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Review - The Owl and the Pussycat: long on fun and seriously entertaining

Right: The Pussycat (Irena Lysiuk),The Moon (Jackson McGovern) and The Owl (Pia Frangiosa). Below right, the musicians - Daniel Byrne, Kathryn McKee and Cameron Kennedy and Kathryn McKee. Photos by Deanne Scott.

The Owl and the Pussycat

Writer and librettist Kathryn Marquet

Composer Lisa Cheney

Directed by Bridget Boyle

Musical Director Luke Volker

Little Match Productions

Presented by Brisbane Festival and Channel Nine

Cremorne Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Season: September 26-29. Bookings: 136 246 or

Short show, short season but long on fun and seriously entertaining that’s this production - and I suspect that The Owl and the Pussycat

mini-opera will be entertaining kids and adults for a long time to come. The 45-minute production is based around Edward Lear’s nonsense poem classic, which has been a favourite for generations (I could even remember huge chunks of the poem from childhood memory).

Kathryn Marquet did a marvellous job with the script and character creation. She used prose, chat, audience participation, scary bits, some rhyming couplets, and song lyrics to carry the yarn about the mismatched pair from despair to triumph as they travelled away “for a year and a day” over the sea to find true acceptance in a delightful conclusion.

It takes top writing skill to create a piece that entertains all age groups simultaneously and this little opera did exactly that.

And Lisa Cheney’s score helped the words along with some stunning musical effects and great tunes. The music added a tremendous amount of fun to the show.

The fun started though on the way in: the theatre entrance was dark and the audience was channelled into the front half of the Cremorne, which was fenced off with long green screens: the set was brightly lit and bright green and large coloured balls hung from the roof.

It was a very effective design from Penny Challen and Geoff Squires (lighting).

There was a cast of three actors and three very active musicians. Pia Frangiosa was the Owl and Irena Lysiuk was the Pussycat, who both had top operatic voices and sang some rousing song and sentimental duets. The other actor cast member, Jackson McGovern opened the show as a shiny moon and soon had the littlies, who sat on cushions at the front, in the mood for the show. But that wasn’t all, he also played the grumpy Sir Kitty show strongly disapproved of the owl/cat relationship; the Sea Bear, a couple of stowaway mice, the Piggywig with the ring and the flamboyant marriage celebrant Turkey. He was obviously having a great time,.

But then so were the puffin-headed musicians, Daniel Byrne (clarinet and bass clarinet), Kathryn McKee (‘cello) and Cameron Kennedy on vibraphone and percussion. I particularly enjoyed the work ion bass clarinet with its eerie and atmospheric sound.

The show, which had its premiere in April for the Festival 2018, moved like clockwork and there was never a dull moment and it’s well worth keeping an eye out for the next production if you missed this one.

Below: Eric Scott with the composer, Lisa Cheney, and Little Match Productions Artistic Director Alicia Cush

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