Shoshana In Excelsis

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , on June 24, 2010 by darthtanion

Guten Tag!
It’s 5:30am but I just really wanted to write something on my blog.  Fortunately I have something to write about.  OK, so a few years back I was flicking around Broadway.com & I hear about how this new Elphaba had taken to the stage in Wicked & she had the coolest name: Shoshana.  Without ever hearing her I decided then & there that I must love her simply so I could talk to people about her & say her name repeatedly.  A few YouTube videos later I realised that this woman is regarded as one of the best Elphabas to ever grace the role, so imagine my excitement when Harvest Rain Theatre Company announced that they were bringing her out to have a bit of a sing!  Well last night was the night.  After a couple of months of waiting I was finally able to actually see her live &, in my usual way, I’m going to bundle up my opinions about the experience in blog form & launch them at your head through the Interwebs.  This is…

Shoshana Bean: The Review


Executive Summary: HOLY FREAKING UNICORN DROPPINGS!!!

Review: I have to admit, as a singer I find the idea of me reviewing someone of Shoshana Bean’s level of talent & fame completely ridiculous.  I find all of my reviews ridiculous but this one especially so.  This is a woman who needed a little help when auditioning for Elphaba so what did she do?  She called Stephanie J. Block, the original Elphaba, (yes she is the original, look it up) & got her to sing to her down the phone!  When you have people like that willing to help you I don’t think you’re siting there waiting to hear what The Ninja Chicken has to say of you but never the less I’m going to say what I think anyway & damn the torpedos.  (You aren’t really going to shoot me with torpedos are you?)

As you may have guessed by my intro, I’m a bit of a Bean fan.  That should probably be a good indicator that there isn’t going to be a lot of negative stuff to say in this review.  Be that as it may, every reviewer knows that you won’t be treated as a legitimate reviewer unless you can always find fault with the subject of your review, even if that fault isn’t really there.  With that in mind, here are the things I didn’t like about the show:

  1. I wore too much cologne
  2. My suit coat felt a little scratchy
  3. Shoshana didn’t have a six-foot Maltese guy with a blog about martially trained poultry standing next to her staring at her dreamily/creepily while she sang to just him for the entire concert.  (I really feel this would have made the whole night awesome.)

Sorry to complain so much but I had to say it otherwise I’ll never be taken seriously as a reviewer.  Now, on to the good stuff.

SHE WAS SO FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!

I don’t mean the “Hey, I won $250 on a scratchy. Freaking awesome!” level of freaking awesome.  I mean the “Chuck Norris & Christopher Walken walked into my living room & started playing Stairway to Heaven just as Wolverine finished baking me sugar cookies.” kind of awesome.  She seriously blew my mind.  The Powerhouse was the perfect venue for the evening’s entertainment.  If you’ve been there then you know it’s distinct, graffiti look & feel.  Combine that with some very simple, dusty lighting & it was almost like sitting in a jazz bar somewhere in down town New York which suited her style perfectly.  The great thing about the Powerhouse is that it only seats about 500 so every seat is a great seat.  I was somewhere around the middle of the audience but I think the only way my seat could have been any better was if they had placed a La-Z-Boy on stage at the feet of her amazing accompanist James Sampliner & let me watch her from there.  I do think this is a concert that needs to be seen up close & personal at least once however.  Don’t get me wrong, Shoshana Bean is a true performer.  If she was performing to a packed 15 000 seat theatre I have no doubt every person in the back row would have gotten a great show but being as close as I was meant I could see all of the little things she did as well.  Especially for the quieter numbers.  It just added an extra layer of enjoyment & if Shrek taught us anything, it’s that layers are important.

In all honesty I do not know how she does the things she does with her voice.  She can go from absolutely belting her hair off to the most beautiful, gentle rendition of My Funny Valentine in a heart beat seemingly without any effort at all.

Finally, perhaps my favourite part of the night & something that I thought really showed off what an awesome woman she truly is, Shoshana Bean stuck around to sign autographs.

I am possibly the only straight man to own one of these.

I know a lot of you might be thinking “she only did that so people would buy her CDs to get them signed” but you would be wrong.  While speaking with Harvest Rain‘s CEO, Tim O’Conner (i.e. the guy who brought Shoshana Bean to Australia) I learned that Shoshana didn’t think she would have anything like the following she does here so she only brought 50 CDs with her for her whole tour.  They were sold in about half a second.  (I managed to get one but only because I was willing to punch out an old lady & ride off on my horse.)  She must have signed at least 300 autographs on little Shoshana Bean cards she handed out for free.  Plus she posed for a photo with me so if you say anything nasty about her I’ll punch you.

