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Stars for lunch

I've just returned from the Christmas luncheon for the Actors and Entertainers' Benevolent fund, at the Lyrebird Restaurant at QPAC. What a joy it was to see some of the senior members of Brisbane's performing-arts community having a great catch-up. Hosted by David Bermingham (pictured) and, the lunch was attended by a who's who of stage and screen from the past few decades. Among the faces I saw were Hazel Phillips, Muriel Watson, Jill Shearer, Lyn Treadgold, Leo Wockner, Russ Walkington, Maggie Grey, Eric Hauff, Penny Everingham, Bev Langford, Bob Newman, Noel Sheridan, Errol O'Neill, Kym Ford, Tony Preece and Karen Crone. Apologies to those I've left out. Also on hand were QPAC artistic director John Kotzas, his counterpart at La Boite, Sean Mee, and Queensland Ballet general manager Judith Anderson. Long-time benevolent fund patron Tony Gould sent his apologies.

QPAC's top job vacant

The board of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre has signalled there'll be a worldwide search to replace Craig McGovern as CEO. I presume they will stick to the current model, where the CEO will look after the books and operational concerns, while the artistic director looks after the performance side of things. However, some of the best-qualified candidates might be more in the mould of the original QPAC boss, Tony Gould, who ran both sides of things. After Gould retired, he told me the best thing about not being head honcho any more was that he "didn't have to worry about the toilets".
PS: According to The Australian, "arts organisations [are] anticipating more high-level resignations as a result of increased and unrealistic governmental pressure". Should we start a book?

Eric Idle: Say no more

What a hoot was Not the Messiah last night. Eric Idle and John Du Prez's comic oratorio based on Monty Python's Life of Brian had the audience at Brisbane's Lyric Theatre in stitches, and then on their feet demanding an encore. Sadly Idle, the orchestra, the choir and the other performers didn't have anything to top the rousing finale of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. We would have gladly listened to it again.

On with the shows

Thanks to Matt for the tip that Elton John may be taking Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to London. It's amazing how well musicals are doing in Australia right now. In Melbourne, there's Priscilla, Spamalot and Phantom of the Opera (which is on its way to Brisbane), with Shout!, Guys and Dolls and Wicked coming up in the new year. Sydney has Billy Elliot, Keating! and Miss Saigon (which is on its way to Perth).

Plaudits for Spamalot

The Sydney Morning Herald says Spamalot, which has just opened in Melbourne, is "silly, surreal and enormous fun". The Age says "even the biggest cynic will find moments of pure originality shining forth here". And that is good news for the Australian cast of the Monty Python musical, including Queensland's own Bille Brown and Mark Conaghan. Will it come to Brisbane? Not in 2008 it won't. The Lyric Theatre is pretty much fully booked until the fourth quarter, when QPAC will be closed for renovations.

Stage treats

It's been a big year on the boards in Brisbane - and it's not over yet. Two shows worth considering:
+ Not the Messiah. Eric Idle's oratorio based on Monty Python's Life of Brian is at QPAC on Wednesday night. Tickets are still available here.
+ The Queensland Ballet's seasonal treat, The Nutcracker (pictured), at QPAC from December 14-22. Tickets here.
PS: Frank Theatre's website offers some interesting insights into that company's widely acclaimed work.

Hats off for a good cause

What a line-up: Barry Crocker, Judy Glen, Emma Dean, Chris Fennessy, Shaun Murphy, Jimmy Styles and the Easy Company, David Bermingham, Jason and Leisa Barry-Smith, Adam Couper, Pauline Bell, Karen Crone, Kym Ford, the David Hamilton Puppets, Trevor Green, Chris Herden, Luke Kennedy, Dale Lingwood, Ian Maurice, Tutti Frutti, Velocity Dance, Venus String Quartet, Peter Grose and Anne Wood. Hats Off BrizVegas will also feature some of Brisbane's favourite drag performers and, according to director Paul Dellit (pictured), a few surprises. It's all in a good cause, with proceeds from the event assisting HIV/AIDS charities, and it's on at the Twelfth Night Theatre in Bowen Hills on Sunday, December 9, at 6.30pm. Details here. Book on (07) 3252 5122.

Suddenly successful

Congratulations to Brisbane writers and composers Paul Dellit and Peter Pinne. Their musical, Suddenly Single, about the modern dating minefield, will be presented as part of the Ozmade Musicals showcase in Melbourne on December 10. Dellit says one song from the new musical, Making a Difference has been recorded and will be released as a single by Sony in Europe. The musical, about three men and the 10 women they date, features 16 original songs. Details of the Ozmade Musicals event are here.

Season of favourites

The QUT Gardens Theatre in Brisbane has announced its 2008 subscription season, featuring the following plays:
+ The Gospel According to Elvis (April 28-29);
+ A return season of The Club by David Williamson, starring John Wood (May 24 and 26);
+ Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell, starring Glenda Linscott (July 3-5);
+ The Carpenters from Kempsey, (September 18-19); and
+ Bombshells by Joanna Murray-Smith (September 26-27).
Details here.

Todd's biggest fan

On stage in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, Todd McKenney is partnered by the legendary Nancye Hayes. Now I can reveal the leading lady in his personal life - Todd's mum Peta. Here they are together at the opening-night party. There's more on the blog here.

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