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'Shakespeare in Love’ - Beenleigh Theatre Group

‘Shakespeare in Love' - Beenleigh Theatre Group

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 9 February 2024


Audiences were swept back to the 1500s for Beenleigh Theatre Group’s first production of the year ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Based on the popular film of the same name, this charming play follows the story of William Shakespeare who is struggling with writer’s block until he discovers a muse in Viola, who is beautiful but unavailable. Interjected with moments of humour, romance and music, the script balances Shakespearean language and charm with modern day storytelling in a play that appeals to everyone, regardless of their love of Shakespeare.






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Set design by Michael Ware was inspired. The floor, set pieces and walls were finished to look like blank parchment – mimicking the protagonist’s writer’s block and the empty pages which he is contending with. The use of a raised stage area that was easily moved around the stage to become various set pieces and locations was clever, as was the raised rostrum which served as many settings throughout the play.


Lighting and sound design complemented the minimally decorated set. The interweaving of music and live singing from the cast brought a charming English feel to the play and was used to enhance scene changes as well as the action on stage. Choreography by Trinette Avery perfectly reflected the time period and was charming to watch.


Costumes were in keeping with the period and visually striking. Wardrobe mistress Trinette Avery curated a selection of costumes that complemented one another and the era. The queen’s costume and make up was exceptional and did not in any way feel like a community theatre production.


That sentiment is echoed in Michael Ware’s directing. His use of the stage, set pieces and blocking choices were all expert. The casting was superb and the pace of the show was spritely. The use of Shakespearean quotes on the back wall was a nice touch that immersed audiences further into the world of the Bard. Ware’s ability to lean into the comedic moments of the play and allow his cast to have fun with them kept the show light, entertaining and fun. Ware’s directing of this play cannot be faulted.


Nicholas Hargreaves excelled as William Shakespeare. His energy, accent and stage presence made him a believable young Shakespeare. His enthusiasm about the words he was reciting was believable and his rapport with his fellow cast members authentic.


Hannah Martin was a sweet Viola. She balanced the character’s romantic disposition and steadfast commitment well. Her interactions with both her suitors carried different emotions which led to a believable and well-rounded performance.


Daniel Dosek was a commanding Lord Wessex. His commitment to the character was evident and he was a dynamic and captivating performer.


Rachel Hunt was a magnificent Queen Elizabeth I. Her regal physicality, deliberate and clear speech and imposing aura shone on stage. Despite having an incredible and all-consuming costume, it did not overshadow her performance.


Bradley Chapman’s natural comedic flair suited his dual characters of Richard Burbage and the boatman. At the conclusion of the boat scene, the audience couldn’t contain their applause, a testament to Chapman’s characterisation and memorable stage presence. The cameo appearances of his dog Link was a wonderful addition to the play.


Hudson Bertram’s portrayal of Sam was comedic and light. His vocal performances of the musical interludes were flawless and haunting. A striking moment of stillness between the action-packed scenes where Bertram held the audience captive with his voice.


The remainder of the cast worked together as a cohesive ensemble. Accents were consistent, characterisation and energy maintained throughout the performance and an overall professionalism was notable from the entire case.

Overall, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was an incredibly well directed, well performed play. Audience members would be forgiven for thinking it was a professional production. Virtually a flawless performance of which all involved should be immensely proud.



'Footloose’ - Phoenix Ensemble

‘Footloose' - Phoenix Ensemble

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 2 February 2024


Phoenix Ensemble’s Tin Shed transformed into the small town of Bomont for their first production of the year, ‘Footloose’.


The Tony nominated musical, based on the beloved movie, follows Ren and his mother who move from the bustling metropolis of Chicago to the small town of Bomont - where dancing is against the law. Along the way, Ren makes friends, finds love and proves that age does not equal wisdom.





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Set design by Isabelle Quayle was simple yet immersive. The use of barnwood conjured up a small town feel and the central ‘stained glass’ doors invited the audience into the religious sentiments of the location. The risers on each side of the stage gave an opportunity for interesting blocking and dynamic movement around the intimate stage.


Lighting design by Maddy Bosanko was simplistic, with a large emphasis on spotlights to bring some Broadway flair to the show. Unfortunately, there seemed to be some technical issues on the opening night which meant lighting cues were late and some sections of numbers were in complete darkness. Once these opening night hiccups are ironed out, it is likely the lighting design will complement the action on stage well.


