Reviews

Cats

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. Director: David Mallett. Music Director: Simon Lee. Choreography: Gillian Lynne. You Tube “The Shows Must Go On” Channel. Free streaming 16-17 May 2020

Mark Steyn* divided the history of musical theatre thus: BC – before Cats – AD – Andrew Dominant. The profound influence Cats had on musical theatre in 1982 was as game-changing as Oklahoma! in 1943 and Hamilton in 2015.

By Jeeves

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Book & Lyrics: Alan Ayckbourn. Based on the “Jeeves” stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Director: Alan Ayckbourn. Film Director: Nick Morris. Musical Director/Pianist: F. Wade Russo. Choreographer: Sheila Carter. The Shows Must Go On. 8-10 May 2020

For the past six weeks Andrew Lloyd Webber has made available a filmed version of one of his musicals screening for free over the weekend on the YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On. Last weekend brought us something out of the box and not one of his blockbusters.

Renée Geyer’s online live stream gig

Memo Music Hall, St Kilda, Victoria. Saturday 2 May, 2020

The last time I saw Renée Geyer live was at the Narooma Blues Festival, with a packed-out enthusiastic crowd. This time, I simply paid $12 shortly before lights up at the Memo Music Hall in Melbourne and clicked the link on my iPad.

Renée and her band were set up as usual, but there was no crowded dance floor; no diehard “Renéegades” crammed in front of the stage. This seemed to make no difference to Ms Geyer and her tight band – they revved up the intro and played with every ounce of energy that a live gig requires.

Selby and Friends at Home

Streaming Online. Playing to ticketed customers from May 2 – 10, 2020.

As a reaction to the closing down of arts venues by the coronavirus, pianist Kathryn Selby took one of her ‘Selby and Friends’ concerts to the screen. With violinist Andrew Haveron and cellist Umberto de Clerici, she presented three of the most loved Piano Trios in a concert recorded after only two day’s rehearsal at Sydney Grammar School.

Antony and Cleopatra

By William Shakespeare. National Theatre Live, from the Olivier Theatre, Southbank, London. Streaming FREE on National Theatre at Home until Thursday May 14, 2020.

In this contemporary set production of one of Shakespeare’s late and most complex, layered and contradictory plays, Ralph Fiennes plays Antony as an already fading playboy.  The erstwhile war hero, in his mind responsible for young Caesar’s power, teeters on the brink of over the hill, trading on his past glories, drinks too much, getting a little porky, silver threads in beard and hair – and sexually obsessed with Sophie Okonedo’s quicksilver Cleopatra.  She is skittish, imperious, girlish, peremptory, sensual, cold, impulsive, calculating, uninhi

Bandstand

Music: Richard Oberacker. Book & Lyrics: Robert Taylor & Richard Oberacker. Direction & Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler. Playbill On-Line. April 11 – 17, 2020.

Director and choreographer Andy Blankenbauehler won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award and the Chita Rivera Award for his choreography for Bandstand, and it’s the thing that sweeps and elevates you away with this musical.

Set in the post-war period after World War 2, it’s about returned vets trying to re-establish their lives as civilians.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration

Royal Albert Hall. The Shows Must Go On Live Stream. Screened May 2 & 3, 2020

Instead of streaming one of his musicals, this past weekend Andrew Lloyd Webber treated musical theatre fans to a 22-year-old 50th birthday celebration concert filmed at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall in 1998. Crammed with musical theatre stars, it was a lavish get-together and a wonderful time-capsule of 90s musical theatre culture. Of course everyone looked and sounded so much younger but the filmed event captured some iconic West End performances.

Frankenstein

Written by Nick Dear. National Theatre (filmed live). Directed by Danny Boyle. Live streaming via National Theatre At Home until May 7, 2020

Whilst we may have bemoaned in the past the lack of access to some of the West End’s most challenging offerings, London’s National Theatre goes a long way to rectifying the problem with its series of filmed plays.

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean. Based on “The Servant of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldini. Songs by Grant Olding. Director: Nicholas Hytner. National Theatre Live, London, Screened 2-8 April 2020

Let me say upfront that I consider James Corden is the most singularly spectacular talent to have emerged from Britain during the last twenty years. A brilliant comic actor he can do anything and make it funny, even traffic lights which he does do during his CBS “Late Late Show” when he and a group of actors perform a musical at a traffic stop when the lights are on red (his Mary Poppins is hilarious).

Flowers For Mrs Harris

Music & Lyrics: Richard Taylor. Book: Rachel Wagstaff. Based on the novella “Mrs ‘Arris Goes To Paris” by Paul Gallico (1958). Director: Daniel Evans. Movement Director: Naomi Said. Music Supervisor & Musical Director: Tom Brady. Chichester Festival Theatre, 8 September 2018/Download for free until 8 May 2020 on the Chichester Festival Theatre website

Flowers For Mrs Harris was first produced by Sheffield Theatres in May 2016, and directed by Daniel Evans. It won three UK Theatre Awards: Best Design (Lez Brotherson), Best Performer in a Musical (Clare Burt in the titular role) and Best Musical Production. This new production was again directed by Evans, with design by Brotherston, and Burt playing the eponymous char for Chichester Festival Theatre in 2018.