(9 November 2008)

On Monday November 17th, Magnormos will present OzMade Musicals 2008 at the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, hosted by Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical).

This one night only gala event will celebrate and support Australian written musical theatre, and feature a first-rate line of performers including: Toni Lamond OAM, Michael Cormick (Rocky Horror Show), Chelsea Plumley (Company), Anne Wood (Mamma Mia!), Laura Fitzpatrick (The Thing About Men), Chris Parker (Sideshow Alley), Annie Phelan (Guys & Dolls), Cameron MacDonald (Altar Boyz), Shaun Murphy (Combo Fiasco) and more.

by Anthony Costanzo
Three rising stars join a modern day touring Circus, only to find themselves trapped
in an intricate triangle of love, sexuality and betrayal.

by Joanna White
Based on true events, the remarkable story of how a colour can change your life.

by David Mitchell, Melvyn Morrow and Ray Cook
A laugh-out-loud spoof on the politics of community groups, and the “serious
business” of amateur theatre.

And if that’s not enough to tantalise your musical theatre tastebuds, then just sink your teeth into OzMade Flashbacks – songs from past successful Australian musicals performed by some of the greats of the Australian stage. These performances give audiences a chance to remember or discover some of the great songs written for the musical stage, by Australians.

This years’ OzMade Flashbacks will star some of Australia’s favourite theatrical performers, Toni
Lamond, joining Magnormos again to reprise her role in the musical Better Known As Bee and
Michael Cormick (Rocky Horror Show) who will perform a number from the classic The Sentimental Bloke. The Flashbacks will also include a special feature on the 50th anniversary of Lola Montez by students of the University of Ballarat Arts Academy.

“We are thrilled to have Tony Sheldon hosting OzMade Musicals again, and honoured that he is flying down to Melbourne for the occasion on his one night off from playing Bernadette in Sydney season of Priscilla! Tony has a wonderful way of guiding the OzMade audience through the performance program, and colouring it with his own rich knowledge of Australia’s theatre history”
said Aaron Joyner, founder and Artistic Director of Magnormos.

The three works that will be debuted this year at OzMade Musicals were chosen via a national submission process which employed the expertise of Tony Sheldon, John-Michael Howson, Geraldine Turner OAM, David King, Dr. Peter Wyllie Johnston, Prof. Peter Fitzpatrick, Stuart
Hendricks, Ellie Nielsen, and Magnormos Artistic Director, Aaron Joyner.

“It is always an exciting and frenetic process to select musicals for OzMade. We had a terrific pool of submissions to select from, and an extraordinarily experienced panel. I am confident that the musicals chosen for presentation this year will thoroughly entertain, and will hopefully progress to full productions in the near future” said Joyner.

Event: OzMade Musicals
Date: Monday 17 November, 2008 - 8p.m.
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
Tickets: Adult $35 / Concession $30 / Groups $28
Bookings: Ticketmaster 136100 or

Shout! movie confirmed
Tuesday, April 22, 9:07am AEST.

Following recent seasons in Melbourne and Sydney, the Australian musical Shout! will be shown around Australia via a brand new entertainment concept.

All the excitement and colour of the stage music has been captured live on stage in High Definition Digital and Surround Sound and will be seen in cinemas throughout the country from May 15 as a special event for strictly limited seasons.

For the first time ever in Australia, people who have been unable to get to see the stage show will now have the opportunity of having a true theatrical experience in their local cinema at a fraction of the price of a live theatre ticket with the absolute convenience of seeing it locally and being guaranteed of having ‘the best seat in the house’ and not missing anything.

Shout! is the first in a number of theatre productions to be presented in cinema by the Australian producers, JDN Productions.

Shout! will be screening similar to a live show as a Special Event with a strictly limited season, with only one session per day excepting matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Priscilla sweeps Green Room Awards
Monday, April 21, 2:48pm AEST.

Hit Australian musical Priscilla has been the big winner at this year’s Green Room Awards, which honours excellence in theatre presented in Melbourne.

The musical won Best Costume Design (Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner), Best Choreography (Ross Coleman), Best Musical Direction and Orchestrations (Stephen Murphy), Best Male Artist In A Leading Role (Tony Sheldon) and Best Overall Production, as well as an award for “The Divas” for their terrific work as part of the show’s ensemble.

Priscilla was a massive hit at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre and has repeated that success at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre, which will host Wicked from July.

Miss Saigon was another big winner at yesterday’s Green Room ceremony – taking out best Female Artist In A Leading Role (Laurie Cadevida), Best Lighting Design (David Hersey) and Best Direction (Laurence Connor).

Eddie Perfect won Best Artist In A Featured Role for his work in the unstoppable Keating! as Alexander Downer and John Hewson.

Meow Meow swept the cabaret awards, while Toni Lamond was given a lifetime achievement award in honour of her remarkable theatrical career.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival launched
Wednesday, April 2, 9:53pm AEDST.

23 international artists and 200 Australian artists including more than 100 from South Australia make up the highly anticipated 2008 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which runs from June 6 to 14.

Across nine days, the Adelaide Festival Centre will present more than 100 performances of 45 different shows.

