Jason Whittaker

Former Crikey editor and publisher

Jason is a former editor and publisher of Crikey.

Latest

REVIEW: Rupert | Playhouse, Melbourne

REVIEW: Rupert | Playhouse, Melbourne

August 30, 2013

The life of the most influential Australian comes to the stage in a tame but entertaining enough bio-cabaret. David Williamson's Rupert is much less grand than the man himself.

Musical theatre is dead. Long live musical theatre.

Musical theatre is dead. Long live musical theatre.

February 14, 2013 4

Has there been a good musical theatre score written in the last five years? Or even 10? Here's the list -- as a solid case for why music theatre isn't dead. Long live music theatre.

REVIEW: A Chorus Line | Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: A Chorus Line | Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne

February 10, 2012

“A classic Broadway musical for a new generation,” goes the pitch. The Kids are certainly familiar with the tunes; Glee has bred familiarity (and perhaps contempt) of this show, like other dusty Broadway staples, with its covers of Sing! and show-stopping ballad What I Did For Love illegally downloaded to iPods everywhere. But they probably […]

REVIEW: La Traviata | State Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: La Traviata | State Theatre, Melbourne

November 22, 2011 2

It all looked strangely familiar. And it was. I’d seen this Trav before; on the Lyric Theatre stage in Brisbane in 2009, an Opera Australia import by Opera Queensland. The same sumptuous costumes. The same grand sets. The same sublime Russian soprano. Opera-goers live in a perpetual state of déjà vu. It is environmentally friendly […]

REVIEW: The Importance Of Being Earnest | Sumner Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: The Importance Of Being Earnest | Sumner Theatre, Melbourne

November 21, 2011 2

Exploring the darker recesses of YouTube one day I uncovered what is no doubt Geoffrey Rush’s least-seen performance. In a webisode of gay soapy Queer as Fxxk, he plays lecherous Lance, a bumbling doctor who finds a patient’s mum is an old flame. The six-minute internet-only turn has a tick over 800 views — around […]

REVIEW: Albert Herring | Playhouse, Melbourne

REVIEW: Albert Herring | Playhouse, Melbourne

July 25, 2011

In 2011, just this past weekend in fact, gay couples flocked to progressive churches and welcoming town halls in New York to marry. At at least one point in the 1950s, history records, Benjamin Britten — one of the greatest composers of the 20th century — was interviewed by Scotland Yard over his then scandalous […]

REVIEW: Turns | Playhouse, Melbourne

REVIEW: Turns | Playhouse, Melbourne

July 4, 2011

“A pantomime with a twist,” the show boasts. But it’s the familiarity of the performers rather than the originality of the material that will entice audiences to Turns. Nancye Hayes and Reg Livermore are old stagers in every sense of the world. Their treads have seen more boards than most Australian performers. And as a vaudeville act […]

REVIEW: Circus Oz: Steampowered | Melbourne

REVIEW: Circus Oz: Steampowered | Melbourne

June 27, 2011

“You won’t see that at Cirque du Soleil,” jokes one rubbery Circus Oz performer after a particularly silly piece of slapstick from industrious new show Steampowered. Well, indeed. Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian magicians of franchised gymnastic entertainment, packed up its tent in May. They jump higher. Swing further. Balance longer. Take breath away from […]

REVIEW: The Joy Of Text | Fairfax Studio, Melbourne

REVIEW: The Joy Of Text | Fairfax Studio, Melbourne

June 22, 2011 1

The Melbourne Theatre Company boasts, quite rightly, it now has three home-grown Melbourne writers on its stages: Joanna Murray-Smith’s The Gift at the Sumner Theatre, Ian Wilding’s premiere new work The Water Carriers at its black-box Lawler space (opening Friday) and at the Arts Centre’s Fairfax Studio this wise-arse new play from Robert Reid, The […]

REVIEW: Faust | Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: Faust | Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

June 20, 2011

Charles Gounod needed a good editor. The third act of Faust — of five, clocking in at around three hours — really drags, especially. He’s been granted his dream girl, exchanged with the devil for his soul, and successfully wooed her — so quit goofing around and seal the deal. The foreplay is laborious. It […]

