Tag: Jessica Vickers

REVIEW: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

L’Chaim!

By Narelle Wood

Directed by Roger Hodgman and original choreography reproduced by Dana Jolly, Melbourne’s new production of Fiddler on the Roof is a powerhouse production to kick off the 2016 theatre season.

Fiddler-on-the-Roof-Aust-Production-Anthony-Warlow-01-PIC-CREDIT-JEFF-BUSBY.jpg

Written in 1960’s the drama-filled musical, heralded as the first of its kind, has stood the test of time as its themes of tradition, family, love and displacement are just as relevant today. Set in a small village, Anatevka, Russia, the milkman Tevye (Anthony Warlow) is struggling to provide a comfortable life for his family. This includes his five strong-willed daughters, who Tevye hopes to marry off to suitable men that will provide some of the comforts he can not afford. With tensions brewing and the world changing around them, Tevye finds the traditions of his people being challenged by more than just his intelligent and independent daughters’ ideas on love.

The cast is full of some of Australia’s best stars of the stage. Warlow is joined by Sigrid Thornton (Golde), Lior (Motel), Nicki Wendt (Yente) and Mark Mitchell (Lazar Wolf); the latter’s transformation is so superb that I didn’t know it was Mitchell until I read the program. Warlow is also almost unrecognizable as Tevye, embodying all the warmth and humour of the character, yet Warlow’s presence is betrayed by his unmistakably rich voice.

While Warlow is clearly the star of the show for both his talent and the iconic role, the rest of the cast are just as masterful. The onstage relationship between Warlow and Thornton is endearing and Wendt’s portrayal of the matchmaker is as every bit hilarious as the character is nosey. There are several other exceptional performances in this production. Teagan Wouters (Tzeitel), Monica Swayne (Hodel) and Jessica Vickers (Chava) are all impressive as Tevye’s eldest daughters revealing exceptionally strong vocals.

There were so many moments where I found myself astonished by the talent on stage: Warlow’s rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” and the ensemble dancers during “To Life” and “Wedding Dance”, for example. However one of the truly standout aspects of this production was the set design by Richard Roberts. Simple and understated but such a clever design concept that allows for such seemingly easy transitions between houses and into the town square.

To be honest, I would have been happy if the performance finished after Act 1 as Fiddler on the Roof had already exceeded all of my expectations; the fact that Act 2 extended this prodigious experience was a delightful bonus. This production of Fiddler on the Roof has certainly set the performance standard for 2016 and it will be a difficult task for others to match.

Venue: Princess Theatre, Spring St, Melbourne
Season: Until 27th Feb, Tues –Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm & Sun 3pm
Tickets: From $79.90
Bookings: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au

Image by Jeff Busby

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REVIEW: CDP Theatre Presents THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD

Venture blithely into the deep dark wood

By Kim Edwards

The National Theatre was abuzz this week with excited pre-schoolers and little primary students eager to see one of their favourite picture books leap from page to stage. CDP Theatre’s touring production of The Gruffalo’s Child, based on the beloved rhyming tale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, is a slick intelligent 55-minute performance that draws out the story and characters nicely into live action and features some exceptional young artists.

Chandel Brandimarti as The Gruffalo's Child

Chandel Brandimarti as the title character gives an assured and dynamic performance, balancing nicely between childish bravado and cutsey angst. Jessica Vickers holds the narrative together with demure charm as the Mouse who becomes a kind of high-energy Greek chorus, but it is Andreas Lohmeyer playing all the other characters who is given the most room to exercise his vigorous and impressive character talents: his self-parodying Snake and smarny Fox were especially entertaining.

The script is well-wrought, and the little meta-jokes were appreciated. The songs are fun and appropriate but forgettable (and the lyric about breaking necks was unpleasant!), the mobile forest set pieces are efficient and effective, and I respected the decision to have both open faces for the costumes (which prevented s scariness factor) and very simple evocative designs: the Mouse’s ears were buns of hair for example, and the Owl had some feathers sticking through his cardigan. If I was to criticise, it would be that some of these ‘theatrey’ touches were just a little too vague or confusing for the young audience, such as the Mouse enacting the footsteps, Lohmeyer having to openly discard his Gruffalo costume, or the final shadow appearing in the sky. I admire the ingenuity in dealing with these plot issues for a small touring cast, but some of the kids around were a bit bemused at times.

While the production couldn’t quite keep its lively audience constantly enthralled throughout the performance, there were regular and successful efforts to encourage audience interaction, and the final section of the show which invited the kids to finish the rhyming lines, included a fabulous slapstick chase sequence, and put a rather lovely twist in the Mouse’s closing act of kindness kept even my little toddler companion glued to the stage.

A charming and enjoyable morning all around – looking forward to more productions from this company.

Melbourne

National Theatre
14 – 19 July 2015
Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au or Phone 136 100

Bendigo

The Capital
22 July 2015
Bookings: www.thecapital.com.au or Phone 03 5434 6100

Shepparton

Riverlinks
23 July 2015
Bookings: www.riverlinksvenues.com.au or Phone 03 5832 9511

Wodonga

The Cube Wodonga
24 July 2015
Bookings: www.thecubewodonga.com.au or Phone 02 6022 9311

Image by Matthew Aberline