My picks for this week

September 15 to 21

The King and I
Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes star in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I directed by Christopher Renshaw. This classic musical based on (a rather embellished!) true story, is about English school teacher, Miss Anna Leonowens who is employed by the King of Siam to teach his 67 children and many wives English and “scientific” ideas of the west. Set in Victorian times, the King of Siam is keen to modernise his country and not be seen as the barbarian the English government believes. His desire for his subjects to learn modern English ways and ideas is tempered with his role as the unbending and supreme ruler of all his realm. This musical has many well known crowd pleasing songs “I whistle a happy tune”, “Getting to know you” (a crowd pleasing highlight in this show) and “Shall we dance?”. The March of the Siamese Children when thankfully not all 67, but about 10 of the King’s children formally greet and bow before their father, is a delightful scene. The Siamese adaptation of the American play Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as the theatrical highlight presented by the Kings’ wives to the visiting English guest Sir Edward Ramsay (John Adam), is stunningly choreographed (Susan Kikuchi). The set by Brian Thomson, in opulent red and gold, is bordered by stunning silhouetted elephant shapes running the length of the stage
When and where: On now. Opera House

Children of the Sun
Andrew Upton has adapted Maxim Gorky’s 1905 tragicomedy for Sydney Theatre Company and the play stars Justine Clarke, Toby Truslove, Jacqueline McKenzie, Helen Thomson and Chris Ryan. Directed by Kip Williams and set design by David Fleischer.
When and where: On now till 25 October Drama Theatre

This exhibition draws on original artefacts from Mexican museums and takes you through the 500 year old story of the Aztec civilisation focussing on daily life – food, religious rituals, animals and jewellery, death and sacrifice, the afterlife, weapons and war. Sculptures of the Aztec Gods – some of them very cruel! Dioramas of how crops were farmed, sometimes in canals. Step up to the temple in the centre of the exhibition and look around the base at the sacrificial offerings! Some fascinating insights into the Aztec life including that education was compulsory for boys and girls and there was incredibly strict discipline and if you were rude to your parents you might have been pricked with spines or made to inhale chilli smoke! The September school holiday program includes learning how to make a Quetzal glider, decorate a giant mosaic, attend an Aztecs sewing workshop. Be a scientist for a day and investigate the Aztec way of life. Exhibition tickets $24 /$14 and family $62 Australian Museum
When and where: On now at the Australian Museum College Street

Unholy Ghosts
Campion Decent feels the loss of his ailing parents and has written this tragic comedy which takes the audience on the journey of the parents illnesses, their animosity to each other and the way they feel for their only son as he tries to broker a type of peace between his divorced and ill parents. Staring Anna Volska, Robert Alexander and James Lugton. Tickets $35/$28. Bookings 9361 3817,
When and where: On at Griffin Theatre Kings Cross. On now till 20 September. 7pm

European Prints and drawings 1500- 1900
From the Art Gallery of NSW, 150 works on paper feature in this exhibition. Artists include Rembrandt, Delacroix, Cezanne, Klimt, Munch, Gainsborough, Goya, Constable.
When and where: On now till 2 November Art Gallery of NSW The Domain

Italian Film Festival
On from 18 September but you can start getting ready now. Highlights include Stijn Conix’s Marina, the Sophia Loren classic Marriage Italian Style, Darker than midnight, Quiet Bliss, The mafia only kills in summer and Song of Napoli – amongst many others. Italian Film Festival
When and where: 18 September to 12 October Palace Cinemas Verona, Norton Street and Chauvel Cinema

Australia Ensemble
This leading chamber music group presents a free concert on Tuesday September 16 at the University of New South Wales. The program includes Arthur Benjamin’s Pastoral Fantasy and works by Schumann.
When and where: Tuesday September 16 at 1.10pm Leighton Hall John Niland Scientia Building UNSW Kensington

This is a series of songs and short stories about people falling in love and that special magic moment- but also how it all ends up. Tickets $49.90 and bookings on 8065 7337. Bookings online
When and where: Hayes Theatre Greenknowe Street Potts Point on now till October 5 evenings at 7.30pm. Saturday matinee at 2pm. Sunday at 1pm and 5pm

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery: South
13 contemporary artists for Australia, Mexico and South Africa have been inspired by the southern parts of the world that they live in – so Hazelhurst Gallery in Sydney’s south- has decided this is the place for this exhibition! See the site specific car installation by Mexican artist Betsabee Romero, black and white portraits by Zanele Muhali from South Africa. Contemporary art practice is given a good push in this exhibition! Free
When and where: On now till 6 October daily 10-5. 782 Kingsway Gymea

