2012: A Year to Come in Pictures

6 May

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Annie    An Officer and A Gentleman   Moonshadow   A Chorus Line   South Pacific   Next to Normal   Legally Blonde  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang   War Horse


Preview: ‘An Officer and A Gentleman’

6 May

Ben Mingay and Amanda Harrison in ‘An Officer and A Gentleman’. Picture courtesy of the official website.

Based on the Academy-Award winning movie, An Officer and A Gentleman, the musical, is set to world premiere on May 18th.

The new musical, adapted to the stage by screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart, is led by a talented cast including Ben Mingay from Jersey Boys and Amanda Harrison, best known for her role as Alphaba in Wicked.  Mingay and Harrison star as the show’s lead characters – Zack Mayo and Paula Pokrifki.

The timeless love story is about a young man who wants to make a better life for himself as a naval officer and a factory worker who dreams of finding something more.  The 1982 film starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger received outstanding success as “a classic modern day love story about a working class boy and girl who must overcome their upbringing and personal weaknesses to accept life and love” (An Officer and a Gentleman the musical’s official website).

Although not originally a musical, the stage version of An Officer and A Gentleman promises to deliver spectacular performances with a sensational soundtrack by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner.

Also starring Alex Rathgeber (Phantom of the Opera) as Sid Worley, Zack’s fellow officer candidate and friend, and Kate Kendell (Next to Normal) as Lynette Pomeroy, Paula’s best friend.

With much of the plot based around the naval academy training, the cast is required to be extremely fit, so rehearsals involved military-style boot-camp.  Check out Alex Rathgeber’s blog.

A lot has gone into the creation of this brand new musical.  Here’s a look behind the scenes of the set design:

With only a few days left until the first preview for An Officer and A Gentleman, here’s a sneak peek of what we can expect:

And here’s a look back at the original film:

An Officer and A Gentleman – Stage Whispers

Preview: Woyczek

5 May

Second-year Creative Arts Performance students in ‘Woyczek’.

Rehearsals for the second-year production of Woyczek are well underway at the University of Wollongong.

Directed by Chris Ryan, Woyczek is a German play written by Georg Bücher in 1836.  One of the most influential German plays, Woyczek deals with poverty, infidelity, military oppression and medical experimentation.

According to performance student, Emma Hoole, who plays the doctor in the play, Woyczek is a tragedy.

Woyczek is about the downfall of the main character who is in the army and his wife is unfaithful to him and my character makes him only eat peas for three months and all these people really mess with him,” Emma says.

Chris Ryan has taken a post-modern approach, presenting Woyczek as a series of images and episodes.

The Faculty of Creative Arts performance of Woyczek opens Wednesday 16th May and will run until Saturday 19th May at the FCA Performance Space, University of Wollongong.

For full details:

Autumn Season of Theatre and Music


In video: From the screen to the stage

5 May









From the Silver Screen to the Broadway Stage

5 May

‘Legally Blonde The Musical’. Picture courtesy of the Legally Blonde The Musical official website.

It seems a new fad is cropping up in the world of musical theatre – the adaptation of the popular movie to the stage.

Although not a new concept, the transformation of movies into stage musicals appears to be increasingly popular, with the majority of this year’s upcoming shows falling under this category.

Most notably, An Officer and a Gentleman, which premieres in Sydney in May, and Legally Blonde, which is coming in September.  Both of these musical versions have received much media attention and should prove popular amongst audiences, particularly those who are fans of the movies.

The question is, can movies such as these, without any original musical numbers, be easily adapted to the stage?  And if so, how successfully?

‘Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark’ Broadway Opening Night. Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

Apparently, they are quite successful, if sales to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are anything to go by.  The Broadway musical is taking $US1.3 million each week at the box office, proving typical box-office flicks are just as popular on stage.

Matilda the Musical, adapted from the much-loved children’s movie, and Roald Dahl’s novel, won seven Olivier Awards in London recently.  The classic tale has had a number of rave reviews from its time on the West End, and is expected to open in Sydney within the next 18 months.

Red Dog the Musical and The First Wives Club – The Musical are currently in the process of adaptation by John Frost, the producer of An Officer and a Gentleman, Wicked and Annie.

It is interesting that this trend has come about considering up until the last decade, it was the reverse – musicals were transformed into films.  Some of the greatest musical films originated as stage musicals including The Sound of Music, Grease, Annie, Oliver!, Chicago, My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun, just to name a few.  It is more conceivable that a popular musical could be written for the silver screen and adapted to suit the medium, especially as films have a lot more freedom visually, as opposed to the restrictions on-stage.  So, it is fair to say that in order to do the opposite and adapt film to the stage, the choice of film is critical.

As Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, Donald Margulies in the Sydney Morning Herald says, adaptation is becoming the way to move forward in the world of musical theatre.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with that but you do have to decide which films might be appropriate to musicalise and which ones are not,” Marguiles says.

‘Matilda The Musical’. Photo courtesy of the official website.

Over the next two years, we can expect to see a number of movies and TV shows make their way to the musical stage, including An Officer and a Gentleman, Legally Blonde, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Addams Family, Strictly Ballroom and the return of The Lion King, to Sydney.  In Melbourne, War Horse, King Kong the Musical and Ghost the Musical will hit the stage.  It is also rumoured that Shrek was set for Australia, but after closing early on Broadway, it depends on its success in London.

