Posts Tagged ‘lauren mckenna

27
Aug
18

Any Moment – a new musical by Bradley McCaw

 

 

Set over the course of 24 hours, Bradley McCaw’s original two Act revue is inspired by such works as Closer Than Ever, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change and Songs For A New World.

 

 

Each song and scene take place in the one town, as the musical drops into different people’s lives through the course of a single day. We begin at midnight, and progress through the ‘every day stories’ that unfold minute by minute. Hour by hour.

 

 

Inspired by the famous John Lennon quote, ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’ Any Moment explores what a minute in time truly represents. What purpose does a day hold? What unfolds in those little moments that happen without us noticing? It aims to highlight the beauty and fragility life, asking if the ultimate unifying theme for all human beings, is that all of our lives will play out… one moment at a time. Who knows what will and could happen… Any Moment.

 

 

Bradley McCaw, Lauren McKenna and Lizzie Moore had a wonderful chat about the project…

 

To create this album, OFPC is rewarding supporters of the project via a Kickstarter campaign. How does that work?

Brad: It’s a way of bringing in people at the beginning – for them to be part of making art happen by purchasing a ticket to a VIP concert event and have an original song written for them or someone they love!

 

Lizzie: This way, supporters become part of the creation of a brand-new Australian work. We’re building awareness of this wonderful musical, Brad’s work and as artists, we all come out of the project with a deeper level of involvement and sense of ownership AND an amazing studio recording of our vocals!

 

As performers and presenters/producers, how do we better support each other?

Lizzie: I am really passionate about engaging with artists and creatives who are looking to offer a hand down or a push up. I have found that the Australian industry is full of incredible talent but there can be an element of competing for scarce resources rather than buoying other people up. By supporting Australian creatives and new work, we lift the industry as a whole, and we build a greater and more engaged audience as well.

Brad: When I started out making theatre, I certainly felt less confident in my abilities and was really stubborn and found it hard to listen and engage with other professionals. Now, being a little older… I can overview what I do well and what I need to improve – to get to learn from other artists is genuinely one of my favourite things to do. To hear an artist sing my song and bring it to life – revealing both its flaws and the beauty in it – it such a privilege – because their skills make it possible for me to use mine. Perhaps that’s another way of looking at ‘support’ – that it can also be a process giving other artists room to do what they do well – and letting that improve and strengthen what you do and create.

What have you been doing recently?

Lauren: I have just finished up working on a play, Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic for the record-breaking season at The Alex Theatre in Melbourne. I am now working on an exciting new project called Mad World. It is an immersive theatre experience inspired by Alice in Wonderland and I am on board as Resident Director. 

Lizzie: The last 12 months for me have included a lot of touring all over Australia with Coal Miner’s Daughter (with country star Amber Joy Poulton as Loretta Lynn and me as her bestie Patsy Cline). We got to bring the show to Queensland for the first time— we sold out 4 performances at the QPAC Playhouse, which was exciting. I’ve also been working on a show with jazz legend Dan Barnett called Gin Swing.

Brad: Recently, I’ve been developing a new podcast called Making a Musical. I was in New York City speaking with writers, producers, marketers, folks on the street buying nick knacks – trying to tangibly understand why people like musicals – and what makes them a success. Season One takes place in New York.

Describe the moments that led you into showbiz?

Lauren: The moment I always revisit in my mind is my year 4 teacher Mr. Cowan suggesting I audition for a community theatre production of The Secret Garden. They were looking for a 10-year-old girl to play the lead role of Mary Lennox. My very eccentric mother stormed into the church hall and announced, “My daughter doesn’t know the song from the show but she’ll be singing Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables!” 

 

Lizzie: Castle on a Cloud! I have a strong memory of treating one of my mum’s friends to an interpretive dance version, which involved a broom and a pillow as props. That song is a gift that keeps on giving!

 

 

Brad: I heard a recording of Anthony Warlow singing This is the Moment from the live Main Event record. I literally stopped what I was doing, sat down, staring at the cd disc spinning in my walk man… It was like a scene from a film. And I was hooked.

What will you cherish about this process / project / company?

Lizzie: It will definitely be the opportunity to be part of a project with so many talented performers, who are based in or have strong ties to Queensland. I am always excited to be able to work in my adopted home city.

 

Lauren: I love working in Brisbane.  Any excuse to get back up here and be a part of this incredibly rich and thriving arts scene is always welcomed.  The people here are a total joy to work with- passionate, hardworking and it is refreshing to be involved in this incredible project with so many wonderful Brisbane based artists. 

