Sunday, June 30, 2013

Theatre: Love and Money

By Dennis Kelly
Directed by Matthew Dunster
Set designer Patrick James Howe
Performed by WAAPA Third Year Acting students Charlotte Davenport, Nicholas Starte, Grace Smilbert, Andreas Lohmeyer, Ayeesha Ash, Joel Horwood, Bill Thompson, Emilie Cocquerel and Kirsty Mariller
Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA
June 14 - 20, 2013

Nicholas Starte and Ayeesha Ash
I imagine Perth Theatre Company’s AD Melissa Cantwell sitting, a little sadly, in the audience at Love and Money, Dennis Kelly’s savage, sharply realized tragedy about exactly what its title suggests, knowing that her company – which specializes in work with this play’s provenance and stance – could never put a cast of the size it requires on a professional stage in this town.
It’s to our great benefit, then, that WAAPA, our precious nursery of theatre talent, can, and does.
More than that, it's had the great good fortune of having the accomplished English actor/writer/director Matthew Dunster here to direct.  He took the Young Vic production of Love and Money all the way to an Olivier Award nomination. Dunster's experience goes much of the way to explaining the assurance and balance of the play’s staging, and the confidence and courage of its cast of Third Year Acting students.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Music: Martha Wainwright

Astor Theatre
June 22, 2013

When you rub the lamp with Martha Wainwright in it, you’re can’t be sure which genie will emerge. By the time her somewhat disorderly and sometimes – often – wonderful set at the Astor finished, we got to see a whole pile of them.
The intriguing question is whether they are competing for our attention, or her’s.
Wainwright ended her set with her mother’s last song, Proserpina. It’s not a great piece (Kate’s unbearably lovely, prescient elegy, Talk to Me of Mendocino, will always be the song to remember her by, and for), but, even if Martha Wainwright sometimes only grants two wishes, she’s a genie of surpassing magnetism and talent. 

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Here's Mendocino, performed by Martha, her brother and aunt.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Theatre: Day One, a Hotel, Evening

Black Swan State Theatre Company
Written by Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Peter Houghton
Set and costume design by Tracy Grant Lord
Lighting designer Matthew Marshall
with Jacob Allan, Humphrey Bower, Matt Dyktynski, Michelle Fornasier, Roz Hammond and Claire Lovering
Heath Ledger Theatre
Until June 30

Black Swan’s 2013 season has found its feet with a high-spirited, handsome production of Joanna Murray-Smith’s screwball bedroom farce Day One, A Hotel, Evening.
After suffering through her diabolical Ninety, also for Black Swan, in 2011, and last year’s lazily penned MTC production of Songs for Nobodies, I couldn’t be accused of wearing an I Heart Joanna button on my lapel. I’m happy to say that Day One is a major improvement on both of them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Theatre: Great White and Sea Inside

Great White
Written and directed by Will O’Mahoney
Performed by Adriane Daff, Mikala Westall, Will O’Mahoney
Sea Inside
Russya Connor
Text by Rainer Maria Rilke
The Blue Room
Until June 29

Will O'Mahoney and Adriane Daff
There are opening lines, and there are great white opening lines. “Hi – I’m going to eat you!” is undeniably among the latter. When, in Will O’Mahoney’s ambitious Great White, it’s jauntily delivered by a slight girl in retro racing togs, it seems as incongruous as it is attention-grabbing.
But don’t be fooled. The girl (Adriane Daff) is indeed a shark, and her intended victim, Ben (O’Mahoney, who also directs), has plenty to fear from her.
The great white shark haunts the Australian consciousness like nothing else. Even snakes, plane crashes and the other elemental stuff of our nightmares haven’t its grip on our imagination. Perhaps because of its sheer monstrosity, certainly because of its superiority, it make us less at home in an environment that we claim as our birthright.
It’s a potent motif, and a super theatrical device, that O’Mahoney, Daff and Mikala Westall, who plays Ben’s conflicted girlfriend, take full advantage of.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Theatre: Thoroughly Modern Millie

By Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan
Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan
WAAPA Second and Third Year Music Theatre students
Directed by Crispin Taylor
Music Director David King
Choreographer Jenny Lynnd
Set Design by Steve Nolan
Regal Theatre
Until June 22
The WA Academy of Performing Art's annual musical at the Regal Theatre is one of the highlights of Perth’s entertainment calendar. WAAPA has a precious resource to throw at the
production; thirty-six of its prodigiously talented Music Theatre students. It can call on its music students to strike up a 20-piece band, and roll out creative and production credits as long as a Hollywood movie. There are 128 people (not counting front-of-house, marketing and administration staff) working on this year’s show.
What this means is that WAAPA can mine the repertoire of great musicals from all eras to showcase the talents of its students. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them, even if Thoroughly Modern Millie doesn’t reach the heights of its most recent predecessors, last year’s captivating How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and 2011’s ravishing Crazy For You.
Be that as it may, the story of Millie (Emily Hart), an archetypical small town girl from Kansas, is as brisk as it is befuddling and sassy as it is silly.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Theatre: The Book Club

Written, directed and designed by Rodney Fisher
from the play by Roger Hall
Starring Amanda Muggleton
Subiaco Arts Centre until June 8, returning June 26 - 28  
Bruce Rock June 12
Mandurah June 15
Kalamunda June 18  
Thornlie June 20
Albany June 23

Playing one-handers is a fiendishly difficult craft. Taking an audience with you, and you alone, on the journey of a play requires a charisma and dexterity given to very few performers.
To make an art of it, as Amanda Muggleton has done, is rare to the point of collectible. As she had done in Shirley Valentine and Medea, and as she does here, in Rodney Fisher’s adaptation of Roger Hall’s perennial The Book Club, she uses her charm, and her wiles, to captivating effect.
Muggleton cascades out into her audience – very largely female, very many clearly book-club devotees themselves – and The Book Club becomes a conversation between the performer and us, a bond she makes, and holds, with all her practised skill and ease.

Link here to the complete review in The Wast Australian 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Music: Jesus Christ Superstar

by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Laurence Connor
With Ben Forster, Tim Minchin, Melanie C, Andrew O’Keefe, Jon Stevens
Perth Arena
May 31 – June 2
Ben Forster and Tim Minchin
While Jesus Christ Superstar boasts the most coherent narrative of the rock operas, and comes with an ambitious political and religious insight that would have put a bonfire under Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber for most of the last two thousand years, it’s a bit of a jumble at times. It’s also often very heavy (as in metal), not the easiest musical style to bring to the stage.
That’s why, and despite the mixed reception this production has had in the UK, I think an arena staging is a perfectly appropriate way to present what is essentially a piece of music rather than the score of a theatre piece. And, on those terms, this Superstar does what it sets out to do very well.
It’s an absolutely wonderful coincidence that, forty-one years after Andrew Lloyd Webber won a Tony for Jesus Christ Superstar, Tim Minchin, the Perth kid who dreamed of being in it is, almost certainly, going to get one of his own. And much more besides.

Link here for the complete review in The West Australian.