Black Swan Theatre’s acerbic comedy Dinner sounds like the dinner party from hell: sitting around the table is an emerging artist, a microbiologist, a sex bomb newsreader and an unexpected guest. Black Swan director Kate Cherry said she was motivated to stage the play because of its meaty female roles. “We have so many funny, great women in WA that it would give me the chance to work with at least a few of them,” she says. “I also love that each of the female characters is so different, and the world is shiny, beautiful and glamorous, but it is also toxic and strange.” Kate’s particularly excited about the performance of soapie veteran and Geraldton native Tasma Walton. “I love her story, she is such an adventurer, and yet she is so firmly grounded in WA and family,” says Kate. “She is a risk taker as a performer, and she is gutsy. She has so much to bring to the role.” Heath Ledger Theatre, March 14-29.
FROM THE RUBBLE
Foreign correspondents tend to be regarded with equal parts awe and intrigue, and with a sense of relief that it is them – not us – on the front line. A new production from the Perth Theatre Company allows the curious and far less brave to live vicariously, with a glimpse into the lives of those living in conflict zones. The multi-artform piece – inspired by the works of Sophie McNeill, a Walkley award-winning SBS foreign correspondent and former host of triple J’s Hack – comes at a particularly pertinent time. “In the centenary year of the ANZAC, it feels timely to revisit our relationship to conflict and peace, to hope and co-habitation,” says Perth Theatre Company’s artistic director Melissa Cantwell. The result of transforming Sophie’s work into a production fuses broadcasting, puppetry, animation and live performance. Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, March 16-28.
SARAH CHANG PLAYS BRUCH
The New York Times described violinist Sarah Chang’s talent at “a level so removed from the rest of us that all we can do is feel the appropriate awe and then wonder on the mysteries of nature”. Guess she impressed them, huh? Brace yourself for some serious feelings of inadequacy when Sarah performs with WASO in March. It’s quite the coup for the orchestra, which will be performing with Sarah for the first time in a decade. According to Evan Kennea, WASO’s executive manager of artistic planning, “Sarah was a true child prodigy – she auditioned for and was accepted to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York at the age of five by performing the very same concert she will perform with WASO.” That concert is the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, which has become a signature for Sarah, as well as a perennial audience favourite, ranking fourth in the ABC Classic FM Classic 100 Concertos. Perth Concert Hall, March 13-14.
Les Mis, as it is now universally known, has entered the pantheon of the world’s most beloved and longest-running theatricals. Ever. The musical, based on the 19th century novel by Victor Hugo, tells the story of French peasant Jean Valjean, as he starts a new life after 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. This all-new production “holds to the original but is slightly grittier, slightly more real,” says star Simon Gleeson, a WAAPA grad who has performed on London’s West End, on BBC television and in the National Theatre. “Most people will automatically find the aesthetic is different, everything is updated – even the sound design, lighting and orchestration. It’s visually more spectacular now.” Don’t expect the tired singsong delivery typical of most musicals. According to Simon, modern audiences demand more from theatre performers now. “It used to be all about the voice, but new shows require a higher level of acting.” The more nuanced acting coupled with the striking set has even the purists raving. “We’ve had a phenomenal response,” says Simon. Crown Theatre, December 31-February 8, AUSLAN interpreted performance on February 15.
OPERA IN THE PARK
The annual Opera in the Park is always worth marking on your calendar: it’s free, family-friendly and, well, fun. If your children turn their noses up at the arts, this event is the perfect way to gently change their minds. “It’s a great way to introduce opera-goers to the magic of the art form,” says West Australian Opera’s Susan Hoerlein. This year’s event is Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, performed by the multi-Helpmann award-winning soprano Emma Matthews and audience favourite James Clayton. Just tell your children it’s the operatic version of the rom-com. “It’s a rolling, feel-good comedy with many twists and turns, all in the pursuit of love,” says Susan. She recommends packing a picnic, a rug and low deck chairs so you can secure a spot at the front, and taking the train to the Esplanade Station to avoid the traffic. Supreme Court Gardens, March 6.