Band Showcase


The Great Kat Guitar Shred

The Great Kat -

Reviewer Naja Kemp

A Superconductor of Electrical Current
Vibration of Exceptional Speed Artisan
Coaxing Siren of Vocals and Screams
Brings to Us, Her Version of:
Rossini's (the greatest composer of Italian Opera)
"William Tell Overture"

What a Brilliant Choice by " The Great Kat"
The High Priestess of Guitar Shred to perform for us. Composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini's "William Tell Overture", the Trials and the Adventures of Human Warrior Resilience. The Here Story - the Clash of Good vs Evil.
"The Great Kat" extends the form of the symphonic Story through the use of the many Instruments she plays with; Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Violin, Viola with Her Band of Impeccable Musicians.
Jeff Ingegno n Bass; Lionel Cordew on Drums and Midi Drums plus a Majestic Offering from Symphony Orchestra. Piccolo, Flute; Midi Oboes, Clarinets, Bassoons, French Horns, Trumpets, Trombones, midi Timpani - Triangle - midi Piatti.
All Instruments "The Great Kat" performs with layers many Sounds as if one is listening to an Enormous Orchestra that's amazing - Operatic; for instance like an impressionist Startling the world.
In "The Great Kat's " version of Rossini's "William Tell Overture" so exceptional and so, so fast lasting 1 minute 54 seconds, any Metronome Makers need to invent a :Speed Metal Metronome” and call it Speed Vixen Kat.
"The Great Kat" creates an image for the Mind to see, A Great Victory, like In Old Times when men made Ballads and told Heroic Stories.
Inspired by "The Great Kat's" music even visually I see "William Tell" the Mighty Marksman, the Hero of the Swiss, a Brave Patriot - stirs up rebellion by prodigious feats of Strength and Skill - just Like "The Great Kat" who shows NO FEAR, deals directly with agenda's - turns them around - Dramatic Yes!
"The Great Kat" has struck out A New Verse, She is "The Marksman" (Her Guitar like a Crossbow) She sends her Arrow, it's Adrenalin Like an Uprush of creative energy toward True Freedom.
Cruel Austrian "Gessler" forced "William Tell" to Aim at an Apple on Top of His Beloved Son's Head, "Tell" drew His Bow firmly and DID NOT MISS
"Tell" boldly tells His Persecutor " Gessler" if He missed, His 2nd Arrow to be sent right into "Gessler's " Heart, so then "Gessler" condemned "Tell"to a Dungeon.
Across Lake Lucerne, A Tempest Arose, A sudden Storm; literary I heard this Storm through the manuel dexterity of 'The Great Kat's' electrifying performance. (Speed Action).
No other person can drench music over me and it leaves me profoundly changed like 'The Great Kat'- and in-Synchronization; no other man could handle a rudder like William Tell so His captors released His shackles to help with the Boat Row,’ Tell' drove the craft against a certain rock seized A Crossbow and Leaped to shore. Services are held every year in Honour of the Rock. In Altdorf there is a Huge Statue of William Tell on the very spot He shot 'The apple from his Boy's Head'. This Hero is immortalised - by great Plays written and performed.
I Revel in Delight when I see pictures of 'The Great Kat'. She personifies Scandinavian Goddess, Her Crossbow - Her Guitar, Her dominatrix outfit and Ambient Person incandescent, like a Sky Goddess having Blokes eating out of Her Hands!'The Great Kat' Words toward male 'Castration' plus song 'Sodomize' maybe repulsive to some but it's Theatrical, like a Reflection on Women that have endured much, Sacrificed greatly and now in Modernity - the coin is flipped and today women can drag behind our males in Chains, the sexual segregation is OVER.
Life now has positive fresh energy, potential growth for Women in the Arts favourably and our Hero the brilliant Great Kat , the world's fastest female guitarist, the Female Genius of our modern Era.
Kat you certainly inspire my love of music and history.
Rock on Coaxing Siren.
Young Female Musicians in Melbourne Australia that I have spoken to, consider 'The Great Kat' one of the Greatest Guitar Goddess Genius of Modernity; they are asking their Parents to buy them Flying "V" Guitars.
Awaken men of Band "Apocalyptical" of Finland pack up your Cellos fly to New York - play music with 'The Great Kat' a suggestion I often hear; let her be your Valkyrie
Shine on Brightly - The Great Kat!


The Great Kat - Extreme Guitar Shred

Reviewer: Naja Kemp

Unprecedented Second D.V.D.
Here the Great Kat a complete Triumph, once again in Excellent style, Shredder Eaxtraordinaire!


The Great Kat, Clad in The American Flag of Stars and Stripes, Her Guitar Triumphant portraying a propelling Freshness and Sparkle of Wit!
Life, Liberty, Land of the Free, of the Brave, Let Freedom Ring, Happiness.

The Great Kat has the Distinction of beiong One of the few Women to Inspire, to encourage more Women to take up Guitar. She is a Remarkable Visionary: whose Performance is both "Distinguished & Indivindualistic.


The Great Kat plays her Guitar & Violin brilliantly tearing at a Tremendous Speed. Her Guitar Her Coporal Instrument like a Machine in Her hands diving to Earth Testing; 'ThePain Tolerance' of each member of her Band!

The Great Kat Deepens the Force behind each blow when Whipping a Band member into submission.

Kat uses Leash attachments, Gags, Crops, Blindfolds, Harness, Shackles, Paddles, Power Tools, Whips on Her men and when they are not to be found Pleasing, Kat brings out Gigantic Scissors to compel her Submissives into Shape: (A Medievil Head-Vice is a Great Invention for use on a Highly Inflated Ego, ie Slave); to End She receives a Rousing Ovation much favoured by her Men.


'The Great Kat Shredder Extraordinaire', holding a 3-pronged Spear; a Slave Licking Her Boots, in Obedience, to Mistress Kat, Seated and Upon Command.


The Song Castration "The Great Kat Arrests Attention"

"A Flying "V" Guitarist Amazon"
Demonstrating the Swift, Irrevocable, Force of Fate & the Finality of Death!


The Great Kat Metal Mayhem Privilege!

Enthralling A Cheering Crowded Audience.

Adoring Fans on Stage, Bowing & Circulating The Great Kat Impressively Playing her Guitar behind her head.
Shredding in Perpetual Motion;
Inflaming All Passions to Frenzy!


The Great 'Victorious' Kat declares War.
To Rule by Decreee is Passed.

The Great Kat's Guitar is an Electric Current, a Superconductor to Delight in.


The Great Kat Beethoven's Guitar Shred

Reviewer: Naja Kemp

The Great Kat was born in Swindon, England, she has performed - touring the world and is also a classical violin soloist. She studied in New York at the prestigious Juillard School of Music. She has created a new musical score known as Shred Guitar. A revolutionary musician in what your reviewer would call Speed Metal . She plays 300 beats per minute; a Metronome meter of rhythm measurement can only do 208 beats per minute.
The Great Kat Guitar Shreds 'Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Bach's Brandenburg concertoto #3: Bach's piece is light and merry and Kat has gracefully shaded this piece with counterpoint layering, constrating the staccato notes with finely tuned, profoundly innovative pieces; like a magician to reach into deep knowledge from nonrational sources, innovative new visions, perspectives, and creative inspiration for new possibilities, the bringer of the magificent for our greater good realm opening, calling us all into the future with The Great Kat.
She plays Flying V Guitar as The Sky Goddess ultimate, elctrifying, incadescent, revolutionary musician.
The Great Kat's original piece with her band's Torture Piece A theatrical paddling, chaining, blindfolding, vocalising and basically "Whipping her Bands Arses" reminds your correspondent of The Aztecs beautiful goddess (Venus or Xochiquetzal) descending into The Underworld after The Sky Monster shamefully breaking his 'vows of celibacy' submitting to his basic instincts with her
Xochiquetzal (Venus) was challenged to The Game of Life and Sky Master lost the ritual ball-game 'Peylota' and was sacrificed by The Sun. Xochiquezal rose from The Underworld accompanied by human blood sacrifice and fertility rites, covered with the blood of the dead. Fantastically performed by Kat, covered in blood, with her band inthe song Torture Techniques.
This Venus goddess of war, which is a symbol of the Venus Retrograde Cycle; Kat became The Goddess surrendering our outmoded values, releasing them and then attaining this rebirth of new conscious values.



30 Years of Sixty Five Thousand - presented by Bangarra Dance Group\

Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrated 30 years of dance with a production at Melbourne’s Playhouse Theatre.
Opening production was Stamping Ground, which was created by Jiri Kylian as an homage to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their cultures.
A dance of six performers who each gave a great interpretation of Kylian’s choreography. An energetic and moving performance.
The next number was To Make Fire which celebrates 30 years of Bangara’s creations.
These stories speak of traditional ceremonies and practices, great artists and leaders, land and Country, loss, survival and hope.
There are three worlds in To Make Fire: Mathinna, About and Clan.
is a story inspired by a young Tasmanian girl who was removed from her home and adopted into a western colonial society.
The stage was simply set with aa sewing machine, metres of material and a young dancer handling same. A good display of the talents of the company executing the style of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance as choreographed.
About explores the cultural connection between the people of the Torres Strait Islands and the spirits of the four winds.
The dancers moves indicate the cool breeze, the winds of the storm season and the calm and gentlest wind. This was done with no sets just strong and interpretive dancing from the company.
Clan investigating what it means to be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person in the 21st century.
This number was performed by several members and then by the whole company giving the high standard of performance as seen in the other dances.
The final number was Unaipon an absorbing portrait of the great Aboriginal philosopher, inventor, writer and storyteller. Ngarrindjeri man David Unaipon.
Danced by the full company who danced out the story of this amazing man in a way that the audience understood the man, his lifeand his affect on us all.
The style of the aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders and their choreographers is seemingly totally different to all other dance styles such as ballet, Cossack, Scottish and many more inasmuch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders dance form seems seems introspective, it has no great exuberance such as grand jettes, outward projections and pushing oneself outwards to the audience.
Is it the love of the earth where soma much choreograhy is close to the ground or is it the style of the choreographer?
Needless to say Bangarra Dance Theatre gave the audience a great evening of dance and an insight into the interpretation of life as seen through the eyes of the dancers and their chorographers.


Shen Yun


Regent Theatre

A production that features traditional art forma that re now being revived along with exciting artistic innovations.
Shen Yun draws on China’s 5000 year-old-civilization presenting an entirely new program of dance and music.
The only set was a screen taking up the whole of the rear of the Regent Theatre Stage.
This was used for each item showing the natural beauty and temples from China.
The dancers were absolutely magnificent, timing spot on, standard excellent and costuming adding to the colour and enjoyment of such a production.
Classical Chinese dance is unique in that it combines in what the west calls acrobatics, tumbling with classic dance. From these roots acrobatics and tumbling became separate from dance.
The Shen Yun dancers included all these elements in their production showing the brilliance of their training giving the audience a wonderful appreciation of the arts of China and the amazing performance of the dancers.
One of these amazing dancers David Li was actually born in Sydney Australia and is now one of the Principal Dancers with the Company
An unusual aspect of the production was the juxtaposition of film and live action.
The huge screen showed great landscape scenes with people flying across mountain tops, buildings and rocks. They then flew down to the bottom of the screen where miraculously they appeared live on stage and continued on with the action. In some scenes the audience saw flights of girls flying down each side of the screen disappearing on each side of the stage where they appeared live on stage. Very effective and something new for Melbourne audiences.
A must see production and with five companies touring the world don’t miss it.


Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games

State Theatre

Producer, Director, Choreographer: Michael Flatley

A production that has to be seen to be believed. A masterpiece of dance theatre with Melbourne’s State Theatre packed to the rafters with not one audience member disappointed.
The dancers are the most energetic one had seen. The timing is spot on and with such a large cast this is very difficult but there were no slip ups with the precision of the footwork and the stance of the performers.
Instead of just a series of dance numbers a storyline was involved naturally good versus evil. As this is a touring company the sets were a little different to what was expected. A two level stage with steps leading up to the top level. The complete back of the stage was taken over by film clips setting the different scenes. These clips were magnificent and sometimes one wasn’t sure if the scenes were real or not.
Costuming was amazing from the traditional, and without giving away the storyline, to the modern, this was very effective and enhanced the production.
Beside the dancers there were two lady violinists, beside being talented players like everyone else on stage they were full of energy and danced up and down the stage while playing their violins.
The was also a singer adding to the success of the evening.
A great evening of dance so much so that a young (12 approx) lady was seen Irish dancing to the car park.
A standing ovation for a great evening of entertainment.

Our Land People Stories

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Choreographed by Jasmin Sheppard.

200 years ago in 1816 was the Appin massacre of the local indigenous people.
Jasmin Sheppard was felt a strong responsibility to tell the story.
Bangarra Dance Company gave her the opportunity.
The result, a wonderful production telling the story of the lead up and results of the massacre.
The dancers gave a great interpretation of Jasmin’s choreography with excellent performances. A simply set stage with a long table for discussion with Governor Macquarie and representatives of the D’harawal.
The dancers performed over and under and around the table miming out the discussions. As the talks fell through some dancers dressed as troops came in and shot the tribes people. This was well done by all the dancers giving the audience a feeling of sympathy about a little known fact of history showing the abuse of Australia’s first peoples/
Choreographed by Beau Dean Riley Smith & Daniel Riley.

Miyagan came from wanting to tell a Wiradjuri story, and reconnect back to the shared culture and heritage – it is narrated by the Wiradjuri kinship system.
Opening saw Yanhanha danced by Elma Kris, Deborah Brown and Jasmin Sheppard.  A great example of the Bangarra dancing with a good balance between the three performers.
The full company followed giving a spectacular performance with good timing, spectacular movements, and amazing energy. This was followed by eight dancers in the umber Dilbi. Well done with the standard already set by the company.
Act 2 was Nyapanyapa choreographed by Stephen Page.
Nyapanyapa is a proud Yolngu woman artist of whom the ballet is about her life.
Featuring dance interpretations of her paintings the company with the choreography showed the talent of the dancers in their feeling for the works. A very talented team taking the feeling of the indigenous people in a way that all van enjoy7 and understand the story being told.
Bangarra  Dance Theatre brings to its audiences a different kind of ballet. The music is resonant of didgeridoo and modern music together with the beating of the sticks really giving the feeling of the original Australians,
The dance too, varies from the European style where the dancers leap into the air with their grand jettes, seemingly on occasion float whereas the Bangarra company style seems to remember the ties with mother earth and do mot wish to leave it. There appear to be no grand jettes, no floating but much choreography on the ground using the  whole body along he ground or moving across the stage in a lowly position.
A wonderful evening of original Australian ballet which brings to the later Australians the talent and stories of the original Australians.



Bangarra Dance Theatre
Artistic Director: Stephen Page.
Choreographer: Stephen Page & Daniel Riley McKinley

The Melbourne season commenced at the Playhouse in Melbourne’s Art Centre.
The evening comprised of three ballets, one for the men choreographed by Daniel Riley McKinley, one for the ladies of the company choreographed by Stephen Page and the last with all the company with homage to the legacy of the elders. Choreographed by Stephen Page and Daniel Riley McKinley.
The opening number Scar about a gang of boys presenting themselves , preparing their spirits for the physical and mental journey they have to take.
A cast of seven dancers giving a high standard of performance with the style seemingly adapted from standard indigenous dancing to that of the urban members. Dressed in jeans the men showed exuberance and energy, projecting well and really caught the feel of the urbanization of our indigenous people.
Yearning danced by the ladies of the company. This showed their progress through life from birth through identity with dance. A wonderful interpretation done with expertise with good projection and  high standard of the dance.
Keepers a joint production of both the girls and boys a homage to those who came before and a ceremonial celebration of traditional culture and knowledge. The dancers captured the essence of such keepers giving a wonderful performance which was really enjoyed by the opening night audience.
\Bangarra dance differs from classical ballet particularly where in ballet the dancers do high movements and jetes but with the indigenous dancers keep close to the ground quite often bent over but with great skill and dexterity.
A good evening of dance and enjoyed by the audience.


Burn the Floor

An Evening of Ballroom dancing +

The Palms at Crown Melbourne was the venue for the opening of the Australian season of Burn the Floor.
A global Ballroom Dancing phenomenon starring eighteen international championship dancers including several Australian dancers keen to show their talents to their home audiences.
The energy of these dancers is absolutely amazing. The dancing is nonstop with Act 1 opening with Inspiration which includes the Cha Cha, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Swing and added to with Samba, Jive and Rumba.
The standard of dancing is unbelievable and in one scene was reminiscent of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in one of their most famous numbers. The contrasting styles of the dance were tackled with ease and energy.
Following Inspiration was Things that Swing which included the Cha Cha, Swing, Quickstep Lindy and Jive. Twenty one dancers on the stage with fast and strong energetic movements did not obstruct but so skilful was the choreography the dancers moved smoothly around each other.
The costumes were fairly brief as needed with the amount of work put into the dance that anything else would have exhausted the dancers. There were 367 costumes and 94 pairs of shoes worn throughout the performance.
Some highlights were the waltz in dinner suit and ball gowns showing the grace and clamour one associates with the ballroom, then the jive ringing back memories of one’s younger days of the Saturday night Town Hall dancing. Another highlight was in Act 2 The Latin Quarter with the two Paso Doble numbers. A spectacular performance.
There were no sets but one number used chairs adding to the display. There are also two singers and two percussionists which kept the evening going.
The opening night audience seemed to be from every ballroom studio in Melbourne judging by the applause when different artists appeared. Your reviewer spoke to Jason Gilkinson, Director and Choreographer, who said that Melbourne is one of the company’s favourite cities and they feel like it is their home because of the support they receive from the local ballroom dancing groups. 

A most spectacular and energetic performance and for those lovers of ballroom dancing or lovers of theatre it should not be missed.




Theatre Companies across Australia

So you require backstage help in your theatres? Have you read about the Veteran;s suicides?
How can you helo?
Go to your local RSL speak to the President. Ask if he has any veterans and exservicemen looking to assimilate into the community. Explain your needs re offstage assistance and maybe you might help save a life
. Veterans have trouble settling in once thay have left the service and this would be a good way to assimulate into their local community.
There are always vacancies for electircians, bar staff, carpenters, scene shifters, bio box staff, even a chance for someone to learn a new craft.
Consider this appeal, speak to your local RSL and the possibility of aiding a vetera to settle in the community. you might save a life.




West Australia



Ark Theatre Lilydale

Plan B - The Season

Ark Theatre presented an evening of five short plays for the closing 2019 season.
First play: Four Queens Wait for Henry.
A play of the four wives of Henry VIII now in the afterlife waiting for their husband Henry VIII to arrive. A touch of show business dilemma with the actress playing Catherine of Aragon taking ill at the last moment. Cathie Lee, who was to play Jane Seymour stepped n and Grace McNiven stepped in to play Jane Seymour. Each of the replacements owing to such short notice carried their script. But as the show must go on the script looked like they were carrying books and reading. The result really worked, and one had the impression they were holding a book in their hands and casually looked they just looked up and joined the conversation and then when not talking back to the book.
|Alison Jones was Anne Boleyn and gave a dominating performance in the role.
Sue Rosenwax was Catharine Howard a good performance in her role.
Jason Trigg was the servant/angel who looked after the four queens. A small role but well-handled.
No set other than chairs but costuming was of the period looking rather impressive.
Second Play: The Ark
The story is set in the land of Canaan where Jacob and Ruth are neighbours to Noah and his family who happened to be building an ark. What with the noise day and night the Noah family are not too popular in the neighbourhood.
Alan Ashby was Jacob, certainly looking the part and complaining about all the animals in the neighbourhood and organising meetings to do something about Noah. Ashby captured the role with finesse giving a good portrayal of such a character. His wife, Ruth, was played by Alexandra Saunders who was a good balance to Ashby and handling the role with aplomb.
Chantelle Ball was the unicorn who was adopted by Jacob to spite Noah. A great costume and a fair performance. Noah’s wife Susan was played by Amanda Hendrie. Susan kept asking for vegetables from Ruth’s garden inferring that Jacob and Ruth won’t be needing same for much longer. Hendrie caught the character giving a pleasant performance.
Third Play: Vigilante
Set late at night in the shrubbery of a notoriously graffiti suburb where we see Vi Gilante played by Rosey Cullinan. Cullinan was dressed in black with a black balaclava hidden behind a picket fence with a shrubbery hedge. She is waiting to catch up with a graffiti vandal.
A good solo performance catching the essence of a woman fed up with the graffiti around her home and suburb. Naturally an unusual ending.
Fourth Play: Cherman Meow
Cherman Meow was the first cat on the block until…
Tim McClimont was Cherman Meow  and gave a good portrayal of the cat who had it all.
Mr Weenie was played by David Groome  who gave an outstanding performance with all the gestures as expected in such an animal.
Hope Cunningham was Meowly Cyrus giving another good portrayal and Bella, the human, played by Isabela Preston. Preston was only a small role but handled same professionally.
Fifth play: Whose Line is it, Romeo?
A large cast putting on a show where what can go wrong does. From the set not finished, the director stranded in Bendigo , lighting and sound not working and perhaps the cast
The cast handled their roles with aplomb and many of the audience were “volunteered” to become part of the show leading to a lot of laughs from those who were not called up.
Ark Theatre gave its audiences an amusing evening of theatre for the closing production of 2019.

The Arkadian Authntic All-Women 2nd Old Time Music Hall

Advertised as the All-Women production Ark Theatre took the liberty and added three men to the show.
Opening we had the Chairman Rosssiter Place played by Ross Pearce. A good all round per4formance. Alan Ashby as Mister Ash Beloved giving a good rendition of Albert & and the Axeman and is to be congratulated on his bicycle built for three constructions.
An enjoyable evening of the Old-Time music hall with the right costumes for the occasion and some funny scenes with the Temperance Society telling the audience to stay away from the evil drink with the leader of the group having a hip flask showing above her belt...
The singing was overall pleasant but some of the cast need to develop their voice projection as the theatre has not got good acoustics and voice must project to overcome this problem.
A fun show with some good comedy scenes and very good piano playing by Miss Brooklyn Keyborne aka Brooklyn Cullen.




Director: Robert Trott.

September 2016 was Dementia Awareness month. Being aware of this the director Robert Trott and Ark Theatre agreed to produce Daisy a story of a wife and mother suffering from dementia.
Robert Trott decided on a basic set consisting of a table and chairs, a bed, desk and projector and a large screen on rear of stage which was used for scenes outside the room of the retirement home.
Rosy Cullinan was Daisy Campbell, the wife and mother who contracted dementia. A wonderful and very moving performance capturing the essence of such a character. Her emotions were spot on and one really felt for her.
Her husband Jim was also given a natural performance with the feeling of helplessness
In such circumstances. Their children, Petra and Will both gave good performances
With a little sibling bickering brought on by the strain of their mother’s illness. Both gave realistic portrayals of such siblings adding to the high standard of the show.
The production opened in the Campbell family home with Daisy gone missing. When found she denied being lost. The strain started to tell on Jim and it was decided to move to a facility where she would be cared for and Jim would not have so much strain both physically and mentally.
The Director of the Home was Judy Gleeson played by Kathie Kenyon. The programs notes tell us that Kenyon was a manager of Forestwood Close Retirement Village, so she fitted into the rule comfortably. A good portrayal of a director trying to keep the guests happy and organised.
Ben, a guest who befriended Jim and Daisy was given a fine portrayal by Darren Montgomery.
The play brought home to many in the audience the experience one goes through in such circumstances and to others what they have gone through.
A sad play but with some amusing moments and one that everyone should see. 

Athenaeum Theatre Lilydale
Bookings: 61 3 9735 1777


Still Alice

Alice is a university professor on the verge of Alzheimer’s Disease. The play takes the audience through such a deliberating time for the whole family until there is no hope.
A very good production of such a subject. The director, Alan Burrows has done wonderful  job in the direction and co-design of the set, which consists of six square archways along each side ad at the stage rear, surmounted by black curtains.
The balance of the stage is furnished as a normal house but as Alice moves further along with Alzheimer’s the stage empties like her mind. Very effective.
Alice was played by wo ladies. As ;Alice Angela Glennie gave a stunning performance capturing the full fall throughout Alzheimer from the very beginning to the final scene. A wonderful portrayal. Herself was played by Audrey-Maeve Barker, as Herself she was behind Alice answering some of the questions and telling Alice some of the answers. A good performance.
Kohn, Alice’s husband, was given a very good performance by Phil Lambert. In his role he had to understand what Alice was going through, keep his own job while trying out for a new position, helping his adult children understand the reason that their mother id how she is. A very good portrayal.
Lachlan Glennie gave a great interpretation of Alice’s son Tom and also played Dean. Not easy having two roles but Lachlan handled the characters with expertise. His sister Lydia, a budding actress, much to her mother’s discontent. Francesca Carl t gave a very  good performance in both roles as Lydia and as Beth.
Fiona Carter was Alice’s Doctor Tamara. Fiona captured the character as envisaged adding to the high standard of the production. Ian Frost was Dr Davis, who found that Alice was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Ian caught the feel of such a character giving a good portrayal in the role.
A wonderful evening of theatre which closes April 26. 2024 Don’t miss it.     


The Complete Works of Shaklespeare (abridged) (revised) (again)

This is the September play from LAT and there must be something about the Dandenongs |
as your correspondent mentioned recently about the humorous play The 39 Steps put on by The Basin Theatre, this play from LAT is also exceedingly funny and thoroughly enjoined by the opening night audience.
Three actors introduce themselves to the audience. Two on stage then they question the audience about Shakespeare. A humorous reply was given, and it reinspired that the audience member was actually one of the three. The production began with  a parody of Romeo & Juliet, followed by a caricature of Titus Andronicus as acooking show. The rest of the first act summarises most of the other plays.
The idea is to perform all 37 plays in 97 minutes. This they succeeded in and added some more time explaining the stories to the audience. There was a lot of audience participation including two members taken on stage with a young lady to play Ophelia and a gentleman to run backwards and forwards across the stage.
The three players were Ian Frost, Justin Stephens and Tom Fitzgerald. Each gave excellent performances. From playing gentlemen, ladies and very swift costume changes much to the amusement of the audience. The actors wore normal dress in the first scene but then changed to authentic Shakespeare era for the rest of the evening. A great night of theatre and a fun night out.



Lilydale AthenaumTtheatre’s  choice of play fpr June/July season was Joanna Murray-Smith’s Switzerland.
Quoting from the Director’s notes Helen Ellis’s original intenteion was to to direct Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. Unfortunately the world wide rights were not available to the LATC’S Presicent, Alan Burrows sggested Joanna Murray-smith;s Switzerland.
A fictional story about Patricia Highsmith living as a recluse in Switzerland when a representative from her publisher arrives with a request that she writes one more Tom Ripley story. She initially refuses and this is the context of the play. .
LATC did a wonderful job with sets, an apartment overlooking the Swiss Alps, a lounge come workroom decorated with items from her stories, guns, swords and knives. Patricia is a mystery writer. To the rear of the stge was a wall consisting of upright poles with a view of the stairs leading to the bedrooms. Above the rear wall was fantastic view of the Alps.
Off centre stage was Patriciia’s writing desk, audience right was a reclining chaor and the walls were decoratede as afore mentioned.
Playing Patricia Highsmith was Angela Glennie and as Edward was Travis Handcock.
Angela gave a stirling performance as Patricia Highsmith with the extremes of acting form a really nasty person who has no time for a young man from America to an understnading of his problems.
Tavis Handcock caught the character of Esward wit professionilsm giving an outstanding performance. The pair had a great rapport which enhnced tht production.
It shows that one need not go to Melbourne when one has a show like this in the outer suburbs. Amateur theatre is coming into its own and the standard overall is really professional. Also reasonbly priced seats, no parking problems, close to home and some theatres have an arrangement with local restarants where if you produce youir theatre ticket you recieive a discount.
Lilydale Athenaeum /theatre put on a great producton and your corrspndent recommends that this sould be in your diary .


Barefoot in the Park

The Company’s second production for 2023  was Neil  Simon’s  Barefoot in the Park.
A play about a young married couple who have just moved into a New York apartment. Paul Bratter, a conservative lawyer, and his wife Corie an energetic soul, quite the opposite of her husband have not quite seen the flat as they pictured it. On the fifth floor and the only way up is stairs, a leaking roof, very small bedroom, and bathroom. Add a crazy neighbour, Paul’s mother-in0 law and Neil Simon gives another comedy.
Lilydale Athenaeum  Theatre lends itself to this production by having a door on the theatre floor and a small flight of stairs up to the stage. Pip Le Blond, the director, made full use of this , having the cast coming through the door, up the stairs to the stage, behind the set and then to the door of the set after allowing time to climb the past floor. As a result, the actors arrived puffing and wheezing and looking worn out from their climb. Pip is also to be congratulated for a wonderful evening of theatre.
Claire Abagia was Corie Bratter, a very energetic performance covering all aspects’ of acting from a joyous welcome to Paul, enthusiasm, and then poignancy, and arguments, sulkiness, and forgiveness. Abagia excelled in this complex role and was well received by the audience.
Her husband, Paul, caught the essence of the conservative lawyer who could not quite believe that he married such a woman. Later that evening I was told that Samuel Barson, playing Paul . was not at all well and had a slight fever.
 But wit local theatre one cannot get understudies, so Samuel carried on and the audience did not realise a thing. Actually, he did a fantastic performance, working well with Claire Abagia.
Corie’s  mother, Ethel Banks was played by Fiona Carter. Her scenes were a delight and her coming up the stairs were a sheer picture. A great performance. The shall we say, somewhat weird neighbour, Victor Velasco was given a great interpretation by Tony Clayton. Clayton was excellent in such a character. Added to the high standard of the ev3ening was the telephone man played by Chris O’ Neil. Coming in twice to fit the phone. The second time he walked int an argument between Paul and Corie and to see his face was a picture. A good performance. Another small part was that of the delivery man, played by Ian  Carter who also added to the high standard of the ev4ening. An excellent production and your correspondent recommends go and see it, Season finishes May 6. Bookings: 9735 1777. Or www.lilydaleatc.som  

Family Values by David Williamson.

:Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre for its opening production 2023 chose David Williamson’s Family Values.
A celebrated judge retired is celebrating his birthday. His son and two daughters arrive and chaos begins. One daughter Emily is affianced to her boss, Noeline of  the Border Force. Lisa the other daughter is a protector of Saba a refugee ion the run not wanting to be sent back to the refugee camp on Nauru.
Michael, the son, is a born again Christian and can’t resolve what is happening.
Roger, the father was given a great performance g by Phil Lambert. His wife Sue, played y Lisa Upton also gave a stirling portrayal. The first daughter Lisa, was played by y Katile-Jane Amey, who gave a wonderful interpretation of the character.
Marti Ibrahim was the refugee on the run was given a positive and great performance plus a lovely accent.
Michael the only son, was played by Matt Phillips. A good portrayal and wonderful acting.
Emily the rather shy daughter who was engaged to her boss at Border Force was played by Sheona Gregg. Another wonderful portrayal.
Her boss Noeline was well played by Jennifer pacey, who caught
the high nuances expected of the character.
All in all a wonderful evening of theatre with the usual high standard of acting one expects from the Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre
The production is 90 minutes with no interval and closes February 25. Booking 9735 1777 or

Moving On by Cenarth Fox

LAT decided to close the year with Moving On, a play with words and music b Cenarth Fox.
A play that covers humour, nostalgia, songs, pathos and drama.
A one woman play with a lady clearing up her mother’s home after the mother had passed away.
This is something most of the opening night audience could relate to judging by the comments heard across the theatre.
Angela Glennie was Maggie, the daughter trying to clean up by spent most of the time reminiscing over  each item she found. One scene did stand out was when she found her old teddy bear. She was very emotional in this scene and was talking to Teddy the rest of the evening.
Originally Maggie was talking to her deceased mother and then through Teddy.
A great performance by Angela Glennie who captured the essence of such a character with acting ranging from light comedy to when as Maggie she found a photo of her deceased son where she completely changed and sowed the tragic side of her life
Glennie also had a very pleasant singing voice which added to the enjoyment of the evening. There were several scenes off stage where Maggie was up in the attic or in the kitchen making a cup of tea. She didn’t stop talking to the audience in these scenes so being off stage does not interrupt the play. When in the kitchen there was a small trapdoor between the kitchen and lounge room through which she appeared whilst doing her kitchen duties.
LAT had a great set of the mother’s lounge room, stuck drawers that happens all the time,
There were doorways leading to the other rooms which one could see part of.
All in all  a great finish to the year by Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre and a wonderful performance by Angela Glennie who was on stage the whole performance with a long script to remember. Excellently done.

Ladies in Black the Musical

Director: Alan Burrows

Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre chose for their 180th production Ladies in Black the musical.
A well set stage with illuminated columns on each side of stage and then moved as required. The rear of the stage was a large screen which various scenes relevant to the particular portion of the play were projected. Very good effects and very well done.
The story of a young girl obtaining a temporary holiday job at the exclusive ladies’ shop Goodes. There she meets two Australian assistants and the mysterious Magda; Magda is a refugee and she introduces the young newcomer into a new and different way of life. The play is set I Sydney in the 50s when the refugees are making their presence felt in Australia shaking the Australians out of their normal (to them) way of life.
The young girl Lesley was played by Jessica McCallum. As Lesley she hated the name and at work, she called herself Lisa.
McCallum gave a wonderful portrayal of the young school leaver waiting her Leaving Certificate results, handling her father who did not believe in University education for girls and meeting a group of Hungarian refugees. Jessica projects well has a pleasant singing voice and was an  audience delight.
Magda was played by Elizabeth Garnsworthy who gave an amazing interpretation of a refugee settling in Australia and introducing her Australian friends to a different way of life.
Her husband, Stefan, was played by Phil Lambert. He also caught the essence of such a character and both Elizabeth and Phil has a wonderful rapport.
Angela Glennie was Lisa’s mother who sympathised with Lisa’s ambitions. A good portrayal. Lisa’s father played by Stephen Oakes was the Quintessential Australian father of the 50s who was against a university education for women, “they got the vote didn’t they” Oakes gave the real feeling if such a man of that era
A large cast and all handled their roles with professionalism
The overall production was magnificent from the opening number to the complete show, the costumes were very glamorous and the staff costuming living up to Goodes reputation were in black which made the other outfits seem more glamorous. With the projected backdrops the lighting Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre gave its audiences a  complete package of musical theatre.



The Wisdom of Eve

Director: Katie-Jane Amey

 Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre’s choice of production for the Autumn season was Mary Orr’s The Wisdom of eve.
A story of a stagestruck girl who wanted to get on stage no matter what! Ans this play shows the ups and downs and unscrupulous behaviour by such a person.
The play took place in two areas, in the dressing room of famed actress Margo Crane and the apartment of the Roberts, friends of Mar Crane.
LAT built two magnificent sets, dressing room on audience left and apartment on audience right. The play alternated between both sets.
As Karen Roberts, Susie Sparkes gave a fair performance but in the beginning as a narrator her voice could have used more projection, it was a little  too quiet, but later in the performance it became clearer. Her acting was good, and she had a good rapport with Chris Dahmen-O’Neill as her husband Lloyd. Chris projected well  and caught the essence of the playwright who was not taken in by Eve.
Eve Harrington was given a great performance by Genya Mik. Genya caught the feel of such an unscrupulous to be artist with verve and good projection.
Colin Morley was Clement Howell,  the producer of Margo’s shows. Colin gave a good portrayal in the role adding to the standard of the evening.
Harvey Marshall, the young sage manager who helped  Eve on her way up was given a good portrayal by a young upcoming actor, Josh Mitchell. A boy who has a good future in theatre.
Margo’s  dresser, Leila, who was outed by Eve was given a good performance by Cate Dowling Trask . John Jennings as “Tally Ho” Thompson, David Miller as Bert Hinkle and Abagail Pettigrew all added to the high standard of the evening and all were appreciated by the opening night audience.




The Bakery @ 1812

Phantomm Call by Chris Hudson

The play was in the intimate theatre of the Bakery@1812 which well suited the production.
A very good set of a suburban lounge room with on audience left was the front door and on audience right was the entry to the kitchen, 1812 always has the off rooms well set so when the audience looks at the off rooms, they do not see a bank wall but a well furnished set.
The story is of amateur spiritualists and one sceptic . They have a séance and the departed one  through the medium gives them the racing tips for the next day. Naturally they all win. But!
A cast of seven all excellently played.
Opening we enter the home of the Musgroves, Marge and Charlie. Madge was given a great performance by Annie Laurenson who knew how to handle her husband, Charlie.
Charlie was played by Andrew McIver . A superb performance where Andrew played many roles. This is not easy to change characters at the drop of a hat but Andrew succeeded successfully.
Ryan Brennan played Mr Crimmens, the channel   .used by the medium to bring the spirits in. Another good portrayal of the actor playing several role.
Patricia McCraken was the medium Madam Zelda. Patricia must have been to play this role. He portrayal was excellent. She went about the room calling the departed and the theatre gave an impressive display of lightning, thunder and at the right moments
Beryl was played by Shivanii Cameron  .As one of the group Shivanii gave a fine performance keeping up the standard as set.
Gloria was played by Rosie Leonardi. Another good performance particularly when telling off Mr Percy.
Mr Percy was played y Roderick Chappel who seemed a quiet character at first then turned out to e very selfish for which Rosie told him off. Roderick gave a good interpretation of such a character.
A well written show, very comedic with a little aspect of doubt
The Bakery@1812 gave its audience a wonderful and comedic night pout..   

The Shorehorn Sonata

The 1812 Theatre’s second production was John Misto’s The Moonlight Sonata.
A story of the fall of Singapore during WWII and deals with the imprisonment of the women who were interned by the Japanese.
In this instance John Misto concentrates on two people. An Australian nurse in her late 20s and an English Schoolgirl as a 15 year old. They come together after 40 odd years for a TV interview. A dramatic, moving and historical play and not one for the downhearted.
Bridie, the Australian nurse was played by Genevieve Ryan and Sheila the schoolgirl was played by Stephanie King. Blake Stringer played the Interviewer.
A very moving production enhanced by the strength of the players. Geraldine Ryan captured the essence of the Australian nurse and Stephanie King gave a wonderful portrayal. A very taut experience of theatre with both actors capturing the feel of the life in a POW camp. An harrowing tale lightened with touches of humuor. The actors really captured the anxiety, desperation, and feelings of women in such a position. For one to learn about some little known facts of history this is a show not to be missed
The play was in the Bakery@1812 an intimate theatre most suitable for this three hander.
The set was that of a hotel room with a central entry door and walls each side which acted as two screens where pictures form the relevant parts of the story were projected. The space was also used as the interview room of a radio station complete with an On Air sign above the door and the interviewer, Blake Stringer. Stringer gave a good portrayal of the Interviewer.
 The play was set in two parts, the interview and the hotel room.
A great evening of theatre and being in the Bakery@1812 gave the audience more feeling of the story.

The History Boys

The 1812 Theatre’s October production was Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.
A story of a mythical boys grammar school in the north of England where the headmaster wants it t be an up and coming school and the students are preparing for entrance exams to Cambridge and Oxford Universities.
A large cast of 12 students, three teachers and the Headmaster.
The director, Daxter Burke chose the intimate theatre The Bakery at 1812 to give the audience more feeling of the story.
The eight students gave stirling performances particularly as some had only done school plays. Their accents were good, their French was good and the acting great.
Hector, the old fashioned teacher who was not quite what he seemed was given an excellent portrayal by Peter Maver. Who handled the role with professionalism.
Irwin was the new teacher brought in by the Headmaster as a modern style teacher to bring a modern feel to the school. Well interpreted by Blake Singer who caught the character as envisaged by the author. A great performance.
The only lady teacher in the school was Mrs Lintott played by Marianne Collopy. Another superior performance with Collopy capturing the essence of such a character.  
 A great presentation by the 1812 Theatre keeping up their high standard of performance

Mr Bailey's Minder


The Bakery@1812 theatre presented Mr Bailey’s Minder as its first production for 2022.
A story about a Leo bailey, one of Australia’s greatest artists but now an alcoholic and a wreck of his former self. His daughter Margo finds a live-in minder to look after him.
The stage was set as Leo’s home, a complete wreck of a house with paintings all over the walls and floorboards all loose. A well cone set.
Chris Hodson played Leo, a magnificent performance. I have reviewed Hodson many times over the years and I consider his portrayal as Leo is his best performance I have seen.
The balance of the cast kept up to the standard set by Hodson. The minder Therese was played by Danielle Payet. A good portrayal of a young lady desperate for job. A moving performance and violent at times plus the language used in the production can be embarrassing though essential to the play.
Margo, Leo’s daughter was given a god performance by Jenny Lutz. A dominating person who did love her father but was stern when visiting.
Caleb Hilbig played Gavin/Karl. This is the first time Hilbig has played outside the Youth Theatre. Hilbig gave a fair performance and has the makings of a good career on stage.
An exhausting lay. Both for the players and the audience. It covered all aspects expected of theatre and Bakery@1812 put on a wonderful evening of theatre and is one not to be missed  

The War of the Worlds

Presented by Blond Productions

The War of the Worlds as a play is based on the book The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
It was originally done in the Columbia Broadcasting System’s Mercury theatre where director Orson Wells produced and directed it as a radio play. The result was not what one expected. Many Americans thought it a real invasion from Mars and panicked accordingly.  
The Bakery@1812 took not of this and decorated the wall next the theatre entrance with blowups of the original newspaper headlines of the period.
The theatre was set as a radio studio with microphones of the period and actors dressed in clothes of the thirties.
The audience was set on two sides of the stage giving one the feeling that we were actually in a radio studio. A cast of seven played 30 roles and brilliantly done.
Orson Welles was played by Michael Fenemore who handled the role with finesse not only broadcasting as two characters as well as directing the production on stage A good voice and great acting. The other players were Francesca Carl, the only lady in the cast, Chris Dahmen-O’Neill, Steve Saul, Liam Mitchinson, Tim Byron and Malcolm Sussman
All the performers gave professional and excellent portrayals of their various characters leading to a successful evening of theatre.
One certainly learnt with the help of the cast how things were done on radio as against TV.
The cast handled the radio study of play, certainly different to normal onstage playacting.
A successful evening and also thanks must go the play director (as separate from the onstage director Orson Wells) Pip Le Blond who gave the audience, for many it was the first theatre since the arrival of COVID-19, a great welcome back to theatre.



Director: Dexter Bourke

1812 Theatre’s October production was Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts.
A story about a widow who is about to open an orphanage in memory of her late husband, Captain Alving.
A dramatic play and is a scathing commentary on 19th – century morals. The subject matter covers religion, venereal disease, incest and euthanasia.
!812 set builders constructed a very good set of Mrs Alving’s par
lour where the story takes place. .
The players were Tara Coulson who played the maid, Regina Engstrand. Coulson handled the role with professionalism changing from an obedient servant to when she found that there was another life changing to a determined young women knowing her own mind and no longer a maid.”
Her father? Jacob Engstrand was played by Graeme Doyle giving a good interpretation of the an old crippled drunk but with good intentions. A good portrayal.
Brett Hyland was Pastor Manders, a pedantic man who believed in the sanctity of marriage even when the marriage was impossible with a dissolute husband. Hyland caught the characteristics well and gave a good performance.
Marianne Collopy was Mrs Helene Alving. Collopy gave an excellent performance as the formidable widow and loving mother.
Her son, Osvald, was played by Blake Stringer. Osvald had just returned from Paris where e was studying art. Stringer caught the essence of such a character giving a good portrayal.
The costuming was the right era and the performance was well appreciated byu the opening night audience


Director: Justin Stephens

Bakery@1812 theatre’s choice for April 2019 was Rex Pickett’s Sideways a story of two friends, Miles and Jack who go away together for the last time to steep themselves on everything that makes good to be young and single. Suring the week before Jack plans to marry, the pair head out from Los Angeles the Santa Ynez wine country.
The stage was set as a bar with four wine barrels forming thee bar  and as the main characters moved from vineyard to vineyard the barrels were moved accordingly. To the rear of the bar was a series of shelfs containing wine bottles and glasses.
Miles, Jack’s best man, was played by Travis Handcock. Travis gave a great performance but as the bakery@1812 is a small experimental theatre with the audience, his voice projection as a little too loud. Travis had an uncomfortable scene where he drank from the expectorant bucket. Well handled.
|Jack, the bridegroom to be, who wanted a last sexual experience before his wedding. Also, although on a wine tasting trip didn’t know much about wine. Xavier Ryan caught the character with professionalism, working well with Travis.
Rhiannon Leach was Maya the girl who caught Miles’ attention Rhiannon gave a stirling performance in the role. Tarra, another waitress in the tasting room who Jack fell for and made promises he would not keep was played by Eleni Miller. Another good performer working well with Xavier including one violent scene where I gather, they were well rehearsed.
Brad, the boar hunter was played by Gavin Baker who also was he barman at the different vineyards the two bachelors visited. A good change of characters by Gavin.
An unusual lay with violence, sex and swearing but well cone/  


Director: Zina Carman.

1812 Theatre’s Spring season choice was Robert Hewett’s Gulls.
A compassionate comedy about a brain-damaged man who is cared for by his sister at a beach cottage.
The production was set I the Bakery@1812, a versatile theatre with the stage on floor level with the seating sloped away from the floor. The set comprised at rear the interior of a beachside cottage. In front there was a beach with real sand and what surprised the audience the sea lapped onto the sand. By using overhead projectors gave a realistic film so much so that the audience started to watch their feet.
A four handed plus two puppeteers. Bill, the brain-damaged man was given a stirling performance by Paul Wanis. He could not speak to his sister or her friends but spoke to the audience. Good stage presence and a good rapport with his fellow actors.
His sister Frances  was given a compassionate and understanding performance by Claire Dempsey. A wonderful portrayal.
Andrew McIver was Dan, Frances’s ex but still likes to be with her. McIver was a good balance to Dempsey, projecting well and handled the role professionally.
Molloy, Bill’s minder from two doors down was given a great character role was by Susie Sparkes, a typical busybody neighbour with a good heart. Sparkes captured the essence of the role  
Bill could only relate to seagulls and there were two gulls (puppets) handled by puppeteers Kendall Brown, Maia Tilley and Charlie Jean. Very effective with the gulls trying to steal food an bill relating to them.
A good moving and emotional play excellently done and well appreciated by the opening night audience.



Director Justin Stephens

Two people. Infinite Possibilities
1812 Theatre in association with Redfox3 with the use of the Bakery@1812 produced Constellations.
The set was a large circular screen at stage rear where there was an amazing movie of the planets, the moon and earth taken form space and each scene was determined by a quick blackout as the scene moved from one universe to another. Payne, using the theory of multiuniverses wrote a two hander of Marianne, a physicist and Roland, a beekeeper, who fall in love in a multitude of ways.
Marianne was played by Rhiannon Leach giving a wonderful and feeling performance with a great rapport with Kieran Tracey as Roland.
The pair had a great challenge with this production spot on with their timing if they weren’t the play would have disintergrated.The play covered all the possibilities of their life together from the first meeting through partnership and all the various lives that would appear in alternate worlds to friendship, other partners, cancer and end of life or was it?
Both players met up to the task with no fault and gave superb performances. Not an easy production with no interval, very close to the audience and both Rhiannon and Kieran handled their roles with finesse and were thoroughly enjoyed b opening night audience.

Never the Sinner

Director: Geoff Hickey.

A true story of Nathan Leopold Jnr and Robert Loeb aged 18 and 19 killed 14 year old Bobby Franks as an academic exercise with no remorse.
The play is primarily the court case where their defence lawyer, Clarence Darrow, tries to get them off capital punishment.
The Bakery@1512 set was basic, two tables each side of the stage and central stage were chairs of the period.
 Broderick McDonald was Nathan Leopold a man led by his friend Robert Loeb. McDonald gave a stirring believable performance of such a man. The instigator of the idea was Robert Loeb whose character was given an outstanding and also very believable performance by Blake Stringer.
The prosecutor, Robert Crowe, was played by Steve Saul who had the correct intonations, good stage presentation and voice giving sincerity to the character.
The boys’ defence lawyer, Clarence Darrow, was given a very good interpretation by Malcolm Sussman. Sussman captured the essence of the man claiming to be just a lawyer fro the country with ease.
Three other actors took several parts of reporters, Doctors, bailiffs and officers of the court.
Keith Hutton, Campbell McNish and Fraya Timmer-Arends as these actors gave good believable performances adding to the high standard of the production.
A great evening of theatre, very dramatic and based on a real event added to the realistic performance by all the cast.


My First Time

Director: Helen Ellis

A story told by five people about their very first time. Yes that first time.
The play was performed in the Bakery@1812, an intimate theatre ideal for this production.
The set on audience left was a Tiki Bar and as the director pointed out in her notes this was added as just pure fun. This did break up some of the drama adding to the enjoyment of the play. The walls of the stage wee black with white writing projected on same.
The players opened the play in various forms of affection not leaving much to the imagination. They then moved to chairs where they sat and told their stories.
Each player was dressed in black all wearing the same outfits.
The two men were played by
Brett Hyland and Paris Romanis. Both caught the characters as envisaged giving good performances. The three girls were played by Melanie Rowe, Clare Hayes and Elise D’Amico. Good performances all round and each of the cast had a good rapport with each other.
An interesting play, not for the fainthearted, in fact six people showed their disapproval by walking out. Although a contentious subject the cast handled it with great skill and it was well directed and the audience had no reason to be dissatisfied with the evenin


The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell

Malcolm Sussman - Janine Evans - Nigel Leslie

Director: John Bishop.

A story about bush poet Daniel Gartrell set in his decrepit house and his only contact with the outside world is his daughter Sarah.
A magnificent set of the interior of the decrepit house with a view to rear of a mountain, red sky and trees. On the tabs each side of the stage were aboriginal dot drawings of Australian creatures. The music background was ideally chosen for sch a storyline comprising of didgeridoo music giving an eerie feel to such a production. A three handed play with Malcolm Sussman as Daniel Gartrell, the bush poet who is about to have a film made of his life.
Sussman gave a superb performance of such a character with good stage presence, a strong  clear voice and working well with his co-players.
Nigel Leslie was Craig Castevich, the young actor cast to play Daniel in the forthcoming film. Craig has come to study Daniel to get the correct feeling for the role. Nigel Leslie gave a great performance in the role capturing all the fine nuances as envisaged.
Daniel’s daughter, Sarah, was played by Janine Evans. Another wonderful performer catching the essence of such a daughter working well with her fellow players.
An interesting play, occasionally a touch of humour but a little Australian horror story.
Well produced and directed and in The Bakery@1812 gave an intimate fell for the audience. A great night of theatre and thoroughly recommended


Patient 12

Blake Stringer & Mark Phillips

Director: Dexter Bourke

The Bakery@1812 was the venue for Kevin Summers’ play Patient 12. A story of a badly injured soldier from WWI who is so badly injured he is unidentifiable. Three different people consider he is their relation and the play deals with the reaction to such a situation.
He Bakery@1812 was an ideal location for such a story. An intimate theatre bringing the audience close to the production and really getting the feeling of the players and their characters.
The stage was set in Caulfield Repatriation Hospital in 1919. Audience left saw the doctor’s office, centre was Patient 12s bed surrounded by a screen that when light behind it was turned on showed the action in and around the bed. Audience right was a waiting room and visitor’s exit. The set caught the period with authentic furniture of the time.
Blake Stinger was Percy, an inmate of the hospital and friend of Patient 12. A great performance as a soldier on the battle field and an excellent interpretation of a shell-shocked soldier in rehabilitation centre. Mark Phillips was Patient 12, another good performance in the role showing the various aspects in the life of a young soldier in the period of what was known as The Great War.
Graham Fly was Dr. Thomas. A man who lost his religious feeling after the South African war but sis his best for the patients under is dare. Fly gave an outstanding performance in the role. Denman, the possible Patient 12’s father was anti war., pro communism and upset his son joined the forces. Graeme Doyle caught such a character with professionalism giving a great performance. Alice, possibly Patient 12’s fiancée was played by Danielle Payet who captured the feel of a young woman whose boyfriend left to fight for King and country but not knowing if really or not that she cared for him. Payet projected well and gave a very good feeling to such a character.
Mr Durham and his wife Victoria Durham who thought that Patient 12 could be their son were given outstanding performances by Steve Saul and Paula Klement.
A great evening of theatre really capturing the life of 1919 following The Great War and showing how the Melbourne people handled life after such an experience.


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BATS Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9702 2759


Director: Bronwyn Egan.

  Rumors by Neil Simon is about the Deputy Mayor of New York's 10 th wedding anniversary party and what happens when the friends arrive only to find the hostess missing and the Deputy with a gunshot wound the head.
A cast of ten well balanced and played as the play demands over the top. Some screaming, duck shoving all which made the play the humorous production it was supposed to be.
A well set stage of two levels with the requisite number of doors for a farce. Plenty of action with the odd explosion and gunshots.
The players all presented well and had good stage presence. They captured their characters with comfort and although some were a little over the top it was as the writer wished. By Australian standards it can be a little hard to take but as it is a New York play it was quite acceptable in the context.

A good evening of hilarity well appreciated by the audience.

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Beaumaris Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9583 6896

Catchment Players of Darebin

Noises Off

Michael Fryan’s Noises Off is considered one of the world’s funniest farces. It is a play within a play. A touring company in England are performing Nothing On. The play opens with the rehearsal, then a few weeks into the tour where the audience see the reverse of the set and what happens behind the scenes then the final act where the tour is finishing and the deterioration of the cast relationships.
Catchment Players of Darebin rose to the occasion and presented a professional and amusing production.
A well constructed set showing the living room, in Act 2 showing the set in reverse which Catchment is to be congratulated on the smooth handling of reversing the set and then in Act 3 resetting to Act 1 scene.
The housekeeper of Nothing On was Mrs Clackett played by Dotty Otley aka Marg Weston. Weston captured the characters with professionalism and projected well. Ashley McPherson was Garry Lejeune who played Roger Trampolemain Roger was the house agent who had other things in mind when he took a young lady over the premises. A well executed performance and a hard physical portrayal excellently done.
Robyn Jane Lacey was Brooke Ashton who played Vicki the young lady being shown over the house. Lacey captured the dumbish young lady who had only one idea in mind but was caught up in all kinds of mayhem. A good and skilful performance. The married couple in Nothing On were Frederick Fellowes as Philip Brent and Belinda Blair as Flavia Brent. Frederick Fellowes was played by David Gardette who gave a memorable performance of the confident actor in the play but always apologising for every mistake no matter who made it.
Belinda Blair was played by Natasha Bassett who also gave a stirling performance in the role. The burglar, Selsdon Mowbray was played by Will Deumer who gave an amusing and professional portrayal.
The stage manager for Nothing On was Tim Allgood  played by Marcus Flood. Flood really caught the character of the overworked stage manager giving a great performance. The assistant stage manager was Poppy Norton-Taylor played by Lisa Pilkington.
Pilkington carried the role with  seemingly ease and appeared very comfortable in the role.
A tough production with the timing of the cast spot on and a highly appreciated production by the opening night audience.

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Dandenong Theatre

Get Smart

Director: Matt Caton.

  Get Smart is a play taken from the old TV series with all the regular characters. DTC captured the feel of the TV show not only the well known gimmicks, the shoe phone, the Telephone secret entrance to HQ.

Maxwell Smart was played by Rhys Martin who gave a fine performance capturing the feel of the original shall we say not so bright spy but successful in spite of himself with perhaps help from Agent 99.

Claire Bennie was Agent 99 a good performance and even looked like the original 99. Darren Calder was the frustrated chief who had trouble with Agent 86 Maxwell Smart. Calder gave a good interpretation in the role.

The Wong sisters (a take off of Charlie's Angels) were given a terrific performance by Imat Akelo-Opio as Mary Wong, Felicity Zanon as Shirley Wong and Natalie Burns as Betsy Wong.

The girl's choreography was exceptionally well executed and they certainly added to the production.

The production did start a little slow but as the show progressed so did the players who improved as the evening progressed.


Noises Off

Director Matt Caton

  Dandenong Theatre Company opened 2007 with a delightful farce Noises Off about a touring Rep Company in England and showing not only on stage but behind the scenes.

The set designer and construction team did a very good job in making a two story set complete with stairs, upstairs landing various doors both upstairs and downstairs without which any farce can succeed.

The cast lived u to the standard expected with no poor performances.

The program contains in an internal program which is for the touring company Otstar Productions.

Sharon Maine played Dotty Otley and as Dotty played Mrs Clackett in Nothing On, the lead and financier of Otstar Productions production of Nothing On. Sharon captured the role with ease and gave a great interpretation of the role.

Simon Papson was Lloyd Douglas the director. What a role makes one wonder why anyone takes up directing. Simon gave a great performance showing the patience and frustration of handling temperamental; actors.

James Ness was Garry Lejeune who played the young estate agent Roger with more on his mind than selling a house. James Ness handled both roles with the correct characterisation required. His partner of the afternoon was Vicki a young blond with the requisite curves and mentality expected. Laura Ireland as Brooke Ashton / Vicki gave a positive and delightful performance in fact with her walk and limited amount of clothing she brought to mind Barbara Windsor of Carry On fame.

Joe Dias was Frederick Fellowes who played the home owner Phillip Brent. Joe gave a fine interpretation of such a character.

Kym Davis was Belinda Blair who played Phillip Fellowes wife. Kym stood aloof as envisaged and gave a good feeling in the role.

Colin Morley was the assistant director of Nothing On. What a character running around taking actor's roles although it wasn't always necessary, run off his feet by the cast and director. A great performance and guaranteed to keep Colin fit.

The villain of Nothing On was Selsdon Mowbray played Peter Fowler. Selsdon was a good performer provided alcohol beverages were kept out of reach. Peter captured the role with finesse

Another delight was Poppy Norton-Taylor the stage manager played by Claire Benne. Poor Poppy another one run off her feet trying to keep the backstage and cast moving smoothly and trying to talk to the director Lloyd about a secret that will affect him. Claire was made for the role and gave a good natural performance.

A three act show that except being a little slow in act 2 flowed well and was enjoyed by the audience.

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Eltham Little Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9437 1574



The Peppercorn Tree

et in 1993 suburban Melbourne, The Peppercorn Tree tells the story of Jonah Clar4ke who during an early morning raid in World War ii Tobruk, makes a split second decision with repercussions that grew to overshadow his life and future relationships.
ELT had its foyer decorated to suit the play with many Rembrance day poppies across the wall with a peppercorn tree in the middle surmounted by a digger’s hat.
The stage was set as a lounge room of a house suiting the period. The furnishings were an hospital bed, Behind it was a window looking out to a wonderful reproduction of a peppercorn tree. Audience right was the entrance door and on the side was a door leading to the kitchen.
There was some shall we say off language which suited the character and the role.
Jonah Clarke was played by Rowan Francis who really captured the soul of the character. A wonderful portrayal and one not to forget.
His 2nd wife, Grace, was given a stirling understanding performance by Genevieve Ryan. Genevieve caught the essence of the second wife and worked well with Rowan Francis.
Zoe Pilgrim played by Hannah Bolt was the biographer trying to write Jonah’s story. A good and sympathetic portrayal.
Michael Clarke, Jonah’s son by his first wife was played by Warrick Smith. Another great performance adding to the high standard of the production. |
Then through the window we had Evelyn (Evie) Clarke, Jonah’s first wife who appeared as a ghost, great makeup and costuming with a good performance.
A good evening of theatre with a few laughs, poignancy and memopries.

Yes Prime Minister

The United Kingdom is in crisis, debta are spiralling, unemplyment is on the rise and the fragile coalition cabinet led by Prime Minister Hacker is at breaking point. But salvation may exist in the form of a complex pipeline deal with the oil-rich country of Kumranistan that would entitle the goverment to a mult-trillion pound loan.
A well set stage of the interior of Chequers, the Prime Ministers country estate.
A busy stage with a lounge on one side and the office on the other.
Sir Humphrey Apppleby was played by Andrew McAliece, good projection and really caught the feel of such a character. The Prime Minister;s Principal Secretary Bernard Wiilley was given a positive performance by Mike Todd.
The Prime Miniater, Jim Hacler, was played by Julian Campobasso, giving and capturing the essence of the role. The Prome Minister's head of policy, Claire Sutton, was played by Joanna Kaeaknikopoulos who gave a good portrayal of such a character.
The Kumranistan Ambassador was played by Adam Lofthouse, who also gave a good interpretation f the role.
Overall, the show was fair but whether oor not it is the acoustics or the players but the actors wwere rather quiet and at the rear were hard to hear.

Clue: On Stage\

ELT’s final production for 2023 was Clue: on Stage
A farce about abut seven people who were invited to dinner by an unknown and mysterious host. The guests are unknown to each other and wonder why they have been sent an invitation. Then! Their questions are answered.
The butler who greets the guests was played by Emily Goode, giving a good projection but unfortunately her voice was not too clear and did leave a bit of a puzzle as to what she was saying.
Mr Green was played b Warwick Smith who was a nervous man but a surprise at the end.
Colonel Mustard was portrayed by Ryan Purdey. Good stage presence and projected well.
|Mrs White was played by Sophie Stewart, an interesting character well portrayed by Stewart.
|Mrs Peacock was played by Seona Murphy A good performance and Murphy caught the essence of such a character.
Miss Scarlet was played by Del Jordan, a suspicious character and one not quietly thought of by the other guests. Jordan caught the character as envisaged  giving a goods interpretation.
Professor Plum was played by Philip O’Brien. A good interpretation of such a character.
Yvette the maid was portrayed by Kate Taylor who added to the standard of the evening with her portrayal. Mr Boddu/Cop was played by Jackson Langelaan .giving a good portrayal of the various characters.
Two more cops were played by Vicki smith and Kate Possingham, both adding to the fun of the evening.
 James Anderson was the motorist and Chief. As the motorist Anderson had an unexpected surprise and as the Chief he carried the role well.
Last but not least was Lonni Allan as the cook and singing telegram. A good portrayal of both characters.
As it was the final show ELT had the audiences around tables and each person brought their own food and drink, which made for a fun evening and the play was enjoyed by the audience.
A fun night and a good end to a successful by Eltham Little Theatre.

Almost Maine

Where on  one deeply cold and magical Midwinter Night, the citizens of – Almost – not organised enough for a town, too populated for a wilderness – experience life-altering powers of the human heat.
Eltham Little Theatre rose to the challenge of such a story producing a wonderful evening of theatre.
}ELT and Director Marti Ibrahim chose to do the play in a series of 11 vignettes., each one with two or on occasion three performers .A cast of 13 players who each gave great performance’s. Although on occasion when some heads were turned off stage it was hard to hear the dialogue.   
The setting were basic but effective. The lighting lived up to expectations with the Northern Lights done very effectively by the use of greenlighting which brought the impression of the Northern Lights to the theatre.


Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare.

Eltham Little Theatres latest production goes back to the 1500s with their updated take on William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
A comedy written about 1598 and 1599.
The play is set in Messina and revolves around two romantic pairings that emerge when a group of soldiers arrive in town. The first, between Claudio and Hero, is nearly altered by the accusations of the villain, Don John. The second romance between Claudio’s friend Benedick and Herp’s cousin Beatrice, takes centre stage as the play continues, with both characters wit and banter providing much of the humour.
ELT brought the show up to date in costuming and set design. The company did not change Shakespeare’s  words which suited the present day costuming. The rear of the stage was set as two walls with two pillars each side of the entrance/exit. Front of stage was a table and chairs on audience left and two sun lounges on audience right. Scattered about were various pot plants put to good use by various members of the company as they tried to listen in on what was said about them.
A large cast of 15 players all giving superb performances, getting the feel of the characters and overall giving good performances. Pone player does deserve a mention is that f Marti Ibrahim as Beatrice. A great performer. Clarity of voice and a good actor. Her scenes with Benedick played by Sarab Kaikobad were a sheer delight.
There were some n=minor annoyances, when the players turned their heads away from the audience some of the dialogue was hard to hear.
But this is a minor fault and your correspondent highly recommends to go and see this wonderful evening of theatre.
ELT next production is Disney’s High School Musical opening July 1 0 16.

Get Smart

ELT closed the year with a comedy Get Smart a stage production taken from the TV series.
ELT did a good job of sets reminiscent of the TV show. The set changers were smooth and fast.
The program was interesting, it was labelled Top Secret and each actor and crew were listed as if they were really under the notice of the Department of Control, Washington DC.
A large cast unfortunately too large to give a brief summary of each performer.
The main players were , of course, Maxwell Smart, played by Gilbert Gauci, who not only looked the part but carried on exactly as if he was really agent 86 (Maxwell Smart) a great and excellent portrayal of the character. Chief was also given a great performance by Adrian Quntarelli, He captured the role with expertise and some of is scenes with Maxwell Smart were a delight to behold. James Banger was Mr Big, the leader of KAOS, Banger caught the role giving a good interpretation of same.
Agent 99 was played by Kate Naylor, another good interpretation in showing how to get Maxwell out of trouble.
Overall a great evening of theatre there were a couple of moments when some of the ladies were a little quiet and perhaps Gauci could have toned his voice down just a little. A fun evening was had by all and as is the norm of ELT  last show.t hey had the audience sitting at tables and BYO everything including friends to make a wonderful evening of catching up and a fun show to finish the year.

Moon Over Buffalo

Moon Over Buffalo a story of two actors, just ask them, they tour upstate New York hoping for that one last break. .It comes when a leading Hollywood producer says he will see their afternoon matinee. But! George and Charlotte, married, but there is trouble on the horizon,
ELT’s opening set was the lounge room George and Charlotte’s living room, rented for the show and has their schedule of plays on the wall plus change room upstairs on audience left. There are the obligatory five doors as in every farce and this play is not only funny,  but the players did a fantastic job of timing, laughs, perhaps a little tragedy which o-one noticed because they were laughing too much. The opening number was hysterical. The players were in costume for Cyrano de Bergerac in front of a curtain. When they fought their way off screen the curtains opened to the scene above.
Emma Wood was Charlotte, a great performance with spot on timing and her expressions were a picture. Excellently performed.
Her husband George was portrayed by Sean McKenna. An asset to ELT, working well with Wood and some of his scenes particularly with the ‘coffee’ were a sheer delight.
Trevor Eccles was Paul, their coupe’s manager and was in love with their daughter. A good performance and poor Paul didn’t seem to know whether he was coming or going.
Roz, their daughter, was given a stirling performance by Ada Jean. A young girl who did not want Paul but was engaged to Howard. Jean certainly kept the standard of the comique play high.
Ethel, Charlotte’s mother, gave a delightful performance as the deaf mother ang grandmother. Some of her scenes were a sheer delight.
James Anderson was Howar4d, a nerd. Who didn’t really understand show people. Anderson gave a goof portrayal of such a character and what happened to him nearly brought the house down.
Eileen was played by Georgina Todd, a small role but done with flair and a good addition to the shoe. The solicitor to the stars, was Richard, played by Phillip O’Brien. Another small role but without it the show could not go on. O’Brien captured the character as expected turning in a good portrayal.
A must see show which closes September 17.  

The Wind in the Willows

A musical that relates to the adventus of several animal friends and neighbours in the English countryside.- primarily Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.
An interesting production with a young cast and resulting from the success of this play the future of theatre is assured.
Rat was played by Nate Clarke who caught the character of the confident Rat with ease giving a good interpretation.
Mole was played by Anja Murray, she has good stage presence but her voice was a little quiet but wit more stage experience this will be overcome. Lilli-Rose Lawrence was Badger, the wise and knowledgeable one of the group. Lawrence captured the feel of the role giving a nice performance.
Toad was played by Ella Caird. A young lady with a good future as a Performer in theatre. Her stage presence was very good, her voice was clear, and the right sound and her acting was great.
The Chief Weasel was played by Josh Smith who gave a good performance of the evil Weasel. The scenes where the weasels took over Toad Hall were great and in the fight with Ra, Mole, Badger and Toad the cast looked like they were enjoying themselves.
In the ensemble many of whom were dressed as mice there was one little girl possibly the smallest who has a great future in theatre. She stood out with her stage presence and her dancing and cheerfulness.  .
The cast and chorus were a good balance to the main performers giving the correct touch to the performance.

Thne Long Road

ELT’S production for March was Shelagh Stephenson’s The Long Road.
When 18 ear old Canny is fatally stabbed in a random attack, his family struggles to find meaning and forgiveness.
His mother’s determination to understand the atrocity brings her face to face with his killer and forces the family to confront the bitter senselessness of their loss.
An unusual setting with the acting area on the floor with the audience. The audience area was u-shaped with the action at the head of the U. The set comprised of a mid- fifties table and chairs with a two- seat settee on a raised area audience left.
This area was put to good use by the players.
A dramatic play leaving the audience somewhat exhausted.
The opening was Danny’s brother Joe entering stage and talking about the event that happened that evening. This was followed by his mother Mary then his father John. Other scenes were sitting at the table and also the table with two chairs was used as the interview room in the prison.
Joe was given a good performance by James Banger who caught the role as the author intended. His Mother, Nary, was played excellently by Michelle Tanner who gave a stirling and very moving performance in trying to understand why the murderer did it mush to the disgust of her husband and son. The husband John was played by Bryan Richardson. A man who could not understand his wife’s attitude to the murderer. Richardson caught the character of the puzzled father and husband with the zest called for. A violent man whose favourite son was Danny much to the disgust of his other son Joe.  
The prison visitor was Elizabeth played by Emily Goode. Elizabeth could not really understand the family’s attitude to Mary’s problem. Goode caught the feeling of such a character.
The murderer, Emma, was excellently played by Sheridan Close. Close captured the essence of the character giving the correct feel of a girl of her background and the event of the moment.
ELT put on a great evening of theatre and one cannot wait for the next production.


The 39 Steps

ELT’s  was The 39 Steps adapted from the novel of John Buchan by Patrick Barlow.
An interesting play with four people playing may parts.
The storyline is about Richard Hannay, bored with life meets a mysterious woman at the theatre. And so it goes on with spies, murder, police, Scottish landlords and does Richard meet the right girl or does he?
Mason Frost was Richard Hannay. A good performance and possibly the only one in the cast who played only one role.
Amelia/ Margaret/ Pamela were played by Luisa Romeo. A good performer working well with Frost the only complaint one had was the costuming was not good, it made her look like an elderly frump instead of an attractive young lady one would expect in such a character.
Clown one was played by Ryan Smith. A wonderful portrayal in the many and various roles Smith performed. His offsider, Clown two was performed by Lisa Feim. Another player of many parts Feim gave an outstanding performance. The two clowns actually reminded one of Laurel and Hardy.
A great evening of theatre , smooth flowing and with a play f this magnitude flowing is very important. The set changes were a delight and worked well. Overall, the evening was a great success particularly when you only having four people playing so many roles. This is not easy as the actor has to get the feel of each character to present the best of the role.
ELT gave its audience a great evening of theatre and looking at the forthcoming program ELT followers are in for a god year of theatre.

Be Back Before Midnight

Eltham Little Theatre opened its 2021 season with Peter Colley’s I’ll Be Back Before Midnight.
A story of Jan who has recently suffered a nervous breakdown, and her husband Greg who has rented an old farmhouse from a neighbouring farmer George. Who tells them about a terrible murder that took place in the same house that they are renting.
Events get worse when Greg’s manipulative sister, Laura, arrives? A psychological drama but has a few funny moments. 
 ELT chose to have their audience in cabaret style with everyone bringing their own food and drink. This was to make up for the lost ear of 2020 and getting the audience together for a great evening.
Ada Jean was the nervous breakdown wife Jan Sanderson. Jean gave a great performance as the character capturing the somewhat scared wife wondering what was going to happen next.
Her husband Greg was played by Alex Loadman. Another good performer really cognisant of his wife’s breakdown and helping her on the road to recovery, But! Is he? Loadman caught the essence of the character and projects well.
George the farmer was played by Sean McKenna. A likeable character but always happy to talk about the sad news in the local paper. McKenna did not quite catch the character as envisaged but projected well.
Greg’s sister Laura was performed by Stephanie Mann. Mann gave a good interpretation of the role  of the sister-in-law who doesn’t really like Jan. Mann caught the character with aplomb and also projecting well.


The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke

To open ELT’s 2021 season after the covid-19 break the choice was C. J. Dennis’s Songs of the Sentimental Bloke.
Chatting to the Director Brad Buckingham after the performance he told me that it took him 10 years to write the play and come up with the concept portrayed by Eltham Little Theatre. And I might add a very successful concept.
The stage was set in the round with the audience on the stage, at the rear of the theatre and both sides. The scenes were introduced by slides projected on the sloping ceilings. Very well done slides and a good intro to each scene.
The Sentimental Bloke Bill was performed by two actors, Tim Camilleri and Don Nicholson. They both acted as narrator and Bill. As the narrator each recited C.J. Dennis’s poem while the other bill acted out the character portrayed in the spoken lines. I feel that this was very successful giving a new insight to portraying a character.
Some of the action was remarkable such as the scene at the theatre where Bill takes Coreen to see a Bong Tong show you know. His was Romeo and Juliet and we see Bill and Doreen on theatre seats actually watching the balcony scene. Also meeting Mar ELT had a table and chairs set with a tea set. This added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Tim Camilleri and Don Nicholson caught the character of Bill excellently and although both played Bill the audience was not mixed up by having two characters.
Doreen was given a wonderful performance by Rachel Enders and I can only day she was Doreen. A superb portrayal. The cast all played various characters with Margaret Rawlinson giving a great interpretation of Soreen’s Mar. Always tearful and insisting on calling bill willy, much tohis disgust. Bill did have a small worry, what if Doreen grew up to become her Mum?
Brad Buckingham played several roles but caught the character of Ginger Mick with finesse.
Luisa Romeo was also appearing in several roles including that of Juliet in the scene from Romeo and Juliet. She gave good interpretations of all her characters.
Alan Ashby was the pilot cove, Uncle Jim and other characters giving a great feel to all the characters.
A very successful opening by ELT to open 2021 particularly after 2020.   



The Sum of Us

Director: Samuel Chappel

ELT’s opening production for 2020 was David Stevens The Sum of Us. A story set in Footscray about a father and his gay son who the father understands and encourages him in his chosen way of life.
Mix in a boyfriend for  young Jeff and a widow for Harry (the father) and one has an interesting scenario.
ELT’s set was the lounge room of a typical Footscray home. Well executed.
An unusual format of a play with many (too many) monologues which did become a little monotonous at times. The players, to their credit, had a lot to remember and voice but unfortunately  their voices did become a little regular and not enough shading in their projection.
When two or more spoke to each other the voice and action was overall fair but the monologues missed the beat.
Jeff the gay son, was performed by James Chappel a fair performer but voice projection could have bee a little better. His father Harry was portrayed by Ian Tweeddale, also a fair performance but also lacking a little emotion in the voice.
Greg, the boyfriend of Jeffs, was played by Shane Pritchard, a small role but well played. Harry’s date Beryl a widow was played by Angela Trakula. A good performance with a good rapport with Tweeddale.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Director: Samuel Chapple

ELT ‘s September production was Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The play takes place in 1962 in an Oregon Psychiatric Hospital strictly controlled by the firm hand of the indomitable Nurse Ratched. Things take a turn when a new admission arrives by the name of R. P. McMurphy who is determined to establish himself as the ‘bull goose loony’.
ELT built a magnificent set of the interior of the Oregon Psychiatric Hospital. Barred window on audience left, nurses observation post centre left and doorways audience right.
A cast o f16 all giving a high standard performances. R.P. Murphy, who decided that a psychiatric hospital was a better deal than jail was given an outstanding performance by Warrick Smith who really captured the essence of such a character.
Nurse Ratched who really ruled the roost and stuck to the rules even if they were detrimental to the patients was given a great interpretation by Kellie Tweesdale.
The native American Chief Bromden, who was thought to be deaf and dumb, was played by Luke Styles. An imposing stage presence, an excellent portrayal of a man who was befriended by R. P. McMurphy with results that you must see the play to understand.
the other main player in the hospital was Harding, more r less in control of the other patients until the advent f R. P. McMurphy. Drew Mason captured the role of Harding with finesse adding to the high standard of the evening.
The remainder of the cast worked in well with the above and all contributed to the exceedingly high standard of the opening night performance.  


Look Back in Anger

Director: Drew  Mason

ELT’s choice for the July season was John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger.
A story of Jimmy Porter, his wife Alison, their friend and Jimmy’s business partner Cliff, Alison’s friend Helena and Alison’s father, Colonel Redfern/
The paly opens on a lazy Sunday afternoon in a one room attic flat in a town with Alison ironing and the two men reading the Sunday papers.
ELT built a good interior of a one roomed flat, very busy with the full complement
of what would be expected
Alexander Loadman played Jimmy, an intelligent man who was in partnership with his friend Cliff in running a street-corner candy stand. He also likes playing the trumpet which no-one else thinks he can. Loadman captured the role with expertise, giving a great and highly energetic performance particularly in a couple f fight scenes with Cliff.
His wife, Alison was played by Tamasin Mummery, who also captured the character in completely ignoring her husband’s tirade against everything  yet giving a moving poignant performance particularly in the final scenes An excellent portrayal.
Jimmy’s mate Cliff was played by Jason Triggs. Cliff felt sorry for Alison and interfered when he thought things had gone too far. Triggs gave a great and another energetic performance particularly in the fight scenes with Jimmy.
Alison’s friend and Jimmy’s lover, Helena, was portrayed by Ada Jean. As Helena Jean caught the essence of a good friend but who also despised Jimmy but could not bear to be without him. Jean gave an outstanding performance in the role capturing the character with aplomb.
A small part was Alison’s father, Colonel Redfern. Played by Adrian Quintarelli who gave the character realism carrying the role as envisaged by the author.
A good evening of theatre from ELT and this is a company not to be missed.  .  


