Review: Bring It On (Supply Evolution)

bringitonVenue: NIDA Parade Theatres (Sydney NSW), June 27 – July 9, 2015
Music: Tom Kitt, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lyrics: Amanda Green, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Libretto: Jeff Whitty
Director: Rod Herbert
Choreographers: Melissa McKenzie, Tracey Rasmussen
Cast: Isaac Bradley, Sophie Carol, Jaime Hadwen, Justin Hitchcock, Kat Hoyos, Timothy Langan, Alexandra Lewtas, Henry Moss, Ashley Power, Kirsty Sturgess, Temujin Tera, Jessica Van Wyk, Nicole Vella,

Theatre review
Cashing in on the success of the 2000 film, the Bring It On musical first premièred in the USA in 2011. The work retains characters and dramatics of the original, but unlike the film soundtrack, which featured a best-selling collection of memorable songs, compositions for the stage version are never quite as catchy. Its writing feels generic, almost paint-by-numbers, obviously created for the Broadway stage where it had played for less than half a year.

Direction for this Sydney production is similarly predictable. Rod Herbert puts effort into getting things right, with a desire to emulate a certain idea of conventional musical theatre, rather than focussing on real moments on stage that could develop personalities and relationships for us to become engaged with. There is a lot of hullabaloo, but very little magic, with performances that often look like play-acting that never go beyond the surface, and a humour that is rarely effective beyond the plainly cheesy context. On a brighter note, the show is well-rehearsed. Except for several instances of cheer stunts not achieving their target, the cast always seems energetic and in confident stride.

The role of Danielle is played by Kat Hoyos, whose presence is strongest in the very large cast, and who comes closest to a performance that contains some quality of authenticity. Her vocals do not live up to the demanding material, but she looks and feels the part, and we believe the personal narrative she conveys. Male members of the cast play smaller supporting roles, but Isaac Bradley, Temujin Tera and Henry Moss bring flashes of sparkle to the stage with their respective solos. Bradley and Tera impress with their rap sequences in the opening of Act Two, and Moss belts out convincing notes in his several show stoppers. Also a very big voice is leading lady Alex Lewtas, who sings her numbers well, but we never quite believe the Campbell she portrays. Her approach is too simplistic, with more than a hint of Disney, and the important elements of duplicity and sinisterness that accompany her saccharine sweetness fail to take hold.

Scenic design is too understated for a brash work like Bring It On, but Benjamin Brockman’s lights are a good effort at making up for its shortfalls. Brockman’s work is key to the depiction of time and scene transitions, and he provides surprise, emotion and an overall glossiness, to a staging that can easily turn hollow. It is to the production’s great credit that a live band is utilised for the performance, but sound design is inconsistent, and the show never quite affects us with sufficient power, on a sonic level.

No matter how formulaic a creation, tales of the underdog can always move an audience. We want the small guy with the big heart to come out on top, because it is easy to identify with the ones who struggle. This musical aims high but does not reach far enough. Ambition should not be discouraged, and there is no room in the arts for the tall poppy syndrome. The sky is the limit, and the only way for all, is up.

www.bringitonthemusical.com.au

Review: Dining [Uns]-Table‏ (PACT Centre For Emerging Artists)

pact1Venue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), June 17 – 20, 2015
Choreographer: Cloé Fournier
Director: Cloé Fournier
Cast: Cloé Fournier
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
Events from childhood have the potential to shape a person’s entire life, no matter how innocuous they might seem at the time. Little souls have a kind of sensitivity that adults forget, and things that we do and say can have a lasting effect beyond any of our intentions. Cloé Fournier’s Dining [Uns]-Table is an exorcistic ‏work that draws inspiration from memories of a Christmas party with family members many years ago. Fournier works from a base of dance and physical theatre, but she establishes a definite sense of narrative, to provide her audience with reference points that allow us to connect with the surprising range of emotions that are being expressed. The style of art on stage is experimental and its language is thrillingly original, but all its moments are communicative and we read the unconventional presentation from an instinctive and familiar space of interior intimacy. Fournier’s exploration of her personal memory, is in conversation with our own remembrances, and the commonalities we are able to locate, are divine.

