Monday, June 9, 2014


Don Bemrose as the poet
Presented by Queanbeyan Players

Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre until 21st June.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

A lush, romantic Eastern fantasy, with music adapted by Robert Wright and George Forrest from the works of Alexander Borodin, “Kismet” makes considerable demands on any community theatre group undertaking a production, requiring principals with voices of operatic standard, a large orchestra and chorus, and lavish sets and costumes, to do the work justice.

However, with this new production, under first time director, Peter Smith, Queanbeyan Players have largely succeeded in ticking all the boxes.  

Don Bemrose and members of the male ensemble
As the fast-talking conman/poet who murders the wicked Wazir, to free his daughter, Marsinah, from an unwanted marriage, so that she can marry the Caliph and he can co-habit with the Wazir’s wife, Lalume, Don Bemrose leads the cast with an attractive performance. His solos, including “Fate” and “The Olive tree”, show off his rich warm baritone to great advantage, while his acting is relaxed and convincing.

Thompson Quan Wing (Caliph) Rosanna Boyd (Marsinah)
As pretty as a Disney princess, Rosanna Boyd as Marsinah, has the voice to match her looks, and she is beautifully teamed with the silver-voiced Thompson Quan Wing, who as well as playing the love-lorn Caliph superbly, also designed the set. Michael Politi, hard to hate as the villainous Wazir, and Stephanie McAlister, delightfully voluptuous as his wife, Lalume , both reveal excellent singing voices, as does Marcus Hurley as the bangle man, while the large ensemble provide confident, robust support in the many well-staged crowd scenes.  

Although Jennifer Groom’s impressively large orchestra were still struggling with the demands of the difficult music score on opening night, sometimes out-of-tune and out-of-time, especially in the overture and entr’acte; when it all comes together in the big choral numbers like “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” and “Night of My Nights” or in the lovely duet, “Stranger in Paradise”, the effect is thrilling.

Isabella Tan - Maxine Johnson - Christina Phillip
By distilling the various locations into one large set-piece, embellished by screens and lattices as required,  Thompson Quan Wing’s setting provides an attractive background for Janetta McRae’s colourful and flattering costumes, and Belinda Hassall’s imaginative dances for the various princesses, and her well executed concerted movement for the large ensemble add to the spectacle of a production which, despite limited resources, captures much of the spectacle and excitement of a form of musical too rarely seen on present day stages, and a hugely enjoyable evening of theatre. Highly recommended.

                                                          Photos by Rebecca Doyle Photography

              This review appears in the digital edition of CITY NEWS published 7th June 2014
          an edited version appears in the print edition of CITY NEWS published 10th June 2014