Autumn has well and truly settled in by the time April rolls around, but the fourth month of the year has its seasonal highlights to keep us entertained. There’s LOLs a plenty at the annual Comedy Festival, cute animals and fairground rides at the Royal Easter Show and school holidays keep parents on their toes. Plus, it's ANZAC Day, so you'll want to know where to play two-up, and most of us get four days off over Easter, so it's the perfect time for a short getaway.
April's biggest events
This group show will explore artists whose practice revolves around colour, featuring newly commissioned and recent work by Sydney Ball, Rebecca Baumann, Ry David Bradley, Lara Merrett, Elizabeth Newman, Jonny Niesche, Huseyin Sami, Nike Savvas, Gemma Smith, Brendan van Hek, Julian Day, Spence Messih and Shelley Lasica. Some artists will create work within the space (for example, Rebecca Baumann will paint each wall of the gallery a different colour), while others will perform works that 'activate' and transform the gallery space at points during the exhibition's duration (such as Huseyin Sami, who will undertake one of his 'painting performances').
First of all: OMG, they're soooo cute. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were just 11 years old when they starred in the first Harry Potter film for director Chris Columbus back in 2001 – and what they lacked in acting chops ("I'm [lengthy stilted pause]... a... a wizard?") they make up for in adorableness. The first movie is far from the worst of the series. In fact, it's got a lot to recommend it; for instance, the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore is authoritative and moving (sorry Michael Gambon, but he's the better Albus). So imagine the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in full flight playing the entire score for a high definition screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the Concert Hall of the Opera House. You'd be a muggle to miss it.
Premiering on London's West End in 2012, Alexander Dinelaris's musical version of The Bodyguard is based on the 1992 film starring your ’90s boyfriend Kevin Costner as an ex-Secret Service agent hired to protect a superstar from her stalker, and Whitney Houston as the damsel-in-distress, Rachel Marron. It's coming to Australia in 2017 (thanks to producers Michael Harrison, David Ian and John Frost) with Fijian-born singer-songwriter and original Australian Idol Paulini making her theatrical debut in the role of Rachel Marron, and the rest of the cast TBC. Tickets are on sale from October 31. Check out what Time Out London said about The Bodyguard.
Melbourne writer-performer Angus Cerini won the 2014 Griffin Award for this gothic revenge fantasy, set in a remote farmhouse where three survivors of domestic violence are working out what to do with the body of their tormentor. When it premiered at Griffin in 2015, we described Lee Lewis's production as "stunningly lyrical" and "enthralling and essential". Lewis, who grew up in Goulburn, pushed Cerini's text back into the 1950s, a time when the Country Women’s Association held the community together with scones, sponge cake and a cast-iron sense of organisation. “I wanted the audience to focus on the physical and emotional experience of isolation, rather than the practicalities of how we deal with domestic violence in a contemporary context.”
What's on stage this month
We challenge you to find a bigger tearjerker than this in the opera canon; it's not just the story (based on Alexandre Dumas' popular 1848 novel La Dame aux Camélias) about a courtesan who falls for a young admirer, but sacrifices her chance at happiness for the greater good; it's also Verdi's romantic score. These are why we keep going back to Verdi's opera. This 'old faithful' production by director Elijah Moshinsky, with opulent 19th century design, is also something that audiences keep returning to; it's never long out of circulation for Opera Australia. In 2017 you can see one of three sopranos proven in the role: international star Ermonela Jaho will open the season, followed by Lorina Gore and then Emma Matthews. See what else is in the Opera Australia 2017 season.
