Tag: Tim Minchin

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.

The-Royal-Shakespeare-Companys-production-of-Roald-Dahls-Matilda-The-Musical.-Photo-by-Manuel-Harlan.jpg

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

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REVIEW: Jemma Rix with David Young in THE RANDOM VARIETY

Wicked star braves the cabaret stage

By Bradley Storer

Introduced by her accompanist David Young, Jemma Rix, the recently-announced Elphaba for the new Australian production of Wicked, took to the stage of The Butterfly Club with a shy but toothy grin. Here she launched into a wonderful original song investigating the meaning behind the title of the show and ending in a medley of countless tunes shouted out on the spot by Young.

Jemma Rix

A misstep was following this rollicking song with the Eagles’ sombre ‘Hotel California’, an odd choice which drained the energy she’d built up in her first tune. For the first part of the evening Rix was clearly nervous and had trouble maintaining eye contact with her audience – not such a big problem for musical theatre but difficult for the intimacy of cabaret. She asked the audience’s forgiveness for her understandable nerves in her first outing as a cabaret performer.

After seeming a little unsure of herself through the first few pop songs on the set list, resorting to a few stock pop-singer stage moves at some points, one could almost feel her give an internal sigh of relief when she reached the first show tunes of the night – a winning combination of Stephen Schwartz’s ‘Beautiful City’ and Sondheim’s ‘Another Hundred People’, with Schwartz’s idealistic vision of a ‘city of men’ bringing out a surprising beauty in Sondheim’s bleak landscape of urban alienation.

The first moment where it felt Rix truly connected with her audience was with the song ‘With You’ from the musical Ghost – here her inhibitions melted away  and I felt transported as Rix brought us into the heartbreaking grief of losing a loved one, and from here on out she was on solid ground. Once her nerves were gone, Rix revealed herself as a charming and engaging performer, along with her voice of startling power and floating delicacy.

The later half of the evening brought some surprising and rewarding choices in repertoire. Rix informed us of her uproarious idea of a Romeo and Juliet juke-box musical based around the music of Rihanna (the only thing lacking were some daggy dance moves!). Her banter about the plight faced by youth today in an environment pervaded by cyber-bullying led into a brilliant fusion of ‘Quiet’ from Tim Minchin’s Matilda with David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’ that held the entire audience spell-bound.

A promising first show from an established music-theatre performer which assures us of great things for her cabaret future! 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (enter off 5 Carson Place), Melbourne City

Dates & Times: 23rd, 24th, 28th at 8pm, 25th, 26th, 27th at 9pm.

Tickets: Full $28, Concession $25, Group $23, Tightarse Tuesday $20.

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com , 9663 8107 or at the door.

Move It Or Lose It: The Fight to Save THE BUTTERFLY CLUB

The fate of an amazing Melbourne performance venue is in our hands…

By Myron My

I have been going to the Butterfly Club for a few years now and have had the opportunity to watch some amazing and varied shows there: ones that otherwise would not have seen the light of day had it not been for this curated venue. The Butterfly Club has given emerging and established performers the opportunity to create new works and have them watched by a welcoming and open-minded audience.

Since 1999, The Butterfly Club has presented more than 1300 new Australian works. It has given immensely to the theatre community in discovering and nurturing performers and now it needs our help. The Butterfly Club must relocate from South Melbourne to 256 Collins Street in the city centre in February 2013. Director Mr Simone Pulga said the move was due to the unbearable costs of operating in the current premises. “If we increased the cost of drinks to match the rise in rent, we’d have to charge $12.50 for a stubby. We must move The Butterfly Club to a better location.

The Butterfly Club 1

“Paradoxically, inner-city Melbourne has provided us with an affordable, long-term opportunity to create a new theatre space in an exciting unused building. The show room will be larger with more comfortable seating but the venue will remain just as intimate and quirky with the much-loved decor and regular shows moving with the venue,” he said.

The Butterfly Club has a sustainable arts model which doesn’t rely on any government subsidies and even though this model will be replicated in the new location it first needs funds specifically for the relocation and – when housing Australia’s largest collection of kitsch art – this is not going to be easy!

A community fundraising campaign is currently underway using the popular crowd-funding website Pozible. The campaign is embracing the ‘Buy A Brick’ phenomena, aptly designated ‘Cash For Kitsch’. Supporters will be able to adopt a piece of The Butterfly Club history from among its wondrous collection of miscellany, and ensure it has a home at the new venue.

The artist community including Tim Minchin, Eddie Perfect, Marieke Hardy, Dan Ilik, Tripod and many more have rallied behind the campaign, donating exclusive rewards and experiences. $130,000 is needed for the relocation, and it is hoped at least $20,000 of this can be raised via the crowd-funding campaign, which closes on 16 January.

