18 February 2017

Review: John

Melbourne Theatre Company
16 February 2017
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 25 March

MTC. John. Photo by Jeff Busby

American playwright Annie Baker won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for The Flick (seen at Red Stitch) when she was 33. Her writing's won Off-Broadway Obie awards and rightly declares a new Baker as a show to see. The MTC have the Australian premier of her 2015 play, John, and director Sarah Goodes guides a must-see production that revels in the ambiguity, mystery and too-close-for-comfort humour in the writing.


The full review is on AussieTheatre.com and will be here soon.

16 February 2017

Review: Little Emperors

Little Emperors
Malthouse Theatre for Asia TOPA
15 February 2017
Beckett Theatre
to 26 February

Little Emperors. Photo by Tim Grey

Little Emperors was commissioned and developed by Malthouse Theatre for the Asia TOPA festival. Australian writer Lachlan Philpott (The Trouble With Harry) was flown to Beijing to work with director Wang Chong (founder and director of the Beijing-based experimental company Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental) to create "a piece about the connection between China and Australia ... appealing to both English and Mandarin speaking audiences."


Full review on AussieTheatre.com and will be her soon.

13 February 2017

Review: Lifetime Guarantee

Lifetime Guarantee
Theatre Works
10 February 2017
Theatre Works
to 26 February

Izabella Zena & Julian Dibley-Hall. Photo by Pier Carthew

My review in The Age/SMH.

With apologies for getting Mark Constable and Julian Dibley-Hall's names mixed up.

Review: The Way Things Work

The Way Things Work
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
8 February 2017
Red Stitch
to 5 March

Joe Petruzzi & Peter Houghton. Photo by  Teresa Noble

My review in The Age/SMH.

10 February 2017

Reflection: The Intimate 8

The Intimate 8
Finucane & Smith, National Gallery Victoria
4 February 2017
to 11 February

Last year, Moira Finucane became the NGV's first Creative Fellow. It's an honorary role, but what an honour.

And what an absolute joy to be among the lucky few who have taken Moira's The Intimate 8 tour through the gallery. Over three Saturdays, groups of 20(ish) took a free whirlwind tour where hundreds of years of art saturated our souls and reminded us to look around, see what people make and live our life as a total work of art.

A gift. Porcelain Heart handcrafted by Catherine Lane and held by many hands. (I put it next to my cat's ashes.)

Guests wear headphones and follow Moira in her swishing long black gown with crystal straps. She tells us what she thinks about when she looks at the works, what she imagines the artists thought or what the characters in the paintings are thinking.

I saw pieces I've never looked at before, but some weren't new. Her imagined revenge on the ravens in Anguish – August Friedrich Albrecht's 1878 painting of the sheep with her dead lamb that always breaks me a little bit – was gory and glorious.


The headphones add a soundtrack (composed and collated by Darrin Verhagen and Ben Keene) to her commentary – like hearing "... then we take Berlin" (from Cohen's "First we take Manhattan") while looking at Great dancing pair by Erich Heckel, painted in Germany in 1923 at the height of the Weimar Republic, when the war to end all wars was over and no one believed that a greater hell was on its way.

It felt like being in a film; feeling distanced from everyone else in the gallery and being immersed in Moira's thoughts. Even though she's talking out loud, and others are listening, we only hear her through the headphones.

There's little time to contemplate, but it's easy it is to remember each work and its story – why don't I live in the Gallia apartment? –  and still have time to accidentally hold hands with a stranger while imagining afternoon tea served eighteenth century English silver. And watch gallery visitors watching us; we became as much a part of their gallery visit as the art.


What a way to introduce and share art. Imagine if there were tours like this through the gallery every day? Think of all the artists and performers that you'd love to take a tour with. Think of all the people – some who might have never been to the gallery – who would take the tours.

The six Intimate 8 sessions were booked out almost as soon as they were announced. There are two tomorrow afternoon, so if you're in the gallery after 2.30, you may want to follow a group of people in headphones following a magnificent woman in black.

09 February 2017

Review: 'Tis Pity

'Tis Pity: An Operatic Fantasia on Selling the Skin and the Teeth
Victorian Opera
6 February 2017
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall
to 8 February

'Tis Pity. Kanen Breen & Meow Meow. Photo by Pia Johnson

The 2015 Victorian Opera production of Die Sieben Todsunden with Meow Meow took me as close to seeing how Brecht and Weil must have imagined their work. It was a highlight of that year and the newly devised 'Tis Pity song cycle reunites Meow and director Cameron Menzies, adds the rather divine tenor Kanen Breen and Richard Mills composing for a full orchestra. And it's about exploring the history of prostitution. All the ingredients are brilliant, so what went wrong?