On Golden Pond

Director:” Roderick Chappel

Eltham Little Theatre’s choice for the September season was Ernest Thompson’s On Golden Pond. The play is about Ethel and Norman Thayer who come to spend summer at their rural retreat on the edge of Golden Pond, s lake in the forest f rural Maine.
unexpectedly their daughter, Chelsea arrives with her new boyfriend Bill and Bill’s son Billy. Chelsea and Bill are going to Europe and leaving young Billy with Ethel and Norman.
ELT had a good set of such a rural retreat with a glass door surmounted by two windows at stage rear showing great views of Golden Pond. Real photos and gave a realistic feel to the production
Brian Edmond was Norman Thayer. Edmond captured the irascible Norman with finesse ang gave a good performance His moments with young Billy were a sheer delight.
Katie Hall was his wife Ethel, a great portrayal of the sometimes-exasperated wife and mother. Hall worked well with Edmond and together were popular with the audience.
The local postman, Charlie Martin, who had a crush on Chelsea since they were children was played by Seth Kannof. A good interpretation of such a character.
Chelsea was played by Peta Owen. Owen caught the character of a young woman who had difficulty in getting on with her father. Owen gave a great feel to such a character and had some good scenes particular when mother and daughter sang the old song of Golden Pond.
Chelsea’s new boyfriend bill was played by Leigh Harrison. A small role handled well but voice projection was a little quiet.
The young Billy was given a good portrayal by Peter Gallagher, a young performer and judging by his performance a good future in theatre.
Overall a good and moving play well handled by the ELT cast and congratulations to the director Roderick Chappel for a wonderful night of theatre.


One Act Plays

Eltham Little Theatre’s Autumn season was a series of four one act plays.
Opening with Home is the Hunted by R. F. Delderfield.
A story of Oscar who has just been sentenced to a long stretch in prison. He escapes and goes home to wife and family where the fun starts.
With Beth Klein as Ada, Cat Fleming as Emma, Madeline Jordan as Maimie, David Buchanan as Oscar and Dan Casey as Sergeant Wilton.
 A good opening to the evening with plenty of fun, frustration and a surprise ending. The three ladies gave great performances working with each other successfully and presenting well.
David Buchanan as Oscar caught the character with aplomb giving a good portrayal. Dan Casey as Sergeant Wilson also presented well giving a good portrayal.
The second production, A Fete Worse than Death was written by Chris Hodson.
A story about the Reverend Goode and his committee trying to organize the church fate with a modern generation trying to update matters despite the conservatives on the committee.
Appearing were Louise Steele as Marjorie Goode, Don Nicholson as Rev. Ian Goode, Catlyn Pasquali as Sally, the vicar’s daughter, James Banger as Mathew, Sally’s boyfriend, Asher Griffith-Jones as the Verger, Pat Alcock as Mavis, Kate Deavin as Lorraine, Peter Fowler as David, Tim Hawthorne as Simon and Grace McNiven as Barbara.\.
An interesting paly set in the vicarage where the members of the church fete committee discuss and try to agree on what will happen. The players worked well together with Louise Steele as Marjorie, the vicar’s wife, organizing everything and sympathetic to the modern generation, a well cone performance.
A god standard of acting by all in a wordy but interesting play with aspects unexpected by all including the audience.
The third Play was Red Hot in Amsterdam written by Patricia Robinson.
a story of two diamond thieves, Frank and Mickey who being chased by the police climb through a brothel window and hide the loot in the main room.
Frank was played by Glenn Mackie. Mickey by David Buchanan, Madame Celestine by Angela Trakula, Chief of Police by Phil Holmes, Kora by Madeline Jordan and Corrine by Bianca Becker.
Good musical back ground for this play. Frank and Mickey were great comic characters and some of the costuming was a sheer delight particularly the reaction by each player. The overall costuming was very good giving the atmosphere of an Amsterdam brothel. Good performances all round  with each player finding the hidden diamonds and changing  te hiding place. A light hearted fun show.
The fourth production Roses are Red, My Love written by Pat Woods.
 A story of two lovely grandmotherly type ladies who are not quite what they seem. They lve roses and compete in the local rose club competition each year.
Patricia Mc Craken-Tonkin was Susan Westfield and Belinda Pearson was Olga Bell,
The set was Susan sitting having a cup of tea with Olga coming saying she could not stay long but sits down and has a gossip talking about the recent deaths in the community.
McCraken-Tonkin gave a wonderful performance as a sweet appearing old lady but! What an evil portrayal, McCraken-Tonkin really caught such a character excellently capturing the essence of such evil with expertise. Pearson, also was not what she seemed but unfortunately the two players did not quite have the rapport expected in this play.
The evening was overall very successful with simple props and a window frame being used in all plays in different spots an stage, the tabs and rear were all black and various items of furniture to suit the relevant play were used as required. The opening night audience enjoyed the evening.  


The Importanc of Being Earnest

ELT’s choice to open 2018 was Oscar Wilde’s probably most famous play, The Importance of being Earnest.
Reporting from the program Earnest  is a harsh critique of the times in which Wilde wrote the play. Written in 1894/5 it is scathing of the society in which it is set ( and to whom it played). The institutions Wilde takes swipes at are the very backbone of society at the time: religion, class, education, morality, marriage and the importance of being seen to act ‘properly’.
ELT produced three good sets, first in Jack Worthing’s London home, the second in Jack Worthing’s country estate and third in Lady Bracknell’s  home.
The sets were well done and the change over were smooth and not too long.
Jack Worthing was played by Sam Barson. In the country he was Uncle Jack to his ward Cecily and in town he was Earnest allegedly his wicked brother Earnest. Barson gave a good though slightly over the top performance in the role.
Asher Griffith Jones was Jack’s friend Algernon Moncrieff a bit of a devil with the ladies and Jack didn’t want him anywhere near Cecily. Griffith Jones caught the character giving a good performance and was a good balance to Barson.
Jack’s butler in the city, Lane and his butler in the country, Merriman was played by Bruce Carter. A great performance with Carter capturing the spirit of both characters with aplomb.
Lady Bracknell was played by Katie Hall. A dominating role with Lady Bracknell giving all the orders ad expecting everyone to drop everything for her. Hall  was a little slow in the beginning but picked up the characterisation with finesse giving a good interpretation of such a character.
 Laura Edwards as Gwendolyn Fairfax, Jack’s betrothed gave an outstanding  performance with good clear diction and superb body language. A wonderful portrayal.
Sarah Oliver was Jack’s ward Cecily Cardew. Another good portrayal with some wonderful scenes particularly at afternoon tea at the country estate.
Alison Jones was Miss Prism, Cecily’s tutor and as it turned out a lady with a past.  Jones handled the role as the character required  giving a good performance. Miss Prism’s shall we say special friend was the Reverend Canon Chasuble DD .Steve Saul carried the role with aplomb, good clear diction and a good characterisation of the role.
ELT gave a good opening production for 2018 and their audience’s are looking forward to this the company’s 60th year.

It's a Wonderful Life

Director: Terese Maurici Ryan

A story of George Bailey of Bedford Falls and how his life affected the town. He is contemplating suicide when his guardian angel arrives and shows him the life without him would be devastating.
The production was dome as a radio play in an old fashioned radio studio. ELT set designers and construction crew sis an excellent job of such a creation.
Three old style microphones, a sound engineer and all the apparatus for creating the specific noises as applicable, seats for the cast to rest in between lines spoken, a well laid out studio even to the red sign “On Air” over the entry door.
Tim Constantine played the compere, Freddy Filmore plus many other roles. Constantine gave a wonderful and skilled performance with amazing voice changes for the various roles he portrayed.
Mark Briggs was Jake Laurents who played George Bailey giving a good interpretation of the young man who wanted to leave town but was frustrated by events beyond his control. Mary, George’s wife was played by Llaaneath Poor who was the actor Sally Applewhite playing Mary. Good stage appearance, nice voice fitting the role and a good performance all around.
Pauline Constantine, a voice actor, played several roles and showed her voice talents to the full also having good stage performance.
Other performers were Gavin Baker, Tim Camilleri, Kate Manicom, Eleni Miller all handling multiple characters giving good performances particularly when changing characters which is not a easy task.
Las but not least was Phil Holmes as the sound man. Manning a table with various assorted objects used for making the sound of a windstorm, plus other relevant sounds applicable in the story line.
A successful production from the Eltham Little Theatre.


Lost in Yonkers

Director: Terese Maurice-Ryan

It’s 1942, Arty and Jay, two teenage brothers must go to live with their stern German Jewish grandmother and their not quite with it Aunt Belle. Throw in Uncle Louie, a small time gangster on the run from fellow gangsters and one has the making of an interesting story.
ELT is to be congratulated on the set which was an apartment above a candy store. Magnificently done with the setting of all the expected fittings of such an apartment.
Angus Hamilton was young Arty, Angus, so the program tells us, is 11 years old playing a 13 year old. A great performance and a good rapport with Casey Filips as his brother Jay. Angus is a young man to watch and one I am sure we will see more of. The same goes for Casey Filips as Jay, another good performer particularly when standing up to his grandmother.
A highlight of the evening was the performance by Elizabeth Van Spronsen as Aunt Bella. An amazing portrayal really capturing the essence of the slightly retarded aunt who loved the boys and was a virtual slave to her mother until…
Xavier Ryan was Uncle Louis who kept looking discreetly out the window to see of the coast was clear. Ryan caught the characteristics of the role working well with the rest of the cast and projecting well.
His brother and the boy’s father was Eddie played by Drew Mason. Eddie left his sons in the care of his mother while he went across America as a travelling salesman. Mason gave a good feeling of the father who, through circumstances was not happy about leaving his boys with his mother. Throughout the play Eddie sends letters home and this was done by Drew under a spotlight hiding the rest of the set showing him reading the letters out as if the boys were at home reading same. A well done performance.
Jo Warr was the German Jewish grandma and made sure that her family neve forgot the fact and what she suffered in Germany. Warr projected excellently coming in with a walking stick used for getting attention by really banging it on stage. A good performance. A small role was Aunt Gert who visited for a short while. Aunt Gert also had problems and Candice Brittain made the most of the role.

A great evening of theatre with a high standard of performance by all.


It's My Party (and I'll Die if I Want To)

Director: Laura Bradley

A story of the Patterson family where the father Ron invites his grown up family to an evening of party pies and pavlova. He has some unexpected news and so have they!
ELT set designers and builders did a great job of the setting of a lounge/dining room plus the necessary doors on left and right of stage.
Phil Holmes was Ron Patterson, a rather pedantic man and very well played by Phil Holmes who captured the essence of such a character.
Ron’s wife Dawn was played by Pat Alcock. A pushed around wife who nevertheless stood up for her husband. Alcock gave a fine interpretation of such a role and added to the standard of the evening.
Ron’s son Michael was portrayed by Drew Mason. A good performance catching all the finer nuances of the business man who had a secret.
Ron’s eldest daughter Debbie was played by Felicity Ahern. Michael and Debbie didn’t get along with their younger sister. Ahern caught the role with finesse and worked well with Mason.
The younger sister Karen was played by Tamara Dahmen. Karen was a spoilt brat and a Daddy’s girl. Dahmen was excellent in the role with a good stage presence.
In the second act Ted Wilkins an undertaker entered. Ryan Purdey gave a realistic performance to the role and was rather bemused by the Patterson family’s goings on.
A well done smooth flowing play with an unexpected ending and was appreciated by the opening night audience.   


The Wisdom of Eve

Director: Susan Rundle

ELT’s August production was Mary Caswell’s The Wisdom of Eve.
Originally the story was the basis of the Academy Award winning film All About Eve which starred Betty Davis. Mary Orr wrote the play 14 years after the film first opened.
The stage was divided into two sets. Audience left was the dressing room of the stage star Margo Crane while audience right was the living room of the home of the writer Lloyd Roberts and his wife Karen.
Both well constructed sets suiting the essence of the play.
The story is of Eve Harrington, a fan of Margo Crane and how she inveigles herself into the lives of Margo and her friends the Roberts.
Susie Kazda was Even Harrington. A wonderful performance with Kazda really capturing the young naïve girl who turned out not quite so naïve and a trouble to the four friends. Very well done.
The leading actress Margo Crane was performed by Jana Menze. Another great performer handling the role with professionalism and expertise.
Her husband Clement Howell was played by Bill Mitchell. A man who did not like the way his wife took to Eve without knowing anything about her. Mitchell was Clement Howell taking off the role with ease.
Margo’s friend Karen Roberts was played by Lisa Upson. Karen was the person who introduced Eve to her friends. A good portrayal of the character.
Karen’s husband Lloyd was played by Tony Clayton. Clayton gave a good feel to the role with fine stage appearance.
The young stage manager Harvey was well played by Ben Mitchell. Another great character was the radio theatre critic Tully Thompson who was delightfully played by Candice Brittain.
Margo’s agent Hinkle was portrayed by Ryan Purdey who was a smooth talker and was rather taken with eve. Purdey handled the role with finesse adding to the high standard of the evening.
Margo’s dresser Celia who was shall we say ousted by Eve was played by Margaret Rawlinson. A small but important role and well handled by Rawlinson.
A good evening of theatre well produced and directed by ELT  ans a company worth going to see.


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The Great Gatsby

The 1812 Theatre opened its May season with F. S. Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby.
A smooth running show with great acting from the cast.,
The set was tabs on each side of stage with a dais in the middle rear with a screen above it. This was used very successfully to illustrate various scenes in the production.
Set in the jazz age of USA the opening scene was the cast coming out  individually doing the Charlton. Very effective and setting the scene for the era.
Jay Gatsby was well played by Rob Flowers, a good performance and Rob captured the essence of the character.
 Daisy Buchanan, Rob’s true love? was portrayed by Melody Taylor. Melody appeared natural on such a role and gave an excellent performance.
Nick Carraway was played by Luke Peverelle, whose role was Jay’s friend and also narrator.
A great performance and highly commended.
Tom Buchanan was played by Julian Campobasso who really caught the character as envisaged by F. S. Fitzgerald. Some of his scenes were very well ////////////////done.
Jordan Baker was played by Madeline Broen giving a great performance and worked extremely well with Luke Peverelle. Myrtle Wilson was given a good performance by Georgia Clare. Her husband George Wilson waws played by Nathan Williams who added to the overall high standard of the evening.
Jackson Langelaan had the task of playing the Mayor Wolfsheim Mr McKee/ Policeman, all handled professionally.
Ellen Leask played Mrs McKee and Mrs Michaels. Both parts were up to the standard set by the cast.
The scene after interval was the cast doing the Charleston and jazz dancing, very smooth and a delight to see.
A good evening of theatre and a company not to be missed.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

On a summer’s day 1900, three Australian schoolgirls on aa pcnic expedition to remote Hanging Rock absconded from thie group. They were lasst seen heading toward the exkoning Rocka.
IN Tim Wright’s chilling adapatation of Joan Lindsay’s classicnovel,five performers struggle to solve the mystery of the missing girls and their teacher. Euphoria and terror reverberate throughout the community, as the potential for history to repeat itslef becomes nightmarichly real.
1912 Theatre produced a stunning ersion of Tom Wright’s Picnic at Hanging Rock.
A simleset with tabs sown each side and at thee rear. The tabs were painted grey but if you looked closely they were the Australian Eucalptus with a vertical screen to the rear. Lighting was excellent and really made the show. The cast were Claire Duncan, Caitlyn Pasqual, Rhiannin Mitchell, Elsa Kendall and Madeleine Brown,
Each actor handeled their roles with prfessionalism, all playing several roles including males. This was exquisitly acted and the cast gave the real feeling of horror.
A well cone production, well diorected by Dexter Bourke and a play notr to be missed.

Waitiong for God

Starmail May 23. 2023
The 1812 Theatre
Waiting for God
Set in a retirement home where Tom Ballard has just arrived. Opposite his room is the feisty Diana Trent, a retired journalist who specialized in war coverage news. A lady always moaning. Sarah Chase, her niece, loved her aunt and no matter how much Diana complained she still visited and put up with her aunt’s complaints.   
Then we have June, the tireless worker who puts up with the likes of Diana and is always cheerful, and madly in love with the CEO, Harvey.
An amusing story originally was a TV series and now a play.
Several sets based on a revolving stage which was used to full extent and as a result a smooth movement of scenes.
.Diana Tent, the feisty resident was given a wonder and authentic performance by Annie Laurenson. Her newcomer Tom Ballard was performed by Chris Hodson, a great performance and Chris and Annie had a great rapport which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Diana’s niece Sarah was given a good interpretation by Rosa Leonardi. Her scenes were great and one outstanding moment when she was having a baby, on stage and very realistic. This was felt by some comments by members of the audience.
The CEO of the retirement home, Harvey was given a great interpretation by Lindsay Fletcher, who stuck to the rules and did not realise that the housekeeper, Jane, was hopelessly in love with him. A good performance of a man sticking to the rules and not really understanding what was going on around him.
Tom’s son Geoffrey was played by Colin Morley, an enthusiastic young man who burst in and out even if it was not convenient. Morley caught the character as envisaged and kept up the standard of the evening. |
Dawn Ridsdale was Sarah, the housekeeper, always cheerful and madly in love with Harvey. Ridsdale caught the essence of such a character giving an excellent performance and added to the enjoyment of the evening. Two roles were handled by Christopher Newport, that of a doctor and the forgetful Reverend Dennis, A funny performance especially the Reverend. Newport certainly has a great sense of comique and gave a good portrayal of the characters.
\Doctor Gyno, who delivered Sarah’s baby was played by Arzu Yilmaz. Another good performance giving a realistic feel of the moment.
The undertaker was played by Kate Deavin, a small role but important to the play. A good performance adding to the joy of the evening.
!812 Theatre again gave its audience a high class, hilarious and terrific evening of theatre. One to enjoy.


Thursday /february 9. 2023 saw the opening of The 1912 Theatre’s opening production for 2023. Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn.
An interesting play consisting of five short plays slightly linked together.
!812 Theatre used a revolve stage which was excellent in handling the different scenes, while one scene was seen by the audience the other two scenes were being set.
The opening lay was Mother Figure. A story about a mother whose husband is a travelling salesman and who is completely wrapped in her children. Two neighbours arrive as the mother’s husband rang them worried about his wife. The result is hilarious.
The second play is Drinking Companion where a sleazy commercial traveller tries to do a line with first one young lady then with her friend. Another great success.
The third play is   Between Mouthfuls. A restaurant scene with two couplesnot realising that they are known to each other.
The scenes were excellently set with play 1 a typical untidy room with toys scattered about. Play 2 was a bar scene with two tables, bar stools and a well set bar.
Play 3 was in restaurant, well executed with meals coming in.
Interval was next followed by Gosforth’s Fete. An amusing story of what can happen in an English fete when the weather turns nasty and everything than can go wrong does.
The last play was in front of a curtain with the players sitting on a park bench. There were four benches and five players.
The players for all scenes were Jan Howden, Elani Beveli, Daniel Parton, Mark Caile and Josiah Bilbig.  . \
This series f plays is a great challenge for actors. They have many parts to play and different characters to represent. This is no easy task as one has to be absorbed in the role to do it justice. The cast at The 1812 Theatre lied up to the high standard always set by The 1812 /theatre and comments were heard from the audience about the good actin.
It was a successful evening f theatre and one looks forward to the year’s season.



The Woman in Black

The 1812 Theatre’s final production for 2022 was Susan Hill’s The Woman in black.
This, as the program reminds us, a ghost story in two acts.
The 1912 Theatre program was set out in Victorian fashion bringing the correct atmosphere to the evening as one is presented with the said program.
The set was amazing. As the program says, “The audience is asked to imagine the action of the play takes place in the basement of a respected West End Theatre London.”
So 1812 set the stage as such with a black brick wall running diagonally across the rear of the stage, A round central door, a theatre old style basket and many pipes leading up and down with different gauges attached to same.
The story of Arthur Kipps who hires an actress to teach him how to present his story to family and friends. The story of his mission as a young man to a. lonely old house where an old lady has passed away and Kipps representing the solicitors of the estate is sent to go through everything and settle the estate. What happens is the story that must be told.
|The players were Rhiannon Stephens who played the acting coach and young Arthur Kipps.
Rowan Francis played the older Arthur Kips, Mr Bentley, Landlord, Keckwick, Tomes, Samuel Daly, and Horatio Jerome.
This is not an easy task to play several roles in one show.
Stephens did a good portrayal as the Acting Coach and young Artur Kipps.  Beside the great acting she had several changes which were dome very smoothly and quickly.
Rowan Francis excelled in his many roles, from the shy elderly solicitor to the varying townspeople including different accents. A well done performance from both actors and a great evening of horror theatre. Many of the audience were rather bemused at the end of the evening and there was not the usual hurry to leave the theatre. People took their timer looking around nervously as they left.
A great evening of theatre to finish 2022 by The !812 Theatre.

A Flea in Her Ear

The 1812 Theatre’s production of A Flea in Her Ear.
What an amazing night of fun, laughs and entertainment .from 1812 Theatre.
Opening night saw a full house proving that after the last two years people want to relax and have some fun.
The story is of two well married people where the wife thinks her husband is two timing her. So she does something about it, arranging a rendezvous in a sleazy hotel.
A classic French farce with the obligatory numbers of doors and everyone running in and out of same.
!812 created a marvellous set, opening scene was set in the home of the Chandebise’s .
Act 2 in the Hotel Coq d’Or and act 3 back in the home of the Chandebise’s
Remarkable sets with the hotel having a revolving bedroom in case of someone who should not be there appearing.
The 15 performers gave a great production, and several do stand out. This does not belie the others whose performance was flawless but because of their roles I have to mention, Conor Quinn as Camille Chandebise who, in the play had no palate but a false one which he kept losing, Quinn handled the role with finesse speaking so that no one could understand him, no mean feat. Bruce Hardie as both Victor-Emmanuel the husband and Puch the drunken porter at the hotel. He has some quick changes of characters which he handled professionally and  resulting in the audience enjoying his performance. Rowan Francis as Carlos Homenides de Histangua as the jealous husband who raced around with a gun in hand trying to find and shoot his wife’s lover ( who doesn’t exist). Lastly there is Daniel Parton, who as Marcel Tournel was regularly slapped by Raymonde Chandebise, Chased and tossed of beds and couches. He really suffered.
A great evening if amusement thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.

Till Beth Do Us Part

The 1812 Theatre’s May production was the American comedy Till Beth D Us Part.

A comedy touching on fast and enjoyed by the opening night audience. The stage was set as the living room of the home of Susannah and Gibby Hayden. Susannah runs her business from home while Gibby s the local TV weatherman.
Of course Gibby doesn’t do much around the house always putting things off so Susannah employs woman to help run the house and who finally takes over the business.
Kate Macfie was Susannah. A good portrayal of a businesswomen getting more and more frustrated.
Rowan Francis was Gibby, a I’ll do it later husband. Well played with Francis catching the finer nuances of such a character. Their friends, Margo and Hank were both well played by Megan Coe and Edward Kennett. Coe caught the character with finesse giving a good performance. Kennett, a tall man which helped in the humour of the evening, gave a stirling portrayal and costume wise added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Beth, the hired lady was given a wonderful interpretation by Helen Ellis. She captured the accent as required, a very busy lady, projects well and was a bonus to the production.
As Susannah’s boss, Celia Carmichael played by Leeann Cairnduff although a small role toward the end of the play, gave a great feel of the character and a scene with Kennett nearly raised the roof.
A different ending to what one would expect but you have to see it to enjoy the whole


Dracula, The Bloody Truth

The 1812 Theatre opened its 2022 season with a light comedy based on Bram Stoker’s book Dracula.
An amazing performance from the cast, four people playing 30 roles.
The stage had a stage set upon it with curtains and surrounds which has the show progresses had a habit of falling apart.
the storyline is Professor Van Helsing and his team of amateur actors telling the real story of Count Dracula. And were those amateur actors amateur. Professor Van Helsing spent much of his time being a stage manager telling the others how to do the job properly.
The cast, Donna Cleverley, Brett Hyland, Stephen Oakes, Blake Stringer and a member of the “audience” who was called to help hod up a collapsed stage prop.
All handled their roles with finesse and looked genuine in the various roles.
At no time did the audience think that it was the same person in the different roles.
 A smooth flowing, fast paced and entertaining sow with an ending not really expected.
A great welcome to 2022 by The 1212 Theatre and one looks forward to the program for 2922.

And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie

The 1812 Theatre’s choice to the winter season was Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
!812 Theatre had a wonderful stage set of the foyer/living room of a guest house on a remote island off the coast of England. Ten guests arrive having received an invitation from their host who nobody knows. They are all unknown to each other, but they do have one thing in common.
The maid/cook Mrs Rogers was given a good charactisation by Kate Deavin. A good performance.
Her husband Rogers, who welcomed the guests as they arrived and was the butler come servant was played very well by Robbie Yates. Who also worked well with Deavin.
John Mills the director also had a cameo role. Well done and his direction really made the evening.
The soldier of fortune, Phillip Lombard was given a great performance by Conor Quinn who really caught the feel of such a character.
The secretary employed by the mysterious U. N. Nown, Vera Claythorne was performed by Camille Alexander. A positive and wonderful portrayal of such a personage, showing the emotions of a woman in dire straits.
Anthony Marston was an immoral and restless character. Played by Thomas O’Hare who gave great interpretation of the character.
William Blore, the ex-policeman and now a private investigator was portrayed by Tim Byron. Another well done performance projecting well and handling the character as envisaged.
Emily Brent was an elderly pious spinster who lived by the good book and expected others to do the same. Mel Eccleston captured  the role with aplomb, projecting well and captured the role with finesse
Sir Lawrence the retired criminal judge was well [resented by Roger Paul. Paul has a great stage presence and captured the role as it should be played.
Steve Saul was Cr Armstrong a Harley Street specialist with a dark background. Saul presents well and gave the role the professionalism called for.
General McKenzie, a pompous hero from WWI was played by Scott Wallace Baker who caught all the finer nuances of such a character. Well played.
A typical Agatha Christie play with the usual surprise ending.
Overall a great evening of theatre although a couple of voices were a little quiet and could be raised a little.


The Full Monty

1812 Theatre opened its 2021 season with a popular show, The Full Monty.
A story of workers in Britain’s steel industry who all lost their jobs. With Gary behind in his alimony payments and no money he walks past the Working Man’s Club where the ladies of the town are enjoying a performance by the Chippendales.
|He has an idea, why not gather a few on hid out of work mates get together and go The Full Monty.

An amazing production. Opening set was a deserted factory which over 21 scene changes turned into a house front, a Working Man’s Club, and an employment bureau. The stage team consisting of the actors in between their roles on stage handled the set changes with aplomb creating a smooth flowing production.
A large cast  all performing excellently showing resistance to Gary’s idea, happy with the idea, doubtful about the idea and is he too old or is that one any good at dancing?
They proved themselves over the evening showing the clumsy start to the final show. The production has pathos, humour, plenty of, poignancy and a great script.
Several of the artists played more than one role, which is not easy. The strippers played the one role and gave amusing and great performances. Yes! They went the Full Monty


On Golden Pond

Director: Chris Proctor

The 1812 Theatre chose Earnest Thompson’s On Golden Pond for their opening 2020 season.
The story is of two elderly people, cantankerous retiree Norman Thayer and his conciliatory wife Ethel, who spend each summer at their New England holiday home on the shores of Golden Pond
!812 sets were  excellent, the interior of a New England holiday home with the walls removed to show the outdoors and the rear wall turned into a screen showing the golden Pond with the water actually moving in the wind.
Chris Hodson was the cantankerous old Norman who always talked of his forthcoming death much to his wife’s disgust. Hodson really caught the role giving a superb portrayal of such a grumpy old codger then as the play progressed showed his further  talents.
Ethel, Norman’s patient and understanding wife. was excellently portrayed by Genevieve Ryan.  A great rapport between the couple and Ryan caught all the finer nuances required to deal with her curmudgeon husband. A magnificent performance by Ryan and Hudson.
Carlie Martin, the postman and Chelsea’s childhood friend was played by Peter Frid. Frid gave a good performance in the role with a most annoying laugh which was part of his character.
The couple’s daughter Chelsea Thayne Wayne arrived with her latest boyfriend Bill Ray and his teenage sone Billy Ray Jnr. Ian Johnson was Bill Ray giving a great portrayal of the character and adding to the high standard of the production. His son Billy Rae Jnr was played by Ben Vanderstaak who caught the essence of a teenager from a broken home and the result of spending a few weeks with Norman Thayer. Vanderstaak  was very comfortable in the role and one really thought he was young Billy.
A great opening for 1812 theatre with a high standard production for the future seasons to live up to.


Leading Ladies


Director: Pip Le Blonde
The !812 Theatre’s final choice for 2019 was Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies.
A farce about two down on their luck Shakespeare actors. On reading a newspaper they find about a women who id looking for her sister’s children, Max and Steve, who were taken to England as children. Our two actors decide to pass themselves off as the missing children. But they find Max and Steve are actually Maxine and Stephanie. But they disguise themselves as women and enter their “ :Aunt’s” home. And then the fun starts.
The two Shakespearean actors were played by Joe Dias as Leo/Maxine and Matt Phillips was Jack/Stephanie. Both projected well and the scenes in drag were a sheer delight. One most humorous scene was when Meg wanted to see Maxine and Leo at the same time.
John Dias gave an outstanding performance as both Maxine and Leo who fell in love with Meg, Hid partner Jack was given an equally wonderful portrayal as Jack and Stephanie. Matt Phillips caught the essence of such a character not wanting to carry on with the deception but being persuaded to by Leo. Jack also fell in love with Audrey.
Meg was given a terrific performance by Nicole Melrose. Meg was engaged to an old family friend Vicar Duncan who was suspicious of the two so-called cousins of Meg. Melrose has good stage projection and handled the character with professionalism.
Her suspicious fiancé Duncan was paled by Tim Bryan who added to the high standard of the evening with his interpretation of the role.
Another player who had two roles was Robert Trott as Doc/Moose Frank. Trott handled the two characters with professionalism.
Audrey, who fell in love with Jack but could understand why Stephanie kept hugging her, was played by Maia Tilley who gave an amusing and good performance in her role.
Butch, who was planning to marry Audrey, was played by Robert Yates. Yates caught the feel of such a character giving a good portrayal.
The millionaire Aunt Florence who seemed to be on the pint of dying every few moments was given a great interpretation by Ann Quinn.
The set was the main living room of Florence’s home plus the interior of a train carriage.      
The opening night audience were just about in hysterics throughout the evening.
A great successful evening for 1812 to close 2019.  



Director: Justin Stephens

!812 Theatre’s choice of play for August was Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
An amazing evening of Sherlock Holmes and one of his best- known cases The Hound of the Baskerville. An unusual production with five players four men and one lady playing about 40 roles.
The stage had moveable sets which were moved very smoothly to denote each scene. One of the best ever seen on the 1812 stage was a locomotive coming from the rear. One thought it was actually real so authentic was the image, included one strong headlight, and plenty of smoke.
Sherlock Holmes was played by Nigel Leslie who gave a wonderful and entertaining performance. His offsider Dr Watson was portrayed by Stephen Shinkfield who also captured the essence of such a character. Both giving great portrayals. These two were the only members of the cast playing one character.
The three remainder members played many many roles causing great mirth must appreciated by the opening night audience.
Actor 1 was Mark Briggs who played Stapleton, s naturalist, Dr Mortimer the local doctor, Barrymore the butler plus many more. In each character Mark really captured the role giving a great and entertaining performance.
Tony Burge was Sir Henry Baskerville, Inspector Lestrade, Wilson and many more. In each role Tony gave successfully all he could and many times leaving the audience in hysterics. He nearly stole the show.
Rhiannon Leach was Miss Stapleton, Stapleton’s ‘sister’, Mrs Hudson. Sherlock’s housekeeper, Mrs Barrymore, the butler’s wife and many more including a small urchin.
A wonderful evening if entertainment and possibly one of the funniest productions seen at 1812 for a long time.

The Mousetrap

Director: John Mills

The 1812 Theatre’s choice of production for May was Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
This the longest continual running play in the world. It opened in London in 1952 and is still running. To celebrate its 60th birthday world- wide rights were released and it now seen across the world.
1812 Theatre rose to the challenge producing a magnificent production with a well chosen cast and a very well-set stage of the main room of a boarding house.  
A young couple have inherited the house and decided to turn it into a boarding house.
The players are as Mollie Ralston, Julia Lambert , her husband, Giles, Conor Quinn, Christopher Wren, Thomas O’Hare, Mrs Boyle, Katie Macfie, Major Metcalf, Neil Barnett, Miss Casewell, Jacqui Cooke, Mr Paravincini, Scott Wallace Baker, and detective Trotter, Robert Lister.
As Mollie, Lambert covered the aspects of a new marriage, managing a boarding house, very much in love but later some reservations. Lambert handled the variety of scenes with professionalism and gave a stirling performance.
Her husband, Gilles, was given a good interpretation by Quinn who caught the newly wed husband and a great help to his wife with aplomb a good rapport between them and a well dome performance.
Thomas O’Hare was the flighty young man, Christopher Wren, who could not take things seriously. O’Hare caught the essence of such a character giving a good all-round performance.
Katie Macfie as Mrs Boyle, a lady who was not happy about how the boarding house was run, caught the strict forbidding character as envisaged and asses to the high standard of the production.
Major Metcalf was given a good interpretation by Nel Bennett, with Jacqui Cooke as Miss Casewell projects well and gave a good professional performance.
A delight and a hard act to follow was Mr Paravincini. Played by Scott Wallace Baker who gave a good, humorous and sometime drama type interpretation, also adding to the evening’s high standard.
Detective Trotter was played by  Robert Lister, arriving later than the others and well capturing the role of Detective Sergeant.
A good evening of theatre from 1812 and a company strongly recommended.


Breakling the Code

Director: Malcolm Sussman

!812 Theatre’s 2019 opening production was Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code.
A story about Alan Turing who during WWII developed a machine that against astronomic odds was able to decipher the German Enigma code, thus enabling the Allies to know precisely what the Germans were ding.
Alan Turing had some faults which were tolerated during the war but after the war his assistance was forgotten and he suffered because of his sexual variations
Breaking the Code deals more with his personal life rather than his breaking the code./
The stage was simply set with an office desk audience right and living area audience left. At the rear was a mock - up of his code breaking machine ( possibly the first computer.
Michael Fenemore, in his 1812 Theatre debut gave a stirling performance as Alan Turing. A rather complex role as the scenes changed from the past to the present and back again. Fenemore handled the role with finesse and projects well.
George Thompson was the police investigator, Mick Ross,  who regardless of his own feelings stuck to the letter of the law when dealing with Alan. A good performance.
Christopher Morcom was Alan Turing’s childhood friend, played by Conor Quin who also played Alan’s Greek lover Nikos. Quin captured the characteristics  of both roles with a professional touch.
Sara Turing, Alan’s mother was well performed by Monica Greenwood. Ron Miller was a young man having an affair with Alan and was played by Kirby Chenhall, another good performance adding to the standard of the evening.
Fred Barker was Dillwyn Knox, manager at Bletchley Park  , who recruited Alan. Fred Barker captured the essence of such a character with ease, projects well and gave a great performance.
Claire Benne was Pat, Alan’s co-worker who was in love with Alan but became a good friend. Benne captured the understanding and sympathy of the feeling of Pat.
An interesting evening and a high standard for 1812 Theatre to follow for 2019.



The Pink Panther Stirkes Again

Director: Dexter Bourke

The 1812 Theatre’s final production for 2018 was a rather slapstick, light hearted play entitled The Pink Panther Strikes Again. A story of the former Chief Police Inspector Dreyfus who has been driven insane by the now Chief Inspector Clouseau. Dreyfus kidnaps a famous scientist and his daughter and by threats they build him a doomsday bomb. Dreyfus threatens to destroy the world unless the world turns Chief Inspector Clouseau over to him.
A large cast and a lot of laughs. The sets were moved in and out very smoothly by a team of five dressed as Pink Panthers, their movements were enhanced by the odd dance step or two adding to the amusement of the evening. Except for the main two leads everyone played several roles actually there were 21 performers playing 43 roles. An amazing performances remembering character was which.
Brett Hyland captured the role of Inspector Clouseau and excelled in the character’s bumbling, clumsy both in actions and speech with professionalism and expertise.
His opponent, Dreyfus also added to the delight of the evening with his performance of the madman who originally appears sane so he can be let out of the asylum but his confrontation with Clouseau soon changed that.
The timing of the whole cast was impeccable. One scene stands out where 12 people are trying to murder Clouseau and the way he avoids the murder by his clumsiness is a scene never to be forgotten. Without good timing the play would be a flop but the Director and cast did a wonderful performance in the scene and were highly appreciated by the opening night audience.
A great way to conclude the 2018 season by 1812 Theatre and their audiences are looking forward to the 2019 season.   1812 Theatre


Dial M for Murder

Director: Chris Proctor.

The 1812 theatre’s mid- year production was Frederick Knott’s Dial M for Murder.
The construction arm od 1812 Theatre did an amazing creation of living room in a better class flat. It was if a flat had walked on stage.
The story line was about Tony Wendice, an ex- tennis star who wanted to kill his wife and what happened next?
Angeline Thompson was the wife, Margot Wendice. A wonderful performance and speaking to her after the show she said it was a delightful part as it had the full gamut of acting, from joy, happiness, sorrow, fright and being absolutely scared. Thompson handled the role with professionalism being scat perfectly for the role.
Her husband, Tony Wendice was played by Justin Stephens, giving a great performance as the husband who wished to get rid of his wife but preferring someone else to do the job. Tony was very affectionate to Margo, seemingly worried about her but really trying to work out how to dispose of her. Stephens projected well in the role giving a great performance and a good rapport with Thompson.
A man from Margo’s past, Max Halliday, played by Andy Fry, arrived from New York unexpectedly and added to the shall we say, confusion of the plans. Fry captured the role with aplomb and added to the high standard of the evening.
 The would-be murderer, Captain Lesgate, was played by Allon Dinor. A small role but very well handled with Dinor giving the range of acting as called for with ease.
The Police Inspector Hubbard was given a wonderful portrayal by Geoff Arnold, capturing all the feelings of a police inspector doing his duty but sympathetic to Tony’s wife, Margot, no matter the reason for it.
A great evening of theatre from The 1812 Theatre Company and their standard would equal any of the professional theatres in the city and this performance showed why.    


Chaim's Love Song

Director: Geoff Hickey.
The 1812 Theatre’s Autumn production was Marwin Chernoff’s Chaim’s
 Love Song. A story of Chaim Shotsky a retired Brooklyn mailman who tells his life story to Kelly Burke from Iowa.
Chaim’s life story takes us on a journey to discover what and who are valuable in life.
The stage was set as a park with two bench seats and trees each side of the stage. Very colourful and really gave the feeling of a park. The set was inspired by the famous Jewish artist Marc Chagall who was raised in a culture of rich story telling and fantasy. The set of 1812 is an interpretation of Chegal’s paintings particularly Lovers Above the Town.
Keith Hutton captured the character of Chaim with a great naturalness giving a first- class performance in the role and having a good rapport with his fellow actors.
Kathryn Brown was Kelly Burke, the young bride from Iowa. Brown gave a great interpretation of the role of the character who at first worried about Chaim’s approach but realising he is not what she thought.
Chaim’s friend Oscar Birnbaum was played by Chris Hodson. A perfect match for Hutton and who really caught the characteristics of the retired Jewish baker. Campbell McNish was Reuben Chaim’s son who was an actor but without mush work. A good performance in the role. His sister Tzawrah Shotsky was given a good performance by Stephanie King.
Amy Jenkins played two roles that of Chaim’s first wife Rachel and his second wife Shana. A well performed role as each character not easy as each personality was so different, but Jenkins carried the two characters with aplomb and at no time did the audience not understood the different wives.
Helen Ellis also had a difficult portrayal that of the Matchmak4er, Old Lady in the audience, Flight attendant, Israel Reporter and Raizel Bokash. Ellis handled each character well giving each interpretation the correct feel of such a character.
A pleasant evening at The 1812 Theatre and highly recommended production.

Calendar Girls

1812 Theatre!812 Theatre’s opening production for 2018 was Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls, a story of the Yorkshire’s Women’s Institute raising funds to add a new sofa in the local hospital to remember the late husband of one of the members.
The idea of a nude calendar was raised and the result was absolutely amazing. The sum raised was £598,000.
based on a true story Calendar Girls has become the fastest selling play in British theatre history.The setting on the 1812 stage was the interior of a church hall. Well done with beams, doors, walls and exits both right and left. Also the rear stage wall was used as screen for the outdoor scenes.

The six committee members involved in the fundraising were played by Shani Williams as Annie, Christine Perkins as Chris, Amy Jenkins as Celia, Susana Grest as Ruth, Val Mitchelmore as Jessie and Fiona Carter as Cora.
All ladies gave great and in part amusing performances, very professional and were up to the standard of 1812’s high reputation.
John, the husband of Annie who died of cancer was given an amusing and poignant performance by Chris Hodson. The balance of the cast kept the high standard and gave excellent portrayals of such a lay.
Some amusing scenes such as the opening where Chris is trying to teach Tai Chai which had the audience in hysterics.
A good opening for the 1812 Theatre’s 2018 season.



Director: Trish Carr.

The 1812 Theatre’s final production for 2017 was Dan Groggin’s famous musical Nunsense.
A story about the Little Sisters of Hoboken who lost many of their fellow Sisters by food poisoning they have five Sisters left to bury and are having a fundraising evening to earn the money.
The local school has lent them the school hall where the students are performing the musical Grease on condition the Sisters do not disturb the sets.
!812 Theatre produced an interesting and good set of Grease which lived up to all expectations.
There were five performers in original nun’s habits and during the performance there was much interplay with the audience adding to the fun of the evening.
Colleen Johnson was the Reverend Mother in charge of what was left of the convent. A good portrayal capturing the character as written.
Judith Sivasubramaniam was Sister Hubert who had eyes on the future as the possible replacement to the Mother Superior. Sivasubramaniam gave a good performance in such a role and as the evening progressed the audience discovered a wonderful gospel voice.
Sister Amnesia, who had an accident and had no idea who she was or not always knowing what was going on. Hany Lee gave an outstanding performance in the role with great facial expressions, good body language, fine singing voice and good stage presentation.
Hazel Green was Sister Robert Anne. Good presentation, fine voice and good stage presentation.
Clare Morgan was Sister Leo, a novice in the convent and wanted to be a ballerina nun. Morgan projected well and gave a nice small solo ballet sequence hoping the Reverend Mother would not see her. A fine performance and a pleasant voice to go along with her dancing.
There were some good chorography, good duets, and overall good placement . The first act was a little slow but Act 2 certainly showed the expected good standard of The 1812 Theatre.

Last of the Summer Wine

Director: Pip Le Blond

Last of the Summer Wine was a popular BBC sitcom which ran for 30 years.
This stage version Foggy has designs on Constance, Nora Batty’s niece by inviting the ladies to dinner. Add a flasher and the fun begins.
A rather dated show which could have used a little tightening up. A few laughs.
A well set stage of a lounge room with the requisite doors for a farce.
The cast Clegg played by Roger Paul, Foggy by David Ayliffe, Compo by George Thompson,  Gifford Bewmont by Chris Churchward, Flasher by Robert Williams, Nora Batty by Ann Quinn and Constance by Kerrie White.

Well performed with a good rapport from all the cast but it wasn’t the most popular show from 1812 Theatre


Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Director: Robin Miller

The 1812 Theatre’s choice of play for the Autumn season was Geoffrey Archer’s Beyond Reasonable Doubt where Sir David Metcalfe is defending himself on a charge of murdering his wife. The prosecutor, Anthony Blair Booth is an old opponent of Sir David’s and has a bias in his prosecution.
The 1812 opening set was absolutely amazing/ It was a courtroom brought to the stage. A complete courtroom, modern but with all the dignity of the real court.
The second act was the living room of Sir David Metcalfe. The set change was executed during interval and the change was so successful that it was hard to believe that the first half even existed. Commendations to the sets designer and crew for such a magnificent pair of sets and the change from one to the other.
The standard of the cast lived up to the standard of the sets.
Stephanie King was Lady Metcalfe, suffering from terminal cancer. King gave a very moving performance in this role and her scenes with Brett Hyland (Sir David Metcalfe) were very moving and emotional. Hyland as Sir David Metcalfe QC gave an outstanding performance, first in court where was defending the charge of murder and in the second half opposite Stephanie King where the tow had such a great rapport it was hard to believe that they were not man and wife in real life.
Sir David’s opponent in court, Sir Anthony Blair Booth QC was played by Tom Byron who also gave a stirling performance in the role, capturing all the finer nuances of the character.
Sir David’s house keeper, Mrs Rogers, who was not fond of her employer which showed when she was giving evidence, was played by Val Mitchelmore. A good interpretation of the character which showed her strong dislike for her employer.
James McRae was the family solicitor, Lionel Hamilton. Another good performer capturing the essence of the role.
Graham Fly was the judge Mr Justice Treadwell. Fly showed how the judge ruled the court, not standing for any nonsense. Fly gave a wonderful portrayal of the role.
Ian McMaster was Robert Pierson, Sir David Metcalfe’s junior counsel. Well played keeping up to the overall high standard of the production.

The balance of the performers reads like a whose who of the local theatre scene with all handling their roles with finesse and adding to the enjoyment of the opening night’s audience and keeping up to the high standard one now expects of The 1812 Theatre


Steptoe & Son

Director: Christine Grant

1812 Theatre’s selection to open the 2017 season was 3 new classical episodes of Steptoe and Son.
The stage was divided into two. Audience left was the junkyard and audience right was the Steptoe home.
A very good set with the amount of junk and house fittings was absolutely amazing. Well suited for such a story.
Albert Steptoe was brilliantly played by Keith Hutton. A magnificent portrayal and one would swear that he had just walked off the TV show. Hutton captured all the finer nuances of such a character and had a great rapport with Ed Kennett who played his son Harold.
Kennett was the epitome of Harold, never succeeding in outsmarting his old Dad no matter how hard he tries. Kennett was outstanding in the role, really caching the original Harold’s accent and never let it waiver. The pair were well enjoyed by the audience adding to the high standard of such a production.
There were three scenes.
1 The Stepmother: Albert brought home a lady friend with long term relationship intentions but! The lady Emma was given a delightful and good performance by An Quinn.
2. Two’s Company: Albert again brings in a younger woman this time but things don’t always go as expected with some very unusual results.
The young lady, Daphne was played by Susie Sparks whose performance added to the standard of the other performers. A great interpretation.
Interval then Play 3. The Bath.
A most hysterical act with Albert having a bath onstage with a reminder in the program that there is partial nudity in this scene.
Keith Hutton and Ed Kennett excelled themselves in this act and adding to the enjoyment was Rosey Cullinan as Delia/Molly. Some of Cullinan’s expressions after certain actions were a sheer delight.
1812 Theatre with such direction and such a cast has set themselves a high standard to open the year and a challenge to keep it up for the rest of 2017.


The Vicar of Dibley

Director: Lorraine Bishop

!812 theatre’s choice of production to close 2016 was another three episodes in their previous productions of The Vicar of Dibley.
A great set comprising of the church hall and with various curtains etc changing into the church, vicar’s residence and David Horton’s home.
The Reverend Geraldine Grainger was given a stirling performance by Louise Steele. One would swear that she had just walked out of the TV series. Steele captured the finer nuances of the lady Vicar.
Trudie Sheppard was the Deakin, Alice Tinker. Sheppard’s performance was outstanding ,not only did she look like the original Alice from the TV series her body language had the character down pat and her voice was exactly what was expected of Alice.
David Horton, the leader of the community (in his own mind) was played by Chris Churchward. A good interpretation of such a role with the correct amount of arrogance expected of such a character.
David’s son Hugo, not quite such a bright young lad as expected was given a great performance by Allan Dinor. Jim Trott (No, no, no, yes fame) was well played by James McRae. Frank Pickle the secretary was given a wonderful portrayal by Fred Barker. Owen Newitt the insensitive farmer was well played by Graeme Doyle.
Alisia, the dear old soul whose cooking was always if not but nearly fatal, was given a fantastic interpretation by Patricia McCracken.
A popular choice and a wonderful, amusing finish to 2016 by The 1812 Theatre Company.  


Driving Miss Daisy

Director: Horrie Leek.

The 1812 Theatre’s choice of production was Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy. A story of a Southern Lady who cannot drive anymore and her Afro American chauffer who she at first despises but attitudes change throughout their time together.
The stage was set in two parts. Audience right was Miss Daisy’s lounge room. Very well executed giving the feel of the period. Audience left was Miss Daisy’s son Boolie’s office and also Miss Daisy’s car represented by three chairs. One in front and two at the rear. The actors never missed a beat in miming opening and closing the car doors even when the scene had finished.
Genevieve Ryan was Miss Daisy. A magnificent portrayal of the widowed Southern Jewish lady. The play takes place over a long period of time and Ryan handled the changes of a lifetime with skill and expertise.
Her chauffer Hoke, was played by Eyawn Harry. Hoke was a patient understanding man no matter what Miss Daisy said he took it in his stride. Harry captured the essence of such a character with aplomb giving a first class performance of the role.
Miss Daisy’s son,
Boolie Werthan was played by Andrew Ferguson. Boolie was a busy businessman who hired Hoke to chauffer for his mother. Ferguson had a busy role as the businessman and gave a good portrayal of the character. All three had great rapport and gave well balanced performances.
As the play takes place over many years Director Horrie Leek used the Assistant stage managers, Chris Hudson and Tim Byron to come on stage and quote the various historical happenings in the period of the story.
A well directed, smooth flowing play with good performances from the cast and great work from behind the scenes.


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Encore Theatre
Bookings: 0500 842 538

To Kill a Mocking bird

Peridot & Encore Theatre Presented
To Kill a Mockingbird.
A simple set stage comprising of five doors plus porched representing the town. The central door also turned into the judge’s box during the famous court case.
The story is that of a black American (set in 1935) who was on a charge of rape of a white woman. He was defended by Atticus Finch in the scene made famous by Gregory Peck in the film of the same name. . The two companies had a large cast of 18 actors on stage. Some outstanding performers were the three younger performers.
 Layla Lamgroo who played the daughter of Atticus Finch  handled her role with feeling and although this was her first time on such a stage, she handle the role with professionalism and one would not know that this was her first public performance.
Playing Scout’s older self and acting as narrator was Emma Wood a good performance.
The solicitor Atticus Finch was portrayed by Andrew McAliece. Andrew really captured the character giving a great performance especially in the courtroom scenes.
Young Jem Finch was played by Michael Roskam who handled the role with professionalism and worked well with his sister played by Layla Langroo.
Another young actor was Lucian Hendricks who played Dill Harris,  friend of the Finch family. Again, Lucian handled his role giving a stirling performance.
Another good interpretation of her role was given by Laureta Tindi as the housekeeper of the Finch;s.
Mandy Murray was Mrs Dubose, a crochety woman. Mandy gave a wonderful performance as this character.
A great performance was given by Ian Tweeddale as the father of the victim. Ian played two roles, as Nathan Radley and Boo Radley. He was a vicious man and Ian caught such a character with a great performance.
As there were such a large cast it was hard to pick out the good perform4ers but all added to the high standard of the production and it tells that each night was a sellout.
A good combination by Peridot and Encore.

The Popular Mechnicals

Encore Theatre’s production fr July was The Popular Mechancals, a play written by William Shakespeare and Keith Robinson. Taken from Shakespeares A Midsummer’s Nights Dream it tells the story of the amateur players who wish to put on the play Pyraamus and Thisbe at the wedding f the Duke and the Queen. |
This version is about the players, their occupations and what happens behind the scens and rehaersal.
The players are Elise D’Amico as Qunice, Joe Dias as Bottom,. Gelbert Gauci as Snout, Bohdi Linsey as Starveling, Bel Shuelds as Flute, and Smantha Dtone as Sung.
The stage was set n opening with a cnetrwstage raised and a sma;; raised in fronnt of that. Theare was a curtain on the cenrtral stage made up of various materilas including underwear.
Each side there were three stalls on wheels that showed the occupation pf the six players. Above and rear there was a large screen used to good advantage throughout the evening.
The players were great all capturing the essence of theior characters. Joe Dias gave a great performance as the arrogant knoe it all Bottom.Smantha Stone as Snug was a delight as the lion with the other four living up to their roles with ease and professionalism.
An enterttaining evening and a behind scens of the players in a MidSummer’s Night Dream.
 Aggod house for opening night and the Encore audience really enjoyed the evening

When Dad Married Fury

Encore Theatre’s October production was David Williamson’s When Dad Married fury.
A story of a multimillionaire father, widowed but married to a very young bride much to the horror of his two grown sons and their wives.
The Director, Damian Jones chose a great team and did a professional job o matter what the circumstances.
Fury was portrayed by Britni Leslie an American born actor who brought the correct accent to the role and also brought years of experience which certainly showed in her prformance. A great role characterisation.
Dad, Alan, was played by Tim Byron who really captured such a character. A smooth professional performance and worked well with the other cast.
His son Ian was played by Chris Grant, a successful businessman. Grant gave a wonderful portrayal of the role, projecting well and overall, a good performance./
His brother Ben was played by Chris Dossor. Ben, a University Professor, was given a great portrayal by Dossor who caught the character as envisaged. His scenes with both his father and brother were good.
Ian’s wife Sue, played by Kirsty Hall who gave a good portrayal of the role. Hall worked well with Grant and was well appreciated by the audience.
Ben’s wife Laura was given an outstanding performance by Michelle Tanner. Tanner had a hard role as anti – money type who has her own view on things even though they were not to everyone’s taste.
Laura’s mother Judy was given a great interpretation by Joan Kutil. Kutil projects well and captured the feel of such a role.
Encore Theatre and Damien Jones produced a wonderful evening of entertainment with a good production, great cast and a wonderful evening of entertainment



Vigil is about two people. An aunt who rings her nephew Kemp and says I am dying come immediately. So, Kemp gives up his job and goes by train to visit his aunt for the last time. But! She is not dying but Kemp stays, and the seasons change but no change in auntie.
Auntie was played by Sue Rosenwax, giving a great performance when one considers she in the first half only spoke two words and in the second half spoke possibly half a dozen words.
Extremely well done, she was in bed for the duration of the play except for a couple of rif moments. Rosenwax captured the fine nuances of the character, and her expressions were a delight.
Kemp was played Dillon Cole spoke the whole play. Cole had two difficulties, 1, he really had to learn virtually the whole dialogue and 2 thanks to COVIC-19 the company had to close for two weeks which meant that Cole had to remember is spoken role and also remember his cues, which is not easy when you have such a long break between performances.
Cole handled the role professionally giving a great performance as the dysfunctional nephew, remembering all his lines and his acting in such a role was superb. He also captured the finer nuances of such a role.
The stage was aet as a  bedroom and lounge. The bedroom section was painted bright pink and the bedcover was also pink. On the wall there were two pictures. The rest of the stage has a door n audience right and centre stage was a writing desk below a window which was part of the play and used b Kemp on various occasions. An unusual play in which there were many blackouts denoting change of time and seasons. There were 34 scenes which on chatting to Cole after the show he told me that it wasn’t easy to keep up with the changes. Nevertheless, both players rose to the challenge and produced a wonderful evening of theatre  

Encore Theatre’s next production is Cul-de-Sac. Meet the Smiths, the Johnsons and the Joneses. And they’re always happy. Or at least trying to be. Over the course of a single spring day, the neighbouring couples confront the dead-end of their dreams and what happens when you pursue happiness… with a vengeance.
Season: October 9 – 23. 2021

The Shadow Box

Director: Annie Blood

A play about cancer patients who live in three separate cottages in the grounds of a hospital in USA .Joe, Brian and Felicity have their families come to visit as they have reached the end of their treatment and have agreed to be part of a psychological program and have interviews with a psychiatrist.
The Encore Theatre has a small stage and the way the sets were fitted was a compliment to the set builders.
On audience left was a single chair where the patients sat for their interviews. Next to it was a chair and bench representing Felicity’s cabin, then came a chair and lounge for Brian’s cabin and thirdly a couple of chairs for Joe’s cabin. But to make it more authentic the rear of the stage was a  giant screen where as each player performed a photo of the exterior or interior was projected. This worked really well as it gave one the feeling of actually being there.

Opening the paly was Joe, sitting in the interview chair being interviewed by the psychiatrist. Joe was played by Greg Barison, who caught the essence of a working man form New Jersey and has come to reconcile with his forthcoming death.
His wife Maggie cannot come to terms with the news and refuses to go into the cabin and wants Joe to come home but not facing up to reality. Maggie was played by Michelle Tanner who gave a realistic performance of such a character not wanting to understand what is happening.
Their son, Steve, was pleased to see his father after a long absence but his mother has not told him the news. Stephen Kelly was Steve, a young man who loved his father and wanted to show him how he could play the guitar, A good performance by a young man with a good future in theatre.
The second patient was Brian, a British academic who has lived and worked in the USA for many years.
Played by Robert Patti-Williams who projected the right feel for such a role and giving a  good performance of a man who faces the issue with dark humour.
His lover and principal carer is Mark played by Brad Lowry who gave the correct feel for the role. A god portrayal. Brian’s trashy but devoted ex-wife arrives complete with bottles of champagne. Played by Maree Barnett who gave a lively and sprightly performance with good presentation and a delight to behold.
Felicity, a strong- willed older woman whose memory is caught up in the past and not really conscious of the present was given a good and moving performance by Carol Shelbourn.   
Felicity’s daughter and carer Agnes was played by Carina Field. Agnes had a difficult life looking after her mother who was more fond of the older sister who had passed away but mother did not know. Field gave a good moving performance as Agnes really capturing such a character.
The interviewer was not seen but a voice from audience rear was voiced by Barry James. A good sounding voice just right for the character.
An interesting evening but not a play for the faint-hear



The Weekend

Director: Dexter Bourke

Encore Theatre’s July production was Michael Palin’s Weekend, a story of Stephen Febble and his wife Virginia and their weekend, Stephen wants nothing more than to sit, read his paper and watch TV but Virginia has invited their daughter, her husband, her daughter plus the family dog and an unexpected guest together with two friends of Stephen.
Encore had a set of the Febbles’ living and dining room, Well laid out with he requisite furnishings and decorations giving the audience the feeling of actually being in the Febbles’ home.
Stephen Febble was played by Robert Williams who captured the wanting a quiet weekend character. Williams handled the role with ease giving a good interpretation of such a character.
Virginia Febble was played by Alison Warden who was sympathetic (sometimes) to her husband’s views but delighted in having her daughter and family over each weekend. Warden had a good rapport with Williams and gave a good characterisation of the role.
Diana, their daughter, was played by Jacqui Cooke. Another good portrayal and handled the role with aplomb.
Her husband Alan, was played by Stephen Oates, who had some hard lines to learn in that of remembering the names of the different highways in England. Oates caught the character as envisaged giving a good performance. Charlotte, their daughter was played by Caitlyn Pasquali. A good feeling of the teenage daughter who was always worried about her dog no matter what it did around the house. One interesting scene was the family playing scrabble and the query on the words perhaps created for the occasion.
Stephen’s friend Duff Gardner, a local Councillor, was given a good interpretation by bob Bramble. His wife Bridget was played by Jennifer Silalahi who had a suspicious secret or so Stephen and Virginia thought. Silalahi caught the characterisation with aplomb giving a great performance.
 The uninvited visitor, Bridget’s paediatrician, was played by David Efron who gave a good interpretation of such a role.
A small part but well done was that of the housekeeper, Mrs Finlay, who had a habit of helping herself to more biscuits than she was offered. Christine Simmonds produced a good characterisation of such a character.
The director, Dexter Burke, gave the audience a well constructed smooth running play which was well enjoyed by the opening night audience.



Director: Tim Scott.

Encore Theatre’s Autumn play was Michael Gow’s Awa. A story of three families setting out on their summer holidays in Queensland.
The play opens with the last scene of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the final school concert for the year. A shy English lad waits behind to give his leading lady a gift for her performance.
Ryan Fahlbusch was Tom the schoolboy who had some health problems and Rick who was on his honeymoon at the Queensland hotel where the headmaster, of Tom’s school was staying with his wife. Z
Fahlbusch gave a wonderful and moving performance in both roles particularly playing such two completely different characters.
His friend Meg, was played by Alanah Allen. Allen gave a stirling performance and had a good rapport with Fahlbusch. A great performance by both actors.Ricky Howden was the headmaster and later the MC at the beach concert.
As headmaster he had to keep up appearances but with difficulty as his wife was not quite herself never having got over the shock of losing their son n Vietnam.
 Howden carried the roles extremely well and the audience could feel the difficulty’s of trying to keep his wife in check.
Maree Barnett was Coral, Roy’s wife. A great interpretation of such a character. Barnett captured the character with professionalism and feeling.
Meg’s mother Gwen was played by Lana Stojanovic. An arrogant redneck style character and very conscious of her status compared to the others on the holiday. Stojanovic caught the character with feeling but your correspondent   thought perhaps a little too much over the top. Jim, Meg’s father was given a good and understanding performance by Ian Tweeddale. Jim was very sympathetic to his daughter’s feelings about her mother and was a great balance to Stojanovic.
Tom’s parents Harry and Vic, Tom’s mother were English migrants who did everything they could to keep Tom happy in view of his health problems. Harry was played by Paris Romanis and Vic by Nicola Taylor. Both gave very understanding and wonderful portrayals with a good rapport and certainly gave the feeling of understanding and worried parents         
Mo;;y Forshaw was Leonie, a guest in the hotel who was waylaid by Coral and unable to get away. A good interpretation of the role.
A  great start to 2018 by Encore Theatre and ne looks forward to the next production. 



The Housekeeper

Director: Geoff Hickey

Encore Theatre’s choice of production for July was James Prideaux’s The Housekeeper.
A story of Manley and Annie.
Manley, a middle-aged rather crusty bachelor whose dominating mother has just passed away. So he decides to hire a housekeeper. Enter Annie, a bag lady who forged her referrals promised the earth so against his better judgement Manley hires her. But after three days Manley hates Annie and this is where the story opens.
Encore Theatre had an amazing set possibly one of the best your correspondent has seen at Encore. It was the interior of Manley’’s home, a mansion on the outskirts of London. Audience left was the entrance hall, Manley’s desk and window behind. Centre stage was a magnificent staircase leading up to the bedrooms and audience right was entrance to the kitchen and respective furniture to suit such a room.
Opening the show was the third day of Annie’s employment with Manley telling the audience all about how it started. With clever lighting effects the scene moves back to when Annie entered applying for the job of housekeeper.
After this scene the same lighting effect brought us back to the present time.
Manley was played by Keith Hutton. A great performance capturing the finer nuances of the middle-aged bachelor still dominated by his late mother’s memory and control. Hutton gave a stirling portrayal and had a good rapport with Ellen Miller as Annie.
Miller gave a wonderful performance as Annie who tried to make out that she was better than she really was. The contrast between Annie the housekeeper and then a change of outfit and attitude showed the talent of Miler’s acting.
An amazing evening of theatre thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and Encore Theatre is definitely worth adding to your theatre diary. 


Shakespeare in Saigon

Director: Cenarth Fox.

A story set in Footscray where a young Vietnamese girl who cannot speak English meets up with a retired English literature teacher who takes it on himself to teach her English but Elizabethan English.
Act 1 was set in David’s (the English literature teacher) school and home. A basic set giving the audience the feel of the area.
Act 2 is in David’s flat in Footscray. A well set stage of a poor low rental flat with furnishings suited to the period.
Alastair Rice was David. A good performer handling the role with finesse with some good scenes particular trying to speak and understand the Vietnamese refugee who cannot speak English.
Ai Diem Lee played Thanh, the young refugee who is taught the English of Shakespeare which leads to some funny moments. Lee captured the essence of Thanh giving a great portrayal of the character and was resplendent in her costuming, all the real outfits as mentioned in the program, supplied by her grandparents in Vietnam. This added to the authenticity of the play.
David’s mother Julia, who kept ringing David at some awkward times, was given a stirling performance by Shirley Cattunar.  
David’s pupil Juliet, at school before he retired was given a wonderful performance by Carina Field. The School Principal, Janice, who gave David’s farewell speech was admirably caught by Lynne Elphinston-Gray.
David’s ex-wife Judith was played by Joanne Gabriel who worked well with Rice also giving a good performance.

A good evening of theatre enjoyed by the audience


Table Manners

Director: Deborah Fabbro

Encore Theatre’s final choice for 2916 was Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manner.
 A story of Annie who looks after her elderly ill mother and wants a break to have a dirty weekend with her brother-in-law. But of course nothing goes right and does Annie have her weekend break?
The set design was excellent. An English dining room correctly furnished    with centre stage rear was a set of French doors overlooking trees and a lake. This scene was projected onto the rear of the stage and looked really 3D, Very good and added to the high standard of the production.
As Annie the director chose Maree Bennett. An excellent choice as Bennett really caught the characteristics of such a role giving a superb performance.
Annie’s sister-in-law Sarah who had to do everything her way, upsetting everyone else, was played by Monica Greenwood. Another great performance with Greenwood capturing the essence of such an annoying character. The family friend Tom, the local Vet,  was played by John Locke. A slow on the uptake, slowly speaking but liked by all was given a good interpretation by Locke.
Sarah’s husband Reg was played by Gordon Lyon. A quiet man who did what his wife told him. Well played by Lyon.
The troublemaker of the family, Norman was played by Lindsay Fletcher. Good stage presentation, ideal in the role and gave a good performance of such a character.   
Norman’s short-sighted wife Ruth was played by Audrey Farthing, who caught the essence of the character with aplomb. Her acting especially when Ruth would not admit to having to wear glasses was terrific.
A well cast play with a great set and a wonderful production from Encore Theatre to complete 2016.  


An Inspector Calls

Director: Lesley Batten

Encore Theatre’s choice of production for the July season was J. B. Priestly’s An Inspector Calls.
A leading Brumley family are celebrating an engagement when an Inspector calls re the suicide of a young lady. The effect on the family is what J. B. Priestley has written about.
A split set comprising a dining room and the lounge. Both exceedingly well done.
The head of the family, Arthur Birling was played by David Dodd. A good performance of the head of such a family. Dodd had good enunciation and captured the essence of such a character.
His wife, Sybil Birling was well caught by Linda Morgan who gave the correct feel to the lady of the house who, no matter what, never considered herself at fault. A good all round performance. The Birling’s daughter Sheila was well performed by Samantha-Ellen Bond. A well done interpretation of a character whose mood changes were very well handled.
Sheila’s fiancé Gerald Croft. Was given a good portrayal by Ben Mitchell. Mitchell caught the characterisation as expected covering all the moods and feelings of a newcomer to the family and now considered part of same.
Sheila’s  brother Eric Birling was played by Nelson Swanson-Hosie giving a good interpretation of the younger son who did not live up to the family’s expectations.
Inspector Goole was played by Michael Redmond. A stirling job catching the no-nonsense policeman who did not worry what status in life his interviewees held.
Several brief appearances were made by Paula Clement as the maid Erica. A small role but necessary with Clement handling the role with expertise.
A good evening of theatre from Encore Theatre Company.


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Hats Theatre Company

Still Under the Brim
Doreen, Mother Figure, Graceland

HATS has a tradition of one act plays so the July season saw the launch if three plays which Hats intend performing at the Ararat One Act Play Festival, Mornington One Act Play Festival and Anglesea One Act Play Festival in 2003.
The company opened the evening with Alun Owen's Doreen. A story of two boys and a girl. Doreen, John and Eric. The two boys had two girls up to a flat for dinner. One girl not liking what she thought might happen left. The two boys are left with one girl who appears to be quite happy to stay regardless.
Doreen was given a seductive and confident performance by Bianca Beer. Aidan Martin was Eric, a shy boy but it appeared that he was the one Doreen was keen on. Aidan gave a fine performance in the role capturing the character as written. John, the confident rather full of himself, was played by Sean Hand. Sean handled the role with finesse and projected well.
The second play was Ala Ayckbourn's Mother Figure. A story of a mother whose husband is a commercial traveller and leaves her alone for weeks at a time. This results in mother only talking to her children and cannot relate to other adults. The next door neighbours pop in and the play is a result of their visit.
Rosemary is the neighbour who visits after a request from the mother Lucy's husband who cannot raise her on the phone. Rosemary was played by Kate Baker who gave a good interpretation of the neighbour who was worried about Lucy's mental state. Rosemary's husband Terry came in to see why his wife was held up and falls into the dialogue and actions. Terry was given a great performance by Nick Beaton.
The mother Lucy was portrayed by Genevieve Ryan. Genevieve gave an outstanding performance of the mother who lived in a world of her own.
The third play was Ellen Byron's Graceland. The play is set outside Elvis Presley's home Graceland which is to be open to the public for the first time. Bev has arrived first; she is an Elvis devotee and is always first at anything connected to Elvis no matter what. Rootie, a young girl arrives and claims she was first and the story is about who was really first and why they should be. No action as such just sitting on chairs and talking, I feel that it could make a good radio play considering it appeared to be two people talking with little action.
Bev was played by Sheona Paxman, Sheona had the correct approach to the character and gave a good interpretation. Rootie was played by Sarah Lamb, a young actor who caught the role as envisaged.
A pleasant evening of theatre and HATS is a company worth adding to your diary.

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Heidelberg Theatre
Bookings: 03 9437 3039

Ladies in Black

Set in Sydney Christmas 1959 the story of a young girl who is waiting her final exam results and works as a temp at Goodes a leading woman’s clothing shop. She wants to go to university, but her father doesn’t believe in university for girls.  In his opinion she works as a secretary gets married and raises children.
Lisa, the girl in question was given a wonderful performance and really catching the essence of such a girl by Rafaela Cleeve Gerkens.
Minor roles but essential to the story were Lisa’s mother and father., played by Rachel Moss and  Gavin Baker. Both gave good performances trying to understand the modern girl but Father sticking to his guns of :no daughter f mine is going to university”.
|Gavin also played Vronski, the husband of Magda both refugees from Hungary.
Magda was in charge of the ladies cocktail department of Goodes and took a liking to Lisa. She was played by Elise Moorhouse giving a great and sympathetic to Lisa performance.
Maree Barnett was Miss Cartwright and Mrs Crown, both roles played expertly and well.
Miss Jacobs was played by Dianne Mileo who captured the character with ease.
Lisa’s two workmates were Fay and Patty. Fay was played by Llaneath Por  who gave a great performance as the girl who was introduced to Magda’s Hungarian friend Rudi.
Patty was the other lady in black who befriended Lisa , played by Aislinn Ryan who gave another great performance in the role.
There were many more characters in the production, but space is limited .
The production was set as a floor in Goodes Store with a rear wall with two doorways which as the show eventuated were lifts bringing customers and staff onto the floor.. There was a small counter which by placing the Goodes logo on and then removing same for different scenes was both a shopping counter, a kitchen table, etc.
The Hungarians kept up a different accent throughout their roles and didn’t let it drop. Not easy to do as your critic has seen many plays where the scent has faded over the length of the evening.
Heidelberg Theatre gave its audiences one of the best plays seen on stage at the theatre. This was evidenced by the production being sold out all the season


 Story about Lewis, a young university graduate who has the job of directing inmates at an insane asylum and the difficulties her ran into.
First we have Roy, a manic depressive then Cherry who has a food obsession and is Lewis addicted, then we Ruth, suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder an is obsessed  with counting. Doug, a pyromaniac who loves sexual inuendo, Julie, dependant on drugs, Henry a former lawyer an older silent man and Zac , a drugged pianist. Also, there is Lucy, Lewis’s girlfriend and Nick his best mate.
Heidelberg’s stage set was magnificent, a local hall with a stage to the rear and on audience left, completely burnt out.
The main entrance was on audience right while there was another door on audience left.
Playing Kewis was Rhys Carter, an very good interpretation f the character who was continually frustrated by Roy. His girlfriend Lucy was played by Emma /warner Collins, a good feel of a frustrated girl who can’t understand why Lewis is doing this job. Lewis’s best mate Nick played by Daniel Trenkovski. Another good player who is involved in the Vietnam Moratorium and can’t understand why Lewis prefers to work with the inmates instead of being out in the protests.
|Timothy  Camilleri was Roy, the manic depressive who  who tried to run the whole show. When Lewis wanted to do something from Brecht, Roy said no we are going to do Così Fan Tutte from Mozart. The fact that none of the cast can sing did not deter Roy. An excellent performance by Camilleri who really captured the essence of Roy.
Greg Cormack was Henry, a silent man who did not want to be in the show. Well played and some amazing scenes, particularly with Nick.
Sam Howard was Doug, the pyromaniac, a versatile actor giving a good standard of performance.  
Cherry was played by Morgan Thomas-Connor. A great feel for the role and come of her scenes with trying to get Lewis to eat filled the theatre with laugher. Julie was played by Aimèe Sancerson, a straight role of a junkie who was fond of Lewis. Another good portrayal.
Ruth, the obsessive counter of steps was given a good performance by Angelique Malcolm. Then there was Zac played by Carl Michlangeli, A man heavily on drugs and wanted to play Wagner instead of Mozart. Another good interpretation.
Simon Casey was the social worker who got Lewis involved . an interesting role but her voice did not quite penetrate to the audience on occasion.
Heidelberg Theatre gave its audiences a wonderful night of theatre with such play.
Excellently done with good lighting and direction

Molly Sweeney

A play by Brian Friel set in the 1990s in County Donegal in the west of Ireland.
A story of Molly Sweeney, a blind lady of about mic-thirtys who had an operation which restored her sight. The result is not what one expects.
A well-directed play by director .Joan Moriarty. Rather different to the regular output by HTC.
A simple setting comprising a background of  panels with te centre panel having a circle in it which changed colour to suit the  mood of the moment.
There were three chairs, the centre chair being for Molly Sweeney, the chair on audience left was for Mr Rice the doctor and chair on audience right was Molly’s husband Frank.
the play was written a series of monologues with Molly opening the first scene followed by Mr Rice and then Frank.
Each player gave great performances and Molly played by Alexandria Page caught the Irish accent very well, so well that some people in the audience found it hard to follow. Each actor brought their own talents to their role in which giving an excellent performance.
The story was well told by each individual giving a little of their life stories and the result of Molly’s operation.
A well done piece of theatre and HTC lived up to its expected high standard.

The LadyKillers

s by Graham Linehan

Heidelberg Theatre’s choice of play for February/ March was Linehan’s The Ladykillers.
Some might remember the film starring Alec Gluiness.
A story of a little old lady with a room to rent and five ‘musicians’ who rent same. The five are bank robbers and use the room to plan their next crime. Much to their disgust the landlady keeps popping in to ask if they want tea.
Opening set was the interior of Mrs Wilberforce’s house with stairs leading up to the rented room, a downstairs doorway entrance, a kitchen and the set was on a revolve that showed the outside of the house, a train line which had the sounds of trains regularly running through.
Opening scene was Constable Macdonald showing Mrs Wilberforce into her home. Bryan Purdey  was Constable Macdonald and handled the role with naturalism catching the essence of such a character.
Julie Arnold was sheer delight as Mis Wilberforce. She captured the complete landlady who was a bugbear to the ‘musicians” and a nuisance to the police. Arnold really caught the character doing a stirling portrayal,
Professor Marcus, the leader of the gang and outwardly the leader f the music group was given a good portrayal by John Cheshire, a smooth talking, peace- making man who had full control over his fellow gangsters.
Major Courtney, the retired army major was given a good interpretation by Jim Thomson.
Harry Robinson played by Aaron Wilson who kept up the standard set, projecting well and caught the type of character as expected.
One-Round was given a great interpretation by Gavin Barker, a kindly man, but also one of the gang, Barker caught the character as envisaged.
Louis Harvey was played by Sam Howard, Harvey said he was from Romania and wasn’t one to stand any nonsense. Another good performer.
Lynne McGregor was Mrs June Tromleyton another good performance.
Then to add to the excitement, Mrs Wilberforce invites her friends in to enjoy a musical afternoon. The friends were played y Catherine Christensen, Annie Woodward, Maureen McInerny, Joan Moriarty and Anne Smith, all of whom added to the enjoyment of the production.
The costuming was great, Mrs Wilberforce had the outfit suiting her temperament. Congratulations to the Heidelberg’s wardrobe department..
A good opening show for 2023 and sets the standard for the year to come


Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon

HTC decided  for their last program for 2022 to present a comedy. The choice was Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. A story of newlyweds who have moved into the fifth story apartment in New York and the resulting, shall we say, chaos!
HTC did a wonderful set of such an apartment, Opening, the furniture hadn’t arrived, the bedroom was too small for a double bed and the bathroom, no bath, only a shower.
The cast was well chosen suiting their roles admirably.
Opening saw Corie Bratter surveying their new home. No furniture and the flat on the fifth floor with no lift. As Corie Kadey McIntosh gave a wonderful portrayal as a young woman, just married and excited about their new home.
The visitor was the telephone man come to attach their new phone. With no furniture he was at a loss where to place it. The role, although small was well  handled and added to the enjoyment of the evening
The next arrival was Corie’s husband, Paul, a tired lawyer and after climbing five flights of stairs was looking forward to a quiet night with his new wife. But! No furniture, a telephone mechanic,  a visitor and no furniture. Paul was given a great interpretation by Jonathan Best, who captured the role with aplomb.
Corie’s mother, Ethel Banhs , was played by Julie Arnold, who caught the correct balance for her role in giving a great performance.
The upstairs neighbour, a real character, Victor Velasco was given a great interpretation of such a character by Laurie Jezzard. .
he delivery man, another small role was well portrayed by Mal Cother.
Each actor is to be congratulated on their entering the flat after climbing five flights of stairs. Each arrived puffed out giving the audience the feeling that they actually had climbed the aforementioned stairs.
A wonderful evening of theatre and we look forward to HTC’s New Year’s seasons.


