Sunday 23rd of January 2022

shock result for harry potter after bidding war for being vacuous...


It seems  that some people (see the SMH/Nine) are upset that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child did not get a gong last night — at the Helpmann Awards. Instead, topical productions got more awards than the big stages such as the Sydney Theatre Company which went empty handed.

When I turned on the box, the Awards had already started with a stylised show of three women, dressed in magnificent oversized gowns, singing on three stages — excellent but to my taste just about one minute too long for the purpose. I supposed they had to perform the entire aria of the opera from which this mesmerising item came from. The two "hosts for the night” were good but slightly nervous, as if they had been instructed not to make any political jokes about Trump or Scummo, or Putin or even about the discomfiture of the Labor Party. I know this is best left to a TV show like “Mad as Hell”… But we needed some better crackers.

So, as is the modern trend for lonely stand-up comics, the conversation was about their own selves and precarious status of employment, as, should they've said something deprecating about themselves, they could not really be sued by their own persona. Over the night, the change of wardrobe became an amusing running joke, not new though. A bit lame but one could guess the restrictions on this low key exchange of scripted pleasantry. They deserved a gong for doing as instructed, though the attempt to get a few cheap laugh by “interviewing” Cal Wilson (another lone stand-up great "comedienne") fell a bit flat. A bit more than flat. The stage is the stage, not the intimate front row that no one can see, even if displayed on the screen.

So what's the beef about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?

Well the massive production, of which a live extract was shown last night, was excellent but, according to Gus (and possibly other dudes who judge the awards), the topic is uselessly feeble compared to the other real stories being staged. I never liked the Potter concept and this stage production did not make me change my mind. The cartoon strip The Wizard of Id makes me laugh more, though it is infantile as well. A kid with a magic wand is okay for five minutes. Magic is not real. Get this in your head. Dream about scientific stuff, stars and better social justice instead.

Shows that got gongs were a lot more intellectual and emotional about the reality of life, even if the drama is stylised for effect. Counting and Cracking was about migration, Barbara and the Camp Dog was about Aboriginal life, Every Little Thing was about suicide. Even The School of Rock had more to offer than a potted Potter. The Harp of the South, which was an adaptation of a old play about early Irish life in Sydney had been excellent over two nights, did not get a gong but had been nominated.

The highlight of the night went to Kev Carmody, being inducted by one of his mates, Paul Kelly, into the Hall of Fame. In my book, Kev is a far better poet than Les Murray, who as a Christian devout could write great lines, but his writings seemed to exude a discreet cynical Catholic view of the world. Even Paul Kelly is a better poet than Les Murray ever was. Not that I need to compare.

"From Little Things Big Things Grow" is a protest song recorded by Australian artists Paul Kelly & The Messengers on their 1991 album Comedy, and by Kev Carmody with Kelly on his 1993 album Bloodlines. The song was co-written by Kelly and Carmody, and is based on the story of the Gurindji strike and Vincent Lingiari as part of the Indigenous Australian struggle for land rights and reconciliation. Last night, the song was performed masterfully, both in English and in Language, by Electric Fields (at 53:40). 

"Electric Fields is a potent and unique force bringing together the brilliance and creativity of music producer and composer Michael Ross, with the mesmerising sensitivity of Zaachariaha Fielding — whose rare and beautiful voice has been described as ‘taking soul to the stratosphere’. These two feminine brothers create a striking and haunting merging of living traditional Aboriginal culture with electronic music.” JJJ

Now you know. 

Harry Potter is a bit soul-less despite the magic stage effects, compared to the other candidates for gongs. So Sydney and Adelaide got more gongs than Melbourne — and I think this could have been the crux of the matter. 

Even Evita at the Sydney Opera House, despite being about a ratbag right-wing government, had more drama to offer than Harry. 

One production that did not get any mention but should have was the “Wharf Review”, the annual political spectacle of the last few decades started at the Tilbury Hotel in Wooloomooloo as Three Men and a Baby Grand, if my memory is correct. Though Wharf Review did not have one of its main original star, Phil Scott, It held the pollies in contempt with brilliant satire as usual. We are indebted to these performers and, maybe, maybe, maybe they should have written the scripts for the “hosts for the night” at the Helpmann Awards.

Congratulations to all the winners in their category, from dance to cabaret.

Picture at top from the Wharf Revue 2017. The Wharf Revue's power people, from left, Donald Trump (Jonathan Biggins), Ivanka Trump (Blazey Best), Boris Johnson (Phil Scott) and Vladimir Putin (Drew Forsythe). Photo by Brett Boardman

we miss you, phil...

IT’S time for change at The Wharf Revue which, co-founder, musician and comedian Phil Scott suggests, could be dismissed by younger people as a lot of old blokes pointing at things and whingeing.

But, as Scott prepares to take off his comedic boxing gloves he notes: “Whoever takes over needs to have an idea of who does what in the political scene”.

“CityNews” catches up with him the day after the revue has opened its newest season, “The Patriotic Rag”, in Wollongong, where they often do early, try-out performances.

“This is our 18th year, but some years we have done two shows so it’s more like 25 or something like that,” he says. 

“This is my last one, I’ve given notice and, after this one, it will be going on without me,” he says. 

“I still rate the show with the boys, but now I’m going to do different things. It’s time to move on… but there’s no animosity.


Read more:


Good luck with your next venture, Phil...

a little bit of black pepper and a little bit of queer glitter.

Diversity has finally triumphed in Australian live entertainment, with key categories of the 19th Helpmann Awards going to a Sri Lankan immigrant family saga and a rollicking Indigenous musical.

