Archive for May, 2010

Songs For A New World: My Last Farewell

Posted in Rants, The Life & Times Of Me with tags , on May 29, 2010 by darthtanion

Hello once again ladies & gentle persons of indiscriminate gender.  Welcome to another bout of pointless rambling from yours truly.  I must admit that I am writing today’s blog with a slightly heavy heart for today marks one week since the closing of Songs For A New World.  Since that time I’ve been able to kick off my shoes, replace them with my Superman thongs (yes I really own a pair) & get back into the groove of my life pre-Harvest Rain but before I can completely say goodbye I need to done one final thing.

Songs For A New World: The Wrap Up

My whole Songs (I’m abbreviating it from now on) experience was pretty brief & so hectic that I never really got a chance to blog about everything that was going on.  Perhaps you didn’t really care but hey, nobody is forcing you to stay.  (hehe just kidding… if you leave I’ll come to your house & cut you while you sleep.)

The Show: My first experience with Songs was 3 or 4 years ago when a friend sang I’m Not Afraid Of Anything.  She did an amazing job & I decided I must perform in the show one day.  Of course deciding you MUST do something & actually DOING it are two very different things & not being a producer of music theatre in any way meant I was pretty powerless so naturally I was quite excited when I got the following email:

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am a Nigerian general who has recently inherited $6 000 000 after the death of my darling mother.  If you would like me to give it all to you for no suspicious reason at all please be at the Harvest Rain warehouse on Mina Parade this weekend so we can meet.

Best regards,
Completely Trustworthy Stranger Jr. III

I had a sneaking suspicion he was using a fake name but who cares.  Six million dollars is a lot of money.  Sadly he never showed but by an amazing stroke of luck Harvest Rain were auditioning for Songs!  What are the odds?  By an even more amazing stroke of luck I got cast as Man 2 & the whole journey kicked off.

The People: Before I ever work with anybody I have this nasty little habit of researching them to see what they’re like.  If I’m being honest a lot of people said a few not so nice things about Harvest Rain.  Not about anyone in particular, there are just some rumours going around about the group in general.  I heard one rumour that said they employ lots of gay people & try to keep them straight & then another one that said they refuse to hire anyone who isn’t a heterosexual. Let me tell you that if EITHER of these stories are true then Harvest Rain is really not living up to people’s expectations.  There is a more diverse cross-section of people in their employment than at a Pauline Hanson protest rally & nobody is concerned at all!  DISCRIMINATION FAIL!!!!  They had gay people working with straight, short people working with tall & even skinny people working with me!  It was like a real life version of that musical episode of Different Strokes I always wished they made.

The most common story, by far, & the one I think I take the most exception to, is the rumour that Harvest Rain are cliquey.  (Cliquey – adj. – kl ee kee.  1. An exclusive group of friends or associates who don’t let you play with them because you’re nerdy or you like comic books or you write your own blog, even though the only reason they don’t do it is because they are big stupid heads…  Sorry, where was I?)  If you are reading this & think “Oh NOES!  I told Luke they are cliquey!” then don’t worry, lots of people did.  Nobody said it out of malice, people actually believe it but this is one rumour I have to put to bed now.  There is a big difference between a clique & a family.  The term clique is usually used to describe a group of people who exclude others & I am living proof that these guys don’t do that.  I was welcomed into their family with open arms & invited to dinner & taken out to try my first sushi & never once was I made to feel unwelcome.  If they were cliquey people, why would they do that?  I doubt they were trying to impress me.  I am a complete nobody in the theatre world but these guys made me feel like I was part of something special so for that I say “thank you”.

P.S. They are so totally a cult though.  They sacrifice interns to the pagan god Dumbledore every winter solstice in the hope that he will convince the Sorting Hat to give them a bountiful Horcrux… or something like that.  I could never keep up.

My Final Thought: Did you ever do something in your life that was so perfect you were almost (please note the use of the word almost) glad it ended simply because it meant you could no longer mess it up?  Well that’s how I would describe my Songs experience.  I really feel I met some amazing people & together we made some amazing theatre & now it is crystallised as a perfect memory that can never be taken away from me.  I know the audiences were small but I think that made them even more special.  Kind of like Collector’s Edition People.  Especially the ones who were so moved by the show that they came to see it two & three times or sent us emails or came up & shook our hands in the foyer afterwards.  It really was so fulfilling that by the time it came to an end I didn’t feel as sad as you might expect.  I now simply look forward to the next time I get to work with Harvest Rain again… even the gay people.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Carnival Worker Teeth Removal Artist

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Dani Girl: The Story of One Girl’s Quest for Cool Blonde Headgear

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by darthtanion

Greetings goosebumps & fairy winkles,
After an extended leave of absence to perform in a show I’m back & blogging again.  You’re welcome.  Once again those wonderful folks over at Review Brisbane have sent me off to another piece of local Brisbane theatre in the hope I will load my opinion into a shotgun & fire it at your head & by that I mean write a review about it.  You’re welcome.  And so without Feathers of Dew I give you…

Dani Girl: The Review

Executive Summary: Sometimes the only thing you can say is “Thank you”.

