for an opening night) low energy. However, to anyone unfamiliar with the show it was probably fine; a gentle start, as if we had the support band on stage (and the band actually IS on stage and you know I love seeing the band on stage!) to psyche us up and help ease us into a plot that then puts us through the wringer. A tip for anybody who hasn’t yet watched the YouTube clips of other productions of Next to Normal… don’t. See this production first. I’m sure that my early disappointment was only due to my obsession, which I have mentioned in a previous post, with the original Off-Broadway and Broadway productions.

 

Magically, the sound improved after interval, as it so often does at QPAC.

 

Let’s talk about this wonderful, spirited, talented cast. I love the people Oscar is able to bring out of the woodwork. Actually, of course we’ve seen most of them somewhere before but in Oscar’s hands, I suspect we’re seeing much more of that which they’re capable. You’ll notice I have a couple of bones to pick but don’t worry, there’s nothing that takes away from the overall impact of the show; it’s exceptional. Every performer here has taken their role by the throat and given it a good shake before stepping inside the skin of it, almost like the demon in the underrated, unnerving movie Fallen *shivers*

 

Anyway, I have to tell you that my new favourite performer in Brisbane is the insightful Siobhan Kranz, who we saw as Wendla in Oscar’s 2011 production of  Spring Awakening, another Queensland premiere. Unfathomably, Kranz mentions in her bio a desire to forge a career BEHIND THE SCENES in the music industry but I hope this ambition remains unrealised for a good while yet. Sorry, Siobhan. Her Natalie is petulant, resistant and finally forgiving and supportive, the last man standing so to speak, necessarily becoming her father’s rock. A faultless performer in this instance, Kranz is a keeper.

 

Tom Oliver (whose hilarious performance as Ron Weasley in A Very Potter Musical was just SO GOOD) beautifully underplays Natalie’s stoner boyfriend, Henry. These two are perfectly matched and together they proffer a true sense of optimism and the importance of keeping hold of hope, which I’ll come back to later. I know. Bear with me. Make a coffee if you must. Henry was Sam’s favourite character. Or, Oliver was Sam’s favourite performer. He’s not sure and the fact that he is unsure about how to phrase that tells me that Oliver is going to be a fave for many more patrons. I should also mention that his appearance in Next to Normal is in between international engagements so we are lucky to have him for this strictly limited Brisbane season. With his (Hey) duets with Kranz – there are three of them – Oliver takes us safely each time into the relative calm of the eye of the storm, while chaos continues to swirl all around them.

 

 

James Gauci, in a beautifully gauged act of confidence and charisma (we expect nothing less from this performer now) plays both Diana’s doctors. Gauci gets it just right, giving us the perfect blend of scary rock star and genuinely concerned medical professional. There’s a lovely, gentle moment towards the end of the show, when he connects with Dan Goodman, and we see how well he fits the shoes of this second character particularly. And look, I’m just putting it out there; as much as I love to see Brisbane talent stay in Brisbane…what is Gauci still doing in Brisbane?! Let’s hope we see one of my favourite overachievers in front of larger audiences in a bigger city sometime soon. Sure, of course, if that’s what HE wants.

 

Matt Crowley makes an admirable stage debut in the shoes of Gabe Goodman. Crowley’s brightest moments match the bold as brass lighting levels during I’m Alive, his superb duet with Natalie (one of the best numbers of the night, Superman and the Invisible Girl), and in more silvery (ghostly?) tones during Catch Me I’m Falling. His connection with Dan in the final dramatic moments finally brought reluctant tears to my eyes, and it was with Dan that I sympathised most. Chris Kellet’s sensitive, stoic Dan Goodman, the long-suffering husband, is quietly impressive. In the end, it’s his part in I Am the One (Reprise) that should be enough to bring even the toughest husbands and daddies to tears. (I do hope they go, the husbands and daddies…). To see this side of Kellet is a wonderful surprise, and to give due credit to the newcomer, Crowley plays right alongside him, right up to the devastating conclusion. It’s a cruel end, isn’t it? I HATE IT! I HATE THE END! I sobbed uncontrollably the first eight thousand times I listened to the original soundtrack on loop in my car. Let There Be Light is supposed to be the optimistic, uplifting final reminder that “it gets better”. It’s hope. I hope that works for you.

