Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: 60th Melbourne Gang Show

Well now, this is one impressive show. How good?  Let’s just say it leaves any amateur show I’ve ever seen for dead. Period.

Melbourne Gang Show’s 60th season consists of two one-act musicals. It opens with Cry of the Forest, a serious affair, with enviro-spiritual themes and enpoint ballet. Special effects include an illuminated ball, designed by the tech team, which changes colour with each change of hands. The comic scenes work best, and my personal highlight was The Washer Womyns’ Rag with energetic delivery and wonderful portable washing lines.

But lest you think Gang Show is solely a serious affair, the second act Once Upon Another Time is a barrel-of–laughs fairytale pantomime with jokes, puns, and slapstick comedy. Not even Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood or Snow White are spared. My favourite laugh-out-loud moment is a slow-motion sequence after Prince Charming fits Cinderella’s slipper.  

Visually it’s a smorgasbord. Continue reading

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Himmelweg (Redroom Theatre Company)

Did you not see the ovens?
Did you not see the trains?
The smoke?
The ash?

On June 23, 1944, Red Cross workers inspected the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp north of Berlin. Rumours about atrocities being committed against the Jewish people were circling the world. Unthinkable things. Skeletal bodies in striped pyjamas, and worse. But the visitors found no starving children, mass graves, torture, or gas chambers - just ‘an ordinary town’. It was a hoax code-named Operation Embellishment, orchestrated to pull-the-wool-over-the-eyes of the world.  Continue reading

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

60th Diamond Jubilee for Melbourne Gang Show

Never mind Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Diamond Jubilee, this month the Melbourne Gang Show is celebrating its 60th season. They’re in a festive mood and, given their track record for final curtain marriage proposals, there may be more than the usual number of actual diamonds on show this year.

“On the final night, after the show this year, like every other year, there’ll be at least two or three engagements,” says Melbourne Gang Show Director Robert Motton. “Every year, somewhere in the show, someone gets engaged either to someone in the show, or outside.”

Melbourne Gang Show, a youth musical for a cast of 140 aged between 11-26, is written, produced, directed and performed entirely by the Scouts and Guides of the Melbourne area. An even larger support team of parents, grandparents and past-performers ensures it’s an intergenerational enterprise.

While growing theatre stars has never been an aim, chances are if you work in Melbourne’s theatre industry, onstage, in the wings, or on the rigs, one of your colleagues began in what is not so much a company, as a movement. Past cast members include Shane Jacobson (Kenny, Kenny's World, Charlie & Boots), Dave O'Neil (comedian/radio personality), Hal McElroy (Blue Heelers, Water Rats), Esben Storm (Round the Twist series writer) and Julie O'Reilly (Cats, Fiddler on the Roof). Continue reading

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Sondheim Gets a Ticket for Melbourne Season of 'Forum'

Simon Phillips (Director) and John Frost (Producer)
Stephen Sondheim will attend opening night of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Geoffrey Rush at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne this October 27th.

The announcement was made at Melbourne’s Old Treasury Building this morning by director Simon Phillips and producer John Frost, suitably attired in togas and sporting a jovial mood.

Director Simon Phillips said he was “pixelated at the thought of working on this show”, describing the script as “a perfect musical confection”.

Phillips laughingly said when conceiving of the season they wanted to “put together a group of the most irresponsible actors we could find on the grounds that the boundaries between scripted text and improvised text would be blurred to the point of unidentifiability.” Continue reading

Watch preview and interviews with cast

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: Witches of Eastwick (MLOC)

MLOC’s production of The Witches of Eastwick opened last night to an enthusiastic audience of family and friends. While the cast appeared flat in Act 1, they made up for it after interval with vigorous chorus action.

Michael Young (Darryl Van Horne), as the ‘ideal man’, was smooth, sleazy and seductive, even if his mature vintage required some suspension of belief. The Witches, Lucy MacVicar (Jane), Erin Keleher (Alexandra) and Susie McCann (Sukie) worked tightly together with some good three-part vocal work. Sean Loughlin (Fidel) was funny, and will build on last night’s laughs. Continue reading

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 Activities for Strike Day Kids

In support of the teacher's industrial action tomorrow my primary school boy will be staying home. I've been thinking about what we'll do together. So far I've decided there'll be no iPad, computer or television until the sun goes down at least. I'm also keen to use the day as an opportunity to provide some mental stimulation other than he would provide for himself. 

This is a list, not a program. I'd love to hear your ideas. Here are mine so far:

A Daily Project
My boy loves cooking, so I have a few activities planned that will not only meet that end, but be stimulating in themselves. These include reading a bus time table, calculating ingredients, writing a shopping list, choosing ingredients based on weight, type and price, buying the ingredients, making the thing (maybe rock cakes with choc chips?) and cleaning up. At the end of the day he'll have something to show for the day, but will have engaged in a range of activities. Other daily projects might be creating a vegetable patch, planning a party, or reorganising their bedroom.

Something for Someone Else
This stuff makes the world go round. Perhaps the 'something' will be an email to Grandma, teaching the dog a new trick, making a card, or visiting someone in hospital. Closer to home there are always actions we can take that surprise and delight others. The key here is that the child thinks of the 'something' themselves. It can take so little time, but make the recipient's day.

Catch a Bus
We'll have to get to the shops to buy ingredients, and tomorrow is an opportunity to catch a bus. Tonight my boy will negotiate the bus timetable and try to work out which bus we'll catch. He'll also need to allow 5 minutes to walk to the bus stop from home, and write down a couple of options for the return trip.

Pleasure Buying
Since we're going to the supermarket, we'll add some other activities. My boy has some vouchers he has yet to spend, so we'll go and have a browse and see if something takes his fancy. 

While we're at the shops we'll visit The Sales for some new trackies, so I'll get him to calculate the saving if they are 30% off, or 40% off in a couple of stores. Then we'll make our choice. Alternatively, if you travel by car, you might check the fuel price at your local petrol station. Can your child work out what it will cost for 40 litres of fuel?

I love taking my kids out for lunch because its an invaluable time for a really good chat, and with the pace of life, these one-to-one moments can be hard to come by. It's also lovely to watch them choose what they'll eat. We'll also need to keep our strength up for the next stage.

A varied skill set is required for baking, not to mention the satisfaction that comes with it. I will try to be hands-off, minimise my instructions, and let the recipe doing the talking (a big challenge for me).

While the oven is doing its thing it's a chance for a quick basketball one-on-one, or downball, bike ride, or anything really. It's been awhile since I got involved in a game like this. My son has taught our dog to play hide and seek in the garden which is always a laugh fest.

Guitar practise
My guess is we'll be tired by now, so it will be time for some overdue guitar practise, or some quiet reading. 

Watch Venus 
It's your last chance for the next 100 years to see Venus crossing the sun. Watch the celestial event on the internet together here, and find out why the event is so significant.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: Moonshadow (World Premiere in Melbourne)

Moonshadow, the latest musical to open in Melbourne, is beautiful - to look at, and listen to. 

With 40 songs by Yusef (Cat Stevens) one motivation for getting a ticket is for the songs alone, but they are not the end of it. Moonshadow was always going to be different.

But while the music and the visual components cannot fail to impress, some dramatic moments leave the audience confused. Continue reading

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