Men jumping in the air
Calendar, Dance, July 19, Music, Performing arts

Dance, Music: The Tap Pack

2 – 6 July @ Various venues ·
Albany, Bunbury, Mandurah, Perth ·
Presented by The Tap Pack in association with
SK Entertainment ·

They sing. They dance. They joke. This is Old School cool from the New Kings of Swing. Following sold-out houses in London, Edinburgh, Beijing, Berlin, and fresh from sold out shows at The Sydney Opera House, Australia’s newest and hottest tap dance sensation, The Tap Pack bring their high energy, tap comedy show tour to WA from 2 July.

Picking up where The Rat Pack left off, the Tap Pack conjure up a modern twist to the crooners and artists from the 50s through to the noughties! Featuring songs from Sinatra, Dean Martin & Sammy Davis Jr to Sheeran, Bublé and Beyonce, The Tap Pack mix slick humour, high energy entertainment and world class tap dance.

With dazzling performances on stage, dressed in slick suits and equipped with sharp wit, The Tap Pack is a highly entertaining act featuring some of Australia’s finest tap dancing performers tapping up a storm.

Starring a rotating cast of Australia’s finest and most distinguished dancers and singers, The Tap Pack cast lists credits such as West Side Story, Anything Goes, Singin’ in the Rain, Fame The Musical, The Great Gatsby, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde, Saturday Night Fever and The Boy From Oz to name just a few few. They bring a new, invigorating energy to a timeless style that the whole family can enjoy.

More info
W:  www.thetappack.com
E:   ali@limelightconsulting.com.au

Pictured: The Tap Pack

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Alice reading a book and swinging her legs
Children, News, Performing arts, Visual arts

Summer Gig Guide for Kids

Wondering what to do with the kids this summer? Seesaw co-editor and mum-at-large Rosalind Appleby has compiled a gig guide that will kindle creativity!

The summer holidays are here with long weeks of sunshine, rest and play for children. How will you fill your child’s summer? I’m reluctant to schedule events into the wonderful hours of unstructured play that my children relish, but I also know that things deteriorate when we stay home for too long.

My favourite thing to do is head out to art events.  The American writer Dorothea Brande said “A child’s mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled.”

I find that going to arts events as a family stimulates so much creativity when we return home. And there is plenty to choose from this summer with a host of family-friendly events plus the Fringe World starting in January.

Opening this week at the State Theatre Centre is the 91-Storey Treehouse. The team behind the 13-, 26-, 52- and 78-Storey Treehouses are back with another trip into this weird and fantastical world. The play by Richard Tulloch is adapted from the books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton and aimed at children aged 6-12.

Also on this weekend is Symphony in the City. On Saturday night the West Australian Symphony Orchestra is joining forces with Lotterywest, the City of Perth and Variety for what will be Perth’s largest outdoor Christmas concert. Sing-along to Jingle Bells and Silent Night while also enjoying the sparkling Overture to Bernstein’s Candide, Jupiter from Holst’s The Planets and Tchaikovsky’s popular 1812 Overture, featuring a spectacular fireworks-filled finale.

In the lead up to Christmas there are some lovely themed events for children. The immersive theatre show Santa’s Enchanted Wardrobe runs from 14-25th December at Claremont Showgrounds. This imaginative mix of the Narnia and Santa stories involves the Wardrobe, Enchanted Forests, Ice Caves and wonderful creatures waiting to help or hinder you on your epic adventure to meet a real Santa! Perfect for ages 2-16.

The City of Perth has curated a Christmas Lights Trail.  Select from two mapped out journeys or go your own way as you marvel at the stunning animated lights, street decorations and projections across the CBD.

A new children’s show Maisie will be premiering at the Subiaco Arts Centre on Jan 18-19. Maisie is a princess who doesn’t want to be a princess. She’d much prefer to play video games or go exploring! The production features professional and emerging young artists, and is also part of the Fringe Perth program. For more Fringe events stay tuned for Seesaw’s Fringe Kids Guide.

Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic Alice in Wonderland comes to life at the State Theatre Centre from 22-23 January. A cast of actors and puppeteers fresh from performances in Victoria will bring to life this madcap story.

