Tag: Melbourne

REVIEW: Red Stitch presents WET HOUSE

An emotional and essential experience

By Myron My

A wet house is a hostel for alcoholic homeless men and women, where they can drink and sleep as much as they want with no expectations for them to be rehabilitated. They are more or less, the people that society has given up on. In Red Stitch’s production of Paddy Campbell’s Wet House, we get an insight into the lives of three residents and three workers of a wet house, each one struggling with their own redemption and reason for being.

REDSTITCH

Wet House is based on Campbell’s first-hand experience of working in a wet house and you can see how effective a story can be when the writer well and truly knows what he is writing about. Not a single scene is wasted, no dialogue is filler, no movement is pointless. Everything that happens in Wet House has a purpose, and with six different stories being told, the pacing is controlled well and is never difficult to follow.

The performance opens with colleagues Helen (Caroline Lee) and Mike (David Whiteley) going through the handover of their shift. The dark humour used throughout is disturbingly funny and highlights even more the issues that the script is raising. The arrival of new recruit Andy (Paul Ashcroft), with his idealistic and simplistic views on helping these people comes into great conflict with the realities of the job as well as his relationship with Helen and Mike.

Wet house residents, Dinger, Spencer and Kerry (Nicholas Bell, Dion Mills and Anna Sampson), each have their own unique story to tell, but at the same time, their story is universal. Mills in particular is exceptional as Spencer, bringing a vulnerability and sympathy to a character we should revile against and disgusted by. The scenes between him and Whiteley are extremely intense to watch which is due to the strong performances and fearless directing by Brett Cousins.

Sophie Woodward’s set design captures the bleak environment of despair that these people face day in day out. There is a creative use of the space in the theatre that I have not seen before which draws you further into this world and story. Costumes have been used to give more life to the characters and build on their personalities.

Red Stitch’s production of Wet House opens discussion on alcoholism and how we support those who are seen as beyond help and how the intention to do good is ultimately never going to be better than action. It is an emotionally draining show but it is a show that needs to be seen.

Venue: Red Stitch Actors Theatre, 2 Chapel St, St. Kilda.

Season: Until 18 April | Wed- Sat 8:00pm, Sat 3:00pm, Sun 6:30pm

Tickets: $37 Full | $20-27 Conc

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REVIEW: What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Tales from the heart

By Jessica Cornish

Singer/songwriter Ruth Katerelos, draped in a red-laced singlet and fishnet fingerless gloves, took the mainly over-40’s Butterfly Club audience on a journey of her life in What‘s Love Got To Do With It?

This intimate and personal cabaret explored in brief her time as a self-destructive teenager to becoming a woman in love, a woman in grief, a mother, and finally finding a way to love again.


 Accompanied by her silent and focused Ovation guitar player, Monique Kenny, Ruth performed a series of mainly acoustic pop songs she had composed, along with a couple of more jazz-influenced numbers. Although musically appealing, the songs would have benefited from more varied chord progressions, as some began to sound rather similar as the show continued.
 
The cabaret was obviously very well rehearsed, and the banter of Ruth’s life came across as a series of slick monologues, well-projected and clearly articulated. Initially the show seemed to lack a clear direction, however, as the show progressed and Ruth revealed more of her roller-coaster life experiences with substance abuse and relationships, you could not help being drawn into her story. Ruth’s heartbreaking tales of her constant loss of friends and lovers, and how she tried to make sense of life again in becoming a mother and finding a new partner Marg, made me catch my breath, and all I wanted to do was to hug this woman who I’d never seen before in my life.

Beyond the personal however, Ruth also touched on wider concepts of love, and how we perceive it as a society. She argued that a person can’t get all their needs fulfilled by a single person and that sometimes simply staying in a relationship for safety doesn’t help make people happy, and these more universal observations kept the performance from being self-indulgent.
 
