What's on stage in Melbourne?
Read about The Book of Mormon $40 ticket lottery. It can be difficult for Australian audiences to receive any international musical without certain preconceptions: the rumours of greatness tend to wash onto our shores long before the tour has even been announced. When one of the biggest Broadway hits of the millennium rolls into town, the sense of expectation can be dangerously high. The Book of Mormon comes with the kind of ecstatic hype usually found accompanying a messiah. Instead, Elders Price and Cunningham turn up – which is possibly less shattering, but ultimately way more fun. The unlikely genesis of this mega-hit is well documented; suffice to say that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the brains behind South Park and Team America, made an unholy alliance with Robert Lopez, the creator of dirty puppet porn Avenue Q, to create this monstrous satire of everything. The result is a show as perverse as it is heartfelt, as clever as it is moving. It really is as good as they say. The opening number, ‘Hello’, sets the tone as deftly and memorably as ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’defines the parameters of Oklahoma! The scene is familiar to us all: a bunch of trainee missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints are ringing on doorbells, keen to share the news “of this amazing book”. Their squeaky grins and infectious positivity are so aligned with the traditional image of the Broadway musical that the sparkly vests and tap routines that soon follow feel like a
Remember when Krispy Kreme donuts arrived on our shores? Australians were told in breathless tones that these were the “best in the world”, but when we bit into them we discovered they were strangely insubstantial and sickly sweet. Disney’s Aladdin has all the glaze and ornament of those airy donuts, and about as much nutritional value.Not that the original source was a feast for mind and soul. Aladdin was a largely forgettable 1992 Disney confection made palatable by the extraordinary improv skills of the late, great Robin Williams. It conformed precisely to a formula that is now virtually ubiquitous in animation: a plunder of traditional stories with little to no appreciation of their cultural significance; wisecracking animals who help disguise large chunks of exposition; and as many current pop culture references as possible, just so people know it’s all happening now.Much has been made of Princess Jasmine’s (Hiba Elchikhe) fierce sense of independence and the fact she isn’t white, but both of these traits come to very little in the transition to the stage. Aladdin (Ainsley Melham) is the focus, and their coupling – while not without its endearing naivety – doesn’t seem transgressive or evolutionary. The journey of self-discovery is all his, and it’s a classic Disney one: be yourself. She gets to marry her prince, but only because her father, the Sultan (George Henare) changes the law to allow it. It’s not exactly smashing the patriarchy.The characters who make the easies