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December 19, 2022

The Best of 2022

Filed under: Archive,Current

For the third year running any discussion of the performing arts turns inevitably to COVID-19 and the wreckage it has brought to scheduling and presenting events. More has been launched this year (and there have been fewer cancellations) but many changes had to be made to casts and crew all the same. The masking restrictions have lifted but that has made some, including me, watchful of which events I attend.

As I look over my year’s attendances, I saw less of the festivals – the Cabaret Festival and OzAsia in particular. State Theatre Company South Australia had a stronger year with fewer disruptions but the second-tier independents were quieter. Brink was involved in small co-productions and Slingsby and Windmill were busy touring elsewhere . It was a sad day for co-pro theatre that Bakehouse Theatre closed its doors . Many extraordinary productions graced that modest but vibrant theatre space. Thanks to Peter Green and Pamela Munt for their long-term commitment.

These losses notwithstanding, 2022 has brought many excellent and memorable performances and this survey accounts for only some of them. Each year we see how much COVID has damaged the continuity and momentum for artists – not only those beginning careers but also those well into their work lives. This vocation is an honourable calling but it also brings a level of sacrifice and insecurity that needs remedy. We need live performance more than ever and we need to support and fund the army of gifted artists and creatives who enrich our experience and our imaginations.

“When you hear music,“ jazz saxophonist Eric Dolphy once remarked, “After it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.”

In varying degrees that is true of all live performances. They have their moment, their season, and then are gone. Sometimes they remain vivid, but eventually, even excellent productions and outstanding performances drift into imperfect recollection and generalised hearsay. Maggie Smith once remarked- “Every performance is a ghost.”

I hope this website, for all its sometimes unwelcome opinions, is a useful record of some of the notable activity in Adelaide this year.

I want to thank all the companies and individuals who have generously invited me to performances in 2022 and to acknowledge your continuing commitment and achievement. Especially in another year of unprecedented challenge and tribulation.

Several years ago when I posted my list of Best Of’s, among the many online comments and responses came the vinegary remark- “Who cares ?” The answer to that question is that I care. And audiences, friends of the artists, and their peers care. Outstanding work deserves to be recognised and warmly applauded. My admiration for all concerned is greater than ever.

Here is a list of my selections for this sometimes vexed, often triumphant year – not in any rank order, and by no means all that deserve mention.

Best Adelaide Productions

Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Girl from the North Country written and directed by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan. GWB Entertainment, Damien Hewitt and Trafalgar Group by arrangement with Runaway Entertainment in association with Sydney Festival, State Theatre Company South Australia, Auckland Live, Venues Wellington, Canberra Theatre Centre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland PAC. Restaged in Australia by Kate Budgen, Lucy Hind and Corey McMahon.

Cathedral by Caleb Lewis. Directed by Shannon Rush. State Theatre Company South Australia and Country Arts, in association with Flinders University.

The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini. Directed by Corey McMahon . Theatre Republic. (Return season).

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Oleanna by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Best Touring Productions

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Adapted and directed by Kip Williams. Sydney Theatre Company and Adelaide Festival.

Blindness. Based on the novel by Jose Saramago. Adapted by Simon Stephens. Directed by Walter Meierjohann . Donmar Warehouse and Adelaide Festival.

YES written and directed by Kate Davis and Emma Valente. The Rabble in association with Vitalstatistix and Performing Lines.

Best Fringe Productions

Afghanistan is Not Funny by Henry Naylor. Henry Naylor and Holden Street Theatres.

One Hour Photo. Written and performed by Tetsuro Shigematsu. Holden Street Theatres and Vancouver Asian Theatre. (vAct) et al. (Live streaming)

Naomi by Patrick Livesey. Directed by Bronwen Coleman. Adelaide Fringe at Holden Street Theatres.

Meet Me at Dawn by Zinnie Harris. Directed by Nescha Jelk. Holden Street Theatres presented by Gavin Roach.

