On Centre Stage
By Douglas Kennedy
Gold Coast Shows, Theatre productions and Concerts in September.
Here’s a look at the Gold Coast and Hinterland theatre scene for the month of September. There’s an inviting mix of music, musical and drama both light-hearted and dark. For more details check out the Gold Coast Theatre Alliance website.
Songs for a New World
Javeenbah father and daughter team, Trevor and Rachel Love, have teamed to stage Broadway Tony Award winner composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s contemporary musical at the popular Nerang Theatre.
The show, which runs from September 16-October 1, was Brown’s first major musical presented off-Broadway in 1995, when the composer was 25-years-old.
Songs for a New World produced one cabaret standard, Stars and the Moon, and was originally directed by Daisy Prince, the daughter of the legendary New York producer and director Hal Prince.
Brown, who has been described as writing in a pop-rock style with theatrical lyrics, went on to write two Tony Award winning shows Parade and The Bridges of Madison County.
The show, which has been described as a musical and song cycle, has played in America, the UK, and Australia and recently had its French premiere in Paris.
Now Trevor (director) and daughter Rachel Love (musical director) are bringing the cycle to the Gold Coast. The musical, which spans several hundred years from on board a Spanish sailing ship 1492 to a ledge 57 storeys above Fifth Avenue, is said to, ‘weave character and history together, illuminating the timelessness of self-discovery.’
“It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back,” says Trevor.
“This moving collection of powerful songs examines life, love and the choices we make.”
Trevor hopes the ‘small powerhouse multi-ethic cast and crafted score,’ will have broad appear and bring the next generation to the theatre.
Playwright and novelist Hilary Bell’s chilling account of a brutal murder set in a remote north western Tasmanian town marks Annie Lotocki’s return to the Gold Coast Little Theatre in September.
Annie describes the story of the murder of two-year-old Toby Chester as an ‘iconic Australian psychodrama’ and it certainly reads like a confronting piece of theatre.
Bell’s play, which debuted at the Griffin Theatre in 1996, was inspired by a real-life murder which took place in Britain in 1968.
That led to the conviction of an 11-year-old girls for the murder of two boys aged three and four.
Bell’s re-working of the factual events in Britain opens with the discovery of Toby’s tiny body covered in flowers in an area of the town frequented by the children and known as The Weeds.
The body is found by railway workers, but the mother of nine-year-old local child Lizzie suspects her daughter of being involved and takes her to the police.
What follows is a 10 day long murder investigation and the very modern question – also examined in Lionel Shriver’s best seller We Need to Talk about Kevin – can a child be inherently evil?
Australian Hilary Bell, who is the daughter of Bell Shakespeare Company founder John Bell, has worked in most of the writing mediums and won several awards and accolades.
Annie says the wolf has been a symbol used in Children’s nursery rhymes, games and stories for centuries.
“Usually it appears as the stuff of fears – a representation of power that is frightening and demonic – an animal that consumes and kills,” says Annie.
“The central question of Wolf Lullaby asks – Who or what is the wolf? “The wolf is not an Australian animal but is large and looming in the lives of our protagonists. “
Bell is reported to have said she first came across the story of a youngster killing a small child in a newspaper article in mid-1993 and felt the greatest outrage was, ‘the ease with which society relieved itself of any responsibility.’
She wrote: “by purporting the idea of children being ‘born evil’ we are simply abdicating societal responsibility.”
Wolf Lullaby plays Gold Coast Little Theatre September 10th to October 1st.
The Spotlight Theatre Company’s Basement Theatre will be the home for an Australian musical comedy from September 15- October 2.
Tess Burke and Tony Alcock will co-direct the production, which had its first outing in Sydney in concert form back in 2008 as the closing event at National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The following year the musical opened at the Everest Theatre Seymour Theatre as part of International Women’s Day.
The show began life when actress Anne Looby’s sister, Amanda, was diagnosed with breast cancer and Anne decided she wanted to help in a meaningful way.
