September 24, 2016


Celebrity Cruises, the modern luxury cruise line, is celebrating an exciting new partnership as gold sponsor of the 2016 Lavazza Italian Film Festival, to be held at the Palace Norton Street in Italy’s Sydney home of Leichhardt.

There will be special ‘Roman Cruise Holiday’ themed activities throughout the month long festival, including presenting the closing night film, the 1953 classic Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The new 4K restoration of Roman Holiday follows Princess Anne (Hepburn) and Joe Bradley (Peck) as they travel around Rome capturing vivid images of their adventures at notable landmarks, including the Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum, Mouth of Truth, Spanish Steps and Roman Forum. This Hollywood classic is one of the most viewed romantic comedies of all time.


Throughout the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, those attending the festival can capture and share their Italian moments on social media with a special Roman Cruise Holiday themed stage set up.


Adam Armstrong, managing director of Celebrity Cruises Australia said “It’s an honour to partner with this much loved festival, it’s no wonder this is Australia’s biggest cultural film festival. We’re extremely proud to help bring a bit of Italia to Australian audiences in whatever small way we can. Other than being there in person, I can’t think of a better way to experience the culture and passion of Italy than via the magic of film. We hope audiences are captivated by the carefully curated and beautifully modern selection, and that they’re inspired to create their own stories in Europe as a result. For those who watch the films and are inspired by the festival to travel to Italy, a European cruise with Celebrity Cruises is an effortless and beautiful way to create memories in Italy and Europe,” Armstrong concluded.

roman-holiday-movie-poster-1020258634Festival Director Elysia Zeccola Hill says, “The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is a proud tradition at Palace Cinemas which celebrates our love for all things Italian. We are thrilled to partner with Celebrity Cruises for the first time this year and showcase its luxury experiences to the movie going audience. We hope that this is the start of a long standing association between Celebrity Cruises and Palace Cinemas which continues for many more years to come.”

“Roman Holiday” will no doubt whet the appetites of those who view this iconic movie to take a trip to Rome plus visit other European destinations.

To have your own Roman holiday experience in 2017, Celebrity Cruises, with its standout “X”, the mark of modern luxury, is offering a choice of four of the world’s youngest and most sophisticated cruise ships, sailing to over 100 of Europe’s most beautiful destinations. This premium cruise line with its cool, contemporary design and world class dining, from elegant bars and lounges, to their unique Lawn Club with half an acre of freshly manicured real grass at sea, is the perfect way to travel.

One lucky movie goer who enters the Lavazza Italian Film Festival’ s People’s Choice Award will have the chance to take a ‘Roman Cruise Holiday’. To go in the draw to win a European cruise for two on beautiful Celebrity Reflection, festival patrons simply need to choose their favourite film from the Lavazza Italian Film Festival offering.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond / Film Company


September 24, 2016


Based on the real life tumultuous romantic relationship between early 1900s legendary filmmaker Mack Sennett and accidental starlet Mabel Normand, this will be the first Sydney professional production of Jerry Herman’s “Mack and Mabel”.

Both a poignant love story and a joyous celebration of Hollywood’s golden age, this dazzling musical comedy is told in flashback from the point of view of Mack, who admits to two obsessions: movies and Mabel Normand.

Mack is a struggling director in the early 20th century, when the fun of the silent screen was dominated by the hysterical chaos of The Keystone Cops and the glamour of the Bathing Beauties, a world where heroes wore capes, girls were tied to the railway tracks and it all ended with a pie in the face. Mabel is the girl from the deli who erupts onto the set with a sandwich delivery. Mack spots potential and Mabel becomes a star. Spanning the years from 1911 to 1938, the show charts their rise and fall, both professionally and romantically.

Awarded eight Tony Award nominations, the show features an outstanding score by Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles) including classic Broadway hits I Won’t Send Roses, Tap Your Troubles Away, Movies Were Movies, Look What Happened to Mabel, Wherever He Ain’t and Time Heals Everything.

Originated by Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, the roles of Mack and Mabel in the Australian production will be played by Scott Irwin (Helpmann Award nominee for Hairspray, High Society) and rising star Angelique Cassimatis (Little Shop of Horrors, The Rocky Horror Show).

Directed by Trevor Ashley and presented by Working Management in association with Hayes Theatre Co, “Mack and Mabel” will be playing at Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point from 18 November 2016 for a strictly limited season.