 

Brad: Honestly, working with people like Lizzie and Lauren is a real treat. I don’t take it for granted that to get something off the ground takes a lot of work and a lot of people saying – yes that’s a good idea! To have people willing to spend longer than a coffee date with you is a privilege! And to learn from them, with them, to make songs for their voices that will forever be apart of the musical theatre landscape – that’s the good stuff for me.

How do you make the moments count?

Lauren: Stop. Breathe. Enjoy. Share.

Brad: I can’t answer, sorry. I’m too busy doing exactly what Lauren said. She’s spot on!

What are your favourite moments / events in an ordinary 24hr period and what makes an ordinary moment extraordinary?

Lauren: I think there is something special about doing mundane things with passion and love. Making a cup of tea for someone? Make it with love. Savour even the simple walk to your mailbox. Life is so short – be unapologetically passionate and always full of love.    

Lizzie: I completely agree. Some of the most special parts of my day are the little ones: hearing the whirr of the coffee machine (my husband is making me a coffee!), drinking my first coffee (I have a problem) and the furiously wagging tails of my dogs Digby and Dudley when I arrive home – love and excitement turned up to maximum!

Tell us about recording this album? What was the best part? What was challenging?

Brad: it’s unfolding all at once. So with so many incredible artists we have a strict timeline for offering the pre-sale, but also recording at the same time. So I’m meeting with artists to workshop the song – then I’m orchestrating at various coffee shops around Brisbane… Then meeting with the band in the studio the next day.

 

It’s funny – I was just in New York and I sat down with someone from COME FROM AWAY, who outlined the exact same thing – that bringing that show to life and improving it and fixing it, while getting it to an audience is such a unique and strangely stressful but enjoyable process. And people like myself – don’t want to be doing anything else!

 

What do we need to see / continue to see in Australian musical theatre? What are your favourite aspects of our live entertainment scene? (And again, why do we need to support this project!).

Brad: There are so many causes in need of our time and effort. I personally, work on new art because I have always done so, and it is something that I enjoy and have made a living from. I would be foolish to say ‘ONLY SEE AUSTRALIAN MUSICALS!’ Because I couldn’t even do that!? But I feel there is a place for Australian stories, made here in Brisbane and around the world to find a place on our stages, the challenge for all of us is there doesn’t appear to be an overwhelming number of bridges that lift our stories to the centre of public attention – and without reaching a mass amount of people – it’s difficult to convince investors to give you a large suitcase of money to sing some show tunes!

What do you love about Bradley’s Old Fashioned Production Company? Is anyone else doing anything like this?

Lizzie: I think OLDFPC came about from Brad attempting to share his music and plays with an audience. Seeing his work develop and his craft grow you start to see a road that led to here, where he will – at the drop of a hat – tell you about his big dreams for the company – for it to become a home for new musicals and the artists that create them. I think Brad brings a unique skill and perspective – being so involved in musical theatre from different areas that makes OLDFPC particularly passionate and skilled at the craft of making musicals.

Brad: OLDFPC don’t stage existing theatre works – which I feel makes us different from other companies. We just focus on making new works and building a bridge between the audience and the artist from around the world, who both desire to experience something entertaining and new.

 

LAUREN MCKENNA

Lauren graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2011 as part of the inaugural Bachelor of Music Theatre class. Her breakout performance was in 2015 when she played the dual role of Martha/ Ms Fleming in the critically acclaimed production of Heathers at Hayes Theatre Co. which toured Australia in 2016. This earned Lauren rave reviews and the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Newcomer. 

Lauren performed her dream role of Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray Arena Spectacular tour in 2016 and as Jan in Grease Arena Experience tour in 2017 and 2018 (Harvest Rain).  Lauren has also appeared as Anathema in Good Omens (Squabbalogic), Heidi in [title of show] (Understudy Productions), Babette in La Cage Aux Folles (TPC), Jewel in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Mystery Musical for Squabbalogic) and Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest (Citizen Theatre).  Most recently, Lauren was swing (U/S Leanne/Susie/Sally) for Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic (TEG Live).  Lauren will soon perform the role of Rose in Meet Me In St. Louis for Neglected Musicals at Hayes Theatre Co. 

Lauren is a proud member of Actor’s Equity and is represented by Working Management.

In addition to performing, Lauren also works as a director, collaborator and acting coach.  She is passionate about mentoring young aspiring artists. 

 

Lizzie Moore is a singer and actor who has appeared on stage in London, New York and throughout Australia. She’s most recently appeared in The Last Five Years at Brisbane Powerhouse and has been touring Australia as Patsy Cline in the smash hit Coal Miner’s Daughter with country star, Amber Joy Poulton.

