Monthly Archives: January 2012

A trickle of blood

CARRIE is a coming, and before the gush of blood here is a little trickle to tantalise……

The first preview of the off-Broadway revival of the cult flop musical based on the Stephen King novel and the Brian DePalma classic movie will be performed on Jan 31st – next Tuesday. The official Playbill cover has been released as well as some other publicity, including a performance of a new song performed by the characters Sue Snell and Tommy Ross. Here is a taste for you. have gone behind the scenes so here is a sneak peek of what we might expect.  I have my spies in New York eager to tell me of the outcome, I just hope it is a hit and I will get to see it on my planned trip in May.

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Oscar ceremony looking grim….

AAMPAS have just released a trailer to promote the 2012 Oscar ceremony hosted by Billy Crystal – I think it is an unfunny dud !! I do hope that the ceremony fares better than this lame clip.


Check it out, click on the link

Academy Releases Oscar 2012 Trailer – The Vote on


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Designers and their creative process…..

An interesting insight into how production and costume designers develop a look appropriate to the film.

Click on the link

Scenes reveal souls – Entertainment News, Oscar News, Media – Variety.

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Open a new window……

Academy award-winning actress Tilda Swinton has plans to remake the classic film “Auntie Mame” as a starring vehicle.

Based on the 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis the property was first adapted as a play in 1956 starring Rosalind Russell as the New York eccentric aunt (she went on to star in the 1958 film adaptation). In 1966 a musical adaptation with music & lyrics by Jerry Herman opened on Broadway starring Angela Lansbury in the title role, in 1974 a movie version of the musical was critically panned, Lucille Ball starred as Mame.

Rosalind Russell the original Aunty Mame.

Tilda Swinton is usually known for her serious and intense roles (I Am Love, We Need To Talk About Kevin), she won her Oscar for supporting actress in “Michael Clayton” another serious part. Her “I Am Love” director Luca Guadagnino is her collaborator once again (it is sure to look very stylish) they are in the early stages of development. It is a great role and I am sure the talented Tilda will make a great madcap Mame. I will be very interested to see who will be cast as her friend Vera Charles, played to the hilt by Coral Browne in the play and film version and Bea Arthur in the musical versions.

Coral Brown and Rosalind Russell in the 1958 film.


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Designing dreams – this years nominations

The Art Directors Guild of America (ADG) announced their annual award nominations today. Babs has always been interested in this particular honour. Split into 3 categories the movie section honours period, fantasy and contemporary film production design. Not many surprises except the ridiculous nomination for “Bridesmaids” it always irritates that films tend to run in packs as far as nominations are concerned during awards season. “Bridesmaids” may have had a funny lead performance and if you really want to stretch it, the screenplay was ok, but production design? – oh please. The guild has yet to decide the nomination for Steven Spielberg’s animated “Tin Tin” movie.

Period Film.

THE ARTIST.  Laurence Bennett

HUGO. Dante Ferretti

ANONYMOUS.  Sebastian Krawinkel


THE HELP.  Mark Ricker

Ben Kingsley in a setting from “Hugo” production design by Dante Ferretti.

Fantasy Film.



THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN  (designer to be determined)


COWBOYS & ALIENS.  Scott Chambliss

Gringott’s Wizardry Bank from Harry Potter – production designer Stuart Craig

Contemporary Film.

THE DESCENDANTS.  Jane Anne Stewart


DRIVE.  Beth Mickle


BRIDESMAIDS.  Jefferson Sage

A setting from the visually arresting “Drive” production designer Beth Mickle.

In the television categories of interest are some of Babs faves getting a mention.

One Hour Single Camera Series.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE (Episode 21).   Bill Groom

GAME OF THRONES  (A Golden Crown).  Gemma Jackson

AMERICAN HORROR STORY (Murder House).  Mark Worthington

THE PLAYBOY CLUB (The Scarlett Bunny).  Scott P. Murphy

PAN AM (Pilot).  Bob Shaw

The kitchen from the horror house – “American Horror Story”.

Telemovie or Miniseries.

MILDRED PIERCE.  Mark Friedberg

CINEMA VERITE.  Patti Podesta


THE HOUR.  Eve Stewart

BLING RING.  Robb Wilson King

Mildred Pierce “kitchen set” designer Mark Friedberg

A couple of favourites are in the mix – Dante Ferretti, Stuart Craig, Rick Heinrichs, Bob Shaw, Mark Friedberg. Very happy that Gemma Jackson has been noticed for “Game Of Thrones”, pleased also that “The Help” is on the list. Thrilled that “Drive” has been recognised. I haven’t seen all of the nominees but I will try and catch up before the announcement of the winners on Feb 4. It will be interesting to see how the Gloscars compare.

