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From the company that introduced sold-out Brisbane audiences to Broadway's 'Avenue Q' in 2012, comes the cult classic, rock & roll musical, 'Little Shop Of Horrors'.

Stepping into the lead role of Audrey is Lauren Ware, an actor and dancer who is thrilled to be playing such an exciting part in this production.

Describe the show in five words?
Clever. Carnivorous. Creepy. Colourful. Captivating.

What is your role in the production?
I play the role of Audrey. The kind-hearted and ever optimistic damsel of the story who works as an assistant in Mushnik’s Flower Shop.

Best part of working on this production is...?
Playing Audrey. It’s a dream role for me. Also the six-foot-tall, carnivorous alien plant is pretty spectacular.

Fav. line in the play and why?
In Audrey’s final scene, “But I want you too Seymour”. In the context of the scene, this beautiful moment that has me in tears, also has me giggling like a school girl inside.

Fav. scene/ song in the play and why?
For me this is something that changes every day depending on my mood but at the moment after hearing our accompanying band at our rehearsal last week, my favourite song is 'Mushnik and Son', the twisted tango between Mushnik and Seymour. The band really brings the song to life and the performers have been finding some excellent moments of comedy throughout the piece. As far as my favourite scene, I have loved watching Kieran Davies (Orin) and Gary Farmer (Seymour) bring the Dentist’s scene at the end of Act One to life. They are a pair of very talented performers dealing with some excellent physical direction by Miranda Selwood.

Tell me about the team - what are the cast like? What is the production team like?
The team have been a pleasure to work with. We really are just a bunch a regular people. Most of us have day jobs which we grind away at before pouring ourselves into rehearsal of an evening. The group is really starting to shine now that costumes, lights and a stage has been added into the mix. The talent is undeniable and WELL worth the price of an theatre ticket.

What makes this version different to any others? Why should people come and see it?

Miranda Selwood’s vision for the piece has been a breath of fresh air. This show is really not your cookie-cut version from the movie or Broadway productions which I feel has allowed us more freedom as actors to put our own spin on the characters. The set has come to life in the past week transforming the humble Brisbane Arts theatre into the Rundown Florist shop on the slums of Skid Row in New York where the show is so iconically set. The show allows audiences a chance to leave their lives behind for an evening as they are transported through this bizarre story by some relatable human characters and their not-so-human counterparts.

Have you seen 'Little Shop' many times before? What do you think makes this such a longstanding work? Why is it so appealing to generation after generation?
I can’t deny I am a hardcore fan of the show. Having fallen in love with the movie as a child I have longed for the chance to be part of a production of the show on stage ever since. I feel this timeless story speaks to all ages because of its pivotal themes on love and human sacrifice that anyone who has ever loved, lost or tried to grow a plant can relate to.

What do you want the audience to say as they leave?
I want people to be commenting on the professionalism of the piece. More people need to realise how much talent is hidden away on Brisbane’s smaller stages.

Any crazy/ weird/ funny behind-the-scenes stories from the cast or crew?
What happens amongst the cast … stays among the cast : )

'Little Shop of Horrors' opens November 15 and plays until December 21 at the Brisbane Arts Theatre.

Thursday, 10 October 2013 08:35

All Dolled Up: Cabaret In Preview

Irish drag superstar Panti has performed with Cyndi Lauper in Japan, run a fetish club in Dublin and hosted the Alternative Miss Ireland Pageant for 18 years, and now you can see her in 'All Dolled Up'.

The show is part stand-up, part theatre-lecture and is a behind-the-scenes look at the life and times of Irish gender-illusionist Panti. Panti grew up in small-town Mayo (Ireland), discovered drag in London, conquered the Tokyo club scene and wound up back in Ireland running her own pub (Pantibar) and performing in theatre and drag shows. 

How did you find your drag name, Pandora 'Panti' Bliss?

By accident! In the early ’90s I was one half of a double act in Japan with an American queen called Lurleen. At the time I went by the name Letitia Bliss (after a pet sheep I had as a child!) but it quickly became apparent that Japanese people had terrible trouble remembering or pronouncing our names because they have trouble with the letters ‘L’ and ‘R’. So we decided to choose a group name that would be easy for Japanese audiences. We called ourselves CandiPanti because they are both English words that Japanese people use, and they have the cutesy quality that appeals to the Japanese sensibility. However, everyone started to call her Candi and me Panti, (I wore a lot of short skirts at the time!), and like all nicknames, over time it became impossible to shake. Then when I came back to Europe a few years later, I realised that people tended to hear my name and imagine I was a stripper or something! So I expanded my nickname to Pandora. Et viola! Pandora 'Panti' Bliss.

