Skip to main content

Broadway, Off Broadway & a Cabaret Show: Adventures in New York Theatre

Once - one of the highlights of my trip
and my theatre-going year

There are forty theatres that comprise the world famous Broadway. Altogether, there are over 230 theatres in New York, if a talking tour bus is to be believed. And what of cabaret venues and non-traditional performances spaces? New York must be the city with the highest concentration of live performance in the world. It’s hard enough to keep tabs on everything that’s happening in Melbourne’s theatre scene. In New York, it’s impossible.

Which is why New York is so enticing, but also so tricky. How can I even sample everything the city has to offer? Can I avoid the temptation of Broadway itself, with its shiny marquees and Tony Award Winner notices plastered everywhere? Where do I begin Off Broadway? Whose recommendations do I take?

This trip was inspired by a production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods – a transfer of a production from London’s Regents Park to New York’s Central Park. I’ve always wanted to see one of the Public Theatre’s shows at the Delacourte, so why not fly half way around the world to see one of my favourite shows in a production that was acclaimed in London?

But attending a “Shakespeare in the Park” show means landing in the middle of a New York summer (sweltering), arriving too early for a swathe of new season Broadway shows (starting up in September) and finding a lot of curated theatre companies taking the summer off (this is true in Melbourne, too – try finding anything much opening in December or January). And, for some reason (the economy?), a lot of major Broadway shows didn’t even last through the tourist-heavy summer season.

For a city with so much choice, the selection was somewhat narrowed. Not that I’m complaining; it meant the possibilities were less overwhelming. Here, then, is some short reviews on shows I saw in New York between August 1 and August 11, 2012. In chronological order, because ranking them proved to be, there’s that word again – impossible.

Avenue Q – New World Stages (Off Broadway), August 1, 2012

I hadn’t planned on seeing this but first night in town, we failed to win The Book of Mormon lottery and it was Audra McDonald’s night off from Porgy & Bess – and by the time it came to choose a show, TKTS was offering only a handful of things I even wanted to see. Expectations of what I wanted to see and what I ended up seeing was as fluid as my plans for other places I wanted to explore in New York City.

Having seen the Australian production, there were no real surprises in this transfer from Broadway back to Off Broadway, where the show had begun its life. I did enjoy the fact that this cast didn’t need to fake their American accents (which is something transfers to Australian stages sometimes have to contend with), but as with RENT later in the week, there were no real stand-outs in the cast. Every performer was solid, but none of them grabbed me especially.

Trivia: “Fox News is only for now!”
Tony Award Pedigree: Best Musical 2004

Peter and the Starcatcher – Brooks Atkinson Theatre (Broadway), August 2, 2012

I wasn’t sure about seeing this show, but I’m so glad that A) we listened to recommendations and B) won the ticket lottery. It’s billed as a prequel to Peter Pan, but I feel like it’s a celebration of storytelling and the wish-fulfillment of Peter Pan rather than really being a precursor to J.M. Barrie’s story. Given how well the show uses theatrical tricks to tell its story – narration, direct address, mime, music, songs, puppetry, the list goes on – it’s also a celebration of live theatre in all its glory. 

The large cast is nearly all men, playing men and women, telling the audience a story and acknowledging how well the story is going as it progresses. While we didn’t get to see Tony Winner Christian Borle in the role of Black Stache, his replacement (Matthew Saldivar) is quite wonderful. Adam Chanler-Berat and Celia Keenan-Bolger are incredible in the roles of Boy and Molly but the production itself brings the story of the telling of a story to grand, imaginative life.

Trivia: I didn’t see a lot of actors this time that I also saw on stage in 2010. Chanler-Berat played Henry in Next to Normal, though.
Tony Award Pedigree: Nominated for Best Play 2012, it lost to Pulitzer Prize Winner, Clybourne Park

Into the Woods – Delacourte Theatre, Central Park (Off Broadway), August 3, 2012

I was only slightly worried that travelling to New York to see a new production of an old favourite would put slightly too much pressure on the show to get it right. I was more worried that I would stand in line all day and still miss out on tickets, but that’s what you have to go through to get tickets to the Public Theatre’s free shows at the Delacourte Theatre in Central Park. And that seven hours in line in Central Park... well, there are worse places to sit and read and chat while waiting for free theatre tickets.

