Review: Guys and Dolls – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Concert Hall QPAC

Images: Nick Morrissey

Guys and Dolls – what an absolute cracker of a show. I’ve seen it live several times, watched the (1955) movie with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando more times than is normal, and even played Miss Adelaide in my hometown’s local production. Needless to say I was thrilled to be headed to QPAC’s Concert Hall last Friday night for the opening of this play the first for Harvest Rain Theatre Company’s 2014 Season and also first full season as a professional musical theatre company.

The show is set in New York in the 1940s and most of the action takes place on and around Broadway (with a flying visit to Havana). The central plot of Guys and Dolls is a romance; it follows the story of gambler, lady’s man and ‘sinner’ Skye Masterson who, as a result of a misplaced bet, falls in love with Sarah Brown an earnest, uptight, Salvation Army missionary. The subplot includes another romance in a different key – that between Miss Adelaide a Broadway showgirl and another gambler, the hapless Nathan Detroit.

The show opened at the 46th street theatre in New York in 1950 and has enjoyed immense success ever since. The book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows is hilariously timeless, and the music/lyrics by Frank Loesser are an absolute delight. Revered classics such as Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat performed so joyfully in this production by Daryl Somers playing Nicely Nicely Johnson, and Luck Be a Lady are, of course, remarkable, but it is the lesser know numbers such as Sue Me, More I Cannot Wish You and Marry the Man Today that really show Loesser’s genius as a lyricist and composer. It’s a classic of the modern American musical theatre and is a great choice for Harvest Rain. Continue reading Review: Guys and Dolls – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Concert Hall QPAC

Review: Romeo and Juliet – Queensland Theatre Company at Playhouse QPAC

This is a big, elemental production. It is austere and physical, stripped back to the essentials. There is no blood, little adornment, no shoes even. The focus is on the actor’s body – its material and vocal expressiveness in service of the text. In so many ways it reminded me of Poor Theatre’s stripping back to the fundamentals of performance in, as Grotowski attempted to describe it, a ‘… discarding of masks, the revealing of the real substance: a totality of physical and mental reactions.’

Director Jennifer Flowers has produced a Romeo and Juliet that will appeal to those who like their Shakespeare and their acting unvarnished and quick. Certainly, this production is all of that. Playing time is under 2 and a half hours with no interval.

The cast of twelve (8 men and 4 women) inhabit a world that is indeterminate; their unadorned costumes are of another time and place although in setting – elemental stone and water – designer Bill Haycock (with lighting by David Walters) has beautifully referenced the coldness of a classical citadel rather than the usual richness and warmth of Verona’s Renaissance city. It fits the rest of the production and provides a new viewing of a play whose story is so well known in our culture that even those who have never experienced it on page, stage or screen feel that they ‘know’ it. Ms Flowers’ production is a bold revisioning, and one that may take people by surprise. That’s no bad thing at all. Continue reading Review: Romeo and Juliet – Queensland Theatre Company at Playhouse QPAC

Where’s a young triple-threat to go?

A few weeks back I found myself in front of a lot of the Harvest Rain interns at one of their regular Friday Behind the Red Curtain seminar sessions. On the panel (chaired by Artistic Director of HR, Tim O’Connor) were three other actors: Steven Tandy, Bryan Probets, and Cameron Hurry.  As you’d expect, the students’ questions and subsequent discussion revolved around the business of acting.

One of the questions put to us was whether, after training, taking work in an amateur theatre production would mean an actor would not be ‘taken seriously.‘  Was there, in fact, a stigma attached to doing amateur theatre? The response to the query was an emphatic ‘No,’ from all of us – with the caveat that an actor needs to seek out work with the best people – especially when getting started. This is what we actually said:

By the way, the Harvest Rain Behind the Red Curtain sessions are good value! Check out the others on their site. But, back to the question …

Each of the actor-panellists at the session had either begun their stage careers in amateur theatre or have returned there from time to time – for various reasons. Bryan speaks most eloquently in the video above about his experience, as do Steven and Cameron. As far as I was concerned, there was no local training when I left school, and the newly-created NIDA was barely a blip on anyone’s radar. I worked with Brisbane Arts Theatre for a few years before going on to train in London. The time I spent at BAT was invaluable to me; watching other, more experienced actors at work focussed my thinking, whilst spending hours and hours travelling by bus and tram to and from Petrie Terrace to Sandgate during the week and at weekends taught me how demanding the work could be. It also hardened my determination to go on. Continue reading Where’s a young triple-threat to go?

