'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

31 August 2015


30th April 2015
Queensland Theater Company

'Brisbane' the new play by Matthew Ryan is brilliant. It is also the second locally written and created play I have seen this week. For two hours and 15 minutes I cried, mostly with laughter, but also with emotion. This is a huge and epic play about War in 1942 and how it affects a 14 year old boy who has a grand imagination, so much inexperience and a profound love of his big brother which he redirects towards an American soldier when 150,000 of them come to Brisbane along with General MacArthur. 
There are shootings and stabbings and scandal in Brisbane, riots, lots of silk stockings and a heavy dose of jealousy from the Australian soldiers who were paid less and still rough around the edges. There is a big story and a family in mourning, local brats teasing the gentler Danny played so perfectly and charismatically by the wonderful Dash Kruck whom I have seen and really grown to love in several plays and a cabaret. Beautiful and compelling Veronica Neave is his grief stricken mother and the tough and angry father is played by Hayden Spencer. The nine superb cast members apart from Dash play several roles each with brilliant and regular changes. It must have been busy back stage.

 The audience loved this work, responded enthusiastically throughout and as mentioned by others they even anticipated dialogue as you could hear murmured place names occasionally. This uniting in a spirit of familiarity and unity came to the fore when the entire audience sang happy birthday to cast member and newly 30 year old Matthew Backer during the curtain calls. Often you just had to nod or smile at the person sitting beside you. Music and sound by Guy Webster was a subtle, but so evocative blend with every action and word. A true score to boost the play. Nostalgia for some and just emotional for others.

During the Q&A that followed last night's performance there was a quite some discussion about could or would this play travel and continue. Yes it has special meaning to locals, but we must not forget that we are a big city of 3 million people. We have had many major events and we are known throughout the world. Always we are made familiar with the stories of other places in this world. Take for example the strife in Baltimore at the moment. We know about that place and it is a small town of 600,000. John Waters, Mink Stole and Divine hail from there. Do not think that our grand stories are not of interest to others. There were a huge group of students there and these stories from the past would have been as unfamiliar to them initially as to a non local. We must not underestimate the power of a well written and brilliantly performed piece of theatre to grab any audience by the mind and heart. Finishes Saturday so you still have a chance to see QTC at its best.. Thank you everyone.
I had gone to the play briefing on the 7th April for a preview discussion of what was to come :- "Tonight I went to a briefing for what is destined to be an epic new play, 'Brisbane' written by Matthew Ryan and starring the huge talent of the charismatic and endearing Dash Kruck. I managed to say hello to Dash again and get a sneak preview of the huge set. The lights are mounted 14 metres high which is a record for the Playhouse. The audience is going to identify with this image of Brisbane of 1942 when 96,000 Yanks came to town with General McArthur and ended up rioting against the put out Australian soldiers in what was known as the Battle Of Brisbane. This is part of the coming of age of young 14 year old Danny and of Brisbane itself. A classic at its birth. BTW that huge poster is of Dash Kruck flying the plane."

Boy & Girl

17th and 21 st January 2015
Oscar Theatre Company
Powerhouse Theatre
Last night we went to this awesome show. Like a huge broadway show there were 35 people on stage. Singers, dancers, aerialists, cheeky bits of flesh, cabaret at its best and an audience who cheered yelled and applauded for almost 2 hours. It began before it began when the sensational and thoroughly gorgeous dancer Tyrel Dulvarie tapped me on the shoulder to say hello. I also ran into him after the show and complimented him on being outstanding yet again. I have seen him on stage before. Then we were treated to some amazing voices, some gorgeous dancing and some raunchy cross gender comedy and pathos. I managed to also meet the wonderful talented Rune Nydal after the show and sent my profound congratulations to another fb friend Dan Venz who was still backstage between the two shows last night. I have seen Dan on stage so often this year and also in the audience.

There were so many outstanding performers like the awesome voice of Josh R H Daveta. It is a must see and the standard and breadth of this show is a cultural highlight so soon in the year. Sexy, Talented, Pro Equality, just plain brilliant and did I mention sexy and fleshy as hell.