Your show is about your own life. Do you self-censor, or do you believe that it’s the performer’s responsibility to be honest with an audience? 

No. I might occasionally 'massage' the truth for theatrical effect but the stories I tell are true. I’m pretty shameless, so I’m an open book. And I find that if you tell the truth brazenly with humour, audiences are prepared to go along with you. I’m not afraid to reveal my flaws because nobody’s life is perfect and audiences relate. Sometimes I’ll find myself in weird or embarrassing situations, and I’ll just think, 'Oh well. It’ll make a good story'.

How do you define yourself as a performer, gender illusionist or drag queen? How do you like to be referred to?

I think of myself as a drag queen. Sometimes other people have a very particular idea of what a drag queen is, or is supposed to be, which can limit their perception of you, but I’m proud to be a drag queen. I just don’t let other people’s idea of what drag is define me or limit me.

See 'All Dolled Up' at the Brisbane Powerhouse for a short season from October 9-11. 

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 16:25

48 Hour Film Project: Film In Preview

‘The 48 Hour Film Project’ is a wild and crazy filmmaking competition where teams must write, shoot, edit and deliver a short film in only 48 hours.

Now in its 9th year locally, Brisbane filmmakers will join more than 60,000 people from 120 countries to see who can make the best short film in a weekend. The organiser of the Brisbane leg of the competition Matt Grehan shares more.

Describe this event in 5 words? (plus one number!?)
Brisbane films made in 48 hours.

What is your role?
I am the City Producer so I organise the whole event from recruiting filmmaking teams to gathering sponsors, plus organising the judging process, prizes and creating screening tapes. Basically I put on the event to encourage emerging filmmakers in Brisbane to have an avenue to create films and have them screened to the public.

Why do you love films?
I’ve always loved films because they show new and interesting worlds that can take you away from whatever you’re doing at the moment. They’re basically just big stories that have this amazing ability to entertain and I love being able hear, see and feel all the different stories that everyone has to tell.

What are the entries like this year?
The entries this year are amazing. Every year you think, 'How did these guys manage top pull off these films in only 48 hours!?' We had 38 teams enter — the most Brisbane has even seen — and the quality from them all is just phenomenal. We’re really proud of the emerging Brisbane filmmakers’ scene.

Best short film you've even seen?
I really loved a short film from Disney that came out last year called ‘Paperman’ which is this little love story between a man and a woman. It’s a cute story and looks amazing plus it’s animated. Another favourite is called ‘Glenn Owen Dodds’, which was shot in Brisbane a few years back about a man who meets God aka Glenn Owen Dodds who teaches him a few life lessons.

What makes a great short film?
I think to make a great short film it should be a short, simple idea that transcends any language barriers. I think the best shorts are silent and tell a quirky story with a really clever twist that makes you smile. I’m sure others would have different ideas, but that’s what I like.

What would the world be like without short films?
Well, short films are what basically all major filmmakers cut their teeth on. So if we didn’t have short films, we possibly wouldn’t have feature films and movies at the cinemas. Filmmakers first started making shorts, before moving onto longer ones. So if we suddenly stop making shorts now, the new generation of feature filmmakers might not exist and we won’t get any movies in the future. We don’t want that to happen so we need to continue to support short filmmaking!

‘The 48 Hour Film Project’ is at the Judith Wright Centre Oct 4-5.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 15:08

2High Festival: Artist Profile

As part of 2high Festival this year is a work called 'flow[er]' and it's an interactive flower made completely of recycled materials that responds to movement.

flow[er] senses your presence and blossoms. It represents the cycles and flow of energy of creation and destruction in cities. The ‘flow[er]’ team is made up of Vidhi Shah and Jeniffer Heng. They are both Interactive and Visual Design students at QUT with a keen eye for animation and games.

How did you get started?
We met at QUT in our first year frantically submitting our assignment minutes before it was due and we helped each other out. University is a great place to meet people from different disciplines and with combined backgrounds in animation, games, marketing and illustration.

What made you want to get involved in 2high?
Studying at QUT most of my friends are from different disciplines of the creative industries. Over the years I have had a number of friends who have exhibited their work at 2high and it has become a reputable status for upcoming artists. It’s a great chance to showcase our work on such a diverse platform that is quickly gaining more and more popularity.

What do you think of the Brisbane contemporary arts scene right now?
It’s an exciting time to be a contemporary artist in Brisbane. There are so many inspirational artists out there to collaborate with and admire. There are a number of arts collectives that have been opening up in the last few years and smaller, independent galleries popping up.

