6 children dressed as 19th century orphans
Calendar, July 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: Oliver!

12 – 20 July @ Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana ·
Presented by Laughing Horse Productions ·

Consider yourself at home with the award-winning Broadway musical Oliver! at the Koorliny Arts Centre, ideal for audiences of all ages. Presented by Laughing Horse Productions and directed by Adam Salathiel, the show is based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist and follows the adventures of a young orphan in 19th century England.

The title character encounters numerous setbacks in his quest to find security and happiness, after being sold from an orphanage to a cruel undertaker and then falling in with a gang of young pickpockets.

Oliver! plays at 7.30pm July 12, 13, 19 and 20 with 2pm matinees July 13 and 20. Tickets are $25, $23 concession and $20 children – book at  www.koorliny.com.au/oliver or on 9467 7118.

The Koorliny Arts Centre is on Sulphur Road, Kwinana.

*All photos were shot on location at Smirks Cottage, thanks to the Kwinana Heritage Group.

More info:
http://www.koorliny.com.au/oliver

Pictured: Please sir, can I have some more? Oliver! features Madison Couzens, left, Annik Spack, Lacey Allen, Duncan Ferguson, Sophie Kirk and Amber Salathiel as some very hungry children.  Credit: Zoe Jay

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One Heart One Voice
Calendar, June 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: One Heart One Voice

28 & 29 June @ Subiaco Arts Centre ·
Presented by Voiceworks ·

‘One Heart One Voice’ is an original musical composed for three choirs, soloists, a band and a community radio station. It features the combined abilities of the Voiceworks and VoiceworksPLUS community choirs.

Witness their journey as they rehearse for their Big Sing Competition and deal with issues of young love, remembering their music, a lack of male singers and confidence, fundraising, childminding, old age and bad pianos. If you’ve ever sung in a choir or been part of any community group, then you’ll laugh and cry along with the progress of this wonderful community choir.

Written by Jackson Griggs and Maggie Wilde West

Friday June 28 – 8.00PM
Saturday June 29 – 3.00PM
Saturday June 29 – 8.00PM

Showcasing the talents of soloists Liam Ahul, Jackson Griggs, Kristina Lang, Peter Martis, Gavin Nicklette,  Julia Schwab and Maggie Wilde West. Performing on stage are the choirs Voiceworks, VoiceworksPLUS with an audio appearance by Strike a Chord. The performance features a very special guest, Perth entertainment  legend Jenny Seaton, Afternoons presenter on Curtin FM.

More info
W: www.voiceworks.org.au
E:  info@voiceworks.org.au

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Boy and girl, holding hands across table in cafe
Calendar, July 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: Grease

4 – 7 July @ Don Russell Performing Arts Centre,Thornlie ·
Presented by Art in Motion Theatre Company ·

Take a trip back in time to Rydell High and get ready for some summer loving and greased lightning this July.

The Art in Motion Theatre Company is presenting the ever-popular musical Grease at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, directed by Lys Tickner. Set in 1959, Grease follows the senior year of 10 teenagers as they navigate the complexities of peer pressure, politics, personal core values and love.  At the heart of the story is the romance between gangster Danny Zuko and sweet new girl Sandy Dumbrowski – after a secret summer affair, their chance of continuing love is more complicated now they’re back at school.

The 2pm performance on July 6 is a fancy dress sing-a-long show with audience members encouraged to dress up in their favourite Grease outfits and join in with the popular songs.

Grease plays at 8pm July 4, 5 and 6; 2pm July 6 and 5pm July 7. Tickets are $30, $25 concession – book at www.trybooking.com/BBZZD.

The Don Russell Performing Arts Centre is at Lot 13, Murdoch Road, Thornlie.

More info:
www.trybooking.com/BBZZD

Pictured: Michaela Sheehy, left, as Sandy and Jackson Britza as Danny. Credit: Montanna Tickner

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Male and female ballroom dancers rehearsing with reflection in mirror
Calendar, June 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: Strictly Ballroom The Musical

15 – 22 June @ The Regal Theatre, Subiaco ·
Presented by WAAPA ·

Strictly Ballroom The Musical will quick step, cha cha and samba its way into your heart when it dances on to the stage of the Regal Theatre as WAAPA’s highly anticipated mid-year musical from June 15 to 22.

