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Sunday 6 August 2023

Elvis: A Musical Revolution - OPENING NIGHT SYDNEY

Elvis: A Musical Revolution.

This new bio-musical - authorised by Elvis Presley Enterprises - has just opened in Australia at Sydney's beautiful State Theatre - and it'll turn your expectations of a musical on its head.

Get set to having your preconceptions of a musical being blown away by the genius of both this David Venn Enterprises production, the story written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti, and the supreme talent of acting and theatrical great, Australian born Rob Mallet as Elvis.


If you know your Elvis Presley history, you’ll be across the timeline of this musical icon!

From his childhood roots in Tupelo, Mississippi, where Gladys Presley gave birth to twin sons.

The first, Jessie Garon, is born stillborn. The second, Elvis Aaron, is born alive and healthy. Elvis would be their only child, and the apple of his mother's eye, as is well documented and depicted beautifully in this musical. Young Elvis - played during its season by Oliver Bosward, Rhys James Hankey, Finn Walsham, and Tommy Kent - is such a beautifully tender role.

Now, get set for a little Elvis education in the most entertaining way!

Let’s talk about @robmallett as Elvis: he’s just INSANELY good. And his actor CV is an exceptional encyclopaedic prelude to his role of a lifetime as The King.

From his bio:

Tasmanian born and bred, Rob was introduced to the stage during his formative years in Irish dancing. 

Rob graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2012 with a BA in Music Theatre. During his last year at WAAPA Rob appeared in a docudrama for the BBC, Desert Rats, and a telemovie for ABC 1, The Accidental Soldier. 

Immediately after graduating, Rob appeared in a guest role on House Husbands for the Nine Network, before joining the national tour of Hot Shoe Shuffle, directed by David Atkins, in the role of Buck. 

In 2013 Rob also performed in A Cole Porter Celebration for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs as a lead vocalist and during that same year was named a top 6 finalist in the Rob Guest Endowment. Following that, Rob featured in a guest role on Winners & Losers for the Seven Network. 

Rob was cast in the Australian tour of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Les MisĂ©rables covering the role of Marius. 2016 saw him join the company of Singin' in the Rain which continued into 2017 for the Tokyo production. Also in 2017, Rob was thrilled to finally be returning home to Tasmania to appear in Blue Cow’s The Events, and was cast as the role of Brad Majors in the Australian tour of Richard O’Briens The Rocky Horror Show. He followed these with an international tour of Disney’s Aladdin as Kassim, and most recently supported Gerry Connolly in The Rise and Disguise of Elizabeth R at the Hayes Theatre.

And now... meet Rob as Elvis.

His dulcet tones as The King are exceptional, and his familiar Elvis twang in his spoken parts are eerily good... he has that deep Mississippi Elvis accent down pat.

This is where the musical differs from what you may expect. It features 40 of Elvis's songs, but they're not rolled out in standard fashion for a musical, one after the other, with not much time to enjoy and engage with the spoken story in between.

No, this is a whole other style of musical.

The emphasis on this production is very much - as the title suggests - remembering Elvis and his  vast and enduring contribution to our musical history.

With clever date stamps and historical markers on stage and its rolling screen, you're taken on a journey of Elvis's life, with flashbacks to his childhood as pivotal moments.

Rob as Elvis in his dramatic scenes - when his band are trying to perform to Elvis's new standards, for example - are engaging and exceptional. It reminds us of the enormous amount of pressure Elvis was under during the peak of his career.

While that other homage to Elvis - the movie by Baz Luhrmann - centres on Colonel Tom Parker and his unsavoury ways of managing his client - this musical does indeed show Parker's controlling side, but does it in a more palatable way, still steeped in history and not glossing over the confines he had placed on his star.

My favourite parts of the whole musical was seeing the BTS of the rolling out of many of Elvis famed movies, in a way that was humorous and super entertaining... Kirby Burgess, who plays Ann-Margret, nails it in her scenes with Elvis on set on that famous dance scene in 'Viva Las Vegas'.

This series of scenes took me right back to Saturday afternoons at home in the 1970s, watching Elvis movies with the family. So much nostalgia, and makes me want to watch all Elvis films all over again.

The cast also features Noni McCallum as Gladys Presley, Ian Stenlake as Colonel Parker, and Annie Chiswell as Priscilla Presley.

The press blurb on Elvis: A Musical Revolution:

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The Icon. The King. The story of a man who gave the world a musical revolution. 