In Their Footsteps by Ashley Adelman . Directed by Carly Fisher. Theatre Travels. Bakehouse Theatre.

Best Cabaret/ Music Theatre

Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan. Composer Joseph Twist. Libretto by Alana Valentine and Christos Tsiolkas. Directed by Neil Armfield. Conducted by Christie Anderson. Co-commission by Feast Festival, Adelaide Festival and State Opera.

Moments in the Woods : Songs and Stories of Sondheim. Directed by Mitchell Butel. Featuring Josie Lane, Queenie van de Zandt, Philip Quast, Geraldine Turner and Mitchell Butel. MD Josh van Konkelenberg. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Six the Musical. Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. Presented by Louise Withers, Michael Coppel & Linda Bewick. Adelaide Festival Centre.

Best Lead Performances (Female)

Justine Clarke. Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Lisa McCune. Girl from the North Country written and directed by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan. GWB Entertainment, Damien Hewitt and Trafalgar Group by arrangement with Runaway Entertainment in association with Sydney Festival, State Theatre Company South Australia, Auckland Live, Venues Wellington, Canberra Theatre Centre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland PAC. Restaged in Australia by Kate Budgen, Lucy Hind and Corey McMahon.

Catherine McClements. Chalkface by Angela Betzien. Directed by Jessica Arthur. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Dana Miltins. YES. Written and directed by Kate Davis and Emma Valente. The Rabble in association with Vitalstatistix and Performing Lines.

Mary Helen Sassman. YES. Written and directed by Kate Davis and Emma Valente. The Rabble in association with Vitalstatistix and Performing Lines.

Best Supporting Performances (Female)

Chemon Theys. Girl from the North Country written and directed by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan. GWB Entertainment, Damien Hewitt and Trafalgar Group by arrangement with Runaway Entertainment in association with Sydney Festival, State Theatre South Australia, Auckland Live, Venues Wellington, Canberra Theatre Centre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland PAC. Restaged in Australia by Kate Budgen, Lucy Hind and Corey McMahon.

Helen Dallimore. Girl from the North Country written and directed by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan. GWB Entertainment, Damien Hewitt and Trafalgar Group by arrangement with Runaway Entertainment in association with Sydney Festival, State Theatre South Australia, Auckland Live, Venues Wellington, Canberra Theatre Centre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland PAC. Restaged in Australia by Kate Budgen, Lucy Hind and Corey McMahon.

Susan Prior. Chalkface by Angela Betzien. Directed by Jessica Arthur. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Stephanie Somerville. Chalkface by Angela Betzien. Directed by Jessica Arthur. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Emma Jones. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Juanita Navas-Nguyen. Single Asian Female by Michelle Law. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company in association with OzAsia Festival.

Kathryn Adams. Single Asian Female by Michelle Law. Directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company in association with OzAsia Festival.

Best Lead Performances (Male)

Patrick Livesey. Naomi by Patrick Livesey. Directed by Bronwen Coleman. Adelaide Fringe at Holden Street Theatres.

Nathan O’Keefe. Cathedral by Caleb Lewis. Directed by Shannon Rush. State Theatre Company and Country Arts in association with Flinders University.

Mitchell Butel. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Renato Musolino. Oleanna by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Best Supporting Performances (Male)

Rashidi Edward. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Directed by Margaret Harvey. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Grant Piro. Girl from the North Country written and directed by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan. GWB Entertainment, Damien Hewitt and Trafalgar Group by arrangement with Runaway Entertainment in association with Sydney Festival, State Theatre South Australia, Auckland Live, Venues Wellington, Canberra Theatre Centre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland PAC. Restaged in Australia by Kate Budgen, Lucy Hind and Corey McMahon.

James Smith. Girl from the North Country written and directed by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan. GWB Entertainment, Damien Hewitt and Trafalgar Group by arrangement with Runaway Entertainment in association with Sydney Festival, State Theatre South Australia, Auckland Live, Venues Wellington, Canberra Theatre Centre, Brisbane Festival and Queensland PAC. Restaged in Australia by Kate Budgen, Lucy Hind and Corey McMahon.

