Sunday, 30 January 2011

Spring Awakening **1/2



Spring Awakening
Book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, based on the play by Franz Wedekind, by The Young Australian Broadway Chorus (YABC)
Where and When: National Theatre, St. Kilda, until Feb 5, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: **1/2

Staver and Sheik’s musical, Spring Awakening, based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 play, won multiple Tony Awards. It is an adventurous and vivacious idea that overlays a 19th century story about teenagers in a rural town in Germany with 21st century “Indie rock” songs.

This production, directed by David Coates, casts actual 17 year olds. The Broadway production casts youthful but older performers with stronger technique. The authenticity of casting young actors unfortunately reduces the level of singing and acting skill and their understanding of the complex issues.

It certainly appeals to young audiences with its theme of sexual awakening in oppressive times and its popular, Indie music and edgy lyrics. It may shock some audiences with its sexually explicit scenes and stories of suicide, parental abuse, teen pregnancy and abortion.

The teenage voices carry the songs tunefully, but lack the requisite power, control and, obviously, maturity. Aleksa Kurbalija plays the precocious Melchior, Shannen Chin-Quan is the naïve Wendla, his lover while Liam Maguire is the hapless Moritz.

Coates employs the original, abstract, gestural movement and thumping choreography from the Broadway production but it feels a little awkward here. The balance between the Amish-looking children and the gutsy 21st century dance and song is uncomfortable, but the kids give it their best shot and the audience is happy.

By Kate Herbert

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Liza (On an E) ****1/2


 Liza (On an E) 
By Trevor Ashley and Dean Bryant, Midsumma Festival
 Hi Fi Room, Sunday 23, 30 and Feb 6
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Star: **** 1/2

The standing ovation for Trevor Ashley nearly lifted the roof of the Hi Fi Room. Ashley is a cheeky crowd teaser and, unquestionably, a crowd pleaser. His solo show, Liza (On an E), is both a tribute to, and a parody of Liza Minnelli.

Ashley, currently starring as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, belt out show tunes but also performs moving ballads with alacrity. He does not impersonate Liza but, rather, channels her spirit: her inane giggle, affected sibilance, crusty vocal quality, rambling chatter, forgetfulness, boozing, awkward dancing, glittering costumes, wardrobe malfunctions and pixie hairstyle.

Dressed in various lamè pantsuits, Ashley commands the large audience with his impeccable comic timing, sassy characterisation and relentless vitality.

Between the 17 songs is acerbic and hilarious patter, written by Dean Bryant, about Liza’s childhood, career and her competitive relationship with her mother, Judy Garland. There are also sardonic stories about her gay grandfather, father, stepfather and marriages to gay men, including Peter Allen.

The title of the show, Liza On An E – a nod to her song, Liza with a Z – could refer to singing an ‘E’ note, but more cynically refers to Liza’s drug history: ‘E’ for Ecstasy pill. Bryant wickedly changes lyrics to the Kander and Ebb’s songs, Liza With a Z and Yes (“Don’t say No. Say novocaine.”)

His versatile repertoire includes Aznavour’s sad ballad about a drag performer, What Makes a Man a Man? Be My Guest becomes a scathing exposè about Liza’s disastrous divorce from David Gest and he satirises Lady Gaga with Poker Face. A charming, young guest, Ed Grey, shares Liza’s duet, Does He Love You?

Ashley changes tone with Sondheim’s poignant ballad, Losing My Mind, following with a run of explosive hits: Maybe This Time, Cabaret and, as the finale, New York, New York. The tight band, under Musical Director and pianist, Daniel Edmonds, provides a huge brass sound to support Ashley’s big voice and Liza’s glittering reputation.

 Hopefully, Ashley will bring this show back after he finishes his season with Hairspray.




By Kate Herbert

Thursday, 20 January 2011

I Am Playing Me ****


I Am Playing Me
Midsumma Festival
The Butterfly Club, Bank St. South Melbourne, Jan- Feb
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****

I Am Playing Me, the first Midsumma cabaret, is a charming hour devised by the award-winning, Australian cast of the quirky, New York musical, [title of show] – yes, the parentheses are part of the title – a musical about two guys writing a musical about themselves creating a musical.