Costumes by Breanna Gear were in keeping with the period. The elaborate range of bedazzled cowboy boots was a highlight. One questions whether the use of artificial looking wigs brought anything to the production or perhaps served as a distraction.


Direction by Isabelle Quayle was dynamic and energetic, in keeping with the theme of the show. The blocking was simplistic and natural and the use of the raised sections of the stage was done well and to maximum effect.


Musical direction by Benjamin Richards was solid. Phoenix Ensemble always give their audiences the privilege of a live band and this show was no exception. The vocal blending in the number ‘Somebody’s Eyes’ is a nod to Richards’ capabilities as a musical director.


Choreography by Isabelle Quayle, assisted by Kirsten Brown was peppy, enthusiastic and upbeat. The execution was crisp and all cast members put maximum effort into their dancing, contributing to clean and impactful movement throughout the show.


Sam Caruana was a charismatic Ren. He led the show with a mix of comedy, sincerity and heart.


Yasmin Fitzgerald was a fiery Ariel. Her accent was very consistent and she embraced the role with confidence.


Andrew McArthur was a delightful Shaw Moore. He struck a balance between ruling with an iron fist and wanting the best for his child. McArthur’s paternal handling of the character was enhanced further by his performance of ‘Heaven Help Me’. McArthur worked well alongside Della Days, who played his wife, and the pair came across as a believable couple.


AJ Betts as Rusty was the standout performer by far. Their stage presence was magnetic, their charisma palpable and their vocals could bring down the house. ‘Somebody’s Eyes’ and ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ were both vocal highlights of the show.


Aidan Cobb was an entertaining Willard Hewitt. His comedic timing was impeccable and his embodiment of the character made him instantly likeable to the audience. Vocally, Cobb excelled in ‘Mama Says’.


The rest of the ensemble worked as a cohesive team and believably played the small town city residents. Special mention to Wednesday Reign as Wendy Jo and Chelsea Jamieson as Urleen for their commitment to their quirky characters.


Overall ‘Footloose’ was a fun and energetic show. Curiously, the polished accents and believable acting eclipsed the singing and dancing as the most memorable takeaway from this production. As with all opening nights, there were some technical difficulties and vocal wobbles, but the cast were committed to their characters and invited the audience to get lost in a show that is equal parts fun and heart.


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Star Half

'Jingle’ - JACs Entertainment and Brisbane Powerhouse

‘Jingle' - JACs Entertainment and Brisbane Powerhouse

Review by Gary Farmer-Trickett | 7 December 2023


Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm was host to ‘Jingle’, a feel-good family show produced and directed by JACs Entertainment.






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Upon arrival the audience were immediately greeted with a traditional red curtain which revealed a simple, festive ensemble of Christmas presents, nutcracker soldiers, reindeer, and dancers. The talented ensemble of dancers - Tiara Lock, Shania Lock, Coby Lock, Griffin Cooper, Nick Skein and Hunter-Jai Clist executed each complex dance move, created by the creative producer and choreographer Julieanna Nugent with such precision, ease and conviction.


The Master of Ceremonies, Chris Wayne provided a warm and magical welcome and oozed charisma. He encouraged all to place their Christmas wishes in a box that remained visible on his ‘love swing’ throughout the show and this created a rapport immediately. Chris was a star and the standout of the night. He had the audience hanging off his every word and took them all on his festive journey with outstanding magic, balloon shaping and charm. He also had a beautiful balance of adult and family friendly humour.


The lighting and sound design by Andrew Haden was simple but dynamic and used to great effect. It highlighted each act beautifully and the transitions were seamless. The choice of each deliberate Christmas sound worked to perfection and Haden should be applauded for this.


The show was essentially circus acts linked together with magic and wit from Chris Wayne. Alongside him were are vocals from Aleisha Rose. Aleisha had a tender voice but at times it was hard to hear her as there were a few microphone issues. In addition to Chris and Aleisha, there were a multitude of different ‘cirque’ acts that packed a punch and had a sprinkle of Christmas cheer about them. Ashleigh Roper was mesmerizing with her aerial lyra and hula hoop acts. Jarrod Takle had the audience speechless with his high block hand balance act and Emma Goh and Scott Reynolds (Duo Synergy) showed the audience their insane and somewhat nerve-wracking roller-skating stunts.


