HENRY 4, Bell Shakespeare Company at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, April 20-May 26, 2013. Photos by Lisa Tomasetti: l-r Arky Michael, Felix Jozeps, Yalin Ozecelik, Matthew Moore, John Bell, Terry Bader, Wendy Strehlow. Right: David Whitney and Matthew Moore.
Henry 4 combines Shakespeare's two Henrys into three hours of comedy and drama that - as so much of the playwright's work does - tells us as much about ourselves as it might of Elizabethan times. This Henry is all about people who are not what they seem, or not what they should be. It's also about what we hope or dream we are - the illusions and delusions of every day. It was poignant therefore to catch up with the production on the same day as the new Dutch king's coronation.
The TV news vox pops from the streets of Amsterdam brought us a woman clad head to foot in the House of Orange's signature shade. She said she really liked the new king's consort (an Argentinian investment banker) because "she looks like a queen". Shakespeare would have loved that thought, even as he would have chortled at the transformation of "Prince Pils" - the pleasure-loving crown prince - into the very model of dutiful and serious monarch, Willem-Alexander.
AT LAST - THE ETTA JAMES STORY, The Playhouse at the Sydney Opera House, 30 April-5 May 2013. Photos by Lightbox Photography: Vika Bull.
Vika Bull is probably best known (in Sydney at least) as half of a soulful duo with her sister Linda. Not any more. In singing the turbulent, tragic yet ultimately triumphant life of rock, soul and blues pioneer Etta James, the Mudgee-born Vika is revealed as a sold gold stellar performer in her own right.
The show is described by its writer John Livings as a "narrative concert" and that's pretty much what it is. Bull and a solid, seven piece band rip through a chronology of Etta's life from Tell Mama - when the then under-age blues shouter was on the road and not yet out of control - through 20+ sumptuous songs to the one everyone knows, At Last. It was one hell of a life and musical talent and Vika Bull more than does it justice.
I'll Eat You Last: a Chat with Sue Mengers, Booth Theatre, 222 W 45th St, NYC; closes June 30, 2013. Photo of Bette Midler by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times; right: photo of Sue Mengers.
CAROLINE BAUM REPORTS FROM BROADWAY
With just a couple of nights to spare in NYC I wanted to see a show that would never transfer to Australia for one reason or another. So I picked I'll Eat You Last as a dead cert. No one could afford to bring Bette Midler to us and besides, not many people in Australia would have heard of the Hollywood maven she plays, Sue Mengers, the flamboyant queen of movie deal-making. (She invented the term "super-agent" to describe herself) and who listed luminaries such as Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunawaye and Jack Nicholson among her clients, or, as she preferred to call them, "twinklies".
Stagenoise.comis taking a couple of weeks off while the Boss embarks on Rhapsody of the Seas and heads for the islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
But don’t think it’s going to be all cocktails and cruisewear. The Boss is doing creative writing classes for passengers and it will be damned hard yakka. And island-hopping, snorkeling, coral viewing, and Kindling; never mind the poulet fish and Mary dresses.
So as Gracie Fields used to warble–
Wish us luck as you wave us goodbye
Cheerio, here I go, on my way.
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
Not a tear, but a cheer, make it gay
Actually, the best thing about sailing out of Sydney harbour this Friday night will be seeing the Carmen sign lit up as we glide past!
Photos: Rhapsody of the Seas at Circular Quay and, right, the Boss's alter ego.
DANCE BETTER AT PARTIES, Wharf 2, Sydney Theatre Company, 9 April-11 May 2013. Photos by Brett Boardman of Elizabeth Nabben and Steve Rodgers.
This 70-minute two-hander play-dance by Gideon Obarzanek has evolved from his earlier dance work I Want To Dance Better At Parties. He took one of the five stories told in the Chunky Move show from 2004 and developed it into this, his first text-based piece, and it's touching, funny and delightful.
Obarzanek got the idea after observing and listening to the painful efforts of a shy, awkward man to learn to "dance better at parties". Few among us - male or female - will be unfamiliar with this particular agony. As teenagers or older, most of us have suffered the horror, real or imagined, of trying to (shudder) dance well enough to pass muster with peers and whomever we were trying to impress at the time.
FRANKENSTEIN, at the Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, then Ensemble Theatre then touring nationally. 3 April 2013. Photos by Heidrun Lohr; main: Lee Jones and Andrew Henry; right: Lee Jones.
A young (19) Mary Shelley wrote much of Frankenstein while in Switzerland in the summer of 1816 with her lover-then-husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. They were travelling with their friend Lord Byron and his lover (and her step-sister) Claire Clairmont and John Polidori, author of the The Vampyre - the first English vampire story. The hothouse atmosphere radical political thinking, artistic and intellectual curiosity in this group greatly influenced the already liberally if eccentrically educated Mary.
Her story - written at Byron's instigation in competition with the others - incorporated what would later be recognised as science fiction with a Gothic horror story and also a heartrending plea for tolerance in an essentially cruel world. She would surely be bemused by the way the story has become a seminal and widely adapted classic of literature, cinema and pop culture over the close to 200 years since. The men would probably be even more bemused.
Sheer entertainment packed into a political powerhouse
This production is just wonderful.
A sparkling and intelligent production
As light and appealing as cupcakes.
A rich, all too human and all too true story
STAGENOISE ON THE HIGH SEAS
Blessed silence for two weeks.
THE RISE AND RISE OF KING KONG
Broadway beckons. Spiderman watch out!
NEXT TO NORMAL: GONE
Why can't the producers get it right?
PHRYNE FISHER TO RETURN!
Terribly fashionable, unmistakably glamorous and handy with a pistol
MARGARET WHITLAM - 1919-2012
We will miss her
TMO Chamber Players – The Cellists
May 19 (NSW)
Noel and Gertie
21 May - 1 June (NSW)
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow
May 21 - 23 (NSW)
May 21 (NSW)
An Evening with Julie Andrews
May 24-25 (NSW)
Bruce Mathiske at the Zenith
May 25 (NSW)
Jack Charles V The Crown
May 29 - 01 Jun (NSW)
The Dream of a Ridiculous Man
May 29- June 1 (NSW)
30 May-16 June (VIC)