Present Laughter

Heidelberg Theatre welcomed back its audiences with a well-known comedy, Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, A story about actor Gary Essendine, who in a few days is on his way to an African tour. The results are hilarious.
HTC;s stage was set in Gary’s home, an extremely well-done set, very detailed and must be a delight for the cast to work in
Playing Gary Essendine was Ian McGregor who really caught the character of the actor who was pursued by young women who thought they were in love with him. This was seen in the first act where Daphne comes out of the spare room in Gary’s pyjamas, Daphne was skilfully played by Elysia Janssesn giving a wonderful portrayal.
Gary’s wife Liz now separated but still kept her eye on him was played by Claire Bene who gave a great performance keeping her eye on Gary and not worrying about his affairs with other women.
Wayne Gleeson was Roland Maule, a playwright who would not take Gary’s advice about his writing. Gleeson caught the character as envisaged giving a good portrayal of such a character.
Gary’s producer, Morris Dixon was played by Gavin Williams who caught the essence of the character with professionalism giving a stirling performance.
Gary’s producer Henry Lypiatt was given a good interpretation by Con Nicholson catching the feel of the role.
Henry’s wife Joanna was another woman who thinks she is in love with Gary thus causing more problems for all, Joanna was played by Aimee Sanderson who captured the feel for the character giving a good portrayal of such a role.
Miss Erikson, Gary’; Scandinavian smoking housekeeper, was given a great interpretation by Natalie fox. Gary’s long suffering valet Fred was given a good feel of the role by Laurie Jezzard. Another great addition to the evening.
Lady Saltburn, who wished Gary to see her neuce audition was played by Wendy Drowley.  Another great interpretation and an enjoyable portrayal.
A great evening of theatre from Heidelberg theatre company and a company not to be missed.



Three Little Words

After a long wait when this show was to be produced on July thnks to a little thing called COVIS-19 which has interrupted many prioductions across Melbourne and indeed the world Heidelberg Theatre has now reopened with a marvellous production by Melbourne playwright Joanna Murray-smith's Three Little Words.
A soty of two couples who spend all their time together, going on holidays together but then! One couple decides to separate much to the horror and disappointment of the other two.
Heidelberg set the play on a stage revolve which was set with a kitchen, dining room, lounge and beroom. Very well set and used o full advantage.
There are only four players and it is a non-stop show ie no inerval. But it is so enthralling with a great cast the opening night audience did not notice the time go by.
The couple who separated were played by Brett Hyland as Curtis and Cat Jardine as Tess. Both gave outstanding performances covering all aspects of married life with love, arguments, understanding and then departure. Excellently well done.
The other couple were Claire Benne as Bonnie and Aimée Sanderson as Annie. Yes they are a gay couple. The dominant one of the pair is Bonnie but Annie surposes us all. both ladies played their roles with distiction and were a joy to watch.
Production wise, a smooth flowing well run show to which the director and the crew added to the stregth and look of the eveing.
A great comebak by Heidelberg Theatre Company and it is only seeing show like this one realises what has been missing these long lonely monthd.


Director: Catherine Christensen.

Heidelberg Theatre Company’s opening production for 202 was Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight.
A story of Bella Manningham, a fragile, frightened young wife, suffers from what she thinks are the early stages of insanity, a disease from which her mother died. Her husband, Jack, is supportive and endeavours to help. Or so he would have her believe…
HTC’s set was magnificent, A parlour of the three storied London house with all the fittings of the period. The costuming suited the period and appeared to be naturally worn by the cast.
The young wife, Mrs Bella Manningham was played by Claire Benne who gave a good portrayal of a young wife who was not sure of her sanity as her evening progressed.
Her husband, Jack, was given a superb performance by Liam Gillespie. A wonderful portrayal of a man who was not quite what he seemed.
The housekeeper Elizabeth, was given a good performance by Patricia Alcock, A sympathetic feel for her mistress, Bella.
The maid, who was rather saucy to say the least was e]well performed by Elysia Jansen.
The stranger, Rough, was performed by Chris McLean who was on the side of Belle Manningham. Another good performance adding to the overall high standard of production from Heidelberg Theatre and director Catherine Christensen.


Director: Joan Moriarty

Heidelberg  Theatre’s choice for the final production of 2019 was e Molière’s  Tartuffe. A play written in 1664 about Tartuffe a pious fraud and former vagrant who has absolutely influenced Organ and his mother with his pretending to speak with divine authority much to the horror of the rest of Organ’s family.
Heidelberg’s set was true to the period with three double doors, audience left, centre and audience right. Audience left was a table and chairs where the family sat to dinner. Audience right was a settee which was used to advantage throughout the show.
As the play was written into 1664 the cast were dressed in the costumes of the period. Excellently done and genuinely appeared of the time. Tartuffe, being of religious leanings only wore a monk like robe with a very large rosary beads necklace around his neck.
Tartuffe was played by Chris McLean who had the correct expressions for the character, very pious and when no-one was watching (the family) had a very knowing smirk. McLean really captured such a role and was appreciated by the opening night audience.
Catherine Christensen was Madame Pernelle, Organ’s mother who believed in Tartuffe.
Christensen gave a good portrayal of the mother who believed in what Tartuffe stood.
Monsieur  Organ, the master of the house and who was devoted to Tartuffe no matter what was played by Jim Thomson. A good stage projection and giving a good feel for the role.
Elmire, Organ’s wife  who did not believe in Tartuffe  was played by Venetia Macken. Macken gave a good portrayal of a woman sticking up for her family no matter what.
Broderick McDonald was Organ’s son Damis. A good interpretation of the role.
Damis’ sister Marianne played by Emma Warner Collins who was  offered to Tartuffe in marriage regardless  of what Marianne thought. Warner Collins gave a good and successful portrayal of the innocent girl who was bound to obey her father but was in love with Valere.
Valere was played by Alexander Dimitrovski , who had good  stage projection and a good rapport with Warner Collins.
Maree Bennett was the maid Dorine. A dominating personality who took no nonsense from anyone was excellently played.
A wonderful evening of theatre from Heidelberg Theatre and a good company to add to your theatre list in 020.

The Drawer Boy

Director: Karen Wakeham,

A story of two old men struggling to run a dairy farm and still together after 30 years. An earnest young actor arrives and asks if he can work on the farm for a fortnight to get the atmosphere for a play about life on the land he is writing.
Heidelberg’s set was simple. It had a round rear and sides showing film clips pf the Canadian farm country. Centre stage was a kitchen set on a revolve being moved for the various scenes.
The two farmers were Angus and Morgan. Angus was injured in England during WWII and Morgan has looked after him since then. Miles is the young actor working for two weeks but beside obtaining experience for his play he unwittingly finds out more than he should about their past.
Angus was given a wonderful interpretation of the role of the head damaged leaving him rather simple by John Cheshire. Cheshire really caught the characteristics of the character adding to the high standard Heidelberg audiences have come to expect.
Andrew McAliece played the rather surly Morgan who cared for Angus and was not too happy about the presence of Miles on their property. McAliece caught the essence of Morgan also giving an outstanding performance.
Sam Barson was the young actor Miles, who did not realise the hornet’s nest he stirred up in his quest for information. Barson caught the feeling s of the character and when Morgan told him to go Barson’s expressions said it all.
A good evening of theatre from the Heidelberg Theatre Company well enjoyed by the audience.


It's a Wonderful Life

Director: Terese Maurici

HTC’s choice of production for July 2019 was Joe Landry’s It’s a Wonderful Life a live radio play.
A story of George Bailey who but gave his whole life to the betterment of his hometown Bedford Falls but reaching a crisis he could not face the future when his guardian angel Clarence stepped in.
The stage production is done as a radio play  and HTC excelled in this production.
The stage was set as a radio studio with three microphones on stands at front of stage, audience left was the sound department including a door that was slammed when necessary or just shut as the script required at the rear was the sound manager with all his equipment for the various sounds required. Audience right rear was a piano with the pianist playing continuously throughout the performance.
The cast, as it was in the early days of radio, were dressed formally which added to the time of the paly.
A cast of nine with all playing different characters and are to be commended on the way their voices were changed to suit the characters they were portraying.
The cast were Liam Gillespie as Freddie Filmore, Henry F. Potter and others.
Mark Yeats as Jake Laurents ( George Bailey).
Llaaneath Poor as Sally Applewhite (Mary Bailey)
Tim Camilleri as Microft Fry (Clarence the angel).
Paula McDonald as Lana Sherwood (Viola Bick & others).
Gavin Baker as Harry ‘Jazzbo’ Heywood (Harry Bailey & others).|| .
Jack Stringer as Bobby B. Sharpe (pianist).
Phil Holmes as Wally Watson *Foley Artist).
Kadey McIntosh as Dolores Birdwhistle (Foley Assistant & others)  
A very interesting evening of theatre and one member of the audience was heard to say “this is the best show I have seen’>
Judging by the audience reaction he was not the only person to think so.


A View from the Bridge

Director: Chris McLean

Heidelberg Theatre’s choice for the May production was Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
A story set in 1950s America in an Italian-American neighbourhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It involves a husband and wife and the wife’s cousins who have entered America illegally and the wife’s niece whom her husband has an improper love of and an obsession with.
The narrator Alfieri, a lawyer who was born in 1900s Italy but is now a lawyer in the USA.
Alfieri was played by Ian McMaster who projects well and gave a good interpretation of such a character.
The husband, Eddie Carbone, was given an excellent portrayal by Mark Tregonning,  A superb portrayal of an obsessed man to the fullest extreme.
His wife, Beatrice, was also given a great performance by Catherine Christensen. A good balance to Eddie and good understanding of her niece’s problems with Eddie.
Catherine the niece, was played by Ruby Duncan. A great performance really capturing the young girl on the brink of maturity and falling in love with one of Aunt’s cousins.
The two illegal immigrants are Marco and Rodolpho. Marco is married with children back in Italy and plans to return home after making enough money. Rodolpho, his brother, wants to stay and eventually become a singer in USA .
Marco was played by Nick Wright who caught the essence of the strong silent brother who has a sense of honour that leads to trouble. A good portrayal.
Rodolpho was a blond Italian and a singer who Eddie thought was gay and only interested in his niece to stay in USA. Rodolpho was played by Jack Kenny who gave a good performance of the character.
The balance of the cast only had small parts but kept the high standard that is the mark of Heidelberg Theatre company.
The background was a large photo of Brooklyn Bridge and foreground was made up of pallets and a small bridge audience right leading into the home of Eddie and Beatrice.     


Lost in Yonkers

Director: Gayle Poor

Heidelberg Theatre’s opening production for 2019 was Neil Sion’s Lost in Yonkers. A story of two boys who have lost their mother through cancer and their father takes them to live with their stern German grandmother and mentally challenged Aunt Bella.
A well -set sage of the upstairs lounge room of  an apartment above a shop.
The cast was evenly balanced and gave excellent performances
Arty, the younger brother Was given a realistic portrayal by Henry Smith, capturing the feel of a younger cocky brother.
The older of the two brothers, Jay, was played by Robbie Nicholson. Nicholson gave a stirling performance in the role and had a good rapport with Henry smith.
Their father, Eddie, was played by Seth Kannof who gave a good portrayal of a rather nervous father particularly facing his stern mother.
The boys’ Aunt Bella has a slow mental state and is perpetuality excited .Aimée Sanderson gave a great and fantastic performance of such a character.
Uncle Louis, the criminal on the run form Hollywood Harry was played by Liam Gillespie. A good interpretation of a crim type but loved his family.
Grandma, a strict t German refugee, was given a fine interpretation by Lindy Yeates.
The last player id the boys’ Aunt Gert, who has trouble breathing. Played by Cat Jardine who gave the standard of the balance of the cast giving the first night audience a wonderful evening of theatre.
Heidelberg Theatre has set itself a high standard to follow for 2019.  


Blue Stockings

Director: Natasha Boyd.

Heidelberg Theatre’s choice of play for September was Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings.
A play loosely based on facts and is set over the course of one year.1896 at Girton College Cambridge where four very talented female undergraduates studying to receive a formal degree which was not allowed for women at the time. In fact, it took 50 years and the first women graduates to receive a degree was in 1948.
HTC and set designer George Tranter produced a versatile set including an orchard, ladies bedsitter, railway stations , classroom, clubroom and a train.
A cast of 19 with some playing several parts were excellent. Costuming was authentic to the period.
The characters handled the roles very professionally with such a good standard it was not possible to distinguish any contrast in the acting. The actions upon the opening scene in the train were well done. The actors sat on wooden stools and as the train moved off they all reacted accordingly. The scenes in the various venues were excellently handled and when a young lady decide to venture her opinion forcibly the bigoted professor ordered her out of the class.
the play brought notice to the audience the difficulty of women trying to get an education when the attitude of the period was stay home and raise children. Why should women get educated? What will they do with it?
A moving play and brings back some history not heard about these days.
the opening night audience certainly enjoyed the evening and although it was a long play no one noticed the time passing.
Heidelberg Theatre Company in no way let its standards slip and again produced a high standard enjoyable evening of theatre.  



Private Lives

rfDirector Karen Wakeham

A story of two pairs of honeymooners who are staying in the same hotel, but one was originally married to one of the other couples.
Heidelberg Theatre had a great stage set. Opening scene was the exterior and balconies next to each other. The next scene was Elyot Chase’s flat in Paris. The sets were smoothly moved by the aid of a revolve stage and with the aid of stage staff and the actors. Very well done.
the dress was correct for the period and the cast had the right English presentation of the time including good accents suited to Noel Coward’s script and period.
Claire Benne was Amanda Prynne the new bride of Victor Prynne and ex wife of Elyot Chase. A wonderful performance with good projection. Her new husband, Victor was played by Wayne Gleeson another great performance catching the right feel for the character.
Libby Kay played Sybil Chase, Elyot Chase’s new bride. Kay gave a good portrayal of the young bride who cannot query as to why her new husband wants to leave.
A small role was Louise (the maid) played by Anna Callopy who only spoke in French and projected well.
All the scat had good rapport and gave a good evening of enjoyment. The choice of music absolutely suited the period.
An exhausting play, with plenty dialogue, a few violent scenes skilfully pe
ormed. A very amusing evening from HTC.


Blood Brothers

Director: Bruce Akers.

Heidelberg Theatre chose Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers to close the 2917 season.
An involved play about twins with one adopted to live in the rich area of Liverpool and the other with the rest of his family in the poor area of Liverpool.
The stage was set with a long picture of the slum area of the town on audience left and a long picture of the upper class are on audience right.
Av very dramatic production with the two mothers, one who had too many children and the other who could not have any. 
 The Narrator was played by Xavier Ryan, who has good presentation and handled the role with aplomb.
Cat Jardine was Mrs Johnstone who always seemed to be having children =with the possibility of at least one being taken by the authorities to be put into car.
Jardine gave a good portrayal of such a mother projecting well.
The other mother from the upper class was Mrs Lyons played by Venetia Macken, whop caught the correct feeling of a woman who wanted a child and would do anything to have one. Macken gave a stirling performance as such a character.
Mickey the twin who stayed on the wrong side of the tracks was played by Wayne Gleeson. A challenging role changing from a small boy to a grown man which Gleeson took in his stride. Well played. His twin brother Edward was played by Liam Gillespie.  Another player who grew up during the production. A good performance and some scenes between the two brothers particularly at the end were unforgettable.
Mick’s girlfriend Linda was played by Ainée Sanderson. A stunning performance particularly as the young schoolgirl then an adult split between the two brothers.
A chorus of two, Michael Whitmore and Grace Cairnduff  who also played Mick’s brother and Linda’s girlfriend.   Both handling their roles comfortably and added to the high standard of the evening.
A dramatic play but quite moving and enjoyed by the opening night audience.


The Club

Director: Gavin William.

HTC’s choice of play for the spring season (and the footy finals) was David Williamson’s The Club.
Written in the 70’s a time when the game was becoming professional and what happens when money talks and old traditions fly out the window. Administrators enter and bean counters take over.
The set at HTC was the committee roo of an Australian Rules Football club.
Excellency done with a billiard table to the rear. Doors left and right of stage, a realistic view of the ground and stadium through two rear windows.
Gerri, played by Jennifer Mettner, was the new administrator. A well portrayed role showing friendship to the President but! Mettner handled the character of changing attitudes to suit the occasion with expertise.
The President Ted was given a great energetic and boisterous performance by Darren Gregor. Gregor captured the essence of the non playing President with gusto and produced the required characterisation.
Laurie played by Andy Fry, was the coach who was having difficulty in coming to terms with the new regime. Changing players without consulting him, buying up a new player who did not seem interested in the game. Fry gave a good interpretation of the role having good stage presence.
Danny was the football players’ rep demanding to know what was going on. Played by Andrew Rance who captured the character as Williamson envisaged/
Bob Tyers was Jock, a stubborn ex-player who lived in the past but had his eye on the future no matter what he cost. Another boisterous player well handled by Tyers.
Geoff was the bought by the club for an outrageous fee but did had no interest in the club or its history. Well performed by Abbi Parasher.  
One interesting scene was Jock and Geoff having a frank discussion not quite helped by the type of cigarette they were smoking.
An interesting play which is not out of date even today.


All My Sons

Director: Chris McLean.

HTC chose Arthur Miller’s All My Sons for the July season.
A play about a family whose father’s business mace money out of supplying parts for American planes during WWII. Unfortunately some parts were faulty causing some fighter planes to crash.
The father also lost his older son in a plane crash during WWII.
HTC had a good set of a typical American backyard with the rear of the house centre stage and fences and gates to neighbours on each side.
Joe Keller, the owner of the business and father of the lost son and Chris the son who survived the hostilities and now works with his father in the business.
Joe Keller was given a stirling interpretation of such a role by George Werther who caught all the finer nuances as expected by Arthur Miller.
Keller’s son Chris was given a great performance by Liam Gillespie who had the right feeling for the character. Chris’s mother Kate Keller who refused to believe her eldest son was dead and still awaiting for him to return was played by Julie Arnold. A strong performance capturing the essence of the forlorn mother who no matter what could not could not be turned from her beliefs.
The girl from next door, Anne Deever, former girlfriend of the lost son and now in love with Chris was played by Claire Abagia. Another strong performance aided by a good rapport with Liam Gillespie. Abagia has a good stage appearance and caught the right feel for the role.
George Deever, Anne’s brother who tried to take Anne away as their father, Joe’s partner had been jailed for his role in the faulty parts manufacture. George Deever was played by Xavier Ryan, Good stage projection, moved and spoke professionly and gave a good performance.
The new next door neighbour Jim Bayliss, a doctor, who spent a lot of time with the Kellers was played by Gavin Barker. Barker presents well and worked well with the balance of the cast. Jim Bayles’ wife Sue was played by Sallyanne Mitchell. Mitchell had a great scene with Anne where she tells Anne that all the neighbours think that Joe is guilty. Both Abagia and Mitchell handled their roles with finesse producing a wonderful scene.

Another neighbour, Frank Lubey was played by Timothy Camilleri. Frank was a quiet man, a handy man who enjoyed the company of the Kellers. Camilleri projects well, good voice and good presentation. Frank’s wife, Lydia, was played by Kate Manicom. Lydia was a mother of three, a pleasant even going woman, well interpreted  by Manicom. A small role for a small boy was another neighbour, Bert was given a good performance by an upcoming Francesco Basile.
A good production keeping up Heidelberg Theatre’s expected standard


Pride and Prejudice

Director: Tim Scott

HTC chose Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice for the autumn production.
Opening with a Regency dance which introduces the company to the audience.
A large cast of experienced players bringing to the HTC stage a high standard production.
Mrs Bennett, she who was only interested in getting her daughters married off was given a great interpretation by Abi Richardson. Not only did Richardson have a good stage presence she really captured the essence of the character.
Miss Elizabeth Bennett, who took no nonsense from anyone, was given a stirling performance by Aimėe Sanderson. A good performance with a memorable scene where she was being told off by Lady Catherine de Bourgh played by Venetta Macken. Both performers excelled in their performances, working well with a great rapport and a great response from the audience.
Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy was played by James Antonas. Antonas had the correct attitude for the role but early on in the play his voice was a little quiet but improved as the evening progressed. He certainly had the right character for the role and captured the feel of Mr Darcy.
Jacob Pilkington was the cleric cousin, Mr Collins. who stood to inherit the Bennett home as there were only girls in the family. Pilkington gave a good performance in the role with the right nuances and deference to his patron Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
The costuming was exactly to the period and Wendy Drowley and her team deserve the highest congratulations for their expertise.
The set was circular with various panels sliding in and out to vary the changes of scenes. The dancing of the period was well handled and added to the enjoyment of the evening. HTC gave a wonderful evening of theatre and is a company to be added to one’s diary.


Australia Day

Director: Joan Moriarty.

Heidelberg Theatre’s 2017 opening season was Jonathan Biggins’ Australia Day.
The storyline is about the small town of Coriole preparing for Australia /day celebrations.
The committee comprises the mayor, deputy mayor, the CWA president, local builder/developer, local Greens councillor and the local school teacher.
The stage was set in the local scout hall where the committee met to organise the Coriole Australia Day festivities.
A well set stage complete with the portrait of Lord Baden-Powell (the founder of scouting). Front of stage were two tables and chairs, rear was a sink, bench and frig.
Doors each side for the various entrances and exits.
Jim Thomson was Mayor Brian Harrigan, who had some ulterior motives in mind. Thomson caught the essence of such a character giving a good performance.
The deputy mayor, Robert Wilson, was played by Nick Freedman. Nick was more of a yes man to the mayor, was in line for mayor but did he really want the job? Freedman gave a stirling performance in the role really catching the feel for such a character.
Maree Bucknell the CWA President was played by Kate Hall. Hall has good stage appearance giving a first class performance to the character.
Darren Gregor was Wally Stewart, the local redneck who didn’t seem to like change and wanted everything the way it was always done. He had run ins with Councillor McInnes, a newcomer from Melbourne and a Greens councillor. Gregor gave a wonderful performance in the role and worked well with Maree Bennett who played Helen McInnes, the Greens Councillor.   
Bennett gave an outstanding performance as the Greens councillor and trying to update the Australia Day festival with remembering the first Australians much to the disgust of Wally.
The primary school teacher Chester Lee was played by Ju-Han Soon. Lee being questioned about his background commented I am an ABV Australian Born Vietnamese. Soon added humour to the play and appeared to be more Australian than the rest of the committee. A wonderful portrayal with a good stage presence and working well with the rest of the cast.
An Australia Day with a committee that anyone who has been on a committee would easily identify with, and a day that anything could happen and did. The costuming, set and backstage production set a great evening of entertainment from Heidelberg Theatre.

One Man, Two Guvnors

Director: Chris Baldcock.

Heidelberg Theatre Company’s final play for 2016 was Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors. A delightful light hearted comedy that had the audience in stitches from the opening to the final.
Upon entering the audience was entertained by a Skiffle Band on audience right of stage. Very entertaining and much enjoyed. They performed throughout the production filling in with scene changes and accompanying members of the cast who performed on the xylophone, a steel drum and a kazoo.
The man with the two Guvnors was Frances Henshall played by Benjamin Watts. An amazing and energetic performance by Watts who skilfully fell over at various interludes during the production. A great stage projection and voice strong and clear.
Man hungry Dolly, Charlie Clench’s book keeper was given a wonderful performance by Cat Jardine who caught all the finer nuances of the man crazy Dolly. Good stage projection and a good rapport with Benjamin Watts.
James Antonas was one of the Guvnors, Stanley Stubbs, a crook and a murderer, but also in love with Rachel Crabbe. Antonas gave a stirling performance as such a character and had good timing in some of the scenes where the timing was not only essential but could have been very damaging.
Rachel Crabbe was played by Diane Algate. Rachel was dressed as her dead twin brother and Algate also gave a fabulous performance in the role.
Ken McLeish was another Guvnor, Charlie Clench, employing Francis Henshall. McLeish captured the essence of such a character who was trying to get his daughter married off to another crook to settle a deal but naturally she has fallen for someone else. McLeish gave a great interpretation of the role.
  Charlie’s daughter Pauline was the real dumb type and madly in love with Alan Dangle. Pauline was played by Katey Lewis who gave a magnificent performance as the dumb daughter. Lewis was superb in the role really capturing such a character.
Her affianced, Alan Dangle, an aspiring actor, was played by Liam Gillespie. Alan struck poses every time he moved making sure the audience saw his best side. Gillespie really caught the character as envisaged with great stage projection, a good strong voice and worked well with the other members of the cast.
Harry Dangle, Alan’s father was Charlie Clench’s solicitor and was played by Nick Cheadle who presents well keeping the high standard of the production.
Wem Etuknwa was Lloyd Boateng friend of Charlie Clench and a good steel drum player in the calypso scene. Another good performance.
The two waiters were played by Jonathan Best and Sam Howard.
Best was the headwaiter Gareth who had a lot of trouble with his new waiter, Alfie. Best was great in the role and had a good rapport with Sam Howard.
Howard was the 87 year old waiter Alfie who was on the first day on the job. An absolutely amazing performance. His body language was outstanding and the way he walked was unbelievable and when he went up stairs he usually fell to the sounds of great crashing and it’s a wonder he could keep going on stage with all that happened to him. He has a great stage appearance and projection and was one of the highlights of the evening..
The ensemble consisted of Llaneath Poor, Gavin Baker, Christain Rhodes-Eolfe and Thalia Cairns Dudek. All keeping up the standard of the production and assign to the success of the evening.
A very successful end to Heidelberg Theatre Company’s 2016 season and was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.



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Malvern Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 9530 8586

Witness for the Prosecution

Malvern Theatre’s June production was Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution directed by Peter Newling.
The stage was set, first in the office of Sir Wilfred Roberts QC, well done and one noticed the set was on castors which by turning the set around easily it became the court room. Very well cone.
Sir Wilfred Robert’s secretary was played by Maree Pallouras  giving a positive performance, but her voice was rather quiet, a little more volume would add to her performance.
Neville Drake was Carter/Clerk, Sir Wilfred Robert’s clerk, well played.
Mr Mayhew, the solicitor retained by Leonard Vole, was given a good interpretation by Frank Shrever.
Leonard Vole, the murder suspect, was given an excellent performance by Jordan Iverach, who really captured the role as envisaged.
Sir Wilfred Roberts QC was performed by Nicolas Opolski who gave a wonderful performance, capturing the finer nuances of the defending barrister.
Bill Konstantinidis played the police inspector capturing the essence of the role.
Romaine Vole, the “wife:” of Leonard Vole projected well and her accents were impeccable, her first accent was German and her other accent was pure London. Excellently played.
Barry O’Neill was the judge, Mr Justice Wainwright, another great interpretation of such a role.
Mr Myers QC was the prosecutor, played by Keith Hutton, who caught the mannerisms of such a character even to the stage of coughing each time he rose from his seat. A stirling performance by Hutton.
Andrew Ferguson portrayed Dr Wyatt and kept the overall standard of the production well up.
Janet MacKenzie, the victim’s maid was played by Catherine Christensen. MacKenzie was vital to the prosecution as a witness accusing Leonard Vole of the crime Christensen caught the character as envisaged giving a good portrayal of the character.
The other woman, inly a brief role but well interpreted by Siobhan Towers.
A great evening of theatre  and shows the high standard of the Malvern Theatre Company.    

The Memory of Water

Director: Gayle Poor

Malvern Theatre’s choice of play for the June season was Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water. A story of three different sisters coming together for their mother’s funeral.
Malvern Theatre constructed a good set of the bedroom of the late Violet, mother to Mary, Teresa and Catherine.
Jessica Wilson-Smith played Mary, the second sister who had a boyfriend Frank who would not leave his wife and children for Mary.
Wilson-Smith gave a good character to the role, projecting well and a good rapport with the other cast members.
The elder sister, Teresa, married to Frank but not happy, was played by Louise Gracey. Gracey has good stage projection and gave a good performance of the tried to be dominating sister. The third and youngest sister Catherine, who whined and complained that her sisters never confided in her and treated her like a child. Catherine was played by Maree Burnett who caught the character as envisaged adding to the high standard of the evening. Violet, the deceased mother who appeared in a dreamlike sequence, well done by the director and lighting operator, talking to Mary was given a good interpretation by Christine Bridge.
Frank, Teresa’s husband was played by William Mulholland. Good stage appearance and a fine performance. Mike, Mary’s boyfriend was given a professional performance by Bruce Hardie.
An interesting production although the actors were a little quiet in the opening scenes/ Throughout the play Catherine smoked marijuana (herbal cigarette) the smell of which did float across to the audience and was not very pleasant.     


The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Director/Choreographer: Alan Burrows.
Musical Director: Shirley White

At London’s Musical Hall Royale, the resident troupe is presenting their premiere performance of a flamboyant musical rendition of Charles dickens’ unfinished mystery novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Malvern Theatre opened with the cast on the stage and in the audience chatting about the show and settling the audience down with wisecracks about latecomers.
The stage was magnificently set with side and centre velvet curtains reminiscent of the old type music hall. The cast appeared in front of the curtains with the Chairman introducing the cast and their roles in the forthcoming production of  The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The cast left the stage and the centre curtains opened up on scene one. Scene changes were handled by the closing of the front curtain and the cast reverting to their music hall roles until the set changes were made. This was very efficiently and smoothly done and giving really a play within a play.
A large cast of 14 players which doesn’t leave any room for individual reviews. Needless o say they all handled their roles professionally with no poor performances and a very high standard of acting and singing.
A touch of tragedy and a lot of laughs particularly when the Music Hall section is on and the carryon of some of the artists.
 A different play wherein the audience become involved and are invited to vote on who they think the murderer is. These leads to an interesting conjecture. One would have to go to every performance and summarise the most times the one suspect is voted on. 
A wonderful and successful evening of theatre from Malvern Theatre and the director and cast are to be highly commended on such a great evening.


The Crucible

Director: Geoff Hickey

Malvern Theatre’s Autumn choice of plays was Arthur Miller’s acclaimed play The Crucible.
Written in the early fifties when America was suffering the McCarthy era where Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to national prominence by initiating a probe to ferret out communists holding prominent positions.
Miller set his play, a sinister parallel to the events in Salem Massachusetts in 1692  when paranoia and distrust hit the Puritan communities of New England summed up by the Salem Witch Trials.
Malvern Theatre presented a simple set well suited to the times, by judicious use of movement of furniture leading to the different scenes.
A large cast and although Malvern Theatre is technically an amateur theatre these players were as good as any professional production seen in Melbourne.
 The timing was spot on, the presentation was excellent. An emotional story as teenagers went into hysterics at the drop of a hat with the justice preferring to believe the teens rather than the people of Salem. The girls playing the teenagers did a wonderful job capturing the rebellious youth of the period and using their power to achieve their aims.
There was a deal of poignancy when husbands were confronted with their wives alleged guilt and the resulting action resulting from this. Good acting from all, very moving and although a long play it was so intense no one noticed the time pass
A great evening of theatre From Malvern theatre, Geoff Hickey and the cast. 


The Arcadians

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Society & The Malvern Theatre Company
Director: Robert Ray

Musical Director: Ben Kiley

The Arcadians is a musical play in three acts. First performed at the Shaftesbury Theatre London April 28 1909. First performed in Australia at the Theatre Royal Melbourne April 3 1910. First performed by Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria June 25 2010.

Act One is set in Arcadia where Father Time arrives suddenly and confesses that he had forgotten all about them. He also tells them of the monstrous Londoners who tell lies. No Arcadians would dream of such a thing.
James Smith is flying overhead and Father Time arranges for his plane to crash in Arcadia. James is thrown into the Well of Truth and given the name of Simplicitas.
Two of the Arcadians, Sombra and Chrysaea decide to take him back to London and plan to covert the Londoners with his help.
Simon Cooper played James Smith and of course Simplicitas. A very good interpretation of such different characters. Cooper projects well and has a good sense of the comique adding to the standard of his performance.
Catherine Northey was Sombra a well done professional performance. Chrysaea was played by Vanessa Petrie. Northey and Petrie played well together and Petrie’s performance was also an excellent portrayal.
Father Time was given an amusing interpretation by Ron Pidcock who caught the finer nuances of such a character. Pidcock also played Peter Dooley with aplomb.
Act Two was set at The Askwood Races which was a forerunner of the Ascot Scene in My Fair Lady. Wonderful costuming the ladies in black and white naturally with large hats. A romantic sequence with Maria Smith falling for Simplicitas not realising he is her husband James Smith. Anna Castle gave a great feel to the role and worked well with Simon Cooper. Other romances were between Jack Meadows and Eileen Cavanagh. Jack, a jockey thrown from his horse was well played by Bruce Raggatt and Eileen was given a professional performance by Julia Harper.
Act Three was set in the Arcadia Restaurant in London where Simplicitas after becoming enamoured with all the ladies was thrown back into the Well of Truth and returned to his old self, James Smith.
A very high standard of singing, some enjoyable dance scenes and a wonderful evening of theatre marred only by a some what small stage for the size of the cast. This by no means hindered the standard but did seem a little cramped.



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Mordialloc Theatre Company
Bookings: 03 9587 5141

The Crucible

Director Doug Bennett

  Arthur Miller's most famous play The Crucible is set in Salem Massachusetts in 1692 and is about the witch hunts of the period. What is more horrifying is that the play is based on the court records of the records of the time and all the characters in the play are historical and their fate is how Arthur Miller records.

Mordialloc and Director Doug Bennett used a revolving stage which was set as the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, the home of John Proctor, the exterior of the courtroom and the jail.

A well produced smooth flowing production with a high standard of performance.

Naomi Rukavina as Tituba the slave from the Barbados gave a fine performance leading the young girls of Salem in midnight dances and witchcraft.

The leading troublemaker of the girls was Abigail Williams who accused the local village people of various crimes to attain her own ends. Tanya Wenczel gave an outstanding portrayal of such a character.

A strong professional performance was given by Fernando Testa as John Proctor who was tortured and at first appeared to succumb to his persecutors but his wife and his conscience led to his final decision and its results. Glenn Hunt was the Reverend John Hale who was called in to investigate the claims of witchcraft. Glenn gave a good interpretation of the biased man who then when realisation as to what was happening tried to readdress his decisions and try to bring justice to the court trials.

Mary Kappner was a delight as Rebecca Nurse, the mother and grandmother who knew that the girls were lying and could not believe that the court was taken them seriously. A good performance.

Eric Heyes was the Deputy Governor Danforth who ruled the court. A most biased man who believed in the letter of the law regardless of the results. Eric Heyes gave a stirling

portrayal of the pedantic bigoted character.

The youngest member of cast Harriet Robertson played Betty Parris A young lady with a good performing future ahead.

A large cast making it difficult to choose highlights but all added to the standard of the evening and there were no poor performances.

A good evening of drama from Mordialloc Theatre Company.



Laying the Ghost

A story of an actress, her ex-husband, her student and her ex's current wife and the tragedy (or is it).
Mordialloc Theatre set builders showed the results of the off stage staff with the construction of the room of Margot Buchanan in a retirement home on the South Coast of England. The set was not only of the room but views of the garden, doors to other rooms which were also well constructed.
Margot Buchanan was celebrating her 70th birthday when Sadie Croft, a young actress, entered for advice and instruction on playing Juliet for a forthcoming play Romeo & Juliet.
Lorraine Kindler as Margot Buchanan gave a good performance as the somewhat bemused birthday girl with unusual events happening. Sadie Croft was played by Andrea Florence, a good interpretation of a young actress and also a mistress.
Eric Heyes was the ex-husband Sir Leo Buchanan. A fine stage personality and had a good rapport with Lorraine Kindler. His wife Lady Judy Buchanan was played by Christine Bridge. Lady Judy was caught between the ex-wife and without realising it her husband's mistress. Christine gave a great interpretation of the role. Margot Buchanan's friend Freda Deacon who was a medium always talking to ghosts which proved essential as the story progressed. Freda Deacon was given a good portrayal by Eryl Lowe. A lighthearted touch was the Superman character who delivered a birthday message. Martin Gibbs was Superman giving a comic touch to the evening.
A well executed play particularly the response of the actors when the ghosts entered and the cast could not see them. Not always easy to do when someone is in front of you and you have to act as if there is no-one there.
Mordialloc Theatre's audience enjoyed the evening.

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Peridot Theatre
Bookings: 61 3 5988 0465
1300 138 645


To Kill a Mockingbird

Peridot & Encore Theatre Presented
To Kill a Mockingbird.
A simple set stage comprising of five doors plus porched representing the town. The central door also turned into the judge’s box during the famous court case.
The story is that of a black American (set in 1935) who was on a charge of rape of a white woman. He was defended by Atticus Finch in the scene made famous by Gregory Peck in the film of the same name. . The two companies had a large cast of 18 actors on stage. Some outstanding performers were the three younger performers.
 Layla Lamgroo who played the daughter of Atticus Finch  handled her role with feeling and although this was her first time on such a stage, she handle the role with professionalism and one would not know that this was her first public performance.
Playing Scout’s older self and acting as narrator was Emma Wood a good performance.
The solicitor Atticus Finch was portrayed by Andrew McAliece. Andrew really captured the character giving a great performance especially in the courtroom scenes.
Young Jem Finch was played by Michael Roskam who handled the role with professionalism and worked well with his sister played by Layla Langroo.
Another young actor was Lucian Hendricks who played Dill Harris,  friend of the Finch family. Again, Lucian handled his role giving a stirling performance.
Another good interpretation of her role was given by Laureta Tindi as the housekeeper of the Finch;s.
Mandy Murray was Mrs Dubose, a crochety woman. Mandy gave a wonderful performance as this character.
A great performance was given by Ian Tweeddale as the father of the victim. Ian played two roles, as Nathan Radley and Boo Radley. He was a vicious man and Ian caught such a character with a great performance.
As there were such a large cast it was hard to pick out the good perform4ers but all added to the high standard of the production and it tells that each night was a sellout.
A good combination by Peridot and Encore.


The Five Plays

“Then I see a door. Suddenly just there , in the brickwork. Open a crack, I dive through it, slams behind me?”
Dnielle Carey dives through the crack and meets  a stranger. Carey caught the feel of a stranger not quite knowing where she is. A god performance. The stranger was played by Blake Stringer  who also gave a good interpretation of such a character.
Echoes of Healing
. Reflect the universal themes of compassion, reliance, and the pursuit of a dream. It shows us that healing knows no boundaries  and those who dedicate themselves in the service of others can bridge the gap between cultures and countries making the world a better place one heartbeat at a time>
This play was performed by Marjan Mesbahi who gave the correct essence of such a mood/
To Life
Is a culinary exploration of family, heritage, and the complexity of life.  The play navigates the intricacies of a cherished family recipe, weaving together tales of love and loss.
A solo performer Samantha Lowe, who was kept busy with actually cooing or pre4paring a meal  while she presented a monologue about her family. A fair performance but your reviewer felt it was a little long.
In a midnight encounter, a mysterious figure provides a desperate Refugee a chance for safety and beginning in a new country.
The Corrector (the mysterious figure) was well played by Je Dias and the Refugee was given a stirling performance by Amit Dasai.
Pana du Casa
( A taste of Home)  is a bilingual English/Italian play that focuses on the struggles migrants go through. and everyday obstacles  they face. The play also encourages the audience to reflect on the individual  and collective benefits of choosing kindness when approaching others./
A large cast and the final play of the evening, Well cone3 and the cast gave the correct feeling of each character.
The evening was enhanced by a background of a large screen which the different scenes were projected. The background was a large screen which the various scenes were projected. This worked extremely well>
The theme of the evening was very relevant to Australia with each play showing how refugees and migrants struggle to fit into the Australian way of life. In this evening Peridot theatre showed the problems people have in settling into a new and strange country.  



Things I Know to be True

Peridot Theatre’s August Production was Andrew Bovell’s Things I know to be True.
Set in Adelaide it s a story of a family, Mum, Dad and fur children. Teo boys and two giros.
One girl Rosi,  has arrived home from her overseas travel unexpectedly to find things haven’t really changed except that her sister Pip has decide to leave her husband two children to go and study in Vancouver, her brother Mark is a transgender and going to Sydney to have the appropriate operations and calls him(her)self-Mia. Rosie’s other brother Pip lives the highlife and doesn’t care how he finances himself.
The stage was set simply with outdoor furniture t audience left, five rosebushes central stage and a table and chairs audience right. All items were used well in the storyline.
Bob Price (Dad, was played by Bryan Richardson, who caught the character of a working class bloke anxious to give his children the bet he can do. A good player working well with Lisa  Upson who was Fran, his wife.
Upson gave an outstanding performance as Fran, sticking up for her children when they were in trouble but also getting hold of the wrong stick on occasion.
Rosie, the girl who had just returned home was  played by Eva Hatzicostas, Eva caught the essence of such a character, a little overwhelmed by her mother’s story of why she had returned. A good portrayal. Her brother Mark was played by Nathan Wrigt. Wright caught the character as envisaged by the author giving a good portrayal.
His brother Ben was played by Jack Glass. A good interpretation of such a character
Pip Price, the girl who was leaving her husband and children was given a good portrayal by Bella Barker.
An interesting play which makes the audience think about what really goes on behind the family doors
Peridot gave it’s audience a thoughtful play and a good evening of entertainment.



Peridot Theatre presented Bacchaetoo a play based on Euripides play The Bacchae which is considered to be not only one of Euripides greatest tragedies, but also on of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient.
Bacchaetoo is a retelling of Euripides play about the women of the City of Thebes who have escaped to a nearby mountain to celebrate the god Dionysus as part of the god’s plan to vindicate his mother.
Peridot Theatre by use of stage and film produced a good evening of theatre. A strong cast, on stage there were 14 performers and on film there were 25 performers.
There appeared to your correspondent two stories, One with the chorus binging the story up to the present and two the story of The Bacchae. The both stories were added to by the film sequences where a new reporter was giving the audience the latest from ancient Greece.
The stage performers gave good interpretations of their roles but some were a little quite in their speeches. The filming was excellently done with great backgrounds for each scene.
The stage was set simply with two raised platforms to rear and a smaller platform in front. One of the scenes was particularly gruesome but you must see it to find out why.
Overall a good interpretation of the famous Greek play, bringing some of it up to date and some set in the original story.


Night Must Fall

Peridot Theatre’s opening 2023 production was Emlyn Williams’  Night Must /Fall. A murder mystery about a family whose maid becomes pregnant and the result of this misadventure.
The opening scene was a screen with moving shots of forests and fire with a judge’s voice in the background describing a murder. The judge, who does not appear on stage was voiced by Andrew Ferguson, giving a genuine
feel to such a character.
The owner of the lonely house in the woods is Mrs Simpson, a cripple in a wheelchair, with, as the program says, a cantankerous, crusty, curmudgeonly character played by Rosey Cullinan, Cullinan really caught the essence of such a character giving the opening night audience a wonderful performance. Her niece, who was employed by her, is Olivia Grayne who was very distrustful of the pageboy from the nearby hotel, Dan. But is she? Freya Timmer-Arends really captured the role giving a stirling performance.
Hubert Laurie, a stuffy type of Englishman who invites himself for lunch and is rather keen on Olivia. Mason Frost was Hubert. Frost caught the character as envisaged and presented well.
Nurse Libby, a small but like all small parts vital to the story, was given a stirling performance by Bella Barker. Mrs Terence, the housekeeper who wasn’t taken in by her employer, Mrs Branson, was given a great interpretation by Christine Bridge. Cora Parkoe,  the maid who was gotten pregnant by Dan, was excellently played by Danielle Carey. A great interpretation of such a character. The police inspector, Inspector Belsize, was played by Glenn Hunt, also giving a great performance in the role.
Then there was Dan, the mystery man who weaselled his way into the Mrs Branson’s home, much to the disgust of other members of the household. Dan was played by Conor Quinn who gave a positive interpretation of such a character, giving a natural feel to the role.
A well done play to open Peridot Theatre’s 2023 season.


War of the Worlds

Peridot Theatre presented a radio play of H. G. Well’s The War of the Worlds.
Based on VBS’s Mercury Theatre production in October 1938 which effect has the USA really believing that there was a war between Mars and Earth. A TV station in New York put it on as a radio play on TV and the same thing happened, most of the Northeast States believed it was a real war.
Peridot’s director Pip Le Blond and Robin Le Blond are to be congratulated on their realisation of the Mercury Theatre of CBS. On audience left there was the panel table with various sound effects sitting on it. The microphones were the old standing type and other  sound effect equipment was lying around the studio. Overall, very effective radio playhouse.
Seven actors played many parts,  with Francesca Carl handling the sound effects brilliantly, unfortunately her voice was rather quiet, but her presence was good. Michael Fenemore was Orson Welles and Professor Pierson. His performance was very good particularly as Orson Welles where he had the job of directing the show as part of his performance. His timing was excellent as so was Carl with the effects.
Keith Hutton gave a stirling performance in his many roles along with Steve Saul, Liam Mitchinson. Paul Wants, Malcolm Sussman. All had many parts to play and did splendidly.
The only dissatisfaction was as today everything is so fast and in the 30s things were a lot slower that the speeches in the beginning were spoken at the modern pace whereas to make it more authentic the sleeches could have been slower.
But nevertheless it is a great evening of theatre and a  production well worth seeing.


One Act Play Season 2022.

There are four plays in this season commencing with:
Line Up.
The stage was set with three suitcases on each side and large screen at stage rear/
Two players, waiting in line at a concentration camp for Jews in Germany. The screen showed first trainlines leading to the camp and then lines of Jews all wearing the Star of David waiting their turn to see whether they lived or died.
The two players were part of the queue slowly moving forward from rear to front of stage. Peter Tedford-Taylor and Gilbert Gauci gave stirling performances in their roles. One was very confident, and the other was scared and worried. /they wore normal clothes but had the Star of David n their outfits.
Both gave very moving performances capturing the feel of such a moment.
A good but sad opening of the evening.
Embers a play about a small town in Victoria surrounded by bushfires and worrying if the fires would hit the town.
“A cast of six women ranging from an ABC reporter. The Mayor of the town, a lady making sandwiches for the firefighters, a girl worried about her partner fighting the fires and other towns people.
A moving story with flashes of light representing the fires and when the person concerned was not on the piece turned her back on the audience. Each actor was sitting on a chair which was different for each player.
The girl playing the SBC reporter gave a good portrayal with a normal voice talking with the townsfolk but when she was reporting her voice changed and your correspondent is sure she would be able to handle any radio show.
All around the performances were very good and the story resonated with the audience as all Australians are familiar with such a scenario.
Just a Straight Man, A black comedy about two comedians setting up ready to perform.
Barney, played by Martyn Jones was seen sitting on a chair ready and waiting to go on with the show. His straight man Trevor, played by Michael Moore was doing all the work of setting up the musical instruments and arguing with Barney.
Both gave great performances as the tensions between them became worse as the ev3ening wore on.
Love is a Dish A story of a young lady preparing a meal for her soon to be fiancé.
the young lady Tally was played by Summer Bowen. A good energetic performance well balanced with Beaux, played by Gavin Baker. Baker handled his role with vigour and gave a stirling performance as the fiancé who was not quite sure of the future.
A well-constructed play  and enjoyed by the audience.
Peridot Theatre lived up to its normal high standard and one looks forward to thir next evening of theatre.


I Ought to be in Pictures

Peridot Theatre presented Neil Simon’s I Ought to be in Pictures for their last production at the Unicorn Theatre.
A story about Hollywood scriptwriter Herb is surprised when his long-lost teenage daughter, Libby, arrives on his doorstep with dreams of movie stardom.
Herb was well played y Andrew McAliece giving a good performance as the father who didn’t realise his daughter had grown up and was surprised to see her as he came out of bed one morning.
Herb’s once a week girlfriend, Sally, was played by Jeanne Snider. A good portrayal of an understanding woman for Libby and a person who really wanted more than a one weekend stand.
Libby, the daughter, was played by Eva Hatzicostas. An amazing performance, Hatzicostas really caught the essence of a19-year-old girl who bussed and hitched from New York to Los Angeles.
The set was a small bungalow in the main room of the same. A central window with a view of two trees which are essential to the story.
Peridot presented a wonderful evening of theatre  for their last production at the Unicorn Theatre. Thanks to the director Michelle Swann for a wonderful production.



A mesmerizing thriller with plenty of twists and a liberal dash of comedy. The Great Gordo, an alcoholic stage hypnotist in the twilight of his career, randomly chooses Alan Briggs s his next stooge. Briggs, a mild-mannered policeman, is a good sport, the audience laughs, and everyone goes home. For Gordo, it's just the end of another show, and time for a drink or three before bed. but someone out there has other ideas. Extraordinary ideas. The mind games begin, the stakes are raised and we can sense there can only be one winner. But Who?
Peridot Theatre presented a delightful play to open 2022.
The opening scene was the stage with the curtain closed and The Great Gordo arriving from the rear of the auditorium with loud exclamations and advised the audience he had already chosen one to be is hypnotic subject. The chosen man was Briggs, a mild-mannered  policeman.
The Great Gordo played by Michael Fenemore was given on opening and hypnotic scenes a good over the top performance which was what the character portrayed.  As the play continued so did Michael’s performance, a change from the opening entrance. Michael Fenemore gave an outstanding performance in such a role and presented same professionally.
Briggs, the mild-mannered policeman in the opening scenes caught the feeling of a mild-mannered man but as the play continued, changed character and was not quite so mild-mannered. As Briggs, Andrew McIver presented well giving an excellent portrayal of the character and was a good balance to the three performers (+1).
Brigg’s wife Helen was played by Kate Bowers, who caught the character with finesse and as the wife did appear not quite of what was expected.
Another great portrayal, working well with Michael and Andrew and was a good balance to the  other players.
The last performer, said with tongue in cheek, was Sigmund Freud, a small part but as one knows small parts are essential to the play and Sigmund had his moments.
A good opening to 2022 from Peridot Theatre and the director Pip Le Blond who had been trying to put on this play for sometime and when Peridot asked her advise on a lay she jumped at the chance and what an opening to 2022.


Waiing for God

Director: Bob Bramble

Peridot theatre’s first production for 2020 was Michael Aitkens Waiting for God.
Originally a TV series Aitkin was asked to write it as a stage play.
A small coincidence. The writer when asked where did he get the idea from? Reply was when living in Australia he visited the Bayview Retirement village where the staff referred to it as God’s Waiting Room. From this Aitkin took the name.

The set was centre and stage left was the rear of two apartments and outside chairs and tables. Audience right was a screen put to very good use both as views of different places and the hospital for the birth of a baby, plus various sets as a restaurant, a hospital bed and an interior of the Retirement Chapel.
The story line is about a retirement village, a stuffy seniors home where stepping out of line is strictly frowned upon. Two spirited residents, retired news photojournalist Diane Trent and former accountant Tom Ballard form an alliance to give the home’s oppressive manager a run for his money.
Diana Trent was played brilliantly by Michelle Tanner. Tanner caught the essence of such a character giving a wonderful performance and having a great rapport with Robert Pattie-Williams who played Tom Ballard also giving a good portrayal of such a role and worked well with Tanner. The pair had some funny scenes particularly where Tom moved out of a hospital bed with a hospital gown with a gap to the rear which brought on laughs from the audience. Also, in the same scene Diane struck the manager Harvey Baines a good blow between the legs hitting a vital spot. By then the audience realized the dislike that Baines had engendered applauded the blow.
The secretary, Jane Edwards was played by Katie Macfie. A well cone interpretation of the role, not taking any nonsense from Diane and was in love with the manager Harvey Baines.
Harvey Baines wea given a great portrayal by Gilbert Gauci so much so the audience hated the character.
Tabitha Veness was Sarah Chase, Diana’s niece. Veness gave a stirling portrayal of the niece who loved her aunt, calling her auntie bch to Diane’s disgust. One good scene was behind the screen where in shadow play Sarah was having a baby and the view to say the least was hilarious.”
Other players were Anthony Julian as Godfrey Ballard, Tom’s son, who put is father into the retirement home as Geoffrey’s wife could not stand the old man. Julian caught the role as intended, visiting his father and finally accepting Diane. Phil Holmes was Dennis Sparrow, the absent minded vicar who was not sure if it was a wedding or a funeral, leading to some funny scenes. Val Mitchelmore was the undertaker who tried to bring a coffin into the wedding scene saying the time was up for the weddings and it was her turn. A good performance.
Peridot Theatre chose a successful comic play to open 2020 and one highly recommended.  



Stage Kiss

Director: George Werther

Peridot Theatre’s final play for 2019 was Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss.
When two actors with a history are thrown together as romantic leads in a forgotten 30s melodrama, they quickly lose touch with reality as the story onstage follows them offstage.
A well set stage designed by Mary Werther for Act 1 backstage onstage of a New York theatre and Act 2 a contemporary New York apartment and then changes to a Detroit theatre stage.
She was played by Kate Bowers with the opening scene a delight with action between She, John :Lawrence the director and Kevin played by Timothy Camilleri.
 The three gave great interpretations of their characters adding to the high standard of the evening.
He was played by Colin Morley who wore3d well with Kate Bowers and each had a good rapport which is vital for such a play.
The balance of the cast all added to the success of the production and Peridot gave a terrific evening of theatre as their final and Australian Premiere of Stage Kiss


The Diary of Anne Frank

Director: Kellie Tweedale

The choice for Peridot Theatre’s August production was The Diary of Anne Frank.
A story of WWII where two Jewish families and a Jewish dentist holed up in a secret annexe for two years to evade the Nazis in Amsterdam.
Peridot’s set was of the secret annexe in a factory and had two bedrooms, on the audience left were four beds and audience right were three beds.
Centre stage was a dining table and rea centre was a stove and sink.  
The two families were the Franks and the Van Daan with the dentist Mr Drussel
The Frank family were father Otto, his wife Edith, their daughters Margot and Anne..
The Van Daan family were the father Mr Van Daan, the mother Mrs Van Daan and their son Peter.
The dentist Mr Dussel came to the refuge some three months after the families.
 Peter Tedford Taylor played Otto Frank, the lone survivor of the story. Peter gave a good portrayal of such a man who kept the peace under the strain the other members were having after being cooped up for two years. A good interpretation. His wife Edith was given a nice performance by Caroline Seal. A mother who had trouble with her teenage daughter Anne. Caroline  handed such a character with finesse.
The daughter Margot was played by Bella Walker. Margot was the quiet one of the group more interested in reading and ignoring the others. Bella gave a good interpretation of such a role.
The Anne of the story who kept a diary of such a life which was found after the war, was given a wonderful and energetic performance by Grace Cairnduff. Grace really captured the essence of Anne, an energetic girl in the throes of womanhood and unwittingly causing some trouble wit the other family. A great portrayal.
Mr Van Daan was played by David Spencer-Gardner, who caught the character f the businessman who found living under such circumstances rather stressful. Another good portrayal.
His wife Mrs Van Daan was given a great performance by Louise Steel. One good scene was when her husband wished to sell her fur coat (a present from her father) and Louise’s actions really captured the loss of a family heirloom and the reality of their current situation.
The Van Daan’s son Peter was played by Michael Pendrigh .Peter was a quiet shy lad who took a while to become friends with Anne. They eventually became friends as Anne was maturing and had feelings for Peter. Michael added to the standard of the evening I his portrayal of the character.
The dentist, Mr Dussel was played by Brian Richardson. Mr Dussel came into the annexe after the others had settled in and they had to find a place for him. One humorous scene was when he extracted a tooth form Mrs Van Daan. Brian handled the role comfortably giving a good all-round portrayal.
The owners of the factory and the people who supplied the food at some risk to themselves ere Miep and Mr Kraler. Miep was played by Caroline Hall and Mr Kraler was played by George Benca. Both gave good interpretations of their characters keeping the families up to date with the outside world and helping as much as they could.
 The last two actors were only on for a few moments but were very essential to the plot.
Martin Lu was soldier 1 and Nicolas Iacovou was soldier 2. Both actors captured the Nazi soldiers realistically adding to the horror of the moment.
|Peridot presented a good production albeit rather dramatic and was based on actual events during WWII in Holland.



Crimes of the Heart

Director: Michelle Swan

Peridot Theatre’s paly for June was Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart.
A tragicomedy about the three Magrath sisters, Meg, Babe and Lenny, who reunite t Old Granddaddy’s home in Hazlehurst Mississippi after Babe has shot her abusive husband.
Peridot produced a great set of a Hazlehurst kitchen.
Mandy Lee played Lenny Magrath who, as soon as she entered the kitchen donned an apron and started to clean up any mess. She was the occupant of Granddaddy’s home where her sisters came to visit. Mandy gave a good performance of such a person catching the essence of the character.
Her sister Meg, played by Alexandria Avery, was an energetic, not caring where she dumped anything much to the chagrin of Lenny. A well cone interpretation of such a character.
The sister Babe who shot her husband was given a wonderful and good interpretation by Freya Magee who caught such a character as the writer envisaged.
The sisters’ cousin Chick who had no problem in voicing her opinion in telling her cousins what she thought of the situation was given a good performance by Genevieve Abbott.
Ryan Fahlbusch was the lawyer Barnette Lloyd. A young lawyer who did his best not to fall in love with Babe but doing his best to keep her out of goal. Ryan gave a good strong portrayal in this role.
Michael Fenemore was Doc Porter, another good performance adding to the high standard of the evening.
A good evening of theatre with a play with some laughs and poignancy.


One Act Play Season 2019

by Robin Rothstein
A tender story about an avid opera goer and a lady who won a ticket but does not know anything about opera. They meet at a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Keith Harris was Douglas, the opera subscriber and who was a little annoyed with his seatmate who does not know anything about opera as she usually goes with her husband to the football.
Harris gave a great performance as the opera lover at first not patient with Claire the first timer  but as the opera moved on he came to appreciate her a little more.
Claire was played by Helen Ellis who carried the role with ease and a naturalness that won over the audience in sympathy with her character.
The Child
by Olsen Wymark

A story of an unusual family living with a 28-year-old daughter who is mentally disrupted.
Leanne Cairduff was the Child’s mother Nina. Cairduff caught the feeling of such a character.
Nina’s partner Lily was given a good portray. Poor Lily had the job of mainly minding and amusing the child.
The child, Gemma, was given a great performance by Genevieve Brott. She really captured the adult  with a mental problem, Brott carried this feeling excellently.
A Night at the Venue
by Bryan Lynagh
A story of .an owner of a licenced arts venue and the difficulties of running same.
Mark the owner was played by Fraser Baxter. Not a bad performance but at times was rather quiet, a little more voice projection would have added to his performance
The actors who played many roles were Actor. 1 Ben Klein. Actor 2 Kevin Yap. Both carried the many roles with aplomb but on occasion the voices were a little overdone some of the acting was a little too much over the top.
An interesting of theatre with several sort plays which give new directors and actors a chance to shoe off their talents.



Brilliant Lies

Director: Damian Jones

Peridot Theatre’s opening play for 2019 was David Williamson’s Brilliant Lies.
A complex play with a main theme and a few other stories in the plot which tied up with the main story. A challenge for the actors going from one story to the next but met with complete confidence and handling the said play with professionalism.
A story of sexual harassment set in the 1990s
The stage was et in three sections which handled the 20 scenes very efficiently.
On audience right was the Conciliator’s office, centre was used in various scenes as was audience left.
Kate Bowers was Marion the Conciliator who had a job of staying neutral. A good portrayal but opening night voice could have been a little more pronounced.
The victim of sexual harassment, Susy, was given an outstanding performance by Claire Abagia Claire captured the essence of such a character and was greatly appreciated by the opening night audience.
 Susy’s sister Katy was played by Emma Fawcett, two sisters very different in outlook but prepared to help each other out. As Katy Emma caught the nature of such a character and worked well with Claire giving a stirling performance. The sisters’ brother Paul was played by  Gilbert Gauci who loved his sisters and his father but was rather ignorant about his sister’s relationships with their father. A good portrayal.
Gary, the office sleaze who Susy was taking to the tribunal, was played by Gavin Baker. Gavin really caught the character of such a person giving a wonderful portrayal of the sleazy boss. His business partner Vince, who did not quite believe him but supported him, was played by Mark Crowe.  Mark was a good balance to Gavin and played the role with meaning. Rod Hulme was Dad, a man with a past that his son did not know about and was rather to fond of the bottle to the detriment of his health. Rod presents well and handled such a role with professionalism.
A good opening by Peridot to the 2019 season and the high standard set will be hard to follow.  



Director: Susan Rundle

Peridot Theatre’s choice of production to close 2018 was A. R. Gurney’s Sylvia.
A story of a couple in midlife with the wife progressing and the husband not doing well in his job. He goes for a walk and comes home with Sylvia, a dog to which he forms a deep attachment but the dog is not appreciated by his wife.
Peridot’s stage was set on audience left a small park and centre and right was a New York apartment with a view overlooking the skyline of New York.
Sylvia, the dog, was excellently played by Alexandria Avery. She did not have an easy role as most of the time she was on all fours, Her interpretation was magnificent, scratching herself, jumping on the couch when forbidden to do so, um leaving a mess on the apartment floor. Sylvia’s relationship with Greg was a delight and her relationship with Kate was a picture. Avery handled the role with expertise giving the realistic feeling of a dog et being able to speak to her owners.
Greg her founder became besotted by her even to the possible breakdown of his marriage. Bruce Hardie as Greg gave a stunning performance having a good rapport with Avery.
Greg’s wife Kate, played by Ana Della Rocca, was given a good feeling of a wife who did not quite understand a man’s feeling for his dog.    
Tom was an acquaintance Greg meets in the park. Tom’s dog Bowse became rather too friendly with Sylvia. Tom was played by Bryan Richardson who captured the correct feeling for the role and gave a good portrayal, Kate’s friend Phyllis was played by Jane Carter. Poor Jane as Phyllis she had a not too friendly moment with Sylvia. Carter caught the character with professionalism giving a great portrayal.
Robyn Kelly was Leslie, the psychiatrist who has problems understanding Greg. Another good portrayal.
Peridot finished with a great production and the audience are looking forward to 2019


84 Charing Cross Road

Director: Horrie Leak.

Peridot theatre’ choice for the June season was 54 Charing Cross Road.
A story of an American writer, Helen Hanff who ordered books from a London bookshop Marks and co. Based on a real story the play is well written and very emotional.
Peridot’s cast handled the story exquisitely capturing the genuine feel of the characters and the director Norrie Leak must be congratulated on his choice of cast.
The main lead, Helene Hanff was played by Pam Christie Birkett who caught the feel of the role with finesse and showed all the right emotions as the story progressed.
The bookshop salesman to whom Helene wrote, Frank Doel, was played by Andrew Ferguson who had the look of a book salesman giving a wonderful charactisation of Frank. A very moving and emotional performance.
The play was done with the stage split in two. On audience left was Helene’s apartment and on audience right was the bookshop. Both Frank’s desk and Helene’s desk were next to each other on stage although they were each side of the Atlantic. Other cast members were Katie Macfie as Cecily Farr, Camille Alexander as Megan Wells, Michael Knuckey as Mr Martin, Colin Sephton as William Humphries and Monica Greenwood as Maxine Suart and Joan Todd.
All were assistants in the bookshop., playing their roles with professionalism and added to the high standard of the production.
Peridot Theatre’s set was amazing. All the walls were lined with book patterned wallpaper, the New York apartment has a desk, furniture one would expect in such an apartment.
On audience right was the bookshop, with two desks, at stage rear was the entrance to the shop with the owner’s sign above the window and books all over the place giving the feel f a real bookshop.
A wonderful evening of theatre by Peridot Theatre.


Life After George

Director: David Lawson-Smith

Peridot Theatre’s choice of production for the Autumn season was Hannie Rayson’s Life After George.
A story of Peter George a charismatic academic, idealist, lover of life, is dead. His wife, two ex-wives and daughter gather for the funeral.
The opening saw he three women seated on audience left, at stage rear was the coffin of Peter George. Stage front was Pete’s best friend Alan Duffy performing the funeral service. Audience right was a keyboard played by Tamar Collier.
The play then went back to the past showing the life of Professor George and his effect on all his wives.
A simple stage setting with the rear of the stage acting as a screen with the various incidents in the story line project as the participants spoke. Frequently the screen was split in two and the whole concept worked well. Front of the screen various pieces of furniture and even a small pier were placed as called for on stage.  
Damian Jones was Peter George. A good portrayal and presentation of the young rebel and then a successful professor.
George’s best friend Alan Duffy was given a good interpretation by Chris Grant. Duffy was George’s best mate through thick and thin, wife after wife and stayed good friend of all. Grant fitted the role with aplomb giving a professional portrayal.
Beatrix George, Peter George’s first wife and mother of his two children was played by Marianne Collopy. Collopy caught the essence of such a character having a good rapport with Damian Jones.
The second wife, Professor Lindsay Graham, a very efficient person who took it upon herself to run the funeral and organise everyone much to the disgust of the widow Poppy. Susan Rundle was Lindsay Graham. Rundle has good stage projection, came across very strongly and carried the role with finesse.
The third and current wife Poppy Santini, a younger wife that the aforementioned and fairly nervous particularly when confronted by Lindsay Graham, was given a good performance by Summer Bowen.
Peter George’s daughter Ana George, a girl not happy with her parent’s divorce and her mother going off to Tuscany, was played by Tamar Collier. Not only giving a great performance in her acting role Collier also brilliantly played the keyboard at the relevant points in the play but also has a good singing voice which enhanced the production.
A good evening of entertainment from Peridot Theatre.


The Female of the Species

Director: Natasha Boyd

Peridot Theatre’s May choice was Joanna Murray-Smith’s The Female of the Species. Loosely based on an incident in the life of Germaine Greer where Germaine was held hostage by a crazed teenager though this is hotly denied by the author.
Peridot Theatre had a very good set of the main lounge/workroom of the acclaimed feminist writer Margot Mason. The writer’s desk was on audience left and centre rear was French Doors. Doorways left and right rear leading to other rooms of the house.
Susie Sparkes was the feminist writer Margot Mason. A great performance under difficult circumstances such as being handcuffed to her desk for the majority of the performance. Sparkes handled the role with great feeling and really caught the character as envisaged.
Her nemesis, Molly Rivers, the young woman who blamed Margot for the death of her mother and her own disappointments in life. Reschelle O’Connor gave a stunning and energetic performance as the frustrated young woman.
Rachel Clayton was Margot’s daughter Tess. Tess didn’t have much time for her mother and did not know her father, nor did her mother. Clayton handled the role with professionalism catching the essence of the disappointed with life mother and worked well with the other performers.
Andrew McIvor was Bryan Thornton, Tess’s husband who was a business man with not enough time for his family and not strong or virile enough for Tess’s dreams.
A great portrayal with good presentation and captured the character with aplomb.
Frank, the taxi driver who took Tess to her mother’s country home was given a good interpretation by Michael Knowles.
Theo Reynolds, Margot’s publisher was portrayed by Paul Wanis who has a good stage presentation and gave a good performance.
An energetic and verbose play with the players on their toes at all times.


The 39 Steps

Director: Bob Bramble

A fast packed who dunnit in the Monty Python style and a dash of Alfred Hitchcock leading to an entertaining night out. The hero Richard Hannay was given a wonderful performance by Brett Hyland, An energetic performance with some uncomfortable scenes which Hyland handled with aplomb.
The young lady, Annabella, whose misfortune was to meet Richard Hannay was played by Aimee Short, not only did Short have the uncomfortable job of playing opposite Hyland she also played Margaret and Pamela. Not an easy job switching characters throughout the course of a play but Short handled the challenge with expertise and added to the joy of the evening.
The two clowns were played by Katie MacFie and Mark Briggs, both gave great portrayals of such characters.
 Adding to the evening and acting as stage hands were the ninjas. Kate Deavin, Phil Holmes, Leanne Jackson, Kylie Lee, Con Sephton, and Lindsay Fletcher.
All worked well and smoothly in keeping such a complex play moving.
The set was on each side of the stage were built the old fashioned boxes where some of the action took place. On stage simple and easy to move props were applied. One example of ease props were doors, just a door frame and as the actor moved through same they swung the frame around to show coming through from the other side.
A great evening of theatre and a good start for the upcoming Peridot Theatre season.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Director: Peter Newling

Peridot Theatre’s August production choice was Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
A story of sexual politics amongst the aristocrats in pre-revolution France.
The action takes place in 1784 across several locations. These locations were amazingly designed for Peridot by George Trantor and constructed by the company.
On stage right was the home of La Marquise de Marteuil. Stage left was the home of Madame de Rosemonde and front stage was used for bedroom scenes and a field outside Paris.
Janine Evans was La Marquise de Marteuil. Shall we say not a pleasant person but Evans handled same with professionalism, projecting well and good harmony with the other performers. Voice a little soft in parts on opening night but no doubt will be rectified as the show progresses.
The utter cad of the evening was La Marquise’s ex-lover Le Vicomte de Vaimont played by Rowan Howard. A great performer, good stage presence, superb acting and portraying the utterly evil character with distinction.
His target one was the innocent 15 year old Cécile de Volanges, just out of convent school. Cécile was played by Genie Koulaeva.  A good performance handling the change from the innocent young lady to well you will have to see the production.
Very well handled and change of character exceedingly well done.
 Cécile’s mother, the very strict Madame de Volanges was given a good performance by Catherine Christensen. Handling such a role with finesse and working well with the rest of the cast.
Pedro Ramos was the Vicomte’s servant Azolan. Ramos caught the essence of such a character giving a great portrayal of the servant enjoying his master’s affairs and not hesitating to assist when required.
The Marquise’s second target was the married and faithful La Présidente de Touvel played by Gabby Llewelyn Salter. Salter captured the character with finesse really giving the feel of the determined woman sticking to her morals no matter what. A good performance.
Juliet Hayday was Madame de Rosemonde aunt of Vicomte de Vaimont who was also taken in by her nephew. Hayday projects well giving a good understanding of the role and gave a good portrayal.
The costuming was magnificent and hard to believe that this is an amateur company. The scenes were well done and the fight scene was excellent, some good training there.

A great evening of theatre well enjoyed by the opening night audience

Ancient Lights

Peridot Theatre

Director: Bruce Cochrane.

Peridot Theatre chose Shelagh Stephenson’s Ancient Lights for the June season.
A story of an American film star returning to England to catch up with old friends and spend Christmas together.
An unusual set with black curtains in a half circle around the fringe of the stage. A Christmas tree at the rear, one chair and cushions with two doors painted white given a contrast to the black surrounds.
Tom Cavallero, the American film star was given a good positive performance by Greg Barison.
Tom’s old friends are Bea and Kitty. Bea was played by Heather Lynne giving a good performance working well with the other cast members. Lynne has good stage projection and captured the role as envisaged. Kitty was Jeanne Snider, well performed with a good presentation and handled such a role with expertise.
Bea’s partner Tad was played by Tim Murphy. Murphy caught the essence of the character with finesse and was a good balance to the rest of the cast.
Claudia Hruschka was Iona, Tom’s partner. Iona was filming a documentary of Tom Cavallero and upset the whole crowd taking film at every moment. Hruschka caught the role so much so that even the audience were annoyed with her actions. Very well done and she handled the role with professionalism.
Ashleigh Herring was Joni, Bea’s daughter. A teenage girl who wanted to be the centre of attention, was excited to be on camera and would not obey her mother. Herring caught such a character so well that many of the audience talking after the show commented that they would love to have the opportunity to give her a clip over the ears. A great performance by Herring.
A good production with a some language which could upset audiences but was well handled by the players.  


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Sherbrooke Theatre Company
Bookings : 1300 650 209

we have spoken of this before

Director: Denise Wellington

Sherbrooke Theatre Company chose Alex  Brown’s We have spoken of this before to close the 2019 season.
A powerful, haunting and atmospheric work that explores the growing bond between two damaged women., Maggie – scarred by years f loneliness and a wasted but comfortable life, and the girl – a victim of physical, mental and emotional; abuse.
The stage was set as the interior of Maggie’s home. Very well done particularly as the Doncaster Playhouse has a very small stage and hardly any wings.
Maggie  was played by Helen Wentworth who gave a genuine feeling to such a character. Wentworth projected well and caught the nuances of the character.
Lee--Anna was performed by Holly Pretorius who gave a correct interpretation of such a role changing from a dirty shy girl to a rather domineering rather nasty character but was she?
George Benca was Maggie’s husband Phillip. As Phillip he was not happy about the current situation and wanted Lee-Anna out of the house. A good performance of the character changing from not wanting the guest to stay to??
Lee-Anne’s boyfriend Dave was played by Martin Lu. This production was Lu’s only second time on stage and he does have a little more to learn/
A good evening of theatre from Sherbrooke Theatre Company who have performed their last production in the Doncaster Playhouse.


After Dinner

Director: Damian Jones.

Sherbrooke Theatre’s June production was Andrew Bovell’s After Dinner about three female work colleagues meet for dinner and a girl’s night out at the pub on a Friday. Two male bank staff have independently arranged to meet at the same venue…What could possibly go wrong?
Sherbrooke’s set was good as the interior of the rear of a pub bistro where Dymple always sat much to the chagrin of her girlfriend Paula.
The body language of all performers as excellent and really added to the evening. Sharenya S/ Kuma as Paula who wanted to be up front near the band and also wasn’t shy about approaching men. In fact, her body language and here eye expressions were a sheer delight and the audience thoroughly enjoyed her performance ( particularly the men).
Karen Bannon was Dymple, the girl rather pedantic who was primarily interested in getting her meal in spite pf what was going on around her. A difficult role in that Karen was on stage for the role performance and had to play such a pedantic character and keeping in character. Karen rose to the challenge giving an excellent portrayal.
The third girl the recently widowed Monika, was played by Elise D’Amico. A great interpretation of such a character with some funny scenes and a surprise of her widow status.
The men, Gordon and Stephen were played by Lucas Thomas as Gordon and Wahyu Kapa as Stephen.    
 Gordon was recently separated from his wife and was taken out by Stephen and another friend who did not arrive. Lucas gave an excellent portrayal capturing the essence of such a man and dome of his responses to Paula’s advances were a picture.
Stephen, played by Wahyu Kapa, was the confident young bachelor with no intention of settling sown, a brash character but with a secret. Wahyu gave a stirling performance in the role working well with Lucas.
All around this would have to be one of the funniest shows seen for a long time. The audience was in fits of laughter throughout the whole performance.
A great winter night’s entertainment from Sherbrooke Theatre company.  


Neighbourhood Watch

Director: Stephen Barber

STC’s choice of production for the Autumn season was Alan Ayckbourn’s
Neighbourhood Watch.
 An interesting play about a brother and sister moving into a new neighbourhood where they become involved with Neighbourhood Watch. We meet the neighbours, all with their own agenda, and some have marital troubles and as the play moves on it becomes darker and darker.
The story opens with Hilda Massie giving a speech at a ceremony celebrating her brother’s life. Hilda was Played by Emma Barber. Barber gave a good performance as Martin’s sister with a surprise of her character at the end of the play.
Her brother, Martin Massie, was played by Steve Saul. The character Martin changed from a quiet neighbour to an organising, very pedantic and dominating local resident. Saul handled the character and changes of his image with expertise putting on a good portrayal.
 David Dodd was Rod Trusser a member of Neighbourhood Watch and a retired security guard whose ideas went a little beyond the pale. Dodd caught the role  with aplomb giving such a character the correct feeling as written.
Another member was Dorothy Doggett “ I am not one to gossip, but!” A good interpretation by Lisa Upson.
Kenneth Brown was Gareth Janner, a shy man with a great interest in medieval torture machines of which knowledge came to the fore during the play. A very good interpretation of such a person, giving the audience a feel of such a character.
His wife Amy was played by Peta Owen. A good interpretation but sometimes a little too over the top.
Stephanie King, as Magda Bradley, was the persecuted and occasionally beaten wife. King handled the role with ease giving a good performance as the quiet, inoffensive wife until the end then a surprise. Her husband Luther Bradley was given a great interpretation by Tony Clayton. Originally coming across as the only appearing normal man in the estate but as the evening went on he showed his true colours. A good performance.
An interesting evening of one of Alan Ayckbourn’s rather darker plays but thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.


The Old People are Revolting

Director: Emma Barber

A play set in a retirement home where the inhabitants are to lose their council discount and the result of same. The residents decide to cede from their country under the United Nations Charter and form their own country.
The set was the Common Room of the retirement home. Well set and furnished as expected.
Patricia, the former High Court Judge was played by Clare Hutton. A fair performance but perhaps a little too strong. Howie a dormer car salesman and rather crass was played by Alan Ashby. who played the character as written but the said character was a little too crude and obvious.
 Shirley a former union type of the 69’s suffering from drugs and wild living was played by Jennifer Mettner. Jennifer caught the role as envisaged playing it over the top as expected.
Kerry Parkinson was Peggy, A kind woman who was never separated from her latest cross stitch project. Parkinson gave a fine performance as Peggy.
Doug, a retired farmer who had regrets about selling his trailers but loved the idea of blowing things up. Barney Fife did a good job of such a role where Doug was not interested in being part of the group but did join them.
Elisabeth was a dementia suffering resident. Ann-Marie Eastman really captured the character casing he audience great laughs every time she entered the scene. And as Queen Elizabeth her character changed with her air of Royalty coming to the fore.
Anna Plane was the young local TV news reporter, Ashley Hardwicke, trying to make a name for herself and becomes sympathetic to the residents; cause. A good capture of the role and worked well with he other cast members.
The play was not a good choice for Sherbrooke Theatre. It was too over the top, no subtlety and far too overdone in some of the crass sections. The cast did what they could with such a play but one feels it should be rewritten. It has the basics of a good play but does need a lot of work.


