Kat of the Musicals

A beautiful opera sung by a fantastic cast. La Traviata is quite a heavy one though, so I’m not sure I would want to see it again and again!

From the first notes of the overture we know that this will tell a tale of sweet tragedy. And music doesn’t lie- La Traviata is exactly that tale of unfortunate souls bound together in a romantic love that ends in tragedy all too soon. But it is a beautiful tale all along the way, even its heartbreaking finale.

The opera is known for originating some of our most loved modern stories- including Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge, and it isn’t hard to see why. Even in its theatrical form the opera is rooted in its story and not over the top in execution. In many ways the opera is very much like a film, following the story of characters with whom we are encouraged to empathize with. And empathize we do!

Violetta and Alfredo are believably in love, and as we see their story progress we understand a love that is true and steadfast. Our story moves along quite rapidly, but is detailed in single scenes and conversations, and even though we feel like we have joined their story somewhere in the middle it doesn’t take us long to catch up.

Lorina Gore as Violetta is outstanding. Her soprano rings out, sweet and flirtacous, romantic and impassioned, strained and heartbroken. Lorina makes the incredible notes of her many arias seem all so natural.

Both Alfredo (Rame Lahaj) and his father Giorgio Germont (Jose Carbo) are equally exceptional in their roles. Alfredo is a handsome and steadfast romantic, and has a voice that woos its audience. Lahaj makes efforts to attend his gaze into the audience whilst still making it feel as though it is entirely directed a Violetta, which makes it feel almost as though his declarations are for us both. Giorgio Germont is a loving father who has to make a difficult decision. He could easily be perceived as the “bad guy” here, but his sincerity and remorseful behavior towards Violetta help us understand the pain of his decision. Carbo’s baritone voice is comforting and warm in his role.

The set designs here are exquisite- we move from an extravagant party of wine and velvets, to a beautiful courtyard of falling autumn leaves, to the devious room to an echoingly empty room. The realness of the set is encouraged through the use of great opening windows, which let in that “sunlight” which spills onto the set, and at times there is off stage singing which makes the whole set seem larger than the stage itself.

La Traviata is a very passionately romantic opera, but the tragedy is not in its romance, which makes for a bittersweet end. Although our Violetta dies, she dies in the happiness of her lover’s arms, a final pleasure.

I understand the hype- it’s definitely in the Book of Mormon bucket of musicals for the non-musical fan. And the performances were good, but the musical itself is just not for me.

Since its first performance in 2003 Avenue Q has become a crowd favourite in the land of musical theatre. Its lovable puppet characters, the realness of its book and its darn catchy songs make it an easy musical to like- even for those who are not so into musical theatre.

On Avenue Q live a strange bunch of people- puppets and humans coexist together, in a supportive neighbourly way as they all search for their greater “purpose”. The story is not shy- delving headfirst into social issues such as racism, homosexuality and homelessness. And although all are dealt with in a highly comedic way, there are also more serious moments with truly poignant messages about life and its hardships too.

It’s all a little bit blunt, but that’s the beauty of Avenue Q! Be prepared to have songs like “the internet is for porn” and “everyone’s a little racist” stuck in your head for days after (people might give you some strange looks if you sing out loud though). Some of the jokes are a little dated, or a bit Americanized, but you understand their charms nonetheless.

The cast is magnificent here, with most commandeering puppets and making both the puppets and themselves shine. Leads Madeleine Jones and Matthew Predny have such outstanding voices, and even though they do a fantastic job of letting their puppets take centre stage it is no less fascinating to watch their own facial expressions as they play out these realistic characters. Nicholas Richard’svoice is incredible, as he switches between Nicky and Trekkie with their more eccentric way of communicating (Trekkie in particular!).

This is a hilariously feel-good fun musical. Be prepared to come along and laugh like crazy, accept a lot of politically incorrectness and get abnormally attached to puppets. I’m sure even the Bad Decision Bears would agree that you should come. But that this is a good decision. Come see it, yayyy *wavy hands*

One of the biggest surprises in my entire theatre reviewing career- I completely wasn’t expecting it to be but it is definitely one of my most favourite things I’ve ever had the privilege to watch.

Roald Dahl’s stories, with their unique tales and clever writing, have delighted young audiences for decades. These young audiences have often grown up into adults who still find that same delight in Dahl’s writing. This new stage production of The Witches is a perfect representation of its ability to hold both ages of the audience completely and utterly captivated.

