Tuesday 10 January 2023

Much Ado About Nothing, ASC, 6 Jan 2023 ****


Written by William Shakespeare, music by Paul Norton

Australian Shakespeare Company (ASC)

At Botanical Gardens, Southern Lawn, until 4 Feb 2023

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: **** (4)

This review is published only on this blog. I’ll do a radio review on Arts Weekly on 4 Feb 2023. KH

Cast-of-Much-Ado-About-Nothing 2023_Credit-Ben-Fon



Shakespeare’s plays were performed under an open sky for people who were not fancy-pants literati. Glenn Elston’s audacious, summer production of Much Ado About Nothing, set against a backdrop of lush trees in the Botanical Gardens, would have delighted the bard’s audience, so don’t expect a stodgy or even predictable version of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.


The production opens with a comical intro by clown security guards /roadies, Dogberry (Madeleine Somers) and Verges (Antony Rive), followed by The Babes: four of the female characters sassily singing a hot rock number. Then the lead male characters, a band of returning soldiers, enter as rock band, The Loved Ones, all accompanied by on-stage guitarist, Tony Harvey.


Paul Norton’s songs are deliciously eclectic and, although they were written for a previous ASC production of Much Ado in 1998, they sound new and contemporary. Norton’s use of Shakespeare’s poetic text as lyrics or titles in these rock/pop songs is a cunning addition that adds another layer of enjoyment.


The entire cast is versatile, able to play both the comedy and drama and to perform the repertoire of songs. Nicholas Cameron is suitably seductive, arrogant, witty and charming as Benedick, playing the character as a loose limbed rock star in the style of Michael Hutchence. Anna Burgess, playing Benedick’s equally combative love match, Beatrice, captures the boldness, verbal sparring and seductiveness of the character.


Special mention must be made of Larissa Teale as the sweet, loving and tragically abandoned Hero. Teale’s warm and lovely vocal quality singing Hero’s solo ballad was a thrilling surprise.


Elston’s new production of Much Ado About Nothing is a rollicking, Shakespearean rock musical that provides another summer treat. Get a picnic and a bottle of wine and get down to the gardens before 4 Feb.



by Kate Herbert



BENEDICK Nicholas Cameron

BEATRICE Anna Burgess

CLAUDIO Alex Cooper

DON PEDRO Hugh Sexton

DON JOHN Kevin Hopkins

BORACHIO Elizabeth Brennan

LEONATO Claire Nichols

ANTONIO Syd Brisbane

HERO Larissa Teale


URSULA Olivia McLeod

DOGBERRY Madeleine Somers

VERGES Tony Rive




DIRECTOR Glenn Elston





Sunday 8 January 2023

Madagascar the Musical REVIEW 6 Jan 2023 ***1/2


Madagascar the Musical: Book by Kevin del Aguila, Original Music & Lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan

Selladoor Worldwide Production based on DreamWorks movie

At Comedy Theatre, Melbourne until 15 Jan 2023 then Perth 19-26 Jan.

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ***1/2

This review was published only on this blog. I'll do a radio review on Arts Weekly 3MBS on Feb 4, 2023. KH

Madagascar the Musical-pic by David Hooley - supplied

Much of the joy in watching Madagascar the Musical is hearing the delighted reactions of the littlies that comprise much of the audience. They giggle and clap and dance in their sets during the finale, and each has a favourite character; the child beside us loves Gloria the Hippo.


The musical is based on the hit movie by DreamWorks but it chooses a select few of the animals that escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo when Marty the adventurous Zebra (Joe Kalou) decides on his tenth birthday to take an overnight train to The Wild. His pals, Alex the conceited Lion (Andrew Papas), Melman the hypochondriacal Giraffe (Bryn Monk) and Gloria the sassy Hippo (Moniquewa Williams) pursue him, but all four friends end being captured captured in the middle of New York City.


They are transported in containers on a ship bound for Africa, but the four mischievous penguins, led by the wily Skipper (Cole Johnston) – He has the famously wry catchphrase, "Smile and wave boys!"– plan to get to Antarctica. They take over the ship and the other animals end up stranded on Madagascar, the realm of bombastic and flamboyant King Julien (Jonathan Martin), king of the lemurs.


Friendship is the core of this story. Even when Alex the carnivore is starving, he restrains himself from biting into his pal, Marty’s plump rump, then chases off the ravening enemies of the lemurs, the insidious, sneaking meat-eaters, the Fossas.

The songs by George Noriega & Joel Someillan are short and peppy with simple, cheeky lyrics and the styles range from pop tunes to R and B, Jazz and even Latin beats, all performed with accompanying dance routines that appeal to the children.


The lead characters are played by actors in costume while others are large puppets manipulated by a talented ensemble. The performers are all versatile and polished singer/dancer/actors, but special mention must be made of Martin as the hilarious, audacious character of King Julien. He has a rich vocal quality and his entrance singing the funky song, I Like to Move It!, is a highlight.  Madagascar is chock-full of jokes and sight gags for all the family and Martin’s King Julien milks a fart gag for all it’s worth, sending the kids into paroxysms of laughter.


This is not a lavish musical production like The Lion King, but it is just the ticket for a summer indoor entertainment for little kids.



by Kate Herbert


Australian Creatives

Associate Director -Nick Purdie

Associate Choreographer - Fabian Aloise

Associate Musical Director - Mark Bradley


Original Creatives

Director - Kirk Jamieson

Choreographer - Fabian Aloise

Designer - Tom Rogers

Musical Supervisor - Mark Crossland