As a cabaret and concert performer, Lizzie has headlined for Sydney Festival, Ten Days on the Island and Festival of Voices; her show Cool Britannia was the fastest selling show at the 2015 Queensland Cabaret Festival, and her one-woman show On A Night Like This played to sell-out houses at Brisbane Powerhouse, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Chapel Off Chapel and BL_NK in London.

In New York, Lizzie appeared Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway: credits include Hot and Sweet (with Katie Finneran and Lea Michelle), La Femme Est Morte, You People, and Closer.

Lizzie’s theatre credits include Heidi in the Broadway musical: [TITLE OF SHOW] (The Seymour Centre/Squabbalogic), Hattie in Kiss Me Kate (Opera Queensland/QPAC), as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (Arts Centre Gold Coast), Deb in Ordinary Days (Tasmanian Theatre Company), Sally Bowles in Cabaret (Playhouse Theatre), Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (Darwin Entertainment Centre), the original company of Anthony Crowley’s The Wild Blue and Tin Hotel (Darwin Festival).

Lizzie is a graduate of the Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts with a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) and is represented by BMEG. www.lizziemoore.com

 

 

BRADLEY MCCAW

Bradley McCaw is a multi-instrumentalist, composer/playwright, performer, and orchestrator. His musical theatre works include The Oasis, A Little Princess, Any Moment and Becoming Bill. His published plays include The Game and Everybody’s Doin’ It.

He has received National awards from Queensland Theatre, New Musicals Australia, and Home Grown. As a performer he toured the world with International singing group The Ten Tenors, and was the winner of the 2012 International Cabaret Showcase touring his one-man show to festivals worldwide, including a sold out show on Broadway’s 42nd street (USA).

His recordings, Highlights from Becoming Bill, and Cabaret: Unauthorised Biography are available online www.bradleymccaw.com

 

To secure a personalised private performance by Bradley McCaw and an Any Moment cast member, pledge AU$1000 or more via Kickstarter

 

 

Any Moment features 17 new songs performed by: Kurt Phelan (She Loves Me, American Idiot), Tom Oliver (The Voice, Velvet), James Shaw (Chicago, Mamma Mia USA), Lizzie Moore (The Last Five Years, Kiss Me Kate), Lauren McKenna (Hairspray, Puffs), Trevor Jones (International Piano Man and leading academic), Judy Hainsworth (First World White Girls, Babushka Cabaret), Emily Kristopher (Single Asian Female), Alex Woodward (Underground Broadway Founder), Irena Lysiuk (The Owl & The Pussycat), Stephie Da Silva (Rent), Shaun Kohlman (Bare, Opera Queensland) and Kathryn McIntyre (Ladies in Black, Twelfth Night).

09
Sep
17

[title of show]

 

[title of show]

Understudy Productions

Hayward Street Studios

August 31 – September 10 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers with nothing to lose, have decided to put everything on the line and create a show for New York Musical Theatre Festival. With the deadline for submissions a mere three weeks away, Jeff and Hunter decide to follow the old adage, “write what you know,” and set off on a unique musical adventure: writing a musical about writing a musical. With the help of their friends Susan, Heidi, and Larry on keys, they make a pact to write up until the festival’s deadline and dream about the show changing their lives.

 

[title of show] is one of the funniest productions to have been staged in Brisbane in a long time. I don’t know if this company saw Oscar Theatre Company’s production, directed by Emily Gilhome, in Brisbane in 2010 and Noosa in 2011 but this cast, directed by Ian Good, can hold their own.

 

 

Alexander Woodward’s Understudy Productions threw into the MELT Festival mix at Brisbane Powerhouse earlier this year an original cabaret (Boys of Sondheim), and now with Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s [title of show] the company continues to provide professional work for local, Australian-based talent in another production that is LGBT and gender friendly. In the current political climate, a show about two gay guys writing a show about what matters to them and stuff that happens to them couldn’t be better placed.

 

Jackson McGovern plays an adorably goofy Hunter and Woodward is the perfect foil, an unassuming, charming Jeff. Together they go through the tumults of a working relationship and the closest kind of friendship, earning wide smiles, lots of laughter and our genuine affection.

 

 

 

Aurelie Roque is a wry, self-effacing Susan and Lauren McKenna a bold, bright and bubbly Heidi. Joel Curtis on keys is MD and an appropriately pacified Larry, and once again I feel like Larry should have more to say! Some of the best moments are in fact when the characters have nothing “scripted” to say. The girls soak up the spotlight during Secondary Characters during which they discuss what happens when the writers leave the room.