It's a Dad Thing

herbrooke Theatre company’s March production was the comedy It’s a Dad Thing.
A story f five young father’s getting together to build an adventure playground for the local kids.
Getting together they each tell their stories of pre-birth, the birth, after and how it affected their and their families lives.
 Kirby Chenhall was Brian, Greg Allen was Matt, Brandon Smart was Geofff, Wahya Kapa was James, Ty Frost was Michael.
The stage was simply set with artificial grass representing the park, three stools moved around as required, and then over the play a playground consisting of a lighthouse, pier and pirate chip was constructed.
The players were evenly matched al giving good and amusing performances. IN some scenes with the aid of wigs and in one instance a white nurse’s uniform where the wigged ones portrayed the wives.
The comments about life before, during ad after the babes were born were absolutely hysterical with the actors really getting the feel of the characters. Each gave great interpretations of their character capturing all the finer nuances of their moments in their child’s life.
One good scene was reminiscing about the old car with each player playing the part of the car such as the engine, dashboard, etc. with one as the driver/owner.. A very successful and funny scene well handled by the cast. Greg Allen as Matt is also a guitar player and in two scenes he played his guitar while the cast sang with the words written for the play.
A very successful and funny evening and it was odds on who laughed the loudest, the ladies or the men.  



And the Big Men Fly

Director (Coach): Tony Bird.

Sherbrooke Theatre Company’s choice of production for the July season was an old Australian classic, Alan Hopgood’s And the Big Men Fly.
A story of a local football team the Galahs who are always losing, then the recruiting officer hears of a man in Manatang who can barefoot drop kick a bag of wheat across 90 feet. Just what the team needs except that this farmer is not interested in footy and does not want to play.
STC has a very small stage and your reviewer is still surprised how the company sets it.
ON audience left was the Galah’s President’s desk. Audience right was the kitchen of the farmer Achilles Jones and centre stage was the broadcast box of the local radio station. Above the box was a screen which was put to amazing use in the commentary of the various football matches. The director, Tony Bird, had found many old photos of football games from around the State and suburbs and when the commentator commented on the various plays still pictures of the said plays appeared on the screen. An excellent job of continuity and projection.
David Buchanan was J. J. Forbes, the Galah’s Club President. Buchanan gave an outstanding performance of such a coach, out to get his team the Grand Final flag regardless of cost and helping his own ambitions for the future.
His offsider and recruiting manager Wally Sloss played by Barney Fife was brilliantly executed. Fife captured all the finer nuances of the character and joined his boss in the enthusiasm of the new recruit.
The new recruit, Achilles Jones was not what one called too bright. A strong young man who preferred to play football in bare feet. Sam Carr was Achilles giving a wonderful performance capturing the feel of the character with aplomb. Projecting well and had a good rapport with Kathryn Brown as his girlfriend Lil.
Kathryn Brown gave a great interpretation of her role as Achilles’ girlfriend but one who to keep him playing told a few little untruths about his feuding neighbours.
This showed Brown’s scope as an actor with the contrasts of a devoted girlfriend to a girl who was worried about what the outcome of her little white lies might be.
Warren Burford was the radio commentator Harry Head. Seated centre stage one would have thought that he was a professional radio presenter with the standard of acting he gave the role. A good portrayal. His offsider and trouble maker Wobbly Coates was played by Stephen Barber. Barber projects well and gave a stirling performance in such a role.
Andrew Scarborough was Les, Achilles’ feuding neighbour, only a small role but vital to the storyline and well interpreted by Scarborough.
The foyer of the theatre was well decorated by the club colours and the program was a copy of the old Football Record with on page three a football field laid out with the players and crew listed as if positioned in the players positioned as in play.
The Director was listed as Coach adding to the authenticity of the Football Record and also the performers were listed under Players Profiles.  
An interesting and well done interpretation of And the Big Men Fly.


Streel Magnolias

Director: Dexter Bourke.

STC’s Autumn play was Robert Hardin’s Steel Magnolias.
Set in the late 1980’s in Truvey’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana where the all the ladies who are ‘anybody’ come to have their hair done.
 STC had a stage set of such a beauty salon, with the hair washing area audience right, the two tables for hair setting in the middle and the waiting area audience right. A well set stage and perfect for the play.
Jenny Lutz was the proprietor Truvy. Lutz caught the essence of the beauty salon owner who was a friend and a good listener to all her customers. A good portrayal.
Her new assistant a young girl just moved into the town was Annelle, played by Georgie Mitchell. Mitchell gave a good performance in the role and came across as the shy, newcomer she was.
Jackie Hutchison was the rich lady of the town, Clairee who owned the local football team and then added the radio station to her agenda. Hutchison projects well and handled the character with aplomb.
Angela Trakyla was M’Lynn, a worried mother and a regular at Truvey’s Beau6ty Salon. Trakyla gave a nice and professional performance of such a character.
Her daughter, Shelby, was played by Tiffany Pickthall. Shelby was a young lady about to be married but there was a health problem. Pickthall gave an impressive performance as the young bride-to-be and what happened after the wedding. A great interpretation of the character.
The old misery of the ladies was Ouiser who once said “I am not cross I have just been bad-tempered for 40 years”.  Janet Withers as Ouiser really captured such a character and was loved by the audience.
 A moving play with all the elements expected of good theatre, well directed and enjoyed by the opening night audience.


Last Cab to Darwin

Director: Stephen Barber

STC’s final show for 2916 was Reg Cribb’s Last Cab to Darwin.
A story of a Broken Hill cab driver finding that he has cancer and wishes to take advantage of the new Northern Territory’s euthanasia laws.
STC has a white screen to stage rear on which was projected scenes of pubs and roads from Broken Hill to Darwin. Other sets comprised of various pieces of furniture moved in and out as required.
Max, the cab driver, was played by Damian Jones. An excellent interpretation of a man dying of cancer and driving to Darwin from Broken Hill about 3000 kilometres. Jones caught the feeling of such a character and as the evening progressed so sis his agony from he cancer which was well portrayed by Jones.
 His neighbour in Broken Hill, Polly, was played by Liz Matthews. A good performance of the aboriginal neighbour and even her voice gave one the feeling she was an original Australian.
A team of 10 actors played several roles each. All gave great performances in their various roles adding to the high standard of the evening.
A moving play with an unexpected finish. It is the stage version of the well-known film of the same name.
 A good finish to 2016 by Sherbrooke Theatre Company.


The Importance of Being Earnest

Director: Emma Barber

Sherbrooke Theatre Company’s August choice of production was Oscar Wilde’s famous The Importance of being Earnest.
A story of two young men, their prospective wives and their secret life.
The stage was used to full advantage with three sites, Algernon’s London house, the Manor House garden and the Manor House morning room. This was achieved by STC’s use of a projector and stage rear screen and respective furniture suiting each occasion on stage.
Jack Bell was Algernon Moncrieff, a smooth worker with few scruples. Bell gave a great performance as such a character capturing the essence required for the role.
Rohan Dimsey was jack Worthing, a fine man with a Manor House in the country and a house in London. In the country he was Jack but in London he was Earnest. Dimsey caught the role with aplomb and professionalism giving a good performance of the character.
Tony Bird was the butler Lane in the city and Merriman in the country. Bird had the correct stage presence for both roles which were quite different and Bird carried same with professionalism giving a stirling performance.
Gwendolen Fairfax, Jack Worthington’s intended, was played by Hannah Bird who gave a fine interpretation of the nuances of Gwendolen. Another good portrayal.
Cecily Cardew, Jack Worthing’s ward, was given a good portrayal with a good stage presence by Kathryn Brown.
A highlight of this play and indeed of this presentation is the role of Algernon Moncrieff’s aunt Lady Bracknell. A dominating character who expects every order to be obeyed without hesitation. Liz Matthews gave an outstanding performance as the character really capturing the envisaged feel of Lady Bracknell.
Miss Prism, Cecily Cardew’s teacher, was portrayed by Anna Plane who played the role with finesse, capturing the correct feel of the single mature woman with a secret.
The local canon, Dr Chasuble, was well played by Andrew Scarborough who projects well and was very convincing as the clergyman rather keen on Miss Prism.
A well done smooth flowing show enjoyed by the audience.



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12 Angry Men

Stageworx presented the first show for 2021 with the production of 12 Angry Men.
In a sweltering New York jury room, aw men collide in a bitter battle of wits Nand morals that will decide the fate of a young man’s life.
!! men have already made their minds up. He is guilty. The 12th man is not so sure and votes NOT GULITY.
The stage was set as a jury rook in a sweltering summer. On audience right there was a water cooler well made use of during the performance. Audience left was a wall with a clock which played a role in the story. The rear wall at opening and during the production acted as movie screen showing the film clips from various race protests in the USA. When not a movie screen was a rear wall with windows showing New York views. Audience right to the rear was the door into the jury room and hanging space for coats next to the door on rear wall.
A cast of 13 with one as the  security man opening and shutting the door when required.
!2 Actors played the jurors. Each played the role of the different characters of such a mix of personalities. One could not say which performer was better than the other as they all gave not only good but excellent performances of the roles they were give.
The characteristics of each juryman were bought to the fore with some brilliant scenes and no bad scenes. The strain of the performers was terrific with tempers ranging, nearly fighting between jurors, a cold miserable Melbourne night and the cast having to convince themselves and the audience that it is a steaming hot New York summer day.
This was done very successfully, and the show is not one to be missed. Extremely well directed and performed, certainly making up for a lost year thanks to COVID-19.


Exit Laughing

Director: Trish Carr

Stageworx choice of play for July was Paul Elliot’s Exit Laughing.
A story of four friends who for the past 30 ears have had a weekly card night. Unfortunately one of the quartet had the temerity to die. Millie then decides that Marie (now deceased ) is cot going to miss the card night, so she sneaks into the funeral parlour and brings the urn containing Mary’s ashes to the weekly card night.
Stageworx produced a good evening of entertainment with a well set stage,  a good cast  and a smooth flowing show.
Connie was played by Lisa Upson. Connie had a teenage daughter who was just stood up by her boyfriend and was in rather a state. Lisa gave a good portrayal of the mother and friend.
Her daughter, Rachel Ann was played by Georgie Mitchell. A great performance of a young lady who doesn’t really understand the adult world and receives quite a shock at the end of the first act.
Leona the other player in the card game was performed by Jennifer Mettner. Another good interpretation of such a role. Millie, who broke into the funeral parlour and stole Mary’s ashes and was not too bright. Judith Sivasubramaniaum captured the character with finesse giving an amusing and good portrayal.
An unusual and unexpected portrayal was by Kendall Brown as Bobby. Kendall handled such a role with aplomb in giving not only the audience a surprise but the ladies of the card club and not the least, Rachel Ann.
A good evening of theatre and Stageworx is a company not to be missed.



Director: Trish Carro

An interesting play about Carl being driven crazy by her ex-husband, Victor, and his new wife who employ every trick in the book to end Carol’s $1000. a week alimony.
Stageworx set builders developed a great set of the interior of Carol’s flat. Well furnished and suitable of the period. Lighting was spot on adding to the high standard of the production.
Tabitha Veness was Carol Sterling, the divorcee trying to renew her life and keep her $1000 a week alimony. Veness captured the character as envisaged giving a good well balanced performance. Carol’s ex, Victor Stirling, was played by Garry Bertrand who handled the role with finesse giving the correct feel of the said character.
Victor’s solicitor Rick Burrows, who was not quite the man Victor thought he was, was played by Michael Fenemore.  Fenemore as Rick charmed the leading ladies (with an ulterior motive) and was given a good performance in the role.
Victor’s new wife Claudia Sterling was given a great interpretation of the young woman married to a much older man, Her portrayal was a pleasure to see and she really caught the essence of  a young bride, but with a secret which surprised all.
Dean Mtrousis was Sonny (Stanley) Stirling, Victor and Carol’s son and worked for his father who kept him down. Mtrousis was the hopeless son capturing the essence of such a character. A good portrayal.
Ashleigh Boyce was Vicki Sterling, Carol and Victor’s daughter. Vicki was better thought of than her brother and Boyce gave a great performance as the daughter who helped plot with her brother the final result.
A play of plots and twists well performed and not easy in such an intimate theatre.


SSTAGStrathmStrathmore Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group ore Theatrical Arts Group
Bookings: 61 3 9361 0562

Fool for Love

Director: Reschelle O’Connor

For the February production STAG chose Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love.
A story of two former lovers reunited under less than ideal circumstances for an encounter that is far from simple.
Set in a sleazy motel in the Mojave desert in the 90s.
|ATAG; designer and construction team created a realistic interior of such a motel. The lighting added to the effect of the desert where the play is set. The soundtrack of cars and trucks was also very effective.
Only four players with Henry Young as Eddie, Marniesa Martinez as Eddies lover, May, Darren Gregor as the Old Man and Shane Grubba as Martin.
Henry Young gave a terrific performance as  Eddie capturing the essence of the bully boy type who was rather brutal to May.
Marniesa Martinez handled the role of May with the correct feeling and showed May’s love and anger for Eddie with genuine feeling. The pair had a great rapport and some of their scenes were rather violent and it is amazing how they got through the production without suffering bruises at least.
The Old Man sat off stage on audience right now and then adding a little of Eddie’s and May’s family history. Darren Gregor looked the part of an old man and gave a good performance in the role.
May’s boyfriend, Martin, was given a strong and realistic performance by Shane Grubba, capturing the puzzlement of who Eddie was and why was May so interested in Eddie.
A no interval play which when viewing same an interval would have been superfluous.
Very well done and setting a high standard for STAG to follow for 2020.



Death by Eating

Director: Mel De Bono

The play, written by local playwright Cenarth Fox, id about big business running a tobacco company and with the health risks becoming too great for the company to make money they go into the packet food business until what happens to the packet food business,…
The stage was well set a s international tobacco company conference room. Well set by S.T.A.G.
The boss of the company J.B. was excellently played by Mark Stratford who caught the finer nuances of the hardened businessman who had no worries about the health f customers but only worried about the best way to make money out of the product regardless. An outstanding performance from Mark.
  Heap a younger version of JB but does have a slight twinge of conscience with the tobacco results to health, Then when the company changes to the food market his conscience is appeased, and he turns back to his former unscrupulous self. Heap was played by Christopher Dossor who also gave an outstanding performance of such a character.
Tix was the marketing guru not worried by the overall effects on health of the product she was marketing but worried about sales and how they could find the right idea to flog off a dangerous subject.
Played by Samantha Reynolds who really captured such a portrayal of the marketing guru.
Shadow was the lobbyist of the firm who took up the “good” side of whatever product the company had investment in/ Luke Smith was Shadow also adding to the high standard of the evening with his portrayal of such a role.
Only four players and all projected well, working well with each other and giving the audience a wonderful evening of theatre.
The Director Mel De bono came out of retirement when he read the show and was very pleased to do so. Which was proved by the production that was so successful;>
The author, Cenarth Fox, really caught the essence of big business who did not care what the results of the product led to but more worried about sales and how they could get around the law. The evening did make one think about what we buy!  


Children of the Wolf

Director: Michele Haywood

STAG’s choice of play for August was John Peacock’s Children of the Wolf.
A thrilling unusual play which takes its influence from the myth of Romulus and Remus.
Twins Robin and Linda were given up for adoption shortly after birth by their mother Helena. Year later, on their 21st birthday, they lure Helena to a derelict building on the pretext that she will be meeting her lover, Michael. The reality is rather different.,
this play is not suitable for anyone under 16.
STAG’s set was absolutely amazing. Compliments must go to Tony Leatch who built the set and Wes Sandford who painted it.  
The set was the interior of a deserted house in England of the 1970s. It consisted of a bare room with two windows on audience left a door at rear and another door audience right side rear. The walls were wallpaper peeling, Lath wood showing in different areas and the whole effect was of misery and drabness, one could nearly smell the mustiness. Excellently done.
The twins were Robin and Linda. Robin was played by Samuel Chappel. Samuel gave a great portrayal of such a character who was dominated by his sister but on occasion stood up for himself. Samuel captured the finer nuances if such a role giving a good performance.
Linda was played by Kadey McIntosh. What a performance, as Linda who was a scheming, manipulative twin who had no redeeming features. An energetic role with plenty of violence and Kadey handled the character with a genuine feel giving a superb portrayal in the role that ne would not like to entertain this girl in one’s home.
Their mother, Helena, was played by Michelle Tanner. Poor Michelle, she really suffered for this role. Another wonderful portrayal ranging from cockiness to utter despair and plenty of physical suffering. Michelle captured such a character with expertise adding to the standard of the evening.
The last actor Wes Standford, who played Michael had a very tiny part but without which the production would not have worked. A good interpretation. This show is not for the squeamish.
A great show, no interval as it would break the tension. And STAG has done it again with a wonderful evening of theatre,


The Female of the Species

Director: Mark Stratford.

Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group August choice of play was Joanna Murray-Smith’s The Female of the Species. Loosely based on an incident in the life of Germaine Greer where Germaine was held hostage by a crazed teenager though this is hotly denied by the author.
The play is set in Margot Mason’s study which was excellently portrayed by the S.T.A.G. team Doors to the audience left and French doors centre rear with views across the countryside. Molly’s desk was on audience right and there, naturally for a writer several filled book cases.
Margot was played by Veronica Hannebery who had a somewhat uncomfortable part being handcuffed and chained to her desk for most of the play. Hannebery has good stage projection and captured the role with finesse.
Her nemesis, Molly the teenage student who blamed Margo for the death of her mother and her own struggle with life was played by Kirsten Page. A great interpretation of the role with Page really getting into the feel of such a character. Madeline Barwick was Margot’s daughter Tess who also had mixed feelings about her mother. Barwick projects well and gave a good and understanding portrayal of such a character.
Bryan, Margot’s son-in-law, a steady but as a businessman was away a lot from his family, was played by Lachlan Mason. Mason caught the essence of such a character giving a good performance. The taxi driver Frank also had issues was played by Gilbert Gauci who gave a good interpretation of such a role.
Margo’s publisher, Theo, was played by Dennis Hine St Clair. St. Clair presents well giving a good portrayal of Margot’s publisher and as events proved a surprising memory from Margot’s past.
S.T.A.G. gave a good evening of theatre enjoyed by the audience.

Close of Play

Director: Mel De Bono

Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group and Director Mrl De bono choice of play for the August season was Simon Gray’s dark comedy of bad manners Close of Play.
A very apt title for the choice as after directing 70 plays which includes 17 musicals not to mention as an actor appearing in 49 plays plus films, TV and opera, Mel De Bono is hanging up his hat and retiring from directing. He assured your correspondent that he will still be seen front of house and perhaps behind the scenes.
A story of Sir Jasper Spencer who cannot move and sits in a chair being unable to enter or perhaps not even knowing what is going in. His family visit and out comes the unnecessary truth about each member.
\Mel De Bono plays Sir Jasper who is unable to move or talk. Mel sat in a chair all through the performance without moving a muscle, except a slight turning of the head, no matter what was said or action taken.
Daisy was played by Margaret Rawlinson, Daisy looked after Sir Jasper and managed the house. A good performance giving the correct feel to the frustrations when the rest of the family ignored her instructions.
Matthew’s mother Jenny, who wanted to take her son away from the family was well played by Hayley Martin who projected well as the doting mother.
Gilbert Gauci was Matthew, a quiet boy who had a secret. Gauci presented well capturing the essence of the character.
Margaret, the wife of Benedict, was a successful novelist, and was played by Chloe Leah. A good performance capturing the correct feel of the character more interested in writing than family life.
Benedict, her husband, was played by Rhys Purdey. An upcoming alcoholic who was trying unsuccessfully to give up the drink was excellently handled by Purdey. Henry, brother to Benedict and a doctor who was always o call for different reasons that came to life during the play, was played by Chris Dosser. A well done portrayal capturing the trying to reform drinker but when offered a glass of Scotch has some difficulties. Benedict’s wife Marianne, who was pregnant and mother of several children was given a wonderful pereformance43 by Michelle Tanner. Tanner really gave the audience the portrayal of pregnancy with all the correct body language and upset about Margaret’s attitude on family.
A well done play well appreciated by the audience and a good farewell for Director, Mel De Bono.


Come Blow Your Horn

Director: Mark Stratford.

Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group’s autumn choice of play was Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn. A story of two young men one a playboy and the other a quiet homebody but!
A good set of a bachelor New York apartment with requisite furnishings suiting the period.
Alan Baker, the playboy brother was given a good interpretation by Rhys Purdey. Purdey has a good stage presence and a great rapport with Gilbert Gauci who played the younger brother Buddy. Gilbert Gauci as Buddy had a change of personality which was handled professionally. Both players as brothers worked extremely well together giving the feel that they were really brothers. This added to the success of the evening.
Julia Greacon was Alan’s not so bright girlfriend who tended to believe everything she was told. A good portrayal of such a role and Greacon captured the character with finesse.
Roderick Chappel was Mr Baker, the boy’s father who wanted his sons to marry and run their share of the business. Chappel gave a fair performance capturing the essence of the Jewish father who knew he was right no matter what his sons’ opinion might be. Gail Grove was the boys’ mother who could see both sides of the family and worried about the conflict between the boys and their father. A good portrayal.
Alan Baker’s other girlfriend Connie who he was a little more serious about was played by Claire Maree Ross, who caught the character as envisaged giving a stirling performance.
The woman was played by Tara McCarthy also handling the role with expertise.
An enjoyable evening thoroughly appreciated by the opening night audience.


Killing Jeremy

Director: Kris Weber

S.T.A.G. opened the 2016 season with Bridgette Barton’s Killing Jeremy  a story of Jeremy in intensive care after a car accident and a decision whether or not to turn off the life saving equipment.
The play opened in the round with the audience situated in a U shape with a hospital bed in the centre. The stage was used with a multi screen showing hospital scenes and the car accident. The setting was well used in the performance.
Jeremy was played by Xavier Ryan. Initially lying helpless in bed but as the play progresses moving from the past to the present Ryan had several roles carrying the changes very efficiently and capturing the essence of the character with finesse.
His partner Madeline, who was responsible for the accident, was played by Melanie Rowe who gave a stirling performance also having to play several roles. Portraying several roles is very difficult given that the players have to change characters immediately Both Ryan and Rowe handled these changes professionally giving audience pleasing performances.


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West Australia

Fawlty Towers

Reviewer: Brian Amos
Radio Eastern 98.1 FM

On Saturday September 12 I had the opportunity to go along to the Rockingham Theatre Company to see their production of Fawlty Towers 3. This was a wonderful evening of non-professional theatre with all the actors fulfilling their roles in a very professional way.
The action takes place and is centered on the Reception, Dining Room and Kitchen areas. Andy Walker as Basil Fawlty gave an outstanding performance of his role. Alison Gibson as Sybil Fawlty made you wonder if you were not watching the TV performer in person as her interpretation of the role was outstanding. Polly, played by Lorraine Craig gave a stirling performance in her role, as did Manuel played by Terry Winter. He played this role to the minute and gave a superb performance. Major Gowen was played by Barry Page who gave a most impressive performance. The part of Miss Tibbs was played superbly by Lorraine Page and it was great to see Lorraine treading the boards again. Another great performance was given by Roison Perrin as Miss Gatsby. To all the other players, congratulations as you all gave 100% in your roles.
During the performance the stage set has to be rebuilt with doors placed in the set and stairs removed and other set alterations and this was carried out with speed and perfection.
Rockingham Theatre Company also serves High Tea at interval, and this was more a meal than interval refreshments. I congratulate Rockingham Theatre Company for the welcome and the opportunity to see a first rate play performed by this company. If you are ever in Rockingham West Australia check out to see if there will be a production running and book to have a great night of non--professional theatre.

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The Australian Ballet

The Australian Ballet’s final choice for 2016 was Coppélia.
A story of Doctor Coppėlius, a toymaker, and a village couple Franz and Swanilda.
Opening in the village square where the villagers are preparing for the Harvest Festival.
An amazing set of a village square with hoses, a town square and church.. The dancing was excellent, timing spot on and Dimitry Azoury’s, as Franz, grand jettes made him seem to float in the air. Ty King-Wall as Swanilda was a sheer delight; her solos were perfect, her acting very good and a great rapport with Franz.
Act II was inside Doctor Coppėlius’s  house where the village boys and girls broke into see what the Doctor was up to. Another amazing set with life size dolls (the dancers) all portraying the various dolls. Swanilda takes the place of the mechanical doll that Doctor Coppelius calls his daughter. Swanilda not only a great dancer but a good sense of the comique when putting on the act.
Act III is next morning outside the church for the wedding of Franz and Swanilda.
The full company on stage with the corps de ballet dancing with full control, timing excellent and giving the impression of enjoying themselves.
A good finish to 2016 by The Australian Ballet Company. .



Photo Jeff busby


The Australian Ballet

Choreographer: Alexei Ratmansky
Music: Sergei Prokofiev.
Designer: Jérŏme Kaplan.

The Australian ballet commissioned Alexei Ratmansky to redo Cinderella.
And what a success! A three part ballet updated by leaving out the mice etc and no pumpkin coach. Instead a trip around the planets skilfully done with the aid of film and clever costuming.
The stepmother and stepsisters remain and nearly brought the house down. Amy Harris was Cinderella’s stepmother catching the essence of the character with finesse. Harris’s dancing was charming and excellent suiting the occasions of the various scenes as required. The two stepsisters Skinny and Dumpy were dances by Robyn Hendricks and Helen Hills. Their dancing was exquisite and timing was spot on. The hair styles would have played havoc with their balance but as true artists they appeared very comfortable in their roles.
Cinderella was danced by Lana Jones. A charming portrayal and when she appeared at the ball her pas de duex with Daniel Gaudiello were a perfect example of the art of ballet. Their performance was exemplary and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The opening scene in the palace was with the men in suits and the ladies also in business style suits. When the stepmother and stepsisters arrive they find they are out of touch and go to change. Meanwhile the others have changed to ball gowns so the step trio are still out of fashion. Their performances in this scenes were a sheer delight.
The dancing was a very high standard with dome unusual chorography that suited the story line.
The three scenes commenced in Cinderella’s home. Second scene was the Prince’s ball and scene three was the Prince searching the world for Cinderella.
The opening scene at the home was quite musing with dance teacher danced by Ben Davis trying to teach the sisters how to dance and behave at the Royal Ball while poor Cinderella is bringing ion the washing and cleaning up.  The dance scenes were a delight and quite funny.
Some magnificent set work with the Prince travelling by ship, train and car searching for the girl who left at midnight. This was done by projections giving the feeling of nearly life size ship, train and car.
The Australian Ballet has presented a magnificent evening of ballet but one will have to wait til it comes around again as the Melbourne season has sold out.   



Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake

Adam Bull & Amber Scott

Choreographer: Graeme Murphy
Artistic Director: David McAllister
Music Director: Nicolette Fraillon.

June saw The Australian ballet present Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake.
An update of the original story with the young Odette realising that her affianced Prince Siegfried is in love with certain Baroness. Already fragile Odett4e becomes so distressed that by royal command she is committed to a sanatorium.
Odette was danced by Amber Scott who gave an outstanding performance. Not only is Amber an excellent dancer her acting really caught the soul of such a character as Odette, Her dance scenes with Adam Bull as Prince Siegfried were the perfect example of partnership in ballet. The grande jettes from both were remarkable and the pair had a wonderful rapport which enhanced their performance.
Act 1 was the wedding scene in a park overlooked by mountains. A very well done set. The company dancers gave their all and the standard of the company is high and well appreciated by the audience.
Act 2 was the sanatorium with walls taking up each side of the stage with an alcove in the centre where Odette looked out across the lake of swans. A very dramatic scene when Prince Siegfried comes to visit.
Act 3 was an evening with the Baroness where Odette appears and takes over. Amber Scott was brilliant in this Act dancing from man to man and teasing the Prince.
The Baroness was danced by Lana Jones who also gave a stunning performance. The scenes with the two ladies fighting over the Prince were an absolute delight with the pas de trois a magnificent example of the dance.
Act 4 was set around the lake where Prince Siegfried realises he really does love Odette but it is too late. Some wonderful dance sequences in this scene as Odette disappears and the Prince realises that he has los her forever.  



Australian Ballet

Vanguard three ballets, The Four Temperaments, Bella Figura, and Dyad.
The Four Temperaments is subtitled A Dance without Plot and is an expression in dance and music of the ancient notion that the human organism is made up of four different humours or temperaments...
The stage had no sets just black tabs and black rear. The dancers were in black and white tights and leotards.
An amazing performance by the dancers, timing spot on and all gave a very high standard.
Bella Figura still a plain stage but the costumes were red dresses and topless for both male and female dancers. Again the dancers were delightful to watch and the standard remained equally high. Adding to the music this dance was added to by singers. With soprano Janet Todd and mezzo soprano Margaret Trubiano. This, although unusual, added to the production.
Dyad had the rear of the stage in black and white with the dancers dressed in white tights and leotards with black dots. The level of dance was even and the dancers showed their ability to the fullest.
A great evening of ballet enjoyed by the midweek audience


2 One Another

Sydney Dance Company

Choreographer: Rafael Bonachela

2One Another is about the experience of connecting and disconnecting.
This was exhibited through the dance and the setting. The only props were a bank of LED lights at stage rear and spotlights each side. These were efficiently used with the rear wall being a solid bank of lights or a single line following the dancers across the stage or mood moments and colour changing as the costume colours changed.
The dancers were in grey leotards and moved with precision and good timing. Various moves across the stage in groups from each side alternating and using dome unusual chorography.
The scenes changed from many dancers to pas de deux, pas de trios and small groups..
The body movements seemed to be rather distorted from the normal ballet movements with floor rolling, contortion type exercises plus a few lifts.
The stage was darker than normal giving a shadow effect and with the lighting backdrop changing with the music produced an interesting theatrical effect.
Part way through the performance the company changed to red costumes and the lighting changed accordingly.     
An interesting evening by the Sydney Dance Company and was enjoyed by the audience judging by the applause.


Swan Lake

Amber Scott, Adam Bull, photo Jeff Busby Adam Bull, Amber Scott Photo Jeff Busby

The Australian Ballet

Choreographer: Stephen Baynes.


September saw the State Theatre host The Australian Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. As 2012 is the 50th year of The Australian Ballet the company decided on Swan Lake as it was the first ballet performed by the company and the first live simulcast broadcast by the ABC.
A story of a Prince who falls in love with a girl Odette who has been condemned to be a swan for all but a few hours a night. Only a vow of true love and fidelity can break the spell.
Prince Siegfried was danced by Andrew Killen. An outstanding performance with his grand jettes making him seemingly float through the air. Killen’s acting also was excellent and his pas de deux with Lana Jones was a joy to behold.
Lana Jones was Odette the young lady under the magician’s spell and Odile the evil magician’s daughter who wins Prince Siegfried’s heart. Jones is a delightful and expert dancer with wonderful solos and pas de deux. After each movement the dancers had to interrupt their performance for bows acknowledging the audience applause. This is something not really seen before and happened after nearly every item.
A highlight was the dance of the cygnets. Reiko Homo, Eloise, Jessica Fyfe and Jade Wood gave a wonderful interpretation with perfect timing and projection.
The ballroom scenes were well executed with good performances from the corps de ballet. There were some acting appearances by Terese Power as Siegfried’s nurse and her husband played by Colin Peasley.  Guest artist Lisa Bolte, as the Swan Queen, showed that she has not lost her grace and artistry with her role.
As a celebration of 50 years Swan Lake was a great success also showing the love Melbourne audiences have for the classic dance.


Bangarra Dance Theatre

Artistic Director: Stephen Page
Choreographer: Francis Rings

Described as a hymn to country Terrain transports us to Lake Eyre the place of Australia’s inland sea; one of the few untouched natural waterways in the world. Bangarra explores the relationship of indigenous people to country and how landscapes become a second skin.
By the use of nine dances Bangarra conveyed the image of relationship with skill and talent showing the expertise of this outstanding Australian company.
The dancers excelled in their numbers with wonderful timing, a great rapport added to by their high dance standard.
One number caught the audience’s attention was the second dance that of Shields.
Danced by the men’s ensemble and reflecting the struggle for Land Rights the dancers appeared carrying shields. By judicious use of the shields they represented the struggle between cultures. They lined up opposite each other and fought battles. The timing was impeccable and the dances were well choreographed. This brought to the stage the real feeling of the struggle our indigenous population has to go through to get recognition.
The only contribution to sets was a backdrop changing with each dance. The lighting was just as required and on reading the program we are told that Karen Norris went to Lake Eyre where the feeling of the area gave the rendition of the lighting we viewed on the night.
A very successful opening night with a standing ovation from the Melbourne opening night audience.




The Australian Ballet


Don Quixote

Choreographer: Rudolph Nureyev.

The Australian Ballet’s choice to open the 2013 Melbourne season was Don Quixote originally specially choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev for The Australian Ballet.
A three part ballet set in the house of Don Quixote, the Port of Barcelona, the plain of Montiel, Dulcina’s garden and a tavern outside the town.
The sets were very accurate really giving the essence of the area portrayed.
Don Quixote was performed by guest artist Stephen Heathcote who also coached the leading dancers. His performance was great in capturing the character of the somewhat deluded Don Quixote.
Two outstanding performers were Daniel Gaudiello as Basilio, the barber and the love of his life Kitri, danced by Lana Jones.
The highlight of the ballet was the pas de deux in the final act by Daniel and Lana. A pair of dancers with a great rapport, the grand jete’s were magnificent, their overall dancing held the audience breathless and at the end of their number the applause held the up the production for quite a while. Not only was their dancing terrific but they managed to keep the expressions suitable to the respective roles completely natural, not always easy when dancing so strenuously
Matthew Donnelly was the rich nobleman Gamache, who the inn keeper wanted his daughter to marry. Gamache was an absolute fop and as such Kitri, the innkeeper’s daughter wanted nothing to do with him. Matthew caught the correct feel for the character giving a good performance working well with the other dancers.
Another great dance was given by Laura Tong as the street dancer. Her performance was a credit to The Australian Ballet.
Friends of Kitri, danced by Ako Kondo and Reiko Hombo, added to the standard and delight of the evening. Both skilled dancers and they made their dances seem so effortless.
The corps have a high standard and all the performers certainly gave the impression of enjoying themselves being relaxed and as before stated seemingly so effortless.
A wonderful evening of ballet and as the first production makes it hard to wait for the next production.



Calvin Hannaford& corps de balletLana Jones

Celebrating Then Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary the Company decided on three ballets ie icons of The Australian Ballet.
Opening the evening was Sir Robert Helpmann’s The Display. Set in Sherbrooke Forest in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges which is the habitat of Australia’s unique Lyrebird.
The tabs and scrim were the forest and the Lyrebird appeared scratching through the undergrowth for insects, As the Lyrebird Rohan Furnell captured the feel of such a bird moving through the scrub and now and then raiding his remarkable tail which gave the name Lyrebird because of its resemblance to the Lyre,
The choreography was by Sir Robert Helpmann whose notes in the program advised that he spent hours observing lyrebirds in Sherbrooke Forest to get the right actions. This was certainly evinced in Furnell’s performance.
The entry of the Female did not disturb the bird and Rachel Rawlins interpretation of the role was exquisite. A wonderful solo and then later some excellent pas de deux with both Brett Simon and Ty King Wall.
A real life look at Australia’s outlook on life in the 50’s. Set at a picnic in the forest the girls came with food and cushions while the boys went to the opposite of the forest glade where they punched around a football and drank beer. The Leader danced by Brett Simon was paired off with the Female, Rachel Rawlins. Both had a good rapport and their pas de deux were a sheer delight. The Leader went back to his mates to enjoy a beer or two when the outsider entered. Seeing the female by herself he moved in and tried to take over. The Leader didn’t like this and a fight started. Great choreography of the men fighting and the results.
The second icon was Gemini choreographed by Glen TetleyA ballet for four participants and on September 4 was danced by Lana Jones, Adam Bull, Amber Scott and Rudy Hawkes. No sets but just a black background with flesh coloured tights showing off the dance movements to the best. A moving superb dance with the fluidity of the choreography showing the classical moves combined with modern dance. Well received by the audience.
The third icon was Beyond Twelve. choreographed by Graeme Murphy. The first movement Beyond Twelve expresses the decisions and dilemmas facing the pre-adolescent embarking on a career in dance. The stage was set with Australian Football gaol posts and the dancers dressed in footy gear showed their talents in Australia’s great game. Brett Chynoweth as Beyond Twelve showed the talent expected from The Australian Ballet projecting well and a joy to watch.
Beyond Eighteen the third icon was Calvin Hannaford as a teenager. Hannaford gave a remarkable portrayal and showed the talent leading him to the corps de ballet and a dancer to watch in the future.
A comic touch was given by Matthew Donnelly as Mother. A definite touch of a certain Dame Edna Everage in his performance.
An enjoyable evening given by The Australian Ballet in showing the three of their own ballets.



Artistic Director: David McAllister
Music Director and Conductor: Nicolette Fraillon.

The Australian Ballet chose John Cranko’s Onegin for the inclusion in the June program. A story of Eugene Onegin who is bored with life in the big city and has come to the country with his friend Lensky to see if the visit can offer him any distraction.
He meets a quiet country girl, Tatyana, who falls in love with him although he just treats it as a light moment in his visit. Things progress out of control and Onegin finds life is not what he imagines.
The opening scene is set in Madame Larina’s garden where two ladies are gossiping when the neighbourhood girls enter. Olga, Tatyana’s sister is danced by Reiko Hombo. An excellent portrayal with wonderful dancing scenes and capturing the right feeling of mischief as she tries to get Tatyana to join the fun and stop reading all the time. The corps de ballet added to the enjoyment of the e3vening with a high standard of dance and acting.
Lensky and Onegin enter and are introduced. A lovely pas de deux from Madeleine Eastoe as Tatyana and Andrew Killian as Onegin. A well matched couple executing a wonderful example of the dance.
Tatyana’s bedroom scene had some interesting moved with Tatyana at the mirror except there was no glass but another dancer doing the identical moves. Very well done,
Tatyana’s birthday, a magnificent set with a baroque ceiling and very lavish. The whole company on stage with good portrayals of the ballroom dancing and the duets with Lensky danced by Daniel Gaudiello and partnering his fiancé Olga. Also Tatyana and Onegin with Tatyana finding that Onegin is not what he seems. Some great dance movements really telling the story.
A challenge is given and the inevitable duel happens. Onegin then disappears overseas for a few years and returns to find things somewhat changed.
The final act is where Onegin realises that the famous Baroness is the provincial country girl Tatyana. Some interesting scenes adding the high standard of the evening with the great dancing from the company.  



The Australian Ballet opened its 50th year with Infinity a trio of new works with The Narrative of Nothing choreographed by Graeme Murphy. There’s Definitely a Prince Involved choreographed by Gideon Obarzanek after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, Warumuk – In the Dark Night choreographed by Stephen Page.
A contrast of styles from the abstract of Graeme Murphy, the classic and traditional (albeit with a difference) to the indigenous Australian from Bangarra Dance Theatre.
The first of the three was The Narrative of Nothing. Graeme Murphy said he wanted to focus on the body form so he eliminated décor and the sets were lights. Centrally above the dancers was a lighting bar moving across the stage when called for. Each side of the stage were light banks with the lighting coming across in different patterns. This giving an effective enhancement to the dance.
The costumes were colourful and tight fitting successfully highlighting the body movement with the dancers choreographed from classical lines to abstract such as seemingly jerky movements and rolling across the floor reminiscent of waves along a river.
The dancers were superb in this number creating the narrative and illusion as called for.
The second number There’s Definitely a Prince Involved. Initially based on the traditional and classic styles plus costuming to suit and scenery flown in and out to suit the various scenes. Based on Swan Lake with music of Tchaikovsky. Opening the dancers performed the expected balletic style but then! Rather an eye opener for committed ballet fans where one dancer performed in a manner not before seen in ballet. This was also handled by several dancers individually with some expertise and added to the enjoyment of the number certainly bringing laughter to the audience.
The dancers appeared to enjoy their roles and the standard is very high with generally classical movements but not quite at various times. A very enjoyable number.

The third number is Warumuk – In The Dark Night. Choreographed by Stephen Page and performed by the Bangarra Dance Theatre and as Stephen says . Through Bangarra’s relationships with the communities of North East Arnham Land we hope to help rekindle interest in, and encourage all Australians to engage with traditional Aboriginal culture.”
An interesting mixture of traditional dance movements with ballet. The dancers are proficient in both styles and have a sensuous style peculiar to the traditional style. The dancers projected well giving a high standard of performance
An interesting and very unexpected evening of ballet and definitely recommended.



Artistic Director: David McAlister
Executive Director: Valerie Wilder
Music Director & Conductor: Nicolette Fraillon

The Australian Ballet in this the 100th year of the birth of Dame Peggy van Praagh and 20 years since her demise decided to celebrate her contribution to Australian ballet. When Edvard Borovansky died Peggy moved across to Australia to take over the running of The Borovansky Ballet. The last evening of her first season with the company she made an appeal to the audience for support and in the audience was Harold Holt at the time treasurer to the Menzies Government. He went backstage and the result was The Australian Ballet Company.
Peggy also wanted a ballet school attached to the company and local personality Dame Margaret Scott founded the Australian Ballet School and since then the Company has not looked back. In fact on their first world tour the reception in Berlin was such that they created a record in curtain calls which has not been broken up to today.
The choice of ballets to celebrate Dame Peggy’s contribution to Australian ballet with Birthday Celebration, Garland Dance from The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Act one Pas de Deux, Cinderella Extracts and Gala Performance.
Birthday Celebration was performed by members of the company together with students from different levels of the Australian ballet School. A wonderful production showing the upcoming talent of our oncoming dancers.
Garland Dance was performed by Halaina Hills, Andrew Wright and artists from the Australian Ballet. Another well danced piece.
Giselle, Act One Pas De Deux danced by Principal artist Kirsty Martin and soloist Ty King-Wall. An exquisite example of the pas de deux with strong contrast between the dancers. A delight to enjoy.
Cinderella Extracts was danced by Senior Artists Miwako Kubota and Andrew Killian. Another great example of the talent from The Australian Ballet with such a number.
The highlight of the evening was with no doubt Gala Performance.
A ballet spoofing  three haughty ballerinas. The Queen of the dance from Moscow danced by Senior Artist Lana Jones, The Goddess of the Dance from Milan, danced by Principal Artist Danielle Rowe and the daughter of the Terpsichore from Paris Soloist Reiko Hombo. Partner to the Italian ballerina soloist Ty King-Wall, partner to the French ballerina Soloist Tzu-Chao Chou.
A delightful romp with the three ballerinas really going over the top brilliantly to please their audience. The ballerina’s had the correct balance for the over the top role and the exaggeration of the movements nearly had the audience in hysterics.
The background company kept up to the standard set and overall it is a production not to be missed.

The Australian Ballet produced a wonderful and enjoyable thank you to Dame Peggy Van Praagh who in her development of The Australian Ballet made sure she created an original Australian feel to her ballet company. This evening certainly proved that


The Silver Rose


Choreographer: Graeme Murphy.
Composer: Carl Vine

The Silver Rose is Graeme Murphy’s ballet adaptation of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.
Originally choreographed by Murphy for the Bavarian State Ballet it was offered to The Australian Ballet
A three act production with magnificent sets, costumes and lighting. On the evening your correspondent attended Danielle Rowe was The Marschallin, Luke Ingham was her young lover Octavian, Baron Orcha was danced by Adam Bull and Sophie betrothed to the Baron but in love Amber Scott and Sophie’s father was danced by Damien Welch.
Luke Ingham had an unenviable performance as he was on stage for the three acts almost continuously. A wonderful portrayal of the dance showing Ingham’s high standard. Danielle Rowe as the older woman The Marschallin gave a skilful and expert portrayal of an older woman with a young lover but realising that he cannot be hers forever.
Adam Bull gave a fine portrayal of The Marschallin’s impresario capturing the older man looking for a younger woman through his dancing. Amber Scott as the Baron’s fiancée but in love with Octavian gave a delightful interpretation of the young Sophie. Scott’s dancing is improving with each performance and now is a Senior Artist.
A light touch was the Paparazzi Annina a journalist and danced by Robyn Hendricks and Valzacchi the photographer dance by Brett Simon. Both worked excellently together and were a delight to watch.
A very glamorous ballet with extravagant costuming and amazing sets. 
A production highlighting the talents of The Australian Ballet

Paris Match


Suite en Blanc
Choreographer: Serge Lifar.
World Premiere June 19, 1943 by Paris Opera Ballet in Zurich.
Australian Premiere June 11, 1965 by Grande Ballet Classique de France at University Theatre Sydney.

Considered one of the showpiece ballets of the international repertory Suite en Blanc is what people first think what ballet is. The ballerinas all in white and the classical tu tu while the featured male dancers are in white the balance of men wear white tops and black tights.
The Australian Ballet of this classic. The opening was an amazing tableau of all the dancers. The effect just of the opening brought applause from the audience.
Opening with La Siesta exquisitely danced by Natasha Kusen, Vivienne Wong and Juliet Burnett. Followed by Pas de Trois with Danielle Rowe, Andrew Killan and Luke Ingham. Two men and one girl showing the contrast between the male and female dancers.
A plain stage which enhanced the dancers whose performance showed the grace, delicacy and beauty of such a ballet. A beautiful piece of artistry really enjoyed by the audience.

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Sydney Dance Company

Rafael Bonachela’s 360°

360° is the first production created in Australia by Sydney Dance Company’s new Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela. An energetic production bringing to the fore the skills and some gymnastic talents of the Sydney Dance Company.
A short program just on an hour in length with the dancers on stage continually the whole hour. The set was primarily two large mirrors in a V shape with the centre of the V at the rear of the stage giving some interesting reflections such as a soloist appearing as to be executing a pas de trois.
A large screen background with projections of cars fast moving through a freeway tunnel was a little distracting from the dances.
The standard of the dance was very good and some of the movements were a delight whereas others reached the grotesque in some of the body contortions. A small storyline seemed to appear with that of the eternal conflict between man and woman.
Much of the evening gave the impression of dancers doing their own thing then suddenly several dancers joined together in well executed movements.
An interesting evening of contemporary ballet but your correspondent feels that it would not be popular with traditionalists.

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New York Complexions Contemporary Ballet Tour

New York City’s most daring contemporary ballet company opened in Melbourne on February 26 at the State Theatre.
A production in three acts with music ranging from U2, American folk singer Odetta, Handel, and American Blues music.
An amazing evening of contemporary ballet. The only sets were a curtain and a chair. Lighting was excellent balancing the dancers with expertise.
There were no poor performers and unusual for contemporary ballet most of the moves were classical ballet movements which combined with the unusual for ballet music.
Act 1 was performed by the company showing the talent of such a group.
Act 2 contained five ballets opening with Gone a trio for three men performed by John Henry Reid, Phillip John Orsano and Joo Hwan Cho.   
An outstanding dancer was Joo Hwan Cho. He was relaxed, even in the most strenuous movements and looked if born to the roles.
Momentary Forevers with music from Handel and John Cage was given a good interpretation by Natiya Kezevadze and Juan. A fine example of pas de deux showing the high standard of the company.
The final number Rise explores the dizzy journey of life in all its complexity and ecstasy. The music was from U2 the first time U2 have allowed their music to be performed by a ballet company.
The dancers did justice to the music and amazed the opening night audience. As dancing the night was most enjoyable but! The music was far too loud and your correspondent wore ear plugs and still found it loud. After each interval many of the audience did not return. The sound was such that not only loud to the ears it was felt through the chest which cannot be too healthy. The music was recorded not live and I feel that sound engineers look to their operations and think twice about volume.

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The Kiev Ballet Tour


Swan Lake

Viktor Ishchuk Natalian Domracheva

The Kiev Ballet Tour arrived at The Palais Theatre Melbourne on the weekend of May 3rd & 4 th .

The Saturday production was Swan Lake . A traditional production in which the Kiev Ballet excels.

The company has some wonderful backdrops really giving the feel of the story.

The costumes were colourful and spectacular and when one realises the company is a touring company the maintenance of the sets and costumes must be difficult but very successful as evidenced on the production. A young company with great technical skills but could have a little more zest.

As Prince Siegfried Viktor Ischuk successfully showed the expectations of the character. A wonderful technical dancer catching all the movements as choreographed but could have given a little more zest to the character.

His partner Odette/Odile was danced by Natalian Domracheva. A lovely dancer with great ability and good acting performance. The pair balanced each other excellently and the pas de deuxs were a great example of the art of ballet.

The corps kept up the standard set by the leads and the audience enjoyed seeing a good performance of the classic Swan Lake .


The Sleeping Beauty


Sunday May 4 the Kiev Ballet presented The Sleeping Beauty.

Again the Kiev Ballet produced the classic production of the old well known story.

The scenes were well set with amazing backdrops and very colourful costumes representing the period. A complete tapestry of colour.

Aurora was danced by Tetiana Goliakova, a wonderful portrayal and a good example of a classic role performance. Sergii Sydorskyi danced the role of Prince Florimund. A great dancer with strength, agility and captured the feel of the classical role as the audience expected. A strong performer and a good partner to Goliakova.

Another asset to the company and who gave a wonderful, skilful and enjoyable performance was Shinobu Takita as the Lilac Fairy. A superb dancer in both the dance and acting. A light-hearted touch was given by Oleh Tokar as Carabosse the evil fairy who causes Aurora to sleep for 100 years. A fine comic performance skilfully done and a good favourite with the audience.

Two entertaining and well done performances were the entertainment with Puss in Boots and the White Cat. Excellently danced and obviously both enjoyed the characterisation as it was danced with such humour.

The Bluebird and Princess Florine was danced by Viktor Ishchuk and Natalian Domracheva. An absolutely wonderful pas de deux and solo performance from each dancer with both dancing good examples of the art of the ballet.

Both ballets bought back the classic style, the costuming and backdrops all added to the charm of the two productions and as the company is touring until June do make an effort to go.

This is the first tour of the Kiev Ballet which plans to tour every two years adding Australia and New Zealand to their list of countries to show the classic ballets and the talent of though a well established company the performers are young and a credit to the training and great ambassadors not only for ballet but for the Ukraine National Opera & Ballet.

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Priscila - Queen of the Desert

The Round Theatre
Priscilla Quenn of the Desert
Presented by Babirra Music Theatre
Based on the 1994 film of the same name Priscilla, Queen of the Desert follows the journey of three drag performers as they drive across the Australian outback  in their bus named Priscilla.
The bus, Priscilla, really featured onstage. Congratulations to the set builders for a terrific job on the bus. It was open one side and on the other, there were various lights illuminating same. The front was a regular bus with headlights, the name Pricsilla in the destination board and when the scene with a singer on top of the bus with the trailing costume the bus was lost the rear end for the scene. To move the bus the stagehands were dressed in helmets and overalls as if they were mechanics.
The open side showed the interior and the three drag queen’s driving and resting.
|Zac Alaino played Tick (Mitzi) who really captured the role of drag queen and father. A great performance. Mark Monroe was the ageing drag queen and his character was with Les Girls. He played the elder character and found true love. A wonderful portrayal of such a character.
The third drag queen was Adam ( Felicia) played by Andreas Katsiroubas. Andreas gave a stirling performance in the role and particularly in the scene in the little town between Broken Hill and Sydney.
The musical was added to by the three divas, Jodie Webber, Marina Martin and Cassidy Capraro. The acted and sang kike a Greek Chorus throughout the ev4ening which added to the entertainment.
Tim Maloney was Bob the mechanic who certainly added to the show with his performance.
|A large cast, unfortunately the column doesn’t give space to highlight each player but the standard set by the cast certainly made the evening.
the lighting, by Jason Bovaired, was outstanding and added to the production. The sound designer Marcello Lo Ricco certainly added to the evening and Babirra is to be congratulated on presenting such an evening/


Priscilla - Queen of the desert - by Graham Ford

Production Company: Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Richard Pierdriau

Musical Director: Mal Fawcett

Choreographer: Cassie Pennicuik


I have reviewed many very successful Babirra productions over the years, but the bar has now been raised!

This was my first outing to The Round. It wasn't a refit of the Whitehorse Theatre, but a complete rebuild. The auditorium appeared to be almost twice the size of the previous one.

Extra lights were brought in and the lighting was spectacular. This often hid scene changes, which allowed the action to flow. The set comprised large slabs of corrugated iron, which moved across stage to change scenes. Very Australian! The sound was also top notch. It was loud, as suited the music, but never too loud for the voices.

Based on the 1994 movie, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the show follows three drag queens as they travel from the city to Alice Springs in their bus, called Priscilla. There they have been promised a gig at the Casino by Tick’s wife, who wants him to meet his 8-year-old son. Of course the bus breaks down, and they encounter homophobia in the outback, but eventually reach their destination.

Unlike most musicals, this one utilises pop songs from the era, some shortened, and others extended to include long dance sections. They fitted in very well with the plot. Many were powerful pop ballads like “It’s Raining Men”, “I Will Survive” and “Girls just wanna have Fun”. This was a high energy show, and it never waned.

There were no weak links in this show. Zac Alaimo, as Tick, had the difficult job of keeping the trio together to get to the Alice, without revealing that he had a son. Nervous of meeting his son, he finds him very happy to see him, and accepting of his career. He asks Tick to do an Elvis song, and Tick starts singing “Always on my Mind” in his Elvis voice, then changes to his natural voice when he realises how closely the song relates to his situation.

Mark Monroe was Bernadette, the older drag queen, who was a steadying influence. Andreas Katsiroubas played Adam, the young rebel who gets into trouble in the outback. All three had strong vocals and worked well together.

The show also featured three divas, Jodie Webber, Marina Martin and Cassidy Capraro, who were involved in much of the featured songs. All good voices with terrific harmonies, and they moved as one.

The costumes were amazing! And they kept changing. Some only appeared during the curtain calls, probably because they would have restricted the dancing.

The band was excellent and the dancing was high energy and tight. The large auditorium wasn't full, but it deserves to be for the rest of the season.

Sunset Bouleavard

Opening this review I feel a quote from the program and Fiona Allan CEO and Jo Davies Artistic Director of Opera Australia, “Welcome to 1950s Hollywood, where dreams can be made and broken in a heartbeat. Where silent movie star Norma Desmond longed for a return to the big screen and where a  chance encounter with struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis leads to a passionate relationship – and an unforgettable conclusion.”
As Norma Desmond  Sarah Brightman who is an International singing star and is the world’s best soprano which she certainly showed in her performance.
As Norma Desmond Susan really caught the essence of the character giving an outstanding performance as the fading star. Susan also worked well with her screenwriter Joe Gillis and her butler/chauffer Max Von Mayerling.
Joe Gillis was given an outstanding performance by Tim Draxl. Tim really captured the role as envisaged and worked well with Suan. The third of the main stars was Robert Grubb as Max Von Mayerling. Robert was the butler/.chauffer and devotee of Norma Desmond. A superior performance, and Robert was perfect in the character. All three had wonderful voices and as the production is a musical the three rally came over with their great voices.
The fourth main star was Ashleigh Rubenach as  Joe’s co-writer and possible girlfriend. Ashleigh added to high standard of the production giving a wonderful portrayal of her role.
A great evening of theatre with magnificent sets  which moved smoothly and showed each aspect of life n the movie world. The balance of the cast kept the high standard of the expected performance. As the performance was so great the audience gave it Melbourne’s highest honour. A standing ovation.  

Billy Elliot

Presented by CLOC Muicla Theatre

First I must say that this is a musical not to be missed. CLOC Musical Theatre has produced one of its most moving and funny shows that it ever has.
The story of Billy Elliot is set against the  miners strike of 1964 in County Durham in the north of England.
Young Billy is taking boxing lessons  when he discovers in the same hall there is a ballet class. Watching the class, he realises this is his future. And so the story commences.
Opening the production  was film from news TV of the miners’ strike, a scene from Churchill and Maggie Thatcher
Billie, on May 11 was played by Lukas Elliot. A very talented young man. Not only did he box, do ballet excellently, tap and act. A wonderful portrayal and he was on stage all evening never missing a line nor a number. Some of the dance sequences were terrific especially when he danced with his older self-played by Dylan Hery. A wonderful duo.
Other outstanding performances were given by Billy’s friend Michael, played by /angus Hutchison who is also talented in dance and tap and seeing both Billy and Michael doing a dance sequence together was a sheer delight. Billy’s grandmother was portrayed by Barbara Hughes, another asset to CLOC doing a great job in the role.
His father was played by Chris Hughes who captured the role of father, miner, widower and striker with aplomb and expertise. Billy’s older brother Tony was given a first class performance by Joshua Summer.
Billy’s dance teacher, who supported him all the way was Mrs Wilkinson, played by Melanie Bit. A wonderful portrayal and in parts very moving.
some of the scenes were outstanding particularly the dance sequences,  The scenes where the miners fought the .police, very well done, the sequence where the police and miners were mixed with the ballet dancers.
THE ballet scenes were a delight and CLOC has rounded up a very talented dancers who not only did ballet but were excellent o tap.
Overall a wonderful night of theatre and I recommend everyone should go and see it. The production finishes May 25 Book through CLOC webpage.

The Grinning Man

Alex Theatre
St. Kilda
Alex Theatre presented the Australian premiere of The Griming Man.
A stage and musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughed.
A strange new act has arrived at Trafalgar Fair’s Freakshow. Who is Grinpayne and how did d get his hideous smile?
Alex theatre is to be congratulated for bringing this unusual musical to Australia.
 The stage was set with a central square wilt5h a sloping floor and an entry on audience left.
The orchestra was on both sides of the stage and in front of dame.
Grinpayne was given a great interpretation by Maxwell simon. Who caried the role with aplomb
Barkilpedro  the servant clown was given a terrific performance by Jennifer Vuletic who practically stole the show.
Ursus was portrayed by Dom Hennequin  who gave a wonderful portrayal in the role.
Stephanie Astrid John was Queen Angelica, A stunning performance working well with the other performers. King Clare4ncewas also played by Dom Henequen who lived up to the high standard of the production.
The company also used puppets in the performance which was very successfully done and added to the enjoyment of the audience.
 An interesting musical and one that should not be missed.


Lilac Time is an operetta telling the story of Franz Schubert, using his music. This delightful production was set in The Knowe, Sassafras, in the gardens of a house owned by the director, Robert Ray. Under the canopy of trees, this was an enchanting setting, though probably not as successful in inclement weather.

Franz Schubert was one of the great romantic Austrian composers, producing an astonishing output in his short life. Standing just over five foot high and dying at 31, he never married, though he hoped to marry a young soprano named Therese Grob, but her father didn't see him as a financially sound proposition. His good friend Franz von Schober and the baritone Johann Michael Vogl who premiered many of his lieder, are included in this operetta.

A translation from the German operetta Das Dreimäderlhaus, Lilac Time tells the story of the shy Schubert asking his friend Schober to sing a song he'd written for his lady love, Lili, to her, only to have Lili fall in love with Schober, leaving Schubert devastated. Michael Zuccala played Baron Franz von Schoder, and was convincing showing his character being torn between his love for Lili and friendship for Schubert. At the end Schubert had to be content with being left with his music.

Lilac Time has no chorus, but a multitude of roles, and the standard of singing was uniformly high. Edward Harcourt was considerably taller than the diminutive composer, but managed to capture the vulnerability of the diffident young man and sang very well. The object of his affections was Lily Veit, played by young Bridgette Kelsy, who admirably conveyed the emotions of being torn between the two lovers.

The other two sisters were played by Emilie Washington and Danielle Zuccala, who were wooed by Joshua Erdelyl-Gotz and Sam Hargreaves. The elderly parents were played by the experienced Ian Lowe and Jennifer Wakefield, who milked every laugh available to them.

Though there was no chorus, there was a lot of ensemble singing, all well-balanced. The Palm Court Trio, led by MD Geoffrey Urquhart, was ideally suited to this production and the costumes were impressive.

Unfortunately, the season is sold out, and it certainly deserved to be.





Step into the vibrant streets of New York City’s East Village, where dreams are born, friendships are tested, and the power of love prevails against all odds.
RENT opened at the State theatre on Tuesday February 29  to a full theatre.
The cast was of eight people and the ensemble also ten, totalling on stage 18 performers.
The stage was simply set with scaffolding both left and right of stage. Plus, scaffolding centre which was moved in accordance with the script.
The eight main characters caught the essence of their roles giving a good balanced performance. The ensemble kept up the standard set by the cast and gave a wonderful evening |It was a good evening of entertainment of theatre, vey popular with the opening night audience. The stage movement of the cast and ensemble was excellent, and the working together was a dream.  Overall it was a wonderful evening and climaxing with a standing ovation.  

The Rocky Horror Show


The Rocky Horror  Show
Tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Kanet, two  squeaky clean college kids  who while driving to a friend’s place have a flat tyre in a storm and walk two miles to a castle where they hoe to find a telephone. Where they meet Dr Frank-N-Furter an extra-terrestrial mad scientist from the galaxy of Transylvania where people like to party. Well, Brad and Janet will never have such anevening.
Athenaeum theatre Melbourne is the venue for the Melbourne performance and what an evening of fun, mayhem and delight.
Jason Donovan was Dr Frank-N-Furter and what a performance. Jason gave his all and really caught the character as envisaged A wonderful portrayal and a great welcome back to Melbourne for Jason.
Joel Creasy was the Narrator, a terrific portrayal of the character. Joel really  caught the character and with his replies to some hecklers in the audience was a sheer delight. Joel projects well and gave a stunning performance.
Blake Bowden was Brad, the innocent young college student. Bake caught the character with finesse giving a good interpretation of the role, he also worked well with his fiancée  Janet.
Janet was played by Deirdre Khoo who captured the essence f the sweet young newly engaged young student. Well, she was until entering Dr Frank-N-Furter’s castle.
Stellar Perry played the roles of the usherette and Magenta. As the usherette Stellar opened the program. Appearing on stage as the curtains opened. As Magenta she gave a stirling performance.
The butler, Riff Raff was played by Henry Rollo. This performance was one of the highlights od the evening. He really caught the essence of the character giving a great performance.
The cast and the stars gave a great evening f theatre and were highly enjoyed by the audience.
A great production with smooth moving sets, good music and of course , The time Warp, which was very popular, do much so that in the final bows the audience demanded it again.
The result was a standing ovation for a wonderful evening of theatre.


The Rocky Horror  Show
Tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Kanet, two  squeaky clean college kids  who while driving to a friend’s place have a flat tyre in a storm and walk two miles to a castle where they hoe to find a telephone. Where they meet Dr Frank-N-Furter an extra-terrestrial mad scientist from the galaxy of Transylvania where people like to party. Well, Brad and Janet will never have such anevening.
Athenaeum theatre Melbourne is the venue for the Melbourne performance and what an evening of fun, mayhem and delight.
Jason Donovan was Dr Frank-N-Furter and what a performance. Jason gave his all and really caught the character as envisaged A wonderful portrayal and a great welcome back to Melbourne for Jason.
Joel Creasy was the Narrator, a terrific portrayal of the character. Joel really  caught the character and with his replies to some hecklers in the audience was a sheer delight. Joel projects well and gave a stunning performance.
Blake Bowden was Brad, the innocent young college student. Bake caught the character with finesse giving a good interpretation of the role, he also worked well with his fiancée  Janet.
Janet was played by Deirdre Khoo who captured the essence f the sweet young newly engaged young student. Well, she was until entering Dr Frank-N-Furter’s castle.
Stellar Perry played the roles of the usherette and Magenta. As the usherette Stellar opened the program. Appearing on stage as the curtains opened. As Magenta she gave a stirling performance.
The butler, Riff Raff was played by Henry Rollo. This performance was one of the highlights od the evening. He really caught the essence of the character giving a great performance.
The cast and the stars gave a great evening f theatre and were highly enjoyed by the audience.
A great production with smooth moving sets, good music and of course , The time Warp, which was very popular, do much so that in the final bows the audience demanded it again.
The result was a standing ovation for a wonderful evening of theatre.

Nova Music Theatre
Had a double  celebration on Friday October 20.. They celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Nova Theatre and Nova was the first theatre production in the Whitehorse Council’s new The are The Round. An amazing theatre, large stage, large auditorium, can hold 600  audience.
|Nova’s production was Cinderella, an updated version of the original story where there is a lymphatic  stepsister and Cinderella tells the Prince what is wrong with his kingdom.
Nova  gave a very successful staging sets consisting of three tabs each side of the stage with a large screen at rear. These were used to great effect as each scene was projected onto the tabs and rear screen. First there was a wood very effective, then street scenes with the peasants, the interior of the ballroom and lastly the outside of the palace.
Also we had the stepmother ‘s house, both exterior and interior, they were wheeled on and off as the occasion required.
Cinderella was given a wonderful performance by Chloe Terry, not only was her singing great, but her acting really caught the character of a working girl with her own agenda.
Prince Topher was played by Ju-Han Soon. Another remarkable voice and a Prince led up the garden path by his Prime Minister until he met Cinderella. A good performance catching the correct nuances of such a character.
The stepmother was portrayed by Ellen Lane. A good interpretation of such a role, evil and not liking Cinderella and putting her own daughters ahead of everything else. A good acting and singing to match/
The stepsisters were Gabrielle played by Nicola Rofenstein who was sympathetic to Cinderella and they traded secrets. Another good performer adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
The other spiteful, nasty sister, Charlote was given an excellent charactisation by Alice Clapperton, who caught the feeling of such a character.
The Lord Councillor Sebastian was played by J. C. La Fontaine.  was given a good interpretation of such a standover type role.
Gabrielle’s boyfriend and radical, Jean-Michel was played by Matt Jakowenko  an interesting character trying hard to make his voice heard by the Prince in spite of Lord Sebastion. A good portrayal
Lord Pinkleton was played by Chris Stephenson. He was the town crier and handled the role with finesse.
A wonderful evening from Nova Music Theatre with an outstanding cast and a bright and colourful evening.

Mamma Mia


The Princess Theatre Melbourne is now the home of Mamma Mia. Opening night was Friday September 29.
A great fun show mixed with a little [poignancy and based around various songs from ABB.
The story is about a mother, Dona and her daughter Sophie. It’s Sophie’s wedding coming up and she wants her father to give her away. But! Ther is one problem, no-one knows who her father is. Sophie found an old diary of her mother’s discovered she could have a choice of three fathers. Even her mother does not know which in is the father.
So Sophie writes to the three with an invitation to her wedding.
The show is all about who is sophies father and the effect it as on the wedding.
A bright, breezy terrific production with great lighting effects .the set was a Greek villa and in the story was designed by one of Sophie’s fathers, Sam Michael. Also a stone wall which dropped in and out as required.
Conna Sheridon was played by Elise McCann who gave a wonderful performance added to by her great singing voice. Some great scenes when she sees her old boyfriends and queries why they are here? Some of the replies were hilarious as they had been advised by Sophie of the situation.
Sophie was played by a very versatile Sarah Krndija, A wonderful and moving performance as Sophie particularly meeting her father for the first time. But which one of the three is her Dad,  Sarah as aforementioned is not only a talented actress she is also a violinist and speaks English, Croation, Serbian and Ukrainian/
Donna’s friends, Rosie and Tanya were played by Binanca Bruce and Deone Zanotto. Bruce was marvellous as Rosie and Zanotto gave a stirling performance as Tanya added to by a good singing voice.  The three fathers were Sam Michael, played by Martin Crewes, Harry Bright was played by Drew Livingstone, and the third father was Bill Austin played by Tim Wright. All three handled their roles comfortably giving great performances which were enjoyed by the opening night audience. Sky, Sophie’s husband to be was played by Lewis Francis. A good performance well balanced by Krndija, and a good singer.
One of the funniest scenes in the production were the dancing scenes more particularly where Sky’s friends danced n swimming flippers.
The ensemble was well balanced and added to the standard of the evening. Like all good shows the company received a standing ovation and they played and sang to ABA’s music long after the finish of the show, plus the audience could not keep still and there was dancing in the aisles from the audience and all ages were kicking up their heels.
A great night of musical theatre and a production not to be missed.

Midnight the Cinderella Musical

Opened at Melbourne’s comedy theatre on Sunday June 25. Opening at 5pm, a first for Melbourne, this allowed for many children to attend after all, it is a children’s story.
Opened with a young lady Isobel Lauder in bed reading from a rather large book the story of Cinderella. As the evening wore on, she acted as narrator and was not above changing a few lies she was averse too. A good performance by a talented young lady.
A little different from the usual Cinderella, in this version (beside Isobel’s interpretation) Ells as she is known as is a feisty young lady who is trying to right the wrongs of the kingdom. She is not impressed by Prince charming but later she does become more favorable to him.
Ella was given a wonderful performance by Brianna Bishop. A great interpretation of the character added to not only good acting but a lovely singing voice. Her prince, albeit Prince Charming was given a great performance by Thomas Mcguane, a good actor, singer and had a terrific rapport with Brianna. The pair really added to the evening and were a delight to behold.
Shane Jacobsen was the King, Prince charming’s father and what a character. He played the role with his usual gust and surprised us all with a great singing voice. Loud, clear and easily understood.  He turned on the comedy when required and the sorrow and really assed to the night.
Lucy Durack was the Fairy godmother, another great performance and she really showed all of her talents A good voice, and strong acting.
The stepmother, Madame Bellington was given a positive interpretation of the character by Verity Hunt-Ballard. Another actor to delight the audience plus a good voice and a great actor.
The delight of the evening was Matt Lee as Andre, the Prince’s friend, and Mr. Abernathy. He excelled in both roles and beside his good acting, singing he is a terrific dancer. Very busy throughout the performance so much so one wonders where he gets the energy.
The sets were fairly basic but suited the storyline. They were moved in and out by some of the cast and very smoothly.
an amazing evening of theatre and not surprisingly a standing ovation. This is one show not to be missed.

Midnight review by Graham Ford

Director Dean Murphy, Pip Mishin
Musical Director: Anthony Barnhill
Choreographer: Kelly Akers
Venue: Comedy Theatre.
There have been many Australian musicals over the years. Most have slipped into obscurity This s one that shouldn’t!
A re-telling of the Cinderella story, it starts with a young girl reading the story of Cinderella from a large book. Of course, her imagination comes into play, and then the story takes over.
Ella (Cinderella) is a feisty young woman wanting to change the world. Unfortunately, her world comes tumbling sown with the death of her mother, and father, after he has remarried. She is then consigned to all the menial jobs, though this is a small part of the story.
She encounters the Prince in the market and he finds it a confronting that she isn’t blown away by his good looks and charm! However, there is an attraction between the two When she stops coming to her rendezvous, he agrees to his father’s demand to have a ball for all the eligible maidens in the country, so that he can find her. However, she is refused entry because she’s not dressed appropriately.
Of course, the Fairy Godmother comes to fix her costume problem, and she also gets some help from Mr. Abernathy, her teddy bear, He has e wonderful solo Stuffed.
The show is very slick, moving from dialogue to song and back again. The songs are upbeat and very accessible. Some quieter ones have great pathos. The dancing is impressive. Ella was played by the wonderful Brianna Bishop, whose strong vocals and acting made the perfect leading lady. Thomas McGrane was Prince Charming, with the appropriate good looks and voice. There was real chemistry between the two. Matt Lee was Andre, the Prince’s sidekick, very funny and an excellent dancer. He also played Mr. Abernathy and had dome of the best lines in the show.
Shane Jacobsen was the Jing and surprised everyone with his strong singing voice. Lucy Durack was the Fairy Godmother, very funny, while Verity Hunt-Ballard was the evil stepmother. I was fortunate enough to catch Raphael Wong playing the Phantom earlier this year, in which was very impressive, and it was good to see him continuing to gain work as Ella’s father. Kristie Ngu and Melanie Bird were the stepsisters and quite contrasting characters.
The abstract set  was very appropriate for a fairytale and the cast moved the sets on and off the stage to allow the action to continue. The costumes were amazing.
The show was sold out and there were lots of kids in the audience, al as enthralled as their parents. There are plans to take the production to Broadway. It deserves to be up there with the likes of Wicked.

All Sooked Up

Babirra Music Theatre

Babirra Music Theatre opened the 2023 season with All Shook Up a light-hearted musical originally based on Shakespeare’s 12th Night. A story built around the music of Elvis Presley.
A story of Chad, the rouseabout who comes to a quiet American town where the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act which outlaws Loud Music, public necking, and tight pants. This does not inspire Chad who has just come out of goal in another town for being that kind of guy.
Congratulations must go the Director, Alan Burrows, and his team for a terrific evening of musical theatre. Costuming was excellent, bringing back the fifties, lighting, very good choreography, excellent music a little too loud but enjoyable., set design was very good and suitable to the period.
The production is built around 26 of Elvis’s songs, some well-known others not so well known but suitable to the story line.
The leading lady, the local mechanic was portrayed by Grace Goodwin as Natalie Haller. A wonderful portrayal added to by a lovely voice and her acting was superb.
The stranger to town, Chad, was played by Lachlan Glennie. A good balance to Grace and a great interpretation of the character, added to a good voice. Natalie’s father Jim was played by Tim Murphy who added to the joy of the evening with good acting and a voice balancing the other singers. Chad’s offsider Dennis was given a terrific performance by Elliot Shute a good actor and good singer. Silvia was played by Yikaye Sithole who really caught the character giving a good performance enhanced by her singing. Sylvia’s daughter Lorraine was given a good performance by Cassie Pennicuik who had a good rapport with Daniel Nieborski who portrayed Dennis as the son of mayor, who added to the high standard of the evening. Samantha Du Rennes was the mayor who tried to enforce the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Act without much success. Another great addition to the production.  Miss Sandra, the museum keeper, was given a stirling performance by Emily McKenzie. Brad Blair was portrayed as Sherriff Earl who did not say much but when he did you listened. Another great performer.
A great evening of musical theatre and one your correspondent highly recommends.  

All Shook Up reviewed by Graham Ford

Production Company: Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Alan Burrows

Musical Director: Vicki Quinn

Choreographer: Di Morgan

All Shook Up was a blast!

Like last year’s Mamma Mia, based on the music of ABBA, All Shook Up is a romantic comedy featuring the music of Elvis Presley. Though I lived through this era, I didn't realise what an extensive repertoire Elvis had, as many of the songs were unfamiliar.

The storyline features several couples and their romantic manoevring the way to a successful coupling at the end, with all the inherent problems that arise. Nothing too heavy, but thoroughly enjoyable. The songs fitted beautifully into the storyline.

There were no weak links in this production. All the leads got their chance to shine vocally, and it was pleasing to see that each was physically suited to their role. Lachlan Glennie was the roustabout Chad, who brought rock and roll to the sleepy town. He had all the moves! Grace Goodwin as Natalie, fell for him, but he only had eyes for Emily McKenzie, as Miss Sandra. Grace had a powerful voice, and was very funny playing a male version of herself. Of course Dennis, played by Elliot Shute, was in love with Natalie and not happy!

There were so many highlights! I was particularly impressed with Vikaya Sithole making her music theatre debut, and performing like a seasoned pro. Elliot Shute must be double-jointed to make those dance moves! Operatic soprano, Samantha Du Rennes, as the mayor, showed she could belt out a rock and roll number with the best, while also showing off her lovely top notes.

The hardest working members of the cast were the ensemble. Apart from multiple costume changes, they were invariably dancing up a storm at a frenetic pace. The choreography was tight and there was so much movement, you didn't know which way to look.

The sets were minimalist but effective, and the lighting superb. Of course, the music was loud, and I would have preferred the band had been turned down a little, as many words were lost.

This production deserves to be sold out!



Catch Me if you can


CLOC Musical Theatre

CLOC Musical Theatre’s choice of production for the opening of 2023 was the musical version of Catch Me if you can.
Based on the story of Frank William Abaginale Jr. was, and is, a real person, born in New York in 1948 and still lives in USA today. .A  man who palmed himself off as a doctor, lawyer, college instructor, stockbroker and airline pilot. And had passed bad USA $2.5Million bad cheques in 26 countries.
CLOC did a wonderful version of a musical of the life of such a character.
The opening sees Frank cornered by the FBI at Miami International Airport where Frank pleads with the FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, to let him tell his story.
An amazing scene with Frank Jr and the dancers. Congratulations to the choreographer for a wonderful evening of dance, each number was a delight, and the dancers kept the high standard asked of them.
The principal artists were Will Woods as Frank William Abagnale Jnr. A first-class performance enhanced by his not only acting but singing and dancing. Ric Burkett was Frank Abagnale Snr capturing the character with finesse and his acting was a high standard. Frank Jr’s mother was played by Adrienne George, as the French wife of Frank Snr she caught the character as envisaged giving a great performance. Frank Jr’s girl he fell in love with was Brenda Strong portrayed by India Morris, another outstanding performer.
The production was superb with nine tabs each displaying scenes suitable to the relevant action on stage. One remarkable scene was a Pan American airplane flying overhead.
The dancing was superb, acting top notch and the costuming lived up to expectations.
An amazing production well up to CLOC’s usual high standard, in fact probably one of their better productions.

My Fair Lady review by Graham Ford

Production Company: Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victoria

Director/Choreographer: Robert Ray

Musical Director: Timothy John Wilson

Venue: Alexander Theatre

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victoria concentrates on the G&S repertoire, with occasional forays into operettas of the period. As far as I am aware, this is their first foray into musical theatre.

It was a triumph!

Much of the strength of this production came from the two leads. Lauren Lee Innis-Youren was everything one would want in an Eliza Doolittle. Her voice had the power for the angry songs and the beauty when pathos was required. She had a regal presence after transitioning to a lady, and I liked the fact that her speech was still a trifle artificial at the end.

