Xanthe Coward attended the 2011 Noosa Longweekend program launch at the J Theatre, Noosa, yesterday.

I am so often in Noosa, I think I might as well move there. If not permanently, then I should definitely move into Outrigger or Netanya, or one of the other amazing accommodation options on offer over the ten fabulous days of The Noosa Longweekend from June 17-26.

The Noosa Longweekend this year celebrates its tenth anniversary and forty years of David Williamson’s pre-eminence as a playwright in this country. He is our most successful playwright and a national treasure. What’s more, he is a Noosa treasure. As such, in true celebratory style, Richard Fidler will host a tribute dinner that will take the form of a satirical celebrity roast, with special guests, including director Bruce Beresford and Williamson’s sons, Rory and Felix, who are invited to ‘tell all’ about their association with Williamson (Saturday June 25). I’ve always been a Williamson fan and have recently finished up an inspired production of his highest grossing play, Influence, as well as having worked with some of Australia’s best-loved actors in a special charity performance of Emerald City for The Corrilee Foundation and The Noosa Longweekend earlier this year, I was excited to see what David would bring next to Noosa’s table.

The Noosa LongweekenderAt Any Cost?, penned by Williamson and Mohamed Khadra, takes a stark look at quality of life versus medically assisted prolonged life. This play has it all – family conflict, dark humour, and devastating family secrets – and will preview, prior to its world premiere, on Tuesday June 21 and Wednesday June 22. At Any Cost? comes to us from Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre, directed by Sandra Bates and starring Martin Vaughan, Tyler Coppin, Tracy Mann, Danny Mitchell, and Kate Raison.

The other major theatrical piece coming to the coast for the Longweekend is Oscar Theatre Company’s [title of show], a fantastic production, directed by Emily Gilhome, that I saw at The Powerhouse last year. A return Brisbane season and inclusion in the Noosa Longweekend program this year means this hot little company is beginning to be noticed!

The stalwart theatrical event of the Longweekend is the One-Act Play Festival. For thirty years, Noosa Arts Theatre has proudly fostered playwriting and each year we see the finalists from the National One-Act Playwriting Competition. This year, the finalists are Star Crossed, a drama by Jenny Bullimore (VIC), Nothing, a comedy by Mark Langham (NSW), and The Knock on the Door, a drama by Bruce Olive, (QLD) (Friday June 17 & Saturday June 18).

Direct from the UK, in two exclusive Queensland performances (including the opening night VIP soiree), The Magnets will wow Noosa Longweekend audiences with a new show, Gobsmacked! This sexy group of gorgeous guys is touted as the best a cappella group on the planet, and having seen their showreel, I don’t doubt it. The VIP tickets to this show include the entry to the post-show soiree.

Cabaret weighs heavily in this year’s program and I’m not complaining. Parisian cabaret star, Caroline Nin, back by popular demand after sell-out shows in 2010, presents, for just one sensational performance, her homage to Edith Piaf (Monday June 20). Toby Francis, winner of the 8th Annual Cabaret Showcase, presents his new one-man show, Blokelahoma! (Wednesday June 22). Another one-night-only cabaret event, Mitchell Butel and Marika Aubrey will each bring to the same stage their original shows Killing Time (Butel) and Redheads (Aubrey). Butel gave us a hint of things to come, performing the classic Johnny O’Keefe number "Save the Last Dance For Me" for the media and invited guests at the launch, Butel’s second show, a Supper Club cabaret entitled Excellent Adventures, promises “the cabaret ride of your life.”

The Supper Club concept has become, not surprisingly, a bit of an institution, and if you manage to secure tickets to any of these exclusive events, you are in for a very special evening. As well as Butel’s show (Friday June 24) there are those by Avigail Herman (Tuesday June 21), Sheridan Harbridge (Wednesday June 22), and Steve Ross (Thursday June 23). Thanks to some bold, young producers and the foresight of the Noosa Longweekend committee, we are once again able to enjoy the crème de la crème of national and international cabaret acts in the intimate setting of Berado’s restaurant and bar.

A Festival highlight will be the four hours of non-stop music, food and fun on Sunday June 26 at the Outrigger Resort. Sunshine Coast band The Things That Swing lead a fabulous line up of special guests, including Butel, Harbridge, Aubrey, Stephanie Brownlee, Katie Noonan, and Karin Schaup, as well as local vocal talents Andrew Lawson and Kelsey Rimmer. Stephanie Brownlee will also appear with Melburnian five-piece party band, Skipping Girl Vinegar, on Saturday June 25.

Classical enthusiasts will not be disappointed, with the return of Yayoi Negishi, together with Yasuhiro Saruta performing L’ail Kreis, a “duo of two pianos” with works by Johann Strauss II, Tchaikovsky, and Rossini (Friday June 24) and an appearance by the incomparable Katie Noonan with internationally renowned guitarist Karin Schaupp on Saturday June 25. Noosa Chorale and The Noosa Sinfonia are joined on Sunday June 26 by soloists Gaynor Morgan and Patrick Donnelly for their presentation of Brahms’ German Requiem and Brahms’ Double Concerto, featuring Rachel Smith (Principal First Violin) and Louise King (Cello). Queensland National Dance Company re-tells the greatest love tragedy ever told, Romeo and Juliet, for one performance only on Sunday June 19.

The film and literary components of the program are superb and include the likes of Brendan Cowell (interviewed by Hugh McKay on Friday June 24) and William McInnes (interviewed by Richard Fidler on Saturday June 25). Other authors, moderators, and interviewers making an appearance include Ita Buttrose, Kristin Williamson, Barrie Cassidy, Heather Ewart, Alexandria Bernard, Peter Thompson, and Graeme Dobell.

An array of workshops and master-classes are also on offer, including Avigail Herman’s voice and song master-class (Sunday June 19), Sandra Bates’ directors’ master-class (Saturday June 25) and Michael Futcher’s playwriting master-class (Sunday June 19).

Book early to avoid disappointment. The Noosa Longweekend is a sell-out event and if you don’t want to miss it get in early to secure your event tickets and accommodation.

Booking Information:


www.noosalongweekend.com or www.thej.com.au

Accommodation Information:

www.visitnoosa.com.au or www.noosalongweekend.com