With a cast of 32 and a geopolitical narrative, Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica is the kind of play you don’t see often in Australia, where arts funding cuts mean we usually see plays of smaller cast sizes in smaller theatres, with less time to develop a work of true scale. Chimerica, however, is big and sweeping – and unapologetically so. The narrative follows an American photojournalist’s search for the near mythological ‘Tank Man’ (a lone figure immortalised in protest by this famous image from the Tiananmen Square massacre) 23 years after he first got the shot. At a higher level, it charts America’s relationship with China, and attempts a ‘psychological profile’ of post-Tiananmen China: a country in which oppressive state and military apparatus seem to operate in the service of Chinese military suppression, and the country’s rapid economic growth. Pivoting between American and Chinese perspectives – and interjecting a British perspective, in the form of Tessa, a consumer research guru investigating the Chinese market on behalf of a credit card company – the play invites us to contemplate basic questions: what is the right side of history? What exactly is the good fight for human rights and human life? Who do we harm when we try to make a difference with our lives and work, and who is harmed by our inaction? Joe (played here by Mark Leonard Winter) is the photographer on a mission; he and his journalist partner Mel (Brent Hill) are facing a near impossible task: there’s no p
It’s 1974, in the heart of Mississippi. Babe, the youngest of the three Magrath sisters, just shot her husband in the stomach. Why? She “didn’t like his looks.” Billed as a Southern gothic tragicomedy, Crimes of the Heart is focused on the lives of three sisters: Lenny (played here by Laura Pike), whose life has been subsumed under caring for her sick grandfather; Meg (Amanda McGregor), who fled their small town for Hollywood and dreams of being a singer; and Babe (Renae Small), the sweetheart would-be killer. The sisters are back in their childhood home after Babe’s arrest. As Babe and her lawyer (Caleb Alloway) work on her case, the sisters face old family secrets. Crimes of the Heart is best known as a 1986 film helmed by Australian director Bruce Beresford and starring Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek, but it began its life as a play by Beth Henley; it picked up a Pulitzer Prize in 1981. The Pulitzer is awarded to distinguished plays “that deal with American life” and for its time the play is reasonably advanced: it features candid discussions of domestic violence, suicide and mental illness, and focuses on the victimisation of women in the American South, and in Western society more broadly. Times have changed since the play and even the film were released. Its bite has dulled over the years and it feels tame rather than revolutionary. Its politics are quaint in the modern world; there are casual references to statutory rape and the worth of women being
They don’t make villains like they used to. Even celebrity baddies in the James Bond franchise rarely seem to be really enjoying themselves, perhaps distracted by Armageddon. Back in Elizabeth I’s day, bad guys on stage put pride and effort into their work, even to the point of gleefully celebrating how much wrongdoing they can get away with. In the 1580s Christopher Marlowe made a business in hyperactive, almost robotic villains; Shakespeare had to compete with them, and with his genius also managed to make these despicable characters human and even sympathetic. Shylock in the comedy The Merchant of Venice is the saddest result, but in The Tragedy of KingRichard III he bestowed the greatest potential for enjoyment. Bell Shakespeare’s Richard 3 tidies up this great sprawling historical drama, keeps the tragedy on its roll, and puts the fun back into its anti-hero lead. To turn a series of real-life historical murders among extended royal families into an entertaining spectator sport requires an actor strong enough to persuade the audience to join in a conspiracy against the other characters and to delight jointly in their suffering. Crucially, in the title role of the physically and morally repulsive Richard, Kate Mulvany’s boyish charm proves irresistible. Even before the famous opening line “Now is the winter of our discontent” is spoken, she has convincingly presented her character in posture and gesture, and we have already signed on to his agenda of dynastic troublema
