Tag Archives: performance

2012: A Year to Come in Pictures

6 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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


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.

MADS About Theatre

28 Apr

The cast of theatre restaurant production, ‘Tiptoe Through the Tombstones’. David Warner is in the middle, wearing a black shirt.

When recalling his first time on stage, David Warner jokes about how scared he was. To those that know him as the tough director of the Gulgong Musical and Dramatic Society (MADS), this would be quite surprising.

After joining the MAD Society over 30 years ago as a favour to a friend, David Warner is considered the soul and driving force behind the amateur theatre group.

“I sort of got conned into it by Maurice Gaudry back in the late seventies,” David recalls.

“I remember the first thing I was in, my son Ian was about two years old, and all I had to do was sit on stage with Ian on my knee.  I was supposedly Henry Lawson’s father and Ian was Henry Lawson and I didn’t have to say a word but I was absolutely terrified.”

The MAD Society in the small town of Gulgong has been around for over a century, and has since grown to become a well-respected and professional group amongst the town and surrounds.  Their home, the Prince of Wales Opera House is the longest continually running opera house in the country, which is a credit to the group, who purchased the building in 1972 to prevent it from being demolished.

The group have managed to keep the Opera House running, by funding renovations and upgrades to the National Trust building through revenue from their popular shows and performances.

David Warner, who’s been directing now for over 20 years, credits the success of the group to the dedication and quality of the people involved.

“We’ve always attracted a really good group of people, I mean if you’ve got 50 people and you’re trying to pull them together and all work together, it’s not easy,” David explains.

“But the fact that we can do that intensely over about a three-month period, I think it says a lot about the people who are involved.”

The MAD Society has a reputation around town as being one of the most professional groups around.  David believes this is partly due to the strong direction and professional approach the group has taken over the years.

“When I first got involved, the director, Yvette Barwick ran a very tight ship,” David says.

“Yvette established that anyone who dared peek through the curtain or who arrived out in the audience in costume and make-up, she just read the riot act.”

David has adopted this strict approach to his directing, as many current and former cast members will know, especially when it comes to those precious two rules.

According to long-time member, Brian Cook, the wrath of David is enough to make everyone perform their best.

“The professionalism of the performances is better than anywhere I’ve seen, we’ve got a director that’s so cranky that we’re all scared like hell of him and that brings out the best in us,” Brian says chuckling.

Although for the past five to ten years MADS has been at its strongest, David worries about its future.

“Long term, I don’t know, because the unfortunate thing is people like my boys who get involved and do a fantastic job while they’re at school, have to leave the town to go to university or whatever, so we lose some really good people that way.”

With the majority of the cast over 40, David is hoping the future of the group will be secure with some of the younger members of the group.

“What we’re trying to do now is keeping a look-out for people in the town who are staying in the town who are a bit younger than us who can take it over, because it’s certainly a very worthwhile thing,” David says.

Although it will still be a while before David gives it up.

“Maurice always said to me, ‘when MADS no longer ceases to be fun, I won’t stay in it’ and I’m exactly the same,” says David.

Theatre’s history is worth it’s weight in gold.

28 Apr

The Opera House when it was originally built in the 1870s. Picture by Gulgong Information Centre.

“Rough-built theatres and stages where the world’s best actors trod, Singers bringing reckless rovers nearer boyhood, home and God, Paid in laughter, tears and nuggets in the drama fortune plays – ‘Tis the palmy days of Gulgong – Gulgong in the Roaring Days.” – Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson wrote about it, Dame Nellie Melba sang there and boxer Les Darcy fought there – the Gulgong Prince of Wales Opera House is rich in history and continues to provide the town with entertainment.

Built in 1871, the unassuming building situated in the centre of town, holds the title of Australia’s longest running performing arts theatre.

Over 140 years on, the building hasn’t changed all that much, not unlike the rest of the historic town, whose narrow streets and charming weatherboard buildings look as though they belong to a time long-gone.

