Gilbert and Sullivan silliness

Iolanthe (Queensland Conservatorium)

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University

September 10 – 17

“Iolanthe” (pronounced “I Oh Lon Thee) represents the seventh collaboration from the ever-popular dramatist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. The fantastical satire is a comic opera, but not really an opera at all, so silly is its story about fairies marrying mortals. Its essential light-weightiness makes it an accessible show in and of itself, however, in the hands of Griffith University, Queensland Conservatorium. This is amplified by set and costume designer SimoneRomaniuk’s aesthetic interpretation. Like “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on acid, it is all hyper colour and moment with even its own passionate and powerful Queen of the Fairies (Alla Yarosh).

It’s an inventive production from its outset with its combination of Lois Redman’s whimsical choreography of dab and floss dance moves and an effective stage design of streamers hanging from the ceiling and then striped maypoles. And the emergence from amongst its splendour of the show’s large chorus of colourfully-costumed fairies tripping hither, tripping thither, makes its early scenes quite wonderful to watch. Early highlights keep coming with noisy arrival from the rear of the Conservatorium Theatre stalls of the peers of the realm, whose number on stage, full of sweeping regal capes and crowns, only adds to the spectacle. It’s all very British, (Act Two is all England with Big Ben, Beefeaters and Union Jack adornment), as the Queen of the Fairies meets Britain’s legal establishment.

The story is literally set in two worlds, that of the fairies and the moral world as it focusses on the trials and tribulations of Acradian Shepherd Strephon (Oliver Heuzenroeder), who is half fairy and half mortal. His mother, the charming fairy Iolanthe (Sophie Mortesen), who has been banished from fairyland for marrying a mortal, has been pardoned for her crime so is reunited with the fairies, allowing her to introduce them to Strephon, who intends to marry his love Phyllis (Caitlin Weal), who is a Ward of Chancery and not yet of legal marrying age, thereby requiring permission from the Lord Chancellor (Aidan Hodder) to marry. The British House of Lords is included as the entire peerage along with the Lord Chancellor is besotted with Phyllis. As if this is not enough of a complication, when Strephon is caught in intimate conversation with his fairy mother, who appears younger than he does himself, the stage is set for a hilarious confrontation between characters, especially as it is a capital crime for fairies to marry mortals.

Like its story, some of the operetta’s musical numbers are absurdist with nonsensical lyrics akin to those of the duo’s “Tarantara, Tarantara” ‘With Cat-Like Tread” sort from “The Pirates of Penzance”. But, warmly conducted by Johannes Fritzsch’s, the orchestra provides a lovely lushness to much of the score, including a beautiful, subdued overture and a flighty fluidity to the fairy’s music. Complex orchestrations sparkle its silliness, boldly bringing to life even a song about the merits of being adept and spelling and grammar.

Heuzenroeder is strong as the romantic lead, Stepheon, while Weal presents a modern Phyllis and is of crisp vocals throughout. They are joined by Hodder in provision of opening night’s standout performances. His presentation of the Chancellor’s Act Two patter number, ‘The Nightmare Song’, inset with almost conversational asides as he outlines how hopeless love is the stuff of nightmares, robbing him of his rest, is very entertaining. Not only does his comic approach shine, but it is appropriately tempered to underline the song’s cumbersome lyrics upon a steady base.

Sound is always crips and Keith Clark’s lighting design both lushes us into the velvety night of ‘The Nightmare Song’ and easily contrasts the fanciful fairy world with that of the more orderly human one, which helps in transition from the hyperreal into pantomime. This works well with Stuart Maunder’s generous direction, which allows the work to lean into its witty comedy, setting a clear tone and attention to detail from the start.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” has long delighted audiences with its clever combination of romance, humour and political lampoonery and it is easy to see why. Despite having premiered over a century ago in 1882, its satire of the legal system and its aristocratic privilege, still resonates. Not only is its story easy enough to follow, but it is vibrant riot of colour, fun, and impressive stagecraft ensure that is well received by opening night audiences of all ages.

