What's on stage in Melbourne?
The second act opens with a number that could easily stand for the whole: it’s called ‘When Everything Old is New Again’, and it involves white pants, precision dancing, and ladles of melted cheese. The Boy from Oz turns 20 this year, as does the Production Company, responsible for this staging. Both the show and the company are unapologetic champions of the daggy and the aged. It’s pretty much a match made in heaven.Peter Allen wasn’t exactly an acquired taste; he was more of a black hole of taste – only white and covered in sequins. A musical about him, constructed around his occasionally beautiful but more often ghastly songs, might sound on paper like the great Aussie slang for spew: a technicolour yawn. But in practice, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It isn’t subtle, or nuanced, or even remotely challenging, but it’s damn entertaining, and in musical theatre that counts for a lot.Of course, the shoes are hard to fill, and that’s not even talking about the man himself. Todd McKenney initiated the role to much acclaim, only to be pipped (or bludgeoned, depending on who you ask) by Hugh Jackman. It’s hard to imagine the show storming Broadway without that cast change, and it’s hard to imagine Rohan Browne supplanting anyone’s memories of either of those previous performances. But he’s by no means a disaster. He can dance better than Allen, and his singing – while occasionally off key, and generally lacking in texture – is certainly passable. His take on the man is quite compl
It’s a scenario that seems fashioned out of the zeitgeist: a wealthy, respected man is threatened with ruin by the revelation of a single act of corruption in his youth, and a society twists itself in knots to protect and shield him from dishonour. But this is Oscar Wilde, so we can rest assured that nothing will comply precisely with societal norms, and we’re certain to have a hell of a lot of fun on the way down.An Ideal Husband is Wilde’s most serious comedy, which places it somewhere between the frivolous genius of his perfect farce The Importance of Being Earnest and the luxurious solemnity of his highly symbolic Salomé. It plays alternately as a sophisticated comedy of manners and a proto-noir thriller; blackmail, insider trading and political intrigue rub up against flirtation, marital skirmish and appropriate uses of the button-hole. Sir Robert Chiltern (Simon Gleeson) is the coming man in late Victorian society, a politician of strict and unimpeachable ideals. His wife, Lady Chiltern (Zindzi Okenyo) holds him to these ideals; she’d place him on a literal pedestal if she could explain it to her guests. These include her gloriously frivolous sister-in-law Mabel (Michelle Lim Davidson), the scandalously entertaining Lord Goring (Brent Hill) and his phlegmatic father the Earl of Caversham (William McInnes), the chief gossip Lady Markby (Gina Riley) and her mysterious, and subsequently dangerous, friend Mrs Cheveley (Christie Whelan Browne). The plot is too good to give a