 

 

 

Die Vampire Die is still the best song of the show, possibly because it rings so true for artists, and Roque knows how to sell it. She easily elicits plenty of laughs and pathos within this number’s satisfying harmonies and hilarious lyrics. Curtis has ensured that each musical number is tight and while the pace lagged at times during the opening weekend, it will have picked up during the too-short season. It’s an exceptional cast; there’s no weak link and everyone has their turn to shine.

 

From Untitled Opening Number to Nine People’s Favorite Thing, this heartfelt, upbeat show is fun, irreverent and intelligent, and the perfect vehicle for these super talented triple threats. If you’re new to this musical, or to musicals in general, it’s likely you’ll miss some of the references to exisiting shows and Broadway stars, but that’s okay. While there’s nothing actually new happening here and the Hayward Street Studios’ space is a little unkind to such an intimate production, this [title of show] features five of our brightest. It’s highly entertaining and worth stealing a ticket to see tonight’s final performance; you’ll laugh out loud and leave grinning.

 

 

26
Aug
17

Understudy Productions do [title of show]

 

A chat with the cast of Understudy Productions’ [title of show]

Hayward Street Studios August 31 – September 10 2017

 

We haven’t seen anyone tackle the hilarious cult hit [title of show] since Oscar in 2010 so it’s about time we saw it again. Ahead of Understudy Productions’ season, which opens next week, we chatted with the company’s founder and AD Alexander Woodward, and let the other cast members chime in…

 

We love [title of show]! Can you talk about the creative process, from the idea to bring a humble YouTube-Broadway surprise smash hit to Brisbane, to your independent company securing the rights to the show, to finding space and casting incredible talent, and preparing to put on a show? 

Alex: Directing is Ian Good, from the UK. We originally met when he came over while I was at the Con. He’s an outstanding director who’s fallen in love with the country and I trust him more than words can express. I’m a big believer that if i’ve put somebody in a position its for a reason, and after I’ve brought somebody in I just trust and believe in that persons judgement. This is the company’s third production and so far so good, so I’m going to stick with this attitude.

Rehearsals are amazing, better than could be expected. We’ve had such a quick process I thought it would be a scramble to the line but we are a week out and still have so much time to play so I’m beyond happy.

The process? Well I’m constantly on the search for theatre to put on. I heard about title while at uni and loved the concept; it’s such a theatre lovers’ show.

Putting on theatre is HARD. It’s expensive, and risky and really hard to get right, but I love doing it. Origin Theatrical are amazing and I love dealing with Kim there. She’s a theatre lover and is always so helpful getting us independents off and running.

 

Tell us about Understudy Productions.

So basically Understudy Productions was formed because I thought it was crazy that people thought they had to move cities in order to be involved in professional quality work. I also thought we have so much music theatre and acting talent coming out of Brisbane, let’s use it and create some shit hot theatre. There’s no reason Brisbane can’t have an independent theatre scene like what’s seen at the Hayes, or Chapel off Chapel.

 

Tell us about each cast member (or they can tell us about themselves!). What drew each of you to this show?

Alex: Jackson is a stupidly good actor. I remember being at uni and thinking, yeah, this guy is going places.

 

 

Jackson: Well it’s a bloody funny show, for a start. I didn’t actually know it before I started looking up stuff when I saw the audition brief for this production, but I remember listening to the soundtrack for the first time and laughing my tits off. It’s completely ridiculous, but has a real heart to it.

 

 

Lauren: My name is Lauren McKenna. I’m a Sydney based music theatre gal who has worked in Brisbane a lot in the past couple of years. I played the double of Martha/Ms. Fleming in the smash hit Heathers which played at QPAC and have been in Harvest Rain’s latest touring Arena productions of Hairspray (Tracy) and Grease (Jan). My nine favourite things are picnics, fresh flowers, tall humans, new stationary, sleep-ins, high belt, snail mail, edamame beans and salon manicures. I was drawn to this project because some friends told me I’d love [title of show]. They were right! Also, I have a massive crush on Brisbane so any excuse to work up here I jump at!

 

Joel: I’m Joel and I am the Musical Director and play Larry (the unfortunate forgotten pianist) in the show.

 

Will you tell us your real-life vampires?

Alex: Not being good enough, not getting work, letting people down from family to friends to ticket buyers. I always think its funny that performers are often highly strung/stressed/emotional types and here we get on stage and basically say, “Please like me, and please let me invoke some form of emotion on you”. Plus being poor…god, theatre makes you poor! Haha!

