Event, Melbourne

“My Fair Lady” in Melbourne

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It was through my love of Audrey Hepburn that I first discovered the classic American film My Fair Lady (1964) directed by George Cukor. I instantly adored it and have wanted to see the live musical version ever since.


Background

Based on the play by Bernard Shaw entitled Pygmalion and with the dream of Gabriel Pascal to turn it into a musical, lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe brought My Fair Lady the musical to life. Taking audiences on a grand melodic journey on Broadway in 1956 for a sensational 2,717 performance run, the lead female role of Eliza Doolittle went to the young and talented rising star, Julie Andrews, and the lead male role to seasoned theatrical actor, Rex Harrison, who won the Academy Award for his performance in the film version, with the Warner Bros film also taking out the Best Picture of the Year category in 1965. The Broadway version was followed by a hit London production (running for 5.5 years at the Theatre Royal) and the musical eventually reached Australian audiences by 1959, playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne to high acclaim.

Synopsis

The story is set in London in the year 1912. Eliza Doolittle, a common flower-girl from the lower classes meets phonetician Professor Henry Higgins outside Covent Garden one night. He makes a bet with fellow language expert, Colonel Pickering, that he can transform Eliza into a duchess at the embassy ball, teaching her to speak proper English and to behave like a lady who can then work as a shop assistant at a flower shop. Through their ups and downs, the audience is able to witness her transformation and gain insight into British classes, gender politics and social values of the time, all within a light-hearted sense of comedy and playfulness.


Dame Julie Andrews directs this very special diamond jubilee production, which broke box-office records at the Sydney Opera House when it played there in 2016. Last month the beautiful production hit Melbourne’s Regent Theatre where it will continue until July 29th. Don’t miss your chance to see it!

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My Experience

First of all, the majestic Regent Theatre is a breathtaking place to hold such a special show. The organisers and everyone involved should be praised for their choice of venue and everything about this musical production. The interiors of the Regent Theatre are simply spectacular and I was pleasantly transported to the class of creativity seen in Barcelona earlier this year whilst on holidays there. The exquisite detailing, lavish furnishings and luxurious fittings leading up to and inside the main concert hall were elegant and set the mood nicely. Photography was allowed prior to the start of the show only. The lights went out and the live orchestra began the Overture, entertaining us with short renditions of all the main musical numbers we were about to hear play out on stage. The curtain opened and I immediately knew that we were in for a delightful night of heartfelt, glorious music accompanying the amazing performances from the cast and the hardworking crew backstage.

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In this wonderful 60th anniversary production it is also worth mentioning that as a world first, director Dame Julie Andrews teamed up with the associates and former staff of the original set designer Oliver Smith and costume designer Cecil Beaton to recreate the original look of the musical of 1956. Audiences are able to come face-to-face with designs from both these visionaries in the upper and lower foyers before the show and during the short interval.

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Piece by piece the audience were delighted by music that makes the heart sing. The vocal performances of the Melbourne cast were incredible. The role of Professor Higgins was played ever-so-brilliantly by Charles Edwards and Anna O’Byrne’s Eliza Doolittle almost brought me to tears because of my connection and love of Audrey Hepburn. There were revolving sets, wonderful lighting and sound effects, and even a surprise on stage that no one was expecting but was always intended for the original Broadway production.

My favourite part would definitely have to be the immaculate Ascot Racecourse scene where the curtain opens to reveal a cast of men and women all dressed in black and white attire at the famous London horse race. The attention to detail on the hats and gowns of the women and the charm of the men with their suits, still gives me such a thrill just thinking about it. They sing an opening number and then we are introduced to the beautifully transformed Eliza Doolittle, now a lady with confidence and poise, who converses with other race-goers about the weather and everyone’s health. Once the horse race starts though, her cockney upbringing comes to the foreground and audiences are laughing out loud uncontrollably as she cheers for her horse, Dover, to win the race. I love it!

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I enjoyed this production immensely and couldn’t stop smiling for the entire duration of the show! I would like to thank Dame Julie Andrews and everyone involved (notably Opera Australia and John Frost) for bringing this musical to life for younger generations like mine who only came to know it from the film version. Having one of your favourite musicals play out right in front of you is an unforgettable experience that I will always cherish.

My Fair Lady is a masterpiece.


Tickets are available through Ticketmaster but are selling fast.