Happy Penzance place

The Pirates of Penzance in Concert (Lynch & Paterson)

Princess Theatre

February 21 – 22


February 2020 is the perfect time to present a production of “The Pirates of Penzance”. The story features a paradox caused by the once-every-four-years occurrence of February 29. It concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his mistaken apprenticeship to the titular band of tender-hearted and inept pirates. When he meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, the two fall instantly in love. Complications ensue of course as Frederic learns, that he was born on the 29th of February, and so, technically, he has a birthday only once each leap year and, as his indenture specifies that he remain apprenticed to the pirates until his “twenty-first birthday”, he must serve for another 63 years.

The show is quintessentially British; set during the reign of Queen Victoria, the comic operetta occurs on a rocky seashore on the coast of Cornwall. And, also appropriately, in this concert version is the profiling of the orchestra on stage, under the baton of its infectiously passionate conductor Lucas D Lynch.


The energy of the entire show is irresistible; making it pantomimic in nature even though its characters are thoughtfully drawn. Nathan Kneen is a charismatic larger-than-life buccaneer leader who adds much to the show’s sometimes meta-theatre approach with occasional interactions with audience members and Lynch alike. Kneen plays the role of the fashionable pirate king ‘with a pirate head and a pirate heart’, with a touch of Jack Sparrow swagger, however, resists the temptation to over camp his performance.


Much of the show’s humour comes from Kneen and the over-the-top reactions of those around him, such as those of Ruth (Patricia Dearness), Frederic’s nursery maid when he was younger, in encouragement of Frederick to take her as his ‘beautiful’ wife. And when ‘timidly-inclined’ police march on stage in single file in the iconic, ‘No, I’ll be brave’, their animated facial expressions combine with Kamara Henrick’s clever choreography to result in all-aged engagement.


Along with its tarantara tunes, the show is known for its patter songs, which require top-notch performers for effective delivery. Accordingly, Grant Cochman is eccentrically the very model of modern major general, delivering his trademark, witty ‘Major-General’s Song’ with an aplomb that sees audience members bopping along to the famous satire of the idea of the ‘modern’ over-educated British Army general of the period. The rapid-fire delivery of nonsensical lyrics in ‘My Eyes Are Fully Open’, featuring Frederic (Jack Biggs), Ruth and the Pirate King in ‘particularly rapid unintelligible patter [that] isn’t generally heard and if it is it doesn’t matter’ is, similarly, another highlight.


With swashbuckling pirates and bumbling police, a dashing hero and a beautiful maiden, “The Pirates of Penzance” offers much to audiences of all ages. Indeed, Gilbert and Sullivan’s most memorable score serves as a wonderful gateway into the operatic genre. This operetta in two acts features many talented vocalists, including General Stanley’s daughters (Kayleigh Marven, Sophie Price and Belinda Ward), from their initial, exuberant and highly-melodic ‘Climbing over Rocky Mountain’ gaily tread of the measure, and a skilled orchestra that brings its timeless score to life in moments of soft strings and rousing ensemble numbers alike (‘With Cat-Like Tread’ when the pirates steal onto the Major General’s estate seeking vengeance, is a lively and incredibly likeable Act Two highlight). Along with its impressive overture, these numbers not only make it a delight for fans of Gilbert and Sullivan and musical theatre/operetta alike, but an accessible introduction to the genres.


This is wildly entertaining show of great vitality, full of rich characterisation. Samantha Paterson makes for a formidable Mabel. Biggs is a dashing Frederic and his duets with Mabel convey a lovely tenderness. Dearness’ lovelorn nurse Ruth really comes into her own in Act Two when she is given more to do than lust over her former, much-younger charge.

In Lynch & Paterson’s hands it is easy to appreciate the place of “The Pirates of Penzance” as one of the most enduringly popular of Gilbert and Sullivan’s many comic operas, with many iconic songs, witty dialog and lyrics, its clever narrative and its memorable characters. The music is exquisite in its ability to transport audiences to a happy place of good, old-fashioned entertainment.

Don Giovanni drama

Don Giovanni (Opera Queensland)

QPAC, The Playhouse

October 19 – November 3

Opera Queensland’s “Don Giovanni” promises to be a striking production and truly, the aesthetics of the work are impressive, beginning with opening projections that allow the exhilarating score’s initial overture to be appropriately showcased. Although they are less clear when used in the show proper, they still add depth to the story’s dramatic themes and working class Victorian London setting.