Sandra Tiltman


September 24, 2016


Internationally acclaimed Australian pianist Sarah Grunstein will be performing J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations next month at concerts in Sydney and Melbourne. These two concerts, which are a rare opportunity to hear one of Australia’s finest international pianists, will be held at the Melbourne Recital Center on Thursday 20 October and the Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room on Tuesday 25 October.

The Melbourne Recital Center concert is presented by the Australian Bach Society and the Australian Friends of the Tel Aviv University (Victoria) whilst the Sydney Opera House concert is presented by the Australian Bach Society.

Praised by the New York Times for her “penetrating musical intelligence”, her performance “tempestuous” and “imbued with a luminous calm, Sarah has performed in the United States, Austria, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and her homeland.

Many will remember Sarah Grunstein as the pianist who, as a young teenager, performed the soundtrack for Bruce Beresford’s early Australian film, “The Getting of Wisdom”. Soon after she moved to New York, graduating from The Juilliard School, where she was later appointed as a Teaching Fellow and earned her doctorate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Sarah is passionate about performing Bach. From her early studies with Australian pedagogue Nancy Salas, she learned about 18th century styles, character, dance, emotion, and improvisatory performance. This was at a time when most people were still performing Bach in a very “rigid” way. Sarah remarks, “People ask me how I do what I do. I’ve studied and played a lot of Bach and have read much about 18th and 19th century style, not only musical style, but compositional style, improvisation, improvisatory performance and the language of various arts genres including dance, visual arts, and literature. Even though I am playing music that was composed for the harpsichord, I treat the piano as a piano and let my ‘pianist-voice’ speak. Keeping in my mind and heart Bach’s compositional language and what I believe was his creative intent, I go to town with it.”

In its demands of musicianship, keyboard technique and stamina, Bach’s Goldberg Variations is perhaps one of the most challenging works in the keyboard literature. Composed for a two-manual harpsichord, the work demands more of the pianist than even the harpsichordist. The pianist must negotiate the various “hand-crossings” (sometimes one hand directly on top of the other), a physical intricacy and contrapuntal overlapping of which the harpsichordist who would be playing on two manuals, is spared.

Sarah’s career has been marked by her magnetic charisma, musical intelligence and sublime expressivity. Passionate about engaging with audiences, her concerts will include her introductory talk with audiences about the Goldberg Variations.

A longtime Steinway Artist, Sarah’s career has included concerts at New York’s Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and London’s Southbank Centre.

Sandra Tiltman


September 16, 2016


4c130471-fbcc-46fa-8314-865f3367077fAfter a 28 week closure and a reinvestment in excess of AUD13.5 million, Fiji’s VOMO Island has now re-opened. A full renovation was completed in 2015, but further works were needed after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck.

More than AUD6.5 million has also been invested into two brand new palatial residences. This new three and four bedroom beachfront accommodation offers private swimming pools and the lavish interiors one would expect from Fiji’s most sought after island address.

All meals are included in the nightly rates for up to 8 people. Rates start at FJD5620 per night if staying 7 nights or more for 6 people including meals and non-alcoholic beverages. (around AUD3,600 per night).

Renovations to the main resort include changes to roofing, joinery, air conditioning, the main kitchen and landscaping as well as a makeover of the reception.


The gardens have been transformed with fresh, vibrant plants, bursting with colourful and fragrant blooms by landscaping specialist ‘Meli’, originally from New Zealand. The results are stunning and this island paradise is glowing. New flowers are blooming everywhere, which have enticed species of bird-life not seen on VOMO before plus native species that were removed over the years have been added.

Mark Leslie, General Manager said, “It has been a challenging time for all concerned, however you have to experience a little rain to receive a rainbow and the enhancements we’ve been able to make during this closure have become our blessing.  We have two of the most amazing private homes ever built in Fiji that we can now rent on a nightly and weekly basis to guests, a fresh resort with so many new areas and facilities and an extremely experienced and talented team on the island to deliver the VOMO experience.  This is such a tremendous accomplishment for everyone who has not just brought VOMO back, but enhanced the resort in so many ways.”

VOMO is offering up to two nights on a complimentary basis in all villa and private residence categories when staying from 10 October to 23 December 2016, 9 January to 31 March 2017, 1 May to 23 June 2017. Book a stay of seven nights and only pay for five or book a stay of five nights and only pay for four.

Sandra Tiltman


September 16, 2016
Flood in Rose Bay's main street

Flood in Rose Bay’s main street

Red Rocket Toy Store, which honours the toy stores of yesteryear, has been around for 15 years; no small feat considering they compete on a daily basis with multinational toy retailers in near by suburbs.

This family owned, small Australian business is located at 674 New South Head Road, Rose Bay.

