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Phantom sequel here in 2011

Posted October 9th, 2009 by debritz

Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera that will open in the West End and on Broadway next year, will premiere in Australia in 2011, according to Playbill. I guess that means Melbourne, with a Brisbane season several years later. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Glenn Slater and Ben Elton, the show apparently features very few references to the original. In London, where it opens in March, it will star Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine. Presumably, Anthony Warlow is in the box seat the play the Phantom in Australia (and maybe elsewhere).

New direction for Brisbane Festival?

Posted October 9th, 2009 by debritz

Congratulations to Noel Staunton, who has been named artistic director of the Brisbane Festival, to replace Lyndon Terracini, who's off to run Opera Australia. I'll be interested to see if the former Sydney Dance Company boss brings a new direction to the festival (and whether he takes on board my suggestion of bringing back some of the features of Warana).

QTC launches into 2010

Posted October 7th, 2009 by debritz

A new David Williamson starring John Wood, John Bell having another crack at King Lear and the (London) West End hit Fat Pig are all part of the Queensland Theatre Company's 2010 season. Details here. Right now, the company is now rehearsing for the long-awaited Queensland premiere of artistic director Michael Gow's Toy Symphony, which premiered at Sydney's Belvoir Street in 2007. It's being described (on the QTC Twitter feed at least) as "the first full length play Michael's written in a decade". This confuses me since The Fortunes of Richard Mahony was published in 2002 and debuted in September that year during the Brisbane Festival. Was it in the bottom of his drawer for five or more years or, for some reason, does it not count? Maybe it was a very long short play...

Top of the Popes

Posted October 3rd, 2009 by debritz

The Pope's voice is to feature on an album, Music from the Vatican: Alma Mater. It features liturgical music by Simon Boswell, Stefano Mainetti and Nour Eddine, not -- as I hoped -- lively numbers such as Tom Lehrer's Vatican Rag:

Too many towers

Posted October 1st, 2009 by debritz

The Australian reports that there's a glut of office space in Brisbane. How, then, can the State Government and Brisbane City Council justify their support for demolishing the Regent cinemas to make way for another office tower?

Happy birthday, QTC

Posted October 1st, 2009 by debritz

Thanks to my Facebook friends for alerting me to this: today is the 40th anniversary of the opening of Royal Hunt of the Sun, Queensland Theatre Company's first production, directed by Bryan Nason. It's a significant milestone and something we should all be celebrating. I wonder if MasterChef star, Premier and Arts Minister (yes, really) Anna Bligh will be making a statement about it.
PS: Bryan's another unsung Queensland hero, like QTC founding artistic director Alan Edwards. If he'd been a footballer or a musician, there'd be a statue or a bridge named after him.

A bridge name too far?

Posted September 29th, 2009 by debritz

I not entirely sure what to think about the decision to name the new Brisbane bridge after The Go-Betweens. Certainly it does pay tribute to Brisbaneites who made it big on the world stage -- and it's far preferable to naming it after a politician -- but I'm sure many older Queenslanders will be scratching their heads. Talkback radio will be full of outrage today. And, as I noted on my recent radio encounter with 4BC's Peter Dick, we have yet to have any public acknowledgement of many of our other great artists (let alone scientists and other achievers), including Queensland Theatre Company founder Alan Edwards.

Lessons from the ghost of Stan Zemanek

Posted September 29th, 2009 by debritz

The YG News blog hits the nail on the head with this post about news websites charging for access. Blogger "Young and Grumpy" notes, with a screenshot for evidence, that the Herald Sun's Confidential gossip site still includes a prominent link to a story about shock jock Stan Zemanek going for a drive along the Great Ocean Road -- even though Zemanek died two years ago -- and an item tipping Kate Ritchie as favouriie for the Logies, which were handed out in May. A Y&G says, "I just cant wait to pay for these types of breaking stories." The Zemanek and Ritchie stories are still there as I write.

As news websites struggle to find models that will allow them to charge for content, keeping things up to date should be a no-brainer.

And the Emmys go to ...

Posted September 21st, 2009 by debritz

Full results here.

Phantom's return

Posted September 21st, 2009 by debritz

The highly anticipated sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, is about to launch. Here's a clue that came in the email (curiously enough, to the junk-mail folder):

It's been reported elsewhere that the show, set on Coney Island and written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton, will debut on London's West End in March next year and then on Broadway in November, 2010. Presumably the October 8 announcement will reveal casting. (I wonder if Anthony Warlow will get the London gig. He's reportedly Lord Lloyd Webber's second-favourite Phantom; the first being Michael Crawford.)

Situation Norman

Posted September 20th, 2009 by debritz

The Comedy Channel has been screening episodes of The Norman Gunston Show, which aired on the ABC (and, later, Channel 7) in the mid-1970s. I was watching last night and was struck by two things: the topless nudity in the Checkout Chicks soap-opera parody (I can't see that airing in prime-time these days) and a segment filmed in the US where Gunston (Garry McDonald) tries to talk his way into the home of former president Richard Nixon (the picture shows Gunston with Nixon's security man). This is the kind of stunt that was being hailed as ground-breaking when The Chasers did it 30 years later. The more things change ...

