Tag: Gillian Cosgriff

REVIEW: Vic Theatre Company Presents LOVING REPEATING

Sleek, beautiful and musically sumptuous

By Bradley Storer

The emerging group Vic Theatre Company takes their maiden voyage with the rapturous Loving Repeating, a musical based on the life and times of formidable poet and intellectual Gertrude Stein with music by Broadway legend Stephen Flaherty and text derived from the letters and poems of Stein herself.

Loving Repeating (James Terry Photography)

The performance is structured as part lecture, part flashback – we are guided by the elderly Stein (Deidre Rubenstein) reflecting back on the events which shaped her the course of her life and career as an artist, on selections of her poetry and intellectual writings. The titular opening song is a glorious lyrical outpouring based on Stein’s observations of her fellow students at college, the ensemble beautifully led by Caitlin Berry as the youthful Stein with gorgeous choreography from Michael Ralph, setting a high bar for the rest of the show.

The main focus of Loving Repeating is the relationship between Stein and her lover Alice B. Toklas, a relationship which lasted until Stein’s death. The five actors who between them play the two roles at different ages are wonderful. Berry as the young Gertrude displays a fiery disposition and fierce sensuality, with Jennifer Peers showing the softening of this youthful ferocity into a mature, enveloping warmth. Gillian Cosgriff brings an angelic glow and understated passion to the young Alice B. Toklas, expanding into a confident and forthright sexuality in the performance of Nicole Melloy as her middle-aged self. Rubenstein as the elderly Stein wields poetic language with authority and surgical precision, challenging the audience intellectually at the same time she draws us in with a twinkle in her eye and a sense of self-deprecating humor.

Loving Repeating feels less like a traditional musical theatre show than a staged song cycle or a sung-through chamber opera. Langley brings some creative staging to the show aided immensely by the brilliant choreography of Ralph, encompassing lyrical abstract movement, tango and vaudevillian flair. The ensemble as a whole are ideal in the seamless whole they created in their numbers, and as they almost never leave the stage their stamina in this 90-minute show be commended.

The problem is that Stein’s writings do not necessarily add up to a cohesive narrative – it is at points easy to become lost in Stein’s circular and repetitive language which, although making an impact on the page, can be impenetrable for an audience member with no knowledge of Stein’s history. The show is set up as series of vignettes but it is hard to find an underlying meaning or connection in the text as they transition from one section to the next.

Overall though, this is an impressive debut performance from Vic Theatre Company, with a sense of quality and artistry to match even professional shows on far bigger stages – there are moments of such shocking and surprising beauty to be found in Loving Repeating that they alone are worth the price of admission.

Dates: 21 January – 8 February

Venue: Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 8.00pm; Saturday 3pm & 8pm; Sunday 8pm (1 Feb) and 3pm (8 Feb)

Tickets:  $49.00 full, $43.00 concession (+ transaction fee), SPECIAL PRICE for Tuesday 3 February – all tickets $40 (+ transaction fee)

Booking: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au, Phone: 03 8290 7000, Email: chapel@stonnington.vic.gov.au

Image by James Terry

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REVIEW: EP Launch with Spanky in CANDICE MCQUEEN – NASTY

His/her hit show is now on EP

By Jessica Cornish

On  Sunday November 4 in the iconic Spiegeltent nestled beside that giant ferris wheel, the outrageous artist Spanky morphed into Candice McQueen to launch her 5 track EP as produced by the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

As always, the high-heeled Candice, draped in fluorescent pink and with blue eyelashes did not disappoint. But nor did WAAPA graduate support act, Gillian Cosgriff who kicked off the launch wonderfully, and quickly captivated the audience with her quirky songs about past relationships and bad experiences with shaving her legs and a lack of band aids in her life.

The feature show Nasty, fresh from its previous run a few months ago in the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, stars the bizarre Candice McQueen, ‘fluent in the language of fag,’ who tells epic tales of her life including a birth surrounded by a circle of gorillas, an hiatus in the Middle East where she was present for the crucifixion of Jesus, and a move to West Hollywood where she meet her lover, River Phoenix…

The  ‘Mr Sister’  has eternally strong stage presence, great comedic timing and an ability to draw you in to her bizarre world: however it was sometimes easy to get lost with some of her songs towards the end. But like the guy next to me said, ‘I have no idea what she’s talking about, but it’s funny’, so maybe it’s okay to be a little bemused sometimes.

Throughout the night Candice was accompanied by her extremely talented guitarist/pianist/back-up vocalist Robert Tripolino. Dressed in a pair of worn-out red converse shoes and sunnies, he was incredible, consistently nailing every harmony, including the tricky More Than Words classic, and demonstrating his skill on the guitar.

My only concern with the launch was that  I felt the production side was slightly lacking. Candice made great use of the difficult circular space in her initial stage appearance; however she was in darkness for most of the first number and throughout the performance there were other instances where I felt the show could have benefited from greater use of light.

However, that being said Nasty the EP launch was a great night. Once again Spanky delighted a crowded venue and the funds raised from this event will contribute to future international tours for the star and her sidekick.