Foiled by Dame Christie’s trickery?

A couple of months ago I held my breath and ventured to the local theatre only to find myself very impressed with Hervey Bay’s Z-Pac Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

In fact, the show was so remarkable I wonder if it set the bar too high for subsequent productions.

I know it’s kinda tragic but I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan – something I’ve confessed to in my Debbish blog. So, it was with great excitement that I went along to Z-Pac’s A Murder is Announced during its current season.

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

And… I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed.

Most of the cast were great, with Lorraine Lee’s Bunny, Brownwyn Bennett’s Mitzi and the younger cast the standouts.

I met Director Ken Lee at an arts event a month or so before the play and he mentioned the difficulty in translating Christie’s work for the stage. Perhaps that was partially the problem. It all seemed a little clunky to me and my friends and I agreed we were holding our breath on occasions, lest the actors forget their words or fluff their lines.

As I have a memory like a sieve and lack the confidence required to perform for an audience I have nothing but admiration for all of the cast and crew. So, while not having the panache of Z-Pac’s earlier Earnest, A Murder is Announced made for an entertaining evening out and I don’t feel the need to discount the local theatre anytime soon.

If you build it…

Many MANY moons ago – well, in the early-mid 1990s I spent 3-4 years working for the Maryborough City Council. It was at a time when local governments were realising that their responsibilities were broader than roads, rates and rubbish. The Bond Store Museum had just been completed and it seemed (to me anyway) that communities and governments were starting to think on a ‘regional’ basis with planning reflecting cooperative efforts and opportunities.

Oft-discussed at that point in time was the desire for the region to have a theatre to replace the ageing Maryborough City Hall and (hopefully) draw national and international acts to the region.

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 1.58.07 PMIt took some time and the fundraising barometer – on occasions – moved quite slowly… but the (then) Maryborough City Council eventually received funding from the State and Commonwealth and the Brolga Theatre was opened in July 2000.

I wasn’t around at the time but over the years have been regaled with updates of the myriad of shows and acts finding their way to the Fraser Coast. Indeed, my mother (also a “Friend of the Brolga”) at times seemed to attend almost anything and everything. The Queensland Ballet, Thursday Morning Melodies, local dance concerts and big bands… it almost doesn’t matter. Mum and her friends seem to be there.

I’d only been a couple of times before this week when I accompanied my mum and her neighbour to see Guy Sebastian. I’ve long been a Guy fan, although not overly rabid, as far as ‘fans’ go. In fact the only entire album I have is his first when – like gazillions of Aussies – I saw him as a most deserved winner of the inaugural Australian Idol.

I love that he’s viewed as a legitimate musician and has proved he’s FAR more than a reality TV show wannabe.

In fact, he seems to be quite the musical genius and I’ve enjoyed watching him as a judge of The X Factor.

collage guy

I was stoked to hear he was coming to The Brolga, and aware (of course) that he has/had a house in nearby Toogoom… so the Fraser Coast was – at least once upon a time – his home away from home.

At almost $80 tickets were reasonable in a world where one pays HUNDREDS for a show. And Guy did not disappoint.

His support act (and friend), David Ryan Harris was friggin’ amazing. So much so that I even bought his CD… something I don’t tend to do (and I cannot remember the last time I bought an actual CD rather than individual songs from iTunes!). His mesmerising talent was matched, of course, by Guy’s.

I know SFA about music and am not an avid concert goer. Indeed I was almost tempted to follow my mother’s lead – who was so startled by the noise of the band when it began – that her hands flew to cover her ears!

The band – though bloody loud – was tremendous. The back-up singers were great and Guy was majestic.

My fave song was probably Get Along, which he played on the piano; and his mostly acoustic partial version of Angels Brought Me Here was friggin’ spine-chilling.

Guy was surprised at how few of the audience had seen him previously and I suspect many of those present had NEVER been to a pop / rock concert. Indeed it was my 69 year old mother’s first concert of that sort. She was gobsmacked at the array of people there – from the grey haired to A LOT of kids.

I realise we’re lucky to have a venue which can house bigger shows (although even at 900 seats I gather the show sold out quickly and had a waiting list of 300+) and we’re even luckier that people of Guy’s talent take the trouble to tour regions and share a bit of their magic.

