Review: The Cranston Cup FInal

by Emily Elise

Theatre Sports, Enmore Theatre 24th November 2012.

Improvisation is a scary beast. To face it, one might have great triumph and be heralded as the improv- slayer, on the other hand the beast could devour you whole in front of a packed theatre. This is why I love going to watch the best of the best battle it out.

I had butterflies for what I was about to witness. I wanted it to be amazing, I wanted to watch and celebrate success and I hoped that I was not about to witness embarrassing failure… now I want everyone to breathe a sigh of relief. The Cranston Cup Final at the Enmore Theatre on Saturday night will probably be responsible for a few more smile wrinkles in my old age.

Choosing the theatre sport games they wished to play such as an ‘epic’ scene, a poetry rollercoaster or just “a scene with canned goods” , each team was also given another stimulus ranging from an exotic location to free reign with an audience member’s text messages. The audience was taken on a journey through an alphabetic gondola ride, the ‘best day ever’, a Catholic confession and quite a few man snogs, whilst scores from five judges accumulated to decide the winner. Big congratulations to the winners of the Cranston Cup ‘Mother Father’, but with only a couple of points between the rest, all the players deserved the rumbling applause they received throughout the whole show.

If you have never seen theatre sports and don’t know what I am going on about, check out http://www.improaustralia.com.au which has all the upcoming shows and workshops etc. I cannot recommend getting out to one of their shows more. Bring your friends, your Mum, your neighbour, your Partner or anyone! You’re guaranteed a laugh a minute (at least).

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Man of La Mancha Auditions

Auditions will be held in Early December for Berowra Musical Society’s 2013 production of Man of La Mancha.

Rehearsals will commence late January 2013, on Monday and Thursday nights at Berowra Community Centre, and the shows will be in May, at the same venue.

For dates and full details, go to www.bmsi.org.au.

NARNIA musical auditions this week – EUCMS

Narnia is the musical adaptation of the beloved children’s classic ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,’ with all its memorable animal, mythological and horrible characters which the four Pevensie children meet such as Mr Tumnus, Mr & Mrs Beaver, The White Witch and of course Aslan.

The script is its own original condensed version of the novel, bookmarked by the Professor Kirk’s Manor and the adventure of the four children into the world of Narnia in between, expanding on the themes, character’s motivations and relationships that author CS Lewis so well presented.

It contains a great scope for imagination in its set, lighting and costume design, magically transforming the ‘spare room’ into a forest, capturing the love Mr Tumnus had for the former summer days, asking the audience to witness the miraculous arrival of Spring and celebrating the freeing of the Witch’s frozen prisoners.

The show’s simple and elegant score, written primarily for children’s theatre, asks you to engage your imagination with “Doors and Windows,” and embrace destiny with “All Of These” but not to get too “Hot and Bothered”, rather welcome honesty “From the Inside Out,” and be deeply moved in “A Field of Flowers,” all while sinking your teeth into “Turkish Delight.”

Where you know the musical or not, if you love the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and have ever wanted to visit Narnia, we would love to see you audition this week.

If you would like to contact the Production Team, get further information or get access to the audition material, please click here: http://narnia.eucms.org.au/

Clare Burgess – Director

www.eucms.org.au

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Review: Sidekicks

By Erica Brennan

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Sidekicks is a very funny new Australian funny play by Stephen Vagg executed with finesse by Emily Rose Brennan and Dan Illic. The opening moments has the audience addressed directly with a very romantic marriage proposal by CB (Illic). She is pretending to be Hunter (Male Romantic Lead) explaining why Robin (Female Romanic Lead) can’t possibly fly off to marry that jerk when he –Hunter- is still in love with her. Enter Mac, our self proclaimed sidekick, who quickly puts a damper on CB’s grand gesture by explaining that as they are both sidekicks according to predetermined rules of being a sidekick they cant interfere in their romantic leads lives- at least in THAT way. Mac is Hunter’s side kick, CB is Robins. CB refuses to accept this and we are then taken back to the beginning of the story. What followed was a delightful and heartfelt hour of excellent theatrical work all round.