Musical theatre is almost embarrassingly sincere. While there are exceptions, on the whole its resolutely innocent humour and reverence for even the corniest, most dated classics can make it hard to get on board the all-singing, all-dancing, all-feeling train. One of the worst examples of the genre is Calamity Jane, the cringe-worthy little sister to Annie Get Your Gun. Originally a movie musical vehicle for Doris Day back in 1953 it’s a sweet little Western about a real-life rough and tumble woman, though the musical removes any remaining traces of grit from her story; she learns to become more of a “lady” so she can be happy in love. It’s toothless and meandering and too cute for words; while it was adapted for the stage in the early 1960s, not even Broadway, the natural home of musical theatre cheese, has ever put Calamity Jane in one of its theatres. Thankfully, Richard Carroll’s new production of the show (which was originally conceived as a staged reading as part of the Neglected Musicals series) has no interest in worshipping the old bird. He and his cast give the show as much respect as it deserves in 2017: very little. Instead, it’s a quick-fire, self-aware, fourth-wall-breaking beast; a madcap staging that veers from droll to camp to slapstick and back again. And it’s the most you’ll laugh during any musical currently playing in Australia (including The Book of Mormon). Virginia Gay stars as Calamity Jane, Deadwood’s self-styled protector: a woman who dresses l
Film events in April
This film festival owes its existence, weirdly, to Irish rules football. Also known as Gaelic football, the game is similar to Aussie rules and is played by many expats from the Emerald Isle in Australia; Irish filmmaker Dr Enda Murray originally came out to make a documentary about the phenomenon, and ended up staying on to work in academia (he’s currently teaching film at UNSW). “I lived in London before Australia and was really impressed by their Irish Film Festival,” he explains. “I thought it would be a great addition to the cultural life of Sydney, and the Irish Government have supported us really well, and this year we are going to Melbourne for the first time.” The Irish industry, Murray says, is “going gangbusters” thanks to both the production of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland’s strong connections both to Europe and the US. “Ireland being just four hours from New York, there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of actors and technicians. There were a total nine films last year with Irish connections nominated for Oscars. The future is looking pretty bright.” Murray promises the festival’s opening night will be a great party, if last year’s event is any measure. “We’ll have Irish food, Irish drinks, Irish music; we had céilí dancing. We had support from PJ O’Brien's and Jameson Whiskey – a surfeit of alcohol, but we managed to drink it all.” Murray talked us through five of the festival’s offerings. A Date for Mad Mary “It’s a comedy
And here's the announcement we've all been waiting for. Moonlight Cinema has just released its December-January program. Acclaimed Oscar hopefuls such as La La Land, Lion, Allied and Passengers will get a screening at Centennial Park's lovely Belvedere Amphitheatre. So will blockbusters ranging from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Assassin's Creed, not forgetting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Kids' movies include Disney's Moana and Pete's Dragon as well as Sing and Red Dog: True Blue. Retro screenings of Grease as a sing-along and Back to the Future will satisfy the nostalgic urges and more cult classics will be announced soon. As always the Moonlight Cinema food truck and bar can supply you with comestibles, but you're welcome to BYO food and drinks too. To see the full program up to January 29 and find out Time Out's critics' picks as well as book tickets, click on the DATES AND TIMES tab. Films commence at sundown.
Australia’s only film festival dedicated to film lovers aged 60 and up, Young at Heart, is returning for its 12th year in April. The festival program includes acclaimed features, special guests, Q&As and cinema classics brought back to their rightful home on the big screen. The program includes films such as Neruda from director Pablo Larrain (Jackie), about the famous poet during his clashes with the Chilean government; Gael Garcia Bernal co-stars.Comedic drama Their Finest, directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education), is an all-star portrayal of the London Blitz and a young screenwriter (Gemma Arterton) making propaganda films for the British Ministry of Information. Another WWII drama, Sophie and the Rising Son, concerns a South Carolina artist who becomes involved with a Japanese man. Viceroy's House features Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten, the viceroy who oversaw the transition of power back to India in 1947; Gillian Anderson plays his wife. Fans of the Martin Sheen film The Way may be interested in Looking for El Camino, a documentary about the pilgrimage in Northern Spain, El Camino de Santiago. Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) directs The Secret Scripture, concerning 100-year-old Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave) recalling the events of her life from a mental hospital; Rooney Mara and Eric Bana co-star.Whiteley, the new documentary about Australian art legend Brett Whiteley, gets a screening, as does Tommy's Honour, about two fa