Just hanging out with Shoshana.  As you do.

Yes, she did say she liked my shirt.

In conclusion, this was a fantastic night.  The best thing about seeing stars like Shoshana Bean is that she brings out the real music theatre buffs so you know everybody was just as excited to be there as I was.  She now moves on to Adelaide & Sydney so if you happen to be in the area don’t miss this show.  Details can be found on www.eventful.com so check them out.

Did you see the concert?  Let everyone what you think in the comments section below.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Left Handed Alien Salesman

Bomb Testing vs The Ninja Chicken

Posted in Random, The Life & Times Of Me on June 4, 2010 by darthtanion
Howdy doody y’all.
OK so I just got home after picking my girlfriend’s mum up from the airport.  While I was there I got bomb tested.  The act of getting bomb tested doesn’t really bother me but I do find the whole process a little stupid & pointless for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, if I were a terrorist planning to bomb a plane, I would pick a busy flight during a busy time.  During busy times they can maybe test 1 in 10 people if they are lucky.  That means on a flight of 100 people, 10 of them have been tested for bombs.  Put another way, 90% of people on the flight did NOT get bomb tested.  So in other words, the only way a terrorist is going to get caught is if he is a crazy kind of unlucky or he rides the short plane to school.  However, the thing that really gets my goat up (is that a saying?) is the fact that they have actually placed a ban on jokes while you’re getting tested.  I mean really… jokes?  I am yet to hear of anyone laughing to death except maybe in that one Monty Python sketch & while, yes, it is a very funny sketch, I think the details have been slightly exaggerated.  So, as a minor rebellion, I would like to present a very small act of defiance.  Ladies & gentle-not-ladies, please enjoy:

50 Jokes I’ve Always Wanted To Make While Getting Bomb Tested

  1. Your Mum’s the bomb.  (There I got it out of the way early.  Happy?)
  2. Could we hurry this along my shoes are starting to heat up.
  3. Of course you can test me, I’ve changed out of the clothes I was wearing when I made it anyway.
  4. Those things can’t detect Adamantium Nitrate can they?
  5. It’s fine, I left the real bomb on the plane that brought me here.
  6. Phew!  DON’T WORRY GUYS, I THINK IT’S BROKEN!
  7. You don’t have any friends on flight 915 do you?
  8. Just out of curiosity, do you think a bomb would be most effective if I sat at the front or the back of the plane?
  9. Are you adverse to all forms of killing passengers or just bombs specifically?
  10. BANG!
  11. How much do I look like a terrorist? I mean on a scale of one to Muslim.
  12. What do you mean I’m “free to go”?  AH CRAP!  I must have left it at home.
  13. I’m sorry, my eyesight isn’t so good.  Is there still fertiliser on my foot?
  14. Man I hope I set the timer on this thing right.
  15. It’s been nice knowing you.
  16. Ah bomb tests.  I think I’m going to miss these most of all.
  17. Do you smell napalm too?
  18. Wow, you’re lucky that came up negative because I was either going to set this thing off on the plane or here.
  19. Oh don’t even bother, mate, those things never catch me.
  20. 72 virgins here I come!
  21. Just how hard is it to break through the cabin door?
  22. How about if I just keep one bomb?
  23. I like my explosives like I like my women.  In my underwear.
  24. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
  25. Oh but you’ve got to let me on.  We haven’t had a good terrorist attack for AGES!
  26. Your infidel technology intrigues me.
  27. Hi.  How ya doing?  My name’s Theodore Kaczynski but everyone just calls me “Ted”.
  28. So I’m guessing your life insurance will take care of your wife & kids for a while right?
  29. No sir, all of my explosives are in my checked baggage.
  30. Pull my finger.
  31. OK but once I’ve actually gotten on the plane there’s no more security, right?  Promise?
  32. So, have you ever met a real terrorist before now?
  33. Thank you & a happy day of reckoning to you, sir.
  34. Yeah that’s fine just don’t test my left hand.
  35. Why no I’m not carrying any explosives.  (But if you’re looking for some I know a guy.)
  36. “Sex bomb, sex bomb.  You’re my sex bomb.”
  37. Have you caught any terrorists today?  Well then how do you know that magic wand is even working?
  38. So anyway, I was speaking with him just the other day & I said “You’re always so serious, Osama…”
  39. So, did you fail the exam to become a real cop or have you always just aimed low?
  40. Let me get this straight, you search everyone for nail clippers but just randomly select people to see if they’re carrying bombs?
  41. You don’t need to test me.  I’m wearing a condom.
  42. Yes actually, I am a terrorist but I’m on vacation.
  43. Could you hold this suitcase for me?
  44. RRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!
  45. If I just shot a guy would the gun powder set this thing off?
  46. If I’d known there was going to be a test I would have studied.
  47. Oh! Oh! Oh!  Pick me!  Pick me!  I’ve never seen a positive result before.
  48. Wow!  So glad I handed my backpack to that guy.
  49. Oh no I don’t use bombs, I just sell them.
  50. If you catch a terrorist do you arrest them or just point that stick at them & yell “Expelliarmus!”