Joel: I’m terrified of not being good enough. That’s actually something that Jeff says in the number. One of these days someone is going to work out that I’m a fraud and I can’t do all the things that I’m employed to do/say I can do and then they’ll tell everyone and I’ll be fired, never work again, all my friends will hate me and I’ll end up penniless, lonely and miserable. Or something…

 

Will you share with us that show idea you’ve stashed in the bottom drawer?

Alex: Well, I’m pretty excited to putting on an Adults Only Christmas Show later this year at Brisbane Powerhouse. Every year of my adult life I’ve done “friends’ christmas” where we drink and dance, and be merry. I wanted to recreate that kind of idea for theatre. I think it sucks that the only option at Christmas is to go to church! I want to do the polar opposite of that.

 

Will you each share how you came to be a performer and what it is that keeps you in the industry?

Lauren: I’ve been doing musicals since I was 10 years old. There’s no other industry for me.

Jack: Storytelling is such a primal part of being human, and live theatre to me is one of the most rewarding ways of being part of that, either as a performer or audience member. Live theatre is different every time. I honestly can’t think of anything cooler than 5, 10, 200 or 1000 people going into a room together and having a storytelling experience that is completely unique to that group.

Alex: I used to play in bands and – long story short – went to visit my brother living in London, saw a show in the West End and went, “Wow, music theatre can be amazing,” and then knew I wanted to get involved. I came home and started doing courses and then I scored an amazing first gig with STC.

 

Joel: To be honest, I rarely perform anymore. I prefer my day job as a singing teacher, with the occasional MD gig.

 

Favourite / challenging / exciting roles thus far?

Alex: My first job ever was also the first thing I ever auditioned for. Spring Awakening with Sydney Theatre Company, it was like being thrown into a pool and it was sink or swim…. But I loved it. The most challenging role would have to have been Mickey in Blood Brothers, emotionally such a draining and in-depth role. You basically have to put yourself though a rollercoaster every show.

Lauren: Playing two characters in Heathers was incredible- an actors dream! Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray was so challenging stamina wise (especially in arena style) but ridiculously fun! Heidi in [title of show] is definitely up there with my favourites!

 

Roles you covet and would kill for?

Alex: Cliff in Cabaret, Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen, Anything in Book of Mormon. Plus any role that has the power to invoke thought and change in people.

 

Other jobs? Your first job (perhaps it wasn’t in the performing arts industry)?

Alex: Professional Uber Driver and drink slinger.

 

What did mum and dad want you to do? What did teachers think you would do?

Alex: My parents are incredible and always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. My mum has been working with the ABC for 30 years now, and my parents met while my mum did drama and Dad studied photography, so the arts was pretty much always engrained in them.

 

 

What else do you want to do?

Alex: I want to help create an independent theatre scene in Brisbane. I want there to be a Brisbane Hayes. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be.

 

How does everyone keep fit and maintain healthy voices?

Alex: the show for me is a huge sing. Basically, 10 years of practice and semi-okay technique. (Still a long way to go!).

 

Why do we wanna’ see this show (again)?

Alex: Because it’s fun, it’s moving, and it speaks to everyone who’s ever been involved in performing. It’s just very music theatre.

 

Jack: [title of show] speaks to anyone with even the tiniest creative bone in their body. Rehearsing this has been an experience in uncovering relatable quality after relatable quality within all four of these beautiful, twisted, genius characters. Whether you are a musical theatre fan, a theatre fan, or you’ve never even stepped foot in a theatre, you will love it as much for its relatable charm as its ridiculous comedy.

 

Lauren: Because it’s awesome and I have to take my top off for the first time onstage… so you don’t wanna miss that!

 

What’s next?

Alex: After this I go full steam into producing A Very Adult Christmas…

 

 

10
Apr
16

Hairspray

 

Hairspray
The Big Fat Arena Spectacular
Harvest Rain
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
April 8 – 10 2016

 

Newcastle July 2016 / Adelaide October 2016 / Perth January 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

hairspray1

15th – 16th JULY 2016

NEWCASTLE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE 

 14th – 15th OCTOBER 2016

ADELAIDE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE

20th – 22nd JANUARY 2017

HBF STADIUM PERTH

If you’re a HR Supporter, you will have seen this message (below) from Producer, Tim O’Connor. If not, here it is so you can consider moving on and becoming one. Yes, Brisbane, I’m talking to you. I know you’re reading this. So many of you still have something to say about this company, and I love that that I’m starting to hear some recognition now, for a genius business model and the company’s ongoing commitment to creating opportunities for young artists. Credit where credit’s due, people, regardless of whether or not you, personally, would pay to be in a show.

