Cassie Tongue

Sydney-based freelance theatre writer and critic.

Location icon Australia

Deputy Editor of AussieTheatre.Com
Panelist for the Sydney Theatre Awards
Reviews for AussieTheatre, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, etc
Published in the liner notes for the premiere cast recording of Miracle City.

Review: Death and the Maiden - Sydney Season (STC/MTC) | Reviews

Leticia Cáceres has a chillingly cerebral directorial vision for Death and the Maiden, Ariel Dorfman's 1990 play written from and premiering within the still profusely bleeding wound of Chile's devastating Pinochet regime. Gerardo (Steve Mouzakis), recently appointed to a human rights commission investigating a previous (unnamed) regime's horrors, gets a flat tyre on his way home to his wife Paulina (Susie Porter).

Time Out Sydney
Minus One Sister

In Anna Barnes' Patrick White Playwrights' award-winning script, Sophocles' take on the Electra myth is spun into a story about a privileged, horrifically dysfunctional Australian family. They are just teenagers: sisters Iphigenia, Chrysothemis and Electra, and their younger brother Orestes. They are a family unit like all family units, with in-jokes and silly games based on TV ads.

Time Out Sydney

Yve Blake's Then is a show that has spiralled out, gently and sweetly, from a website Blake created a few years ago. At, Blake asked readers to share a memory that focused on the question "Who Did You Used to Be?"

Time Out Sydney

Review: Rent - Rent is the bushfire of musical theatre: it explodes from seemingly nowhere and consumes...

Time Out Sydney
A Rabbit for Kim Jong-Il

Review: A Rabbit for Kim Jong-Il - A Rabbit for Kim-Jong Il is based on a true story. A German farmer grew 'monster'...
Review: CATS - Sydney Season | Reviews

Like the proverbial cockroach in an apocalypse, CATS The Musical endures, dominating stages worldwide with barely a break. Unlike the cockroach, however, the show is eagerly embraced and adored by many. It's a spectacle, and while it's not quite as stunning as it was when it opened in 1981 London - ushering in the era of the musical blockbuster - long-running spectacles are great fodder for nostalgic consumer cash.
Review: La Traviata - Belvoir Downstairs | Reviews

In the 2013/14 season, La Traviata was the most performed opera in the world, and it consistently ranks in the top ten of similar lists. Verdi's enduring masterwork is never too far away from Sydney audiences; it launched the now- iconic Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour event, and it played in the Sydney Opera House earlier this year as part of the Opera Australia 2015 season.
Review: Matilda the Musical - Lyric Theatre, Sydney | Reviews

From a raft of drab, superficial, vaguely entertaining major commercial musicals emerges a sharp, intelligent winner. Matilda the Musical has opened in Sydney, and the Greases and Rocky Horrors of the Sydney circuit should be on alert: audiences have a taste for cerebral wit and generous heart on the big stages now, and they're going to want more of it.

Time Out Sydney
The Tempest

Review: The Tempest - It's fitting that John Bell's final official undertaking for his Bell Shakespeare Company is...

Time Out Sydney
Master Class

Review: Master Class - This isn't a show, Maria Callas (Maria Mercedes) tells us, before the lights even go down....
The Glass Menagerie - Belvoir | Reviews

There's something about Eamon Flack's directorial take on The Glass Menagerie, playing at Belvoir St. You don't just watch it, you sink into it. The play wraps invisible tendrils around you and draws you in with a slow, gorgeous, sadness.
Long live Bernadette: Theatre Royal, Sydney | Reviews

It's an easy, instant connection to make with her Australian audience - she loved him, and so did, collectively, all of us - and she sang 'If You Were Wondering' late into her set at the Theatre Royal, imbuing the number with her natural instinct for lyrical intention.
Review: Truth, Beauty, and a Picture of You, Hayes Theatre | Reviews

Over at the Lyric, a new Australian, Sydney-set musical is telling the story of a family legacy, of art and love. It's Strictly Ballroom; you've probably heard of it. In Potts Point, in a much smaller theatre, on a set allergic to glitz and sparkle, there's a new Australian, Sydney-set musical telling a story of love, family and art, but that's where the similarities end.
Review: Sugarland - ATYP | Reviews

Sugarland, written by Rachel Coopes and Wayne Blair, born out of multiple residencies in the remote Northern Territory town of Katherine, is an exercise in capturing what life is like for young people in the area.
A Christmas Carol - Belvoir | Reviews