 I wanted to go again before it finished so I did. When I returned to see it a second time I was besieged at my table by so many from the cast and also the director came to say hello. I ended up making friends with eleven cast members and have continued to see them so often on stage and attending heaps of theatrical events all year. Some are setting off to Europe and America to further their careers, some have joined top companies and all are so talented and gorgeous. It was quite a collection of top talents.
Some I met were the stunning dancer Tyrel Dulvarie, musical Dan Venz, Rune Nydal, personality plus Josh R H Daveta, Jack Carter, Christopher Joseph, Ethan Dean , golden voiced Garret Rueben Lyon yet another rising star, and the super ball of fun that is Adwan Dickson, super singer Ellen Reed and the physique himself Zachary Denman.
 This is just too too sexy for words. Ellen's soaring voice and bare bums.
Click this link below for the brilliant finale with full cast.

Peter Pan

Queensland Ballet
7th July 2015
I was so lucky and pleased to see the Queensland Ballet's production of Peter Pan. What a magical show and what delightful personalities on stage. Great sets and beautiful music of Elgar recorded by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Large and very beautiful cast and full houses almost every performance. There was a palpable lift you could feel in the audience when the super charming Rian Thompson took the stage as Peter Pann and the laughter and sighs began. The excitement and mood took off. Not just a dancer, but an actor whose charismatic cheek, innocence and humour gripped everyone's attention. There were some great characters amongst Captain Hook, the young James Hook and the exceptional pirates who included the marvelous and standout Jack Lister. So daring and perfectly done was the aerial ballet as Peter took to the air on several occasions to swoop, fly, spin, somersault and gracefully skip across the stage and soar far into the height of the large space before us. in fact Wendy, John and Michael also took flight. No space was unused. Thank you so much for a great two hours and 15 minutes. 
Rian Thompson as Peter Pan
Photographer David Kelly

Choreographer Trey McIntyre
Composer Sir Edward Elgar, arranged by Niel DePonte
With Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Andrew Mogrelia
Stagers Dawn Scannell and James Payne
Set Designer Thomas Boyd
Costume Designer Jeanne Button
Lighting Designer Christina R. Giannelli

My full page on the story and background of J M Barrie's 'Peter Pan' 
and the Five Llewelyn Davies Boys


Opera Queensland
24th and 31st July
Late July I twice saw Leonard Bernstein's Candide and what a show. Firstly I must get out of the way my one complaint. I sat in the front row to the right and for the first act I saw next to nothing except the backsides of three lovely cello players (orchestra on stage). a whole integral section of the performance space was obliterated as was the first level of the chorus. Cast members back blocked my view of the entire cast as well. After interval and some disgruntled words I was able to move to a better seat which shone a whole new light on the show. I have written to Opera Queensland about this.
I have been going to the opera since I was five so it was so refreshing to see something new to me. Half musical, half opera and all comedy, tragic, farcical fun. Take a bit of war, Eldorado, riches poverty, Venice Carnivale, Rape, Bayoneting, resurrection, lots of death and lots of jolly music with some tender moments as well. Bernstein must have had so much fun with this. There are outstanding songs like 'Glitter and be Gay' with those stratospheric high notes sung to absolute perfection by Amelia Farrugia and some melancholic songs of the wonderful David Hobson. What also led me to this my 41st show this year was the presence of the outstanding young people from the Queensland Conservatorium - Musical Theatre, Sarah Murr and Billy Bourchier, both of whom I have met and whom I have now seen three times this year and both will also be in Les Mis from October. They each had some star moments, agonisingly good and charismatic performences and they looked gorgeous. Such obvious star material which everyone is recognising. Not bad for truly brilliant talents so new. 
Now to the man who stole the show for me. Bryan Probets as the narrator is nothing short of stunning. In fact when he made his entrance in the big curly wig he looked really beautiful. His physicality, his wit, his timing and his power to have you glued to him is fantastic. I also discovered that he can sing. He has been this attention grabbing actor in other plays I have seen like his spontaneous scout routine in 'Australia Day' and audience interaction in 'As You Like It'. Bryan Probets is also in several films I have on DVD like The Great Gatsby, The Railway Man, Dabbreakers and Nick Cave's The Proposition.

