New Musicals Australia is a fab new initiative from the very clever Kris Stewart, whom you know from The New York Musical Theater Festival, The Sydney Fringe Festival and Wicked (Australia) and his amazing team of some of our most talented and passionate industry people, who cannot bear to see musical theatre brilliance left in the bottom drawer.
There is brilliant new musical theatre happening already, all over the country – look at the shortlisted Handle With Care by Megan Shorey, with a successful Brisbane season under their belts and an original cast album launched just last week. Look at the shortlisted A Little Touch of Class by James Millar and Peter Rutherford, which was commissioned by WAAPA to be performed as part of their 30th birthday celebrations. Look at this creative team’s previous works, Lovebites (nominated for Best Cabaret in the 2008 Sydney Awards) and The Hatpin (official selection for the NYMF).
Okay we will. We’ll look at them. In a minute. The important thing now, having been shortlisted for this workshop series, is that these pieces will get the additional attention they deserve, and with a bit of kind support from the movers and shakers in this country, rather than the artists themselves having to devote their time and energy into playing Producer as well as putting on their many other hats, such as Director, Musical Director, Composer, Lyricist, Performer, Performing Arts Grants Writer…and the list goes on – never say an artist is master of just one craft – Australian audiences get to see great Australian work.
Also, the fact that these artists are already supported on some level and they have been confident enough in their work to be sharing it with main stream audiences, cannot have escaped the attention of the advisory panel. Just saying.
Case in point. James Millar is a modest, multi-talented-beyond-belief-writer-singer-actor-you-name-it-he-can-do-it kinda guy, who wrote a couple of shows several years ago with Peter Rutherford. I bet there are more, probably to be found in somebody’s bottom drawer, in time for an intense rehearsal stint and a Sydney run before next year’s NMA deadline.
N.B. Lazy bit – copying and pasting this from Sonia Allan’s review: australianstage.com.au
Four voices team with one piano to create a delightful night of fun, breezy musical entertainment.
LoveBites is a “quirky song cycle about love and relationships” which tells the story of six different relationships – from the cute, blushing beginning of flirtation and romance, to the pointy-end of the relationship, where the connection between lovers has either grown deeper over time, or has been worn thin by frustration and hurt.
The music-and-lyrics team that created ‘The Hatpin’ which opened to audiences earlier this year to great success, has once again joined forced to write a song-cycle on the theme of Love. Or Lurrrve, as the case may be.
Among other stories, there is the film star and flight attendant who arrange some ‘personal entertainment’ mid-flight, a twittering dame who valiantly pretends to love rockclimbing to impress her new beau, and (a personal favourite) the story of two members of a bookclub, startled to be left alone to chat over the merits of George Orwell when nobody else shows.
The production is small-scale, with a simple open stage, a slide-show of projected images, and a piano to one side where composer Peter Rutherford accompanies the four singers, Octavia Barron-Martin, Tyler Burness, Sarah Croser and James Millar, who co-wrote the show with Rutherford, supplying the lyrics. While occasional vocal shrillness from Barron-Martin marred an otherwise entertaining performance, overall each of the performers displayed great comic timing, heartfelt engagement with the more tender, sorrowful stories, and a strong command of the music.
This is a sweet, fun, modest show that sets itself a simple concept and executes it sharply, cleverly and with high entertainment value.
But be warned – after seeing this show, you may find yourself fighting the urge to carry out every conversation you have the next day in song.
The Hatpin. You may have heard of it. Or you may not have heard of it…yet. The Hatpin was nominated in 2009 for 3 Sydney Theatre awards (Michelle Doake won Best Actress in a Musical), after a successful season at the 2008 NYMF with the following cast (you may have heard of some of them)
Amber Murray – Alexis Fishman
Harriet Piper – Caroline O’Connor
Charles Makin – Paul Kandel
Agatha Makin – Cyrilla Baer
Clara Makin – Gemma-Ashley Kaplan
Justice Stephens / James Hanoney – Michael A. Pizzi
Marianne Leonard – Casey Erin Clark
Minnie Davis – Mary Catherine McDonald
Rebecca Rigby – Sharone Halevy
Edward Cleary – Matt Leisy
Thomas Williamson – Billy Clark Taylor
To enquire about performance rights for The Hatpin in Australia and New Zealand, contact the good people at Hal Leonard.
And now, another quick copy and paste so that, without further ado, you may see who else is on the Shortlist and what happens next! Stay tuned!
Carnival Joe(by Mark Jones & Anthony Crowley)
A broad, exuberant Australian musical comedy, set during the spring racing carnival of 1933.
Handle With Care (by Megan Shorey)
A collection of four short musicals celebrating both the beauty and bitch of being a woman.
Houdini- The Man From Beyond (by Russell Bauer & Dr Bruce Dawe)
Through vaudeville performance and recreations of some of his signature illusions, we’re shown the final 15 years in the life of Harry Houdini.
Kells (by Stefan Cassomenos & Nick Musgrove)
A symphonic musical inspired by the true story of the killer whales of Eden.
La Creole (by Julia Plummer, Nicholas Gentile & Cheryl Sawyer)
A revenge tale set in 1755 where a slave from Martinique runs away to Paris and Versailles determined to destroy her cruel Master.
A Little Touch of Chaos (by Peter Rutherford & James Millar)
Through different characters and intersecting timelines, the experience of growing-up for a parent echoes the experience of growing-up for their child.
Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life (by Amity Dry)
A tale of modern marriage and motherhood, seen through the experiences of four close friends.
Prix D’Amour (by Paul Dion)
A sweeping historical drama, spanning from Manila during the Vietnam War to Perth in the 1980s.
Refrakting (by David Peake)
It’s Saturday night in Melbourne, and the city’s youth are converging to get trashed. To forget. But there’s something that Jaydn can’t forget.
Showtrain(by Andrew Worboys & Zvonko Jovicic)
A tall yarn spun by a mysterious vagabond minstrel as a travelling sideshow try desperately to save their way of life on the showtrain.
Three Weeks in Spring (by Russell Tredinnick & Ian Gerrard)
Private John Simpson and his donkey sit at the centre of a contemporary imagining of the origins of Anzac Day.
A Woman’s Eyes (by Paul Keelan & Gary Young)
The story of an ordinary Australian woman’s life set against extraordinary events of the twentieth century.
All shortlisted works now receive further consideration by NMA artistic staff, representatives of the Australia Council Music Board and other industry professionals. From this shortlist, works are selected to receive workshopping opportunities within the New Musicals Australia initiative.
Advisory panel members who read submitted works included Peter Casey, Will Conyers, Kellie Dickerson, Rodney Dobson, Neil Gooding, Roger Hodgman, Karen Johnson Mortimer, Guy Noble, Jennifer Murphy, Peter Ross and Darren Yap.
New Musicals Australia has three key workshop initiatives: The Musical Snapshot, which presents a twenty to forty minute extract of the musical in concert alongside other new works, The Developmental Reading, which sees a new work rehearsed and performed in concert and the Workshop Presentation, which allows a musical to be rehearsed and performed book-down with staging and some production elements. New Musicals Australia also supports a variety of other initiatives targeted at developing new works, establishing networks and providing support for independent writers.