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Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Wedding Singer

Director Garrick Smith is absolutely right to say that The Wedding Singer is not Shakespeare, but whatever it’s not, it is a lot of fun.

It is possible that opening night nerves got to the cast when I saw it; the first half hour or so was laboured and difficult to relate to, but then one of those great moments in theatre occurred, and the tenor lifted. It is a sign of a strong and talented cast when you see such a strong injection of energy in the middle of the first act. Before long I was tapping away and having a ball.
For those who don’t know, the musical version of The Wedding Singer is substantially different from the film of the same name. In this, it is the musical numbers that drive the emotional essence of the plot, and the most poignant of these are delivered beautifully by the magnificently talented heroine, played by Rebecca Franks, and her equally talented offsider played by Amy Dunham.
The musical is also funnier than the film, as I remember it, and Tim Sekuless’ timing is excellent. In my humble opinion, though, the best moment is when Boy George wannabe, George (played by Jeffrey van de Zandt) bursts into a rendition of an 80s pop song in perfect Hebrew. Gold.
No, it’s definitely not Shakespeare, but it’s a great night out.
 
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Posted by on Friday, 17 October 2008 in Supa Productions, The Street Theatre

 

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The Learned Ladies

The Learned Ladies is one of Moliere’s ingenious comedies, and his genius lies in his capacity to incorporate incidental humour into circumstantial humour inherent in the plot, and still deliver an insightful and meaningful story. These days I consider myself lucky if a comedy is even funny, but to have humour on so many levels combined with a story of value is an unparalelled joy.

Under the direction of Geoffrey Borny, and I remember his direction well from my uni days, the cast delivered an exquisite performance; well-timed, responsive to the audience, and in every way relevant despite its age.
Diane Heather and Graham Robertson gave stand-out comic performances in their hilarious roles, and Andy Burton’s Clitandre and Eleanor Garran’s Henriette were spectacularly entertaining in their more serious roles. Terry Johnson was no less noteworthy as the simpering Trissotin, proving a worthy foil for Clitandre, and a balanced complement to Naone Carrel’s appropriately ghastly Philaminte.
I couldn’t help thinking that I would like to see a staging of this play set in 21st Century Australia, with the learned ladies of the title cast as chardonnay socialists and their more pragmatic counterparts as wealthy but down-to-earth Australians.
Regardless, this was an excellent production, and while I am disappointed that I couldn’t be directly involved in it, I was pleased to be able to spend an afternoon in hysterics in the auditorium.
 
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Posted by on Saturday, 11 October 2008 in Canberra Theatre, Theatre, Tuggeranong Arts Centre

 

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Pygmalion

Busy as I am, I took the last chance I would have to see Canberra Repertory’s Pygmalion, and I am glad I did. Living up to their excellent reputation, Rep presented a thoughtful and challenging piece of theatre.

Often, a great set and spectacular costumes simply make the performers look dull, as happened with Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady, but not so in this case. A beautifully modern set, clearly a product of 21st century mentality, served as a symbolic gesture to this early 20th century story, complementing the costumes beautifully; and the cast earned every part of it.
As always, accents are a problem with this story. Accents are a difficult thing in theatre, and Shaw does no one any favours by writing a play that is absolutely centred on accent. Jessica Brent’s Lisson Grove dialect was acceptable, and her recieved pronunciation was appropriately awkward. Other characters, however, had no excuse for sounding stilted. The production, nonetheless, survives its slowness, the pathos of Shaw’s characters shining through in the second act just as it should, and the awkwardness of Shaw’s ending was deftly handled.
I really liked this production. Maybe I was just relieved that the cast had taken the time to understand the characters, unlike the cast of My Fair Lady. It was slow, but didn’t drag. It was awkward, but even that was appropriate. In all, a great show.
 
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Posted by on Saturday, 4 October 2008 in Canberra Repertory Society, Canberra Theatre, Theatre

 

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