Showing posts with label Sydney Opera House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sydney Opera House. Show all posts

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Chroma - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Apr 30 – May 17, 2014 Choreographers: Wayne McGregor (CHROMA), Stephen Baynes (ART TO SKY), Jiří Kylián (PETITE MORT and SECH TÄNZE) Image by Jess Bialek

Theatre review
The programme begins with Wayne McGregor’s 2006 work, Chroma. Set against the powerful and aggressive music of Joby Talbot and Jack White III, this very modern ballet is instantaneously captivating. Its exquisite set is designed by John Pawson, evoking sensibilities proffered by the minimalist art movement. Covered in white and with its corners rounded off, the stage glows with a warm and quiet spirituality that finds a strange harmony with the vigorous soundscape conducted by Nicolette Fraillon. The dance creates a new grammar based on the balletic form. It is characterised by a dynamic desire for freedom, and it seeks in movement, the expression of all that is beautiful, emotive, and sublime. Inspired by a concept of nothingness, what transpires is a process of distillation with an outcome that displays honesty and necessity. The dance is fresh and new, but it is at no point hollow. There is an originality in its shapes and tempo that seems completely natural, even though it intends to break new aesthetic ground. McGregor’s earth shattering creation is a true work of art, but more than that, its deeply transcendent quality affects us as though it is by nature, sacred.

Stephen Baynes’ new piece Art To Sky is considerably more traditional. It is impressively technical, and the dancers’ athleticism is wonderfully pronounced here. The most well rehearsed and precisely performed work of the night, it showcases the company in glorious light. Chengwu Guo’s solo sequence is remarkably powerful, executed with great flair and exactness. An exceptionally tender pas de deux featuring Madeleine Eastoe and Andrew Killian is touching in its passionate fluidity, and sensitively embellished by the talents of lighting designer Rachel Burke.

Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián is featured twice. His Petite Mort (1991) is as sensual as the title suggests, but also unpredictable. Surprising movements, coupled with unconventional combinations of the dancers’ bodies make for startling and breathtaking beauty. There is however, a lack of depth with its realisation on this stage. The performers require a more thorough engagement with the work to muster a greater range of subtleties to exalt more life. Kylián’s Sechs Tänze (1986) is a delightful and theatrical creation that is equal parts camp humour and extraordinary choreographic innovation. It is engaging, provocative and endlessly fascinating, and the dancing seems to be particularly enthusiastic for this section. This morsel of genius is undeniably the perfect choice for closing the show on a high note.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Manon (The Australian Ballet) - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Apr 3 – 23, 2014
Choreographer: Sir Kenneth MacMillan
Dancers: Madeleine Eastoe, Wim Vanlessen, Matthew Donnelly, Brett, Chynoweth, Dana Stephensen

Theatre review
With its extravagant production of Manon, The Australian Ballet once again brings ethereal beauty to life. Originally a novel from the 18th century, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s work from 1974 is revived for contemporary audiences with generous measures of drama and humour that ensure broad appeal. The story interweaves romance with deception, murder and debauchery, resulting in a show that is full of entertainment, while providing extraordinary aesthetic pleasure.

Madeleine Eastoe is a delicate Manon. She anchors the show with a charming confidence, and her energetic execution of choreography delivers a characterisation that is endearing and precise. Eastoe’s captivating depiction of Manon’s journey is crystal clear, and her final moments are moving in their palpability.

Dana Stephensen is memorable as Lescaut’s mistress, with a striking vivacity that connects well with the audience. She plays up the comical elements of her role with subtlety, and attacks her dance with an alluring dynamism that is often breathtaking. Brett Chynoweth as Lescaut impresses and steals the show in Act 2 with sequences portraying his drunkenness. Chynoweth’s performance of the stunning choreography is highly amusing, but also technically powerful.

Manon‘s design elements are magnificent. Peter Farmer’s costume and set design are lavish and imaginative. It is an immense treat to have a fantasy world materialise before one’s eyes. Farmer’s six different sets are not just heavenly backdrops, and his costumes are not merely pretty adornment. We marvel at his genius, and lose ourselves in the sublime world he has created.

On display in Manon are artists of supreme talent and ability, almost not of this world. Their work lifts us out of our mundane realities, and takes us to a place far, far away.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Noises Off - Review

Review originally posted at
Venue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Feb 17 – Apr 5, 2014
Playwright: Michael Frayn
Director: Jonathan Biggins
Actors: Alan Dukes, Lindsay Farris, Marcus Graham, Ron Haddrick, Danielle King, Genevieve Lemon, Tracy Mann, Josh McConville, Ash Ricardo

Theatre review

Sydney Theatre Company’s new production of the now classic farce, Noises Off, is comedy at its broadest. This comedy of errors is not sophisticated in concept but its execution under the directorship of Jonathan Biggins is highly accomplished and outlandishly dynamic. From men falling off staircases to women sitting on sardines, and girls in gartered lingerie to boys in bell bottoms and mullet hair cuts, Biggins approaches Frayn’s 1982 work with the most basic of motivations. He wants to make us laugh, and he is determined to pull out all the stops to make it happen.