The adaption has been perfectly reimagined for a stage play- the pacing holds your attention for the (very) seemingly short 40mins and covers the majority of the book’s major plot. Before the play begins Guy Edmonds explains what is going to happen, a clever device to help the children understand that he will be playing all the characters and using his voice and body to switch between them. He also asks that we pay close attention and not talk throughout the performance, to which even the very young audience obediently follows.

There are several delightful surprises in stall throughout the production, and despite the relatively small size of the theatre the whole space is cleverly utilized. There are wonderful effects with lighting and sound, great use of minimal props, and delightful surprise moments of smoke and strobe. It’s a lot of fun!

Edmonds rapidly switches between the characters- an eager young boy, the bent over and hacking Grandmother, the chubby Bruno and his parents, the evil Grand High Witch and even cleverly depicts the changed mice through his hands.

In this one man show Guy Edmonds is just absolutely spectacular. He captures the rapt attention of children for the full 40mins, and the obvious admiration of all the adults too. His ability to switch between so many characters so rapidly, and to so clearly depict these varied characters through change of voice and body language, is simply mesmerizing to behold. My favourite part of the whole experience is watching his fantastic facial expressions, as with just his eyes he is able to illustrate the character’s intentions.

This was an absolutely wonderful play that was carefully created to delight both children and adults alike. I laughed and gasped throughout, and simply can’t wait to see Edmonds in another production. Although this was sadly the last performance of The Witches, I am sure the Monkey Baa Theatre has several other exciting productions lined up that will be just as fun so I will be making sure to keep an close eye out! And I’ll be keeping that same close eye out for any Witches too!

This was my first Pinchgut Opera experience- a bit different to OA but I quite enjoyed it! Also the first time I had ever heard (or even knew of) counter-tenors! Really unique vocal!

Vivaldi’s Bajazet is rarely performed; in fact it is so rare that there exists only a single recording of the Opera. It is thus exceptionally special to see this opera recreated on stage in Pinchgut Opera’slatest production, with its stunning arias and soaring music.

As skeletons leer down onto the stage from the stalls the orchestra opens the opera in a music-only sequence. This sets the scene for the remainder of the opera, for the music is what takes precedence here. The orchestra itself it seated at the front of the stage, level with the audience, creating rich and encompassing sound.

The story takes place solely within the palace of the ruler of the Tartar empire, Tamerlano (Christopher Lowrey), has taken the defeated Turkish sultan Bajazet (Hadleigh Adams) and his daughter Asteria (Emily Edmonds) prisoner. So begins our intricate web of love and tradegy, as Asteria is in love with the Greek prince Andronico (Russel Harcourt) (who returns her feelings yet is afraid to anger Tamerlano) and Tamerlano demands Asteria as his own despite already having been promised to the Greek princess Irene (Helen Sherman), and Irene is less than happy at having been shafted to Andronico… And in the case of most operas you know this isn’t going to end with everyone happy.

The opera itself is predominantly made up of solo arias, a feature recognizable from the first developments of opera- where the style moved from singers performing solo pieces into this developed style of story and multiple performers. These arias are all quite repetitive, again in that style of early Baroque. This leads to the feeling of being a slight disconnect with the story but it is interesting to experience something that is a little bit unique in its style.

Something else that was quite new to me was the presence of two counter-tenors in the leads. This was the first time I have heard this particular style of vocal performed live, and it does take a little getting used to before you settle into marveling at the handle both men have on their unique vocals. The story does lean you towards being a little less favourable to all three men though- one a proud father whose throne is lost along with any of his power, the next a cruel sleaze who thinks only of himself, and the third who proclaims a sincere and pure love and yet seems slightly swayed at times and is unable to admit his true feelings to himself yet alone to the one to which he professes love.

Here the women speak with slightly more handle on the situation and a bit more clear-headness (a bit). They also rather steal the show with their incredible vocals. My favourite performer of the evening was Andronico’s friend Idaspe (Sara Macliver). But all three women sing out the most stunning repertoires, and it is within their voices that the audiences become captured. Stand out pieces from each include Idaspe’s “Nasce rosa lusinghiera”, Asteria’s “Amare un’alma ingrate” and Irene’s “Sposa, son disprezzata”.