Juggler Cody Harrington had such stage presence and that X-factor. His juggling skills were flawless and his assistant Megan Ray never faltered.


Stephen Williams with his aerial straps was phenomenal. He showcased his talent whilst flying to 'Carol of the Bells' and this was both truly haunting and magical. Violinist Quiana Morgan (complete with fairy lights in her dress) was exceptional playing 'Hallelujah’ and the ensemble of dancers made this another highlight of the show.


Overall, this 70-minute show with no intermission will make you smile, laugh out loud and perhaps cry. The masterful direction, choreography and sheer talent of everyone left the audience wanting more snow and more cirque magic.




'The History of the Devil’ - Metro Arts

‘The History of the Devil' - Metro Arts

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 29 November 2023


Metro Arts’ New Benner Theatre transformed into a court room for Polymorphic Productions’ ‘The History of the Devil’. Written by British horror writer Clive Baker, the play puts the devil on trial for his wrongs. With an unlikely prosecution and defence team, they battle it out to determine whether Satan is truly as bad as everyone says. This show incorporates elements of surrealism, fantasy, comedy and horror with a running time just shy of three hours.


The minimalist set design of tables and chairs gave the illusion of a Courtroom while leaving stage space for blocking and action.




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Lighting design by Nathanial Knight was captivating and a highlight of the show. From the flickering fires, snow and rain, fireworks and a bird strike, Knight expertly handled the technical elements of the show. He used lighting changes to denote scene changes and made up for the lack of elaborate set and prop changes. Sound design by Ewan Robertson was immersive. The soundscape spanned the entire show, with forest sounds underscoring the dialogue. At times the repetitive soundtrack became a little distracting and smoother transitions between click tracks would have led to a more immersive environment.


Director James Kable did well to utilise the entirety of the stage. For the most part the blocking was logical. The absence of props and emphasis on mime was disappointing, as ropes and letters would have been a simple but effective addition to add interest and believability to the piece. The show is a long one and it would have been nice to see more daring and riskier directing as this is a show that can handle directing that pushes boundaries. Overall, the directing felt a little safe. Commendation must be made to the cohesion of the cast and the professionalism and certainty with which they delivered the multitude of lines each had.


Connor Scoble embraced his role as the Devil. A younger casting choice than what was expected, he managed to command attention and was physically dynamic on stage.


Lisa Hickey led the prosecution as Kate Lamb, among other characters. Her many characters felt distinct and her commitment to each role was evident.


Thomas Eastwood was believable as Samuel Kyle, the reluctant defence lawyer. Again, Eastwood played multiple characters with gusto and was one of the strongest actors, bringing an earnestness and gravitas to all of his roles.


Tiana Varcoe played Jane Beck, the younger of the two prosecutors, as well as a plethora of other characters. Her physical acting was impressive and her scenes as Pia Shim were captivating.


Sandra Harman played Verrier, the devil’s helper, along with other characters. Like Hickey, Harman was committed to each role.


The highlight of the show was Sherri Smith. She stole the stage and provided a hauntingly convincing performance as the witch. Vocally and physically she encapsulated that role and held the audiences’ attention.


Alexis Beebe played the Judge. Her role was the most comedic and she interacted well with the other characters.


Ben Postle was captivating as Belial, among others. Opening the show, Postle set the tone for an intriguing evening. His interactions with the audience were stealthy and he brought a devilish charm that almost overtook that of Scoble’s. It would have been interesting to see him cast as the Devil as it was clear Postle had potential and a brooding darkness.


The lead cast was supplemented by ensemble members who played smaller roles. Each were credible in their roles and formed a unified cast.


Overall, ‘The History of the Devil’ was an interesting show. Part comedy, part horror and altogether confusing it leaves audiences questioning the Devil and who is truly to be believed. It is a script with a lot of promise and it would have been nice to see the director and actors push the boundaries to elevate this show to something special. As it is, the show’s technical aspects and a few key performances make this show an intriguing but rather conservative evening.


Star Half

'Falsettos’ - Javeenbah Theatre

‘Falsettos' - Javeenbah Theatre

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 26 November 2023


The quaint Javeenbah Theatre on the Gold Coast served as the perfect venue for William Finn and James Lapine’s musical ‘Falsettos’. Accompanied by a three-piece band, the talented cast and masterful direction proved for an entertaining and tear-jerking evening of entertainment.


