Tag: Lulu McClatchy

Prince Moo Productions Presents CALENDAR GIRLS

Joyous, liberating, and fabulous fun

By Jessica Cornish

Calendar Girls, presented by Prince Moo Productions, is an empowering, uplifting tale that celebrates life and ageing, and finds humour and compassion in times of sadness and grief.

Calendar Girls.jpg

Known to most from the famous film, the transition of a well-loved story from screen to stage can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss. However, Calendar Girls makes the transition flawlessly under the direction of Peter J. Snee, and with screen-writer Tim Firth having converted his own script for the play. Warm, witty and moving – the stage show stands so strongly upon its own worth that I didn’t even find myself mentally comparing moments of the play to the film.

The story is based on true events, when eleven Yorkshire women aged between 45-65 who dared to pose nude to create an alternative Women’s Institute (WI) charity calendar in an effort to raise money for cancer research after the death of one of the WI member’s husband’s, John Baker.

This entertaining production has a strong female cast who literally bare all in their portrayal of the gutsy and cheeky characters who challenged perceptions of women over the age of 45, and of the women’s institute, permanently.  Leading ladies Jenny Seedsman and Abi Richardson played Chris the vivacious and pushy friend to the lovable and gentle soul Annie respectively, and the duo gave a wonderful performance in portraying the emotional rollercoaster ride of the characters’ friendship. Furthermore, they were well-supported by talented and impressive local actresses including Tottie Goldsmith, Lulu McClatchy, Kate Gorman and Francesca Waters forming the delightfully infamous Yorkshire WI gang.

The entire play is centred around the local village church hall, and while single-set decisions like this can sometimes make shows seem stagnant, the intimacy and familiarity fit well for this performance. The props and scenery by John Kerr were therefore minimal but appropriate, while the lighting design by Jason Bovaird adroitly indicated to the audience the changing of the days and provided valuable points of time and reference in the absence of scenery changes.

Unfortunately there were problematic audio issues the night I attended, but I have faith that these have been quickly ironed out as the season has progressed. My only other niggling point of the evening was the concluding scene featuring the sunflowers, which I found reminiscent of a high-school pantomime with a clunky set-change right at the end, and which I felt didn’t match the entertaining heights of the rest of the production.

That said, the story of Calendar Girls is metaphorically rich, emotive and inspiring, and this production is a wonderful and engaging stage adaptation that can be enjoyed by all ages.

Athenaeum Theatre

27 September to 7th of October 2017

7:30pm start and an extra 2:30 matinee on Saturday

Tickets range from $69-$100

Bookings via ticketek.com.au or the Athenaeum Theatre Box Office

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Prince Moo Productions Presents AVENUE Q

Uproariously funny and supremely entertaining

By Jessica Cornish

Growing up as a teenager obsessed with the music of Avenue Q, I was pretty ambivalent as to how the recent Australian production playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre would compare to my original cast recording memories, but as the show began, my anxiety quickly evaporated. It was one of the most engrossing and entertaining musical productions I have seen in the last few years.

Avenue Q.jpg

The story follows recent college grad, Princeton, who moves into a colourful apartment block in a diverse neighbourhood filled with Sesame Street-style monsters, puppets and even humans. Throughout the quirky two-hour (and adults’ only) musical journey, we see the youngster settle down, find romance, lose romance, have a fling, and even gain a life purpose along the way.

The dynamic and often dual characters were well cast with Ross Hannaford (Princeton/Rod), Vincent Hooper (Nicky/Trekkie Monster) and Andrew Hondromatidis (Brian), however exceptional performances belonged to Sophie Write (Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut) and Sun Park (Christmas Eve), who between them stole the show. Both women were vocal standouts: pitch perfect, perfect tone and with great resonance. The vocals for superintendent Gary Coleman (Zuleikah Khan) were less secure at times, although it’s a notoriously tricky part which can often challenge a female’s lower vocal range and demand sacrificing power for pitch. As minor characters that weave themselves in and out of the story, the Bad Behaviour Bears performed by Lulu McClatchy and Hooper were also particularly high energy, hilarious and well-worthy of note.