After singing the lives of four nobodies for a year, the cast now tell their own stories in musical theatre, their loves, work and dreams.

The four singers (Laura Fitzpatrick, Lara Thew, David Spencer, Darren Gatt) blend perfectly in harmonies, supported by skilful pianist, Sophie Thomas. All are deliciously engaging, particularly at such close quarters; at the Butterfly Club, one could reach out and tickle them.

They opens with I Am Playing Me, from [title of show], a kooky lament about the horrors of playing oneself on stage. There follows a succession of personal stories, music theatre memories, playful jibes and patter between their favourite songs.

Fitzpatrick and Spencer sing All The Wasted Time, a poignant love duet from the musical, Parade. Gatt sings a cheeky kids’ tune, Poor Kitty, and Thew belts out the comical I’m Breaking Down, from Falsettos. Fitzpatrick’s bright tones suit Sondheim’s Move On, from Sunday In The Park With George.

The Butterfly is a tiny jewel in our cabaret crown, featuring cabaret artists who perform in a miniature space to small but enthusiastic audiences. There’s a new show every week; the programme keeps changing with most running only three nights.

In January, the club features Midsumma Festival shows but the parade of virtuoso artistes continues all year and includes the Melbourne Cabaret Festival in July.

The Butterfly Club programme can be found at: www.thebutterflyclub.com.

BREAK OUT LIST – THE BUTTERFLY CLUB PROGRAMME JAN- FEB 2011
·       Thu 20/01/11 -Sun 23/01/11 Midsumma presents COURT! the Cabaret
·       Thu 20/01/11 -Sun 23/01/11 Midsumma presents Trevor Jones in STICKY SITUATIONS
·       Fri 21/01/11 -Sat 29/01/11  Midsumma presents BEST OF THE FEST Tue 25/01/11
·       25 Jan EVAPOR-AID - Qld Flood Fundraiser  
·       Sat 29/01/11 -Sat 05/02/11  Midsumma presents Candy Royalle: Love Spectacular -
·       Tue 01/02/11  Jack Colwell & The OWLS present: PICTURE WINDOW -
·       Wed 02/02/11 -Sat 05/02/11  Midsumma presents The Jane Austen Argument : THE SPACES BETWEEN
·       Tue 08/02/11 - Wed 09/02/11  FILTHY SECRETS
·       Thu 10/02/11 - Sun 13/02/11 SCRATCH theatre presents: LISTS OF INVISIBLE THINGS  by Caity Fowler
·       Thu 10/02/11 -Sun 13/02/11  EASTEND CABARET  -tales of love, sex and communism.
·       Mon 14/02/11 Madame Natalia presents: WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE Valentine’s Day cabaret
·       Thu 17/02/11 -Sun 20/02/11 Sophie Walsh-Harrington in: The Damsel in Shining Armour
·       Thu 17/02/11 -Sun 20/02/11  Ruth Rogers-Wright presents FABULOUS DIVA: THE MUSIC OF NINA SIMONE

By Kate Herbert

Prodigal **1/2


 Prodigal
Music by Matthew Frank, book and lyrics by Dean Bryant, Midsumma Festival
fortyfivedownstairs, until Jan 28, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: **1/2

Recently, the number of original Australian musicals increased significantly. Prodigal was developed in 1999 when writers, Matthew Frank and Dean Bryant, were studying at WAAPA. It premiered in 2000, won a Green Room Award (Best Original Score) and scored an Off-Broadway season.

Prodigal is a chamber musical with five performers and a single piano. The show has merit but it feels and sounds like an early work by artists who promised a bright future in the musical theatre. This early show is like their baby pictures, to paraphrase Stephen Sondheim.

Frank’s score provides singable, traditional show tunes and pop songs, although none are showstoppers. Bryant’s book, based on the biblical story of the prodigal son, is credible and has poignant elements but it is predictable and the dialogue is often trite. However, the show is enjoyable and the crowd is touched by the tale.

Prodigal is a “coming out” story about Luke (Edward Grey), an 18-year old living in coastal Eden, where he is the perfect son, school captain and about to work in dad’s fishing business with his tearaway brother, Kane (Adam Rennie). He disappoints mum (Anne Wood) and dad (Peter Hardy) when he runs off to university in Sydney. His life turns to ash after too much partying and drug taking and he returns home like the biblical prodigal.