Based on Baz Luhrmann’s much-loved 1992 film that became a global sensation, Strictly Ballroom The Musical breathes gleeful new theatrical life into the tale of the maverick ballroom dancer who just wants to do his own steps and the shy young Spanish dancer he takes on as his rookie partner.

Defying both convention and their families in their quest to win the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship, Scott and Fran discover that to be a winner, your steps don’t need to be strictly ballroom. This sequined, sparkling extravaganza features larger-than-life characters, spectacular dance routines and much-loved songs from the hit film, including Time After Time, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Love is in the Air.

There are also fabulous new songs by internationally acclaimed artists such as David Foster, Sia Furler and WAAPA graduate Eddie Perfect, whose original score for the new Broadway hit musical, Beetlejuice was recently nominated for a 2019 Tony Award.

Strictly Ballroom The Musical will be performed by a huge cast of WAAPA’s 2nd and 3rd Year Music Theatre students with an orchestra of WAAPA Music students, under the direction of Crispin Taylor and music direction of David King. Making sure the show’s dance routines are sprinkled with just the right amount of ‘sparkle’ is former WA Ballet principal artist Jayne Smeulders, who now teaches at WAAPA. Returning to their alma mater for this production, thanks to the generous support of the Minderoo Foundation as part of WAAPA Visiting Artist Program, are set designer James Browne and lighting
designer Trent Suidgeest.

So strap on your dancing shoes for this iconic Aussie story about daring to dream and being true to yourself.

Tickets $76 Full / $66 Concession and Friends / Group deals available
Sat 15, Tue 18, Wed 19, Thu 20, Fri 21, Sat 22 June, 7.30pm
Matinee Sat 15 & Sat 22 June, 2.00pm
Book now via Ticketek: Tel: 1300 795 012 or online at www.ticketek.com.au

More info:
W: www.waapa.ecu.edu.au/performancesandevents/performances/2019/strictly-ballroom
E:  a.maz@ecu.edu.au

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Part of female figure with Miss Westralia banner across chest and holding bunch of flowers
Calendar, June 19, May 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: Miss Westralia

21 May – 8 Jun @ The Blue Room Theatre ·
Presented by Blonde Moment Theatre ·

Australia’s Pageant Past Hits Broadway.

When a Geraldton girl is crowned the unlikely winner of the first Miss Australia competition, she becomes a celebrity overnight. Discover Australia’s pageant past accompanied by some of Perth’s most exciting vocal talent. This musical comedy will have your toes tapping just inches from the action, as we uncover this untold piece of local history.

Composed by the award-winning team behind On Hold-A Musical (Best Aussie Short: Flickerfest, Dendy Top 10: Sydney Film Fest), the music and lyrics fuse nostalgia with contemporary wit.

Join us for this world premiere as we do the Charleston from outback Australia to the roaring cities of the USA.

Based on a true story, Miss Westralia is set to be Australia’s next hit musical!

More info
W: www.blueroom.org.au/events/miss-westralia/
E:  info@blueroom.org.au

Pictured: Miss Westralia, credit: Tasha Faye

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Musical theatre, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Cross cultural epic

Review: Orana Productions, “Mimma: A Musical of War and Friendship” ⋅
Regal Theatre, April 11 ⋅
Review by Claire Trolio ⋅

A politically tumultuous, pre-WWII Italy meets the swinging London district of Soho in a brand new production which opened at the Regal Theatre last night. Mimma: A Musical of War and Friendship is the product of a chance meeting between the two WA based creatives from librettist Giles Watson and composer and producer Ron Siemiginowski.

The score includes both high energy, musical theatre numbers and operatic arias. It’s a curious combination that reflects the varied styles of Siemiginowski who had already written some of the music before he and Watson embarked on their creative venture. As such, the contrasting styles do feel a little incongruous, but the production solidifies in the second act which is more operatic in style.