John Kerr‘s set design was simple but effective and the puppeteers draped in black were well-choreographed and transitioned smoothly in and out of different roles all night. Whether you watched the puppet or a puppeteer, both were equally engaging and emotive. Unfortunately the lighting operation was slightly under whelming and patchy at times on the night I attended, with shadows cast on puppet faces and a couple of sloppy follow-spot pickups: however, I’m sure this will sharpen up as the season progresses. The sound was clear and well balanced, however it would have been nice to bump up the volume for an excited opening night audience.

This was, overall, a brilliant production directed by Peter Snee and musically directed by Trevor Jones, and I honestly could not stop smiling the evening. With those witty lyrics and music written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and Jeff Whitty‘s book helping offer a raunchy insight into the lives of puppets dealing with homosexuality, racism and sex, this new production of Avenue Q is as good as theatre gets.

Season: Performances every night until August 14 (no performances Monday)

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre

Bookings: Ticketek

Image by Nichole Riseley

REVIEW: Melbourne Premiere of SEXERCISE THE MUSICAL

Working out the kinks

By Myron My

Who ever said that sex and exercise have to be mutually exclusive? This is definitely not the case with the new musical comedy directed by Sara Grenfell and presented by Aleksandar Vass and Malcolm C. Cooke, Sexercise, where we follow a married couple’s journey to rediscovering the fun and sexy times in their relationship.

Sexercise the Musical

The strength and success of Sexercise lies very much with its talented group of actors. Despite two solid hours of acting, singing and dancing, the small cast all manage to keep their energy levels up and the further we progress with the story the more this dynamism is visible. Clearly there is much fun to be had on stage, with the audience and with each other.

Nicole Melloy and Lyall Brooks are both extremely likeable as married couple Sam and Joe. They could easily have been pigeonholed as the annoying nagging wife and the insensitive, ignorant husband but they are able to expose a vulnerability to their characters that is natural and subtle whilst still bringing on the laughs and delivering the jokes.

The rest of the cast consisting of Fem Belling, Cameron MacDonald, Kristin Holland and Lulu McClatchy display their ability to support the protagonists but also command the stage when required. It almost reached the point where I wanted to learn more about these people than Sam and Joe: what exactly is going on in Andy’s marriage and who is this woman that has broken Tania’s heart? Writer Derek Rowe does well to feed the audience just enough information that we eagerly await the return to the stage of these characters.

While there may be some funny and touching moments in Sexercise, there are scenes that are too long and seem to drag to their conclusion and others that apparently don’t even need to be included. At a running time of over two hours, I felt some editing is required to allow the story to stay snappy and constantly moving forward at a pace that allows our attention to not falter.

While the musical numbers, also by Rowe, are on the whole enjoyable, there are some that seemed unnatural and awkward but due to the talent of the performers, were still fun to watch. Sexercise’s musical highlights )directed by Trevor Jones and choreographed by Dana Jolly) included ‘Mates For Life’, ‘Are We Done Yet’ and ‘36 not 23’ but by far my favourite song of the evening would be MacDonald and McClatchy singing ‘It Might Be Different This Time’, a wonderful number which could have been the signature song for every characters’ journey in this production.

Sexercise is more than just a story of 30-somethings wanting to have sex. It is cheeky, it is fun and it is naughty but it’s also about a group of individuals trying to connect with someone else. By cutting down the running time and undertaking some rewriting, this new musical has the potential both to make that theme more meaningful and create greater enjoyment for the audience. Nonetheless, this production of Sexercise is still worth seeing for the stellar effort by the excellent cast.

Venue: Alex Theatre St Kilda, 135 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
Season: Until 15 March | Tues-Sat 8.00pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 3pm
Tickets: From $50.87
Bookings:  http://sexercisethemusical.com

REVIEW: Lulu McClatchy is SUPERGIRLY

Sassy celebrity satire

By Myron My

I first saw Lulu McClatchy and Lyall Brooks on stage together last year in Neil LaBute’s play Fat Pig, and their chemistry back then was obvious. Now in Supergirly they are given more freedom to experiment and play and the outcome is even better than I could have anticipated: McClatchy and Brooks nail it.