La Boite looks ahead

Posted September 14th, 2009 by debritz

La Boite, Queensland's No.2 professional theatre company, is done with 2009 already. In fact, in an interview with Spencer Howson on 612ABC this morning, CEO and artistic director David Berthold admitted the company had had productions on the boards for just 17 weeks this year. Next year, he says, it will be a different story with the company's Roundhouse theatre at Kelvin Grove open for business for 44 weeks. Berthold has also confirmed that he's ditched the unsustainable policy of only running new locally-written plays and future seasons will include new works from around the world plus restagings of old favourites. I wish him and the company well.
PS: La Boite's final production for the year was Sasha Janowicz's The Kursk, which will play in Sydney at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from Tuesday to Saturday this week.

Not the Seinfeld reunion

Posted September 13th, 2009 by debritz

It's filmed on the old sets, with the original cast, but it's not a proper Seinfeld reunion, it's an episode of Larry David's Curb Your enthusiasm. Here's some behind the scenes video that's been posted on YouTube:

Bond blooper

Posted September 12th, 2009 by debritz

When interviewing for radio, it pays to listen carefully to what the talent says -- as this excerpt of 612ABC morning host Madonna King's interview with James Bond film star Roger Moore demonstrates:

Farewell, Ray Barrett

Posted September 9th, 2009 by debritz

Ray Barrett, one of Brisbane's true superstars of the stage and screen, has died at the age of 82. Barrett, who starred in British and Australian radio dramas, films and television -- including the UK drama series The Troubleshooters and as a character voice in the classic children's series Thuderbirds -- died after a fall at his Gold Coast home. I interviewed him several times -- including once to celebrate the anniversary of the Brisbane Repertory Company (which became La Boite) -- and found him to be a true professional and a gentleman who never forgot his roots. When I spoke to him for Brisbane News about 15 years ago, he said it was his dream to play eye specialist Fred Hollows, to whom he had a strong resemblance.
PS: There's an excellent, comprehensive bio of Ray here.

Doctor Who meets Blackadder?

Posted September 9th, 2009 by debritz

Matt Smith as featured on official BBC Doctor Who website
Probably not. But speculation to that effect has arisen since is was announced that Richard Curtis, creator of Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder character and writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love, Actually, will pen an episode of Doctor Who. Curtis says he agreed to write the episode, which will star new Doctor Matt Smith (above), to impress his children. He says it will feature an historical character (so that's probably not the fictional Blackadder) who will fight a monster.

A local lesson

Posted September 7th, 2009 by debritz

Channel 9's Brisbane: 150 Years of Stories was the third-most-watched TV program in Brisbane on Saturday night, scoring 227,000 viewers and out-rating the Lions AFL elimination final. A great coup for Nine - and a great irony that a locally produced show could do so well for the network that, just a few months ago, axed Extra, its last remaining regular local program (excluding advertorial shows).

Farewell, Keith Waterhouse

Posted September 6th, 2009 by debritz

I was just reminscing on Friday night about my whirlwind trip many years ago to Perth to see the play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell and interview its star, Dennis Waterman. As fate would have it, around that very time, the play's author, Keith Waterhouse, passed away in the UK. Waterhouse was a novelist (his Billy Liar was a best seller that became a film starring Julie Christie), playwright, journalist - regarded as a true Fleet Street legend, no less - and a renowned wit. Here's some his better one-liners thanks to The Guardian:

"I never drink when I'm writing, but I sometimes write when I drink."
"I believe that no one should go back to work after lunch, but for some unfortunate people it's in the middle of the working day."
"Brighton is a town that always looks as if it is helping police with their inquiries."
"Should not the Society of Indexers be known as Indexers, Society of, The?"

Back-to-back Beatles

Posted September 4th, 2009 by debritz

To coincide with the release of remastered versions of all The Beatles' albums, Brisbane's 4BH will set a special digital channel to play them back to back from 9.09am on Wednesday, September 9. A media release issued today says:

Brisbane’s original home of The Beatles, Radio 4BH will celebrate the release of the remastered catalogue of 14 Beatles albums by launching the newly created Digital Radio channel 4FAB. This Beatles channel will go to air at 9:09am on the 09/09/09 which coincides with the worldwide release date. The entire original UK album releases plus Magical Mystery Tour and Past Masters, have been lovingly digitally remastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London over four years. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release. 4FAB on Digital Radio will play each album back to back – track to track. “Rescan your Digital Radio receiver now to pick up this new channel, so you’re ready for next Wednesday” said Geoff Harrison, 4BH Program Director. “Along with hearing these ageless songs for the first time in digital stereo, we’ll have many other Fab Four highlights and for the time first ever, an
exclusive 4FAB Digital giveaway”.

If I've told you once ...

Posted September 4th, 2009 by debritz

Brisbane Times really, really likes this story about Neighbours star Caitlin Stasey wining the lead role in the film version of Tomorrow: When the War Began.

Spider-Man v Cinderella?

