Heather’s the musical

What a joy & privilege it was for me to be invited back to review/attend another one of GJ  Production’s amazing show, this time at the opening night of ‘Heathers’ the musical. A humorous, heartbreaking, heartfelt, dark & messy story of the typical struggle teenagers go through in finding out who they are in the crazy world of high school.

For a company of three or so years I am always blown away by the high quality of work produced. GJ Productions has defiantly taught me that it’s not always about the huge flashy sets or effects (all though it does help make a show) but rather pure talent & a persons ability, through themselves, plunge head first into the character they’re portraying.

“What’s your damage Heather”? – Veronica Sawyer

Whatever your taste is there is something for everyone & ‘Heathers’ the musical defiantly doesn’t disappoint in that regard with simple, modest, yet key props, classic costumes true to the 1989 American high school era & an explosion of talent. The entire cast were exceptional, gave their all & you could clearly see they were 100% in it. But allow me to highlight a few…

Antoinette Davis as Veronica Sawyer, let me just say wow! I was left speechless & blown away at this young lady’s talent, being her first performance since university even more so. I think you’ll agree with me me when I say she makes playing the girl that finds herself getting caught up into all the mess easy, effortless & believable, you can so feel her pain. Her performance was honest, raw, powerful & vocals strong. Then there’s Alexandra Knight as Ms Fleming, Veronica’s mum & a student. I have always admired people who can juggle & perform three characters as I’m sure it would be no easy task & Alexandra was no exception. She brings just the right amount of humour to this story & it’s not hard to see why her take on the song ‘Shine a Light’ got resounding applause. Then last but not least there’s Grace Maddern as Heather Chandler. It’s fair to say this lady is a little pocket rocket of talent to say the least… from producing, choreographing, acting there’s nothing Grace can’t do & this is clearly evident in ‘Heathers’.

One thing I did notice, relatively minor, is that I would encourage the director to consider the balance between the volume of music vs the vocals as I found it to be a bit challenging at times with the music louder than the singing & vocals.

I commend the co-founders of GJ Productions, Grace Maddern & Jack Wilkinson on their incredible work ethic, for continuing to support up & coming artists & for providing a warm, friendly, safe environment in which they can share their talents with the audience.

‘Heathers’ the musical is currently playing at St Martins Theatre South Yarra until November 3rd. Tickets can be purchased at trybooking.com (search GJ Productions).

x Steph

Photos by Matthew Howat

 

Freedom

I have pondered long & hard at what one might say about such a musical like Madiba (a celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela). Written & composed by Jean – Pierre Hadida. It’s a very different musical from your typical type yet is one that will deeply stir, impact, move, inspire & touch you in so many ways. I personally at times was moved to tears.

The sets are so cleverly adaptable enabling for quick,smooth scene changes & the bright colourful costumes are true to the beautiful South African culture. The choreography is Vibrant & energetic.

“I learned courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela

Seeing every single bit of this musical brought to life in such a powerful, true & compelling way through dance, storytelling & song by the incredibly talented cast is an unforgettable experience. From the main leads right to the ensemble, I can not even begin to pin point individual cast members to say how amazing they are. As it is quite plain to see that they all shine 100% in their own special ways. Each & everyone of them embody their part & without a doubt do it justice all the while making it so believable.

Words alone can not describe how much I loved this production. The end story is uplifting & will have you joining in the joyful dancing. So what are you waiting for? go & experience what I experienced.

Madiba is currently playing at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne until October 28th Great seats are still available. For other tour dates near you visit madibamusical.com.au

x Steph

From the heart

Known to many as “The Unconventional Pop Star” and “The Angel of Australia”. Dutch, Australian born soprano Mirusia is surly a star in her own right. With her solo career in full flight, her recent “From the heart tour” in Melbourne at Bunjil Place, Narre Warren, had what one would arguably say the recipe for the perfect afternoon out.

From the moment you walk in, there is already a sense of familiarity & comfort. One might say its like coming home again. The simple yet sweet stage set up, along with the “Cranbourne Chorale” set the tone for the afternoon of fairytale like moments that one will cherish forever. 

If the beautiful diverse array of song arrangements – From the heart, Ava Maria, Memory, Colours of the wind, Within my heart (Highland Cathedral) I could of danced all night, Already Home… Just to name a few doesn’t already warm your heart, then Mirusia’s crystal clear yet warm voice & unique ability to connect with her audience both on a personal (old friend kind of way) & humorous level will be sure to do that for you. And being a girl you can’t help but notice all the gorgeous change of dresses she wore.

It’s always so refreshing to see someone share the spotlight & showcase their chamber orchestra the way Mirusia does & that just goes hand in hand with the type of person she is, the same on/off stage warm, friendly, humble, genuine, down to earth & so unaffected by her fame. And anyone that goes to meet/greet her after the show will see that in an instance. 

Yes it’s true one can not help but love Mirusia

Check out http://mirusia.net/calendar for tour dates near you

x Steph

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Just be you

Hi Everyone!

Ever wondered why I started That theatre life & the inspiration behind it? well wonder no more. Because it is with great joy that I can now share what I’ve been working on the past little while.