Oh… and I was kinda chuffed that Guy retweeted one of my tweets on the night.

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Good, not bad; charming not tedious

“It is absurd to divide people into good or bad. People are either charming or tedious.” Oscar Wilde

A couple of weeks ago I shuffled off to Hervey Bay’s Z-Pac theatre in Zephyr Street, to see its production of  The Importance of Being Earnest.

I have to admit to practically being a local theatre virgin, vaguely recalling a play I saw in my hometown of Maryborough back in my school days, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My fellow theatre-goer and I decided we shouldn’t be too judgemental and I (quite possibly) set the what-will-I-think-of-this bar quite low.

And was I surprised!?! (Hint: it’s a rhetorical question!)

The two male leads were superb. Bradley Chapman, the play’s director, was excellently annoying as Algernon Moncrieff… one of the play’s two E(a)rnests. His performance and Wilde’s words resulting in much chuckling and guffawing. Michael Ware as John Worthing was also excellent and his frustrated E(a)rnest was convincing. My personal fave was probably Tamara Bailey’s Lady Bracknell (Algernon’s aunt and mother to John’s love interest). Her haughty and comedic delivery was perfect.

Taylor Dunn and Tayla Harding were great as Gwendolyn and Cecily and I was mightily impressed by Jonathon Dunn’s changing accents in his dual roles. In fact, I was quite shocked that the cast maintained their English accents for the entire play. No easy feat I assume.

And as for the script / dialogue…. how they could memorise those lines is beyond me. I can barely remember my own phone number! *Insert slight pause while I try to test this assertion!*

The production was polished, sets simple but effective and costumes good. I particularly liked the segway between the first two acts and the move from London to Herfortshire… it was very smooth in its unashamed obviousness (Dunn’s dual character physically changing – jacket, boots and hat – from Algernon’s supercilious butler to John’s ummm… more-common manservant).

All in all it was an excellent start to my local theatre-going adventures and I’ll certainly be back for more. In fact… I even downloaded a Z-Pac application form wondering if I could be of some use behind the scenes!

*Photograph compliments of The Fraser Coast Chronicle.

Z-PAC: The Importance of Being Earnest

Rehearsals are underway for an Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, which will open at Z-PAC Theatre, Zephyr Street Scarness on Friday 22 March.

Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, has stood the test of time like so few others. This is a farcical comedy of manners that is often regarded as one of the greatest plays of all time.

Wilde’s acerbic wit and tantalising manipulation of the English language have crafted a satire so perfect it has remained unmatched for well over a century.

The play follows Jack and Algernon: two bachelors in Victorian England who, bored with the hypocritical nature of their society, both adopt the pseudonym ‘Ernest’ to escape from their routine lives.

When Jack falls in love with the sharp-tongued Gwendolen, and Algernon with Jack’s innocent ward Cecily, whilst both under the guise of Ernest, each man must find a way to shed his alias without disrupting the delicate thread of romance.

The production stars Michael Ware as the nervous and uptight Jack, Taylor Dunn as his icy girlfriend Gwendolen, and welcomes another talented newcomer, Tayla Harding, who brings an air of sweetness to the role of the innocent Cecily.  Familiar faces of Z-PAC regulars Judith La Forest – as Cecily’s tutor Miss Prism, a kind lady with a dark past – and Tamara Bailey as Gwendolen’s draconic mother, Lady Bracknell.  Neil Gee brings a gentle naivety to the role of Dr Chasuble, and Jonathan Dunn is hilarious as Algernon’s long-suffering butler.

Z-PAC’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest is directed by newcomer Bradley Chapman, who also plays Algernon. Brad,  a Gold Coast native who arrived at Z-PAC Theatre last year. A senior drama teacher at Hervey Bay High School, Brad holds a Bachelor’s Degree in drama and film and another in secondary education, with a Performer’s Certificate from Trinity College of London. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to direct this masterpiece.

The show is rated ‘G’ and runs from March 22nd ’til April 13th.  Tickets on sale soon at Mary Ryan Bookshop, Pialba.  Adults $20, Concessions and/or groups 10+ $17.