Featuring over 40 hit songs, Elvis: A Musical Revolution celebrates the extraordinary life of award winning, cultural icon, Elvis Presley. From his childhood in Mississippi, to his triumphant ‘68 Comeback Special, and ascent to become ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, this brand-new high-energy production explores the pivotal moments in Elvis’s life and music career through the perspectives of those who knew him best. 

Songs include Jailhouse Rock, Hound Dog, That’s All Right, All Shook Up, Suspicious Minds, Heartbreak Hotel, Burning Love, Blue Suede Shoes, Good Rockin’Tonight, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Earth Angel, Don’t Be Cruel, Are You Lonesome, Blue Moon of Kentucky, See See Rider, A Little Less Conversation and more. 

With an all-star Australian cast, dazzling choreography, and hit after hit, you simply can’t help falling in love! 

All shook up? Get tickets now!

***************

Take a Presley aficionado with you - or do as I did and take a teen - and you’ll be completely immersed in the history of Elvis, and it’ll also hit you right in the feels…

The high energy show is at times emotional, and THAT is the enduring legacy of a superstar who nailed the fame and endurance brief decades before social media was ever a thing… he needed no help from ‘likes’ and fake adulation. Instead, an incredible talent who lives on in so many ways, decades after his passing.

Go see it!

Ticket link HERE.

Or see the State Theatre for more info.

AND: the Sydney season will be followed by a run at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, starting from October 6, 2023.

Follow Elvis: A Musical Revolution on Instagram HERE and on Facebook HERE.

See my opening night coverage via @josiesjuicejournalist HERE.




Friday 20 January 2023

'Transfusion': Stan Movie Premiere

The blue carpet was rolled out for the Stan movie premiere event for 'Tranfusion'.

It's dropping on the Stan streaming service TODAY - Friday January 20, 2023.




Sam Worthington (he of the iconic #Avatar: The Way of Water), Matt Nable (from the Stan Original Film Poker Face) and the insanely talented Edward Carmody, were all so gracious with their time with red carpet journalists and photographers, as well as eager fans as walked the blue carpet at the Sydney premiere of the Stan Original Film TRANSFUSION on Thursday 19 January at Hoyts Entertainment Quarter, Sydney.

 

The action-packed drama is the story of a father (Worthington) and his young son (Carmody) attempting to reconnect after a devastating loss. 


The son, filled with guilt for a choice he never made, and a father suffering from PTSD and without identity after retiring from the Special Air Service regiment (SAS) of the Australian Army.


On his last chance with the law, the father is thrust into the criminal underworld by a former SAS brother (Nable) to keep his only son from being taken from him. The film also stars a positively ageless and magnetic Susie Porter (Stan Original Film Gold) and a stoic performance by Jessica Napier (Harrow).





Phoebe Tonkin also gives a measured, memorable performance which was as sublime as it is unforgettable.


This film was A LOT. (In a good way… read on). What you see on screen is THAT good.


It was triggering for me, as a life event happens which completely transforms the lives of a family in an irrevocable and devastating way.


I cried at a line at the end which was so pure and tender and simple… one between father and son, which seems like a flippant line in a movie, but is woven in so expertly. You’ll know when you see it.


The intensity of emotions and major scuffles (as well as shootings, and the rest) - was confronting for me, but it’s only as I’m not a fan of fights on screen. I’m really hopeless like that… I leave the room at home.


But the performances… oh my goodness… devastatingly moving and award-worthy.


This is the directorial debut for Matt Nable - and what a way to make a massive impact.


Matt is a former professional rugby league player, and sports commentator, turned actor, known for starring in ‘Underbelly: Badness’, ‘Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms’ and ‘Gallipoli’.


As an actor, he also had success in the US playing Ra's al Ghul in both ‘Arrow’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’.


But now, in a career first, Nable is directing his first feature film, ‘Tranfusion’ and it is crystal clear this is a passion project.


Matt spoke to Josie's Juice on the red carpet last night, and he gave us an insight into the world of this movie, and the concept of toxic masculinity.


"It's an idea that I hate and don't believe in. At all. In fact, that term shouldn't exist, at all. It does harm, and shoves all men into one group. Not all men are this angry. And perhaps we should start to question what makes men angry," he said, with passionate conviction.


In Transfusion, Matt's character certainly has anger management issues to resolve, and they ultimately don't manifest in the best way for him in the end...


Sam Worthington also spoke to Josie's Juice about his experience on the red carpet, though relished giving his young co star Edward Carmody the floor...