If essential ingredients for theatre are inventiveness and a spirit for adventure, Dining [Uns]-Table scores top marks. Furthermore, it is performed with exceptional gusto and flair, by a dancer whose talents are diverse and irrepressible. Fournier’s physicality is flawlessly employed by her own choreography, which is in turn, always thoughtful and refreshing. Her presence is that of a seasoned actor, with the ability to convey story and sentiments clearly and succinctly, always keeping us enthralled. The artist has a precise approach that leaves no stone unturned, and the show feels exhaustive both in terms of what it wishes to depict, and how it does so. The experience is fascinating and all-consuming, and by the end, we are completely satisfied and leave the space thoroughly impressed.

When we approach a work of art, we hope to see a reflection; not an exact facsimile of selves, but a representation of the human condition that we can relate to. This requires both creator and viewer to take a step forward, and to find a point of contact that will spark imagination and hopefully discover something meaningful. In Cloé Fournier’s work, we get in touch with elements that are fundamental to the construction of our identities, shared or personal. The depth that she leads us to, comes not as a result of the divulgement of details from her own experiences, but from the way she seeks to move us in the space that we temporarily encounter. There is so much power in the meeting of strangers at the theatre, and Dining [Uns]-Table agitates an eruption that brings new definition to how things are made and received on Australian stages.

www.pact.net.au

Review: This Is Not Mills And Boon (Glorious Theatre Thing Co / Old 505 Theatre)

glorioustheatreVenue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Jun 23 – 28, 2015
Playwright: Erica J Brennan
Director: Richard Hilliar
Cast: Emma Chelsey, Cat Martin, Diego AR Melo, Dominic McDonald
Image by Liam O’Keefe

Theatre review
Sex is a difficult thing to talk about. It is deeply personal, and social etiquette dictates that we keep it hidden under wraps. What is proffered to be general and common knowledge are invariably narrow definitions of healthy sexual functioning and practice. Maturity is therefore almost always an awkward process that involves young people grappling with unexpected deviations from those preconceived notions of norms, and the turmoil that it precipitates can be quite agonising.

Erica J Brennan’s This Is Not Mills And Boon is about Abigail, a young woman trying to understand her sexual self, through the discovery of sexual diversity in erotic literature. The plot is devised with a creative vision, using well-considered anti-chronological timelines and the meaningful juxtaposition of fantasy with reality, but for what is clearly the most risqué of themes at its centre, Brennan’s approach is uncomfortably polite. The raunchy context requires a certain quality of bluntness, or perhaps a coarser sensibility, in order that its jokes may cut deeper, and its many libidinous situations resonate with greater danger and tension.

Director Richard Hilliar introduces a good amount of theatricality to the staging, with strong support by designers (Ash Bell’s costumes are especially noteworthy) to create a show that is effervescent and fast-paced, but it seems to shy away from the opportunity for an exploration into sex and its boundaries that goes beyond the surface. Occupying centre stage is Abigail’s tedious impassivity, which grows more and more pronounced with time, and its presence is allowed to take over the story without it ever being interesting enough. Emma Chelsey plays the lead with a convincing naiveté and an appearance that easily portrays both girl and woman, but her performance is too plain. Without a sense of complexity that intrigues or titillates, the exercise is one that ultimately feels puerile and overly cautious.

Brennan and her protagonist’s journey from girl to goddess might not be the most compelling tale, but it provides a universal parallel for those of us who have experimented and have found our individualistic inclinations in what could be life’s greatest joy. The revelations that come with the formation of confident sexualities are invariably profound, and it is that kind of poignancy that all work about sexual awakenings have to live up to.

www.venue505.com/theatre | gloriousthingtheatreco.wordpress.com

Review: Legends! (Gordon Frost / Theatre Royal)

781198-f461dc9e-0993-11e5-8dc7-b0c4f7af3b6c[1]Venue: Theatre Royal (Sydney NSW), Jun 18 – Jul 5, 2015
Playwright: James Kirkwood
Director: Christopher Renshaw
Cast: Maxwell Caulfield, David Denis, Leah Howard, Phillip Lowe, Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills

Theatre review
James Kirkwood’s 1987 comedy Legends! is about screen sirens wrestling with the fact that time can be unkind, and that parts of us are considered over-the-hill before we are ready to acknowledge their demise. The script is only 28 years old, but it feels more dated than the characters it portrays. Many of the jokes are tired, and its inclusion of African-Americans only as servants and strippers is clearly inappropriate for today’s milieu. All the personalities are simplistic, and although we recognise them on the level of stereotypes, they are not affecting beyond anything archaic and predictable.