The small cast is talented. Grey’s clear tones and passionate performance bring Luke to life. Wood brings humour and a powerful and emotional performance to Luke’s loving mum, Celia. Hardy gruff voice and blokey demeanour suit dad’s country quality. Christina O’Neill plays a perky Maddy, Luke’s wacky housemate and Rennie doubles as Luke’s brother and boyfriend, Zach.

Prodigal is accompanied by a single piano played by local legend, Mark Jones. Although Jones’ playing is rich and skilful, we crave a few more instruments and complexity. With the simplicity of the staging, static direction (Dean Bryant) and sparse design (Joanna Butler) the show feels thin.

Perhaps we shouldn’t tamper with our baby pictures. Maybe we should let Prodigal remain an early work and look to the future works of Bryant and Frank for the jewels.

By Kate Herbert

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Court in the Act ****


Court in the Act 
(The Case of the Crown v Someone in the Audience), by Rod Quantock
 Old Melbourne Gaol, until Feb 11, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars:****

You wouldn’t want to be a real defendant in the Kangaroo Court that is Rod Quantock’s Court in the Act: The Case of the Crown v Someone in the Audience. During this thoroughly absurd court case, a member of the audience is accused, tried and sentenced for a trumped up charge invented by other audience members.

You could get off scot free for causing the deaths of thousands, or be sentenced to the gallows at the Old Melbourne Gaol next door for stealing a cake.

The venue of Quantock’s hilarious, mock court proceedings is the illustrious and woody Old Magistrates’ Court. After an informative tour of the frighteningly cramped, concrete bunker that is the Old City Watch House, the audience chooses the crimes to be tried then adjourns to the courtroom where the fun begins in earnest. In the small, opening night crowd, everyone plays a role: defendant, defence barrister, judge, witness, juror, court reporter, clerk of courts or court artist.

The entire evening is improvised. However, the inimitable Mr. Quantock S.C. (Senior Counsel), as Crown Prosecutor, steers the proceedings by leading the witnesses, manufacturing evidence and building a narrative and back-story that compete favourably with the wittiest television courtroom dramas. It beats Rake on the ABC.

Quantock relies on his wits and compelling personality, acunningly devised courtroom structure and the willingness of participants to leap headlong into this playful improvisation. Participants gleefully improvise characters, dialogue, questions, answers and actions with intelligence and quick thinking. Who needs actors?

By the end, we have a thorough knowledge of the crime and its alleged perpetrator. The cheeky, blasé Colin, accused of stealing a secret recipe for heavenly banana bread, is sentenced to 23 days hard labour. Mick, a dodgy, country accountant, is found not guilty of a scurrilous act of sabotage that destroyed evidence of his embezzlement.

Finally, the court reporter reads his pithy, Herald-Sun headlines and the artist reveals strikingly accurate portraits. And it will all be different tomorrow night.

By Kate Herbert

Friday, 14 January 2011

Don Parties On ***


Don Parties On 
By David Williamson, Melbourne Theatre Company
Where and When: Playhouse, Arts Centre, until February 12, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***

Don’s Party, by David Williamson, divided critics and audiences in 1972. His sequel, Don Parties On, will split opinion again. Forty years on, characters from Don’s (Garry McDonald) boozy, wife-swapping, 1969 Federal Election party, return to recapture – or obliterate – their shared past. There is no escaping comparisons – and the new play comes off second best.

In the original play, outrageous bawdiness, crass humour, Australian vernacular and swearing created a confrontational, social document of left-leaning, young, middle-class couples hoping for election success for Gough Whitlam’s progressive Labour Party.

Don Parties On is set on the night of the 2010 Federal Election. Don, a former high school counsellor and failed novelist, hosts another election party.  He and his formerly bolshie, lefty mates have aged – but not very gracefully. Their boozing, bullying, belligerent arguments and sexism are no longer excusable as youthful exuberance.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud jokes but the play lacks heart and substance, and the dialogue often sounds like political editorial.