Melbourne, Music

Adele’s Melbourne Show

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Imagine you’re one of a record 77,300 Adele fans waiting to enter Etihad Stadium on a balmy Sunday night. There’s barely a breeze but plenty of insects in the air. The gates open exactly on time and you’re finally within a couple of hours of seeing your idol on stage for the first time in your life. Upon entering you see her beautiful closed eyes and that’s when you realise that the night is finally here and tonight your dreams will come true.

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After a few mexican waves go around, the crowd begins to cheer and roar with excitement. The circular curtain starts to lift and standing on the stage is the superstar that is Adele. She’s real. She’s actually here and is within reach. The atmosphere is electric. The visuals on the screen have now changed to her beautiful open eyes and then she starts to sing – “Hello, it’s me…”

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Wearing a dark pink sequined gown, she sparkles like a diamond as she makes her way around the stage. Delivering note-for-note perfection with each song, she entertains the crowd with a mix of music from all her chart-topping albums. She simply is unstoppable and 100% believable.

Adele is flawless in her performances but seeing her live, you also get to see the other side to her. The completely unedited version, raw and free to speak her mind. She isn’t trying to be anyone but herself. She swears a fair bit. She complains about the insects and the fact that the almost 30-degree heat is causing her make-up to sweat off her face. She reveals that she’s very emotional as it’s her final show in Australia and she doesn’t want to leave yet. This was her first tour Down Under after all.

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Seeing Adele live at a show like this really is something. She has a great sense of humour and seems to be very honest and direct. The crowd was completely hooked on her words not only during the songs but also in between the music. She got a fan up on stage and there was a surprise proposal. She offered parenting advice to couples going through a divorce. She gave some insights into what she was going through when she wrote particular songs and how terrified she was of shooting clips in a tank of water for the on-screen visuals shown during the concert. She told us that she’s the happiest she’s ever been. She shot a few T-shirts out into the audience along with $20 notes so winners can buy themselves a drink. Her handwritten lyrics and messages launched into the air as confetti and fireworks lit up the stage. Adele was on fire and we were with her every step of the way.

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Last night was magical. From the brilliant visuals on the screen to the powerhouse vocals, Adele left Melbourne wanting more. She exited the stage holding a cuddly koala toy presented to her by a fan. Last night was a night many who attended will never forget, as one of the world’s most influential performers with once-in-a-generation talent entertained us like no one ever has. Indeed there will never be another Adele.

Celebrations, Christmas

Christmas Snapshots – Melbourne

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The festive season is just around the corner and the streets of Melbourne have been tastefully decorated for the celebration. I must admit that I prefer the Northern Hemisphere traditional type of Christmas experience with snow dusting the streets, markets gracing town squares and the scents of cinnamon and roasting chestnuts filling the air. It’s such a beautiful time of year. In Australia however, we celebrate Christmas in summer and this mostly involves a trip to the beach and family gatherings over a backyard barbecue.

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There’s a wonderful Christmas tradition in our department store Myer which has been going since 1956. Animated Christmas Windows at their Bourke St. Mall store bring the magic of the holiday season to life like nothing else. It’s always wonderful seeing families with children lining the street to peek into windows and to hear a story along with moving characters and sets. This year they’ve brought to life a children’s book called “One Christmas Eve” by Corinne Fenton with illustrations by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. It took the team 40 weeks of total production time and 25 days to install the windows, and the result speaks for itself.

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Christmas is such a magical time of year, even without snow and cinnamon and Christmas markets!

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We hope everyone has a splendid time in the lead-up to Christmas. Don’t forget, our Mishka Mail monthly subscription club is taking sign-ups until the 11th of December and the last theme for 2016 is “Summer Vibes”.

Melbourne

Bicycle fun in Melbourne

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These last few months have been really cold and miserable here in Melbourne and we’re not completely immersed in spring weather just yet. However, during one beautiful sunny day I felt the urge to hire a bicycle and ride along the empty cycling lanes of Port Melbourne, with the sea breeze in my hair. Why? Just for fun!

Melbourne’s Bike Share system has been around for a few years now and is much like the concept in other cities of the world like London and Paris. There are daily, weekly and yearly options available with the cheapest one starting at just $3.00, including unlimited 30-minute trips in 24 hours. You can dock your bike at any bike station and the timer automatically resets, allowing you to hire another bike should you want to. Many bikes now come with free helmets, allowing riders to abide by the law.