2high Festival has a history of having artists on the bill that have gone on to be at the forefront of the contemporary arts. Why?
I do believe that 2high has a great impact on the future of emerging artists as it provides opportunities for artists to exhibit their work outside of a safe and controlled university environment and provides the exposure that young artists need. It’s so easy to get lost in the wave of new, amazingly talented artists that come out every year and 2high has a great eye for artists with potential.

2High Festival is on at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday November 2.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 17:10

I'm Your Man: Theatre In Preview

How do you win a title fight? What does it take to be a man? Both require blood, sweat and tears according to 'I’m Your Man' — a verbatim-theatre­ piece about Australian boxing, masculinity and courage. 

Creator Rosyln Oades followed Australian IBF World Featherweight Champion Billy ‘The Kid’ Dib for 18 months and immersed herself in the world of Australian boxing. She spent hundreds of hours recording interviews with boxing world figures including Jeff Fenech, Wally Carr, Tony Mundine, Gus Mercurio and Billy McPherson in order to create the show.

Describe the show in 5 words?

Sweaty, big-hearted, inspiring, adventurous and authentic.

Your fav. line in the play and why?

A line by the late, great Gus Mecurio: “Hands up, head down”. It was Gus’ personal motto and it’s a great motto for life in general, protect yourself and keep going. In hard times, don’t give up. 

What do you want audiences to say about this as they leave?

I think audiences will find ‘I’m Your Man’ engaging, innovative and very uplifting contemporary theatre. The show is set in a boxing gym and focuses on intimate behind-the-scenes experiences rather than actual fights. It’s ultimately a work about courage and the desire to be special – which is a very human story we can all relate to even if you haven’t the slightest interest in boxing. I want audiences to leave inspired to be braver, fitter and keep striving in their pursuits.

What about this story was so appealing to you?  

Acts of courage have always fascinated me. I found these characters incredibly inspiring and vulnerable. The only thing that’s certain in the world of professional boxing is no matter how high you fly you will eventually lose in a very public way – that kind of risk-taking takes real guts and a big heart.

Are there any life lessons to be learnt in the boxing ring?

As they say in the gym, ‘the more you sweat, the less you bleed!’ Success is all about discipline and preparation – there’s no shortcut to being top of your game, whatever that game may be.

'I’m Your Man' is playing at Brisbane Powerhouse for four nights only. Wed Aug 28 – Sat Aug 31.


Wednesday, 07 August 2013 15:56

A New Way To Pay Old Debts: Theatre In Season

A story about an underdog prevailing over the aristocracy, 'A New Way To Pay Old Debts' is a surprisingly modern take on a classic.

Presented by Brisbane Arts Theatre and directed by Ron Kelly, this version stars revered Australian stage and screen actor Steven Tandy. Playing the infamous villain Sir Giles Overreach, NIDA graduate Tandy brings his years of experience to the role.

Describe the show in 5 words?
Exciting, flashy, innovative, classic treasure.

What role do you play and how did you come to be involved?
I play Sir Giles Overreach, a true theatrical villain of the old tradition. He is cruel, vicious, domineering, scheming and ruthless. A total atheist. I came to be involved through my friend, Ron Kelly, who took on the role of Artistic Director of the Arts Theatre at the beginning of this year. He had known of this play and was anxious to inform theatre-goers that there had been other great playwrights of that day, besides Shakespeare and Marlowe.

What is your elevator pitch about the play?
The play concerns itself with high stakes — love, lust, death, ownership of property, social climbing, man's inhumanity to man, retribution, madness and rich, powerful language.

Do you think the play is still relevant and what kind of audience will this appeal to?
The play is absolutely and unequivocally still relevant, dealing with universal themes of corruption and power-seeking that still go on today. Any reasonably thoughtful and interested theatre-goer should find the play absolutely riveting.

Who is your favourite villain from literature/ film?
One of my most favourite villains in all film or literature would have to be the hideous character portrayed by Donald Sutherland in Bernardo Bertolucci's sprawling epic of fascism in Italy, '1900' (Cinque-Cento). Monstrous — a killer and a liar. Bill Sykes in 'Oliver!' also greatly affected me as a child.

Best line in the play and why?
One of my favourite lines in the play is where Sir Giles reveals his social inferiority and "nouveau-riche" aspirations when he says to his henchman, Marrall "'Tis a rich man's pride! There having ever been more than a feud, a strange antipathy, between us and true gentry."