Of course, Meow and Breen's performances are excellent. Their vaudeville-cum-Brechtian-cum-"Alan Cummings in Cabaret" clowns are backed by red velvet, three male dancers and Orchestra Victoria, with cheap shiny-red cardboard hearts on their music stands. The opening moments are full of hope as Breen sings that sex is both the question and the answer.

Sex? Sex.

What follows is ten vignettes about how women have been exploited by men for as long as records exist. Their order is drawn from a hat in convenient chronological order. This device is only slightly less annoying than the alarm screaching the beginning of each vignette.

There’s no consistent theme. From Ancient Greece to contemporary Hollywood, there are narratives – not structured stories with characters – about "whores", men using prostitutes, keeping wives away from whores, keeping women “subjugated”, evil menstrual blood and hypocritical religion.

The narrative voice is almost always male – even when delivered by Meow. When she does speak as a women, it's confirming the male narrative that working girls (with cockney Pygmalion accents) are selling their souls.

With little exploration of a female point of view and research that feels as deep as a Wikipedia introduction, perhaps Mills's boast that "This project was written at breakneck speed in the month of November" says it all.

‘Tis Pity is under developed and needs to find more heart than those cut from cardboard.

Also on AussieTheatre.com.

06 February 2017

Review: The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon
Producers listed here
4 February 2017
Princess Theatre
open run

The Book of Mormon. Ryan Bondy & Auguston Aziz Tchantcho. Photo by Jeff Busby
Oh, I believe!

The expectations of the Australian production of The Book of Mormon were higher than a stoner watching South Park – the Broadway run hasn’t had an empty seat since it opened, and won Tonys, in 2011. These expectations have been reached – and surpassed.

Seeing it once isn’t enough.

Elders Price and Cunningham are 19 and paired off for their two-year Mission, following the thousands of Elders who have set the stereotype of Mormons all over the world. Elder Price (Ryan Bondy) is the perfect Latter Day Saint son. He knows he’s one of Heavenly Father’s favourites and prays to be sent to Orlando, Florida, for theme parks and putt-putt golfing. Elder Cunningham (AJ Holmes) gets everything wrong, is mostly excited to finally have a friend, and has to be told that Uganda, their destination, is in Africa. When they arrive in a village that’s been devastated by poverty and the threat of a local warlord adds to the misery of most of them having AIDS, there’s hope for baptisms – but the villagers have strong opinions about the mercy and goodness of God.

I don’t think I have ever laughed so much.

It’s easy to praise Bondy and Holmes (they have played the roles in international productions and will be replaced by their Australian understudies) who win the undying love of the audience from their first ding dongs. But everyone on stage is as utterly brilliant. Zahra Newman (Nabulungi), Bert LaBonte (Mafala Hatimbi) and Rowan Witt (Elder McKinley) are unforgettable and have each brought an extra bit of themselves to make the roles their own; the background characters are as developed as the protagonists; and the on-stage energy could run a city power grid

Written by Robert Lopez (Avenue Q and the wonderful musical episode of Scrubs), and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park), and co-directed by Parker and choreographer Casey Nicholaw (a pile of Broadway shows), the satire of the Mormons and their faith is merciless. It’s created by following the first rule of comedy: tell the truth. Today, about 15 million people believe that truth about the church founded in America in the 1830s, but a lot of truths seem a bit nutso when they’re described.

The Ugandans are equally satirised, but their truth is very different and always seen through the point of view of the Mormons. They aren’t real Ugandans, but an exaggerated version of the “nice” and “innocent” (or warlordy) Africans expected on music theatre stages. Their layer of truth is the poverty and diseases that America could cure today; the cost of an A-reserve ticket could feed a starving child for a long time.

As the super-white American Mormons and the Africans are brought together with a common hope and goal, they are always the heroes of their personal, and the bigger, story. Everyone – even General I-can’t-spoil-the-joke-for-those-who-don’t-know – is loved and always laughed with, far more than at.

This confrontation and shattering of expectations is carried though every element. Glorious, flat, shining Salt Lake City falls away as a rotting dead donkey is dragged through the village; the Mormon boys dance like showgirls; and music theatre nerds can spot the references-cum-homages to shows including Les Miserables, The Sound of Music, The King and I, Hamilton and, of course, The Lion King.

