[title of show]
28/02/2013 - 09/03/2013
Four friends. One original musical. Three weeks to write it.
Energy Theatre is proud to present the New Zealand premiere of [title of show] as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival. This Tony Award-nominated musical is “perfect for anyone who’s dared to dream that they can actually get paid for doing what they love,” says director Tabitha Arthur (Skellig, 84 Charing Cross Road) who is completing her Masters of Theatre Arts in Directing, with Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and Victoria University.
Arthur explains that [title of show] speaks to anyone who ever wanted to create, but let their inner critic voice speak too loud. “I think most creative people go through times where we let those voices inside our heads get to us. [title of show] was offered for me to direct at a time where my inner critic was getting all shouty.
“Working on this musical reminds me that not only are there other people in the world who feel the same way I do – but they put a show about it on Broadway!”
[title of show] follows friends Hunter and Jeff who are working to write a musical for the New York Musical Festival in three weeks. While searching for a subject for the show, they realise that their conversations about what to write are more interesting than what they are actually writing, and so the musical they are trying to write becomes the musical you are watching.
With the help of their lady friends Heidi and Susan, the two men explore the challenges of writing and performing their musical. Biting and witty, clever and inspiring, vulnerable and hilarious, this quirky musical comedy chronicles the serious and hilarious moments of following their dreams.
Known for “transporting, entertaining and moving audiences” (Theatreview.org ), Energy Theatre’s mission is to bring exciting, innovative and edgy productions to Wellington and give audiences the opportunity to explore modern musical theatre. This is their sixth production and features Waylon Edwards, William Duignan, Marylouise Thomas, Sarah Andrews Reynolds and Hayden Taylor.
28 February to 9 March 2013
7.30pm. Whitireia Theatre, 25 Vivian Street, Wellington.
Tickets $18-22, available from www.thetheatre.co.nz
Door sales and cash bar available.
Please note, due to adult language this show is not recommended for children.
Confident, energetic, enjoyable
Review by Caoilinn Hughes 01st Mar 2013
A musical comedy about making a musical comedy about writing a musical comedy, in less of a Gertrude Steinean convoluted modernist way and more of a Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search of an Author exuberant, theatrical way.
Importantly, it is funny and musical, so win-win.
Meta-musical [title of show] was created in 2004 by two friends, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, in New York, after they discovered the deadline for script entries to the New York Musical Theatre Festival was in three weeks’ time. They decided to use the three weeks to write a musical, and that musical ended up being about the process (including writer’s block, decision-making, hard graft, collaborative challenges and, conversely, the joy and excitement) of writing a musical.
[title of show] was then performed off-Broadway in 2006, and finally made it to Broadway in 2008, receiving a number of awards along the way.
Energy Theatre’s production of the show in Whitireia Theatre is the New Zealand premiere, and it is a perfect Fringe Festival fit. In fact, performing it as part of the Fringe adds a layer of complexity to the play, as one of its themes is the new writer’s struggle with compromising their work to fit mainstream conventions: can glitz and glamour Broadway accommodate a greenhorn show with just four chairs and a keyboard for a set?
Since this is a tried and tested show, I won’t say too much about the innovative script itself – mostly because it would ruin the effect for anyone going to see it – except that it feels about 15 minutes too long. Others in the audience made the same comment.
Perhaps there’s not much that can be done there, besides a bit of re-direction, since this is not Energy Theatre’s original script (but kudos that they made it so much their own I might have been fooled! That is really something, to make a Broadway hit feel homegrown!) If the script was their creation, I would suggest trimming a song here, a scene there, to sustain its sharp and lively feel. Having said that, the cast of four is impressively energetic and enthusiastic throughout.
Director Tabitha Arthur and Dance Coach Sam McLeod do a great job of directing and choreographing the cast through the highly physical 90-minute musical with their four-chair-set, devoid of props besides mobile phones. There is excellent use of comic timing and character interplay. The physicality is rarely tiresome, a testament to the performers too.
Sarah Andrews Reynolds, as Susan, is particularly impressive in her deliciously varied and sidesplitting physical comedy and line delivery: the standout performance. Christchurch-born William Duignan is likeable and believable as Hunter, and he has a lovely voice. There’s something very understated about his performance that is charming, but he delivers quite a few lines to the back of the stage.
Waylon Edwards as Jeff seems less committed physically, but his voice is undoubtedly rich. MaryLouise Thomas, as Heidi, gets to show off her strong soprano voice in a few solos, but she does her best work leading the group harmonies.
Musical Director Hayden Taylor, who plays the keyboard on-stage, guides the songs fluidly and assuredly. He might rap performers’ figurative knuckles a bit more for the occasional dud note though, if they’re going to make Broadway!
Overall, a confident, energetic, enjoyable meta-musical comedy.
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