The cast Biggins has assembled shares his vision. They show no qualms in playing for laughs at every available opportunity, which means that not all characters are clearly defined, and some plot lines get lost in all the mayhem, but the entertainment value of their show is guaranteed. Josh McConville as Roger/Garry impresses with his athletic agility and the most exaggerated physical gags in the production. The volume of his performance sets the standard for how extravagant the actors can go on that stage.

Tracy Mann plays Flavia/Belinda with more subtlety, but her use of voice is strongest in the cast. The excessively, and comically, stagey English accent from the era not only assists with a more distinct characterisation, its overt articulation actually provides clarity to the many twists and turns that occur in the busy story. Ash Ricardo as the Vicki/Brooke “bimbo” characters triumphs in spite of the restrictive and narrow scope given. Her energetic interpretation brings a fresh edginess, and the running joke about her contact lens is a big crowd pleaser. Marcus Graham, usually known for dramatically serious roles, is surprisingly effective as Lloyd. Like the rest of the cast, his enjoyment of the show is genuine, and infectious.

Laughter is the best medicine. Theatre goers can often be an uptight bunch. Jonathan Biggins’ Noises Off forces us to open up and it speaks to a different part of our minds. Like the brilliant extended section in Act 2 where virtually no words are spoken, but the biggest laughs are heard, our senses are kept busy. We work overtime to keep up, not with lines and ideas, but by observing all the funny unfold and responding with the thoroughly visceral, and biological, guttural guffaws from deep within… that space which is too often hidden away from the light of day.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Strictly Sydney

The largest outdoor ballroom dancing event ever seen in Australia – a ballroom dance-off with 4,000 dancers under the direction of Baz Luhrmann
Sunday 23 February from 9am – Sydney Opera House
Register now to be involved –

To celebrate the imminent Opening of a truly Sydney musical, Strictly Ballroom The Musical (previewing from 25 March), Baz Luhrmann has collaborated with Global Creatures and Destination NSW to create STRICTLY SYDNEY, the largest outdoor ballroom dancing event ever seen in Australia. This spectacular community event with 4,000 ballroom dancers will be held around the Sydney Opera House on Sunday 23 February from 9am.

Anyone can register now at to be involved in STRICTLY SYDNEY. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity with a chance to perform on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House in the biggest ballroom dance-off of all time under the creative direction of Australia’s own Baz Luhrmann.

Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, said the STRICTLY SYDNEY mass participation event was sure to attract great interest from not only Sydneysiders but visitors from intrastate, interstate and overseas, who would come to Sydney to be part of this exciting and unique event.

“Baz Luhrmann is renowned the world over for his dazzling music and dance scenes in hit films like Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and, more recently, The Great Gatsby, which was filmed in NSW,” Mr Souris said. “Staged against the backdrop of Sydney’s magnificent Harbour, STRICTLY SYDNEY will not only showcase Baz’s talent for co-ordinating these wonderful grand-scale performances but also give audiences around the world a taste of what’s to come when Strictly Ballroom The Musical makes its World Premiere in April at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre. I encourage everyone to register to take part in STRICTLY SYDNEY and experience the magic and fun of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical in one of the most spectacular outdoor settings on earth.”

This exciting event will be captured in an exclusive aerial shot, showcasing the impressive display of thousands of dancers in vibrant costumes outside one of the world’s most iconic buildings.

People who wish to take part in STRICTLY SYDNEY must register their interest in advance of the day through the Sunday Telegraph –
A ballot will then be drawn to select the 4,000 dancers. The ballot will be drawn on Monday 10 February and winners will be notified on Wednesday 12 February via email.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

TEDxSydney 2014 live audience applications now open!

Annual ideas festival, TEDxSydney, have now opened the application process to attend this year’s event as a member of the live audience

Application forms can be viewed, completed and submitted via the TEDxSydney website:

Attendees have until Friday 28 February to submit their application for one of the 2,250 seats.

Successful applicants will be notified via email on 3 March 2014.

The full day event will be held within the Concert Hall of the iconic Sydney Opera House on Saturday 26 April and, as with the four previous TEDxSydney events, the full day of programming will blend talks and performances with interspersed "tasty video bits”.