Direction of the work by Christopher Renshaw does not seek to invent a new sense of humour in order to update the tone and feel of the text, but his show is nevertheless, tightly paced and energetic. The plot is relayed with clarity and enthusiasm, but its lack of wit is unable to be disguised. It must be noted though, that Justin Nardella’s achievements as designer on the production is remarkable, with set and costumes in particular, conveying a striking glamour that is quite captivating.

Performances by the show’s stars, Hayley and Juliet Mills, are polished and engaging. Their interpretation of dueling has-beens at the centre of the play is not wicked enough for the show to be much more than amusing, but we are impressed by the thoroughness of their professionalism in what is evidently a very well-rehearsed performance. The Mills sisters have gestures and voices that demonstrate their admirable stage expertise, and even though the story being told is not filled with passion, the duo’s dedication and enjoyment of their art are lovely to behold. Also exuberant are supporting actors Leah Howard and David Denis, who contribute significant luster to a very conventional production. Their impulsive and lively approach provides buoyancy to an otherwise contrived style of presentation.

Legends! is an old-fashioned comedy, which is not to say that it will not find an audience. It holds appeal for certain cultural segments, but is perhaps not a popular choice for the rest of us. What is it that makes people laugh is never a certainty, and the rules are never stable. Time and space, along with humour, are constantly in flux, and what was once hilarious can now be tedious. Sylvia and Leatrice might no longer be relevant to today’s movie-going public, but their voice should still persist, even just to tide with the sands of time in anticipation of trends and tastes to return.

www.legendstour.com.au

2015 Helpmann Awards Nominations

HELPMANN AWARDS CEREMONY
Monday 27 July, 2015 | Capitol Theatre, Sydney

THEATRE


BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
ANDREW UPTON
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
CLARE WATSON
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
KIP WILLIAMS
Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)
SARAH GOODES
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)


BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
HELEN THOMSON
After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company)
JULIE FORSYTH
Endgame (Melbourne Theatre Company)
PAMELA RABE
Beckett Triptych – Footfalls (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
SARAH PEIRSE
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)


BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
JULIE FORSYTH
Night on Bald Mountain (Malthouse Theatre)
PAMELA RABE
The Glass Menagerie (Belvoir)
ROBYN NEVIN
Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)
SARAH PEIRSE
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)


BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A PLAY
BRUCE SPENCE
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
GLENN HAZELDINE
After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company)
JOHN BELL
As You Like It (Bell Shakespeare)
LASARUS RATUERE
Kill the Messenger (Belvoir)


BEST MALE ACTOR IN A PLAY
HUGO WEAVING
Endgame (Sydney Theatre Company)
HUNTER PAGE-LOCHARD
Brothers Wreck (Belvoir)
PETER CARROLL
Oedipus Rex (Belvoir)
STEVE RODGERS
Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Porn (Griffin Theatre Company and Perth Theatre Company)


BEST PLAY
CALPURNIA DESCENDING
Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company
ENDGAME
Sydney Theatre Company
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Belvoir
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
Sydney Theatre Company

MUSICALS


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A MUSICAL
ANDREW HALLSWORTH
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
KATE CHAMPION and MICHELLE LYNCH
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Love Story on Stage (John Frost)
MICHAEL ASHCROFT and GEOFFREY GARRATT
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
STEVEN HOGGETT
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)


BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
DEAN BRYANT
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
JOHN TIFFANY
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
LAURENCE CONNOR and JAMES POWELL
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
STUART MAUNDER AM
Into the Woods (Victorian Opera)


BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
AMY LEHPAMER
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
CLAIRE LYON
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
KERRIE ANNE GREENLAND
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
LUCY MAUNDER
Into the Woods (Victorian Opera)