Christmas has come early to Belvoir St with A Christmas Carol: a lively, unabashedly heartwarming take on the old Dickens classic. Even the Scroogiest Scrooge you know won't be able to resist the magic of it. Anne-Louise Sarks and Benedict Hardie have breathed fresh life into a story that has steeped into our cultural consciousness, and made it vibrant all over again.
Review: Cock, Old Fitzroy Theatre | Reviews

Mike Bartlett's script for Cock is dense and aurally-driven; off-kilter language choices, particularly from central character John, buzz around the audience and into their ears. Naturalistic and immediate, sentences are left hanging and words are chopped off and out, creating a syntax that is at once intensely familiar and startlingly unique.
Review: The Unspoken Word is Joe, Griffin Theatre Co | Reviews

The SBW Stables Theatre, home to Griffin Theatre Co, has a bare stage, following, we learn, a recent revival of Hotel Sorrento. Scrawled on one wall is a placeholder set: "Beach image (happy)". Beneath it, a row of actors sit. One woman stands at a microphone, and starts to introduce tonight's reading of a draft script.
Review: Les Misérables, Sydney season | Reviews

It's an epic musical, a towering behemoth from the 1980s - an era that spawned plenty of them, like Cats and Phantom of the Opera - but Les Misérables , a sung-through, all-feeling story of love, injustice, and striving for liberation and redemption in dark times, feels like the biggest of them all.
Review: Blue Wizard, Belvoir | Reviews

When Blue Wizard (Nick Coyle), an intergalactic traveller from a crystal planet where everyone is gay and a different colour (the beige Wizards have the gift of renovation, for example, while the blue have flirting, fucking, and dance) lands on Earth, he tries to make the best of it.
Review: Legends! - Theatre Royal, Sydney | Reviews

The only thing legendary about Legends! is how aggressively mediocre it is. The James Kirkwood play has hit Sydney as a star touring vehicle for Hayley and Juliet Mills, as well as Maxwell Caulfield, and tells a tired, insipid story about feuding Old Hollywood divas teaming up to revive their careers in a new play.
David Campbell sings John Bucchino - Hayes Theatre | Reviews

David Campbell came home to the Hayes as part of the Hayes Cabaret Festival, and I don't think we knew how much we missed him until he had returned. Campbell, a household figure probably best known these days for his co-host gig on Channel Nine's Mornings, is an old-school singer and musical theatre performer who was the talk of Broadway as a young guy trying to make it.
The King and I opens in Sydney | Reviews

Where to begin with Opera Australia's ? After stints in Brisbane and Melbourne it has landed in Sydney, all glorious sets and crushing disappointment. The thought that comes swiftly to mind is that The King and I is a show that has been utterly failed by its creative team.
Switzerland - Sydney Theatre Company | Reviews

Joanna Murray-Smith's new play Switzerland - a two-hander lovingly crafted in the image of Patricia Highsmith, exploring her last days - is an elegantly tense new play that is written so skilfully that you almost don't realise quite how good it is.
Review: Richard III - Ensemble Theatre | Reviews

At the Ensemble, Mark Kilmurry is staging, he thinks, a revolution. His Richard III is hghly stylised. It's structured as though it's an underground, on-the-fly production; actors turn off lights and sound when they hear helicopters overhead. Dogs bark and they quieten, crouch towards the ground. They rush in under cover of heavy coats.
Review: The Rocky Horror Show, Sydney season | Reviews

There's little more disappointing than a glossy and aggressively superficial production of a show that has in its bones a history of lively, scrappy-camp subversion. The Rocky Horror Show, which has just opened in Sydney following smash engagements across the country, is loud, boisterous, and ultimately meaningless.
Review: Hold me Closer, Logies Dancer - Hayes Theatre | Reviews

Blake Erickson has the kind of natural gravitas you can't quite train for; he has an ability to share the most embarrassing or vulnerable stories and still retain a quiet, indelible dignity. With two feet firmly on the ground as a performer he is remarkably cerebral, and you don't have to look much further than his excellent one-man Orson Welles show, Pearls Before Swine, to see that.
Review: Glory Days - Exclaim Theatre Co | Reviews

Glory Days closed after its opening night on Broadway. But it's not all bad. A coming of age musical that can trace its lineage to every other almost-not-a-teen angst show before it, there is something about it that gives it promise, a certain hint of burgeoning talent, or potential, that makes it not quite a throwaway and that continues to give it regional, independent, and amateur and community life after Broadway.
Review: Calpurnia Descending, Sisters Grimm | Reviews