Or just enjoy the joyous obscenity and freaking language, the tighter-than-tight jokes, the foot-perfect chorey, magnificent singing, and insanely brilliant design (Scott Pask, set; Ann Roth, costume; Brian MacDevitt, lighting) that’s as complex and joke-filled as the script.

They’ve done something incredible.

Also on AussieTheatre.com.

As it's also a very expensive ticket (musicals don't welcome everyone), it's worth trying for the nightly $40 ticket lottery. You have to be at the theatre when it's drawn, but it could save you around $400 for two tickets.

22 December 2016

What I loved in 2016, The best of Melbourne theatre

Tenth list and still no trophy, cheque or print-at-home certificate for the winners.

I sit on judging panels that have very specific criteria, but the criteria for this list remains simple: What did I love the most? And I've now added: Would I (did I) see it again?

The most popular show on from the What Melbourne Loved series was Backstage in Biscuitland. Tourettes Hero, we'd love you to visit us again.

Outstanding Artists 2016


The Listies: Prince of Skidmark. Photo by Prudence Upton

Declan Greene and The Listies for Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark, Sydney Theatre Company
(Melbourne season please.)

Special mentions

David Finnigan for Kill Climate Deniers at Melbourne Fringe and the script

Sammy J for Hero Complex at Melbourne International Comedy Festival


Blaque Showgirls. Photo by Pia Johnson

Andrew Bailey (set) for Lungs at MTC

Paul Jackson (lighting) for Picnic at Hanging Rock at Malthouse

Eugyeene Teh (set and costume) for Blaque Showgirls at Malthouse

Special mentions

The Making Space team (Bronwyn Pringle, Melanie Liertz, Pippa Bainbridge,
Jack Beeby, Chris Molyneux and Rachel Edward )(whole space) for Beneath and Beyond at La Mama

Kate Davis (design) and Emma Valente (lighting) for Cain and Abel by The Rabble at The Substation


Wit. Photo by Pia Johnson

Jane Montomery Griffiths in Wit by The Artisan Collective in conjunction with fortyfivedownstairs

Special mentions

Awakening. Photo by Nura Sheidaee

The cast of Awakening by MUST: Nicola Dupree, Samantha Hafey-Bagg, Eamonn Johnson, James Malcher, Sam Porter and Imogen Walsh.

The cast of Lilith, the Jungle Girl by Sisters Grimm at MTC: Ash Flanders, Candy Bowers, Genevieve Giuffre.


Straight White Men.  Photo by Jeff Busby

Sarah Giles for Straight White Men at MTC and Blaque Showgirls at Malthouse

Special mentions

Daniel Lammin for Awakening by MUST

Daniel Clarke for Rust and Bone at La Mama


FOLA: the Festival of Live Art

including Arts House ticketHotel Obsucuraand Portraits in Motion at Theatre Works.


Jason Lehane and Yvonne Virsik

MUST: Monash University Student Theatre

Every time I see a MUST production, I'm thrilled that I went. Yvonne Virsik (Artistic Director) and Jason Lehane (Technical Manager) help students to create the kind of theatre that blows me away every time. It's work made with an intelligence and a freedom that doesn't restrict ideas and regularly creates work so original and unique that I wonder why it hasn't been done before.

I only saw three shows this year – Noises Off, Slaughterhouse Five and Awakening. Each explored form and told story in ways that made the exploration of form invisible.

If you're one of those people who I tell to see shows, you know that MUST comes up a lot. So, what about making 2017 the year that you get out to Clayton? (It's really not that far.)

And so many artists and creators who are making their mark on Melbourne (a few have contributed moments) are from Monash and got their start at MUST.  Fleur Kilpatrick, Sarah Walker, Daniel Lammin, Mark Wilson, Mama Alto, Jack Beeby, Sarah Collins, Danny Delahunty, James Jackson, Kevin Turner, Anna Nalpantidis, Elizabeth Brennan, Tom Halls, Trelawney Edgar, Jake Stewart, Mark Crees, Bek Berger, Piper Huynh, Hayley Toth, Andrew Westle, Tom Middleditch. (I'm going to add to this list as more names are given to me.)