There is drama too in the opera’s initial pivotal scene, when after leaving the bedroom of soon-to-be married Donna Anna (Eva Kong in her Opera Queensland debut), the titular Giovanni (Duncan Rock) is confronted by and kills her father, the Commendatore (Andrew Collis). From these early hues of death, things warm as Hayley Sugars struts on stage in an opulent orange ensemble; Anna Cordingley’s contemporary Victoria costume designs represent another highlight with Giovanni’s lush blue coat making him prominent against ensemble shades. A heavily raked stage adds dimension and lighting creates some stunning visual imagery, such as when our antihero is silhouetted against a doorway. So striking are the show’s visuals, that the aesthetic on stage often distracts from follow of the surtitles being shown above (The Mozart opera is sung in Italian with English surtitles).


Fortunately, the story is a simple one. Giovanni, a wealthy young and debauched nobleman, travels the world seducing women and casting them aside. After he kills Donna Anna’s father he mocks a statue of the slain father. To his surprise, the statue later appears as a ghost who gives Giovanni one last chance to repent. He refuses and is sent to hell as punishment.


The comedic opera about the Don Juan’s sexual exploits (the opera serves as a version of the Don Juan legend), is filled with familiar motifs of the Shakespearean sort with attempted window wooing, masquerading and disguised identities, and a supernatural haunting. However, given its misogynism, it is a problematic undertaking, especially in recent times in which the misconduct of men has been so in the spotlight. Its unprincipled protagonist is a serial womaniser and rapist, hunting women throughout Europe, and while this production is said to be set in the context of 2018 and the #metoo movement, Giovanni’s philandering is still celebrated as an art form in numbers such as ‘Madamina, il catalogo è questo’, in which his servant Lepereeo (Shawn Brown) clownishly lists the aristocratic playboy’s catalogue of European conquests (1003 in Spain!) as evidence of his insincerity to Donna Elvira.

Conducted by Johannes Fritzsc, The Queensland Symphony Orchestra is high-calibre as always, expertly infusing each supporting character with their own musical motif. Of particularly note is the exhilaratingly dramatic sounds of its darkly rhythmic final number soundtracking of Giovanni’s descent into hell. British/Australian bass baritone and rising international star Duncan Rock, who has previously sung the role of Don Giovanni several times, makes his Australian principal debut as the long-haired Lothario, roaming the stage with an alluring appeal in contradiction to this unscrupulous, scoundrel behaviour. With shirt off for portions of the show he is more Jamie Fraser muscle than traditional opera lead. And he is not only one on stage sans some items of clothing….


Under Lindy Hume’s direction, this Giovanni’s descent into hell is given a #metoo take as a group of naked and semi-naked volunteer women, representing the ‘avenging furies’ drag him to his death as part of the punishment for his life. While this creates a spectacle for consideration, however, it doesn’t necessarily work, coming across as a heavy-handed inclusion for provocation’s sake.


QPAC’s Playhouse Theatre setting offers “Don Giovanni” audiences a move intimate experience than Opera Queensland’s most recent productions. It is a long show, as operas are, however, while it is not of a grand scale, as a work that is considered by many to be Mozart’s greatest, it is still offers a satisfying enough experience, particularly for those new to the story and genre alike. While its attempted #metoo take may not resonate due to its tacked-on feel, it does still provide a catalyst for discussion and ultimately the quality of both its Opera Queensland cast and Queensland Symphony Orchestra musicianship, and the aesthetics of its production, largely transcend the disappointment of its unrealised dramatic intents.

Merry Widow magnificence

The Merry Widow (Opera Queensland)

QPAC, Lyric Theatre

June 22 – 20


From the raise of its curtain, it is clear that Opera Queensland’s production of Hungarian composer Franz Lehár’s popular musical “The Merry Widow” is a lavish one. The dramatic set is of an opulent French Art Nuevo period as Act One takes audiences to a Paris embassy ball, where gold glamours in the bold geometry of the decor’s decadent act-deco detail, but also the epaulettes et al of the military costumes of Pontevedrian diplomats and the gorgeous gown of the titular Hanna Glavari (Natalie Christie Peluso)

The beautiful widow Hanna is from the tiny Balkan state of Pontevedro (a stand-in for Montenegro) and her homeland is approaching bankruptcy. The story follows the efforts of Pontevedrin officials at the embassy, primarily the ambassador, Baron Zeta (Jason Barry-Smith), to compel her to marry one of her fellow citizens rather than an enamoured Parisian. And despite his now self-distructive life swimming in pink champagne with the grisettes of Chez Maxime’s supper club, the idealistic Count Danilo (David Hobson) is deemed to be the most fitting suitor. But Hanna and Danilo have a history that sees the story of love in its many guises take some twists and turns (including an expected wedding of the Parisian sort, but not to whom you may expect) along their road to falling in love again.