This is something that is close to my heart & special to me so I hope you like it & are left feeling encouraged that who you are is enough & that you can do anything you put your mind to. More often than not we are all capable of more than we realize

x Steph

Some kind of wonderful!

Just when I thought that I couldn’t possibly love musical theatre and get sucked in anymore than I already do, Along comes Beautiful the Carole King musical.

A truly uplifting,funny,warm,heart felt and gorgeous story of Carole Kings extraordinary career & life. Produced by Michael Cassel and his team in Australia, one might say that they sure know how to put on a show and select the cast etc You honestly can’t fault the amazing, first class shows Michael produces. They are special in everyway

In a musical that spans over two decades, it features over 100 incredible wigs and costumes which are so mind boggling and impressive let alone being so true to the era. When I first walk in and see a musical, I love nothing more than soaking up all the beauty and the breath taking sets and props. Beautiful sure delivers, from the stunning grand piano all the way to the jazzy lights, the sets and props have what you might call a simple yet easy, pleasing  on the eye appeal while still delivering the wow factor.

“And you know what’s so funny about life? Sometimes it goes the way you want and sometimes it doesn’t And sometimes when it doesn’t you find something Beautiful” – Carole King

And where would a musical be without a super talented cast? Esther Hannaford as the incomparable Carole King, it’s not hard to see why people are saying she’s destined for the role. Her raw yet honest portrayal of King is truly something to behold. (you honestly feel the pain and struggle king personally went through) I was left speechless at her strong, powerful & beautiful vocals. Then there’s Josh Piterman as Gerry Goffin, his talent and ability to make the character so believable is second to none. There was one scene in particular, where I honestly got a bit emotional & felt just what it would of been like for Gerry live with his condition the way he did – so thats saying something. Josh’s rich, warm vocals are of course the cherry on top.

I don’t like leaving anyone out and that is only two of the incredible 24 cast members. So I’ll finish by saying the entire cast and company do such a hands down phenomenal job it’s no wonder Beautiful is a broadway sensation.

Beautiful is currently playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre until July, great seats are available so what are you waiting for? Grab your tickets and be sure not to miss out on this feel good musical.

x Steph

 

 

Twelfth Night

I recently was given the privilege of attending a theatre show of a different kind, a modern day take on William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ produced by GJ Productions (co – founded by Grace Maddern & Jack Wilkinson) a new Melbourne based warm and friendly production company supporting up & coming artists while also providing them with the opportunity to share their talents with the community and theatre lovers alike.

Despite a few organisational issues which led to a delayed start, in true preview style the  rest of Twelfth Night went off without a hitch.

Held at the beautiful Fairfield Amphitheatre on a warm summer’s night, GJ Production’s Twelfth Night had the recipe you need for a great night out. Whatever your taste is I am sure you won’t be disappointed whether it be the light hearted comedy approach (great for laughs) the incredible unique masks by Masks and Puppets Plus which made the era that bit more realistic or just the amazing talent from the cast which for me personally is always so refreshing seeing new, exciting, promising and arising talent of which co – founders Grace and Jack clearly have an eye for….

The eleven cast members where second to none

Each performer was eager to please, giving it their all and bringing a piece of themselves to the stage, some even taking on two roles.  It’s fair to say this cast of many talents are a joy to behold but it was the likes of Madeline Pratt as the Mischievous Maria and Jacob Mills as the vain Sir Andrew Aguecheek that stole the show. Both being their first performance outside of university I was dumbfounded at their talent firstly but also how effortlessly they threw themselves into their character taking you on a journey and making them believable all the while delighting you with much humour and engaging the audience where needed.

Having said all of that though everyone did such a great job and should be commended. I have no doubt Melbourne will be seeing more of them in the future. And to GJ Productions I look forward to supporting/ seeing where you guys go next! the stars are the limit.

Twelfth Night is playing at the Fairfield Amphitheatre until the 28th of January get your tickets at trybooking.com and search GJ Productions.

x Steph

 

 

Photos by Matthew Howat

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic of Maastricht

Have you ever had a dream/desire so strong

that you’ve been so confidant/determined that one day it will come true?

Well for me that dream & so much more came true half way through last year when I got to spend one glorious week in Maastricht experiencing Andre Rieu’s series of hometown concerts on the beautiful Vrijthof square.

But for now let’s start at the beginning

From the moment I stepped  off that bus & tripped  over my suitcase from excitement landing right in front of the set up process surrounding the square, I immediately felt like I was in what I like to call the Maastricht bubble which only grows over time.

Allow me to share with you my week….

 

Day 1: After tripping over my suitcase & composing myself I just had to take a peak at the set up progress on the square on the way to the hotel.

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Day 2: Consisted of a walk around & exploring the charming city of Maastricht. Of course it ended with a brief stop to look at Andre’s castle to.

 

 

Day 3: The long awaited Dress rehearsal – The moment where everything sunk in, became just that bit more surreal & felt like I was walking in some beautiful dream & that if I where to dare close my eyes or look away it would all disappear.

