Reviews - 2004

Current - 2004 - 2003 - Pre-2003

Our reviewers are the peers of Adelaide Theatre. They are fellow audience members, directors, actors, committee members, etc, with experience in journalism.
Like other audience members, their reviews/opinions are given on overall enjoyment and value for money so that you may make a more informed choice.

Shows: Jan - Jun 2004
Jan - Jun 2004 ... Jul - Dec 2004

Adelaide Festival 2004 ... Adelaide Fringe 2004 ... Weimar Cabaret Fringe 2004

42nd Street
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
A Little Night Music
A Midsummer Night's Dream
An Evening With Philip Patston (NZ)
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Catching The Juice
Caught In The Net
Deck Chairs
Destination Broadway
Dr Miracle & Gallantry - A Soap Opera
Eden End
Emerald City
Everybody Loves Dino
Festival Of One
Gypsy - A Musical Fable
Honestly Now
Impromon (Theatre Sports)
Jesus Christ Superstar
King's Rhapsody
Mama Mia!
Never The Sinner
Other People's Money
Rumors (Daw Park Players)
Rumours (Tea Tree Players)
Same Time Next Year
Speak of the Devil
Spring Awakening
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
Talking Heads
The Best Laid Plans
Tribute "David Bowie - Dream Reality"
Twelfth Night
West Side Story
Will You Still Love Me In The Morning

Spotlight Theatre Company
Covernton Hall, Strathmont Centre

Review by Fran Edwards

J B Priestley writes complex plays with many undercurrents. Sometimes they are difficult to produce because they are stylised and the thinking is so foreign to our society. Priestley likes to examine the human condition in detail and reveal the dreams and disappointments just below the surface. "Eden End" is just such a play. Unfortunately this production does not meet the challenge.

The set and the costumes, with a few minor exceptions, suited the era and created a very real picture of life in 1912. The cast gave credible performances and only just missed the mark, but that was enough for this production to fall short. The direction lacked fire and failed to develop the necessary tensions within this family group to bring Priestley's tale alive. The depths of the sibling rivalry and the pressures of the restrictive society were not fully developed.

Gavin Schultz (Wilfred) and Victoria Moon (Lilian) seemed a little unsettled in their characters at the beginning, but settled into their roles. Michael Lynch (Geoffrey), Daphne Harris (Sarah, the housekeeper) and Raymond Creevy (Dr Kirby) all displayed good characterisation, but the strongest performances came from Bronwyn Ruciak as Stella, the returning actress daughter, and Peter Davies as her husband Charles. Both gave strong performances and were only let down by the lack of tension elsewhere in the production.

"Eden End" is a poignant look back at an age of innocence before the First World War when no-one could have imagined the difference a few years would make to the world. The fates of the characters are seen by the audience in the light of what is in store. Despite having missed the mark overall there were some nice moments where the world of 1912 was glimpsed and envied.

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Matt Byrne Media
The Studio, Holden Street Theatres

Review by Nikki Gaertner

It's all out war as feisty bestselling author Katie Best clashes with outspoken critic Danny O'Loughlin in David Williamson's cutting literary comedy, Soulmates. After being presented with O'Loughlin's harsh review of her latest work, a scorned Best conspires get her own back via Danny's wife, his all-time favourite author and a debate about the nature of true art and commerce.

In the role of Danny, Brian Knott delves into the underlying nature of the character - an obnoxious Mr "Always Right" that, along with Katie, the audience is ready to strangle! In contrast, Danny's wife Heather (Wendy Patching) is all things nice, though easily influenced as she struggles between her longing to write and her successful career as a financial advisor.

The supporting cast are all highly talented and don't miss a beat in any of their roles. Richard Holmes is quiet and gentle as Katie's husband Gordon, and John Rosen is loud and blokey as Danny's mate Greg.

Trevor Keeling has fun with both the sleazy and dramatic moments given to South African author Max van Niekerk, and quite impressively nails the accent as well (though this is not surprising, given his bio).

Christine Isemonger is the piece of the puzzle that doesn't quite fit, as though she gives a good performance as Greg's wife Fiona, she appears much younger than the rest of the cast so isn't convincing as the mother of a teenage daughter.

Stealing the show, with her dry delivery of so many fantastic lines is Mignonne Siemer in the role of Katie. Siemer plays the audience perfectly so they hang on her every word and react right on cue. She is a pleasure to watch and has truly mastered the essence of her character.

Though the sound and lighting suffered a few missed queues, and the speakers were muffled and crackling during Act I, these bumps are sure to iron out after opening night. The set was simple, but allowed for each scene to need only minor alterations, which made the most of The Studio's lack of wings.

Once again, Matt Byrne has melded a fine cast with an entertaining script, displaying the perfect blend of comedy and drama.

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Bakehouse Theatre Company
Bakehouse Theatre

Review by Wendy Mildren

Emerald City written by David Williamson and directed by Alison Robb opened on 8 June at The Bakehouse Theatre. In her "Director's Notes" Alison states that "the play is not cast naturalistically: no one is playing their real age", and as a consequence has assembled a relatively young, enthusiastic cast.

David Williamson has a reputation for writing sharp edged, satirical plays with revealing insights as to how people interact with one another. Emerald City, in this reviewer's opinion, is not one of Williamson's best. It is a very wordy piece which lacks some of Williamson's usually clear insights.

Possibly because of the restrictions of the Bakehouse Theatre, Robb has elected to use the Shakespearean style of presentation with the actors sitting on chairs at the back of the action awaiting their next cue. This worked very well and did not detract from the action, apart from an actor intoning "the phone rings".

Duncan Graham as "Colin" exhibited some first night jitters and tended to jabber his lines. His was a very wordy part, and he did settle into it by the Second Act. His wife "Kate", played by Sarah John was bright and believable. "Elaine" the shrewd agent, played strongly by Petra Schulenburg, was excellent. Nick Martin, who played "Mike" was a little too warm and likeable to portray the shark-like qualities of this character. Cindy Elliott who played the Barbie doll "Helen" looked the part but could have given a little more dimension to the character. The final character, "Malcolm" the merchant banker, was played by Mark Opitz. It was only a small part, but he played it strongly and believably.

As part of the dialogue, each character had the chance to speak to the audience to impart what they were thinking. One strong criticism of the acting was that during these asides the other actors should have been frozen and not reacting to what the speaking character was saying to the audience.

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The Therry Dramatic Society Inc
Arts Theatre

Review by Nick Setchell

Inspired from Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film "Sommarnattens Leende" (Smiles of the Night), Sondheim explores the multitudinal observations of age and social position. Triangular themes between characters are echoed by the entire score composed in ¾ time (or multiples thereof). Set at the turn of the century in Sweden, the story deals with a range of inter personal complexities - true to form, Sondheim is rarely simple!

Therry has every right to be tremendously proud of this fine production. Director Richard Trevaskis has assembled a cast of fine performers. From the talented and experienced Lorial Smart to the fresh Arista Kontos, the cast exudes confidence.

In the lead role of Desiree Armfeldt, Trish Fuller delivers a finely measured performance balancing humility with capturing presence. John Greene in the role of Frederick Egerman presents the ideal foil for multiple social contradictions.

Stellar support is provided by Alexandra Gard (Petra), James Pratt (Henrik), Arista Kontos (Fredricka), Tom Millhouse (Count Carl-Magnus) and the fine voices of the 5 Liebeslieder singers.

However the show is stolen by two exemplary performances. Loriel Smart (Madam Armfeldt) delivers a delightfully poignant insight to how the more mature generation views today in the light of memories of a bygone era. Dianne k Barrell's performance of Countess Charlotte is worth the ticket price alone. She delivers a masterful balance of social acidity and desperate personal despair.

Any review of this show would be incomplete without highlighting the stunning costumes - as fine as has been seen on a non professional stage in my memory - Bravo.

If there is room for any concern in this production, it is in the company's reluctance to amplify the performers. The fine 14 piece orchestra, under the baton of Rodney Hrvatin, delivers the complex score with aplomb. However, some of the lighter voices such as Anne, are only appreciated when set downstage and unfortunately lost for much of the performance.

For lovers of fine theatre, this production is a must. Bravo Therry!

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The Weimar Room

Review by Andy Ahrens

ImproNow uses the very appropriate Weimer Room to stage monthly theatre sport challenges for an audience to watch. This cabaret setting is ideal. It provides an intimate atmosphere and bar facilities, although the players would benefit from a larger stage area.

Theatre sports are best presented when an audience can get involved and 'Impromon' used the audience to give scores for the improvisations as well as to create scenes for the players to present.

Disappointingly, the players often ignored several suggestions given to them. Instead, they waited until a suggestion came to which they felt comfortable. This somewhat defeated the purpose of improvising and took away a part of the challenge.

Once a scenario was established, we saw eight players act, sing, tell stories, recite poetry and mime their way through a number of different theatre sport challenges.

We soon see that spontaneous improvisations are much harder to perform than what they appear. The audience often delighted in seeing a player searching for words as much as it delighted in seeing a player in full swing. The Impromon players were notably of varying skill levels but managed to provide enough laughs to keep the audience amused.

The players were well assisted by a keyboardist, who provided music and sound effects that blended nicely into the theatrical challenges.

'Impromon' is 'G' rated making the show suitable for children and preventing the degenerative spiral into vulgar humour sometimes experienced in spontaneous theatre.

Performances are from 7pm to 9pm on the first Saturday of each month at The Weimer Room. At $11 or $8 concession, 'Impromon' provides an alternative way to start a Saturday night on the town.

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Presented by Matt Byrne Media
Hotel Adelaide International, North Adelaide

Review by Fran Edwards

At the Hotel Adelaide last Saturday night everybody did love Dino, especially when portrayed by Grant Galea. From the opening version of "That's Amore' (to which Dino invited a few guests DeNiro and Whitlam amongst them) to the popular "Everybody loves Somebody Sometime", just before interval, the audience soaked up every croon, and every snippet of information about this much loved member of the famous Rat Pack. Galea looked the part, affected the mannerisms and brought Dino back for a little while to those of us not lucky enough to have seen him in person.