Mimma (Mirusia Louwerse), Sarah (Holly Meegan) and Uncle Lorenzo (Igor Sas) at the Soho nightclub. Photo by Gary Marsh

Mimma is about how war wreaks havoc on the lives of innocent people on both sides, but at the crux of it, the story is about two young women: passionate, Italian journalist Mimma (Mirusia Louwerse) and London nightclub singer Sarah Parker (Holly Meegan). Turin is becoming increasingly dangerous for Mimma and her family, who refuse to stay silent under the reign of Mussolini, so she seeks refuge with her uncle (stage veteran Igor Sas) in his Soho nightclub. There she meets the kind-hearted, tea drinking, singer Sarah and the pair quickly become friends.

It’s their spirits and their careers that define the two female leads. Both women are strong, politically aware and unwavering in their values of freedom and fairness. Sarah is a dedicated singer who commands the stage while her ally Mimma is a journalist whose vocation remains at the core of her sense of self and ultimately creates a reason for her imprisonment. It’s refreshing to see a new work that champions women who have men in their lives but who are never defined in relation to them.

The casting of these two characters, then, is vital to the success of the production and fortunately Louwerse and Meegan delivered as Mimma and Sarah respectively. Accomplished soprano Louwerse displayed her vocal dexterity brilliantly in the second act. But it was Meegan who left the audience gasping and sighing with delight with her heavenly vocals. Meegan’s vocal clarity astounded the audience and was a true highlight of the performance.

The talents of Jason Barry-Smith as Mimma’s brother Aldo, and Suzanne Kompass as her mother Ada were partially obscured behind the booming music and chorus in Act One but both shone performing the Italian language arias in Act Two.

Uncle Lorenzo (Igor Sas) and Sarah (Holly Meegan). Photo Gary Marsh.

The Perth Symphony Orchestra performed expertly under music director/conductor Sean O’Boyle, whilst director Adam Mitchell proved once again why he’s in high demand right now.

After a dramatic couple of hours, Mimma concludes with some distinctly local flavour. The titular character and her surviving family move to Western Australia, docking at Fremantle and forging a new life on Australian soil. It’s a tidy package for local audiences to relate to, one which serves as an important reminder that those fleeing war-torn countries deserve to be welcomed and protected, and celebrates the ways in which immigrants enrich the cultural landscape. A fitting end to a cross-cultural epic.

Except that it wasn’t the end. An already a lengthy performance was unnecessarily extended with a reunion scene between Mimma and Sarah, where events the audience had seen were recounted. It was a bit too neat and tidy and left the audience wanting less, not more.

That said, the standing ovation said more than a bit of fidgeting did. The creatives behind Mimma have come together to build something new, unique and – with a little more time at the drawing board – world-class.

Mimma continues at The Regal Theatre until 21 April.

Pictured top: Mirusia Louwerse (Mimma) and Holly Meegan (Sarah) have got each other’s back in Mimma. Photo Gary Marsh.

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A group of men singing on stage
Musical theatre, News, Reviews

Bleak, brutal and bittersweet

Review: WAAPA 3rd year Music Theatre, Company ·
Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, 19 March ·
Review by Ron Banks ·

“What’s the point of getting married?” bachelor Bobby is asked by one of his many married female friends.

“Er, for company?” queries Bobby, uncertain of why one would commit to a lifetime with the same person, underlining at the same time the emptiness and loneliness of his own unmarried existence.

First performed in the early 1970s, Sondheim’s musical Company is now a timeless reminder that for many young people, getting married – and staying married – is a vexatious state of mind, and that the resolution of marital problems is never going to be easy.

The famous music theatre composer’s slate for the sketches that form Company is his home city of New York, a place where, it appears, hundreds of thousands of marriages go to die. Despite the slick New York night-clubs and bars, chic apartments and even the railway station that comprise its backdrop, Sondheim’s take on young relationships is bleak and bitter-sweet.