The Broadway musical follows the story of Marvin, who leaves his wife and child to live with his boyfriend. Originally written as two one-act shows, the different chapters of Marvin’s life have been brought together in a weighty sung-through musical.



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Director Jake Goodall did an exceptional job directing this show. With a small cast and an even smaller stage, he managed to keep the blocking dynamic, conjure up beautiful and poignant tableaus and keep the audience entertained throughout the entirety of the rather long show. Blocking decisions were deliberate, set and prop design and placement skillful and scene transitions smooth.


Musical direction by Rachel Love was adept. She handled the complex and elaborate score with ease. Each of the performers appeared confident in their melodies, words and timing. The band, led by Matt Pearson was fantastic and accompanied the performers with skill and expertise.


Choreography by Charlotte Schmidt was clever. The strategic use of movement in certain musical numbers fit with the story and music and never felt out of place. ‘March of the Falsettos’ was particularly eerie and charming.


Lighting design by Colin Crow was powerful. The lighting choices throughout the show highlighted the action and emotion playing out on stage perfectly. Sound design by Mikaela Murphy was good however at times the band overpowered the vocals and overall it was difficult to understand what was being said.


Set design by Corinne Meunier and Jake Goodall was intelligent. The chess board overlaying the stage and the cube units full of tchotchkes provided the perfect backdrop for the action. Props by Tex Houston and Jake Goodall were practical and used to great effect throughout the show.


Costume design by Natalie McDonnell, Christine McLachlan and Tex Houston was effective and complemented each of the characters. The costumes for ‘March of the Falsettos’ were alluring and contributed greatly to the intrigue of that number.


Jesse Kennedy was a believable and likeable Marvin. His natural rapport with the audience invited them to feel for him and sympathise with his journey. Vocally, he was wonderful and his moments with Whizzer in Act Two were especially heartbreaking.


Hunter Wall was a standout as Whizzer. His characterisation and stage presence were magnetic and vocally he was the highlight of the show. His performance of ‘The Games I Play’ and ‘You Gotta Die Sometime’ were soul stirring and the chemistry he shared with Kennedy was truly magical. The final scene between the pair would bring a tear to any audience members’ eye.


Dominic Bradley did well as Mendel. His performance of ‘Everyone Hates His Parents’ brought a moment of much needed levity to the show. It appeared he may have been a little under the weather at this particular showing but that did not stop him from pushing through and delivering a delightful performance.


Kiran Sen was charming as Jason. The young performer had a magnetic stage presence and vocally kept up with his adult counterparts. Niamh Smith was robust as Trina. Her performance of ‘I’m Breaking Down’ was wickedly darkly comedic. Kristy Smith-Wood embodied Dr Charlotte. Her performance of ‘Something Bad is Happening’ was weighty. Emily J Hayes was believable as Cordelia and her chirpy personality served as a good foil for Smith-Wood’s serious Dr Charlotte.


Overall, Javeenbah Theatre’s production of ‘Falsettos’ was stirring. The masterful direction of Jake Goodall brought this weighty story to life, handled with care and delicacy by the talented cast. Some moments from this production, especially those towards the end of Act Two will no doubt stay with the audience for a long time. This production truly does justice to what is a heartfelt and special musical.


'The Amateurs’ - Ad Astra

‘The Amateurs' - Ad Astra

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 19 November 2023


Ad Astra’s final play for 2023 was Jordan Harrison’s ‘The Amateurs’. With a small cast, the intimate theatre served as an appropriate venue for this niche show. Set in the 14th century, the story follows a group of actors, attempting to outrun the plague. Unexpectedly, the perspective shifts and the fourth wall is broken – with the actors addressing the audience as themselves. One actor then transforms into the playwright and provides a lengthy monologue about their childhood. Another monologue follows before the audience is returned to the 14th century and the conclusion of the play.


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Director Susan O’Toole Cridland did well to deal with the rather scrambled script. Though Act One was comprised of many short scenes, her directing enabled the action to continue and flow rather naturally. The small stage was used well and for the most part the action was interesting.