BEST FEMALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
CAROLINE O’CONNOR
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
HELEN DALLIMORE
Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents)
MADELEINE JONES
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
PATRICE TIPOKI
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)


BEST MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
ALEX RATHGEBER
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
BRENT HALL
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
CHRIS DURLING
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
COLIN DEAN
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr, Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI’I
Show Boat (The Production Company)
TREVOR ASHLEY
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)


BEST MALE ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
HAYDEN TEE
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
SIMON GLEESON
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
TODD MCKENNEY
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
TODD MCKENNEY
La Cage Aux Folles (The Production Company)


BEST MUSICAL
ANYTHING GOES
Opera Australia and John Frost
DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC LOVE STORY ON STAGE
John Frost, Karl Sydow, Martin McCullum and Joyce Entertainment
LES MISÉRABLES
Cameron Mackintosh
ONCE
John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo

INDUSTRY AWARDS


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
ANNA CORDINGLEY
Masquerade (Griffin Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia)
DALE FERGUSON
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
GABRIELA TYLESOVA
The Rabbits (Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company)
GARY MCCANN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque in association with QPAC)


BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
GEOFF COBHAM
The Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera Company, South Australia)
NICK SCHLIEPER
Macbeth (Sydney Theatre Company)
PAULE CONSTABLE
Faust (Opera Australia)
PAULE CONSTABLE
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)
RACHEL BURKE
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
CAMERON GOODALL and QUENTIN GRANT
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
KATE MILLER-HEIDKE with IAIN GRANDAGE
The Rabbits (Opera Australia)
MIKELANGELO and THE BLACKSEA GENTLEMEN
Masquerade (Griffin Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia)
TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)


BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
ERIN HELYARD
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
MARTIN LOWE
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
TIMOTHY SEXTON
The Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera South Australia)


BEST SCENIC DESIGN
DAN POTRA
The Perfect American (Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland)
GEOFF COBHAM
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
MARG HORWELL
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
MATT KINLEY
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)


BEST SOUND DESIGN
CLIVE GOODWIN
Once (John Frost, Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo)
JD BRILL, CLAIR GLOBAL and EAGLES
Eagles | History of the Eagles Live In Concert 2015 (The Eagles and Frontier Touring)
MICHAEL WATERS
Anything Goes (Opera Australia and John Frost)
MICK POTTER
Les Misérables (Cameron Mackintosh Australia)


BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN WORK
AIDAN FENNESSY, MUSIC AND LYRICS BY TIM ROGERS
What Rhymes with Cars and Girls (Melbourne Theatre Company)
ARENA THEATRE COMPANY
Marlin (Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)
JOANNA MURRAY-SMITH
Switzerland (Sydney Theatre Company)
NICKI BLOOM with songs and music by CAMERON GOODALL and QUENTIN GRANT
Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia)
OPERA AUSTRALIA and BARKING GECKO THEATRE COMPANY
The Rabbits (Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company)
TAMARA SAULWICK
Endings (Sydney Festival and Insite Arts)

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC


BEST AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY CONCERT
CHET FAKER | NATIONAL TOUR 2015
JIMMY BARNES | 30:30 HINDSIGHT GREATEST HITS TOUR 2014
KYLIE | KISS ME ONCE TOUR 2015
TINA ARENA RESET TOUR


BEST CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL
BLUESFEST BYRON BAY
LANEWAY FESTIVAL
VIVID LIVE 2015
WOMADELAIDE 2015


BEST CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL CONCERT
ED SHEERAN | X WORLD TOUR 2015
FOO FIGHTERS | SONIC HIGHWAYS WORLD TOUR 2015
PAUL SIMON and STING – ON STAGE TOGETHER
THE ROLLING STONES | 14 ON FIRE

COMEDY


BEST COMEDY PERFORMER
JUDITH LUCY
Judith Lucy – Ask No Questions of the Moth (Token Events)
MATT OKINE
The Other Guy (Century Entertainment)
NAZEEM HUSSAIN
Nazeem Hussain – Legally Brown (Live Nation)
RONNY CHIENG
You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About (Century Entertainment)
SAM SIMMONS
Sam Simmons – Spaghetti for Breakfast (Token Events)

