Gilligan’s Island first aired on television in the 1960s, but thanks to countless reruns it’s a program well known to multiple generations of audiences. However, while many people are familiar with the tv series, very few know of the musical stage adaptation. Gilligan’s Island: The Musical features a book by the original series creators, Sherwood Schwartz and Lloyd J Schwartz, and original music by Hope Juber and Laurence Juber (guitarist for Paul McCartney and Wings).
“The vision for the musical is essentially relying on fifty years of nostalgia for an audience, because this tv show and these seven characters have been in our households across the world for fifty years,” explained Director, James Cutler.
Bringing Gilligan’s Island: The Musical to the stage brings some interesting challenges. Not only is there the usual singing, dancing and acting required of musical theatre performers, there is also the extra element of the physical comedy and clowning.
“It’s a painstaking and arduous sort of rehearsal process and we have very little time to pull it together, so it’s making the most of every moment of rehearsal,” said Cutler, who explained the comedy requires carefully measured out timing and a natural chemistry between the performers.
Cutler is aware that many of the audience members will already know and love the series and feels it is very important to maintain the integrity and nostalgia of the piece.
However, whilst remaining true to what audiences will already know, James Cutler also wants to find a way to give the story a fresh take that will appeal to modern audiences, relying not only the source material but also his own imagination.
“… so that it becomes as riotous for us today as it did back then.”
James Cutler has spent hours and hours looking back at old episodes of Gilligan’s Island in order to capture the essence and flavour of the original piece and establish the pace of the comedy.
Cutler describes the music of this stage show is a mix of folk, calypso and the “1960s fun in the sun Beach Boys sort of sound that would have been played on the radio in that era”.
“It’s got that beautiful flair that comes with all of those hidden gems of musicals that you kind of didn’t know existed.”
The musical is centered around Gilligan, however as Cutler explains this is very much an ensemble piece.
“Gilligan sits at the centre of the drama, after all it is his island, but it is completely a seven hander and you need seven equally strong, well balanced actors who are all evenly keeled … otherwise you’ll rock the boat and capsize the whole thing,” laughed Cutler.
While Cutler expects that most audience members coming to see this musical will already be fans of Gilligan’s Island, the musical doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the show.
“It requires no prior knowledge whatsoever. The story is laid out in the opening thirty seconds in the ‘Ballad of Gilligan’s Island’. We know that there are seven characters trapped on the island and that’s all you need to know as a starting point. The rest all unfolds in the drama. Whether you know everything about it or nothing about it you’re still going to get so much out of it,” explained Cutler.
Whether Maryann was your favourite, you love the quirkiness of Gilligan, the inventions of the Professor, you’re on Team Ginger or you’re yet to be introduced to the hilarious world of Gilligan’s Island, there is something for everyone in this fun-for -all-ages musical comedy.
Gilligan’s Island: The Musical opens at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel on Thursday 15th February and plays for a limited season.
For more information and tickets: https://www.gilligansislandthemusical.com.au/