We need some oomph

Is it just me or has it been a somewhat subdued year in theatre?

Is it just me or has it been a somewhat subdued year in theatre?

It seems that the gossip, news and scandal that in so many ways keeps theatre alive here in Australia has somewhat disappeared in 2009. I would bet that my phone has rung a lot less this year than last – and hopefully it’s not just because I’ve become unpopular.

In fact, AussieTheatre.com hits are up on last year, so things are moving along well in that regard, it’s just that it has been a genuinely quiet year with very little to talk about apart from what shows are coming and going.

Just doesn’t sit right, does it? It’d be like a rugby league season without an off-field drama. It’s just not normal.

Then again, Cate Blanchett did get hit with a radio. At least it got theatre in the papers.

Over the last few years we’ve obviously had much to talk about with the extraordinary life of Kookaburra, the national musical theatre company that was wound up at the start of this year. From the triumphant productions of Little Women and Company to the drama that so often engulfed the company behind the scenes, Kookaburra got us talking about theatre if nothing else. In some ways, mission accomplished.

Last year also saw the arrival of one of the biggest musicals in years, Wicked, and accompanied with it was one of the most spectacular opening nights in history.

2009 just hasn’t had the oomph of previous years.

We need a drama – does anyone think James Millar would do a nudie run at the Capitol Theatre to get us talking? Or would Caroline O’Connor come out and yell ‘outrage’ over her Helpmann snub, just to add some spice to the year? Or could we get a theatre celebrity cricket match happening for some laughs  – Phil Scott would be a superb wicket keeper and I am reliably informed there’s plenty of thespians out there willing to bat for both teams.

In all seriousness, things are just a little bit dull, aren’t they?

2010 promises some change but not really in the scandal sense (not that that is such a bad thing). There’s some good quality productions starting to be announced and most of them come from the straight theatre world. Musical theatre has Fame confirmed but hopefully there will be more as we need a huge blockbuster to follow on from the success of Wicked and Jersey Boys in recent years.

The Sydney Theatre Company’s 2010 season is to be applauded – Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton have well and truly got it right.

The inclusion of a Joanna Murray-Smith play surely would not have gone un-noticed by former Artistic Director, Robyn Nevin.

Other highlights include the wonderful cast assembled for Uncle Vanya – Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, John Bell and Richard Roxburgh – and productions of Spring Awakening and Our Town.

It is the best Sydney Theatre Company subscription season in years and precisely the mix that the company should be presenting.

There is little doubt that Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton have thrown away the doubts that covered their appointment a few years back. The Hollywood power of Blanchett provided some fear that the Company had become, for want of another word, cheap.

However, Blanchett has proved her artistic flair and with her husband have created a subscription season to be proud of.

Now that we’ve got on stage taken care of, can we sort out some off-stage antics just to keep us all talking?

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