Monday, September 21, 2009


LOCATION: Capitol Theatre, Sydney

DATE: Saturday, 10 September, 2009

WITH: Keryl, Mary

This was the reason for our "Wicked" girls weekend away, besides shopping, food, drinkies and gossip...really!!

We unfortunately missed the beginning as we arrived at the theatre a few minutes before starting and that apparently was not enough time to get us (and many, many others) seated so we had to wait until a 'suitable' time to do so. It must have been a good 3 minutes prior and when we were seated it took less than a minute - we were pissed.

However, it was easy to get into and was very enjoyable. I have heard some of the songs before and whilst sung extremely well by the entire cast (especially the lady who played, Elphaba, the green witch) they are not the kind of songs that stick in your head as you leave the theatre or indeed days after (Springtime for Hitler, anyone???). But that did not matter. For me the very clever script and the stunning set and costumes were what stuck in my mind.

The script, based on the very dark (loosely based as the book was far darker than this) novel of the same name by Geoffery Maguire, was outstanding and clever. For those that do not know this is the story of how the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz became...wicked! See, she used to be really good friends with Glinda, the good witch, and wasn't really wicked at all, just different! If you are a fan of The Wizard of Oz you will enjoy how some of that story is woven in to this, you will get to see how the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow come to be. Each are subtle but touching, and there are many other Oz references including the Wizard himself. Bert Newton plays the Wizard and as always he is Bert, but he was great. It would have been fantastic to see Rob Guest play this part prior to his untimely death.

The set was simply magical, lots of fairy lighting, lots of large stunning clocklike sets, flying monkeys (these actors were exceptional and nimble), giant dragon, the Oz set and LOTS of green!!! Adding to this were the costumes, lots AND lots of costumes, oh my! They were something else, we were upstairs towards the back and they still 'popped' right out at you, the shoes too, superb. The best scene was a combination of exceptional costuming, special effects and stage design - when Elphaba, at the height of her powers, is whisked up into the air - something to be seen for sure!

The acting was good, I loved the teacher/goat a lot, very sweet and the monkeys and the boy/munchkin. Even Rob Mills (ex-Idol and Paris paramour) was pretty good as the man torn between Glinda and Elphaba, he surprised me with his singing, dancing and dialogue - albeit as a vacuous character...I want to say more about his storyline, but shall not as you may just want to see this and you deserve the surprise that I had watching him. Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible was grand, evil/good and larger than life. But it was the witches that were stunning. Elphaba, more subtle and certainly the star of the show, fabulous voice and great on stage. But, for me, it was Glinda, who stole the show. She was remarkable, and I am sure channelling Kristin Chenoweth, the original Broadway Glinda, and cute and funny. Her high pitched, blonde, vacuous, giggly girl (whilst normally an unappealing character to me) shone, at times literally, in every scene.

This comes recommended, but not for littlies, there were some scenes that made me jump!


LOCATION: Civic Theatre, Newcastle

DATE: Friday 15 May, 2009

WITH: Nole, Vince

I have only seen Paul Kelly once before, many years ago in a concert at the Domain at Sydney, he featured with a lot of other artists. So, really I have not been to a Paul Kelly concert. I would not call myself a fan, but I do love his gentle art of Australian storytelling, most of his music I have are earlier stuff on vinyl!

The Civic is always a great venue for performers and this was no exception. His support was a blues, roots artist called Charlie Parr, he was excellent, specialising more in 1920s American blues, he was funny, dry and no frills, just a man and his guitar. He also told a funny tale of meeting his childhood hero, Evel Knievel, a tale which would lose something in the translation repeated here. I now have a copy of his album, 1922, which I can highly recommend if that is your thing!

Paul Kelly played for over 2 hours, with at least one encore (Vince??). His band was tight, with his nephew, the gorgeous Dan Kelly, Ash Naylor, Peter Luscombe (sigh) AND Vika Bull as backing and sometimes lead vocals. Paul and a guitar is all you really need, and indeed parts of the set were just that, but the band notched things up a little and Vika took it to another level all together. She was simply stunning - in looks and vocals, sometimes taking lead vocals and giving his tunes a whole other meaning and direction. You name the tune, it was sung, it most certainly was a greatest hits tour, but included the little known gems and the big 'hits'. There is no doubt Paul Kelly is a national treasure, this evening proved it completely.


LOCATION: Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne

DATE: Monday 23 March, 2009

WITH: Nole, Vince, Phil

This wonderful experience begun with the preview of the latest film by Viggo Mortensen called Good. An interesting Holocaust film, about a 'good' man who gets 'swept up' in the Nazi uprising at the beginning of World War II. It is a different side to already well known history and film subject. Instead of the usual good vs bad side, this is a man who was good and an ordinary man, an intelligent man, a family man who happens to become a man who helps collect Jews for the Nazi's. He is not bad and simply just does not realise the implications of his actions until he is well into what he is doing. The movie was (no pun intended) good and whilst not the best film I have seen depicting this period in history it was an interesting one and Viggo was outstanding in a departure from recent screen roles for him.

