MELBOURNE WINTER MASTERPIECES – PT 1 – King Kong – 5K – Til Oct 5

SMA Kryztoff banner Jul 13 02 100dpiKing_Kong_(musical)_logoBy Peter Maddern

Is there a certain jealousy and self loathing that attaches to some of the criticism about regarding King Kong? In this reviewer’s mind, it is all misplaced for to me King Kong is Australia’s bona fide contribution to the cut throat, mega millions world of successful blockbuster musicals.

When impresario, Carl Denham (Adam Lyon) travels to the somewhat forgotten world of Skull Island he is searching for a new amusement that will capture the minds of the public. His ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Kong is captured and brought back to New York for the delight of patrons. But it all goes horribly wrong when Kong escapes and seeks to protect from harm, Ann Darrow (Esther Hannaford), who was originally presented as a sacrifice for him. Meanwhile Jack Driscoll (Chris Ryan) is the straight guy who is seeking Darrow’s attentions.

This story, no matter how it is presented, is all a bit shallow, though the messages about our instinctual fears of the outsider, and the dangers inherent in hubris ring as true today as ever. But what great musical theatre production of the past 40 years or so hasn’t suffered on that score. And many such great musical theatre production could also cop a fair amount of criticism about the quality of its songs – where 90 secs max is allowed for most numbers for fear the audience will cotton on to the fact that the music too is about as shallow as the story. (Not that these criticisms necessarily apply to KK.)

But what the production of King Kong does is combine, ambitiously and fearlessly, the music festival experience with a stage production. To that extent at least it elevates the show into a new league, perhaps one that may be called the first of the ’21st century musicals. And looking at the demographics of the audience in attendance, producer Carmen Pavlovic and director Daniel Kramer have nailed it. The cognoscenti who have worshipped at the feet of the false idol Lloyd Webber are now being shoved out of their seats by a new’, younger, Future Music / Big Day Out patron, many of whom would be making their debut in a theatre.

One pities how the persons charged with the task of raising the money for a production like this in these times must have felt when they took on the challenge (though of course they are now as big as heroes as the star beast himself), for no expense seems spared. It is Danny Boyle meets Baz Luhrmann and Rogers and Hammerstein have entered the world of U2. There are some scenes such as the arrival on Skull Island, the opening scene of Act 2 and the sad, slow demise of the mighty creature at the end that will long stay in one’s minds for their emotional pull, magisterial showmanship and visual impact.

If there are faults, then certainly the use of ‘arena sound’ tends to swamp the singing, creating a disconnect between the singer and what one hears, but this a common problem for the medium. Some of the scenes could do with a little tightening and perhaps the emotional bond between the girl and gorilla is not as well made as might be. But hell, the way in which such a beast is made to come alive, have a soul and then is cut down is as brilliant as theatre can get.

King Kong is a show to be proud of and when it wins next week any number of the Helpmann Awards for which it has been nominated, be sure the gongs are richly deserved.

THEATRE – Noel and Gertie – 3.5K

N&G-EventBy Peter Maddern

There is something turbulently alluring about the era synonymous with Art Deco architecture – the swinging 20s, Gatsby, then the days of reckoning of the Great Depression, all wedged between the relief after WWI and the impending gloom of WWII.

Noel and Gertie is about two people of those times – Noel Coward, a man possessed with a certain personal style that he studiously sought to promote and Gertrude Lawrence, a performer with own sense of class whose love for the stage overwhelmed all others. Together they enjoyed a sparkling platonic relationship that spanned forty  years until her premature death from cancer and which embraced all manner of shows, many of which Coward was the co-star in and wrote for her specifically.

In this production, devised by Sheridan Morley, using the words and music of Coward and directed by Nancye Hayes, James Millar (as Coward) and Lucy Maunder (as Lawrence) takes us through those times and their relationship.

Using an Art Deco set design that seems both a theatre foyer and a stage, this is a breezy, uplifting two hour production that both tells the tales as well as presents the wit and music of Coward himself.Vincent Colagiuri is musical director and accompanist placed at the rear of the stage.

Miller, mostly in black tie (and only occasionally in the dressing gown Coward is perhaps, sartorially,  best remembered for) captures the persona delightfully, mixing up the great man’s pretensions and pomposity with ease, yet sustaining that aura of creative genius that could carry it all off.   Maunder, in white evening gown, flits between the baring the scars of the struggles of early career, the delights of unmitigated success and an enchanting naivety about the greater world around her.