What has your preparation for this role entailed?
My preparation for the role has entailed detailed, assiduous study of the text and a realisation that, as an actor, I can, for once, really 'let fly' with an acting technique that is vocally unrestrained and powerful. I have no doubt that Sir Giles Overreach is one of the greatest roles I have ever had the good fortune to portray in my 43 years of professional acting.

Any funny/ crazy/ weird behind-the-scenes stories?
I can't think of any particularly funny, weird or crazy 'behind-the-scene' stories as yet, but no doubt some will occur during our four-week run. It is a delightful cast, and a very comfortable, intimate space to play in.

Anything else our readers should know?
Just come along to the Arts Theatre and bathe in its unique charm and intimacy — it reminds me so much of the Genesian Theatre in Kent Street, Sydney, with its charming overhead little balcony.

What do you want audiences to say as they leave?
"Wow! That was great! I'm coming again!"

'A New Way To Pay Old Debts' Is running at The Brisbane Arts Theatre until August 24.

Wednesday, 07 August 2013 15:49

The Glass Menagerie: Theatre In Preview

When stepping into a major role in an iconic play such as 'The Glass Menagerie', it is fair to say that there will be audience expectations and a whole lot of pressure to perform. Jason Klarwein, as Tom, the narrator in Tennessee Williams' most loved play, is less intimidated and more thankful to be playing the role in this reclothed classic.

Describe the show in 5 words.
A tragi-comic look at a family in a state of collapse. I know that's more than five but I never liked rules.

What is your role and how did it come about?
I play Tom, the amusingly depressed son trying to get out of the rut he is in. I'm also the narrator of the play and Tennessee Williams based the character on himself. The 'Menagerie' is his most autobiographical work. David Berthold and I have been trying to work together on something and I finally had some time to say yes to this play.
This is a famous play, do you feel extra pressure to play it a certain way or have it received a certain way?
I think people have memories, like the play 'The Glass Menagerie', that are heightened and not quite real. This is my experience when talking to people about Tennessee Williams. People confuse a whole lot of celluloid experience with the theatrical experience and in Tennessee's case, the scripts are radically different.
Have you played this role or been involved in another version of 'The Glass Menagerie?'
No. This is a gift of a role. I have been in two productions of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' so I'm very familiar with his motifs.

What is your fav. line in the play and why?
I have many. In a fight with his mother Tom gives her this gift of truth — “Every time you come in yelling that God damn 'Rise and Shine! Rise and Shine!', I say to myself, 'How lucky dead  people are!'” Tom also says this of the cinema: “People go to the movies instead of moving. Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them.” 

What do you want the audience to say as they leave?
"Well that was a ride! Let's drink!"

Has there been any special preparation for this role?
A lot of accent work and textual preparation. Also finding 101 things to do with a zippo lighter has been fun.

Some words to describe your castmates? What is the team like and what is the mix like?
The play is very fast and furious in places so it requires a lot of listening and complicity to make this come off the page. We are very lucky to have a dextrous cast that play well together but are hard working.

If someone famous had to play the narrator of your life - who would it be and why?
Ian McKellen or Morgan Freeman. They would make my life sound sexy yet intelligently pre-destined

Anything else readers should know?
This is no old-school boring play. The reason it's a classic is that it thrills with laughter and then rips you apart. Oh yeah and the structure and placement of the writing is beautiful.

'The Glass Menagerie' runs until August 31 at La Boite's Roundhouse Theatre.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 15:04

Live Review: Bernard Fanning

Mr Fanning carries the weight of expectation well. Playing to a home crowd can sometimes be the most daunting gig for a singer/ songwriter, with nowhere to hide if the reception isn’t favourable.

Luckily for Bernard, the response was raucously warm and welcoming and with a median age of 45, it was an older crowd, faithful fans who have followed Fanning since Powderfinger days. They also seemed to be loving the Bundy cola cans (the drink of choice for the night it appears).

Supported by Vance Joy and Big Scary, the crowd watched politely while both played their sets, but it was obvious most were waiting for the headliner.

When he walked out on stage to catcalls, wolf whistles, screaming and clapping, it was obvious how devoted his fans are. Starting with a sparse band of three, Fanning launched into a mix of songs off his new album 'Departures' and his old 'Tea & Sympathy', almost going one for one for the first half of his set.


It was a few songs in before he even spoke to the crowd but once he started bantering, he peppered conversation between most songs. Adding an extra couple of musicians for the rest of his set, he was an easy showman on stage, completely in the flow of his music with a grace that belies his pub rock roots. With a voice that sounds exactly as it does on his albums, it was effortless to listen and the crowd were captivated. With years of touring and playing gigs all over the world, Fanning has no problem addressing hecklers or rude punters, at one stage confronting a woman who talked through one of his most emotional tracks and the crowd roared its appreciation at her telling off. So for Fanning, as for most of his fans, it is always about the music, the story that comes from his simple and sincere lyrics and the easy hummability of each tune.