 

hairspray_ensemble

 

Our arena production of HAIRSPRAY closed not long ago in Brisbane. We were so proud of the production and the fact that it was seen by over 13,000 people across 5 sold out performances, and featured a mass ensemble of 900 young local performers. Being able to create an opportunity where so many young dreamers could connect with and perform alongside some of the country’s biggest stars like Simon Burke, Christine Anu, Tim Campbell, Amanda Muggleton, Wayne Scott Kermond and of course the incredible Lauren McKenna was one of the greatest joys of my career. On closing night, I took time to hang around backstage and chat with the talented members of the mass ensemble and hear their stories about how being part of the show changed their life. So many of them told me about how they are bullied at school for their love of singing, acting and dancing, but when they came to HAIRSPRAY they were shocked because instead of being bullied they were celebrated for their passion. They found like-minded friends, and many of them felt loved and accepted by their peers for the first time in their lives. It was extraordinary to hear their stories, and realise the show was much more than just a piece of entertainment – it was a life affirming and self-esteem building experience for hundreds of teens from all across South East Queensland.

At Harvest Rain, we want to create theatre that is both meaningful and entertaining. We want to be a beacon of hope for young dreamers with a passion for the arts. We want to help these young stars on their journey by connecting them up with professionals who’ve walked their path before them. We want to make a difference.

So, after 31 years of producing high quality musical theatre productions in Queensland, Harvest Rain is spreading its wings and hitting the road, taking its special brand of theatre magic all across the country! Now young performers in capital cities across Australia will have the opportunity to follow their dreams as part of the HAIRSPRAY experience, when we take the show to arenas in Newcastle, Adelaide, Perth and more over the coming months!

At Harvest Rain, we want to create theatre that is both meaningful and entertaining. We want to be a beacon of hope for young dreamers with a passion for the arts. We want to help these young stars on their journey by connecting them up with professionals who’ve walked their path before them. We want to make a difference.

So, after 31 years of producing high quality musical theatre productions in Queensland, Harvest Rain is spreading its wings and hitting the road, taking its special brand of theatre magic all across the country! Now young performers in capital cities across Australia will have the opportunity to follow their dreams as part of the HAIRSPRAY experience, when we take the show to arenas in Newcastle, Adelaide, Perth and more over the coming months!

This is a significant moment for Harvest Rain as we move towards becoming an arts organization with a significant national presence. By the end of this year, over 4,000 young people will have taken part in the amateur mass ensemble ofHAIRSPRAY somewhere in Australia. That’s an extraordinary number of lives being changed through this unique theatre training experience. We’re excited!

A venture like this is a costly exercise, and Harvest Rain still receives no financial support from the government, so we rely on ticket sales and donations to make this incredible experience become a reality.

If you believe that encouraging the dreams of the stars of tomorrow is important…

If you believe that helping young performers follow their dreams is vital…

If you believe that creating opportunities to improve the confidence and self-esteem of young performers is worthwhile…

…then please make a donation today as part of Harvest Rain’s Annual Donations Appeal.

We’re a registered not for profit organization so any donation over $2 is tax deductible. Your gift will change the life of a young Australian who loves the arts by making it possible for them to celebrate their passion with hundreds of other like-minded people across the country.

You can make a difference by donating today. For information on how you can donate, please click here

I appreciate your ongoing support, and thank you in advance for your generosity.

Let’s make something truly amazing happen together!

 

Tim xx

TIM O’CONNOR
CEO/Artistic Director
Harvest Rain Theatre Company

hairspray2

It’s 1962, and pleasantly plump Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad has only one desire – to be on television dancing on the popular Corny Collins Show. When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star, but she must use her newfound power to vanquish the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin and integrate a television network – all without denting her ‘do!

Holy security, Batman! When you attend a show at BCEC be prepared to present ID at the counter to collect your tickets and then hold onto your tickets. Don’t lose those tickets! You’ll need to show them again at the door after Interval. You’ll either feel super safe, or completely paranoid.

If you’re in Newcastle or Adelaide or Perth you can feel pleased that you haven’t yet missed this fun mega-show. Harvest Rain’s Hairspray (the big fat arena spectacular) is a flurry of smiling faces and joyous voices, and with its mass ensemble of 950 kids, it’s record-breaking; the largest production of Hairspray ever staged, directed and choreographed by Callum Mansfield (he choreographed the company’s 2012 production) with musical direction by Dennett Hudson.

Question: does anyone else care when there are no live musicians in sight at a musical?

