Tag: Roald Dahl

MICF 2016: Seemingly Evil Productions Presents WILLY WANKA

Never a Dahl moment

By Narelle Wood

The title of both the production company, Seemingly Evil Productions, and the show, Willy Wanka, was incredibly enticing; it seemed like an easy comedy combination of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and spoof comedy.

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The storyline of Willy Wanka follows closely that of the original. Poor boy wins tour of mystical chocolate factory with several other bratty children, meanwhile Wanka is being undermined by one of his employees, Slugsworth. The show only really deviates in the breviety of each scene and Wanka is a child-hating imbecile. For the most part the comedy comes from over-exaggerating the creepiness that was much more subtle in the original. The Oompa Loompas are an oppressed race, working in slave-like conditions and are easily dispensable, Charlie’s mother is void of personality, Charlie himself is largely ignored due to his poverty and the four grandparents have an unusual relationship having spent more than 20 years together in bed.

The show is well cast. Amongst the standouts are the overly-enthusaistic Charlie (Sam Garlepp), eerie Grandpa Joe (Lachie McKenzie) and Willy Wanka (Will Reinehr).  Several actors play multiple characters and these are exceptionally well done, especially those created by Clare Rankine and John Liacopoulos, who not only change between several characters super quickly, but also momentarily change costumes and accents as well. Vocal performances during the musical moments, such as those from Melissa Tracina and Alice Tovey, were also very strong and I would have been keen to hear more musical numbers throughout the show.

It was opening night so there were a few small glitches, however the flying Oompa Loompa received one of the biggest laughs of the night. But that’s not to say the planned comedy wasn’t funny because it mostly was. There were a few times that they went for shock-factor humour, which I’m personally not a fan of. The best bits were the scenes with the Oompa Loompas, the use of flashbacks and the reworking of some of the original songs. That said, I couldn’t help but think there was more that could have been made of all these scenes and the promising Wanka character, had the pace been a smidge snappier.

Willy Wanka is an entertaining parody of the original, but as its title indicates, is certainly not a reworking that would be suitable for children. It is definitely worth a look if you like irrevent humour and children’s stories that flirt with and sometimes succumb to the darker side of comedy.

Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon and Victoria Sts, Carlton

Season: Until April 3rd, Tue-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: Full $23 Conc $17

Bookings: www.willywanka.com.au or at the door

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The Royal Shakespeare Company Presents MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Simply spell-binding

By Narelle Wood

I had heard from some theatre-going friends that Matilda was a sight to behold, a musical experience like no other. They were right; I don’t think there is a word that completely encapsulates the sheer brilliance of this musical.

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The musical is based on the famous Roald Dahl children’s book. Matilda (Ingrid Torelli on the night attended), a bright child with a strong sense of fairness and justice, is born into a family that doesn’t appreciate her, and to make matters worse must suffer the tyranny of the head mistress, Miss Trunchbull (James Millar). Thankfully Matilda finds solace in her books and stories as well as friends such as Mrs Phelps the librarian (Cle Morgan), Violet (Kathleen Lawlor) and Miss Honey (Elise McCann).

Under the direction of Matthew Warchus the acting, timing and use of stage melds into a seamless and flawless performance; and this was the first preview. There are so many standout performances in this show that it is difficult to name them all. The performances of Daniel Frederiksen, Marika Aubrey and Daniel Raso completely personify the hideous Wormwood family. Millar doesn’t overplay Trunchbull so the character is a believable albeit caricatured evil head mistress and Torelli is faultless in her portrayal of Matilda.

The adult ensemble was also brilliant, transforming from the adult parts to the big kids at school with ease. The kid ensemble was simply astonishing; the future of musical theatre in Melbourne is definitely safe if the talent of these kids are anything to go by. Daniel Stow who played Bruce Bogtrotter with awesome skill, delivered some of the best comedic moments.

Dennis Kelly’s adaptation is so intelligently written that it not only captures the humour and satirical nature of Roald Dahl, but also hints at some of Dahl’s more subtle social commentary. Comedic musical mastermind Tim Minchin is responsible for the music and lyrics, and each song precisely captures the moment and the character’s personality but often in entirely unexpected ways, with a mixture of humour, sentimentality and irreverence. The orchestration (Christopher Nightingale), choreography (Peter Darling), set (Rob Howell), illusions (Paul Kiev)and lighting (Hugh Vanstone) are amazing; such a sleek use of staging and such clever use of all the theatre tricks and techniques to make the magic of Matilda a reality.

There was not one aspect of this show that I did not enjoy, and not enough superlatives to praise it all. I laughed so much I cried, and so many of the musical numbers gave me goosebumps. If that wasn’t enough, it finished off with one of the most fun encores I’ve ever seen. I have never seen anything quite like Matilda. I’m going again; in fact I would have stayed on the night for an encore performance of the entire show.

Venue: The Princess Theatre, Spring St, Melbourne
Season: From March. Wed & Sun 1pm, Sat 2pm. Wed to Sat 7pm, Sun 6.30pm
Tickets: Starting from Full $85| Conc $69
Bookings: au.matildathemusical.com/tickets/tickets/

Image by Manuel Harlan