On the programming front, our curatorial teams (talks, performances and video), led this year by Editorial Director Edwina Throsby, are working hard to make sure that attendees are delighted, challenged and inspired.

For 2014, food will once again be closely integrated with the day's proceedings.
Last year’s event included talks by anti-poaching crusader Damien Mander
; Ron McCallum
, who reflected on technology transforming blindness; Joost Bakker
, the horticulturalist and entrepreneur; Julian Assange and Benny Wenda’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson
; Alice Gorman
, the space archeologist, plus a performance from beat-boxer Tom Thum
. Thum’s performance has generated over 11 million views on YouTube and is the highest viewed performance in TEDx history.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


Reviewed by Regina Su
In celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the Sydney Opera Playhouse hosts “Oneness”, a play on the extraordinary life of Swami Vivikananda. With the combined efforts of Alex Broun, a well-known Australian director and scriptwriter, musical director; Dr Kim Cunio, Tobiyah Feller; production designer and Robert Grant; research consultant, Madhuparna Sen was able to realise her vision, a vision that was to be a hallmark in the Vendata Movement in Australia. Staging a play about a spiritual leader takes a lot of collaboration, patience and faith. This play was no exception.

The play follows the Swami on his journey to spiritual enlightenment- from boyhood up until his death at thirty-nine. The play replicates locations and time-periods with great versatility- using symbolism in cloth and quick costume changes. The play was long, but the dialogue was heavy with content and the production did very well to manage such a grand narrative onto one stage, with minimal mis en scene. Using Hinduism as a springboard to a spirituality that is non-dualistic, the Swami promoted faith in the self and love for God, whoever your God is, whatever religion/spirituality you partake in. In this respect, the play was very informative for newcomers to the spirituality (I had no prior knowledge on the movement) and was more of a celebration than anything else. The whole event was well conducted. Nuns and monks, prominent figures from the movement in Australia, among others, were invited to the audience. Souvenir programmes were informative not only about the play, but its inception as well as a quick-history on the movement and figure-head to contextualise the audience.

The production was very effective and very resourceful in its use of cast, with little actors playing many roles which were distinct and easy to follow. This stands as a testament to the production designer, costuming and the calibre of the acting. The use of symbolism, for example a chaotic bustle of people with yellow lighting to represent the spiritual turmoil of the Swami, was rather effective. Younger Swami Vivikanandra, played by Bali Padda, was passionate and very believable in his role, a pleasure to watch. Special commendations go to Shaheb Chatterjee for his very heartfelt representation of the older Swami Vivikanandra. His singing was pure, his on-stage presence was passionate, peaceful and altogether powerful. Performing to the side of the play was the ensemble, who held the music score and dictated the ambience of the scenes. Congratulations to Heather Lee for her solo performances. At times, the music overpowered the dialogue a little, but was great at creating atmosphere nonetheless. This production was very well-executed and received their well-deserved standing-ovation.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Birdy - Review

Reviewed by Regina Su
I am a fan of Birdy. Not necessarily one who created a shrine to her talent, like a few of my friends who attended, nay, I just an average Birdy fan. May I say, seeing Birdy live in concert at the Sydney Opera House was beyond all of my expectations, it was truly magical. The performance from the young British singer was very fitting, the sophistication and elegance of the Opera House seemed to bow to her humility and modesty. She didn’t speak too much to the audience, only introduced her songs, then giggled when fans crooned praises and worship. Had she stood up from behind her piano and stolen the stage, it wouldn’t have been Birdy, and I’m glad I saw her. Birdy, live, was an amazing treat. In her soundtrack, her orchestra is perfect and equalised and majestic and her vocals are impressive to say the least. However, her live performance is greater than any sound device could give. For those unfamiliar with Birdy, I recommend Comforting Sounds as an example of orchestral glory and vocal control. The girl has a raw, powerful, strong voice that she can harness with such ease. The control she showed blew me away as she whispered to her audience, then grew louder in a cresendo to overwhelming waves of sound, then back to a quiet whisper. I never realised the full potential of her voice before. It’s sweet and beautiful and the Opera House had the perfect acoustics and sounding for this.