Noel and Gertie will be a trip back for many but also for others an introduction to a sound and a style that while not common is by no means out of place in today’s theatre.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

Ballet Revolución – Her Majesty’s Theatre

From the first haunting moment on stage, the troupe of Ballet Revolución mesmerised a capacity crowd at Her Majesty’s Theatre for the Adelaide premiere of the 2013 season.

Combining breathtaking feats of athleticism with sensual dance moves, Ballet Revolución’s incredibly talented Cuban dancers – supported by the Ballet Revolución Live-Band – entertained the crowd with an enormous variety of numbers including sexy Shakira pieces, enthusiastic Prince renditions and an hilarious Cee-Lo Green performance. Largely thanks to the similarities between my iPod and the backing track, this performance ultimately felt less like a show and more like I had accidentally stumbled upon a nightclub filled with gorgeous people having the best night of their lives.

With something for everyone, from traditional ballet to funky Latin American dancing and even breakdancing, this show is captivating – not to mention the oodles of eye candy.

As so often, it is disappointing to see an Adelaide crowd refusing to get excited during a world-class performance, and watch such a high-octane show without so much as a shuffle in their seats.

Nonetheless, this show is, quite simply, more fun than Carnevale in Rio – and a darn sight sexier.

5K

THEATRE: Oliver! – Gilbert & Sullivan Society – Arts Theatre

It’s a safe bet that most people are at least vaguely familiar with the story of Oliver Twist, the young orphan boy who dared to ask for more gruel, was ejected from the workhouse and consequently found himself a member of a gang of young pickpockets. The musical version by Lionel Bart is a perennial favourite, offering a vehicle for young performers to cut their teeth, as well as several good roles for more mature and experienced performers. The G&S Society is the latest company to bring this show, Oliver!, to the stage in Adelaide.

The set is impressive, layering room interiors, outdoor gardens and other aspects of the cityscape.  It is also flexible, allowing easy transitions of the space from one locale to another while enabling use of the majority of the stage in each scene. Lighting from Daniel Barber, and Matthew Curtis’ sound scape, contribute well to the overall atmosphere, though some of the street sounds are a little distracting at times. Projection (Mark Wickett) is also used well to set the scene, add extra detail and show elements of the script that could otherwise be difficult to stage. Under the musical direction of Peter Johns, the large band handles the accompaniment well.

While there is a sense of fun and light-hearted folly surrounding the antics of the young thieves, there are also many serious issues, particularly relating to violence, included in the story. Director and production designer David Lampard has chosen not to shy away from the darkness in the story and this is the greatest triumph of this production.

Paul Talbot injects the infamous Bill Sikes with a wholly believable seething menace, so that you never doubt he really will hurt anyone who crosses him. Emma Bargery starts off a little too polished as the streetwise Nancy but is very strong in the later scenes when we see her struggle between doing what is right and staying true to the man she loves. Unfortunately she doesn’t quite hit a couple of the highest notes, but for the most part her voice is lovely and has a powerful and pure quality.

As is often the case for shows with children in them, the roles are shared by two casts who do alternating performances. Those appearing on opening night brimmed with enthusiasm and synchronised well in the big numbers. Jack Raftopoulos was a sweet Oliver and Isiah Fabbro a cheeky Artful Dodger. As Fagin, the adult leader of the pickpockets, Rod Schultz is highly enjoyable, with just enough malevolence to be disturbing, the right amount of simplicity to still be likeable and a pleasing voice to boot. He also provides a good anchor for the children’s chorus to work around.

Lampard appears onstage as Mr Sowerberry, the Tim Burton-esque undertaker who purchases Oliver from workhouse director, Mr Bumble (John Greene). This scene, with Vanessa Lee Shirley appearing as his wife, is the highlight of Act 1; both actors give their characters a nice blend of comedy and creepiness and bounce off one another to deliver their lines with energy and perfect timing.

Unfortunately it is the lack of pace and mistiming in several other scenes that detract from the overall flow of the show. More attention needed to be paid to the smaller details: to the physical interactions between characters, the vocals of some minor leads and to tightening up the non-singing sections of the show. Hopefully these issues will be overcome as the run of the show continues.