Almost as interesting as watching the action unfold on stage is watching the animated gesticulations of conductor (And Artistic Director) Erin Helyard, who leads the orchestra through the incredible score. This is of course helped along by the wonderful acoustics of the Recital Hall, which can be all at once perfectly silent and then fill the whole space with such a intimately close and soaring sound. This is no more evident than when throughout a particular strain of an aria the lights are dimmed to a single spotlight on the singer and the orchestra is silent, before swelling into an all encompassing sound.

This is a stunning production of Bajazet, made no less special by the knowledge that you are witnessing something that is so rarely performed. Which is a shame, as Vivaldi’s composition and his carefully selected arias create something that is truly music to your ears, and something like that should certainly not be forgotten.

Didn’t actually see the play for this one! Just did the interview…

Brendan Cowell’s Men is confronting expose of what it is to be a guy, with a twist that will leave you breathless. The AU caught up with Ben O’Toole, who plays one of the “men”, to discuss the production and that confronting question.

How do you think Men creates its position as a “nerve-bending expose of what it is to be a guy”? What IS it like to be a guy?

Men does this quite simply I think by placing 3 men in a small room right before the end. The end of what…? You’ll have to come and see for yourself, but it basically explores the vast insecurities 3 very different men have, and the way they love each other, hate each other, and project their own insecurities on each other. It’s like this in every way to be a guy. Alpha male, pack mentality. Masculinity is an obscure thing, mostly obscured by dominance. When that dominance is taken away, there are some big question a guy has to ask himself, like “why should people listen to me when I speak” etc… These are confronting questions, and often not asked.

What is your character like? Do you think you’re similar to him in any way?

I see similarities in Crazy Bob. I see them with all the characters though. I think thats what makes this a bit confronting, is there is a bit of everyone in the characters. Or vice versa. Bob would be a bear if he was an animal. A very inappropriate bear.

What is it like to work on one of Brendan Cowell’s productions?

It’s great. This is the 3rd show of his I’ve done, and I love them. They’re raw, unapologetic, and there is always a bigger picture. His work revolves around themes that aren’t typically addressed in the outside world, and will bring people to question this behaviour.

You have worked almost equally on stage and on screen. Do you prefer either and is it easy to switch between the two?

I have been lucky to work a bit in both, yes. I love both of them equally, as they are both completely different, and yet the core remains the same. The truth always being paramount, but the technical skills required to tell the story differs. I love doing both because they both keep me pursuing truth in different ways, constantly giving me different tactics in different character situations.

Your next project is bringing to life the extraordinary life of Peter Allen in Not The Boy Next Door. What was it like working on the series?

Peter Allen was great fun. I had a blast. Peter was surrounded by colourful characters, and being given the opportunity to bring some of these characters to life on screen was a treat.

Do you have a dream role, either in theatre or film?

It may sound weird, but I don’t have a ‘dream’ role as such. I am constantly trying to understand people. I find people fascinating, and I love playing characters separate from myself, and finding what we have in common. I love working with people that are as interested in uncovering truths.

And finally, what should audiences expect from Men?

Audiences should most certainly expect to be confronted. Ideally the audience will leave the theatre trying to unpack what it truly is to be a ‘man’.

My absolute favourite opera performance ever. Ever. Yonghoon Lee was something else! As I mentioned in a “Favourites of 2015” article-

“This is the opera that has made me fall in love with opera. Graeme Murphy’s latest production of Puccini’s Turandot is nothing less than absolutely stunning- beautiful sets, soaring music and the incredible tenor Yonghoon Lee. It was perfect.”

Opera, by its very definition, should be grand and dramatic. It should be colourful and magnificent, with soaring notes and breathtaking sets. Its story should capture you completely for that moment that you are in the Opera Hall, lost in that world of poetry and romanticism. Opera Australia’s latest production of Turandot is exactly that opera, and I was completely captivated from the first note.

Turandot was Puccini’s final opera, and one that had to be completed by Franco Alfano after his death. The opera is of course most famous for its pinnacle aria, Nessun Dorma, but the music that surrounds this famous piece is no less grand. There are several beautiful traditional Chinese melodies that are interwoven into the score. The strong leitmotif for the Princess herself is perhaps my favourite, an all at once fierce and beautiful piece of music.