Sisters Grimm are back in Sydney and they have been missed. Their particular brand of arch DIY high-camp theatre is a fantastic bolt of energy to the theatre scene in town, and Calpurnia Descending is nothing if not pure, concentrated energy.
Review: Next to Normal - Doorstep Arts Sydney Season | Reviews

When Next to Normal made its way through development and onto Broadway in 2009, it was something quite extraordinary: a show that broke through so many seeming boundaries of what the genre of musical theatre is or could be.
Review: Sondheim on Sondheim, Squabbalogic | Reviews

Squabbalogic, the independent musical theatre company that kicked off Sydney's tiny revolution into becoming a place for high-quality boutique musical theatre, has re-located itself to the Reginald at the Seymour Centre and embarked on a new, 2014-2015 season. The first show is Sondheim on Sondheim, a revue featuring what else but songs by Stephen Sondheim, a contemporary musical theatre legend.
Strictly Ballroom - Lyric Theatre, Sydney | Reviews

Strictly Ballroom the Musical needs to learn from its own motto: A life lived in fear is a life half-lived. The show is afraid to be a musical. For a piece that started as a devised stage work at NIDA before it ever became a cult film classic, Strictly Ballroom sure has had a very hard time divorcing itself from the cinematic.
Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Packemin Youth | Reviews

The next generation of talent is on full display in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Chatswood's Concourse Theatre, and the immensity of that talent is a little bit overwhelming. Produced by Packemin Youth, Packemin Productions' new initiative designed to create shows for performers who are 20 or younger, this is a real chance for audiences, cast, and crew alike to find joy in musical theatre.
Review: Man of La Mancha, Squabbalogic | Reviews

Squabbalogic are back and this time they're tackling a revival of a classic work, trying to find its original kernel of authenticity before it became a gaudier, lighter-hearted thing: they're trying to find the gritty soul in Man of La Mancha. The Reginald Theatre has been transformed into a gloomy dungeon.
Review: Tom Sharah in That 90's Show - Hayes Cabaret Festival | Reviews

If you're going to spend an hour or so with someone, there aren't many better choices than Tom Sharah. With a strong sense of ease on stage that borders on casual and conversational - it's like you're chatting to him in a lounge room and he's just telling an enjoyable, particularly long story - Sharah is a natural at cabaret, and a perfect fit for the Hayes Cabaret Festival.
Review: Caress/Ache, Griffin Theatre Company | Reviews

Caress/Ache is high drama - half 'ripped from the headlines' and half 'personal relationships'. Unified by surtitles explaining the synapses and receptors on our skin that allows us to experience touch, the action slides from character to character, all of them in crisis. Unfortunately, it's unimaginative and emotionally manipulative.
Review - Avenue Q, Enmore Theatre | Reviews

Avenue Q won the coveted Best Musical Tony Award in 2004, which was a surprise considering it was up against the intensely popular Wicked, Caroline or Change, a wonder of a work, and The Boy From Oz (yes, our Boy From Oz).
Review: Suddenly Last Summer, Sydney Theatre Co | Reviews

Tennessee Williams always encouraged the reach for something in the stage directions of his plays, seeking for an elevated storytelling method and set design that would heighten and reinforce his close explorations of the humanity he best knew: the world of his family and beyond where he grew up, in the American South, writing plays from the 1930s on.
Dirty Dancing - Lyric Theatre, The Star | Reviews

There's something oddly mesmerising about the fan experience, especially when it occurs in the collective, in a public space. At a Buffy the Vampire Slayer convention, people will bond with strangers by speaking in quotes and in-jokes. At a Sound of Music singalong, everyone holds their breath for a certain notorious line-reading, and explodes in laughter afterwards, en masse.
Review: Hedda Gabler - Belvoir | Reviews

Hedda Gabler is one of the great realist plays, and the role of Hedda is one of the great roles for women because she isn't, simply, a woman or a wife. She is complicated; she is bored and daringly discontent. She is manipulative and dispassionate.
Review: Macbeth - Sydney Theatre Company | Reviews

Walking into this production is like nothing else. The audience (much smaller than usual, only 360 people can fit) sits on the stage, on temporary seating, which is either fine or not comfortable enough, depending on who you ask.
Review: Beyond Desire - Hayes Theatre Co | Reviews

At the end of Beyond Desire, a world premiere musical crammed into the Hayes theatre, the cast asks the audience, a la the cheeky ending of The Mousetrap, not to reveal its plot twists outside the theatre. It's a cute number, and gives local theatre icon Nancye Hayes a fun self-referential joke to deliver, but it's unnecessary.
Totem - Entertainment Quarter, Sydney | Reviews