The play is a series of vignettes about young people who get married, the focal point of which is the one who does not get married. Bobby is a bachelor celebrating his 35 years in the single state with five couples who have opted for marriage as a resolution to the problem of curing loneliness. Love doesn’t seem to come into it, although they protest that it does. Well, these are cynical New Yorkers, you know, and this is a Sondheim scenario where too much sentiment is not good for you.

This WAAPA production is played in the round, an appropriate metaphor for these young couples as they circle around Bobby, trying to get him to get him to commit to marriage so he can be as unhappy as they appear to be.

Bobby has three girl friends over the course of the evening, but he is not really a seducer in the Don Juan league. Rather he is a confused young man who has not really found love and he backs out of relationships before they can get too serious.

We get to know more about Bobby through his interactions with his married friends, at the same time catching glimpses of his friends’ fears and foibles in regard to that particular state of legally-sanctioned relationship.

Conor Neylon captures Bobby’s personality and doubt with a convincing sense of confusion, and his delivery of the often-difficult Sondheim songs grows in confidence as the show moves through its many short, snappy confrontations.

This is a musical of set-pieces, with each couple showing what their lives have become in song, dialogue with Bobby, and the occasional spot of group choreography.

Each performer gets the chance to shine, and the graduating students make the most of their opportunities with style and pizzazz. Their outward sparkle is a poignant counterpoint to their characters’ inner insecurity and doubt. WAAPA director Andrew Lewis has wrangled their combined talents into a stylish ensemble. The costumes and settings are timeless, neither transposed to the present day, nor anchored back in the 70s. (The smart phones are the only disorientating clue that it might be the present.)

There is a stand-out performance from Annabelle Rosewarne as Amy, the girl who, on her wedding day, suddenly decides she does not want to marry Paul. She expresses her fears in a patter-song worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan but far more hip.

Company is famous for its song “Ladies Who Lunch”, delivered with convincing mockery and cynicism by Victoria Graves, as Joanne, whose marriage a second time is not going well.

Company is quite brutal in its dissection of modern marriage, but strangely fascinating and hugely entertaining in the hands of these young WAAPA performers.

Brutal yet honest.

But that’s the point of Sondheim, isn’t it? It’s why we love his work.

Company runs until March 23.

Pictured top: Conor Neylon, as Bobby, with the male ensemble. Photo: Jon Green.

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Poster for Mimma the Musical
April 19, Calendar, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: Mimma: A musical of War and Friendship

April 9 – 22 @ Regal Theatre ·
Presented by Orana Productions ·

A West Australian original production, featuring Mirusia Louwerse as Mimma, Holly Meegan as Sarah and a wonderful interstate and local cast and crew. Directed by Adam Mitchell and featuring the Perth  Symphony Orchestra under musical direction of Sean O’Boyle. Blending jazz, opera and musical theatre,  ‘Mimma’ is a musical that bridges continents and cultures.

More info
W: https://www.mimmathemusical.com.au/
E:  info@mimmathemusical.com.au

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Fringe World, Music, Musical theatre, News, Theatre

Ambition and emptiness

Fringe World review: New Ghost Theatre, Paper Doll ·
&
FUGUE, Indigo Keane and Nicole Harvey, Silence My Ladyhead ·
Blue Room, February 12 ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

There was something about New Ghost Theatre’s Paper Doll that bugged me until I looked back over the 35-odd productions I’ve been to so far this festival season.  Then I realised it was just about the first play, rather than theatre (or other related stuffI’d seen.

Fourth wall firmly in place; two human beings talking to each other; a distinct linear narrative; start (young woman opens door to a bedraggled, soaking older man), middle (they talk it becomes clear he is her father, he’s been inside and her friends have warned her to keep clear of him) and end (their dark secret is revealed).

Katy Warner’s play, conceived as a response to Arthur Miller’s masterpiece A View From The Bridge, is erudite, powerful and raw, reminiscent in many ways of David Harrower’s mighty Blackbird.

It’s perfectly cast (Hayley Pearl is the woman, Martin Ashley Jones her father, both are totally convincing).

Lucy Clements, who has launched a serious career since graduating from WAAPA and delivering the impressive Fracture to the Blue Room in 2015, directs here, and, by and large, it’s a strong piece of work. But I take issue with two of her (or her and Warner’s) decisions.

