-The Theatre City
newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) recently wrote an editorial entitled,
“Something rotten in the state of theatre?” (24/2/04). This is my
reply to that editorial:
many theatres in Melbourne? I think not. Could they be better utilised?
Definitely. There is so much theatrical activity and creativity
in this city that it is bursting at the seams. The reason why so
many Melburnians don't see it is because it is buried away in the
nooks and crannies of small, run-down, out-of-the-way places like
basement art galleries, church hall sheds, disused courthouses,
trades hall meeting chambers and pubs.
our premier theatres The Comedy, The Princess and Her Majesty's
sit dark waiting for the next big money spinner to light them up
again. These theatres need big money spinners in order to pay the
bills. All three theatres are on prime city real estate. The cost
of owning and operating these theatres with or without a show is
prohibitive. Mounting productions in these theatres then becomes
prohibitively expensive for producers wishing to use them. Big producers
(of which there are almost none) take the risk to meet these expenses.
Fledgling drama and musical theatre productions haven't got a chance.
State government financially supported Arts Centre should be supporting
and promoting these composers, writers and performers more vigorously
by producing and performing their work, “Bringing mainstream attention
to artists in the margins” (George C. Wolfe, retiring artistic director,
N.Y. Public Theatre). The government should be providing financial
assistants to the heritage theatre owners so they may fit out their
theatres with state-of-the-art “in house” lighting and sound equipment.
Productions can then easily transfer from The Arts Centre to Exhibition
street for extended runs or expanded productions without the added
expense of hiring lighting and sound equipment from outside contractors.
The independent theatre owners should receive tax break incentives
for booking local content. Local content should be defined as productions
conceived by Australian production teams and containing Australian
casts, musicians (not direct transfers of Broadway and West End
productions such as “Cats”, “Les Miserables,”, “The Producers, Oliver,
Cabaret...”). This gives the independent theatre owners the flexibility
to seek out and book the big multimillion Broadway and West End
smash hits and fill their theatres with local product of the same
calibre during the intervening periods.
regard to ticket sales and attendance, ticket sales will go up when
the ticket prices come down. I speak to hundreds of people who love
the theatre but don't attend mainstream productions more than twice
a year because they are too expensive.
needs to be created between all parties concerned. It has to happen.
It has to happen now. The lives of hundreds of theatricals are at
stake. We are talking about jobs for actors, musicians, composers,
authors, directors, production staff, carpenters, electricians,
visual artists, make up artists, designers….
you at the theatre!”
NEW YEAR! Welcome to 2001
Melburnians may have rung in the New Year of 2004 this past December
31st but for the world of entertainment (specifically musical theatre)
its welcome to 2001.
Broadway Musical/Tony® Award season of 2001 was the year of
The Full Monty
(opened 26 October 2000) and The
Producers (opened 19 April 2001).
Melbourne musical theatre season of 2004 is presenting both of these
musicals and another show that opened in 2001 (but was a contender
for the 2002 Tony® award) with the unusual title of Urinetown
(opened 6 May 2001 off-Broadway, moved to Broadway in August 2001).
been a long time since Australian audiences have been treated to
new and original musical theatre works. Since bidding farewell to
the era of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh mega-musical
productions there has been a drought of original new work. Yes we
have been treated to sterling new productions of Chicago,
and a re-acquaintance once again with the dated rock-musical Hair.
Excluding the short-lived The Witches
of Eastwick in August 2002, audiences
have been fed a diet of ABBA and QUEEN greatest hits thanks to Mamma
Mia! and We
Will Rock You.
Full Monty, Urinetown
and The Producers
bring new and original scores to the Australian stage. The
Full Monty and The
Producers are familiar titles to movie-goers
and have remained faithful to their original source material. Urinetown
stands out from the crowd for two reasons: it is based on an original
idea and has an original title.
reason all three of these shows pass the enjoyment factor test is
that they succeed in combining fantasy with reality. We are reminded
to laugh at ourselves and not take everything in life too seriously,
but at the same time dont take life for granted. Most important
of all, singing about life gives us hope and makes us feel good
addition to providing entertainment these three shows will be providing
some steady employment for our work starved and extremely talented
musical theatre performers. Urinetown
has a limited run as part of the Melbourne Theatre Company season,
The Full Monty
is scheduled to tour and The Producers
is anticipating a long run at the Princess Theatre. This is welcome
relief for the Australian musical theatre industry.
interesting thing to note about all three shows is that they revolve
around the topic of money and in the case of Urinetown
and The Producers,
greed. The protagonists in The Full
Monty are out of work and hatch their
plan to make money out of despair. Urinetown
is at the mercy of corporation heavy Caldwell B. Cladwell who owns
and operates all the toilets in town. Bialystock and Bloom as The
Producers live up to their reputation by trying to do what
every producer aspires to do, make a fortune the fastest way possible.
The cast of The
Full Monty is first rate. This includes
the principles and supporting cast. The sad thing is most of the
audience doesnt even know who is playing what part other than
the few recognisable faces like Paul Mercurio, Michael Veitch and
Val Jellay. So for those people who cant or wont spend
$20 for the over-priced souvenir program, here is a list of the
players (without the glossy photos) that youre applauding
at the end of the show: Maryanne McCormack
Georgie Bukatinsky, Rodney Dobson Dave Bukatinsky,
Matt Heatherington Jerry Lukowski, Danielle Barnes
Pam Lukowski, Max Chanesman/Jared Daperis/Joss Kasper Nathan
Lukowski, Ric Herbert Reg Willoughby, David Harris
Malcolm MacGregor, Rowena Wallace Molly MacGregor, Paul Mercurio
Ethan Girard, Michael Veitch Harold Nichols, Queenie
van de Zandt Vicki Nichols, Milton Craig Nealy Noah
Horse T. Simmons, Richard OBrien Buddy
Keno Walsh, Laura Fitzpatrick Susan Hershey,
Emma Langridge Joanie Lish, Deone Zanotto Estelle
Genovese, Aaron Cash Teddy Slaughter, Donal Forde
Police Sergeant, Paul Hanlon Minister, Scott Irwin
Tony Giordano, Natalie Gilhome, Deni Gordon, Scott Hendry, Bert
Labonte and Adam William. Conrad Helfrich Musical Director
cast list for The Producers
to date is:
Reg Livermore Max Bialystock, Tom Burlinson Leo Bloom,
Bert Newton Franz Liebkind, Tony Sheldon Roger De
Bris, Chloë Dallimore Ulla, Grant Piro Carmen
Ghia, with Phillip Lowe, Anton Berezin, Benjamin J. McHugh, Meredith
OReilly, Stephanie R Simonelli, Julie OReilly, Frank
Hanson, Matt Young, Ilia Streltsov, Indigo Felton, Natalie Marsland,
Lisa Sontag, Anna Burgess, Bianca Campbell, Debora Krizak, Cara
Dinley, Sarah Jane Purnell, Megan West, Sean McGrath, Matt Heywood,
Jeremy Powell and Tony Taylor.
for the Melbourne Theatre Company production of Urinetown
hasnt been completed yet, but it cant get any better
than the line-up of performers Simon Phillips has already signed
up for this production. The cast includes: Kane Alexander, Shane
Bourne, Rhonda Burchmore, Mitchell Butel, Gary Down, Irene Dios,
Colette Mann, Lisa McCune, Adam Murphy and Christen O'Leary.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! to everyone. There is no excuse to sit
at home when there are these terrific shows and performers to see
live, up-front, on-stage.
you at the theatre!