The Best of 2015: The Arts Editor’s Picks

It’s been an incredible year for the Sydney arts scene. I managed to get to well over fifty productions this year, ranging from musicals to operas to theatre to experimental interactive experiences. It seems like each year there are more and more wonderful things to see!

With so many fabulous productions it was tough to choose my top picks for the year, so THANK YOU TO THE ENTIRE SYDNEY ARTS SCENE for being incredible this year and giving us such quality productions.

But now, without further ado… My personal favourite picks from this year!

Theatre Production: Orlando – Sydney Theatre Company
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/orlando-sydney-theatre-company-performa…

I loved everything about Orlando, from its wonderfully whimsical style to its witty humour to its fabulous cast to its gorgeous costumes. Loved every second of it.

Shakespeare: The Tempest – Bell Shakespeare
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/the-tempest-sydney-opera-house-performa…

This production sealed The Tempest as my favourite Shakespeare. The staging was simply beautiful, truly the “stuff as dreams are made on”.

Opera: Turandot – Opera Australia
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/opera-australias-turandot-sydney-opera-…

I finally understood the Opera infatuation thanks to Turandot, with its magnificent colour, soaring notes, breathtaking sets and Yonghoon Lee. It made me fall Calaf-style in love with opera.

Ballet: The Dream – The Australian Ballet
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/the-dream-the-australian-ballet-sydney-…

Seeing any ballet live is an enchanting experience, but The Dream went above and beyond to create such a magical experience. A beautiful dewy forest stage, soft costumes, dazzling ballet, Mendelssohn’s score, a playful story, ethereal dancers… Perfection.

Symphony: Video Games Live
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/video-games-live-enmore-theatre-30-07-15

Video games + Symphony orchestra = win! I’ve always loved the scores that accompany our favourite console games, and hearing these masterpieces live with a full symphonic orchestra really pulls you right back into the memories. My favourite? Kingdom Hearts “Hikari” of course!

Musical: Triassic Parq – Squabbalogic
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/squabbalogics-triassic-parq-the-reginal…

This was a tough one! We had some truly fantastic musicals this year, including the big guys Les Miserables and Matilda, and the slightly littler guys RENT and Man of La Mancha, but it was Squabbalogic’s Triassic Parq that won my heart. And not just because dinosaurs. It was just so fabulously funny, I couldn’t stop laughing the whole way through, and the music was so equally fabulous sung by a seriously stunning cast. Huge smile on my face the whole time! But also-dinosaurs.

Black Sheep Production: Roald Dahl’s The Witches – Monkey Baa
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/roald-dahls-the-witches-monkey-baa-lend…

Ok, I’ll admit it I was NOT expecting to be as blown away by this production as I was. I thought it would be a bit of fun yes, but wow! It was a perfect representation of the classic novel that held the entire audience (from the very young to the older generations) completely and utterly captivated the whole time. Very much to do with Guy Edmonds spectacular performance in this one-man-show. I left feeling like I just wanted to go straight back in and watch it all again.

Song: Without You – Loren Hunter, RENT – Hayes Theatre
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/rent-hayes-theatre-coperformances-to-1s…

I know “song” is a weird way to credit this one, but I really wanted to give due to Loren Hunter’s simply breathtaking “Without You” from Hayes Theatre’s RENT. I have searched and searched and I cannot find a single version that comes close to the amount of pure emotion she managed to pour into the song with her husky voice.

Musical Actor: Hayden Tee – Les Miserables
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/les-miserables-sydney-capitol-theatre-p…

Hayden Tee is the exact Javert I want from my favorite character- with that ruthlessly determined personality shining through with Tee’s powerful baritone. I heard him sing Stars four maybe five times? It wasn’t near enough times. Congratulations on being Broadway’s new Javert as well Hayden, we all know you’re perfect and now everyone else can know too!

Theatre Actor: Matthew Backer – The Tempest/Orlando
www.theaureview.com/arts/interviews/matthew-backer-on-playing-ariel-in-t…
www.theaureview.com/arts/interviews/matthew-backer-discusses-sydney-thea…

From the moment Matt flitted on stage as the magical Ariel in The Tempest I was under his spell. He has such a fabulous way with expressions and speech and his movements on stage are utterly captivating. I had the opportunity to chat to him twice this year, a lovely guy whose journalism degree shines through with fascinating answers. I’ve added him to my “must see any productions with them in it” list.

Musical Actress: Amy Lehpamer – The Sound of Music
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/the-sound-of-music-capitol-theatre-sydney

A fairly new one for me but Amy brought such a wonderful new life to our favorite governess, balancing a mix of sweet and cheeky with such a soaring voice! I loved her entire performance, especially “I Have Confidence” (my favourite song of the musical).

Theatre Actress: Jacqueline McKenzie – The Present/Orlando
www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/orlando-sydney-theatre-company-performa…

In a role that required such flexibility, for Orlando is both male and female and alive through several centuries’ worth of time jumping, Jacqueline managed to nail it perfectly. Keeping the character exactly where he/she is at any given time and keeping true to the passionate, witty and frank-speaking boy/woman. Through her you are definitely able to understand the other characters’ infatuation with Orlando.

Interview: Josh Groban
www.theaureview.com/arts/interviews/josh-groban-usa-talks-australia-musi…

And finally. I got to interview some truly incredible people this year, but it was also the year that I got to interview my number one- my most favourite music artist through all of the fourteen years since his debut and onwards into the future. Mr Josh Groban. We talked his Stages tour, Australia, musical theatre, potential rap albums, dream collaborations, video games and wrote the beginnings of a brand new musical. It was a dream come true.