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

29 January 2016

Bloody Carrie

Carrie The Musical
Visy Theatre Powerhouse
Wax Lyrical Productions
23rd January 2016
What happens when you have a city overflowing with talent, and acting and music schools adding more great talent to the mix with glorious regularity. Well in the best tradition of the young Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney you shout "Lets put on a show" (you have to go back to black and white films if you are too young to recognise). Well this is what has happened again in Brisbane with the creation of Wax Lyrical Productions and director Zoe Tuffin and producers Shane Pike and Joe Kelly's show 'Carrie The Musical' which I saw last night at the BRISBANE POWERHOUSE with Michelle Boyd and Phil . Sold out yet again and another standing ovation for some powerhouse singing, agonisingly good acting and a great production. 
There is a musical director/keyboards in town who has such amazing talent and I have seen or heard so many times in the last year that in the not too distant future Dominic Woodhead will be referred to as Maestro. Endurance, powerful playing and tight adaptable supplement to the high caliber singers is his forte from my observations. This appreciation is backed up by everyone I speak to. Several concerts and performances at the Conservatorium and Heathers The Musical as well.

 Sophie Perkins evolution as Carrie was quite spellbinding and her voice had all the fear, confusion and explosiveness of this victim of bullying and it was she that led to the standing ovation last night by a super enthusiastic audience. As her wildly religious mother Jacqui Devereux was a sensation. A voice so powerful and warmly melodic brought cheers several times. All the singers had their individual moments to give a glimpse of the amazing talent I have enjoyed over and over since the beginning of 2015. I caught up with the astoundingly beautiful Georgina Hopson after her brilliant and sympathetic performance which justified her being the only one left standing. Such a brilliant voice I have grown to love so much since Pirates and Into The Woods last year, well actually since the first moment I heard her. Oliver Samson has been a favourite since I was convinced he sang just for me at a Con concert last year and it was wonderful to catch up before he heads off to Japan in a week for a 14 month contract performing. 
Dan Venz was there as choreographer and it was exactly a year since I saw him on stage for the first of several times. Non stop workers and contributing in so may ways to theatrical life in Brisbane. At last I caught up with the wonderful Thomas Davis and what a charming performer even though he was a particular bastard in the show. I had only heard him sing on Youtube before and it was sensational as he has been so busy with tours for shake & stir theatre co and Opera Queensland. Stephen Hirst has skipped from prince last year to teacher, but thankfully after being wiped out by Carrie's telekinesis he was well enough to shake hands after the show.
Once again Jason Glenwright brought his considerable magic to lighting the show and this intimate venue seemed to grow in size last night as they made use of every available space including the aisles, the back stage and occasionally where my feet were. The first person I spoke to after the show was Rune Nydal whom I also first met a year ago at the same theatre, singer dancer and lovely guy and so great to catch up yet again. I think I missed chatting to Tim Carroll, Jessica Kate Ryan and Alex Woodward but I was happily having a couple of beers so anything was possible. Tim and Alex were particularly memorable last year in 'Blood Brothers' which was a stunning piece of drama as well as music. At the bar I also ran into Joel Devereux who did the photos and programme cover, Lewis Jones the wonderful director/producer who has worked with many of these artists and once again Anthony De Marco whom I have yet to see on stage as he is studying at UQ and not on my bus route. And I had a brief chat with Michael Mandalios who was enjoying the show and 'being polite?' Looking forward to seeing him and others as they embark on year three at the Con.
 Me and cast members above and below
Music by: Michael Gore
Lyrics by: Dean Pitchford
Book by: Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on the novel by: Stephen King
Directed by: Zoë Tuffin
Music Director: Dominic Woodhead
Choreographed by: Dan Venz
Lighting Designed: Jason Glenwright

Carrie White: Sophie Perkins
Margaret White: Jacqui Devereux
Sue Snell: Georgina Hopson
Tommy Ross: Alex Woodward
Chris Hargensen: Tori Bailey
Billy Nolan: Thomas Davis
Miss Gardner: Chloe-Rose Taylor
Mr Stephens: Stephen Hirst
Norma: Jacqueline McLaren
Frieda: Pia Frangiosa
Helen: Jessica Kate Ryan
Freddy: Oliver Samson
George: Tim Carroll
Stokes: Rune Nydal
I am thrilled to know around 18 people involved in this production

18 January 2016

Heathers: The Musical

Tuesday 12th January 2016
The Playhouse QPAC
 Front row and centre for Heathers The Musical last night had lots of advantages. I didn't miss a thing. I even got terrorised by an angry Heather (Libby Asciak in red below) when she came off stage, sat beside me and tried to stop me applauding one of the other characters with a stare and grabbing my hand. That was fun. 
Its a quite lengthy evening and never stops or has a dull moment no doubt thanks to the direction of Trevor Ashley and the full on talent on stage. Mostly fairly recent graduates of several schools throughout the country including WAAPA which has been popping up in my programmes so often lately and of course NIDA and also Dominic Woodhead from Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. I met and congratulated Dominic after the show and thanked him for his assistant keyboards for the fabulous Bev Kennedy or Miss Bev as they call her. They have endurance to be able to create such a huge orchestral backing for the full on show. As promised I met up with Bev after and got or gave a hug and a kiss while we chatted. She is quite a sensational star of musical direction and accompaniment and a beautiful and kind woman.
On stage were the astoundingly good looking Stephen Madsen who comes not only with great voice and charismatic acting, but a leading man 'cleft chin'; Stephen McDowell whom I had the great pleasure of meeting at the stage door afterwards and had such a nice chat and congratulations on his Andy Warhol like wig in one scene: 
Jakob Ambrose had a ball with his fellow jock/father/ lover and victim Vincent Hooper as they had so many costume changes which often involved white undies slightly covering their fabulous, been to the gym, bodies, Leigh Sleightholme went from rocker to father with some ease. 