On the night I attended, there were a couple flat notes and little vocal cracks, but in such an emotional story, I don’t believe that really mattered. Ruth took  us on a moving journey and her very attentive audience thoroughly enjoyed the night, with a couple even flying specifically to Melbourne from Adelaide to see this friendly performer.

Overall, What’s Love Got To Do With It was a pleasant and touching night of entertainment. Keep an eye out for future performances: I would recommend it for a more mature audience who will enjoy to be lulled by acoustic pop songs, and seeing a snapshot of a remarkable life not familiar to most of us.
 
What’s Love Got To Do With It was performed at The Butterfly Club on Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th of February 2012.

REVIEW: Melbourne Premiere of LOVE NEVER DIES

Are we entering an era of music theatre sequels?

By Kim Edwards

Back when synthesisers were cool, pyrotechnics and special effects were reserved for rock concerts, and theatre was elite and intimate, a new wave of musicals revitalised and reinvented a genre.  

Interestingly they were more in keeping with nineteenth-century theatre and the operatic tradition than the trends of modern drama: they were vast, lavish, opulent spectacles sweeping through epic, passionate narratives with rich, full, emotional orchestrations.

And at the forefront of this surging theatrical excitement was the wild success of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical Phantom of the Opera.

Years later, an aging composer who once wrote a masterpiece for his ingenue is struggling to find inspiration again, branch out to enrapture an international audience, and determine what his musical and personal legacy will  be.

Webber biography, right? No: this is the plot for his new Phantom sequel Love Never Dies that opened in Melbourne last night.

Webber calls it his most ‘personal’ work to date, and there is a real sense of wish-fulfilment in this musical: it studiously ignores dates, details and character elements established in its predecessor to indulge a love story, displace the villainy and transplant a theatrical world across an ocean from the Paris Opera house to Coney Island. The show was panned in London, cancelled on Broadway, and has been thoroughly revised by renowned director Simon Phillips for this latest production.

So after all the hype and hullaballoo: what do I think of Melbourne’s production of Love Never Dies?

Visually and from a production perspective, this show is unquestionably stunning. The sets and staging are wonderous, and the new location for the action gives designer Gabriela Tylesova glorious scope for the grotesque, gorgeous, gothic playground she creates. Like Meg’s ‘Bathing Beauty’ song, layers keep being stripped away to reveal costumes, scenery and lighting each more breath-taking and spectacular than the last.

It opens, not with an overture, but with a charm song obviously designed to (re)introduce the Phantom and let a new young star enchant an audience. Ben Lewis’ rendition of ‘Till I Hear You Sing was indeed divine, and his final note magical. The character has lost the complexity of the original, and Lewis’ lower register coming across as rather uneven later suggests he has yet to find his own iconic sound as a singer, but overall he gave an impressive performance.

Anna O’Bryne was a fresh-faced Christine with a luminous and lucid voice: even though trite lyrics often gave her little to work with emotionally (indeed, the whole show title proved a misnomer of sorts) she displayed wonderful charm and talent.

However for me, it was Simon Gleeson’s performance as Raoul that reverberated with all the passion and pathos and complexity I found lacking in the central love story. His character is reinvented as troubled and self-loathing, and in the opening of Act II where he asks “Why Does She Love Me?”, Gleeson transcended some banal lyrics to give a very real and moving delivery of the song. In many ways, this felt like the only moment of subtlety in the show.

Maria Mercedes was painfully angry as Mme. Giry, and there was a definite fascination in seeing Sharon Millerchip reprise the role of Meg and bring a real sense of growth as performer and character.

Webber’s songs are familiar yet not particularly memorable, but the orchestrations and voices are highly enjoyable. Moreover, the plot is thin but the ensemble led by carnivalesque Greek chorus Emma J. Hawkins, Paul Tabone and Dean Vince are deft and dynamic.

The real appeal of the show remains in the old-fashioned spectacle achieved with the latest in theatre technology: Love Never Dies is ultimately a sumptuous, sentimental production of pure and unadulterated melodrama, draped in lavish splendour. If there are recurring echos of the ridiculous and redundant at times, they are usually swirled away in the colour and action.