Like an Astaire/Rogers Hollywood movie, the narrative is filled with feisty exchanges, mistaken identities and misunderstandings as much as love scenes, with the comedy of confusion cresendoing in Act Two. It’s like a comedy of Noel Coward type manners with operatic melodies… light-hearted and a little bit naughty in its risqué innuendo.

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Justin Flemings adaptation of the libretto is wickedly witty in both its sentiment and creative Cole-Porter type rhymes. And its pithy one-liners are deliciously realised in Hugh Parker measured delivery as Embassy Secretary, Njegus, who mocks the French before becoming ‘Quite Parisian’ himself. Hobson is a humorous drunk when the audience is introduced to the hot-tempered diplomat Danilo and Sam Hartley and Andrew Collins add vaudevillian laughs as Huey and Duey duo, embassy attachés Bogdanovitsch and Pritsch. Then, when a male septet performs ‘Women’ (wonderfully also later reprised by the full ensemble), it is a highly entertaining Monty Python meets MGM musical moment.

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Peluso is captivating as Hanna, easily conveying both her elegance and cheeky spirit. Her crisp soprano sounds soar through the Lyric Theatre, yet she is also affecting in the sentimental love song ‘Vilja, o Vilja’. Opera veteran Hobson is a dashing and suave Danilo, bringing a solid but sweet lyric tenor to his numbers. Together they work well, both theatrically and in vocal duet, most memorably in ‘I Love You So’, the famous Merry Widow Waltz. Also of note is James Rodgers as Camille, French attaché to the embassy and romancer of Barones Valencienne (Katie Stensel). His smooth vocal sounds are richly romantic in capture the character’s blindly-devoted love.

Musically, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra achieves a delightful bright and dynamic Viennese sound, particularly in its strings. The operetta is, however, more than its famous waltz and the orchestra also more than rise to the occasion of its rich and colourful European folk tunes.


The almost three-hour show, includes two 20 minute intervals, which may seem indulgent, but only until the distinct aesthetic of each act is revealed (Set Designer, Michael Scott-Mitchell). Act Two in Pontevedro is stunningly set against the impressive impressionist backdrop of a Monet waterlily painting with the women dressed in florals and soft colours. Then there is Act Three’s mirrored, metallic-silver shine of Maxine’s where Hanna is hosting a party.

Can Can.jpg

Not only does the shorter final act feature Hanna’s stunning cabaret-esque entrance, but it opens with an exhilarating, energetic dance number which see dancing waiters with champagne-laden trays can-caning and the club’s girls funning about in frou-frou pink peekaboo tutus. The chorus line numbers not only showcase the dancers’ excellent execution but also the work’s impressive choreography (Graeme Murphy Shane Placentino). Indeed, it is a show of interesting routines that, although eclectic in range from elegant waltzes and folk-inspired routines to sultry Cabaret teases and a Fosse-like while glove showcase circle around Hanna, are all outstanding.

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“The Merry Widow” is a feast for the senses thanks to its considered approach to every aspect of the glamourous production. When, for example, nightclub scene action freezes behind front-of-stage interaction, it creates a sumptuous tableau. Jennifer Irwin’s costumes are also richly realised as part of a bigger aesthetic. Ladies sweep about Act One’s ballroom in fishtail evening gowns on the arms of dapper gentlemen, without any restriction to their moment.

There is a reason why “The Merry Widow” is not only a staple of most opera companies, but the fastest-selling Opera Queensland production in over a decade. The work is extravagant to hyperbolic degrees, yet also highly accessible in its narrative, including a twist in the tale of the widow’s millions, and as it is both sung in and has subtitles in English. Under Graeme Murphy’s direction, it represents collaboration of the very best sort. Indeed, with a cast of around 50 singers and dancers, the opulent operetta is certainly magnificent, both is in its vibrant realisation and playful, irreverent tone. It is lively and entertaining down to smallest detail, so serves both as an ideal introduction to the artform, and confirmation of its beauty, especially in its breathtaking full ensemble numbers.