As cabaret re-emerges around the world, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is riding the crest of the wave with plenty of opportunities to indulge in the best cabaret from around Australia and the world including a selection of the finest international cabaret artists (many on their first visit to Australia and exclusive to Adelaide) from the United Kingdom, Argentina, the Balkans, the United States and France.

Headlining the festival and on her first visit to Australia is Maria Friedman, star of the West End and Broadway and a leading lady for both Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lorna Luft, Broadway star and daughter of Judy Garland; direct from the US, writer of 'The Rose' and many other hits, cabaret artiste Amanda McBroom; and French chanteuse and songwriter Belle du Berry.

From Argentina and in a show specially created for Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the talented Elena Roger (star of the recent London production of Evita) will take you through the song of her native tango, whilst from the Balkan Peninsula we welcome the virtuosic, foot stomping fun of Paprika Balkanicus.

Amanda McBroom and Maria Friedman will also present a series of Masterclasses for those with an interest or professional penchant for cabaret.

Cabaret Crème is devoted to our most treasured performers. Opening the Festival with bravado is Australia’s leading lady of the musical stage, Rhonda Burchmore in Everybody Loves Rhonda, a specially commissioned show to celebrate the 35th Birthday of the Festival Theatre. Jazz luminaries Katie Noonan and Vince Jones join forces in Songs Of Love And War on the Dunstan Playhouse Stage.

Classic Cabaret is a celebration of the classic songs of the past 100 years with unique interpretations that includes Jeff Duff with the Ed Wilson Big Band in Cooler Than Cool, Hotter Than Hell and Tom Burlinson recreating the memorable songs and sounds of Frank Sinatra in Frank - A Life In Song.

Monsieur Camembert with special guest vocalist Deborah Conway salutes the songs of Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, whilst Catherine Lambert tells us Love Sucks And I've Got The Songs To Prove It.

In a special Adelaide Cabaret Festival Commission, Two For The Road: The Music Of Movie Maestro Henry Mancini features Julia Zemiro, Colin Lane, Kaye Tuckerman and Dale Pengelly led by John Thorn on piano and an eight piece band and UK opera singer, Marie Angel will sing the story of her life so far in Till The Fat Lady Sings - It Ain't Over.

The Sit Down Satire series presents thought-provoking social and political satire that revels in one of Australia's greatest national traits that includes Australian and West End musical theatre performer Sally Bourne in The Sally Bourne Identity and the premiere of The Kransky Sisters' new show - Three Bags Full. Queenie van de Zandt will welcome audiences into cabaret rehab in Cabaret in 12 Easy Steps and Australia's finest "satirical vivisectionists" Jonathan Biggins, Phil Scott and Drew Forsythe will ensure no politician is safe from their wit in Revue Sans Frontières.

The Contemporary Cabaret series features Sarah Ward of Sista She fame in Yana Alana And Tha Paranas' In Bite Me. Performance artist and songwriter Carolyn Connors has created a quirky show Ukulele And Other Extreme Sports while DJ and comedian Fiona Scott-Norman mines her vinyl collection to determine the world's worst records in The Needle And The Damage Done.

Jazz veteran Paul Grabowsky joins forces with jazz newcomer Megan Washington in Spiders And Silkworms and founding member of Cold Chisel, Don Walker presents his writings in Goodnight, Sweet Dreams, The World Is Well.

Viva Variety celebrates new wave versions of genres from the variety clubs and music halls of a bygone era with artists such as Adelaide's very own Unusualist, Raymond Crowe; the acclaimed physical and audio performers The Umbilical Brothers in Don't Explain; and returning by popular demand, the world's most extraordinary salon of showgirls The Burlesque Hour - Sizzles! with new special guests and a mix of old favourites.

Julia Holt, Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival said: "The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is like a box of the most delicious chocolates - pick out your favourites and then try something new - from classic cabaret chanteuses, songwriters of incredible skill and celebrated raconteurs through to contemporary artists pushing the boundaries of performance with razor-sharp social and political satire."

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from June 6. The full programme can be viewed online at:

- Rohan Shearn

Tyran Parke bound for Perth, Riverside

Monday, March 24, 8:38pm AEDST.


Cabaret and musical theatre performer Tyran Parke will perform in Perth this weekend before returning to Sydney to present his new solo show at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.


Parke, who has just completed his tenure in the Sydney season of The Hatpin, will perform Chinks In The Armour at Downstairs @ His Majesty's Theatre in Perth on March 27, 28 and 29.


The show will be re-branded A Little Knight Music for the Parramatta performance, which will play on Sunday, April 6.


A talented storyteller, Parke tells of being discovered in a jazz bar by Liza Minnelli, dining with Stephen Sondheim and singing himself out of Rikers Island maximum security prison. Each quest is celebrated in story and song, culminating in the quest to create the role of a lifetime - his award-winning portrayal of George Seurat in Sunday In The Park With George.


“It was the most amazing honour to spend time with Sondheim in both Sydney and New York,” said Parke.


“We talked a lot about how he works, and how 20 years after writing Sunday, it is still profoundly moving and very accessible to audiences in Sydney. Sondheim told me to write something myself, and which this cabaret is the first step."