This Old Man Comes Rolling Home – Preview Performance

The highly reasonable price of wine at the Bakehouse Theatre proved to be both a blessing and a curse during Adapt Enterprises’ preview performance of ‘This Old Man Comes Rolling Home’. Set in 1950s working class Redfern against a backdrop of communist dissent and socioeconomic despair, the desolation of the Dockerty family could easily encourage one to have a drink or twenty. However this thirst was immediately dispelled when the alcoholic faded beauty of Laurie Dockerty (Cheryl Douglas) appeared on stage lamenting her long-ago lost past as the Belle of Bundaberg.
At its core, Dorothy Hewett’s haunting study of the working class Australia of a bygone era is about disappointment and despair – Laurie’s backwards-glancing regrets for the life she could have had; patriarch Tom Dockerty’s (Ross Vosvotekas, doubling as the incredibly capable director) exhaustion and frustration at having to hold together a family neglected and torn apart by his wife’s unhappiness; the tragedy of the various Dockerty offspring’s attempts to escape their apparently predetermined unhappy futures and, most hauntingly, the agony of trying to live the life that you long for when circumstances and history keep dragging you back down without offering the prospect of escape from the all-encapsulating Redfern.

Superbly cast, the ensemble of Dockerty family members and hangers-on portrays a haunting semblance of a completely dysfunctional family. Although all members of the cast were stellar (even despite a few minor costume-related glitches), the star of the show is undoubtedly Cheryl Douglas, whose portrayal of the selfish, callous and ultimately ruined Laurie Dockerty nonetheless managed to evoke feelings of sympathy and understanding. A special mention also goes to Emily McMahon (playing Edie Dockerty) and Jarrad Parker (as Snowy Baker) who masterfully captured the tragedy of the inescapable quicksand of their lives.

Be prepared to cry. Be prepared to laugh. Be prepared to hear ‘ockerisms’ that could only resound in 1950s working class Australia.
But whatever you do, make sure you get along to ‘This Old Man Comes Rolling Home’.

4.5K

RAINBOW CHILD FOUNDATION FASHION SHOW FUNDRAISER THIS FRIDAY NIGHT

The Hackney Hotel will play host to the Rainbow Child Foundation Fashion Show on July 19 to raise funds for underprivileged children around the world.

Organised by Sheree Miles, a grand finalist in the Face of the Globe beauty pageant, the event will showcase the latest fashions from Wild Child Stylelab, as modelled by the lovely ladies of RMT (formerly Rachel’s Model Management and Training) with make up and hair by Media Makeup.

Entry to the event is $25 and includes champagne on arrival, canapés and a show bag for each guest. The night will also feature a silent auction and music by DJ Patrick from BIE.

Tickets can be purchased in advance either in-store at any of Wild Child Stylelab’s four Adelaide locations or directly through Sheree by email at info@smilespromotions.com.au. Tickets will also be available on the door if not already sold out.

The event is scheduled for this Friday night at The Hackney Hotel (95 Hackney Road, Hackney). Doors open at 7pm.

About the Face of the Globe:

The Face of the Globe is an international beauty pageant being held in Disneyland Paris (20th-27th October 2013) in aid of Rainbow Child Foundation. Miles has been selected to represent Australia as a grand finalist in the competition.

About the Rainbow Child Foundation:

The Rainbow Child Foundation has been set up to help underprivileged children around the world. So far they have reached 15,000 children in five years by providing schools with play pumps, sanitation, farm seeds bank, and HIV awareness programs. The Rainbow Child Foundation believes in hand ups, not handouts.

For more information contact Sheree Miles on 0421 838 958 or by email at info@smilespromotions.com.au.

FILM – Pacific Rim – 3K

pacific_rim-wideBy Peter Maddern

Once more the world is faced with an apocalypse and near certain destruction. Massive sea faring creatures are destroying our cities one by one and the best efforts of nations can’t seem to do much about it, until….

Pacific Rim is the latest Hollywood, holiday blockbuster to play out good against evil through reviving the careers of former combat warriors (this time in the form of Charlie Hunnam), aided by a pretty woman (Rinko Kikuchi), when all others are shown to be fallible. While a well-meaning general in charge (always it seems an Afro American, this time Idris Elba) does his best, weird scientists acting as skunks beaver away at exposing the weaknesses of the foe and thus the way to the world’s ultimate salvation. In Pacific Rim, it is Hong Kong that is the scene of the action.

If nothing else, Pacific Rim must go close to the film with the biggest CGX budget in history, all beefed up in 3D but after the opening scenes, nothing much new happens, though the volume notch is sustained throughout hard up against the 10 mark. Of course, that means the script is somewhat banal and the character development wafer thin.

