Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A special preview of [title of show]

No, there wasn't an error in the headline. The title of the show is [title of show]. The Broadway musical is about two struggling New York writers creating a musical for a theatre festival which they hope will go all the way to Broadway. 
Three weeks before entries close they have nothing just the form with those square brackets where they were to insert the entry's title. The creators, Jeff Bowen Brook and Hunter Bell, decided it looked fine just like that. So [title of show] became the title of the show. 
Alex Woodward, the artistic director and founder of Understudy Productions, admits it's not the easiest title to market. 
"I've had people say 'did you stuff up this email'?" admits Alex.
With less than a week before the  Brisbane-based production company opens [title of show] at the Hayward Street Studios at Stafford, Alex admits to being permanently stressed but excited.
Speaking outside the rehearsal space in the Burke Street Studios in Woolloongabba, Alex says there are challenges in attracting attention for lesser known musicals. But, he says, the philosophy of Understudy Productions is not about playing it safe. "It's much harder, but part of what I really wanted to do with Understudy Productions is I wanted to put on works that don't usually get done or if they are works that have been done I wanted to do them in really, really different ways."
Another challenge is that in the original Broadway production Jeff and Hunter play themselves. Alex isn't fazed by that.
"I always come from the perspective that you can never be that person but I can find the similarities in myself and the other performers can find the similarities with the other characters," he says. "I also think there is no point in doing a show exactly the same as its been done. What's the point? Why bother. If people have seen it, why bother?"
Of course, not all promoters or artistic directors share that point of view, given the high rate of repeat seasons of top performing musicals to our city.
"I think it's just because it's very safe. Doing this is such a risk from a producing point of view, money wise. If you are a big company you want to do something you know is going to put bums on seats."
But, Alex says, Brisbane has shown itself to be a city whose residents have a huge appetite for musical theatre and it is now time for the independent scene to step up and provide new opportunities.
"I think it's the job of the independent arts scene to put those shows on that we don't usually get. There are finally some theatres here in Brisbane we are trying to do that with."
He lists the high caliber performing arts training programs in Brisbane and says it should no longer be the expectation that the graduates need to move to Sydney or Melbourne to find work.
"We just need the hubs to perform and producers to put the shows on for people to perform. We don't need to move. We just need people to grow the culture."
[title of show] is one more step along the part to achieving that.
Alex says the music is clever, the show is funny and it's something Brisbane's musical theatre junkies will take to if they give it a go.
"This is great for Brisbane audiences. It's funny. It's not something you get to see all that often here. It's exciting in that sense."
[title of show] stars Alex, Jason McGovern, Aurelie Rogue and Lauren McKenna. 
Tickets are available from the Hayward Street Studios website. Listen to our full interview with Alex Woodward here.


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