The Butterfly Club is a Melbourne icon in the theatre, comedy and cabaret world and something we all need to band together over to ensure that it can continue to showcase our home-grown talent. To donate and get some seriously good rewards – not including the tingly feeling of doing something awesome – click http://pozible.com/thebutterflyclub for more information.

Review: LACHLAN MACLEOD’S A Very Merry Christmas

Get into this christmas comedy quick!

By Melissa Trickey

After having a somewhat scrooge-y day, I was a bit “bah humbug” when I entered The Butterfly Club on Thursday evening…. But the “magic, majesty and hhhhhwhimsy” of Lachlan’s Macleod’s A Very Merry Christmas soon warmed the cockles of my heart to turn my frown upside down and make me Madame President of the Christmas Spirit Club!

Christmas sure smacked me in the face as soon as I walked in the door, with the busiest set I’ve ever seen in that performance space. I had no idea the stage could fit so much! Three musical instruments, a fully decorated Christmas tree, a framed Jesus picture and a curious object that was concealed by some kind of mystery Christmas material…

This turned out to be Lachlan himself, who promptly did what I did not expect at all – sat as his keyboard and played a (seemingly) serious song about Christmas. Next second he totally bazinga’d me with the lyrics: “The doors are locked, I’ve got your cash, so f***you all!” People didn’t seem to mind though – we were all laughing too hard!

There were many lyrical gems like this along the way. Lachlan touched on such topics as re-gifting, office work parties, due rewards from Santa for being a bad little boy, and the evergreen last-minute present shopping. His lyrics are simple, direct and right on the money (except for the priest thing…), and his songs are very funny and appealing to a broad audience with great writing, delivery and chorey!

Lachlan has a gift for simple and effective storytelling that is quite endearing and suited the show very well. Some opening night nerves made Lachlan appear slightly jittery at times, but I’m sure they will settle down and Lachlan can relax into his performance more. From a performer’s perspective he has put A LOT of pressure on himself with his all-singing, all-gags, mostly-playing and sometimes-dancing agenda! In accompanying himself on no less than three instruments, Lachlan certainly is working harder than most. 

I thought there was a slight lag in the middle of the show that could be tightened up by shaving back some verses and material. It was good to be mellow but the feeling rather overstayed its welcome.  However, the finale was sharp, witty, and brilliant to watch, with the emergence of a special Christmas costume and resulting song. I don’t want to give too much away but it was absolutely hysterical and a closing highlight for the show!

Lachlan is everyday funny like Hamish and Andy, writes clever and witty lyrics like Tim Minchin, and delivers them with the pathos of Tripod. One day I will see him on TV and be like, “Hey, I reviewed that guy once!” Thanks for the Handy Christmas Facts, Lachlan, and for the numerous laughs! Merry Christmas!

Dates: Thurs 8th to Sun 11th Dec
Time: Thurs-Sat at 9pm & Sun at 8pm

Venue and bookings: The Butterfly Club, Sth Melbourne

Review: ROBERT TAYLOR is So Inappropriate

One very funny man and one very clever show

By Anastasia Russell-Head

Somewhere between The Flight of the Conchords’ spot-on parody and Tim Minchin’s witty word-play lies homegrown talent Robert Taylor’s new solo musical So Inappropriate, fresh from its debut season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Taylor’s abilities are multi-faceted – he wrote both the script and the music for this show, and manages to sing, tell stories, play some hot licks on the piano and be funny at the same time!

Thrown out of Hollywood, reduced to the indignity of composing music for adult films and playing cover music to drunken bogans, this loveably awkward songwriter is searching for new love while trying to avoid his ex-wives. Will he be able to summon up the courage to talk to the love of his life – the coffeeshop girl? Or at least be able to ask her name?

With clever lyrics, an excellent singing voice and accomplished keyboard chops, Taylor’s songs are highly entertaining. Having honed his musical skills at the Victorian College of the Arts, he has a range of styles and genres at his fingertips, moving effortlessly from funk to indie-folk and everything inbetween. Despite the name of the show, his humor was warm, witty and cheeky, without straying into the land of cringe. 

Even though his character is awkward, there were no signs of awkwardness in the performance, even with a very small audience (which can often make things feel awkward). Taylor’s stage presence is warm and personable, and his storytelling style engaging, with the carefully crafted ad-lib-esque monologue episodes of the work woven skillfully amongst the songs.

It was a pity that there were not more people at The Butterfly Club to see this talented and very entertaining performer in his short Melbourne season – hopefully we see him return to our stages soon. When he does, make sure to catch him!

The Butterfly Club

Weds 16th to Sat 19th Nov
9pm Thurs – Sat, Weds at 8pm
$22 / $19

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

More info: www.roberttaylor.biz