Then we have the girls, the Heathers and the Veronica of Jaz Flowers. Huge voiced Jaz Flowers is a force to be reckoned with, a personality to follow and I almost said hello outside as she was standing beside me, but I am still not doing well on the going out alone stakes: Kirby Burgess as lead Heather is everything a school queen bitch should be, she can command with a glance lead with a raised eyebrow and command without challenge, but then she becomes a ghost. She was outstanding. Also on stage were Erin Clare, Libby Asciak mentioned above, Lauren McKenna who was a particular favourite with her two opposite characters and great voice, Michelle Barr, Rebecca Hetherington, all drawn with individual conviction. It is hard to praise one person over another because so much depends on the role they are lucky enough to get. Each part makes the wonderful whole.
People left with smiles on their face, singing songs they may have heard for the first time and thanking everyone for being there. I was so pleased to run into Benjamin Hambley another graduate from the con, congratulate him on the last performance I saw of his and met his friend another past student just returned from OS. It is great to watch how close all the grads are as they support each other in everything they do. They are so close. I also spoke to director Lewis Jones who was equally unfamiliar with the piece. I loved it all,said a couple of hellos and then got my bus. I would go and see it. This is part of a national tour.
Cast: Jaz Flowers, Kirby Burgess, Stephen Madsen, Erin Clare, Libby Asciak, Lauren McKenna, Vincent Hooper, Jakob Ambrose, Michelle Barr, Rebecca Hetherington, Stephen McDowell, Leigh Sleightholme

Director: Trevor Ashley 
Choreographer: Cameron Mitchell 
Musical Director: Bev Kennedy 
Designers: Emma Vine with Eamon D’arcy 
Costume Design: Angela White 
Lighting Design: Gavan Swift

Book, Music and Lyrics by LAURENCE O’KEEFE & KEVIN MURPHY
Based on the film by DANIEL WATERS

Roald Dahl's ' George's Marvellous Medicine'

Saturday 9th January 2016
Cremorne Theatre QPAC
Shake & Stir Theatre Company
 The cast and crew
Roald Dahl's - 'George's Marvellous Medecine' opened last night at the Cremorne Theatre at QPAC This is the first family show I have seen by the brilliant shake & stir theatre co and what a joyous fun and sensational night of theatre it was. This is a family show which runs three times a day for 34 performances for the kids and their parents (all 12,000 ticketed) during the school holidays, but if you are an adult do not be afraid. Never have I imagined that such amazing theatre is served up for the young impressionable and hopefully theatre goers of the future. If only fare of this professionalism was presented when I was young. I still caught the bug at age 5 but shows like this will guarantee audiences into the distant future. 
Audience arriving.
The huge and impressive set is a constant whirl of rotating brilliance, surprises and coordination thanks to the stage managers Janni and Nicole. Colour and movement non stop with the really truly magic lighting of Jason Glenwright synchronised to perfection with the absolutely perfect non stop sound design of Guy Webster. This all worked to the millisecond with the full on, no holds barred cast of Bryan Probets, Nicholas Skubij, Nelle Lee, Johnny Balbuziente and the surprisingly young Granny of Leon Cain. 

Directing this hysterical mix of hyperactivity, poisonous goo, inflating nasty Grans farts and all things fun was Ross Balbuziente. I had the great pleasure of meeting the proud and helpful Balbuziente parents, actor Barbara Lowing along with playwright Katherine Lyall-Watson whose work Motherland I will be seeing in April, fabulous performer and costume designer Leigh Alexander Buchanan who is becoming one of my treasured friends I see so often at the theatre and I met up with director Michael Futcherr who will be directing one of Shake & Stir's exciting productions later this year. Also a hug from the special Rosemary Walker was so nice to have. It was my first time to be invited up to the rooftop reception area at QPAC for an opening night party and what a gorgeous venue and view. With a glass or two of red i wandered around shaking hands with everyone I could and had a ball.
The Cremorne is a lovely venue of 310 seats so if you can get a ticket I highly recommend you do. It is fun it is glorious to look at, it is a great time at the theatre and you will laugh and start your year with a smile on your face. Yes there are enough references that kept the adults laughing out loud from beginning to end.

Director: Ross Balbuziente 
Designer: Josh McIntosh 
Sound Designer: Guy Webster 
Lighting Designer: Jason Glenwright 

Featuring: Johnny Balbuziente, Leon Cain, Nelle Lee, Bryan Probets and Nick Skubij. 

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