CABARET


BEST CABARET PERFORMER
BECCY COLE and LIBBY DONOVAN
The Cowgirl and the Showgirl (Adelaide Festival Centre Trust)
CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN
Camille O’Sullivan – Changeling (Arts Centre Melbourne)
DAVID CAMPBELL and JOHN BUCCHINO
David Campbell Sings John Bucchino (Luckiest Productions)
KIM SMITH
Nova Noir (Adelaide Festival Centre Trust)

DANCE AND PHYSICAL THEATRE


BEST BALLET OR DANCE WORK
FRAME OF MIND
Sydney Dance Company
MEETING
Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe
MOTION PICTURE
Lucy Guerin Inc
PRECIPICE
Rachel Arianne Ogle


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
ANTONY HAMILTON
MEETING (Antony Hamilton Projects, Arts House and Insite Arts)
NATALIE WEIR
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
RAFAEL BONACHELA
Frame of Mind (Sydney Dance Company)
STEPHEN PAGE
Patyegarang (Bangarra Dance Theatre)


BEST FEMALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
CHLOE LEONG
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
ELISE MAY
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
JESSE SCALES
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
MADELEINE EASTOE
Giselle (The Australian Ballet)


BEST MALE DANCER IN A DANCE OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
ALISDAIR MACINDOE
Motion Picture (Lucy Guerin Inc)
CASS MORTIMER EIPPER
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
DAVID MACK
William Forsythe’s Quintett (Sydney Dance Company)
JACK ZIESING
Natalie Weir’s The Red Shoes (Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre)


BEST VISUAL OR PHYSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
BEYOND THE CIRCA
Arts Centre Melbourne and Circa
DISLOCATE’S “IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK”
Marguerite Pepper Productions
THE PAPER ARCHITECT
Davy and Kristin McGuire and Perth International Arts Festival
TABAC ROUGE
Produced by Compagnie du Hanneton, presented by Sydney Festival

OPERA AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

BEST DIRECTION OF AN OPERA
DAVID MCVICAR
Faust (Opera Australia)
DAVID MCVICAR
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
LEIGH WARREN
Philip Glass Trilogy (State Opera of South Australia)
PAUL CURRAN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
ANNA DEVIN
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
ANNA STARUSHKEVYCH
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
NICOLE CAR
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
TARYN FIEBIG
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)


BEST FEMALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
CAITLIN HULCUP
Iphigenie en Tauride (Pinchgut Opera)
JENNIFER RIVERA
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
LATONIA MOORE
Aida – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (Opera Australia)
NICOLE CAR
Faust (Opera Australia)


BEST MALE PERFORMER IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN AN OPERA
CHRISTOPHER LOWREY
Faramondo (Brisbane Baroque)
SHANE LOWRENCEV
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)
TEDDY TAHU RHODES
Faust (Opera Australia)
WARWICK FYFE
The Flying Dutchman (Victorian Opera)


BEST MALE PERFORMER IN AN OPERA
ADAM DIEGEL
Madama Butterfly (English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Lithuanian National Opera)
CHRISTOPHER PURVES
The Perfect American (Brisbane Festival and Opera Queensland)
CLAUDIO SGURA
Tosca (Opera Australia)
MICHAEL FABIANO
Faust (Opera Australia)
TEDDY TAHU RHODES
Don Giovanni (Opera Australia)


BEST OPERA
FARAMONDO (Brisbane Baroque)
FAUST (Opera Australia)
MADAMA BUTTERFLY (English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Lithuanian National Opera)
THE PHILIP GLASS TRILOGY (State Opera South Australia)


BEST CHAMBER AND/OR INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE CONCERT
GOLDNER STRING QUARTET, MUSICA VIVA INTERNATIONAL CONCERT SERIES NATIONAL TOUR 2015
Goldner String Quartet for Musica Viva Australia
LES ARTS FLORISSANTS and LE JARDIN DES VOIX IN Â JARDIN Ã L’ITALIENNE
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House and Perth International Arts Festival
THE SIXTEEN
Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House, Perth International Arts Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Australian National University of Music, Llewellyn Hall
STEPHEN HOUGH IN RECITAL
Sydney Symphony Orchestra


BEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER 3
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
REFLECTIONS ON GALLIPOLI
Australian Chamber Orchestra
TAFELMUSIK’S HOUSE OF DREAMS
Musica Viva


BEST INDIVIDUAL CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCE
ASHER FISCH
Beethoven Festival (West Australian Symphony Orchestra)
CHRISTIAN TETZLAFF
Christian Tetlaff (Melbourne Recital Centre)
EMANUEL AX
The Beethoven Piano Concertos (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)
WILLIAM CHRISTIE
William Christie (Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney Opera House, and Perth International Arts Festival)

REGIONAL TOURING PRODUCTIONS


BEST REGIONAL TOURING PRODUCTION
FESTIVAL OF CIRCA
Circa
FOOD
Force Majeure and Belvoir
KELLY
Queensland Theatre Company
SONS & MOTHERS
Performing Lines and No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability

CHILDREN’S PRESENTATIONS


BEST PRESENTATION FOR CHILDREN
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS
Circa and Queensland Performing Arts Centre
HANS CHRISTIAN, YOU MUST BE AN ANGEL
Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne
PETE THE SHEEP
Monkey Baa Theatre Company
THE RABBITS
Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company, in association with West Australian Opera, cocommissioned
by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival

2015 HELPMANN AWARDS BESTOWED AWARD

BEST SPECIAL EVENT
PERTH INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL IN ASSOCIATION WITH ROYAL DE LUXE
The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of the Giants to the Streets of Perth

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

SUE NATTRASS AWARD™
ERIC ROBINSON

JC WILLIAMSON AWARD®
PAUL KELLY

BRIAN STACEY AWARD 2015
JESSICA GETHIN

Review: Like Me (Mongrel Mouth)

Venue: Merchants House (Sydney NSW), Jun 18 – Jul 11, 2015
Playwrights: Angela Blake, Charles Upton, Duncan Maurice, Moreblessing Maturure, Sharon Zeeman
Director: Duncan Maurice
Cast: Angela Blake, Adam Connelly, Ali Crew, Eli King, Moreblessing Maturure, Latisha Owens, Charles Upton, Ben Scales, Sharon Zeeman
Images by Chris Evans

Theatre review
Social media is probably the truest sign of our times, which means that our awareness of its manifold implications is not yet fully formed. We are overwhelmed by its swift evolutions and embroiled in its persistent intrusions, riding its waves of euphoria without a thorough understanding of what it all means, and more pressingly, its impact upon modern and future lives. Like Me delves into the technological manifestations of our narcissism to explore the worst aspects of our self-obsession, in a surreal language that articulates fluently our emotions and incoherent thoughts about this new slice and era of human history. The show is scathing and critical of selfie culture, finding ways to question its pervasive consumption, and exploring its dangers and famous fatalities. Without ever naming names, it discusses platforms and personalities that fuel the compulsive need for popularity, egomania and greed, thereby creating an updated artistic expression to the way we juxtapose the now classic relationship between capitalism and love.

Duncan Maurice’s direction is interested in the grotesque and morbid, yet a sickening cuteness is omnipresent. His work brings to the fore, a conflation of our deceptive and hypocritical style of contemporary communications, à la Jekyll and Hyde, that presents a very public face that betrays the truth behind our computerised selves. 9 characters, sensationally dressed by Alex PF Jackson to look like Teletubbies at a Comme des Garçons fashion show, frantically and maniacally scamper around us, feeding an absurd need for affirmation, slaves to a non-existing, imagined higher calling that demands their energy and allegiance.

Beautifully and innovatively created by set designers Gemma O’Nions and Louie Diamontaye, and lighting designer Christopher Page, the place is a mad house with players that are intimidating and intrusive, but we do not leave. It is pleasurable and seductive, and we comply. The cast is extraordinarily cohesive with its style, dialect and presence. They are one organism that pulses the same, even though individual personalities are brilliantly cultivated. Latisha Owens is frighteningly bold as Poppy, an ultra vivacious self-styled sex bomb of the internet whose torturous desperation dictates the tone of proceedings. Moreblessing Maturure portrays an adorable innocent Sarah-Jay , pure of spirit but nonetheless entangled and sadly corrupted. The performers are all wide eyed and entranced, intoxicated by tech, but their souls tell a different story, which we hear quite subconsciously in the thrilling soundscapes and music of David Herrero.