Ash Cooper was an excellent Henry Higgins and, being a singer, sang a lot more of the songs than Rex Harrison. It was interesting to hear what the composer intended. He was excellent, but it was the combination of the two leads which was the strength of this production. Their interactions were dynamic and their timing excellent.

In Pygmalion, the source for My Fair Lady, in the end Eliza goes off to marry Freddy. Lerner and Lowe, changed this to have Eliza return to Higgins, and the show finishes with “Eliza, where the devil are my slippers?” In this version, that was the last line spoken, but then Eliza and Higgins stare at each other for a long time, and Eliza quietly turns around, collects her things and walked out through the audience.

It was so right. The Eliza that George Bernard Show created was a strong woman, and would never have returned to the bullying Higgins.

Ron Pidcock has been a stalwart of GSOV for decades, having played all the G&S comic roles. He was excellent as Alfred P Doolittle, a gem of a role for someone of his talent. Operatic mezzo, Jennifer Wakefield, who has played all of the G&S dragon ladies, was in the non-singing role of Mrs. Higgins, and brought a dignity and lovely comic timing to this important role. Daniel Felton sang beautifully as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, and other roles were all cast from strength.

The sets comprised four large columns which then, with other flats, became part of the Higgins residence and other scenes. Occasionally a backdrop would be brought in. Quite simple, but effective. The costumes were magnificent.

The only quibble I had in an excellent show was the chorus. Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are usually sung without amplification and, though musically tight, “The Ascot Gavotte” sounded more like the MCG then Ascot. A more refined approach would have matched the excellent choreography.


Ladies in Black

Friday March 17 saw the opening of NOVA Musical Theatre’s production of the Ladies in Black.
A delightful feel good production about a young girl awaiting the results of her Leaving Certificate, a temporary job in F. G. Goodes (read David Jones) where she is taken on as an assistant for the holiday season.. Of course, this is the fifties and Dad’s only thought is this is the newcomers from European who introduces the young girl into a life she never dreamed of. for his daughter to do a secretarial course but never university for a girl. Added to this is the refugees form Europe who have come to Australia to better themselves and escape the troubles in Europe.
NOVA gave a wonderful production, good music, terrific acting and a good feel to the evening. The outfits were amazing and were typical of such a high-class store.   .
The young girl Lisa (Lesley) was played by Anaka Constatine who captured the sweetness and personality of such a character. An  excellent performance and a young lady to keep your eye n in future.
Magda, the Hungarian manager of the ladies Model Department who as a soft spot for Lisa was played by Sian Dickinson. Another great performance adding to the high standard of the production.
Lisa’s mother Mrs Miles was given an understanding performance by Catherine Bolzone;;o. A good interpretation of such a role.
Lisa’s father, Mr Miles, was given a sterling performance of the 50s Dad who wouldn’t hear of his daughter going to university. A good portrayal.
Frank, the husband of Patty had a very dramatic role. Played by Brenton Van Viiet who caught the correct feel of such a character. His wife Patty was played by Lauren King who captured the role as envisaged.
A great night of entertainment with terrific lighting and sound and the usual high standard of directing form Noel Browne.

Cruel Intentions - tthe 90s Musical

Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre was the venue for Cruel Intentions the Musical.
Based on Les Liaisons Dangereuses from the novel written by Pierre Choderios de Laclos in 1782.

The story of the musical is where we enter the manipulative world of Manhattan’s most dangerous liaisons: Sebastian Valmont and Katherine Merteuil. Fuelled by revenge and passion , the diabolically charming step-siblings place a bet on whether or not Sebastian can deflower their incoming headmaster’s daughter.
The production is magnificent theatre. The show was sparkling, Music very good, lighting a good standard and overall a very interesting evening of theatre.
the performers were outstanding with Kirby Burgess as Kathy Merteuil giving an outrageous and stirling performance. Her stepbrother, Sebastian Valmont, played by Drew Weston, dominated the stage in his scenes, catching the fine nuances of sch a character. The other players lived up to the standard set by these two giving an interesting evening of theatre.
The show had a standing ovation, well deserved by such a production but one would not recommend it to the over 50s as it is definitely a show for the younger generation and Sir Arthur Rylah would not approve.


The Phantom of the Opera presented by Opera Australia

State Theatre
St. Kilda Rd.
\Melbourne, the home of Australia’s theatre welcomed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The new Production of The Phantom of the Opera.
Back in the 90s the original The Phantom of the Opera opened in the Princess theatre. An apt theatre because what many people don’t realise is that The Phantom is set in Paris’s Opera House which was built at the same time as Melbourne’s Princess Theatre which also has its own ghost.
The latest version is playing at the State Theatre Victorian Arts Centre which is possibly the only theatre in Melbourne to handle the Melbourne theatre goers. Opening night saw the house packed |
A lavish production with amazing sets ranging from the far east to the caverns under the opera house of Paris. Sets flowed smoothly and is a credit to the behind stage staff who handled all the changes with promptness which showed in the production.
Starring as the Phantom was Josh Peterman, a brilliant performance added to by a wonderful singing voice not to mention great acting.
Christine Daaė the heroine was given an excellent performance by Amy Woodford. Not only is she a wonderful actor she has the soprano voice to match. An amazing performance which was loved by the opening night audience.
Christine Daaė’s undeclared fiancé, Raoul, the Vicomte de Dhagney was given a magnificent portrayal by Blake Bowden. Bowden lived up to the aforementioned in his acting and voice. This role was increased in this newer version of  The Phantom of the Opera which made the story far more satisfactory.
The two new owners of the Opera House were Monsieur André, played excellently by Andy Morton and Monsieur Firmin also well played by David Whitney.
The Ballet Mistress, Carlotta Giudicelli, was given a wonderful interpretation by  Jayde Westbury.
Two other leads  were Ubaldo Piangi, performed by Paul Tabone who handled the role with expertise. The company’s diva, Madam Giry,  was played by Giuseppina Grech. A great interpretation,
her daughter, Meg Giry, handled her role with ease and gave a stunning performance.
The ensemble lived up to the Melbourne audience’s expectations and your correspondent highly recommends, DO NOT MISS IT.

A Funny Thing Happened onm the Way to the Forum - Steven Sondheim

Babirra Music Theatre
A story set in ancient Rome where a man is looking for his son and daughter stolen by pirates as infants and Pseudolus is looking for freedom.
A well set stage comprising of three Roman houses built around a square where most of the activity happens. Pseudolus, a slave, and the main character was played by Tony Burge. Burge has a touch of the comique putting same to full use in this portrayal. A keen energetic actor who caught the character with finesse.
Hysterium, is the chief slave to the House of Senex  was played by Dean Mitchelmore. A good player whose character suffered greatly during the production. Mitchelmore gave a good interpretation to the role.
Hero, the son of Senex, was an innocent young lad who fell in love with Philia and played by Michael Syme. A fair interpretation of such a character but did improve throughout the evening. His love to be, Philia, was played by Greta Wilkinson. She caught the character of such a shall we say, dumb blonde, with the right feel and worked well with Syme.
Hero’s father, Senex, was played by Darren Mort giving a good interpretation to the ole. Senex’s wife Domina, was played by Natasha Bassett. .Bennett gave a wonderful portrayal of such a character much to the amusement of the opening night audience.
Marcus Lycus, the purveyor of courtesans was performed by David Torr who gave a good performance in such a role.  
A captain in the Roman Army, Miles Gloriosus was played by Steven Saxton. As the captain’s name suggests he was rather full of himself, and Saxton worked this attitude to the full. A great handling of such a role.
Erronius, the old father whose children were stolen as youngsters, was played by David Bean.
Bean caught the essence of the character giving a fair performance. There were also the courtesans, Roman soldiers and eunuchs. The setting ws well cone, costuming caught the era, sound could have been a little better, some of the female singers; high notes were a little too high. Lighting was excellent catching all the precise moments as expected.
. All adding to the enjoyment of the evening but it was a fun evening but not really up to Babirra’s standard.  


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is one of the funniest shows I know. I have seen a number of amateur productions, and the professional one with Geoffrey Rush, and along with them was certainly a riotous Roman romp. The audience reaction bore this out.

Much of the success of the show hinges on the character of Pseudolus, the slave battling for his freedom, and Tony Burke was up there with the best. His cheeky smile, pleasant singing voice and physicality were a constant delight, and his comic timing was excellent.

Dean Mitchelmore was a less hysterical Hysterium that I am used to, but had an excellent singing voice, and I was pleased they included the second verse of “I'm Calm”, which is often omitted.

Michael Syme and Greta Wilkinson were an excellent pair of lovers, wide-eyed and naïve, with beautiful singing voices and real chemistry in their love scenes. Darren Mort was a suitably slimy Senex and Natasha Bassett a powerful Domina. Her big solo, “That Dirty Old Man”, was one of the best renditions I've encountered. David Torr was an hilarious Marcus Lycus.

Miles Gloriosus is a difficult role, as it requires a larger than life character, and Steven Saxton achieved this with a big voice and strong presence. The role of Erronius was played by an ageing deadpan Buster Keaton in the film. David Bean played it for laughs, and I didn't feel this worked as well as the deadpan interpretation I'm used to.

The courtesans were suitable sexy and the proteans frenetically busy all night. I'm unsure if this was a new version, but the opening number “Comedy Tonight” was a lot longer than I'm used to, and even funnier. It was a nice touch to have former president, Owen Davies, sitting in the front row, rapidly exit the theatre when Pseudolus yelled “Plague”!

The lighting as a whole greatly enhanced the production, but was particularly effective during “Bring Me My Bride”, as was the choreography.

This production deserves to be sold out!



LOC Musica

l Theatre

CLOC Musical Theatre’s October production was Chicago, a musical set in Chicago in the Prohibition days and is about two lady murderesses who killed their lover and husband.
The two “ladies” are Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, who dislike each other but share the same lawyer, Billy Flynn.
CLOC excelled themselves with this production.  The story was somewhat changed by CLOC. The basic story is the same, but the production has a few new twists. And one might add all for the better.
An outstanding production with a set having a theatre sager to the rear, two double story towers on each side of the stage, both having stairway to the top and was used extensively throughout the evening.
Playing Roxie Hart was Emily McKenzie who gave an excellent performance of such a character. She really caught the essence of Roxy and is a versatile performer and singer.
Velma Kelly was played by Melanie Ott who also caught the character as envisaged with great presentation and attitude to the performance. He Lawyer, Billy Flynn was given a great interpretation by Will Hanley. Hanley presented well giving an excellent portrayal of the character. His stage appearance was professional and presented with gusto.
Elise Stevens was Matron Mamma Morton. Another great performance of the prison guard who :Be Kind to Mama and Mamma will be kind to you” naturally for a price.
A large cast, unfortunately one cannot mention them all as this article does not have room. But! They all handled their roles excellently giving a very good performance.
CLOC set some of the mood as a circus thus giving the audience, clowns, acrobats , a stilt man and other circus performers. such as jugglers, acrobats, silt walker, and other circus performances.
CLOC Musical Theatre produced a magnificent version of Chicago definitely worth seeing and the show finishes on October 22. 2022. Ph 1300 362 547.


9 to 5 the Musical

Opened a t Melbourne’s Stat Theatre on Thursday July 14.
An amazing spectacle of theatre. The State Theatre was booked out.
Production wise the show had everything. There were receding archways full of coloured lights with the opening set with the figures 9 to 5 with a clock in the middle of the O  in the to. This was also used as a video screen with Dolly Parton as part of the evening. Rear of the stage were scenes projected on same for the different portions f the play. There were also movable sets relevant to the different scenes.
The show is based on the 20th Century Fox Picture.and the musical stuck to the story.
The main players were Marina Pryor as Violet Newstead, a sassy, efficient woman who worked all her life at Consolidated Industries. Casey Donovan is Judy Bernly, a newly separated young woman who has never worked before. Erin Clare is Dora Lee Rhodes a well brought-up country girl. Roz Keith, who is in love with her boss and is rather a busybody is played by Caroline O’Connor. The boss, Frank Hart Jnr, a controlling man is played by Eddie Perfect.
Marina Pryor gave a great performance as the girl who trained one of  the male staff who then got the promotion. Frank wasn’t one for women’s lib. Pryor captured the essence of the character and was well appreciated by the audience.
Casey Donovan playing Judy Bernly the newcomer to work. Donovan handled such a role with expertise giving a good and amusing performance. Erin Lee as Dora Lee, who everyone thinks the boss is sleeping with her ( which he wasn’t). As outwardly a dizzy blonde she showed what it takes to help the other two actually run the company. A good interpretation of such a character.
One felt sorry for Eddie Perfect who as Frank Hart Jnr crossed the three ladies and finished up in a very uncomfortable position which he had to keep up for much of the evening.
Caroline O’Connor as Roz gave an outstanding performance really capturing such  a character.
The chorus and dancers kept up the standard set by the main stars giving a wonderful evening of theatre.
“A production not to be missed bringing back comedy, music theatre and laughs to the Melbourne theatre scene that has been missing for the last two years.  


Beauty and the Beast

produced by Diamond Valley Singers.

A remarkable production with the Diamond Valley Singers and the Eltham Orchestra.
A large show with 47 players onstage and overall, approximately 200.people involved.
A production where the orchestra actually accompanied the singers so the audience could really hear the singers and not, like what often happens,  the orchestras seem to want to compete with the artists. The singing was wonderful and on reading the bios of the artists that is no wonder.
Bells (the Beauty) was performed by Kristina Lang. A remarkable and moving performance added to by a lovely voice. Some of her scenes were a joy to behold.
The beast/prince was played by Nathan Michael Wright. Wright handled the role with finesse giving a great interpretation of the character and his scenes with Lang were magnificent.
One of the most amusing and desperate characters is Gaston, a man who considers himself God’s gift to women and decided he will marry Belle regardless of she wishes. Lachlan Alexander captured the role with finesse giving a stirling performance of such a character.
Cogsworth, the clock was given a great performance by Malcolm Wilton. His role was the butler who ran the household but had difficulty in the other staff members doing what he wished. Wilton captured the character with aplomb, projecting well and handling the role with ease.
Lumiere, the servant about to turn into candlesticks, was played by Jack Maher. One did not envy Maher as he had to hold his arms up throughout the whole performance as they had candles at each hand which were illuminated every now and then. A good strong French accent and a professional performance. As Mrs Potts, the teapot, Bernadette Sheedy had a hard job in keeping one arm as the spout and one arm as the handle. Her role was played with good professionalism and was one of the highlights of the evening. Her son, the teacup, was given a good interpretation by Sienna Iaria.  
  A wonderful evening of theatre and DVS are to e congratulated on such an evening.



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A musical story of the six wives f henry VIII. Presented at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre.
An interesting evening of theatre with an all-female cast including the musicians.
Playing the six Queens are, Phoenix  Jackson Mendoza as Catherine if /Aragon, Kala Gare as Anne Boleyn, Loren Hunter as Jane Seymour, Kiana Daniele as Anna of Cleves, Chelsea Dawson as Katherine Howard, and Vidya Makan s Catherine Parr .
All the cast were excellent, both in movement and voice.
The stage was set with steps at rear and the orchestra on each side with the artists appearing in front of the musicians. The costuming was fabulous. Costuming varied from queen to queen based on the original dress of the period but real 21st century style.
The opening number was  harpsichord  music setting the time, one thought, after a couple of bars it broke into modern music with the six in full force.
The singing was loud but well done with the queens singing in chorus then individually telling their stories of life with Henry and the results of what happened to them.
All were very good with no queen standing out from the other, each gave their own style, and the result was superb. A short production of 75 minutes with a warning of loud noise, laser lights and smoke.
A great evening of theatre and an amazing standing ovation with everyone standing all at once where usually a few people stand then others follow.
“The result was the cast giving a few encores, but the audience did not want to leave.  


Mamma Mia

Babirra Music Theatre

After a two year break Babirra Music Theatre has returned with a lively, happy, delightful, and terrific musical with Mamma Mia!
The Company appeared for the first time at Karralyka Theatre as their normal home is being rebuilt. A full house to welcome the company back after a two year break thanks to COVID-19.
The opening was spectacular as the prologue aet on the beach. Amazing chorography which proved itself all evening.
The stage set  as on a Greek island with a typical Mediterranean background to the rear and movable sets onstage which were well moved to suit the relevant scenes.
Donna Sheridan, the mother of the bride with a past was played by Lizzie Matjacic who captured the role with distinction and professionally giving a great performance, added to which was a fine voice.
Her daughter, the bride to be, Sophie Sheridan, was played by Chloe Terry. A wonderful portrayal of a young girl on the threshold of marriage and the nervous restraints which went with the time before such an event. A great interpretation of the character giving the right feeling of the character well balanced by a lovely voice.
Her mystery fathers were played by Tim Ryan as Dam Carmichael, Brett O’Meara as Harry Bright and Steven Edwards as Bill Austin. Each gave great performances in the roles adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
Donna’s two old friends from her entertainment days were Tanya, played by Nicole Kapiniaris-Anson giving a good portrayal of such a role. The other member of the old team was Rosie played by Carol Whitfield. Another good feel for the part and a very energetic performance.
Both girls had great voices adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
Sophie’s affianced Sky as played by Michael Syme. A good portrayal of a young man in love but sometimes not quite sure f what Sophie is up to.
A great evening of theatre with the balance f the cast doing a fabulous job in the dancing and singing field. A very energetic performance and a standing ovation at the end of the show. Unfortunately the sound was a little too loud and some of the voices were a bit distorted as the mikes were set too high. As Babirra’ old home, the Whitehorse Centre was a lot larger than Karralyka I am sure the next production the sound will be rectified.  


Jersey Boys - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Jersey Boys presented by CLOC Music Theatre.
The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
CLOC Music Theatre  is technically an amateur company but when one sees their shows you realise that they’re not really an amateur company but one of Melbourne’s best professional companies and this was proven by the Company’s presentation of Jersey Boys.
The production was an absolute delight. A good smooth flowing and professional production.
The sets were small and easily movable, good use was made of the tabs with the aid of film, In fact in the scene driving across the desert the audience were in the car with the desert all around them. A great set design by the director and set designer Richard Perdriau
The Four Seasons were well portrayed by Will Ranley as Frankie Valli, a terrific performance equalled by a good voice. His scenes were always professional, and his projection was excellent. .
Robbie Hilton was Tommy DeVito. As Tommy, Hilton gave an outstanding performance as the man who lost so much money, not paying bills and the cause of the band’s eventual breakup. Hilton really captured the character as envisaged.
Jonathon Shilling was Bob Gaudio, the boy whose songs really made The Four Seasons become what they were. A good interpretation of the character with great acting and voice abilities.
Tom Morley played Nick Massi, the member who wanted to return home and was sick of travelling. Another great interpretation, good acting abilities, and good voice.
 the balance of the cast followed the standard set by the four main characters giving a delightful, professional production of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
A great evening of theatre and once again CLOC Musical Theatre has set a high standard to keep for the next production of Chicago. . .


Driftwood the Musical

A real life story from the book Driftwood.
A story of sculptor Karl Duldig, his wife Slawa Horowitz-/Duldig – inventor of the modern folding umbrella – and their baby daughter Eva, left their home in Vienna for an uncertain future. The story follows the family’s escape from  Nazi Austria, as well as the recovery of all these Viennese art and other possessions after WWII.
This is a story of a Jewish family escaping the Nazi’s but many refugees in Australia can identify with the story.
The story is set in the drawing room of the family’s Austrian home. The set was reminiscent of the current family home in Malvern. Above the set was an irregular shaped screen which was used to tell some of the story which could not be really presented on stage.
A moving story bringing back to audience many memories of the time. A good cast portraying the family.
Tania de Jong, the producer, played the role of Slawa, her grandmother in real life. A good interpretation of such a role.  A great performance added by a wonderful soprano voice.  Sara Reed was Eva, Slawa’s daughter. A superior performance with a strong clear voice and really captured the life of Eva from childhood to a wife and mother.
Karl was played by Anton Berezin, Another good performer adding to the high standard of the production.
Rella, Eva’s sister was given an amazing and wonderful performance by Michaela burger.
Troy Sussman was a man of many parts. He played Ignar, Marcel, Gauleiter, Patent Attorney and more. A well cone interpretation of all the roles.
 A good evening of theatre and an evening that many of the audience could relate too.  


Jagged Little Pill

Jagged Little Poll opened at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne on Sunday January 6. 2022.
A good crowd welcoming music theatre back to Melbourne.
The story centres around the Healys, a seemingly perfect suburban family striving to hide the cracks beneath the surface when a troubling event shakes their community/ Driven by the themes and emotions the musical today’s powerful voice and burns with passion in its uplifting story telling.
A vibrant full of activity, well produced and directed, smooth flowing and a delight to see.
The music was very loud but consistent with the story, flashing lights added to the production. The main cast was the family, Mary Jane Healy, Steve Healy. Their two children, Frankie and Nick. Frankie was adopted by Seve and Mary Jane.
The other members of the cast were Jo, Bella and Phoenix.
As Mary Jane Healy Natalie Bassingthwaighte gave an outstanding performance, playing the correct wife and mother but with a dark side. An excellent performance. Her husband Steve was a good balance, performing well and catching the character as envisaged/. Emily Nkomo was Frankie, another great performer and was well appreciated by the opening night audience. Her brother Nick was performed by Liam Head who was a good balance to the other members f the family, catching the mood of a teenager caught up in a situation beyond his control.
Maggie McKenna was Jo, a singer who achieved on opening night something you reviewer has never seen in all the years of reviewing both professional and amateur theatre. Her song You Never Know not only brought the house down it was a standing ovation for Maggie as she belted out the number. An amazing scene in the theatre.
The ensemble reminded one of a Greek chorus as they sang as background to the main cast.
A wonderful evening of theatre and a great welcome back after such a long absence of live theatre.


Priscilla Queen of the Desert

CLOC Musical Theatre reopened its first show since the pandemic with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. After planning to produce the show in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 it was decided to postpone the production until 2021. So April 30 saw opening night and May 1 saw media night.
Unfortunately owing again to COVID-19      CLOC’S famous supper was not allowed. A pity because this is where people got together to talk about the show, swap stories and enthuse their friends about what they had just seem.
But! Media night no one was disappointed. For those who don’t know the story, Priscilla is a bus that three drag queens drive from Sydney to Alice Springs with stopovers at  Cooper Pedy,  Broken Hill, and smell towns in between. The reaction to these drag queens at this period in time is rather shall we say, interesting.
CLOC’s Chris white as set designer and team put together a magnificent bus, opening scene of the bus was one side complete then the bus spun around and the other side now facing the audience was open to allow one to see the interior of Priscilla. When travelling across Australia the rear wall was converted into a screen and the bur wheels were spinning giving the impression of the bus driving across the outback. Excellently done and enjoyed by the audience.
Opening the show saw three girls on a top level with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind them as they sang the introduction music. They acted as a Greek chorus for the remainder of the show and were great.
The three drag queens were as Bernadette the elder member from Les Girls was played by Les Threadgold, A remarkable and outstanding performance and he had some great scenes, such as not getting on with Felicia and Threadgold  really caught the role as envisaged.
Mitzi/Tick was given a good interpretation by Angel Dolejŝi who was the reason for the group to be going to Alice Springs as his wife wanted him to bring his show to the casino she managed and to catch up with his son. As a drag queen he has kept this knowledge for his two friends. Dolejŝi really captured such a character giving as good and professional performance.
The third member of the team, Felicity/Adam, was played by Daniel Baker, a young man who could not keep out of trouble. Baker caught the essence f such a character, having a good rapport with his teammates and giving another good performance.
Bob, the mechanic, was played by Andrew Roberts, Bob had seen Les Girls in Sydney and did remember Bernadette. Roberts was the character giving a great interpretation of the mechanic who joined the party to keep the old bus going.
 Jimmy, the aboriginal in native costume who told the three that he only dressed like that for the tourists. Jimmy was played by Matty Mills another great addition to the evening.
There were no bad parts in the entire production and some scenes were an absolute delight.
The costuming lived up to the original film, not quite the same but certainly colourful and spectacular, particular the floral headpieces.
A wonderful evening of theatre and CLOC’s return to the stage outdid themselves.


Fangirls the Musical

Fangirls is a musical about teenage infatuations and adult reactions.
Fourteen-year-old Edna is in love with Harry the leader of the biggest boy band in the world. The production brings out all the teenage fans of such a group and the results on their parents, with a couple of parents divorced and how their children play on same.
Edna was played brilliantly by Karis Oka. Oka really caught the feelings of a young 14-year-old, good stage presence, acting and a fine singing voice. She had a good rapport with her friends  who also performed with finesse.
The musical opened with a scene of a policewomen being killed by a teenage couple until one realises that this is a story composed by Edna and her friend Saltypringle.
Saltypringle was performed by James Majoos a good opposite to Oka also giving a good performance both as a singer., actor and dancer.
Edna’s friends, Jules played by Chika Ikogwe and Brianna played by Shubshri Kandiah. Chika Ikogwe as Jules gave an excellent portrayal of a teenager bewailing that she hasn’t got a boyfriend and worrying she would be left on the shelf. Ikogwe presents well, caught the character as envisaged and has a fine sense of the comique. A great performance.
. Shubshri Kandiah really caught the character of Brianna, a teenager easily led, with pigtails and glasses similar to many teenagers of this age. Kandiah has good stage projection giving a great interpretation of the role,
Edna’s mother on opening night was played by Shannen Alice Quan,  Quan captured the role of a mother not understanding her daughter but, in the end, came to her ais much to Edna’s relief. Quan captured the character with finesse and has a good stage presentation.
Harry, the leader of the Boy Band, Tue Connection, had an uncomfortable role being tied up on the floor then n a chair for most of his time on stage. He came across as genuine when he agreed with Edna to go along with her plans, but as soon as she released him, he took off. Not for long. One funny scene was Harry tied up in the chair with Jules taking advantage of the moment hopped onto his lap and wouldn’t get off.
The scenes were projected onto five large screens of varying sizes with an occasional prop on stage. To get the effect of screaming teenagers the screens had projections of at least 50 to 60 screaming girls faces on air.
The timing of each scene was great, a good evening of theatre so much so that the opening night audience gave the production a standing ovation.


Shrek the Musical

Wednesday February 19 saw the opening of Shrek the Musical at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre.
A bright, cheerful and colourful production about the ogre Shrek whose swamp is disturbed by the fairytale characters who  have been kicked out of Duloc. For peace and quiet Shrek goes to see :Lord Farquaad to sort things out. On his way he saves a terrified talking donkey who attaches himself to Shrek.
Ben Mingay was Shrek, a wonderful performance and what a job of makeup to create the character of Shrek. A man of great talents and a very good stage presence and had a great rapport with Lucy Durack as Princess Fiona, The Princess was cursed into a different person by night but not cursed in the manner expected. Lucy Durack gave a warm and engaging performance giving the right ambience to the role. A wonderful portrayal/
Nat Jobe was Donkey, a most annoying beast which Jobe caught the very essence of. Another great performance.
Todd McKenney was the evil Lord Farquaad. A difficult role as he played the entire show on his knees as Lord Farquaad was a dwarf. McKenny caught the correct amount of evil as the role require with good stage projection and a wonderful portrayal.
A brilliant production with good singing, dancing and great puppetry. The dragon was a full-sized dragon operated by several puppeteers, very spectacular and enjoyed by the opening night audience. Another puppet was the gingerbread man, mounted o a board his mouth opened and shut to his voice and his eyebrows rose and lowered at the right moments. .

A very successful night of theatre and the Melbourne opening night audience gave it Melbourne theatre goer’s mark of approval with a standing ovation


The Wizard of Oz

NOVA Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne

Nova Music theatre’s choice for the final show of 2019 was L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz.
made good use of projection with a large screen at rear of stage which was cleverly used for the different scenes such as the tornado which whizzed Dorothy off to Oz, the evil witch of the west on her broom, Glenda, the good witch coming sown as a bubble which floated down to the corner of the screen where Glinda appeared live on stage.
Costuming was spot on with the cast really looking their roles in such outfitting.
Dorothy was played by Phoebe Bourke. A good portrayal, excellent acting great rapport with Toto but her singing voice did not have strong projection over a loud orchestra. But all round a very entertaining and delightful performance.
The Wizard was performed by John Prendergast who captured the essence of the character with aplomb.
The Scarecrow was played by Adam Casamento who gave a wonderful performance in such a role with a good rapport with Phoebe Bourke.
The Tin Man was played by Ben Allen. A great portrayal with some funny moments when he rusted up and his friends had to oil him.
The Lion was given a stirling performance by Aaron Kelly who really captured the format =the cowardly lion who was seeking courage.
The three friends with Dorothy really made the evening a success with their rapport and professionalism on stage.
Glinda the good witch and Aunt Em was played by Catherine Boizonello who captured both roles with expertise giving a great portrayal.
The Wicked of the West was given a great portrayal by Beth Hanlon, who really projected in the role and showing the real mean streak called for.  
Jason Fabbri was Uncle Henry and Emerald Guard. A good capture of the both characters.
A large cast who all gave great portrayals. One humorous scene was the Wicked Witch of the West’s Army all well dressed and all the same height except for one tiny lad looking about 3 0r 4 years old and doing a good job of marching with the others. Then there was Sammy playing Toto, Dorothy’s dog. A well- behaved player who did everything he was told.
 A wonderful evening of theatre from NOVA to complete 2019 season.



Mamm Mia

CLOC Musical Theatre
Director/Choreographer: Craig Wiltshire
Musical Director: Tony Toppi

CLOC’s choice of production for October was Mamma Mia with music and lyrics by Benny Anderson & Björn Ulvaeus. Yes, the two from ABBA.
An amazing production from the sets to the costuming to the acting and singing.
The sets included a pier that was moved in and out as required, the external and internal views of a Greek Taverna and the background was that of looking across the sea to the Greek mainland, so well done one would have thought they were actually on a Greek island.
The costuming was suitable for the era and the energy of the dancers and singers was wonderful.
A story of a young lady, Sophie Sheridan, who is about to be married and wants her unknown father to give her away. The only problem is that upon finding evidence from her mother’s diary there are three men who could be her father. So, she, unknown to her mother, sends out invitations to the three thinking that she would know which was her father when they arrived.
The mother, Donna Sheridan, was given a good performance by Rosa McCarty. She captured the role with professionalism and projects well.
Her two friends from their band days were Tanya Cresham-Leigh and Josie Mulligan. Tanya was played by Pam Christie Birkett who gave a wonderful and amusing performance as the more sophisticated of the two and had at least three marriages, so she felt she had some experience to advise Sophie. Josie was played by Carolyn Waddle who also gave a great and comic performance. She was the audience’s delight with her handling of the role.
The bride to be and Donna’s daughter Sophie was performed by India Morris. A very talented performer giving a great interpretation of the young girl on the verge of matrimony. A very energetic performer particularly at the end of the show. Good singing voice but could have been better if the technical side did not exaggerate the high notes.
Her prospective to be Sky was played by Luke Borignon who had a good rapport with India Morris, well matched and a good performance.
The three fathers were played by Roc Birkett as Sam Carmichael, Barry Tudor as Harry Bright and Rick Howden as Bill Austin. All three gave great performances projecting well and adding to the high standard of the production.
A large cast setting off the evening with their performances.
A standing ovation and plenty of dancing to the music of ABBA from the audience. .


The Producers

Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Karl McNamara
Musical Director: Vicki Quinn
Choreographer: Steve Rostron

Babirra Music Theatre chose Mel Brooks The Producers for the October season. A story f a failing producer who is told by his accountant that if he producers a flop he will make money and slip off to Brazil before being found out. So the pair raise the money, hire the worst director, and the worst writer. This was done but the musical was a great success.
Babirra had great sets, all changing very smoothly, amazing costuming and overall a wonderful and successful production.
The lead artist, the producer whose shows flopped was Max Bialystock played by Angelo De Cata. What a performance. De Cata was amazing in the role capturing all the fine nuances required for the role, great stage projection and enjoyable to watch.
His new accountant, Leo bloom, a nervous, shy young man, was played by Zachary Alaimo. Another great performer, very energetic, good at the nervous breakdown scenes and with their new secretary absolutely hilarious.  
Their new secretary who came in to audition for the new production and was employed as secretary even though she did not speak English as she was from Sweden. Her name is Ulla Inga Hansen Bensen Yonsen Tallen-Hallen Svaden-Swansonand that was just her Christian name. The role was performed by Nadia Gianinotti who gave an outstanding and amusing performance.
A laugh was given by the hopeless director Roger De Bris. Played by Tim Addicoat  who camped the role up to perfection adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
 An outstanding performance both in excellent acting and stage presentation was the role of Franz Liebkind who wrote the musical Springtime for Hitler as he was a fan of Hitler’s and wanted his story to be told. Ashley McPherson was superb as the character and was thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.
A large cast all of a high standard and space restricts your correspondent from giving any further individual comments. The remainder of the cast gave great performances, spot on. Timing perfect and projection equal to any professional company. Although technically speaking Babirra Music Theatre is an amateur company the standard is equal or better than most professional companies.
A wonderful evening of theatre and Babirra are to be congratulated for bringing such high standard performances to the outer suburbs.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the setting for the production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

A story of a poor boy, Charlie Bucket, who lives with his parents and grandparents in a small house where the four grandparents live in one bed which they haven’t left for 40 ears. Charlie buys a chocolate bar which contains the last of five gold tickets to visit Willie Wonker’s Chocolate Factory.
The set was amazing, a background of a bridge way in the distance with a train crossing it. Foreground was the Bucket home with the four grandparents sitting up I ne big bed. The home was wheeled off and on as the occasion arose. The balance of the sets were relevant to each section of the story and appeared to grow more extravagantly at each change.
Appearing as Charlie Brown on opening night was Lenny Thomas, a 12- year old lad who gave an absolute stirling performance. With such talent as Lenny’s theatre in Australia has a great future.
Acclaimed actor who has appeared in London, on Broadway and Australia playing Grandpa Joe was Tony Sheldon. Grey-haired and bearded (especially grown for the role) Tony lived up to expectations giving a well-balanced performance working well with young Lenny. Charlie’s mother Mrs bucket was performed by Lucy Maunder. Lucy had the correct mannerisms of the character with poignancy and love plus throw in some dance and Lucy captured the hearts of the Melbourne audiences.
Willi Wonka was interpreted by Paul Slade Smith making his Australian debut and was one of the original Broadway cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory playing Grandpa George. His performance in Melbourne lived up to expectations in capturing the essence of Willie Wonka, with changes of attitudes from grim to warmth and pleasure of seeing Charlie in the factory.
The other Golden ticket winners did an excellent portrayal as spoiled brats in different ways.
There was Augustus Gloop who couldn’t get enough to eat. Augustus was played by Jake Fehily. Jake gave a good feel for such a character.
Veruca Salt,  the Russian spoilt and I mean spoilt who does not know the meaning of NO .
Karina Russell was dressed as a ballerina and danced throughout her performance and capturing the spoilt brat with aplomb.
The gum-chewing addict Violet Beauregard was given a good characterisation by Jayme – Lee Hanekom. Jayme0Lee helped keep the standard of the production to its high levels with her portrayal.
Mike Teevee was played by Harrison Riley who as Mike was a TV addict and
when Willie Wonka stamped on his mobile phone(which greatly amused the audience)  one would have thought his heart would break.    
The Oompa-Loompas were cleverly done by puppets with the players dressed in black with their heads open as heads of the puppets. They danced, tap and rising above each other and sang the Oompa-Loompa songs as required.
A magnificent evening of theatre and as at this date many shows are sold out..



Come From Away

Comedy Theatre
Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre is the venue for one amazing musical, Come From Away. He story of the small town of Gander,  Newfoundland which in 1938 had the largest airport in the world. Since the advent of jet travel, it was not so often used but kept up to date.
With the shocking results of 9/11, 38 aircraft were diverted to Gander carrying 6597 passenger from 92 countries. They remained on the aircraft for several hours before being allowed to leave.
The effect on the town of was unbelievable. A town of 10,000 people suddenly being increased by 6597.
The musical brings home the results of this invasion.
A cast of 12 playing innumerable roles from the townsfolk of to the weary and tired travellers from across the globe.
The stage set simply with a backdrop resembling a wall of logs with a couple of doors, one representing the aircraft and one for on and off stage exists. The remainder of the stage was set with tables and chairs representing vehicles, and interior of bars and homes.
All the cast were perfect in their roles, really capturing the characters they were portraying.
A very poignant story but plenty of laughs with the mix-ups of understandings and when several of the passengers became honorary citizens of Newfoundland.
No interval which was understandable as such a story really could not be broken up.
Each story was taken from interviews with the people involved making each item in the production based on real life and added to the poignancy of the production.
A standing ovation was given by the Melbourne audience and then a Celtic band came on stage. The result was hilarious, the music was terrific and the audience, still standing, clapped and danced to the music making a wonderful end to theatre.
Definitely a show not to be missed and in this day and after 9/11 a story of how people rise to an occasion such as this and inspires the best in all of us.


Puttin' on the Ritz

On tour around Australia.
Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre was Melbourne City’s only venue to see Puttin’ on the Ritz.
A song and dance production from the glory days of Hollywood. Comprising a Fred Astaire Medley, Irvin Berlin Selection, Gershwin Medley, Cole Porter, Al Jolson, Judy Garland Section, Cotton Club. And some in be tweens.
The company comprised of 16 strong West End stars including six multi[talented vocalists and 10 energetic dancers.
Costuming was on the glamorous side with men in top hats and tails and the ladies in ballroom and ballerina outfits.
The cancers were excellent with the old-style musicals eg Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Glamorous evening outfits and wonderful standard of the dance.
The singers added to the high standard of the evening with wonderful voices and excellent stage presence./ Although the cast is from London there was one Aussie girl and actually her hometown is Melbourne. Naturally she received a great ovation from her hometown audience.
A great evening of reminisces and thoroughly enjoyed by the Melbourne audience.


The Sound of Music

Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Tyler Hess.
Musical Director: Ben Moody.
Choreographer: Kristy Griffin.

Babirra Music Theatre’s choice to open the 2019 season was The Sound of Music.
Probably one of the best-known musicals that appeals to all ages.
Babirra staged a superb production from the start in the chapel to the finish climbing every mountain.
The opening set was in the chapel with the Nuns f the Nonnberg Abbey.
The set consisted of pillars and Gothic arches. These were used throughout the performance with lighting depicting the various scenes projected onto same. This was very successful.
A large cast all with a high standard of performance.
As Maria a wonderful performance was given by Greta Wilkinson. A good performer with an excellent singing voice plus a very talented acting young lady. Greta had a good rapport, not only with the children but also with Adam Bishop as Captain von Trapp.
Adam Bishop captured the essence of such a character giving an excellent performance not only as an actor but also as a singer. Bishop carried such a role with ease and worked well with the other performers especially the children.
The entrepreneur of the festival, Max Detweiller was played by Phil Lambert who was Max. A lively man who wasn’t above a little skulduggery if it could help him get on. Lambert projected well as such a character giving a good portrayal.
Samantha Du Rennes was the Mother Abbess who sympathised with Maria but really didn’t think that Maria was suited to life in the Nunnery. An excellent portrayal of the sympathetic leader of the Nunnery but having to consider all facts.
A small but important role was the message boy Rolf who had feeling for Liesl but was a converted Nazi. But his feelings for Liesl took precedence and he was responsible for the con Trapp family not to be found by the search party. As Rolf, Michael Syme gave a good interpretation of the role. Another small but important part was that of the housekeeper Frau Schmidt.    The role was given a wonderful performance by Dot Parker.
The Baroness Elsa Schraeder, who was expecting to marry Captain von Trapp, was given a stirling performance by Lauren Holcombe.
The von Trapp children on opening night were played by Hammerstein family.,
Eryn Saunders was Lies, a good and moving performance, Elliot Shute was Fredrich, well performed, Lucy Sonnemann was Louisa, another good portrayal, Patrick Spillane was Kurt, who projects well, Charlotte Barnard was Brigitta, who gave another good performance, Emily Bedford was Marta, a touch of a character well handled by Emily. The youngest of the von Trapp children was Miranda Ferringo as Gretel. Not only did she capture the character as envisaged at the finale she also surprised the audience by playing the violin.
A wonderful evening of entertainment by Babirra with an unusual finale. IN the program was listed the words to the major songs of the show. As each performer came forward for their bows the songs were sung by the cast and audience. This added to the delight of the evening and the audience was so pleased with the performance that they gave it a standing ovation. This, your reviewer is the first time seen in local theatre. Apparently the show is booked out for the entire season, so unless there is a cancelation and I recommend trying to see if there is a cancellation to try and see the show.



Kinky Boots


CLOC Musical Theatre
Director: Chris Bradtke
Musical Director: Daniel Heskett.

CLOC Musical Theatre’s choice of productions to open the 2019 season was Kinky Boots.
A story of Charlie Price a fourth generation in the family’s shoe factory. When Charlie’s father dies Charlie takes over, But! Although the factory makes a first- lass product no one wants to buy. S with the unexpected help he goes for a niche market and produces a new line, Kinky Boots.
Although technically speaking CLOC Music Theatre is an amateur company this production is fully professional and many of the artists are from the professional theatre.
Opening the stage was set in the shoe factory with the work desks being moved in and out as required. Sets were smoothly flown in and moved to the wings giving really good workings form the offstage workers.
Playing the lead man, Charlie, was Owen Clarke. Clarke was cast perfectly for this role. He captured every fine nuance of a man who wanted to get away from the family business and move with his fiancée to London to make a new career for himself/ On the death of his father he returns to try and save the factory. An excellent portrayal and a pleasant singing voice adding the high standard of his performance.
The outstanding performance of the evening goes to Aaron Taylor as Lola/Simon. As the drag queen Lola Taylor was exuberant, explosive and outrageous. As Simon, when dressed in male clothes he was timid, quiet and uncomfortable with others. This led to a very good emotional scene in the gent’s bathroom with Simon and Charlie opening up to each other.
The contrast of such characters was excellently handled by Taylor who also added a fine singing voice to the production.
Lauren, the girl who suggested a niche market to Charlie was played by Rachel Rai. Another good performance of the factory worker promoted to executive and falls in love with Charlie. Well handled and with good stage projection.
Charlie’s fiancée Nicola, who wanted Charlie to sell the factory, pay the outstanding bills and come away to London, was played by Lucinda Barratt. Barratt handled the role with ease and with her performance added to the high standard of the evening.
A great character performance was given by Geordie Worland as Con; the red necked factory worker wo couldn’t understand Lola. Excellently cast for such a role and Worland gave an outstanding performance.
A first class team performance was given by The Angels, a transvestite group of backing dancers for Lola. The group was fabulous and sowed their comfort zone in the difficulties of performing in high heels.
The orchestra balanced the singing as expected unlike so many show these days where the orchestra overpowers the songs.
CLOC Musical Theatre produced a magnificent show thoroughly enjoyed by the audience  and all are looking forward t their next production which is Mumma Mia/  


Beauty and the Beast


Nova Music Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Musical Director: John Clancy

Nova Music Theatre’s choice for opening the 2019 season was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
The set was comprised of backdrops, Beauty’s home a little hut, the rear inside walls of the Beast’s castle. The backdrops and the forward sets were flown and moved in and very smoothly without interrupting the flow of the production.
The costumes were magnificent and appeared t be comfortably worn by the cast.
The Beast was played by Brenton Vliet. A wonderful portrayal, good rapport with Chloe Richardson as Beauty, and enhanced by a great voice.
Belle (Beauty) was performed by Chloe Richardson. A great performance of the quiet village girl only interested in books, but who gave up her freedom to save her father. Chloe projects well and gave a lovely and professional performance.
A great performance was by Patrick Wilcombe as Gaston who is quite sure of himself so much so as God’s gift to women he decides that Belle is to be his wife but is shocked to find she doesn’t fancy him. Patrick gave a stunning performance especially with his poses and his rapport with his offsider LeFou.
LeFou  played by Daniel Nieborski was given a hard time by Gaston Daniel gave a positive interpretation of the character even after the way he was treated by Gaston still came back for more.
One highlight was Lumiere wo was being slowly changed into three candles and candle bar.
Played by Ashley McPherson who gave a wonderful portrayal of the Frenchman holding his arms up for most of the performance which must have been very tiring. His accent was a delight and the humorous performance was well enjoyed by the opening night audience. As hid friend, Cogsworth . who was being changed into a clock, a good performance was given by Aaron Kelly.
Mrs Potts, the teapot, was given a good interpretation by Susan Warner, who also had a difficult part in holding her arm up as the teapot spout.
The Lumiere’s girlfriend, Madame de la Grande Bouche was played by Julie Wright who captured the role as written. Another good portrayal.
The ensemble added to the high standard f the evening making Nova’s opening production a standard to keep up.


Barnum the Circus Musical

Director Tyran Parke
Musical Director: Stephen Gray.
Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre is the venue for Barnum the Circus Musical
A different musical than the usual expectations of this style of theatre.
The cast not only comprised of musical theatre regulars but also circus trained artists from various venues such as National Institute of Circus  Arts, Circus Oz and Cirque de Soleil.
The stage was set as the interior of a circus tent with the entrance at rear of the stage and the public seats on each side.
The orchestra was like any circus on the first level over the entrance.
One of Australia’s favourite performers, Todd McKenney was P.T. Barnum. A fantastic and excellently done performance. Todd had to learn some magic for the role and also how to walk a tightwire which he did on opening night very successfully drawing a huge round of applause from the audience.
His wife Charity Barnum was played by another popular Australian performer. Rachel Beck. Rachel’s performance was absolutely wonderful and her scenes with Todd were so that one actually thought they were really man and wife.
 The other lead role was that of the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind played by Suzie Masters, Suzie returned from five years performing on London’s West End to take this role. Her performance was outstanding and her voice wonderful and one could see why she spent so much of her time on the English stage.
Other great performances were given by Kirby Burgess as the Ring Master, Akina Edmonds as Joyce Heth, the oldest woman in the world and Joshua Reynolds as General tom Thumb.
The ensemble gave excellent performances, not only good voices but acrobatic and trapeze wise added o the feel of circus in such a production.
A well performed show with everything flowing smoothly a little ad lib which added to the enjoyment of the evening and with the set and the introduction of Jumbo, the largest elephant in the world (you will have t go to the show to see Jumbo)
The hard Melbourne first nighters showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.   



Muriel's Wedding the Musical

Director Simon Phillips

Melbourne’s  Her Majesty’s Theatre was home to the opening night of Muriel’s Wedding the musical.
The production is a theatrical version of P J Hogan’s iconic hit film, updated to today by the writer himself with music and lyrics by Australian award-winning songwriters Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall with additional songs by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ukvaeus and Stig Acderson written of aABBA.
A very colourful night of entertainment. Good use was made of two stage revolves for changing scenes and moving actors from one scene to another. One outstanding set was the scene of Sydney. Looking across Sydney harbour with the city skyline to the rear of the stage and the Sydney Opera House viewed through a massive construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. /the scene was well used by all on stage for various sections of the story.
The choreography was outstanding, many variations and Andrew Hallsworth must be congratulated on such a wonderful job.
A good smooth-running production bringing great amusement to the opening night audience who thoroughly enjoyed the production.
Muriel Heslop was played by Natalie Abbott in her very first professional stage production. Natalie proved her expertise in her portrayal giving an outstanding performance catching all the finer nuances of such a character. Her best friend Rhonda was played by Stefanie Jones. Although she has been on stage since she was seven years, she told your reviewer that this is her first lead role. She handled same with ease capturing all the feelings of a girl who liked to party then suffered loss of legs through cancer. A good and moving performance.
David James was Muriel’s father Bill Heslop. Bill was a local councillor only interested in what he could get out of it for himself without any family feelings unless the family could help him in some fraudulent scheme. David caught the essence of the character, not copying the film but giving the character his own interpretation. An excellent job. Muriel’s mother, Betty Heslop was given a great portrayal, by Pippa Grandison, of the mother who cared for her family but had trouble with her husband.
Muriel’s siblings were Jacob Warner as Perry Heslop, Caleb Vines as Malcolm Heslop and Manon as Joanie Heslop. Manon brought the house down with three words, “You’re terrible, Muriel”. Without doubt one of the most remembered lines of the play.
Muriel’s so-called friends were Christie Whelan Browne as Tanya Degano, Imogen Moore as Jane Nuttall and Cathy Hamilton as Cheryl Moochmore.
These three are very talented and beside being good actors, their dance routines were wonderful, and singing was up to the standard set by the lead stars.
The ABBA team was played by Jaime Hadwen as Agnetha Faltskog. Laura Bunting as Anni-Frid Lynstad, Michael simon as Bjorn Ulvaeus and Evan Lever as Benny Andersson. 
All four captured the characters with ease giving a first-class performance in their scenes.
All the performers gave excellent portrayals of their characters and looked as if they were really enjoying their roles. The sets and colour was vibrant and the Melbourne opening night audience showed their approval with a standing ovation.
Melbourne’s season opened March 23 and the Sydney season opens July 4 with previews from June 28. 2019.
tickets from www,  


Les Misérables

Young Australian Broadway Chorus
National Theatre St. Kilda A magnificent production of Les Misérables by the Young Australian Broadway Chorus.

A well- set stage with a solid wooden frame and a staircase each side. The onstage sets were two solid wooden staircases with platforms and very successfully used in the various scenes.
One of the largest casts seen on the National stage with 125 members in in the street and revolutionary scenes.
Starring as Jean Valjean was Bryce Gibson. A remarkable per4formance with a good strong clear voice, terrific acting qualities and a good stage presence. As Javert, the policeman who pursued Jean Valjean over the years Nicholas Sheppard gave a stirring performance. Another good strong clear voice and excellent acting.
As the young Cosette Alexandra Stone gave an outstanding performance with a nice voice and a good performance.
Her grown up Cosette wads played by Jamine Arthur. Jamine projects well, a delightful voice and worked well with both Bryce Gibson and Ben Gonsalvez (Marius)
As Marius Ben Gonsalvez  gave a good performance of the student who fell in love with the mystery girl. The light touch of the evening was given by the landlord and his wife, Thenardier and Madam Thenardier. Played by Jackson Hurwood and Madeleine Horsey caught the meanness of such characters particularly picking pockets in their hotel and then breaking into the wedding of Marius and Collette. They had a great sense of comique and really added to the enjoyment of the evening.
The student leader of the revolution, Enjolras was played by  Jordie Race-Coldrey Good stage projection and a fine portrayal. Saturday night saw Edgar Stirling as the young lad Gavroche. Edgar handled the role with aplomb producing a good portray
A very successful evening of theatre with good costuming, lighting  and a fantastic evening so well thought of the audience gave the production a standing ovati





Melbourne’s State Theatre was the venue for Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s Evita.
The set was basic with scaffolding each side and a large movie screen at stage rear. Various scene changes were represented by small sets moving in and out. The screen showed aspects of Eva Peron’s life taken from newsreels. 
The opening was the funeral of Eva Peron and then the story backtracked to her early life and how she met Juan Peron and her progress with Juan Peron and her acceptance and love from the Argentinians.
As Eva Peron, Tin Arena has returned to her hometown Melbourne to star in Evita.
The role is hectic as Tina spends most of the performance on stage. Tina handles the role excellently giving one of the best performances seen on the Melbourne stage. Playing Juan Peron is Paulo Szot is one of the most acclaimed and versatile baritones in the world.  
An amazing performance with a great voice as well as good stage presentation and a terrific rapport with Tina Arena.
Playing the narrator, Che, was Kurt Kingsley. Another outstanding performance and a very busy time on stage.
A first class production with great costuming, added realism with the screen showing newsreels of Eva’s life adding to the understanding of the production.
The ensemble added to the high standard of the evening performing without a flaw and highly appreciated by the audience.



Dr Zhivago the Musical

Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne
Music Director: Phil Osbourne
Choreographer/Assistant Director: Wayne Robinson.
Nova Music Theatre’s final choice of production for 2018 was Doctor Zhivago the Musical.
The story is set in Russia before, during the Revolution and WWI.
Also as it has been described as five people with three men in love with one woman and two women in love with one man. .
The program advised of many scene changes and this was handled very successfully by the use of film projection. The rear wall was a giant screen and the tabs were also used as a screen. The pictures were amazing and really gave the feel of the era’s portrayed.
The play covered Yurii Zhivago’s life from childhood to the end. As young Yurii Joshua Simos-Garner caught the feel of a young lad losing his father and being taken care of by family friends whose daughter Tonia befriended him. As the young Tonia Rebecca Johnstone gave a good performance and the other woman in Yurii’s life, Lara, as a young girl was played by Hannah Simos-Garner who also played Katrina.
Dr Zhivago as an adult was played by Brenton van Vliet. A professional performance catching all the fine nuances of such a character and enhanced by a good singing voice.
The adult Lara was played by Laureen King who gave an outstanding performance of the girl with three men in love with her and each sacrificing their feelings so she would not get hurt. A fine example of acting and a lovely voice to match.
Yurii’s playmate and who became his wife Tonya was given a magnificent portrayal by Angeline Thompson. Thompson’s performance added to the high standard of the production and her stage presence certainly showed her professionalism.
Lara’s husband, Pasha and also Strelnikov as he became was played by Daniel Nieborski who caught the shy innocent groom but then changed to a strong vicious communist leader.
Tonia’s mother Anna Gromeko was played by Anne Dewar who caught the correct feel of a woman of the bourgeois and mot understanding the new way of life bought in by the Soviet Regime. Her husband Alexander Gromeko was given a wonderful portrayal by Barry Baker.
The other two main characters in Yurii’s life are Komarovsky the lawyer who betrayed Yurii’s father and loves Lara and finally helps them escape was given a good performance by John Leahy. Liberius. An opium addicted leader of the murderess partisans was played by J/c La Fontaine. Another good performance adding to the high standard of the production. The ensemble gave a good measure of talent and a very successful evening was given by Nova Musical Theatre



Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde


Director: Shaun Kingma
Musical Director: Tyson Legg.
Choreographer: Tamara Finch

CLOC Musical theatre’s final choice for 2018 was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde.
A dark set stage opening with a scrim and behind same a great two- story fretwork building with stairs and all well used by the players. Congratulations must go to Grant Alley O.A.M. for the amazing construction work.
Mark Doran was Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde. A great portrayal of such a role with a change of voice and expression with the change of character.
Dr Jekyll’s fiancée Emma Carew was played by Catherine Hancock who had a good rapport with Mark Doran. Carew gave a good interpretation of the role of a fiancée who believed in Dr Jekyll no matter what.
Rachel Rai was Lucy, a lacy of the night, who was befriended by Dr Jekyll. Rai caught the essence of the character with professionalism giving a good high standard performance.
The hospital committee gave good performances as thinking Dr Jekyll was not quite all there but had to face the consequences from Mr Hyde.
Costuming was well done reminiscent of the period. The technical side was extraordinary with the magnificent set, lighting and overall production.
A brilliant production and up to CLOC’s usual high standard
|who had thought that when R.L. Stevenson wrote the story that I the distant future Dr Jekyll’s elixir would become fact. Think ICE




Babirra Music Theatre

Director: Christian Cavallo
Music Director: Stacey-Louise Camilleri
Choreographer: Jessica Mohi.

Babirra’s choice of the final season for 2018 was Dusty an adaptation of the life of Dusty Springfield from her life as a school girl to her friendships and successes and all in between
.The Director, Christian Cavallo took some liberties by creating Reno, an amalgamation of several people in Dusty’s life. Also he showed Dusty as a schoolgirl, Mary O’Brien and as Dusty grew Mary was always here as perhaps her conscience.
Dusty as a child Mary O’Brien, was played by Phoebe Burke. A very talented youngster who appeared on stage throughout the performance and giving a very confident and professional portrayal of the young Dusty. With talent like  Phoebe’s the future of theatre is looking good.
As an adult dusty was portrayed by Emily McKenzie. An amazing outstanding performance catching all the fie nuances of such a character and only excelled by a wonderful voice.
Reno, the amalgamation of several characters in Dusty’s life, was performed by Sarahlouise Younger. Another good performance of such a role and the voice that Dusty was looking for.
Dusty’s two great friends, her hairdresser and makeup artist were given great interpretations by Zachary Alamo as Rodney the hairdresser and Ashley Taylor as Peg, the make up artist. These two added to the delight of the story and the three had a wonderful rapport.
Dusty’s mother Kay O’Brien was given a great interpretation of the Irish Catholic 50’s mother who didn’t really understand her daughter and favoured her son.
Garry Barcham was Dusty’s father Gerard O’Brien giving a good interpretation of the 50’s father who believed a girl should go to school, get married and raise children. As for this idea of a musical career unheard for a girl, he too favoured his son.
The balance of the cast lived up to the standard set by the leads and the high standard of the evening certainly showed how Babirra Music Theatre has improved over the years.

The Boy from Oz

The Production Company

Director: Jason Langley
Music Director: Michael Tyack
Choreographer: Michael Ralph
This being The Production Company’s 20th Anniversary the choice of production was an Australian musical yes, The Boy from Oz..
A simple production with the orchestra on stage rear, a staircase down the centre and massive lighting across each side and central. The lighting was amazing coordinate and spectacular.
Starring as Peter Allen, the boy from Armidale who went on to be a world phenomenon, was Rohan Browne. A magnificent performance by one of Australia’s most versatile actors, singers and dancers. Browne showed his excellent talents in all three fields and one could see Peter Allen on stage.
As Judy Garland, Caroline O’Connor returned from London to play the role. One could see why. Caroline was Judy Garland. As Judy she supported Peter in his New York debut and was there then he was there for her. O’Connor caught all the fine nuances as scripted and gave an outstanding performance.
As Liza Minelli, Loren Hunter a rising star on the Australian scene, giving a moving and understanding of Peter’s differences with ease and added to by a great singing voice. Marion Woolnough, Peter’s mother was portrayed by Robyn Arthur. A great interpretation of a loving Australian country town mother who supported Peter all the way despite an occasional shock to an Australian Mum here and Robyn captured the role as envisaged giving a good performance.
Young Peter on opening night was played by Hudson Sharp. A young lad but is he talented, dancing, dancing and piano playing and a very energetic performance. Theatre in Australia has certainly got a future with such talent coming on.
Peter’s backing trio was given a wonderful performance by Baylie, Carson as Lucy, Josie Lane as Michaela and Phoenix Mandoza as Gabriella.
 A well-received show but one small flaw, on occasion the orchestra just about drowned out the singing. I am afraid that this often happens, and perhaps sound engineers could look into this.
But overall a great performance and the Melbourne opening night crowd gave the Melbourne’s finest accolade, a standing ovation.   

Mamma Mia

Director: Gary Young
Musical Supervisor: Stephen Amos
Choreographer: Tom Hodgson.

Thursday July 12 saw the return of Mamma Mia to Melbourne opening at the Princess theatre.
Some small changes from the original Melbourne season with new songs and new sets, but still the fantastic feeling and wonderful night out.
The stage was set as a Greek taverna, a two storied building one would swear that had just come form a Greek island.
The music of course was all ABBA and found the audience singing along.
The production was superb, and it was obvious that the cast were really enjoying themselves. A smooth-running production with great performances, terrific dancing with good choreography, re\markable singing and a terrific rapport between the cast members.
One amusing and amazing highlight were the boys dancing with swimming flippers on their feet, A great example of dexterity and fun thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
As Donna, the single mother of Sophie, Natalie O’Donnell caught the essence of such a character giving a great performance aided by a wonderful singing voice. Her daughter Sophie was played by Sarah Morrison. A great young performer capturing all the fine nuances of such a role with an energetic performance enhanced by her wonderful stage presence. Her fiancé Sky was given an excellent performance by Stephen Mahy. Mahy has a great rapport with Sarah Morrison and his performance added to the high standard of the production.
Sophie’s fathers (no one knows which one is her actual Dad) were played by Ian Stenlake as Sam Carmichael, Phillip Lowe as Harry Bright and Josef Ber as Bill Austin. The fathers all came from different walks of life completely changed since their time on the island. They all handled their roles with complete naturalness, working well together and adding to the enjoyment of the evening. Donn’s friends, Rosie, played by Alicia Gardiner and Tanya played by Jayde Westaby all adding to the fun of the show with some fun scenes such as a pillow fight and the finale dressed an ABBA         costumes singing some of the popular ABBA songs.
The production bought a touch of Mediterranean summer to Melbourne’s July winter.
A wonderful, bright, entertaining production not to be missed. Go and see it, you have ponly 12 weeks .


Singin' in the Rain


Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Alan Burrows.
Musical Director: Amy Wert.
Choerographer: Kristy Griffin

Babirra’s choice of program for its winter season was a stage interpretation of a very popular film Singin’ in the Rain. The production is not only a wonderful musical, it is a piece of history inasmuch in showing the difficulties of the transition from the silent movies to the talkies. This is evidenced by Lina Lamont whose voice, shall we say, not quite suitable for film or stage.
Babirra’s production was superb, sticking primarily to the original film except the dancing was mostly tap adding an extra and very enjoyable aspect to the show. Talking to the director your correspondent was informed that only half the dancers were originally tap dancers, the balance of the dancers learnt on the job. After the opening night no one would have believed that all that dancers were not highly skilled in their craft. These scenes really added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Of course, the most famous dance Singin’ in the Rain was wonderfully executed by Robbie Walton as Don Lockwood. The actual rain was done by the lighting which was so realistic the audience assumed that it was the real thing. The splashing scene was done in water tanks on the stage. |
Robbie Walton as Con Lockwood gave an outstanding performance as an actor, dancer and singer, working well with his two partners.
Abbey Hansen was Kathy Selden, the girl who rubbished the movie industry calling the actors shadows but becoming part of the industry herself. Harrison gave a stirling performance as Kathy as an actor, singer and dancer.
Jeremy Russo was Cosmo Brown, Don’s lifelong friend. Russo had an exhausting role, on the go all the time, a great performer presenting very professionally and added to the humour of the evening.
A difficult role was that of Lina Lamont, the “dumb” blonde with a voice of a rasp but didn’t know it. A stunning performance by Emily Mignot who captured the essence of the blonde who believed everything she read in the fan magazines and was not fond of Kathy Selden.
The high standard of the balance of the cast was up to that of professional theatre and although this was an amateur production one could be forgiven they were at a professional performance.
Babirra certainly has come of age improving dramatically over the past few years. .



The Production Company

Director: Chris Parker.
Musical Director: Guy Simpson
Choreographer: Amy Campbell.

To celebrate The Production Company’s 20th year the choice was Oklahoma.
Seventy- five years ago Oklahoma opened on Broadway and took New York by storm. The show revolutionised the American musical, won a Pulitzer Prize and set the standards for modern musical theatre.
The Production Company is unique in its productions, making them simple and at a cost people can afford thus bringing theatre to people who perhaps would not attend. The stage is set simply with the orchestra at rear of the stage and in Oklahoma the musicians were dressed as cowhands and between the orchestra and the performers was a cattle fence and a cattle entry to vehicles which was well-used by the cast.         The main character who bound the show together was Aunt Eller played by Robyn Nevin who gave a stunning performance in the role, capturing the feel of the lady everyone respected and loved.
Curley, the hero of the production was given a wonderful portrayal by Simon Gleeson. An outstanding acting performance balanced by a good voice. He had a great rapport with Anna O’Byrne who played his girl Laurey. O’Byrne gave a great performance as the young girl caught between two men and playing hard to get.
Jud Fry, the villain of the story was Aunt Eller’s farm hand who thought that Laurey was in love with him. Jud was played by Ben Mingay handling the role of the very bad guy with a naturalness and must have one of the best singing voices in Australia’s musicals.
Ado Annie the girl who can’t say no was given an amusing and wonderful performance by Elise McCann, her boyfriend Will was performed by Bobby Fox, an amusing and good performance. Ali Hakam the Persian travelling salesman who flirted with every girl he met was performed by Grant Piro who caught the essence of such a character giving a good and amusing performance.
A large cast all producing a wonderful evening of entertainment with good choreography, good singing, and great acting.
This production shows how the company has successfully completed 20 years.

The Wizard f Oz


Melbourne’s Regent Theatre was the venue for the latest world-famous Wizard of Oz.
Opening was Kansas where Dorothy was in trouble for her dog biting the nasty neighbour.
As her family is to busy to pay her any attention Dorothy runs away only to be greeted by Professor Marvel and in light of the oncoming cyclone he persuades her to return home.
The production was overall absolutely amazing with maybe the technical side nearly overtaking the actors in popularity. The cyclone effects which takes Dorothy to Oz was done on the scrim by film creating a very realistic cyclone with the winds, house and debris flying and then we see the house in space coming through a satellite view of a cyclone and then landing on the Planet Oz with an evil witch cackling while flying through space on her broom.
A good contrast from the dull brown of the Kansas Prairie to the bright and very colourful Land of Oz. On audience left was the old farmhouse e sitting on top the evil witch in the Kansas dull colour while the rest of the stage was a garden of bright flowers and a rainbow surmounting the stage. The rainbow appeared throughout the performance adding to the colour and delight of the evening.
Newcomer to a leading role was Samantha Dodemade as Dorothy. A wonderful and skilful performance enhanced by her co-partner Toto played by Flick and rouble alternating Australian terriers. Some comments were made that these two dogs were the real stars of the evening.
Anthony Warlow was Professor Marvel and the Wizard. Warlow captured the role with ease giving a good and natural feeling performance.
The good witch Glinda was played by Lucy Dorack and the Wicked Witch of the West was played by Jemma Rix. These two girls have played these roles before in The Wizard of Oz and in Wicked. Though Jemma told your correspondent that she played this role completely differently to how the witch appears in Wicked. This time she is nasty.
The Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the cowardly Lion wee played y Alex Rathgeber, Eli Cooper and John Xintavelonis. These three added to the success of the evening with their performances of humour and poignancy throughout the production.
A well cone performance and a good balance of lighting, colour, technical effects and of course the performers. A great success but one does feel that the singing was rather average . They were good but not really outstanding.
But Melbourne opening night audience gave the show the ultimate acclaim with a standing ovation.


Dream Lover - The Bobby Derin Story

State Theatre

New Year’s Eve at the State Theatre saw the opening night of Dream Lover a musical on the life of Bobby Derin.
Opening saw David Campbell as Bobby Darin enter the stage with a male chorus with the famous song Mack the Knife
David Campbell gave an outstanding performance as Bobby Derin. He captured all the finer nuances of the character added to by a remarkable voice capturing all the tunes created by bobby Derin.  Playing Bobby’s mother ( and is advised in the story actually his grandmother) and Sandra Dee’s mother was Marina Prior. A wonderful portrayal of two different characters and with Marina’s excellent acting one did not mix the two.
Bobby’s love of his life was Sandra Dee played magnificently by Hannah Fredericksen. Not only a good actor but with a voice to mach. Fredericksen and Campbell has a great rapport which added to the high standard of the production.
Many other great performers adding to a successful evening.
The production was a musical centred around the life of Bobby Derin from his childhood days to his demise from heart problems.
The stage was set on two levels with the orchestra on the top level with a stair in the centre and divided in two on the way down. This was successfully used for most entrances and exists. The music endeared itself to the audience adding to the great success of such a production.
Opening night saw a standing ovation with streamers and balloons seemingly puring sown from the ceiling.
A great addition to Melbourne’s theatre scene for 2018.

Les Miserables

Nova Music Theatre
Director: Noel Browne.
Musical Director: Phil Osborne
Choreographer: Wayne Robinson.

Nova Musical Theatre’s choice for the spring production was Les Miserables. Based on the book of the same name by Victor Hugo it is about Jean Valjean ,a parolee who breaks his parole and Police Inspector Javert  who spends years hunting him down.
Basic sets but still giving the feel of the production. Good lighting and good use of a revolve stage particularly for the barricade scene/
Jean Valjean was played by Chris Hughes. A remarkable and expert performance. Hughes really captured the character from the prisoner , on parole, the mayor and acting father to Cosette. His scenes with Robert Clark as Javert were outstanding and their duet was widely applauded by the opening night audience.
Robert Clark as Inspector Javert gave and outstanding portrayal of the pedantic policeman who can only see that Valjean had broken his parole notwithstanding the good he did in the community and his raising of Cosette because of a promise Valjean made to her mother Fantine. Clark has a great voice evidenced by his duet with Hughes.
Melissa Harrington was Fantine, the girl wrongly sacked form Valjean’s factory and suffered terribly trying to raise money to support her daughter, Cosette.,
Harrington captured the essence of the young girl fighting the odds with expertise and a lovely voice to match giving a great performance adding to the high standard of the evening.
Amy Larsen was Eponine, the daughter of the inn owner and spoilt by her parents. As she grew she became involved with the students in the revolution of 1832 and fell in love with the student Marius who fell in love with Cosette.
Larsen gave a positive performance as a young girl falling in love with the wrong man and unselfishly helping him in his search for Cosette.
The student who fell in love with Cosette was Marius Pontmercy played by Marcus Favrin. Favrin projects well and gave a stirling and understanding portrayal of such a student.
Jonathon White was the student revolutionary leader. A good stage personality with good projection handling the role with finesse giving the right feel to the character.
Opening night saw the young Cosette played by Charlotte Thomas an established performer playing the role with expertise and also adding to the success of the evening.
Gavroche, the urchin who considered he owned Paris was given a good interpretation by Ben Harding who caught the essence of the young rapscallion giving a professional and moving performance.
Ėponine was played on opening night by Amelie Sutherland.  A good performance f the young girl brought up in low life hotel with crooked parents. No sympathy for Cosette and spoiled by her parents. Sutherland gave a good portrayal of such a character.
A great evening of theatre with some excellent duets and solos from the performers.


A Chorus Line


CLOC Musical Theatre
Director: Richard Perdriau.
Musical Director: Daniel Heskett.
Choreographer: David Harford

CLOC Musical theatre’s spring production was A Chorus Line a story about a group of dancers auditioning for a musical theatre production for a Broadway show.
Unusually for a musical there are no stars, but just a group of wannabees desperate for a job as dancers in show business.
Also different from most shows there are no props except for mirrors and lighting. Costumes are exercise clothing except for the finale.
CLOC had a bare stage with black sides and rear. The only set was a group of mirrors which were skilfully moved upstage and downstage according to need. Excellently done as was the lighting adding to the very high standard of the production.
The dancers were a sheer delight to see. Spot on timing, magnificently high standard of the dance. A large cast of whom earlier in the show as an audition several were cancelled out but they were used as background.
There were scenes where the dancers telling of their backgrounds showed the background of which they were talking of. One outstanding scene was the classical ballet scene. In full ballet outfits such as tutus, tights etc with beautiful pas de deux and graceful movements as a contrast to the jazz b3aller of the musical theatre.
All the dancers obviously had basic ballet raining which sowed in their movements.
CLOC  has certainly added to the company’s already high standard of production and this is a show not to be missed.

The Bodyguard

Regent Theatre
Former Secret service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer is hired to protect superstar singer Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love.
The Bodyguard opened in Melbourne’s Regent Theatre on August 24.
An amazing evening of theatre. The lighting effects were outstanding, the staging first class adding to an interesting evening of theatre.
 The sound was a little loud for your reviewer as even well back from the stage the seats were vibrating. This cannot be too good for one’s ears.
 Paulini Curuenavuli was Rachel Marron. Paulini captured the essence of the role particularly with the strength and control of her voice. Opening number was very loud and vibrant but during the performance she sang softly suiting the moment of the story. A good example of the range and delicacy of the voice.
Her co-star Kip Gamblin as Frank Farmer the Bodyguard presents well has a good rapport with Paulini and added to the high standard of the production.
Prinnie Stevens was Nicki Marron, Rachel’s sister. A great performer and a high point of the evening was the duet with Nicki and Rachel.
Rachel’s son Fletcher was given a stirling performance on opening night by Gabriel Ingram. A promising young star on the rise with his performance.
Paulini is superb with the style of Whitney Houston with an impressive five octave range which was pot to good use in this production.
The dancers were highly energetic working well with the choreography and were added by the wonderful singing of the chorus.
A large cast with a high standard enjoyed by the opening night audience who were so impressed that there was a standing ovation. But the performance did not finish there. The performers let their hair down and continued singing and dancing for some time after the end of the show.

Forever Crazy

The Palms at Crown’
A touch of Paris arrived at The Palms at Crown with the presentation of Paris’s Crazy Horse’s touring company Forever Crazy.
Crazy Horse was founded in 1951 by avant-garde artist Alain Bernardin, a passionate admirer of women and the female form.
Opening all the Crazy Horse shows and the touring company shows is God Save Out Bareskin. Choreographed by lieutenant of the British Army the girls certainly showed the benefit of their military training and would shame to any military display with their absolute precision and timing. The costume also enhances the founder Alain Bernardin’s admiration of the female figure.
Each number was different such as Chain Gang clad in leopard print tights the performance was superb. A solo exhibition adding to the high standard of the evening.
Following on was Reine des Coeurs the Crazy Horse dancers with rock ‘n swing danced to a sensual pack of cards. Good timing and great projection.
Crisis? What Crisis a solo number with an act that mocks clichés and offers unprecedented interpretation of the financial crisis. Beautiful movements from dancing to sliding sensually on a table.
An unusual number was Legmania. All the audience could see were sets of legs pointing upward above the stage. A dance interpretation with just the legs doing all the movements. Exquisitely performed and adding to the evening’s highlights.
Upside Down were again legs only but this time against a mirror reflection from the knees down. Well cone and certainly different.
Jumping the numbers we look at Glamazones Where the ladies the entire cast show the perfection of their curves and the accuracy of their poses. The result is why the Crazy Horse girls are so popular around the world.
Scanner brings one up to date to this modern time with one of the girls onstage with beams of light scanning over her body.
The finale is You Turn Me On featuring all the artists (yes there is one male) the girls clad in wigs and g-strings showing off their beautiful bodies with dancing an singing bring the show to a close.
A very entertaining evening of Parisian cabaret with skilled performances by all and readers beware the costumes are very French and leave nothing to the imagination. 



Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Michelle Eddington

Babirra Music Theatre
Director: Alan Burrows
Musical Director: Ben Hudson.
Choreographer: Di Crouch.

Babirra Music Theatre’s June season choice was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The original story is by Ian Fleming and the stage play is based on the MGM Motion Picture.
An amazing production from Babirra. A good energetic cast with the entire no no’s of theatre such as several dogs and plenty of children going against the old adage, do not work with children or animals. But the Babirra show with all this was a great success.
Tony Burge was Caractacus Potts the eccentric inventor whose inventions did not always work. Burge gave an outstanding performance in the role with great rapport with his two children and with Michelle Eddington as Truly Scrumptious.
Caractacus’s children were played by Lucy Sonnemann as Jemma Potts and Thomas Waterworth as Jeremy Potts. Both Lucy and Thomas gave wonderful performances capturing the essence of two children without a mother but idolising their father.
Michelle Eddington was the girl in Caractacus’s life, Truly Scrumptious, A lovely performer who had the right balance required for the role, worked well with Tony Burge and Thomas Waterworth and Lucy Sonnemann.
Grandpa Potts another eccentric dressed ion British army uniform of the time of the Indian Raj, was played very successfully by David McLean.
Phil Lambert was Lord Scrumptious and also the Baron ruler of Vulgaria. He excelled in both characters with his performance as the Baron an absolute delight.
Nicole Kapiniaris played both the Baroness and Miss Phillips. She handled both roles with aplomb and as the Baroness her scenes with Phil Lambert were very good. The two Vulgarian spies played by Cody Baldwin as Boris and Colin Morley as Goran added to the amusement of the evening with their interpretations of such characters.
The Toymaker and Coggins were played by Nick Rouse. A good interpretation of the two roles adding to the high standard of the evening. Anthony Julian was the Junk Man and the Child Catcher in which character he brought out the required evil of such a despicable role.
A star of the show was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the magical car. An amazing vehicle with air bags coming out from each side as the Potts travelled through water and wings and front piece as the car flew through the air.
Babirra and Director Alan Burrows are to be congratulated on how the car travelled along the road and how it sailed across the water and flew through the air. Travelling along the road had the audience in fits of laughter and on the water and in the air gasps of amazement.
Mention must also be made of Shine, the Potts family dog and her friends, Piper, Roxy, Brodie and Oscar. The dogs were well behaved on stage and carried out their performances professionally.
A great evening of theatre enjoyed by the opening night audience.  


Hello Dolly

The Production Company

Director: Gary Young
Musical Director: Vanessa Scammell
Choreographer: Kirsten King.

The Production Company chose the well known musical Hello Dolly to open the 2017 season.
The Production Company is unique in that the founder Jeanne Pratt AC wanted to bring good musical theatreto people who would not normally go to the theatre.
The Company specialises in promoting and showcasing new and established theatre talent and to stimulate the Melbourne and Australian theatre industry.
Originally conceived as “concert versions” the company rehearse for two weeks. The actors’ intimacy with the audience, the directors’ creative staging, and the choreographers’ dazzling contribution has grown each season. The casting mixes established stars with new talent.  With two weeks of whirlwind rehearsal and one week of technical rehearsal in the theatre shows such as Hello Dolly show the result of the hard work of the cast and crew.
The show and the company certainly showed the hard work resulted into an amazing evening.
The set was basic, a circular flight of stairs down each side of the stage with the orchestra in a round alcove in he centre stage. Along the top of the stairs were lattice type walls changing with each scene, very basic but set the scenes perfectly.
The star of the evening was Marina Prior who was the embodiment of Dolly Levi. A wonderful and delightful performance enhanced by Prior’s lovely voice. The man in Dolly’s life, Horace Vandergelder was played by Prior’s real life husband, Grant Piro.
Another excellent performer naturally with a great rapport with Marina, good acting and a pleasing dinging voice. Ermengarde, Horace’s niece, was played by Baylie Carson who captured the innocent always crying young girl with expertise. Her fiancé, Ambrose Kemper was portrayed by Jack Van Stavern also a good balance to both Carson and Prior.
Horace’s two employees, who added to the comedy of the show, were Cornelius Hackle and Barnaby Tucker played by Glenn Hill and Nigel Buckle. Both caught the comique essence the roles required giving great performance as two young innocents abroad. Some god scenes were with their new girls at Harmonica Gardens.
The two girls, Mrs Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay were played by Verity Hunt-Ballard and Imogen Modre. These two were excellent giving great and amusing performances particularly when they thought they were out with a couple of very rich men. This led to some embarrassing moments particularly for the innocent young men.
One great scene was of course Dolly coming back to the Harmonica Gardens. Marina Prior excelled in this scene showing why she is one of Australia’s leading ladies.
A very successful night out with a standing ovation from Melbourne’s first night audience/      



Nova Musical Theatre

Director: Noel Browne
Music Director: Shuko Hirose.
Choreographers: Wayne Robinson, Dean Robinson.