OK, so if you’re still reading at this point you either skipped to the end or weren’t so offended by me making jokes about global terrorism that you decided the only rational course of action was to burn your computer down.  I’m hoping it was the latter.  Anyway, if you think I missed any feel free to let me know in the comments section below but if you decide to try any of these out at the airport, leave me out of it.  I will not be held responsible if they stick their magic wand anywhere that could be considered against regulation.

Unless there is a next time.
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Future Waterboarding Victim

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

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

Songs For A New World: Reason For A New Blog Post

Posted in Rants, The Life & Times Of Me with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by darthtanion

Ahoy, hoy boys & girls.  I’m starting this blog post at 5:30 Ante Meridian (for those of you who don’t speak Latin that means “covered in cheese”) because I’m so excited I can’t sleep.  As I have mentioned in previous blog posts I recently auditioned for Harvest Rain Theatre Company & they liked me… they really liked me.  So much so that they have cast me in their upcoming production of… wait for it… oh I forgot,  it’s in the title of the blog post.  Yeah it’s Songs For A New World.  Kind of ruined my build up there.  Anyway here is a picture.

Songs For A New World

oooooooo... we all look like grown ups.

For those of you not familiar with Songs For A New World it’s a musical/song cycle written for four people, by Jason Robert Brown.  A man famous for writing music so hard it could be used to bludgeon someone to death with & for insisting everyone use all three of his names even though they are almost always abbreviated to just JRB.  This is a production that I am super excited about.  I don’t mean that in the boring, almost sarcastic, Oh-I’m-super-excited kind of way.  I mean that in the traditional, wow-I-think-my-brain-just-exploded-from-too-much-excitement kind of way.  Obviously, performing with an exploded brain does present certain challenges but I’m willing to give it a go.  This is for several reasons.  1)  I get to work with some fantastic people. These guys are some of the best that Brisbane has to offer.  It even says so in this completely impartial article right here.  2)  I have wanted to perform in this musical since I first moved to Brisbane.  There was a production happening just after I arrived here & I was basically told not to bother auditioning.  My ego was sufficiently bruised. 3)  This production of Songs For A New World is going to be different for any other you have ever seen.  Before I auditioned for the role I spoke to a friend who had seen it.  She said she thought it worked better as individual songs rather than as a show.  After talking with our director Tim O’Connor at the first rehearsal yesterday, I can assure you that is not going to be the case when we do it.  He has ideas that are so far from left field they are practically in the right field of the next field over.  (Does that even make sense?) Whatever you think you know about the show should be left at the door.  Don’t worry we’re not going to be re-arranging the music or experimenting with the inclusion of a live rhinoceros.  Tim just has ideas to, without changing anything, give the show much more cohesion & take it in directions no one ever thought of or been brave enough to try. It’s difficult to explain without giving away spoilers but trust me, it’s good.  Of course the most important reason for me to be excited is reason number 4) MY MUMMY IS COMING TO WATCH ME!!!

In all seriousness though, working with three professionals such as these is terrifying & exhilarating all at once.  Aside from the fact that these guys have all worked together before, Luke Kennedy has toured the world with The Ten Tenors & Angela & Naomi are not only well known Brisbane performers but are both part of the singing sensation I raved so much about in my last post, The Divas, so they are all pretty much amahzing.  (Divas fans will get that.)  If you don’t believe me here are a few videos I prepared earlier.

Wow… did you hear those harmonies?!?!  What’s that?  Not enough?  Well check this out.

I have never heard that song sung anywhere else by anyone else but I’m pretty certain this is the greatest version ever.   If you still aren’t convinced then I can only suggest you head over to www.harvestrain.com.au & get yourself some tickets to Songs For A New World.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh at other people crying with laughter.  It’s going to be a fun sandwich.  I hope you’ll be part of it.

Are you coming to see the show?  Have you seen the show before?  Do you feel a live rhinoceros would help develop the characters?  Why not say so in the comments section below?