I was heavily involved with The old Queensland Opera and the Australian Opera back in the early eighties and knew and entertained so many of the singers,directors etc and it is so wonderful to once again see people I know (just a little) on an operatic stage. There are a lot of people on stage making glorious music so the experience is worth it. There was a young Baritone Jon Maskell who was sensational. Rich in tone and what a future I expect to see.
Conductor Paul Kildea
Director Lindy Hume
Set and Costume Designer Bill Haycock
Lighting Designer Andrew Meadows
Choreographer Rosetta Cook
Sound Designer Murray Keidge
Video Designer Craig Wilkinson – optikal bloc
Chorus Master Narelle French

Candide David Hobson
Cunegonde Amelia Farrugia
Dr Pangloss/Narrator/Voltaire/Martin Bryan Probets
Vanderdendur/Governor/Captain Bradley Daley
Old Lady Christine Johnston 
Opera Queensland Chorus
Queensland Symphony Orchestra

30 August 2015

King Lear, Blood Brothers, Cyrano De Bergerac

King Lear
heartBeast  Boutique Theatre
15th August 2015

Probably my favourite Shakespeare play has always been King Lear as it was one of the plays I studied at school and I have seen some wonderful recorded productions over the years. The grand family tragedy, the usual good and evil and the in between, the descent into madness, the majesty corrupted, the backstabbing. So many characters that are nasty and those that are innocent, disguised, faithful and compassionate. Last nights final performance at heartBeast Boutique Theatre had a surprise or two. It was my first female 'Fool' played so wonderfully and energetically by Adrienne Costello. It really worked for me. I have had huge problems in the past with female 'Pucks' but this made sense even if unusual. Costumed in a patchwork outfit that for me hinted at the Harlequin's costume it looked right and we discussed after the show that it fitted with the so close relationship that existed between King and Fool. The idea behind the setting was the division of a large estate in New South Wales in the 1800's that is prone to cyclones and rough terrain juxtaposed with the ornate, flamboyant and richness of the grand costuming. Also the chill of Brisbane at this time of year made me smile when 'Edgar/Poor Tom' came out in his underwear and mud crying "Poor Tom's a cold." a brave actor indeed. Outstanding for me was new actor Isaac Barnes. What a wonderful voice he has and this young man should be watched. He has the looks, the physique and the talent that I expect will propel him forward in great haste. I had to shake his hand after the show to congratulate him on a brilliant performance. One final, although irrelevant thought that crossed my mind was that the exceedingly good looking Patrick Bell would be so suitable in some Molière. Just an idea.

Blood Brothers
Qld Conservatorium Musical Theatre
1st August 2015
Blood Brothers at the Queensland Conservatorium - Musical Theatre is a moving, perfectly directed, absolutely brilliantly acted piece of theatre with exceptional singing. I have not seen or even heard of this piece but I can see why it ran for over 10,000 performances in London. Joyful, exuberant, playful, sincere, sad and eventually tragic it had me in tears. The talent emanating from this amazing training centre is quite overwhelming. I have seen graduates and even some not yet graduated in very major productions here and with more to come this year. Under the direction of Australian born (correction Newcastle UK born) International director Ian Good the attention to detail left me with not a moment that was not enhanced and true. It is basically a 3rd year production but it was pleasing to see the inclusion of 2nd year students that had impressed me in a couple of other shows I have seen this year. The multi talented and versatile Michael Boulus and the energetic and charming Isaac Lindley were just two. Matthew Semple was a great and loving father Mr Lyons as well as some other short roles, and the beaming voice of Narrator Jacqueline McLaren was a stand out as was Tash Walker the compassionate Mrs Johnstone. However the title stars were just brilliant. Tim Carroll as Eddie was outstanding. He was the nicest guy in the world, faithful, endearing and the audience just warmed to everything he did. They laughed with his awkwardness and felt for his loneliness. As the brother Mickey, Alex Woodward is a star who gave a performance of such commitment it was breathtaking. From the seven year old, full of life and wonder to the horrifying conclusion when he has fallen apart it was acting on a large canvas. He was in tears as he took his bows. It took a lot out of him and us as he threw himself into the exhausting role with nothing held back. Probably school policy that they only took one bow as they are still in training, but the audience just kept cheering and I just kept crying. Bravo all and anyone reading this should go. Great great singing, superb acting and thoroughly convincing