Don’s Party cunningly balanced bawdy humour with scathing social observations, personal conflicts and sympathy. Don Parties On lacks its rawness, energy and dramatic tension. The lack of a clear, narrative structure and dramatic climax – which worked for the original play – makes this play repetitive and directionless. Personal conflict does not equate to dramatic conflict. One wonders why anyone stays after such furious personal attacks and crises.

Robyn Nevin directs a talented, vivacious cast who revel in the broad comedy. McDonald plays Don with a jaded, nostalgic air and Tracy Mann plays his long-suffering wife, Kath. Robert Grubb gains sympathy as Mal, a boozy, failed businessman.

Sue Jones relishes playing Jenny, a tough, judgmental Labour politician, bearing a grudge for decades. Frankie J. Holden uses plenty of slapstick as the ailing Cooley, a sad echo of the irresistibly seductive, young Cooley. Diane Craig is cool and elegant as Helen.

The oldies’ checkered pasts are viewed through the eyes of younger generations: Richard (Darren Gilshenan), Don’s childish son, whose marriage is falling apart, his histrionic lover (Nikki Shiels), and stroppy daughter (Georgia Flood).

Like the Liberal and Labour spokespersons, these Baby Boomers revel in each other’s misfortunes and trumpet their own successes.  Their lives suffered as many changes as the Australian government. If election analyst, Anthony Greene, charted their paths, they would be complicated, miserable and incomprehensible. They are a relentlessly dislikeable bunch.

Cinema Fiasco, Astor Theatre


Delight in movies others love to hate
Preview by Kate Herbert

Hosts Geoff Wallis and Janet A. McLeod add gleeful commentary to B-grade flicks. Source: Supplied 

IF YOU find B-grade movies painful and intolerable, Cinema Fiasco makes them hilarious and astonishingly entertaining. 

Hosts Geoff Wallis and Janet A. McLeod are film buffs of a different kind - they love to love the films that others love to hate.
They invite others into their obsession, showing their bad movies of choice in the faded, salubrious surroundings of the Astor Theatre monthly on Fridays. During the movie, the pair engages in witty, cynical, cinematic commentary.

"We don't talk over it. Heaven forbid anyone should miss some of that gold," Wallis assures us, should you want to actually watch the movie.

Tonight you can indulge your horror-movie sensibilities with Earth vs The Spider, a movie about an oversized, hairy arachnid terrorising a small town.

It stars forgettable luminaries and is directed by Cinema Fiasco's favourite director, Bert I. Gordon. Wallis says Gordon's films feature things grown to an enormous size, rogue creatures that start eating people. His cheapskate, special effects are usually blow-ups of normal-sized rats or ants intercut with enormous puppet-heads.

Fiasco previously presented two others films by Gordon: Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants, starring a youthful Joan Collins.

Cinema Fiasco began at the Astor Theatre almost three years ago. Astor Theatre manager George Florence was looking for new and different things to put on at the cinema to encourage diversity of use.

"I came up with this idea," Wallis says. "He (George) liked it, I brought Janet on board and now we co-produce it with him."
Wallis says the idea evolved during the time he and McLeod were poor and bad videos were cheap.

Next Cinema Fiasco: Friday, February 4. Coffy (M) Action queen Pam Grier goes on a rampage against drug dealers.

Friday, March 4, Houseboat Horror (R 18+), The Australian bloodfest about a machete maniac.

CINEMA FIASCO
EARTH VS THE SPIDER
Astor Theatre, Chapel St, St Kilda, tonight 8pm. www.astortheatre.com.au

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Alice in Wonderland***1/2, Jan 12, 2011


Alice in Wonderland
Adapted by Glenn Elston from Lewis Carroll, Australian Shakespeare Company
Rippon Lea House and Gardens, until Jan 29, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: *** 1/2

Not only does the audience at Alice In Wonderland have the opportunity to wander through the luxuriant Rippon Lea Gardens, the children get to teach the White Rabbit how to tell the time, crawl through an inflatable, multi-coloured rabbit tunnel, play death-defying croquet with the tempestuous Red Queen and scramble through the legs of the adults who become a pack of playing cards on the croquet field.

This new production, directed inventively by Kevin Hopkins, is one of Glenn Elston’s four outdoor, summer shows and it should be a runaway success with families. It features Lewis Carroll’s deliciously mad characters and nonsensical dialogue and the children squeal with delight at just about everything.