There’s been some changes to the show and, for me, they make the show even stronger than it was before. And putting a show called “Into the Woods” into a park... that’s a great idea that worked perfectly. I mean, just the opening moments of the show, where the pre-recorded squawk of a bird dovetailed nicely with a flock of birds alighting from the trees in the park... I mean, you can’t script that. Well, you can – but then it’s not quite as magic as that moment was. Art and nature, working in tandem.

There’s also a pretty amazing cast. Donna Murphy as the Witch. Dennis O’Hare as the Baker. Amy Adams as the Baker’s Wife. Sarah Stiles as Little Red and Ivan Hernandez as the Wolf, their scenes together stealing the show. Chip Zien, the Baker in the original Broadway production, playing the Mysterious Man.

And the theatrical trickery that brought to life the Wolf in Granny’s bed, the rise of the beanstalk and the Giant’s Wife were... extraordinary. I was ecstatic from the opening strains of music and gobsmacked at how well those changes to the book and the narrator made the final moments of the show even better than they ever have been. I mean, seriously, I flew halfway around the world to see a production of Into the Woods that improves on perfection. How lucky was I?

Trivia: the Regents Park production is available to download
Tony Award Pedigree: Nominated for Best Musical 1988, it lost to The Phantom of the Opera (!!!!!)

RENT – New World Stages (Off Broadway), August 4, 2012

The original production of RENT closed in 2008 and I had hoped to maybe catch the 2009 US tour, if it extended into 2010, but it did not. So my first visit to New York was practically RENT free, though I did get to visit the Life Cafe briefly, which has since closed down. Meanwhile, RENT has returned to New York, Off Broadway where it began its life.

The production is directed by Michael Greif, who directed the original production – and so it doesn’t feel entirely different, just a little bit tweaked. A little bit polished. Maybe too polished. The set is certainly a marvel of black metal scaffolding that evokes New York’s ubiquitous fire escapes. The costumes feel closer to modern, without clashing too much with a show that’s set in the early to mid 90s. The appearance of cell phones seems odd, but not the kind of progression that seems too at odds with the passion and emotion of the show.

It was great to see this iconic New York show in New York. It was fun to see it knowing the places the characters were talking about – “the enemy of Avenue A” and “they say that I have the best ass below 14th Street”. And the cast was solid, if not spectacular. It’s odd to come out of RENT not talking about stand-outs in the cast. I’ve seen problematic interpretations of Mimi, but I’ve never seen one that seemed so by-the-numbers. I loved Maureen, but I think I always love Maureen. Mark was strong, but Roger was too baby-faced to be a rock star.

But the show is strong. The songs are still full of passion and defiance. And the show is so full of detail and layers, I’m still seeing and hearing details that have alluded me before. Or, if not alluded me, things I haven’t focused so closely on before.

Great show, strong production, with a solid if not spectacular cast.

Trivia: this production had an Alex Darling instead of an Alexi Darling, unless perhaps the regular Alexi was out and they shuffled in a guy from the ensemble for the night? I think Mark might have referred to him as Alexi at one point:
Tony Award Pedigree: Best Musical 1996

The Book of Mormon – Eugene O’Neill Theatre (Broadway), August 4, 2012

Just getting to see this show is an adventure. It’s sold out months and months in advance, unless you’re willing to pay premium prices to ticket re-sellers or scalpers. But they do offer a front row or box seat lottery (which gets around 300 entries every day!) and 28 standing room only tickets, if you are willing to stand in line for several hours to get them. We tried the lottery three times, but at the end of the third failed attempt, we were already in the line for the standing room only tickets and we managed to get those, so – yay! As much fun as the lottery was, I didn’t want to spend half my trip organising time to be there for the lottery.