Cyrano De Bergerac
22 August 2014
I went to see the students at ACPA presenting a full on, intensely entertaining production of Cyreno de Bergerac. Sit in the front and get up close and personal with some truly wonderful talent. There are several young actors that have such assurance of success. Occasionally you see people who just overflow with that charismatic aura that glues an audience to them. ACPA is one of those institutions that is fostering, training and recognising talent that will enrich us in Australia. I know a few graduates who are stupendous and so much more is to come. I really had a great night as did the rest of the audience. It is about entertainment and it was there in bucket loads. Thanks to all. 

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel
Conservatorium Theatre 
20th August 2015

Hansel and Gretel is pure delight. Last night at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University I saw Engelbert Humperdinck's 1893 opera which is jam packed full of lush, melodic music with the outstanding orchestration so Wagnerian in scale at times played by the great forces and brilliant sound of the Conservatorium Orshestra under the direction of German born conductor Johannes Fritzsch who had first conducted this opera for Opera Australia in 1992. Wonderful singing and spot on acting, great set and lighting by always illuminating Jason Glenwright made for a truly enjoyable evening. Once again I was so impressed by the beautiful resonant sound of Samuel Piper as the Father. He impressed me in 'The Coronation of Poppea' recently and yet again I thought this is a voice I hope to see grow into a regular on our stages. 
The exceptionally well received Witch of tenor Phillip Prendergast was laugh out loud fun and also vocally inspired. Everyone knows he is going far. Phillip I had too seen in the recent Poppea and he starred in that. 
Harking back to that Monteverdi there was a small role, but outstandingly beautiful voice that grabbed me and that was Cameron Taylor, who I was really delighted to finally meet and chat to a couple of times in the foyer. So great to hear that he is continuing on to study at the Lisa Gasteen Opera School next year. This is like a circle as I recall so well seeing Lisa as a student at the conservatorium across the river back in the late 70's and how outstanding she was before she embarked on a huge international career which took her to Bayreuth and the Met etc I have seen her mammoth performances several times and now she is sharing that experience.It is a pity her students may not have had the pleasure of her Don Carlo or Force Of Destiny let alone her Brunhilda.

I did notice that in the programme the conductor referring back to his previous outing with this opera believed that the Elija Moshinsky production back in 1992 was the first fully staged production in Australia. Well I remember one by the old Queensland Opera back around 1980 at Her Majesty's Theatre with Margaret Russell, Luise Napier, Helen Sinden, Patricia Kelly, Margaret Noonan and a fabulously funny Gloria Eiser as the witch flying across the stage cackling. The Australian Opera production came here in 1996 under the auspices of Opera Queensland and that had such luminaries as con graduate and international Clare Gormley as Gretel and the astounding star Suzanne Johnston as Hansel and a fun note is Warwick Adeney (current concert Master of the Qld Symphony) was the concert master of the Qld Philharmonic (later to be absorbed into Qld symphony). I still have that programme. Anyway there was a thunderous applause and cheering at the end from the full house. 