Another classic book has been adapted to the stage by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. They are reprising their 2015 production Moominpappa at Sea based on the series of Moomin books by Tove Jansson. The season runs from Jan 14 to Feb 2 for children aged 5+. Spare Parts will also be running a pop up puppet making station on Saturdays in the park directly in front of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Experienced tutors will help children make their own hand puppets.

If your children like to get involved in the action you could also enrol them in NIDA’s Screen Acting Boot Camp for kids which runs 7-13th Jan. The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts also offers a range of theatre, musical theatre and music courses for young people ages 9-18 at WAAPA’s Summer School. These courses run on various dates throughout the summer holidays, starting Monday 19 December.

For kids who love to dance, Co3 Australia is running contemporary dance workshops January 14-18 (7-12 years), focusing on developing creativity, imagination and team work through dance. For teens, the senior workshop runs January 29 – February 1 (13-18 years) and includes daily contemporary technique classes, workshops in improvisation and choreography, and a taste of the Co3 repertoire.

An absolute must-see is the Fremantle Art Centre’s first curated exhibition for children running throughout the holidays. Animaze: Amazing Animals for Kids is a visual and sensory delight. You can read the Seesaw review here. FAC also run a plethora of art classes for all age ranges during the holidays including pottery, 3D animation, digital game development, craft, film-making, stencil, clowning, mosaic, drawing and tie dying.

Speaking of art classes, there are plenty on offer over summer. In Fremantle Inkling (a studio next to Paper Bird) will be running Christmas art classes from the 17-21st December plus holiday classes in January. Themes include clay, watercolour, selfies, rock art and Christmas! Other options are Quirky Cactus in Subiaco, the Children’s School of Contemporary Art in Applecross, Galleria Art Studio in Morley, Creative Kids Art Club at various locations and Jackie Peach in Queens Park runs paint pouring classes for children 10+.

Dive in and kindle your child’s creativity this summer!

Pictured Top: Alice in Wonderland by Boyd Productions

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Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

An absolute cracker

Review: shake & stir theatre co, George’s Marvellous Medicine ·
State Theatre Centre of WA, 4 July ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

Making children’s theatre is hard.  Unlike adults, children will not laugh politely at your jokes or remain silent when bored.  If a heartfelt monologue is a trifle too long, it’s liable to be interrupted with a half-shouted “Can we go now?”  Combine indulgent parenting with whiny kids and it’s a short step to a theatre-maker’s nightmare audience.  And then there’s the issue of dual audiences – can you make a work that kids will love and that adults will also enjoy?  Can you get away with a few ribald jokes?  

I point out the difficulty of the feat because I want you to take what I say next seriously – George’s Marvellous Medicine is the best show I’ve seen in recent memory.  Not the best kids’ show, the best show.

This production, based on the famed Roald Dahl book, is co-produced by Brisbane’s shake & stir theatre co. and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.  Under the direction of Ross Balbuziente, each aspect of the production has been finessed from start to finish.  It’s rare to find a show that so comfortably straddles the stylistic line between charmingly home-made and professional, but this is that unusual spectacle.

The wonderfully elaborate set, representing the farmhouse in which George lives, is a patchwork of jumbled shelves, crammed with all the accoutrements of domestic life.  The shelves are set upon a series of moving panels that shift as the action shifts, large enough for the performers to weave in and through. Part nostalgia trip, part theatrical wonder it’s a piece of exceptional craft from designer Josh McIntosh.  Lighting design by Jason Glenwright is also a central feature – the walls of the set are studded with an assortment that flicker on and off at opportune moments, adding to the magical lustre of the production and providing rich fodder for visual jokes.

