SPICKS AND SPECKS SHOW - Tuesday 8 January, Civic Theatre
This was a grave disappointment - they tried to be Rockwiz and take audience members from the Newcastle audience (you can just imagine). What works in cool Melbourne with real rock fans does not work for an ABC audience in Newcastle - it was more than embarassing. It was fun to see Myf, Adam and Alan in the flesh and it was not all bad, but the audience participation -something I have never been a fan of in any way, shape or form (I am paying YOU to entertain me, not the other way around!!!!!!) - just spoilt it. The things that make S&S are the guests they have on and the repoire between them all, not necessarily the music or the questions.
THE POLICE - Thursday 24 January, ACER Arena
This was brilliant, although I was initially worried. A huge fan back in the day I adored The Police and have all their records/tapes. Sting still sounds ok, but what about the others, can they pull it all off, especially in such a large arena. I need not have been worried. We had great seats which was pleasing and after a very bizarre support of Fergie (what the fuck??????) they came on. The feeling in the air was electric. Boom straight into Message in a bottle. What I loved the most was it was just the three of them on stage (all in their 60s), looking great and sounding fantastic!!! No extra guitars or keyboards to pad things out - not needed. The set list was beyond impressive, although I missed Canary in a coalmine. Every song a hit, every song you knew - I was on air for days after. Set list is as follows (thank god for the net!)
- Message in a bottle - fabulous
- Synchroncity II - a surprise, it had been a while and I had forgotten that song even existed, shame!
- Walking on the moon - good (overrated)
- Voices inside my head/When the world is running down - nearly crapped myself, LOVED these, sooooo fabulous
- Don't stand so close to me - reworked, ok
- Driven to tears -great
- Hole in my life - we went off, goes without saying!!!!
- Every little thing she does is magic -another overrated song, but went over well
- Wrapped around your finger - highlight of the night - HAD to be seen to be believed, Copeland recreated the percussion in this in a magical cavalcade of mastery and perfection, he lept from drumkit to percussion set like a pro and the percussion set was unlike any I had ever seen, how ONE man created that sound (EXACTLY like the record) with all those instruments without ever missing a single beat, I will never know, honestly the most amazing thing I think I have EVER seen on stage....wow!!!!!
- Can't stand losing you/Regatta de blanc - woo hoo
- Roxanne -the one song I could have done without, but was pretty good, excellent lighting used with pulsing reds
- Encore of King of Pain (glorious), So Lonely (yeahhh!!!) and Every breath you take (and amusing comments from Sting re people who STILL do not get this song and think it is a love song. tsk, tsk)
- Encore 2 of Next to you - How bloody cool to end with that, could not get it out of my head and that is a very good thing!!!!
THE CLUB - Wednesday 5 March - Civic Theatre
This was an unexpected one, as scored some freebies and it was brilliant. Love all Williamson, most especially the early stuff and had seen a local version of this many years ago, this had the old dude from Blue Heelers in it (never watched that show, not a fan of Australian 'popular' drama) and I was concerned, but he was fabulous. Worth seeing and funny how all the 'politics' in it have not changed a bit over the years.
WAITING FOR GODOT - Saturday 29 March - Playhouse
Never seen Godot and let's face it, it can be a boring play. This was a great version with fantastic and mesmerising performances, the second half still ran a little long, but all in all was excellent.
CIRCUS OZ - Saturday 19 April - Civic Theatre
My second time back in Oz and again a magnificent treat - one of Krista's (MGF) last performances as MC - she was formidable and always had me transfixed, as an MC should, not sure how they will go without her. A lot of scenes and stunts recreated from last time- but still a pleasure to watch, that feeling when your heart is in your throat is amazing, they are amazing. Love the acrobatics, especially with the musical instruments. Some new stunts and all in all a great show. I suppose the only thing was not having the feeling of seeing them for the first time (which obviously is a one time thing) - such a pleasant surprise and a wonderfully stunning feeling.
KEATING, THE MUSICAL! - Saturday 24 April - Civic Theatre
What can be said about this, that has not been said before. The most unique, amusing and fantastic thing I had seen in a long, long time. We had excellent seats, close up (3rd row I think). The music was tight, the style of song suited the theme perfectly and the lyrics hilarious and plain clever. The acting, dancing and singing note perfect. People you had forgotten about, phrases and situations brought back to the fore. Perfect as Keating was...perfect :) Serio as Hawke (and Howard) possibly better. My sides hurt, the tunes ran in my head, I just did not want it to end, BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!
THE HAPPY PRINCE - Friday 13 June - Playhouse
Was for children, but we had a blast - just the right length, beautifully staged, with performers, puppets, shadow puppets, and so forth. Just hit the right note of humour and melancholy as the book does. I really enjoyed this production.
AS YOU LIKE IT - Saturday 28 June - Civic Theatre
This was a great performance and almost sold me again on Bell Shakespeare (until this year!).
YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING - Saturday 19 July - Civic Theatre
I had been waiting in anticipation of this when I first heard it was coming to Newcastle with Robin Nevin directed by Cate Blanchet. I had read the memoir by Joan Didion when it first came out, being a fan of her writing and all. She is America's Helen Garner - honest, spare and brilliant. It is the memoir of dealing with her husband's (writer John Dunne and brother of Dominque, whom I adore and miss terribly - at least they are together now) sudden illness and subsequent death and almost simultaneously a similar situation with their daughter. Whilst it sounds a bleak and awful sumise (and at times it is) this is the most beautifully and honest written book. I was curious to see how it would translate on stage (I felt it could be done) as a one woman show. I was thrilled at how raw and honest yet so warm and appealing it was. Nevin was a tour de force, we were laughing one minute and choking back tears the next, it was never cliched or hooey, always smart and highly intelligent, the book and the woman were lovingly recreated. I have heard someone is adapting Garner's The Spare Room in a similar fashion, I hope so. Both should be read as companion pieces - masterpieces of great female literature!
STEVEN BERKOFF - Wednesday 27 August - Civic Theatre
Acclaimed British actor did 2 (or 3??) short plays in this one man show - he was convincing and held the audience in the palm of his aging hand, as you would only expect. He did deep and scary Poe, a hilarious english take on drunks and their dogs and I thought a third, but just cannot recall. Was a joy to see the master at the top of his game - amazing!
THE PRODUCERS - Friday 19 September - Civic Theatre
I love this play, I loved the movie, Mel Brooks is my hero! I have seen excerpts of the Lane/Broderick phenomonen on TV. It was on when I was in NYC in 2001, you could not get tickets for love nor money, I hung around the theatre just to soak up the fabulousness of it all. Mary and I saw the aussie production in Melbourne a year or so earlier - it was magnificent. This was not, in all honesty, it was not too bad, but against the forementioned pedigree, it never had a hope in hell. Lovely Melinda Smith the newsreader as sexy Ulla (although she did not do too bad to her credit) was never going to pull it off. If you had no knowledge of the above, you would say they did a good job and I suppose they did. I knew it was a bad move when I got the tickets, always trust your gut!!!
THE PITCH - Saturday 27 September - Civic Theatre
All I can remember is laughing a lot at this funny local play about pitching a movie idea!
THE WHITLAMS - Saturday 4 October - 16s
Have seen The Whitlams a few times before and Tim Freedman do a solo show also. They are a great band, but lets face it, it's all about Tim. The 16s is always a 'challenging' venue to go to, Bogan City I call it, lots of boozed up, ageing bogans, mostly behaving innapropriately...I digress!!!
This was a best of tour and that it was, every song you want. My favs are I Like Hamburgers and You sound like Louis Burdett. The place was rocking and jumping, had a great time. Peter and Mary attended, I believe Mary was heavily pregnant with Luke!
ULTRA SWING LOUNGE - Saturday 25 October - Civic Theatre
As always a classy event to see, but each year it seems to dip a little, nothing like the first time I saw them (that review will be coming soon so stay tuned). The big band was good, the singing and dancing good and if you had never seen them before you would be blown away. They seem to downsize ever so little each year and it needs to be a big thing - it is swing after all. The new guy was pretty good, incredibly young, but I missed the blonde guy - his humour was better than the others, and whilst his voice was certainly the weakest, his showmanship was probably the best...no mind, I will still see them every time...better than most things you see!
THE RED SHOES - Saturday 15 November - Civic Theatre
My recollection of this Ballet is very hazy, suffice to say I remember enjoying the performance of this classic ballet movie.
ROGER MOORE BOOK LAUNCH - Tuesday 18 November - Hayden Orpheum Cinemas, Cremorne
Very exciting to see 007 in the flesh in this special event which was a promotion/book signing for his memoir. He looked good for his age (late 70s I think) and was interviewed by the wonderful David Stratton. They showed Bond clips and he spoke about film, acting and all sorts of things. He was very engaging and a delight to see. It was not a long event, but really worth it to see a screen legend in the flesh.
And then there was the Hayden - I had never been there before and was instantly in love. The set of cinemas are refurbished in Art Deco style with lavish lighting and colour and curtains and so forth - to be seen. Very grand and lush - owned by none other than Mike Walsh. The main cinema has a beautiful old organ which comes up through the stage floor and is played prior to the film. The gentleman who plays it is fabulous and played a selection of Bond themes leading up to Roger arriving. Then it disappears below as he is playing and the floor goes back across the pit seemingly missing the top of head (while he is still playing) by mms. Again to be seen!
MONET EXHIBITION - Thursday 27 November - Sydney Art Gallery
This was most disappointing, the paintings were lesser paintings (and not good ones) and the other impressionists gathered in the exhibition were few and far between. Got the thing done in around 30minutes.