Left – Casey Donovan in flowerchildren (2011)
This week Melbourne audiences were treated to a celebration of Australian written musicals, and the last ten productive years of the company that has brought some of these to our stages, Magnormos.
Act One opened with Nikki Aitken performing Dinner Date from the recent production of Gobsmacked, which set the upbeat tone for this musical evening of theatrical treats. Two new productions were previewed - a terrific staging from Partners (music by Anthony Costanzo, book, lyrics and concept by Peter Fitzpatrick) and the clever Happy People (book, music and lyrics by Matthew Robinson).
Partners, a look at modern relationships and the dilemmas that sometimes arise, featured a strong ensemble that included David Spencer, the vocal talents of David Rogers-Smith and the wonderful Sally Bourne (surely we should be seeing so much more of her on our stages!).
Happy People is a clever and funny take on the backstage/onstage life of a popular children's television show, which highlighted the talents of amongst others Kellie Rode, Alex Rathgeber and Matt Heyward, who delivered a powerful solo.
Act Two brought a fine selection from each of the productions that have been presented since since 2002's Working. Amongst the highlights: Fags Can't Fight (Dutch Courage, 2004), Sing Happy (Flora the Red Menace, 2007), Fly Away (Life's A Circus, 2009) with a powerful performance from Chelsea Plumley, Untitled Opening Number ([Title of Show], 2010) and There's Always a Woman (A Sondheim Triptych: Anyone Can Whistle, 2010).
So many notable performers took part, including Sam Ludeman, Lyall Brooks, Susan-ann Walker and Matthew Robinson, but really it was a case of an over-abundance of talent on stage leaving one with no doubt about not only the quality of these works but of the standard of these performances.
Included in the proceedings, Artistic Director Aaron Joyner named Tony Sheldon (Tony nominated star of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the Musical) and Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) as National and International Patrons, respectively. And as a special event, Schwartz will be returning to Melbourne for 2013's Triptych in his honor - the shows will be announced at a later date.
It was also officially announced that Magnormos' sold-out production of Flowerchildren (2011) will have a return season at the Comedy Theatre next year. Don't miss out!
OzMade Musicals: The Last Ten Years
Venue: The Comedy Theatre
Date: Monday 27 August, 2012