List ten: Live theatre I’ve seen so far this year

There was a book I wanted to buy when I was in Melbourne earlier this year. But because it was my 2011 New Years Resolution to stop buying books, I didn’t. David rolled his eyes at the time and asked me why Leigh and I always have resolutions that result in us being deprived of something. I didn’t really have an answer. I think I like to test how controlled I can be. Or something.

Anyhoo, when I got back to Sydney a few days after that, I was catching up on a bunch of blogs when I realised that most people had far more fun resolutions. Things like baking a cake once a week or doing something nice for someone each day or seeing their best friend for a long lunch once a month. I was inspired to change my resolution. So I decided that I would try to see much more live theatre this year. It’s one of my favourite ways to spend my time and money, so then, why ever not?

Since January, I’ve been to seven theatre events, the list of which is below:

1) Soap at the Opera House

I kept seeing the poster for this show as I walked around the city in summer and it totally sucked me in. How gorgeous is that shot?

The show was fab, fab, fab! There were eight acrobats doing a whole bunch of contortions, trapeze, dancing, opera singing and just generally looking quite hot. There was water all over the stage that they slid through which was impressive as well as never wracking. The nanna in me kept thinking – ooh, you’ll hurt yourself! And the water conservationist in me was thinking – this is all very wasteful! But I loved it!


2) Tuesdays with Morrie at Glen Street Theatre, Belrose

Ensemble Theatre produced this show a few years ago but at the time, I’d just finished the book and didn’t want to see the show. I thought it would be like watching a movie version of my favourite book. And you know how movies always ruin a perfectly good book.

But then Glen Street Theatre decided to show it and I figured I’d give it a go. And I’m so glad I did. There were only two actors. And they were brilliant.

I spent the first 10 minutes of the 50 minute show wanting to kill Husband! He was unwrapping chocolate VERY LOUDLY, causing all the people around us to look our way. Then as I spent the next 40 minutes crying. Even husband almost teared up.

It was beautiful, moving and just as powerful for me as the book.


3) Dr Zhivago at Lyric Theatre, Star City

Oh. Oh I loved it. The costumes were so very gorgeous. And the singers. Oh! It’s pretty rare to go to a musical and come away impressed with the voices of the entire cast. But I did. They were all so talented and Anthony Warlow of course the best of the bunch.

I also spent a good deal of this musical in tears and as I’d only just seen Tuesdays with Morrie a few nights before, it was an emotional week.

I loved that the conductor was a female which seems pretty rare at the shows I go to. She was enthusiastic and brilliant and distracted me now and again from what was happening on stage.

As a side note – my parents’ favourite movie is Dr Zhivago. And they were actually going to name me Lara after Zhivago’s Lara. Then, a couple of weeks before I was born, their good friends named their daughter Laura. So Janine I became. And really, The Random Musings of Lara doesn’t sound as good so it was for the best really.


4) Carmen, by Opera Australia at the Opera House

Surprised that I had never been to the Opera, my friend Rosetta whisked me along this one. And what a great first opera to go to! Apparently Carmen is like ‘opera light’, a slightly higher range of voices than a musical requires but not as intense as some other operas. I realised that I actually knew quite a bit of the music, even though I can’t say I’ve come across Bizet before. It must be used in movies, tv ads, etc.

The costumes were fabulous and although she’s a total tart, I really liked Carmen. She was flamboyant and sensual and captivating. As were Don Jose and Escamillo.

Something slightly weirdish to me though was the fact that it’s a Spanish opera but was sung in French with English surtitles. I don’t understand this.

I now really want to see another opera. Was Carmen just a good one or do I really like that style of music? I’ll keep you posted.


5) Madame Butterfly by the Australian Ballet at the Opera House

I’ve seen a couple of ballets before and I really liked both of them. But this one, I have to say, didn’t impress me all that much. I think in part it was because we weren’t that close to the front so I felt quite removed from any expression on the face of the dancers. I also felt that because the dancers were in long, flowing, gowns, you couldn’t see much except for them flitting around and standing on their toes. Which is impressive, yes. But I think I like more contemporary ballet. At the risk of sounding like a pervert – I want to see body! I appreciate their moves so much more when I can see how hard their bodies are working and just how flexible and muscular they are.

Madame Butterfly is a good emotional story (just how I like it) and Puccini’s music is beautiful. But everything else? Well I have to say it was just kind of..nice. Nice, but not  spectacular.


6) Shared Frequencies by Sydney Dance Company

Ooh, lah, lah! Speaking of being a pervert, this dance show was an amazing celebration of the human physique.

When I used to watch So you think you can dance, I got a little bit obsessed with Rafel Bonachela’s amazing choreography. I’ve been dying to see a Sydney Dance Company performance!

This show was brilliant and it was also really cheap! $60 for front tickets is pretty amazing, especially given how good it was.

The dancers were wearing next to nothing so you could clearly see their incredible physicality. Rafel had also conspired with Ezio Bosso, which he claimed before the performance was one of his life long dreams. Mr Bosso was performing live on the piano and at the same time conducting a brilliant cellist, Geoffrey Gartner and violinist, Veronique Serret. The three of them stole my attention for most of the show. I had to force myself to look at the dancers sometimes. And then Katie Noonan came out to perform and the whole thing forced even fidgety old me to sit stock still and absorb.

If only I hadn’t seen this the night before it closed, I would have been back again for a second session. I would sell my soul for a copy of the music. Sadly, it hasn’t been recorded.

It blew me away.


7) Rick Stein’s food odessy live on stage, at the Opera House

I love seafood and I loved the lunch I had a Bannisters. So a Rick Stein food show sounded like a good idea. And he was good. Amusing, talented and he certainly knows how to make creatures of the sea look highly appetising. But the MC for the night was Deborah Hutton and I have to say that she really ruined it for me. The poor woman had a tough crowd – nobody was laughing at her jokes. Probably because she wasn’t funny. But overall, it just felt that the show became all about her and not really about Rick. The two of them did seem to have a good comaraderie but I think it would have been better to have a foodie as the MC. Well, that’s my opinion. But juding by the comments I heard from other people walking out of the show, I think that was sort of the general consensus.


I think this may be the best resolution ever!


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