And sure, the actors have gold to work with – Dahl’s words beg for dramatic interpretation – but shake & stir has taken brave liberties here with an adaptation that deserve accolades of its own.  The story cleaves pretty closely to Dahl’s narrative, but the characters are airlifted into the modern age with genuinely hilarious results.  George’s mother, played by the fabulous Nelle Lee, has become a saucy, selfie-taking shopaholic replete with chunky red heels, leopard skin skirt and fishnets.  Her sassy rapport with George’s Dad, played with an easy joy by Tim Dashwood, is central to much of the sly adult humour that sneaks its way into the script.  George himself is convincingly depicted by Nick Skubij as a wide-eyed mischief-maker, perhaps a trifle sweeter than Dahl’s own creation but very funny nevertheless.  The chicken in Dahl’s story is here too, embodied by the lithe Johnny Balbuziente who has a grand time incorporating a variety of au courant dance moves into his chickenish antics, much to the awe and delight of the young audience.  Flossing and dabbing anyone?

A wide-eyed mischief-maker: Nick Skubij as George. Photo: Dylan Evans

But for me, it was Grandma who stole the show.  As the anti-heroine, Leon Cain is sidesplittingly evil.  His flatulent, mean spiritedness providing all the justification one needs for George’s drastic actions.  Cain has a perfect gift for comic timing and physical humour, well aided by a bang-on soundscape created by Guy Webster.  From the initial horror of her easy-chair entrance (cue terrifying music) to her sudden expansion and diminution later in the show, each scene featuring Gran had me in extended giggling fits.

The 55 minutes pass extremely quickly – if you recall Dahl’s tale, there’s actually not a great deal that happens.  All the more extraordinary then that this bunch manages to weave such a spell in such a brief time.  As my ten year-old companion exclaimed to me post-show, “It was like magic.”  And the nine-year-old?  He rated it 15/10.  An absolute cracker.

George’s Marvellous Medicine plays the State Theatre Centre of WA until July 8.

Pictured top: Leon Cain in ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. Photo: Dylan Evans.

 

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Jordi Savall
Classical music, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Foot stomping and whistles!

Perth Festival review: Jordi Savall ·
Perth Concert Hall, 17 February ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

Why do we like the music we like?  Ever since I can remember, medieval/early baroque music has resonated with me in a way that I have no explanation for.  I mean, sure, my forebears are from the UK (how fabulously exotic!) but my great-grandfather was making brooms not playing the viola da gamba.  There is something about the melody, even the tempo of European music from the 1600’s that feels both familiar and deeply evocative to me.

Jordi Savall is a master of this style.  The acclaimed Catalan musician formed the early music group, Hesperion XX in Basel, Switzerland back in 1974.  (The group rebranded itself as Hesperion XXI with the change of the century.)  The ensemble is renowned for its scholarship of early music from the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly that of Spanish origin.  For this series of concerts, Savall has brought in Mexico’s Tembembe Ensamble Continuo as collaborators.  Tembembe is a chamber group devoted to the performance of Hispanic baroque music and a form Indigenous to Mexico known as ‘son’.  A love of early music is not the only common thread binding these groups – both are known for their improvisation around old melodies and their reworking of early music.

The evening began with the players filing onstage, carrying instruments largely unfamiliar to contemporary audiences.  The only one I knew immediately was the harp.  But apart from that, it was all one could do from pulling out one’s phone and plugging “tiny guitar” into Google.  (Savall explained later – it’s called a mosquito)  There was a large wooden box upon which a player sat, drumming the softest, most melodic bass notes (marimbol); a plump guitar (huapanguera); a lute with an extremely long neck (theorbo) and an array of others.  And I haven’t even mentioned the horse jaw yet!

There followed a luscious assortment of songs and music from the 15th and 16th centuries, much of it improvised.  Kicking off with the sublime La Spagna by Spanish composer Diego Ortiz (ca. 1510 – ca. 1570), the program alternated between early music from Spain and that of Mexico.  Often, songs would follow on immediately from each other, highlighting stylistic and tonal similarities.  Between others there would be a pause, allowing the musicians to change instruments and the audience to break out into rapturous applause.  The Mexican contributions were frequently highlighted by the remarkable vocals of two singers – Ada Coronel and Zenen Zeferino.  From the first strains of Zeferino’s emotive tones, the audience was putty in his hands.  The play between the two singers was gorgeous to watch – these are sensual songs – and served to highlight the cool reserve of the European repertoire.