Slaughterhouse Five

Outstanding Productions 2016


Leah Shelton in Terror Australis

Terror Australis by Leah Shelton (Polytoxic) at Melbourne Fringe

Special mentions

Mother's Ruin. Maeve Marsden & Libby Wood

Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin by Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood at the Butterfly Club

Briefs by The Briefs Factory at Arts Centre Melbourne

Princesstuous by Isabella Valette at the Butterfly Club, Melbourne International Comedy Festival


Matilda, Royal Shakespeare Company and all the producers listed here


Matilda, Royal Shakespeare Company and all the producers listed here

Dave and Zoe Coombs Marr. Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning by Zoe Coombs Marr at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Special mentions

Rama Nichols. Mary Weather's Monsters

Mary Weather's Monsters by Rama Nichols at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Marco. Polo. by Laura Davis at Melbourne International Comedy Festival (and Melbourne Fringe)


Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl by Jess Love at Melbourne Fringe

Il Signor Bruschino. Lyric Opera

Il Signor Bruschino by Lyric Opera


Small Time Criminals players

Small Time Criminals by Pop up Playground

There's still time to play this live action game that closes (after a year) in February. It was so much fun. But it's not easy.

Listen to my co-robbers Richard and Fleur on RRR discussing our perfectly brilliant night. It starts at 2.34. (Fleur, I was giggling cos I was having so much fun! And because I was really shit at turning off my torch and had to hide my light from the terrifying guard, who never found me hiding under the table.)

Between Two Lines by Anna Nalpantidis with Elizabeth Brennan at Melbourne Fringe 


Awakening by MUST

Every Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing by Paines Plough and Pentabus at Malthouse

Matilda, Royal Shakespeare Company and all the producers listed here

Trigger Warning by Zoe Coombs Marr at MICF


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Jess Mabel Jones and Jessica Thom. . Photo by Jonathan Birch

Backstage in Biscuitland by Tourettes Hero at Melbourne Festival



21 December 2016

What Melbourne loved in 2016, part 15

All that's left is me. Tomorrow I'll publish my 2016 list of the shows I loved, but it's time for some moments.

This year marked 10 years of me reviewing. I had a month off to breathe.

I only saw 165 (or 20+ more if I count events with multiple performances) shows this year. There were also less reviews but a lot more tweets. And I was teaching arts journalism; meeting and reading young writers who want to write about the arts is as good as it gets. It's been a shitty year for arts writers, but there are plenty of voices who are going to be there and demand that they are heard. And I love teaching.

Selfie. Not giving a single fuck in Ubud in November.

Plus a special thanks to Faster Pussycat Productions for the new logo.

SM's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: Having this series welcomed back after a year off was awesome. Getting the emails and messages and talking to people about it IRL reminded me that we are a strong and active community.

Like so many others, I was a bit over it this year: funding cuts, Fairfax cuts, creative and writing tertiary courses being branded "lifestyle choices", far too many people still excluded from having a voice on main stages, boring conservative mainstage programs, and criticism of that dullness being ignored. The arguments I began to have in the 1980s are still happening; it's fucking depressing.

Then in the last couple of weeks I saw:

  • Blaque Showgirls at Malthouse. An Indigenous fuck you to every condescending, well-meaning and earnest statement about acceptance and respect. Laughed until I cried.
  • Burning Doors by Belarus Free Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne. Some people are using theatre to save lives and change their world. Some people risk so much more than a couple of dull hours to go to the theatre.
  • Hot Brown Honey at Arts Centre Melbourne. Standing screaming ovation for rejecting everything that denies women and especially women of colour a voice. 
  • Briefs at Arts Centre Melbourne. The other side of the Hot Brown Honey coin. What this show said about gender and masculinity needs to be bottled and drunk by everyone who tells someone to "man up".

Maybe there's a lot of hope for our main stages in 2017.

And throw in Moira Finucane telling a room of cheering people that "Art does change culture and it does change lives", at a fundraiser where Finucane and Smith raised enough money to create the kind of art that does change lives.

Going to Coranderrk to see Coranderrk and hearing the voices that spoke there 135 years ago.

Being totally relaxed lying in bath in the Embiggen Books window for Between Two Lines at Melbourne Fringe (Anna Nalpantidis with Elizabeth Brennan).

Coranderrk at Coranderrk
Between Two  Lines

iOTA singing "Life on Mars" at the Melbourne Festival Bowie concert.

Watching children cut Cameron Woodhead's hair at Haircuts by Children at Melbourne Festival.

Cameron Woodhead at Haircuts by Kids

Having no idea what was funny at Two Dogs at the Melbourne Festival.

The moment when Joshua Ladgrove decided that Neal Portenza couldn't do his scripted show when there were only nine people in the audience and The Age reviewer was in the front row. 