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Port Melbourne is a great place for foodies, tourists and lovers of the sea. It’s from here that the Spirit of Tasmania makes her voyage across Bass Strait to Tasmania. The architecture of the streets have a little bit of a European charm and there’s plenty of shopping and restaurants to keep everyone happy.

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For me, there is something extremely liberating about riding by the beach, looking over at the horizon and the perfectly floating clouds above. It’s something I long to do as often as possible and I never think of it as exercise, rather living a healthy lifestyle and smiling the whole time I pedal.

 

Event, Melbourne

“The Dressmaker” Costume Exhibition

A couple of days ago, during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit the brilliant costume design exhibition of the Jocelyn Moorhouse film The Dressmaker (2015). Based on the best selling novel by Rosalie Ham, this well-executed film, which stars Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, transports audiences to 1950s rural Australia and tells the story of Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Winslet) who returns to her hometown after working in the fashion houses of London, Milan and Paris, and transforms the lives of the residents of Dungatar by making a name for herself as chief dressmaker.

This film takes viewers on Tilly’s journey of self-discovery, with flash-back sequences investigating her alleged murder of a boy her age during her childhood. The developing present-day love story between Tilly and Teddy McSwiney (Hemsworth) is just beautiful to watch. Winslet’s wonderful portrayal of Tilly makes her a highly believable character; an independent and strong woman, who wears luxurious, bold gowns and hats inspired by Parisian couture, yet also struggles to overcome the scars of her past behind closed doors. It should also be mentioned that the supporting cast, namely Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving, delivered outstanding performances.

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I loved the film a lot so going to see this exhibition was a real treat! Visitors are greeted with a train platform sign saying “Dungatar” out the front of the estate and a red carpet leading into the immaculate Rippon Lea House, which now belongs to the National Trust and was built in 1868. As guests explore the intimate and lavish 1930s Hollywood-style interiors of the mansion they can see images of actors wearing the costumes, as well as beautiful production displays, spinning mannequins, projections, video clips, hat displays and realistic photo backdrops. The highlight for most people, of course, is the privilege of coming face-to-face with the creations of costume designer Marion Boyce, and Margot Wilson who designed Kate Winslet’s wardrobe. Seeing these beautifully-crafted artisan pieces right before your very eyes is very gratifying, albeit keeping your hands from touching the gowns is easier said than done! The amount of time and effort it must have taken to create each dress on display, truly left me feeling very inspired. The production team’s eye for detail with the props and artistic touches in each room should also be commended. In most settings these masterpieces are not hidden behind any glass and non-flash photography is permitted.

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Exit the mansion and find yourself in a stunning 14 acre-garden with a lake and waterfall, rustic iron bridges, grass tennis court, Gatsby-style swimming pool (not in use), conservatory, lookout tower, largest covered fernery in the world and windmill. The nostalgic 1950s style of the film also extends to the cosy pop-up Dungatar Tea Room and the flourishing gift shop, which serves as the start and end point of the entire experience.

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition runs until July 31st at Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Elsternwick, from 10am until 4pm daily.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

Visit www.dressmakerexhibition.com.au for more information.

Australia, Travel

Cockatoos of Sherbrooke Forest

Tourists visiting Melbourne are spoiled for choice when it comes to Australian wildlife and landscapes in our large and beautiful state. From picturesque beaches to lush green forests, we are so lucky to have all these options available to us in Victoria.

Those interested in feeding some Australian cockatoos should definitely visit Grants Picnic Ground in the beautiful Sherbrooke Forest of the Dandenong Ranges. The cockatoos simply love to fly onto your shoulder (and sometimes even your head!) and feed on the seeds you hold out for them in shiny silver dishes. It’s an experience that you’ll cherish as a truly Australian one so make sure you bring your camera!

Afterwards you should definitely go for a bush walk along the many trails in Sherbrooke forest, breathe in the fresh forest air and try to spot other wildlife such as wombats, possums, lyrebirds and wallabies in their natural habitat. The wonderful ferns and stringy bark trees rising up towards the sky will leave a good impression on you too. There’s also a lovely cafe and gift shop there for all your souvenir needs. The best part is it’s only a short drive from suburbia but feels a world away!

Life, Melbourne

Dream Mansions in Brighton

There is a seaside suburb in Melbourne by the name of Brighton and it’s the place dreams are made of. Those lucky enough to call Brighton home have the beach on their doorstep and have pulled out all stops to make their homes feel welcoming and reflect their personalities. From the wide open tennis courts, to the exquisite gardens, unique architectural additions and just the right balance of colour and materiality, the residents of Brighton are truly living the life of luxury.