The story is quite unique for an opera, as it is not all death and tragedy (although there is a little, couldn’t stray too far from the norm!). Instead it tells of a cold-hearted, ruthless and (of course) unobtainably beautiful Princess Turandot. The first moment she is introduced is breathtaking- as the music soars giant fans unfurl to reveal the imposing figure set upon a high pedestal. Lise Lindstrommade for a fantastic Turandot, her commanding voice reaching out from the stage and demanding that we both love and fear her.

The princess enforces that any prince wishing to marry her must first pass her test of three riddles, and if he fails than he is to be executed. Turandot’s justification in her reign of blood is that her ancestor Princess Lou Ling was taken, ravished and murdered by an invading foreign prince, and she will not let any man possess her in revenge. We are soon introduced to the newest suitor for the Princess, the young son of an exiled king whose name is Calaf. He glimpses the princess and is immediately enraptured by her, so declaring that he will answer her riddles despite the pleading of his father and the young slave girl Liu, who is in love with Calaf.

In the role of Liu is Hyeseong Kwon, who is perfect in the role. Her voice rises with such beautiful tragedy… empathetically pulling at your heartstrings with her loyalty to her unrequited love, and conveying her feelings through the most aching facial expressions and pure voice.

Calaf enters the palace, brave and determined- and succeeds in answering all three riddles. The Princess is furious, and so Calaf challenges that if she is able to discover his name before the sun rises that she may execute him. It is here that he sings of the sleepless night, that Nessun Dorma, and oh wow. Nothing could really prepare you for hearing this magnificent aria sung live, with the full orchestra and the incredible vocal talents of a magnificent tenor. The crowd was in thunderous applause, and I couldn’t help but feel a little teary at how breathtaking it all was.

Turandot drags sweet little Liu into the palace for questioning, but Liu will not give up her love and so fatally stabs herself (there is our operatic tragedy). Left alone, Calaf boldly kisses Turandot in an attempt to convey his emotions and Turandot, feeling for the first time, sheds tears. Declaring it no longer matters Calaf reveals to Turandot his name, at which she strides boldly to the palace and declares she has discovered the secret. That his name is Love. The lovers embrace and the music soars into the happiness of ever after. A happy ending! Finally!

Everything is conveyed beautifully by Graeme Murphy’s direction, the movement throughout the stage is fluid and sweeping with Oriental gowns, long hair and giant fans. Weapons gleam in the light, shining into the crowd with blinding brilliance. The chorus is large, and gathered on the relatively small stage their presence seems even larger. Throughout there are several moments that are just so exquisite that they take your breath away.

Although all the performances are spectacular in this opera, none stands out more than the incredible Yonghoon Lee. What a voice! Although Calaf could be considered quite frustrating with his desire for the Princess and proclamations of “I must have her”, with that voice he can be easily forgiven for his flaws. Yonghoon is a perfect representation of Calaf, his stance bodes fearless determination and his expression stoic proclamations of love. He is also quite handsome, and you feel yourself hoping for his success, which I feel contributes significantly to the overall success of the opera!

Every moment had me breathless, a magnificent spectacle of soaring music and grand costumes. I was enraptured by the characters, and captivated by the staging. I have seen many operas before, but this production of Turandot has made me fall Calaf-style in love with opera.

Well… it wasn’t Aladdin: The Musical, but it was one of my first pantomime experiences! An easy-to-watch bit of fun 🙂

Originally posted on The AU Review.

An enjoyable theatre experience is the combination of two things- naturally it is the performance itself, but it is also the audience. Very often the energy of the audience determines the success of the performance on stage so when you have an audience full of the uncontained excitement of children you are sure to feel a buzz! In Aladdin and his Wonderous Lamp it is the delight and participation of the children in the audience make the night a thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment.

Aladdin is a modern family pantomime- combining music, song, dance, slapstick comedy and a script packed with topical jokes. The production is light hearted and fun, taking us through the magical tale of Aladdin and his magic lamp. This is not the Disney version of the tale mind, but closer to the original tales from The Arabian Nights. With a modern-ish sort of twist.

In this tale Aladdin (Mat Verevis) is the son of a (cross-dressing) washer-woman (Ian “Dicko” Dickson) who falls for the Princess Yasmina (Lauren Brant) after gazing at her through and apple orchid. The evil wizard Abanazar (Josh Adamson) attempts to trick him into retrieving the lamp of the Genie (Beau Ryan), but the lamp falls into the hands of Aladdin first- who wishes for the wealth to marry the princess. This is, of course, all told along with the help of several recognizable pop songs that you can clap and sing along to. Think the Princess singing Britney Spears, Abanazar singing Phil Collins and a cross-dressing Dicko singing Taylor Swift.