River to River
Lachlan and Nepean Rivers and their communities. This exhibition featuring contemporary sculpture and weaving by artists Bev Coe and Bronwyn Berman is on at the Penrith Regional Gallery.
When and where: On now till 16 November, Penrith Regional Gallery 86 River Road, Emu Plains

Best Wishes: Korean Folk Paintings
In partnership with the Sydney Korean Cultural Office, Korean Folk paints from the Gahow Minhwa Museum Collection featured at the Penrith Regional Gallery.
When and where: On now till 16 November. Penrith Regional Gallery, 86 River Road, Emu Plains

Life Interrupted : Personal Diaries from WW1
Since 1918 the State Library (through the then principal librarian William Ifould) collected the personal diaries of men and women that served in WWI for Australia. These people were ordinary citizens who experienced great sadness, moments of bravery and great loss. Their first hand accounts of the war and the impact on every day lives bring the horror of the Great War very much alive. Some of the diaries cover the first battle in New Guinea by Australian soldiers, the naval battle between the HMAS Sydney and the sinking of the German ship, the Emden. There are accounts from Gallipolli, Fromelles and Pozieres as well as the Middle East Campaign. It is not only the horror of war that is written about but also the lighter side- the souvenirs and trinkets picked up along the way, the countryside, the women and the food. Together with the diaries are images by professional photographer Frank Hurley and amateur photographers using pocket cameras. Free exhibition
When and where: On now daily State Library Macquarie Street

Archibald Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2014
The annual exhibition of the winners and finalists in these three art blockbuster awards is on at the Art Gallery of NSW. The Archibald Prize, first started in 1921, is an award for the best portrait painting. The Wynne Prize is for the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figurative sculpture and the Sulman Prize is for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media. This years Archibald winner is Fiona Lawrie for her portrait of architect Penelope Seidler. Painted by airbrush, it is a stand out with its arresting ghostly grey and ethereal tones. Rodney Pople’s portrait of Barry Humphries (Well dressed for a Sydney audience), comedian turned cracker of an artist Ahn Do, with his portrait of his father and Joanna Brathiwaite’s portrait of Colleen McCullough (Bright Spark). As usual a range of celebrity type sitters to allow everyone to have an opinion on what did or should have won!
When and where: On now till 28 September, Art Gallery of NSW.

Burgundian Consort UNSW – an evening recital
A choral delight with the UNSW’s Burgundian Consort performing Debussy’s Trois chansons d’Orleans, Paul Hindemith Six Chansons and Who killed Cock Robbin? Conducted by Sonia mad dock, tickets are available at the door $12/$6
When and where: Sept 24 7.30pm Sir John Clancy Auditorium UNSW Kensington

Salon des Refuses
If you are catching the Archibalds at the AGNSW, make it a daily double and head to the S H Ervin Gallery to see the art works that didn’t make it into the Archibald.
When and where: Exhibition on now S H Ervin Gallery Watson Road The Rocks $7 /$5

The City of Forking Paths
This is a magical twilight walk listening to an audio narration accompany a film on a smartphone of the area that you walk from Customs House to the Quay and then to The Rocks. As a local, re-discover your own city and the amazing buildings and stories that have that built the city especially in The Rocks area. As a foreigner or from other parts of Australia, delight in this guided tour of a special part of Sydney. A specially commissioned artwork for the Biennale, Canadian artist Janet Cardiff together with George Bures Miller came to Sydney last year and spent several months in The Rocks, living and experiencing the area. They set about making a film (at night) which immerses you in your surroundings and introduces a soundscape, music and noise that accompany you on a delightful journey. So while watching the film and listening to the narrative which includes fictitious scenarios and confusing sounds, you are directed on this walk wending your way through laneways and streets, pausing to look at places you may normally just rush past and not notice. You take this walk on your own leaving space in between the next person to allow a gap to experience it yourself – indulging in an hour of aloneness and art. This film makes Sydney look like part of a noir film – moody and edgy but fascinating and historic. Given the proposed changes to The Rocks, this may soon be a historic record of the area. This audio video walk is a permanent gift to the city and is downloadable onto your smartphone or you can borrow a phone (leaving your credit card and photo id at Customs House). Suitable also for kids but from age 8 and above. Flat shoes recommended as it takes just over an hour – and then you need to walk back from the Rocks to Customs House to return the smartphone. Free! and on forever! or as long as technology will allow.

When and where: On now (and forever!) after sunset. Customs House Circular Quay.

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