The show itself? Well, what would you expect from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park and Team America? Well, you get exactly what you would expect – profane language, biting humour,  catchy songs and a little bit of a moral at the end, though it’s suitably ambiguous and perhaps a little soft given how wrong some of the early songs are. I know South Park often ends with a lesson for the boys – and this is Broadway after all, so a happy ending is almost required. But damn, if the satire doesn’t suffer for that.

But, boy, the show is a hell of a lot of fun. I mean, making fun of Mormons seems like a easy target – but Parker and Stone are smart guys and it’s not just about poking a religion but having a laugh at institutions and beauracracies. Laugh, I almost didn’t stop the whole way through.

Trivia: Disney seems okay with the show making fun of The Lion King, but given the dodgy costumes for Yoda and Darth Vader, it seems Lucasfilm has no sense of humour
Tony Award Pedigree: Best Musical 2011

Impromptu Molly Pope – Duplex (Off Off Broadway), August 6, 2012

After missing her at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2010 and hearing such great things about her from New York friends ever since, it was a lovely coincidence that Molly Pope announced an impromptu concert at Duplex on our first Monday night in town. I mean, Monday nights are basically dark on Broadway, so it’s not like I was going to see a show that night! And boy, a last minute show that’s free entry? Count me in!

I am so glad this happened. Pope is a great singer, very entertaining – and can knock back shots of Jamesons with the best! The variety of songs was impressive, as was her emotional engagement with one or two of them. The surprise appearance of her husband in the audience (or does he always/often attend her shows so he can be a punchline) was great. And a crazy rendition of a Ke$ha song to round out the night? Fantastic!

Also, filling even a small cabaret venue with less than a day’s notice? Wonderful.

Gore Vidal’s The Best Man – Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre (Broadway), August 7, 2012

I will admit, that it was the star-studded cast that lured me to the Gerald Shoenfeld to see this play. (Just as another star-studded cast at lured me to A Behanding in Spokane at the Shoenfeld in 2010.) Now I’d have loved to have seen the original line-up for this revival, but I was still ecstatic to see James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Cybill Shepherd, John Stamos and Kristin Davis all sharing the stage. Seeing them leave the theatre after the performance – filled with people exiting the theatre and throngs of theatre-goers and Darth Vader fans waiting in the street to see James Early Jones appear – that was pretty special, too.

After the passing of Gore Vidal only a few days earlier, I did a bit of reading on the history of the play and previous productions. And I went in wondering how well a political play from 1960 would work in 2012. Too well, probably. This play could have been written now and still felt vital and significant in what it has to say about party politics and how politicians act and how their pasts can haunt them.

And the cast, beyond being star-studded, were excellent in their roles. I could not fault Earl Jones, Larroquette or Davis. John Stamos surprised me, though he strikes me as perfect to play a sleazy manipulator. I wondered if perhaps Shepherd were a little bit understated in the role, but I think the quite, reserved political wife with no knack for public speaking probably required holding back.

One of the highlights of my theatre-going trip.

Trivia: Ronald Reagan auditioned for a role in the original Broadway production and Vidal knocked him back, suggesting he didn’t seem suited to playing the role of a Presidential candidate
Tony Award Pedigree: Nominated for Best Play in 1960, but lost to The Miracle Worker. Nominated for Best Revival of a Play in 2012, but lost to Death of a Salesman

Dogfight – Tony Kiser Theatre, Second Stage (Off Broadway), August 8, 2012

Once in a while, a play or a show or a film comes along that gets great reviews, entertains audiences and I just loathe. This musical version of the film Dogfight is one of them. The thing is, I’m pretty sure I enjoyed the first act. There are some great songs, lovely choreography and two stand out performances by Lindsay Mendez and Annaleigh Ashford. The men are put through their paces with great ensemble songs, but none of the characters really make an impact. It’s hard, of course. The men in this piece are pretty loathsome and hard to like. The women are better defined – and perhaps that was a choice by the creators, allow them to be defined by their layers. 