Lighting and Sound Design by Russell Jensen was smart. The lighting and sound effect when the Physic was talking about the fire was a technical triumph and very memorable.


Set Design by Kim Phillips, Tim Cridland and Dan Kennedy was unique. The use of a raised stage brought interest to the set and the wagon was skillfully constructed. The prop containing images of Noah’s animals was imaginative and in keeping with the 14th century setting of the show.


Julia Cox excelled as Costume Designer for this show. Her papier mache masks denoting the 7 Deadly Sins were effective and haunting. The costumes were believable for the period of the show and the special effects were expertly achieved.


Matthew Filkins was larger than life as Larking. He brought some comedic levity to the role and played well against Lia Davies’ Rona.


Maddie Armit was an intriguing Hollis. Her tender sensitivity and feisty disposition were well balanced and her monologue in Act Two was dynamic and held the audience’s attention.


Isaiah Harrison was earnest as The Physic. He had a sincere believability that played against some of the other over the top personalities.


Greg Scurr delivered the standout performance of this show as both Gregory and then the playwright himself. Scurr’s stage presence made him magnetic to watch and his rapport with the audience when addressing them as himself felt natural. As Gregory, he was instantly likeable and won over the audience almost immediately.


Lia Davies played Rona with gusto. Her expressive face and clear speaking voice contributed to her passionate performance.


Max Phythian played Brom with heart. Though perhaps the smallest role, Phythian’s was the most intriguing – with a backstory that is never fully explored. His return in Act Two was a polar opposite performance and entertaining to watch.


Overall, director Susan O’Toole Cridland and the cast did well to stage a rather enjoyable production of what is a confused, scrambled script that lacks motivation, any real storyline or point. The actors did their best to force the audience to care about them and their plight but the flaws in the script of ‘The Amateurs’ cannot be overcome, no matter how good the acting or directing.


'A Murder is Announced’ - Nash Theatre

‘A Murder is Announced' - Nash Theatre

Review by Susan O’Toole Cridland | 11 November 2023


I must make a confession. Despite being involved in theatre for over 30 years, I realised on the way to New Farm Nash Theatre to see their latest ‘who dunnit’, that I have actually never seen an Agatha Christie on the stage. How it has taken me this long, I cannot really explain as I love a good murder mystery.However, the advantage was all mine as it turns out, as I went in with no preconceived notions, no idea of what was to come, and no idea who the guilty party was!


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Director Sharon White on the other hand is an expert at navigating a Christie (or a Christie adaption) on the stage, having been at the helm of a number of these.And her expertise shows in every moment of this show. White uses the stage masterfully and plays each suspenseful moment just right – the energy remained high and tight throughout the whole production. Her clever direction, along with the script adapted by Leslie Darbon, threw red herrings left, right and centre and we were left consistently wondering not just who was the murderer, but would we see more deaths as the weekend continued?


Set design by White and Phil Carney took us to where we needed to be – into Little Paddocks manor. It allowed the cast to move easily around the stage while keeping us well in the illusion of spending a peaceful weekend relaxing in a beautifully kept manner – were it not for the pesky newspaper announcement of the murder that was about to happen of course.


There was not one performance that let this show down in any way. While I may not have the room on this page to name each individual, every actor on stage embodied their characters physically, emotionally and, where suitable, comically. Crowd favourites were Ellie Bickerdike as Dora Bunner and Caitlin Cleary as Mitzi. Their energy was contagious and their comic timing resulted in many laughs from an appreciative audience. The role of Miss Marple can be a daunting one to take on as it’s such a famous character, but Linda Morgan handled this like a pro. Catherine Stark makes her stage debut as Phillipa Haymes and, from an audience perspective, matched the talents of the more experienced actors on stage with her (and credit goes to all for this). If this is Catherine at the beginning of her acting journey, I am excited to see what her future brings. For me, the night belonged to Phillipa Dwyer as Julia Simmons and Brendan James as Patrick Simmons. The banter and chemistry between these two from the moment they are introduced to us as siblings is very believable. Their characterisation, movement, motivation and accents were on point from start to finish.


