On the wintery night of August 21st, three friends travelled through the city to support another friend cast in a new musical work. What they walked into was something truly moving, as they were able to view the exploration of both turning back and moving on.
Performing at the Guild Theatre at Melbourne University, as part of the artistic festival MUDFEST2015, All The Time – a new musical by Jess Newman – premiered in a three night season. This was Newman’s latest work and was presented in the form of a song cycle. The sets, lighting, and staging were stripped back, minimalistic and bare, leaving the vision to the audience’s imagination. Newman – the composer – and the cast (Nelson Gardner, Brittany Lewis, Matthew Holt, and Natasha Bassett), treated the audience to such a fresh, contemporary, emotionally challenging lyrical score that left you wondering “what if?”.
In unexpected ways, All The Time focuses around two families who are bound together by a hit and run accident. Through memories and piecing together the past, the truth is able to emerge. Like pieces of a puzzle the story is told in a series of non-linear fragmented memories about the four main characters; Lucy, Peter, Older Lucy, and The Driver. The several storyline’s include a guilty conscience, a wife’s emotional obsession with the past, meeting “the one”, a broken home, and an affair. These stories were portrayed in such musical numbers as ‘Souvenir’, ‘Air’, ‘Moment to Moment’, ‘A Thousand Words’, the stunning ‘Now and Then’, and this reviewers personal favourite ‘All This Time’.
Newman, an actor/composer, is a graduate of 16th Street Actors Studio and is currently studying composition at the Victorian College of the Arts. It is no hidden fact that this composer is a talent to be reckoned with and will in no time be creating new works for the Melbourne musical theatre scene, if he isn’t snapped up internationally before then. Newman’s acting career has included The Merchant of Venice, The Pillowman, The Tempest – earning him the Union House Theatre Acting Scholarship. As a composer/song writer, Newman has been mentored by Broadway legend John Bucchino, has contributed to the score of animated musical film Out of the Woods (as part of ACMI), and has his first musical, Einstein: Master of the Universe, going into production 2015-2016.
All The Time pushes musical theatre boundaries through a multi-dimensional and emotional journey of love, loss, the past, and the ever moving future. Newman, although still studying, is clearly passionate and driven to deliver musical theatre to the wider national (and hopefully international) audiences and has his own ideas of what theatre can be and who it can reach.
This reviewer truly and honestly thoroughly enjoyed his night at the theatre and looks forward to the day he attends the full scale musical production of All The Time.