Music / “Byrd Round Table”, The Song Company. At Wesley Uniting Church, March 16. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD
THE 10th birthday year of The Q is coming and canny program manager Stephen Pike has chosen the theme “Let’s Celebrate!”
But he’s having second thoughts. “When I finally got it all together in one place, I realised it was largely a family affair… half the shows relate to family matters,” he tells “CityNews”.
A case in point is “The Magnolia Tree”, Michael Griffiths’ play that premiered this year at La Mama that lets the audience take a vote as to whether to put mum in a nursing home or help end her suffering.
As well, newish theatre company Free Fall Productions from Sydney is bringing David Auburn‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Proof”, centring around filial relationships and a mathematical “proof”, then in Hannie Rayson’s “Hotel Sorrento” three sisters, who grew up together by the seaside, return and things come undone.
“Jurassica”, a play by Dan Giovannoni dealing with family, migration and growing old, will be performed in English and Italian, the first time in years we’ve had a bilingual play.
At two showbiz-style launches held in the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre on November 28, comedy star Queenie van de Zandt unveiled the highlights of the 2018 season to come, while Pike explained how he had ticked boxes like “engagement, inclusion, emotion and experience” in choosing shows.
In March, 2008, the doors opened on The Q, so nearby Bungendore satirists Shortis and Simpson will be working with Pike and local artists and a “hot” band to mark the anniversary with “Thank Q for the Memories”, which will feature a theme song written in a community song-writing workshop.
Canberra-raised singer and comedian van de Zandt was on hand in the guise of her outrageous stage persona, Jan van de Stool, International Musical Therapist, to foist her latest musical and life theories on the audience. She’ll be back with “Parting the Red Curtains”, written jointly with another famous former Canberran Peter J Casey.
But van de Zandt has a more serious side and Pike has also signed her up for a short season of a show about her favourite singer/songwriter, “BLUE: The Songs of Joni Mitchell”, where she’ll be joined by musical director Max Lambert and a band.
Many readers will have seen the movie starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant about the worst soprano in New York City, Florence Foster Jenkins, and now HIT Productions is bringing her story, “Glorious”, to town, directed by Denny Lawrence, who’ll also be staging “Hotel Sorrento”.
The Bicentennial Hall will be the scene for Adam Swanson’s “A Ragtime Piano Party”, to be performed in the round. Adam, sometimes called the “top young ragtime enthusiast in the UK”, will tinkle the ivories.
Next year’s Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council-backed musical will be “Downtown – The Mod Musical”, taking audiences back to freedom of a time when stars such as Petula Clark and Lulu ruled the airwaves. That theatrical warhorse, “Menopause the Musical” will also return.
In complete contrast will be the searing “Prize Fighter” from La Boite Theatre in Brisbane, the real-life story of playwright Future D. Fidel, who fled the Congo and lived in a Tanzanian refugee camp for eight years before being granted refugee status in Australia – that’s told through live boxing.
The season winds up when Everyman Theatre returns in a production of the timeless courtroom drama and thriller, “Twelve Angry Men”, directed by Jarrad West with a cast of Canberra acting luminaries. Pike claims it’s “more relevant than ever in the age of Trump”.
He says “Morning Melodies” will return to cater to older patrons’ programs, while for children, comedians “The Listies” will bring “Ickypedia: A Dictionary of Disgusting New Words” to the stage, while Circus Trick Tease will present their ’90s-themed musical show, “Children are Stinky”.
Apart from the official season, there is a huge list of book-ins, not least Free Rain Theatre’s “42nd Street”, Jarrad West’s production of “Fame” for Supa Productions, a Carole King show by Vika Bull and Debra Byrne and both the Australian and the Celtic Tenors. There’ll hardly be a dark night in 2018.
“Let’s Celebrate!” at The Q, bookings to theq.net.au or 6285 6290.