There is a school of thought out there that maybe it’s time to put these types of shows to bed. That the story and the style is outdated and has ‘been done before’. Well I say to that train of thought – what a bunch of codswallop! Don’t misunderstand me. I do love new work. As artists we desperately need to continue finding and developing new works. But there are many reasons as to why the true classics have upheld their value for all this time – and why it’s actually an Agatha Christie that holds the record for the longest running show on West End (speaking of which, anyone putting on The Mousetrap soon, because I am there for it!). And just for those of you who want to know, The Mousetrap has been performed in Londin since 1952 and has been playing at its current home since 1974! When you have charming characters played impeccably by skilled actors under the watchful eye of an experienced and talented director then these classic stories guarantee a great night of thoroughly good entertainment. The audible gasps of surprise, murmurings of excitement and bursts of laughter on the night very much prove this. Sign me up for more!


'Live at Frankie’s' - Redcliffe Entertainment Centre

‘Live at Frankie’s' - Redcliffe Entertainment Centre

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 17 October 2023


Performer Thomas Armstrong-Robley took the stage of the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre to perform his tribute show ‘Live at Frankie’s’. Supported by a four-piece bank, Armstrong Robley performed some of the most beloved songs from Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli.


As an avid performer, Armstrong-Robley has performed his cabaret shows on cruise-ships, taken to the stage in a variety of musicals and dabbled in directing,




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most recently directing ‘Jersey Boys’. At the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre, he has most recently taken the stage in ‘Grease’ and ‘Oliver’, both performances being fantastic and very well-received.


The stage was set as one would expect for a cabaret show; the band displayed proudly on stage, microphone stand and obligatory stool – for the performer to sit and perform more intimate numbers with the piano.


Lighting design was dynamic and helped to bring interest to the staging. Sound design was perhaps louder than necessary and there appeared to be an issue with the instrument microphone levels, as the bass guitar was more prominent in volume than the grand piano, which was unfortunate as pianist Matt Rofe had some delightful solo moments.


The show was just shy of two hours with no intermission. Armstrong-Robley took a moment to step off stage as the band continued to play. This would have been a natural place for an intermission, which would have broken up the show and allowed the audience a chance to stretch their legs.


The set-list was well curated, with a variety of well-known and lesser-known songs from these two icons of the music industry. There was a mix of up-beat hits and ballads and the performance culminated with perhaps the most iconic Sinatra song ‘My Way’, which was a nice way to end the concert.


Armstrong-Robley has his own style and it may not be to everyone’s taste. While there is an argument to be made for modernising classic songs (something Michael Bublé has made a name for himself doing), Armstrong-Robley’s insistence on changing the melody lines of essentially every verse of every song was frustrating. At times, the orchestrations of the songs were so altered it was hard to recognize them at all.


In addition, his habit of changing and rearranging lyrics, though novel, again detracted from the essence and beauty of these famous songs. It is clear Armstrong-Robley is a talented performer and it would have been nice to hear him perform some of these songs in an authentic manner.


Between songs, Armstrong-Robley would interact with the audience. His onstage demeanor was very relaxed and made the audience feel at ease. This contributed to the cabaret style of the show.


Overall, ‘Live at Frankie’s’ was a pleasant concert. For those that are fans of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli it is an opportunity to see their songs performed in a very different way. For purists expecting to hear performances reminiscent of the originals, this show is not for you.


'The Little Mermaid' - Queensland Musical Theatre

‘The Little Mermaid' - Queensland Musical Theatre

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 13 October 2023


Queensland Musical Theatre ventured under the sea for their latest production ‘The Little Mermaid’. Based of the beloved Disney movie and with all the well-known characters such as Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian, this show is one for audiences young and old.



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Director Deian Ping relied heavily on projections for this production. The blocking was natural and used the large stage well. Solo performances garnered a stillness, which enabled audiences to appreciate the vocal talents on display without distraction. The ship wreck scene was cleverly directed.


Musical director and conductor Julie Whiting led the orchestra with aplomb. Vocally, the ensemble numbers sounded full and the solos were performed faithfully to the original orchestrations.


Choreography by Julianne Burke was at times in keeping with the underwater theme. Some of the ensemble choreography was modern and reminiscent of an eisteddfod rather than a musical, while at other times blended well with the story. Flotsam and Jetsam’s movements were the most convincingly aquatic. The sea gull tap number was well choreographed and executed and the biggest dance moment of the show.