Key points: 
  • The annual Helpmann Awards are held in Melbourne
  • This year's winners include Indigenous actor and singer Ursula Yovich
  • Her co-writer Alana Valentine said: "Take it from a lesbian holding a Helpmann, you are not going to hell"


Counting and Cracking, from emerging writer and co-director S Shakthidharan, netted seven awards from eight nominations, including the most coveted trophy for best new Australian production.

The awards ceremony in two parts at Melbourne's Arts Centre honoured dance, opera, contemporary music and festivals, in addition to theatre, cabaret, comedy and classical music.

Indigenous actor and singer Ursula Yovich took out several gongs for Barbara and the Camp Dogs, which returned this year for a national tour, following its 2017 debut at Belvoir Theatre Sydney.

Yovich starred in and co-wrote the intensely personal story, for which she won Best Actress in a Musical, Best Musical and Best Score in a Musical. 

Co-writer Alana Valentine accepted the award for best score with Yovich and said: "Ursula always used to say to us the secret to Barbara was a little bit of black pepper and a little bit of queer glitter."


Read more:


Read from top.


Congrats to all the winners...

did the ABC screw up?

Last night Mad as Hell showed a repeat of Episode 4, which went to air last week. On the Mad as Hell website, it shows that there is no "episode 5" and it jumps to 6 next week... So, I believe Twitter went ablaze, apparently beating the usual Twittering about Masterchef... My reliable information though I have no idea tells me that episode 5 had been produced... Even Shaun Micallef, the host/presenter/writer was on Twitter wondering what had happened to his show... It's a mystery. He proposed to post Episode 5 on iView, but so far, only episode 4 shows up. What happened? Legals? Someone forgot to press the record button when the show was being acted? The ABC screwed up? Shaun dreamed up doing an episode 5?... We need to know. It's of vital importance. Otherwise me might believe that the quiet Australians are quieter...:

quieter than usual...


Read from top.

the ABC screwed up...

Mad As Hell presenter Shaun Micallef has joined a chorus of confused viewers after a "technical error" saw the ABC broadcast the wrong episode of the popular news satire show.

Key points:
  • Fans were quick to pick up on the gaffe, taking to social media to vent their frustrations
  • An apology crawl was broadcast at the end of the episode, confirming it was due to a "technical error"
  • Episode four of the series will now be broadcast on Thursday night and is available on iview


Fans tuned in on Wednesday night expecting to catch the latest episode, only to discover it was a rerun of last week's show.

"My wife is ringing the ABC switchboard. I rang ITV. Hopefully we'll at least get the right one up on iView," Micallef tweeted.

"It's a good episode, too. Nice and topical. Maybe they'll play it next week."


Read more:



Read above and from top...


Did someone labelled the episode 3 as 4, 4 as 5 and 5 as 6 or is the ABC they employing blind people as equal opportunity? ... I KNOW! I KNOW! It's BUDGET CUTS BY THE SCUMMO/TRUMBLE/TURDY GOVERNMENT! Simple Hey? The Libs want to sell the ABC to Uncle Rupe... for cheap. Screw the Libs...

meanwhile... when I see one...


Jonathan Biggins makes a fine Paul Keating in his one-man show The Gospel According to Paul, playing at the Seymour Centre in Sydney for a repeat season.

The mannerisms, voice, tone, tempo, inflection and stylistic quirks are all there, along with a good dose of vanity and a little hubris. There’s lots of music: Handel, Mahler, and a Keating/Biggins rendition of “Delilah”, Tom Jones style. Much of the story is told through a wonderful slide show of family and Labor Party history, reminiscences of advice at Jack Lang’s knee, and the French watch he brought from antique dealer Stanley Lipscombe, dated around 1796, “that sweet moment between Robespierre and Napoleon”.

We also got a few of the one-line zingers, although it must be said they sounded a lot better out of Keating’s mouth. Up came a slide of Malcolm Fraser’s smirking senate leader Reg Withers, drawing a response from our man centre stage: “I may not be a proctologist, but I recognise an arsehole when I see one.”

Labor, too, came in for its fair share of cracks. There was an all-too-graphic photo of Bob Hawke in Speedos with a slight protrusion in the middle. “Follows you around the room, doesn’t it,” says Paul, adding that “Bob was working the smugglers well before Abbott”.

As for the Liberals, “they lost their brains when Wilson Tuckey retired”.

This is a warm and poignant portrayal of the former PM – with history, sentiment and laughs. The vision thing writ bold, with lots of talent and courage in the Hawke–Keating/Keating cabinets to see it through. We are all painfully aware that ever since we’ve largely been in the hands of visionless pygmies.

Keating’s career adviser at school said he should choose either architecture or panelbeating. We should all be so pleased he chose the latter.


Read more:



Read from top.

dangerous potterian gobbledegook...

A Catholic School in Nashville has banned Harry Potter books from its library, because a pastor decided that “the curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells.”

Well, hide your cynicism, because reports suggest that Reverend Dan Reehil from St. Edward Catholic School did not make this highly controversial decision lightly. Before sending JK Rowling’s books into purgatory, he “consulted several exorcists in the US and Rome” who decided that the boy wizard had to go. Has an exorcist ever said ‘Actually, don’t worry about it’ to any question ever?  

In an email, Reehil claims: “These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception... The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.” That will be news to the British author who famously came up with her Potterian gobbledegook while sat in an Edinburgh cafe.


Read more:



Read from top.