As our tale continues now-rich Aladdin is all set to marry the princess, but Abanazar tricks her and gets his hands on the lamp. He then whisks the princess away to naturally await rescuing by ol’ Al and everyone lives happily ever after!

There are some truly fun characters along the way as well- Aladdin’s brother Wishee Wahee (Kev Orkian) is a whole lot of entertainment, and interacts with the crowd to keep the energy high and the laughter flowing. I also thought Abanazar was quite hilarious in his role, and brought the character a delightful joviality.

It’s really Beau Ryan as the Genie who stands out here though, and not just because of that body (although that certainly does stand out). Although his acting skills might not quite be up there you can tell he’s really going all out and putting in his full effort, and the crowd LOVES him. He takes on the genie character brilliantly, bringing to it a wonderful sense of humor and delightful charm that makes him easy to like.

What makes pantomime really special is the amount of interaction with the audience. The crowd is instructed to boo for the evil characters (which they do loudly and with relish, poor Abanazar!) and cheer for the good characters. They loudly call out suggestions for the characters, settling comfortably into their role within the panto. The actors make a considerable effort to keep this interaction high, talking and joking with several audience members and further encouraging loud reactions. It’s lots of fun! It wouldn’t work if the audience didn’t respond, but with half of the crowd children you soon find adults to be bellowing “hissssss” out just as loudly as their younger counterparts.

With dazzlingly colorful costumes, sets and lighting this Aladdin pantomime is a delight to watch. There may not be anything exceptionally remarkable here in terms of acting and singing, but there doesn’t really need to be. The lightheartedness of the comedy moves the performance along and you can clearly hear the delight in the young audience. This is a great night of enjoyable family fun that will put a smile on everyone’s face, especially with the help of one rather muscular and smirking genie.

Not much to say on this one as I unfortunately didn’t get to see the work itself…

Originally posted on The AU Review.

On View: Live Portraits is dance and live portraiture work that is set to push the boundaries and preconceptions of dance as an art form in a stunning work that weaves deftly between both live performance and recorded dance portraits. The AU discussed this visionary new work with its choreographer Sue Healey.

How is On View: Live Portraits unique as a piece of dance choreography?

With this work, the actual artist is the subject. Perhaps this makes it unusual. Essentially I want to show the dexterity and sheer genius of the dance artist – I believe that dance has always been under-played, under-valued, although central to our culture (we all move, or else we die). This work for me, celebrates the unique knowledges and diverse ways of thinking through the body that a dancer embodies. It highlights the skills of a dance artist in revealing complex constructions of identity and suggesting new ways of being. Dancers are masterly. They know how to be seen. They know how to see.

I also bring my filmic eye into the choreography. I’m interested in the subtle nuances that a close up or dynamic camera, or different perspective, can achieve. I have orchestrated the audience to both move around the choreography, as well as be seated, in the hope that an awareness of how we view is experienced.

How do you keep the balance between the live performance and recorded dance within the work?

It is a constant weighing-up of what form speaks the most eloquently for a given moment or idea. It is indeed a tricky balance – I shape and craft each moment, absolutely aware of the conflicting powers of the live body and the mediatised presence. Also, this work is about the dialogue that occurs between the cinematic and the live, so I am interested in the spaces between – the differences in how our perception alters when we read an image on a screen, or a real, breathing body. There are sections where I am also trying to fill the whole space with image, distorting and breaking away from the traditional flat picture plane surface. I hope this helps bridge the gap in our awareness of seeing space. Light is everything. Light in the cinematic image and light in the real space. Lighting designer Karen Norris is a key component to this – she activates the space around the screens illuminating the live bodies so that the dialogue can occur.

You mentioned that we are a screen-based culture, used to experiencing an overwhelming deluge of moving images daily. How has this shaped your choreography for On View?

This is a great question and at the heart of my enquiry. Because we are saturated with images and screen information, I feel it is my responsibility to be very accurate with the imagery, rather than just add to the cacophony. It makes me hone my ideas, filtering out the unnecessary, and refining what is essential.

How do you help the dancers to embrace your vision for the choreography and the final performance?