The story begins at the beginning, of course, and just keeps going on until the end, to paraphrase the Red King. The White Rabbit (Ashley McPherson) arrives in a prissy flurry of lateness (“I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date”) and is then pursued by Alice (Gemma Bishop) and the entire audience of “little caterpillars” to the second location. (The show would be more streamlined for audience if the first location were simply on the lawn behind the first site.)

The vivid, cartoonish set design provides an eye-catching backdrop for the parade of eccentric, vibrantly costumed characters. Singable songs, live music and simple audience participation punctuate the physical action and help keep the children attentive.

The actors captivate the kids with their antics although there are occasional issues with vocal volume. Jamie McDonald’s Mad Hatter is funny and frenetic and he is well supported by Jonathan Dyer as the oafish March Hare and Kate Hosking as sweet, sleepy Dormouse. Bishop is a charmingly girlish Alice and McPherson engages with the White Rabbit’s games.

We are all shocked to be laughing so hard at Jacqueline Cook’s baby-abusing Duchess who is terrifyingly funny tossing her baby-doll in the air and feeding it pepper. The stilt-walking Red Queen (Lea Porcaro) and her subservient King (Gerard Schneider) are commanding. The Queen’s repeated cry, “Chop off her head!” and her insanely illogical court case are a hit. There is plenty to entertain and occupy all ages in this engaging and unpretentious show.

By Kate Herbert

In a cluster of cabarets - Midsumma 2011


Midsumma Festival
From January 16, 2011
Preview by Kate Herbert
Jan 12, 2011

If you love cabaret, then the 2011 Midsumma Festival probably has a gem cut just to your liking. Although the festival boasts over 150 events ranging across art forms, the performing arts, cabaret and music theatre programme is particularly impressive.

Midsumma is Melbourne's celebration of queer arts and culture, and its shows feature renowned Australian and international artists who work in mainstream arts.

The Premier Events programme includes a return season of Prodigal, the Green Room award-winning musical written by celebrated, local musical duo, Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank. Prodigal premiered during Midsumma 11 years ago then ran on Broadway two years later, becoming the first Australian musical ever produced in New York City. It is the story of a family struggling to reconcile the golden boy who ran away to Sydney, with the changed prodigal son who returns to them. Its cast features some leading musical theatre performers.

If you loved the talented Trevor Ashley as Edna Turnblad, the blousy mum in the wildly successful musical Hairspray, you’ll be thrilled by his cabaret Liza (On an E), in which he channels Liza Minelli. Another gang of professional, Australian music theatre artists, the cast of the quirky, hit musical, [title of show], tell their own stories in a funny and moving concert.

The Blue Show is a daring, new and adult offering from Circus Oz, showcasing sexy, muscled bodies and unbridled circus talent. This is the first production in the new, century-old Circus Oz Melba Spiegeltent. Another sassy, acrobatic show, Ladies Prefer Brunettes by The Cadettes and Women’s Circus, interrogates the nature of societal images of women.

If you want wigs, retro costumes, big band and hit tunes from the 30s to the 90s, Luke Gallagher and Dolly Diamond’s comedy cabaret, Getting Down and Brassy, is for you. Their repertoire include classics ranging from Frank Sinatra, Eurythmics, Thelma Houston, Kylie Minogue, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and Michael Bublé.

An international show from Canada, The Book of Spells – A Love Story, is based on two tales of magic realism by British writer Sara Maitland.

The venues include: Northcote Town Hall, the tiny, eccentric Butterfly Club, Gasworks Art Park, 45downstairs theatre, Hares and Hyenas book shop and Kaye Sera’s Bizarre Piano Lounge and many more. There should be something on your side of town.

Midsumma opens on 16 January with Carnival at Birrarung Marr and runs until February 6. Check the programme at: www.midsumma.org.au

Friday, 7 January 2011

Comedy of Errors By William Shakespeare ***1/2


Comedy of Errors 
By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Robert Benedetti, by Australian Shakespeare Company
Botanical Gardens, until March 12, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***1/2

Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors is a totally bonkers farce involving two sets of twins, mistaken identities, eccentric characters, absurd puns, bawdiness and endless entrances and exits. It is a smorgasbord of tasty comic opportunities for an actor.