Watching a stage of naked women dancing in Nic Green's Trilogy at Arts House.

The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reading that wasn't a reading because it was just a group of friends hanging out and reading out loud. (Thanks Ben McKenzie.)

Getting a bag of "FUCK YOU" candy hearts at Dion in the Melbourne Fringe.

The best way to read a play

The whole audience breathing in together when the black world became white, and again when the white world dropped to reveal Hamer Hall in Back to Back's Lady Eats Apple at Melbourne Festival.

Dancing in an industrial fridge in a hotel dressing gown as Otto and Astrid sang "Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter" at the Finucane and Smith Christmas Cocktail party.

Otto and Astrid

Robbing a bank with Richard Watts and Fleur Kilpatrick at Pop up Playground's Small Time Criminals.

Fleur Kilpatrick, me, Kevin Turner, Richard Watts at Small Time Criminals

Running late to see Pound It, walking down the stairs and wondering who that amazing voice could be coming out of – then seeing Bridget Everett and knowing that I was going to love every second of her show.

Every tweet from Candy Bowers.

Hanging out in Ai Weiwei's cat room for kids at the National Gallery of Victoria at 6.30 am during White Night.

Ai Weiwei's cats at NGV

What SM is looking forward to in 2017: Whatever it brings, everything else that everyone else has said, and The Book of Mormon.

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part 14

20 December 2016

What Melbourne Loved in 2016, part 14

Today we hear from actor and singer Petra Elliot and two of the biggest supporters advocates for the arts in Melbourne: arts writers Myron My and Rohan Shearn.

Myron My
reviewer, best dressed of all the reviewers

Myron My

MM's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: Rather than talk about shows I loved, I really want to talk about shows that made me feel things that I don't normally feel or thoughts I had not considered before. To begin with, Backstage in Biscuitland really made me think about how we all need to work towards inclusivity in the arts, and not just performers or theatre makers, but as audience members as well. Similarly, Jodee Mundy and Deafblind artists Heather Lawson and Michelle Stevens's Imagined Touch had a strong response from me in terms of how we view disability, both in society and within the arts and a great lesson in reminding us that going to a performance doesn’t necessarily mean watching it or hearing it. 

Also at Arts House was Melanie Jame Wolf's Mira Fuchs, a feminist work on how women's bodies are seen and used within the context of stripping, Wolf herself having been a stripper for eight years. It's the first piece of a trilogy so I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this. During the Fringe festival, The Honeytrap's immersive show, The Maze put me in the mind of a woman walking home alone at night while simultaneously being in the shoes of a man following her. The performance made me acutely aware of the concerns and worries women face on a regular basis and left me feeling vulnerable and ashamed, but in a good way. 

I also have to give a special mention to Joshua Ladgrove and his brilliant creation of Neal Portenza. I've seen him perform three times this year and each time, no matter what was going on in my life, his antics on stage always made me forget about everything and gave me permission to laugh a hell of a lot and to allow myself to just enjoy the moment. 

What MM is looking forward to in 2017: I have already purchased my subscription to the Malthouse Theatre and will be purchasing one to Theatre Works shortly. Both their seasons look amazing and I can't wait to get to see them all. Also looking forward to Little Ones Theatre's Merciless Gods and Stephen Nicolazzo's direction of The Moors for Red Stitch. And pretty much everything that will be on at Arts House. Oh, and to try and break this year’s record of 172 shows!

Myron's top-10-plus of 2016: myronmy.me

SM: No one sees as many Fringe shows as Myron does. He might see more than Fringe staff. He's one of the biggest advocates and ongoing supporters of independent artists (and especially cabaret) in town. He's the reviewer I read to find out about artists I haven't heard of (and he was a great source of "do I need to see x" during Fringe). But my moments with Myron are not about theatre: He loves Survivor – the tribe has spoken – more than I do. He knows the contestants names, he streams it before free-to-air. He should be on the Australian version; he applied but the producers were stupid and didn't choose him. I can share my love for this show with him and he makes me feel like I'm just a fan rather than an obsessive Survivor nerd.

Petra Elliot
actor, singer

PE's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016: My friend invited me to visit her one Wednesday evening, but as I was already slated to go to fortyfivedownstairs that evening to see The Artisan Collective's Wit, I arranged to have brunch with her on Saturday morning instead.