Having appeared in Listen to My Heart, Eurobeat, Oliver and The Sound Of Music, Parke has established himself as one of Australia's finest young performers.


Perth bookings: (08) 9484 1133. Sydney bookings: (02) 8839 3399.



Mum's The Word sequel headed to Sydney

Monday, March 24, 8:22pm AEDST.


A decade ago, a group of mums brought us tales of leaky boobs and dirty nappies in the international smash hit play Mum's The Word.


Finally the mums are back with their brand new stage production – Mum's The Word 2: Teenagers.


Laugh, cry and squirm as the women recall their youthful naive idealism regarding motherhood and entertain us with tales of bewilderment and frustration in having to deal with their children's adolescence as well as their own aging.


The production opens at the Theatre Royal in Sydney on May 28 and stars five famous Australian mums: Tracy Bartram, Katrina Foster, Jean Kittson, Victoria Nicolls and Louise Siversen.


In this hit production, which has received rave reviews both internationally and when it had its Australian premiere in Melbourne last year, the mums tackle trickier tests and raging hormones with intense humour, bringing everyone back into the fray of the world's oldest unpaid profession.


The Australian production of Mum's The Word 2: Teenagers, produced by Dainty Consolidated Entertainment, Burberry Productions and Newtheatricals, is the follow-up to the hugely successful original Mum's The Word, which ran for seven years and played to sold out houses across Australia and New Zealand.


Paul Dainty, who is looking forward to bringing the mums to Sydney, said: “Audiences of this show immediately form a connection with these very real stories of parenting and so every performance resonates with equal parts laughter and tears. And what a fabulous cast we have to tell Sydney audiences these stories!”


Ewan Burnett of Burberry Productions adds: "A family therapy association in Victoria said this show is equivalent to six hours of therapy. By sharing, laughing at and celebrating the roller-coaster ride that is parenting, we walk away knowing that even in our darkest moments, we are not alone!"


Tickets to the Sydney season go on sale March 31. Bookings: 1300 795 012.



Stars of the future on show

Monday, March 24, 5:19pm AEDST.


They are the names and faces we'll be talking about in the years to come, but theatre fans have an opportunity to see the next Cate Blanchett or Mel Gibson before they are stars when NIDA's third year students present two plays for public viewing next month.


Two deliciously farcical comedy classics, William Congreve's Restoration Comedy, Love for Love and Carlos Goldini's legendary 18th century Commedia dell'Arte inspired The Servant Of Two Masters kick off the NIDA 2008 Play Production Program.


Directors Darren Gilshenan (Bell Shakespeare) and Adam Cook (Artistic Director, State Theatre Company, SA), along with NIDA's third year students, are set to take you on a journey of mistaken identities, disguises, deception and the duplicities of society with these two witty, ironic and well-loved comic masterpieces.


"Fast, furious and funny" is how Darren Gishenan describes The Servant Of Two Masters. This master of comedy, well known for his portrayal of the roguish Truffaldino in Bell Shakespeare's version of the same play, is sure to take his NIDA troupe - and the audience - on a ‘carnivale' trip to remember. With circus inspired costumes, plates spinning and fairy lights flying, this production promises to be a great night at the theatre.


A racy, juicy comedy set in the swinging 60s, this production of Love For Love promises to be a richly decadent interpretation of this farcical comedy of clever dialogue that exposes the idle gossip and frivolous chatter of men and women on the make.


"It's as light and delicious as a meringue, oozing with sexuality and glittering with wit," said Adam Cook.


NIDA is one of the most respected acting institutions in the world. It has an impressive list of graduates, with its primary role to select and train exceptionally gifted young people at a tertiary level, preparing them for careers in theatre, film and television.


The Servant Of Two Masters opens at the Parade Playhouse on Tuesday, April 1 and will run until Saturday, April 5. Love For Love opens at the Parade Theatre on Thursday, April 3 and will run until Tuesday, April 8.


Bookings: 132 849 or



Shout! dumps Tuesday performances

Friday, March 21, 5:43pm AEDST.


Alexis Fishman and Tim Campbell in Shout!Vibrant musical Shout! has removed Tuesdays from its weekly performance schedule as the rock 'n' roll tuner heads towards the end of its season at Sydney's Lyric Theatre.


The musical, which is scheduled to run until April 13 and is unlikely to tour, opened at the Lyric Theatre earlier this month after transferring from Melbourne. In both cities, it has attracted reasonable audiences but has failed to set the box office on fire.


It has faced stiff competition in Sydney from blockbuster musical Billy Elliot and the hit cult show The Rocky Horror Show, which is playing nearby at the Star Theatre.


Originally, producers had announced Shout! would play 7pm Tuesday performances but the show will now run Wednesday-Sunday.


