Month: May 2015

The Three Musketeers, The Genesian Theatre

A playful adaptation of The Three Musketeers comes to The Genesian, bringing to life traditional heroes, swashbuckling farm boys and heart-warming charm. This production was close to being a pantomime, with hyperreal acting and energy, over-the-top costumes, simple treachery and obvious eavesdropping into villainous plots. The acting, costuming and set design all emphasised the main values of the play; honour, valour and loyalty. The enthusiasm and pageantry of the production really lifted the performance to be entertaining, humorous and a great night out.

What made the play most entertaining was the acting. The farcical performance of the King from Tim van Zuylen added entertainment and humour, the authenticity of Taddeth Vartanians as d’Artagnan brought genuine sincerity and Elizabeth MacGregor’s performance of Milady de Winter was electric and energetic. Together, entire cast seemed to have an air of playfulness, they looked like they were really enjoying themselves which lifted the production immensely. They weren’t just reading lines off a script, they breathed life into this classic tale.

The modern adaptation of the play stripped back the tale to become a very simple one and, it’s contemporary relevance can be realised through its exploration of moral themes and values. Joanne Coleman’s portrayal of d’Artagnan’s swashbuckling sister, Sabine, showed a strong female lead that placed her equal to her three musketeer friends. Loyalty and genuine kindness came through in d’Artagnan’s pursuit of becoming a Musketeer.

There were also undercurrents that gave the play depth and texture. The mischievous teasing and taunting of the Cardinal, played by John Willis-Richards, brought to light elements of corruption and greed within the official structure of the French royalty. The modern dialogue made playful reference to the Borgias and other historically relevant figures, which made the audience laugh.

Production-wise, the Genesian are fantastic at making use of their stage. With limited floorspace, they had a multipurpose set, which encourages the audience to imagine the space. The scene changes were fast-paced and virtually seamless, running on and off with just enough props to mark the occasion. In doing so, The Three Musketeers had the potential to be a very long night, but their professional staging made the performance slick and the transitions easy to follow for the audience.

Commendations to the costume designer for helping distinguish the multitude of characters played by a finite number of cast. The quality of the costuming really added to the traditionally classic nature of the play. There were also some excellent fight scenes, fencing and combat. These were really well executed and very dynamic.The Three Musketeers at The Genesian is a fun, family friendly night of great entertainment.

Image credit: Grant Fraser

https://www.facebook.com/GenesianTheatre

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The Sydney Cat Café

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I sat, nestled in a bean bag, and was handed a tortoise-shell kitten named Piglet. After nibbling on my coat for a while, it pawed my lap, curled up and went to sleep. The pop-up Sydney Cat Cafe isn’t around for long and depending on its success raising funds through kick starter, it may be a permanent fixture in our Sydney landscape.

The cafe is light and bright and pastel pinks and soft greens. I expected it to smell like a cattery, but when I walked in, I was greeted by sweet vanilla incense and calm folk music, soothing in the background. It’s a complete sanctuary for people to spend half hours with kittens, it’s almost therapeutic. It felt like a bubble, away from the busy streets and car horns and erratic pulse of the city. For the half hour, slippery kittens and slinky cats were all that was important in the world.

The pop-up cafe itself  was in a gallery space in Paddington, so the business partnered with a local cafe for the event, supplying beverages and food for a small cost. The plan for the permanent space is to have a cafe area and feline area on the same premises.

Personally, I was too distracted to think about anything other than kittens. The man opposite me had sunk into a deep cushion, cradled a hand-sized kitten on his chest, while a tiny ginger explored his shoulders and collar. The volunteers from Maggie’s Rescue  were just as eager to see the cafe patrons as the resident felines were.

The Sydney Cat Cafe is part of a growing global phenomenon. However, unlike the cafes in Sydney, Melbourne, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand, this cafe has teamed up with Maggie’s Rescue, which is a cooperative of carers committed to Companion Animal Welfare. I think this partnership is an excellent idea to celebrate. Not only can humans get detox and destress through cuteness therapy, but the rescued cats have the exposure and potential to be found a new home.

The founder of the Sydney Cat Cafe, Veronica, said that she worked as a lawyer by day and joked about moonlighting as a crazy cat lady by night. Inspired by wanting to be around cats and share the excitement and peace that cats bring, her dream was realised when Maggie’s Rescue keenly came on board for the project. She was overwhelmed with the response from there public, after receiving over two thousand emails in the first forty-eight hours of booking, and hopes to see the kick starter campaign reach its goal to fund a permanent cafe in Sydney.

For now, all I can say is that I was totally smitten with the oodles of kittens that traipsed, tripped over, and tumbled into nap time. I hope the pop-up cafe returns at the end of June as planned, and I hope to see the Sydney Cat Cafe stay for good. image

For more information,visit

https://m.facebook.com/sydneycatcafe

It’s Rubeeeee! IN LIGHTS! – Sydney Comedy Festival

Showing as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival, Rubee Sookee presents her one woman whirlwind show, “It’s Rubeeeee! IN LIGHTS!” at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville. For context, the performance is-

“set in an imaginative world where toys come to life, Rubee awake to find Colin the Teddy Bear still drunk and in despair. He’s broken up with his boyfriend and Rubee decides he needs cheering up.”