To view more photo's from the gig visit Scenestr

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 17:01

Trollop: Theatre In Preview

If someone calls you a trollop, you can usually be assured that they don't like you, or the activities you are getting up to. Generally used to describe someone who is perceived as sexually disreputable or promiscuous, 'Trollop' is the latest production for QTC and is a tale of romance that starts to unravel and uncover alarming truths.

Starring local actress Amy Ingram as Clara and written by Maxine Mellor and featuring a talented cast including Lucy-Ann Langkilde and Anthony Standish, 'Trollop' is a theatre experience that will make you squirm.

Describe the show in 5 words?
Dark, funny, twisted, isolated, and just a bit messed up.

What is your role and how did you come to be involved?
I play the role of Clara (the Trollop). I was lucky enough to be involved over the play's development as an actor with Playlab, QTC and The Lord Mayor’s Fellowship. Then I was asked to be in the final production. Hurrah!

Your fav. line in the play and why?
Hmm, well I don't say much actually but I do quite like Eugenie's line (another character in the play) — "I bring the end of days to your door" — because actually she kinda does.

What can audiences expect when they come to watch?
Some dark moments, some surprises and maybe the chance to change their mind about a few things.

Can you describe a typical rehearsal?
We talk a lot, get up on the floor, try things out. It is just about finding the right pathways and staying connected as characters within the story. Sometimes we get things wrong and sometimes we smash it (Wesley, our Director, really doesn't understand this saying). We also have fun.

What has your preparation for this role entailed?
As I was involved in earlier developments, I have been able to sit with the script for a while and I also do a lot of outside reading and watching different interviews on Youtube. I listen to certain music and I also look for clues in everyday life that can be linked back to the story.

What about your character do you relate to? What don't you understand?

Clara is a tricky one. I'm still working her out to be honest. But I recognise things in her for sure. I understand how she switches off from what is happening otherwise it's too overwhelming. I think we westerners certainly have a way of shutting down to what is going on in the world around us. Outer empathy gets duller and duller with every new tragedy or disaster. Without giving too much away, what I find hard as opposed to not understanding, is the way her brain works/ the imbalances and figuring out when she shifts from one emotion to the next. It really changes from character to character depending on how like or unlike you they are — but that's the fun part/ the challenge navigating your way to get your character under your skin.

If you could have a dinner party and invite 6 guests - who and why?
Hmmm depends. Fun dinner party? Or one of those deep philosophical dinner parties? I think I'd just like to have a dinner party with six hot dudes all fighting for my affections. Kidding (but no not really).

Any crazy/ weird/ funny stories from behind-the-scenes?
What happens in the rehearsal room, stays in the rehearsal room.

What's the best relationship advice you've ever received?
Don't settle. You should be better together.

Anything else our readers should know?
That they should come! This is an amazing new play by a Brisbane playwright about things that affect us here and now. You won't be bored. I promise.

'Trollop' will be staged at the Bille Brown Studio, QTC from August 1-17.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:56

War Horse: Theatre In Review

The National Theatre of Great Britain's hit production 'War Horse', based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo, is a truly spectacular show.

'War Horse' tells the story of Joey, the beloved horse of a boy called Albert. Joey is sold by his father to the cavalry at the outbreak of World War I and shipped to France and is taken on a journey, serving on both sides before finding himself trapped alone in no-man's land. But back home, Albert cannot forget his horse and, even though not officially old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find Joey and bring him back safely. With such an emotionally wrenching storyline and with the added element of war, the simplicity of the set was an excellent choice. Changes occurred through projection screens, fog and lighting and was very effective allowing the story to flow without interruption.

The lighting and the deafening sounds of war, as well as the force of the images on the screen, made the experience feel hyper real and I felt like I was in the war zone and alongside Joey ploughing the field. I cried when Joey was sent to war. I cried when Joey and Albert were united. So the moments of light comic banter provided a welcome relief.

I also want to make special mention of the  horsemen puppeteers who became the horse, who made me forget that the horses were puppets. Through their body movements, they captured every detail of a horse’s movement — every characteristic and subtle nuance of each horse from the flickering of the ears, the stance, the head movements, the tapping of the foot to the feelings pain when they were injured or exhausted. A truly remarkable and uplifting experience. Do not miss this.

'War Horse' is at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until August 4.

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