CURTAIN UP AND ONE SAD FINALE
As theatres all over welcome new audiences to new shows, showbiz farewells stage great the late Stuart Wagstaff in a full-house production
This column comes to you from Auckland, New Zealand, by way of the Pacific Pearl where I have been part of a comedy cruise over Easter. Lots of terrific Australian talent in dozens of comedy shows. Cirque du Soleil’s new show Totem opens in Brisbane on Friday for a limited engagement. For more information, visit cirquedusoleil.com/totem Wendy Faye’s Neptune Productions company at the southern end of the Coast has locked Courtney Monsma in as choreographer for the forthcoming Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. In her first year of uni, Courtney is studying for a degree in Musical Theatre at the Queensland Conservatorium. She is working on the choreography module at the moment — this Joseph will certainly be different! They have 16 men, but are short of a few women as wives. The leads are Casey Fegan, Louise Harris, Lawrie Esmond, Jackson Brash, Samantha Naday, and the dog Fang in her seventh production. His many friends from all over the country gathered last week to farewell one of showbiz’s gentlemen – Stuart Wagstaff. In a full house production held at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, Stuart was remembered in grand style. Local Gold Coast music theatre veteran Sheila Bradley was one of the speakers, talking about the many years she has known Stuart – their friendship going back to before they both came to Australia. Another longtime friend Nancye Hayes said “he would have been delighted at the turnout”. Vale Stuart – you were a great actor and a terrific bloke. He was last seen on the Gold Coast as narrator in Tracey Kriz’s production of Into the Woods at the Arts Centre, with Julie Anthony as the witch. Brisbane’s Harvest Rain Theatre has launched its inaugural Incubator season comprising three very different shows that will be presented at the Hayward Street Studios throughout April, May and June. These three shows – Connect Four, Xanadu and 35mm – are being presented by independent local artists in conjunction with Harvest Rain as a way of developing new work, emerging talent and daring theatrical experiences. The first Incubator show for 2015 will be the new musical Connect Four written by award-winning local composer Alanya Bridge and directed by Danielle Carney, from April 29. In May, Brisbane director and ex Gold Coast Theatre Award winner Joshua McCannThomson looks at Xanadu through a new lens, bringing the cult-classic comedy into the 21st century. This hilarious, roller skating, musical adventure about following your dreams despite limitations rolls along to the original hit score from May 13. And finally, Cienda McNamara will direct the Australian premiere of 35mm: A Musical Exhibition. Written by Ryan Scott Oliver 35mm is a production where each photo creates a unique song, moments frozen in time; a glimmer of a life unfolding or a glimpse into a troubled mind. Boasting a cast of incredible local performers, this intricately woven collection of stories told through song reimagines what a modern musical can be. Blurring the line between audience and performer ... player and spectator, from June 3-7. Local songstress Maggie Britton appears for the Gold Coast City Jazz Club on May 4 at 7pm, at Southport Bowls Club. She will sing songs from her album Ditto. Book on 5531 2626. The Queensland Theatre Company opened The 7 Stages of Grieving – the first of the Diva productions by the Grin & Tonic troupe this year – at the Greenhouse on March 18, celebrating its 20th anniversary. This one-woman (Chenoa Deemal) play eloquently exposes the day to day difficulties our First Nation’s people encounter. Written by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, cleverly directed by Jason Klarwein. The Greenroom Project Junior presents direct from Mamma Mia a Broadway Masterclass with Troy Woodcroft. The date is Sunday at 9am to 1.30pm for all singer and dancers aged eight to 17. Here’s your chance to learn a song and original dance routine from the hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia, then perform it in front of an audience at The Greenroom Project Junior live show on April 14 at The Arts Centre Gold Coast. Cost is $150 including workshop and live showcase. Auditions will be held on April 4 to find the 14 featured artists. Tickets on sale soon on 5588 4000. In rehearsal on the Coast this week is Spotlight Theatre’s La Traviata (opens Friday), GCLT’s Jerry’s Girls, Tweed Theatre Company’s Brilliant Lies (also opening on Friday), and Neptune Theatre Co’s Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Cirque du Soleil’s
opens in Brisbane for a limited engagement.