Scenes in Like Me can at times be repetitive, and its cataclysmic aura can become predictable, but its resonances catch you by surprise, and they hit home. The work offers a solution to the problems it rants about, but it feels futile. The pessimism we encounter, not only in the show, is overwhelming, but it is truthful. There is no easy answer to our predicament, but what the production does achieve is to put in perspective what our instincts know to be wrong in our culture today. It is complicated and complex, and this is no watered down interpretation of issues. How we progress beyond this point in time is anybody’s guess, but for now, there is no better snapshot on offer, of our online beings, warts and hashtags and all.

www.mongrelmouth.com

Review: Triassic Parq (Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre)

Triassic Parq Company 3   Pic Michael Francis.jpgVenue: Seymour Centre (Sydney NSW), Jun 17 – Jul 4, 2015
Book & Lyrics: Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, Steve Wargo
Music: Marshall Pailet
Director: Jay James-Moody
Cast: Mark Chamberlain, Keira Daley, Blake Erickson, Crystal Hegedis, Rob Johnson, Adèle Parkinson, Monique Sallé
Image by Michael Francis

Theatre review
There are two sides to every fight. In Triassiq Parq, we finally learn the truth about the dinosaurs in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and why they had run amok killing every human in sight, all those 22 years ago. It turns out nature had imposed its own ideas about gender and reproduction on the living exhibits, and along with the subsequent collapse of religion in the neo-Triassic community, all hell breaks loose. Clearly, absurd doesn’t even begin to describe it, but the madness of the contexts proves to work even better in the musical format than in a blockbuster adventure-thriller movie. Sure, there are no frightful moments of computer generated cartoonery here, but the level of hilarity being spawned would rival any attempt at filmic entertainment.

The production is a relentlessly comical one. Even though it takes itself seriously enough to display an impressive standard of professionalism, director Jay James-Moody unearths a great deal of inventiveness to ensure that the show is funny at every step of the way, and with a wicked but sophisticated sense of humour, he prevents the show from ever turning too unsavoury in light of the text’s extravagant silliness. Minor sacrifices are made in terms of the relationships between characters that could have been portrayed with more emotional depth, but it is a small price to pay for the genuine and incessant laughter it is able to manufacture.

Neil Shotter’s brilliant set design achieves an unexpected variety of spacial configurations that help make scene transitions dynamic and cohesive. It is not a lavish construction, but what it delivers is incredibly imaginative and very effective. Also contributing to the show’s success is its 4-piece band, headed by musical director Mark Chamberlain, as well as the work of sound designer Jessica James-Moody. The confidence and liveliness of what they present, along with its ability to coalesce all physical and visual elements on stage into an effervescent whole, is remarkable.

Performances from all members of cast is strong. They are entirely committed and unified in vision, and what they may lack in terms of star quality, they more than make up for with tenacity and skill. Blake Erickson is memorable as the Pastor (and also as Morgan Freeman), with a powerfully versatile voice, and a delightfully camp sensibility that stretches from wincing to wild, perfectly suited to the tone of the show. In the role of the curiously transgender T-Rex 2 is Adèle Parkinson, who attacks with a kind of outrageous abandonment that keeps us captivated at every turn. Parkinson’s singing connects as much as her comedy does, and we find ourselves enamoured with all that she brings to the stage. Leading man Rob Johnson plays the Velociraptor of Innocence, the dinosaur who declares it a beautiful day to be a woman, before disaster strikes. The vibrant and energetic Johnson is a precise, if slightly wooden, performer whose disciplines as a triple-threat serve him well in the part. His presence needs to grow larger for centre stage, but it is a warm one that makes him an easily liked personality.

There are few things as irritating as a musical that tries to convey deep and meaningful messages, and fails. Triassiq Parq is no such thing. It uses the musical format to bring joy and wonder to an eager crowd desperate to be divorced from reality, who for 90 minutes escapes into a world of childlike stupor in search of something extraordinary and light. Triassiq Parq is clever, mischievous, and dexterously executed. It is everything one could need at trying times.

www.squabbalogic.com.au