This years lifetime achievement award goes to Tony Walton responsible for many films amongst them “Murder On The Orient Express”, “The Wiz”, “The Boyfriend”, “Prince Of The City”. He was once married to Julie Andrews. Also to be honoured with a Cinematic Imagery Award are the team behind the Harry Potter franchise including Stuart Craig (Production Designer), Neil Lamont (Art Director) and Stephenie McMillan (Set Decorator).

Set decorator Stephenie McMillan and production designer Stuart Craig the masters behind Harry Potter’s striking visual design.

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Breaking news – 2011 Gloscars delayed ! ! !




Babs has decided for the first time to extend the annual movie award wrap up – “The Gloscars” for another month. Usually the cinema year is marked from Jan 1 – Dec 31 but this can sometimes make the annual awards seem dated as some films are last years Oscar winners and therefore last years news. Australian cinema releases differ from the US. By extending for another month it means that some Oscar hopefuls can end up on the Gloscar list. So from now on the cinema year will commence on Feb 1 and end on Jan 31. Not that Babs should be influenced by the end of the year award season, its just that nobody wants to be old hat, and Babs does differ from Oscar results on many occasions.

The nominations and list of eligible films (those seen by Babs in a cinema) will be announced on Feb 1 and the winners announced a week later Feb 8.

It has been quite an ok year at the cinema with some worthy films and excellent performances – I wonder if you will agree with Babs.

Stay tuned.

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It’s A Wrap – Part Two


Sadly my year at the theatre was meagre. If only I could have  squeezed in a trip to New York which had a bumper year, alas I did not.

But I did manage to see a few live presentations, musicals dominated, a couple of comedy gems and even a puppet show abroad!

Here they are.


Presented by The Young Australia Broadway Chorus at St Kilda’s National Theatre. An amateur production yes but this was a chance for me to see the Tony award winning Broadway musical live. Performed by a young cast exact of age to the characters they represent on stage – teenagers coming of age both mentally and most importantly sexually. Based on the play by German author Frank Wedekind which premiered to great controversy in 1906. A musical dealing with teen sexual awakening and with a rock score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater. A fine cast performed with all the energy and dedication to the piece that I am sure was witnessed on the great white way. A lot of young talent to be admired, I loved the piece and enjoyed this production – was glad to finally catch up.


This Cameron Mackintosh hit production featuring a fine hand picked Australian cast was a real delight. Everything worked! – the dancing, the scenery, the singing and the songs. Professional theatre at its best. Highlights being Verity Hunt-Ballard as the famous Nanny – bossy but with a heart of gold, and Debra Byrne as the bird lady who sang the famous “Feed The Birds” so moving and sublime of voice. A treat for kids and adults. I really enjoyed every moment, musical theatre doesn’t get much better than this.


The stage musical version of the infamous flop movie musical starring Olivia Newton John was a surprise hit on Broadway but a dismal failure down under. Presented under a Big Top tent at Melbourne’s Docklands it had horrendous sound problems and I suppose did look rather cheap. It was not a total write off thats for sure. I for one loved the book by Douglas Carter Beane and the energy of the hard working cast. I enjoyed it far more than many I guess? (it failed to tour round the country as planned) and I can tell you the reason why – Christie Whelan in the leading role of Kira – daughter of Greek god Zeus, all Aussie accent, leg warmers and roller skates. She is such a fine comedienne (her timing is exquisite) and has a rip roaring Broadway belting type voice. A standout in the MTC production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and I am told the best thing in the recent revival of  “The Important Of being Earnest”, upstaging Geoffrey Rush is no mean feat. Surely she will be cast in the new planned Australian production of the musical “Legally Blonde” but her talents deserve so much more than that. For me Xanadu presented to me a star what more do you need?


A local production of the Broadway hit. What a disappointment. Under the direction of David Atkins and choreography from Jason Coleman it was promoted as a state of the art production with never seen before staging. I was appalled! The set consisting of computer lighting that conjured up animation that was both lame and horribly unoriginal. Fortunately for me I did see a production of the Broadway original in London and it was brilliant fun. Sadly the over the top hammy performances and unsubtle direction made this night in the theatre unbearable for me. I could go on and point out all the faults from both cast and creatives but I can’t be bothered – enough time spent on this turkey.