That night I sat in the audience of Wit, marvelling at Jane Montgomery Griffiths in the lead role. Her performance was incredible, and I sat there with the tears she had evoked streaming unashamedly down my cheeks – I made absolutely no attempt to conceal them. The set design, direction, and supporting cast were just as impressive, creating a space in which I felt safe to just feel. It was one of the most dynamic and unforgettable pieces of work I'd seen in a while.

Perhaps though, there is another reason this work has stayed with me. That Saturday brunch brought with it news that my friend had found out she herself had cancer (which she had wanted to tell me that Wednesday, the night I saw the show). Experiencing Wit became that much more powerful – I suddenly had an even stronger tie to the work – and I can only imagine how much of a mess I would have been in the audience if the order of events had been reversed.

For me this is often the best theatre. Work in which you are able to do more than just witness, but experience, and truly immerse yourself.

Don't get me wrong, I of course love feel-good theatre and, on a lighter note, I turn my mind to the incredible cabaret I've seen in 2016. Special mentions to Cabaret Festival highlights Alice Tovey  in Personal Messiah, and Karlis Zaid, Mark Jones and Aurora Kurth for Australian Horror Story (with direction by Stephen Gates). Incredible performances, stunning original songs and musical arrangements, shining a light on the darker side of our society while still being incredibly entertaining. Mother's Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin was another highlight and is everything I love about cabaret: dynamic voices singing in killer harmony, a fascinating narrative on a topic you'd never have expected, and stunning re-arrangements of well chosen songs that progress the story and evoke all of the feels.

Double Indemnity at MTC was also a particular favourite. The performances were delightful, and how good was that set!

What PE is looking forward to in 2017: Like most people, I'm excited by the seasons of Theatre Works and the Malthouse, and I love what the Butterfly Club are doing with their curated seasons. I'll also be spending a few weeks in Adelaide for Fringe with The Mighty Little Puppet Show and Petrasexual (2014 review), and I'm super excited to get immersed in Mad March and see as much as I can.


SM: I've seen Petra this year, but I haven't seen her perform this year – not by choice – but I have watched her in part the tv show Sonningsburg that I'm going to watch all of before the year is out (it's all on YouTube). Favourite moment though was her getting 3D printed clitorises for her season of Petrasexual.

Myron at the Butterfly Club with Petra's clitoris

Rohan Shearn
Managing Editor, Australian Arts Review

Rohan Shearn. Photo by Alexander Evans

RS's favourite moments in Melbourne theatre in 2016:We were spoilt for choice this year as the commercial and independent sector delivered a mixed bag of delights.

Capturing the Australian vernacular of the 50s, Ladies in Black was a divine Australian musical adaptation of Madeleine St John’s popular 1993 novel, The Women in Black.  Matilda, featuring Tim Minchin’s witty lyrics, was everything a musical should be – it made you laugh and cry, and brought out the inner-child in us all. Special mention goes to Jacqueline Dark, and her rousing rendition of "Climb Ev’ry Mountain" in The Sound of Music – simply stunning.

Not to be outdone, the independently produced Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story was hauntingly intelligent, while Blue Saint Productions presented a beautifully crafted production of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World. Both productions were presented at Chapel Off Chapel.

The Melbourne Festival also delivered two of the most heart-warming performances of the year: Jess Thom was unpredictable and enlightening in Backstage in Biscuitland  while the National Theatre of Scotland’s Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour was pitch perfect in its delivery.

Drama wise, Paul Capsis delivered an exquisite performance in Resident Alien at fortyfivedownstairs, Daniel Clarke delivered an in-your-face exploration of masculinity with Caleb Lewis’s  Rust and Bone at the La Mama Courthouse, and the Belarus Free Theatre presented the confrontingly brilliant Burning Doors at Arts Centre Melbourne.

What RS is looking forward to in 2017: Musicals will be well represented again in 2017. It may have taken awhile to get here, but The Book of Mormon make its Australian premiere in February. It may have missed out on some nomination gongs at the Sydney Theatre Awards, Aladdin will take us to a ‘whole new world’ in this spectacular rendition of a modern Disney classic at Her Majesty’s Theatre in April. The Ladies in Black take up residence at The Regent for a return season, and Watch This continue their Sondheim journey with Merrily We Roll Along at the Southbank Theatre. Also, expect announcements on Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Musical, and a new Australian production of Evita.

SM: Rohan is another amazing advocate and arts writer who sees everything, especially music theatre and cabaret. If I want to know anything about a musical, he's my source. I can't pick a favourite moment because I'm happy to see him every time I see him in a foyer, which is at most opening nights.


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