Today the Green Room Award nominations were announced. These are state-wide awards for theatre for the last 12 months and we have had a lot of fantastic theatre here in Melbourne in 2009.
That's why I am so amazed to see the following listing:
August: Osage County – Melbourne Theatre Company
Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd - Malthouse Theatre/Arena Theatre Company
Knives in Hens – Malthouse Theatre/State Theatre Company of South Australia
When the Rain Stops Falling - Brink Productions/Melbourne Theatre Company in association with Melbourne International Arts Festival
3xSisters - The Hayloft Project
'Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd' was one of the most agonising visits to the theatre I've ever experienced. Sue-Anne shared my sentiment and we both felt compelled to leave at interval. I, in my ignorance, insisted we should stay for ACT 2 because it had to get better. But I was wrong. It got even more confusing, muddied, melodramatic, uncomfortable, drawn out, and messy. Yet reviewers called it "a deeply accomplished work, darkly beautiful theatre" and described all of the performances as "exhilarating".
To quote Mark Twain, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like"... and I didn't like this show at all... Yet it has at least five nominations in different categories!To group this show together with nominations that include 'Avenue Q', 'Jersey Boys', 'Chicago' is frankly, astonishing.
A few weeks ago Craig Mitchell, from the College of Magic in South Africa (and Billy Elliott's number one fan), surprised us with tickets to see the show. He's been raving about it to us for years and now we both understand exactly why.
The show was phenomenal!
Anyone who's seen the movie knows what a great, uplifting story it is, well the musical stays true to the whole feel of the movie in a way I've never seen achieved by a stage adaptation before. This is not surprising either, as when it opened in 2005 on the West End it cost £5.5 million to make: around £3 million more than the film!
The acting was spot-on, not the overplayed theatrics we're used to from musicals. The sets were technically astonishing without upstaging the performances. The cast were fantastic - from their characterisation to their costuming everything and everyone was gritty and believable (especially the language!) The staging was some of the most creative work I've ever seen and the choreography reminded me in places of Bob Fosse in his prime.
There's no point telling you the story of the show - if you've seen the movie you know it already and if you haven't, enjoy the ride! All I can say is go and see it.
Craig will be thrilled to know that he has created two new ambassador's for the show! (Somehow, I think he knew that would happen).
Following up on his success with 'The Producers', Mel Brooks new musical 'Young Frankenstein' has hit Broadway (two months ago... but I just heard about it today) and given us a reason for another trip to New York...
Montage from 'Young Frankenstein'
Initial reports are that is almost a verbatim translation of the movie to the stage, and the sets and staging are sensational. The only let down, according to some reviewers, is that the songs are "bland and forgettable". You can buy the soundtrack and listen to samples here at Amazon, but it's not available on iTunes yet. (At least not iTunes Australia).
On Friday night we saw Lawrence Leung Learns to Breakdance and, like his previous shows, it was excellent! The way in which Lawrence has mastered the art of Powerpoint Presentation makes me feel that he may be at the forfront of the re-emergence of an old Victorian style of parlour entertainment, 'The Lecture'. Many (many) years ago, people were entertained in their homes or clubs by others giving talks (often humorous) on various subjects. Lawrence's new show transcends stand-up comedy and really captures that style as he speaks about the angst of being a younger brother and takes us step by step through his quest to become cool.
But the most important thing magicians can learn about this show, as Lawrence is also a magician, is the easy-going, natural and genuine way in which Lawrence presents himself. He comes across as a real person we want to have as a friend.
I know some magicians feel they need to come across as a superior, master of the universe, in control of everything including their audience. Maybe some can play that role well, but most just look like they're self-deluded and up themselves.
Go see Lawrence Leung in action. He let's people like him. People enjoy spending an hour in his company. And all this, without any magic tricks at all!
Keith Johnstone. the internationally recognized authority on improvisation, will be teaching a series of workshops proudly presented by Impro Melbourne in May.Keith is the creator of Theatresports™ and a prolific writer on improvisational theatre.His books ‘Impro’ and ‘Impro For Storytellers’ have elevated improvisation to an art form in its own right.Both books have been translated into many languages.
Keith's fearless, playful approach to improvisational theatre has given birth to a global improvisational community, and his visionary ideas have influenced such television hits as 'Kids in the Hall' and 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' There's a long list of artists who have directly benefited from Keith's irreverent view of theatre and his ability to release creativity. Johnstone is a cheeky renaissance man with a gleeful sense of humour. He is a passionate genius inspired by his desire to unleash powerful art. His rebellious creative streak makes him break all the rules in everything he does: as a writer, playwright, painter, director, impro coach and drama professor. Working with Keith is an experience not to be missed.
For more information about Keith Johnstone, go here.