Sidekicks is a bare-bones theatre production. The only set pieces are a bench and a few whit screens for our performers to disappear behind while ‘time is passing’ or they are throwing on another characters wig. Each persona is played to its hilarious edge while still showing real moments of human vulnerability. Now bare bones it may have been but the performance wants for nothing with performers like… caring the audience along for the ride while clearly enjoying themselves. There genuine expression of the clownish pathtic had you falling in love with both of them again and again even when they behaved badly.

The script is easy to listen to but very intelligent and obviously well informed in all the factors that create a good romcom. Not just because Sidekicks’ story IS an excellent rom com story but it is intelligent and lithe enough to talk about itself as a rom com. It is both self referential and plays with the ‘fourth wall’ which I found surprising and quite charming. This is a fantastic achievement for the writer Stephen Vagg who is able to guide us through delicate emotional storytelling to hilarious slapstick awkwardness and back again without batting an eye. The sassy audience addresses, simple and effective directing and a cheeky sex scene, give this piece a wonderfully rounded feel. If you are a fan of romcoms, sitcoms or just coms in general go see this play!

I took my housemate who is an absolute sitcom fanatic. She is something of a connoisseur I would say. Now she thought it was one of the best pieces of theatre she had seen in a long time and was positively beaming as we crowed into the tiny lift to exit the 505 theatre. Can’t get a better recommendation than that. Get to it!

Sidekick Is showing at the Old 505. Click here for tickets and venue information.

Review: Great Expectations

By Erica Brennan

Great Expectations is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens.

This adaptation by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan was Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and brought beautifully to life by Bakehouse Theatre.

A beautiful chorus piece where we follow young Pip through his rise to gentlemanhood from apprentice blacksmith and his chasing of cold hearted love Estelle. Bakehouse theatre have done a sterling job and I saw it with opening night jitters! I was quite confused for the first 10 minutes of the play, partly because I didn’t know the story (never read Dickens) partly because the cast member plays out the inner monologue of main character Pip in a tag team style. A line here a sentence there, a crossing of paths and back to the first speaker.

Never fear, director John Harrison doesn’t treat you like an idiot and eventually I got through it and was taken on a stimulating ride through dickens England.

The nostalgic charm of the era was captured beautifully by the design. All props and set pieces were tucked inside various suitcases. All one had to do was snap open the lock and viola a kitchen, a lawyer’s office, a bachelors pad was at our actors disposal.

The opening moments of suitcase play were particularly stunning -but I won’t give it away. GO SEE IT. My only wish was that these extraordinary design pieces were placed a bit more centre stage. I was right down the front and could only catch glimpse of the truly incredible feat it was to have crafted each one individually.

Ducking and weaving their way through this beautiful design was a cast of no less than 15 actors. What a fabulous and unfortunately rare thing to enjoy! 15 bodies all of them dressed in matching bracers white shirts and demure pants, marching all over the space, performing crowd scenes, getting into energetic fights and singing us beautiful songs!

Bakehouse has truly exhibited one of the strengths of independent theatre* in this production of Great Expectations: a large, dedicated, highly skilled cast. And this is one of the things that perhaps Bakehouse Theatre does extremely well. They are able to assemble large highly skilled and dedicated cast that synergise exceptionally well with the text and each other. I saw their Metamorphosis earlier this year at PACT and while unimpressed with the text I was absolutely mesmerised by the ensemble. I haven’t seen such well oiled casts of double digits outside of Acting school lately and Bakehouse sure are bringing it.

I really do hope that the company continues to grow and cultivate their ensemble, it is such a great strength of them as a producing body and collective of artists. If you are looking for a gently ambitious, joyful, crowded, burst of energy please go check out Great Expectations the production at its very least gave me access to a story I probably wasn’t going to read in its original form anytime soon and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you had always planned on getting better acquainted with Dickens then go treat yourself to a live performance of it. Great Expectations is still playing it’s an energising live experience and well worth the evening out!