But when you tell a story like this and allow most of the characters to be blank slates, it’s difficult to know what the point is. Is the show saying that all men are alike? The male characters seem pretty interchangeable. Is it pitting the complex female characters against a kind of unthinking, unfeeling mysognist mass and trying to make a point about sexual politics? It’s hard to say because... the story is a mess beginning in act two and the songs seem to only appear at random. The entire second act made me wish the show had been adapted as a play, rather than a musical. Then maybe the show could have showcased fully-fledged characters dealing with very difficult situations.

If there’s one thing that defined many of the shows that I saw was a great sense of stage craft – and I think this production gave a great sense of time and place with a set that seems cold and sparse but begins revealing more and more of itself throughout the show. If only the characters and the story were allowed to do the same.

Once – Bernard B Jacobs Theatre (Broadway), August 9, 2012

The stage version of the Oscar-winning film Once, begins before all the audience has had a chance to enter the theatre. The cast is already on stage, singing and carousing and dancing up a storm - hey, the charcters are Irish, what do you expect? The set is a bar. It's a working bar. And while the Jacobs theatre continues to fill, audience members who aren't at the bar at the back of the theatre, or in their seats, are on stage clapping and tapping their feet and buying a drink AT THE BAR ON STAGE. It's immersive theatre on Broadway.

The songs continue, the audience are ushered (technically stage managed) back to their seats eventually and the house lights remain up while the cast of ONCE continue to entertain and serenade us - the audience as characters in the show, as people packed into this bar, being entertained by the locals. And while the line between audience and cast must be drawn eventually, the lights down on the audience is a slow fade - but the energy remains from that moment and throughout the show. We are there. We are with these characters all the way.

I loved the film version but this warms my little theatre-making and theatre-going heart like nothing else I've seen on this trip. Where Into the Woods was big and grand, Once is small and simple and warm and inviting and passionate and inventive and beautiful and charming and touching and sweet. And the lead actors, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milotti, are incredible actors, singers and musicians. The entire cast, in fact, play instruments throughout the show. But unlike the cold precision of John Doyle’s actors-playing-instrument adaptations of Sondheim, this makes Once feel all the more genuine and touching and tender. Like we are there. In those rooms. In that pub. Singing and dancing and carousing. Watching a guy and a girl make great music together and maybe, perhaps, fall in love.


Trivia: Both this time and last time I went to New York, I got to go on stage. At the bar before Once and as part of the post-show rendition of “Let the Sunshine In” after Hair. Could this be part of the reason both shows were at the very top of my favourites from each trip?
Tony Award Pedigree: Best Musical 2012

Heartless – Signature Theatre (Off Broadway), August 11, 2012

The Signature Theatre’s seasons are driven by presenting the works of contemporary America playwrights – occasionally leading to a programme of a full season by one writer. The other thing the Signature Theatre is known for, is the inexpensiveness of its tickets. Given how great the theatre space is, I love that a playwright-driven, cheap ticket model can work for a theatre company. But it seems to.

Sam Shepard is one of the great contemporary American playwrights. True West is one of his most well-known plays and one of my favourite plays, so it was exciting to get to see a performance from the premiere season of his latest play, Heartless. Bonus points for the production starring Gary Cole and Lois Smith.

Shepard is a well-known actor, too – and his plays always serve the actors on stage. Even when I thought the narrative was losing focus, the actors never did – sinking their teeth deeper and deeper into their characters and giving astonishing performances all round. Gary Cole has always struck me as being a chameleon that hides behind a very clean-cut, fresh-faced looked. He’s a character actor who looks like a leading man. And yet I’ve never seen him become as unhinged as he gets to in this play.