 

Unexpectedly, Alice Barbery’s Diana Goodman, the woman around whose life the story revolves, left me mostly cold. Gilhome mentions in her program notes that casting is 90% of the director’s job and as a director, of course you work with what you have. If this Diana was the best for the role we have to take Gilhome’s word for it. Barbery’s voice is beautiful, and in its lower register, and the quieter moments of contemplation or concern, absolutely perfect for the role. It’s when we get into the middle range that there are just a couple of problems with the placement, pitch and power of delivery. It’s just that it’s a thinner, more classical sound than one might expect to hear in the context, both in terms of the hardcore content and the soft-rock style of the show.

 

In spite of my harsh assessment, Barbery has an incredibly clear sense of character and she works hard to give us plenty of insight into Diana’s crippling inner battle. Hers is a frantic, busy, utterly confused and eternally wounded woman, and considering the scale and complexity of the role, Barbery gives an awesome performance. To be too critical seems unfair.

 

547534_10152771545950118_7075640_nThe production is nicely staged – it looks sublime – but the design consists of an upper level that lies too far above us and away from us, distancing me more than I would have liked from the intensity of the action and emotion. I was prepared to be in the room with these desperate people, yes indeed, with Gabe in his Off-Broadway-referenced shirtless bathroom moment (of course you know that when the show moved to Broadway Aaron Tveit inexplicably kept his shirt on. Perhaps the producers feared a storming of the stage). Overall, I liked the solid design (Timothy Wallace) but it felt like it wanted more space, and seemed better suited to a venue such as the Playhouse, while the show itself rightly belongs in the intimacy of a space like the Cremorne.

 

It’s hard work to sit through this show (and possibly to read to the end of this review!); it’s emotionally draining. But it’s worth it. Act 1 boasts so many lovely, funny, quirky moments; they are mostly Natalie’s acerbic observations, thanks to Kranz’s characterisation and comic timing, and Diana’s one-liners, delivered deadpan by Barbery and clearly tickling the fancy of not just this housewife and mother. On opening night the giggles abounded!

 

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With Emily Integrity and Humility Gilhome at the helm, Oscar Theatre Company always put on a slick show (she does slick so well). In Next to Normal we see the bar raised once again with superb staging, exquisite attention to detail (check out the medicine bottle labels!), a lighting design that completely supports the story and the characters’ journeys, AND manages to rival that of the Broadway production (Jason Glenwright), a top notch band and MD (David Law), and a combined creative effort that must make a number of aspiring theatre makers think, “THAT is the kind of theatre I want to make!” …or run for the hills. Just saying.

 

There have been times when we’ve worried that maybe we wouldn’t see Oscar again but I think we can safely say now that this dynamic, determined company is here to stay, thanks to the dedicated creative team at its core, the crowd of loyal followers and investors, and the support of QPAC.

 

If you love good theatre it’s easy to follow suit and support them. Buy the tickets. See the show. Tell your friends, tell your family and tell your friendly local barista that they can’t afford to miss Oscar’s Next to Normal. Its impact is long lasting, and the unanswered questions will keep you thinking, talking and feeling deeply for a lifetime, but it’s a short season so be super quick to book because social media is already well on the way to making this show a sell-out!

 

A Social Media Note Courtesy of our good friend Wiki:

 

Twitter (2009)

 

In May 2009, about six weeks into the Broadway Production, Next to Normal began publishing an adapted version of the show over Twitter, a social media network. Over 35 days, the serialized version of the show was published in the form of tweets, short messages utilized by Twitter, a single line from a character at a time. The Twitter performance ended the morning of June 7, 2009, the morning of the 2009 Tony Awards. The initiative earned the musical the 2009 OMMA Award for Best in Show Situation Interactive.

