Review: Goodbye Miss Monroe – danceAtlas at Metro Arts

Image: Liam de Burca – Matt Young and Anna Burgess

In art and in life there are truths and there are ‘truths’. The former is a universal concept of pure objective fact – acceptable or otherwise -to all who cross its path. The latter is a more personal, subtle idea influenced by our individual subjective life experiences. Through Good-bye Miss Monroe, playwright Liam de Burca thoroughly examines both of these definitions of truth through the lens of American dance director, Jack Cole. Continue reading Review: Goodbye Miss Monroe – danceAtlas at Metro Arts

Review: Blood Brothers – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Image: Photography by Trent Rouillon

Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers (1983) is supposedly based on Alexandre Dumas’ novella, The Corsican Brothers (1844). Each tells the tale of babies separated at birth; each spans decades, and there is love, betrayal, death – Blood Brothers does seem to have Dumas’ stamp of high drama – but, dig a little deeper into Russell’s own life, and you’ll find the seed of Blood Brothers was planted in his own childhood.

When the Olivier Award winning West End production of Blood Brothers closed in 2012, after 24 years, Mr. Russell gave a rare interview which shines some light on the matter. “I am very interested in nature versus nurture. When I look at myself or catch sight of a gesture I make and see my father … I also know I might have drunk myself to death at 30. Luckily, I was saved by my in-laws, who nurtured me.” He also speaks at length about the lack of trust he felt for his father, and his belief that the extensive amount of time spent with his mother, grandmother and aunts growing up enabled him to write convincing female characters. Continue reading Review: Blood Brothers – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Review: The Lady of the House of Love – Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane City Council and Metro Arts – Sue Benner Theatre

You go away for a bit and, when you get home, find out from friends just how many good shows you’ve missed. It’s inevitable, I suppose; Winter is the busiest time of the theatre year in SE Queensland. The indies are out in full force right now joining the main-house and touring productions at QPAC – harbingers for the coming Brisbane Festival and its accompanying fringe events in early spring.

It’s not hard to miss a show or two in Brisbane these days. The range and general quality is impressive. Greenroom has missed a couple or come to them late in their season – no bad thing of course, although it does mean you have rather missed the bus when it comes to getting a review out in the usual time frame for such things. As a side note, I managed to catch the marvellous Venus in Fur from Queensland Theatre Company before it closed last week. The reviews were universally glowing, and deservedly so for David Ives‘ intellectual hijinks superbly directed by Andrea Moor and magnificently played by Libby Munro and Todd Macdonald. People are still talking about it; I don’t think they knew what had hit them. Plays like this confirm why we love theatre. As do productions like The Lady of the House of Love an equally beautifully realised fantasy but in another theatrical key altogether. I also came late to this production and I am so glad I did not miss it. Continue reading Review: The Lady of the House of Love – Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane City Council and Metro Arts – Sue Benner Theatre

Review: Rumour Has It: 60 minutes inside Adele – The Little Red Company at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art

Image: Dylan Evans

Confession – until last year when I heard Naomi Price was appearing in a stand-up piece (Cheer the Fuck Up, Adele) for the Broadway Unplugged series at Stockholm Syndrome, I assumed Adele was a character she had created. Then (old fogey me) I found out there was a real Adele (Adele Laurie Blue Adkins) singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist – a hugely talented young Englishwoman. OK, intrigued now I listened to some of her music (thank you Spotify), checked out the considerable discography and the awards (my goodness and still so young) and then there was SKYFALL and the Best Song Oscar and … well, there you go.

So, I guess I have to thank Naomi Price for introducing me some time back to the fantastic (real-life) Adele. As I listened to Adele and her songs for the first time, what came back to me was the sound and spirit of some of the great rock, R&B and jazz divas of the past like Aretha and Janis and Reba – also first-name goddesses to me and many others.

And then, last night,  Ms Price (another talented, young Brit) brought her Adele to life in the cheeky, gutsy, quite stunningly good  Rumour Has It …  Devised by Naomi and collaborator Adam Brunes, with original musical arrangements by Jason McGregor, Michael Manikus and Ms Price herself, it’s now playing a sold out (or was close to last night), 3 night season at the Judith Wright Centre in Brisbane’s Brunswick Street. Continue reading Review: Rumour Has It: 60 minutes inside Adele – The Little Red Company at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art

Review: End of the Rainbow – Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC at the Playhouse

Image (supplied QTC): Christen O’Leary

At the time Judy Garland was destroying herself behind closed doors and on stage at Talk of the Town nightclub during her last concert season I also happened to be in London.

It was the winter of 1968-69 and I remembered seeing snow then for the first time. I didn’t, however, see any of Ms Garland’s shows during that 5 week season not only because I couldn’t afford it, but also because I wasn’t interested. Judy Garland was somewhat passé, known less for her artistry and more for the sad scandals that continued to plague her life – a bit of an embarrassment, really and old, after all.

I remembered hearing about her death in 1969 and, although finding it sad, was not surprised. At the time of her death aged 47 – what I had thought of as old – she was already iconic but the legend that was ‘Garland’ – the tragic, self-destructive artist – continued to grow after death. It was via the legend that I got to know about Judy Garland and heard her songs and saw her movies and watched black and white documentaries of her performing solo and with daughters Liza and Lorna and then Liza talking about ‘Mumma.’

Then, along comes Peter Quilter‘s semi biographical play with music End of the Rainbow in a co-production by Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC. First produced in Sydney in 2005 and subsequently world-wide, this big, new production directed by David Bell focusses on the last seven months of Judy Garland’s private life – that time we ‘shared’ London – she in a suite at the Ritz Hotel, me in a basement bedsit in Shepherd’s Bush. Continue reading Review: End of the Rainbow – Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC at the Playhouse

Review: Bye Bye Birdie – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Brisbane Powerhouse

Decades may come and decades may go, but tweenage girls – whether they’re swooning over Elvis, screaming for The Beatles, or weeping at the feet of One Direction – are the unchanging glue that holds together the fabric of rock ’n roll. Feel free to quote me. If you want further proof of this fact, Harvest Rain’s latest production, the all singing, all dancing, all squealing 1960’s Bye Bye Birdie, delivers it in spades.

50’s rock ‘n roll heart-throb Conrad Birdie (Danny Lazar) has been drafted into the army *gasp* – but, before he heads off to war, his manager, Albert Peterson (Callan Warner) has organized for him to bestow ‘one last kiss’ upon an average American small-town girl. Enter Kim Macafee (Lauren Heidecker), her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Macafee (Cameron Rollo and Dana Musil), her best friend and rabid Birdie fan, Ursula (Morgan Kempster), her newly ‘pinned’ boyfriend Hugo (Cameron Whitten) and the citizens of Sweet Apple, Ohio. Top it all off with a back story involving Albert’s jilted Spanish secretary, Rose (Casey McCollow) and his domineering mother Mae (Erika Naddei) and you have the makings of a rollicking ride. Continue reading Review: Bye Bye Birdie – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Brisbane Powerhouse