Grant opened the second half with a great rendition of "Fever" which displayed his considerable talents. He played the audience as expertly as the very swinging 'Rat Pack Orchestra' played their instruments. This man is a great mimic! We were introduced to Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Arnie and a very realistic Elvis. He even gave George Bush and Michael Caine a chance to sing. There was also a guest appearance from Dino's long-time partner, Jerry Lewis. In amongst all that we got to hear the smooth voice of Grant Galea himself - very nice it was too.

Everything was beautifully supported by the talented Alan Hewitt on piano and his tight ensemble of five swinging musicians. The show was the epitome of smooth and the music was grooving long before Galea made an appearance. The excellent buffet meal served by the Hotel Adelaide was the perfect start to the evening. Grant brought a little Las Vegas style to the production and the combined talents of the Rat Pack Orchestra and this charismatic performer made for a night to remember.

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Galleon Theatre Group
Domain Theatre, Marion Cultural Centre

Review by Wendy Mildren

Galleon Theatre Group's latest production of "Haywire", a farcical comedy by Eric Chapell, directed by Andrew Clark, opened last night at the Domain Theatre, Marion Cultural Centre.

Opening night jitters were very much in evidence with ad libbing to cover lost lines and the odd phone ring out of context. However, having said that, the play romped along at a cracking pace. Kym Clayton, in the lead role of Alec Firth, worked extremely hard to keep lines flowing from the less experienced cast members. He played the harried would-be lothario to the hilt and portrayed his growing frustrations and frantic manipulations of the situation to perfection.

Bernadette Bycroft, who played the "other woman" looked the part and settled into the role after some initial jitters. Christine Otto, who played Alec's ditzy mother, revelled in the part and the audience loved her. Anita Canala, as Alec's wife, looked suitably down-trodden but played the part with warmth and sincerity. Anthony Clapp as Alec's injured son, played his part convincingly, taking some pretty athletic falls. Catharine Johnson, a first-timer on stage, played the part of Alec's very pregnant daughter. After some initial jitters she settled into the role and was convincingly "pregnant".

Andrew Clark is to be congratulated on this production. The cast looked comfortable and moved well on stage. The set suited the action of the play and was well dressed.

In all, if you are looking for a good laugh and a rollicking night out, then Haywire would be an excellent choice.

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Bakehouse Theatre Company
Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street

Review by Fran Edwards

Dead Star

Tug Dumbly is poetic, manic, comic, musical, theatrical and in your face! His one man epic examines why not to be a poet, a rock star, a celebrity or in fact in anyway famous. They all suffer ignominious deaths anyway. Tug moves at a frenetic pace through this sometimes witty, sometimes funny and sometimes stilted vehicle he has written for himself. To say he is over the top is probably understating the case.

There are some very amusing moments in the piece, the evangelical song about Jesus selling Amway is one, nothing is sacred and his barbs often hit the mark. There are also some uncomfortable moments when the jibes don't work, or at least didn't work with this audience. This is possibly Mr Dumbly's weakness he doesn't play to his audience. I got the feeling that he would take them to the point he wanted to reach even if they came kicking and screaming. Its not always the audience's fault if they don't get the joke, maybe the delivery was off?

I found Deadstar a shade too egotistical for my liking and despite the fact that I laughed a little I was eager to escape and I am sure that several other audience members felt the same.

Fully Commited

This is a gem! Becky Mode's very witty script is brilliantly brought to life by Rob MacPherson. It took no more than a few minutes to adjust to listening to someone talking to them selves. As you become absorbed in Sam's world the many characters of his life take shape. Each of the many people who populate Sam's world is given a voice and mannerisms. They build and gain depth, until very soon you forget that the stage is occupied by only one person.

Peter Green's excellent direction gives the character enough movement to prevent the obvious problem of being too static and the dingy set and lighting give the atmosphere of a small room in the bowels of what must be a very elite and popular New York restaurant. Each of the characters on the other end of the phone has been developed and their interaction with Sam gives us insight into the his hopes and fears. He talks with his agent, a fellow struggling actor, his lonely father and numerous reataurant patrons from the lofty to the lowly.

The entire play is a study in customer relations and work relationships. Each facet is handled with aplomb by MacPherson. The switch from irate customer to placating reservations clerk is a snap and the rapid fire succession of these changes is breathtaking. It is a while since I walked from a theatre feeling so satisfied. I recommend that you hurry and catch this excellent piece, you'll be glad you did.

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The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA
Union Hall, Adelaide University

Review by Nikki Gaertner

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society have burst onto the scene this year with Lerner and Lowe's production - Camelot. As a lover of this musical, my expectations were high and thankfully I was not disappointed.

Ole Wiebkin's breathtaking set impress the audience from the outset, taking us back to days of knights and ladies, castles and magic.

Adding to the enchantment are the dazzling costumes (coordinated by Hazel Green) that perfectly depict every flavour within the show. From the rich and majestic gowns of Arthur and Guenevere and members of the royal court, to the knights in shining armour and mystical creatures of the forest, they add colour and brilliance to every scene.

Robin Schmelzkopf, in the pivotal role of King Arthur, is everything this legendary king should (and needs to) be. He portrays all facets of the character convincingly - confusion at women, torment at the betrayal of those close to him, and his intent to be a great king and make the world a better place - and gains the love and sympathy of the audience. Arthur's closings in both Act I and II are particularly well done.

Joshua Hillary is every bit the strong (and egotistical) Lancelot du Lac, who can't find a fault with himself and lives only to serve the king - until he ill-fatedly falls in love with his queen. Hillary has great comical delivery and timing for Lancelot's self-centred moments, but also good presence as a romantic lead. His singing voice is powerful and clear, with an underlying sweetness, making him a delight to listen to. 'C'est Moi' and 'If Ever I Would Leave You' are highlights of the show.

Between these two men is Guenevere (played by Deborah Caddy), the young lady who became queen before she could experience adventure and excitement. Fans of the legend would know that this character needs to be portrayed as strong and dedicated, but anguished as she is torn between her two loves. Luckily, Caddy gets this mix right with her enjoyable performance and lovely singing voice.

Special mentions also should go to Renfrey Ansell for providing constant laughs as King Pellinore, David Rapkin for his portrayal of Merlyn, Hazel Green as the mystical Morgan Le Fay and Lachlan Scott for his feisty performance as Sir Lionel.

The only weak links in this production were the chorus members, who lacked energy and enthusiasm in their few numbers. They were generally members of the court and upper class citizens, but this shouldn't stop them from smiling or showing happiness, particularly during 'The Lusty Month of May' number.

Congratulations to Director Barry Hill and Musical Director James Pratt for delivering a show that will delight both followers of and those unfamiliar with the legend of King Arthur. Be quick to book tickets, as the season is far too short.

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Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players Theatre, Surrey Downs

Review by Rod Lewis

Deputy Mayor Charlie Brock and his wife Myra are celebrating their tenth anniversary with a dinner party. But when their guests arrive, they find the staff have gone, Myra is missing and Charlie is upstairs with a gunshot wound.

While the plot might sound like an Agatha Christie whodunit, Neil Simon's comedy is anything but a mystery to be solved. Instead, it's a farce with the sole purpose of making you laugh.

Under Mike Phillips' excellent direction, the action moves fast and the dialogue is, for the most part, snappy and well delivered. He doesn't fare as well in the role of dinner guest Ken however, for which he stepped into the role very late in rehearsal. His discomfort shows clearly, but his fellow cast members cover his fluffs well and with a minimum of fuss.

It's the women who steal the limelight. Tina Cini is simply wonderful as Chris; Kim York isexcellent as Claire; Theresa Dolman is delightfully funny as eccentric Russian chef, Cookie; and Zoe Uyen is seductively snobbish as Cassie.

Steve Earl gives an uneven performance as Lenny but his final big monologue is the best part of the play, easily deserving the round of applause it received.

Don Stuart's laid-back interpretation of psychologist Ernie stands out against the mayhem of the other characters, while Justin Nicholas struggles to find his character as the Senator.

Phillips' split level set is bright and brilliant, allowing for the action to flow smoothly. To have so many people on such a small stage without any masking problems is a credit to all concerned.

Funny, frantic and fabulously frivolous, Neil Simon's Rumors is more than just a shot in the dark!

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Marie Clark Musical Theatre
Arts Theatre

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Lerner and Loewe's delightful musical "Brigadoon" has all the hallmarks for a night of enchantment, romance and perhaps a smidgen of soul-searching.

The town of "Brigadoon" is a magical place set in the mists of Scotland. The inhabitants, through the advent of a miracle, are suspended in a by-gone era where romance, simple life and community bonds thrive.

When two modern-day New Yorkers stumble on the fabled village their lives are transformed.

Director Norma Knight's production of "Brigadoon" begins on a strong note depicting the two New Yorkers as modern-day back-packers lost, despite maps and mobile phones, while trekking in the misty hills of Scotland. They stumble on "Brigadoon".

It is here that the production stumbles somewhat. This version of the fantasy village of "Brigadoon" does not, except in a few moments, capture the charm and wonder.

While the brightly coloured chorus somehow falters, individual characters do shine.

Njal Venning oozes cynicism as New Yorker Jeff Douglas. He is the personification of the hard-nosed, materialistic young man. As such he establishes a strong rapport with the audience and makes the most of the dry humour in his lines.

Simon Kitson's performance as the other New Yorker, Tommy Albright is also a strong one. His character development is powerful as he falls in love with a young "Brigadoon" woman and agonises over whether or not to follow his heart. He struggles with an age-old dilemma - whether or not to trust in the "fantasy" of love, or to return to the safety of the life that he has built for himself, despite the fact that it lacks meaning. Kitson's acting is strong, but his singing voice lets him, and the character, down.

The pivotal role of love interest Fiona MacKeith is played beautifully by Joanna Patrick. Patrick shines in this role. She has ably mastered the Scottish brogue, which adds to the charm of her character. Her singing voice is beautiful. All in all her performance is a highlight of the evening.

Other highlights include the bag-pipes, played by Craig Masson, and the sword dancers - Kimberly Bambery, Ammorette Haughey; Jennifer Pattison, Jodie Payne, Nathania Voysey.

This production is pleasant and entertaining, but fails to consistently capture the true magic of "Brigadoon".