 

16
Apr
12

the voice

So. Thoughts on (the Australian) The Voice, which premiered last night on Channel 9? Who did you love? What surprised you? It’s a reality TV show unlike anything we’ve seen before…for now. After the first round, it becomes a coached competition with the results coming from viewers who can be bothered take the time to vote for their favourite artist.

The point of difference is the Blind Audition. How refreshing! A competition that begins with the voice rather than the singer’s appearance. Of course they’re on camera for our benefit even before the judges turn around and it’s fascinating to watch the good singers sing. And to be reminded that good singers don’t just sing. They communicate a story. The story and all of the emotions involved in telling it are the very essence of any powerful performance.

Blind Auditions continue tonight and tomorrow night (be watching for our friends, Darren Percival, Kelsie Rimmer, Tom Oliver and Dakota Striplin)! After that, we’ll see just where the four coaches – Seal, Delta Goodrem, Keith Urban and Joel Madden – can take those performers who make it through the first round.

Here’s a sneak peak at a rather special moment, just in case you needed further convincing to catch The Voice tonight (watch to the end)…

The show has experienced massive success in the UK and USA, smashing ratings and perpetuating the myth that all you need to succeed in the music industry is that elusive “lucky break”. Does it work? Sure! Get some good management and PR behind you and the entertainment world’s your oyster!

Who will you be voting for? Is it too early to tell? Perhaps not!

23
Mar
12

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Harvest Rain Theatre

21st – 31st March 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Before the lights went down and the rain began to patter on the warehouse’s roof I realised the actors I was about to see had a challenge ahead of them. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is not a new and upcoming production. Neither is it a recent hit that has come to tour Brisbane. This is a musical comedy that was first performed in 1967, redone and adapted many times over by many theatre companies, high schools and performers alike. The challenge for this young but nonetheless inspiring cast was to make this performance their own. After seeing the show I believe they did just that.

It was very easy for them to win me over. The characters of Charlie Brown have always been a part of my childhood. I used to watch the television series religiously every Saturday morning so I was happy to be reunited with a childhood favourite in the Harvest Rain Theatre.

I have to stress if you haven’t seen the musical in any of its previous productions do not expect a linear plot. Don’t even try it. Despite Charlie Brown being the title character the ensemble cast of Lucy, Linus, Sally, Schroeder, and of course Snoopy each have their turn to befriend and humour you. The musical is a series of skits, all of which will no doubt make you laugh and want to sing along.

I was disappointed by one recurring mistake. A very simple error but once I heard it, it couldn’t be ignored. A few of the cast members at one time or another, and sometimes more than once, stuttered or muddled a line. That one break in the flow of what feels almost real let me down. Certainly because this is a musical their voice is everything in this production. The songs are important naturally but their vocals shouldn’t compensate for the dialogue.

Each and every one of the cast members has a wonderful voice. It’s something I truly envy. Tom Oliver stepped up to the challenge of the title character. If Charlie Brown were a real person he’d be something like Oliver’s performance. Tom is no stranger to musical theatre. He has made the rounds in well-known musicals such as A Very Potter Musical as well as classics like Jesus Christ Superstar.

But like I said, Charlie Brown is not the focus of this musical. Two names I thought absolutely need to be commended for this production is Matt Johnston and Alex Valentine who played Snoopy and Sally respectively. Alex’s voice and Matt’s charisma won me over instantly. This duo share some wonderful scenes as well as their own that remain unforgettable. When they’re not busy chasing rabbits their songs fill the room.

Alex Valentine has crafted her talents from a young age. She has studied dance and vocals extensively taking herself from the Twelfth Night Theatre to QPAC as well as many productions at the Harvest Rain Theatre.

Snoopy was possibly my favourite character in this production. Looking over Matt Johnston’s work in performance it is clear he is a character actor. One of the most entertaining character actors I’ve seen in a long time. At first I wondered if it’s difficult to play a dog. But after reading his roles such as the mad hatter and more recently the Lion in The Wizard of Oz at QPAC amongst other characters, it is easy to see he is in his element. He gave off an almost Nathan Lane-esque aura about him. Certainly not a side of Snoopy I’d ever thought of but nonetheless absolutely enjoyed.

