Thursday, April 19, 2018

Josephine Wants to Dance

Monkey Baa Theatre Company present JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE, based on the book by Jackie French and Bruce Whately, adapted for the stage by Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge and Tim McGarry, in the Darling Quarter Theatre, Darling Harbour. April 16th - May 12th.

JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE, is a new Australian playwork for children. Josephine is a kangaroo who wants to do more than hop. She wants to dance. Not just any kind of dance. She wants to be a ballet dancer. It is a story of dreams, of determined aspiration and of believing in yourself and is part of the present atmospheric zeitgeist, of diversity, difference and tolerance, and recognition that talent comes in all shapes and sizes, so why not have a gifted kangaroo play/dance a dying swan?

No matter that her brother in the mob of kangaroos, Joey (Hayden Rogers), warns Josephine (Rebecca Hetherington), that dancing is just not the right thing to aspire to as a kangaroo, overcoming all obstacles, Josephine finds a way. She learns to emulate the 'dancing' of the Brolgas (Chloe Dallimore and Hayden Rogers) and of the Lyre birds (Amanda Laing and Chloe Dallimore), and is in the right place at the right time when a touring ballet company comes to the local country town at the Shaggy Gully Memorial Hall, and finds herself, after an audition, employed to replace the Prima Ballerina and her understudy (Amanda Laing, both), as Odette, the Swan Princess, in Swan Lake, under the desperate need of the Ballet Director, Madame Katerina Baroninski Gavrikova (Chloe Dallimore), and the magic of the Costume Designer, Philippe (Hayden Rogers), despite the alternative offers of the lead Male Dancer, Todd (Hayden Rogers), and the surprise of  Big Annie (Amanda Laing), the local Arts Promotions Officer.

Josephine premieres as Odette on 14th April, 2018 to great triumph. As Madame Gavrikova says: "She may be a kangaroo playing a swan, but that's no different to a human playing a swan! ... She must be seen to be believed."

On receiving the invitation from Monkey Baa Productions to attend the Opening performance of JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE, it was the list of the talent and their collective experience that made one jump at the chance. Should not be missed. What will they concoct?

The Book by successful children writers, Jackie French and Bruce Whately, adapted by Eva Di Cesare, Sandra Eldridge and Tim McGarry reads promisingly. We have already seen their wonderful collaboration with DIARY OF A WOMBAT. (It's coming back in July.)

Direction, by Jonathan Biggins. He, of the famous (cheeky) Wharf Revues.

Music and Lyrics, by Phil Scott. Too, of the Wharf Revues. Famous for his music scoring and witty songs. Could the music for JOSEPHINE both, as Sound Track and the Songs be better? be more wonderful? Not likely.

Choreography, by Tim Harbour. The rising choreographic 'star' of the Australian Ballet - this work inventive, clever, fun, cheeky, and of the first order.

Set and Costume Design, by James Brown. Flexible and beautiful touring Set Design and, especially, outstanding Costume Design - those Brolgas and Lyre-bird conceptions!!!! - the look, the aptness, and the ingenious design to facilitate quick changes are simply mind-boggling, the dress 'engineering' a wonder!

The famous talent of Chloe Dallimore (she of the legs that seem to go forever) being wicked in almost every incarnation - just wait till you see her double act with fellow Lyre Bird, Amanda Laing, or, as a faux Russian accented Ballet Director.

Amanda Laing and Hayden Rogers excelling in every task, character, song and dance - they have many responsibilities - wit, panache galore.

And last, but, by no way least, Rebecca Hetherington, as an utterly delightful and convincing kangaroo that can sing, talk and dance ballet - a wonderful piece of work - she will win the heart of every member of the audience.

This concoction of JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE, which I 'slavered' in anticipation of, does not disappoint. It is a very special and hilarious time in the theatre. The sum of all the talents/parts make a do not miss experience.

Built, supposedly, for very young children this show is a reward for ALL theatre goers.

In the foyer, afterwards, scoffing the fairy bread - traditional white bread near Tip Top quality, creamy butter and loads of 'hundreds and thousands'. Devouring delicious Chocolate Crackles with a thick base of congealed chocolate mixture on the bottom in the paper containers, and marshmallows, three on a stick with the top one dipped in chocolate (!), totally ignoring the fruit on sticks - totally - and gulping three full paper cups of sparkling, 'the real thing' Coca-Cola, I declared that Monkey Baa had a hit.

Monkey Baa could tour JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE for ever.
The Australian Ballet, and I saw David McAllister there, could buy it and tour it for ever, as well.
And I reckon, every 'gay performance venue and event could buy it and tour it for ever.
Three 'lush' market places and audiences for this work, I have no doubt.

AND, it was not just the sugar rush that made me say that, by the way - I really meant it! Mean it, still.

If you have children to take, then, take them.
If you don't, still go. Don't be shy.
Just, go, go, go.

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