REVIEW: The Gift | Sumner Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: The Gift | Sumner Theatre, Melbourne

June 16, 2011 1

This is what Tony Abbott was talking about: class warfare. Pitting the haves (wealth/happiness/cultivation/freedom) and the nots against each other. Familiar ground for generations of dramatists. At least for a while. Somewhere near the middle of the second act Joanna Murray-Smith’s new play sharply deviates like the political debate never will. What begins as a David […]

REVIEW: Love Never Dies | Regent Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: Love Never Dies | Regent Theatre, Melbourne

May 30, 2011 7

“Ten long years,” the Phantom bemoans, “living a mere facade of life. Ten long years, wasting my time with smoke and noise.” The frustration is palpable. Not of the opera ghoul’s lost love, necessarily, but of the puppet-master of global Phantom Enterprises. It’s been 25 years, in fact, since Andrew Lloyd Webber put his stupidly […]

REVIEW: How To Kill Your Husband | Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: How To Kill Your Husband | Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne

May 24, 2011 1

Kathy Lette is like, say, rock climbing: I understand the appeal, it’s just not for me. There’d be many who’d say the same about opera, I suppose. So are you attracting new audiences by stitching the two together, as some sort of theatrical Frankenstein, or just alienating even more? Perhaps a bit of both. You’ll […]

REVIEW: The Pearlfishers | State Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: The Pearlfishers | State Theatre, Melbourne

May 15, 2011 1

Come for the pretty duet. Stay for the sumptuous design and stage trickery. Just don’t expect to feel anything. It’s poor form to quote a review in a review. But there may be nothing more to say about The Pearlfishers, Georges Bizet’s fledgling pre-Carmen work, after The Guardian reviewed an English National Opera production last […]

REVIEW: Next To Normal | Playhouse, Melbourne

REVIEW: Next To Normal | Playhouse, Melbourne

May 6, 2011 3

On the topic of psychological disharmony, a musical of such sublime euphony. Next To Normal is story and songs made for each other, rarer in contemporary musical theatre than you might think, skirting musically-contrived sentiment with searing and unswerving honesty. Diana Goodman is a desperate housewife with real problems: “my son’s a little shit, my […]

REVIEW: Macbeth | State Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: Macbeth | State Theatre, Melbourne

April 27, 2011 1

So there’s King Duncan, sitting contentedly on his throne, neither a very good nor very bad king, really, but there by the grace of God and a compliant people. Imagine Kevin Rudd, if you will. Macbeth — that is, ostensibly, Julia Gillard — serves loyally; smart and ambitious, certainly, but patient and not particularly courageous. […]

REVIEW: La bohème | State Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: La bohème | State Theatre, Melbourne

April 17, 2011 1

Lyndon Terracini was like an expectant father when Curtain Call spoke to him days before the opening of La bohème. Eighteen months after taking the reigns of Opera Australia, this was the artistic director’s first real chance to put his stamp on the national company. The baritone and former Brisbane Festival director has signalled some […]

In the next room, a feminist allegory of quiet desperation

In the next room, a feminist allegory of quiet desperation

April 15, 2011

Melbourne is catching up with one of the world’s most popularly programmed contemporary playwrights. Melbourne Theatre Company audiences saw her cross-cultural romance The Clean House in 2006, and last year the sweet-natured though raspingly uneven Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Her latest, and her best, is now here — the Pulitzer Prize-nominated In The Next Room […]

REVIEW: Rock Of Ages | Comedy Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: Rock Of Ages | Comedy Theatre, Melbourne

April 12, 2011

Just how much ’80s kitsch can one city handle? Not all that much, as it turns out; Xanadu packed up its tent over the weekend after an aborted run, leaving another Broadway retro jukebox hit Rock of Ages to, well, rock on. It doesn’t bode well. Rock is at least as stupid. At least as […]

REVIEW: The Merry Widow | Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

REVIEW: The Merry Widow | Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

March 13, 2011 4

It’s not opera. Even ‘operetta’ as a description seems to defy this production, which owes more to modern musical theatre, even screwy golden-era Hollywood rom-coms, than anything else. But whatever it is, it’s damn good fun. And pretty smart. Another triumph for Melbourne Opera (and director Hugh Halliday), which sets the bar at just the right […]