Review: To begin with I’d once again like to lay everything out on the line honestly.  The makers & some of the stars of this show are my friends so, naturally, there is a chance I’m going to have a bias.  If you have a problem with this fact then I’m going to need you to build a bridge & go jump.  If you are able to put that aside then let’s begin.

Before Harvest Rain‘s production I had never heard of Dani Girl.  I did a small amount of research on the show to find out the basic idea behind it.  Basically, the story is about a girl with leukemia who loses her hair & embarks upon an imaginary journey to get it back.  From this I knew two things for absolute certain:

  1. It was not going to be funny.
  2. It was not going to be funny.

After watching the show I learned one thing:

  1. It was funny.

Seriously, as morose as it sounds, Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond have managed to write a musical that delves into the horrific issue of childhood leukemia yet still keep it light-hearted enough so you don’t feel like slitting your wrists halfway through the first song.  You continually find yourself fighting back tears just seconds after laughing your head off.  Not all of the credit for this can go to the writers.  The cast does a wonderful job of delivering this work.  The four stars (& I use the term very deliberately) Juanita Ellis-Gloster, Heidi Enchelmaier, Shaun Kohlman & Tyson Stuetz are all part of Harvest Rain’s intern program (at least I think they all are.  I did less research on that fact than I do on most of my “facts”.) &, if I’m being completely honest, do lack a little in stage experience.  This is not to say they aren’t far advanced over many others of a similar age & with similar amounts of stage time under their belts, because they are.  The only real reason I mention their lack of experience is because of the positives it brings.  All of them are completely fearless on stage.  Many of the character choices they made could have gone really wrong if they were made by someone with just a little more experience who would have played things a little more safely.  In order for 18 year olds to convince the audience they are 9 they have to be as fearless &, well, inexperienced on stage as a 9 year old is in life.  This means that, in general, something that would normally be considered a weakness kind of works as a strength.

Before even stepping into the theatre tonight I was pretty sure this was going to be a bit of a tear jerker, or at least it was intended to be.  Just because something is intended to be sad doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to pluck the required heart-strings.  I really wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to pull it off but the second Enchelmaier sang her first notes I felt a lump rising in my throat.  I was amazed at how instantly I believed she was a child.  Exactly the same compliment can be made of Kohlman.  These two fill the stage with a beautiful chemistry that really provides a fantastic foundation on which the show builds itself.  Special mention must be made of Kohlman’s rendition of Why I Love The Movies.  Perhaps it’s just because I would love to sing the song myself but it simply tore my heart out.

Stuetz is hilarious as Raph.  He posses the amazing ability to look like an English butler when standing with the added bonus of being able to morph into an earthworm when needed.  His versatility is a real asset to the show & many of his laughs stemed not from his script but from his portrayal & for this he should be applauded.  Ellis-Gloster performed admirably in what I think is the hardest role of the show, the mother.  Amidst all the craziness & immaturity of the other characters she has to remind us that what we are seeing does have a realistic side.  She also has the un-enviable job of having to walk the fine line between being constantly worried without becoming whiny & annoying.  Her solo towards the end of the show was also one of the highlights.

Finally, a hearty congratulations has to go to debutant director Carmen Glanville & her production team.  Her direction shows wisdom beyond her years.  I loved basically everything about her vision for Dani Girl.  It was heartfelt, honest & raw.  In short, everything it needed to be.  The set design was beautiful in its simplicity & whoever did the lighting design needs an award.  It was really clever & made you complete forget you were sitting in shed.

Who Should See It:
-Those in the mood for a good cry
-Those in the mood for a good laugh
-Anyone wanting to support emerging artists

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-People looking for big lights & loud bangs
-People too young or immature to really get what it’s about
-Small, half-breed spider-goats who got lost on their way to the circus

I hope everyone goes along to see this show while it is still showing as these guys deserve packed houses.  Feel free to leave comments if you do.

PERFORMANCES
26th – 29th May 2010
Wed to Sat 7.30pm

VENUE
Mina Parade Warehouse
81 Mina Parade, Alderley QLD

TICKETS
All tickets $15.00

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Slightly Oversized, Indian Head Dress Shoveler