But really, what we were all there to do was to 'meet' him and have a audience with exciting! Yes, we were almost up the back of the largest cinema at the Hayden, yet he exuded sexuality, style, grace and intelligence from the stage! First he answered questions about this film and his career with some interviewer, who I thought was a bit of a dope. Viggo was honest, thoughtful, intelligent, and witty. The second half was audience participation - here was where it got interesting. Yes, most of those who ran (literally) for the opportunity to ask Viggo a question were LOTR fans - as we were. Some asked interesting questions and got great answers, I mean I am sure the guy has had everything under the sun asked of him about Aragon. Then there was some plain creepy things - the woman who visited New Zealand and had taken photos of his horses (from the film) that he keeps there and wanted to present them to him...she got a hug and kiss....bitch....stalker! The woman who brought him dutch biscuits or chocolate or something, the woman who waxed lyrical about his poetry and then asked him questions regarding the subject matter of them that even he seemed not to understand, the woman who asked silly questions on behalf of her mother the fan, the woman get the picture. Sometimes my sex really have a lot to answer for! He was gracious, understanding and kind. Despite the banality of some of the questions, he was just gorgeous and it was certainly a night to remember.


LOCATION: Lizotte's Newcastle

DATE: Sunday 2 August 2009

WITH: Nole, Vince

This was my second trip to Lizotte's and yet again I was impressed. Fourplay are a string quartet with a difference. 1 violin, 2 violas and a cello - they play mostly their compositions with some amazing covers thrown in for good measure. They played classical, pop, rock, jazz, blues, country and folk - I kid you not. They have been around for a while, I think have been on Spicks and Specks.

Fourplay are most certainly not your typical string quartet, they even sung on some songs, what a talented, amazing group of young people. I would say they are in their late 30s, early 40s, gorgeous looking and talented to a genius point I think. They hypnotised me from the get go and I believe everyone in the audience. They rocked out and plain made us smile. More strings on bows were broken than you can imagine from the heavy playing. We heard Leonard Cohen, Sufjan Stevens, Cocteau Twins, Beastie Boys (yes!) and the most amazing version of Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the name of that I have ever heard. They killed the best possible way, it rocked harder than RATM!!!!
What the cello player couldn't do with his cello was no-one's business, he made Jimi Hendrix look amateur...not really but you know what I mean?

I hope they come back again, as I need more.......


LOCATION: Lizottes

DATE: Sunday 21 June

WITH: Amanda

This was our first visit to Lizottes in Newcastle. I had always wanted to get to the Central Coast venue as they always had great things, but just never got there. So, I was very excited one opened in Newcastle - in the old Kings Theatre. I had never been there before - not really into that awful dinner/theatre stuff, but the theatre itself is stunning and I could not imagine a more perfect venue for a club like this. In fact, if I had money - this is EXACTLY what I would do.

Entering the building I felt immediately at home (a feeling I rarely get - except in my own home and in Manhattan and Melbourne), Man said I looked very happy. I think possibly bordering on embarrassingly happy, but she will live. The entrance is a nice little coffee/bar area with gorgeous old style lounges/sofas in dusty pink velvet and then you enter the main area (there is also upstairs seating). Tables in the room, not too close, all seating a good view of the stage. Dark walls, covered (but not too much) with fabulous art (sultry, curvaceous women etc), scrabble letters spelling out words (d'uh), vinyl and lots of actual musical instruments. We did not eat (I have heard the food is good but overpriced), but Man had a cocktail (Pina Colada - she said it was divine, as good as in Hawaii) and I had the house Merlot - very smooth. The service was great and Brian (Lizotte, owner, chef and brother of Mark aka Johnny Diesel) came around to each table to say hello, which I thought was a nice touch. There was music playing in the background, while some people ate etc but you could still have a conversation. The people there were between 30 and 50, with some younger and older, they all looked like my type of people - eg not bimbos or bogans - woo hoo, a first for Newcastle!!!!!
(yes I am a rock snob and also a rock venue snob!)

Amanda knows the bass player in the band, which was why we were there. Grant Walmsley used to be in The Screaming Jets and wrote Better - eg, he was the soul behind the band. The new band were bluesy rock, with ranging influences - early Stones, Dylan, Waits, early blues, boogie woogie - you get the picture. Grant played a multitude of percussion and guitar - sometimes simultaneously, he had fabulous rhythm and great ability to do so I thought. The bass was a double bass, impressive playing also as was the keyboard player - he did some amazing blues/boogie woogie riffs. The other vocalist played the Saxophone and harmonica - again impressive - and was none other than one of our favourite local actors, Rod Ansell, or Rodney as he was addressed on stage. He came out channelling Steve Van Zandt (in E Street Band mode not Sopranos mode!!) and was funny in the right kind of way besides playing a mean blues harmonica.

They mostly played originals and I was impressed, I will be back to see them again and most certainly back to Lizottes.