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Official Star Trek Turtle Next Tester

The Divas: Looking Back On The Dummy Spit Of The Century

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by darthtanion

Dear people who read this blog,
How have you been?  Apologies for not writing for so long but I’ve had  <insert lame excuse here> so I hope you understand.   With a tremendous amount of thanks to the good folks at Harvest Rain Theatre Company, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to go to see a group of women who have advertised themselves as five of “the greatest singers in the universe.”  This is a pretty hefty statement to live up to.  Especially while Lea Salonga & Ruthie Henshall remain in this plane of existence.  Did they bring the goods?  The only way to find out is to read…

The Divas – One Night Only: The Review

Divas A La Shed Door

Executive Summary: LOL!

Review: First thing first.  I’m going to be honest & up front & say that, for those of you who don’t know, Harvest Rain, the theatre company which put this group of girls together, has recently cast me in their next production.  While they have in NO way endorsed my opinions (I don’t even know if anyone from there has ever actually read my blog) this obviously presents certain issues.  If I say anything bad about the show I run the risk of getting beaten to the ground & spat on during rehearsals but if I say all good stuff nobody will believe me due to my conflict of interest.  To remedy this I have devised a devilishly clever solution.  I’m going to write my honest opinion &, to quote the immortal words of Genghis Khan, “Y’all can bite me!”

It occurs to me that many of you may not know exactly what The Divas are.  I think the only way I can put it is to say they are the brain child of someone who was beaten around the head by an elephant.  The idea is insane.  Five girls playing massively over the top divas who think they are God’s gift to… well, everything & everyone.  Including God.  How can anyone make this work?  Five characters, which are essentially the same, constantly fighting & bickering & trying to outdo one another?  Surely the show would eventually descend into chaos, disorder & long stretches of pointless, poorly ad libbed dialogue.  Having said that, maybe my executive summary didn’t really give a truly accurate description of my feelings towards the evening’s entertainment.  To put it another way, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!  Seriously, I laughed so hard I think I sprained a lung.  It was funnier than that video of the kid getting kicked in the head with the soccer ball.  You know the one.  If I’m truly being honest I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the show as much as I did. (Sorry guys.)  I had seen some of the YouTube videos & while they made me chuckle, it really didn’t seem like a concept that could fill a two-hour show.  I knew I would love the singing because I have heard all of these women sing before but I was pretty certain I would want to stab out my ears whenever they made jokes.  I was so wrong & I’m not just saying that because they had a picture of me in the foyer.

I can't decide who's cuter, me or... me.

Yes, there were lots of jokes where they singers were declaring how lucky the audience was to be seeing them or stealing the lime light from one another but it never once got too much.  They managed to balance it perfectly with some very touching moments.  I really was absolutely stunned because it couldn’t have been easy.  The singing was every bit as brilliant as expected.  These girls blend so well & while the comedy in the show was quite slapstick they all obviously take their music very seriously.  A lot of work had gone into the songs which were beautifully arranged by the amazing Maitlohn Drew.  I guess it would be fair to say that a lot of work has gone into all aspects of the show.  The way it sounded, the way it felt & of course the way it looked.  My better half spent the entire evening complaining about how she wanted every dress that was paraded onto the QPAC Concert Hall stage & I have to say that these ladies are definitely as easy on the eyes as they are on the ears.  At one point, one of the girls (not saying which one) entered from the wings & was greeted with a very prompt & not so subtle “PHWOAR!” from yours truly.  My expression was greeted with a very stern look from my date.

Lastly, I have to mention the wonderful charity with which this group has aligned themselves.  The Divas have formed a partnership with She Rescue Home (<- Click here to show them love) in Cambodia.  This a group that fights for one of the worthiest causes I have ever heard of.  An estimated 45% of young girls in Cambodia are forced into prostitution or human trafficking.  That’s a statistic that made me fall out of my chair & those chairs at QPAC are quite secure so falling out is no easy task.  She Rescue Home is fighting to change this (the statistic, not the chairs) & The Divas donate proceeds from their concerts to the cause.  I really hope they made a packet tonight because I don’t think anyone can imagine the horror to which these young children are subjected & in today’s world such cruelty cannot be tolerated.

So in summary this was the best night of theatre I’ve had for some time.  Good singing, good laughs, good lookers & all for a good cause.  The Divas have another concert coming up soon which will also benefit She Rescue Home so I encourage everyone to jump online & head over to www.thedivas.com.au & await further instruction.  I strongly suggest you see these girls before you (or they) die.  You’ll be glad you did.