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University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
Little Theatre
Sat 8 May 2004

Review by Fran Edwards

Written in 1891 the subject matter of this play is still startlingly relevant. It deals with the sexual awakening of its teenage protagonists. We may not view the subject of sex education in the same light as it was viewed then, but the dilemma of what to tell them and when still exists. The contradicting pull of parents, school and peers also still exists.

This production was a little tentative on opening night but succeeded in engaging the audience and developed as it went. The young cast was enthusiastic but required a little more discipline and confidence. The lead players showed an understanding of their roles and reflected the many facets of these characters. Greg Gorton and Marlon Dance-Hooi were just right as the two friends at the centre of the storm. Renee Gentle was nicely vulnerable as the "innocent" Wendla, who asks to be told the facts of life and then is overtaken by circumstance.

Strong performances were given by Melissa Bergland and Laura Haig, particularly in the roles of Headmaster and Professor. Good support also from Kylie Barrie and Aldo Longobardi as the conflicted parents. Natalie Harrison was confident and competent as the "fallen" Ina.

The staging was interesting (I never would have thought of making those brick walls disappear by wrapping them in brown paper) making good use of the minimalist set which worked well. I was particularly impressed by the lighting, designed by Ben Flett, which helped create the right ambience on many occasions. I'm still not sure about the costumes for the 'children' but it did prove a very useful way of discerning who was who among the 'children' and 'adults'.

Greg Elliott's direction was well balanced and used his young cast to good effect. The Little Theatre is an interesting space to work and Elliott made the most of its many levels. Overall it was an interesting and thought-provoking evening.

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South Australian Light Opera Society Incorporated
Tower Arts Centre
Until May 16, 2004

Review by Stephanie Johnson

"King's Rhapsody" has all of the makings of a modern day royal tabloid story.

A young Princess falls in love with an older Prince, who already has a mistress. The Prince is forced to marry the Princess when his father, the King, dies, but will he give up his mistress?

The stage is set for the kind of romance and politics that has mesmerised the populous of kingdoms for centuries.

In this case the kingdom is the fictitious Murania of Ivor Novello's "King's Rhapsody".

The story is appealing and compelling and the production is set with vibrant, majestic colours. The costumes, by Pam Tucker, also add to the opulence and colour of the setting.

Nevertheless the stars of this show are the Princess Christiane (Melissa Hann) and Prince Nikki of Murania (Peter Potts).

Hann is engaging as the Princess who leaves her home and country for an arranged marriage with her older and cynical Prince. She makes the most of the beautiful songs and does well portraying a young and innocent bride who blossoms into a wise and compassionate Queen.

Potts cleverly portrays a Prince who is bitter and weak of character. At the same time he manages to imbue his character with a wonderful sense of self-deprecation that is charming. As a result his character is flawed but likeable and his redemption scenes most satisfying for those of a romantic nature.

The performance of these two characters is the main attraction; the glue holding together an otherwise somewhat stilted production.

Many of the characters are stiff and wooden, as is much of the direction by Kerry Hailstone and choreography by Anna Winter. As a result the production lags somewhat when the two romantic leads are not on stage.

Some other standout performances include Robert Kimber as the politically adept Vanescu, Prime Minister of Murania and Jamie Wright as Jules, valet to Prince Nikki.

Joy Bishop also delivers a stately performance as Queen Elena of Murania and Benjamin Betilli is delightful as the Boy King.

If you enjoy light opera, then you are likely to enjoy this production for the colour and the old-fashioned romance between the main characters.

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Swamp Fairy
Union Hall, Adelaide University
Until 15 May, 2004

Review by Hayley Horton

Adelaide performers in any arts arena are limited at the best of times, leading many to travel interstate to seek their stardom. Swamp Fairy was created to combat this situation and should be commended as such in their efforts alone for bringing Adelaide talent together in a professional arena.

After huge success in the Adelaide Fringe this year, Swamp Fairy's latest production Destination Broadway brings back some of the regulars along with the new to put together a revue of songs from some of the most successful productions to come out of Broadway.

The eclectic play list includes hit numbers from well know productions such as The Lion King, A Chorus Line, Mamma Mia and Fame to the more obscure productions rarely or yet to be seen by Adelaide audiences such as Rent, Dreamgirls and We Will Rock You.

The large cast includes a group of youngsters from a different school each night, recognizable individuals from the Adelaide circuit and a large, athletic ensemble.

While each performer is vocally strong, highlights included Rosanne Hosking's I am Changing performed with strength despite illness and Oriana Forte in many numbers, although most energetically so in Fame, finishing the first act on a high. Forte in particular should be featured more as a soloist to share the limelight with other soloists, Hosking, Ross Burford, Jamie Jewell and Dave Bailiht.

Although each number has strength with strong vocals and almost tight choreography (perhaps more polish in both areas would be expected of a professional production) the segues between the numbers were confusing and did not accomplish the attempted easy transitions.

The difficulties of presenting a revue format is encapsulating the energy and message of an entire production in one song, and continuing this for two hours. Most of the time, the cast managed to achieve a sense of context and energy, although this could have been perfected with a well-deserved live band.

What this production gains in individual and ensemble performances, it lacks in technicalities such as unbalanced sound and uninspired stage designs. Audiences attending a production such as this expect these bells and whistles, which is hopefully forgiven with the overall package of a fun trip along memory lane entwined with a glimpse of that which Adelaide audiences will hopefully see more.

With commendations to producers Sharon Angove and Jo Casson for their vision of keeping South Australian talent at home, this reviewer hopes to see more from Swamp Fairy in the future - perhaps even a full production to capture the hearts of their home town.

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The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company
Arts Theatre
Thursday 6th May, 2004

Review by Andy Ahrens

Annie - the show with kids, a dog and a laundry bag full of hit songs has been given a reasonably sound rendition by The Met.

Director David Sinclair uses a compact, versatile cast and comic strip set to present the story of little orphan Annie and her journey from rags to riches.

Annie, played on opening night by Lucy Ellis-Gogel, is the centrepiece for the story. Although the young actress isn't quite yet the Broadway belter, she charmed with her sweetness and clear diction.

The other orphan girls had a sluggish start with 'It's a Hard Knock Life' but they were on fire by act two with 'You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile'. This song was began in fine fashion (in both senses of the word) by radio man Bert Healy played by Gordon Combes.

Pam O'Grady steals the show as the evil orphan mistress, Miss Hannigan, using her experience in comic timing and witch-like portrayal to pull in the laughs.

Peter Smith was thoughtful and believable as the rich entrepreneur Warbucks. Smith didn't let a gag slip all night. As his assistant, Grace, Libby Reu looked stunning and played the role equally as well. Reu was refined and endearing in her scenes with Annie.

Strong performances were given by Ian Rigney as President Roosevelt, Christopher Meegan as Rooster and Sophie Riggs was delicious as orphan girl Molly.

The supporting cast were a bit thin on voice as they carried other hit numbers such as 'We'd Like to Thank You', 'N.Y.C.', 'Tomorrow' and 'A New Deal for Christmas'.

Carmel Vistoli's choreography appeared under-rehearsed whilst Ben Saunders led a tight orchestra keeping a controlled volume under the actors.

Hermonn's costumes were true to the period, only lacking dirt and tatters on the orphans and Hooverville-ites.

Sinclair allowed the focus to be lost occasionally; in particular the walking buildings were quite a distraction. However, this production of Annie kept its pace well assisted by slick scene changes and appropriate lighting.

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The Weimar Room
Until May 9

Review by Rod Lewis

It's only politically incorrect if you don't belong to the community you tease.

Philip Patston is a disabled, gay Kiwi who was a closeted vegetarian. What comedian could wish for better source material, except perhaps to be an indigenous woman as well?

Winner of the 1999 Billy T James Comedy Award, Patston's laid-back approach to comedy is all part of his charm. From choosing a wheelchair to fantasising about a scratch-free Happy Wash, he imparts his dry wit like an intimate conversation between two. The only difference is that he's funny. Patston's observations of the world sometimes shroud serious issues in a blanket of mirth, with just enough innuendo to make you think. And for anyone who may not be comfortable with a disabled performer, he quickly and expertly breaks down the barriers until all you can see is a good time. It's clever stuff.

Amongst other titillating topics, he talks about his addiction to wheelchairs and his attempts for break the habit with a...errr...12-step programme; the problem with same sex marriages; and the difficulties of rolling a cigarette. The one-hour performance concludes with some outrageous poetry and a longing for more.

Patston is here for the High Beam Festival and an all-too-short season. Roll on into the Weimar Room, but be quick!

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No Strings Attached (High Beam Festival)
The Weimar Room

Review by Fran Edwards

This is an unusual piece of theatre. Not just because of the participants, but because of their approach. With out doubt it is confronting and pulls no punches, but it is also fun. I am not sure of the value of the opening piece "side show alley" the point is ambiguous and I don't think it works. In the main arena, after we had taken our seats the real entertainment began.

The performers are all energetic and totally committed and they ask confronting questions as they clown around. The action follows a loose 'story' which allows each and every player to strut his or her "stuff". They all take part according to their abilities (or disabilities) and allow us to laugh with them at ourselves. Symbolically the cast unmask themselves at the beginning and replace their masks at the end.

Part of the presentation is a short film "A Day in the Life of.." and it is worth a visit just to see the film. The cast is open, friendly and accessible leaving us examining our own disabilities. The whole production leaves its audience with a warm feeling of having shared something worthwhile.

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Opus Performing Arts Community
Noarlunga College Theatre, Noarlunga Centre

Review by Nick Setchell

"Forum" has much historic interest. Not only was it Harold Prince's first solo producing effort on Broadway, it was also Stephan Sondheim's first Broadway offering of music and lyrics. Originally staged in 1962, it was revived in 1972 under the last minute direction of Jerome Robbins whose significant contribution was to add the opening number "Comedy Tonight". Shevelove and Gelbart's script is based on the plays of Titus Maccius Plautus. From here, Sondheim creates a bawdy farcical musical packed with mistaken identity and stage pranks.