It was also one of the few shows I saw in New York that really needed me to think about it afterward. Not that other shows I saw were shallow; most of them are not, but most of them I have seen and thought about before. This was a brand new work from a great playwright that didn’t tell an easy story at all – and certainly not in an easy way. And I was thrilled to see it in its first production.

One Man, Two Guvnors – Music Box Theatre (Broadway), August 11

I was all set to see Audra McDonald in Porgy & Bess this night, but she was off sick and it was after seven and we needed to make a very last minute decision on what tickets to pick up at TKTS. I heard great things about this show and particularly James Corden in the leading role. And why not have one great big laugh for my last show in New York for this trip?

While the show is based on the classic commedia dell'arte play, The Servant of Two Masters, that’s really just an excuse to use a classic comic structure to put a British sitcom on stage. And I guess that’s where everyone’s mileage may vary. It’s bawdy and base and silly and full of prat falls and bad puns and audience interaction – and it’s not the very best of Britcom, but it is hilarious for much of its running time.

And recognising James Corden with a Tony is not entirely unwarranted... though James Earl Jones was marvellous in The Best Man and I imagine Phillip Seymour Hoffman was amazing in Death of a Salesman. In fact, James Corden makes the show work. I’m not sure I can imagine the show working without him – so I’m glad I saw him in it and didn’t wait for 2013, when the show will tour Australia without him.

The rest of the ensemble were great and the supporting band were fabulous. It all felt a bit padded out – a variety show more than a play. But when the variety is this entertaining, it’s hard to complain.

Trivia: Some of the “audience interaction” seems spontaneous but is actually tightly scripted – and I wonder if people know the sandwhich joke now and come prepared.
Tony Award Pedigree: Nominated for Best Play 2012, it lost to Pulitzer Prize Winner, Clybourne Park


And that was that. The absolute highlights were Into the Woods and Once but nearly all of these shows I found worthwhile seeing. There were other nights and matinees I could have filled with more shows, but this was a good amount to balance out days of visiting museums and galleries and wandering the streets of New York soaking up the atmosphere and appreciating a city for its vibrancy both on and off stage. Five stars.


Anonymous said…
I was so sceptical about ONCE being turned into a stage show. The movie is so wonderful, small, and with a real sense of honesty and spontaneity. Every time I read they pulled it off I am happy, even though I'll probably never get to see it.
Esther said…
Great recap! I'm glad you had such a good time in New York.

I also loved The Best Man. I'm a history and politics junkie and like you, I was amazed at how this 50-year-old play felt like it could have been written today. I also loved seeing James Earl Jones onstage for the first time. What a presence! I was awestruck.

Once and Into the Woods have also been highlights for me. Once is just unique and captivating. I love how it unfolds leisurely, the humor.

And waiting in Central Park for seven hours for tickets for Into the Woods will go down as one of my favorite New York City experiences ever. I was with about a half dozen friends. I loved watching the park come alive during the morning. And I got a front-row seat. It could not have been a better day, a better first experience at the Delacorte.

I also loved the inventive stagecraft in Peter and the Starcatcher and the humor in One Man, Two Guvnors, even though by now I know about the audience interactions. James Corden is wonderful - a big teddy bear of a man.

Popular posts from this blog

You are far away: Agent Cooper and his troubling return to Twin Peaks

“What year is this?” Dale Cooper asks in the final scene of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last of many unanswered questions left as the 18-part feature film concluded a week ago.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen someone who looks like Dale Cooper lost for answers over recent months. But it might be the first time we have definitive proof that he’s in over his head.
Mr C, Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, who was first seen in the original series’ finale back in 1991, returned to the town of Twin Peaks with a goal in mind. Mr C was flexible, though. He had to be; he’d set so many things in motion over twenty-five years, if he’d remained fixated, he would never have come as far as he did.
Dougie, Dale Cooper’s tulpa – created by and from Mr C, wandered aimlessly through life, but slowly made every life he touched better. Plans change and Dougie changed with them. Slowly but surely, Dougie pieced together Cooper’s past life and became richer for it.
Agent Cooper, the third part of this T…

