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Friday, 31 August 2012 10:16

Dance Energy: Dance Preview

'Dance Energy' is part of this year's Brisbane Festival and plans to transcend the barriers of classical and contemporary dance.

The performance is a collaboration between Dancenorth, Expressions Dance Company and Queensland Ballet. Part of this creative trio is Raewyn Hill, Artistic Director at Dancenorth.

Describe the show in five words?
Relentless, Physical, Gruelling, Turbulent and Poignant.

How did it come about?
Visual ideas for 'Mass' first began in Paris in 2009, when as a guest of Cite Internationale des Arts, I would visit the Pompidou Centre to consume the 'Surrealist' exhibition. I began to research the concept of communities forming out of shared, profound experiences. And so began 2011, a trying year for many communities and the concept of community coming and going and supporting each other was something we began to experience on a daily basis.  

Favourite part of the production?
Watching our five incredible performers push themselves to their physical and emotional limit and do it with such grace and poise. I have such a deep respect for each of them and am indebted to them for their investment in making this story come to life.

What do you want the audience to say as they leave?
Everyone will take something different from the work as the images are surreal and the physicality relentless. The audience will recognise how physical 'Mass' is and what an enormous amount of commitment it takes to generate a sense of community with only five people.

Anything else the readers should know?
We created the entire score by Skype sessions with our composer Micka Luna as he is a resident in Vilanova, Spain. We also worked with Mariona and her Creative Director Peter Van der Zee by Skype to create the digital element of the work. Micka and Mariona have never seen the work live. Also, we have just been nominated for a 2012 Helpmann Award for 'Best Ballet or Dance work' for 'Mass'.

'Dance Energy' is on from September 27-30 at the Playhouse, QPAC.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:45

The Body Snatcher: Theatre In Preview

For the first time, the iconic play 'The Bodysnatcher' by playwright Scott Barsotti, has been adapted for the Australian stage. Brisbane Arts Theatre's current production, directed by Greg Rowbotham, is a darkly macabre tale, filled with murder, madness and medicine.

 Can you tell us a little about the play and its protagonists? The play is a gothic tragedy set in late 19th century Edinburgh, Scotland. Medicine is making tremendous strides in understanding the human body but needs a steady stream of corpses to continue useful work. Most of these corpses are expired paupers from the poorhouse but there are never enough. Enterprising 'Body Snatchers' take it upon themselves to create fresh corpses from the lowly and forgotten of Edinburgh as the medical community looks the other way.

What can the audience expect from the production? There are very little in the way of horror plays out there at the moment. This play gets away from the glitz and glamour of most theatrical productions and instils a more visceral vibe into the theatre. It is cleverly written with beautiful dialogue and ideas, punctuated with some rather gruesome murders.

Why does the work of Scott Barsotti appeal? Unlike most plays at the moment, Barsotti's works focus on the troubled horror and the descent into madness, reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft.

Has Scott had direct involvement in the piece? No, he wanted it to be a purely Australian production. How does the play differ from Robert Louis Stevenson's original? Stevenson’s original was only a short story, so this has been fleshed-out, but generally the characters and plot are still the same.

Have there been any trials or tribulations in the process of bringing this work to the stage in Brisbane? We have had great support from Scott Barsotti, who is so excited to have his work showcased outside the United States and we have had no troubles at all. Interest in the play is also quite high, so we hope Brisbane audiences will come along and enjoy the show.

What does it mean to the cast to be bringing this play to Queensland? It is always exciting to bring a new work to the stage. The cast and crew is able to stamp their own ideas onto the story without fear they will be regarded against an earlier production.

Describe the play in 5 words? Everybody pays for bad decisions.

What is your role in this production? Director.

Can you talk about any crazy/ funny/ weird stories from the rehearsal room? While this isn’t very funny, we have had a cast member end up with a cracked rib due to the large amount of physical violence portrayed on stage. Acting is dangerous work!

Highs and lows of being in this industry? Highs — being able to transport an audience on a very intense journey, and having them appreciate you for it. Lows — budgets! Especially for us as a community theatre, we are constantly challenged to make the most of every single dollar, so please, come and buy a ticket!

What do you want audiences to say as they leave the theatre? I want the audience to feel for the characters, both good and bad. Nearly every one of the characters has ethical decisions to make, and even the smallest choice can lead to dire consequences. Even the most evil of the characters in the play has elements of humanity shining through.

Anything else readers should know? This is a play from a different era where the story is key. If they allow themselves to take a chance on a different style of theatre that they probably have not seen they will be rewarded with a visceral experience.

'The Bodysnatcher' is being staged at the Brisbane Arts Theatre until Sept 8.

