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
One of the most fiendishly difficult things to program is a ballet triple bill: three short pieces that speak to each other and also stand alone as individual artistic expressions. The latter requirement is easy; it’s the former that tends to stump programmers. Australian Ballet’s new triple bill, Faster, takes as its overriding theme the idea of the human body as an excellence machine; it explores the point at which organisms reach heights of perfection, and the ways in which a pursuit of personal excellence might contribute to a subsequent lack of connectivity. The result is a triple bill of almost uncanny resonances, of echoes and counter arguments. In short, it makes a complex whole out of disparate and conflicting parts. The opening ballet, despite some spectacular and rousing moments, is the weakest. David Bintley choreographed Faster for the 2012 London Olympics, in collaboration with Australian composer Matthew Hindson and – while it has a driving, insistent quality that means to reference Ancient Greek notions of prowess and valiance – it tends to comes across as hubristic and glib. The final section turns the repetitive, exhausting grammar of fitness into something resembling a communal act, but it treats the concept of physical perfection as an unexamined absolute ideal. Given its genesis as a piece of Olympic propaganda, it’s hard to shake the Riefenstahlian overtones. The final piece is also choreographed by an Englishman, Wayne McGregor, and deals in some ways