Opus have approached this production with all the enthusiasm we expect and hope to see in community theatre. Under the direction of Harry Dewar the production has numerous problems, however, an appreciative opening night audience walked away content with a good nights entertainment. If Dewar and Musical Director John Wilson motivate their cast to lift beyond opening night jitters the show will build well and be a fair presentation of Sondheim's brilliance.

In the lead role of Pseudolus, Grant Hull delivers a performance that demonstrates he has the makings of a future star. His comic timing combined with Jim Carey like rubber facials will carry him far as he gains valuable stage experience. In ideal contrast, Theo Badics camps up Hysterium the head slave with a fine balance of panic and frustrated fuss.

Stellar support is provided by Brian Oates (Senex) and Kate Anolak (Domina) his overpowering wife. Both deliver many of the nights comic highlights. However it is Mark Anolak, in the role of Miles Gloriosus, that stops the show with his magnificently rich and powerful singing voice - a rare singing talent perfectly cast in this macho role.

The romantic leads of Hero and Philia need development. Hero showed rare glimpses of his ability but his confidence needs to lift to deliver a more consistent performance. Lycus, the courtesan pimp, needs to slow down and make more of the pearls in Sondheim's script.

Audiences will forgive performance flaws as long as there is a high level of enthusiasm and energy. This production has plenty and will be enjoyed by many.

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MS Society
Norwood Concert Hall
Friday 30th April, 2004

Review by Andy Ahrens

MS Society has followed up recent successes with their production of West Side Story playing in Adelaide's East Side at the Norwood Concert Hall.

West Side Story opened ahead of its time in 1957 when musical audiences were not ready to accept what dance had to say in theatre. When people went to musicals to cheer themselves up, West Side Story was a show about hatred - where even love couldn't conquer over all.

From the opening number we see two street gangs dance, move and act their ever increasing hostilities toward each other in suburban brawling. The finale doesn't bring hope for tomorrow but rather grief over today.

From each of the gangs Tony and Maria played by Gavin Clarke and Jessica Dean enter into a star-crossed, racially-crossed love affair in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet. Overly operatic Dean built her performance well. Whilst Clarke looked the part as Tony, his voice only occasionally shone, but the lovers captured many romantic moments amid the turmoil.

Connie Nissyrios played Anita and showed great strength in her role. It was unfortunate that her climactic duet A Boy Like That with Maria didn't quite express the pain. This was not helped by the terrible positioning of this number almost into the roof of the theatre.

The 'Jets' and 'Sharks' gangs worked hard to build the racial tension between them. In particular, Steve Rudd playing 'Shark' Leader Bernardo captured the truth beneath his character.

The original choreography in West Side Story by Jerome Robbins broke musical comedy barriers to place dance as a powerful instrument in character and plot development. Choreographer Mark Hodge has successfully captured the emotion of the characters with his superb choreography and this was the highlight of the performance.

Hodge's grasp for incorporating dance with song and drama enabled sweeping action across the stage which was visually stunning, thoughtful and aptly performed by the whole cast.

The musical ballet to Somewhere featuring Jennifer Robinson and Danny Golding was a rare and beautiful moment where choreography spoke more than what words could say. Other choreographed highlights included The Dance at the Gym, America, Cool and the very realistic Rumble sequence.

Musical Director Ian Gale ran a tight and polished orchestra from backstage. Leonard Bernstein's score soared through the night helping to create a number of spine-tingling moments. Even the flashing exit light seemed to flash in time with Gale's baton.

The music was especially welcome during scene changes where the cumbersome set design prevented the show from flowing smoothly. On too many occasions the scene changes spoiled moments the cast had worked so hard to build.

Director Shane Davidson has provided an entertaining production, but with such strong talent, music and choreography he could have used this opportunity to say more to a modern audience.

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The Stirling Players
Stirling Community Theatre

Review by Wendy Mildren

There are insufficient superlatives to describe the Stirling Players' latest theatrical offering of the psychological thriller by Jeffrey Archer entitled "Beyond Reasonable Doubt".

The season opened to a packed and most appreciative audience. To say it is a flawless, extremely well acted, first class production would not be an exaggeration.

The play is presented in two distinctly separate Acts and in two locations - a real challenge for amateur theatre. The first Act is set in the Old Bailey where Sir David Metcalfe QC is being tried for the murder of his wife. The audience, who act as jury members, are told the story through the testimony of witnesses.

The Court scene is splendidly executed and the audience soon finds itself caught up in the legal badinage between Sir David and the Prosecutor, Mr. Anthony Blair Booth. The scene ends with the Foreman of the jury being asked to deliver the jury's findings.

After interval the audience returns to find a completely rebuilt set, complete with a staircase, to represent the Metcalfe's home. This act shows the audience what had, in fact, occurred. However, to tell more would spoil the ending.

Director, Linda Davey is to be congratulated of her vision of this production. The actors, sets, timing and lighting are first class. Michael Croome, as Sir David Metcalfe, gave a flawless performance. In Court he was acerbic and terse, while in the scenes with his wife he was tender and managed to portray the pain he was experiencing at the prospect of losing her. His quotes from Dillon Thomas' "Under Milkwood" were beautifully executed.

Julie Quick, who played Lady Metcalfe gave a warm and witty performance. Tony Rogers as Metcalfe's friend and legal advisor, gave a polished performance of a somewhat eccentric bachelor.

Denis Noble as Mr. Anthony Blair Booth, QC, was splendid and played his part with verve and gusto and was most believable in the role. The entire case was exceptionally good and the dialogue flowed realistically. It would be impossible to find any weak link in this flawless production.

The sets were first class and this reviewer is still puzzled as to how the second set was constructed in the 20 minute interval!! Well done Stirling Players. I strongly recommend that you make the effort to see this splendid piece of theatre.

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Unseen Theatre Company
Bakehouse Theatre
Until May 15, 2004

Review by Stephanie Johnson

"Maskerade" is the 22nd novel in the weird and wacky Discworld series from popular and prolific British author Terry Pratchett.

Pratchett has written many novels and won major awards for his science fiction/fantasy series. And then there are the plays - the adaptations of the novels by Stephen Briggs.

It's no wonder that Pratchett aficionados have gained momentum, showing signs of the same zeal that colours other enthusiasts such as StarTrek and Lord of the Rings Fans.

Unseen Theatre Company has exposed itself to the enthusiasm of such fans, as well as the criticism with its latest production of "Maskerade", directed by Erik Strauts.

Pratchett devotees seem to know the characters of Discworld almost as well as their own family and can quote lines from each and every story.

Intermission conversation is filled with critiques of Discworld's infamous characters and which parts of the story have been left in or out in the particular production.

It is a whole new world for this reviewer and a fascinating one.

Unseen's production of "Maskerade" is fun filled and enjoyable. As someone new to the world of Pratchett the story sometimes needed more translation. It was difficult, at times, keeping up with who was who. "In" jokes were puzzling.

At the same time, the characters and the story line were both fresh and enchanting opening a whole new, fantasy-filled world.

"Maskerade" is the story of a mysterious ghost in the Opera House of Ankh Morpork, but its mystery involves the well known Discworld witches Granny Weatherwax (Pamela Munt) and Nanny Ogg (Tracey Watchman).

The tale begins as young Lancre country girl Agnes Nitt (Nicole Seal) has had enough of life with the chickens and cows and decides to find her luck in the big smoke. She changes her name to Perdita X and auditions for the Ankh Morpork Opera.

Here she meets an array of colourful characters, encounters the mysterious ghost of the opera house and is soon joined by fellow Lancre inhabitants Granny and Nanny.

"Maskerade" is filled with plenty of buffoonery, humorous allusions to the famous Lloyd Webber "Phantom of the Opera" and plenty of pertinent pokes at the snobbery of opera.

Pamela Munt, as Granny Weatherwax, and Tracey Watchman as Nanny Ogg, are the delightful key players. Watchman has ably captured a sense of mischief and warmth in the character of Nanny Ogg, while Munt portrays the power and wisdom of Granny Weatherwax. Both characters are eminently flawed and yet eminently likeable.

Sam Priestly also shone as Salzella, who delivers much of the satirical humour of the night. Priestly delivered his lines with finesse and he has some great ones.

Nicole Seal was commanding as the young Agnes Nitt, very strident and angry as a girl trying to escape her country origins.

Bryan Ormond as Enrico Basilica, Nik Hargreaves as Seldom Bucket, and Danielle Seal as Underschaft all portrayed their characters with warmth, fun and skill.

The set was innovative and worked well for such a fast-moving play.

All in all it was a great introduction to the world of Granny and Nanny and the ghost of the opera.

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Her Majesty's Theatre
Until May 2, 2004

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Alan Bennett is one of Britain's best-loved and most celebrated writers. Margaret Tyzack and Maggie Smith are among Britain's best-loved and most celebrated actors.

The combination of these talents in "Talking Heads" at Her Majesty's Theatre is a potent one - not to be missed.

Ordinary characters tell their story and the result is anything but ordinary. Bennett manages to portray people at their most vulnerable with charm, wit and yet a devastating honesty.

"Talking Heads" was originally conceived for BBC television in 1987 as six monologues featuring brilliant performances from Dame Maggie, Patricia Routledge, Julie Walters and Alan Bennett among others.

Currently in Adelaide, Margaret Tyzack stars in "Soldiering On" and Dame Maggie Smith in "Bed Amongst The Lentils" in two of the monologues.

Margaret Tyzack and Maggie Smith are two of England's finest actors, who fully utilise the skills and insights gained over their illustrious careers.

Margaret Tyzack starts the evening playing widow Muriel in "Soldiering On". Muriel is contending with her grief over her late husband's death as well as the consequent mismanagement of his funds.

Tyzack successfully portrays the pathos and courage of a woman who refuses to cower under the weight of bitter life experiences. Humour and warmth amid some self-deprecation all add to the charm of Tyzack's performance. The set is elegant and understated adding to the sense of isolation faced by Tyzack's Muriel.

Dame Maggie Smith not surprisingly won a BAFTA award for her role as Susan, the Vicar's Wife in the BBC production of "Bed Amongst the Lentils". She brilliantly portrays the subtleties of the challenges facing a woman married to her vicar husband and consequently the church. The role of the Vicar's wife is not an easy one. It is fraught with understated and yet real expectations, rules and regulations. The insidious nature of the protocol expected of a Vicar's wife is well conveyed by Bennett in this probing monologue.