We talk and share ideas and trust each other. This artform is a true collaboration. There needs to be utter respect between artists for the magic to appear and I do believe that we have this in this production. All collaborators; dancers, composers, lighting designer, cinematographer, production staff, presenters and producers, bring their skill to the mix. I am not sure politicians understand just how incredible the Arts are in this respect. If our economy was run in a similar fashion I believe we would be in a far better place than we are now.

What was it like to work in collaboration with Judd Overton for the new work?

Amazing. This collaboration is at the core of this work. Every project I have created with this artist is eye-opening and empowering. He enables me to take risks, through his belief that my ideas might hold some merit…and I am so grateful for his skill and problem-solving (which is legendary). We have had some great adventures around the world filming dancers.

You are well known for working as a dance visionary across many mediums- galleries, theatres, tradition and non-traditional venues. How do you approach each of these?

Space is the issue for me – I love dealing with the specifics of any given space and context that is offered to me. I believe that this is the key to all my work…creating the right work for the right space for the right context. Give me a space and I will relish in the task of creating something moving and meaningful for it.

And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from the On View: Live Portraits?

Look at a portrait in a different way.
Think about creating their own portrait – of someone or themselves.
Really see something – go deeper than the surface.
See that our identities contain many shifting layers.

Well this is a bit of a different one but who doesn’t love Lego? 😀

Originally posted on The AU Review.

Ryan “Brick Man” McNaught is the only LEGO Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere, whose incredible LEGO-building career spans models and mosaics vast! The AU caught up with the Brick Man ahead of the arrival of more than 50 of his original works in Sydney to chat about the Brick Man Experience, super-secret building tips and everyone’s favourite little coloured bricks.

What is your first memory of Lego?

I was 3 years old, and my grandmother Hazel bought me a LEGO set from coles, I remember very clearly playing with it on the floor next to grandads chair.

You were originally an Information Technology Manager. How and when did you decide that wasn’t the path for you and that your destiny was paved by little bricks…?

Like most career changes it just sort of happened, I was doing more and more LEGO projects after hours and it eventually was like working 2 jobs, so I had to make a decision, which of course was easy when you had to choose the board room or a LEGO workshop!

How does one become a Lego Certified Professional?

There is only 12 of us in the world and each of us became one in a different way, so there is no set path per se, how I got it was I was working with mindstorms which is the LEGO robotics system, and I wrote some software to let mindstorms work with the ipad, so kids could control models from their ipads. Anyway some guys from LEGO saw it and we got chatting from there.

What is the standard process for approaching a new model?

It’s all about research before we even pick up a brick, its about learning about what we are going to build, on average every project has about 10% research time. The more we understand what we are creating the better the outcome. From there we will do sketches and drawings before we actually build.

At any one time about how many Lego bricks do you have?

It’s not easy to keep count, but its around the 5 million brick mark give or take, it also depends on what projects we are working on.

Do you have a favourite Lego piece that you have built?

The LEGO colosseum is my favourite, it was such a difficult model to build, it has a lot of little secret detail things in it too.

What can audiences expect from the “Brickman Experience”?

I’ve got over 60 models on display, some of the largest ever seen in Australia and I’ve got plenty of things for people to help me build too. I’ve also got a couple of secret never seen before models which will be unveiled just for Sydney!

And finally, do you have a super-secret special tip for all Lego builders out there?

Build things you love, if you are into space, then build rockets, or if you like trains, building things you are interested in means you add a whole heap of passion into your models, and that really shines through. Also don’t be afraid to build the same thing a few times, each version will get better and better.

LEGO! Ah, the world’s most popular toy. There’s something just so magical about these little coloured bricks that holds the adoration of children and adults alike. That love of building and creating is something we never seem to grow out of, thank goodness. Now you can see the work of one such man who has dedicated his life to our beloved bricks and become The Brickman (Ryan McNaught), the only Lego Certified Professional in the whole Southern Hemisphere. In The Brick Man Experience: An Exhibition of LEGO Works you get to see some of his most incredible LEGO creations right up close, and feel that little pang of longing to play.

As you enter the exhibition you are greeted with some fun factoids about LEGO, for example 1989 was the year that our little yellow characters first received their multiple facial expressions (extra fact- they were with the pirates collection!). But as you enter into the big exhibit room prepare to be wow-d.