In his review of the Sydney season of Shout! for, Troy Dodds said, in part: "Musically the show is tight and punchy throughout and Ross Coleman's choreography is good without being dazzling, the best scene of the piece being O'Keefe's first meeting with The Delltones in the back of his father's furniture warehouse, highlighted by the hit song 'Get A Job'. It is sensationally staged, as is the 'Chapel Of Love' scene, while the megamix towards the end is an obvious audience highlight and gives the show a true rock 'n' roll feel, certainly proving that with a better script and improved casting, this show could well be a dynamite hit. Shout! is far from a lost cause but loses any ounce of respect when Mark Holden, playing O'Keefe's manager Lee Gordon, is forced to use his "touchdown!" line from Australian Idol. But perhaps the crowning glory of tacky is the reference to Andrew O'Keefe having an obsession with briefcases. Popcorn theatre indeed."


Shout! stars Tim Campbell, Alexis Fishman, Mark Holden, Glenn Shorrock, John Paul Young and Colleen Hewett.


Bookings: 1300 136 166.



Chicago to open in February

Friday, March 21, 4:55pm AEDST.


It is believed that a new major production of the hit musical Chicago will be presented in Australia next year.


Sources say that the show is likely to open in Brisbane before transferring to Sydney ahead of a possible national tour. Official confirmation of the production is not expected for some months, but it is likely to open in February.


If the strong rumours are true, much discussion would surround the casting decisions in relation to the lead roles of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. Caroline O'Connor famously played Velma in the 1998 production of Chicago, and producers would no doubt hope she'd be interested in resurrecting the star turn.


Since Chicago was last produced in Australia, interest in the show has climbed, mainly thanks to the 2002 film version that starred Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger and was hugely popular in Australia.


First produced on Broadway in 1975, Chicago focuses on two murderesses who find themselves on death row together in the 1920's. The pair fight for the fame that will keep them from death in what is a comedic and satirical look at corruption in criminal justice.


The show's most popular songs include 'All That Jazz' and 'Razzle Dazzle'.


In other news, Kookaburra has lost the publicist credited with turning around much of its negative portrayal in the media. Libby Gauld has moved on, with a replacement yet to be named. Gauld replaced Michelle Guthrie towards the end of 2007 after an at times controversial debut year for the company.



Theatre mainstay David Nettheim dies

Tuesday, March 18, 7:10pm AEDST.


Actor, writer and voice-over artist David Nettheim has died at the age of 82.


Nettheim was a professional actor from his earliest years, beginning in the Australian film Kid Stakes at the age of two. At seven he appeared on stage with his mother, the actress Mary Hosking, in The Trojan Women at the Independent Theatre.


Through his long and successful life, Nettheim continued to appear in stage and television roles and was an active member of Actors Equity (now the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance), serving as Federal Treasurer and then co-Vice President. In 1997 he became the first recipient of the Alliance's gold Honour Badge. He led the six-year campaign (ultimately unsuccessful) against the demolition of the Regent Theatre in Sydney, and was engaged in fundraising for the Actors' Benevolent Fund.


Nettheim never married but he was delighted that several of his nieces and nephews have followed him into the entertainment industry - Daniel Nettheim is a film and TV director, Matthew Nettheim is a stills photographer on films, Jennifer White is an actor/singer/accents and dialect coach and Rodric White is a professional jazz musician.


David Nettheim is survived by his brothers John and Garth Nettheim, sisters Judith Eburn and Nerida White, and their children and grandchildren.



Guys And Dolls about to opening

Saturday, March 15, 3:55pm AEDST.


In Rehearsals... Guys And Dolls opens soonFinal rehearsals are underway for the upcoming Melbourne season of the classic musical Guys And Dolls, which commences preview performances on March 26 at the Princess Theatre ahead of an April 4 opening night.


The musical stars Lisa McCune as Sarah Brown, Marina Prior as Miss Adelaide, Ian Stenlake as Sky Masterson, Garry McDonald as Nathan Detroit, Shane Jacobsen as Nicely Nicely and Magda Szubanski as Big Jule.


The principal cast is joined by Wayne Scott Kermond, Bert Labonte, Russell Newman, Anne Phelan, Amy Berrisford, Elise Brennan, Andrew Conaghan, Cristina D'Agostino, Grant Durham, Michelle Fitzmaurice, Zoe Hardman, Luke Joslin, Kristy Kackenzie, Ashley McKenzie, Tanya Mitford, Adam Murphy, Emily Paddon-Brown, Christopher Parson, Troy Phillips, Jordan Pollard, Julia Smith, Troy Sussman, Taneel Van Zyl and Paul Watson.


Guys And Dolls is expected to run for at least six months in Melbourne before transferring to a major Sydney theatre where it will continue its run. It's unknown if the principal cast will travel with the show to Sydney.


Marina Prior will not perform in Tuesday evening performances for the initial weeks of the season due to her commitments with the popular Channel Seven series It Takes Two, which airs live on Tuesdays at 7.30pm.



Priscilla off to New Zealand

Wednesday, March 12, 10:49pm AEDST.


Priscilla has confirmed it will play its first international season from May 27, with the Australian production - complete with its stellar principal cast - to head across the ditch to the Auckland Civic Centre in New Zealand.


Priscilla tells the funny and moving story of three fish out of water who head across Australia, from Sydney to the outback to perform their show. Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette make their own personal journeys of discovery as they cross the country in a battered old bus nicknamed Priscilla.


