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Vale Naoné Carrel

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Naoné Carrel and Elaine Noon in Calendar Girls, along with that amazing smile

My Facebook feed is awash this morning with tributes to the very deserving Naoné Carrel. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing her as well as most of these friends did, but hers has been one of the faces that I have associated most closely with great nights in foyers and great moments in auditoria.

I met Naoné when she was President of Canberra Rep, and I had turned up early to a meeting of the Network of Amateur Theatre Organisations feeling rather like a very small fish in a very big pond. Her face beamed as she welcomed me and suddenly I felt like the pond was much smaller.

I had seen her on stage, of course, much earlier than that. I first saw her last century in The Dresser. And also while I was an undergrad I recall being enthralled with her performance in Death of a Salesman at the ANU Arts Centre.

The theatre community here is the richer for having had not only a performer of her calibre, but also an individual whose smile would light up the room. She will be missed.

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Naoné Carrel and Raoul Craemer in a promo shot from To Silence

For the big picture, here’s a sampling of reviews of Naoné’s shows:

 

 
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Posted by on Friday, 7 March 2014 in Canberra Theatre

 

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Lost in Yonkers

Theatre 3 has seen some fine productions over the years, but few of the calibre of of Rep’s current production of Neil Simon‘s Lost in Yonkers, the preview for which I saw tonight.

Lost in Yonkers is apparently a well-known play, which simply reveals my ignorance, because I’d never heard of it until I heard about Rep’s production. It’s the story of two brothers left with their cantankerous grandmother when their recently-widowered father has to go on the road to repay the debts incurred in the course of losing his wife to cancer. The Second World War being underway, and the Great Depression just barely relegated to memory, opportunities are few, but the loyalty of this barely functional family forms a great basis for Simon’s exploration of human relationships.

And the cast delivers Simon’s characters with aplomb. Lachlan Ruffy has received more than a few compliments for his theatrical activities, and this production demonstrates how well-deserved they are. His performance of Jay strikes a careful balance between the impetuousness of childhood and the control of a maturing adolescent. He is complemented wonderfully by Pippin Carroll, who plays the younger brother Arty with a comparable balance of naivety and wisdom beyond his years.

Bridgette Black’s Bella brought a lot of energy to the stage throughout the show, and with just the right amount of pathos to be able to carry off her more intense monologues as the plot reached its crescendo, without losing anything from the character’s comic qualities.

It is the illusion of ease with which the play is delivered that really stamps this as a production of the highest calibre. There is no point at which the actors appear to be labouring, which of course indicates that they’re working harder than most do. This production has that wonderful quality that marks all the best productions; a simple, forthright telling of a story, with nothing to draw our attention to the artifice of the theatrical process. It puts the audience at ease and creates exactly the right environment for the suspension of disbelief.

One of the noteworthy elements that goes into producing this effect with this production is the use of the New York accent. One of the most difficult American accents for Australians to emulate, this cast have pulled it off admirably. Even Paul Jackson, who may be thought to have had a head start on the accent, must have worked hard to get his gangster right. Despite a few slips of pronunciation from one or two members of the cast, the greatest achievement here is the uniformity of the accent across the cast, which is, when using foreign accents on stage, more important that accurate emulation from any individual actor. And when it comes to the use of foreign accents on the Canberra stage, I’ve rarely been convinced; this may be only the second or third Canberra cast who have caused me to forget that they’re a bunch of Australians bunging on an accent.

Lost in Yonkers is a solid production; one of the very best I’ve seen on the Canberra stage in my (almost) fifteen years in this town. Brilliant performances, superb direction, a great set, clever lighting and Neil Simon’s excellent script make for a laudable production. The rule here is, see this show, or forfeit the right to speak with any authority on the quality of theatre production in Canberra. That is all.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 13 September 2012 in Canberra Repertory Society, Canberra Theatre, Theatre, Theatre 3

 

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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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