McClatchy portrays our slightly (or extremely) delusional eponymous starlet who has relegated herself to staying indoors and reminiscing about her celebrity life, including her relationship with ex-boyfriend Robbie Williams. She has hired manservant Bradley Cooper (but not really Bradley Cooper) played by Brooks, who (for reasons of his own) humours and entertains Supergirly by dressing up as a number of celebrity visitors to her house. Brooks is clearly having a ball with the characters, including Bradley, and creates some highly memorable moments in his impersonations and dance routines.

Supergirly

The set design adds so much to the atmosphere of Supergirly: it’s reminiscent in equal parts of a bordello with its huge red curtains and ostentatious sofa, and of “Grey Gardens”, the home of famous eccentric mother/daughter pair Big Edie and Little Edie (from whom Supergirly herself seems to draw some inspiration).

McClatchy belts out her own interpretations of well-known songs by Katie Perry, One Direction, The Pussycat Dolls and the Spice Girls to name a few. She particularly lets rip with her Lady Gaga tunes where her mannerisms and facial expressions are beyond brilliant, but the highlights of the evening were still her Pet Shop Boys and Doris Day numbers.

At just over two hours long, I feel there was a need to cut some songs as the old adage of too much of a good thing does ring true here. Credit to McClatchy and Brooks though, their energy does not wane at all and each song they perform is treated like it’s the first of the evening.

Supergirly is an extremely fun show and no-one is safe when two seasoned performers like McClatchy and Brooks let loose their sparkling satire on the cult of celebrity and its followers. Even the audience gets a talking-to, but it’s all done in such a fun way that you end up really wanting to join the party on stage.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 8 June | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sat-Sun 4pm
Tickets: $39 Full | $30 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000

REVIEW: Neil LaBute’s FAT PIG

Large laughs from excellent leads

By Myron My

Everyone tells you it’s what on the inside that counts and what they are looking for in a partner is someone with a great personality. But is that what we really want?

Fat Pig

Lab Kelpie’s production of Neil LaBute’s play Fat Pig explores this question through character Tom (Lyall Brooks) who falls for Helen (Lulu McClatchy), a fantastic woman – who just happens to be fat.

Brooks and McClatchy are a delight to watch. They spark off one another well and their scenes together bring a lot of laughs. I feel Brooks’ portrayal of the fumbling Tom and his struggle between doing what he wants and dealing with the pressure of what is expected of him highly believable. McClatchy is infectious on stage and it’s a shame that the majority of her character’s scenes are self-deprecating and we don’t have the chance to see Helen really stand up for herself. Patrick Harvey‘s incredibly annoying Carter is played to perfection but I found the character of Jeannie (Cassandra Magrath) was rather too exaggerated.

LaBute’s script has some sharp dialogue and there are hilarious moments created with the line between humour and crass toed well. However, I feel it could have gone further in exploring our obsession with weight (and appearance in general). There’s a scene where Carter suggests “maybe you should turn on the TV someday” but this observation is not developed at all. Perhaps it’s because Fat Pig was originally written almost ten years ago and now feels dated in regards to attitudes or ideas on this topic. Furthermore, the events leading up to the conclusion do not justify or warrant the ending and even negate the earlier actions of the characters.

I was confused by the images on the projector between scenes changes and was not sure what they represented. I’m also not a fan of blackouts: I always find them distracting and on this evening’s performance, with each blackout the audience used it as an opportunity to talk amongst themselves, which I found incredibly frustrating.

Nonetheless, Fat Pig is an enjoyable play with a funny script and some strong performances, but I feel the story itself gets compromised through the very message it is trying to convey.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran

Season: Until 20 October | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 6:00pm, Sat 4:00pm

Tickets: $37.50 Full | $30 Conc

Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000