Empire Burning – Eugene Gilfedder & !Metro Arts Independents

Empire Burning
Written and Directed by Eugene Gilfedder

SEASON: Friday 13 to Saturday 28 May

WHEN: Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm
BACKCHAT: Wednesday 18 May, Artist Q&A after performance

WHERE: Metro Arts, Sue Benner Theatre
TICKETS: Adults $20 Concessions $16

PERFORMERS: Damien Cassidy, Dan Crestani, Michael Futcher, Eugene Gilfedder, Finn Gilfedder-Cooney, Sasha Janowicz, Niki-J Price and Steven Tandy
SOUND DESIGN BY John Rodgers and Ken Eadie
LIGHTING DESIGN BY Geoff Squires
VISUALS/PROJECTION DESIGN BY Freddy Komp

Groups 10+ $12 Cheap Tuesdays $12 door sales only
Preview $12 (Tuesday 10 May)

Further information: http://www.metroarts.com.au

 

 

Aladdin and the Mysterious Magical Lamp: Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Cremorne QPAC

Check company website for further details

ALADDIN & THE MYSTERIOUS MAGICAL LAMP
a pantomime by Sarah McIntosh with Tim O’Connor
PERFORMANCES
6th – 22nd January 2011
Tues to Sat 11am
Fri 7.30pm
Sat 2pm & 7.30pm

VENUE
Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

TICKETS
All tickets $30 (plus booking and transaction fees)

DIRECTOR Sarah McIntosh
DESIGNER Josh McIntosh
MUSIC DIRECTOR Kylie Morris
LIGHTING DESIGNER Jason Glenwright

FEATURING Jessica Harm, Cameron Hurry, Dash Kruck, Bryan Probets, Liz Skitch and Steven Tandy with Petah Chapman, Clare Finlayson, Jack Kelly, Nahima Kern and Alexandra Valentine

Steven Tandy (Interview 12)

Steven Tandy and I haven’t sat down to talk, really talk about theatre and acting and all of that stuff since we were young actors together. I imagine we did a lot of it back then, at the parties we all went to. You know, the kind of ‘finding yourself in the kitchen in the wee hours’ kind of actor talk.  Since those days – what – nearly 40 years ago, there hasn’t been time or space to do it. We worked several productions together for the QTC in the early 1970s, and our last professional meet-up was in a production of Who Was Harry Larsen? by Frank Hardy for NETC in the mid-1980s. We haven’t really seen much of each other since. We’d be ships passing at opening nights, trading a few snippets of news, and conversation, but it wasn’t a good, old-fashioned talk. Our lives had meandered in different directions, and we’d rather lost touch as one does in this busy age, something I’ve often regretted. It’s been great to see this fine actor on stage again in Queensland over the last few years.

I first met Steven Tandy in his and my first foray as professional actors for Queensland Theatre Company and the Queensland Arts Council. In 1972, along with Grant Dodwell, we were cast in a huge, schools’ tour throughout Queensland. It featured Michael Boddy and Janet Dawson’s plays, The Badly Behaved Bunyip and The Man, the Spirit Fish and the Great Rainbow Serpent. We toured thousands of miles together and spent many hours talking about where our futures might take us. ‘I remember there was a lot of yoghurt,’ Steven notes drily. Our director, Margaret Bornhorst took very seriously what must have been a self-imposed objective to get her small acting company fit. Yogurt figured strongly as did Vogel bread, as I recall. We were all very new to health food and to the theatre business: Steven and Grant were fresh out of NIDA, and I’d just come back from nearly 4 years in London. Grant was in town recently with Gwen in Purgatory – a good excuse for a catchup, but again, it was a quick ‘How the hell are you?’ chat in the Roundhouse foyer between shows on the final Saturday.

A few weeks’ ago, Queensland Theatre Company had a barbecue to welcome the When the Rain Stops Falling company – Aussie themed. Steven and I were invited along, and so the Badly Behaved Bunyip team got together, albeit without Grant.  It seemed that now was the time for that sit down and talk, so we did. It began under Bessie the bottle tree in the courtyard at 78 Montague Road and continued in the Company library when the rain started falling on the party and the cricket match. When we came up for air, it was nearly 5 o’clock. The rain had stopped, we hadn’t noticed, and we’d been talking for over 2 hours. What I did manage to write down and what I do recall of our conversation appears below; it’s just a flavour of that long afternoon, and it’s taken me this long to wrangle my notes and memories. ‘It’s been quite a journey,’ as Steven told me that afternoon. Continue reading Steven Tandy (Interview 12)