Born on the rough goldfields, the Prince of Wales Opera House was originally a bark structure with a dirt floor and no roof, built by John Cogden during Gulgong’s thriving goldrush days.  At a time when Gulgong’s population was up to 20,000, the theatre was doing a roaring trade.  People flocked from the goldfields to be entertained by some of the world’s greatest actors, singers and dancers.

Booking organiser for the Opera House, Brian Cook, says that Cogden and his business partner, international actress Joey Gougenheim, were running two shows a day, seven days a week.

The Opera House as it is today. Picture by Gulgong Information Centre.

“They were making pretty good money,” Mr Cook says.

“I’ve seen some old programs and they say they can fit 2000 people in here, which I very much doubt, but maybe 1000, and the minimum price was two and sixpence, so if you work that out they had a pretty good income each day.”

“It’d be better money than you could make these days,” Mr Cook says laughing.

Gulgong’s population is now just over 2,000 and the Opera House seats only 340, however it continues to be used for everything from plays to concerts to movie nights and for the local Eisteddfod.

“During a typical year of 365 days, it’s probably used about 150 of those days,” Mr Cook says.

The theatre is the home of the local Musical and Dramatic Society (MADS), who usually put on a theatre restaurant or one act plays every year, which are very popular amongst the locals.  Not only do MADS use the opera, but they also own and run it.

Mr Cook, also a member of the MAD Society, says up until the early seventies the opera house was being primarily used as a movie theatre, however, with the introduction of TV, it was in decline.

“That’s how our Music and Dramatic Society came to take over the building because they were going to demolish it,” Mr Cook says.

Mr Cook says that the MAD Society are very lucky to be one of the few dramatic societies that own their own theatre.

“We pay a whole two dollars for membership, so it’s pretty heavy,” says Mr Cook laughing.

“Our major expense is insurance of course, because it’s a national trust building so that’s why we’ve got to run the shows, not only because of that but because we love doing it.”

The rustic building oozes character and charm.  The red velvet curtains are over a hundred years old, the blue-patterned velvet seats lining the rows are as old as they are uncomfortable and the wooden floorboards creak as you walk.  Some locals swear the place is haunted by the ghosts of those that had once trod the stage.  The original iron bark roof creates such impressive acoustics that microphones aren’t needed.

Mr Cook believes that is part of the appeal and why it has attracted some first class musicians such as pianist Roger Woodward and trumpeter James Morrison, who regularly return to perform here.

“We get good artists wanting to use it in between our shows,” Mr Cook says.

“We’ve got John Waters coming up in June, so that’s another major show.”

Strange Attractors of Physical Theatre

23 Apr

Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith. Solomon will play one of three Robert Mapplethorpe’s in ‘Strange Attractors’, while Patti Smith will be played by seven different actors. Picture by Norman Seef.

When it comes to his future in theatre, Solomon Thomas is quite honest when he admits he doesn’t know which way to turn.

One thing is for certain, though, he is willing to twist himself into knots in the pursuit of his love of physical theatre.

In his latest production, Strange Attractors, the University of Wollongong performance student is not only acting in the play, but also co-directing and choreographing. And whenever possible, he is bringing his love of physical theatre to centre stage.

“The movement, physical theatre stuff, choreography is always a huge thing for me,” Solomon says.

“It’s always what I’m inspired to do and it’s always what I want to do.”

Besides first being introduced to theatre in year three when he played a pharaoh in Jospeh’s Techniclour Dream Coat, Solomon’s interest in physical theatre began a number of years ago when he joined a professional physical theatre youth company in Bega.  Although he has creativity pulsing through his veins thanks to his artistic parents, Solomon says his six years with the fLiNG Physical Theatre company has influenced and developed his love of theatre.

“That was like my starting in theatre and where it all comes from and that influences all of my work, especially this kind of stuff.”

As a physical, more external actor, Solomon has been struggling to learn a New York accent for his role as one of three Robert Mapplethorpe’s in Strange Attractors.

“My weakness as an actor is probably my voice, so that’s been really hard and I’m still struggling trying to get that accent,” Solomon willingly admits before giving us a demonstration.

“Can I some cawfee?”

Strange Attractors, a play based on the lives of Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith and directed by Cath McKinnon, opens at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on May 24th.