Nova Musical theatre’s choice of production to open the 2017 season was Godspell.
A modern day version of the Gospels from the Bible with music by the master composer Stephen Schwartz and text by John-Michael Tebelek. Nova’s production has been thoroughly updated and revitalised to take account of modern audiences’ needs and tastes.
The stage set was three flights of wide stairs one each side of the stage with a central  staircase, on top of the stairs was a platform surrounded on three sides by bars.
A spectacular evening of song and dance, bright colour with today’s costumes even to a selfie.
Leighton Irwin was Jesus, a good interpretation, good stage presence assisted by a pleasant, clear singing voice. Will Sayers was Judas/John the Baptist. Another dominating stage presence, good acting skills and worked well with Irwin.
Nick was played by David Wright, a fine interpretation and projected well.
Ellen Leyden as Ann Maria stunned the audience with a remarkable and beautiful voice adding to a wonderful performance.
The other principals, Marcus Favrin as Telly. Daniel Bugge as George, Penny Vaik as Lindsay, Sian Dickenson as Uzo, Jessica Marshall as Morgan and Chloe Towan as Celisse, all gave good performances, projecting well and their singing was a nice standard adding to the enjoyment of the evening. The ensemble added to the standard of the production which was enjoyed by the opening night audience.
A well directed smooth flowing production keeping with the high standard developed by Nova Music Theatre.

My Fair Lady

Charles Edwards.Anna O"Byrne

Regent Theatre

Director: Julie Andrews
Musical Director: Guy Simpson

Choreographer: Christopher Gattelli

May 16, 2017 saw the opening night of My Fair Lady at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
This is the Diamond Jubilee of My Fair Lady so Lyndon Terracini AM Artistic Director of Opera Australia and John Frost AM Managing Director of the Gordon Frost Organisation thought being the 60th anniversary asked Dame Julie Andrews if she would like to direct the Australian production. The answer was yes!
When Julie was asked is the production faithful to the original her reply was “In almost every aspect. After his death, Oliver Smith’s designs passed into the hands of his assistant, Rosaria Sinisi. She had all the glorious renderings, the drawings, dimensions, the ground plans for My Fair Lady, so with her help we were able to create them. Knowledge of the costume designs resided mostly in the hands of John David Ridge who was Cecil Beaton’s last assistance. He is a talented designer in his own right and has been as faithful as possible to Beaton’s original sketches.”
The staging of the sets at the Regent Theatre was absolutely amazing. True to the 1956 production but with a marked improvement to the lighting as technology has improved quite considerably since 1956.
The crew must be commended for the smooth and fast turnaround of the very difficult changes.
The cast are the cream of Australia’s theatre with Melbourne’s own international star Anna O’Byrne as Eliza, Reg Livermore as Alfred P. Doolittle, Robyn Nevin as Mrs Higgins. Mark Vincent as Freddy Fyansford-Hill, Tony Llewellyn-Jones as Colonel Pickering, Deidre Rubenstein as Mrs Pearce and Glen Hogstrom as Zoutan Karpathy.
Adding to the distinguished cast is leading English actor, Charles Edwards as Professor Higgins.
Charles Edwards and Reg Livermore have pleasant singing voices but when Mark Vincent sang his voice nearly brought the house down. Anna O’Byrne also added to the high singing standard with her lovely, clear and concise soprano. 
Edwards as Professor Higgins captured the misogynist, not really understanding his fellow humans and his dogmatic attitude all echoed in his song A Hymn to Him.
O’Byrne was Eliza, with all the finer nuances of the Cockney Flower girl to the sophisticated young lady as taught by Professor Higgins. A lovely and excellent portrayal. Eliza’s father Alfred P. Doolittle was given a wonderful performance by Reg Livermore whose interpretation of the role was an inspiration. One particular scene stands out in the piece of “Get Me to the Church on Time” this being one of the highlights of the evening. Another highlight is the Ascot Gavotte with the stunning black and white outfits.
Robyn Nevin was the perfect Mrs Higgins who was not quite sure of Eliza Doolittle but got to appreciate her as she got to know her. Nevin gave a good strong performance in the role.
Mark Vincent was a perfect Freddy Fyansford-Hill, a great scene was “ On the Street Where You Live”, which showed the extent of his talent as a vocalist, as well as good acting ability.
  Tony Llewellyn-Jones was the perfect Colonel Pickering, the right understanding of Eliza’s difficulties with Henry Higgins and his treatment of Eliza as a lady all carried out with experience, style and wonderful projection.
Deidre Rubenstein gave a great performance as the housekeeper, not hesitating to tell the professor what she thought when he was trying to educate Eliza at 3am. Rubenstein carried the role with flair and talent.
A smoothly and well run production bringing back many memories f those who saw the earlier editions and on Melbourne’s opening night, a standing ovation.



Les Miserables

CLOC Musical Theatre

Director: Chris Bradtke
Music Director: Andy McCalman
Choreographer: Wendy Belli.

CLOC Music Theatre’s opening production for 2017 was Les Miserables.
An excellent and exciting production showing the high standard one expects of CLOC and the reason it is one of the most sought after both by the audiences and performers in Melbourne.
The sets were basic, excellently done, smoothly changed when called for. The sides and rear of the stage were tabs which were used as film screens for the various changes such as street scenes, building exteriors and backdrops.
The cast were amazing, no flaws and all adding to a very high standard of performance.
Jean Valjean, the convict who was released after 19 ears gaol was given a wonderful performance by Mark Doran. Doran really captured the character with finesse, magnificent acting ability particularly ageing throughout the story, a good strong clear singing voice and a good rapport with his opposite numbers.
Javert, the pedantic police inspector pursuing Jean Valjean across France and the years was given a natural and excellent portrayal by Shaun Kingma. A good stage presence assisted by a good strong voice and superb acting. One good scene was Jean Valjean and Javert singing a duet. Very moving and excellently performed.
Kim Young was Fantine the factory girl kicked onto the street and went downhill to the extremes a woman can go. Young captured the essence of the poverty of the period, giving an outstanding performance and added to the success of the evening.
 Fantine’s daughter Cosette as an adult was played by Emily Morris who captured the sweetness and innocence of the character. A fine performance with a lovely voice suiting the role perfectly.
Her suitor Marius was given a good portrayal by Daniel Mottau. A good stage presence, fine acting and a good voice.
The two villains of the piece were Thėnardier and Madame Thėnardier, played by Scott Hill and Melanie Ott. Bothe had a great rapport, working well together with a good sense of the comique. A large cast chosen from 400 auditionees leading to such a high standard production thoroughly enjoyed by the audience so much so that after each song the audience applauded making a longer evening than expec



Her Majesty’s Theatre

Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre is the setting for Disney’s amazing production of Aladdin.
A bright, energetic and colourful production appealing to all ages and enjoyed by all who have been to see it.
The choreography was excellent, highly energetic and spectacular enhanced by the great standard of the dancers. Not only just dancing but high jumps, clashing swords and lovely ladies.
Aladdin was given a superb performance by Ainsley Melham, an amazingly talented young man, not only a wonderful dinger, dancer but also very athletic in jumping from building to building and handling the change from beggar to prince with aplomb.
The Princess Jasmine was played by Hiba Elchikhe. Another wonderful portrayal by an extremely talented young lady. Not only a good singer but a great actor with a good rapport with Melham.
A man that stole the show as Genie was Michael James Scott. He is in practically every scene with a great onstage personality, a good dancer and a great voice.
Aladdin’s three friends, formerly thieves and then his private guards.
Kassim played by Adam-Jon Fiorentino, Babkak played by Troy Sussman and Omar played by Robert Tripolino. All gave outstanding performances, worked well with each other and added to the amusement of the evening.
The Grand Vizier was given a good and evil performance by Adam Murphy. The Grand Vixier’s offsider; Iago was given an amazing and great comical performance by Aljin Abella. George Hanare was the Sultan, another good performer adding to the high standard of the production.
The sets were outstanding, from the market square n the village of Agrabah, to the buildings that rose and fell to Aladdin’s treasure cave and several magical tricks that left the audience gasping.
The dancing was of a high standard and very spectacular with wonderful jettes by the men and lovely graceful movement by the ladies.
Aladdin a great asset to Melbourne’s theatre scene which has already opened more tickets as this review is being written.   

Ladies in Black

Regent Theatre

Queensland Theatre Production
Director: Simon Phillips.

A story of Sydney in the 50’s about a young school leaver who obtains a summer job in a prestigious Sydney store in the ladies cocktail dress department.
A time when everything closed at 12 noon Saturday and did not open until Monday, a time when young ladies were  expected to work only for a few years and then get married and raise a family. A time when the refugees form World War II were arriving a trying to adjust to the Australian way of life.
Sarah Morrison was Lisa, the young school leaver on her first job albeit only temporary. A wonderful performance, working well with the other cast members and finding her feet in the big wide unknown world. Her father wants her to be secretary and then settle down and raise a family. Lisa shines at school and wants to go to university. There were some great scenes between Lisa, her father and mother who can see both sides.
Lisa’s father was played by Greg Stone who captured the essence of a 50’s father who did not understand the changes in society nor in his daughter’s wanting to find herself. A great performance. Lisa’s mother was played by Carita Farer Spencer. A mother who wanted her daughter to improve herself but did not want to antagonise her husband. Spencer caught the correct feel of the role giving a good performance.
Natalie Gamsu was Magda, the Hungarian immigrant who took a liking to Lisa and introduced her to a new world. Gamsu gave a superb performance capturing the European accent without faltering once and worked well with Morrison.
A great cast all faultless and bringing home in a delightful way the changing of the pre war Australians to a new way of life.
A must see show. 



The Book of Mormon


Princess Theatre

Director: Casey Nicholaw & Trey Parker.

The Book of Mormon had its Melbourne debut at the Princess Theatre on February 4. 2017.
A great opening evening with a beginning telling the story of the rise of the Mormons.
This was set in Salt Lake City with a good set showing the blue sky and open land of that section of USA. We see the section of the missionaries chatting about where they would like to go and where they actually were sent.
A great scene of the clean cut missionaries showing how they go from door to door and what happens next.
The two leads are posted to Uganda where they run into a tribe who have no time for missionaries and are under threat from a war lord.
Ryan Bondy as Elder Price and A. J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham gave great performances as the two naïve missionaries in Africa for the first time and finding it rather difficult than they were taught. Such as going to a native hut and not finding a doorbell or knocker to attract attention.
The young Ugandan lady who believed in them, Nabulungi, was given a wonderful and outstanding performance by Zahra Newman.
A good production loved by followers of South Parkwhich seemed to set the scene of the show. There were aspects of various productions, such as Darth Vader, Hobbits, Jesus Christ as he appears in South Park, a touch of The King and I with a very successful interpretation of The Little House of Uncle Thomas.  A magnificent set and the performers gave a wonderful portrayal in heir roles.
One slight flaw was the dialogue was rather too loud and on some occasions it was hard to understand because of this.
All in all a successful evening adding to Melbourne’s theatre reputation and opening night received a standing ovation.   















Lucia di Lammermoor

Presented by Melbourne Opera.
Of the dozens of operas written by  Donizetti, Lucia di Lammermoor has always been considered his finest and, as a result, the most performed both in Australia and internationally. Based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor, it premiered at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1835 and featured Fanny Persiani in the title role.
Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre was the venue for the Melbourne Opera Company’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
The story is about a brother dominating his sister and trying to marry her off to a rich man to save the family fortune. But! Lucia is in love with someone else and so the story goes.
Lucia was performed by Elena Xanthoudakis, a Melbourne born and acclaimed the world over. She handled the role with finesse and her voice was absolutely thrilling, she was a delight in the mad scene where she not only acted magnificently but her voice in the role was magnificent causing a nonstop applaud=se from the audience.
Lucia’s brother Lord Enrico Ashton was played by Simon Meadows. Simon He handled the role of the bully brother with aplomb and his voice added to the high standard of the evening. Lucia’s lover. Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood was performed by tenor Henry Choo who handled his character expertly catching the spirit of such a person and his voice added to the pleasure of the role.
Raimondo Bidebent, a Calvinist chaplain was portrayed by Eddie Muliaumascli, a bass. His acting was very good and his deep bass voice was superb.
Lord Arturo, Lucia’s affianced, was given a great interpretation by tenor Robert Macfarlane. He added to the opera with his interpretation of the role. Mazzo-Soprano Sarah Sweeting was Alia, Lucia’s hand maid. Sarah gave a stunning performance and certainly added to the evening.
The set was dark and forbidding suiting the story, A view of a castle in the background with a flight of stairs from centre stage to audience right.
The choir of 43 added to the high standard of the production and is an asset to Melbourne Oper.
A wonderful night of opera thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and Melbourne Opera is definitely an asset to the Melbourne opera scene.

\Lucia di Lammermoor review by Graham Ford


Production Company: Melbourne Opera

Director: Suzanne Chaundy

Conductor: Raymond Lawrence

Melbourne should be very proud of this offering from Melbourne Opera. All but one of the principals either live in Melbourne, or were born here, though most have also found success overseas.

You don't mount a production of Lucia di Lammermoor without a soprano who can handle the role, and Elena Xanthoudakis certainly could do that. She had no trouble with the fiery coloratura, and her top notes were thrilling. She immersed herself in the role of the hapless heroine, and her Mad Scene was utterly convincing.

As her bully brother, Simon Meadows was a tower of strength with a powerful, free top. The scenes between the two were opera at its best. Henry Choo was Lucia’s love interest and not over-shadowed by his companions, though he did tire towards the end of the long last act. His death scene was touching.

Eddie Muliaumaseli’i’s sonorous bass voice was a pleasure, as always, as Raimondo, and Robert MacFarlane’s voice seemed to have blossomed since I heard him last. Casting from strength, the minor roles of Alisa and Normanno were played by international Australians, Sarah Sweeting and Boyd Owen.

The orchestra under Raymond Lawrence was in fine form and supported the singers throughout. He was also responsible for the thrilling chorus singing.

However, it was the drama that impressed me most. Director Suzanne Chaundy is to be congratulated on eliciting such powerful performances from her singers. The dark, brooding sets and lighting were effective, and the costumes were suitably sombre.

This is a short season of an opera not to be missed.


The Visitors- review by Graham Ford

Production Company Victorian Oprera.
Conductor: Ohoebe Briggs
Directector: Isaac Dandic
Composer: Christopher Sainsbury

A new opera cpmpsed by Chistoher SAinsbury, this was an interesting work. Set st the manding of the First Fleet, it was a meeting ofthe indegenous elders at the time and how theu viewed the arrival of the visitors.
Captain Cook had been and gone previously, so some talked about their experienc of that meeting. One had seen his father shot. Another had souveniered a tomahawk. They oined later by a younger womanwho had paddled her canoe out to the ship. She was devekoping a bad cough, something the others had not deen before, a sign of the disaster that was to follow. She surreotitiously added majeup during the opera and was looking much worse toward the end.
All performers, except one, were indigious and from a variety of backgrounds. They all had some experience with opera, but mkost were familiar witht the realm of musical thear=tre. The voices were very good.
Jess Hitch as the grnadmother was described in the program as a mezzo-soprano, but was singing very high and well. Shauntai Sherree Abdul=Rahman had a more robust instrument, while Lillian Fromyyr' higher voice was appropiate for the young woman.
arcus orowa and Zoy Frangops were experienced music theatre perfprmers and this showed with strong vocals and acting. Elias Wilson has a beutiful light tenor voic, while Damoan Eddie Muliaumasaeli's lighter rich bass voice was a delight as always. The ensemble worked well together. The mnusicwas moder, but quite listenable and there was a lot of ensemble sining, which wouuldn't have been easy.
The set consisted fo several trees with some chairs, and worked well. The lighting was particularly effective occaisinally showing the silhoute of ships in the bacjground. The direction worked well and Phoebe riggs diod a great job with the orchestra.
The ioera was in nglish with surtitles, which probably weren't required, but were invariably late.
he standing ovation at the end said it all.


Biographica review by Graham Ford

Biographica is an Australian opera which premiered in Sydney in 2017. It is based on the life of Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano, whose interests extended to maths, physics, biology, medicine, chemistry, astrology, philosophy and writing. He was also a gambler. He wrote more than 200 scientific works, but many of his ideas were rejected by the establishment at the time. One of his many inventions was the gimbal, consisting of three concentric rings, allowing a supported compass or gyroscope to rotate freely. This formed the basis of the set, which consisted of large hoops through which the singers had to negotiateThe opera was set on the day of his death, which he had predicted. On that day he looked back on various milestones in his life, and these were acted out by the singers. At the start of each episode the title of that would appear on the set. s we entered the theatre one of the singers was standing motionless on the set. Gradually others moved onto the set very slowly. It was very effective. Each singer was dressed in a tight-fitting top and flowing skirt. The title role was played by actor Dion Mills, who was superb. He sat at a desk for part of the opera, and had three candles on the desk. As various members of his family died, he quietly extinguished a candle. The singers, sopranos Belinda Dalton and Rachael Joyce, mezzo Juel Riggall, tenor Douglas Kelly and baritone Raphael Wong, were uniformly excellent and each had their chance to shine. Particular credit to Raphael Wong, who stepped in for an indisposed baritone at the last minute. He did use a score, but not for all of the opera. Young professionals, they all had multiple roles. Movement on stage was in slow motion, which gave it an eerie feel. The lighting was particularly effective and the chamber orchestra did well. The music was very modern, but not discordant. The only issue I had was the lack of surtitles. Though mainly sung in English (I think), when all the singers were singing together diction was impossible to pick up, and sometimes Dion Mills would be talking while they were singing. Even though all were miked, it made the storyline difficult to follow. A description of the opera in the program would have helped, as we were often unsure of what was happening. However, I found this a thoroughly enthralling production, and was pleased I'd attended. The sustained applause at the end said it all. Hopefully the rest of the season will have full houses, as they deserve it.



Capricco review by Groaham Ford

Production Company: Victorian Opera

Conductor: Simone Young AM

Venue: Palais Theatre

The Richard Strauss opera, Capriccio, was given one concert performance at the Palais Theatre, and it was a shame more weren't scheduled. Ex pat conductor and former artistic director of OA, Simone Young, was imported for this challenging work and the music had a lovely sweep to it. This was a concert performance, with the large orchestra occupying much of the stage. They wouldn't have fitted into any orchestra pit available.

Lithuanian soprano Vida Mikneviciute tackled the demanding role of the Countess with a burnished tone. She was well matched by German-Canadian tenor Michael Schade playing the composer, whose steely tone cut through the heavy orchestration. Australian international mezzo Deborah Humble sang beautifully as the famous actress Clairon.

Of the locals, baritone Simon Meadows as the Theatre Director was the standout. His voice keeps getting stronger, without losing its natural beauty, and his long aria was particularly impressive. Baritones Stephen Marsh and Samuel Dundas also sang beautifully and showed they belonged in this esteemed company. Carlos Barcenos and Kathryn Ratcliffe made the most of their opportunity to shine as the Italian singers, and Michael Petroccelli and Teddy Tahu Rhodes impressed in their short innings.

Though no director was credited in the program, there did appear to be a director’s hand involved, with entrances and exits planned and some interaction between the singers. The small male chorus were very funny as the servants.

Thanks to Victorian Opera for giving us the opportunity to experience this rarely heard work.

Melbourne Cheremushki review by Graham Ford

Production Company: Victorian Opera

Director: Constantine Costi

Conductor: Simon Bruckard

Venue: Playhouse Theatre
Date: 22nd March 2023

Melbourne, Cheremushki is the only operetta written by the Russian twentieth century composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. This production, in English, was transferred from the Moscow suburb of Cheremushki, to the Melbourne suburb of the same name. It worked well, particularly as Melbourne has the same rental crisis at the moment as Moscow had at the time of writing.

It was a hoot!

The characters kept their Russian names, but everything else was Melbourne, complete with Young and Jackson’s Chloe. On a couple of occasions, Chloe stepped down from her frame and joined the action (in a body suit). Dictator Dan even got a mention.

The various couples were all struggling to find somewhere to live, with some pulling strings to achieve this. Matan Franco and Syrah Torii, as Sasha and Masha, were a married couple who didn't live together as they had no place of their own. Teresa Ingrilli and Eamon Dooley, as Lidochka and her father, had been allocated an apartment, but ended up losing it when Alastair Cooper-Golec and Amanda Winfred, as Fyodor and Vava, bribe the manager to knock down a few walls to expand their apartment.

Meanwhile Douglas Kelly, as Boris, ingratiates himself with Lidochka to try and get a bed in their apartment. Michael Dimovski and Leah Phillips (construction worker), as Sergey and Lucy, seemed to be fighting all the time. Lucy had helped build the apartment, and rallies the troops at the end to fight the corruption. Sergey is very shy, and it is only at the end, when he gets to sit on a bench which forces him to tell the truth, does he admit he’s in love with Lucy.

Nicholas Beecher, as the property manager of the apartment block everyone was fighting for, was manipulating everything to his own advantage.

The cast were members of the VO emerging artists program, and uniformly excellent. Each had their chance to shine, but I particularly enjoyed Teresa Ingrilli’s lush lyric soprano and Leah Phillips stratospheric top notes.

The acting was very good, and the couples interacted appropriately. Sasha and Masha were always looking for somewhere to couple, which was hilarious. Likochka wasn’t so keen on joining with Boris, but gradually warmed to him, while Sergey and Lucy found the house hunting frustrating. Eamon Dooley and Nicholas Beecher were hilarious, Eamon occasionally crossing the stage on an eScooter.

The sets were clever, and generally changed behind a dropped curtain, which is unusual these days. The singers showed they were equally adept at dialogue, and there was some clever choreography. The music was light and the orchestra excellent.

The only problem I found was that the synopsis in the program mentioned characters who didn't appear in the list of characters, so it was very difficult to follow the storyline.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable night at the theatre.


Thespis - review by Graham Ford

Production Company: Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victoria

Director: Diana Burleigh

Musical Director: Geoffrey Urquhart

Venue: Malvern Theatre

This was my first encounter with Thespis, the first Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration, and I found it quite an enjoyable work. Originally written as an extravaganza to be performed over the Christmas holiday period, it was never expected to be repeated, and much of the score was lost. So Sullivan had no compunction in rehashing much of the music in his later operettas, and it was great fun trying to identify where various numbers were featured in later works.

As it was a less popular work, GSOV decided to use the smaller Malvern Theatre for this production, which meant there was no orchestra pit, and accompaniment was just a piano with the admirable Geoffrey Urquhart. There was also no chorus, with principals singing the chorus numbers. Unfortunately, with the shortage of female characters, this meant the choruses were not balanced, and a couple more chorus women would have helped.

The story involves the gods of ancient Greece, who are getting old and tired of their duties. A group of strolling actors stray onto their mountain and agree to take their place while the gods descend to earth to see how mortals view them. Of course, nothing goes to plan.

For the old gods, GSOV trotted out all their most experienced members: Richard Burman, Ron and Robyn Pidcock, Robin Halls, Anna Castle and Rachel Buckley. They had a ball! In the original production, two of the male characters were played by women, and their shapely legs were on display, so it was no surprise to find Mercury played by Amelia Le Plastrier, who made the most of this energetic role.

I remembered James Douglas from his time with the Diamond Valley Singers thirty years ago, but this was the first time I'd seen him in a major role. As Thespis, the leader of the actors’ troupe, he was a strong leader, and his clean, powerful baritone voice was a delight. I expect to see him in many more major roles in future.

The very experienced Andrew McGrail played Sillimon, and got his chance to shine at the start of the second act. Always a pleasure. Other roles were played with energy. Sets were minimal, but the costuming colourful, and the sound effects of the gods were well done. The extended applause at the end said it all!


The Emperor of Atlantis - review by Graham Ford

Production Company: IOpera

Musical Director: Peter Tregear

Stage Director: Gert Reifath

Venue: Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne

This was an interesting night at the opera; a Baroque and modern opera woven into one. This was partly achieved by having a narrator, who appeared in both operas, linking the two. Dido and Aeneas finishes with Aeneas leaving Dido, who then commits suicide. The Emperor of Atlantis becomes a 3,000 year old Aeneas! At the end of Dido and Aeneas, the table-cloth was removed and the chorus picked up machine guns!
The Emperor of Atlantis is a challenging work where Death, appalled by the constant wars, goes on strike so no one can die! This causes a breakdown in the world order, and Death will only return to his job if the Emperor, who caused the wars, is the first one to die.
Tiernan Maclaren was the narrator/loudspeaker who unified the action. He was an engaging character, and his occasional opportunities to sing displayed a fine voice. Unfortunately, the orchestra, excellent as it was, was not always sympathetic, particularly in the latter opera, so some words were missed.
One problem was the divergent musical styles. I remember a decade or so ago, a young Christopher Hillier winning the Covent Garden Scholarship. His young, polished baritone would have been ideal for Aeneas. Now in his prime, his voice is of Wagnerian proportions, exactly what is required for the Emperor, but not as suitable for Purcell. He is a powerful performer.
His Dido was Naomi Flatman, Herald-Sun Aria winner. She was a vulnerable Dido, with a beautiful voice, and her death scene was touching. Her interactions with Aeneas had great sexual tension. Eliza Bennetts O’Connor was a sympathetic Belinda, with an ideal Baroque voice. Robert Macfarlane took on the dual roles of Sorcerer and Harlequin, with strong acting and fearless top notes.
The rich, beautiful bass voice of Eddie Muliaumaseali’i was heard to great effect as Death. Lisette Bolton had some lovely moments as the Second Woman and Girl, and Victoria Lambourn was a strong drummer. The minor characters all joined in the choruses, sung with great power.
The direction was excellent and movements were meaningful. The costumes were a mixture, trying to unify the two operas. The lighting was subtle and effective.
This was a thought-provoking and interesting night at the opera, with some wonderful singing.



La Cencentola - review by Graham Ford.

Production Company: Lyster Opera

Venue: Karralyka Centre

Director: Jamie Moffat

Musical Director/Accompanist: Pamela Christie

Based on the early stirrings of opera in Australia, much of it due to William Lyster, Lyster Opera follows a similar pattern: a touring company with minimal sets and piano accompaniment. With some business support, they are traveling around Victoria, with two performances of La Cenerentola in Melbourne.
I caught their second performance, and it was so tight it felt as if it was towards the end of the season. With no conductor there is always the potential for ensembles to come apart, but there was no suggestion this was likely. Pamela Christie, on the keyboard, was right with them at every step.
The sets comprised some flats with indoors on one side and outdoors on the other. They were moved by cast members. The costumes were quite elaborate and well chosen. The direction from Jamie Moffat was excellent. Instead of sur-titles, Rachel Buckley gave a summary of each scene before it started, as happened in the early days. It was very entertaining and informative.
Alexandra Mathew was everything one would want in a Cinderella. A warm mezzo with an expressive face, she handled the difficult coloratura with ease. The finale, “Non piu Mesta” was a highlight. Helen Koehne and Angelique Tot were the ugly stepsisters and worked well together, though they weren't as far over the top as I've experienced before.
Hew Wagner, as Prince Ramiro, has a lovely, light, lyric tenor with a fearless top, and he and Alexandra made a convincing couple. As his valet, Dandini, Michael Lampard has a more mature voice than most of the ensemble, but was careful to rein in his large voice to match the rest of the cast.
Jamie Moffat was a very funny Don Magnifico, and Luke Belle and James Macaulay excellent as the cavaliers.
This was a fun night out, with excellent singing.


Lucrezia Borge

Lucrezia Borgia. With Melbourne Opera Company.
The Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne was the setting of Melbourne Opera’s production of Lucrezia Borgia.
The main cast consisted of eleven people and the chorus was twenty three people which on the small stage of the Athenaeum Theatre did somewhat seem a little crowded  The stage sets were well done changing with each scene.
The most pleasant part of the opera was he presence of Helen Dix who returned after a decade of singing in leading opera companies around the world, such as the Metropolitan Opera New York, and has returned to play the role of Lucrezia Borgia.
A master of singing this role dominating the stage with her presence and her acting also echoed her singing.
Her husband, Don Alfonso played by Cristopher Hillier who also added to the enjoyment of the afternoon with his aria of Vieni La mia vendetta
Dimity Shepherd was Mafio Orsini, well played and well sung particularly in the scenes with Gennaro played by James Egglestone, who also added to the high standard of the afternoon with his voice.
The costuming was a little uneven, plenty of colour but much varied from track suits to modern dress to period of the era of the Borgias. A packed house and a wonderful afternoon of opera by Melbourne Opera.

Lucrezia borge by Graham Ford

Production Company: Melbourne Opera
Director: Gary Abrahams
Conductor: Raymond Lawrence
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre

Melbourne is very lucky. A decade or so ago, Helena Dix left Melbourne for overseas, and due to a lot of hard work and abundant talent, she is now in demand for major roles in major opera houses around the world. Unlike many other Australian singers, Helena regularly returns to her hometown, and we are the beneficiaries.
There is no doubt that Melbourne Opera would not have produced Lucrezia Borgia without Helena’s presence, and she fully justified their faith in her. Her pianissimo top notes were exquisite, and the fiendish coloratura in the last aria was breath-taking. She dominated the stage, and her acting was powerful.
As her husband, Christopher Hillier was a powerful Don Alfonso. His main aria “Vieni: La mia vendetta” was a highlight and his duets with Lucrezia were fierce. As his off-sider, Rustighello, young Alastair Cooper-Golec held his own with his more experienced colleagues.
I was looking forward to hearing James Egglestone, whom I have long admired, as Gennaro, Lucrezia’s son/lover. A quick word at interval confirmed that he wasn't well, and he struggled through. It was testament to his stamina and vocal technique that he not only survived, but improved as the night progressed.
The only other female role was the pants role of Orsini, sung by Dimity Shepherd. I found it confusing that she seemed to have a gay love for Gennaro, which made sustaining a male character more difficult. Of course she sang very well.
Another of my favourite local singers is the bass Eddie Muliaumaseali’i who had a short innings as Alstofo before having his throat cut. He has a beautiful voice, and I've never heard him better. |The chorus sang lustily, but I would have preferred some more pianissimos, particularly in the last act. The orchestra was excellent.
On the small stage several levels were employed to add interest. The last scene had a magnificent wall of flowers, which was quite spectacular. There was a lot of colour. Costumes were a varied lot, with quite a few wearing track suits, some multi-coloured, and others wearing flamboyant suits, in contrast to Lucrezia, who was in period costume.
Singers of Helena Dix’s ability don't often come to Melbourne, so don't miss this spectacular opera. You can also access it via livestream.

The Wizard of Oz review by Graham Ford

Production Company: Victorian Opera
Director: Constantine Costi
Conductor: Chad Kelly
Venue: Palais Theatre

Il Mago di Oz is an Italian version of The Wizard of Oz. It was an interesting choice, being sung in excellent Italian with English surtitles. I'm not sure how younger members of the audience would find this, but there was no shortage of patrons.
It was excellent. It was a concert performance, with the orchestra on stage with performers in front or behind. There were projections on the scrim during the overture and at the back after the scrim was lifted. Many of these appeared to be from a silent movie of The Wizard of Oz.
The performers were all from the Emerging Artists program it was great to see these young professionals early in their careers. A number of them have already performed overseas, but are still based in Melbourne.
With no amplification in the large venue, it was pleasing to be able to hear all the singers, partly due to the excellence of the singing and the conducting of the small orchestra by Chad Kelly.
Dorothy was played by Georgia Wilkinson and her clear, unforced singing was a constant delight. Lovely lyric tenor Michael Dimovski played the Scarecrow, and Stephen Marsh was impressive as the Tin Man. James Emerson was a comical Cowardly Lion.
The three witches, Amelia Wawrzon, Kate Amos and Shakira Dugan were all outstanding in their own way, while Teresa Ingrilli had her chance to shine as the Queen of the Field Mice. Tiernan Maclaren was a powerful Wizard who had more to speak than sing.
The chorus singing by the women of the VO Chorus and Children’s Chorus was lovely.
Only one more chance to catch this interesting work.
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The Selfish Giant review by Graham Ford

Production Company: Victorian Opera

Director: Cameron Menzies

Conductor: Simon Bruckard

Venue: Playhouse Theatre

The Selfish Giant is another in a series of one act operas by Victorian Opera aimed at younger opera lovers. Based on an Oscar Wilde story of the same name, it was very popular with the younger members of the audience.

It was dominated by baritone Stephen Marsh as the Giant. His beautiful voice was a delight. Other performers were tertiary music students, and they all acquitted themselves well.

The children were played by Ume Dobia, Cen Wei, Hartley Trusler and Jack Jordan. They bounced on stage and played in the garden until driven off by the Giant. Welcoming them into the garden were the Spring Fairies, Eliza Bennetts O’Connor, Miriam Whiting-Reilly and Lucy Schneider. Brightly coloured and energetic, their harmony singing was beautiful. They all had brightly coloured umbrellas.

The Winter Fairies were Joshua Morton-Galea, Nick Sheppard, Christopher-Jack Andrew and Hannah Kostros, whose umbrellas were grey and dull, in keeping with the season. The set was a sloping square for the garden with a backdrop of a burnt tree, as depicted in so many cartoon movies.  

The singers were all amplified, which made it much easier to catch all the words. The orchestra, under composer Simon Bruckard, was excellent and the opera not too long for younger audience members.

Highly recommended.


Mefistofele in concert - Opera Australia

Opera Australia presented Mefistele in Concert at Melbourne’s State Theatre.
A full house for a three hour concert which as a production the time passed very quickly \.
As it was performed as a concert, the chorus were to the rear seated on chairs except when their turn came to sing.
The front chairs were for the main leads and the orchestra was in the orchestra pit. But! There were times when a small eight piece of wind instruments arrived on audience left and on audience right a small choir also appeared.
Ferruccio Furlanetto was Mefistofele, the devil bored with  humanity but challenged by the angels to tempt the good Dr. Faustus to the dark side. Furlanetto gave a stirring performance with a good well-balanced voice.
Diego Torre performed Dr Faustus. Very well interpreted with a good clear voice suiting the role excellently.
The victim, a poor peasant girl Margherita was well portrayed by Leah Crocetto. Not only did she catch the role as envisaged her voice was truly remarkable having the audience applaud her arias.
Another excellent, clear and outstanding voice was from /Natalie Aroyan as Elena *Helen of Troy). Another victim of Mefistofele and Dr Faust.
A very pleasant evening of opera enhanced by the wonderful choir and Orchestra Victoria.


La Traviata - Opera Australia

Opera Australia opened its Melbourne season with Verdi’s La Traviata.
The venue was Melbourne’s State Theatre where there was a full house with the audiences pleased to get back to the theatre after the closedowns.
A wonderful production with lavish sets such as the opening number set as Violetta’s Parisian apartment with the designs drawn from detailed 19th century impressionist paintings. This results in a magnificent setting giving a realistic feel to the period.
Violeta has just returned form a sanatorium and is giving a party to celebrate her return.
Stacy Alleaume was Violetta, a wonderful and magnificent performance. Her acting ability was beyond reproach and her singing m in act one she bubbled with enthusiasm and although it was sung in Italian the audience got the feel of the mood. In Act 2 in the country living with her lover her voice told a different story, low and sad again the language didn’t matter we got the feeling of her passions in life.
Alfredo, her lover, was played by Ho-Yoon Chung who gave a stirling performance and their arias were a delight. Ho-Yoon Chung’s voice was equal to the occasion and his scenes with Alleaume were a great exam[le of theatre Alfredo’s father, Giorgio was given a good interpretation by Mario Cassi. A not very understanding character who caused a breakup between Alfredo and Violetta. Cassi gave the role the correct feel and was greatly appreciated by the audience. A great production of La Traviata and when the artists took their bows and when Stacy Alleaume entered the centre stage the opening night audience gave her a standing ovation.

The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny - Melbourn Opera

Sunday May 1 saw Melbourne Opera’s production of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre.
Mahagonny is a place riddled with corruption and vice created by con artists with dubious morals which only degenerates from there.
Although the text reads like musical theatre it is and opera and the artists are all opera singers.
The opening scene sees a broken sown truck with three people. They decide that they cannot go any further so develop the city of Mahagonny.
The three are Liane Keegan as Leokadja Begbick, Christopher Hillier as Trintiy Moses, and Robert Macfarlane as Fatty ‘The Procurer.
All three performed well and Keegan has a strong and powerful voice adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
The leading prostitute Jenny hill was played by Antoinette Halloran, one of Australia’s most accomplished sopranos. Halloran certainly lived up to her reputation giving a stirling performance not only as an actor, but her voice showed why she is one of Australia’s leading sopranos.
Tenor Kames Egglestone played Jimmy McIntyre , the man who led the four lumberjacks coming to town to have a good time. Egglestone sang well, giving a good acting performance and his scenes with Jenny were a sheer delight.
‘Bank Account’ Billy was portrayed by Christopher Tonkin, giving a good interpretation of the character plus good singing adding to his performance. Darcy Carroll performed ‘Alaska Wolf’ Joe giving a good portrayal particularly in the fight scene.
The fourth lumberjack, Jack O’Brien’ was played by Fraser Findlay. O’Brien had a bad habit and Findlay handled his character as expected not only a good actor but a fine singer.
Alistair Cooper-Golec was Toby Higgins who used a bribe to get off a murder charge. Another good portrayal.
A pleasant evening of theatre and opera with a great use of screens and movie events showing large scenes that could not be put on stage.
Melbourne Opera are to be congratulated for bringing such an opera to Melbourne audiences.

Review by Graham Ford

Production Company: Melbourne Opera/Iopera
Director: Suzanne Chaundy

Conductor: Peter Tregear

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre

The Brecht/Weill opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is not high on the opera fans wish list, but this opera has not been performed in Australia for over forty years. I was probably one of the few in the audience who saw that production, but it doesn't help as my long term memory isn't that good!

I doubt that it was as good as the production I saw this afternoon. Instead of having a narrator, which is usual, they had visuals displaying the words the narrator would say. There were also videos enhancing what was being said in the music, which reinforced the action.

The sets were minimal, but not essential because of the visuals and clever lighting. Curtains were dropped for the performers to continue while a scene was being changed. The scene in which the performers watched the progress of the hurricane created appropriate tension, followed by the comic relief of the disaster bypassing their city.

Leading the action was the tenor, James Egglestone as the lumberjack, Jimmy, and the soprano, Antoinette Halloran, as Jenny. This music is not kind to the voice, but they both sang impressively and made a convincing couple. Ms. Halloran made the most of "Alabama", the best known song, while Egglestone impressed in his monologue in the second act.

The three criminals who founded the city were all strong performers. International contralto Liane Keegan was a strong widow, while Christopher Hillier was a powerful Trinity. Robert MacFarlane did not seem to have the build to play "Fatty", but sang well and complemented his fellow criminals. Christopher Tonkin, Darcy Carroll and Fraser Findlay were convincing as the other three lumberjacks.

To highlight the international nature of the story, accents varied, as the director didn't want the story confined to one location. Some of the visuals showed the demonstrations against mask-wearing in Melbourne and some the Trump riots in America. The costumes were also varied, but the production came over as a cohesive whole.

The orchestra was excellent, supporting but never drowning the singers.

Well worth a look, as there may not be another for some time.


Come Into the Garden Maude

Saturday March 19 one of Melbourne’s best autumn days particularly at Sassafras where at The Knowe an afternoon of music and song dating from the Victorian and Edwardian era.
On arrival one could come early and have a picnic lunch with bubbly at the bar. Many people took advantage of such a pleasant day and enjoyed the picnic.
The weather was perfect for such an outdoor setting with the audience sitting under a 100-year-old oak tree. “
The singers were dressed in the style suiting the occasion. The men in suits and the ladies in all white dresses down to the feet. There ere three men and four ladies. One man could not make it so there was a fill in bringing the men to four for some songs but the stand in did not take the applause at the end.
There were  28 songs, beautifully rendered y the company with some of amusing scenes, particularly the number His Lordship Winked at the Counsel. A very amusing number with the judge in full regalia and typically G & S doing a little dance number during the performance.
Opening the second half was Soldiers of the Queen which became a theme song for the Boer War. Another amusing song was I Want to Sing in Opera. A young lady came out with a bonnet and a bucket in her hand singing the title song. A delightful rendition and the acting was highly amusing.
Another fun song was There are Fairies in the Bottom of My Garden and as the singer moved into the song two fairies appeared. Both had the obligatory wings and long pink dresses,
but one was bearded, and the other was another male. Quite amusing and added to the afternoon.
A wonderful afternoon of entertainment bringing back many memories of times past with good voices and wonderful presentations/.

The Gondoliers

Thursday February 10 saw the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria back in the Alexandra Theatre (now refurbished ) Monash University.
|The opening is set in Venice where GSOV had  a backdrop of Venice with a wharf for the gondolas
The opening number Chorus of Contadine by the chorus and solos. One outstanding performer in the chorus was Marisa Panzarin as Flametta.
Enter from the sores of Spain the ducal party, the Duke and duchess of Plaza toro, their daughter Casilda and Luiz the Duke’s personal drummer. .
Ron Pidcock gave an excellent performance as the Duke of Plaza Toro. A fine voice and a good interpretation of such a role. Pidcock was very entertaining as the character.
His wife, the Duchess, was played by Lynlee Williams. Williams played ie role formidably as called for adding to her good interpretation of the role she balanced her performance with her great voice.
Another terrific performance was given by Ian Lowe as Don Alhambra del Bolero, The Grand Inquisitor. Lowe captured the characteristics of the role giving a masterful performance, a penetrating voice and acting range from a pleasant man to a touch of lechery when acquainted with a young lady.
The two heroes of the story were the gondoliers, Marco Palmieri performed by Stephen Carolane and Guiseppe Palmieri played by Daniel Felton. Both carried themselves well, giving great interpretations of their roles and were good balances to their respective wives.
The wives were Gianetta, played by Laura Slavin and Tessa played by Emilie Washington.Both ladies gave terrific performances, showing their love for their husbands and the expressions when they heard the news from The Grnad Inquisitor was a picture. Good performances by both young ladies enhanced by their singing.
 The deaughter of the Duke of Plaza toro, Casilda, was performed by Isabelle Mazzarella. Another good perfornace both as a singer and actor. Her scenes with the Duke’s drummer Luiz were delightful and enhanced by a wonderful voice.
Luiz was played by Andrew Alesi another good performance but in a love sng he rather neglected t look at his beloved which did not suit the occasion.
The setting of Venice and Barataria was well cone and the directorchoreographer Robert Ray is to be congratulated on the movement on stage and the overall production. It is nice to see GSOV back on stage and let us hope there will be plenty more times thatwe see the,

Die Walkire: Reviewer Graham Ford


Production Company: Melbourne Opera

Director: Suzanne Chaundy

Musical Director: Anthony Negus

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre

Melbourne Opera commenced the year by continuing their development of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with his second opera, Die Walküre. With borders still closed and international singers unavailable, it was a bold move.

It was a triumph!

The local singers embraced the challenge. Many had international experience and it showed. The first act belonged to Bradley Daley as Siegmund, Lee Abrahmsen as Sieglinde and Stephen Gallop as Hunding. In the acoustically friendly Her Majesty’s this was the most relaxed Wagner singing I'd heard, all of them easily capable of filling a much bigger venue. Ms Abrahmsen sang beautifully.

However, Die Walküre belongs to Wotan, and Warwick Fyfe dominated the stage. We are very fortunate that he decided to mainly restrict his career to Australia, as he would be warmly welcomed anywhere in the world. His Farewell to Brünnhilde in the last act was magnificent, though I would have preferred more restraint towards the end to bring out Wotan’s tender side.

Zara Barrett coped admirably with Brünnhilde’s treacherous music, while Sarah Sweeting was a strong Fricka. There was a lovely sweep to the music, and the orchestra played magnificently.

The direction was excellent. Before the action started the scrim showed angry clouds forming, and this continued as a theme. There are large swaths of music when no one is singing, but the characters were given appropriate movement so that this did not look awkward. There was applause when the roof of Hunding’s hut came down at the start of the second act to become the floor. The same happened at the start of the Ride of the Valkyries, when two Valkyries were observed swaying on horses ten metres above the stage. Other Valkyries came on stage leading wounded heroes to Valhalla. The feisty Valkyries were impressive. The lighting was very effective, particularly the ring of fire at the end.

This is a production not to be missed. There are three more performances in Melbourne, and one in Bendigo on Feb 27. If you missed it, there is also the opportunity to view it on livestream at


Acis and Galatea:Reviewer Graham Ford


Production Company: IOpera
Musical Director: Peter Tregear
Stage Director: Jane Magão

Venue: Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne

In a difficult year for opera, with most theatres closed, it is the small IOpera that was leading the way with its second production for the year. One can only imagine the difficulties needed to be overcome.
Again staged in the intimate Lithuanian Club, Acis and Galatea is Handel’s only English opera, and rarely performed. The scene was set in the overture when the nine-piece orchestra played magnificently, very tight with lots of light and shade. They continued on that path all evening giving great support to the singers.
Handel operas are a succession of arias with the occasional ensemble or chorus thrown in. This can make for a very static evening. Not this evening, as Jane Magão’s direction was excellent, and there was meaningful movement throughout. Galatea had two nymphs to join her in dancing at appropriate times.
I have often heard Handel sung inappropriately by Wagnerian voices – not this time. All the singing was refined Baroque, except for bass-baritone Darcy Carroll playing the giant. Baroque singing wouldn’t have suited his character. His “O Ruddier than the Cherry”, the only well-known aria, was a highlight.
Alastair Cooper-Golec and Jane Magão played the title characters and were a credible pair of lovers. No doubt they were tired from their performances at the Herald-Sun Aria final the night before, but they never tired and blended beautifully. I was particularly impressed with the movement in their love duet, as they tentatively approached each other and one felt the sexual tension between them.
" Douglas Kelly and Joshua Erdelyi-Götz, as the shepherds, also had their chances to shine and took full advantage. Beautiful singing.
The five principals also had to sing all the choruses, a mammoth task. The balance was surprisingly good with one soprano, three tenors and a bass-baritone. The simple set included some columns and rocks. Jane Magão also made the Greek costumes, which were very effective.
With so little opera this year, it would be a shame to miss this excellent production and see some of Melbourne’s rising stars. One more performance Sunday afternoon. Bookings



Lorelei:Reviewer Graham Ford

Company: Victorian Opera
Conductor: Phoebe Briggs
Director: Sarah Giles
Venue: Palais Theatre, St Kilda

The Lorelei is a figure in German folklore, a beautiful siren whose singing on a rock on the Rhine lures sailors to their doom.

This retelling of the story featured three women, all dressed in outrageous, over-the-top costumes, to make them more desirable to the passing sailors. However, after some time they realise that some ships are foundering on the rocks without having heard their songs, so they start to doubt their raison d’être.

One of the sirens convinces the other two to free themselves of the ‘bondage’ of their costumes ‘just for once’ and not to sing their enticing song.  They engage with the sailors, but then realise that the ship still sank and that all the sailors died anyway.  They come to understand  that they are after all, not to blame for any of the disasters, but have been made to believe this.  They see ‘their purpose’ was predetermined by others (men).  
They decide to abandon their purpose, and remove their fancy costumes. They then find themselves with no obvious meaning, and race around stage, not knowing what to do.

Eventually, some stage hands appear, and dress them in their original costumes, so they can resume their purpose, against their will.

It was at time humorous, disturbing and confronting.

The set comprised three rooms, which changed colour with the lighting. The opera-cabaret opened and ended with the same sirens in their rooms, but during the chaos they kept moving from one to the other, and there was a stunt double such that one appeared to leave on one side of the stage and immediately reappear on the other. This was very funny.

Sub-titles were used, appearing below the room of the featured singer, or sometimes beneath all when they were all singing. This was very useful for the audience to follow who was singing.

The singers, mezzo Dimity Shepherd and sopranos Ali McGregor and Antoinette Halloran all gave strong performances and worked well together. Much of the time they were singing together in beautiful three part harmony.

Phoebe Briggs was in masterful control of the orchestra and the lighting and costumes were superb.

This was an entertaining and thought provoking night at the opera.

Photos: Pia Johnson / Jade Ferguson


Macbeth: Reviewer Graham Ford

Production Company: Melbourne Opera

Director: Bruce Beresford

Musical Director: Greg Hocking

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre

Verdi’s Macbeth was another triumph for Melbourne Opera. Back at Her Majesty’s to accommodate the larger orchestra, this was a production that would be welcome anywhere in the world.

The brooding set consisted of towering castle ramparts on the side, with different projections at the back. This also featured videos of future kings as Macbeth starts hallucinating. The lighting was generally dark, as suited the opera, but very effective.

The opera opens with the witches singing powerfully, but also dancing with effective, tight choreography. There was lots of light and shade in their singing. Later on, the male chorus made the most of their opportunities to shine.

Simon Meadows, in the title role, continues to astound. His powerful baritone was unforced and beautiful, and produced some thrilling top notes. Rather than tiring, he appeared to get better as the evening progressed.

Verdi was cruel to his sopranos. The roles of Abigaille (in Nabucco) and Lady Macbeth were written for dramatic coloraturas, and can be voice killers. Helena Dix’s big lyric coloratura is not ideally suited to this, but she sang beautifully and produced a mesmerising sleepwalking scene. We are so lucky to have her in Australia at the moment with borders closed, when she is so much in demand overseas.

Tenor Samuel Sakker, a regular at Melbourne Opera before joining Covent Garden, was a powerful Macduff, and his main aria was heartfelt. Bass Adrian Tamburini also took his moment to shine as a strong Banquo. This was a well-balanced quartet of lead singers.

The fight scenes were effective, always a difficult task. The orchestra was impressive and very supportive of the singers. The costumes were suitably dark.

I trust that Melbourne will come out to hear this rarely heard opera with a stellar cast.

In an Australian theatre first, the final performance of Macbeth on 26 May will be broadcast via LIVE VR to anyone with Virtual Reality headsets.
Tickets for the VR experience will be available soon, stay tuned to @MelbourneOpera to be the first to know.

Photo: Robin Halls


Macbeth - Melbourne Opera Company

Tuesday May 18 saw the Melbourne Opera present Macbeth by Verdi at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne.
A great evening of opera to welcome Melbourne Opera’s fans back to the theatre after COVID-19.
Director Bruce Beresford has said in his notes that this production is predominately the 1847 version but with Macbeth’s last aria which has been restored.
The production made good use of a rear and front screen for extra effects. A large cast as Verdi increased the number of witches from the original three to 30 and he introduced a large group of jaunty assassins for the murder of Banquo.
This made for a very busy stage which on occasion did seem to be a little cramped.
Macbeth was portrayed by Simon Meadows who caught the character to perfection giving a good performance and his arias were superb. He had a great rapport with Helena Dix as Lady Macbeth.
Dix as Lady Macbeth was greatly appreciated by the opening night audience for her wonderful voice in her arias and duets. She also caught the essence of such a scheming woman with her own destiny in mind. Beside her wonderful voice her acting particularly in the sleepwalking scene was excellent.
Banquo was given a strong and enjoyable performance by Adrian Tamburini. His acting was enhanced by a wonderful bass showing how a good voice can lift a show.
A large chorus as determined by Verdi which gave voice to many and echoed across Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Another great production from Melbourne Opera giving Melbournians and visitors a chance to see operas not often seen in Melbourne.



Thursday May 6 saw Melbourne’s State Theatre re-open after after a year’s closure thanks to COVIF-19.
The opening production was Opera Australia’s production of Aida. A magnificent production to welcome Melbourne theatre and opera lovers back to the State Theatre. This is the first of Opera Australia’s critically acclaimed digital productions.
The story briefly, is that Egypt needs a hero to lead their army against Ethiopia and the chosen Radamés hopes to win not just the battle but the hand of the beautiful slave girl Aida.
However she is secretly an Ethiopian princess and is torn between her love for the Egyptian hero and her homeland.
The stage was set with 10 digital screens reaching from the stage floor to the height of the stage. They were moved in different patterns to highlight various scenes and really added to the production. There were scenes of clouds, fire, a panther, pillars written in Egyptian symbols. The costuming was brilliant, colourful and amazing.
As Aida Leah Crocetto gave a wonderful performance. An outstanding voice and her arias kept Melbourne’s opening night audience enthralled.
Radamés was performed by Stefano La Colla who captured the essence of the Egyptian hero who was in love with a princess of the enemy. La Colla presented well, his voice stunned the audience and his duets with Crocetto stunned the audience.
Elena Gabouri was Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt and was in love with  Radamés.
Another great performance adding to the high standard of the evening.
Amonasro, the King of Ethiopia was portrayed by Michael Honeyman. As king he was captured but his captors did not know who he was. Honeyman has a good stage presence enhanced by pleasing voice.
The High Priest Ramfis was portrayed by Alexander Vinogradov who gave a great interpretation of such a character living up to the standard set by the other leading roles.
A grand opening to the State Theatre and overall a wonderful production. There were a couple of hiccups with the surtitles, and one did feel that the scene changes could have been a little quicker. A great spectacle and Opera Australia is to be commended on such a production.

Cosi Fan Tuttw Reviewer Graham Ford

Production Company: IOpera
Venue: Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne
IOpera have been performing in intimate venues for over ten years, but this is the first time I have encountered their work. I did see Cosi Fan Tutte at the Lithuanian Club in 2005, performed by “In Good Company”, which was also very successful.
The Lithuanian Club is not an ideal venue for opera. The proscenium arch has a narrow footprint, and this space was taken up by a ten piece orchestra, while the action took place in front of that. Entrances were made through two doorways on either side of the stage area and through the orchestra. However, the acoustics were live and the singing wonderful.
I was immediately impressed with the small orchestra, under the direction of Dr David Kram. In the small venue they sounded like a much bigger ensemble, and were very tight. There were some wonderful solo passages from various instruments and no suggestion they were playing a difficult score. David also played the keyboard and we heard music from other composers at various sections. The Drinking Song from La Traviata made an appropriate appearance.
The ensemble singing was amazingly tight. David had obviously done a lot of work with the singers as the music had good shape and plenty of light and shade. The balance was excellent.
The direction was also very good. There was always appropriate movement during gaps in the music and a number of innovative ideas. I loved the long pauses as the lovers start to connect, and it was funny seeing Don Alfonso swap the girls over when they were heading for the wrong boy. When things blew up at the end, Don Alfonso and Despina got out some popcorn to watch the fun!
In that small venue the singing was magnificent. All the voices could have comfortably filled a larger hall, but it gave them the opportunity for some lovely pianissimos. Louise Keast as Fiordiligi scaled her dramatic soprano back to suit the music, and her version of “Per Pieta” in the second act was heartfelt. As the flighty Dorabella, Naomi Flatman was a contrast to Louise Keast, and the duets were beautifully balanced.
Darcy Carroll’s beautiful, rich baritone showed why he will be taking up a contract at Wiesbaden later in the year, following his win in the German-Australian Opera Grant. Zachary McCulloch’s lovely lyric tenor was a delight, and the two were excellent as the lovers. Peter Tregear looked a bit young for the wily Don Alfonso, but maintained a dignity throughout. Jane Magão was a pert Despina and excellent director. She also made most of the costumes – a sterling effort.
It was a shame there were only two performances, as this excellent production should be seen by a much wider audience. A brave venture in these difficult times.


Das Rheingold - Reviewer Graham Ford

Production Company: Melbourne Opera

Director: Suzanne Chaundy

Musical Director: David Kram

Venue: Regent Theatre

For the third year in a row, the ever ambitious Melbourne Opera opened their season with Wagner; this time Das Rheingold, the first part of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle. In each of their former operas, international stars had been imported for major roles. With border restrictions, this year the locals had to step up to the mark.

Revelation of the night was the Alberich of Simon Meadows. I had known Simon since he brought his light, polished voice to lead roles for the amateur Eastern Metropolitan Opera in the nineties, and have admired his progress since. But I was not prepared for what he brought to the stage on this occasion. The power and beauty was astounding and would have been welcome in any production in the world.
I have never heard Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, who sang Wotan, sing as well as he did last night, but his rich bass voice lacked the edge required for this role, which is usually sung by a bass-baritone. He brought a quiet stillness to this noble character.
James Egglestone was an excellent and relaxed Loge, while Sarah Sweeting and Lee Abrahmsen also shone as Fricka and Freia. Roxane Hislop sang beautifully in her short innings as Erda, while Adrian Tamburini and Steven Gallop were strong giants.
Voices of Wagnerian size are not common, but fortunately the experienced Wagnerian conductor, Dr David Kram, was able to allow them all to be heard. There was a lovely sweep to the music, and after a couple of fluffed notes early, the orchestra played magnificently.
With their magical aspects, the operas in Wagner’s Ring are difficult to produce effectively. Melbourne Opera did well with a scrim displaying the waters of the Rhine at the start, and two extras swaying precariously ten metres above the stage on long sway-poles, swimming through the waters. This was visually brilliant and really set the mood. The three Rhinemaidens wisely stayed on the floor!
The scene changed with the whole of the back wall folding down to become the floor for the next scene, later returning to half way up as Wotan and Loge went underground to meet Alberich. Very clever. The scene where Alberich transforms into a serpent was also well handled, with a video of the serpent appearing where Alberich had been. The lighting was very effective.

This is a production well worth seeing. There is one more in Melbourne on Sunday, and one in Bendigo on Feb 21. If you missed it, there is also the opportunity to view it on livestream at




Melbourne Opera
Conductor: Anthony Negus.
Director: Hugh Halliday

Melbourne Opera’s choice for the opening of the 2020 season was Beethoven’s Fidelio. Based on a real event in the French Revolution Beethoven set the opera in Spain so as not to identify anyone in the Revolution.
The story is of Leonore, who dressed as a prison guard in order to try to rescue her husband Florestan who was imprisoned in one the deepest dungeons.
Leonore  as Fidelio in her prison warder’s garb was well interpreted by soprano Kirstin Sharpin. A wonderful performance as an actor and her singing was superb and well appreciated by the opening night Audience.
Florestan, her husband and prisoner, was given a great performance by tenor Bradley Dean. A good actor and excellent voice with a good duet.
The Gaol Governor, Pizarro, was portrayed by baritone Warwick Fyfe. An amazing interpretation of the wicked character with an excellent voice to balance the other singers.
Rocco, the governor’ CEO. Was given a good performance by bass Adrian Tambburini. Another great presentation and internal perspectives of a very different nature are revealed in the three major roles sung by the above three.
Rocco’s daughter Marzeline, who fell in love with Fidelio much to the disgust of her former lover Jaquino was performed by soprano Rebecca Rashleigh. An amusing performance with her voice adding to the high standard of the evening. Jaquino was played by tenor Louis Harley giving a great performance with good rapport with Rebecca Rashleigh.
An interesting production, set in Spain but in the present. Opening set was the prison offices and other sets were the gaol and the dungeon.
A large chorus, with some as prisoners, soldiers and general background. All added to the high standard of the production giving Melbourne opera fans a great evening of opera.    


Opera Australia
Conductor: Christian Badea
Director: Graeme Murphy

Opera Australia’s production of Turandot opened in Melbourne on November 19.
A full house for a very successful evening of Puccini’s last opera which wasn’t quite finished when Puccini died in 1924.
A story of Princess Turandot who if anyone desires her hand in marriage must solve three riddles if not, they are executed. Calaf sees Turandot and immediately falls in love. But! Can he answer the riddles?
Lisa Lindstrom was Turandot, who gave the opening night audience a wonderful performance enhanced by  her excellent soprano.  Not only a remarkable singer but balanced by a wonderful performance with a good rapport between her and Walter Fraccaro.
Calaf was performed by Walter Fraccaro. An amazing tenor, well balanced voice and good stage [projection.
Karah Son was Calaf’s father’s slave who was in love with Calaf.  An absolutely superb performance with an amazing voice and really held onto the long notes. Her performance was possibly the best received by the opening night audience.
A light touch was added by Ping, Pang and Pong performed by Richard Anderson, Christopher Hillier and John Longmuir. The three added to the evening with good voices, superb stage performances, from singing in harmony to gliding across the stage.
A very large cast with excellent timing, wonderful sound and the stage movements added to the high standard of the production.  
The setting s were flown in and out smoothly adding to the delight of the evening.
A good night of opera from Opera Australia.


Melbourne Opera Company

The Melbourne Athenaeum Theatre was the venue for Melbourne Opera’s production of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma.
Set in Gaul during the Roman occupation Norma was a high Druid Priestess but! She fell in love with the Roman proconsul Pollione to whom she had two children. But, of course, as high priestess this was a traitoble offence.

The theatre was set simply as the director says,” a stylized Amphitheatre as an arena where this great tale unfolds.” 
Playing Norma was Helena Dix an Australian soprano who has secured her name on opera around the world. And one could see why in her performance of Norma. Her arias were superb and her duet with Jacqueline Dark (Adalgisa) were a sheer delight. As well as being a wonderful singer Dax gave a great acting performance.
Her roman lover the proconsul Pollione was performed by Samuel Sakker. Anther Australian opera singer wo has made his name internationally. His performance was excellent and the scenes with Norma were outstanding, added to by a wonderful tenor which the audience applauded particularly wit the duets between Norma and Pollione. A well-balanced performance with the two showing their outstanding talents to the Melbourne opening Night audience.
Norma’s father, Oroveso, was performed by Eddie Mullaumaseali’l a marvelous bass with good stage projection and excellent acting ability.
Adalgisa Pollione’s lover and Druid Priestess was performed by Jacqueline dark. A mezzo soprano who has regularly performed across Australia. And her duets with Dix as aforementioned brought the audience to continuous applause.
The balance of the main cast lived up to the high standard set by the lead performers adding to the enjoyment of the evening. The company, although rather crowding the stage carried their roles well and were greatly appreciated by the audience

Madama Butterfly

Opera Australia Tour.

Frankston Arts Centre

Director: John Bell
Concertmaster: Yuhki Mayne

Frankston Performing Arts  was the venue for Opera Australia’s opening night of the 2019 tour of Madama Butterfly.
A well det stage with a raised stage built as a Japanese home with sliding walls and various steps down around the front and sides.
Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly) was portrayed by Eva Kong. A wonderful performance by a delightful soprano with her voice equalling her acting talent Good stage presentation and very popular with the audience. Her servant, Suzuki, was played by Barbara Jin, .Another great performer whose acting skills were enhanced by her voice. There were some wonderful  arias from both Eva and Barbara.
Lieutenant Pinkerton was given an outstanding performance by Bradley Daley. A great interpretation of such a member of the US Navy,  being nice and loving with his marriage to Madama Butterfly then forgetting all about her when his ship leaves. Bradley has a good strong tenor voice used magnificently on this evening. His acting was a dream \, being really loving and then marrying his American sweetheart and wanting his son back.
The American Consul, Sharples, was given a good interpretation by baritone Andrew Moran. As US consul he tried o warn Pinkerton that this Japanese marriage would be taken seriously by Butterfly and to be careful. Andrew gave a good performance in the role with a good voice to match.
Goro, the marriage broker, was given a good and somewhat when called for an amusing interpretation by Michel Lapina Cio-Cio Dan’s uncle the Bonze was played by Steven Gallop. A very imposing role and rather detrimental to Cio-Cio San. A good performance and again enhanced by a wonderful voice.
A small but important role was given by baritone Shoumendu Schornikow as the rich Japanese Prince Yamadori who wished to marry Madama Butterfly. .A well done performance adding to the high standard  of the evening.
A god start to the Opera Australia Tour.


Cosí Fan Tutte

Opera Australia

Conductor: Keri-Lynn Wilson
Director: Sir David McVicar.

Opera Australia’s second production for the Melbourne season was Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, a story of four lovers who are testing their devotion to each other.
A light-hearted production and well produced by Opera Australia.
Magnificent sets sowing a lady’s boudoir, a garden scene with the Bay of Naples in the background. Excellently done and the background was constant throughout the production.
Six main players, the men, Pavel Petrov as Ferrando, engaged to Dorabella, Samuel Dundas as Guglielmo, engaged to Fiordiligi and Richard Anderson as their bachelor friend, Don Alfonso.
The lassie wee Jane Ede as Fiordiligi, Anna Dowsley as Dorabella and Taryn Fiebig as Despina
The men supposedly were called to war leaving their sweethearts behind. Actually they just hid, changed into disguises as Albanians and returned to see if their fiancées leaving to some poignant, hilarious and serious moments.
The sisters, Dorabella and Fiordiligi were superb in their arias and solos with beautiful sopranos meeting all expectations. They were also very good actors and the expressions were a sheer delight. The sisters’ maid Dorabella, gave an outstanding and comic performance as the maid who conspires with Don Alfonso to convince the sisters to stray, as the doctor called o cure the “Albanians” from dying of poison and as the Notary to sign the marriage certificates.  Taryn Fiebig handled the change of characters with expertise and also a lovely voice adding to the high standard of the evening.
Don Alfonso, the cynical bachelor friend caught the feel of such a person giving a great portrayal and also adding to the evening with a good baritone and the scenes with he two sisters their voice gave a good balance.
 Ferrando as the ‘Albanian’ tried to make love to Fiordiligi while Guglielmo made love to Dorabella.
The two men from their true selves to their disguised selves gave outstanding performances with some of their scenes e.g. the poisoning scene was an absolute hoot. Added to this beside their wonderful acting skills their voices really added to the evening’s performance.
The background artists were smooth in their movements, unobtrusive and gave good measure of themselves adding to the evening.
a wonderful evening of opera from Opera Australia.


The Flying Dutchman

Melbourne Opera

Conductor: Anthony Negus

Melbourne’s Regent Theatre was the venue for Melbourne Opera’s 2019 opening production The Flying Dutchman. One of Richard Wagner’s earlier operas.
The stage setting was simple but effective. A large centrepiece shaped to a point and swung around to look like a village and then a ship wit the advent of two sails hanging from above. Then a fully mounted ailing ship arose in the distance with a back lighting of vivid red which was the Flying Dutchman.
In his Australian debut Darren Jeffrey performed the main character, Der  Hollander (the Dutchman). One could see why Melbourne Opera invited Jeffrey for this role. His voice is outstanding and acting  enhanced the evening.
As Senta, the lady who loved the mysterious Dutchman. Was performed by Australian soprano Lee Abrahmsen. A stirling performance with successful arias and wonderful acting portrayals and a good rapport with Jeffery.
Senta’s suitor, Erik, was performed by Australian tenor Rosario La spina. Another wonderful portrayal added to by a wonderful voice.
The other main cast members are Maty performed by mezzo soprano Roxanne Hislop, Dr Steuemann was performed by Michael Lapin, and Dalan was performed by Steven gallop.
All kept the high standard of the opening evening performance.
The chorus
The chorus was formed of the Melbourne Opera Chorus and the Flying Dutchman Ghost Chorus a total of over 90 participants. All added to the overall enjoyment of the evening and enhanced the overall production.
A worthwhile opening to Melbourne Opera’s 2019 season


Die Meitersingers von Nünberg

Opera Australia
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Conductor: Pietari Inkinen

Die Meistersingers von Nürnberg written by Richard Wagner between 1862 and 1867.
Opera Australia reset the story into a gentleman’s club in the here and now. In as one scene were the waiters taking a selfie.
The story is of Walther von Stolzing a knight  whose ambition is to become a Meistersinger and to win g]the heart Eva  
The Mastersingers were of burgher extraction who flourished in chiefly in the imperial cities during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Wagner used real historical figures in this opera such as Hans Sachs, a cobbler, who was said to be the author of some 6000 poems.
A long evening, the Melbourne production opened at 4pm and closed at 10.30pm.  But with the talent onstage and in the orchestra pit one barely noticed the time go by.
The stage was set a s a gentleman’s club with wooden walls well executed and on a revolve which was put to good use.
A large cast led by Michael Kupfer-Radecky as Hans Sachs, Stefan
Vinke as Walther von Stolzing, Natalie Aroyan as Eva, Waricl Fyfe as Sixtus Becjmesser,  Nicholas Jones as David and Dominica Matthews as Magdalene.
A wonderful evening of light-hearted opera from Wagner with great performances by all,
Michael Kupfer-Radecky as Hans Sachs caught the essence of the character with aplomb and his acting was enhanced by his great voice.
Stefan Vinke was the knight who did not really understand the formalities one must go through to become a Mastersinger. As Walther von Stolzing Stefan gave an amazing first0class performance aided by a wonderful voice.
Natalie Aroyan as Eva presented excellently, having a good rapport with Vinke, lovely acting and s good soprano to complete her performance.
A delight was the cobbler’s apprentice David, a light-hearted portrayal delivered with feeling and expertise by Nicholas Jones.
 The Mastersingers gave great performances and the voices gave credit to Opera Australia’s high standard.
Costuming added to the standard of the evening with the Mastersinger’s dressed in formal gear with specially designed aprons representing their trade.
An enjoyable evening of Wagner opera and Opera Australia again brought to Melbourne a magnificent evening to conclude the 2018 season.


A Tale of Two Divas

Yarra Valley Opera Festival.
The Yarra Valley Opera Festival presented A Tale of Two Divas, a story of impresario Mr Bloom finding himself having to struggle the egos of not one but two leading sopranos and a secretary with a burning ambition.
The sopranos were Dame Nellie Melba and Gertrude Johnson. Both well -known sopranos of their day with Gertrude Johnson supported by Dame Nellie Melba.
Performed in the Healesville Memorial Hall the stage was simply set with a desk and chairs.
Max Gillies was Mr Bloom, the impression who had the difficult job of keeping peace between the two divas. Max Gillies caught the role with aplomb giving a stirling performance as the impresario trying to pacify the egos of such well known sopranos. Max also has a pleasant singing voice which added to the enjoyment of the production.
A baritone Mr Cash who kept the divas under control was played and sung by Nigel Huckle. A good portrayal of a difficult job and added by a wonderful tenor.
Dame Nellie Melba was given a great portrayal by Hannah Dahlenburg who captured the spirit and feeling of a world famous diva and had a good rapport with Georgia Wilkinson who played Gertrude Johnson.
Wilkinson gave a superb performance in the role and not only a wonderful soprano but also a fine actor
 A good afternoon  of opera to add to the Yarra Valley Opera Festival.

Der Rozenkavalier

Melbourne Opera

Director: Tama Matheson.
Musical Director: Dr David Kram

The Athenaeum Theatre Collins St Melbourne was the venue for the Melbourne Opera Company’s production of Der Rosenkavalier. A comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss.
 An impressive production with three set changes suiting the various scenes. A large cast presenting a wonderful evening of amusing opera. The story of love, not always your own husband/wife with a touch of crudity particularly from Baron Ochs cousin to the aristocratic Marschallin.
Baron Ochs was performed by bass David Sumegi. A good clear voice with excellent enunciation and his acting performance was a delight to behold.
The Marschallin was performed by soprano Lee Abrahmsen. Another great performance both in acting and singing. Her scenes with Octavian were a sheer delight. Count Octavian Rofrano was the Marschallin’s very young lover, a lad of 17 years This role is played by a soprano and for this production Danielle Calder was the obvious choice. Another good performer and a lovely voice and did he, the Count, get himself into trouble. The other main character was Och’s prospective fiancée Sophie von Faninal. Sophie was performed by soprano Anna Voshege who also gave a wonderful portrayal of the character who hated her intended but fell for the young Count Octavian.
Baron Ochs was dressed looking not unlike Donald Trump and in one scene half the cast were made up the same way to break the engagement to Sophie Faninal.
Good use was made of the theatre where several times the boxes on each side were used. Once for two violinists and once for Ochs to sound off a rival for his voice.
The reminder of the cast kept to the high standard of the major leads giving a great evening of entertainment.


Hansel and Gretel

Victorian Opera’s second children’s opera for2018 was Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
A short 55-minute production which did not allow enough time for children to get bored. In fact the many children In the audience were enthralled and not a sound was heard during the whole production.
Based on the old fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm with a few changes making it a little less horrible to modern thinking yet keeping a touch of terror enough to keep the children’s interest in the good and bad.
Hansel and Gretel were performed by Shakira Dugan and Cleo Lee-McGowan giving wonderful performances with the never-to-be forgotten Abendsegen.
Kirilie Blythman was the mother, Angel and Child. Stephen Marsh was the father, Angel and Child, Matthew Thomas was Angel and Child.
The Sandman was played by Douglas Kelly, the Dew Fairy was played by Michelle McCarthy and the Witch was performed by Tomas Dalton.
All the cast captured the essence of their characters with expertise and the voices added to the standard of the afternoon.
Tomas Dalton created a great interpretation of the evil witch but without frightening the children too much. A scene which caught the delight of the children was the moment Gretel turned tables on the witch and by doing so released herself and Hansel from the witch’s evil intent.
A good entertaining afternoon and a great introduction to opera by Victorian Opera.


Don Quichotte


Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire
Revival Director: John Sheedy

Opera Australia’s Melbourne Autumn season closed with the production of Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte.
Opening was a village square in Spain in front of Dulcinea’s house where a festival is in full force. A great chorus and adding to the enjoyment of the festival were a group of Spanish Dancers. A terrific and genuine performance.
Dulcinea was performed by Sian Pendry. Pendry caught the character of La Belle Dulcinea with aplomb adding to her wonderful voice the art of a great actor bringing sensitivity to her scenes with Don Quichotte and her treatment of her lovers. A great performance.
Don Quichotte was performed by bass singer and actor Ferruccio Furlanetto. A great interpretation of the character with some wonderful scenes such as the scene where he was taken by the bandits, upon return to Dulcinea and the final moment. Furlanetto beside having the voice for the role is a well experienced actor which assists to the high standard of his performance.
 Don Quichotte’s squire Sancho Panza was excellently performed by Warwick Fyfe. A dominating performance of a squire who was more than just a servant. Some very poignant moments between the two and some humorous spots. Fyfe added to the high standard of the production with a magnificent voice and remarkable acting ability.
Some outstanding scenes were the opening fiesta, the bandit’s capture of Don Quichotte, the aria by Sian Pendry with a soleras by Spanish dancer Ana Interiano, and the final scene with Don Quichotte and Sancho Panza..
Opera Australia’s sets were outstanding really giving the feel of being in Spain.
A good evening of opera to conclude the Melbourne Autumn season.



Opera Australia’s second production for the Melbourne Autumn season was Puccini’s Tosca.
A story of the artist Mario Cavaradossi and his lover Fiona Tosca, her brother Cesare Angelotti who has just escaped from prison and asks his friend the artist Mario to help him.
Puccini set the opera in the 190ty century, but director John Bell has brought it into the time of Fascist Italy under the occupation of the Germans in WWII. This did not mar the context of the story in fact brought it more to the understanding of present day audiences. .
Tosca was sung and performed by leading soprano Latonia Moore. An amazing and magnificent performance with a lovely duet between Moore and Diego Torre. Adding to her remarkable voice was her aria in act 2 which held the audience spellbound.
Her lover, the artist Mario Cavaradossi was performed by Diego Torres. Another first-class performance with a great rapport between the leading couple and the superb tenor of Torres.
The Nazi in charge of the town, Baron Scarpia was performed by Marco Vratogna. A good stern performance expected of such a role and his baritone is given full voice in his interpretation of the Cantabile di Scarpia.

The escaped prisoner Cesare Angelotti was performed by Gennadi Dubinsky also giving a great performance aided by a wonderful voice.
The sets were outstanding; the opening and first act scene was in the Sant’ Andrea della Valle church The second act was the Palazzo Farnese and Act 3 was the Castel Sant’ Angelo over the river Tiber.
Set one was a complete replica of the interior of Sant’ della Valle. Set 2 a replica pf the Palazzo Farnese and Set 3 the interior of an Italian prison.
Some outstanding scenes were the Te Deum by the Opera Australia Chorus and the Children’s Chorus.
A very pleasant evening of opera with a welcome addition to the Melbourne arts scene

La Traviata

Opera Australia.
La Traviata.
Opera Australia opened the Melbourne Autumn season with Verdi’s La Traviata.
A story of Violetta a famous Parisian courtesan who has returned from a sanatorium and throws a party to mark her re-emergence in the demi-mode under the protection of Baron Douphol.
The stage was a picture, set as Violetta’s Paris home with the designs drawn from detailed 19th century impressionist paintings. Costuming also from the same source. This results in a magnificent stage setting giving a realistic feel to the period. Other scenes were also outstanding representing the time giving the audiences a genuine feel of the period.
At the party Alfredo confesses his love to Violetta. The duet between Corinne Winters as Violetta and Yosep Kang as Alfredo had the audience transfixed, superb timing and wonderful voices which set the tone for the remainder of the evening.
Some god scenes were the guests dressed as gypsies dancing and singing livening up the evening, Alfredo winning at cards and a very moving scene with Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germant sung and performed by José Carbo. Carbo equalled the standard pf the evening with not only his magnificent voice but his very skilled and moving acting throughout his performance. The set scenes were very smoothly changed and the technical production was superb.
The orchestra conducted by Carlo Montnaro, was excellent and the accompany with the singers was in perfect balance, neither to loud nor to soft.
A great start to Opera Australia’s Melbourne Autumn season.   

