Review: The Phantom of the Opera – Empire Theatre (Toowoomba)

Image: Empire Theatre

A disclaimer up front – I’m currently serving on the Foundation of the Empire Theatre and am a former Board member. If, then, you think the following should be taken with a grain of salt, so be it!


Theatre, oh theatre, how I love you in all your moods and guises. I’ve been in love with you for many years – too many to recall – and I’ve never lost the excitement and the anticipation of the magic that is made present from talent, sweat and tears. A group of strangers come together to experience something only fully realised in the dynamic of a single moment of pure community.

The theatre is also powerfully transformative of individuals and communities small and large. Playwright Arthur Miller once noted that the theatre is the place where strangers come together in a civilising act as important as road and bridge building. Maybe it’s because of the power theatre holds that, throughout history, it’s been one of the first agencies to be closed down by repressive regimes. Individuals and communities can be changed – are changed – when they come together to be refreshed and renewed, to be inspired, to laugh, to weep, and to think out loud in front of themselves – that last one from Martin Esslin, another great of the theatre. This communing was something I experienced afresh last Thursday night at the opening of the Empire Theatre’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe’s classic of the modern musical theatre, The Phantom of the Opera. Continue reading Review: The Phantom of the Opera – Empire Theatre (Toowoomba)

Review: Landscapes – Velocity Dance at Empire Theatre Studio

Images: Empire Theatre

It’s been a week of theatre as dance and dance as theatre for me – Tender Napalm at La Boite in Brisbane and, in its first public showing by the group, Landscapes, which is billed as a program of developmental dance in Toowoomba.

Under the direction of Alison Vallette (Velocity Studio’s Director and Creative Producer) Landscapes is a delightful confection of individually choreographed pieces: Vacancies of the Heart (Jen Murray), Common Ground (Gabriel Comerford in collaboration with Caitlin MacKenzie) and Unity (Frank Monsembula) all of which are performed by Toowoomba dancers.  This is part of the ongoing, year-long Homegrown season from the Empire Theatre, and one of the more exciting innovations to have emerged from Australia’s largest and arguably best regional theatre. This season has attracted new audiences to small-scale theatre, music and now dance productions at the Empire’s great studio/rehearsal space located backstage of the auditorium.

Landscapes may be developmental in its newness or in that it has provided the opportunity for young dancers to work with more experienced colleagues, but its innovative blending of various dance genres to explore local issues – being an outsider, or fitting in, or the floods that unsettled and continue to affect those who live here – is a real step up for dance in the city. Continue reading Review: Landscapes – Velocity Dance at Empire Theatre Studio