Some attempts at humour creep in after the first hour but they are somewhat half hearted – a father and son combination strut around with what I think are meant to be Australian accents but which sound rather more South African, but whatever they are nearly incomprehensible and there is some meanie in gold shoes that we are meant to relate to. But for the most part I think the execs at Warner Brothers may have feared too much humour would have blown their scriptwriting budget and have risked giving the game away as to what well worn crap this story represents.

Pure and simple this is a teenage fantasy flick for those with not much else to occupy their days. Of the most recent batch, coming up against World War Z and Man of Steel, it would take an idle mind and a similarly possessed $20 to warrant this 140 minute indulgence.

It is a bit sad to reflect that the major studios now have it seems budgets for only two films a year – this shock and awe extravaganza and something half decent for Oscar season. It doesn’t leave much for the other ten months of the year, especially as the overlap between those audiences is minimal.

Pacific Rim is what it is – if that suits go see, you won’t leave disappointed;  if not or if you already apocalypsed out, don’t fear you are missing out.

Kryztoff Rating   3K

DANCE – Ballet Revolución – 23-27 July – Her Majesty’s

Ballet_Revolucion_13_eventAfter its acclaimed world premiere tour throughout Australia in 2011 and then subsequently sold out seasons in London, Paris, Zurich, Berlin, Frankfurt and Vienna in 2012, the international Cuban sensation Ballet Revolución returns in 2013 with an extensive tour of Australia, including six shows at Her Majesty’s Theatre from 23 – 27 July.

What happens when some of the world’s most talented classical and contemporary dancers perform to the infectious rhythms of Latin America and No 1 hits from Usher, Shakira, Beyoncé, Enrique Iglesias, J-Lo, Prince, Chris Brown just to name a few? The result is an explosive, intensive, sensual and impressively athletic performance, full of raw energy with a distinctly Cuban flavour.

“So many great things have happened for the show since we had our World Premiere in Australia two years ago,” said Australian Producer and Creator of Ballet Revolución Mark Brady.

“We have toured many countries around the world and had the amazing honour of being invited to perform in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II for the Royal Variety Concert on 19 November 2012. Internationally the show continues to wow audiences no matter where we perform, so bringing the show back to Australia is very exciting.”

Ballet Revolución’s young Cuban dancers let their athletic bodies do the talking anywhere in the world: audiences cannot get enough of their exuberant energy and contagious joy of life with which they turn any idea into an explosive and intense performance. With breathtaking twists, daring jumps and sensual moves from ballet to street dance, Ballet Revolución has already impressed audiences in sold-out shows from Sydney and Singapore to Berlin, Vienna and London.

Ballet Revolución mixes the dynamics of contemporary dance, brilliant ballet, powerful street dance and hip hop giving the work “Ballet with Attitude”. Combining 20 of the finest dancers you will ever have the pleasure of seeing from the island of dance, Cuba and eight of the hottest young Cuban musicians live on stage, results in a fuelled Cuban cocktail of unbridled passion, pure energy and athletic skill.

International Number 1 hits from Shakira, Ricky Martin, Beyoncé, Enrique Iglesias, J-Lo and others ignite the fire of the 20 highly trained dancers allowing them to let their tremendous versatility, musicality and passion run free while infecting the audience with this mood in no time. The dancers were trained at one of the world’s most prestigious dance institutions in their home country, the Escuela Nacional de Arte, with its renowned faculty of modern dance, and at the famous Escuela Nacional de Ballet for classical dance. Dance training is strongly promoted in Cuba, as dance means more than art on the Caribbean island, it means life. The dancers thus unite in their movements a unique Cuban expression with the highest dancing virtuosity.

Boundless passion, attractive sensuality, stunning athleticism and exuberant joy of life – Ballet Revolución combines it all in a fireball of emotions that no one can escape.

“It pumps you up, delivers an endorphin high!” – The Guardian, London

“An irresistible Cuban cocktail of ferocious sensuality!” – The Australian

“Their jumps are astounding, their control is as strong as steel and their free-spirited joy for dance is infectious.” – Sunday Herald Sun

What:

Ballet Revolucion

When:

23 – 27 July

Venue:

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Hours:

23 – 26 July 7.30pm, 27 July 2pm and 7.30pm

Cost:

A Res Adult $98.90, A Res Concession $79.90, A Res Child $79.90, B Res Adult $89.90, B Res Concession $79.90, B Res Child $79.90, B Res Group 10+ $79.90

Suitable

12+ years

Bookings:

BASS 131 246 or online at www.bass.net.au

 

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EVENT – Speak Up 2013 – 3 Aug

SpeakUPposter2013

Musicians join forces to raise awareness about mental health

One in five people are affected by mental health issues

Speak Up is an event put together by local musicians to raise awareness about mental health on behalf of sufferers and their carers.