New Zealand's very own Jeremy Stanford sports the famous orange and pink “thong dress” (and many others) to play one of the shows leading roles, Tick (Mitzi). Jeremy is best known for his portrayal of Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story – a role that launched him from the more traditional theatre stage to that of musicals.


Bill Hunter, who played Bob in the original movie Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, will return to the stage for the New Zealand season, while leading actor, director and writer Tony Sheldon plays the role of Bernadette and Daniel Scott will stay on as Adam (Felecia).


The role of Benjamin (Tick's son) will be cast locally with director Simon Phillips looking to cast four New Zealand boys between the ages of six and eight to play the role.


Tickets to the New Zealand season go on sale Monday. The show is currently playing in Melbourne and is due to close next month.


My Fair Lady is Melbourne bound

Sunday, March 9, 10:16pm AEDST.


Opera Australia's 2008 Autumn Season concludes at the Arts Centre with the premiere of Lerner and Loewe's smash hit musical, My Fair Lady, directed by Opera Australia's executive producer Stuart Maunder. It stars one of Australia's all-time stage greats, Reg Livermore as Professor Henry Higgins and gorgeous young soprano Taryn Fiebig as Eliza Doolittle. My Fair Lady opens on Friday, May 16.


Livermore is a legend of the music theatre stage. He began putting on his own shows at the age of 13 and was rocketed to stardom when he appeared in Hair in 1969. He is a regular on stage, screen and television and, of course, in countless musicals including The Rocky Horror Show, The Producers and with Opera Australia, The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance and Iolanthe.


Taryn Fiebig began her vocal studies in 1993 and focused initially on early music: she studied with Emma Kirkby and Jane Manning in the UK and performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. In 2005 she joined the Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artist Program and has since expanded her repertoire from Mozart to Gilbert and Sullivan to Janácek. Following her success as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, she now takes on one of the most prized roles in music theatre.


Nancye Hayes' stage career began as a dancer in the original J C Williamson production of My Fair Lady in 1960. From there she went on to become a leading lady in shows including Sweet Charity, Funny Girl and her own show, Nancye with an E. She now comes full circle to play Mrs Higgins, mother to Reg Livermore's Henry Higgins.


Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, which is, in turn, a reference to the Greek myth told in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Pygmalion is the sculptor who falls in love with a woman he has carved out of ivory. The statue comes to life and they fall in love. In George Bernard Shaw's comedy of manners the story is far more about the process of transformation than the romantic denouement. It all begins with a bet, when Colonel Pickering challenges Henry Higgins, professor of linguistics and confirmed misogynist, to take a Cockney street seller and turn her into a lady.


The show was always destined to be a smash hit. It features a glorious succession of show-stopping numbers from ‘I Could Have Danced all Night' to ‘Get Me to the Church on Time' to ‘Wouldn't it be Loverly' to ‘I've Grown Accustomed to her Face'. The original score was written for Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, and after a record-breaking run on Broadway it was adapted for film, this time starring Audrey Hepburn.


Director Stuart Maunder works once more with the award-winning design team of Roger Kirk and Richard Roberts. He is looking forward to a musically and visually spectacular production, saying: "From Ascot to the Royal Opera House, to the Pearly Kings and Queens to a grand ball there are so many opportunities for wonderful frocks!"


Following its Melbourne season, My Fair Lady will tour to Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.



New Billys on the boil

Sunday, March 9, 1:16pm AEDST.


Smash hit Sydney musical Billy Elliot will welcome two new young actors to the company this week who will take on the show's title role.


Dayton Tavares (pictured), from the western Sydney suburb of Penrith, and Hobart's Joshua Waiss-Gates join the Billy Elliot family and both will take to the stage as Billy in a few months' time.


Billy is currently played by Lochlan Denholm (Melbourne), Rhys Kosakowski (Newcastle), Rarmian Newton (Melbourne) and Nick Twiney (Sydney), who alternate the title role.


Tavares and Waiss-Gates will not replace any of the other Billys in particular, but the original actors will begin to move on eventually primarily due to the developmental age they are at.


"I used to watch both my sisters at their dance eisteddfods and thought it looked like fun so one day in 2005 I decided to do a hip-hop class at Studio 11 in Penrith," said Tavares.


"That day I discovered my true passion was to dance and perform. I also love to sing, play soccer and I'm a blackbelt in taekwondo. Since I started dancing I have won lots of awards, done well in eisteddfods and I was lucky enough to win Australian Junior Dancer of the Year 2007, which meant I got to represent Australia at the World Dance Championships in Las Vegas."


Tavares has performed at the Urban Music Awards, Industry Awards, The Sydney Opera House, toured to Malaysia with Studio 11 and said he was excited to have the opportunity to play Billy Elliot.


"It's a dream come true after many, many months of training and auditions and I would like to thank everyone at Billy Elliot," he said.


"I would also like to thank my parents for believing in me and most importantly my dance teachers Kylie Vassallo and Thern Reynolds for all their guidance and encouragement."


Waiss-Gates is no stranger to the world of musicals.