Photos by

The Perfect American - Philip Glass

The Perfect American
Philip Glass
13th September 2014
The Perfect American which premièred at Teatro Real Madrid and the exact production now showing in Brisbane. I went to the final Dress Rehearsal last night and it is opera on a grand scale and a production style not often seen on stage here. It is the first Philip Glass I have seen live on stage and sitting quite close to the beautifully balanced and exquisite playing of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra I was in love with the orchestration, the lyricism and the ingenuity of the sound. No show stopping arias, but powerful singing and some moving chorus work by the, oh so strong mass of singers of Opera Queensland, also augmented by dancers from Expressions Dance company. The collaboration of arts groups here is raising the bar of theatre and music in this town. Several productions this year have seen the joining forces of several companies that has brought exposuer for the best of the best. Watching the mechanical giant gantry's/movie cameras, ingenious projections and the brilliant clothing form 60 or more years ago is a trip worth taking. It really is a must see for music, and stage lovers. Performed in the Concert Hall with the addition of a temporary Proscenium gave a huge breadth to the stage. Of course I have to thank my first boss Lee and a whole bunch of viola players Anna and her husband and Helen for the tickets. I was quite thrilled to see a whole bunch of my fb friends there as well. Anthony, Timothy and Leigh.

Some additional news about Kanen Breen who sang the role of Andy Warhol in this production.

Being invited to perform the national anthem at a major sporting event is a proud moment for a singer. However pride turned to disappointment for Australian opera singer Kanen Breen, who was subjected to homophobic abuse after performing the Australian national anthem at a major Basketball match on Saturday evening. Breen, who recently wowed audiences as the Beadle in Victorian Opera’s Sweeney Todd, delivered a faultless performance of Advance Australia Fair at the FIBA Oceania Championships on Saturday evening at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, where Australia’s Boomers faced off against New Zealand in the first of two matches in the final. Singing to a capacity crowd of 15,000 spectators as well as a live nationwide television audience on Channel 9, Breen wore a rainbow coloured tie for the event to show solidarity for the campaign for marriage equality in the wake of the Government’s decision last week not to allow Members of Parliament a conscience vote on the matter. As the applause died down following his performance, an unidentified male spectator shouted “faggot” at Breen. The homophobic slur was audible on the television broadcast, with Breen describing the offensive jibe as “clear as a gunshot.” - See more at: http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/homophobic-slur-mars-kanen-breens-national-anthem#sthash.RJ0ljhTb.dpuf

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights
Shake and Stir Theater Company
4th October 2014
Wuthering Heights at the Cremorne theatre starred the extremely dashing Ross Balbuziente as Heathcliffe and some very beautiful, elegant, themed costumes by Leigh Alexander Buchanan (seen below). Quite an impressive production with such a stylish big set amazing lighting and projections, striking music and (spoiler so don't read) a huge thunder and lightning storm on stage with drenching rain (yes it was pouring). Gerry Connolly looked amazing and imposing with a quite daunting role as the nanny/narrator with a lot of dialogue to try and get out with an accent. I had hoped they could have stayed on stage a little longer for the ovation. A handsome cast as 'Shake and Stir Theatre Co.' are. So busy and so wonderful. 

7 Deadly Sins

7 Deadly Sins
Expressions Dance Company
21st August 2015
I was lucky to get to see Expressions Dance Company new Natalie Weir ballet '7 Deadly Sins' last night. Central is the man Thomas Gundry Greenfield exposed to the sins as they strip away their ancient rich golden incarnation to be bare neutral unjudged temptations that we all know. Thomas is one huge dancer. He looks like a 6 foot 4 Rugby player. I think this is the third time I have previously seen him on stage in Expression's 'When Time Stops' 2013 and Bangarra's 'Patyegarang' 2014. He has such a varied background of sports, street performance, film etc. Visually imposing is also the very striking Benjamin Chapman whom I have also seen in the remarkable piece 'When Time Stops'. Composition by Darrin Verhagen was percussive, melodic, rhythmic and powerful. 

Facebook Page for Expressions Dance Company 

The evening ended with a standing ovation and a reception that I was not invited to. Pity. I do love sucking up to artists, thanking them and telling them how good they are. This became so praised as one of the most expressive pieces mounted here.
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