25 August

Stephen Fry announces ‘Telling Tales’ national tour in November

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This year alone, Stephen Fry has married his partner Elliott Spencer, quit Instagram after saying he’d been ‘hounded off’, courted controversy over the colourful language he used when hosting the BAFTAs, and continued to preside over comedy panel show QI. ‘National treasure’ is a term perpetually orbiting around the British actor, author journalist, comedian, presenter and director: at the very least, the man has been instrumental to some of television’s finest comedies, has created first-class documentaries, novels and films, and has been advocating for LGBTIQ rights for decades.

You may only know him as the ‘Fry’ in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, or as Melchett in Blackadder. You may have raced through his autobiographical trilogy: Moab is my Washpot, The Fry Chronicles and More Fool Me. Or, maybe he’s just the QI guy.

Any way you look at it, Fry’s Australian tour is worth getting excited about.… Read more

21 August

The George Ballroom’s back in business

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It’s one of Melbourne’s fabled venues – a bit like the Flinders Street ballroom – a place we know about and romanticise, but where few have been.

Georgina Damm, proprietor of event and catering experts Damm Fine Food, recalls being snuck in underage to the ballroom during its band room hey day (she thinks it was to see Kate Ceberano’s band, I’m Talking). “I can remember the red velvet drapes and being intrigued by the space,” she says. Damm set her heart on running events there subsequently and pestered the owner until he relented and opened the doors after a hefty, and no doubt expensive, bit of refurbishment.

After a varied history (seaside destination for the well-heeled in the 1800s through to early ‘50s, then gloriously seedy post-punk venue under the Crystal Ballroom and Seaview banners from the ’70s onwards – The Cure played there, and it was pretty much a regular haunt for Nick Cave’s outfits – the Birthday Party and the Boys Next Door) the George Ballroom fell into disuse and disrepair after being used as an event space for a few years in the ’90s and early 2000s.

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20 August

It looks like Tim Minchin’s Matilda the Musical is coming to Melbourne next year

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Jealousy is an ugly thing, but thankfully we’ll no longer be eyeing off Sydney’s production of Tim Minchin’s smash hit Matilda the Musical as it looks like the Tony Award-winning Roald Dahl adaptation is making its way to Melbourne in March next year.

Perth-born comedian Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production back in 2010. Quickly, the show became a blockbuster hit on London’s West End, then Broadway, picking up rave reviews and major awards along the way (Time Out London gave the show five stars).

Predictably, Minchin’s show – which follows the journey of mistreated, extraordinarily intelligent Matilda – is packed with wonderfully revolting moments for kids (remember Bruce Bogtrotter and the chocolate cake scene?) and wistful peaks of childhood nostalgia for adults.

The show opened in Sydney last week, and while no Melbourne venue or date has been announced as yet, the casting call for children on the Matilda the Musical website says that “Performances will take place at a theatre located in Melbourne CBD commending (on or about) March 2016”.Read more

19 August

ACMI launches world premiere of Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood

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Orry-Kelly (born 1897 and known as Orry George Kelly to his folks) was a knockabout lad from NSW beach town Kiama, who somehow ended up living with Cary Grant and went on to become a three-time Academy Award-winning costume designer and Bette Davis’s wardrobe go-to.

With a career spanning Hollywood’s golden years, Orry-Kelly designed costumes for 295 movies (including as Warner Bros. chief designer between 1932 and 1944) and worked on movies that went down in film legend, including Casablanca, Some Like It Hot, The Maltese Falcon and Gypsy.

When he passed away at 64 (he was sober when he died, but had liver cancer as a result of years of active alcoholism) Jack Warner (one of the Warner Brothers) read his eulogy and Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Billy Wilder and George Cukor carried his coffin.

Despite all of this, Orry-Kelly somehow receded into obscurity. Happily, the release of Aussie director Gillian Armstrong’s documentary about him, Women He’s Undressed, and the new ACMI-curated exhibition, Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood, look to set things right.Read more

11 August

The Melbourne Fringe Festival launches its largest-ever program

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Melbourne’s largest celebration of independent arts is about to get bigger than ever, with 401 events taking place in 174 venues across Melbourne. The program spans everything from comedy to cabaret, circus to theatre, and is packed with experimental and exciting new shows that you won’t catch anywhere else.

Setting things in motion at this morning’s media launch was the Victoria government’s minister for creative industries Martin Foley. “The Fringe Festival is a lifeline of support for emerging creators,” he said. “It brings forward creativity that would otherwise be marginalised.” In light of the federal government’s “savage cuts” to independent arts funding (by contrast, the Fringe is still generously supported by state and local governments), Foley re-iterated that the Fringe is more important than ever – the Melbourne Fringe works to develop and promote emerging artists, and ticket sales all go back to the creators.

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Once you get your hands on the program, a good place to start are the free, site-specific works popping up throughout the city, through the Uncommon Places and ACCA in the City programs.Read more