"In 2006 I was understudy for Young Peter in Hugh Jackman's The Boy from Oz and while working on that show I realised that I wanted to continue to work in musical theatre," the 12-year-old said.


"When I found out that I was going to be a Billy Elliot I was so excited. It's an experience I'm looking forward to very much and I would like to thank all the people that have helped me along the way to achieve my dream."


Billy Elliot opened in December last year and is performing well at the box office, with its season at the Capitol Theatre showing no sign of closing.



High School Musical to open in December

Friday, March 7, 11:20pm AEDST.


Australia - get ready for a theatrical phenomenon. can exclusively reveal that a major production of High School Musical will be staged in Australia later this year by Jacobsen Entertainment and The Really Useful Group.


Based on the smash hit Disney film that has defined a generation of young musical theatre lovers, High School Musical is likely to open in Sydney with performances to commence in December.


The musical has been performed by several amateur companies and will be presented 'on ice' shortly around the nation, but this will be the professional premiere of the true stage show.


The show is set at East High School and focuses on Troy Bolton, the school's basketball superstar turned singer, and his blossoming relationship with Gabriella Montez. Almost a modern day Grease, the heart of the story is Troy's difficult choice between pursuing his basketball career and following his new dream of being in the school musical.


High School Musical is currently touring throughout the United States.



Spamalot confirms closure

Friday, March 7, 7:40pm AEDST.


The producers of Spamalot have confirmed the Australian production of the Tony Award-winning musical will close ahead of schedule on April 5 after failing to fire at the box office.


As revealed exclusively by early Friday morning, the cast of the musical were informed just prior to Thursday night's performance at the Her Majesty's Theatre that the ride was over for the production.


"We're very proud of the Australian production, which will have been seen by over 150,000 people when it closes in Melbourne," said co-producer Michael Coppel.


"The Australian production of Spamalot has been lauded as one of the best mounted anywhere in the world. The Melbourne season has drawn both critical raves and fantastic audience responses, and we look forward to the opportunity of presenting it around Australia."


While Coppel hinted at a tour, it is unlikely to happen particularly given the lack of theatres available in Sydney, which would be the logical next city for the production. While rumours suggest a November transfer is possible, the six month gap could mean massive casting changes and unwanted expenses.


A statement issued on Friday reads: "Touring options are being considered with announcements to follow."


Despite high acclaim overseas and a strong publicity campaign, Spamalot was unable to attract a solid audience in Melbourne, swamped in particular by surprise success story Priscilla, which has been performing well despite initial fears it would struggle outside of Sydney.


Spamalot's disappointing Melbourne performance is evident in its decision to cut 6.30pm Sunday performances after this week, reducing the performance schedule to just seven shows per week.


Telling the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and their quest for the Holy Grail, Spamalot features a chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, a killer rabbit and one legless knight.


Directed by Mike Nichols, Spamalot features a book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez and Idle, and choreography by Casey Nicholaw. Spamalot is lovingly ripped-off from the classic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Monty Python creators Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.


The cast of the musical includes legend of stage and screen, Bille Brown as King Arthur, newcomer Lucinda Shaw as The Lady of the Lake, Stephen Hall as Sir Lancelot and Derek Metzger as King Arthur's faithful servant and coconut keeper, Patsy.


Spamalot bookings: 132 849.



Liv Ullmann to direct STC show

Friday, March 7, 1:40pm AEDST.


The Sydney Theatre Company today announced that Liv Ullmann will direct A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams as part of the Company's mainstage season next year. STC Co-Artistic Director Cate Blanchett will play Blanche duBois in the legendary play at the Sydney Theatre in August 2009.


Liv Ullmann said: “It is an honour to work with STC. Tennessee Williams' chief aim is the creation of character. He has a deep feeling for the mystery of life, exploring the beauty and meaning of the confusion of living. He holds his audience through the revelation of quiet and ordinary truths and I'm excited by the prospect of discovering these with the inspiring artists we're assembling.”


STC Co-Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett said in a statement: “Having an artist of Liv Ullmann's revelatory, exacting vision at the helm of STC's production of one of the greatest plays of the 20th century will be wonderful. As we plan towards our first full season for the Company, it's great to have one of the highlights confirmed.”


Liv Ullmann has spent the last week in Sydney in creative discussions with Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett, meetings with designers and auditioning for the production.


The Pulitzer Prize–winning play opened in New York in 1947 and guaranteed Williams' status as one of the major American playwrights. Actors taking on the role of Blanche duBois have included Jessica Tandy, Glenn Close and Jessica Lange. Elia Kazan's 1951 screen adaptation, which featured Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, is regarded a cinematic classic.


A director, actor and author, Liv Ullmann's name is synonymous with European cinema and theatre. She played a number of major roles as a permanent member of the Norwegian Theatre in Oslo as well as in productions in Sweden, Australia, London's West End and on Broadway. In film she is particularly well known for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman and has been honoured with numerous awards and nominations. As director, Ullmann's work includes Faithless, Private Confessions and Paul Claudel's Break of Noon.



Nevin back at STC

Wednesday, March 5, 9:49pm AEDST.