Sharing the Lanza love

Mark Vincent Sings Mario Lanza and the Classics (Lunchbox Productions)

QPAC, Concert Hall

October 29


Modern connections to Mario Lanza, it seems, are many and varied. Mine is courtesy of a mother’s nostalgia, but one that doesn’t go much beyond knowing that for a short time the American Tenor was the greatest star of the 1950s. Yet, still I adored every moment of “Mark Vincent Sings Mario Lanza”, such is the infectious passion and immense talent of Australian tenor Mark Vincent in the touring celebration of Lanzo as one of the greatest voices of all time, lost suddenly and too early at only 39 years of age in 1959.

The show, which serves as expansion of the songlist of his Area Classical Crossover Chart topper album “A Tribute to Mario Lanza”, allows opportunity for Vincent to share the rich repertoire of songs and arias made popular by the great Italian-American tenor and actor. And from the playful opening number, ‘Granada’, his flawless vocals fill the flamboyant song about the Spanish city of the same name with full emotional resonance. Not only in this musical standard, but throughout the show, there are many light-hearted and joyous moments; audience members clap along to the famous Neapolitan song ‘Funiculi Funicula’ and sing along with Verdi’s lively ‘Brindisi’ from “La Traviator”, one of the best-known opera melodies, otherwise referred to as ‘The Drinking Song’.

It is revisits to Lanza’s movie career that make for the show’s best moments. There is the romantic aria from Puccini’s operatic thriller “Tosca”, ‘E lucevan le stelle’, which featured in Lanza’s 1951 film “The Great Caruso”, memorably melodic in its musical texture, and the simply beautiful ‘Be My Love’, which featured both in Lanza’s 1950 MGM musical “The Toast of New Orleans” and also as the theme song for his radio program, “The Mario Lanza Show “.

Vincent is a simply stunning vocal performer, including when he revisits Wimpole Streetmand his time as idle socialite Freddie Eynsford-Hill in the recent Australian anniversary production of “My Fair Lady” with a vaulting ‘On the Street Where You Live’, full of intensity and vibrato. The musical also features in the repertoire of guest, Jennifer Little, which see the New Zealand soprano sharing a light and breezy ‘I Should Have Danced All Night’ in contrast to the piercing heights of her ‘Art is Calling for Me (I Want to Be a Prima Donna)’, from the 1911 Broadway Comic Opera “The Enchantress”.

Under versatile Conductor Guy Noble, the 20 piece orchestra serves as a perfect accompaniment to the honest emotional expression on stage. The sounds are never overpowering, yet when given opportunity, they certainly shine, whether it be through the sombre clarinet introduction to the romantic aria ‘E lucevan le stelle’ or the expressive strings that create the swaying sounds of ‘Come Priva’, a Lanzo love song favourite of many in the audience. Lighting, too, contributes much to the aesthetic experience, painting the Concert Hall in beautiful blues, rich reds and orange sunset shades in accompaniment to the syrupy sounds of the popular ‘The Loveliest Night of the Year’.

The spectacular venue is a perfect location in which to hear Vincent’s exquisite tones, particularly in the show’s encore songs. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is inspirational in its rise from low notes to a powerful and emotional crescendo. And then there is every tenor’s favourite ‘Nessun Dorma’ from the final act of Puccini’s “Turandot”, which kick-started Vincent’s career as a 15 year old on “Australia’s Got Talent”. Affecting and emotional, the aria of all arias makes for a tear-to-the-eye conclusion, so moving is its experience. And the standing ovation and calls of “bravo” certainly do it justice.

Mark Vincent is a stunningly talented opera singer and this is the perfect vehicle to showcase his magnificent golden tenor sound, always respectful of the integrity of the source material. Indeed, “Mark Vincent Sings Mario Lanza and the Classics” is a wonderful and long overdue tribute to Lanza’s unforgettable vocals, charisma and talent, as a classical artist, not just a film star. And in Vincent’s hands, the famous tenor’s legacy continues to resonate, regardless of initial audience connections. His voice conveys richness, emotion and narrative conviction, which, alongside the show’s lush orchestration, showcases not only his own versatile voice but the uncanny vocal similarities he shares with one of the 20th Century’s best tenor voices.