Ezra Juanta. Chalkface by Angela Betzien. Directed by Jessica Arthur. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Ainsley Melham. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Mark Saturno. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Best Scenic Designs

Kathryn Sproul. Cathedral by Caleb Lewis. Directed by Shannon Rush. State Theatre Company and Country Arts in association with Flinders University.

Ailsa Paterson. Chalkface by Angela Betzien. Directed by Jessica Arthur. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Kate Davis. YES written and directed by Kate Davis and Emma Valente. The Rabble in association with Vitalstatistix and Performing Lines.

Jeremy Allen. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Kathryn Sproul. Oleanna by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Best Lighting Designs

Nigel Levings. Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly. Directed by Mitchell Butel. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Mark Oakley. Cathedral by Caleb Lewis. Directed by Shannon Rush. State Theatre Company and Country Arts in association with Flinders University.

Mark Shelton. Chalkface by Angela Betzien. Directed by Jessica Arthur. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Nigel Levings. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Chris Petridis. Oleanna by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Best Music Scores/Sound Design

Andrew Howard. Cathedral by Caleb Lewis. Directed by Shannon Rush. State Theatre Company and Country Arts in association with Flinders University.

Hilary Kleinig/Andrew Howard. The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer. Directed by Dean Bryant. State Theatre Company South Australia.

Quentin Grant. Oleanna by David Mamet. Directed by David Mealor. Flying Penguins Productions in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Best Classical Music Performances

Prayer for The Living. Conducted by Benjamin Northey. Choral Director carl Crossin. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Festival.

Adelaide Chamber Singers. In-House Program .

Javier Perianes (Piano). Love and Death . Ukaria Cultural Centre.

Adelaide Chamber Singers. Force of Nature Program.

Alexander Gadjiev (Piano). Harris International Piano Series.

Best Touring Music Performances

The Necks. Woodville Town Hall.

Asteroid Ekosystem. Stage Three. WOMADelaide.

Springtime. Stage Three. WOMADelaide.

Joseph Tawadros & James Tawadros. Moreton Bay Stage. WOMADelaide

The Shaolin Afronauts. Space Theatre.

Most Intriguing Performances

The Photo Box . Created and performed by Emma Beach. Vitalstatistix and Brink Productions. Adelaide Festival.

YES written and directed by Kate Davis and Emma Valente. The Rabble in association with Vitalstatistix and Performing Lines.

Aldous Harding. Her Majesty’s.

Productions/Events I Regret Not Seeing

After Kreutzer. Anna Goldsworthy and Andrew Haveron. Adelaide Festival

Festen. Red Phoenix. Holden Street Theatres.

Love on the Left Bank. Louise Blackwell. Adelaide Cabaret Festival .

Jean Efflam Bavouzet.(Piano) Harris International Piano Series.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Festival Theatre.

The Firm – both recitals.

Best wishes for 2023. We can but hope for Covid-safer and more predictable times. We are still a long way from the Old Normal. Our artists have been amazing but they have lost confidence and momentum. They need our admiration and support. Even more.

Murray Bramwell

2 Comments »

  1. Thanks Murray – much appreciated.
    One of the best classical music highlights for me was the Trombone Concerto composed by Joe Chindamo “In composing the concerto, Chindamo suggested that he wished to take full advantage of the virtuosic capabilities of the soloist, ASO principal trombonist Colin Prichard, and Prichard proved to be outstanding in this immensely demanding work.” – Limelight
    And he did. It was fabulous and for me a real highlight of 2022

    Comment by Barbara Fergusson — December 19, 2022 @ 10:39 pm

  2. You’ve enjoyed a very busy year.
    I hope 2023 is as rewarding

    Love from NZ.

    A x

    Comment by Ann — December 20, 2022 @ 2:28 pm

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