Wednesday, 01 August 2012 16:17

Film Review: Magic Mike

If you can tear your eyes away from the ridiculous sculpted male bodies for long enough, you might find ‘Magic Mike’ enjoyable in its own right. Granted, this film won’t win any awards or change the game, but it isn’t trying to.

Channing Tatum stars as Mike, an entrepreneur by day and a male stripper by night. Focused on the end prize (money, success, his own business), Mike juggles day jobs, girls and dance routines until he brings newcomer The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) on the scene. Chaos ensues, The Kid’s sister turns out to be a hottie with her head screwed on and the boys show there is more to male strippers than gyrating and body oil.

In between the dances, there are heartfelt moments and life lessons tucked in and watch for Matthew McConaughey’s mirror tutorial – it’s hilarious!

‘Magic Mike’ is in cinemas now.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:23

Cirque Du Soleil: Ovo

Everybody knows what fantastic, mind-boggling, death-defying productions Cirque Du Soleil are capable of. We have had numerous tours of various shows and yet still, every time I see them, I am amazed and enthralled by what is possible. ‘Ovo’ is no different.

Based around an insect theme, the show marries together elements of circus, dance, physical theatre, comedy as act after act bedazzle and bemuse the audience. On arrival, there were bug catchers and insects wandering between aisles, peering into popcorn cups and gently poking onlookers. Then the curtain rose and the magic began. The costumes were breathtaking, the acts were supremely talented and the comic relief between the main acts was amusing. It is quite unbelievable what the human body is capable of and Cirque Du Soleil have scoured the globe for the best and bendiest. A fabulous night out for young and old, just protect your popcorn. 

See ‘Ovo’ by Cirque Du Soleil under the Grand Chapiteau at Hamilton.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:15

Jersey Boys: Musical in Review

Based on the rollicking, real life story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons — a band that became one of the biggest selling groups of all time — ‘Jersey Boys’ is a show not to be missed. Frankie Valli, founding member Tommy DeVito, bass vocalist Nick Massi and songwriter Bob Gaudio were four blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks who went from scoundrels to pop sensations.

Blending that crass, crude Jersey humour with poignant moments, ‘Jersey Boys’ takes us on a journey that soars and saddens. The four leads — Graham Foote as Frankie, Declan Egan in his professional theatre debut as Gaudio, Glaston Toft as Nick Massi and Anthony Harken as volatile DeVito — were all superb. Hilarious, witty, talented and the perfect embodiment of the characters, the boys became The Four Seasons on stage. Featuring all their hits including ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don't Cry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Oh What A Night’ and ‘Can't Take My Eyes Off You’, this show took you back to a golden age where men in matching suits was still cool and singing along was expected.

‘Jersey Boys’ is playing at the Lyric Theatre QPAC.
Iconic, bawdy, hilarious, completely politically incorrect and often plain absurd, ‘Fawlty Towers’ was a British sitcom that ran for only two series in 1975 and then again in 1979.

However, a few people seemed to like it. In fact, it became a worldwide cult phenomenon and in 2000, it was named the ‘Best Television Series of All Time’ by the British Film Institute.

The Park Regis North Quay Hotel has tapped into this and is staging a theatre performance celebrating the unforgettable characters from the show. ‘An Evening of Fawltie Towers’ plays homage to the physical humour, the melting pot of emotions, the absurdity and hilarity of everyday situations in a hotel and all while you enjoy a glass of wine and a delicious dinner.

Anthony Phillips from the hotel adds that “audiences can expect an evening in Basil’s Fawlty Towers restaurant where anything can happen and probably will.” He also points out that the show stars award-winning comedian and actor Martin Blair who won praise at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. When questioned whether the younger generations would enjoy the show or if they would even know ‘Fawlty Towers’, Phillips was quick to explain, “I definely think young people will know the of the show, it’s iconic and loved by people all over the world.”

FAWLTY TOWERS — FUN FACTS

John Cleese was paid £6,000 for 43 weeks' work and supplemented his income by appearing in television advertisements.

At a 30th anniversary event honouring the show, Cleese said, "Connie and I wrote that first episode and we sent it in to Jimmy Gilbert, the executive whose job it was to assess the quality of the writing who said, 'This is full of clichéd situations and stereotypical characters and I cannot see it as being anything other than a disaster.' And Jimmy himself said, 'You're going to have to get them out of the hotel, John, you can't do the whole thing in the hotel.' Whereas, of course, it's in the hotel that the whole pressure cooker builds up."

The show was co-written by John Cleese and Connie Booth who were married to each other at the time of the first series. By the second, they had been divorced for almost a year, after ten years of marriage.

The names of Basil and Sybil Fawlty are thought to have originated from The Picture of Dorian Gray’.