Smith is wonderfully understated and yet powerful in her portrayal. It is possible to laugh and cry at the same time, as Smith wittily and yet poignantly conveys the emotional pain of Susan's ironically barren spiritual life, her ensuing alcoholism and her search for solace in the arms of a young Indian man.

Dame Maggie Smith is considered one of the finest actors of her generation. Her performance at Her Majesty's Theatre clearly indicates that she well deserves every accolade that comes her way.

This is theatre at its best.

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St Jude Players

Review by Fran Edwards

The last time I saw this play performed was 16 years ago and I was concerned that it may now appear dated, how wrong can you be! This script is as fresh and witty as it was when it was first performed. The play is set over a 25 year span from 1951 to 1975 and allows us to watch the characters develop and grow. Bernard Slade is a master of the gentle comedy, an art which he honed writing comedy series for American television - "The Flying Nun", "The Partridge Family" etc, but this has more than just comedy -it has depth.

The two roles present a challenge for the actors who must portray their character from age twenty-something to almost fifty. Each of the six snapshots encompasses a range of situations and varying emotions. Ron Hughes and Rachel Burford rise to the challenge beautifully. They are well matched and work well together. Both delivered a controlled performance which allowed Slade's words to work their magic eliciting many laughs from the opening night audience. My only complaint (if there is one) is that they may have been a little too controlled; I would like to have explored the passion a little more.

The costumes were excellent and reflected the changing eras with style. The set was well laid out but lacked the same definition as the costumes. More thought could have produced a visually interesting set, instead of the bland but functional look. The informative voice overs between scenes helped to set the era and move us through the intervening years. Jude Hines' direction showed her experience and understanding of the text and used the performance venue well.

This was my first visit to St Judes, but I venture to say it won't be my last. If you enjoy a well written script performed with style this one is worth a visit.

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Blackwood Players
Tower Arts Centre, Daws Park

Review by Rod Lewis

Bill Stackhouse's play "The Best Laid Plans" could be subtitled "Of Mice and Men". It is an amusing, if not obvious comedy about a husband and his neighbour who mistakingly come to the conclusion that his wife is plotting to kill him.

Under the witty direction of Allen Puttock, it zips along, making the most of the comedic skills of the relatively talented cast.

Damien White is delightful as the drunken husband who thinks he's the intended victim, but David Lockwood excels as the equally intoxicated friend who sets the ball rolling. Together, they carry the show, garnering most of the laughs.

Melissa Rundle and Judy Havard are the frustrated wives, whose mysterious antics lead to the hilarious situation. Havard in particular, is good fun as the domineering wife who has learned to make the most of her husband's insobriety but needs more light and shade in her character.

As the would be executioner, Rob White's laid back character is outstanding, particularly played against the frantic nature of the other two men.

Puttock ads lots of visual gags to accompany the script, however there are some surprising masking problems scattered throughout the play.

The set is detailed and great at first glance, but the dying flats soon put a damper in the overall look.

A good night out!

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The Adelaide Repertory Theatre Inc
Arts Theatre
Until April 24

Review by Nick Setchell

First performed by Melbourne's Union Theatre Rep Company in 1955, "The Doll" has justifiably become part of Australian theatrical culture. Written half a decade ago, the central themes are as relevant today as they were in the fifties.

Fragile relationships are challenged by the marching of time. Realisation dawns that a world rich with opportunities becomes less optimistic as prospects fade as quickly as youth itself. The central theme encapsulates two Queensland cane cutters returning to Melbourne for five months "lay off" each year. Relationships born in the exuberance of youth are re-defined each year by five months together recalling past memories and seven months apart grasping unsustainable distant yearnings. Such a delicate basis is inevitably hanging together on borrowed time. And so the play is set.

Kerrin White's production has much to applaud. Qudsia Ahmed's sets, Aubade's costumes and Sue Winston's props are authentic to the era and certainly live up to the Reps exceptional standards - details so often overlooked are accurately presented in the dressing of this production.

Onstage, performances vary in levels of confidence. Melanie George in the roll of Pearl is perfectly measured. Joni Combe playing Bubba, while succumbing to early nerves, settles in Act Two to deliver a delightfully understated and vulnerable performance.

Paul Mawhinney makes the most of the role of Johnnie Dowd. The dramatic tension he creates in his modest stage time provides the best impact and pace of the evening. Jan Langrehr works hard to overcome miscasting. While too young for the role, she still delivers many cleverly crafted scenes.

More pace will lift the roles of Olive, Roo and Barney. They create plenty of poignant moments but others are compromised by dialogue that drags.

This production is well worth a night out. A classic Australian play presented in an authentic fashion with on stage performances that will grow in strength every night. For those who have not seen this classic, please do so. For "Doll" aficionados, there is much to like about the Reps current production.

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Daw Park Players
SPF Hall, Repat Hospital, Daw Park
Until April 24

Review by Rod Lewis

Guests arrive to help celebrate the tenth wedding anniversary of Deputy Mayor Charlie Brock and his wife Myra, however the latter is missing and the former is found upstairs with a gunshot wound.

The visitors try to hide the predicament from each other and the police, setting the scene for some panic-stricken fun.

At times this fine ensemble struggles with characterisation, however Maris Caune's energetic direction keeps the silliness flowing.

Stacey Webb gives a wonderfully restrained performance, particularly against the tiresome histrionics of Bronwyn Ruciak, Keith Manson and Richard Gruca.

Mollie Birch is delightful as Russian celebrity chef Cookie, and Philip John Lineton is relatively successful as her psychiatrist husband. Glenn.

Chris Kendall whinges too much to be a believable Senator, however Tess O'Flaherty is a knockout as his sex kitten wife.

The brown and beige set fails to represent the social status of the occupants, looking more like a cheap rental flat, and the lower acting area in front of the stage hides the actors from the audience.

Simon wrote this script with pure fun in mind. There is no hidden message and no hint of pathos.

Despite a rocky opening, there are enough laughs to entertain and things can only get better as the season progresses.

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Actad Theatre Group
Promethean Theatre, Grote Street

Review by Nikki Gaertner

Director Grant Lucas has once again brought Actad Theatre Group to the stage with a South Australian premiere of a popular comedy written by Ray Cooney. 'Caught In The Net' is the sequel to Cooney's 'Run For Your Wife', also staged by Actad last year. It continues the story of John Smith (Glenn Vallen), a London-based taxi driver who is living two lives - with two separate houses, wives and children. The laughs unfold when Smith's son (by wife Barbara) and daughter (by wife Mary) meet over the Internet, discover their fathers have a lot in common and decide to meet in person.

The action takes place in the home of John and Mary Smith and, simultaneously, in the home of John and Barbara Smith. This makes for some interesting and clever staging when both families appear in their own homes at the same time.

Glenn Vallen portrays the panicky and stressed John Smith with the right level of hysteria for this type of show. With his many character swaps and runs between households to try to stop his two families meeting, the audience had plenty to laugh about, even though the circumstances in the storyline are a little far fetched.

Smith's two wives, Barbara and Mary are also well presented by Margaretha Mooney and Rose Vallen. The two characters are in stark contrast to one another, and Vallen's Mary in particular scored a fair few audience points with her loud and feisty character.

The obvious audience favourite was Brian Godfrey as John and Mary's boarder Stanley, who ends up having to deal with all the cover ups as various members of John's family inevitably meet. Godfrey has leapt in to his role with great zest and put the crowd into hysterics with his over the top comic delivery. Another popular character was Don Hutton in a small cameo role as Stanley's confused, elderly father.

Tallora Di Girolami as John's daughter Vicki shows potential in her role, but doesn't get very much stage time to demonstrate this. Ryan Pick as John's son Gavin, is obviously comfortable on stage and easily navigates through his dialogue, but could do with a few more varied facial expressions. He wears quizzical/puzzled expressions throughout the majority of the show, which fit in with the style of comedy, but started get a bit monotonous by the end.

Despite some stumbles over forgotten dialogue and a few misses of the timing that is so important in a comic show, the audience obviously enjoyed themselves for the majority of the two acts. After the usual opening night nerves have calmed, the show is sure to improve even more. Lovers of UK-style farce are sure to have fun and should book quickly as tickets are limited.

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Northern Light Theatre Company
Shedley Theatre Elizabeth

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Northern Light Theatre Company has triumphed with its dramatic production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Shedley Theatre.

The powerful and heartrending story of Jesus Christ is an apt choice for a Good Friday opening and this is a striking theatrical experience.

The final days of Christ are a powerful account of betrayal and political intrigue. They are also pivotal in the foundation of the Christian church. As such any piece of theatre on Christ's life is a huge undertaking. This is a Northern Light conquest that conveys all of the drama and passion.

"Superstar" chronicles well-known events such as Jesus' angry overturning of the moneylender's tables in the temple, the Last Supper, his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and ultimately his crucifixion.

Director Andy Ahrens' production of "Superstar" has been set in the modern day on a dark stage set. The set is effective conveying the gravity of the final days of Christ's life as well as the severity of the politics of the times. By taking a modern approach Ahrens has successfully manage to avoid another 70s rendition of "Superstar", while adding a freshness.

The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber pulses with vibrancy under the direction of Mark Horner. The lighting is dramatic and the cast is amazing as members perform rousing renditions of songs such as "What's The Buzz", "Hosanna", and "Superstar."

Highlights include "Simon Zealots" by Simon (Ben Schultz) and the Apostles, soldiers and crowd and "The Last Supper" sung by Jesus (Mark Oates) and the Apostles.

The Priests, the Apostles, Apostles Women, Roman soldiers, Herod's minions, and merchants and beggars all contribute to this production ably supporting the main players.

Mark Oates sounds the right note and provides a strong central role as Jesus and Rodney Hutton is outstanding as Pontius Pilate. His rendition of "Pilate's Dream" provides one of the most moving moments.

Kurtys Ramond is exceptional as Judas Iscariot. He is powerful and compelling - a linchpin in the dramatic unfolding of the story. The passion and torment of Judas' betrayal is no second to Christ's in this production. "Superstar" is worth seeing for Ramond's Judas alone.