Posted September 1st, 2009 by debritz

Comic-book guys and other geeks across the globe will be throwing their hands up in horror. Disney, home of Mickey Mouse, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Bambi, has acquired Marvel, home to superheroes Spider-Man, the Uncanny X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Captain America, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four. I say, look on the bright side: it will lead to some great match-ups. Imagine the Incredible Hulk v. Hannah Montana. My money's on Miley.

Not so invincible, then

Posted August 30th, 2009 by debritz

Following in the comic-book footsteps of Superman and Captain America, the Invincible Iron Man is, apparently, dead. How can that be?

Noel Gallagher quits Oasis

Posted August 29th, 2009 by debritz

The BBC reports that Noel Gallagher has quit Oasis because he can no longer work with his brother Liam. I can't understand why Noel - the talented one who writes the songs and sings as well as Liam - has stuck around this long. I'm sure he could make a more-than-comfortable living as a solo artist.

Yellow Submarine resurfaces

Posted August 23rd, 2009 by debritz

Variety reports that film director Robert Zemeckis and the Disney company want to remake Yellow Submarine as a 3D film with possible stage mmusical and Cirque du Soleil spin-offs. The original 1968 George Dunning film was a psychedilc trip (who would have thought Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was a drug reference?) but I'm guessing this one will be more family friendly. Although the rights haven't been sorted out, the remaining Beatles have been rather accommodating in terms of licensing their music lately, so it could be a starter.

Has the fat lady sung?

Posted August 17th, 2009 by debritz

Anybody who has been going to opera for a while will have noticed a big change in recent times. The stars aren't just supposed to stand there and sing, they're expected to be able to act, too. And, more importantly, they're expected to look the part.OK, so it might be hard to get a teenage Juliet or Lucia, but audiences generally aren't going to buy it if the singer is clearly on the verge of collecting a pension. Equally, an athritic Alfredo or a clearly well-fed Rodolfo would raise eyebrows. And when we see lovers depicted on stage, we have a right to expect some sort of chemistry between them. The Telegraph has a story about the trend to cast sexy young singers in opera here. But is it an issue of craving credibility or bowing to prejudice?

Bring back Warana!

Posted August 14th, 2009 by debritz

On 612ABC this morning, I called for the return of Warana, the community festival that was axed to make way for the Brisbane Festival. Why? Because the city lacks the kind of celebration where people can really become involved. Going to the theatre or concerts or sporting events or a fireworks display are passive activities that don't really encourage community interaction, while a festival such as Warana - yes, complete with its "daggy" street parade - involves people at all levels. We spend too much time sitting in front of computer screens or television and not enough time getting involved in our community, and a revived Warana could be a a way to do just that. I'll be writing more about the idea here, and hopefully other media will take up the cause. Here's the 612ABC audio, with me speaking to Spencer Howson:

PS: I've set up a Facebook group, Bring Back Warana!, if you want to join.

The truth and nothing but

Posted July 31st, 2009 by debritz

If you missed me on 612 ABC this morning, or want to hear me again, click here. Spencer Howson and I spoke about the Kyle and Jackie O scandal, the healthy state of our hospitals, potato peelers, shoe laces and how I didn't get arrested handing out leaflets making Brisbane International Film Festival first-nighters aware of the demolition ball hanging over the Brisbane Regent's Showcase Cinema. Off air, Spencer - who is an old school friend of Kyle Sandilands - and I continued our discussion about the 2Day incident and decided the perfect conclusion to all this would be to strap Kyle to a lie-detector and ask him some pointed questions. For example: Were you really a street kid or did you just exaggerate that for publicity? How about it, Kyle? The chance to clear your reputation - or not.
PS: Yes I broke my promise not to write about him again. Sorry.

Who and what's on Twitter

Posted July 31st, 2009 by debritz

I was pleased to see that Curb Your Enthusiam's Larry David is on Twitter, but disappointed to see he hasn't updated since January 8. Still, he has 66,774 followers so maybe that's what works. Meanwhile, the LA Times entertainment tweet tells me: "Lady Gaga is sad: She was dumped by boyfriend Speedy." (What was he thinking?) Oh, and that "Mel Gibson's alleged pap attack is bogus!: Did the shirt-ripping incident even happen?" The story it points to says the cops have discounted claims by a photographer that the actor tore his shirt. A case, this time, of not so mad Mel!
PS: Popbitch reports that Benny Hill and Holly Valance were distant cousins.

Arise, King Bille

Posted July 28th, 2009 by debritz

Congratulations to Bille Brown for winning at the Helpmann Awards for his star turn as King Arthur in Spamalot! Such a shame the show had a relatively brief run in Melbourne and we didn't get to see it here in Brisbane. Details here.
PS: If you are in Brisbane and want to see Spamalot, head south to Benowa on the Gold Coast to see Spotlight Theatre's production, running until August 22. And you can see Bille in QTC's School of Arts in Brisbane and on tour.

Pugwash creator dies

Posted July 25th, 2009 by debritz

John Ryan, the creator of children's favourite Captain Pugwash, has died at the age of 88. I hope he had a sense of humour about all those rumours that emerged in the 1990s about the "sexual allusions" in the cartoon. For the record, it wasn't Roger the cabin boy, it was Tom, and there were no characters called Master Bates or Seaman Staines.
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