During the series, Andrew Sachs was twice seriously injured while playing Manuel (the waiter). Cleese describes using a real metal pan to knock him unconscious in ‘The Wedding Party’, although he would have preferred to use a rubber one.


‘An Evening with Fawltie Towers’ is for one night only, Saturday June 9 at Park Regis North Quay Hotel.
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 15:06

The Five-Year Engagement: Review

Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt. Directed by Nicholas Stoller.

This rom-com from the Judd Apatow stable reteams the director and star of ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ to produce a slightly melancholy but funny flick. Newly engaged couple Tom Solomon (Segel) and Violet Barnes (Blunt) are blissfully in love and excitedly get engaged after one year of dating. However, on the way to finally getting married, they hit a few roadblocks with a cross-country relocation, poor career choices and an inexplicable beard growth all in the mix. The two leads are great together, possessing an easy charm and chemistry and the support cast lead by Ifans, Pratt and Alison Brie (from ‘Community’) add layers and bring the ribald humour. An entertaining ride that drags on at times (it runs for over two hours), but the depth of emotion and its raw and honest look at love make it all worthwhile.

3.5 stars.

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:02

Silhouette Cabaret

Ringmaster Management has gathered together a group of uniquely talented performers to stage a smoky, dark, seductive show which brings the hidden worlds of everyday to life. Answering our questions is Sunday Lucia — ballerina, choreographer, burlesque dancer and model — and one of the key performers in ‘Silhouette Cabaret’.

Q: Describe this show in 5 words?
Mystical, vampish, stylised, human nature.

Q: What role do you play in it and what was that like? I play a woman so in love in her own head yet unattainable, playing one man’s fantasy, but it’s also my own. This production has been so enjoyable to work on because of the scope I have been given. There has been great direction but also a lot of freedom to create and explore.

Q: Tell me about your skills and previous achievements? I graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Dance, Performance Major. I received my first role in Singapore with Odyssey Dance Theatre and later returned to Australia and joined Expressions Dance Company as a young Emerging Artist. Since then, I’ve been an independent artist in Brisbane, staged my own cabaret show in 2008 as part of the Brisbane Festival and recently performed in Graeme Murphy’s production of ‘Aida’ in Adelaide and Brisbane. Plus I own my own performance company — Sundance Enterprise.

Q: Highlights about being involved in ‘Silhouette Cabaret’? Working with other fantastic performers who continue to inspire me with such creativity and drive.

Q: Any awkward, weird or uncomfortable moments so far? Trying to work out the logistics of my costume which is a small bandage that needs to be unravelled from my body in an elegant and seductive way (these things get tangled you know).

‘Silhouette Cabaret’ is showing at Albert Waterways Community Centre in Broadbeach on Sunday, May 13.
Friday, 27 April 2012 15:44

The Avengers

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth. Directed by Joss Whedon.

Hiring Joss Whedon to direct one of the most anticipated films of all time was a ballsy move.

Sure, he’s a fan favourite, but ‘cult status’ — the sort enjoyed by Whedon projects like ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Firefly’ and ‘Dollhouse’ — isn’t what you’re shooting for with an investment of this size. Like so many risks, though, it’s paid off in droves.

‘The Avengers’ plays to all of Whedon’s strengths, starting with the film’s ensemble nature. No fan of any of these characters will come away disappointed, or feeling like their favourite deserved more time in the sun. If anything, it’s the characters who haven’t headlined their own movies (or haven’t done so successfully) that steal the show.

The final third of the film alone contains more action and excitement than all of the other Marvel movies combined. Every dollar of the budget is stretched to its absolute limit, and you can see it all up on the screen (this, of course, is the true genius of hiring a director used to working on a shoestring).

Whether or not this leads to infinite sequels, let’s appreciate ‘The Avengers’ for what it is: the greatest action film of its time, and for fans, pure superhero nirvana.

‘The Avengers’ assembles on Wednesday April 25.

Hilarious, whimsical, melancholy, heartbreaking, crude, original, soul-brightening. Is that even a word?

Perhaps not but I feel like it is the most appropriate way to describe the latest production from La Boite (and artistic director David Berthold). Coming all the way from Scotland, this show has toured the world and has left audiences everywhere gobsmacked and giggly, unexpectedly aroused, cringing in embarrassment and swooning with sheer joy.

The show is based around the romantic tangled story of two people, who are both living life through a haze of boredom and cynicism, but who end up having the craziest night of their lives together. And it’s not even corny.

Just see it and know that you will, without question, want to own both a ukulele and a Scottish accent.

Midsummer (a play with songs) plays at La Boite Theatre until April 28. Book now at laboite.com.au.

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