Sadly Annie Slade's performance as Mary Magdalene was marred on opening night. It appeared that she had a throat infection and only occasionally did her pure and beautiful voice shine. Songs such as "Everything's Alright", "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "Could We Start Again Please" were spoiled.

However, this is a small blight on an otherwise superstar production. Northern Light has produced an inspiring and deeply moving theatrical experience. Hosanna!

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Tea Tree Players

Review by Theresa Dolman

Rich, stuck-up snob Carlita (Chris Galipo) and her intellectually-juvenile son Hector (Paul Zechner) are guests at an exclusive hotel on the French Riviera. But all is not as it seems as these two, with help from French waiter Raoul (Frank Anderson) and the Concierge Nadine (Jo Boots), set up an elaborate party for Senator Sam Clayton (Brian Godfrey) and his wife Marigold (Toni Knowles). The scene is set for what they are really planning---to rob the hotel.

Well directed by Jo Allenby, with assistance by Sylvia Bolinbroke, the action proceeds at a good pace, with many surprising twists and turns.

Frank Anderson is hilarious in his role as the put-upon waiter, playing the perfect foil to Chris Galipo. Chris Galipo and Paul Zechner both displayed good comic timing to extract every laugh possible from the opening night audience. They were ably assisted by Brian Godfrey, with his over-the-top portrayal of the obnoxious Senator, and Toni Knowles as his nagging wife.

Jo Boots gave a lovely performance as the innocent and slightly naive Concierge.

The action accelerates when the costume party is reluctantly moved from the Ballroom to Carlita's suite and two free-loading guests arrive. David Kinna and Trish Johnston had a lot of fun as the two "hicks from the sticks" and also showed that nothing and no-one should be taken at face value in this clever Jack Sharkey play.

"Honestly Now" is a good value, entertaining night out. If you can, get a ticket, but as usual for Tea Tree Players, you need to book early or you will miss out.

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The Therry Dramatic Society
Arts Theatre, 53 Angas Street

Review by Stephanie Johnson

The Therry Dramatic Society has courageously tackled the tough subject of families and nursing homes in its world premiere of "Baggage".

When a family has to decide on whether or not to place an ailing relative in a nursing home, relationships become fraught with emotions and reactions - anger, sadness, grief, guilt, blame, betrayal and fear to name a few. All of these responses and more are explored in "Baggage".

Writer Gloria Montero tells the story of three Spanish sisters who reunite for the first time in 40 years when important family decisions need to be made. The past is revisited and stories unfold, sometimes poignant and sometimes anguished. The story is a powerful one, although at times difficult to watch.

Director Robert Kimber's production labours somewhat, at times seeming to slow to a halt when perhaps emotions could be more heightened by a faster pace.

The Arts Theatre is perhaps too large a venue for a small and intimate family saga set in a nursing home room, notorious for cramped space and endless corridors. Or perhaps the set has let this production down making the nursing home room seem more upmarket and spacious than most. Nevertheless this production of "Baggage" is a powerful tale, one that touches the heart and challenges morals.

The strength of this play lies in the characters of the three sisters, all played well by Madeleine Marin, Julia Whittle and Pamela Garrick. The three sisters have gathered at the Elysium Nursing Home in an Australian town to decide the future of Eva, who has suffered a stroke. They also need to discuss the emotive subject of the sale of the family home.

Madeleine Marin is outstanding in her portrayal of the youngest sister Lea who clings to her need for structure and control no matter what the emotional challenges of her life. Marin is frighteningly accurate in revealing the emotions and behaviour that drive Lea's need for perfection and power.

Julia Whittle depicts the vulnerability of middle sister Eva as she faces a complete turnaround in her life and the prospect of life in a nursing home.

Pamela Garrick is powerful as Gina the glamorous eldest sister, who has returned to the family hometown after years pursuing a theatrical career.

The individual lives of the three sisters gradually unfold including the unresolved family patterns and their consequent effect and the betrayals of the past and the present.

David Caruso as the young man provides some welcomed light relief making the most of a cameo role.

Otherwise it is a confronting production that lives up to the arts' reputation for making its audiences reflect on the nature of society and each person's role.

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Noarlunga Theatre Company
Noarlunga College Theatre

Review by Wendy Mildren

The latest presentation by the Noarlunga Theatre Company of the very funny farce entitled "Will you still love me in the morning" written by Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner opened on 19 March at the Arts Centre, Port Noarlunga.

The story is sheer mayhem in typical farcical manner. Jeremy and Celia Winthrop have been married a week and due to circumstances beyond Jeremy's control they are still in virginal condition. Jeremy had expected the honeymoon to last two weeks and had offered the use of his empty house independently to two couples to use it as their own. The honeymoon hotel went horribly wrong and the Winthrops returned home a week earlier than anticipated in the hopes that their marriage could be consummated in the privacy of their own home. However, the two couples have both decided to make use of the house with each other's wives, unbeknownst to each other. All this and a tipsy cleaning lady mending the pipes. Thus the mayhem begins!

Farce, in order to work must be done slickly, and relies on excellent timing both on and off stage. The Noarlunga Theatre's presentation showed some opening night jitters and timing wasn't as tight as it could be. However, as the show progressed the cast settled into the action and timing improved greatly. The Second Act was very good and extremely funny.

Michael Veltman as Jeremy Winthrop was extremely good and played the part to the hilt. Clare Kelly as Celia Winthrop was a little wooden but did settle into the Second Act. Geoff Kirtland as Humphrey Jessel was very believable as an experienced letch. Julie Quinn as his paramour was a little stiff to begin with but warmed up by the Second Act. Stephen Lee as Peregrine Ward played the part of the prissy lawyer beautifully. Elizabeth Barber as Thelma Jessel looked the part of a femme fatale, especially in the red teddy!! Maggie Smith as Sadie the cleaning lady extracted every ounce of humour from the part and looked great.

The production season runs from 19 March to 3 April at 8pm with a 2pm matinee on the three Saturdays. Judging from the laughter, the opening night audience really appreciated the show. Bookings can be made by phoning 83847334.

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Spotlight Theatre Company
Covernton Hall Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

Deck Chairs is five short plays, each involving two women sitting in deck chairs on a seaside esplanade in England. The play is normally performed by ten different women; director Jacqueline Kirkpatrick has chosen to use the same two actors, Jenny Hallam and Victoria Morton, in each of the stories.

With each scene the two actors had to present two new and believable characters. Jacqueline obviously worked hard to ensure that each persona was portrayed in the style of the scene.

Jenny Hallam showed a wonderful talent for adapting to each of her characters, from the invalid mother belittling her daughter to the lovey dovey doggie owner (though the dog very nearly stole the scene). Her delivery was perfectly timed, but her performance needed a little more movement and body language, especially in the fourth scene, Late Frost.

Victoria Morton's performance was better suited to the comic moments; it didn't quite have the compassion necessary for the more serious of the short plays. This may have been due to opening night nerves.

The set was simple but effective---two deck chairs, a couple of arches, a beach shelter and other beach paraphernalia . The sound of lapping waves added to the effect. Each scene was preceeded by a piece of music to set the mood.

Overall, Deck Chairs is an interesting and well written piece of theatre, and deserves a bigger audience than was present at the Covernton Hall Theatre on opening night.

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Hills Musical Company
Stirling Community Theatre

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Hip-hooray and Ballyhoo! The Hills Musical Company's production of the Broadway Musical "42nd Street" is an extravagant toe-tapping bonanza. In true Broadway tradition the Hills' production has it all - star-quality leads, dazzling chorus lines, creative choreography, sparkling costumes, and impressive sets.

"The Lullaby of Broadway" has never seemed so seductive. "42nd Street" is set in the halcyon days 1930s Broadway. The King of Broadway Julian Marsh (Chris Buhagiar) is about to stage a new Broadway show called Pretty Lady. The show opens with auditions complete with showy chorus girls, bright young wannabes and an aging leading lady - all the ingredients for a great Broadway story.

Director May Rayner makes the most of these ingredients and the result is a delightful show in the true tradition of Broadway musicals. The music, under the directorship of Leith Pederick, is inspiring without drowning out the singing talents of the actors. As a result well-known lively numbers such as "The Lullaby of Broadway" and "We're in the Money" can be enjoyed as much as the sentimental ones such as "About a Quarter to Nine".

The costumes, kept in the tradition of the Broadway ones, are stunning. The sets and lighting are on the whole impressive adding to the professionalism of the production.

The choreography by Sue Pole is outstanding. Tap dancing reigns supreme in "42nd Street" and the chorus line was professional, fun and received loud and enthusiastic ovations on opening night.

The classic story of "42nd Street" centres on a naive young actress named Peggy Sawyer (Peta Long) who arrives to audition for the chorus in the new Broadway show, which stars veteran Dorothy Brock (Jenny Scarce-Tolley). Peta Long is talented in the dance sequences and easily captures the alluring sweetness of Peggy.

Jenny Scarce-Tolley as the aging leading lady Dorothy Brock is exceptional in her stage presence and singing. She commands attention. Ironically she is the star of the fictitious stage play "Pretty Lady" and she is also the star of Rayner's "42nd Street".

Chris Buhagiar is also excellent as Broadway king Julian Marsh whose cynicism is slowly softened by the ingénue Peggy.

Special mention must also be made of Chris Eaton as the young star Billy Lawler, Greg Beer as Bert Barry and Linda Lawson as Anytime Annie. But the whole cast and crew have obviously given their all to this production and it shows.

The lyrics of the song, "The Lullaby of Broadway" successfully capture the romance and allure of Broadway musicals. The Hills Musical Company has done its job.

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Independent Theatre
Odeon Theatre, Norwood

Review by Andy Ahrens

Director Rob Croser has given Never the Sinner a special place in Adelaide theatre. His first staging of the play was so successful that playwright John Logan collaborated with Independent Theatre in a re-write that became the world premiere in 1994 at the Space Theatre.

Appropriately, this latest staging of Never the Sinner marks the 10th Anniversary of that production and the 20th Anniversary of Independent Theatre.