Her office has barely been cleaned out but Robyn Nevin will return to the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) later this month to star in the company's production of John Didion's The Year Of Magical Thinking, to be directed by Cate Blanchett.


Nevin plays the title character Didion, who, over the course of one year loses her soul-mate of 40 years, John Dunne, while also enduring the prolonged illness of their only child, Quintana. As the writer faces almost unbearable pain, she must also forego familiar, rational, logical ways of seeing the world, for what she comes to know as 'magical thinking'.


The Year Of Magical Thinking is already a major work of the international stage, having played to sell-out audiences when directed by David Hare and featuring Vanessa Redgrave on Broadway last year. That production will be seen at London's National Theatre in April 2008.


From 1999 to 2007 Nevin was Artistic Director of STC, where as a performer her credits include Love-Lies-Bleeding, The Cherry Orchard, The Breath Of Life, The Glass Menagerie, Old Masters, A Cheery Soul and many others. She has acted for all Australian state theatre companies since graduating with NIDA's first students in 1959 and her numerous awards include the Sydney Critics' Circle Awards for Best Actress and for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre, the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award and Logie, Penguin and Sammy Awards for Best Actress.


This production features costumes designed by Giorgio Armani.


The play opens at Wharf 1 on March 25. Bookings: (02) 9250 1777.



Chess to play Theatre Royal

Wednesday, March 5, 9:17pm AEDST.


It made its Australian premiere at the Theatre Royal almost 20 years ago and now the Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus musical Chess is returning to the theatre, albeit on a smaller scale.


Balmain's Light Opera Company Inc will stage the tuner with an ensemble of local actors and a 25 piece orchestra from May 8.


This vibrant musical is directed by Mark Hoath from BLOC and stars Pat Ulloa as Anatoly, Ed Steiner as Freddie and Lucy Boocock as Florence.


“Being able to put on Chess anywhere is such an honour but it will be something special to put it on at the Theatre Royal, where it was first performed in Australia almost 20 years ago,” said Hoath.


Chess is set in the mid 1980's and revolves around the World Chess Championships, the American current title holder, Freddie, his partner, Florence and the Russian contender, Anatoly. This turns into a drama-ridden love triangle, commenting on how cold war tensions of the time seemed to dominate all aspects of life - even those considered to be the more refined ones.


Chess originated as a concept album released in 1984. The musical takes the audience on a journey through the scenic towns of Merano, Italy and Bangkok, Thailand. 'One Night in Bangkok' was a million-selling smash across the globe, topping the charts in many countries, including the UK, US, and Australia. The duet of 'I Know Him So Well' was number one in the UK for three weeks and a top 10 hit in Australia in 1985 when released as a single by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson.


BLOC Inc has been producing musicals since 2005 and is a non-profit organisation committed to providing the best community theatre in Sydney. BLOC Inc's previous shows have included the 2007 season of Pirates of Penzance and the 2007 season of Into the Woods at the Seymour Centre.


“Performing as an amateur company in a professional venue and to an audience of over 1000 is extremely rare. It is going to be such a showcase of young talented people including cast, orchestra and those working behind the scenes,” said Hoath.


Chess opens at the Theatre Royal on May 8. Bookings: 132 849.



Short, Sweet & Song program announced

Tuesday, March 4, 9:21pm AEDST.


The all singing - and sometimes dancing - version of the world's biggest short play festival returns in 2008 for a strictly limited season at the Seymour Centre from March 25.


Live, fresh and original works selected from around the world and across Australia combine in an evening of drama, comedy and romance at Short, Sweet & Song. With music styles from rock to opera, broadway to jazz, there is something for everyone in these self contained 10 minute musical gems.


With a creative team led by composer/lyricist/writer Michael Huxley and musical supervisor Bev Kennedy, these works are performed by some of the best new and established music theatre performers including Andrew Benson, Meagan Caratti, Nathan Carter, Sarah Croser, Roanna Dempsey, Brent Dolahenty, Harriet Dyer, Brad Dylan, Fabian Hartwell, Julie Haseler, Vincent Hooper, Brendan Irving, Anita Margiotta, Simon Brook McLachlan, Tom Morley, Sally Osmond, Kate Parry, Jennifer Peers, Caleb Rixon, Amy Robertson, Taryn Ryan, Garry Scale, Catherine Shepherd, Peter Silver, Aaron Taylor, Rachael Thompson, Andrew Threlfall and Simon Ward.


Directors include Margi De Ferranti, Peta Downes, Louise Fischer, Adam Gelin, Mary-Anne Gifford, Neil Gooding, Katie Gompertz, James Lee, Jane Miskovic, Maarten Mourik and Peter Ross.


In addition to the Festival, five works will be performed as part of a Wildcard series on Saturday afternoons. These will be followed by a Q and A with the writers and the creative teams to enable audiences to give feedback and help shape the work. This feedback may then be used

in developing the piece.