The core cast is strong, with delightful, powerful performances from Christine Anu as Motormouth (I Know Where I’ve Been is a showstopper), Simon Burke as a gruff and affecting Edna Turnblad, Wayne Scott Kermond in his best role to date, Edna’s husband Wilbur (in Act 2, their rendition of You’re Timeless to Me make Simon Burke and Wayne Scott Kermond musical theatre meets vaudeville royalty), and Lauren McKenna as Tracy is ideal. We loved McKenna in Heathers and in her dream role here (already? What next then for McKenna?!) she nails the character, and she can mix and belt with the best of them.

Lollipop-sucking, scene-stealing Emily Monsma makes a fabulous, cheeky Penny, and Barry Conrad a sexy, soulful Seaweed. Channelling Cruella de Vil, Amanda Muggleton lavishes her role as Velma Von Tussle, and channelling Buble, Tim Campbell is a smooth, crooning Corny Collins. Dan Venz brings Link Larkin to life and with more consistent work on his vocals, if it’s what he wants, Venz will no doubt land similar roles in the future.

How fortunate for the younger members of this company to have had the privilege to work alongside actual singers, who depend more upon technique, discipline, good pitch and natural vocal quality than on a reality television network for their success. Producer Tim O’Connor told ABC Radio, “The whole heart of the arena spectacular is to create a pathway, a connecting point, between the young dreamers and the doers, the people like Simon Burke and Christine Anu and Tim Campbell”.

 

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With a multi-level design signifying no particular time or place (unless we are to see, simply, the increasingly concreted city of Baltimore in the sixties, and by extension, every American city), Josh Macintosh has had some fun here, creating ample space for performers to play. Trudy Dalgleish has gone to town with a lighting design of suitably flashy rock concert colour.

Choreography for more than 900 kids of varying levels of ability and experience can’t be easy to create, but the Madison is nearly perfectly in synch and a few impressive Rock Challenge inspired moments delight the audience, including a Mexican Wave sequence that makes dominoes of the dancers.

 

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An insipid sea of white inflatable fat suits & pink wigs must have seemed like a good idea at the time but this is a horribly misjudged reminder that money can’t buy good taste. It must have been a big fat spend in the budget and even thinking about it now – the memory of it is neither witty not funny – I don’t understand what the purpose could possibly be, other than to elicit a cheap laugh. It’s a flashback to the Harvest Rain of old, when somebody’s sense of humour or a lightbulb moment didn’t quite translate to the stage. It doesn’t fit the new picture of this company. Harvest Rain has grown (and matured) considerably, and recently extremely rapidly; they’ve created a genius production model and opened a hugely successful musical theatre training academy. They’ve been doing mostly amazing work for some time now. But this decision seems out of step with the creative concept for the show and feels like a hilarious late-night alcohol-infused inclusion. For the record, I see others in the audience who are loving it!

The sound is generally too loud for Poppy, who covers her ears at times; the levels are consistent with the rock concert approach and the scale of the production.

optikal bloc’s imposing IMAX screen stretches across the back of the performance space and shows on it animations in the style of the opening credits of Grease. But without a live feed to throw the performers’ faces across the same screen, it seems wasted.

 

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If you want intimacy, and an up close and personal experience, there is probably no arena show on earth that will meet your expectations, but if you’re after a loud, large, fast and fun mega smash-hit show featuring a stellar core cast and hundreds of your local kids, you’ll LOVE this Hairspray.

See it in Newcastle (15 – 16 July), Adelaide (14 – 15 October) and Perth (20 – 22 January 2017)

 

12
Jan
16

Heathers: The Musical

 

Heathers: The Musical

QPAC & Showwork Productions

QPAC Playhouse

January 9 – 17 2015

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

We’re all damaged, we’re all frightened, we’re all freaks but that’s alright.

Eat or be eaten.

Based on the cult film (1988) starring Winona Rider and Christian Slater, Heathers – The Musical received its sold-out developmental premiere in Los Angeles in 2013 after years of development following a concert reading at Joe’s Pub (NYC) in 2010.

Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw! Heathers: The Musical is outstanding, it’s such a fantastic, timely surprise! After last year’s movies-to-musicals Dirty Dancing and Strictly Ballroom failed to exceed expectations, Trevor Ashley’s Heathers: The Musical succeeds mightily on all levels. Book online and be quick about it because this gorgeous, talented company are only here until January 17.

Whether or not you’ve seen the cult film that inspired the Off-Broadway hit, this show demands your attention. With book, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde) and Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness), Heathers: The Musical brings the microcosm of nauseating, alienating high school life to the stage. Nominated for nine Sydney Theatre Awards, this production originated at Hayes Theatre thanks to a golden ticket from Hayes Theatre Co. (Let’s hope Hayes sends some more world class product our way). It sees cabaret and musical theatre performer Trevor Ashley in the director’s chair for the first time and from the look and feel of this stellar effort it won’t be his last. In fact, Ashley may have found his new calling – this wicked show allows him to flex his creative muscles and really play, stretching to the limit the devilish humour he loves so much. 