Lighting design by Tom Dodds was lovely. The watery affects of the lights projected onto the curtains during the Overture and Entr’acte immersed the audience into the underwater setting of the show. The use of lights from multiple positions enabled some beautiful lighting transitions and enhanced the action on the very bare stage.


Set design by Gerard Livsey was minimal. The show felt very much like a live-action movie, with the animations in the background. The use of haze, smoke and bubbles conjured up a nautical vibe and Ariel’s rock was iconic and well-constructed. The rocking boat in ‘Kiss the Girl’ was cleverly constructed and exceptionally effective.


Costumes by Deian Ping had a nod to the iconic, with a contemporary spin. Ariel’s mermaid dress was beautifully beaded, as was her wedding dress. Sebastian’s red suit, complete with matching trainers was striking, as was Flounder’s headpiece and Ursula’s dress. Flotsam and Jetsam’s costumes were incredibly well conceived and effective, as were the seagull costumes. Though some of the ensemble costumes felt out of place under the sea and could have been more sea-life inspired, overall the costumes of the leads were professional and impactful.


As is usually the case on opening night, there were sound issues. The microphones often had delays in being brought up, meaning dialogue was missed. Overall, the clarity of the sound was poor and a lot of the dialogue was muffled and difficult to follow. For those that know the story well, this is not a huge issue but is certainly disappointing.


Sophie Mason was a delightful Ariel. Vocally, her voice was well suited to the Disney princess she was playing. Her high notes were sweet and magical and her rendition of ‘Part of Your World’ did not disappoint. Her American accent was very consistent and her characterisation convincing.


Matthew McKenzie was by far the star of this show. He burst onto the stage with a magnetic stage presence and energy. His accent, commitment to the character and rapport with the others was flawless. Vocally he performed at a level deserving of a Broadway stage. ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Kiss the Girl’ were energetic crowd favourites received by thunderous applause and much audience cheering. An absolutely exceptional performance as Sebastian by McKenzie which alone makes this show a must see.


Rhona Bechaz was commanding as Ursula. Her stage presence and physicality was every part a villain. Her performance of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ was rousing and very memorable, proving to be a wonderful culmination of Act I.


Aden Lowry and Isaac Cain as Flotsam and Jetsam were exceedingly convincing as Ursula’s evil eel sidekicks. Physically and vocally they were synchronised and gave huge evil energy.


Alessia Lily Monteverde was sweet and vibrant as Flounder. Her acting and vocal ability did not pale in comparison with her adult co-stars, despite her young age. Her ability to scoot around on roller shoes made her the perfect speedy side-kick for Ariel. She took command of ‘She’s in Love’ in a number that was exceedingly joyous to watch.


Overall, Queensland Musical Theatre’s production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was a faithful retelling of the classic Disney story. Though the set design was minimal and at times the large ensemble seemed superfluous, this show is worth watching for the standout performances of Matthew McKenzie, Rhona Bechaz and Sophie Mason. And for those with little children, it is a charming and immersive underwater experience.


'Every Brilliant Thing' - Metro Arts and THAT Production Company

‘Every Brilliant Thing' - Metro Arts and THAT Production Company

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 4 October 2023


Metro Arts’ New Benner Theatre played host to THAT Production Company’s latest one-man show, ‘Every Brilliant Thing’. The play by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe tells the story of a young boy who creates a list of brilliant things in an attempt to assist his suicidal mother. The audience follows the boy’s journey from childhood to adulthood, all the while accompanied by his ever-growing list.


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Director Timothy Wynn transformed the New Benner Theatre into the round, with mismatched dining chairs replacing the classic theatre seating. Various hanging lightbulbs with different shades provided the lighting for the show and several rugs denoted the stage area. This unique staging fit well with the theme of the show. Wynn’s directing was natural and organic. His blocking ensured no portion of the audience was neglected and the actor’s movement was purposeful.


Sound design by Wil Hughes was precise. The soundscape was executed flawlessly and enhanced the action on stage. Lighting design by Nathaniel Knight was subtle but effective. Manipulation of the various lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling allowed focus to be directed to certain areas of the stage at pivotal moments in an unobtrusive way. The flickering of lights to denote certain emotional moments was impactful.


Jason Klarwein was instantly likeable as the show’s one actor. His rapport with the audience was easy and his personable nature contributed to the success of the show – which is largely focused on audience participation. Klarwein relied on members of the audience to serve as the other characters in the story. His improvisation skills ensured the show remained on track, despite the unpredictability of audience answers.