My Favourite Theatre of 2019

This year I saw some amazing theatre in Melbourne, as always, and I was lucky enough to visit London for the first time, where I saw some wonderful West End theatre and some really inventive off-West End and independent theatre.
The thing about the theatre in London is that is really seems to be working toward the ideal of diverse casting, even if behind-the-scenes (writers, directors) are still male-dominated. And it’s not just in reinventions of shows like Death of a Salesman, which was a mostly black cast; a lot of shows I saw there were female-focused with racially diverse casts.
That said, I did see a show that was ostensibly about race, which was all white.
I saw some shows again this year, which were as great as when I originally saw them, but they have been on previous year-end lists, so sorry to Hamilton, Muriel’s Wedding and Cock – you’re not on my list again this year.
The lists are in alphabetical order and links in titles to review where available.

All About Eve –…

Careful the things you say... Joe Wright’s HANNA & the combination of genres

Once upon a time... I tried to write a film script that melded noir and Grimm’s fairytales, where the femme fatale, clad in a slinky red dress, was also (in a way) Little Red Riding Hood. Where the lover of a hit man discovered his true identity from something hidden under his mattress. Evil (step)mothers, adopted children, hunters, princesses and family fortunes. Noir and fairytales have a lot in common and yet... I had real trouble finding the right tone for the piece. And, in the end, my script read too much like I was trying to get the concept to work, rather than telling a compelling story.

Joe Wright’s film HANNA, screenplay by Seth Lockhead and David Farr, finds the perfect balance between a high tension thriller and a fairytale coming-of-age story. And travels further into the story of this mysterious girl than the trailer suggests.
Going in, I was worried this might be too close to Leon or La Femme Nikita – the original films of which I throughly enjoyed, but would this new fil…

REVIEW: SLUT by Patricia Cornelius

A man is dead, we’re told. A good man. A man with a job. Not a drunk. Not homeless. He’s a hero really. Just wanted to help Lolita and now he’s dead.
We’re told this story – this anecdote – by a trio of young women, friends of Lolita, who have known her from a very young age. In fact, there’s some question about who knew her better and who knew her the longest. Because the better they knew Lolita, the better they might understand her. And the more they understand her, the more righteously they can pass judgement.
Lolita was a carefree child. Used to love riding a bike. Ride it fast. Feel the ache in her legs and sweat on her face. All she had to worry about was staying on the bike and enjoying her lovely, lovely life. She stopped riding bikes when she was nine-years-old.
Her friends tell us that everything changed for Lolita when she turned eight and grew breasts. Huge ones. When she was eight years old. A child with breasts. And boys went into a frenzy. As did her grade five teacher…

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: THE AVENGERS assemble on the big screen

I like superheroes. I grew up with reruns of the 1960s Batman TV series. The Superman films were released when I was really young. The Amazing Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were nighttime TV shows. And one of the defining motion picture releases of my teenage years was Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989.
I was never a big comic book reader as a kid – I’ve probably read more comic books, uh, graphic novels in the last ten years than any time before that. But superheroes were always very cool. And Burton’s Batman took my favourite superhero very seriously. Well, until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins appeared – taking it ultra-seriously and much darker than I’d ever hoped for.
As a non-comic reader, I find it hard to align myself as a DC (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) or Marvel Universe (Spider-Man, X-Men, The Avengers and its consitutent parts) person. They appeal to different parts of my brain. In effect, DC’s superheroes are often lone warriors and the Marvel Universe…

REVIEW: Control by Keziah Warner – Red Stitch

The crew of a space ship, dressed in bold primary colours, rock from left to right in front of us, as they try to keep control of their craft. The group is racially diverse but it’s the white guy, a larrakin Aussie from Melbourne, who boldly steps forward to save the day. “It’s something I have to do.”

