Matilda the Musical

Matilda the Musical

Rating: 4.5 stars | The show of the decade!   I first saw Matilda the Musical in London 2 years ago and couldn’t wait for this amazing production to debut in Australia! Well last Thursday I had the honour of attending opening night at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre and the production, created by Australian genius Tim Minchin and based on the book by Roald Dahl, had lost none of it’s shine or brilliance. Matilda tells the story of a young girl who’s a genius, but in spite of this her parents dislike her and send her away to school. There she overcomes the odds and a bullying headmistress named Ms. Trunchbull to win the hearts of everyone! People ask whether it’s truly a children’s show or not. The answer is it’s both. Kids will love the story and the colour and movement, but there’s a much deeper narrative there for us adults too! In my view Matilda one of the best new musicals of the last 20 years. One of the highlights must be when the talented ensemble of kids swing out over the audience singing the wonderfully catchy song “When I Grow Up”. I really shouldn’t single any of the spectacular cast out because every one of them is a star in my eyes, but the incredible James Millar’s pantomime performance as the nasty Ms. Trunchbull is breathtaking. Matilda is the show of the decade, simply a must see! If you haven’t been to a stage show for a while then in the words of a certain music guru  “do yourself a favour”. You won’t regret it....
Thriller Live

Thriller Live

Rating: 4 stars | 18-months ago I was in London. I swung by the half-price ticket booth at Leicester Square and was lucky enough get seats to Thriller Live. I have always loved Michael Jackson’s music, but to be honest I didn’t really know what to expect from the show. I guess that’s how you might be feeling now that Thriller Live has hit Sydney. My advice is simple: Just do it! Last night Thriller Live premiered at the Lyric Theatre and it was every bit as spectacular as I remember from London. The stunning cast had the audience on their feet cheering for more after almost every song. Most of the cast are direct from the London production with the notable exception of local girl, Prinnie Stevens, who you may remember form The Voice. She slid in and out of the Jackson numbers effortlessly, finding her diva within! The lighting and sets are superb, and the multimedia is spectacular – complete with a giant mirror ball, gangster scenes and rain forests. But the real star of the show is of course the music. For two hours the audience is treated to wall-to-wall hits including Billie Jean, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Black and White, Rock With You, She’s Out Of My Life, Smooth Criminal, Can You Feel It, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Blame It On The Boogie, Beat It and of course Thriller! Billie Jean, in particular, brought the house down. Performed in a replica Michael Jackson costume complete with the famous hat and diamond glove… and of course the legendary moon walk. Thriller Live is a must see, even if you don’t usually go...
The Pet Shop Boys

The Pet Shop Boys

Rating: 5 stars | As many of you know I am a big fan of Neil Tenant and Chris Lowe AKA The Pet Shop Boys. Their career took off in 1985 with the world wide number 1 smash West End Girls and since then they have sold 50 million records, making them one of the most successful duos of all time. So I was expecting a lot from their show at the Carriageworks at Redfern which was presented by the Vivid Festival. Let me tell you straight up: The show exceeded all my expectations in every way. Where do I start! The multimedia, the lights, the lasers, the special effects and smoke machines were truly gobsmacking and as good, if not better than any Mardi Gras show I’ve seen. But above all this it was the music that did it for me. Neil Tenant’s haunting, but beautiful voice was let loose on an adoring audience from behind a sheer screen and the crowd went wild. The Pet Shop Boys started the set with an obscure track that only hard core fans would have known, before launching into their early hit Opportunities – Lets Make Lots Of Money. From then on it was hit after hit including It’s A Sin, Always On My Mind, Being Boring, Suburbia and Go West. Showing the “boys” still have a lot of creativity left in them, they performed a few songs from their latest album Electric, but 90% of the show they gave the crowd what they wanted, wall to wall Pet Shop Boys gold. For me and I suspect many others, part of...
Strictly Ballroom

Strictly Ballroom

Rating: 4 stars | Those of you who’ve listened to me on the radio over the years or read my online posts know I love live theatre, especially musicals! Whether it’s a classic like The Sound Of Music, Phantom Of the Opera or Cabaret, a juke box musical like Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You or even one of the new originals like Wicked. I’m not sure what class Baz Lurhrmann’s stage adaption of his hit 1992 film Strictly Ballroom fits into, but suffice to say it was it was excellent! The production at the Lyric Theatre was visually stunning and the costumes designed by Oscar winner, Catherine Martin, are so fabulous and over the top that they’d be snapped up by anyone wanting a crowd pleaser at next year’s Mardi Gras! After a somewhat slow start the show warms up within 30 minutes and I’m completely won over, especially by the lead actor Thomas Lacy who plays Scott. His dad, veteran actor, Drew Forsythe, is also mesmerising as he dances around the set by himself reminiscing about his past. Special mention too for Robert Grubb who played the conflicted dance federation boss. Barry Fife; his stage-craft is brilliant. (You might remember him from his staring role in the hit TV show The Flying Doctors.) Phoebe Panaretos also does a great job playing the forgotten girl who eventually wins Scott’s heart, Musically speaking the new songs were good, especially the brilliant, flamenco driven “Leap of Faith” and the sweet “Beautiful Surprise”, but most of the others were overshadowed by two classic songs Time After Time and the shows signature tune Love Is In The Air....
Kenny Wizz – Michael Jackson HIStory II

Kenny Wizz – Michael Jackson HIStory II

Rating: 4.5 stars | I have to be honest, I’m not generally a fan of cover bands or impersonators so I was cautious when I was asked if I wanted to see Kenny Wizz – Michael Jackson HIStory II at the State Theatre. I have always been a big fan of Jacko’s music so I thought “what the hell”, and decided to go along last Sunday night to see the tribute show. I’m so glad I did, because without a doubt it was two hours of magic as Kenny channelled the ‘King Of Pop’ to perfection. From the opening notes of Jam I knew we were in for a treat as a mind-blowing light show hit the stage and his backup dancers appeared busting out some sensational moves to a pumped up crowd, from kids to grandparents. Then from the back of the stage appeared Kenny in a plume of smoke, and as the lights went up and he came closer to the audience you could have sworn you were watching the real Michael Jackson. Not only did he look exactly like Michael Jackson, but he had perfected every move and most importantly he sounded like they real deal! There are too many highlights to list them all, but I loved his rendition of Smooth Criminal complete with that amazing moment where Kenny aka Jacko appears to defy gravity and lean at 45 degrees in mid-air. I also loved the ballads like Heal The World and the stunning She’s Out Of My Life, where my friend Carly was plucked out of the audience and taken on stage and serenaded! Of course I can’t...
Grease The Musical

Grease The Musical

Rating: 2.5 stars | Who doesn’t love Grease! Sadly though, the only reason I didn’t leave Sydney’s Lyric theatre in the middle of this production was because of the music. This latest incarnation of the 70’s movie is wrong on so many levels. Starting the show off with Bert Newton giving away lucky door prizes fell flat; most of they audience  didn’t know whether to laugh or look away. Then former Prisoner star, Val Lehman, appeared as the headmistress, but unfortunately she was given lame material to work with, which again fell flat. The rest of the show was only passable with OK performances by Rob Mills as Danny and Gretel Scarlett and Sandy. Lucy Maunder lifted the standard playing the sassy Rizzy, while Anthony Callea does a great cameo along with Todd McKenney who steals the floundering show with his rendition of the ever so camp Beauty School Dropout. Thanks for the fun, but I probably would have been best staying at home watching the...