29 July 2012

A Chorus Line at the Capitol Theatre Sydney

This show is a revival of the 70’s musical about Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line. The book was by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, lyrics were written by Edward Kleban, and music was composed by Marvin Hamlisch.

The original Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, was an unprecedented box office and critical hit, receiving 12 Tony Award nominations and winning nine of them. It remains the fifth longest-running Broadway show ever. The show has enjoyed many successful productions worldwide and was revived on Broadway in 2006.

One of the greatest nights in the theatre for me was in 1976 at the opening night of the Australian premiere at Her Majesty Theatre down at Chinatown. There was a lot of hype and in those times openings were very glamorous affairs, I’ll never forget we attended as a group of Les Girls showgirls and we had tickets about four or five rows from the back in the circle. Those circle seats at Her Maj were as steep as all hell and just getting in and out was hilarious – sorry but I digress the revival bit set me off.

So true to the original, this production is directed and choreographed by Baayork Lee, Michael Bennett’s assistant who played out her life story as Connie Wong in the original production of A Chorus Line on Broadway. Now, trained by Bennett himself, she travels the world mounting productions of this seminal musical.

With nineteen main characters, it is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during an audition for a musical. The show provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. It’s often referred to as the dancer’s musical.

23 July 2012

“I know Madonna it’s all show biz!”

Madonna fans across Australia gave a massive sigh of disappointment last week as the singer's concert promoter, Live Nation, confirmed the cancellation of the unconfirmed MDNA tour, but did not give any reason.

Madonna was due to confirm summer dates earlier this month but delayed the announcement until after the Olympics. The pop star has bypassed Australia on all of her world tours since the 1993 Girlie Show, citing logistics and financial reasons for the no show.

Reports in Australian media suggested that stadiums had already been booked in Sydney and Melbourne for next year's leg of the MDNA tour. There was speculation that the tour became unviable due to high ticket costs and a crowded concert market. "Madonna's tour will end in South America in December as planned. That's all we can say," a spokesperson said.

Fans went crazy on social media voicing their disappointment and some rage. But we need to look at this in the light that it’s all show biz and the biz part is all about making the sums work – and for Madonna at this stage of her career it’s a big ask. And quite frankly she has never forgotten 1993.

In 1993 Madonna was the biggest female star in the world. She released The Immaculate Collection in 1990 and it enjoyed a whopping 23 million sales worldwide. This includes the two huge singles Rescue Me and Justify my Love. This was followed by the Sex book which caused a huge stir and the release of Erotica in 1992. Erotica only sold 5 million copies worldwide but went 3 times platinum in Australia which in the scheme of things was considered a good portion per-capita. It was on the back of this that The Girlie Show was to come to Australia.

13 July 2012

Death of a Salesman @ Belvoir

Belvoir have a real winner in this new production of the classic play Death of a Salesmen, the season has been extended and currently plays to 19 August. If you can still grab a ticket I can only recommend you don’t think twice – it’s just simply extraordinary.

Death of a Salesman is one of the finest plays of the modern American theatre. Written by Arthur Miller in 1949 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. It is widely seen as Miller’s indictment of capitalism and the American Dream. Yet at its heart, Death of a Salesman is the story of a man past his prime, struggling with his failings and the dashed hopes that his sons would achieve more than he has.

Colin Friels & Genevieve Lemon

Willy Loman is feeling his age. He and his wife Linda are struggling to make their mortgage repayments. The company he works for is branching out in new directions and it looks like he’s about to be left behind. When his university drop-out son, Biff, moves back home after years of drifting, old tensions rise to the surface.

Sure it’s written about post war America but this story is more than likely playing out across the world right now where communities, families are feeling the pressure and challenges of poor economies. But also at the heart of this play is the relationship between a father and son, of expectations never met and disappointment of choices – very close to the bone for myself and many others in our community.

Director Simon Stone has ditched the American ascents which tend to give this show a closer to home feel. The set designed by Ralph Myers consists of a white Ford Falcon in which and around the action is played out. It’s very effective in assisting the audience to use their imagination in visualising the many scene changes, and a very effective use of costume aids the move from the present to flashback.

4 July 2012

Thanks for 'Lost Gay Sydney'

Over the last month I’ve spent hours reading the postings of what is turning out to be a wonderful Facebook page Lost Gay Sydney. It’s lovely because it’s an open page, any of its members can join up other friends and anyone can request to join.

Created by Jason Dann and Jon Fabian Lost Gay Sydney was born from a recently new Facebook group called Lost Sydney. They realised after posting a photo of The Albury (and a few other memories) it became clear there was enough lost ‘gay’ Sydney to warrant a group dedicated to places, people and culture that were being reminisced.

me as a covergirl on Sydney Cruiser magazine 1979
Somehow it appeared in my news feed very early in its birth and I posted a photo of a magazine cover I just had, why I forget, on my drive. It’s a 1979 cover of Cruising which was one of our first gay mags and features myself, Mr Amber Lee and Craig Petrie in our Les Girls finery. I though it fitted the brief as the bye lines advertising articles inside covered ‘Is Leather Drag’ and the leather scene was just beginning then, all very topical of the day and which I thought might have interest to someone drawn to lost gay Sydney. By the time that weekend finished 54 comments had been made, and I received a thank you post from one of the page creators – how civilised and delightful is that.

I had also very timely spotted a video in my feed of ‘a day in the life of Shop Yourself Stupid 1996’ – I shared that to Lost Gay Sydney and it seemed to immediately act as a trigger to what quickly became a flood of people’s memories.

Since then it has grown to be something more than I would think its creators ever imagined. We are seeing many people share their Mardi Gras moments and drag outings. But we are also seeing so much history. Clippings from old gay papers, ads for bars long forgotten, of legendary dance parties and political notices.