A1 production values, cheeky comic interpretation and some exceptional Australian talent means Ashley’s production surpasses the original minimalist attempt at New World Stages. See for yourself.

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The book is fast paced and nicely condensed for the stage, more entertaining than horrifying, not a bad thing in musical theatre. The music is fantastic, easily passing the whistle test, much of it memorable days later. Immediately we hear the same chirpiness and witty extrapolation of Legally Blonde, and the punchy yet haunting sound and style of Next To Normal. It’s a neat blend of pop and rock, basic enough to be broadly accessible, that is, if you’re over the age of 14 and can’t be offended by strong language, intense adult themes and references to alcohol, drugs and guns. That’s right. Don’t know the story? Don’t take the kids. Strangely, Heathers: The Musical doesn’t come with a trigger warning. No pun intended. The story stays true to the original film.

In order to get out of the snobby clique that is destroying her good-girl reputation, an intelligent teen teams up with a dark sociopath in a plot to kill the cool kids.

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Kirby Burgess is Heather #1 – the Almighty Heather Chandler (until the show goes to Melbourne in May, when Lucy Maunder returns to the role), and straight from playing the naive Baby in Dirty Dancing, Burgess effortlessly morphs into the wealthiest, wickedest, cutest bitch from hell…er, high school.

Joined by Libby Asciak (Heather Duke) and Erin Clare (Heather McNamara) the three mean girls appear to be impenetrable. Their slick and sassy Candy Store perfectly introduces them and intimidates…everyone else. But beneath their perfectly preened eighties’ exteriors even the Heathers are damaged, and the real story of how tough high school can be comes through in a surprisingly genuine way, not least within the layers of Clare’s standout Lifeboat, stinging long after the final note fades.

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The phenomenal Jaz Flowers embodies social misfit Veronica Sawyer without needing to channel Winona Ryder or Barrett Wilbert Weed, bringing her unique brand of sass to the role, reminding us (in case you needed reminding) that she’s one of our brightest musical theatre stars. Her renditions of Beautiful, Fight For Me and Dead Girl Walking are powerful, informed, lingering things. Flowers’ energy and careful attention to detail, not to mention her powerhouse vocals, drive the show. Paired with the super tall, super talented Stephen Madsen as the trench coat clad sexy sociopath, the richly textured duets (Our Love Is God, Meant To Be Yours and Seventeen) provide the stuff of a love story so believable that the lines between right and wrong become blurred for us too. 

I just want my high school to be a nice place.

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Of course, our investment in the relationship is largely due to Madsen looking just enough like Slater on stage to win us over even before uttering a word. Freeze Your Brain is silly and funny and seductively sung. Where has this guy been?! Next, he’ll be seen as Richard Loeb in Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story.

Our love is God. Let’s go get a slushie.

Lauren McKenna shines as Martha – her spotlit solo Kindergarten Boyfriend is tragically, hilariously poignant – but also as Ms Fleming, stealing the show with her all-singing, all-dancing whole school healing session. We’ll see McKenna next in HR’s Hairspray Arena Spectacular in the role that made Flowers famous.

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Vincent Hooper (Ram Sweeney) and Jakob Ambrose (Kurt Kelly) play to the hilt those horny footballers, earning plenty of laughs and little gasps because, well, they’re cute too. N.B. No cows are tipped during this production.

MD Bev Kennedy leads a sensational sounding band (a pity about the opening night mix) and the ensemble shines in The Me Inside of Me, a surprise reprise of the boys’ hilarious number Blue and an even more surprising gospel number, Dead Gay Son. Cameron Mitchell’s choreography throughout is first class. With a beat change and a break up,Yo Girl successfully builds the tension needed during a tricky, speedy denouement. It’s a tough ending to pull off and this production almost succeeds in creating the same level of horror and humour in the original movie scenes before its upbeat Broadway-worthy finale and extended curtain call. Emma Vine’s inspired set design, Gavan Swift’s lighting and Angela White’s cute costumes contribute vivid colour and distinct style.

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I don’t know how Trevor Ashley made this show happen whilst playing Master of the House Thenadier in Les Mis but he’s done it and he’s done it in the same masterful way. If you miss Heathers here you’ll have to catch it in Melbourne in May, and if you miss it there you should see what you can do to help get it to Broadway. It would be a shame to see Fickman’s underwhelming production go there before Ashley’s does. The red scrunchie should go to Trevor Ashley next. This show wins everything.