"This is a movie about a father's deep relationship with his son, and the consequences and fall out of a life event. It's deep, it's moving, and it's about grief and the fall out and how we deal with it all," said Sam.


Adds Edward: "It was an intense experience, but I loved working alongside Sam and everyone, and I learned so much from them all." It was wonderful to watch their deep affection for each other on the red carpet... and it's no surprise given the film's subject matter, and that Sam is dad to three sons, with his wife Lara Bingle.


Intense indeed, and life changing as his first major role.


And then, the glorious Phoebe Tonkin.


Google her, and one of the predictive text results are: "Is Phoebe Tonkin really Australian"


I share that funny nugget of info with her, and we have a good chuckle about it all.

"Oh, I am definitely Australian and so proud of that," she tells Josie's Juice with a big laugh.

I love being home, and I am so proud of this work in Transfusion, and working with Matt and Sam was just incredible and memorable," she adds, as she attends movie premiere number two for the week, with 'Babylon' premiering on Monday this week.

"This movie ['Tranfusion'] is about grief and loss and how we cope with that," says Phoebe.

"It's about the choices we make in the face of grief, and the consequences of those decisions we make," she adds.

The movie's ensemble is SO well cast, such a perfect fit for their respective roles.

Huge props to actor George Houvardas who plays a thug with such accurate authenticity, and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor.


Gilbert Bradman as young Billy is beautiful to watch on screen.


Meanwhile Sam Parsonson as Ned - WOW. Thug central and INSANE on screen as a very angry guy...


All in all, 'Transfusion' is one of the most memorable, rollercoaster, award worthy performances you'll ever see, of any Australian or global release.


WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY.


You can stream ‘Transfusion’ RIGHT NOW, only on Stan.

Sunday 8 January 2023

Tony Pantano dies, age 74

Tony Pantano, the most nominated male vocalist in Australia, and winner of 14 Moe awards, died last night, on Saturday January 7.

He was 74.



Born in 1948 in Montalbano, Sicily, the much loved singer received a standing ovation from Andrea Bocelli, and was complimented by the legendary Tony Bennett, saying he had “one of the best voices” he’s ever heard.


Respected by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck for his interpretation of their songs, he was also renowned as a performer at every Italian festival around Australia.


He was regularly a fixture on Australian television appearing on the shows of Graham Kennedy, Don Lane, Bert Newton, and Mike Walsh, and more.

His grandson is the ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ stand up comedian JJ Pantano, and he is survived by six sons, and six grandchildren, and two great grand children.


He was revered by his peers and adored by his fans.


If you are Italo-Australian, you have heard Tony being introduced at at least one Italian 'festa' in your lifetime - though probably at least a dozen - and you have heard his distinctive voice bellow through the appreciative audience, to rousing applause, cheers, and standing ovations.


He was Australia's own Tom Jones, with Tom himself a mega fan, and lauded by greats around the world.


Tony had been battling cancer for several years, and finally succumbed to the disease.


His grandson JJ Pantano paid tribute to his grandfather last night:


At the 7th hour of the 7th day of January the angels came to take my Nonno 
@tonypantanoofficial to heaven so he could grace heaven with his incredible voice like he did here on Earth. Nonno you are my inspiration and my love of entertaining comes from you. I’m so happy I have made you proud and I will continue to do my best to walk in your footsteps. You brought joy to all the people you ever entertained. Everyone loved you. I love you Nonno. Please watch over me from heaven & RIP. #tonypantano #jjpantano 


His family also posted a touching tribute to Tony:


Tonight on the 7th January at 7pm we lost not only a giant in the music industry but a much loved son, brother, father, father in law, uncle, grandfather, great grandfather, partner & friend. A man who was blessed to have lived his life doing what he loved everyday right up until the very end. He passed tonight peacefully, in prayer surrounded with his family by his side. And whilst he kept saying he didn’t want to go and fought so hard to the very end, eventually God’s offer was too good to refuse and the angels took him to no doubt do in heaven what he did on this earth bringing joy to so many people by sharing his God given voice - one of the greatest voices we’ve ever heard. We love you. We honour you and may you look over us and guide us everyday from above. We know you will. Gone but never forgotten.May you Rest In Peace Dad & Nonno. Rest In Peace Tony Pantano

P.S. 7 was his favorite number



Here are some pics of Tony in action over the decades:


Here at a tribute concert for Don Lane, with Don's son PJ Lane, and Maria Venuti, Rhonda Burchmore, and Patti Newton, and more:




With the Italian Australian new guard, Sooshi Mango:



See their tribute here:












Tony with Engelbert Humperdinck:



Tony performing:




Tony's six sons:



Saturday 24 September 2022

Sydney Dance Company: 'Dance Noir: Euphoric'

After a three-year hiatus, Sydney Dance Company’s Dance Noir returned to Sydney 

for a sensational evening of dining, dancing, fundraising and fun!