Does this production bring anything to the Phantom legacy? No. Does it spoil the original musical then? No. Is it an enjoyably excessive and entertaining night of theatre? Yes actually. Yes it is.

Love Never Dies is playing at The Regent Theatre from May 2011.

ANA-LUCIA AND THE BARON: Episode One (Again!)

Our favourite French glamour girl and con-woman extraordinaire is wrecking havoc and hilarity at The Butterfly Club once again!

Dear Friends,

You are cordially invited to Ana-Lucia’s return season Welcome Home Party (after sell-out audiences gate-crashed zee last one). It’s at The Butterfly Club, every night from Thurs 24 at 7pm to Sunday 27 March at 6pm, for an outrageous evening of fun, frolics and intrigue – wiz me! 

You see, friends – I ‘ave lost my memory, but I do know I am being  ‘unted down by zee Evil Baron – oo may or may not be my one true, mon amour love – just because of some silly diamonds zat I am sure I ‘ave  certainly and absolutely NOT stolen from ‘im….

Alas, mes amis, I can’t remember oo you all are, or more importantly oo I am – but ‘opefully with your ‘elp I, Ana-Lucia, can unravel my mysterious and fabulous past…!

‘Zis one will be… ‘ow you say?? … a ‘oot!’

RSVP YES to The Butterfly Club!

You should never say no to a lady, ladies and gentlemen (especially when she has a gun…) So lock up your diamonds, pack up your pistols, and get down to The Butterfly Club THIS WEEK for the most sparkling and sensational Parisian party of the season!

Written by Lisa Nightingale
Directed by Kim Edwards
Accompanied by Trevor Jones as the enigmatic Juan Pablo…
Ticket price: $22 full / $19 concession, $18 for groups of 8 or more
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

(Pst! See Episode One NOW because it is already selling out, and rumour has it that Episode Two – and the Baron – are not far away…!)

MELBOURNE CABARET COURSE: February/March 2011

 Applications are closing soon for the next Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course  in 2011
  
Kitty Bang

 Treat yourself to cabaret!   With graduates such as sell-out comedian Kitty Bang (Kate Boston Smith), the enigmatic Madame Natalia of the Burlesque Bar, and amazing Tom Dickins from The Jane Austen Argument, the Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course continues to gain in professional and industry reputation.  

Run in Australia’s premiere cabaret venue The Butterfly Club by coordinator Dr. Kim Edwards, this intensive six-week course is open to all performance artists looking to explore the world of cabaret and create unique, marketable, and eclectic showcases for themselves and their work. 
 
Graduates of the course are going on to full-length shows to packed houses, award-winning festival performances, touring gigs, and corporate and professional cabaret work.  
 
Watch out for new Melbourne shows by recent alumni Christine Moffat and Eleni Avraam early in 2011, while the Box Hill TAFE students who completed the course as part of their music theatre degree will be making professional cabaret appearances later in the year.
Tom Dickins

 The next Melbourne Creating Solo Cabaret course begins on Tuesday February 15, with the final performance season at The Butterfly Club running from 24-27 March.  

If you’ve always wanted to get into cabaret and never known where to start, click HERE for all the course details, including the curriculum outline, fee structure, and application details.   As always, places are strictly limited due to the individual focus of the course, so apply now.

Madame Natalia

Fringe Festival: Return of PRICE OF GENIUS & Other Gems

‘An absolute entrée into a very different world. Definitely worth seeing!’ – Julie Houghton 3MBS

In an era of Beethoven’s music and Shelley’s poetry, and a time of great upheaval and revolt, Mary Wollstonecraft changed the world forever when she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women.  

She married an anarchist, demanded sexual equality, and gave birth to both feminism and the famous Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein.

But …

Mary Wollstonecraft had another daughter.

This is her story.

In its repeat season, The Price of Genius is an emotionally charged and technically adept piece of theatre.  

Originally written and performed in 2009, it marked the 250th anniversary of Mary Wollstonecraft’s death and celebrated her colourful life and revolutionary work.  

The show’s initial reception confirmed a broad appeal for audiences – from Regency period and literary enthusiasts interested in the history of Wollstonecraft and the upheaval of the French Revolution, to feminists, educators, romantics, tragedians and, of course, musicians.  

There is an intensity in both dialogue and music, with the fascinating and unique story-telling experience of hearing new lyrics set to Beethoven’s lieder songs.

A two-hundred year old secret is finally revealed on stage…

Featuring Ilsa Cook
Accompanied by Katherine Gillon
Directed by Kim Edwards
Book and Lyrics by Sally Collyer
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven

Venue: The Butterfly Club
Dates: 23-26 September: Thur-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: Conc $17.00, Full $22.00, Group $17.00
Bookings: 03 9660 9666, www.thebutterflyclub.com or www.melbournefringe.com.au

 

Some Other Fringe Favourites…

Cabaret Course graduate Tom Dickins presents his mesmerising new show THE SPACES BETWEEN as part of The Jane Austen Argument: an indie-noir cabaret experience… Book Now

Short+Sweet Festival Director Emma Clair Ford will be exploring the dark and comic side of the human psyche with LILA GREY: Book Now

THROUGH THE MAGNIFYING GLASS marks the return of our hilarious, bizarro favourite Kitty Bang as she romps through a new cabaret extravaganza of choreographed madness!   Book Now

Bring on the sadistic soap-opera: see cabaret course graduate Natalie Ristovska weave her magic at the Burlesque Bar with a return season of ATROCITY… Book Now

Cabaret Personal Development Opportunities

Exciting opportunites to develop your cabaret skills, networks and profile…

1. FREE PUBLIC PANEL DISCUSSION

Melbourne Cabaret Festival is hosting a FREE public panel discussion about ‘making it’ as a cabaret performer,  featuring Paul Capsis, Wes Snelling, Geraldine Quinn and facilitated by Fiona Scott-Norman.   Panel members will share industry wisdom and experience on what worked and didn’t throughout their years as an emerging performer.
Date: Sat 24 July
Time: 5pm – 6pm
Venue: South Melbourne Town Hall
Cost: FREE

2. SO YOU WANNA . . . DO SMARTER, MORE EFFECTIVE MARKETING

WHAT: Auspicious Arts Incubator  seminar/training workshop on value based marketing for creative arts businesses. Learn how to do smarter, more effective marketing with a focus on what your potential customers want, and build a real value-based marketing plan.  Improve your marketing results in selling tickets, getting funding, and building a client database.   (Highly & personally recommended for any self-promoting artist)

WHERE: South Melbourne Town Hall
WHEN: 9am – 4pm, Thur 29th July
HOW MUCH: $90 (but receive a $70 rebate on arrival!)  
BOOK HERE

3. MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL

The best way to learn how to perform excellent cabaret? –  watch excellent cabaret performers!   Catch some of the finest local & international cabaret artists on stage this week for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival:

‘Best of the Fest’ Nightly Shows
See a bit of everything and tickets are only $22.

Toni Lamond AM – 8.30pm Sat 24 July
Toni is cabaret royalty and an Australian entertainment icon. 
 
Yummy (Sally Bourne & Susan-ann Walker) – 8.30pm Fri 23 July
From Shane Warne: The Musical, Jerry Springer: The Opera and Menopause: The Musical to Mum’s the word…

Yana Alana & the Paranas in Concert – 8.30pm Thur 22 July
Mutli-award winning show – very edgy, political and sexy!

Book here, and join the festival on Twitter for some rumoured last minute deals…

4. SHORT+SWEET CABARET

This festival will be held at Chapel Off Chapel, Thur 18 – Sun 28 Nov: great opportunity to get noticed in the cabaret & theatre community.   Call for submissions in Aug.  

Email butterflyperformer@gmail.com & check HERE for more details.