Anne (seen on TV in A Country Practice and Simone De Beauvoir’s Babies) started work on the show, which soon gained much good will and support, and quickly had a who’s who of Sydney talent chipping in.
The line-up included producers Simone Parrott and Neil Gooding with music and lyrics by Bruce Brown. However, the number of writers working on the book soon swelled to include Merridy Eastman, Jonathan Gavin, Richard Glover, Wendy Harmer, Sheridan Jobbins, James Millar and Debra Oswald.
The show has been described as a, ‘funny, tender and fully clothed look at breasts and those who support them.’
The show has been seen at the Riverside Theatre Parramatta, the Playhouse, Canberra and the Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane. Breast Wishes is now recognised as an official fund raiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
THE PATRICK PEARSE MOTEL
Irish dramatist Hugh Leonard’s 1971 satirical bedroom farce will be the Ballina Players’ latest offering at The Players Theatre from September 9 – 18. The Patrick Pearse Motel, first staged in Dublin, was one of 30 full-length plays written by Leonard in a writing career spanning 50 years.
The play was described in one review as a funny conventional farce in the tradition of British sit coms such as Fawlty Towers and To the Manor Born.
The Ballina production has been directed by Sue Belsham with Paul Belsham taking on the role of assistant director.
The playwright Leonard (1926-2009) was reported to have been as versatile as his works as, in addition to the plays, managed to pen 10- one-act-plays three volumes of essays, two autobiographies, three novels, numerous screenplays and teleplays and a regular newspaper column.
The Princess and the Pea
This adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s literary fairy tale – first published in 1835 – has been written and directed by Natalie Trengove with music and lyrics from Jim Fury.
The Tweed Theatre Company production, which plays the Tweed Heads Civic Centre from September 24- October 9, is tipped to be a family favourite.
Andersen’s original tale was said to have been inspired by the story he heard as a child and folk experts believe it had its origins in the Swedish tale known as Princess Who Slept on Seven Peas.
At the story’s core is the plight of a young royal whose identity is established by the fact that a pea placed under a mountain of mattress and feather beds can still bruise her.
This, according to legend, is something which could only effect someone of great elite sensitivity.
The Danish author Andersen (1805-1875), who was a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, poems and, of course, fairy tales was in reality a rather sad character, whose life was full of ups and downs.
While his work resonated with audiences, his personal life was largely unrequited in the loving adult world.
Shortly before his death, Andersen consulted a composer about the music for his funeral and said: “Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps.”
The Double Mask Youth Theatre will stage a brand new musical at the Murwillumbah Civic Centre from September 23-24. The company’s Facebook page features several references to the production, which tells the story from the Great Depression. The story centres of a shopkeeper who is forced out of business and then finds help with a toymaker.
High and Higher – The Motown Musical
The Spotlight Theatre Company’s latest show, which featured in last month’s round-up celebrates one of the great musical genres of the modern era.
High & Higher – The Motown Musical, which has been created by Jamie Watt and Peter Laughton and runs to September 3, with songs both from the famous and inspired by it.
The Motown stars celebrated include Marvin Gaye, the Jackson Five, Diana Ross (the Supremes), the Miracles featuring Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops and a who’s who of soul singers and musicians.
The rundown of around 50 songs includes Just Walk Away Renee, Baby Love, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, River Deep Mountain High as well as music from Earth Wind and Fire, Donna Summer and the Bee Gees.
Other shows worth checking out include Neptune Musical Productions’ An Evening with Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre, which runs from September 2-11 and Philharmonic Fiesta at the Gold Coast Arts Centre on September 18, featuring the Gold Coast Philharmonic Orchestra.
There’s also Vocalscene Go for Gold with Sound Connection at the Helensvale Cultural Centre on September 10 ahead of The Barbershop Harmony Australia men’s convention in Newcastle September 28-October 2.