My brand new project Reception: The Musical is set to open in just a few days! I have been assistant director (to the amazing David Wicks) and choreographer for this beautiful new piece of theatre, opening at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne this Tuesday 29th.
Get prepared for fantastic toe-tapping original tunes about stationary, photocopiers and the phone-rapair man! This one woman show is charming as hell, so grab your tickets here. It’s the memo you don’t want to miss!
Martha Graham Dance Company
When Martha Graham passed away in 1991, the was concern that the company would either close completely, or become a tired, monotonous museum dance company, chained to performing only repertoire from the enormous range of works Graham created during her lifetime.
Fortunately, neither has occurred. While the Martha Graham Dance Company do still perform repertoire – featuring her distinctly recognizable technique, they pair their evenings with new work by new choreographers.
In the case of this season, performed on the main stage of the New York City Center, the company showcased Appalachian Spring (originally choreographed in 1944) and the ultra famous Rite of Spring (first performed in 1984).
In addition to these traditional works, which had the audience cheering for its clean lines and precision, the company also premiered a new work by popular Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato.
Titled ‘Depak Ine’, the work was wild, exciting and energetic, the dancers throwing their limbs violently as they tangled with each other. Wearing simple flesh-coloured costumes, the primitive movements of the bodies under an extremely clever, stark lighting design could have proven to be a little too much of a shock for the audience – especially after watching sweet women bounce joyfully around in bustles and bonnets in Appalachian Spring. But the second the house curtain touched the floor of the stage, the deafening scream of approval was undeniable.
The Martha Graham Dance Company is anything but a museum piece. It is a living, breathing, powerful organization that showcases exceptional dancers performing exciting choreography. Old and new.
Disney has transformed the way we see musicals today. Creating the ‘mega-musical’ and forging its own brand of spectacular theatre. Its latest addition to 42nd street is Aladdin, opening in New York City in March.
This production is as zany, colorful and bombastic as you’d imagine, with no expensive spared for sheer spectacle. But unfortunately, that’s all it is. A spectacle. Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw has done an extraordinary job of packing in magic tricks, explosive choreography, and enough costume changes to make a make you dizzy, but the actual story seems to lack charm.
The script (particularly for the characters of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine) are simple and dull. It doesn’t allow for any real character development within the plot, giving us only a shallow, stereotypical rendering of these well-known characters. There is chance in a show like this to not just be a feast for the eyes to delight children and their parents, but to tell a powerful tale of friendship and love. In that respect, it seems to have an opportunity.
Nevertheless, the show rides on the wave of an incredibly virtuosic performance by James Monroe Iglehart, who embodies the schizophrenic genie with such power and joy, the audience had no choice but to fall in love with him. He is hysterical, and peppers the evening with pop-culture references and impressive physicality.
The addition of new songs to the popular score is extremely well done, particularly “Babkok, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim’, which includes a rousing dance routine in the Agrabah marketplace.
Overall, the show is genuinely funny and overwhelmingly visual. Everything you’d expect from Disney.
The Drowsy Chaperone
The newly-named Hayes theatre opened its doors with a gritty, sexy, and sensational interpretation of Sweet Charity. Directed by Dean Bryant, and starring Verity Hunt- Ballard, it was a hit.
Everyone can’t help but wonder, what do you do to follow it? After the enormous success of Sweet Charity, the Hayes Theatre brings in Squabbalogic, with their interpretation of the recent Broadway classic The Drowsy Chaperone.
The danger was that this 2nd production wouldn’t be able to break boundaries, or be as inventive with such a small space, or simply fall flat after the praise Charity was given. But the second The Drowsy Chaperone begins, with a stark ‘lights up’ on a well-worn New York apartment, all those fears are gone.
A man in a chair tells us about his favourite musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, and plays the record for us to hear. Suddenly, the refrigerator opens and out steps a range of colourful characters from the musical. A happily engaged couple, a pair of cheeky gangsters, a Broadway wannabe… Inside a particularly brilliant set by Lauren Peters the man guides us through the show, as the zany musical unfolds around him. This production sparkles, with a strong cast (lead by director Jay James-Moody) delivering the razor-sharp script by Bob Martin and Don McKellar with such gusto, the audience were literally throwing their heads back with laughter.
The sensational cast, coupled with choreography by Monique Salle makes this production come alive with a tounge-in-cheek nod to the classic musicals of days gone by.
Sweet Charity was a hard act to follow. Squabbalogic nailed it.
Off to New York!
If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that I was recently invited to perform an excerpt of First Things First at the REVERBdance Festival, and also to perform the World Premiere of the full-length First Things First at the Robbert Helpmann Black Box Theatre at the Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet.
Well, it’s not long now before I dance my way over the ocean to take to the stage again for these amazing opportunities.
I’m packing my suitcase, I’ve got my plane tickets…see you in New York!
Click here to book tickets to see First Things First at the REVERBdance Festival.
See it. That’s all I can really say.
This show is gritty, modern and intimate – if you are familiar with Sweet Charity, these are not words you would expect, but the way Dean Bryant has directed this brilliant little show is so fantastic, you would be forgiven for thinking this is exactly how the show was originally written.
Verity Hunt-Ballard nails the sunny personally of the eternally unlucky dance hall hostess, living a life she is desperate to leave behind, but all escape routes come up empty.
It’s a joy to see. A cast that just buzzes with personality, a small, sharp band that have the Nancy Hayes rocking, genius costumes, brilliant choreography and a very very clever set, this show is simply fantastic. Don’t miss it.
Band of Magicians
Off to Paramatta today to see four of the worlds coolest young magicians. They did not disappoint. Truly incredible tricks, teamed with genuinely funny comedy, these guys had the audience gasping at every turn.
Using both close up magic (expanded on a large screen with live cameras) and jaw-dropping large-scale illusions, James Galea (Aus), Justin Willman, Nate Staniforth and Justin Flom (USA) showcased some amazing talents in this world premiere. Apparently it will continue to tour the world, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!
Short and Sweet
Get yourself down to the New Theatre in Newtown, Sydney tonight (24th Jan) and tomorrow night (25th Jan) at 7:30pm for some awesome dancing! I’ll be performing my 10-minute solo work Familiar Strangers, and you’ll catch my good friend James Andrews with his solo CTRL (pictured) and Alison Plevey performing her solo Lachlan.