Glenn Elston’s production capitalises on the comedy by dressing characters in half-masks in the style of the Commedia Dell’Arte (think Harlequin) and peppering scenes with physical gags, slapstick routines and silly walks to make John Cleese envious.

Although this production began life indoors at the Athenaeum Theatre, it is better suited to its outdoor venue in the Botanical Gardens. Its kooky comedy and looseness looked a little uncontrolled on a formal stage but have an engaging playfulness in the informal outdoors.

Egeon of Syracuse (Ross Williams) has twin sons both – just to complicate matters –called Antipholus. He lost his wife and one twin, now known as Antipholus of Ephesus (Hugh Sexton), in a shipwreck 25 years earlier. Egeon arrives in Ephesus in search of them with the remaining twin, Antipholus of Syracuse (Simon Mallory). Both Antipholuses have twin servants called Dromio (Syd Brisbane, Brendan O’Connor), also separated in the shipwreck. Confused yet?

The identically costumed and masked twins are indistinguishable from each other and the audience must cheerfully abandon itself to the inevitable confusions. Mallory and Sexton have fun as the pompous, pointy-nosed, young Antipholuses. As their Harlequin-like servants, Brisbane and O’Connor are cheeky, big-eared and bawdy Dromios, capering and tumbling to avoid unwarranted beatings.

Terri Brabon, on roller-skates, plays Adriana (wife of Antipholus of Syracuse) as a demanding, spoilt harridan. Josephine Bloom plays her sister, Luciana, as a prim, ballet-dancing maiden wearing an enormous chastity belt. There is some funny physical business between Tony Rive as Angelo, the foppish, horsey jeweller, and Andrew Bongiorno, the peg-leg pirate-like moneylender, Balthazar. Williams, as the droning old Egeon, and Kevin Hopkins on stilts as the beleaguered Duke, get plenty of laughs.

It could enhance this outdoor production to open up the performance space and take advantage of the myriad, off-stage entrances and exits. It feels a little constrained on the stage, although the cartoon-like set design (Greg Carroll) is effective.

Summer nights in the Gardens are too luscious to miss so take a blanket and wine and have a giggle.
By Kate Herbert

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Wind in the Willows, Jan 4, 2011 ***



The Wind in the Willows 
Adapted from Kenneth Graham by Australian Shakespeare Company
Botanical Gardens Gate F, until Jan 29, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 4, 2011
Stars: ***

 
It’s that time of the summer again when all good little rabbits must picnic by the big river and go on an adventure into the Wild Wood with the madcap British characters from Kenneth Graham’s inspired children’s books.
 

The Wind in the Willows is back at the Botanical Gardens and, this year, we enjoyed it on a mild summer’s morning with birdsong and even the odd wildlife roaming across the grassy performance area.
Is the kiddy component of the audience getting younger? They all looked about 3 this time.

This summer production began in 1988 and casting alters yearly. However, the engaging Roscoe Mathers is clocking up decades as Head Chief Rabbit. His cheeky banter with Robert Jackson, the sleazy Weasel, elicits giggles from all ages, and their music encourages everyone to sing along to, “Waggle your ears, wiggle your nose”, and other perky songs.

The egocentric Mr. Toad, played as a toffy twit by Andrew Dunne, lives at lavish Toad Hall and is obsessed with boats, fast cars and boy-toys. It’s like an episode of Top Gear.

David Gould takes advantage of his basso profundo voice to play the gruff, know-all Badger. Cheery Ratty (David Bailiht) loves a picnic and introduces shy Mole (Michelle Hall) to Toad. Playful Otter (Callan Lewis) and, Portly (Dominic Hook), his fearless son, complete Toad’s gang.

There is never a dull moment as Toad falls out of his boat, careers into a policeman in his prized jeep, goes to court and is imprisoned by Weasel who invades Toad Hall with his wicked weasel family (including Natasha Stoat Despoja and Evil Kn-Weasel).

The kids go hunting in the Wild Wood for lost little Portly while Mathers and Jackson entertain the parents with endless bad puns and improvisation off the script. Wear a hat, take a rug and snacks and sing along.

By Kate Herbert