On the scale of concerts, Birdy was very tame, and the audience was open all ages, but when she finished, she was thanked with a standing ovation from the whole House. Birdy opened with a cover of The XX’s song Shelter and closed with Fire and Rain, pleasing the crowd with well-loved favourites such as the cover of Bon Iver’sSkinny Love. Not only did her set list cover all of her-self titled album, but also three more; Learn Me Right for the Brave soundtrack and two others. Wonderfully supported by Lewis Watson and LakynHeperi, the night was one I would gladly relive. British indie-folk singer Lewis Watson already has a strong following to his soft, smooth and intimate acoustic guitar. LakynHeperi, star from The Voice Australia was so talented both vocally and with his acoustic guitar skills. His performance since The Voice had improved and matured and listening to him sing with Watson and Birdy was a privilege. I hope to see great things from these young performers. Birdy finishes her Australian tour at the Sydney Opera from the 12-14th of April.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Frankenstein by Nick Dear - Review

Frankenstein is a story which has stood the test of time. Written as a novel by Mary Shelley it was first published in London in 1818.  Since then various films have been produced.  British playwright Nick Dear adapted the novel into a play for the National Theatre of London in 2011, it was a huge success. Nick for the first time took the story and gave it a twist by making the monster the focal point and seeing life through his eyes. 
This production by the Ensemble Theatre is truly amazing. Two hours of tense, humourous and thought provoking theatre. Nick's interpretation really highlights how humans focus more on what people look like and less on what people are actually like. Only a blind person accepts the monster as he is. 
The stage is set, very dark and very simple. A lone cellist plays a haunting tune and then there before our eyes the monster is born. We see him exploring light, dark, sound, his own body and taking his very first steps. He can't speak so the whole scene takes place through mime and dancelike movements. He is very childlike though he is has a adult size body, learning everything just as a child would. Some of this learning brings joy like seeing snow for the first time, but some brings sadness. He soon learns that society will not accept him and chase him from the streets to the wilderness.  It is here that he meeting De Lacey, an educated man who teaches him to speak, read and write. The monster realises what it is to be human and fears that he will always be an outcast. His fear is realised when De Lacey's son and wife see him and drive him out. The monster then goes to the stories that he has learned and turns to revenge by killing them. He seeks out his creator Victor Frankenstein and to draw him out he kills his younger brother, William. Victor is mortified by what he has created, but agrees to give him what he wants, a mate. Victor starts to work on her,  but at the last minute realises he can't release another monster on the world and kills it. The monster seeks his revenue once more by killing his wife. Victor and the monster then spend the rest of their days locked together, forever moving North. 
Mark Kilmurry, the director, had the difficult task of moving things on and off stage seamlessly, without loosing momentum. The route he chose was to use the actors. They all took part in moving props, creating sound affects and even producing the weather! It was a very polished production. The only negative I have is that Lee Jones's portrayal of the monster was so good, the other actors had a hard job to match it. I do feel there were times that Nick had not given the dialogue for the other characters as much thought as he had for the Monsters, so it made it even harder for the actors. Saying that I think the balance Nick gave the play with some great humour was good. Lee Jone's performance really made this production for me, if I could give him an Oscar I would. 

Frankenstein is playing at the Sydney Opera House until 17 April for tickets click here

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Madama Butterfly

Reviewed by Regina Su
Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is now playing at the Sydney Opera House and to miss this would be more than an irreversible regret. The costuming was detailed in silk creating a sense of sensous voluptuousness. Visually, this opera was spectacular, easily the most stunning show I have ever had the privilege to watch. Subtle breezes over the stage sent white curtains billowing, the water moat around the raised stage was used to float tea-light candles. Somehow, the opera crew created a sacred and stunning space, something so breath-taking that ladies in the row in front of me were actually in tears at the performance. 
But it’s not just the staging that can evoke the use of a tissue, it’s the whole atmosphere. When the lights are dimmed, they reveal the pinpricks of a starry night, and a perfect moon overlooking one of the most romantic and tragic love stories of all time. The entire show was like witnessing a picturesque Japanese post card and the lighting was totally flawless. I was seated where surtitles could not be seen, but this was not an issue. At one point, a letter of bad news is read out. Butterfly’s face lights up with energy, passion and excitement and the stage is awash in pink. Later, the same letter reads a great tragedy for Butterfly- her beloved American soldier has since married in the US. Her face darkens, as the lighting changes dramatically to deep blues and greens and I felt a heart-breaking pain; I had invested so much emotional energy in Madama Butterfly.

Puccini’s opera is recognisable, hum-able and so very poignant. Commendation to the actor who played Madama Butterfly’s son- he was so perfect and gut wrenching in his silent performance of love for his mother. As we watch Butterfly await the return of Pinkerton that will never happen, we watch her suspense, her loving devotion and adoration. She smiles, but there are tears in her eyes. Her dedication to the dream that is Pinkerton is manic, borderline lunacy and we feel so much sympathy for this Japanese woman wronged by a marriage of convenience. We had invested so much in Butterfly’s story that when Pinkerton came to bow onstage in the finale, the audience in fact boo-ed him off, (all in jest of course). The show has a sad nostalgia, a tragic loss of a romantic ideal, a sensual and perfect night of Opera. I cannot regard this performance more highly.

Performance dates: 20th September until the 1st of November.