31 December 2011

One punters review of 2011 from the front stalls

As the final act of 2011 comes to an end, this punter has been looking back over all the fantastic shows I’ve seen this year and dishing out my Windsor Awards.

The Musical is always an exciting night out and every show this year has been better than I expected. Boy from Oz, with Todd coming back to that role for a second chance to shake is thingy. His performance was incredible even if the rest of it wasn’t quite up to the ‘major musical’ standard. Hairspray I adored, so much colour, so much heart, it just reached over the footlights to grab us – one to always remember, so happy and proud of my friend Trevor Ashley.  Mary Poppins for a Disney production wasn’t too sweet (as they can be) and we danced and hummed all the way home. Bravo to Matt Lee a perfect Bert.  And the Windsor goes to Hairspray – well danced, well sung, and colourful and fabulous!

In 2011 I saw no dude Concerts they were all great nights out. Janet Jackson sang me the soundtrack to my life, Dolly gave me most of the tunes I’d longed for live, and I experienced a Cold Chisel show for the first time and found I knew most of the lyrics, which I sang loudly along with the rest of that congregation.  Amongst this came the strongest Kylie concert of them all (and I’ve now seen many of those) with wonderful production, a strong narrative and so much glamour. Miss Minogue please accept a Windsor.

Plays in general have been a big disappointment to me this year. Look I’ve subscribed to the STC for 15 years and sadly as 2011 ends we part company and I go in search of other nourishment. The Vibrator Play had the thinnest gag and tried to make it intellectual and entertaining for two hours, a waste of good actors and beautiful production values. Zebra, it was almost a crime for that talent to have to work their way through that material – the most empty seats after interval for years. The White Guard was well played but it just meant nothing to me in the end. Loot was fun and it was great to see farce again even if it’s now quaint and dated. No Man’s Land was interesting for John Gaden and Peter Carroll’s wonderful performances and the divine Pinter language – enjoyed some time after more than in the moment. Threepenny Opera was the exception and what a treat to see the performances of Paul Capsis and Eddie Perfect in such a vivid production, it all seemed to work however you looked at it. So the Windsor for play goes to the MTC for their Threepenny, I rest my case.

Come to the Cabaret and I sure did, even went to Adelaide for a dose for the first time. I was a bit late to Smoke and Mirrors only seeing it in the tent last January and sure one of the best Australian shows ever – experienced so many different emotions all within 90 mins. A Life in Three Acts, the treasure that is Bettie Bourne was also very emotional and I left that experience with enormous pride and renewed strength just to be who I want to be. Joan Collins was a delight, old school but heaps of charm. In Adelaide I saw a young Aussie called Toby Francis, raw and original look out for him. A very handsome Daniel Boys from the UK, engaging and smooth, a really stunning voice. Chita Rivera at the Seymour was like cabaret-worship, totally in her 78 year old moment with glimpses of what was - Broadway royalty and the theatre stang of it. Rounding off the fabulous year of Cabaret of course was Fat Swan, the funniest thing seen all year, well written, well cast and played to the max. A difficult choice as I really enjoyed everything I saw; but with due respect and gratitude the Windsor goes to Miss Rivera with a standing ovation!

Before I go shopping for my 2012 tickets to more wonderful experiences – an unplanned Windsor for the best chat had in a foyer.  I was standing with my friends in the bar queue at interval of a Fat Swan performance when I was approached by a lady of certain age dressed head to toe in black (foyers can be full of them at times) who asked me where she could find the theatre manager; she thought “the show was vulgar and in extreme bad taste” and wanted to complain. You can imagine how delighted I was to send her in the direction of the Seymour box office – I mean box office needs to be entertained too!

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