From the first piece, an amazingly ombre giant flower, to the Opera House and Colosseum, to a giant ship, a space shuttle, a Ferrari, a helicopter. Everything makes you stop and inspect with careful wonder at the amount of incredible detail and just HOW MANY BRICKS are in each and every one. Most of the models are two sided, showing the outside and the incredible inside. You could stand there and explore the inside of the Opera Hall for hours (although you may face the wrath of Jabba the Hutt). The Colosseum is split into old and new, one side showing its original form in the age of Gladiators, the other as a work of restoration and popular tourist destination. My favorite piece was the giant ship though! With something different in each and every little room, and even carefully thought out ballast at the bottom of the ship.

The exhibit also recognizes that seeing all these LEGO models makes hands twitchy to build, so along the way there are several chances to get your hands on some bricks. There are two large murals underway, made with little squares that everyone can build on to contribute to the picture, and there is also a large area for kids to get building as Brickmen in Training.

The Brick Man Experience is fun and exciting for children of all ages (even the fully grown ones). There is plenty to be amazed by, and everything is close enough to see clearly (but far enough away to worry about little determined hands) that you can quite easily spend your time just watching the story of the model unfold through the carefully planned and executed detail. Mr Brickman, I’d love to build LEGO with you sometime!

This was really fun! They gave us a fantastic table and everything was really entertaining- a great girls night out! Food was pretty tasty, and I finally got to taste Fleur Delacour’s bouillabaisse. Excitement!

Originally posted on The AU Review.

The sexy Paris burlesque feeling, the lavishness of French cabaret and the glamour of fine dining all comes to life at Slide Lounge for the Risqué Revue. This is fabulously fun and seductively sexy evening of French-themed performance and cuisine, and as you make your way through the 3-course meal prepared to be wow-d by six performers who know how to show off their talents (and bodies)!

Upon arrival we were guided to our table, taken through the evening’s French themed menu (more on that in a moment) and offered a drink. Everything keeps in this French theme- the music, the wait staff, food and the collection of fun French-themed cocktails! First up was our entrée- a delicious zucchini & tomato tarte tartin. I loved the soft and fluffy pastry base!

After entrée it was time for the show to begin, starting with the cabaret-style vocalist. Set to the side is a sort of picture frame, in which appears legs, arms and corset-clad torsos. You can tell already from the toned body parts the physical athleticism that will be shown. One by one the vocalist introduces the four ladies to us, as they appear out of the frame and onto the stage. We are also introduced to our sole muscle-clad man of the evening, Joe.

Each of the girls shows off her own individual talents in a short skit- a delicate chair-dance of white and mink, an incredible performance of rose petals on the silks, a whip-equipped pole dancer and a strip teasing seductive dancer. Throughout these performances Joe stands by, assisting with any required clothing removals and being the occasional swing from his biceps. His seductively passionate gaze is quite something! Eventually he gets to show off his very own talents on the spinning pole, and wow! (I also loved his belly piercing).

After all the girls returned on stage wearing beautiful lace masks for a final chorus dance to our sultry vocalist it was time to break for our main course, of which there were two alternating options. A slow braised beef cheek and bouillabaisse. My very first bouillabaisse! It was very exciting, and delicious! Served with tasty large croutons. I felt very much like Fleur Delacour.

After dinner we were into the second half of the performances and wow did the intensity pick up! There were can-cans and sexy dances and a man on a aerial hoop and a woman on a aerial hoop in a bathtub! That routine was simply spellbinding- as without any safety ties she flicked herself out of the water filled bath (spraying us nearby tables with water and making our supplied umbrellas useful) and spinning herself freestyle into their air on a hoop. Careful not to leave you mouth open in awe, you might catch some bubbles.

The dessert course was served through this second half; with a cute shortbread Eiffel Tower and a Cannele de Bordeaux with French custard and an amazing red/blue/white salted caramel éclair. And with the last bite of my delicious éclair the evening came to a feather shaking close.

Everything on the evening is just sexy enough, with a provocativeness of glamorous dance so that everything is tasteful for the dinner meal. The costumes are exquisite, with feathers and sparkles galore. Each of the performers has their own unique personality, which makes everything even more entertaining.

There is really no other experience like it- you are really really close to the action here. Aerial routines are performed pretty much right next to (and on top of) you and the stage itself is very much on level with the tables. The French themed menu is delicious, and as you pace yourself through the food you are treated to some really spectacular performances. It’s all quite risqué, lots of fun and just makes for a really fantastic night out!