Totem - the newest Cirque du Soleil concoction taking over the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park - is a look at evolution filtered through the kind of dazzling human circus tricks we've come to know and expect from the troupe. There's a human disco ball, who descends from the roof and spins, majestic, alien.
Review: The Dream - The Australian Ballet | Reviews

The Dream, The Australian Ballet's current instalment in its year of beauty, is a triple bill that slowly loosens and elongates until it reaches the eponymous ballet, with its familiar story ballet structure and playful but demanding technique. It's a tribute to Frederick Ashton, and it's a rewarding one.
Review: Dogfight - Hayes Theatre Co | Reviews

Dogfight, with a book by Peter Duchan and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, premiered off-Broadway in 2012. Now having its Australian premiere at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney, it's a perfect example of a contemporary musical adopting strong classical structure and ideas to tell a new, moving story.
Review: Endgame, Sydney Theatre Company | Reviews

Samuel Beckett's Endgame is currently seeing two productions in Australia - one by Melbourne Theatre Company, directed by Sam Strong, and one by Sydney Theatre Company, directed by Andrew Upton. I can't speak for the Melbourne production, but in Sydney, the production is slowly, creepingly extraordinary: a spell that binds you, over time.
Review: Miracle City - Hayes Theatre Co | Reviews

Miracle City is the stuff of legends in the Australian musical theatre community. A show that was staged just once at Sydney Theatre Company in 1996, it played to rapturous audiences... and was never seen again.

Time Out Sydney
Venus in Fur review

A problematic text foils this great production of David Ives' 2011 Broadway hit

Time Out Sydney

Review: B-Girl - iOTA and Blazey Best star in this edgy theatrical concert that tells the story of B-Girl, a...

Time Out Sydney
Triassic Parq

Review: Triassic Parq - The Australian musical theatre industry is dominated by the flashy commercial hits, largely...
Review: Asian Provocateur - Hayes Cabaret Season | Reviews

Cabaret, as a beating-heart underground art form, has its roots in politics, provocation, and rebellion - intimacy and authenticity without formality. It wasn't until the end of the 2015 Hayes Cabaret Season that cabaret's raw spirit took over and transformed the space, and it happened the moment that Josie Lane walked through the audience to take the tiny stage in her new, deeply satisfying show, Asian Provocateur.

Time Out Sydney
Bring It On: The Musical

Review: Bring It On: The Musical - Bring it On: The Musical is a lively, funny, tongue-in-cheek work from the minds behind...

Daily Review: film, stage and music reviews, interviews and more
Why Belvoir's male Hedda is no gimmick

In Belvoir's new production of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, directed by Adena Jacobs (Persona), the iconic title role is played by a man - notable performer and theatre-maker Ash Flanders (Summertime in the Garden of Eden, Little Mercy). For months, the Sydney theatre scene has been rumbling with controversy over the casting decision.

Time Out Sydney
War Crimes

Review: War Crimes - Inspired by the 2010 desecration of an ANZAC memorial statue by a group of teenage girls, Angela...

Time Out Sydney
Blonde Poison

Review: Blonde Poison - With its examination of the impossible choices some people are forced to make in their lives,...

Daily Review: film, stage and music reviews, interviews and more
Seventeen review (Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney)

With a "Permission granted, @BelvoirSt" Taylor Swift became Australian theatre's biggest news. When her pop mega-hit Shake it Off played during Seventeen's opening night, the crowd cheered, clapped, and all but sang along. Swift had saved this moment for the audience by granting last-minute rights to the song, but along the way she probably also saved...

Daily Review: film, stage and music reviews, interviews and more
The Present review (Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney)

In a cut-out approximation of a summer cottage on a bare stage, the floor dotted with shoots of green gently suggesting grass, Anna Petrovna (Cate Blanchett) sits outside, smokes, and waits for her birthday party to begin. This is Sydney Theatre Company's The Present, Andrew Upton's take on Anton Chekhov's first play, an untitled and...

Time Out Sydney
The Bleeding Tree

Review: The Bleeding Tree - A mother (Paula Arundell) and her two daughters (Airlie Dodds and Shari Sebbens) are wide-eyed...

Time Out Sydney
The Wizard of Oz

Review: The Wizard of Oz - Adena Jacobs is relentless, and in her ruthless deconstruction of The Wizard of Oz...

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