Here are my favourite homes snapped up on my walk in this ultra chic and exclusive suburb that has stolen my heart. A girl can only dream, right?

Latest News, Melbourne

Australian Open 2016

For as long as we’ve lived in Australia, we’ve never been to the Australian Open tennis except for Charity Matches or Kids’ Tennis Days. Luckily last Sunday we decided it was about time to experience the real atmosphere of a highly popular and entertaining tournament that brings visitors to Melbourne from all around the world. As a tennis fan and lover of the great game, getting a Ground Pass for the day made me really excited.

It was a rainy start to the day that made the practice courts outside wet and dangerous. Other fans and us waited for Novak Djokovic to begin practicing on one of the exterior courts, but after a while we saw Spanish tennis player, David Ferrer arrive for training. With his athletic looks and on-court charisma, it made the long one-hour wait by Court 17 really worth it. He graciously signed autographs for fans and posed for selfies afterwards.

It’s one thing to see the matches on TV and a completely different experience to actually be at the Australian Open. We’d catch celebrities everywhere we looked, even finding tennis champion turned commentator, Jim Courier, near the entrance to one of the major courts. My sister and I split up in order to see more and find our favourite players. I managed to come across my childhood idol, Martina Hingis posing with trophies, while my sister found her idol Mark Philippoussis.

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Luckily by the afternoon many of the practice courts were being used and we could also catch Australian Bernard Tomic practicing, as well as second seed Andy Murray hitting shots with his coach Amélie Mauresmo. We were once again made to wait over an hour in the hopes of seeing the legend Roger Federer, but a last minute court change made us all run to a much larger practice court where the atmosphere was much less personal and made getting an autograph from the champion a lot more difficult!

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Other matches we got to see were men’s doubles between Cuevas/Granollers and Dodig/Melo on Hisense Arena and Australian Stosur/Peers playing against Rodionova/Reid in the mixed doubles on Showcourt 2 as the sun started to set across the Melbourne skyline.

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All in all, I highly recommend a visit to this tournament as it’s one-of-a-kind and really shows off the true Australian sporting culture we’ve all grown to know and love.

Congratulations to Angelique Kerber for beating Serena Williams last night in the Women’s finals and good luck to Djokovic and Murray in the Men’s finals tonight. I know that we’re in for a great night of tennis, even if this time I’ll be watching it on the television with a cool strawberry smoothie I always prepare for finals of the Australian Open.

Travel

Mornington in Victoria

Over Christmas my family and I rented a small but stylish unit in Mornington to spend some quality time together. The interior spaces were ultra comfortable and every detail was perfect, from the bottle of bubbles we used to fill a pristine white bath tub to the cucumber cleansing wipes to refresh with after a one-hour drive getting there. All the rooms were decorated in a modern decor, with top-notch appliances and gadgets to fully entertain us. The artwork on the walls added a lovely playful touch and like everything else in the apartment showed off the owner’s great taste in interior design and decoration.

Mornington is the sort of quiet town by the sea that you could really fall in love with. It has exquisite little gift shops, artisan gelato stores, salons for high-tea and shopping to your heart’s content all the way along Main Street, leading down to the water. The sunsets, beach huts and sandy beaches all give the impression of a typical Australian beach vibe. Overall, we had a great time dancing on the terrace, singing Christmas carols and soaking up the atmosphere of a beautiful apartment in a gorgeous town.

Travel

Enjoying Macro Photography

Happy New Year, dear friends! Wishing you all a very happy 2016.

While my family and I were holidaying on the Mornington Peninsula last week, we spent a peaceful afternoon in a 230-hectare old Homestead known as The Briars, in Mount Martha. There was something so captivating about all the flora and fauna there that I decided to switch my Nikon camera to Close-Up mode and immerse myself in the vast amount of different flowers and leaves prevalent throughout the gardens. The Briars is an excellent place to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon, go for a walk along the boardwalk with the possibility of finding kangaroos and koalas in their natural surroundings, smell the roses, hear the roosters call and admire a beautiful maze of perfectly trimmed hedges. It’s truly every Victorian nature lover’s paradise, with a lovely cafe and restaurant also onsite. The best part is – it also has free admission.