On Saturday 17 September, Sydney Dance Company made a triumphant return to The Hordern Pavilion with their gala fundraiser, 'Dance Noir: Euphoric'. 


The evening lived up to its reputation as the sparkliest party of the year, while also raising vital funds to ensure that Sydney Dance Company’s artists and audiences can continue to be supported and inspired by exceptional contemporary dance experiences.


The dress code was 'Glittering Glamour' and guests stunned in spectacular ensembles embracing the true Dance Noir spirit.


The 450 guests in attendance included:


Bianca Spender, Paris Neilson, Kerr Neilson, Hon Julie Bishop, Skye Leckie OAM, Ellie Aitken, Rebekah Giles, Taryn Williams, Marten Peck, Felicity McVay, Chris Wirasinha, David Hancock, Nadia Fairfax-Wayne, Nicky Oatley, Deborah Symond-O’Neil, Alyce Tran, Caroline Tran, Kate Bond, Hannah Gold, Tamie Ingham, Angus Logan, Faraz (Fuzz) Ali, Michael Lo Sordo, Richard and Jane Freudenstein, Don Harwin, Rebel Penfold-Russel OAM, Guy and Georgina Fergusson, Martin and Michelle Walsh, Andrew and Jane Clifford, Shemara Wikramanayake, Hayley Bailey, Pip Smith,  Kate Keane, Tory Archbold, Alex Smart, Peter Reeve, Mandy Foley, Alexa Haslingden, Sally Burleigh and more. 


The Company performed an excerpt from Rafael Bonachela’s critically acclaimed 'Impermanence', an intimate duet by Rafael Bonachela - originally created for a Cartier High Jewellery event - and Holly Doyle’s electric finale piece, Euphoric.








Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year students also dazzled in intricate neon costumes by the Enmore Design School.




The incomparable Matty Mills was the MC for the evening, with the event raising in excess of $600,000 to support Sydney Dance Company. What an incredible result!


These funds are instrumental in delivering Sydney Dance Company’s transformative artistic and touring programs (international and national), as well as supporting vital community outreach and advanced training.


There was friendly fierce competition for a suite of spectacular prizes at the live auction held by Romany Brooks of BresicWhitney.


Thee impressive prize list included:


- a pair of exquisite Jan Logan pearl and diamond earrings


- an unforgettable cruise for 30 people aboard custom-built luxury super yacht Quantum


- luxury stays at 5-star resorts, The Datai in Malaysia


- a 10-day getaway in a private retreat in Mexico


- a week in a luxury villa on Lake Annecy in France


- a sublime 7-nights on the privately-owned Turtle Island in Fiji complete with staff


- and an exclusive MasterChef dining experience at Sydney Dance Company with MasterChef Australia alumni Michelle Walsh (we love her!)


Beverage partners Champagne Henriot, Archie Rose, Capi and Cassegrain Wines provided refreshments throughout the evening to accompany a delicious array of canapés, mains, sides, charcuterie and cheese stations.


Roving desserts, cocktails and mocktails fuelled the guests as they hit the dancefloor while DJ Sveta got the party started.




Sydney Dance Company extended a huge thanks to the incredible Dance Noir committee for helping to make this unforgettable night possible:


Co-Chairs Peter Reeve and Mandy Foley, Sally Burleigh, Hilary Burton, Jane Clifford, Debbie Coffey, Georgie Fergusson, Alexa Haslingden, Jan Logan, Jane McCallum, Stephen Thatcher, Christina Voitenko, Michelle Walsh and Judy Wolf.


Sydney Dance Company is Australia’s leading contemporary dance company, presenting new works in Sydney, around Australia and internationally, under the Artistic Direction of Rafael Bonachela. Since 1985 the Company has been resident in purpose-built and recently refurbished studios at Wharf 4/5 in Sydney’s Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.


Its studios house the largest public in-studio and online dance class program in Australia, attracting nearly 100,000 attendances each year. A legendary force in contemporary dance in Australia, Sydney Dance Company celebrated its 50th year in 2019.


More information: www.sydneydancecompany.com


And, see the gorgeous guests in all their sparkly glory here: