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'Catch Me If You Can’ - Beenleigh Theatre Group

‘Catch Me If You Can' - Beenleigh Theatre Group

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 6 April 2024

Beenleigh Theatre Co’s latest production of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ flew into their beautiful southside theatre this month. Based on the astonishing true story of Frank W. Abagnale, teenage conman extraordinaire, the show has music by Marc Shaiman with lyrics by Scott Wittman.

Direction by Nicholas Joy was dynamic. The show starts by breaking the fourth wall and Joy kept that feel throughout the show, by having the leads use the whole


stage and a lot of the audience interaction was kept downstage. The scene changes were snappy and unobtrusive and the use of a raised stage platform kept the action interesting. Projections added a slightly comedic yet interesting dynamic and assisted the audience in orienting the scenes.

Musical direction by Rachel Love was solid. The ensemble numbers were powerful and solos were handled competently. The songs of this show are rather modern and jazzy and Love did well to reflect that vocally. The only negative was diction. It appeared to be a real issue in this show, partially a potential microphone issue but mostly cast related. Perhaps the accents were impeding the cast from annunciating their words but there were real difficulties in understanding the spoken and sung dialogue. The song ‘The Man Inside The Clues’ was particularly difficult to understand.

Choreography by Jackson Poole and Rachael King was excellent. The use of the ensemble dancers was dynamic and made sense within the scenes. At no time did they feel superfluous or unnecessary. Dance moves were unique, crisp and enhanced the action on stage. The Broadway feel of the show was enhanced by Jackson Poole and Rachael King in a show that does not take itself too seriously.

Lighting design by Ethan Houley was puzzling. A lot of spotlight use gave the grand Broadway feel of the show however the operation was sketchy. At times the spotlights would lag or wobble which would distract from the scenes. In addition, the stage was kept quite dark throughout the entirety of the show, which meant there were times when actors or dancers were performing in the dark. This was a major drawback of the production.

Sound design by Levi Rayner was competent, aside from the aforementioned issues in understanding dialogue. Unfortunately in this performance, the actress playing Brenda Strong’s microphone was not working. This continued through her solo ‘Fly Fly Away’, arguably the show-stopping number in the show. In this case, it would have been beneficial to suspend imagination and have someone provide her with a microphone before her solo number rather than the audience struggling to hear. Especially in a show with audience interaction and such blatant breaking of the fourth wall, it would not have been a huge distraction to have an ensemble member hand her a working microphone.

Costume design was professional and cohesive. From flight attendant uniforms, doctors scrubs to baseball shirts the costumes were well thought-out and cohesive adding to the Broadway feel of the show.

Prop construction by Natalie Morotti was exceptional. The aeroplane prop that Morotti designed and constructed was by far the highlight of the show. Expertly handled by Matt Malachite and the rest of the ensemble it was a spectacle moment that contributed greatly to the show.

James Bird was energetic as Frank Abagnale Jr. His youthful appearance and confident charism suited the character well.

Michael Mills was enigmatic as Carl Hanratty. His character’s transformation throughout the show was played well and his rapport with Bird’s Abagnale was heartwarming. Vocally, Mills was strong.

Jeremy Headrick was believable as Frank Abagnale Sr. He encompassed the role and was one of the strongest actors in the show.

Samantha O’Hare was a powerful Paula Abagnale. Her vocal ability, accent and characterisation were mesmerizing to watch.

Leah Harford was a sweet and innocent Brenda Strong. Her scenes with Bird were believable and sincere. Vocally, she did not miss a beat performing ‘Fly, Fly Away’ despite having microphone issues.

At this performance Nicholas Joy stepped into the role of Roger Strong. He enjoyed himself and impressively merged seamlessly with the cast. When paired with Trinette Avery’s comedic and charming Carol Strong, they were an entertaining pair.

Ruby Thompson encompassed the sassy bombshell Cheryl Ann with ease and confidence.

Douglas Berry, Sean Wilson and William Thomas played Hanratty’s subordinates well. The trio had wonderful rapport with one another and comedic timing that brought a lightness and lots of laugh to the show.

The ensemble worked well together and the cast appeared to be having a lot of fun in the show. There was a cohesion amongst the cast which contributed to the overall feel of the show.

Overall, Beenleigh Theatre Group’s production of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was an entertaining and eye-opening musical about fraud, family and flying. It is worth watching for a night of escapism, entertainment and fun.

'Mary Poppins Jr’ - Brisbane Junior Theatre

‘Mary Poppins Jr' - Brisbane Junior Theatre

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 6 April 2024

The Emerge Church at Warner transformed into Cherry Tree Lane for Brisbane Junior Theatre’s latest production of ‘Mary Poppins Jr’. Directed by Jack Bradford, the large cast of children and youth performed the junior version of this classic show, which still contained all the much-loved songs.

Lighting and set design was impressive, with the use of a screen to project a variety of backdrops, from the rooftops of London to the night sky for Poppin’s


iconic flying scene. The practical effects used to give the illusion of the practically perfect nanny soaring into the sky was effective and unexpected for a junior show, adding a magical element to the polished production.

Direction by Jack Bradford was simplistic and basic. It allowed the children to focus on their singing and dancing while still furthering the storyline. The large number of children on stage meant it was hard to see those at the very back, but the dynamic movement of Jada Parson’s choreography meant each child got a chance to shine. Choreographic highlights included ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’.

Vocal direction by Debbie Bradford was wonderful. The handling of the harmonies and ensemble in ‘Feed the Birds’ was stirring. The leads were all competent in their lyrics, lines, harmonies and melodies – a testament to Bradford’s musical direction.

At this performance, the title role was played by Anna Lucas. Her self-assured and confident stage presence and consistent British accent enhanced her very believable performance as Mary Poppins. Vocally she was solid and handled the challenging vocal range of the songs with ease.

Omar Abiad encompassed the charm of Bert. His accent was charming and his persona mysterious. Vocally he kept up with Lucas and as a dancer he excelled. It would have been wonderful to see more of Abiad’s dancing talents in this show.

Noah Vanderent was compelling as Mr Banks. From an acting perspective, he balanced seriousness with comedic lightness very well. Vocally he also excelled and when paired with Jessica Bowman’s gentle Mrs Banks they made a believable pair.

Chloe Chan and Sebastian Lucas played Jane and Michael Banks. Chan’s accent and sweet vocals suited the role of Jane Bank’s perfectly. Lucas’ brash yet soft nature complemented Chan and made the pair dynamic and engaging to watch.

Hannah de Necker’s boldness as Mrs Corry suited the character well. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was a dynamic and joyful number. Led by de Necker and with Parson’s energetic choreography, it was surely the highlight of the show.

Haylee Simpson was the standout of the show with her performance as the Bird Woman. Though her role was small, vocally she brought soul and emotion in one of the most touching scenes. When paired with Anna Lucas and the ensemble, the number was haunting and very professional. It will be exciting to see Simpson in larger roles in the future.

Henry Gates, Emme Krause and Abril Cuellar-Tello opened the show as mini Bert, Mary and Miss Andrews respectively. Their young age belied their talent, especially Gates whose accent, voice and impact on stage was much larger than his tiny stature.

The ensemble worked well together vocally and choreographically. The sound achieved when all were singing together was much fuller and richer than one would expect from a junior production.

Overall, Brisbane Junior Theatre’s production of ‘Mary Poppins’ packed a big punch and reminds the audience that junior theatres can produce productions that are entertaining, impactful and tell a wonderful story!

'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ - Redcliffe Musical Theatre

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' - Redcliffe Musical Theatre

Review by Rhea Basha | 22 March 2024

Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ was full of charm, charisma, and—of course—colour. Performed in the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre, the space was filled with powerful harmonies and fun, caricatured characters that shared a story from the Bible’s Book of Genesis.


The musical follows Joseph, who is greatly favoured by his father, much to the disdain of his eleven brothers. When his father gives him a bright, colourful coat, his brothers successfully plot to get rid of him—selling him off as a slave. Following this, Joseph navigates through Egypt, moving from slave to prisoner, until his knack for prophetic dreams is discovered by those around him. The show itself, upon being released on Broadway, was nominated for Best Musical and Best Original Score at the Tony Awards in 1982.

Although the musical is completely sung-through, director Madeleine Johns did a wonderful job at bringing out strong characterisation and cohesion within the story. The teachings of morality were delicately balanced with moments of humour, creating a fun but meaningful rendition of the tale.

This was coupled with strong vocal direction from Rhonda Davidson-Irwin, with delicious harmonies—particularly throughout the ensemble numbers. Choreography by Jada Parsons also helped create the bubbly, boisterous atmosphere of the show, making effective use of levels, different ensemble shapes, and grand movements.

Although there were a few issues with feedback and microphones catching backstage noises, lighting and set was simple and effective. There was clever use of the pyramid for levels, and the props used—from palm trees to prison cells—set the scenes with clarity. The lighting was used particularly well, helping create contrast within the lighter and darker moments of the show. A particular highlight was towards the end of Act I, where the lighting shifted from dark and sombre with torches onstage to a bedazzling kaleidoscope of colour as Joseph finds renewed hope. This was only further emphasised by fun, quirky, and colourful clothing that felt well-adapted to the setting.

Benjamin Oxley presented as a sympathetic Joseph, facing through hardships with thoughtfulness and gentleness. It made for an excellent contrast when he was given the opportunity to be spiteful and seek revenge, yet still kept him grounded as a protagonist. His vocals were beautiful, showcasing clarity and sweetness in ‘Any Dream Will Do’, but also showing off grit and power in ‘Close Every Door’.

The narrators, Sienna Randall and Abbie Gommers, had a difficult task throughout the show—keeping the show moving, and leading the changes in tone. Their vocals were consistently strong, with lovely duet harmonies, and didn’t falter once. Randall, in particular, was a powerhouse burst of energy, highlighted at the end as she led the cast through the encore.

The standouts of the show were Joseph’s eleven brothers. Full of strong characterisation, chemistry and chaos, they were nothing short of a delight to watch. They made for a fun antagonistic force, bouncing between multiple genres with ease, and creating brilliantly reverberating harmonies throughout the show. A particular standout voice was Simeon, played by Erickson Ilustre, who had the audience completely captivated with his clever, comedic timing.

The majority of the ensemble showcased energy and passion in their performance, creating big ensemble numbers that were hard not to groove along to. The youngest stage performers, particularly, were full of bright eyes and dazzling smiles.

Overall, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ is a fun night for families. There is no shortage of big, glittering musical numbers and inspiring characterisation—creating a warm and entertaining show.

Star Half

'The Wolves’ - Ad Astra

‘The Wolves' - Ad Astra

Review by Yasmin Elahi | 15 February 2024

Ad Astra’s intimate black box theatre transformed into a soccer pitch for their latest production, ‘The Wolves’. Written by Sarah DeLappe, the play follows a group of girls as they warm up for their games, all the while discussing love, politics and everything in between.

Set design was simplistic. Astro turf was installed to portray the soccer field. Lighting design by Cale Dennis was used to great effect to enhance the mood and


action on stage. The sharp black-outs utilised in the second half of the show were perfectly timed and incredibly effective. The use of lighting to mimic that of an indoor stadium worked to great effect and made the stage area feel vast.

Direction by Caitlin Hill was captivating. Her use of the space, natural blocking, incorporation of physical activity and dance contributed to a show that was memorable, highly