The Magic Pudding

Victorian Opera

Director: Cameron Menzies.
Sonductor: Fabian Russell.

Victorian Opera with the assistance of a Youth Chorus and Community Chorus and the Victorian Opera Orchestra brought opera to the younger generation with the production of Norman Lindsay’s probably best-known story The Magic Pudding.
With the Narrator Georgia Wilkinson as a cockatoo well costumed and fluttering around he stage before flying up into a gum tree where she sang the story. A wonderful voice, clear and easily understood by the youngest members of the audience.,
Nathan Lay was Bunyip Bluegum a koala. Costuming was amazing with good makeup Nathan looked like a koala, acted well and his voice added to the standard of the production. Timothy Reynolds was Bill Barnacle the sailor who with Sam Sawnoff and Bunyip Bluegum saved the Magic Pudding from the dastardly pudding thieves. Reynolds gave a great interpretation of such a role added by his magnificent voice. Sam Sawnoff, a penguin, was played by Brenton Spiteri. Difficult to move in his costume as a penguin but Spiteri handled the character with finesse and added to his companions in the singing sequences.
Albert the pudding was a puppet pudding with the basin as a hat. He was manipulated by Jeremy Kleeman, handled to puppet with expertise which the younger members of the audience enjoyed.
The evil pudding thieves were Possum played by Shakira Tsindos and Wombat played by Shakira Dugan who also portrayed Rooster.
Smaller roles were the Carlos E. Bάrcenas as the judge, Douglas Kelly as the constable and hedgehog and Stephen Marsh as Benjimen Brandysnap.
 A matinee afternoon with the theatre full of children taken by their parents and in many cases grandparents who also enjoyed the show. An example of how good the production was about 90% of the children kept completely quiet throughout the whole performance.
The stage was wonderfully set with gumtrees, a large gumtree stump for the narrator to sit on and the floor was the colour of outback.
 A wonderful afternoon of opera giving the next generation an insight into classical music presented in a mot amusing and interesting way.


Gold & Silver Operetta

t The Knowe
4 Clarkmont RD.

An interesting afternoon of music from various operettas was presented by the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria on Saturday February 24.
In a private residence set in the Dandenong Ranges the company had five singers, three male and two female.
Jessica Carrascalao-Heard, soprano, Peter Mander, Tenor, Nick Sharman, baritone, Laura Slavin, coloratura soprano, Paul Tooby, baritone.  
Richard Burman was narrator not only introducing each performance but adding to the enjoyment of the afternoon by telling the audience a little history of the writers and of the song and which operetta it was from.
Adding to the atmosphere of the era od operettas the men ere dressed in evening suits, swallowtail with a red buttonhole flower and the ladies dressed for the period.
The afternoon opened with  Nick Sharman and Paul Tooby  singing and performing The Gendarmes Duet from Jacques Offenbach’s Genevieve de Brabent.  A delightful performance with a touch of comedy and enhanced by two wonderful baritones.
The rest of the afternoon lived up to the standard set by the opening number with operetta’s not often heard these days. Such as Veronique by Brigid Audran. Some popular pieces from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, The Gypsy Princess by Enmerich Kalman and the very popular Goodbye from Whitehorse Inn.
A very enjoyable afternoon with a high and wonderful standard of voice from the performers and a production strongly recommended to see.
Season opened Saturday February 24 and is on Saturday March 3 & 4at 2pm.Gardens open at 1pm. Bookings: 8470 8280.  


The Merry Widow

Alexander Lewis & Danielle de Niese

Opera Australia
Director/Choreographer: Graeme Murphy
Conductor: Vanessa Scammell

The State Theatre Melbourne was the venue for Opera Australia’s final Melbourne performance for 2017.
The selection was Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow with Graeme Murphy as Director and Choreographer.
As Graeme Murphy says “How thrilling to have Justin Fleming’s new adaptation which respects the original while injecting peace and clarity.  This clarity is reflected in the elegant Art Deco set design by Michael Scott-Mitchell, which transports us to a world far from the bubble of the now.”
The result is certainly spectacular. Amazing sets of the Art Deco period enhanced by the wonderful costuming and the high standard of the production.
Hanna Glawari, the Merry Widow was given an outstanding performance by Danielle de Niese. Danielle has the amazing background being the youngest ever member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
This expertise certainly showed in her performance. Not only a lovely, strong and magnificent voice but a talented dancer and actor. She also has a great rapport with Alexander Lewis as Count Danilo Danilowitsch.
Alexander Lewis really caught the feel of the Count as envisaged by Lehar. A wonderful portrayal, great strong voice added to by good acting also a good rapport with Danielle de Niese.
Some light-hearted moments were by the Pontevedrin Ambassador Baron Mirko Zeta played by David Whitney. Another great performance with Whitney giving the correct comic touch to such a character.
His very young wife Valencienne, who had eyes on Camille, Count de Rosillon, French attaché to the embassy.
Valencienne was performed by Stacey Alleaume who gave a stunning performance in such a role. Camille was performed by John Longmuir. Longmuir caught the essence of the character giving a smooth flowing performance working well with Alleaume.
Two other comic characters were Raoul de St. Brioche, a French diplomat and Vicomte Cascada, a Latin diplomat. Brioche was played by Brad Cooper and Cascade was played by Luke Gabbedy. Both had the required sense of the comique and their performances were very amusing aided by wonderful voices.
The dancers gave outstanding performances both as Pontevedrin peasants and waiters in Maxim’s. One could see Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon’s touch in the choreography.
The chorus added to the high standard of the production making the end of a successful Melbourne season for Opera Australia. 

Photos by Jeff Busby


The Pirates of Penzance

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria.
The Pirates of Penzance.
Director: Nicolas Renfree-Marks.
Musical Director: Trevor Henley.

Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre was the venue for GSOV’s production of The Pirates of Penzance.
\A rather different production to the usual and quoting the director Nicholas Renfree-Marks who said in my research on ass-kicking women, two themes emerged, women at work in WWI and the history of female pirates. Perfect. With some small but fundamental changes we were able to drag the show into the start of the next century setting it in an alternate steam-punk inspired timeline of WWI. Pour wards in chancery became the daughters of the aristocracy, sent to the coast to avoid the London bombings. The bumbling bobbies became rifle shooting soldiers (MP’s).
We’ve swapped a wooden pirate ship for a brass landing craft and the Pirate King becomes a Pirate Queen.”
GSOV set the mood of the evening with the entry into the centre surrounded by barb wire entanglements and in the foyer members of the society were dressed in the costumes of the period. Each side of the stage were more barb wire entanglements.
During entry into the theatre, interval and at the end of the evening music of the period was played. All the above certainly set the mood for the such a production.
The opening scene was a landing craft entering from audience left dropping the front and then the pirates poured out. Each dressed individually and were celebrating Frederic’s coming of age and completing his indentures..
Frederic was given a great performance by Nathan Michael Wright. Good stage presentation with a high quality voice, clear and not strained.
His love to be, Mabel was played by Laura Slavin. Slavin had the correct innocence as envisaged, giving a great interpretation of the role matched by her lovely voice.
Frederic’s nemesis, Ruth, as one may call her, his old nurse who told him she was very attractive but then he saw General Stanley’s daughters.   
Ruth was given a good performance by Katrina Katz who captured the essence of such s character. Major General Stanley was played by Andrew McGrail. McGrail has a great sense of the comique giving an outstanding portrayal of the bumbling major general who told the pirates a little white lie which pricked his conscience for the balance of the sho.
Carol Whitfield was the Pirate Queen, good stage presence, with voice to ma6tch with some good sword fighting sequences showing at that time women could stand up for their rights.
A well done  production with good sets setting the period and the correct wording as necessary.


Opera Australia - Ferruccio Furlanetto & Igor Tchetuev.

October 2 at the Melbourne Recital Centre saw Italian Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto perform with accompanist Igor Tchetuev.
Ferruccio Furlanetto was born in Sacile Italy in 1949 and made his international career as King Phillip II in Verdi’s Don Carlo at the Salzburg Easter Festival with Herbert von Karajan in 1086. In the same year he dubuted at the Salzburg Summer Festival with the role of Figaro. His debuts on the leading opera stages happened earlier: Teatro alla Scala (1979), Metropolitan Opera (1980), Vienna State Opera (1985).
Ferruccio Furlanetto’s accompanist Igor Tchetuev was born in Ukraine and studied with Vladimir Krainev and won many international prizes. Igor has performed across Europe with many orchestras and gives numerous recitals and chamber music concerts across Europe.
A good team for a great night of music at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
The Melbourne season was a Russian program with songs of Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky.
The Melbourne Recital Centre has virtually perfect acoustics which certainly enhanced Furlanetto’s wonderful bass.
Furlanetto gave a very emotional performance with his vice giving good light and shade to same.
An excellent evening of a bass singer giving full voice to the Slavic music not often heard in Melbourne. Tenors are fairly commonplace in Australia but to hear a good bass is rare and after Furlanetto’s voice was a rare and wonderful privilege
Furlanetto’s accompanist Igor Tchetuev was a perfect balance giving the right support and the correct feel to the Russian music.
A wonderful evening not often present in Melbourne and the audience showed their appreciation with the artists coming out for an encore then receiving a standing ovation. 



Melbourne Opera
Conductor: David Kran
Director: Suzanne Chaundy

Melbourne Opera’s choice of production for the second venture at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre was Wagner’s Lohengrin.
A story of Telramund who accuses his ward Elsa of murdering her brother.  Elsa is called to defend herself and calls for the knight of whom she dreamed to come and save her.
The stage was simply set; at stage rear were a set of steps used in different positions throughout the production. The rear was a large screen used to show in act 1 a country scene and Act 2 the interior of a church. Act 3 reverted back to Act 1.
Simple but very effective.
 Lohengrin the mystery knight was given a superb performance by tenor Marius Vlad.
Vlad has a brilliant voice, good stage presentation and worked well with Elsa (Helena Dix)
Helena Dix as the wronged victim of the story was given a wonderful interpretation, showing her soprano and acting skills with a good rapport with Marius Vlad,
Friedrich of Telramund, Count of Brabant was performed by Hrólfur Saemundsson, the villain of the piece. A great performance with another good stage presentation, voice to match and good acting.
Friedrich’s wife, Ortrud was given an outstanding performance in both presentation and a wonderful mezzo soprano, very clear enunciation and a pleasure for the audience.
Heinrich, the King of Germany was played by Eddie Mulaumaseali, outstanding presentation as a king, good stage appearance enhanced by a good strong baritone.
A large cast with good movement, strong voices and well directed.
A long evening of opera but so entertaining one did not realise that the time passed.
Another great success for the Melbourne Opera and a company to be added to your opera diary.  


Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director: Diana Burleigh

A story of fairies, a fairy who married a human, their son Strephon, a half fairy, the House of Lords and the Lord Chancellor.
A simply set stage yet giving the essence of feel to the performance.
A large cast working smoothly, projecting well and a delight for the audience.
The costuming was excellent with some unusual twists at the final scenes.
Ron Pidcock was the Lord Chancellor. A great and amusing performance set off by a good voice. A very entertaining Lord Chancellor.
Earl Monterarat, played by Alfred Anderson and Earl Tolloller played by Darren Rosenfeld added to the humour and enjoyment of the evening. Private Wills was performed by Robin Halls who caught the feel of the member of the Guards who was not easily distracted. A good performer.
The half fairy, half human, Strephon was given a good performance by Andrew McGrail. A very pleasant voice, good acting and a fine rapport with his beloved Phyllis played by Phoebe Deklerk.
Deklerk gave the role the innocence called for with some good acting scenes with the House of Lords who all loved her. Adding to her acting abilities was balanced with a very pleasant voice.
Iolanthe, Strephon’s fairy mother was given a wonderful interpretation by Nadia Miglardi. She has a good stage presence, a lovely voice, good acting ability and was great opposite Andrew McGrail and Ron Pidcock.
Another good performance was given by Alexandra Amerides as the Queen of the Fairies.  Amerides projected very well, a good voice balanced by a wonderful portrayal of such a role.
A delight was the Lord Chancellor’s train bearer who kept in step even in the dance movements, had good stage presence and was played by young schoolboy Evan McGrail.
Overall a fine evening of G&S but the first half was a little stilted with not much movement from the singers but the second half improved to the audience’s enjoyment.


Opera Australia
Director: John Bell

 Opera Australia opened the Melbourne season with Bizet’s Carmen.
The gypsy girl who loved to be free and loved many until she met Don José, which meeting changed both their lives.
Director Kohn Bell changed the setting to modern day Havana from the Seville of Bizet’s setting. Havana, as Bell says, has old Spanish buildings and the very popular music of the Habanera came from Havana.
Opera Australia produced a very Havana inspired stage set of the older Spanish buildings set in a city square giving the audience and players the real feel of the story.
Costuming was bright and colourful and even brought onto the stage at various scenes was a VW Kombi van and a truck instead of mules in the original storyline.
A large cast including the Opera Australia Chorus and the Children’s Chorus which included several gymnasts. All appeared with great projection and the gymnasts giving a great demonstration of their art.
The lead role, Carmen, was exquisitely and excellently performed by Rinat Shaham who is acclaimed as one of the worlds’s most acclaimed Carmens. Her Melbourne performance was outstanding and certainly proved her reputation.
Carmen’s latest love was the Corporal told to arrest her, Don José, given an outstanding performance by tenor Dmytro Popov. The duet between Shaham and Popov showed why they are considered some of the world’s best.
Don José’s fiancé, Micaȅla, girl form his village, was performed by Stacey Alleume, another soprano whose voice is a sheer delight to hear. A wonderful portrayal with the correct innocence for the role.
Escamillo the toreador was performed by Shane Lowrence.
A great performance with good stage presentation, a positive faultless baritone and thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience. 
An amazing evening of opera welcomed enthusiastically by the opening night Melbourne audience.

H.M.S. Pinafore

Melbourne Opera Company

Director &Choreographer: Robert Ray.
Conductors: Greg Hocking, Raymond Lawrence.

A story of the H.M.S. Pinafore’s Captain Corcoran who wishes his daughter to marry The Right Honourable Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, but of course his daughter Josephine has other ideas.
A well set stage of a ship’s deck and forecastle. A large energetic cast all with good voices adding to the standard of the evening.
David Gould was outstanding in the role of The Rt Hon. Sir Joseph Porter. An amazing performance, great comic scenes and a good well balanced voice. A performer with good stage presence and had a good rapport with the other players.
Captain Corcoran was played by David Rogers-Smith. Another terrific portrayal by a magnificent tenor plus the positive stage presence and the upper class accent which did change later in the evening.
The Captain’s daughter, Josephine was wonderfully portrayed by Claire Lyon. Not only a lovely soprano but a great actor full of expression and her scenes with David Gould and David Rogers-Smith were a sheer delight. Her duet with Paul Biencourt was exquisite and her scenes with Biencourt added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Paul Biencourt was Ralph Rackstraw, the common sailor who fell in love with the captain’s daughter. Biencourt gave a stirling performance as such a character with a superb tenor and a great North England accent for most of the performance till a certain change in circumstances where he showed his ability as a top rate performer.
Andrea Creighton was the former nanny Buttercup who falls in love with Captain Corcoran. Another fine performer and a great character in the story. Creighton captured the essence of the role and kept the high standard set by the company.
The villain of the piece, Dick Deadeye was brilliantly captured by Roger Howell.
 A difficult role as he played the bent over, one-eyed villain who could not keep up with his shipmates in the hornpipe and other moves across the stage. A good strong and clear baritone presenting well across the auditorium.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter was accompanied everywhere by his sisters, cousins and aunts and Cousin Hebe kept him under control. Cousin Hebe was played on opening night by Jodie Debono who also gave a wonderful performance with a good stage presence.
The choreography was excellent, well designed and extremely well executed by the cast which was not easy as there was a large cast and not a large stage to work on.
A great evening of theatre and a production that hasn’t seen the professional Melbourne stage in over 20 years. 


Anna Bolena

Melbourne Opera
Director: Suzann Chaundy
Conductor: Greg Hosking

Melbourne Opera’s choice for the Melbourne spring season was Donizitti’s Anna Bolena the story of Henry VIII’s wife Anna Boleyn.
A large chorus which did make the stage a little busy but the voices made up for any discrepancy onstage.
Simple sets quickly to move and yet giving the impression of the period. Costuming was superb set in the Tudor period and when HenryVIII he WAS Henry.
Anna Boleyn was given a wonderful performance by soprano Elena Xanthoudakis. An excellent stage appearance, god acting and a lovely voice which enhanced her arias and duets.
Bass Eddie Muliaumaseali was Henry VIII, An outstanding performance, wonderful stage presence and as aforementioned the costuming was such that one really thought that King Henry was actually on stage. A very good actor and a magnificent bass voice creating a good balance when singing with Elena Xanthoudakis and Sally Wilson.
Mezzo soprano Sally Wilson was Jane Seymour who Henry had his eye on. Wilson gave a great interpretation of such a character, a wonderful voice and great acting to enhance her performance. Other members of the cast lived up to the Melbourne audience expectations and with the talented chorus Melbourne had a great night of opera particularly this was the Australian Premiere of Ann Bolena.


The Mikado

Savoy Opera Company
Director: Stee Cordelia.
Music Director: David Campbell

Savoy Opera Company’s spring season’s choice was The Mikado. The story of a wandering minstrel who falls in love with the ward of the Lord High Executioner. But the wandering minstrel is not quite who he seems.
The set was well cone with a Japanese flavour of houses, village square with authentic looking backdrops. The costuming was superb with a couple of highlights, Yum-Yum’s wedding outfit and the Mikado’s outfit.
Lyndon Green was the wandering minstrel, Nanki Poo, who fell in love with Yum- Yum the ward of the Lord High Executioner who planned to marry her himself.
Green gave a stirling performance in the role both as an actor and singer. One memorable moment was the duet with Green and Chriselise de Graaf as Yum Yum.
A great rapport with each other and the duet was well balanced.
De Graaf carried the role of Yum-Yum with aplomb, good acting well enjoyed by all and a lovely voice. Both Green and de Graaf have great sense of the comique which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Richard Burman was Pooh Bah the Lord of everything. A great comic role supremely handled by Burman. An energetic role and one requiring the sense of good stagecraft which Burman showed the master touch.
Poo Bah’s offsider was Pish Tush played by Darcy Carroll. A good portrayal capturing the essence of such a character.
The other two little maids beside Yum-Yum were Pitti Sing played by Beth Paterson and Peep-Bo played by Sian Williams. Both young ladies gave great performances in the role adding to the enjoyment of the evening.
An elderly lady, Katisha, who was in love with Nanki-Poo and was determined to get him no matter what was played by Jennifer Wakefield. A stunning performance of the character with a good stage presence and another good voice.
The Lord High Executioner, Ko-Ko was given a stunning portrayal by Luke Belle. A great touch of the comique, a good voice, great stage projection and a wonderful performance.
A great night of entertainment and Savoy Opera sticks to the original Gilbert & Sullivan story without updates and is very enjoyable.



Marius VlasLee Abrahmsen

Melbourne Opera
Director: Suzanne Chaundy
Conductor: David Kram

Melbourne Opera created a first by presenting Wagner’s epic Opera Tannhäuser in Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
A three act production with Act 1 set in the cave of Venue and on the roadside.
Act 2 is in the Hall of Song and Act 3 seven months later on the road and a shrine.
Sets comprised of a raised stage utilised in all three acts. Added to this was projection which was very effective, in the first act, caves and waterfalls, Act 2 an interior of the Hall of Song which when the curtain opened brought a round of applause from the audience. Act 3 was the pilgrim road which had a ramp down form the top to the main stage with mountain scenery at stage rear. All sets were used to the full and added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Romanian tenor Marius Vlad gave a stirling performance as Tannhãuser with a good clear voice enhancing the evening. His beloved Princess Elisabeth’s character was exquisitely captured by Lee Abrahmsen who gave a stirling performance and not missing a beat.
Venus, the Goddess of Love, was portrayed by Sarah Sweeting who captured the goddess with aplomb. A delightful performance sang with a mature and well done alto.
Manfred Pohlenz was Wolfram von Eschinbach a Minnesinger. A major role in which Wolfram was a friend to Tannhãuser and brought Tannhãuser to see Elisabeth. Pohlenz, a strong baritone, never faltered in this role giving a great performance.
A packed house for the Regent Theatre’s first opera and Melbourne Opera is to be congratulated on such a production and the success of same.  



La Bohème

Director: Gale Edwards.

The State Theatre was the venue for the Melbourne season of Opera Australia’s Autumn presentation.
Opening with Puccini’s La Bohėme Opera Australia is also celebrating its 60 years.
 La Bohėme was originally set in Paris of the 1830s, a burgeoning time for students, artists and performers.
Director Gale Edwards decided that a parallel world might e Berlin of the late 1820s and 1930s when Berlin became the most attractive and decadent city in Europe attracting artists and Bohemians from around the world.
The result was the setting is in a Spiegeltent where the internal scenes are the tenement, Café Momus, inside a toll gate and an inn.
Rodolfo a poet was portrayed by Gianiuca Terranova with Lianna Haroutourian as Mimi.
Act I where Mimi comes to borrow a light and Rodolfo falls in love. An amazing arias and duets with Terranova giving an excellent rendition of Che gelda nanina followed by Haroutourian’s lovely presentation of Mi chiamano Mimi.
Their duet of O soave fanciulla was an absolute dream and well applauded by the opening night audience
Jane Ede as Musetta projects well with a delightful voice and good acting capturing such a role with a naturalness which added to the high standard of the evening.
A very emotional final scene with the main characters together bringing a tear to some members of the audience
. An outstanding evening of opera with great performances from all, including Opera Australia’s  Children’s Chorus where future talent is sure to arise.


The Gondoliers or the King of Barataria

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera
Director: Adrian Glaubert
Musical Director: Timothy John Wilson

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera’s choice to open 201 was The Gondoliers or The King of Barataria.
The first act is set in Venice and as the story goes two gondoliers are choosing wives not realising that one was married at sic months and is the King of Barataria. The setting was a backdrop of Venice looking across the sea to Venice and foreground was a wharf where the two gondoliers arrived naturally by gondola.
They were welcomed by a bevy of local girls all wanting to marry them.
The two gondoliers wee played by Michael Dimovski as Marco Palmieri and Luke Belle as Giuseppe Palmieri.
Dimovski projected well with a good strong voice and a steady actor. Belle was amazing, caught all the finer nuances of such a character throwing himself into the role adding a touch of humour and aided by a good strong voice.
The Duke of Plaza Toro and his entourage enters, the entourage consisting of the Duchess, their daughter and the servant Luiz who was  also a drummer who beat on the drum at every possible moment sometimes to the despair of the Duke. 
The Duke was played by Renn Wortley who gave an even performance and worked well with Jennifer Wakefield as the Duchess. Wakefield was very good portraying the dominating wife and mother. A lovely voice to set of her performance.
The daughter Casilda was played by Kimberley Coleman giving a good performance and working well with Izaak Lea.
Lea was the servant Luiz, good projection, an amazing drummer and a pleasant voice with a performance suiting the role as envisaged.
The two wives of the gondoliers were Kristen Ryan as Gianetta and Erin Towns as Tessa. Both presented well, good clear voices and good stagecraft.
Act II was in the palace of Barataria where the two kings were doing al the work while their servants lolled around. In came the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Don Alhambra who is disgusted at what he sees. Playing Don Alhambra was Phil Elphinstone. A good comical performance done with a lot of energy and enjoyed by the audience.
The choreography was well cone, timing spot on and not do often seen in G & S works plenty of dancing. There were four dancers, three girls and one boy adding excellently to the evening’s entertainment.  A well balanced musical evening and overall a very pleasant night thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.


The Yeomen of the Guard

Savoy Opera Company

Director: Stee Cordelia
Music Director: David Campbell
Conductor: David Singh.

Savoy Opera Company chose The Yeoman of the Guard for the 2015 spring season.
A story of Colonel Fairfax, soldier and alchemist, is confined to the Tower under sentence of death for sorcery. The charge has been falsely engineered by his cousin, who will inherit Fairfax’s estate should he die unmarried.
The story is about what happens and is he saved?
Savoy Opera Company has a magnificent backdrop of the Tower of London of the period of the story. The costuming is amazing, one would swear that the Beefeaters were the real men the costuming was so authentic looking.
Isaac Esler was Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Lieutenant of the Tower). Esler caught the character as envisaged giving a good performance in the role.
Colonel Fairfax the prisoner was given an outstanding performance by James Christensen. As well as being a good actor Christensen has a great voice eminently suited for the character.
Barry Fry was Sergeant Meryll (of the Yeomen of the Guard) A good stage projection with a high standard of performing such a role.
Sergeant Meryll’s son, Leonard Meryll was played by Lyndon Green. A small role but essential to the play. Green handled his role with aplomb giving a good performance.
Luke Bell had the unenviable role of the strolling player, Jack Point, in love with his protégée who was in love with someone else. Bell gave a wonderful portrayal of the player for whom things did not go at all as he expected and hoped capturing the finer nuances of the man in love which was not reciprocated.
Geoff Carson had the role of Wilfred Shadbolt ( Head Jailor and Assistant Tormentor) Carson stood out with his portrayal of such an unseemly character who took a delight in telling of his position of Assistant Tormentor.
The innocent heroine Elsie Maynard (a Strolling Singer and Jack Point’s protégée) was given a wonderful performance by Corryn Rattray, who added to the high standard and delight of the evening.
Another entertaining and wonderful performance was given by Carmen Carnovale as Phoebe Meryll (Sergeant Meryll’s daughter). Her scenes with Geoff Carson as Wilfred Shadbolt were an absolute delight. Carnovale is not only a good performer with a wonderful voice she also has a great sense of the comique as required for this role.
Another amusing and good performance was given by Lydia Klenek as Dame Carruthers ( Housekeeper of the Tower)
A very successful evening of a classic Gilbert & Sullivan with the Savoy Opera company being one of the few companies who do not mike their artists and thus one hears the true voices instead of the engineered voices which can distort the high notes and ruin the overall effect. 




Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Frank McCarty
Musical Director: Greg Hannan

GSOV moved across to Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre for the spring season and presented Patience.
A satire of the aesthetic movement of the time with the poets enjoying the attention of the ladies but do they really?
A simply set stage with a backdrop and a raised stage at rear. Opening saw the twenty lovesick maidens singing about the latest poet Reginald Bunthorne. Ron Pidcock was Bunthorne giving a good interpretation of such a character. Pidcock had the various graceful moves down flat giving an amusing and comic performance.
His rival poet, Archibald Grosvenor was given a great comic performance by Andrew Blair who not only caught the aestheticism of the poet but when changed to a normal working man one thought it was two different actors.
The Lady Jane was given a good and amusing performance by Andrea Toppe.
Sabrina Surace caught the correct feel for the simple milkmaid Patience who loved Archibald Grosvenor but because he was perfect she could not be selfish and keep him for herself. A lovely performance and a good pleasant voice.
The ensemble work carried well and the Dragoons were a picture particularly when they found their fiancées were in love with the poets and not them.

A pleasant evening of Gilbert & Sullivan enjoyed by the Darebin audience

Don Giovanni

Opera Australia

Conductor: Anthony Legge
Director: David McVicar

Opera Australia’s second choice for the Melbourne Autumn season was Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
David McVicar set the production at the end of the enlightenment age; it’s a dark world where class distinctions are very important. The set was magnificent, large archways on each side of the stage with a large decorated roof which doubled as a stairway from upper levels. The set was rather dark giving a Gothic feel to the performance and unfortunately to the audience sitting toward the middle and rear of the auditorium made it a little hard to see the performer’s expressions. 
Don Giovanni was performed by Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Rhodes has a good stage presence, great acting skills and a voice which challenged the expectation of the role with ease.
Donna Anna, who was betrothed to Don Ottavio and in the opening scene, was trying to avoid Don Giovanni’s attention. As Donna Anna Emma Matthews gave a wonderful portrayal and handled the aria Or sai chi l’onore with aplomb which was enjoyed by the opening night audience.
Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant was given an amusing and good performance by Shane Lowrencev. Lowrencev excelled in the scene of declaring his master’s catalogue of conquests across Europe.
The Commendatore, Donna Anna’s father was killed in a duel with Don Giovanni, was played by Jud Arthur. A small but essential role particularly in the last scene where he returns from the grave. Arthur gave an imposing performance added to by a great voice. Donna Elvira a lady abandoned by Don Giovanni and spent her time trying to get her revenge and helping other victims of Don Giovanni. She was performed by Jane Ede who gave a stirling performance of the role.
Zerlina, a peasant girl who Don Giovanni tried to seduce on the eve of her wedding was performed by Taryn Fieberg. Fieberg’s interpretation of Zerlina was excellent and her arias were enjoyed by the audience.
Her husband to be Masetto was performed by Richard Anderson who projects well and gave a good portrayal of such a character.
A good evening from Opera Australia adding to the high standard expected of the Company. 


Madama Butterfly

Opera Australia
Director: Moffat Oxenbould
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire

Opera Australia’s choice to open the Melbourne 2015 season was Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
A well set stage giving the correct feel of a Japanese house with sliding doors and a moat around it with two bridges across giving entry to each side of the stage.
 Set in Nagasaki the story tells of the love between Cio Cio San and Lt. Pinkerton an American sailor. Goro a marriage broker has rented a house for Pinkerton and arranged a marriage between Cio Cio San also known as Madama Butterfly and Pinkerton.
Hiromi Omura really captured the essence of Madama Butterfly with not only a wonderful voice as evinced with her duet Viene la sera with James Egglestone (Pinkerton) and the moving  Sai cos’ ebbe cuore but with her acting of such a role.
James Egglestone was the perfect Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. He was going through the ceremony but told the American Consul that he planned to marry an American girl in the future. A great performance with a matching superb voice and the capturing of such a terrible character caused the audience at the close of the evening to boo him outrageously.
Your correspondent was told that this was held by the cast as being a successful evening as Egglestone really captured such a rotten character.
Madama Butterfly’s maid Suzuki was played by Sian Pendry. Another wonderful performance and particularly moving where she supports Butterfly when the dreaded news is broken.
 The American Consul Sharpless who was understanding of Butterfly’s marriage and resulting shock and disappointment and trying to persuade Pinkerton not to rush into such an alliance was excellently played by Michael Honeyman. Honeyman captured the feel of the character and his delivery of Tutto ė pronto was a sheer delight.
Two dramatic moments were when Butterfly’s uncle the Bonze arrives and renounces her from her family and when a new suitor Yanadori arrives. A great spectacle adding to the high standard of the evening
A good opening for the Melbourne season from Opera Australia.


The Flying Dutchman

Victorian Opera

Artistic Director & Conductor: Richard Mills
Director: Roger Hodgman

A new beginning for the future of theatre was created by Victorian Opera and Deakin Motion. Lab.
Victorian Opera presented Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at Melbourne’s iconic theatre the Palais. The new beginning being the rear of the stage and both sides were film screens where 3D films took place. Each member of the audience received 3D glasses to view what was an amazing effect.
The story is of a Dutch captain cursed to sail the seas of the world until judgement day unless he can persuade a young lady to fall in love with him.
Set off a Norwegian fjord we see two life size sailing ships sailing through storms and tying up in the fjord. The 3D effects were absolutely amazing the audience is on one ship when the ghostly red sailed Flying Dutchman appears and nearly strikes the other ship. They then sail together to sit out the storm.
Another scene was on board ship where the cameras took you between decks really giving the impression the cast was really on board.
This will bring theatre into the future today.
The Palais Theatre has practically perfect acoustics and the opera singers love performing there.
For this production the Palais Theatre removed four rows from the front to allow space for the remarkable and talented Australian Youth Orchestra. An excellent choice of orchestra which played exquisitely and did accompany the singers instead of what happens too frequently, drowning them out.  
Opening sees Daland the Norwegian captain settling his ship and meeting with the Dutchman. Daland was played by Warwick Fyfe, a strong bass, a good actor giving a fine performance singing with great clarity and enunciation.
Oksar Hillebrandt was the Dutchman. A great stage personality a strong clear baritone
We hear his voice across the orchestra which magnificently portrays the storm with Oskar’s voice balancing to perfection. Lori Phillips was Senta, the daughter of Daland and a young lady whose story of The Flying Dutchman has made a deep impression and she is resolved to aid him in his quest from his curse.
Lori caught the character as envisaged added to by a wonderful voice which was enhanced by her duet with Hillebrandt.
Senta’s nurse was Mary sung and performed by Liane Keegan. Another great performance. Liane has good stage appearance with a magnificent contralto to match. An enjoyable performance both to see and hear.
The huntsman, Erik, who loved Senta, was performed by Bradley Daley. Erik could not understand Senta’s infatuation for the Dutchman and Bradley caught the essence of such a character with complete naturalness. A good tenor who projected well and balanced his role well with Lori Phillips.
A good strong chorus of both the men and women producing a very successful evening of opera in Melbourne.



Opera Australia
Director: Simon Phillips.
Conductor: Christian Badea

For Opera Australia’s final Melbourne season for 2014 the choice was Giuseppe Verde’s Falstaff. Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, a light-hearted plot about Sir John Falstaff who still considers himself irresistible to women even though he is rather overweight and not quite as young as he used to be.
He sends letters off to four ladies to arrange a rendezvous but the ladies compare letters and decide to teach Falstaff a lesson.
An amazing set opening in the tavern then quickly changing to the market place and buildings at rear of same. Both sets of buildings are two storied and the cast move swiftly up and down various stairways smoothly with the odd bit of congestion.
Warwick Fyfe was Falstaff, completely unrecognisable in the Falstaff dress until he sang the voice of Warwick cannot be mistaken and in this role not only was Warwick’s superb so was his characterisation of the role. A light touch was given by Falstaff’s followers, Bardolph and Pistol, played by Kanen Breen and Jud Arthur. Both captured the comique of such associates giving good performances adding to the comedy of the evening.
The ladies were Mrs Meg Page played by Jacqueline Dark, Mrs Alice Ford played by Jane Ede, Mistress Quickly played by Dominica Matthews and Nannetta played by Taryn Fieberg.
All ladies gave great interpretations of their roles and the way they treated poor Falstaff was a picture.
Good performances were given by Graeme Macfarlane as Dr Caius who wanted to marry Nannetta (far too young for him) and Michael Honeyman as Ford, Alice’s husband.
Fenton, Nannetta’s lover was given a great performance by Jonathon Abernethy.
One scene that stands out was in the forest where the cast are dressed as fairies, goblins and witches. The cast deserve high praise for this scene as they performed the whole scene on their knees.
A wonderful evening from Opera Au8stralia to finish the Melbourne 2014 season.

Don Pasquale

Rachelle Durvin, John Longmur, Conal Coad, Photo by J. Busby

Opera Australia

Director: Roger Hodgman
Conductor: Guillaume Tourniaire

Opera Australia’s second opera of the Melbourne Spring season was Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
A light-hearted Italian comic opera bought into the 1950’s by Director Roger Hodgman.
The stage was set as a town square showing the front of a restaurant and houses plus a fountain. Complete with the local townspeople riding bikes, a Vespa, two mafia types sitting at the outdoor café and where the various main characters make their entrance.
The stage had three revolves which turned the set around to form the interior of Don Pasquale’s home. A remarkable piece of stagecraft.
The story is about Don Pasquale, an older man who to spite his nephew wants to marry and have a son to leave his fortune to. But of course nothing ever goes to plan and gives the audience a lot of fun from a wonderful high standard cast.
Don Pasquale was given a wonderful performance by Conal Coad. A great actor and a fine Bass whose voice did not falter. One memorable scene was when Don Pasquale donned a wig to impress his new bride. The things that happened were a sheer delight.
His new bride to be, who happened to be in love with Don’s nephew was Norina played by Rachelle Durkin.
Durkin was ideal for the role, she has an impish manner and a good rapport both with Coad and John Longmuir. A good touch of the comique balanced by a fine soprano with a good clear enunciation.
John Longmuir was Ernesto, Don Pasquale’s nephew who was ordered out of the house. Longmuir carried the character with finesse added to by a good pleasing tenor voice living up to the high standard set by his felloe artists.
Don Pasquale’s friend (and friend to Ernesto) was Dr Malatesta played by Samuel Dundas.  Dundas has a good stage presence added to by a clear baritone which did not falter throughout the evening. His performance was a delight being well balanced between Don Pasquale and Ernesto with Don Pasquale not knowing what was going on between Ernesto, Norina and Dr Malatesta.

An entertaining evening and a good opera to introduce newcomers to opera. 



Opera Australia

Director: John Bell
Conductor Andrea Molina

Opera Australia’s selection to open the Melbourne Spring season was Puccini’s Tosca.
The director was John Bell who reset the story from the Napoleonic Wars to 1943 when Italy was an ally of Germany. As John says this makes it more relevant and audiences can relate to the story.
Opening scene brought gasps from the audience with the opulence of the interior of the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. An amazing piece of work by Opera Australia’s design and construction team. This was enhanced by the sets of scene two and three.
The change to 1943 by John Bell did not make any difference to the original story but bringing it into living history gave the feel of realism to the story.
Steven Gallop was the escaped prisoner Cesare Angelotti who hid in the Attavanati Chapel. A good portrayal added to by a wonderful voice
Diego Torre was Mario Cavaradossi the artist and lover of Floria Tosca. Torre presented well and the duet Qual’occhio between Cavaradossi and Martins Serafin (Tosca) delighted the audience.
Claudio Sgura gave a stirling performance as the evil Baron Scarpia His stage presence is excellent and he really caught the evil of such a character.
The Te Deum scene had the full procession of priests, children’s choir and the public. A wonderful setting and the children’s choir certainly showed the upcoming stars of the future or opera.
Dramatic scenes in Act II where Scarpia demands that Tosca tells the whereabouts of Cavaradossi and Angelotti. This scene was excellently portrayed and the scenes between Torre and Serafin and Serafin and Sgura were a sheer delight all of course enhanced by the high standard of voice by the three.
This is where we hear the wonderful Vissi d’arte sung exquisitely by Martina Serafin.
Act III was changed from the original with scenes of the Jews rising from their sleep and being moved through a door to now we know where. This is where Mario Cavaradossi is told by Tosca that the firing squad has been fixed and he would survive.
The scene is set in a prison yard with high walls surmounted by barb wire unlike the castle battle mounts of Puccini’s original story. Tosca realises that Scarpia has gone back on his word and Cavaradossi is executed. The finale has the same ending but done differently but fits in with John Bell’s concept.
A successful production and well appreciated by the audience.


Savoy Opera

Director: Stee Cordelia

Musical Director: David Campbell
Conductor: David Singh

Savoy Opera’s choice of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta to close the 2014 season was Ruddigore or The Witch’s Curse
The curse laid on the Murgatroyd family by a witch is that the inheritor of the title Baronet must do a crime a day or die a horrible agonising death.
The present baronet Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd faked his own death and hid out in a small village under the name of Robin Oakapple thus his younger brother inherited the title and the curse.

Savoy Opera presented a great set of a village square with houses each side and an amazing backdrop of a seascape and a huge lighthouse in the foreground. The costuming was brilliant suiting the period with aplomb.
The scene opens with a chorus of out of work bridesmaids singing about Rode Maybud, a young beautiful village maiden who changes fiancés at a drop of a hat.
Opening night saw Corryn Rattray as Rose Maybud and Zorah. A light lyric soprano whose voice projected beautifully and a wonderful actor in these roles.
The man she fell in love with was the farmer Robin Oakapple who unbeknownst to her was in reality Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd. Daniel Carison played parts and the program proudly announced that Daniel has just won the prestigious 2014 Royal Philharmonic Aria award. Daniel, only 21 year old bass baritone impressed the sold-out audience and won over the judges; bench.
So the Savoy Opera audience were privileged to see and hear such a talented young man playing the lead. His voice was up to the expectations of such an award winner and his acting also was up to the standard of his singing.
Robin Oakapple’s foster brother Richard Dauntless was performed by Stephen Carolane. Richard had just returned from years at sea and the pair was thrilled to be together. Stephen, besides having a good tenor   voice and a fine actor surprised the audience with his interpretation of the Sailor’s Hornpipe. An energetic number and very well executed.
Robin’s younger brother, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, who inherited the title under false pretences, was played by Phil Elphinstone. A good stage presentation together with a strong clear voice adding to the standard of the evening.
Rebecca Attwood-Frew was Mad Margaret the wife of Sir Despard Murgatroyd. A good projection of a mad woman who does recover albeit not quite altogether.
Rose Maybud’s aunt Dame Hannah was played by Lydia Klimek. An amazing portrayal not only a good voice, clear and strong, but a great actor and the scene where she was kidnapped by Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd’s servant Adam nearly brought the housed down.
Richard Burman was Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd’s servant old Adam Goodheart. Richard is a talented performer which was evident in his portrayal of such a character.
A well directed smooth running performance by the company with no weak spots and was greatly enjoyed by the audience.

USS Pinafore

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: David Lawson-Smith
Musical Director: John Ferguson

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria has taken HMS Pinafore from the 19th century to the 23rd century and renamed it to USS Pinafore.
Opening announcements re turning off mobile phones etc were done in the voice of a Dalek naturally if not obeyed would be EXTERMINATED.
This set the scene for an entertaining evening. At this point your correspondent must admit he is a Sci Fi fan from way back so thoroughly enjoyed the concept.
The stage was set as the bridge of the USS Enterprise although in this story it is the USS Pinafore. Centre was the captain’s chair and each side were the navigator and radio operator. Above the navigator and radio ops were two TV screens which not only showed the arrival of the admiral but also showed the words of each song. The words were updated to suit the new 23rd century version and was very successful.
Instead of the captain’s daughter Josephine falling in love with a lowly sailor she falls in love with a Vulcan Mr Rack.
Just to add to the similarity between Star Trek and Pinafore the captain’s name is now Captain Kirkoran.
The play revolves around the Star Trek story with dashes of Star Wars thrown in.
Admiral Joseph Porter leaves the satellite Deep Space 9 which is shown in the background and followers of Star Wars would recognise it as the Death Star.
The basic story is the same with the updated libretto sung to the original music.
Andrew McGrail was Captain Kirkoran giving a good performance with an excellent voice adding to his high standard portrayal.
Admiral Joseph Porter, he with many sisters, cousins and aunts, was given a stirling performance by Angus Grant. Jonathon Rumsam was Dick Deadeye. Rumsam caught the essence of the character projecting well and was appreciated by the audience.
Mr Rack including Vulcan ears was played by Adrian Glaubert who captured the pedantic character with professionalism.
Cousin Hebe was given a good performance by Phoebe Deklerk Another good portrayal and Deklerk has a fine stage appearance and handled the role with finesse.
Our heroine Josephine was performed by Josephine Grech.  Grech has an outstanding voice as well as a high acting standard. She handled her role with aplomb giving the right feel expected of Josephine caught between her father’s wishes and her own feelings for an alien.
Little Buttercup was still the same the bumboat lady selling delights to the crew. Anna Castle was Little Buttercup giving a fine characterisation of the role with a pleasant voice to match.
An interesting concept taking Pinafore into the 23rd century where the costuming was from Star Trek and the crew contained several aliens from different coloured human types and then a Vulcan, a cat person and an angel.
All in all an interesting concept and enjoyed by the audience.
At the end of the performance the orchestra played on and the entire audience stayed on to watch the orchestra as it rose from the pit to stage level and gave a brief summary of the show. A very enjoyable completion to a good night of entertainment.


Utopia Limited

Savoy Opera Co.

Director: Stee Cordelia
Music Director: David Campbell.

Guest Conductor: David Singh

A story of a fictional South Pacific island of Utopia where the King Paramount has sent his eldest daughter Princess Zara to an English college with the hopes that on return she will help civilize his people.
When Gilbert & Sullivan wrote this operetta Princess Kaiulani of the independent monarchy of Hawaii attended a private school in England.
Also two decades earlier Anna Loenowens wrote her book about her six-year stint ad governess to the children to the King of Siam.
This was obvious and the setting in Act One was certainly modelled on Hawaii plus the ladies of the island wore muumuus and the men lap laps.
In Act 2 the setting was changed to an English style drawing room and the cast were dressed in the English fashion which the island ladies were very uncomfortable.’
The settings and costuming was amazing and excellently done.
The performers lived up the standard set with 18 main stars and a large chorus.
King Paramount the first was given a great and comical performance by Andrew Long.
His Wise Men, Scaphio and Phantis were played by Geoff Carison and Mathew Cookson. A great comic pair with good stage presentation and acted the role of the evil types with aplomb. Their voices added to the high standard of the evening. 
The eldest daughter of the King is Princess Zara who was sent to England for her education. She returned with six advisers to change the islanders from their easy going life to the English style of living.
Princess Zara was given a wonderful and expert performance by Catherine Bolzonello
Catherine has a superb stage presence, a delightful voice and a great actor.
The Lady Sophy the princess’s English governess was portrayed by Lydia Klimek.
A good interpretation of the character and Lydia captured the role as envisaged.
A high standard production by Savoy Opera Company well appreciated by the opening night audience.  


The Turk in Italy

Opera Australia

Director: Simon Phillips
Conductor: Anthony Legge.

Opera Australia’s 3rd Melbourne production was the delightful The Turk in Italy.
If you have a friend who thinks opera is to heavy and only for the pure opera lovers this is the opera to introduce such friends to the art.
A light-hearted romp by Rossini about the poet Prosdocimo who is trying to find a plot for a farce he is writing. Prosdocimo is portrayed by Samuel Dundas who as the writer acts as narrator for the evening. Good stage projection with a clear and good baritone adding to the high standard of the evening.
Opera Australia and Simon Phillips changed the setting to the 50’s and what a great job it is. On audience right was a round two story bar with residence above set on two revolves one inner and one outer.
Audience left was the gypsy camp and beach scenes. Opening scene was the male chorus coming in with deck chairs and the female chorus entering in 50’s bathing costumes and after a small struggle to set up the chairs the ladies sat.
The story is based on Fiorella although married to an older man, Geronio, had a lover Narciso but heard about Selim the Turk coming to town set her cap for him.
Soprano Emma Matthews was Fiorella, who met the vocal challenges of the role with ease and her acting was perfect for such a character.
Geronio, who was the older man and her husband, was played by bass Andrew Moran. Perfectly cast as the cuckolded husband Moran was enjoyed by the audience in the role.
Selim’s former slave who still loves was Zaida played and sung by mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley. A delightful performance with a wonderful voice and Anna suited the character.
Tenor John Longmuir was Fiorilla’s lover Narciso who was very upset about Fiorilla’s attraction for Selim the Turk. Another great performance.
The one performer who in this correspondent’s opinion stole the show was Shane Lawrencev as Selim the Turk. An amazing performance of comedy, superb stage craft, great projection and a bass that was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

A wonderful evening of fun and opera well directed and performed by all



Gianluca Terranova

Opera Australia

Director: Roger Hodgman
Conductor: Renato Palumbo

Opera Australia opened its 2014 Melbourne season with Verdi’s Rigoletto.
A well set stage opening with the Duke’s palace where the Duke of Mantua is describing his latest love.  The Duke was played by Gianluca Terranova, an outstanding performance both as an actor and of course a singer. His magnificent voice dazzled the Tuesday night audience and enhanced the evening.
Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester, was portrayed by Warwick Fyfe who has a good stage presence and captured the cruelty of the jester and the strictness but kindness to his daughter with aplomb. He also added to the delight of the audience with control and beauty of his voice.
Gilda, the Jester’s daughter was played by Irina Dubrovskaya who captured the essence of the young innocent and protected girl who fell in love with the Duke.
A good performance and Dubrovskaya has a good rapport with Fyfe.
The production was excellent with a high standard of performance from the cast and orchestra.
A great start to the 2014 Melbourne season.  


The Grand Duke

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Richard Burman
Musical Director: John Ferguson.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria opened the 2013 season with an opera only previously done twice in Victoria.
The Grand Duke or The Statutory Duel. A story of a theatrical touring group whose comedian challenges the Grand Duke to a statutory duel and wins. This win gives him the title of Grand Duke and all the Duke’s responsibilities including three wives.
The company presented a well set stage of the market square of Speisesaal and the Hall of The Grand Duke Palace. The costumes added to the evening all leading to a great evening of entertainment.
A very smooth flowing performance with the artists keeping good timing and movements.
Peter Hanway was Rudolph, Grand Duke of Pfennig Halbpfennig A good performance with a strong clear voice adding to the high standard of the production. Ludwig, the leading comedian who after winning the statutory duel became the Grand Duke was played by Paul Tooby. A stunning performance showing good comedy particularly with the marriage scenes and a good voice to match.
Andrew McGrail was Dr Tannhäuser, a notary. McGrail projects well, a good strong clear voice both in speaking and singing and was enjoyed by the audience.
Lydia Kovesi was Julia Jellicoe, an English comedian with the theatre company and as the leading lady was to become the Grand Duchess. A wonderful portrayal, good acting and a lovely voice.
Overall the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria gave a wonderful evening of entertainment and a chance to see a little known and not often seen the last collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan.


Princess Ida

Richard Burman & Lydia KovesiLydia Kovesi,Lucas Wilson-richter, Paul Tooby, Andrew Blair

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Ron Pidcock

GSOV presented Princess Ida for the October season. Unlike Gilbert’s other works Princess Ida is based on the work of another author, Tennyson’s The Princess.
Inspired by the emotive power of the story Gilbert made two stage adaptations of the poem. The second was Princess Ida in 1894 at the height of the Savoy Opera success.
The opening scene was the Pavilion in King Hildebrand’s Palace. Simple set with a beautiful backdrop of a road, river, mountains, valley and castle in the distance.
This is where we meet King Hildebrand and King Gama. King Hildebrand was played by Renn Wortley a stirling performance, Wortley had the correct Royal stance required by such a character with an imposing stage appearance and only exceeded by the voice which typified his stance.
King Gama, only happy when he had something to grumble about, a man stooped and going off at everyone he met was given a masterful performance by Richard Burman who excels in these roles and this performance certainly saw why. Added to the performance his voice and diction was clear and well sung.
Hilarion the Prince who was affianced to King Gama’s daughter Princess Ida was played by Adrian Glaubert. A good stage appearance, excellent voice and fine acting ability with a good rapport Lydia Kovesi.  Kovesi gave a superb performance in the role with just the right mannerisms for a feminist particular in the period the story is set. Her stage presence was excellent, voice a sheer delight and acting wonderful.
Lady Blanche, the 2IC of Castle Adamant, the ladies’ University, was a good 2IC who had a secret desire to rule the university which was put to good advantage in the story. As Lady Blanche, Jennifer Wakefield captured the essence of such a character and added to the high standard of the production.
Comic relief was given by Princess Ida’s brothers. Arav, Guron and Scynthius. Played by Lucas Wilson, Paul Tooby and Andrew Blair. They came out dressed in armour and singing how they would manage the affair without modern education but ad military men. A fine performance from the three.
Prince Hilarion’s friends Cyril and Florian were played by Charles Cornwallis and Darcy Cornwallis. Another high standard performance. Lady Psyche, one of the lecturers, is amazed when confronting the new “lady” students to find that Florian is her brother. She keeps the secret and Elyse McDonald in the role gives a great portrayal and projects well.
A n interesting and very high standard evening of G&S and a production not to be missed


Opera Australia

Conductor: Anthony Legge
Director: Christopher Alden

Partenope by Handel premiered in King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London 24 February 1730.
Opera Australia brought the opera up to the early 20th century in fact giving a Noel Coward and Salvador Dali feeling to the production.
The opening scene is set in a salon rather than a court room. A semi circular staircase on audience left with a table and chairs with a large door behind on audience right.
Partenope was seen playing cards with her suitors as they entered down the stairs.
Partenope was played by Emma Matthews who gave a stunning performance. Her voice was magnificent and this was echoed by her acting. She covered all aspects from serious to comedy excelling in her presentation.
Her suitors. Emilio as performed by John Longmuir called in especially for the Tuesday May 6 role as Kanen Breen was indisposed. Longmuir appeared very comfortable in the role and looked as if he was doing it all the time. Good stage presentation, a marvellous voice and fine acting.
Arsace was originally played by an alto castrato so Opera Australia cast a female mezzo, Catherine Carby in the role. Carby captured the character with finesse working well with Matthews and Victoria Lambourn. A fine voice and great acting ability Catherine added to the success of the evening.
Arsace’s lover Rosmira (whom he deserted) was played by Victoria Lambourn. In the role Rosmira disguised herself as a young man Eurimene.  As Eurimene she told Partenope that she/he loved her so nobody would suspect her sex.
Lambourn was a delight in this role. Acting ability superb and her aria’s stopped the show with the audience’s applause.
A wonderful fun evening of opera with many laughs from the audience and a fine finish to the Melbourne Autumn season.




Opera Australia

Conductor: Renato Palumbo
Director: Graeme Murphy


Opera Australia’s second opera for the Melbourne season was Verdi’s Aida.
The set was basic comprising of a large white triangle at rear of the stage which was reflected onto the stage. This was used as a screen with all the scenery of such a lavish production projected on same. The idea was very successful bringing to life the splendour of ancient Egypt as Graeme Murphy saw it.
The costuming was first class adding to the colour and extravaganza of Aida
A mixture of opera and more ballet than usually seen in operas which brought home the richness of the Egyptian court. The dancers were of a high standard and the choreography was seemingly copied from the pictures on the Egyptian Tombs.

Radames the Egyptian general who fell in love with the Ethiopian Princess Aida was performed by Carlo Barricelli. A wonderful portrayal exemplified by an outstanding voice. His scenes and duets with both Daria Masiero as Aida and Deborah Humble as Amneris Princess of Egypt were a sheer delight.
Daria Masiero as Aida had great stage presence, good acting and a voice to delight. Masiero had a good rapport with Barricelli which added to the standard of the evening.
Deborah Humble was Amneris, Princess of Egypt and in love with Radames. A good performer working well with Masiero and Barricelli. Her voice was only enhanced by her acting and was greatly appreciated by the audience.
Amneris’s father, the King of Egypt was portrayed by Jud Arthur. Another good performance and a good stage presence with voice to match. Aida’s father the King of Ethiopia. Amonasro was played by Michael Honeyman. Honeyman has a great stage projection, fine acting abilities and a voice which delighted Melbourne’s audience.
A great evening of opera with all the glamour expected and a high standard of performance by Opera Australia.

A Masked Ball


Opera Australia

Director: Alex Ollė
Conductor: Andrea Molino

Verdi’s A Masked Ball as directed by Alex Ollė and presented by Opera Australia bought the evening into a rather Orwellian 20th century. This appeared to be a little detrimental to the production in that everyone was dressed the same plus they were all masked making it hard to identify the different characters.
The stage was starkly set which took away the feeling of a ball in 1792 which one imagines glamour, glorious settings, intrigue and the pleasures of such settings.
The voices were superb and Josė Carbò was outstanding with his aria ‘Eri Tu’ left the audience stunned.
Lorina gave a well acted well sung amusing performance as Oscar the King’s page. Csilla Boross was superb as Amelia, wife to Count Ankasrtrőm and the King’s lover. Her acting was good and her voice held the audience in suspense.
The performers were good actors with excellent voices, the orchestra was excellent but your correspondent feels the modern Orwellian production was not suited for this opera.




Opera Australia

Conductor: Simon Hewett
Director: Gale Edwards

Opera Australia’s final Melbourne production for 1012 was Richard Strauss’s Salome. A story of King Herod, John the Baptist and religious leaders who come to t meeting to decide whether John the Baptist is who he says he is or a fake.
Herod’s step daughter Salome a young girl on the eve of womanhood and very precocious at that, plus demanding what she wants she wants.
The State Theatre stage was set with a large dining table at the rear with a background of animal carcases. Centre front was the dark pit in which Jokanaan a prophet (John the Baptist) was imprisoned. Lighting was basically red giving a sombre view of the bloodthirstiness of the plot.
The costuming was of the present day to the time of King Herod which actually worked quite well.
 A young Syrian Captain of the Guard, Narraboth was performed by David Corcoran who captured the character of a man in love with Salome and would do as she wishes even though it meant his death. Corcoran added to his acting abilities with the high standard of his voice
John Pickering was Herod. An amazing performance with good acting ability plus the added value of a top voice. Herod’s wife Herodias was performed by Jacqueline Dark. Dark and Pickering were one of the best teams seen for a long while. They had a great rapport and obviously enjoyed their roles. Dark’s voice added to the standard of the evening and the two were really enjoyed by the audience.
Salome was given a great interpretation by Cheryl Barker. A magnificent voice and Barker gave the feel of a spoiled brat who forced her stepfather Herod to obey her wish.
Jokaneen (John the Baptist) was performed by Thomas Hall. He was not on view in the opening as he was imprisoned in a cistern. He came to the audience’s attention in his opening number. A good strong baritone the audience was nearly stunned when this voice came seemingly out of nowhere.
A one act opera very successfully done by Opera Australia and a fine finish to the 2012 Melbourne season.

Jacqueline Dark & John PickeringCheryl Barker

Lucia di Lammermoor

Giorgio Caoduro, emma Matthews, Stephen Smith, Jonathon Abernethy

Opera Australia

Conductor: Guillaume Touriaire.
Director: John Doyle.

A very dark opera and the set was built to match. The opening curtain was painted as clouds just prior to a storm. The backdrop was identical to the front with flys dropping at various times painted the same design.
The costuming was also drab with mostly no bright colours but black and grey dresses for the ladies and similar colouring for the men. Lucia di Lammermoor was the exception, opening she had a gold dress but covered with a grey cloak. Later she was in a white wedding dress and then a white night dress added with red from a murder.
The opera opened with an aria from Jonathon Abernethy as Normanno, an officer in Enrico’s household. Abernethy’s voice did not project across the orchestra in this scene although later in the evening his projection improved.
Emma Matthews was Lucia di Lammermoor and her first number Regnava nel silenzio stunned the audience and the applause held up the production until it finished.
Following was the duet Verrano a te sul’aure/ with Edgardo performed by Aldo Di Toro. This too, stunned the audience with the afore mentioned effect.
Giorgio Caoduro was Enrico, Lucia’s brother who was trying to marry her off to Arturo to save the family and his life regardless of what Lucia wished.
Edgardo went to France and while away Enrico arranged the wedding of Lucia and Arturo. Edgardo returns to late and one of the famous scenes begins with the great sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento? Chi troncò dell’re il corso? Arturo. Edgardo returns to late and one of the famous scenes begins with the great sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento ? Chi troncò dell’re il corso?
Edgardo went to France and while away Enrico arranged the wedding of Lucia and Arturo. Edgardo returns to late and one of the famous scenes begins with the great sextet Chi mi frena in tal momento? Chi troncò dell’re il corso?
This too was greatly appreciated by the audience.
The climax was Lucia’s mad scene. Emma Matthews was outstanding in the role. Her voice is amazing, just the correct vocals, clear, strong and getting the correct notes as expected. Her acting in this scene was superb. Coming out in a white nightdress, covered in her husband’s blood she thought her lover Edgardo was there and addressed him much to the horror of the wedding guests.
Highlight singers were Emma Mathews, Giorgio Caoduro, David Parkin, Teresa La Rocca, Aldo Di Toro and Stephen Smith.
At curtain call when Emma Matthews came forward she received a standing ovation. This has not been seen by your correspondent at any opera prior to this evening.


Madama Butterfly

Opera Australia

Conductor: Giovanni Reggioli
Director: Moffatt Oxenbould.

The story of the 15 year old geisha girl who married the American Lieutenant Pinkerton and after he left Japan remained true to him in spite of his use of her as a temporary relief whilst in Japan.
Madama Butterfly was performed by Hiromi Omura who gave a wonderful portrayal capturing the essence of the young devoted bride of the American. Her voice delighted the audience and added by her acting ability completed the character of Madama Butterfly. Omura was a sheer delight in the role and the audience was hushed every time she sang.
Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton was performed by James Egglestone. A great portrayal. His duets with Omura were excellent and his acting proved so well that I t final bows he was booed as he came on to take his bow. This was then applauded on his performance. Your correspondent noticed as he entered and was booed there was a small smile as he obviously realised that the booing was a credit to his performance as such a revolting selfish example of the attitude of a visiting sailor.
Madama Butterfly’s maid Suzuki was played by Sian Pendry. Another wonderful and moving performance enhanced by a lovely voice.
Amoving and dramatic moment was during the wedding ceremony Butterfly’s uncle the Bonze arrives and denounces her. Jud Arthur as the Bonze has a great and impressive stage presence giving one of the highlight performances of the evening.
Barry Ryan was Sharpless the United States Consul who disagreed with Pinkerton’s attitude and when the moment came to tell butterfly the bad news could not bring himself to do it. His and Omura’s duet Ora a noi added to the poignancy f the moment.
The set was a Japanese style with the paper type walls a floor surrounded by water which was well made use of particularly when dozens of candles were floated across same.
The rear and side walls were raised and lowered for entries and exits.
A well enjoyed evening of opera enjoyed by the audience.  


The Mikado

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria

Director: Diana Burleigh
Musical Director: Christopher Stock.

An unusual opening to The Mikado with the Director Diana Burleigh giving a talk on the changes she made to this production. Following the talk the show opened with the Wadaiko Rindo Japanese Drumming giving a performance of the art of Japanese Drumming. A very interesting way to set the atmosphere of Japan for The Mikado.
An energetic and expert example of drumming performance with not only expert drum work but good stage work from the drummers. Timing was excellent and the performance was most enjoyable.

Then The Mikado. As the director explained in her opening talk that when The Mikado was written not much was really known about Japan. Now the country is well known and this production showed same. The opening scene portraying the Gentlemen of Japan had the gentlemen dressed as Ninjas some armed with bamboo poles and others doing exercises in Ninja fashion. The words of the song were unchanged and the chorus were great and gave a good performance with well balanced voice control.
The set was comprised of three Japanese arches decreasing in size to the stage rear.
Two sets each side of the arches and the rear were made of paper, as in Japanese hours, imported from Japan.
Costuming was excellent with Yum Yum’s wedding kimono the genuine article and Katisha’s robe also genuine and worth many dollars.
Brett O’Meara was Nanki Poo giving a good portrayal with a fine stage presence and a good clear voice with a positive rapport with Kate Amos as Yum Yum.
Kate Amos really caught the character of Yum Yum having just the right comedy touch added to by a lovely voice.
Her sisters Pitti-Sing and Peep-bo were played by Jessica Heard and Bethany McAleer. Both high standard performers adding to the standard of the evening.
Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner of Titipu was played by David Millar. Millar caught the essence of such a character giving some good portrayals especially in the scenes with Stefanie Mc Aleer as Katisha.
McAleer was great as Katisha with extra makeup to make her more like the character than usual. A good performance and enjoyed by the audience.
Renn Wortley was Poo-Bah Lord High everything, capturing the snobbish expressions of the above everyone else station in life. His characterisation was superb giving an enjoyable performance;
Andrew McGrail was the noble lord Pish-Tush dressed in Japanese clothes with a turban looking like an English Bobby. Another good performance.
A very successful evening enhanced by the talk and the Japanese drummers.


Cosi Fan Tutte

Melbourne Opera

Director: Suzanne Chaundy
Conductor: Greg Hocking.

Melbourne Opera’s July production was Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte.
A light hearted romp of indiscretion between two young couples and the results of same.
The company set the opera in the 60s as quoting the director Suzanne Chaundy “The 1960s is a relatively recent period that most resembles the sort of world Mozart and da Ponte was depicting. The sexual revolution is at the core of or production. Set in Melbourne, Don Alfonso, a hangover from the 1950s runs a bar and restaurant frequented by Australian Soldiers, after being jilted for the umpteenth time he renames his establishment Cosi Fan Tutte (Women are Like That).
The opening set was the Don Alfonso’s restaurant, simply set with bar on audience left and tables, chairs audience right.
Don Alfonso was played by baritone Roger Howell. As well as having a great voice Howell has a great sense of the comique giving a wonderful portrayal in the role. His cohort Despina was sung and played by soprano Andrea Creighton. A good balance to Howell both in singing and in the comic acting as called for by this role.
The two young soldiers in Australian uniform were played by tenor Roy Best as Ferrando and baritone Phillip Calcagno as Guglielmo.
Ferrando was in love with Dorabella who remained faithful, well for a while. A good pair with good rapport and nice duets. Guglielmo was in love with Dorabella’s sister Fiordiligi who did not give up her love as readily as her sister.
Dorabella was played by mezzo soprano Victoria Lambourn.  A delightful performance with a really mischievous touch. Her scenes were not to be missed and although allegedly promising to be faithful was first to succumb.
Her sister Fiordiligi was portrayed by soprano Daniella Caldar.  Fiordiligi was the more serious sister and did not give up her feelings for Guglielmo as quickly as her sister.
Caldar gave a good performance and her solo nearly brought the house down. As the story is set in the sixties the flower people came to the fore. The chorus were dressed in the style of the hippies of the time bringing back some memories of Woodstock and life against the Vietnam War. Our two heroes came back to their unknowing fiancés as Indian Love Gurus. The contrast between seeing the clean cut Diggers going off to battle and the Indian Love Gurus it is no wonder that the girls didn’t recognise their fiancés.
These scenes were an absolute delight and the acting of the main cast was fully equalled by the standard of voice creating a very enjoyable evening of opera.


The Merry Widow

photo J. BusbyPhoto J. Busby
David Hobson & amelia Farrugia Photo J. Busby

Opera Australia

Conductor: Brian Castles-Onion
Director: Giles Havergal

The Merry Widow is a story about the widow Countess Hanna Glawari whose inheritance was a large bank account so large her country of Pontevedro would be bankrupt if she moved it.
The Countess is in Paris with the Archduke in contact with the Pontevedrian Ambassador in Paris to stop any attempts of the Countess remarrying to Frenchman thus the country losing its capital.
Amelia Farrugia was the Countess.  A sterling performance with good acting and a wonderful rendition of Vilja
Count Danilo Danilovitch, a playboy working in the Paris Embassy of Pontevedro, is the man the Ambassador Baron Mirko Zeta wishes to marry off to the Countess
David Hobson gave a wonderful portrayal of the role with a strong clear voice and superb acting expertise.
The Baron Mirko Zeta was given a great comedic performance by John Bolton Wood. Bolton Wood has the right comic yet talented approach for thee style of roles plus the correct voice for such a character.
Some of the highlights were the duets between David Hobson and Amelia Farrugia, the Baroness Valencienne Zeta and her lover M. Camille de Rosilion. The Baroness was performed by Katherine Wiles and the lover M. Camille de Rosilion was played by Henry Choo. Both worked well together with an excellent rapport plus the addition of their wonderful duet. The two French Society beaus who were competing for the hand of the Countess Hanna Glawari were played by Samuel Dundas and Warren Fisher. Both added to the enjoyment of the evening with their conspiring and fighting for the Countess’s attention.
A good evening and an operetta to introduce non opera lovers to the world of opera. 


The Barber of Seville

Opera Australia

Conductor: Andrea Licate
Director: Elijah Moshinsky

Opera Australia set the 2012 production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in the 1920s. Excellently done and opening scene was a set designer’s masterpiece. \
A row of houses adjoining each other about half a metre high with one larger house in the centre. This was the home of Dr. Bartolo. The houses were made small as they were in the background even to the extent that when Dr Bartolo came it he was represented by a puppet.
To the front of the stage were musicians hired by Count Almaviva to woo the Dr’s ward Rosina. A good scene.
The set of the Doctor Bartolo’s house was a complete interior of a two storied mansion with bedrooms and hallway on the first floor and entrance hall, surgery, waiting area and lounge room on the ground floor. All were used efficiently by the cast.
John Longmuir was Count Almaviva, in love with Rosina, the ward of Dr Bartolo who also wished to marry her. Longmuir gave a wonderful portrayal and rendition of such a character Rosina was performed by Sian Pendry giving a first class performance with a fine duet between herself and Longmuir. Also a first class actress adding to the standard of the evening with her performance.
The barber and busybody Figaro was given a stirling performance by Josė Carbo. A good stage projection enhanced by a good touch of the comique and rendering a fine baritone.
Andrew Morgan was Dr Bartolo in love with his ward and having trouble with Count Almaviva. His scenes were excellent and he had a good rapport with Carbo.
The period of the opera was the 1920s and it was give a style of the old films such as Buster Keaton and the Keystone cops particularly in Dr Bartolo’s house hen the police were called although following the style of the Keystone Cops was more reminiscent of the police in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.
A very pleasant evening of entertainment and a good opera to introduce non-opera lovers to.   



The Bridesmaids & Richared Dauntless (Michael Petruccelli

Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria
Director & Choreographer: Ron Pidcock
Musical Director: John Ferguson.

Alexander Theatre Monash University was the venue for Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria’s production of Ruddigore.
A melodrama of the late Victorian style with Sir Despard Murgatroyd as the obligatory villain, Robin Oakapple the hero, Rose Maybud our heroine and Richard Dauntless the handsome sailor and a gallery of ancestor portraits which play  vital part in this amazing story.
A well set stage with Act 1 the Cornish Fishing Village where the scene opens with the bridesmaids singing about Rosebud. The bridesmaids are a professional group who are in despair as there has not been a marriage in the village for six months.
A well set scene with a good performance both acting and voice from the girls.
Sweet Rosebud, an orphan who does everything by her book of etiquette was performed by Michelle McCarthy. A great interpretation with McCarthy capturing the essence of such a sweet young lass and to add to her role a wonderful voice.
Her love, Robin Oakapple who is really the evil Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd was played by Brett O’Meara. A good performance added by the change from a prosperous and shy farmer to the evil baronet Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd.
Robin’s foster brother the sailor Richard Dauntless was played by Michael Petruccelli. He was asked to woo Rosebud on Robin’s behalf but fell for her himself. Petruccelli gave a great interpretation of the role capturing the correct mannerisms and with a fine voice to match added to the evening’s performance.
Peter Hanway was the current evil baronet Sir Despard Murgatroyd who found that his older brother was alive and therefore he changed from the evil character to one spending his time doing good for the sick and the poor. Hanway caught the character of such a role and was good in the change of persona. Sir Ruthven’s faithful retainer old Adam Goodhart and then when his master changes so does he and becomes Gideon Crawle. A good well balanced portrayal enhanced by his fine voice.
Anna Castle had an interesting role as Margaret the bride left at the alter when the curse descended on Despard causing her to become rather simple. Castle really was Mad Margaret giving a positive performance in her character as Mad Margaret and later as the wife of Sir Despard doing good works but on occasion slipping back into her former self.
 Jennifer Wakefield was Dame Hannah another left at the alter and resolving to be an old maid for the rest of her life. Wakefield added to the standard of the evening with her performance in this role.
A wonderful evening of Gilbert & Sullivan and a company not to be missed.

Andrew McGrail, Jennifer Wakefield, Michelle McCarthy, Michael Petrucelli

Brett O'Meara, Peter Hanway, Anna Castle


The Magic Flute

Opera Australia
Conductor: Paul Kildea
Director: Matthew Barclay

Opera Australia chose Mozart’s The Magic Flute for its second Melbourne season. A light hearted opera being excellent to introduce children and even adults to opera.
A production with amazing costuming and sets, bright colours and unique performances.
Opening we had Andrew Brunsdon as Tamino a Prince looking for wife, who is attacked by a serpent. Brunsdon caught the character with finesse with not only a good clear tenor voice but a well done acting performance.
Tamino is saved from the serpent by three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night. The three were dressed in all black with faces painted black and carried face masks with mouths set in different expressions. Their chorography was well done and the voices equalled their acting standard.
The bird catcher Papageno was performed by Andrew Jones. Another great performance with Jones having a good touch of the comique and a clear strong voice with good control.
Lorina Gore was the Queen of the Night having good stage projection a fine voice which could have had a little more depth. Pamina was the daughter of the Queen of the Night and the story’s heroine. Played by Taryn Fiebig giving a wonderful portrayal and working with a positive rapport with Andrew Brunsdon.
Adding to the enjoyment of the evening was Kanen Breen as Monostatos the villain of the piece.   An amusing performance, unusual make up and a good strong tenor which the audience really enjoyed.
David Parkin was Sarasto the leader of the Temple who was initially thought a villain but proving to be the quite the opposite. A great performance with a good stage presence.
An interesting production with strong emphasis on puppetry which particularly the bears handled by three puppeteers to each bear.
A good opera to introduce newcomers to opera especially children of which there were many on Melbourne’s opening night. 



Trial by Jury & H.M.S. Pinafore

Savoy Opera

Director: Stee Dixon
Musical Director: Brian Clough

Savoy Opera’s 2011 season opened with Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore.
Trial by Jury was the first collaboration by Gilbert & Sullivan and while only a short piece its success led to the rise of Gilbert & Sullivan and even to this day although written more than a century ago their work is still being played across the world.
Trial by Jury opened the evening. Savoy have a good set of a courtroom with the judge’s box, jury box and public box.
The Learned Judge was given a comic and great performance by Richard Burman
Burman has a good sense of the comique and timing was spot on.
The Plaintiff (she who was left at the altar) was in full wedding outfit assisted by hr bridesmaids was portrayed by Lucinda Fitzmaurice. A very good actor working well with Burman and a delightful voice which was a little soft as the performance opened but did improve over the evening. Fitzmaurice captured the essence of the deserted bride and added to the standard of the production.
The Defendant was performed by Montgomery Wilson. Wilson has a good stage projection fine voice and a suitable personality for such a role. As the Defendant he was ignored by the jury when he pleaded his case but loved by the bridesmaids and ladies in the public box. Matthew Cookson was Counsel for the Plaintiff having no trouble in obtaining the Jury’s sympathy for his client. A good performance and another actor with good stage presentation. Jeremy St. John was the usher who had his hands full keeping the Jury in their box when the Plaintiff was appealing to them. A good portrayal of such a character.

HMS Pinafore followed opening with an excellent set of the forecastle of HMS Pinafore. The front of stage was the foredeck and rear was the wheel and forecastle.
Andy Payne was the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter KCB First Lord of the Admiralty capturing such a character with finesse.
The Commander of the HMS Pinafore Captain Corcoran was performed by David Campbell who handled the role comfortably and like Payne having a pleasant voice suited for the persona.
The hero, Able Seaman Ralph Rackstraw who was in love above his station was given a good portrayal by Stephen McNealy. McNealy projects well and worked professionally with Lucinda Fitzmaurice.
Fitzmaurice was he Captain’s daughter Josephine who, by falling in love with Ralph Rackstraw fell in love below her station. The lovers were a delight to watch and being a G & S production the ending was what was expected.
 A wonderful and good comic performance was given by Matthew Cookson as the evil Dick Deadeye.
Sir Joseph Porter’s cousin Hebe was played by Julie Houghton. A domineering role with an excellent clear voice and a great performance.
Little Buttercup was portrayed by Penny Valk who captured the role with ease and worked well with David Campbell.
A good evening of G & S just showing how a good show can last the years.






Savoy Opera Co.

Director: Stee Dixon
Musical Director: Brian Clough.

Savoy Opera Co closed the 2010 season with Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience.
A take off of the Aesthetic movement represented by two poets, Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor.
The Company opened with the twenty love sick maidens singing about their love of Reginald Bunthorne.
Savoy Opera Co does not use personal microphones and the result is pure voices not artificially enhanced so instead of the usual distortion the audience enjoys the original sound and good singing.
The ladies of the company presented themselves well and gave good performances. The set was a magnificent castle and a good backdrop added to by authentic looking costuming ranging from the ladies outfits to the aesthetic dress of the poets and add the soldier’s uniforms. This all added to the colour of the evening.
Patience, the milkmaid who thought this aesthetic movement was a lot of rubbish was given a stirling performance by Lucy Pfeifer. A good stage appearance with a lovely voce and suiting the part as envisaged.
Stephen White was Bunthorne. A great performance of the foppy aesthetic poet, a picture with all the girls following him everywhere he went. His rival, Grosvenor was played by Stephen McNealey. Who had the same following but was an old childhood sweetheart of Patience and much to the disgust of his followers left the aesthetic movement. McNealey gave a good performance and showed his talents with the complete change of character.
Jennifer Donohue practically stole the show as Lady Jane who would not desert Bunthorne no matter what he wished. A first class performance both as an actor and as a singer.
A popular production and at the end the orchestra pit rose with the audience staying on to listen to more music from the Savoy Opera musicians.



Opera in the Vineyard

Sally Anne Russell, Lorina Gore, Tarito Carbo, Joshua Bloom
A Mozart Gala.
Conductor: Brian Castles-Onion

 Balgownie Estate Vineyards was the Victorian venue for A Mozart Gala.
The evening opened with a little village of food and wine tasting and because of the inclement weather was held in the conference centre. Some were guests and had dinner in the restaurant.
After the meals the audience moved down to a large and well heated marquee
The evening opened with a speech of welcome from Judith Whelan representing the  sponsors.
The cast was then introduced by the conductor Brian Castles-Onion who in himself is quite a comedian. The conductor and the performers were dressed in Mozart era costumes which added to the mood of the performance and evening.
For the music we had a string quartet with Rob John String quartet Manage and Violinist.
Suzanne Ng violin, Shani Williams Violin and Leah Cooper Cello.
After the Overture Le Nozze Di Figaro Bass Baritone Joshua Bloom opened with Non Piu Andrai from Le nozze di Figaro.
Following Bloom Tarita Carbo Soprano sang Porgi Amor from Le nozze di Figaro.
Lorina Gore and Joshua Bloom gave the duet Perche, Crudel Finora also from  Le nozze di Figaro
Mezzo Soprano Sally Anne Russell was the next artist with Volche Sapete also from Le nozze di Figaro.
Not only were the cast excellent singers and in good voice for the evening they were also very good performers They have a good rapport with each other and individually were very entertaining. Tarita Carbo has a real sense of mischief and some of her expressions were a delight. Lorina Gore and Joshua Bloom gave a superb and fun performance Sally Anne Russell gave a fine entertaining performance not only as a singer but a good sense of the comique.
The conductor Brian Castles-Onion was also the pianist and narrator and introduced each performance with a touch of humour which added to the enjoyment of the evening.
The string quartet shared the stage with the singers giving the correct balance to the voices.

