What's on
Jesus Christ Superstar - with a twist PDF Print E-mail
What's on
Written by Paula Weston   
Thursday, 09 October 2014 18:59

Classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar has always sparked debate over its interpretation of the gospels, and the latest Phoenix Ensemble production is set to cause an even greater stir when it opens at Beenleigh’s Pavilion Theatre on 24 October.

Traditionally, the musical is loosely based on the gospels’ account of the last week of Jesus’ life, highlighting political and personal struggles that are not in accepted biblical narratives.

jesus christ superstar for webDirector Morgan Garrity, who last year brought us Phoenix Ensemble’s production of Reefer Madness, is going one step further by delivering an original version based on the Gospel of Barnabas – itself a controversial and much-debated text.

‘This gospel is largely untold in general, and only recently available to the wider public,’ Morgan says.

‘Is it controversial? Yes, definitely, but I’m hoping people will appreciate the fresh take on the old classic.’

The classic 1970 rock opera features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, and much-loved songs including the title track, ‘Everything’s Alright’ and ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’.

For Morgan, the enduring appeal of Jesus Christ Superstar is its great music and its potential for broader interpretation such as her production.

She said her 17-strong cast was fully committed to the production’s non-traditional approach.

‘I haven’t seen this level of joy in a cast for a long time. The cohesion among the group is outstanding which of course makes for an amazing on-stage presence.

‘Audiences can expect a very edgy, high energy show with some major twists.’

Venue:   Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh

7.30pm: 24, 25, 31 October, 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22.

Tickets: $26 adult; $24 concession


Jesus - Adam Bartlett
Judas - Frog Johnson
Mary - Ashley Jarman
Pilate - Michael Skelton
Ciaphis - Doug Rumble
Annas - Carly Quinn
Peta (Peter) - Tyjana Wormleaton
Simon - Lachlan Dalby
Herod - Eva Bartlett
John - Darcy Morris
Jane (James) - Kate Davis
Drew (Andrew) - Ranni McQuade
Phillipa (Phillip) - Aliyah Booth
Thomas - Simon Ah-Him
Mattea (Matthew) - Sabrina Mariott
Jane (James the less) - Nicola Crawford
Barnabas - Pete Keavy

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2014 19:16
A new (and darker) version of Little Shop of Horrors PDF Print E-mail
What's on
Written by Paula Weston   
Monday, 28 July 2014 12:32

What do you get if you combine a plant with a taste for human flesh, a hapless florist, catchy rock tunes, and a director with a flair for originality?

Answer: a dark and imaginative twist on a classic black comedy musical.

Tracey Hutley directs Phoenix Ensemble’s unique take on the Broadway (and cinematic) hit, Little Shop of Horrors, which runs over five weekends at Beenleigh’s boutique Pavilion Theatre from 8 August.

scott johnson and michelle daganThe show tells the story of a mild-mannered florist who inadvertently raises a plant (named Audrey II) that feeds on human flesh and blood. Tracey, who directed last year’s smash hit The Full Monty, recognised early on there was an even darker side to the musical – even beyond the carnivorous plant!

In the traditional telling of the story, the Ronnettes (the three quirky vocalists) are essentially narrators, but in Tracey’s interpretation, they – and Audrey II – become voices in Seymour’s head as he struggles with his psychotic tendencies.

‘It’s been really interesting to see all the characters develop and to identify how well the script actually lends itself to this more layered retelling,’ Tracey says.

‘The idea of exploring that darker element really interested me, and I knew the cast would enjoy the challenging process of keeping true to the story but still putting a new spin on such a well-known musical. For me, staging a show is as much about developing characters and work-shopping ideas as it is about delivering a great final product that audiences can enjoy.’

Directing shows with puppets is becoming somewhat of habit for Tracey, who helmed the adults-only Avenue Q in 2012, for which 29 puppets were created. This time around, the show only has four, but the final version of Audrey II fills most of the stage.

‘The key difference between the two shows is the fact that the plant puppets in Little Shop are on a much larger scale and need to have different mechanisms – including the ability to swallow people!

‘The weight of the plants is quite heavy and Blake Russell’s job of manipulating the puppets is one of the most physical roles in the show.’ (Doug Rumble provides Audrey II’s voice.)

Tracey is particularly proud of the way the 13-member cast has pushed themselves to bring together what promises to be another ground-breaking Phoenix show.

‘Some of the music in particular is very tricky and the cast is doing a great job bringing the show together. The Ronnette's (Heather Scott, Kate Doohan and Jo Mikkelsen) do an amazing job carrying most of the vocals throughout the performance. And Scott Johnson's portrayal of Seymour is also outstanding. His stamina in delivering the "crazed" personality is so intriguing to watch.’

Tracey is confident fans of the more traditional interpretation of Little Shop of Horrors will still get a kick out of the show.

‘They will definitely enjoy the songs – they just need to come with an open mind to look at the production in a whole new light.’

Little Shop of Horrors features musical direction by Casey Chadwick and Nick Ng, and choreography by Heather Scott.

Venue:      Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh

7.30pm:    8, 9, 15, 16, 21 22, 29, 30 August; 5, 6 September

Tickets:     $26 adult; Concession/child (under 15) $24; Member $22


Seymour Krelborn: Scott Johnson
Audrey: Michelle Dagan
Mr Mushnik: Luke Hutley
Chiffon: Kate Doohan
Crystal: Jo Mikkelsen
Ronnette: Heather Scott
Audrey II (voice): Doug Rumble
Audrey II (manipulation): Blake Russell
Orin Scrivello/Skip Snip, Patrick Martin/Bernstein/Mrs Luce: Will Boyd
Male Ensemble: Alex Milosevic
Male Ensemble: Dennis Clarke
Female Ensemble: Julia Lefik
Female Ensemble: Michelle Phair

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 August 2014 13:35
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