In case you missed them here are all of those links again:
www.harvestrain.com.au
www.thedivas.com.au
www.sherescuehome.org

Did you see the show?  Did you wish you saw the show?  Have you been robbed by one of the members of The Divas?  We’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment in the comment section.

Unless there is a next time,
Goodbye Forever.

Luke Venables
Lord Of The Flies’ Dance Partner

Blackbird: An Awkward Evening Of Theatre Or An Evening Of Awkward Theatre?

Posted in Review, Theatre with tags , , , on April 11, 2010 by darthtanion

Hello, hello, hell no, hello Ladies & Gentle People.  I hope you’ve had a wonderful life so far.  I have once again been fortunate enough to win tickets from Review Brisbane. (<- Click here to show them love.)  This time to La Boite‘s production of David Harrower’s Blackbird.  The timeless tale of a woman who confronts the man with whom she once had an intimate relationship when he was 40 & she was 12.  That’s right folks.  To paraphrase Grant Morrison: Stay close to the sick bag.  This is:

Blackbird: The Review

Blackbird

Executive Summary: A very enjoyable, if slightly icky, evening of theatre.

Review: I’m not really sure how to start this review.  I do want to say good things about Blackbird because it was really good but no matter how hard you try you just can’t get away from the sliminess of the subject matter.  The opening scene, while brilliantly done, just makes you squirm.  I’m really not complaining.  I knew what the play was about when I went in so I wasn’t expecting anything different but that didn’t make it any less awkward.  I’m not talking about “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” kind of awkward.  I mean “Oh dear Lord I’ve just barged into your house & discovered you sitting on the floor of the living room in your underpants crying into a half eaten tin of dog food while watching reruns of Baywatch in slow motion on mute with the soundtrack to Titanic crooning melodiously in the background” kind of awkward.  There’s a difference.  I was constantly sitting there thinking “Wow I’m really enjoying this… does that make me a sick person?” but despite this I still managed to have a good time which means La Boite accomplished their goal.  I really don’t think Harrower or director Mark Conaghan wanted the audience to feel all warm & fuzzy by the end of this 90 minute production.

When I first walked into the theatre I was struck by the size.  Only seating 95 patrons, it’s very small & incredibly intimate.  This really works to the shows advantage.  I think in a large theatre it would be too easy to “look away” or disconnect from the onstage action when you started to feel a little squeamish.  In this theatre, however, if you look away you feel like everybody knows it which makes every disgusting accusation, every heartfelt tear & every tortured scream that much more in your face.  This play was intended to be confrontational & this theatre certainly helps it achieve that.  This was also helped along by some simple but effecting set & lighting design choices.  While to some they may have seemed so simple they were almost incidental I thought they were exactly what they needed to be.

Of course the real driving forces behind this show were the actors themselves.  Kathryn Fray & Daniel Murphy bring a tremendous amount of passion & agony to the stage.  I think it would be very easy to let a show like this start to drag as there are very few changes in setting (basically, two people walk on, two people walk off, in between they have a bit of a chat) but Fray & Murphy really manage to keep you engaged throughout.  I do have to say, on the odd occasion, I just didn’t quite believe what they were saying or doing.  A lot of the physical stuff (throwing, kicking, punching) felt a little uncomfortable & Murphy seemed to start the show completely, 115%, out of his mind distraught & almost never varied.  That might be realistic but when you go to the theatre you don’t want realistic, you want the perception of realism.  Fray managed to give the audience a much wider range of emotions without making me feel like she was just changing for the sake of it.  If I’m being honest, the dialogue from both actors seemed a touch forced when it started to get graphic.  Almost as though they decided they had to add in some rude bits otherwise it wasn’t a serious play.  I know these sound like big complaints but in the grand scheme of things they weren’t.  There were times when I had to swallow a little heavier than usual & times when I even felt a swell of pity for the man who had committed such an unspeakable act.  Rest assured this is not an easy play to pull off but these two do a good job of it.

Blackbird is playing at The Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove from April 07 – April 25.  If you have an evening to spare, get along & support a little bit of independent theatre.  You might have to shower 15 times afterwards but you will have a good time.

Who Should See It:
-Anyone who likes confrontation in their theatrical outings
-Anyone who enjoys seeing something well done no matter how awkward it makes them feel
-Anyone who likes supporting independent theatre

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-Kids
-Anyone out for a laugh with friends
-Oversized harlequins with lisps

So have you seen Blackbird?  Do you want to see Blackbird?  Do you want to get a copy of the script & burn it in front of the author?  Why not leave a comment & let us know the details?  It’s easy, just click the link below.

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Psychic Felafel Reader