Set in Chicago 1924, Never the Sinner recreates the true story of a crime that became known as 'the crime of the century'. Two rich kids have killed for kicks - a crime for crime's sake. Scenes switch between the trial and the crime in an attempt to discover a motive for the murder and a suitable punishment for the killers.

Dai Davison and Nathan O'Keefe work seamlessly together as the thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb. Their emphasis on the mysterious relationship between the killers, and how this implicates the crime itself, is wonderfully convincing.

Allen Munn is masterful as defense lawyer Clarence Darrow. He portrays the humane voice in the trial with passion and sincerity. David Roach plays tough prosecutor Robert Crowe with equal conviction.

Munn and Roach are original cast members and are joined by a third, Les Zetlein. Zetlein plays one of the three reporters along with Alexandra Ruffin and George Banders whom together switch in and out of all the other roles in the play. Zetlein at times rushed his dialogue but all three gave tight performances, allowing the pace of the drama to remain.

Although this production of Never the Sinner doesn't quite hold the tension and impact of previous productions, it is still an enthralling night of theatre for the second or third time round. For those who are yet to witness this classic work, it is one of very few shows that fall into the category of 'must see'.

Never the Sinner runs Tuesdays to Saturdays until April 3 at the Odeon Theatre in Norwood. Tickets are $27 Adults or $22 Concession. The program contains substantial further reading about the history of the trial and is good value.

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Burnside Players
Burnside Ballroom - Cnr Portrush & Greenhill Roads
Wednesday 17 March 2004

Review by Wendy Mildren

I thought putting on this production was an extremely courageous venture considering the movie of the same name, starring Danny De Vito, is reasonably well known, and given the restrictions placed on the Players by the size of the stage and the access to the stage. However, I have to say the Burnside Players did an extremely good job with the use of a minimalist set and spot lighting.

The story revolves around the merciless takeover attempt by "Larry the Liquidator" aka Lawrence Garfinkle, (played with great verve by Gerard Ryan), of the Wire and Cable business owned for generations by Andrew Jorgenson, (played by Neville Pope).

The action takes place between Jorgenson's office in Rhode Island and Garfinkle's office in New York. The other members of the cast are William Coles (played by Brad Martin) who has worked loyally for several years for "Jorgie" on the understanding that he will take up the reins and run the business as he wants to on "Jorgie's" retirement. Bea Sullivan (played by Karal Zimmermann) who is "Jorgie's" assistant and who has loved him forever; and last but not least is Kate Sullivan (played by Nicole Rutty) who is Bea's lawyer daughter and is coerced to attempt to save the company.

The standout performance was Gerard Ryan's portrayal of the loud, crass but business savvy Lawrence Garfinkle. Ryan's timing and delivery were excellent and showed a clear understanding of what his character was saying and behaving. Nicole Rutty as Kate Sullivan was technically very good, however I felt she could have been far more expressive and put some light and shade into her delivery especially when she is speaking to her mother and when she is flirting with Garfinkle. Karal Zimmerman's performance as Bea was delightful and there were a couple of very tender moments in her performance when speaking to her daughter and when consoling "Jorgie".

Neville Pope showed some opening night nerves but settled in with a solid performance. However, I felt that his delivery did not always show an understanding of what he was actually saying. Brad Martin's performance was polished but I would have liked to have seen a little more emotion especially when he was selling his shares to Garfinkle as he is actually betraying his employer and I felt there should have been some mental turmoil.

The play is directed by Raechel Carroll and I thought the blocking, considering the restrictions of the stage, was good. The play is presented in the cabaret format with patrons being able to purchase drinks from the bar.

The play is entertaining and I would recommend that you make the effort to see it.

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The Weimar Room
Friday 12 March

Review by Fran Edwards

The venue was right, the audience were eager but the formula was not quite right. With Brigitte Baden's voice so suited to the material and Pat Wilson providing excellent musical backup it's a shame but the comedy often missed the mark. Ms Baden needs the natural comic timing which the wickedly amusing Ms Wilson has in abundance. Basically the script was too loose and it was under directed. To make matters worse the sound operator had the vocal microphone (which was probably unnecessary in that venue) too high and it caused some uncomfortable moments.

Having said that, there were renditions of several songs which I have not heard for a while, all very well done and a few songs I have not heard that I'm glad I did not miss. Brigitte has style and deserved a sexier costume in which to deliver her "wicked" jazz. She should not have had to work so hard to get the audience where she wanted them. All in all the show has promise and should be given another airing, after a little rehearsal of the comic timing.

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Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

Aging, ailing authoress Marion Bishop (Mary Mitchell) lives alone in an isolated country house, where she is cared for by her thoughtful neighbour Katherine (Cheryl Douglas).

When Katherine has to go away for the weekend, the local doctor Andrew Thorne (Terry Boswell) engages an experienced nurse Laura Vinnecombe (Lisa Wilton) to care for Ms Bishop. Throw in a surprise visit from nasty nephew Raymond (Rob Uyen) and some strange telephone calls, and the scene is set for a night of intrigue.

The play is set in the living room of Marion Bishop's home. As usual, the Tea Tree Players set looks the part, with good design and attention to detail. Helped by some subtle lighting changes and sound effects, the atmosphere was engaging---though the rain effect did tend to drown out some of the dialogue.

Eleanor Boyd, as the local delivery lady and busybody Doris, gave a solid performance, providing the lighter moments necessary in this rather long and wordy Norman Robbins thriller.

Director Marian Moore and Co-Director Zoe Uyen had quite a challenge keeping the action flowing and holding the audience's attention through to the surprise ending, but met the challenge well.

Cheryl Douglas seemed very comfortable in her role of the thoughtful neighbour, doting on her intellectually disabled brother Michael (Bluey Byrne), which came out loud and clear in Act II. The same, unfortunately, could not be said for Terry Boswell who, on opening night, appeared to have difficulty finding his character. He also seemed to have something interesting in his pocket, but he never pulled it out to show us.

Mary Mitchell was in her element in the leading role as the dying authoress, and gave a very even, natural performance.

Rob Uyen was a little overdressed for the character he was portraying, but that didn't stop him showing his character's nasty streak.

Lisa Wilton took a while to settle into her character, but by the final crucial scene she had the audience hanging on her every word.

Overall, Tea Tree Players provided an enjoyable evening for all thriller seekers.

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MS Society
Odeon Theatre, Norwood

Review by Hayley Horton

The MS Society has had great success over the past years with big, showy musicals generally with a large junior chorus and talented leads. With their latest production of Gypsy - A Musical Fable, Peter Goers takes the helm as director, with Shane Davidson staying on as producer.

Gypsy tells the story of the world famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her humble beginnings, gregarious mother and eclectic family history. Many audience members would recognise the hit numbers Everything's Coming Up Roses, Let Me Entertain You and Gotta Getta Gimmick.

The two female leads in this production of Louise and Mamma Rose are cast in this instance with real life mother and daughter, Pam and Maggie O'Grady.

Pam O'Grady is a likeable Mamma Rose, with the fervour and bustling nature required, although lacking the guts and brashness to convince the audience of her determination for stardom. Her voice is not one for musicals such as this, lacking the strength to belt out the potentially show-stopping numbers, of which there are many for this diverse role.

The casting of Maggie O'Grady as Louise (and later Gypsy Rose Lee) is puzzling. Although her obvious family resemblance is convincing, Maggie O'Grady is difficult to tolerate vocally, having neither the pitch nor the tone for a musical performance such as this.

Although both O'Gradys work hard to perform their utmost in their roles, Goers has missed the mark in this essential part of casting such a vocally demanding musical.

This aside, the stand out performances for this production come from the younger cast members. Gemma Freeman as Baby June is a bundle of energy at all times - saccharine sweet, and a true child star in every sense.

Alexander Stevanovic as Tulsa (Louise's childhood sweetheart) is another stand-out among the cast having both the musical and dance ability which is admirable in a young performer. Stevanovic's fervour and boyish daydreaming are charming to watch.

Martha Lott as Miss Cratchitt is engaging, keeping perfect contrast to O'Grady's outgoing "stage mother" routine. Lott is also strong as the stripper Mazeppa, forming part of the trio in Gotta Getta Gimmick.

Although all three strippers look fantastic, their musical performance again lacks the vocal strength or ability to "sell" such a big number - the encore was not warranted.

Overall, this is an entertaining production for those wanting a laugh, but the lack of attention to detail in regards to props and an un-inspiring set impact on the somewhat misguided casting. Hopefully this is not a new path for a previously outstanding theatrical group.

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Essential Theatre Company
Coriole Winery
25 January 2004

Review by Sue Oldknow

There is nothing quite like Shakespeare in the open air. Especially if you are in spot as lovely as the Coriole Wineries' gardens in beautiful McLaren Vale.

Sitting on a blanket on a clear summer's evening, sipping on a crisp white wine, I settled in for a bit of theatrical magic and was not disappointed.

Melbourne based company, Essential Theatre, presented Twelfth Night, a witty tale of unrequited love, mixed messages and genders.

Viola and her twin brother are shipwrecked, both believe the other drowned. Viola takes on the disguise of a man to gain employment and here the fun begins.

Viola is played brilliantly by Tanya Burne who manages to remain dignified throughout. In fact, the whole cast is extremely good with no weak links to bring the production down.

Anne Radvansky is a big, bold and brassy delight as Maria, Olivia's gentlewoman, Simon McSweeney and Dan Fletcher are hilarious as the clownish Sir Toby and Sir Andrew but everyone makes the most of their roles in a very fine ensemble.

Director, David Myles, used the garden space very effectively, always ensuring that the performers could be seen and heard and keeping things very up close and personal.

This performance really brought home to me how much Shakespeare was a writer for the people. There were people in the audience of every age and everyone was enjoying themselves. It was great to hear the delighted giggles of little children among the adult laughter.

The concept of "Shakespeare in the Vines" is a match made in heaven and it would be great if this were to become a regular event, perhaps with an Adelaide company presenting something once a month. I know I'd be there.

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Chopt Logic
Fowlers Live at the Lion Arts Theatre (North Terrace)
Wednesday 21 January

Review by Nick Setchell

Written between 1594 and 1596, A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies. Frequently performed, the play lends itself to a variety of performance styles and this production is certainly different!