With so many new musicals being adapted, it is clear that musical theatre is certainly not dead and is in fact, as popular as ever.  With the adaptation of movies to musicals, it is highly possible that musical theatre will grow stronger than ever, by appealing to a new market of film lovers.

Hollywood Blockbuster Turned Into Broadway Musicals

Movie Musicals: From Stage to Screen

Head Over Heels

Sit! Speak! Sing! It’s Red Dog the Musical

Sydney to host world premiere of Strictly Ballroom musical

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em

In Full Voice

King Kong Musical to open in Melbourne before hitting New York

Dahl’s gold: Matilda the Musical dominates the Oliviers

Theatre Review: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on its way

War Horse has proved it’s a beast to be reckoned with

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Review: ‘Two Weeks with the Queen’

29 Apr

Image courtesy of Roo theatre Company

If you’re planning on seeing Roo Theatre Company’s Two Weeks with the Queen, be sure to take with you two things: a sense of humour and a box of tissues.

Based on Morris Gleitzman’s 1990 children’s novel, Two Weeks with the Queen is told through the innocent eyes of 12-year-old Colin Mudford.

On a hot Australian Christmas Day, budding young scientist, Colin is upset about getting shoes instead of a microscope for Christmas, when his younger brother is rushed to hospital and later diagnosed with cancer.  Colin is sent to England to stay with his Aunt and Uncle and cousin Alistair, with whom he devises a plan to break into Buckingham Palace to convince the Queen to send her best doctor to Australia to help his brother Luke.  He later meets and befriends Ted, the only adult who isn’t afraid to say the word cancer.  With the help of colourful cousin Alistair and kind, Welshman Ted, Colin realises that the best doctors won’t help to cure Luke, but that having family around will make it a little easier.

Directed by Daniel Stefanovski, Two Weeks with the Queen is an uplifting story that deals with childhood cancer, HIV/AIDS, terminal illness and homosexuality.  However, the humour and childhood innocence helps to distract from these heavy issues, making a nice story that the whole family can appreciate.

Aaron Arvella as Colin is excellent.  His boyish energy and youthful curiosity make Colin an entertaining, likeable and relatable character.  Arvella’s strong performance leads the play and at times makes up for the poor acting by some of those in lesser roles.

Juran Jones is hilarious as the easily persuaded, overweight Alistair, who provides much of the comic relief.  His facial expressions and fidgeting were spot on and had the audience in stitches before he even opened his mouth. An unlikely ally to Colin, the strange character of Alistair was a definite highlight of the performance.

Other fine performances by Mahlah Hoffman as Aunty Iris, James Poole who played Ted and David Rienitis as Uncle Bob and Griff.

The performance as a whole was greatly let down by the multiple scene changes, which took up a great deal of time.  At times, the scene change took longer than the act, which interrupted the flow of the story.  This could have been overlooked had the sets been more impressive – it was obvious they were made during a working bee in somebody’s backyard.  Admittedly, the story is set in multiple places, however, this could have been overcome by one simple set, rather than attempt to cheaply recreate every scene.

Overall the performance was enjoyable and entertaining.  For an amateur theatre group, they managed to successfully portray the themes of love, loss and hope in this classic Australian story.

Waters to come to Gulgong

28 Apr

Picture courtesy of John Waters Official Website.

Respected actor John Waters will be the latest big name artist to perform at Gulgong’s Prince of Wales Opera House.

The multi-talented Waters is bringing his Looking Through a Glass Onion tour to the historic town in June.

The national tour, which commenced at the end of 2010 at the Sydney Opera House, is a tribute to John Lennon, dedicated to his ‘music, mystery and memory’.  The show features 31 of Lennon’s songs intertwined with a spoken monologue, exploring the essence of the great musician.

Originally created in 1992 by Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta, the show has received positive reviews and had sell-out success, touring multiple times including to London’s West End.

Booking organiser for the Gulgong Opera House, Brian Cook was very surprised when he got a call from John Waters himself wanting to bring the show to Gulgong.

So surprised in fact, that he accidently double-booked.

“We were going to get John Waters on Sunday, only we’ve got a film booked in so, I’m sorry John Waters, you don’t get precedence over somebody that’s running a film,” Mr Cook jokes.

He explains that films are occasionally shown at the theatre, and that artists wanting to book a show need to fit around the schedule of the Opera House, which includes the local Eisteddfod and performances by the local Musical and Dramatic Society.

“They’ve got to fit with what our program is, which is the real funny thing,” Mr Cook says.

The Prince of Wales Opera House holds the title of Australia’s longest continually running opera house, having been built in 1871.  The original iron bark roof creates such impressive acoustics that microphones aren’t needed, which Mr Cook believes is part of the appeal.

Other famous artists to perform at Gulgong include pianist Roger Woodward, trumpeter James Morrison and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Looking Through a Glass Onion will be performed at the Gulgong Prince of Wales Opera House on Friday June 15.

Here’s some reviews of Looking Through a Glass Onion:

‘Looking Through A Glass Onion’ by Helen Barry – Australian Stage

‘John Waters: Looking Through A Glass Onion’ – Beat

‘Looking through a glass onion’ by Lynne Lancaster – Artshub