 

 

 

It’s all the little things along the way like how relaxed, easy going, warm, welcoming & approachable the orchestra members are. Vincenzo one of the violinists in the orchestra recognised me from previous concerts in Australia & came over to chat and asked if I wanted a photo to which I of course said “yes please”. He then afterwards jokingly said “Now you can go back home to Australia”

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Day 4: Even if my friend & I weren’t in the square yet we joined in from our hotel balcony overlooking the square which was just as good & photos simply don’t do justice. There is nothing quite like the Vrijthof square at concert time. Everything is alive & buzzing with atmosphere full of excitement, joy & anticipation.

 

 

 

Day 5: The big VIP & concert day – It’s fair to say I felt like a true princess thanks to Andre Rieu travel – The royal proceedings were as follows. Checked in to the most stunning five star hotel where myself & the rest of the group were welcomed with a lunch reception out in the courtyard. Afterwards we were then escorted by Andre’s company buses to his castle for a tour lead by his son Pierre & then it was on to cake & coffee in the castle courtyard. As we were on a strict time schedule we were then escorted back to the hotel to get ready for our three course dinner/evening entertainment before being lead into the square by a marching band (yes a marching band) where we took our seats front row centre for a night we shall never forget. A massive highlight for me was the high five from Andre & other orchestra members as they came marching in.

 

 

 

Day 6: The Johann Strauss orchestra are seriously people of many talents (as if traveling the world for most of the year isn’t busy enough) many of you may not know that aside from that many of them also have their own business whether that be making their own head pieces & jewellery right down to brewing/making their own coffee etc yup they do it all. For me personally it was so special to be able to see, witness, purchase & try some of these things & support them outside of the orchestra.

 

 

Day 7:  Never in my wildest dreams did I think this Aussie girl would ever make it to Maastricht let alone meeting the people I did, being singled out by orchestra members… you name it I was very blessed & overwhelmed to say the least. Then to top it off a lovely lady approached me & blessed me with a free concert ticket to go a third time. I’m still in disbelief even today.

 

 

 

Day 8: The final concert night & memories that will last a life time. To this day I still look back in awe & shed a tear of joy & thankfulness – ‘greatful’ is a massive understatement.

Having said that though in all honesty if you’re like me & love classical music/theatre then I know without a shadow of a doubt you’ll love Andre & his amazing Johann Strauss orchestra. Whether it be the lovely selections of waltzes, polkas, operas etc, the stunning dresses the female orchestra members/soloists wear, dancing in the aisles or just the stage set up & atmosphere… You’re in for a real treat or as Andre would say “a night you’ll never forget”.

 

 

 

 

Day 9: They say a picture is worth a thousand words & in this case I think my face says it all. It sure wasn’t easy leaving beautiful Maastricht nor Andre & his orchestra let alone going back to reality & having your beautiful Maastricht bubble popped. Maastricht has such a charm/beauty & the people are ever so friendly that you can’t help but fall in love with it & want to go back one day.

x Steph

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Shining, shimmering, splendid

Where does one begin?

You would think four times is enough for anyone person to see a musical…. Well you’d be wrong. Those of you that have seen Disney’s Aladdin the hit broadway musical (currently in Melbourne) will know what I’m talking about.

From the very first moment the orchestra plays the first note & that curtain rises & you’re greeted by genie (Michael James Scott) setting the scene/story, you better strap in cause you’re in for a magic carpet ride of pure Disney magic.

Whether it be the stunning glistening array of sets, costumes & props (that have real Swarovski crystals might I add & are truly something to behold) are just the cherry on top of what I would call eye candy let alone the special effects aka Disney magic which take flight all throughout but especially the magic carpet ride/a whole new world scene  where you’re truly sitting there holding your breath, speechless going how did they do that?

And then there are the stars of the show!

Michael James Scott lets just say it’s quite easy to see why Australia has fallen in love with their Genie in the lamp. He’s truly a one man extravaganza who steals the show like seriously how much talent, witt, sass can one person have? Aladdin is worth going just to see what Micheal does with the showstopper ‘You’ve never had a friend like me’ The applause lasts for ages. But I’ll let you experience that for yourself. Then theres Ainsley Melham as Aladdin the loveable street rat with the heart of gold…. one might say he was born for the role the way he fully embodies/throws himself into the character making him so believable  & don’t even get me started on his “Proud of your Boy” number tears all around. Next in line smashing the role of the sassy, charming & fiery princess Jasmine is the gorgeous Hiba Elchikhe her soaring, pure vocals throughout the show are like a symphony for your ears but particularly during “A whole new world” is just astonishing. Last but certainly not least is  the ever so talented Adam Murphy as the evil, menacing Jafar one will never know how he so effortlessly keeps such a stern, straight & unimpressed face let alone perfecting the iconic Jafar evil laugh while adding so much humour to the role.

All in all the entire cast & company do such a hands down incredible job no wonder they play to sold out audiences & standing ovations every night.

Aladdin is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre until January 28th 2018 great seats are still available so what are you waiting for? Come see the best thing to come to Melbourne before it vanishes.

X Steph