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Gow cleans up

Congratulations to Michael Gow, the Queensland Theatre Company artistic director whose play Toy Symphony shared top honours with Billy Elliott at the Sydney Theatre Awards. Gow wrote the work for Company B. I wonder whether he'll be sharing it with the QTC audience sometime soon ...

Goodnight, Suzanne Pleshette

A few years ago, the satirical website The Onion ran a headline: "Universe ends as God wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette". It was a clever take on the way the 1980s sitcom Newhart ended, with star Bob Newhart waking up in bed next to Pleshette, in character as his wife from his previous sitcom The Bob Newhart Show - revealing that the entire new series had just been a dream. Now, 70-year-old Pleshette, who also starred in The Birds and on the US stage, has woken up next to God. There's more at my Celebrity Deaths Archive.

Farewell, Allan Melvin

The death of Allan Melvin has made me think, once again, about the many unsung heroes of the stage and screen. Melvin, 84, transferred from the theatre to a series of supporting roles in iconic television shows including The Phil Silvers Show (aka Bilko), The Dick Van Dyke Show and, most famously, The Brady Bunch, where he was Sam the butcher. He was also the voice of cartoon character Magilla Gorilla. He deserves a big round of applause as the final curtain falls.

Reality bites

I take back almost everything I ever said about "reality" TV. According to The Guardian programs like Any Dream Will Do and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, which involve televised auditions for roles in West End musicals, are bringing first-timers to the theatre in record numbers.
PS: In TV news from Australia, Brisbane's Shelley Craft and handyman Scott Cam are to team up for a Channel 9 lifestyle show with the funny title Domestic Blitz.

Revenge of the Machines

Evil Machines, the opera by former Monty Python star Terry Jones, looks set to play in London and New York after its premiere in Lisbon. Can the rest of the world be far behind?

An incredible tale

Former Uzbek nightclub entertainer Nadira Alieva has written a play about how she was twice raped, used as a drug mule by her father and eventually ran away with a married British diplomat she didn't love. It's now playing in London and it could soon be made into a film starring Angelina Jolie. The amazing story is here.

Something completely different

Spamalot and Not the Messiah creator Eric Idle isn't the only former member of the Monty Python troupe who is working in the musical genre. Terry Jones has written the libretto to an opera called Evil Machines. It features singing vacuum cleaners, dryers and parking meters. Interested? You'll have to go to Portugal to see it.

Taken for granted

It's not just Australia where arts grants are controversial. British theatre workers have passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the head of the British Arts Council after funding was cut to about 200 groups. I don't envy those who do it but, surely, hard decisions do have to be made. Surely - as one of vocal attendees at the meeting, Kevin Spacey, must know - the money can't always go to the same usual suspects.

A matter of respect

I'm not entirely sure what to think of this. A musical based on The Diary of Anne Frank is to debut in Spain. Is the real death of a young girl in the Holocaust suitable material for a musical? Apparently the official guardians of her memory have given the show their blessing on the grounds that it will spread a message of tolerance.

Schoolies rock on

According to Hollywood folklore, the first High School Musical telelmovie was originally to be titled Grease 3. Instead, the new Disney franchise is now getting its own second sequel. HSM 3 will be released in the US in October. Meanwhile, the stage version of the original High School Musical is doing the rounds, with productions in Brisbane (at Harvest Rain's Sydney St Theatre from January 24) and the Gold Coast (GC Arts Centre from January 25). Nothing succeeds like excess ...
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