* I say this is a strength of independent theatre because having worked with budgets it’s a thin stretch to try and pay so many actors on equity minimum and thus we see it less than I would like in a ‘professional’ realm. I think I am right in assuming that all involved would be on profit share or small honouree payments. Without money being the deciding factor they have committed to the production for a much more important reason (I won’t be presumptuous enough as to assume I know this reason) and bottom line I’m glad they do it. I wish these artists were all able to make a living from what they do but I really am humbled that they created this rare experience for me to watch.

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Review: Dusty at the Zenith Theatre

By Shelley Frame

I had heard a lot of good reports about previous Chatswood Musical Society productions, and Dusty well and truly lived up to my expectations.

Originally written in Australia by John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow, it is a relatively new musical having only been performed for the first time in 2006. I had only limited knowledge of the plot and was happy to learn quite a bit. This musical is based on the life of Dusty Springfield, The White Queen of Soul. Her songs have inadvertently become woven through our entire subconscious. She is up there with Elvis and the Beatles, we all know the words of the songs, and each have individual memories attached to them, but I had no idea how many of the songs that I had first come across in movies were actually her creation. And without spoilers, I really had no idea that she lived such an amazing life.

Linda Hale debuts with CMS as Dusty , and right from her first song ‘I Only Want to Be with You’ right through to her last, more than 32 in all, her voice stays strong and never falters. With such strength, it was quite amazing to hear it partnered so beautifully with Gabriella Glenn as Mary. Neither over powered the other and both were quite distinct. Gabriella Glenn as the innocent and young Mary was a perfect casting; her presence on stage was that of a child but never lacking, she wandered through the entire musical, for most of it as the alter ego within Dusty.

The energy of the entire cast was quite exhausting for me in the audience. Miriam Ramsey as Reno, proves this, she first entered and bounced and danced her way down the stairs to end in a very intimate duet with Dusty, more than just myself was envious of the way she could move so gracefully and confidently across a stage, and all in heels!

Katherine Wall as Peg and Raymand Cullen as Rodney are at times a comedy relief for what could easily have been a far too intense script that wouldn’t have matched the pop of the music.

Musical Director Davis Lang and Assistant Musical Director Hayden Barltrop, could not be faulted. The band that was partly hidden behind props and backdrops performed unobtrusively and seamlessly, I still have no idea how many of them were back there. This may not seem terribly complementary, but having seen many musical performances overwhelmed by overzealous musicians, it was a relief to be able to appreciate the music, the vocals and the acting as separate parts and how they layered together so well. My only criticism would have to be that Hayden Barltrop’s cameo of Pet Shop Boys lead singer Neil Tennant was far too short and left me wanting to see him perform more. But that’s for another CMS production!

Dusty is being performed at The Zenith Theatre Chatswood

Friday 2nd November 8:00pm
Saturday 3rd November 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday 4th November 5:00pm
Wednesday 7th November 8:00pm
Thursday 8th November 8:00pm
Friday 9th November 8:00pm
Saturday 10th November 2:00pm & 8:00pm

Book Online or call 02 9777 7547

Ticket Prices
Adult $35

Concessions/Students $30

Child Under 16 $25


Production Team
Fiona Kelly – Director / Co-Choreographer
David Lang – Musical Director
Andrew del Popolo – Co-Choreographer
James Wallis – Assistant Director
Hayden Barltrop – Assistant Musical Director/Repititeur
Laura-Beth Wood – Production Manager

Theatre Junkies welcomes Entertainment Blue Mountains!

Theatre Junkies is pleased to welcome our newest partner Theatre Company, Entertainment Blue Mountains. All future posts from, or relating to, Entertainment Blue Mountains will be easily located by their new category listing on the left hand menu of this site. You will also find the banner add and link for Entertainment Blue Mountains on our Theatre Companies page.

We look forward to helping Entertainment Blue Mountains promote their future theatrical productions!