25
Oct
10

Handle With Care

On Friday night, another little Brisbane company held a big event. Well, it was not as big as I’d expected; not the flash affair I’d imagined (though there was champagne for the mama! And juice and a dance floor – read the floor – for the daughter)! Megan Shorey and Joymas Creative held a launch night for the original cast recording of Megan’s new musical, Handle With Care. This is a show written by a woman, performed by women, for women. I know. Megan and her director, Mr Lewis Jones and their exquisitely collected cast will almost certainly argue that. Regardless, that’s how I’m callin’ it; the men may have to listen a little bit harder to this show to appreciate its many layers. Allow me to challenge me, on what I’ve said there by including here, Megan’s note to ALL:

Handle With Care does not suggest to prove a point or to right any wrongs but rather to pose some questions that may resonate in you, our listener. If you love a woman: mother, sister, daughter, friend or lover, you will have shared at least some of this journey with her. Because although we may confuse you or challenge the world with everything we both desire and deserve, we still just want to be loved and handled with care.


But wait. Before we go any further, just in case you didn’t feel the need to click on the link just there, here’s the preview:


There is SO much in this musical, so many layers, so many roles and stories represented – those mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and lovers – that there really has got to be just about something for everyone. The lyrics are precise, sometimes to the point of too-much-information and they come from that deep place of joy and hurt and rapture and confusion and anger and frustration and elation and JOY. In short, this is a show comprised of four mini musicals…….”Celebrating the beauty and bitch of being a woman”.

N.B. I did not see this show! I wish I had done. I might feel differently about some of the numbers.

The first two tracks disappeared for me, got left behind by the harmonies and collective emotional strength of the third; Invisible. Perhaps it took me that long to get into the form, like reading the subtitles again after you’ve been brain dead (BRAAAAAINS)* in front of Channel 10 for an evening. That’s true. That’s what happened this evening, before the Twitter friends suggested I turn over to see the new Sherlock, which was, incidentally, AWESOME! Anyway, the next track on the album, Ally Hit the Jackpot, reminded me of my cousin’s gorgeous sounds during her days as Aneiki – powerful groovy girl pop with a dash of barely disguised vulnerability and a sense of revenge! Love ya, Jen!

And then we have Easily Bruised, showcasing Kat McIntyre’s real, raw hurt and real strong voice. Incidentally, Kat and Bradley McCaw gave us a sneak preview of Hum – Becoming Bill. See it if you can, next week at the Judith Wright Centre, at this early stage of the creative development process, a-la off-Broadway. It’s so exciting to see somebody committing the time and the energy to do this in Brisvegas. I know I’d love to see Handle With Care re-staged, with the addition of a great book. It’s possible. It may be what they’re working on now. I don’t know, I forgot to ask while Megan was signing Poppy’s CD. But look, anything’s possible; this is the workshop process. Just call the Judy off-off-off-off-Broadway!

I have to say, the Silk Powersuit section, about the (intentionally) stereotypical corporate woman, kinda lost me and I need to listen to it again because the Sunshine Coast’s Sarah Knight‘s voice is just lovely and maybe I’ve missed something in her journey there. Maybe I couldn’t quite relate. Maybe I was too excited in the lead up to Liz Buchanan and Rachel Dunham sharing the last couple of numbers! In the staged production, one woman stands holding a baby in her arms while the other stands holding nothing. I Cry Just Like a Newborn is absolutely beautiful. Almost very Rent. Almost perfect to sing out of context next year for a very special occasion. But more on that later. Leave it with me. I shall first seek permission to use this poignant piece and then let you know more.

This song is the only song that brought tears to my eyes (and you know how I like to get totes involved and walk out of the theatre with tears streaming down my face and…oh, wait. Ok, so I forgot; this time I was in the kitchen just listening to the CD). ANYWAY, the tears stuck around right through the last number: the title track, with all it’s discordant, layered, staggered harmonies from the entire ensemble. I know. There is bound to be a musically correct, technical term for that particular choral trick, which I’m sure Megan will tell me; until then I don’t know it. I don’t do choirs. Anymore.

I love lots about Handle With Care. I particularly love the end of it. The message is clear. There is closure, no matter how confronted or challenged you’ve felt previously.

Because of the show’s strengths, I feel like I need to love the opening of this show a whole lot more. There somehow needs to be a stronger opening – a prelude – and I feel like, at some point in the middle somewhere, my attention lapsed; I was not feeling compassion or empathy or even sympathy. I needed something or someone to break it up again, mix it up again. Something with the harmonies again? Too many layers somewhere? I know I will be asked to pinpoint that part of the show! It’ll come to me…

I also feel like…there should be a film option……SHOTGUN. HA! No, really; just let me do the screenplay. Really.

Clearly, this show made me feel a lot, even without seeing it on stage. It makes me want to see it on stage. Even the soundtrack recordings of Jane Eyre and Grey Gardens don’t make me want to see the shows on stage except to say here that I’ve seen the shows. On. Stage. Wow. My sister will kill me for saying something so sacrilegious about her beloved Grey Gardens!

You can buy Handle With Care at

www.joymascreative.com or www.middle8.com

I feel like this is just the next big first thing from a very ambitious little company. Keep an eye (and an ear) out for everything Joymas Creative’s Megan Shorey is working on. It’s gonna be good.

* It’s just that Brisbane’s Zombie Walk took place – without me – today.


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