Keziah Warner’s Control, a science fiction triptych, begins with a scene of broad comedy, a nod to Star Trek and then jumps back in time to see how this crew ended up in such a dramatic situation. Starting a story in media res can be a pretty tired trope, but here Keziah uses it as a dramaturgical sleight-of-hand; this story is much more complicated than it first appears to be.
A pregnant woman, a puppeteer, a singer and a detective have been hand-picked to be on this space ship, leave Earth and strive to survive in “Fifteen Minutes on Mars” – a Big Brother-type reality show that is manoeuvring this ensemble toward interstellar cabin fever.
Twenty years later, in a library that promises…

Walking out... I couldn't do it, could you?

Every so often, I think about walking out of a play, but I can't. I've never done it and I don't think I ever could. I've never walked out of a film, either. It's not in my nature. In the end, I'd rather suffer through the entire thing so I can criticise the entire play, rather than leave halfway and never know if it got any better or any worse.

This has come to mind now, not because I wanted to walk out of Terence Malick's big budget experimental film The Tree of Life, but because apparently walk outs are becoming a phenomenon with that particular movie. And in a packed theatre at Cinema Nova last night, the walk outs were notable by their absense when the lights came up at the end.

It certainly won't be to everyone's taste. It's very much an impressionistic film that explores grand ideas through mood and beauty, rather than telling a coherent narrative. But, even those moments in the film that were the most challenging on a "need for narr…

REVIEW: Chicago - The Musical

The real-life inspiration for the musical Chicago comes from nearly a century ago, when reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins reported on two unrelated court cases about women suspected and acquitted of murder. Watkins later wrote a satirical play about the attention both cases got, focusing on the media’s sensational headlines – something Watkins herself fed into.
The play became a silent film in 1927, a 1942 film named Roxie Hart (starring Ginger Rogers), and later the 1975 musical Chicago, for which husband and wife creative duo, Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, struggled to get the rights to make throughout the sixties.
The original Broadway production opened to mixed reviews, as it was considered cynical and subversive – the opposite of what audiences wanted from musical theatre. But times change and this black satire about merry murderesses returned to Broadway in 1996 in a slick, pared-back production, directed by Walter Bobbie with choreography by Anne Reinking – “in the style of Bob Fos…

REVIEW: This Bitter Earth by Chris Edwards – Midsumma

A young man sips a glass of wine, waiting for us to file into the theatre, while Kylie plays. As we settle in, he’s a long way from settled – nervous, anxious, eager to tell us about a dream he’s had. Even though he knows that when most people recount dreams, they are dead boring.
He’s a country boy who has moved to the big city – let’s call it Sydney – for university. He’s sleeping on his uncle’s couch and after being shown the expected touristy sites, he starts to explore the world by himself.
He’s gay and he’s never seen a penis other than his own. He’s drawn to a busker singing “My Heart Will Go On” and shaken up by two dude-bros shouting at gay couple kissing.
“Stop shoving it down our throats,” they shout, unaware of how unintentionally homoerotic they sound. The guy whose story we’ve been following, decides to follow them.
And this is just the start of the first vignette in a series of short moments by Chris Edwards exploring queer sex and relationships in this fantastical ga…

“Fate Will Twist The Both of You”: Twenty Year School Reunion and the party next door...

Twelve months ago, I premiered a short play of mine at The Owl & the Pussycat in Richmond. Titled You Will Be Kissed By Princess Leia, the play was about how you can’t always live up to the dreams you had when you were fifteen years old. It’s definitely the most autobiographical of all my plays, dealing with one character at age 15 and at age 35, interrogating himself about where he’s been and where he’s going. It’s about finding your feet as a kid and finding your comfort zone as an adult.
There was some fun to be had in the fifteen-year-old not understanding references his thirty-five-year old self makes. And some drama in the conflict between how the character had been as a teenager and how he’d wished he’d been. And the show was done in the round in the Owl & the Pussycat’s then-gallery space, as if the crowd was surrounding two kids fighting in the schoolyard.
After the show, if we weren’t drinking at the Pussycat, we’d head next door to Holliava to talk about how that n…