The cast isn’t the only hard workers in this production though. They are the result of three very talented people.  Firstly Sophie Woodward needs to be applauded for the musical direction of this production. Although each of the cast were impressive with their voices alone my favourite songs were always the ones that collectively pulled each voice together into a harmony. But this is not a musical to be considered dull. George Canham choreographed each performance. The vivid movements under his guide made the audience want to dance too. Finally, there is the woman who pulled it all together, Meg Ham. She has had experience on and off the stage. She set out with a musical that has been done so often and made it into a fresh performance.

This is also the second production to fly the AFFILIATE PROJECT flag. A project the Harvest Rain Theatre has begun conducting to get the passion of independent producers works onto the stage. I’ve been following it closely since their first Affiliate Project Production and hope to see more.

When the stage opened with poor old Charlie and his neurotic musings I panicked. I thought, “Oh God, it’s a musical about me!” His monologue of self-doubt, confusion, over-thinking and worrisome concerns all embodied a late night session of my thoughts before I fall asleep. I turned to a friend and indulged her in this observation when she replied, “That’s funny, and I was wondering if they’d written a musical about my life.” That’s when I realised we’re all a bit of a Charlie Brown. Not necessarily our football punting skills or our ability to fly a kite but the nervousness that keeps us going. That awkwardness in your step when seeing someone you have a bit of a crush on. It’s something everyone can relate to.

That’s why Charlie Brown always has a soft spot in my heart. But more to the point that’s why it is worth it to see this production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, to see with your own eyes Charlie’s struggles, Snoopy’s antics and the hilarious dilemmas of the entire cast.

06
Feb
12

A Very Potter Musical

A Very Potter Musical

Lost Boys Theatre Company

Metro Arts Studio

2nd – 4th February 2012

If you’ve seen on YouTube, A Very Potter Musical (Book & Score by Darren Criss & A.J. Holmes), you’re already either a big fan or a hater. Haters gonna’ hate, y’all. But the big fans got themselves and their friends along to Metro Arts on the weekend to see The Lost Boys Theatre Company’s stellar starter production. Yes, it was their debut on the Brisbane theatre scene. Yes, there are some things that will improve in future with a little more attention to detail across the board but this was a great, fun, free show, delivered confidently, by a new, fun-loving company who deserves our support.

The brainchild of Joshua Correa (Director) and Sarah Harvey (Producer), the Lost Boys are a group of very young, very talented performers who claim they are “not trying to be the BEST theatre company, just the COOLEST.” A few of the faces are familiar because, well, performers gonna’ perform, aren’t they?

This is not the production you’ll see online. Starkid Productions, a group of music, theatre and dance students from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, created a cheeky parody (for $150) for their families and friends, of J.K. Rowling’s successful stories about The Boy Who Lived and helped by other comedies such as Starship and Me and My Dick – I didn’t make that up – very quickly discovered a worldwide cult fan base of epic proportions. A Very Potter Musical Act 1 Scene 1 has over 8 million hits on YouTube!

If you’ve been living under a rock or at Pigfarts, on Mars, you might not know the story so here’s a brief synopsis. Reluctant kid wizard, Harry Potter (The Boy Who Lived), returns for a new year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with his friends, Hermione and Ron, basically to study as little as possible and to kill Harry’s nemesis, Voldemort (The Dark Lord), who is living parasitically at the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. What the Lost Boys have done very well is to make this production their own and in doing so, they have improved on the original.

This Harry Potter is written as a self-absorbed, fame-affected prick and Dakota Striplin, last seen (with Tom Oliver and Emma Taviani) in Oscar Theatre Company’s Spring Awakening (2011), plays it to the hilt, as well as playing guitar throughout, which gives him a real rock star quality – including the unlikeable bits brought about by fame and fortune – lifting the game from the outset. Another notable improvement is that Clay English has choreographed where Starkid has not and despite seeing all of English’s best Broadway/YTT moves in the opening number, the energy and parody benefit.