Her performance shows her esoteric view of the world which flows in a series of short sketches, many of which are quirky commentaries of real life. It was in these skits, (particularly ‘Desperate Girl At Party’,) that I identified with the dramatic material. Rubee is great at shining a light on the absurdity of life. The sketches are also made dynamic by being interspersed with a few musical numbers, bringing a comedic twist to Beyonce and Kylie Minogue tracks with the help of friend and back up dancer, Levi. To top off her routine, Rubee presents stand up and one liners that borderline caricature through impersonations and tasteful black humour. Her show is simple, yet so effective and although her sketches lack a common thread or explanation, each skit holds dignity and integrity. They stand alone as snapshots of life’s moments.

Rubee says she was inspired by the age-old wonder and awe that comes with holding conversations with your toys and staging scenes with them in your bedroom. It is in this way that her use of prop is quite creative and elements of the imaginary really add to the performance.

Having started in university revues and presenting her material in the 2014 Sydney Fringe Festival, Rubee has made it to the Sydney Comedy Festival and should be congratulated. Her genuine sincerity and playfulness make her performance as unique from the rest and she seems to exude a tremendous passion for making people laugh, which really comes across on stage. I’m keen to see her consolidate her and see what she does next.

Check out the promotional video: https://vimeo.com/gemmade/httpvimeocomrubeeinlights

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IMAGE CREDITS: http://www.enjoygram.com/cstar3xpress

Balsamic Vignettes #9

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Milly was a girl of short stature, with two light brown bobby pins used to keep her jet black hair neat. Her pale skin hadn’t been kissed by the sun enough to sport any freckles at all and her grey eyes entranced no boys at school.

For Milly, the ultimate satisfaction could be found not in golden sunsets or drinkable coffees, in optimum- temperature museums or in alpine retreats. She cared less about chirping birds than she did for Saturday night discos and she hardly ever raised an eyebrow as the ice-cream van made the rounds of her neighbourhood.

Yet her favourite past-time, her absolute reason for existence, was her fervent worship of terrible Kung Fu films. She praised the low-quality Hong Kong cinema with reverence and prostrated before the altar of shocking special effects. Her collection was solely of Chinese films from the 1980s, where the language is Mandarin and the subtitles are Cantonese, the elderly grandmasters were as tough as a $2 steak and the magenta blood sprays oceans. She stood in the dim, flickering light of the television screen and copied their moves. By her teenage years, she was able to authentically replicate Muay Thai moves, Capoeira kicks, Jiu Jistu jabs and achieve the most phenomenal sense of Eastern Zen.

Chatswood Muscial Society presents: Into The Woods

From May 1st until May 9th, Chatswood Musical Society presents ‘Into the Woods’ at the Zenith Theatre. I was thoroughly impressed with this production of Sondheim’s hit musical.

The stars of the show were the cast. Everyone, from leads to minor leads and chorus, was electric and convincing, as they performed Sondheim’s intricate lyrics with great talent and skill. Storytelling through musical song is no mean feat, but the entire cast carried the production with such passion and emotion, it was difficult not to get swept away in the energy and melodrama of the show. The cast themselves are well-seasoned and of high calibre, with many of them having graduated from NIDA, the Conservatorium of Music,  Actors Centre Australia and Opera Australia (to name a few accolades). They were electric on stage and added great warmth and humour to an already fantastical show.

The production team should be congratulated. As amateur theatre works to a very tight budget, I was particularly in admiration of the props and how cleverly creative they were, which added to the entertainment value of the production. With limited space, this musical had seamless scene changes and the stagehands seemed to work together as a machine. Relying on lighting to distinguish scene tableaux, there was an excellent use of props that elicited a sense of creativity and imagination- a horse and carriage was imagined with two parasols and a hobbyhorse.

The Zenith in Chatswood is an excellent venue. A professional arena for good quality actors. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the sound system. Too many times have I seen theatre where the orchestra overpowers the dialogue, or the equalising and levelling needed to be adjusted. Not this venue. Thanks to Loud and Clear Audio,the sound was perfect and although the musicians were out of sight for the performers, there was great (technological) communication between the conductor and the actors. I stress these elements because amateur theatre has a tough battle with sourcing high quality equipment, but this production really showed off the Zenith in a good light. What a fantastic venue for future musical productions.

It was a pleasure to see a well-polished production of this recent hit ‘Into The Woods’. The CMS added unique elements of humour with Mary Bentley as the cow Milky White and slapstick through the acting, such as Chapin Ayres’ performance of the Witch. I recommend this as a family production and a great night out.

Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/ChatswoodMusicalSociety

Edit: Loud and Clear Audio managed the sound.