Interestingly, the audience members that were chosen formed an integral part of the show. Organically, the story moved and changed as more audience members became involved. The feel in the theatre was relaxed, in what at times was more of a group therapy session than a performance. Though the subject matter of the show was at times very heavy and dealt strongly with suicide, there was a certain warmth coming from Klarwein that managed to keep the show somewhat uplifting and prevent it from sinking into a dark and depressive state.


Overall, ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ was a unique one-man show. Relying heavily on audience participation, this production managed to draw the audience into the story, bond with one another and ultimately come away feeling enlightened, aware and entertained.


'The Sound of Music' - Redcliffe Musical Theatre

‘The Sound of Music' - Redcliffe Musical Theatre

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 30 September 2023


Redcliffe was alive with the sound of music as the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre played host to Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s production of ‘The Sound of Music’. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical was brought to life by a cast of talented adults and children, accompanied by a 16 piece orchestra.

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Highly regarded as the best musical of all time, ‘The Sound of Music’ follows eccentric nun Maria as she becomes governess for a strict Captain’s seven children. Set against the backdrop of WWII and the impending Nazi regime, this musical bridges all emotions and carefully balances seriousness with frivolity.


Director Madeleine Johns utilised the large stage of the Entertainment Centre to good effect. The set design by Jonathan and Madeleine Johns cleverly encompassed the stage. The grand staircase served as the focal point of the set and was cleverly used for the iconic ‘So Long, Farewell’. The use of the fly tower to transform the stage into the Abbey, complete with stained glass windows was also cleverly conceived. The set change for Act II’s ‘Edelweiss’ was visually striking.


Musical Director and Conductor Rhonda Davidson-Erwin led the orchestra with aplomb. The musical direction of the singers was classic, keeping true to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original orchestrations. The music and vocal performances certainly were the highlight of this show.


Costumes by Madeleine Johns and Karen Van Den Bos were authentic. It is clear a lot of attention has been paid to costuming this production. The children’s matching uniforms, nuns’ outfits and Maria’s various dresses were all tailored well and formed a cohesive look on stage.


Lighting design by Chis Walker was effective and complemented the action on stage without being obtrusive.


Stephanie Collins was charming as Maria. Her voice was beautifully suited to the role and her manner with the children was earnest and believable.


Loic Valmy was commanding as Captain Von Trapp. His vocals and acting ability were compelling and his rendition of ‘Edelweiss’ was stirring.


Amanda Hutton was powerful as Mother Abbess. She led the nun’s choir with assurance and her Act I finale ‘Climb Every Mountain’ was rousing.


Jamie Taljaard and Erickson Illustre played Baroness and Max believably. Their rendition of ‘How Can Love Survive’ was charming and a nice inclusion of a lesser-known song.


Ashlee Herman and Lucas Van Stam were an innocent Leisl and Rolf. Their performance of ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ was vocally very sweet.


The Von Trapp children were played at this performance by Toby Bailey, Zoe Hitchcock, Benjamin O’Regan-Lambert, Zola Bulan, Maeva Kota and Tiarna Douglas. All embraced their various characters with dedication. Vocally, their voices blended beautifully and each child performed confidently and with professionalism.


The nun’s ensemble must be mentioned. Their rendition of ‘Morning Hymn/Alleluia’ was soul-stirring. What a striking way to begin such an immense show. The harmonies and vocal clarity of the performers were joyful to experience.


Overall, Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s ‘The Sound of Music’ excelled vocally. For such a well-known show, it is important the musical numbers are respected and this production delivered an authentic interpretation of the original show. With such an experienced creative team at the helm of such a beautifully written and classic musical, ‘The Sound of Music’ delivered talent, musicality and charm.



'Assassins' - Beenleigh Theatre Group

‘Assassins' - Beenleigh Theatre Group

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 30 September 2023


Beenleigh Theatre Group’s Crete Street Theatre is playing host to nine individuals who made it into the American history books for all the wrong reasons. ‘Assassins’ is one of Stephen Sondheim’s lesser-known works. The one-act ‘revusical’ bends the laws of place and time, intertwining the lives of these dark individuals in a world where they interact, communicate and share one common goal: to assassinate the President of the United States.

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