The band was split, with the drummer on stage, and not just onstage but upstage dead centre, a spot that would otherwise have made a convenient entrance and exit. I hated seeing the tabs either side pushed aside to make way for the performers. The band is terrific (only Musical Director, Ben Murray, is credited in the program), however; early on they drown out unamplified voices. Now, in the small Studio space, the voices shouldn’t need amplification but if you’ve got a loud band and inexperienced singers without the vocal strength required to fill even that small space, do amplify them (or box your band)! Tough gig, Joel Redding (Sound Designer). A simple, open set serves the performers well (Set Designer Daniel Harvey) and, ably lit by Michael Rogerson (Lighting Designer), we focus on the characters and their ridiculous, OTT antics.

Emma Taviani is a sweet, book-hugging Hermione, The Bold and The Beautiful of this production, complete with fixed gazes out front prior to her exits. Tom Oliver is a continuously snacking, hilarious Ron Weasley. This role allows Oliver’s comic and vocal ability to come through in a most relaxed manner. As Severus Snape, Cameron Whitton is the ultimate sneering, gliding, glaring, suspicious professor, making the most of his sweeping and dramatic entrances and exits. In boxer shorts, blue cape and rainbow hat, is Robert Pigdon as Dumbledore, more oddball than endearing, with an odd NYC accent that seemed out of place (as it does in the original). I should mention at this point, in case you’re imagining that due to its British origin, this is a British story with British accents, the vast majority of characters speak (and sing) in American accents. Do the American accents make the show funnier? Not really, just more American. And which generation is enjoying the additional American-accented course language? I wonder. On the other hand, scene-stealer, Lauren Neilson, played pretty Draco Malfoy as the British snob that he is. Although Neilson seemed at first inexperienced or insecure, mimicking the original performance, she warmed to the role, rose to its challenges and ended up delivering a better version of it with some fabulous comedy, mostly in the form of completely over the top choreographed…well, everything! Her every line was supported by fluid and controlled athletic-balletic-Matrix moves that had the audience falling about laughing until we are crying. I would like to see even more time taken over these moves, now that the joke has been tried and tested in front of an audience (and executed with far greater competence than that which we see on YouTube). But sadly, the season is done. Neilson could not have executed many of her moves without the able assistance of her comical henchmen, Lachlan Geraghty (Crabbe) and Nic Mohr (Goyle). Some great character work there. Sally Lloyd was lovely as Ginny Weasely and would certainly develop vocal strength and greater confidence before the end of a longer run.

Together, Anthony Craig as Professor Quirrell and George Kennedy as Voldemort, were bosom buddies of the most bizarre kind. The cooperative work of this kooky couple was fantastic and Kennedy’s song and dance number a showstopper. The ensemble was complete with Dallin Williams (Cedric Diggory), Allison Nipperess (Neville Longbottom), Kristen Barros (Mrs Weasley/Pansy), Kelly Smith (Bellatrix Le’strange), Samantha Lan (Lavender Brown) and Lauren Jimmieson (Cho Chang).

A Very Potter Musical is a wonderfully, funny, quirky show, with catchy, toe-tapping tunes and politically incorrect jibes and in-jokes, which the true fans of Harry Potter must drink up just as easily as their butterbeer, which, strangely, was not available at the theatre, nor downstairs at Verve. An oversight? Too short a season to offer it? Not necessary? I’ve provided a recipe below so you may BYO (Brew Your Own) the next time this show comes to Brisbane. Despite the lack of butterbeer (or chocolate frogs for that matter), the diverse pool of talent involved in this production indicates that The Lost Boys Theatre Company is one to watch and this, their debut effort, performed for free, is one to applaud.

The Lost Boys had the kind support of Vast AV, Metro Arts, Elisabeth Harvey, Christian Aas

and Harvest Rain Theatre Company

Butterbeer recipe courtesy of misterhope.com