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Orange Theatre Company presents

Avenue Q

5 -7 July 2012

Orange Civic Theatre

Book at the Box Office ph 02 6393 8111 or http://www.ticketek.com.au

Published in: on June 6, 2012 at 07:39  Leave a Comment  
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On-Stage Accidents: don’t do a Buffett

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Following a sold out concert at the Hordern Pavilion on Wednesday night, US singer Jimmy Buffett walked off the stage. I know. All performers walk off the stage at the end of the show. Unfortunately, in this case, poor Jimmy literally walked off the stage.

After completing an encore set, a disoriented Buffett took one step too many towards his adoring “Parrotheads” (this is what his fans call themselves) and toppled off the stage, gashing his scalp and knocking himself unconscious. Luckily, the head emergency department doctor from St Vincent’s Hospital was in the front row to assist.

Buffett has been cleared of any serious injury and will hopefully continue on his world tour, as well as running his business empire which includes the Margaritaville Cafe and Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chains and the Margaritaville Beach Hotel at Pensacola Beach. Clearly spreading the island life vibe is very lucrative, as long as you don’t get too mellow at the front of the stage.

The Buffett incident is certainly not an isolated case. The stage is a very dangerous place and many performers have famously injured themselves, or their reputations, in front of a live audience.

In 2007, Beyonce was shaking her “thang” on a stage in Orlando, when she lost her footing and fell face first down twelve steps. Proving that she is a trooper, or perhaps a robot, Beyonce was back on her stilettos in seconds and the show continued. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t wear sensible shoes onstage.

Ashlee Simpson is the less talented sister of talentless singer Jessica Simpson. Back in 2004, whilst performing “live” on Saturday Night Live, the wrong song was cued and Ashlee was caught out when the first song she had successfully mimed started again. Stuck onstage during a live broadcast with her voice being heard but clearly not singing, Simpson danced an awkward jig before wandering away.

Later in the show, Ashlee blamed her band for playing the wrong song. She then claimed that her doctor had advised her to avoid singing due to recurrent acid reflux. Perhaps she had been listening to her own music because that’s what it does to me.

Several “singers” have had their careers shortened by being exposed lip synching during “live performances”, such as Betty Boo, Lindsay Lohan and the infamous Milli Vanilli. Amazingly, the live audience in Connecticut at the concert where poor old Milli and Vanilli were exposed don’t seem to notice that the line “Girl, you know it’s true” is repeated over and over again as the backing track skips. Maybe they thought it was a remix.

Miley Cyrus had a similar thing happen although to her credit, she was singing live. During a performance on live UK television in 2009, she forgot the words to Fly on the Wall and had to embarrassingly turn away from the camera for a few lines until she remembered what came next. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a manufactured popstar and don’t write your own material.

Pink’s most recent Australian concert tour featured circus-like high wire and flying stunts. Last year in Nuremberg, the popular singer came loose from her harness and was flung into a barricade. Besides a bruised ego and body, Pink was back onstage the following night.

The most famous onstage incident occurred during a simulated concert. In 1984, Michael Jackson was filming a Pepsi advert in front of an audience when the pyrotechnics set his hair alight. Unaware that his curls were aflame, the King of Pop continued to dance until he was saved by crew members. Jackson allegedly suffered burns to his scalp and in order to hide his scars underwent extensive plastic surgery…to his face.

Based on this evidence, the stage is potentially a very dangerous place to be, so think twice before you volunteer to sing Hotel California for the tenth time on Karaoke night.

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 07:55  Leave a Comment  
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Theatre Review: Love Never Dies

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 1st June 2010.

“Love Never Dies”

Adelphi Theatre, London

Fans of the seminal 1986 musical, The Phantom of the Opera, were sent into a frenzy in 2007 with the announcement that Andrew Lloyd-Webber was planning a sequel. Reaction amongst fans was extremely divided. Many were of the opinion that a follow-up would tarnish the original’s place in theatre history, whilst others couldn’t wait to see what happens to the Phantom, Christine and Raoul after the rather inconclusive finale of the first musical (and later movie).

On 9th March this year, Love Never Dies opened in London. Featuring a new score by Lloyd-Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Lloyd-Webber, Slater and Ben Elton (who has a chequered past with musicals, having written the script for hit We Will Rock You, and the failures Tonight’s The Night and The Beautiful Game), this production is the first ever musical sequel to be performed in the West End.

 Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to secure tickets to see the original cast at the Adelphi Theatre.

Without spoiling the story, Love Never Dies picks up ten years after the events of The Phantom of the Opera. Madame Giry and her daughter Meg have assisted the Phantom to relocate to Coney Island in New York where he runs the theatrical attraction known as Phantasma, under the alias of Mr Y. Still enchanted by his muse, Christine Daaé, the Phantom lures her to America along with her husband, Raoul, now bankrupt and an alcoholic, and their son, Gustave.

What is most striking about this new production is how far stage technology and special effects have evolved since the original show. The impressive (at the time) tricks of the 1986 musical have been replaced by spectacular projections onto fog, moving silhouettes of roller coasters, chandeliers made of animatronic heads and a horse and coach in which sideshow freaks appear out of thin air. The clever casting of a contortionist in the show also allowed a table to move across the stage, seemingly propelled only by two human legs.

The score itself features less memorable tunes than its predecessor, however the title track and the Phantom’s solos Til I Hear You Sing and The Beauty Underneath are standouts. The transition from the operatic style of Paris to vaudeville numbers at Coney Island may also grate with some.

Being a Tuesday night performance, I did not get to see original Christine Daaé, Sierra Boggess in action. Fortunately, the rest of the original cast was onstage that night and Ramin Karimloo (Phantom) was in very fine voice. Having played the Phantom for two years on the West End, Karimloo certainly has developed the perfect combination of gravitas and fragility to portray him again in Love Never Dies. Also impressive were Summer Strallen as Meg Giry and Liz Robertson as Madame Giry.

The Phantom of the Opera was a worldwide phenomenon, drawing crowds into theatres, many of whom had never seen a musical before. For musical theatre lovers and Phantom fans, Love Never Dies is worth the price of admission for its sumptuous staging, impressive special effects and remarkable performances. The mildly disappointing storyline and score are secondary.

Despite an impressive box office advance and sell out performances, Love Never Dies has received mixed reviews from the UK theatre critics. It should have a long and successful run as “Phans” clamour to get tickets. A show with such widespread brand awareness is virtually critic proof, however, I doubt it will ever be regarded as an equal to the original.

Love Never Dies is scheduled to arrive in Australia in 2011.