Shakespeare in song

Kiss Me Kate (Opera Queensland)

QPAC, Concert Hall

November 12

As the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, 2016 has seen many of the Bard’s plays brought to theatrical life as part of the global celebration of his work. But perhaps it has been a case of saving the best for last with Opera Queensland’s final production of the year, “Kiss Me Kate”. The semi-staged concert version of Cole Porter’s multi-award winning musical based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” features colossal collaboration as the company is joined by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and a dynamic cast of singers and actors to bring the classic of American theatre to life.

From the moment of its opening number of Hattie (Lizzie Moore) and company singing showbiz anthem ‘Another Op’nin’, Another Show’, the Porter features are on show with both catchy melodies and bold, witty lyrics (Porter is one of the few composers who wrote both words and music).  And when (as was the maxim for musicals of the golden age) Act Two opens with a big syncopated dance number “Too Darn Hot” it doesn’t matter that it does not contribute to the plot, such is the addictive appeal of its jazzy 1940’s sound.


The backstage musical revolves around a disastrous Baltimore production of “The Taming of the Shrew”; newly divorced actors Lilli (Cheryl Barker) and Fred (Peter Coleman-Wright) are the show’s bickering couple Katharine and Petruchio, both onstage and off. Add in some secondary characters, such as  Lois (Naomi Price) who plays Bianca, Katharine’s younger sister unable to marry until her shrewish sibling has found a husband, her off-stage suitors and a pair of gangsters (Bryan Proberts and Shaun Brown) intent on collecting a gambling debt from Fred and you are in for a whole lot of fun.


Barker and Coleman-Wright are wonderful as the warring lead couple, each with their own commanding stage presence. Barker is appropriate feisty on stage as the shrewsome Katharine; proud and haughty, she is sharp-tonged in her song ‘I Hate Men’ and full of violent threats in her titular duet with Petruchio. There is melancholic beauty in her vulnerability in delivery, of ‘So in Love’ and also Coleman-Wright’s reprise of the number, with vocals that resonate with the song’s tragic resignation of unrequited love.

In her dual roles of Lois Lane and sweet Bianca, Naomi Price’s vocals are also excellent. As the charismatic actress she is the quintessential airhead ingénue, with a blunt and brassy accent of the Cyndi Lauper sort, but absolutely charming in all that she does.  With equal prowess, she delivers the tender ballad ‘Why Can’t You Behave’ to her boyfriend Bill (Jason Barry-Smith), who had just missed rehearsal because he was gambling, and later brings cheeky personality to ‘Always True to You in My Fashion’ in which she defends her faithfulness to him despite seeing and accepting gifts from wealthy men.


Cole Porter’s tuneful score is full of fabulous numbers and under the baton of Guy Noble, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra brings them to glorious life, from the gentle string sounds that accompany ‘So In Love’ to the creation of the light-hearted mood of ‘We Open in Venice’ and the buoyancy of ‘Where is the Life That Late I Led’. However, sound issues spoil some song delivery, distracting from the performance when opening lines are lost. It would be helpful, also, to have a song list included in the show’s program. Jason Glenwright’s lighting awashes the Concert Hall with luscious blues and purples and Josh McIntosh’s costumes twirl about the place to convey a real sense of its time. Even the posture and presence of performers help to take the audience back to its era.

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As a tribute to Shakespeare, the show includes borrowed lines like Hamlet’s rub. And then there is ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’, which, thanks to its encore ensemble delivery will earworm with audiences for days. The humourous ditty from Probets and Brown as the dim debt-collecting thugs, is packed with puns and malapropisms and delivered with delicious vaudevillian sensibility as it explains how to pick up women though the type of forced rhymes that resonate through much of Porter’s lyrics (think ‘Let’s Fall in Love’).


“Kiss Me Kate” is full of colour and movement as its large ensemble scatters the action amongst the orchestra and amid the whirl of props being danced on and off stage. Indeed, under the direction of Kris Stewart, performers make good use of their limited space. To present any take of “Kiss Me Kate”, semi-staged or otherwise, is sure to be an ambitious adventure (the show won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical in 1949), but given the success of their 2015 “Candide”, this show was always going to be safe in Opera Queensland’s hands. The result is not just a triumphant comical marriage of Shakespeare and Porter, but also of orchestral and musical excellence that feels equally fresh as it does of its time.

Photos c/o – Steve Henry