Waiting for Lenny (NY, USA)

Composer: Norman Weiss

Lyrics: Brown Cardwell

Libretto: Brown Cardwell

Director: Peter Ross

Cast: Julie Haseler, Sally Osmond, Garry Scale


The Morning After (NSW, Aust)

Composer: David Hines

Lyrics: David Hines

Libretto: David Hines

Director: Katie Gompertz

Cast: Marika Aubrey, Simon Brook McLachlan


The Short Prince (NSW, Aust)

Composer: Bruce Daniels

Lyrics: Bruce Daniels

Libretto: Bruce Daniels

Director: Maarten Mourik

Cast: Aaron Taylor, Zach Jardine, Harriet Dyer


The Pretty Girl (Vic, Aust)

Composer: David Young

Lyrics: David Young

Libretto: David Young

Director: Peta Downes

Cast: Brent Dolahenty, Catherine Shepherd


Henry and Hyde (Ca, USA)

Composer: Thomas Adams

Lyrics: James Eisenman

Libretto: James Eisenman & Thomas Adams

Director: Adam Gelin

Cast: Raine Francis, Brendan Irving, Brad Dylan


The Road to Bethlehem (Vic, Aust)

Composer: Mathew Frank

Lyrics: Dean Bryant

Libretto: Dean Bryant

Director: Neil Gooding

Cast: Amy Robertson, Rachael Thompson, Taryn Ryan, Marika Aubrey, Nathan Carter, Andrew Threlfall, Sarah Croser, Caleb Rixon, Catherine Shepherd, Peter Silver, Simon Ward, Fabian Hartwell, Tom Morley, Harriet Dyer


In My Arms (Qld, Aust)

Composer: Megan Shorey

Lyrics: Megan Shorey

Libretto: Megan Shorey

Director: Margi de Ferranti

Cast: Meagan Caratti, Sara Grenfell


Short Sighted (Vic, Aust)

Composer: Tom Taylor & Simon Barlow

Lyrics: Tom Taylor & Simon Barlow

Libretto: Tom Taylor & Simon Barlow

Director: Mary-Anne Gifford

Cast: Chris Williams, Katie Barker


Rats (NSW, Aust)

Composer: David Church

Lyrics: Pete Greenaway

Libretto: Pete Greenaway

Director: James Lee

Cast: Andrew Threlfall, Vincent Hooper, Anita Margiotta


The Alleged Adventures of Blenderman (Ca, USA)

Composer: Michael Gordon Shaprio

Lyrics: Michael Gordon Shaprio

Libretto: Michael Gordon Shaprio

Director: Jane Miskovic, Nathan Carter.


Short, Sweet & Song is at the Seymour Centre Downstairs Theatre from March 25. Bookings: (02) 9351 7940.



Hatpin looks for life beyond Seymour

Tuesday, March 4, 8:57pm AEDST.


Melle Stewart, Gemma-Ashley Kaplan, Peter Cousens and Michelle DoakeAcclaimed Australian musical The Hatpin could be back next year and there's even talk the show could head overseas after receiving a strong reaction since opening at the Seymour Centre in Sydney last Wednesday.


The show, which focuses on the real life story of Amber Murray and her fight for justice after giving up her baby in the late 1800's, is scheduled to run at the Seymour Centre until March 15 but producer Neil Gooding said it won't be the last people see of the tuner.


"The current position is that this Sydney production was always intended to be a limited engagement of only three weeks - which would allow us to workshop the production and to showcase it to the industry and the public," Gooding told


"The producers are currently exploring several options for further productions of The Hatpin in 2009, as well as international opportunities."


The Hatpin, which stars Melle Stewart and Caroline O'Connor, has received mostly positive reviews.


In The Sydney Morning Herald, Mark Hopkins said, in part: "Stirring performances abound. Melle Stewart is heartbreakingly real as Amber Murray, the teenage mother who gives her son away. Stewart's emotional bravery is complemented by Gemma-Ashley Kaplan, who brings just the right amount of peculiar to Clara Makin. Kaplan's performance of the denouement title song (and Clara's redemption) is breathtaking. Caroline O'Connor lends star power to the earthy Harriet Piper, Amber's friend. With irreverent banter almost improvisational in its freshness, O'Connor lifts this mask of humour to reveal emotional depth with profound effect. Michelle Doake creates extraordinary engagement with Agatha Makin, wresting this villainess back from melodramatic overstatement while pushing to the hilt the psychotic hysteria just beneath the facade of respectability. The male characters are paler by comparison, their snivelling and posturing well executed but less relevant to the drama. The Hatpin is far from perfect but this fearless production is a must see. Its artistic ambition, committed execution and capacity to engage an audience suggest a landmark moment in Australian musical theatre."


In her review for, Joanna Erskine said, in part: "The Hatpin is a revelation in Australian theatre. Anyone in the audience on opening night could tell that the standing ovation was not just for Millar, Hardwick, Rutherford and the cast. It was a proclamation of a stellar new Australian musical that is finally hitting the big stage and isn't afraid to tackle some pretty dark issues. It was the heralding of a new age in which we have something to play against the domination of Broadway, a show about our history (no matter how murky) and a show to be proud of. The Hatpin will still grow and evolve, it is by no means a flawless production."


Bookings: (02) 9351 7940.


- Troy Dodds





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