It is true that some of the key elements of an entertaining performance are passion, energy and vitality of which Chopt Logic has plenty.

Co-directors Renato Musolino and Phillip Parslow have presented a production with plenty of novel and entertaining concepts. The onstage comedy provided by keyboard accompaniment and the clever handling of Titania's band of fairies works well.

The modern day setting is fine - this play can sit in any era. However, as directors, Musolino and Parslow must also take responsibility for the over exuberance of many of their cast. Unfortunately, too many mistook shouting lines with little diction for passionate delivery. They must also take responsibility for setting too much of the play on the lower level of the stage that was obstructed by much of the audience seated on the flat.

On stage musician, Luke Altmann provided gems of musical comedy to support the stage performers. His performance was clever and understated.

Stand out cast performances came from Tina Mitchell in the role of Helena and Adam Wilson in the role of Francis Flute. Mitchell captured the essence of the tormented Helena perfectly. What a pleasant contrast to hear her clear diction and cleverly measured delivery.

Wilson is a talent ready to explode. He made the most of his role, blending timing with shining comic presence. He will go far.

Stellar support was provided by Sarah John in the role of Peter Quince, Julian Jaensch in the role of Nick Bottom and Nathan O'Keefe in the role of Demetrius.

Unfortunately, the trio of fairies lacked credibility. Much can be made of these critical parts of Oberon Titania and Puck - these performances need development and strength.

This production can lift. Much of the cast needs to slow down and focus on diction and delivery rather than volume and speed. More of the play needs to be set on the higher stage levels. With these minor changes, this production will appeal to those who like their Shakespeare presented in the alternative fashion.

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State Opera South Australia - Young Artist Studio Program
The Opera Studio

Review by Hayley Horton

When most people think of Opera, they think of stalwart performers belting out notes that will shatter glass or long dying scenes with more tragedy than Shakespeare. The Young Artists of the State Opera have proven that this is not always the case with their latest outing.

This style of opera is a particularly good introduction for beginner audiences, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments and humerous site gags culminating in an entertaining comedy double bill.

The four young performers involved take on dual roles, along with their Musical Director, Anthony Hunt as Repetiteur. Hunt is not only a talented pianist, evident in his long list of awards and experience, but is also a strong performer and as much a part of the cast as the other four.

Patrick Lim takes on a number of roles in this production (including Artistic Director), with highlights being his role as Pasquin in Dr Miracle. It is refreshing to see a fine operatic singer complimented with equally strong acting abilities. Lim, although not quite the Fonze, is cheeky and humerous and must be commended along with Hunt for his "save" on the night when another performer is unexpectantly injured.

Soprano, Fiona Linn is equally engaging in her role as Lola Markem, a young anaesthetist in Gallantry - A Soap Opera, revelling in the ditsy love interest role. Linn's voice is strong, yet sweet - a pleasure to behold.

The quartet is completed with Soprano, Jessica Dean and Baritone, Tom Millhouse both of whom are accomplished singers, and an asset to the company. Dean especially fares well through the night taking great satisfaction in her tongue-in-cheek role as the twee 50's television announcer in Gallantry.

Rob Croser's evident directorial experience (of Independent Theatre fame) has added value to this production, giving the performers the tools to utilise the static sets and create more than the two dimensional characters so often found in light opera.

With very little to fault and a lot to commend, the Young Artist program at the Opera Studio appears to have the future between its walls - well worth a look for opera lovers of both old and new.

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Opus Performing Arts Community
Noarlunga College Theatre
17 January 2004

Review by Sue Oldknow

Writer/Director Patricia Andrews has provided some school holiday entertainment for the Noarlunga area with a fairly traditional version of the well known story of Aladdin and his magic lamp. Whether this is a "pantomime" as such is debatable.

Andrews takes on the dame role of Widow Twanky (in an amazing red wig) and is the liveliest character on stage in what appears to be a rather nervous production.

She hasn't gone for any of the traditional gender swapping (apart from Avril Dargie doing a competent job of The Vizier).

Aladdin is played somewhat uncomfortably by Nathan Schubert while Zoe Martin looks more at home with her character of Princess Shining Pearl.

Neither has much success singing to the bumpy backing which I assume is recorded music. Most performers had trouble staying in time with it, whether this was due to a lack of rehearsal or difficulty hearing on stage, it is still inexcusable.

Direction failed to develop characters. Rob Schubert has potential as the villain, Ali Svengali, with good projection and nice stage presence, but he isn't nearly evil enough.

Wishee and Washee (Kirsty Cochrane and James Hardy) bumble quite fittingly but are apologetic about it.

Eliza Bentley is one of the few who looks confident and does a good job as the Genie of the Lamp.

The best voice on stage belongs to Julia Henning as Lotus who unfortunately only gets to sing a snippet.

The children in the show are sweet and used quite well. The dancers do a good job and look lovely in the colourful costumes.

The little bits that are pure panto go over well. The interaction with the audience is rare but welcome. The "boos" and hisses, the "Look behind you", the dancing donkey and the skeleton dancers all work well. There just isn't enough of the right stuff.

Children are a tough audience and they deserve productions as well rehearsed and well funded as those for adults.

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The Weimar Room
27 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Thursday 15 January and Saturday 17 January at 9pm

Review by Fran Edwards

I probably need to point out at the beginning, I am not a Bowie aficionado. I have enjoyed his music over the years and wondered at the guy's obvious talent and ability to reinvent himself. One of the things I often wondered is would he have taken a different course if he had remained Davy Jones as he was before the success of the Monkees forced him to change his name?

Bowie has been without doubt one of the most influential musicians in rock, his many "phases" have help spawn or supported many of the rock offshoots (punk, goth rock, new wave etc), so doing a tribute show is a tall order and requires Talent.

Whilst Denis Kirkham and his assembled musicians look nothing like Bowie and his band in any of their many incarnations, at times Denis sounds uncannily like Mr Bowie. The band members were experiencing some difficulties as the drummer and bass guitarist had been replaced at the last minute. However the lead guitarist Richard Simmondes held them all together for most of the numbers and the new bass, Quentin Dunn, and drums, Costa coped remarkably well.

The evening commenced with a couple of acoustic numbers, one of which was a Bowie cover 'Sorrow" which turned out to be one of the evening's highlights for me. With the aid of the band Denis touched on most of Bowie's many styles. Delivering hits from the Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust and Scary Monsters albums with the occasional track from Let's Dance and Diamond Dogs they covered a lot of ground in the time. Let's Dance, Suffragette City and Rebel Rebel were probably the highlights.

This was a preview show and will improve when the new musicians settle in. The drummer was good but lacked finesse and the bass needs more volume. The sound mixer needs to learn to better balance the vocals with the excellent but sometimes too loud lead guitar. Overall I enjoyed the show. Bowie fans should not miss it.

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Adelaide Festival Centre
Until February 18 2004

Review by Stephanie Johnson

The smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! has arrived in Adelaide and is a fun-filled frolic down Abba memory lane, a delight for all Abba fans and musical buffs.

Not since ABBA's 1977 Australian tour has such a celebration of the Swedish group's music been seen in Adelaide. And the wait has been worth it. This joyous musical is packed with colour, fun, romance, enchanting and amusing characters and, of course, ABBA hits!

MAMMA MIA! is set in a rustic taverna on a Greek island where Sophie (Esther Hannaford, the understudy on the Preview night) is about to get married. Her mother, Donna Sheridan (Margi Di Ferranti), has never revealed the identity of her daughter's father. As a result all Sophie wants is to find her father for this important day. So, unbeknownst to her mother, she invites three of her mother's old flames to see if one of them may be the right man and give her away. Also invited to the wedding are Donna's old friends Rosie (Emma Powell) and Tanya (Jenny Vuletic). Mayhem, hilarity and romance ensue as all converge on the island taverna for a wedding!

The stars of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaus' colourful musical could easily have been the selection of 22 ABBA songs, but this is not the case. Writer Catherine Jonson has masterfully crafted a story that links the songs in a way that is delightful and rarely appears contrived. The Adelaide cast is professional and dynamic, bringing the characters to life in a way that ensures that the story, characters and the songs all share great appeal. The costumes, set and orchestra add brilliance, vigour and fun. The result is a mood-lifter - a romantic comedy with heart!

Margi Di Ferranti is voluptuous, talented and full of pluck in the role of Donna Sheridan. Her role is pivotal - a woman of substance, vulnerable and yet with an independent spirit. Margi makes the role her own, shining whether or not she is singing ABBA songs. Her sidekick friends, Emma Powell as Rosie and Jenny Vuletic as Tanya also pack a punch. Their comedic talents are striking, as is their rendition of Dancing Queen (with Di Ferranti).

Esther Hannaford is endearing as Sophie, providing a youthful appeal that juxtaposes the wisdom and wit of the older women. Her singing voice is powerful and her rendition of The Name of the Game outstanding.

Her three prospective fathers Bruce Roberts as Sam, Peter Hardy as Bill and John O'May as Harry also added humour and depth to the storyline. The ocker-like Hardy, the effeminite O'May and the gentle Roberts were perfect foils for each other. In particular Bruce Roberts sounded an urgent and meaningful note with his rich and emotional rendition of SOS.

The stage design, by Mark Thompson, was inspired adding to the gay and celebratory atmosphere of the show. The wardrobe/production design, by Mark Thompson, included but fortunately was not limited to ABBA's trademark spandex costumes and platform shoes. As such the inspired costumes enriched both the story and the songs. Three mature women dancing in spandex and platform shoes is a wonderful celebratory sight not to be missed!

But of course the other stars of this infectious and funny musical are some of ABBA's best known songs including Dancing Queen; The Winner Takes It all; SOS; I do, I do, I do, I do, I do; Knowing Me, Knowing You; Take a Chance On Me; Money, Money, Money and of course Mamma Mia. They take on new meaning in the context of this musical story, but they lose none of their appeal. In some cases they gain from the interpretations and the singing and dancing performances of the actors.

Overall, MAMMA MIA! is a magical walk down memory lane that is enhanced by the addition of a romantic tale that defies anyone, ABBA fans or not, to stay seated by the end of the performance!

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