A very pleasant evening enjoyed by the audience who braved the elements which did not deter lovers of opera

Sally Anne Russell, Lorina Gore, Tarito Carbo, Joshua Bloom



Victorian Opera


The Bear

John Bolton Wood & Jessica Aszodi

Director: Talya Masel
Conductor: Oliver-Philippe

A story of the widow Popova who cannot forgetCuneo et her deceased husband and refuses to see anyone. Luka, her servant tries to get her to face life. Into her life comes Smirnov, ‘a bear of a man’ demanding reparation for debts incurred by her late husband.
The matter comes to a duel except that Smirnov has to teach Popova how to handle a pistol and while doing so love raises its heads.
Popova was excellently portrayed and showing her strong vocal ability, by Jessica Aszodi A wonderful performance. Her servant Luka was played by Andrew Collins who captured the servant worried about his employer’s love life.
Smirnov was given an outstanding performance by the perfect man for the role, John Bolton Wood. Besides being a great singer Bolton Wood has a wonderful sense of the comique which is perfect for the character of Smirnov.
An entertaining production well appreciated by the audience.


Gary Rowley & Theresa Borg

Director: Talya Masel

Conductor: Oliver-Philippe Cuneo

Angé married to Boniface a potter, but n
ot a happy marriage in fact so much Boniface puts her up for sale. But the purchasers realise what a harridan she is and return her. Even the devil who drags her down to hell returns her as she makes Hades hell for even the devil.
An overt the top opera which was a great success. The second night was different as Samuel Dundas who played Boniface was taken ill and was relieved by Adam Murphy acting and James Payne singing.
Murphy only had seven hours notice so had to read the lines. He really captured the character and gave a wonderful performance. James Payne stood on the side in normal dress and sang the requisite numbers also giving a high standard to the songs.
 Angélique was played by Theresa Borg who captured the harridan with ease and added a beautiful voice to the production. The agent trying to sell Angélique was Charlot played by Gary Rowley. A good interpretation of such a character. The costuming was exaggerated to the extent that the audience burst out in laughter and applause when the Italian, the Englishman,  the King of Bambaras and the Devil appeared. The set was that of a typical farce with doors and windows opening everywhere and even a pole for
Angélique to slide down.
These two operas are a perfect to introduce someone to opera who have the old idea that it is too classical to see.
Victorian Opera are dedicated to bringing to its audiences small little known operas for the enjoyment of Victoria Opera lovers.

Cosí fan tutte


Opera Australia

Director: Jim Sharman
Conductor: Olivier-Phillippe Cunéo

Cosi fan tutte is a light-hearted opera about two young officers who boast to their friend Don Alfonso about the fidelity and devotion of their fiancées. Don Alfonso bets that, given the chance the girls would forget their promises and take new lovers.
The two young officers’ agree and so the opera commences.
OA had a basic set with white panels and a sloping stage.
A two act production that in Act! did tend to drag a little resulting in some audience members not returning after interval.
Henry Choo as Ferrando, engaged to Dorabella, gave a positive performance. Choo’s voice is very good in this character and he has a good stage presence.
Luke Gabbedy was Guglielmo, engaged to Fiordiligi, another good performance
The two girls, Fiordiligi and Dorabella were played by Hye Seoung Kwon and Sian Pendry. The two had a good rapport and wonderful voices. Their acting was very good and captured the roles as envisaged.
 Tiffany Speight was Despina, the young lady who did her best to make the sisters forget their finances and enjoy themselves while the boys were serving on the front. Speight not only has a wonderful voice she has a great sense of the comique and captured the role with finesse. Don Alfonso was played by José Carbò. A good interpretation of the man who bet the young officers that their fiancées would not stay faithful.
A fine performance and Carbò had a natural approach to the character.
A pleasant evening of Mozart’s works but the first act did seem to drag a little.



Opera in the Vineyard - The Three Tenors


Balgownie Estate, Yarra Valley Victoria was the venue for The Three Tenors evening.
The evening opened at 5pm with wine tasting, various stalls including various foods and books. A pleasant evening although a little damp underfoot. Sitting at outside tables enjoying meals and a wine or two while making new friends and enjoying the wonderful views of the Great Divide and the Dandenongs.
At 7pm the audience moved down to the marquee for the evening performance.
The producers are thrilled to pay tribute to the legendary moment of July 9, 1990 when history was created when opera greats, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and José Carreras met on stage at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and became widely known as The Three Tenors.
To remember that evening Balgownie Vineyard and 4-D International presented a memorial and mischievous evening from today’s Three Tenors, the internationally acclaimed Jorge Lopez-Yañez, Jose Medina, Dennis McNeil and as a special treat the performance also included Niki Vasilakis acclaimed as one of the most exciting violinists to have emerged from Australia.
The evening was hosted by Julia Zemiro probably best remembered as co-host of the SBS Broadcast of the last Euro Vision broadcast. 
The overture was The Bartered Bride by the orchestra which was followed by the Three Tenors with Granada. Then each tenor gave individual performances.
Following the Tenors Niki Vasilakis performed a special arrangement of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.    
Act 1 gave two performances from each artist and The Three Tenors.
The Three Tenors both individually and solo not only gave a great vocal performance but were quite amusing with their treatment of each other.
Niki Vasilakis gave a wonderful performance with the violin with the audience spellbound by her playing.
Act opened with a Neapolitan medley from The Three Tenors with the audience joining in when they knew the songs. Each tenor then gave a solo performance and Niki Vasilakis performed a Concert Fantasy from Bizet’s Carmen. Very popular with the 700plus strong audience.
 The evening was enjoyably and amusingly hosted by Julia Zemiro who had a great rapport with the audience and not only a good MC but a wonderful entertainer.
Opera in the Vineyards is an annual event and it is recommended to book early as the dinner and show package was booked out in June.






The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black
Britain’s second longest running play after The MousetrapThe Woman in Black tells the story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a Woman in Black. He engages a sceptical young actor to help him tell his terrifying story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It all begins innocently enough, but then, as they reach further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds.
John Waers is Arthur Kipps the solicitor  and Daniel Macpherson is the actor.
but throughout the story they change places and Daniel becomes the young Arthur Kipps.
When they are portraying each other at the site of the story John Waters plays all the locals. A remarkable performance and the changes of accents and dialects are absolutely amazing. And , of course, his acting is superb.
Daniel Macpherson captured the essence of the actor instructing Arthur Kipps how to present his story and also as the young Arthur Kipps at Eel House and the local village. Both actors gave the realistic feeling of horror in telling the story.
The sound track was excellent plus the lighting gave the impression correctl to suit the occasion.
The stage upon opening was simply set .with a theatre box in the foreground which doubled as a cart. During the production the centre curtain was a scrim which when lighted from behind showed a set of stairs to the first floor of the old house.
A wonderful evening of theatre and one had shivers running up and down one’s spine.


The Odd Couple

The Comedy Theatre
By Neil Simon. A story of two divorced msn who flat together. One is an extreme fusspot while his roommate is a complete slob.
Starring Shane Jacobson as Oscar the slob and Todd McKenney as Felix the fussy one. A great production.
Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney were terrific in their roles and some of their scenes were a picture. Upstairs were two English girls, played by Lucy Durack as Cecily and Penny McNamee as Gwendolyn. Oscar introduces them to Felix except he got the names mixed up.
The two girls added to the high standard of the evening and gave first class per4formances,
The show opened with Osar’s friends playing poker. This scene also added to the standard of the production and each player caught the feel of his character.
Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney were perfectly cast for their roles and this is a show not to be missed. .  


The Gang of Five - Reviewed by Graem Ford.

Company: La Mama

Director: Noel Fidge

Over a long period, La Mama has an enviable reputation for enabling the performance of new works. The Gang of Five was a production of La Mama Mobile, which meant it was staged in a small space in Abbotsford. Written and directed by Noel Fidge, who wrote both words and music, it involved five Chinese nationals all sharing a residence in Melbourne. All had their secrets, which were gradually revealed during the course of the musical. It portrayed the struggles of first and second generation Chinese immigrants torn between the different ideals of the two cultures. The younger ones have obviously assimilated much better. The audience journeyed with them as barriers were overcome and positive outcomes fashioned.

With Covid 19 restrictions, a change of venue and short rehearsal period, the cast did an amazing job.

The cast of five included a pianist and four opera singers. It was a clever ploy to include a pianist, as Po Goh, who dazzled on the keyboard, opened proceedings with a short fiendish showpiece before joining in the action of the play. He then accompanied for the songs, showing sensitivity, allowing his singers to be heard in quieter passages, while supporting them in louder parts.
Yu Lin was the young artist who was supposed to be doing a commerce degree. She brought a lot of energy to her feisty character. Raymond Khong was her uncle struggling with the demands of his rebellious niece and the expectations of her father, still in Hong Kong. He brought a sincerity to his acting and singing.
Cindy Liu playing his wife, struggling with her dark secret, brought depth to her complex character, particularly in the singing. Maurice Wan, a late replacement judging from the initial publicity, was engaging as the brash businessman, struggling with his romantic feelings for the young artist.
I think the musical would work better in a larger venue. The singing was thrilling, but having powerful operatic voices in an intimate venue made it difficult to convey all the words of the songs, and many were lost. Also, I couldn’t understand why the composer didn’t rework a couple of songs so that Mr. Khong wasn’t singing outside his comfort zone. As the elder statesman of the cast, he modified his vocal delivery to suit the venue and sang beautifully.

I found the music always interesting and the accompaniments more complex than your usual music theatre songs. Some were more in the style of an art song.

There were a couple of minor glitches on opening night, but it was well received by the enthusiastic audience, and it opened some eyes to the difficulties that can be encountered by Chinese immigrants.



Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland
Melbourne’s Athenaeum theatre was the venue for a children’s delight Alice in Wonderland.
A cast of six playing all the well- known characters from Alice. The dormouse from the Mad Hater’s tea party was a well- constructed puppet giving the illusion that it was real.
Alice was played by Georgina Walker who gave the correct feel for the role such as not taking any nonsense from the queen of Hearts, much to the delight of the young members of the audience.
Simon Burvill-Holmes portrayed the Cheshire cat which was a puppet with a wide grin illuminated in the dark. Simeon was also the Queen of Hearts giving a stirling performance n the role.  A light-hearted touch were Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee played by Sarah Whalen and Justine Anderson . Both were very successful giving the audience a laugh a minute. Liz Switch was the White Rabbit dressed appropriately but with the head being a puppet.
The Mad Hatter was played by Catherine Glavicic who captured the finer nuances of such a character. Benjamin Adams was the March Hare handling the character with finesse.

A good entertaining evening especially enjoyed by the younger members of the audience. Not too tiring with no interval and only 60 minutes in length.


A Very Kransky Christmas

From the town of eskm Queesland to the Alex Theatre St Kilda, Victoria, the dysfunctional Kransky sisters drove sown to entertain their southern cousins.
With the aid of their unusual array of instruments ranging from cheese graters to toilet brush, tuba to musical saw the sisters gave a wonderful fun evening of entertainment.
Opening was a large scree to the rear of the stage with a film of the Kransky Sister’s drive to St Kilda. A great and amusing introduction as to what was coming.
The three sisters are Mourne, Eva and Dawn. The first two are biological sisters while Dawn is a half-sister and the other two have no hesitation in telling everyone the story of their background and why Dawn is why she is.
Their outfits are black stockings, black skirts, white polka dot blouses, red bows and back hair. Dark makeup around the eyes finishes the ensemble. The production is a mixture of stories of their life and musical accompaniments  Dawn sticks to the tuba while Mourne and Eva play a variety of instruments with Eva on occasion playing the musical saw. A carpenter’s saw played by bending the blade back and forward while using a violin bow to create the sound. The production is absolutely wonderful, the timing impeccable and the two hour production flew  so fast nobody noticed the passing of the evening.
Much audience participation with the audience joining in with singing and clapping then two male members of the audience were “invited” up on stage where they wee dressed as the sisters, given tambourines to play and joined the sisters in their music selection. A great crowd pleaser and the two men were given certificates of authenticity for their performance.
A great fun evening and one definitely not to be missed. 



Director: Theresa Borg.

Gasworks Main theatre Albert Park was the venue for Tomfoolerya production of the words and music of Tome Lehrer.
As a satirist tom Lehrer specializes in ‘kicking people when they are down’, but in a delightfully and witty manner. IN his hery7day he was considered to be offensive and caused controversy. Today, of course, his verses are comparatively mild but still wickedly funny.
Perhaps to sum tom up a quote from the New York times “Mr. Lehrer’s muse (is) not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste”.
The stage was set cabaret style with a piano audience left and a table audience right. A red Curtain backdrop heled set the evening. Some audience members sat a t tables in front of the stage.
there were four players plus one. Susan-Ann Walker, Peter Hurley, Michael Dalton. Sean Weatherly and plus one a skeleton. All, including the skeleton, were dressed in evening suits, red bow ties and the same glasses.  
The opening number was a sling off at the Boy Scout movement with Be Prepared, this was followed by Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. Both these numbers were done with straight faces causing much hilarity in the audience.
One number well admired by the audience was The Elements set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. A great memory by the artist who just recited to the music the names of all the elements.
An amusing number was The Irish Ballad showing the versatility of the players. Susan-ann Walker at the piano and singing the ballad with the three men one on the tin whistle and one on the violin and one supporting the skeleton. Very amusing and well done.
The company put new life into Tom Lehrer’s songs and the evening was a great success with he audience. The show runs until September 22 so don’t miss it.



Director: Kristin McCarthy Parker.

An International premiere of Puffs having been successfullyperformed Off Broadway for three years and Melbourne has had the privilege of being the first city and Australia the first country outside USA to present Puffs.
“Hufflepuffs” finally get their moment in the spoof of Harry Potter. For seven years a certain boy went to a certain Wizard School and conquered evil. This, however, is not his story. This is a story of the Puffs… who just happened to be there too. A tale for anyone who has never been destined to save the world.
May 31. 2018 saw the Melbourne opening night at the Alex Theatre St Kilda where many of the audience (fans) rolled up in costumes to suit the occasion.
The theatre was decorated as a certain school of magic giving the atmosphere of the evening.
The stage was set with four doors with a brick wall in the centre which opened at various times. Such as the talking hat, and various monsters as required.
Naturally the production has the usual three, Wayne, from Australia, Oliver also from Australia and Megan the girl who can’t maker friends and thinks she should not be in Puffs.
Wayne was given a great interpretation by Ryan Hawke who captured the boy who wanted to be recognised preferably as a hero. Oliver his mate was played by Brockett, another good performer with a good rapport with Wayne and Megan. Megan was played by Eva Seymour who really caught the right interpretation of such a character.
The balance of the cast gave positive interpretations of their and a high standard of acting. roles, full of energy with great timing, smooth performances
A great asset to the Melbourne Theatre Scene and a production not to be missed, especially for Harry P{otter fans.
In the play one might notice some similarities of the aforementioned school of magic

The Kransky Sisters - A Very Kransky Christmas


The Kransky Sisters.
Alex theatre St. Kilda

An amazing comedy show about three sisters who have driven down to Melbourne from Esk Queensland.
Two of the sisters, Mourne and Eve are full biological sisters while Dawn is their half sister. Apparently their mother left their father and went off with his brother who fathered Dawn.
The three wear identical clothes. White tops, red kerchiefs and black skirts and all have jet black hair.
The show opened with a film clip of their trip to Melbourne Highlighting such things as a giant koala, road kill and what happens to it.
A cabaret act more than theatre as such. The stage was set with chairs and musical instruments. Mourne the elder sister is played by Annie Lee, Eve is played by Christine Johnston and Dawn is played by Carolyn Johns.
Then show is filled with stories from their life and upbringing in Queensland interspersed with musical numbers and songs they wrote and amended.
. The three are talented musicians, singers and comedians.
Dawn played the tuba with Mourne playing keyboard and guitar and Eve playing key board and musical saw. This is a carpenter’s saw played with a violin bow and is amazing the tunes that can be played on same.
A very entertaining evening with plenty of audience participation including to men brought up on stage dressed in the girls’ outfits and asked to play the tambourines which had the bells taken out so they would not mess up the sisters’ music.
 A remarkable and very talented show with excellent performances from the three.
With such talented performers this production is a must.

Henry V

Pop-UP Globe’

Henry V is the final part of the tetralogy of Shakespeare’s plays which begins with Richard II then flows through the two parts of Henry IV. While at the centre of Shakespeare’s history plays in story order, followed by the three parts if Henry IV and Richard III in a composition order it is the final play of the night.
To see Henry V at the Pop-Up Globe as Shakespeare would have seen it was a pleasure for all Melbournians.
A great team of performers in full costumes of the set period working the stage to its best applications, not leaving out blood and guts where required in the story line perhaps to a little discomfort to some members of the audience in the yard.
The theatre is in several parts. Under the open roof is the yard where patrons stand for the whole performance enhanced by the performers leaving the stage and acting amongst them. Under the roof and surrounding the yard are three levels of stalls, then at each side and to the rear side of the stage are the Royal boxes where the participants are practically on the stage. This led to some intimacy with the actors and giving a real feeling of being part of such an historical event.
The players captured the play as Shakespeare himself would have envisaged. The action was well done even in the battle with flaming arrows flying overhead. Several poignant moments with a dash of comedy breaking the tenseness plus great action scenes with skilful swordplay. The French were given terrific characteristics in their manner leading to much mirth from the audience. The English came across as stern but fair and sympathetic to the dead on both sides. One good and comic scene was Henry V to woo the French Princess Catherine. Great performances by both actors. O course in Shakespeare’s day no female was on stage and the Pop-Up Globe company lived up to the expectation and all the female roles were performed by men adding to the hilarity of the evening.
Do yourselves a favour and go and see Shakespeare as it was originally written for.



Rather different to Henry V inasmuch the lady parts were played by real ladies who gave great interpretations of their roles.  Opening the production was Roderigo who rushed on stage form the yard listening to a mobile phone and telling everyone to be silent. Ie telling everyone to switch off their phones.
The players were excellently cast in their roles giving full Shakespearian feel to the characters. Costuming was suited to the period and plenty of interaction with the audience with the players coming down to the yard and mingling with the audience on occasion thus leading to feeling part of the action and more appreciation of Shakespeare as he wrote his plays.
\At the end of the performance the full cast came n stage and broke into a lively and energetic dance with the audience enthusiastically beating the rhythm by clapping and stamping on the wooden floor.
A great evening of theatre thoroughly appreciated by the Melbourne audiences.,


In Like Flynn

The MC Showroom
& Geraldine Paterson present

The Reverend John Flynn was the founder of Australia’s Flying Doctor Service and pedal radio for the outback homes to keep in touch with medical and radio schools.
 Reading the life of Flynn inspired Geraldine Paterson, book and lyrics, who with Craig Bryant and Mezz Coleman music combined to present a musical on the life of John Flynn.
A divided stage with an office each side, three office style dividers used very efficiently for changing scenes. An intimate theatre bringing the players close to the audience. Costuming was true to the period, a mock up of the two wave radio complete with a pedal generator, a model of a double wing aeroplane added to the feel of such a man.
Playing John Flynn was Luigi Lucente who captured the essence of the camel man known outback as the dreamer to improve the life of the outback residents. Lucente gave a great interpretation of the role.
Traeger, the man who gave Flynn the portable radio was played by Jansen Overend. Another goof portrayal with Overend getting into the feel of the character.
Flynn’s ever patient wife to be, Abigail, was played by Megan Scolyer-Gray who was not always quite so patient. Good projection and a moving performance
Nigel Huckle was Riddley the administrator of the AIM who disagreed with Flynn but came to support him. Huckie caught the role, projecting well and giving a good performance.
Scott MacKenzie was Ironsides, an outback bushie, MacKenzie really had the bushie down flat, looking, speaking and caching the bush character.
Caitlin Spears was Jean of the Australian Inland Mission, another well done performance and with Chloe Towan as Felicity who added to the humour of the evening and office girl Olivia Smith who had a great rapport with all three.
Daniel Roper was Ironside’s mate Cactus who also gave a good performance.
All the performers except Lucente and Scolyer-Gray took several roles such as the doctor, the AIM Board plus others as required.
  A new company who only had one week to prepare for the show and thus read out the script which they each carried. The first thought from the audience was that they were carrying files as many scenes were in office scenes. They did appear to know the words of most of the songs and all had very pleasant voices.
Your reviewer was a little disappointed in that such an intimate theatre the director found the need to mike the lead actors. All could be heard quite clearly and sometimes the sound engineers can distort a singers voice, particularly a high note.
But congratulations to the company for the fine job they did with only one weeks rehearsal and secondly bringing a little remembered story of Australian history to life.  


3 Sisters

Produced by Metanoia Theatre

Metanoia Theatre
3 Sisters
Director: Greg Uflan

Metanoia Theatre situated in the Mechanics Institute Brunswick cleverly used its design skills and the acting skills to produce Chekov’s 3 Sisters.
 A very small acting space well utilised by the company by judicious use of boxes, screens, and of all things, leggo.
The performers had unusual costuming with old suits and jackets with the borders and epaulets done in white paint. The standard of production was quite good and the actors were well balanced but occasionally some of the dialogue was rather quiet.
A pianist played throughout the performance as background music mostly quiet but sometimes a little loud making it hard to hear the cast.
To give the Russian feel to the story come actors spoke Russian (very well) and on one occasion an interpreter read from a book at rear of stage giving the translation about what was said.
An unusual evening of theatre, actors doing a good job, set changes went smoothly and the audience enjoyed the evening.


Arround the World in 80 Days

Alex Theatre St. Kilda
Director: Terence O’Connell

A challenge for any director and three performers is the production of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
A very successful interpretation of the well known story by Tony Halse who adapted the story for the stage and Director Terence O’Donnell who made sure it was the success he looked for.
The stage setting was well cone with a giant clock at rear showing the time changes across the journey, many cogs and wheels and boxes used to denote ships, trains and even an elephant. The scenic design was magnificently done by Merinda Backway, the costuming excellently handled by Lucy Wilkins.
The lighting which really set off the production was skilfully executed and designed by Jason Bovaird.
The players were as Phineas Fogg the adventurer who was challenged to go around the world in 80 days was played by Ian Stenlake. Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout was played by Pia Miranda and Inspector Fix from Scotland Yard was played by Grant Piro. 
Each player also played all the individuals one met on such a trip varying from porters, public servants, consular officials, sailors, sea captains, etc.
A very hectic performance which each player interpreting the roles with the aid of changes of hats, changes of costumes and all changing accents to suit the respective characters.
Ian Stenlake, Pia Miranda, and Grant Pia captured their roles with finesse having a great rapport with each other which eventuated in excellent performances. An excellent night of theatre thoroughly enjoyed by the opening night audience.



Artefact Theatre Company. Photography Theresa Harrison.

Director: Emily O’Brien-Brown

A story of Catherine, a young lady who looked after her father, a famous mathematician, in his last years. Catherine has inherited her father’s genius but worried that she might inherit his debilitating mental illness.
A well set stage of the rear of a Chicago weatherboard house where the action takes place on the rear veranda.
Catherine was played by Madeleine Jevic. A great positive performance capturing the moods of such a character. Her sister Claire was played by Anna Burgess. Another good performance of the sister who sis not inherit their father’s genius but had moved to New York and supported the family. Burgess has a good stage presence and carried the role with aplomb.
The father’s former student Hal was played by Mark Yeates. Well presented, with a good rapport between himself and Jevic. A well done performance.
The Father Robert was given a stirling performance really capturing the character as envisaged by Roy Baker.
The four players all projected well with an equally good rapport giving a positive evening of theatre. 

A Different Way Home

Chapel Off Chapel.

Director: Zoe Warwick.

A one man production performed by Michael Dalton. A black comedy which conveys the need for families to communicate.
The stage was well set, audience right was the entrance to a English flat with a hallstand. Stage centre were two chairs, a glass cabinet containing the crockery one would expect to see in such a lounge room. Audience left was the kitchen area.
Act 1 was Leslie, as Leslie Michael entered placed his hat on the hallstand moved across to the left chair and sat. Then he talked to the audience as if we were one person just having called in. This was very effective giving the feel of intimacy and that the audience was one person. Leslie told us about his life, occupation his sister and her family and every now and then asked if we would like a cup of tea getting up to make it then going back to his chair without doing anything.
Michael presented the character of Leslie excellently, capturing all the finer nuances of the middle aged bachelor living with his mother, and keeping up the correct accent of Leslie.
The second act we meet Maureen, Leslie’s younger sister. Her story varies somewhat from Leslie which is the essence of the play showing the need for families to communicate. Michael was Maureen and gave a superb interpretation of Leslie’s sister. One would not recognise that the two characters were actually played by one man.
A wonderful interpretation of two different and contrasting characters and a very successful evening of theatre.  


St. Martins Youth Arts - I Saw the Second One Hit

St. Martins Youth Arts Centre
I Saw the Second One Hit.
Director: Clare Watson.

Fourteen years ago two planes flew into two towers and like Romulus and Remus millennia ago, ignited a battle over Western Civilisation.
As the towers fell in New York, twin girls were born in suburban Australia.
I Saw the Second One Hit asks us to take a look at this different world that these twins, now teenagers, inhabit their beliefs, their fears, their politics and their calisthenics.
Upon entering the Tower Theatre at Coopers Malthouse Theatre you were assailed by a TV broadcast of an American breakfast show of the morning of 9/11.
The stage was set with only a chair in the centre and a back curtain of reflective strips.
Enter a young teenager who sat in the chair and told the audience of her life, She was joined through this narrative by her twin sister and each told their own story. They called themselves mirror twins as one was left handed and the right handed. For the conversation scene they were dressed in suits and then went off stage returning in costume designed as opposite pattern.
All the time the TV broadcast was going on and the girls using calisthenic moves struck different poses.
The girls were twins Juliette and Madeline Hemphill born in 2001. Their timing was spot on, projection and voice excellent and these two teenagers have a good future in theatre.



Circus Oz

Circus Oz
But Wait …There’s More

Melbourne’s own Circus Oz returns to the Big Top at Birrarung Marr for the4 June/July season. But Wait … There’s More is a satirical look at today’s culture of infobesity and consumer overload around all the STUFF, STUFF   and STUFF.
Opening the audience saw a large wicker basket on stage. Then! The top opened and out came a musician who went across and started playing. He was followed by the rest of the cast all coming from out of the box. In fact your correspondent was told that they all jammed on each other as the basket was brought in.
An amazing cast all experienced in all aspects of circus, each has a specialised performance but all can do everything.
An unusual unicycle performance was done by Kyle Raftery and April Dawson.
Kyle rode the unicycle then April joined in with an acrobatic display on Kyle’s shoulders, swinging around Kyle’s neck and all the4 while Kyle was unicycling around the ring. Then he moved onto a larger (about 2metres) where they continued in with on one occasion April was standing on Kyle’s shoulders while circling.
Derek Llewellin gave an amazing display on a large hoop and then together with all the cast on the flying trapeze. The cast were very experienced and gave a delightful and comic performance.
Another twist was the diving through hoops. This time the hoop was square in the shape of a TV screen. Two performers had a game controller then one dived through the TV and the other controlled his movements by the remote. Then the two did the diving backwards and forwards above and below. An enjoyable twist.
A medium style circus but with the performers reminiscent of a large circus. A pleasant evening thoroughly enjoyed by the audience on a particularly cold Melbourne winter evening. However the Big Top is well heated.



A circus cabaret fusion
Directors: Carita Farrer Spencer and Hayden Spencer
National Institute of Circus Arts.

NICA second year students precented Pescardo a presentation of their works cone cabaret style and set in the ocean.
This was very effectively done with the lighting and costuming plus movements adding to the conception of underwater.
Opening we saw scuba divers swimming up and down. A two storied set with the students on the upper story watching the scuba divers plus singing with a band.
The usual performance of circus arts such as foot juggling, trapeze with a twist. One performer was caught in a net and was raised and lowered while doing the exercises associated with this act but looking like struggling to survive which unfortunately didn’t.
Then members came out with fish baskets actually containing Indian Clubs. A magnificent display of juggling from two to eight performers tossing to each other.
In the rear we saw a student on a unicycle on the slack wire. Very well done.
Another good scene was the drowning sequence where the whole cast swam around trying unsuccessfully to save a human swimmer.
The finale was exemplary with the two deceased victims appearing as angles complete with wings.
A very high standard of circus arts particularly considering the production was performed by the second year students.  

Sexy Galexy's Manliness Mission - Reviewer Naja Kemp

Your Ultimate Destination for This Year's Melbourne International 2015 comedy Festival Show

"Sexy Galexy's - Manliness Mission"

A Live Interactive Comedy cabaret DRAG KING SHOW with audience Participation including; Dance, Music and Film Media.
From The Aussie Bush to an Award-Winning DRAG KING!
"Manliness Mission" is a Captivating Insight on; 'How to Get Your Guy On!' - says "Sexy Galexy".
With insatiable curiosity I headed out to a "THE 86", A Bar and Cafe Club at 185 Smith Street Collingwood it has a Venue Room, with a dance floor, D.J. Booth, Seating and a Stage with Gold-Trimmed Long Red Curtains, also Sexy Bar Attendants serving up Excellent Cocktails.
The audience gathers, the Curtains part. In Rapid-Fire Action and with a Bolt of Stage Luminescent Pyrotechnics a Goddess Transforms into a Legendary Dazzlement DRAG KING DYNAMITE!
the MARK!!!"
"SEXY GALEXY" the Very Saucy Comedian, Liberates Herself from oppressors, who Lack in 'SPARK', Sexy conquers stagnant attitudes. "SHE SEXY", The Great Redeemer serves up to US; A Prime Cheeky Visionary Stage Surprise!
See this show "MANLINESS MISSION" in The Comedy Festival and I can Assure You, that You will Crawl out-of-your old shag-pile Skin of Restriction, turning Perception Reversals around as "SEXY GALEXY" Lists All of Her Manskills even unshakeably true; to Her, CHIC-MENSWEAR-CUSTOMISING on a QUEST for Original Manhood Styling, which is much more than just 'Sporting a Great Beard'!
"SEXY GALEXY'S MAN-MERGING THEOREM." Likened to the Mathematical fibonacci Sequence on:- "What It Takes To be A Man''!
The KEY FORMULA :- A MAN MAKE-OVER!' Demonstrating to SHOW-UP all of Us, that remain fixed in some State of Obsession, Duality of Programmed Twisted Barbwire.
With Spicy Acuity "SEXY GALEXY" will Cut - the Barbwire, showing Mastery of Intuitive Creativity - Amazing Us with HER, Original Ideas in 'MAN-SCAPING; HAIR SCULPTING, Man-Dancing, Man-Fighting (she even educates on, How to Treat the Ladies Right and everyone all Ecstatic with Excitement!)
The Resulting Equation = Self-Realisation 'PEACOCKING' An Ultimate Dance-Off; 'Every Angle of the Dangle'. "YES! DAZZLE MAN-TASTIC, EMBRACE YOUR INNER MAN and GET YOUR GUY ON!" - states Sexy Galexy!
Be 'Populace Heroes' and 'Stand Tall'! Have a innuendo - 'GET LEI'D PIZZA' down at THE 86 CLUB; FEEL LIKE a Super-Hero in the Club's Bathreoom ie. 'Superman Wallpaper'. Take On "Sexy Galexy's The Mun-cho-Man super Hero - MANLINESS MISSION"; You can even Photo Shoot "Sexy" after the show!
A triumphant show, bursting with Laughter. Congratulations to "SEXY GALEXY" and Director "CAT COMMANDER"' to whom I reward with excellence and have become an 'Enthusiastic Devotee'!

Season: March 27 - April 19 - Fri & Sat: 8PM - Sun: 7PM at THE 86, Address: 185 Smith St. Collingwood.




Spiegel World
Rooftop at Crown

Inspired by the absinthe-drenched cabarets of Late-19th century Europe, Absinthe is an adult-themed cocktail of circus, burlesque and vaudeville for a 21st century audience, hosted by the outrageous Gazillionaire and his sidekick Penny.
The over 100 year old Spiegel tent was erected on the roof of Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Seating 750 opening night was fully booked and no one was disappointed in the show.
Opening with the chair juggler who built a tower of chairs while holding a drink tray and wine bottle the performer couldn’t have done better, with the audience holding it’s collective breath throughout the performance.
An act not often seen these days was the young lady fire eater. What she did with the fire sticks was something your reviewer had not seen before. There was the usual into the mouth and out then setting various parts of her brief costume on fire with amusing after effects. Added to the performances were the angels around the perimeter of the central stage giving comic performances with one young lady a very good singer keeping the entertainment going while the different items were set up.
Of course we had the MC for the evening, the outrageous Gazillionaire and his very attractive assistant. Their patter would bring a blush to a sergeant-major and definitely not a show for the younger generation.
The production also had some wonderful acrobats and trapeze artists with an interesting dance with a balloon, what can be dome with a giant balloon will astonish you. Then we ballet dance pas de deux like never been seen before. Wonderfully executed and a terrific rapport.
The finale was an high wire act. A little restricted by the space but absolutely amazing with double deck wire walking plus a wheel put to good use.
An interesting evening of circus entertainment in an unusual venue the Spiegel Tent on the roof of Crown Casino. 


Avenue Q the Musical

Chapel off Chapel

Director: Stephen Wheat
Musical Director: David Wisken

A story of the people who live on Avenue Q, their troubles, friendships, romances and lives.
A large cast comprising of people and puppets. Each puppet was handled by one to two people. An admirable fact was the puppeteers did not try to be ventriloquists but the expertise of the puppeteers was such that the audience forgot the humans and concentrated on the puppet characters.
The human element was the building superintendent Gary Coleman yes the TV Gary Coleman excellently portrayed by Zuleika Khan. Christmas Eve was given a great and positive interpretation by Leah Lim. Christmas Eve’s boyfriend was Brian played by Michael Lindner. Another great performer and a perfect foil for Leah.
The puppeteers were absolutely excellent. Never faltering in the performance and as I said earlier one forgot that the puppets were not human. They were similar to the Muppets but the storyline certainly wasn’t.
Good music and the cast have wonderful voices. A mention must be made about the superb lighting Jason Bovaird is to be highly praised for such a wonderful display which certainly added to the success of the production.
A definite production not to be missed and the opening night audience couldn’t get enough. So keep your eyes open for Trifle Theatre Company.


Don Bradman Lives Next Door

Writer/Director: Cenarth Fox

A play set in heaven about two of the world’s most famous cricketers, Dr. W. G. Grace and Sir Donald Bradman.
A two handed play with David McLean as Dr. W. G. Grace and Damian Jones as Fred Ashley-Cooper writer or edited more than 100 cricket books and thousands of cricket obituaries. He worshipped Dr. Grace.
A small stage with some garden furniture and covering the rear of the stage was a screen in which various scenes were imaged. For heaven there was a garden scene and  as the play moved on the various scenes of the cricket life of Dr. Grace and Don Bradman appeared on the screen. Very effectively done and added to the story of the play.
Cenarth Fox on to be congratulated on his research into the two great cricketers and even audience members who were not cricket followers learnt something and enjoyed the production.
David McLean was Dr. Grace. A stirling performance capturing the correct arrogance of such a personality.
Damian Jones was Fred Ashley-Cooper the writer who wanted to write a book about Dr. G. Grace. A great performance as the writer who on occasion got under the doctor’s skin and then getting out of trouble. Both actors balanced each other with finesse and projected well.
Cricketers and non-cricketers will certainly Love this play. Not only it has good acting, amazing historical interest but both players have been trained in musical theatre and gave some scenes straight out of vaudeville with straw hat and cane.
A very enjoyable evening of theatre and definitely a show not to be missed.  




Cirque Du Soliel

Opened in Melbourne Wednesday January 21at the famous Flemington Race Course Totem took Melbourne by storm.
Totem is circus designed to be a fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind.
Opening scene is described as Carapace. A giant turtle represents the origin of life on earth. The cover is whipped away and the carapace skeleton is revealed to be partially built of gymnastic bars. These were excellently exhibited by Jonathon Buese, Umihiko Miya, Roman Ponomarov, David Resnick and Caoliang Wang.
Amazing performances by these artists.
 Following the Carapace was hoop dancer Eric Hernandez Costuming was outstanding, inspired by the traditional ceremonial clothing of a number of North American Indians it added to the hoop dancing. A visual and excellent treat of what can be done with a simple set of hoops all done to the beat of drums thus keeping up the North American Indian flavour.
Then we had the rings trio. A set of rings lowered from the roof with two young men competing with each other until a young lady arrives to show them it’s done. A very spectacular production with the competition between the three adding to the normal rings exercise. Performed by Yann ARNAUD, Vladimir NOVOTNY, Gael OUISSE Alevtyne TITARENKO, Olli TORRKEL.
 After the ring s was to me the one of the highlights of the evening and one of the most amazing pieces of juggling and balance ever viewed on a stage. Five young ladies entered on specially made light weight seven metres high unicycles. After circling the ring and doing some terrific moves they then removed tin basins from their heads and placing one at a time on one foot tossed them onto each other’s heads. Then they all circled one member and kept firing the basins by foot onto the solo performers head. This, mind you, wile still balancing and riding their  two metre unicycles. The team members were BAI Xiangjie, HAO Yuting, HE Xuedi, WU Yurong and YANG Jie.
Then appeared the fisherman (clown) a rowboat entered from audience left whereupon Phillippe THIBAUDEAU promptly lit a fire in the boat and started to fish. A great piece of comedy enjoyed by all.
Pavel SAPRYKIN was the hand balancer. Using a circular stand Saprykin exhibited his very high talent as a hand balancer.  
The Crystal Ladies, Marina TSODIKOVA AND Svetlana TSODIKOVA followed with foot juggling. Dressed in costumes shimmering with crystals the two girls juggled crystal impacted cloth squares with up to four cloths spinning in the air swapping form foot top foot and then across to each other. A magnificent display of the juggling art.
 Then came evolution. Entering the stage the first primate, then the apes and Neanderthal man, Cro-Magnon man and finally today’s man in a suit with a briefcase and answering his mobile phone.
After intermission we saw Marcus FURTNER with his devil sticks Great manipulation of what can be done with plain ordinary sticks and all done to a Spanish beat.

Guilhern CAUCHOS and Sarah TESSIER showed what can be done on the fixed trapeze. Besides being excellent trapeze artists they added to the performance with their romantic play on boy trying to impress girl and he results of this impression.
Chris CHIAPPINI was the scientist representing reason and the quest to understand the universe. He had a laboratory with a large transparent cone in which he stepped and juggled many different balls all with interior lighting and changing colour with each move.
Jan MONASTERO and Phillippe THIBAUDEAU entered one in a motorboat and the other water skiing behind. The usual fun ensued with in and out of the boat.
This was followed by hoop dancers Eric HERNANDEZ and Shandien LARANCE.
Again dressed in North American Indian fashion these two gave a great display of hoop manipulation finishing with the hoops as a circle and an eagle.
Then another highlight, on a small 18 metres in diameter round stage shaped like a drum were Denise GARCIA-SORTA and Massimiliano MEDINI. Dressed in white and silver North American Indian style the pair were on roller skates. Magnificent performance whirling around on such a small area what the two could do had the audience’s hearts in their mouths.
The finale was the Russian bars. Two men to each bar holding each end while a third man stood on the centre and was tossed into the air doing all types of exercises normally seen at the diving pool. They were tossed this way and that, from one bar to the other without a mishap
A wonderful evening of entertainment with excellent lighting, amazing stage presentation with the use of film techniques giving a realistic theme to the various scenes. 



A triple bill of short contemporary circus works as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014.

The National Institute of Circus Arts is presenting 7, a gripping triple bill performed by second year students.
7 days in a week. 7 colours in a rainbow. 7 seas. 7 continents. 7 deadly sins…
The number “7” is significant and varied in its interpretation and meanings which s why it was selected as the theme for this triple bill.
Number 1 was called On the 7th day.
With Corie Hurry on the chair balancing. What a remarkable performance with chairs rising and Corie moving up with the chairs showing amazing talent and professionalism.
Mark Graham and Steven Finnegan raced in and started to quarrel then each hopped into an Ariel hoop suspended from the ceiling and what they did was most unexpected. Rising and falling, swinging back and forward to each other and doing gymnastics as the hoops were moving. A remarkable performance.
Madeline Robbins gave a great display of hula hoops. Opening the performance with one hoop and what she did was intriguing but then more and more hoops came her way and she started with them all together around her waist then with a few twists she had the hoops up and down across her whole body.
Mark Graham, Steven Finnegan and Stephanie Mitchell nearly brought the house down with their interpretation of what can be done with handstands.
Number two was Apartment7
Life in a flat occupied by students. On stage were various white goods common to home life such as refrigerator, washing machine and a sofa. Well out of the refrigerator came one student, out of the washing machine was another and the sofa had two girls sitting on same when through the middle came another student. This scene included National Express with the whole cast, Dance Trapeze with Elke Uhd, more handstands with Stephanie Mouat, Fridge Adagio with Maggie Fayne and Marty Evans, and a special highlight was Ping Pong Manipulation with Marty Evan, Adam O’Connor-McMahon. What those two could do with ping pong balls absolutely astounded the audience. This was followed by a slack wire performance by Simone Sallé who amazed all with her sense of balance and flair of showmanship.
This was followed by all the cast n the clothes scene. Clothes flying across the stage while various members of the cast are in and out of the fridge, rubbish bin and washing machine. The last item was the high wire act. Curtains were drawn across the rear of the stage to reveal a high wire rigged out. There were two performers. Adam O’Connor-McMahon and Stephanie Mouat. They commenced with what one would expect then came the stunner. Adam walked across with Stephanie standing on one foot on his head. Adam walked back and forward with Stephanie on his head with both looking quite relaxes as if it was the normal thing to do. An amazing performance.
Number three was #ashtag 7
A world of touch screens, keyboards and smiley faces where the pandemonium of automation and computerisation are brought starkly to our attention.
This was shown by the whole cast with intro acto followed by Jilibalu Riley, Miriam Cawley and Alex Jean with aerial forest. An amazing up and down ribbons from the floor to the ceiling. One thing seemingly not taught at NICA is the law of gravity. The ease which the students climb the ribbons, the aerial hoop, the Chinese Pole and he cloud Swing flabbergasted the opening night audience.
A wonderful evening of circus and when you realise that these are the second year students what is in store for the third and final year performances.  


The Last Confession


A play of power and tradition set in the Vatican at the time of Pope John Paul 1st who wanted to bring the church into the 20th century against the wishes of the Curia who consider they know what is best for the Church.
The play centres on Cardinal Giovanni Benelli who is responsible for the election of the Cardinal from Venice Albino Luciano to become Pope John Paul 1.
The opening scene is between Cardinal Giovanni Benelli and his confessor, where Cardinal Benelli is threatening to publish his last confession which is about what happened to Pope John Paul 1st who mysteriously died only after 33 days in office. His ideas and possible removal of the leading bodies of the Curia made the death even more suspicious.
The stage was set in front of St. Peters and comprised of several doors which alternately reversed to show the exterior and the interiors.
David Suchet played Cardinal Giovanni Benelli who was a narrator as well as the investigator into the death of Pope John Paul 1st.
A marvellous performance from the man better known as Agatha Christie’s Monsieur Poirot. On TV he has a soft Belgian accent, on stage his diction was amazing no matter which way he faced the audience could hear him clearly, A strong clear voice echoing across the whole auditorium. His acting could not be faulted and when he appeared  took over the stage but when he was not the centre of the play he in no way upstaged his fellow performers.
The cast of 20came from Canada, Australia, England and the USA. The players worked well together in a smooth well directed evening of theatre. 
David Suchet at the media launch told us that when told about the upcoming world tour he insisted on Australia being included because the majority of his fans of Poirot were Australians. He has now visited Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide and after Melbourne on to Sydney. He is so impressed by Australia that he wants to come back each year for two months.


Spiegelworld’s Empire
Venue: Crown Casino Roof

A new type show arrived in Melbourne Thursday March 13. After a successful season in New York and Sydney, Melbourne has now played host to a wonderful evening of entertainment.
An unusual venue that of the roof top of Crown Casino, completed with outside bar, tables and chairs, a takeaway food caravan and most interesting, one person hammocks to enjoy your drink and Melbourne’s balmy Autumn weather prior to the show.
The Spiegeltent is erected on the roof. An interesting history. The Spiegeltent is a large travelling tent, constructed in wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass.
The Famous Spiegeltent perhaps the most lavish decorated of all was built in 1920 in Belgium and holds 300 – 350 people.  It is now owned and managed by Australian pianist and theatre producer David Bates.
This venue is ideal for the production Empire a variety show of contortionists, quick change artists, roller skating, of burlesque, acrobatics and the finale the most amazing balancing act ever seen.
The show opened with Miss A in a plastic bubble suspended above the audience. A wonderful display of contortionist art.
Oscar and Fanny, the hosts of the show took over next with an hilarious quick change exhibition. A hoop was raised over Fanny then dropped and she was completely changed in a second or two. Then Oscar tried it and the female audience were treated to a strip completely unexpected.
This was followed by Memet Bilgin Rigolo with a large spinning top which ran up and down a large piece of driftwood. An interesting and ingenious performance.
 Denis Petaov and Maria Beseimbetova were roller skaters. The circular centre stage is only 3 metres wide and what these two skaters did was absolutely incredible. The audience had their hearts in their mouths watching as they spun around with Maria flying through the air in various positions.
The hosts Oscar and Fanny returned with a burlesque act assisted by a “volunteer” from the audience, rather raunchy but very entertaining.
Yasu Yoshikawa demonstrated various hoops rolling around with great timing and leaving the audience wondering how he did not come off the catwalk.
Followed by Vlad Ivashkin and Aiusha Khadzh Khamed who gave the evening a magnificent routine where Vlad tossed Aiusha up onto his hands she standing on dame plus some beautiful movements.
Oscar and Fanny returned with a banana routine which your correspondent will not describe, but hilarious non the less.
Last and left the whole audience absolutely amazed was Memet Bilgin Rigolo with the most incredible balancing act ever seen. Commencing with a feather balancing on a small palm branch he added branch after branch 14 altogether then the whole is suspended on one branch balancing on the floor. One puff of breath to the feather and the whole collapses.
A very great evening of perhaps cabaret leaving a standing ovation for the opening night.  


Uncle Vanya

La Mama Courthouse Theatre

Ruth Sancho & Stephanie Osztreicher

La Mama Courthouse Theatre
Uncle Vanya
Translated by Greg Ulfan & Joseph Sherman
Director: Greg Ulfan

La Mama produced Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at the Courthouse theatre. Primarily a basic stage set comprising of three tables to the rear, three boxes used as tables, desks and cupboards. Lego pieces scattered across the floor and used as food, wine bottles, glasses and assorted props as required. All articles efficiently used.
The production seemed a little slow with several pauses which are instrumental to the plot but did seem a little long. Background music was by guitarist Chris Bolton who had the correct volume for such a background piece but your reviewer feels that a balalaika would have given more atmosphere to such a traditional Russian play.
The performances ranged from reasonable to well! One very hard to understand with the dialogue was Sonia played by Ruth Sancho Huerga. Ruth a Spanish performer’s dialogue was incomprehensible when spoken rapidly, her performance was fair but she played the Spanish woman too much instead of the Russian young lady who actually owned the estate her father wished to sell.
Her father a retired professor Alexander Serebrakoff was played by Scott Gooding. A good stage appearance but did not appear to have captured the role successfully.
Marina, in the story the old nurse, played by Zoe Stark who also played MME Voitskaya mother of Serebrakoff’s first wife did not quite get the age of her characters correct. Helena, Serebrakoff’s second and much younger wife, was played by Stephanie Osztreicher. A fair performance but perhaps too much made of the physical side of such a character.
Uncle Vanya was portrayed by Joseph Sherman who gave a strong performance but at times went too much ‘over the top’. The doctor Michael Astroff , was played by Leslie Simpson. A good stage presentation but like Sherman a little ‘over the top; in his performance. The impoverished landowner who was always there but nobody seemed to notice was Ilia (Waffles) Telegin. Portrayed by Eric Myles also a guitarist and gave a small performance as part of his role, projected well and was a fair performer.
Overall a slow play with some too long breaks and the cast seemingly not working together as on would expect.


Cranked Up - Circus Oz

Circus Oz opened its Melbourne season with Cranked Up to celebrate its 35th birthday and the beginning of the building of the new specially designed headquarters.
The theme of Cranked Up showed this with the cast dressed primarily in overalls and general builders outfits.
This company are amazing with normal circus acts only put together in their own inimitable way. The backdrop was the skyline of Melbourne with a large crane in front of same. The band was placed in front of this and the show ring was in front of the band. The audience was in a semi circle around the ring.
The artists were amazing. There appeared o be no specialists, each artist not only was talented in one way but could do many other circus tricks from clowning to acrobatics., from aerial to tumbling and many could juggle.
One girl juggled a table on her feet from the top of the table to balancing each leg on her feet. Other artists balanced on rolls and boards. Even just to balance the boards on the rollers was hard enough then to balance one’s self on the top was sheer genius.
We had the usual trapeze artists and balancing on each other’s shoulders.
The show was a little jerky with what appeared to be too long breaks between items.
But the opening night crows certainly enjoyed the evening and it was great to see our own home grown show that now travels the world back in its home city. 

NICA Leap of Faith - Circus in Motion

National Institute of Circus Arts Australia
Leap of Faith – Circus in Motion.
Director: Matthew Jessner.

Leap of faith is performed by 24 students from the final year Bachelor of Circus Arts.
Director Matthew Jessner said. “The show is about the individual and collective engagement of the artists on stage more do than an act of decision to perform feats. It is that instinctive moment when it all has to converge and manifest as theatrical action”.
 An amazing display by these final year students with the expertise of long term performers. One lesson apparently not taught in this course is the Law of Gravity because when you see the Chinese Pole Performers, the ribbon acrobats and the trapeze gravity does not appear to be of any significance.
The varying performances are basically familiar but these students add a theatrical touch with a positive rapport between performers, moving swiftly and excellent timing between items making the evening flow smoothly.
Some items leave the audiences’ hearts in their mouths such as falling from the top of the building onto a crash mat and the trapeze.
Not only does the performance show the abilities of the students as circus performers they also show their skills in the dance with the finale of Act 1 a group ensemble choreographed by Danny Golding.
A wonderful evening of entertainment and with the high standard of performance you know that you will see these students perform across the world in top companies.


OVO - Cirque du Soliel bookings:

Thursday January 2 saw the Melbourne opening night of Cirque du Soliel’s OVO.
OVO is a circus of human performers and no animals like the old fashioned traditional circus. The performers do all the traditional tumbling, Ariel, contortionists, juggling, stilt walking etc. But! With a great difference.
OVO takes you into the day in the life of insects opening with Dragonfly of Orvalho, Ants, Cocoon, Butterflies, Firefly, Creature, Flying Scarabs, Web Spiders, Fleas, Spiderman, Secret Love and Crickets.
Dragonfly was portrayed by Vladimir Hrynchenko. An unusual piece of apparatus shaped like a sloping S with a handstand on top where Hrynchenko showed amazing talent at balancing on his hand plus sliding along the slope. A great display of athleticism and balance.
The normal juggling with the feet was done by the Ants with a difference. The barrels were shaped like kiwi fruit slices and corn cobs. They lay on their backs juggling with their feet and not only juggled the articles but with each other. Tossing one ant across to the other over and above. Excellent timing and presented very smoothly.
Other highlights were the Flying Scarabs. The team dressed as scarab beetles were on   the trapeze high above the audience with three spots, one each end and one in the middle.  The aerialists took off from each spot and gave a superb example of trapeze work.
After interval we had the Web Spiders. A contortionist dressed as spider and in the middle of the web showing her extraordinary flexibility.
One of the major highlights were the crickets on the trampoline and the rock wall
Very spectacular the performers were dressed as crickets and climbed up and down, across and around the wall as if they were real crickets Not only did they climb up and down but with the aid of the trampoline they were transported from the floor to the top in one easy leap. When you had several up and down in perfect timing the result was spectacular.
The costume design was amazing using polyester, lycra, stretchy fabrics, crystalette, transparent fabrics and expanded foam creating the designer’s version of what she thought insects would look like. The result certainly gave the overall impression of insects and with the different types of apparatus not usually seen in a circus the effect given as the company planned a day I the life of an insect.
A great evening of entertainment and Melbourne’s opening night resulted in a standing ovation.
Weatherwise an unpleasant evening with a top temperature of 40 centigrade but with modern technology the Big Top was air conditioned and the audience was most appreciative. The season ends March 24 do do not miss out and book on


War Horse

The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures R05_0003R05_0004

New Year’s Eve Melbourne saw the Australian premiere of War Horse the acclaimed story of Joey the horse and World War I seen through the eyes of the forgotten members, the horses.
The State Theatre stage was all black with a tear like white strip across the stage. This was used as a screen with projections of the country side, villages, the war and peace.
A large cast of performers showing farmers, horse traders, villagers, army men and officers on both sides.
Added to the performers were the puppeteers without whom there would not be a show.
The storyline of course is about Albert Narracott who raises the horse Joey from a foal only to see him sold to the army. So Albert is determined to go to France and find Joey.
Some of the dialogue was not to clear and speaking to people after the show your reviewer was told by some non native English speakers that they found some of the dialects very hard to understand. During sections of the production there was the song man who gave a singing narration but could not be understood too clearly.
The acting was good and the way Albert played by Cody Fern worked with Joey was outstanding,
The puppets made the production. Each horse was controlled by three men, two inside the body and one at the head seemingly leading the horses around. The realism was so well done that the audience did not see the puppeteers but accepted the horses as being alive. Joey and Tophorn started out as rivals and became friends but although both were the puppets and stars of the show the audience accepted them as real horses with their own personalities particularly the scene where they are struggling to tow a piece of heavy German artillery one could feel their strain and anxiety.
 There was also a puppet goose being pushed around on a wheel but again the personality was such that it appeared real. The feeling for the puppets was so great that when Joey’s friend Tophorn succumbed there were many tears from the audience.
 Although the script seem to lack a little the overall production was amazing. The war scenes really took one to the battlefields of France and the suffering the French went through. The story did not take sides as it showed the war from the horse’s point of view and this worked very well. The film clips gave the feel of the period and the countryside.
A great evening of entertainment unfortunately with a few minor flaws which did not stop the Melbourne opening night audience rising as one giving the show a standing ovation which is rare in Melbourne.

Opening night guests

Belinda Jombwe as Emilie CastCastTanya Lemp regular first Nighter


NICA Made to Fit

National Institute of Performing Arts

Co-Directors: Mean Jones & Meredith Kitchen

Made to Fit is a performance that features the Second Year Circus Artists.
Although Second Year artists these young performers rate very highly in their chosen specialities and showing how versatile they are.
From trapeze to wire walking, tumbling to contortion, and aerial rings to adagio.
The artists not only perform circus specialities they turn them into a story acting it out by the use of the many and varied talents.
The wire walkers were just such an example. There were three wires of three different heights and the students not only balanced themselves in the traditional method, they moved from one level to the other, they danced and one rode unicycle on same. An outstanding performance.
The vertical ribbon performers seem to forget the law of gravity with the movement up and dropping form the ceiling height leaving the majority f the audience with their hearts in their mouths.
 Using commonplace objects such as a modern plastic rubbish bin wheeled in by a student which opened to reveal three young girls followed by a young man. To fit four people in was certainly an art of contortion.
While individual items were being performed other students were crossing the stage in the most individualistic ways possible from a unicycle to wheels and double wheels.
There were individual items, group displays, comedy and dancing all nonstop and everyone doing a little of all.
A very interesting evening with all the members of the audience left breath taken at he high standard of the second year students.


Don Juan on Trial

Rachel Audige, Catherine Jackson-=Grose, Severine Roman, Damien Kenny, Ana Gonzalez, Catherine Blanchy, Photo Michael Bula MFT. INC. Damien Kenny, Catherine Blanchy. Photo Michael Bula MFT.INC.

Melbourne French Theatre

Director: Marco Romero

 Set-in a French chateau where La Duchesse se Vaubricourt, La Comtesse de  la Roche-Piquet Mademoiselle de la Frotte, Madame Cassin and a nun named Hortense de Hauteclaire have all fallen victim to Don Juan. As punishment for his sins it is agreed that Don Juan will be forced to marry his most recent victim.
The production  is only spoken in French, there were two screens one on each side of the stage area where the full dialogue was in English. This must have been a little disconcerting for the actors as sometimes the English was read quicker than the dialogue was spoken causing occasional laughter before the spoken word reached the comedy lines.
The stage was simply set with a piano on audience right, chairs on audience left with scrims to the rear with varying scenes projected on same. Candles were across the rear of stage and the piano giving the feel of an old building.
Damien Kenny was Don Juan. Puzzled as o why he had been summoned and much to the disappointment of the ladies he claimed not to recognise any of them. A good performance and a positive stage presence.
His valet Sganarelle was played by Marc Buret who caught the character as envisaged. La Duchesse se Vaubricourt was played by Catherine Jackson-Grose projecting well and the correct feeling for the role.
La Comtesse de la Roche-Pique was performed by Rachel Audigé. Audigé caught the essence of such a character giving a fine portrayal. Mademoiselle de la Tringle a novelist who denies even knowing Don Juan much less been seduced by him. An arrogant role well performed by Catherine Blanchy.
 The last victim, who Deon Juan was supposed to marry, was played by Magali Berquand. A wonderful portrayal with Berquand really capturing the shy young girl who was not quite all she seems.
A highlight of the evening was given by Ana Gonzalez as the nun Hortense de Hauteclaire. A small person with a French nun’s habit but very forceful and when a long dialogue, very emotional was completed and she stalked out the audience broke into loud applause.
Séverine Roman was Madame Cassin. Another good performer with the correct stance as befits the period. The maid Marion who denied falling for Don Juan was given a good interpretation by Lilia Kessouar.
Angelique’s brother and Don Juan’s friend Le Chevalier de Chiffreville was played by Fabrice Castain . Castain played the role with expertise giving a moving and touching performance.
A great evening of theatre and although in French in an English speaking country this did not deter the English speaking members of the audience. With the screens giving the translations and the clarity of the performers the play was easy to follow and for those of us who studied French in their high school days it was amazing how much cam back.
The Melbourne French Theatre is definitely one to add to your director


The Mousetrap

Gus Murray, Jacinta John, Christy Sullivan, Robert Alexander. Travis Cotton, Justin Smith.

Comedy Theatre
Director: Gary Young

To celebrate the 60 years of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap the rights have been released for a limited period.
The Australian tour opened in Sydney and now is at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne.
Set in a snowed in boarding house run by Giles and Mollie Ralston who have just bough the old mansion and this is their first time as boarding house proprietors
A magnificent set of the Great Hall at Monkswell Manor. Full wall panelling, large rear window showing snow falling throughout production. A fire burning on audience left with respective chairs, tables and fittings suited the period. Gus Murray was the co-proprietor Giles Ralston. A good English accent with a plus stage presence giving an understanding performance of the character.
Giles’s wife Mollie was played by Christy Sullivan who caught the character as envisaged. A nice performance and a good rapport with Murray.
Linda Cropper was the retired magistrate Mrs Boyle, an unpleasant character always criticising the Rolstons lack of knowledge on how to run a guest house Cropper gave a stirling performance as Boyle really capturing the type of character as written.
A light-hearted touch was given by Travis Cotton as the architect Christopher Wren. A rather disturbed young man well performed by Cotton. The mystery late comer Mr Paravicini was played by Robert Alexander. Another great performer with Alexander having a good stage projection with the character.
The mysterious young lady Miss Casewell was given a good interpretation by Jacinta John. Major Mitchell was played by Nicholas Hope who had the bearing of the military man as envisaged. Another good performer.  The policeman Detective-Sergeant Trotter who arrived on skis during the storm was performed by Justin Smith. Smith gave the correct style of a policeman interrogating the guests using the soft touch and the antagonistic touch. A proper police feeling as the role called for.
Costuming and hair styles were correct for the period of 1952 creating the atmosphere as expected for this Agatha Christie delight.


Nutcracker on Ice

The Imperial Ice Stars

Artistic Director & Choreographer: Tony Mercer.

The Imperial Ice Stars returned to Melbourne and the State Theatre with their new production The Nutcracker on Ice.
Many of the performers were seen in the last tour of Swan Lake on Ice and showed no loss of talent but only improvements.
The original ballet story was followed fairly closely but with some additions making an entertaining evening. The movements were taken from normal skating competition moves but by having such a storyline gave greater scope to the performers to enhance their expertise and not be hampered by the rules of competition. 
The opening scene is set in the home of Dr. Pavlov on Christmas Eve. A party is being held and we meet Dr Pavlov’s daughter Marie and her brother and sister and their friends enjoying the evening. A wonderful set of the interior of a St. Petersburg home with terrific costuming for the performers. A very busy skating scene with each guest showing their techniques and trying to outdo each other. After seeing competition skating it was enjoyable to see the skaters so obviously enjoying themselves showing off their talent without the restrictions of competition.
Not only do the cast skate but Herr Drosselmeyer skated by Vadim Yarkov not only an excellent skater but a surprisingly good magician much to the delight of Marie and siblings. Marie was performed by Anastasia Ignatyeva capturing the feel of the little party girl and giving an exquisite example of skating. Her pas de deux with the Nutcracker Prince, Bogdan Berezenko, left the audience in raptures.
The second scene after the party was well done showing a corner of the party room brought down to mouse size plus mouse hole where the evil Mouse King and his cohorts entered. Again a very energetic scene what with Marie and the Nutcracker Prince fighting off the mice with the aid of two cats. Some superb skating by all members.
The second half was through the land f the Snowflakes to the Prince’s Kingdom of Sweets. Here we see the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and a solo by the Prince.
This was followed by Chocalot the Spanish dancers who not only skated excellently but were accompanied by fire with small wands with fire at each end.
China was represented performing the tea dance. A wonderful interpretation of the art of skating, dancing and acting.
Followed by La Cafè from Arabia who not only skated with expertise but did aerial tricks on two ribbons as if they were on a trapeze.
Following La Cafè Candy from Russia and four Cossack dancers not only skated but gave great acrobatic feats.
At the end of the show (story) the company let their hair down relaxing by skating across the stage in every skating move one can imagine.
A fantastic evening well appreciated by the Melbourne audience.



Eat, Pray. Laugh!

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Dame Edna says Farewell Possums

Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the chosen spot for Barry Humphries’ final bow for Melbourne audiences.  While his famous creations are not officially retiring, Australia’s greatest Dame insists that this will be her final Australian tour
And one evening no one will ever forget.
Opening scene was a typically Australian suburban backyard. Audience right was the back of a house with an outside dunny well used during the sketch. A lawn, an outside shed, a barbecue, a hedge to the rear and a grand piano also covered with lawn.
This is the home of Australia’s famous cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson. And on came Sir Les, his usual blustering self spluttering all over the stage, starting the barbie then dragging a young couple up from the audience, the young lady to butter the bread and her partner to cook the rissoles while Sir Les disappeared into the dunny with the appropriate sound effects.
He introduced his gardener Wang with the usual racist remarks. Wang was also the pianist doing a great job in spite of Sir Les. Sir Les then introduced a new character but as the show is still touring I won’t let on more than the character is easily recognisable and very relevant to the news today. In fact it was heard that maybe it is too relevant and may shock some people. Needless to say the whole Sir Les’s act is very politically incorrect, racist, abusive and disgusting and the audience loved it. Only Barrie Humphries could get away with it.
Beside Sir Les Patterson there were two couples both dancing and singing plus an acrobat and some scenes with the five were a great addition to the evening.
Then the next scene was the ghost of Sandy Stone reminiscing about his old life and what happened to his wife after he passed on. Barry was brilliant in all scenes showing the magnificent showman that he is.
After interval the set was now a hedge to the rear and empty in front. Then the entry of Dame Edna Everage. Nothing minor about this entry. Behind the hedge entered a full size elephant covered in gold and in the howdah Dame Edna. The four dancers and the acrobat helped Dame Edna off with the aid of a ladder but Dame Edna didn’t quite make it genteelly.
A laugh a minute for the rest f the evening and a Barry Humphries show is one not to sit too near the front. What with a lady texting and someone drinking water nothing escaped the Dame’s eyes and embarrassment all around. Several audience members were called up. There were a couple of refusals but four eventually succumbed.
Then Dame Edna threw gladiolas inter the audience and the ushers brought around enough for everyone to have one. The completion of the show was a framework of gladiolas through which was projected a film compilation of Barry Humphries life in the entertainment world Barry then came out as Barry Humphries thanking the audience and then leading the singing with everyone waving their gladdies.
A typical evening of Barry Humphries showing the skills of this master showman and indeed if it is really his final tour that is one person who will be sorely missed not only in Australia but across the world.


NICA Lucy and the Lost Boy

2012 Graudates.

A new Circus Work featuring NICA’S Graduating Artists

The Graduating Class chose to show off their three years study chose to do same as a story Lucy and the Lost Boy.
Inspired by the evocative and bold street art of Melbourne’s iconic laneways the story combines rich imagery, bold visuals, Live and sampled music alongside breathtaking circus and street based choreography.
It shows three guardians of the street in helmets, green overalls and yellow shirts trying to catch graffiti artists.
The company come out in hoodies miming painting graffiti. This is shown by the use of film on the large area of wall at the rear of the performance area. The film clips we see Melbourne, various areas where the action takes place and the view as one enters is scaffolding and a wall of graffiti.
The company skilfully perform acrobatics, pole climbing, slack and tightrope walking, balancing, net and rope climbing and trapeze.
This is not achieved with the usual equipment. By using green large rubbish bins, wheelbarrow, a large rubbish container the performances are amazing and bring home all sorts of possibilities.
The skills of these young artists is of a very high standard shown by the ease in which each performs their role. There are various costume changes, skilfully and smoothly done; live and recorded music, chases in and out of various objects and people with not an accident happening even as it looks like everyone will bang into everyone else.

A very successful evening and the future looks bright for the 2012 graduates


How to Train Your Dragon

circling the ArenaSarah McCreanor & Rarmian Newton

Melbourne was the venue for the World Premiere of How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular and inspired by the Academy nominated DreamWorks animated film How To Train Your Dragon.
RZO Dragon Productions, Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the phenomenon  Walking with Dinosaurs-the Arena Spectacular, and DreamWorks Theatricals have brought high flying, fire breathing dragons to life in an unprecedented live entertainment event for a world wide audience.
HiSense Arena was the Melbourne venue and looking at the size of the dragons no other venue could possibly given the area required.
The storyline is about a Viking village whose members are out to kill dragons. But Hiccup, the chief’s son has other ideas much to his father’s disgust.
He befriends Toothless a friendly dragon who helps him in his quest. Toothless is a medium size dragon who takes Hiccup flying around the arena. The audience were overwhelmed by the dragons, the animatronics were absolutely amazing such as the dragons had definite personalities. There were the standard style dragons, some not quite so familiar and Red Death the giant dragon with a 60 metre wing span.
The scenes such as the Viking village, the Dragon Arena, the cages, the countryside, the ocean and islands were all done by the use of film projected on the rear wall and the floor. Scenes with Hiccup flying and falling and climbing were skilfully done by Hiccup on the back of Toothless and on the cliff side falling and climbing were done by Hiccup hanging on a rope while the film moved around him accordingly. Also when the Vikings were attacking the dragon’s nesting grounds the same effect was used. This proved most effective giving the illusion that the scenes were really happening.
Hiccup was given a wonderful, good projection and energetic performance by Ramian Newton. His girl friend Astrid, was played by Sarah McCreanor. An excellent performance and not easy as on several occasions not only flying on the back of Toothless but suspended from the ceiling while she and others fought the dragons in the air.
The cast comprised of world class circus and acrobatic performers who had all their skills put to the test and very successfully too. A show not to be missed and although aimed at the younger generation the parents and grandparents certainly seemed to enjoy the evening.



The Rock

Theatre Works

Director: Andrea Jenkins

Theatre Works presented a Kurunpa Live Arts production in association with Black Duck Collective, as part of the 2011 Selected work Season.
An unusual play and as the director says in her notes although the idea came from the Chamberlain story we didn’t want to simply retell the story instead we wanted to use it as our skeleton to create a fictitious myth around. Other influences were a climber who jumped from Uluru and Picnic at Hanging Rock.
These influences created Jenkins’ fascinating evening of theatre.
Set in the round with audiences completely in a circle the players used the circular area to the utmost.
The stage area was set as desert surrounded by rubbish and from your reviewer’s seat on audience right was Uluru.
Four actors playing Uluru, the Dingo, Child and Mother.
Uluru was both a player and a set. Uraine Mastrosavas dressed in a flowing red outfit which resembled the rock gave a good performance, opening the show and moving small rocks across the stage and in front of the audience and then on top of Uluru where she became part of it.
Gabriella New was both choreographer and Dingo. As Dingo she captured the essence of such a character with a good rapport between herself and Emily Thomas as Child. Her choreography added to the performance of the evening.
 Emily Thomas as Child had the innocent look and actions of a child just wanting to play with her friend Dingo, and then as the story progressed she handled the various scenes and differences in her life with aplomb and finesse.
Her Mother was given a great portrayal by Muriel Spearim.  A good understanding if a mother losing her child and some very difficult physical scenes which Spearim handled comfortably although your correspondent feels that cramp could enter with ease.
An interesting evening of theatre and something rather different for Melbourne audiences. 



Shadow Boxing

Swamp Fox Productions

Director: John Bishop

Swamp Fox Productions is a small professional company in Fern Tree Gully at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. They plan to bring alternative theatre to Melbourne’s outskirts and audiences who perhaps find the inner city theatres not so easy to get to.
The company’s autumn production was James Gaddas’ Shadow Boxing.
A short play but very intense. One actor, Ron Kofler as Flynn the boxer who as the son of a boxer tried to be better than his father.
The Bakery@1812 studio is ideal for this production. It was set as a makeshift training facility which could be anywhere. The layout comprised of three walls, a TV screen, a boxing bag and a weight lifter’s exercise couch with weights accordingly se.
Ron Kofler entered in a hooded outfit which was later removed to a shirt and track pants
A stirling and energetic performance by Kofler who not only did all the exercises on the equipment on stage, shadow boxing and really working out without a hint of puffing in his dialogue. As Kofler said to your correspondent after the show
“ the director tells me how hard I worked by the level of perspiration on my T-shirt”.
On the rear wall there was a film of a boxer from the Caribbean who killed a man in the ring who questioned his sexuality. Shadow Boxing was an interpretation of his story.
A well worth going to see production and Swamp Fox is a company to look out for.


'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Malthouse Theatre

Director: Marion Potts

A production that over the centuries since it was written in 1633 has been banned more often that it has been produced. Malthouse Theatre Melbourne and Director Marion Potts decided to actually produce it.
As Potts says “ ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore is not so much about incest or the actions of two individuals as the moral compass of a whole society. The chain reaction prompted by the two siblings is precipitated in the first two scenes of Ford’s original text. It’s in fact the chain reaction, more than the event itself, that becomes the focus of its subsequent four (and a bit) acts: the hypocrisies and moral inconsistencies of a much bigger world are suddenly revealed, benchmarked and forced to be played out”.
An unusual; stage setting comprising of two containers end on to the audience with the bio box on audience left. Supported by the two containers was a two length container side on and with two sides open. This was the main performing area and above this was a harpsichord.
Costuming was 21st century with the harpsichordist in a ball gown.. On the stage level was one performer with a mobile phone texting various girls and boasting how he could get any girl her wished. On the first level the main action took place with the rear of the stage area a painting of the renaissance period interspersed by slits where the actors made their entrances and exits.
Not a play for the tender hearted or the squeamish with the story of incest and murder,
Good performances from all the cast with the added enjoyment of singing from Julia County the harpsichord player and Elizabeth Nobben as Annabella.
A controversial play in its subject matter but the audience appreciated the opportunity to see such a contentious story.


The Tell-Tale Heart


Malthouse Theatre

Director: Barrie Kosky.

Adapted after Edgar Allan Poe by Barry Kosky.
A story of a murderer, why he did it and his after reaction.
A simply set stage centred by a staircase reaching from the floor of the stage to the top. On audience left hardly visible was a piano and pianist. All the action took place on the staircase moving from near bottom to the top. The actor slid down on a few occasions which after the season closed he would not be feeling too comfortable.
The opening was a spotlight on the character’s face with a two minute silence then the pianist commenced. The light gradually illuminated the player and then he told his story.

A single act production very well handled by Martin Niedermair Not only could he act but also handled the singing sequences excellently. Although a solo performance the audience were kept alert by the standard of Niedermair’s performance and the expert lighting design and music played by Michael Kieran Harvey.


Swan Lake on Ice

The Imperial Ice Stars

Artistic Director/Choreographer: Tony Mercer.

Melbourne’s State Theatre was the venue for Swan Lake on Ice. The settings were superb from the lake scenes to the interior of the Royal Palace. The set designer is Australian Eamon D’Arcy who captured the feel of the Russias in his designs.
The story had elements of the ballet version except with two dancers playing Odette and Odille and a different ending, only this time done on ice.
The movements were based on normal competition skating moves but done in a story line as Swan Lake gave a feeling of continuity and added to the spectacular.
Odette was performed by Olga Sharutenko and Odille by Olena Pyatash. Both girls handled their roles with grace and top professionalism really capturing the characters and setting a high standard of skating.
Prince Siegfried was performed by Andrey Penkin who also gave a moving and well acted display of a skater playing a role instead of just skating for a competition. Vadim Yarkov was Baron Von Rothbert the evil baron trying to marry his daughter to Prince Siegfried. A great portrayal and really caught the essence of evil as called for.
A light touch and a really great performance as a skater was given by Benno, the Prince’s loyal companion played by Rusian Novoseltsev.
A beautiful, graceful and stunning interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lakewell produced and directed
A standing ovation and then the cast gave a stunning demonstration of skating skills, gymnastics and pure enjoyment of their art.


Circus Oz



see It to Believe it!

June sees Circus Oz  back in its hometown Melbourne with its latest presentation before taking the show on its next tour.
A delightful evening with an amazingly talented cast obviously enjoying themselves and throwing that difference from other circuses the Australian larrikin feel.
 From the trapeze to the ceiling to floor ribbons where the cast have obviously forgotten the law of gravity as they roll up and down the ribbons run up poles as if they were on the ground. One new act was the old grandad in a wheelchair on one side of the tent covered with a cloth a magical pass a puff of smoke and lo grandad plus wheelchair is not there but on top of a palm tree on the other side of the tent.
A veritable miracle and then the old codger starts his balancing tricks on the swaying palm.
Back down to juggling where it commenced with just the usual one and two jugglers but being Circus Oz this is not enough one juggler ad up to five passing him from all angles
Of course we must not forget the kangaroos. What with singing and acrobatics the wonder is with those large tails, red boxing gloves, joeys in pouches how they managed  to what they did.

All in all a wonderful evening of circus and something the whole family did enjoy. .



A story of two English half brothers working in a West Australian Mining town Both now are miners but one is an ex boxer with a past.

The play was the inaugural production for Ferntree Gully's new entertainment venue The Bakery. The Bakery is designed for experimental theatre, small productions and productions not normally seen in the local theatre scene.

Below is perfect for this venue. A cast of three with the audience sitting on two sides and very close to the players giving really intimate theatre.

Donna Cohen was Sarah, Dougie's wife. Donna gave a great positive performance, very physical Her husband Dougie was played by Ron Kofler. Ron was a great balance to Donna giving an excellent performance also a very strong role which Ron handled with finesse. Keith Hutton was Dougie's half brother John. Keith added to the standard set by Ron and Donna giving an excellent portrayal.

The scene was set in the kitchen of a mining town home of the fifties (laminex furniture) and a boxing ring. John was shown fighting but no one else in the ring but the portrayal was so great the other boxer absence was not noticed.

An excellent and flawless production, flowed smoothly and superb acting. Swamp Fox have set themselves a high standard to keep to and their next production is eagerly awaited.

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Hanging on to Vaudeville.

The last of Australia 's vaudevillians Reg Gorman is on the Regional Theatre circuit reminiscing about his life in show business and bringing back memories of the old vaudevillian days.

He opens his show with a screen showing excerpts of his TV and film career.

Then Reg enters and quietly sits on a lounge chair and chats about his life in show business. The feeling is that we are sitting at home talking over old times with an old friend.
Reg's first sketch is about the elixir of life. This shows his incredible range of expression and talent. An amazing performance.
The production then varied from TV and film which brought back many memories of past productions showing Reg as a comedian and character actor to singer and drama acting. Between the TV and film excerpts Reg showed us why he is a tradition in Australia 's performing arts. With several sketches with impersonations of such previous stars as Roy Rene better known as Mo Macackie, George Wallace ad many others. His characterisation was excellent and really brought back the stars of yesteryear.
The sketches varied from solo, talking, silent and with a partner. Reg showed the talent which does appear to be lost since the days of vaudeville where every artist had to be versatile
An energetic performance and thoroughly enjoined by the audience. Reg Gorman has the art of holding the attention of an audience, giving the feeling that you are sitting with an old friend and holding the attention of all for the duration of the performance. The result was that the show seemed to end too soon and one could go on for more time.
This is the expertise of a true artist and when the show comes around again do not miss it.


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