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The Regent: shame, shame, shame

My thoughts on Premier Anna Bligh's decision over the fate of Brisbane's Regent Theatre are here.

End of the Regent?

Premier Anna Bligh has hatched a deal with developers Multiplex to incorporate a new Queensland Film and Television Centre in the redevelopment of Brisbane's historic Regent Theatre. The statement is at the Save the Regent website (which I run). As I see it, the deal takes away much more than it gives. The developer gets to build a huge tower block which will gut the historic building, while the Queensland public gets one 300-seat cinema and two 60-seat venues, which are pretty much useless.

Busting Out (almost) all over

Congratulations to the creators, cast and crew of Busting Out!, which is finishing up at the Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane's Bowen Hills on September 20 after a 16-week run. The show, which has been sen by 50,000 people in Brisbane, is now heading overseas. "This season has been nothing short of extraordinary," says producer Simon Bryce. "From what began as a four week run quickly gained momentum and extended to 16 wonderful, wonderful weeks. The reaction to Busting Out! at Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre, has set this new Australian show on a trajectory for international success. No other Australian show in recent memory has achieved such a run for its inaugural season." Buy tickets here.

High praise for Mavis

"I never knew Steven Tandy was so funny. He reminds me of Gordon Chater, only Steven didn't get a pie in the face, or a soda syphon, but he did everything else."

That was small screen legend Noeline Brown's take on Mavis Bramston Reloaded, Paul Dellit and Peter Pinne's stage reworking of the classic TV satire show, now playing at Brisbane's StageDoor Dinner Theatre. Details here.

Country Carpenters caper

"When they talk, they're from Kempsey, but when they sing they sound exactly like The Carpenters." That's part of the dificult-to-resist blurb for The Carpenters from Kempsey, which plays at QUT Gardens Theatre on September 18 and 19. Details here.
PS: Having stayed in Kempsey, which is about half-way between Brisbane and Sydney, I suggest this is as close as you get to it.

Who won the Helpmanns

Congratulations to the winners of the Helpmann awards. Sadly, no Queensland productions among the winners' list, although Queensland Theatre Company artistic director Michael Gow won a writing gong for his play Toy Symphony, which made its debut at Sydney's Company B last year. (I'm sure there's a good reason why it didn't premiere in Brisbane, but I don't know what it is.) Queenslanders Leah Purcell and Russell Dykstra also won awards for work performed interstate. The full, Sydney and Melbourne-centric list is here.

Harvest Rain needs you

I was disappointed to read recently that Brisbane's Harvest Rain Theatre Company is facing some financial difficulties. The "little company that can", as I like to call it, creates an important bridge between Brisbane's professional and amateur theatre scenes, and it deserves arts lovers' support. You can help out by attending the Winter Carnivale, a free event at the company's training centre in 81 Mina St, Alderley on August 6. The event from 6-9pm is free, but you're encouraged to sling a donation their way, buy a raffle ticket or two and/or bid in the art auction at the end of the night. Hosts will be Picasso from TV's The Shak and the self-styled "Bert Newton from Hell", Paul Dellit. Details here.
PS: Mavis Bramston Reloaded, written by the aforementioned Paul Dellit with Peter Pinne, is playing at the StageDoor Dinner Theatre at Bowen Hills (in the basement of the Twelfth Night Theatre) from August 20 to October 18. Its stars Kym Ford, Kym Brown and Steven Tandy. Details here.

'Comedy' from real tragedy

It's impossible for me to have an opinion about The Age of Consent - a new dark comedy that has a character based on the two boys who killed British toddler James Bulger - because I haven't seen or read the play. The director, Shannon Murphy, says she feels sorry for the two real-life offenders because they were treated "brutally" by the media, and is quoted as saying: "Some people don't know whether to laugh or not because you're constantly teetering on this point of asking, 'Is laughing at this wrong?'. Cue some very spirited debate.

Reversing the trend

Successful musicals usually begin on the stage and end up on the silver screen. Singin' in the Rain and Hairspray broke the mould, and now comes 9 to 5. The Dolly Parton/ Jane Fonda/ Lily Tomlin/ Dabney Coleman film has become a musical comedy that will debut on Broadway in April. It feature 20 songs penned by Parton, but none of the original cast will star. More here.

Home games

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics isn't the only big cultural event happening in the first week of August. It will also see the return of the hit comedy The Narcissist to Brisbane's Roundhouse Theatre. The Stephen Carelton play, directed by Ian Lawson, is also part of Sydney Theatre Company's 2008 season - an incredible coup for a Queensland play. Details here.

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