20 December 2017

What Melbourne Loved in 2017, part 10

Today is the last day of the loveds and the SM Best Of 2017 will be published tomorrow. In part 10, Andi talks about being an audience member this year, Rohan talks about music theatre and I find the moments that made me so glad that I didn't stay home and watch TV.

Andi Snelling

Andi Snelling

Favourite moments in 2017
2017 has been a unique theatre year for me. I haven’t been on stage the entire year (due to illness), which is the longest time I’ve been off the boards since I was four years old. It’s been a mixture of silent longing and inspiring observation. It’s the first time I’ve really sat back in the hum of the audience and truly taken art in as a temporarily non-practising artist. Three shows in particular grabbed my heart and pumped it for me.

My absolute favourite show was Trygve Wakenshaw’s Nautilus, which I saw in The Spiegeltent at MICF. His buckle-bodied spoof on all humanity’s absurdity had me snort-laughing and light-bulbing equally. I recall him so expertly setting the audience up with fond attachment to an established character or concept, then with great glee and trickery, smashing it before our eyes. His cheeky way of standing beside himself (sometimes literally) in order to highlight our hypocrisy, our injustice and our hope was mimed genius. As a fellow lover of physical expression, I was so uplifted by Trygve’s performance that I wanted to cartwheel myself straight into a rehearsal room right then and there and start conjuring the world with my body.

Another powerhouse show for me was Angel by Henry Naylor performed by Avital Lvova, at Holden Street Theatres at Adelaide Fringe. This was deadly theatre: a one-woman action blockbuster that had you holding your breath and begging for mercy as if you were its sniper heroine scrambling through the charred streets of Mosel. She gave a knockout performance and despite the stage being dressed only with a keg, I swore I could see, taste and feel the bullets flying in that way you do at a 3D cinema, dodging the not-really-there objects. Tears are springing up in my eyes just recalling the tragedy.

I can’t talk about theatre in 2017 without mentioning Wild Bore at the Malthouse Theatre. Of course I loved it. I laughed hard and took my brain to the gym. It was meta theatre that out-meta’ed itself and left you with visual metaphors which only your most trippy of dreams would normally be capable of. I loved how it stretched an idea well beyond its elasticity, then snapped it back in ways you didn't see coming. Witnessing Adrienne Truscott, Zoe Coombes-Marr and Ursula Martinez truly doing exactly what the fuck they wanted to be doing was super empowering. To their credit, they held themselves just as accountable as they did their critics. And all for a very apparent reason.

Other special performance moments for me include: seeing Sinead O’Connor sing half of "Nothing Compares" only to stop and declare, “I am now done with this song”, and the feminist punch-fest Hot Brown Honey that had me dancing and roaring in my seat as if I were back in my early 20s at a student protest.

Looking forward to in 2018
Who knows what 2018 will hold, but I feel great anticipation…

SM: I'd like to see Andi back on stage next year. Illness sucks. To do that, she needs some help. You can help here.

Rohan Shearn
Arts publisher and writer
Australian Arts Review

Rohan Shearn

Favourite moments in 2017
Once again, we were spoilt for choice this year as the commercial and independent sector delivered a mixed bag of delights.

The Book of Mormon kicked off the year in a riotous display of politically incorrect joy at the Princess Theatre, closely followed by Aladdin at Her Majesty’s Theatre, which was not only spectacular,but featured two outstanding performances: former Hi-5er Ainsley Melham as Aladdin, and Michael James Scott as the Genie.

Two Australian musicals made my favourites:
Ladies in Black – the musical adaptation of Madeleine St John’s popular 1993 novel, The Women in Black, made a welcome return to Melbourne; this time at the Regent Theatre.
Muriel’s Wedding  – the musical adaptation of the classic Australian film made its premiere at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney, featuring Maggie McKenna in her professional debut as Muriel Heslop. Both shows were directed by Simon Phillips.

My Fair Lady dazzled audiences at the Regent Theatre in the Dame Julie Andrews recreated 1950s classic by Lerner and Loewe featuring Anna O’Byrne as Eliza Doolittle, Charles Edwards as Professor Higgins and Reg Livermore as Alfred P Doolittle; and The Production Company surprised us all and with its production of Brigadoon, also by Lerner and Loewe.

Not to be outdone, StageArt presented their best production to date with David Bryan and Joe DiPietro’s four-time  2010 Tony Award-winning Memphis The Musical; and Music Theatre Melbourne delivered a highly charged, sentimental production of Paris – A Rock Odyssey by the late Jon English.

However, it is Taylor Mac and the A 24-Decade History of Popular Music who will leave a lasting legacy on all of those who attended judy's 2017 Melbourne Festival performances.

Looking forward to in 2018 
Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Musical,  opening at Arts Centre Melbourne later this month featuring the ever consummate David Campbell.

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert returning to the Regent Theatre as part of its 10th anniversary outing in late January.

The critically acclaimed American Idiot rocking the Comedy Theatre from late February.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical featuring the stunning Esther Hannaford at Her Majesty’s Theatre in February; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s London Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz heading at Regent in May; and Mamma Mia! heads at the Princess Theatre in July.

Look out for Virginia Gay’s star-turn as Calamity Jane at Arts Centre Melbourne in March; Maury Yeston’s Nine makes a welcome return to Melbourne courtesy of StageArt in October; and I hope we will get to see Hayes Theatre Co’s production of Stephen Sondheim Assassins, the previously mentioned Muriel’s Wedding, and Evita sometime in 2018 or in 2019.

SM: If I want gossip (and I do,) Rohan is my first stop. I'd be so bored in intervals if he wasn't there to drink a glass of fizz with.

Anne-Marie Peard
Arts writer

The moment I hit peak cat women. A photo of a photo of me and my cats (still have one of them) at the
Gotokuji cat temple a couple of train rides out of Tokyo.

My Best Of 2017 will be published tomorrow.

Favourite moments in 2017
The first "Hello" in The Book of Mormon and knowing that it was going to be everything and more.

The Rabble's Joan when the women fell into the squares of light.

Malthouse's Away when the world changed.

Following Moira Finucane around the NGV in The Intimate 8.

Squealing at a flying condom in Trainspotting.

The costumes in Glittery Clittery.

Laughing myself sick at Trygve Wakensahaw's Nautilus. He was a chicken and a cat and a sheep! I had no idea I was all about mime; I had no idea mime could be so damning. 

Still feeling physically ill during the last scenes of Awakening.

Mary Helen Sassman and Emma Valente committing like no one has ever committed before in The Rabble's one-off Sick, Sick.

Realising that I wasn't going to get a return ticket to Takarazuka Revue (The Scarlet Pimpernel) in Tokyo and a stranger giving me a ticket. She didn't speak English and I don't speak Japanese, but she knew how happy I was to get that ticket and she has theatre karma for life. If you're going to Japan, book for them when you book your flight. It's an all-female company and I still don't know if it's the queerest (including Taylor Mac) or the straightest company I've ever seen.

Betty Grumble making pussy prints in Love and Anger.

Being given a photo in an orange envelope at A Requiem for Cambodia.

Just before Taylor Mac's A 24-Decade History of Popular Music began, I wondered if it could ever be what I imagined it could be. It was so much more.
Trying to sing and cry in the last hour of Taylor Mac.
Most All of the hours in between those moments.

The moment Hannah Gadsby turned Nanette onto itself and the bottom falling out of my heart.

Looking forward to in 2018
I'll start with Hir, Abigail's Party and The House of Bernarda Alba.

part 9
part 8
part 7
part 6
part 5
part 4
part 3
part 2
part 1

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