A total reproduction of the Broadway hit musical that is a real guilty pleasure. Slick direction, slick design, choreography that excites and songs from the 80’s rock music cannon – yes it is another jukebox musical. I saw a final preview and it was rocking. The cast were clearly having a rip roaring time and the audience hooting and hollering were too. A silly storyline about the redevelopment of the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood doesn’t have much chop, but the enthusiasm and clever direction worked a treat. Sadly it also failed to tour around the country as planned but a film version is due out mid year directed by Adam Shanckman (Hairspray) and featuring Tom Cruise in the scene stealing role of rocker Stacee Jaxx.


This local production of the Broadway musical was presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company. It lacked the pathos and excitement that I experienced in the Broadway production of which I blogged about a while back . The set was over active and a total distraction and the cast led by Kay Kendall lacked the talent required to pull off this fantastic musical. Oh well we can’t always get it right.


I went along to see this high school production of another Broadway musical because it gave me the chance of seeing it live and complete. I have long been a fan of the Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown so it was good to see it performed. An unusually grim choice for a school musical it tells the story of Leo Frank wrongfully accused and convicted of raping and murdering a young schoolgirl back in 1913 in America’s south. Frank was a successful Jewish businessman and the show deals with anti-semiticism and media sensationalism – still going on today! It was a flop when it was presented on Broadway back in 1998. With its grim subject matter it is hardly Broadway feel good fodder but its score is still highly regarded as one of Broadway’s finest. The schoolkids involved in this production did very well, some voices not up to scratch but others (particularly the lead boy) were quite impressive. Hats off to St Michael’s Grammar.


This overhyped and underwhelming dud of a musical is only worth mentioning for the fine set and costume design by Gabriela Tylesova. Dull and boring even with so much movement going on. To distract one of all the shortcomings of the production perhaps?  You can catch it on DVD soon as it was filmed during its Melbourne run.


Fantastic casting and performances made this local production of the Broadway show based on the acclaimed documentary a real highlight of my theatrical year. I expect Pamela Rabe to win a few awards for her heartbreaking performance as Little Edie Beale. Nancye Hayes as Big Edie held her own too and is eagerly anticipated for her upcoming role as Miss Hannigan in the new revival of “Annie”.


This is the second time I have managed to see Lily Tomlin in her live comedy act and she didn’t disappoint. A marvel at face manipulation and full of endless energy she had me laughing out loud and riveted as she took on all her favourite creations with their unique take on the modern world. I love Lily!


My first time seeing Eddie Izzard live was a last minute decision and I am glad I made the right one. I laughed in wonder at his observations regarding the creation of the world. It really impresses me when performers of this calibre manage to entertain for almost 3 hours (including interval) on stage solo. It must be so exhausting. Izzard is a master at it.


“Smoke And Mirrors” was another first for me. It was the first time I was to see the acclaimed performer iOTA perform live. After performances in “Hedwig And The Angry Inch” and as Frank-n-Furter in a revival of “The Rocky Horror Show” this was the show I caught up with his talents. Performed in the famed Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre. Part vaudeville, part fantasy, part circus act iOTA led a troupe of performers on a musical journey fantastical and funny, moving and magical. He didn’t disappoint, I’d check him out again sometime.


I went to see this water puppet show when I was holidaying in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was very touristy and a little tacky but it did have live performers, thankfully it was quite short too. I am glad I saw it as it is always good to soak up some local culture while abroad.


Filmmaker Danny Boyle’s production of Mary Shelley’s classic novel was very disappointing. I am sure that seeing it live may have been more electric but the ever imposing cameras of the NT Live presentations didn’t capture it. The performance I saw featured Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster and Johnny Lee Miller as his creator Victor Frankenstein. (they alternated the roles in the shows run) I felt that Cumberbatch gave way too much of a ‘gimp’ style performance that seemed so overblown in the confines of a cinema with close up camerawork. The rest of the cast had nothing much to offer and I must say I was bored by the banality of this particular adaptation.


I enjoyed this production much more than “Frankenstein”. The play by Arnold Wesker was first performed at the Royal Court in 1959 and is set in the kitchen of a very busy London restaurant. It tells of the trials and tribulations of its workers – the chefs, kitchen hands, waitresses et al. It had moments of great theatricality and choreography that was very creative. The miming of the cooking and the sequence in which full service was occurring was a highlight. Once again the imposing camerawork from the NT Live presentation hampered some of the better moments and didn’t help with some of the theatrical hammy performances (close-ups are not kind on a theatre actor reaching out to the back row). I do enjoy seeing these NT Live events but I wish they would hold back on the ‘clever’ camerwork and let us watch the show as if we were there in the front row, not riding on top the lens of the camera.

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