Last December, their business came to a halt overnight, right before Xmas trading, when the store was decimated by the floods that swept through Rose Bay.

Trading has been affected right through to July this year. While this could easily have closed the store for good, Red Rocket Toys decided to shut up shop for two months to renovate and remove the damage. With perseverance and the determination of a small business owner turning adversity into a positive, they have now re-opened, bigger and better than ever with a stunning new fitout.

Sandra Tiltman


September 12, 2016



For those who are too young to remember Kings Cross in its glory days of elegant restaurants and shops, nightclubs, an abundance of colourful characters, underworld identities, strip clubs, ladies of the night and before the drugs, sleaze and lockout laws took over, “Hidden Sydney – The Glittering Mile” should help fill in the gaps.

“Hidden Sydney – The Glittering Mile”, which opens on 16 September, is an immersive, exhilarating and witty cabaret experience set over four floors of “The Nevada”, the former Sydney brothel which boasted the biggest bed in the world.

In “Hidden Sydney” quick-witted bouncers, madams of the night, drag queens, crooks, entertainers and eccentrics alike relive the world of the Cross, during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Famous venues such as Les Girls and the Chevron Silver Spade will be brought back to life.


Directed by Lucas Jervis and produced by Olivia Ansell and Wendy Richards, the performance runs for approximately 75 minutes. Strictly limited season from 16 September to 9 October 2016.

Access to “Hidden Sydney” is via The Rear Entrance of “The Nevada” at The World Bar, 1 Mansion Lane, Kings Cross (Mansion Lane is off Ward Avenue, between Bayswater Road and Kellett St.)

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


September 11, 2016


Holland America Line’s ms Maasdam will be arriving in Australia for the first time in October this year, giving Australian cruisers the opportunity to experience not only a new ship to our waters but new exotic itineraries as well.

This 1,259 capacity vessel will be joining ms Noordam for sailings around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific throughout 2016 and 2017.


Culinary Arts Centre

Holland America Line is famous for the magnificent artworks and antiques that decorate the interiors of their ships and in keeping with the Line’s tradition of ship themes, ms Maasdam is themed around treasures collected by the merchants of the Dutch East Indies. Reflecting this theme, some of the on board items include a golden gilt bronze figure of a Boddhisattva from China’s Qianlong period (1736-1795), a portrait of a nobleman and charts on the walls depicting maritime navigation of the time.

As always, cruisers will be delighted by the excellent enrichment, culinary and entertainment initiatives that Holland America has become so well known for, including the Culinary Arts Center, Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Restaurant, Explorations Café and Rembrandt Show Lounge to name a few. The extensive Journeys Ashore™ program will also continue to inform and engage guests at each port throughout their cruise.

Departing Sydney on 16 December 2016 for a 17 day Christmas and New Year cruise, ms Maasdam will make her way to New Zealand via Eden, Melbourne, Burnie and Hobart, before visiting some of the land of the long white cloud’s most spectacular places, including Milford Sound, Akaroa and the Coromandel Peninsula.

For those looking for a slightly shorter cruise, the 13 day Australia and New Zealand sailing is sure to suit. Departing Auckland on 2 January 2017, ms Maasdam will make her way down the eastern coast of New Zealand with calls to Napier, Wellington and Akaroa before embarking on scenic cruising through the incredible Fiordland National Park. From here, she makes her way across the Tasman to Hobart, Melbourne and Burnie before sailing into Sydney Harbour.

hal_table-266Tony Archbold, Holland America Line’s Director of Sales, Australia and New Zealand said “We’re so pleased to be welcoming ms Maasdam to our region for the upcoming season. She’s a much loved ship, and one, in fact, that Holland America Line Mariners consistently name as one of their favourites in the fleet. It’s also great news that she’ll be back again later in 2017 for the 2017/18 season. With this is mind, we felt it only fitting that Maasdam be the first of our ships to sail the new Pacific Explorer itinerary. We know our guests are going to be delighted and excited by this culturally rich and spectacular sailing.”

In a brand new itinerary for Holland America Line, ms Maasdam will be departing Sydney on 22 November 2017 for the inaugural 31 day Pacific Explorer. This will be a highlight of ms Maasdam’s stay, with the itinerary taking guests on a journey to some of the region’s most beautiful destinations such as Tauranga, Nuku’alofa, Moorea and more. There will be no shortage of pristine landscapes, crystal clear waters and cultural experiences on the month long sailing and overnight stays in many ports will ensure cruisers have ample time to explore and experience them all.

Sandra Tiltman