It goes without saying that musicians of this calibre are incredible to watch, but what was particularly noticeable about these groups was the camaraderie amongst the players.  (I guess when you’ve been playing together for 30-plus years, you’d want to get along.)  Harpist Andrew Lawrence-King (who, if you can picture it, would have been voted Person-Most-Likely-To-Play-Baroque-Harp in high school) is Hesperion’s resident jester, frequently prompting stifled giggles from guitarist Xavier Dias-Latorre.  Dias-Latorre, is should be said, is an astonishing player, extracting the most intricate melodies from his early baroque guitars with extraordinary ease.

We were entranced.  I expected the standing ovation at the performance’s conclusion, but not the whistling and foot stomping!  There’s nothing better than seeing a silver-haired elderly woman waving her arms and stamping her feet for more medieval music.  It made my festival.  Who says classical music is dying?

Jordi Savall plays Government House on February 18th.

Photo by Toni Wilkinson

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Compagnie XY Il n'est pas encore minuit
Circus, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Hoopla! Hoopla!

Perth Festival review: Il n’est pas encore minuit by Compagnie XY·
Regal Theatre, 9 February ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

I don’t have a whole heap of regrets, but one that I do have is never having learned to do anything really incredible.  I’m not talking about learning to speak Spanish fluently, or playing the trombone…these are admirable skills to be sure, but they are not incredible.  I mean doing a triple axle on ice-skates, or starting a fire with two sticks, or memorizing the phone book.  Doing backflips off someone’s shoulders definitely counts.  It’s a skill that evokes sheer wonder.

This sense of wonder filled the Regal Theatre last Friday when an underpacked house witnessed the spectacle that is Compagnie XY.  The French troupe of acrobats are renowned for pushing the limits of the human body…Il n’est past encore minuit (It is not yet midnight) does just that.  The show begins with a series of authentic-seeming wrestles between the players – so authentic that I convinced my junior companions that I’d forgotten it was actually a fighting show, not an acrobat show we were here to see.  The mild tension built by these fierce tackles quickly changed to laughter when two very petite women took centre-stage, wrestling with such brutality that it felt a bit like watching a couple of elves having a battle.

Wrestling transformed seamlessly into throwing…the throwing of bodies, that is.  Watching how easily bodies were propelled into the air, it was difficult to remember that these were actual human beings being tossed around, rather than feather-weight fairy people.  One of the really refreshing aspects of Compagnie XY is the sheer diversity of human forms within the circus.  Of course, one has the petite women and men who form the top of human towers, but there were also a good number of more generously proportioned individuals.  Remarkably, these latter figures were also frequently airborne.  There’s a spirit of egalite here in all aspects of play.  The usual gender roles one observes within the circus are regularly flouted – women suspending smaller men; the troupe holding men aloft, rather than the usual female star.

There’s also a vast range of ages performing – I haven’t been able to pin down the age of the troupe’s founder, Abdeliazide Senhadji, but let’s just say he has the silver hair and bearing of someone in his late 40’s or early 50’s.  Others are barely into their 20’s.  It’s a novel and gorgeous thing to witness such a disparate group of bodies coming together in perfect cohesion.

And there is so much to witness!  One’s eyes flit ceaselessly around the Regal’s sizeable stage, trying not to miss a thing.  This is impossible – you’re caught up in an elaborately arranged pile of humans when suddenly from stage left a body literally flies into view.  Highlights included a sequence involving four humans standing atop each other’s shoulders; a perfectly average-sized man being propelled into the air off a plywood platform, executing a triple backflip; a tower of three humans collapsing forward into a group of catchers only to remain assembled and then tipped backwards into the arms of other catchers.  Ridiculous!  My personal favourite was a subtle routine wherein players had another player standing on their shoulders…they then strolled calmly about, no hands supporting the weight of the human atop them.

Mix in an eclectic mix of music and you’re left with a wonderfully entertaining hour, thoroughly deserving of the gasping admiration and standing ovation from the audience.

Fabulous. I implore you to see it.  No really – go and book your ticket now.

Il n’est pas encore minuit runs until February 17th

Photo: Perth Festival

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