Event organiser and singer Kylena Vigus said:

‘Mental illness is still little understood by our community, although so many people suffer from these issues, and this affects many others, including families and friends. There is still a workplace stigma attached to these problems. In 2011, I lost three friends to suicide, and felt I really had to do something to put this issue on the agenda – something practical to help. Being a musician – an afternoon of music to raise funds and awareness seemed like one thing I could do.’

Speak Up is holding its third event, this year at The Soul Box, with four bands/musicians performing.

Kylena Vigus said:

‘This won’t be an afternoon of gloom, it will be a celebration of achievement and empowerment, as well as some very good music.’

The bands, Unnecessary Tension, SideFX, RAW Sugar and musician Chris Finnen will play originals and favorites, and the MC will be well known presenter Xavier Minniecon.

The event will be held on Saturday, the 3rd August, 2013 from 7:30pm – 11:30pm at The Soul Box, 252 Hindley St, ADELAIDE (The West End)

All proceeds will go to Grow SA Branch.  

Kylena Vigus said :

‘The main aim is to encourage those who suffer or are affected by mental illness, to not hide or suffer in silence. Too many lives are lost due to the stigma and public perception. Speak Up is not about education, but realisation that someone close to any one of us could be suffering in silence. ‘

Tickets are available through Kylena Vigus (0420 217 265) or facebook search: “Speak UP – A Community Awareness Event 2013”

More information and interviews: Kylena Vigus  (kylenavigus@hotmail.com) 08 8351 7934/0420 217 265)

THEATRE – A Comedy of Errors – Dunstan Playhouse – 4.5K

SMA Kryztoff banner May 13 100dpi_COE2959 By Peter Maddern

It’s a good thing the great Bard did not wholly devote himself to exposing the foibles of humans in terrible tragedies. For if he had, we would have been denied this little gem, one of this earlier works.

The premise is kind of thin – two sets of twins get separated into pairs at a young age, one from each set, one of whom comes from wealth, with the other destined to be a slave. When the play commences they happen to be both be in Ephesus, one set as strangers (Antipholus of Syracuse with his Dromio) in search of their missing siblings, Antipholus of Ephesus (and helping hand – also Dromio) husband of Adriana.

_COE3241Of course, all manner of confusion breaks loose when they get separated and then happen upon the other not knowing who exactly they are while Adriana awaits at home with her sister, Luciana, for their Antipholus to arrive for dinner.

This delightful production, the joint work of the State Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare, does not just rely on the script to carry the day and embellishes it with all manner of visual and physical humour and a fair smattering of digs at our contemporary world.

The Syracusians, Nathan O’Keefe as Antipholus and Renato Musolino as Dromio dominate with endless reserves of shock, schemes and slapstick. The female siblings, Elena Carapetis as Adriana and Jude Henshall as Luciana are delightfully clueless about what is going on around them with Henshall revelling in the new found attraction and overtures she receives from what she believes is her sister’s husband – the washer scene is a cracker.

The set presents as eight swinging doors that get variously used as an immigration interrogation centre, dingy night club lanes and the street frontage to a monastery. Curiously, while this design halves the usual stage space made available, it sets up somewhat like a stand up comedian’s stage which all seems about right given the treatment that gets meted out.

Eugene Gilfedder’s cameos as Egeon who opens up proceedings and is also the doctor, part Colonel Sanders, part unregistered soothsayer, called in to explain the strange behaviour are great and while Anthony Taufa’s Duke, played as Marlon Brando’s Godfather works nicely, Suzannah McDonald’s Sister Wendy impersonation could be dropped as the lisping all tended to detract from the purpose of her concluding speech of resolution.

But still better to err on the side of the silly fling than the strict form as Imara Savage’s direction is full of fun and invention and sustains a rollicking good pace that farce like this needs to ensure audience members don’t have time to ponder on the improbabilities of it all.

Adelaide has been waiting for the Brookman brothers to deliver on their promise as the new supremos of the State Theatre Company, with Hedda Gabler just an inkling to what may be possible after the near death experience of The Kreutzer Sonata. But this work will surely comfort the doubting Thomases for this Comedy of Errors is seriously fine theatre.