The first was to perform an essentially naturalistic piece on a completely bare stage. What purpose there was in not providing even a table and a couple of chairs for the actors to work – and put their beers and chips on – defeats me. It created an unnecessary and unhelpful unreality in a piece that didn’t need it.

The other, far more important quibble, was their lack of control of the piece’s temperature. Even though Paper Doll is only 45/50 minutes long, it still needed the character’s heat to rise along with its tension and reveal.

Warner/Clements got them up too far, far too fast, which meant that that the play began to plateau when it should have still been peaking.

But they are the risks you take when you eschew easy allegory or dystopia, or all the other shortcuts that mortal contemporary theatre-making is prey to, and resolve to write an actual play. It’s hard, bloody hard, and I commend them all for doing it.

Nothing I could honestly say about Silence My Ladyhead (apart from noting its cool title) would be likely to encourage you to see it.

It’s a pity because its star Indigo Keane has quite a bit going for her (in a previous review I described her as “a pneumatic, diaphanous gobsmack” and, as this show uses the quote in their publicity, I assume I’m at liberty to repeat it), but this is not the vehicle for her talents.

The piece starts promisingly enough with her long-limbed, smoke-wreathed, darkest-legal-blue tinted emergence from the shadows (assumedly as Arachne, the mortal weaver who challenged Athena on the loom and got four more limbs for her hubris), but nothing after that lives up to that promise.

Her songs (I Was Made for Loving You, a bewildering Stand By Your Man, PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love) all suffered from really limp backing tracks that left her with nowhere to go, and made her attempts at a sort of Patti Smith-like anti-performance stance lacking the Patti Smith bit.

Sorry, but after shows like Bitch on Heat, Feminah and last year’s Power Ballad, Silence My Ladyhead was, um, devoid.

Paper Doll is playing at the Blue Room until  Feb 16.

Silence My Ladyhead is playing at the Blue Room until  Feb 13.

Pictured top: Major disappointment – Indigo Keane in Silence My Ladyhead.

    

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Ladies all dressed in black as shop assistants in a 1950s store
Calendar, March 19, Musical theatre, Performing arts

Musical Theatre: Ladies in Black

1 – 17 March @ Stirling Theatre, Innaloo ·
Presented by Playlovers ·

An Australian musical with a warm heart.

Playlovers present Ladies in Black, a new Australian Musical with a book by Carolyn Burns and music and lyrics by Tim Finn. Popularised by the recent Australian feature film, it is based on the novel  The Women in Black by Madeleine St John.

Set in Sydney in the 1959, bookish school leaver Lisa joins the sales staff in fashionable department  store, F.G. Goodes. Over a summer that changes her life, she befriends the colourful characters of the women’s clothing department. Each is on the precipice of change – facing independence, working for a living and discovering what it means to be a woman.

Described by The Age as “a unicorn of the stage: a full-blown, home grown musical that actually works” and “probably the best Aussie musical since Priscilla went global.”

“Tim Finn’s songs range from Broadway-inspired numbers to true blue ballads, from witty patter songs to shares of blues and jazz standards. They’re beautifully integrated with the dramatic action, and the comic lyrics are priceless.” (The Age) Directed by Kimberley Shaw (Bickley), director of multiple prestigious Finley Award Winning Musicals, it features Musical Direction by Tyler Eldridge (Pickering Brook), and choreography by Madeleine Shaw (Bickley), and has an outstanding highly renowned cast.

Playlovers, are being hosted by Stirling Players, while they await re-entry to their traditional home at Hackett Hall, Floreat, with this production being performed at Stirling Theatre, Morris Place, Innaloo.

“Ladies in Black” plays at 8pm Mar 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 with 2pm matinees on Mar 3 and 10. Tickets are  $25 (Adult), $20 concession and group bookings – book now at www.playlovers.org.au/online-bookings or bookings@playlovers.org.au or 0415 777 173

More info
W: www.playlovers.org.au
E:  info@playovers.org.au

Pictured: The Ladies of Goodes Department Store

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