We had a TP Talk thread a while ago called Blood Bros with no singing? that got a few people well and truly ruffled. Well that show opens tonight in Emerald and I got to chat with director Tanya Ryder-Barnes.
On reading the thread, Ryder-Barnes responded, saying: "This is just why I LOVE the theatre – what a mix of passion/aggression and reaction! Isn't this why we love it so much!!"
Cast members Jacqui, Amber and, Mat in rehearsal.
Ryder-Barnes explained her vision to me: "1. The original intention was to do a play with music rather than a musical – the way Will Russell intended it. The idea was to think outside the box and to create the soundscape from streetscapes and sounds – like the Tap Dogs, etc. We are a small community and, sure, we have some amazing talent, but asking only singers to audition is far too restrictive. I was trying to avoid that 'Broadway' expectation as the show has a fantastic score but we are a small budget company that's short on time and musicians! None of the music in our show is pre-recorded, it's organic and real and it's happening right now in this honest, open performance.
"2. I wanted to set the show in Australia, not Liverpool. People don't realise that Liverpool isn't even mentioned in the script! I was actually born in London and studied in Liverpool before moving to Australia – the director is English but the cast is Australian! I'm a firm believer that you have to be able to relate to theatre, bond with the characters and situations, and I think the setting works fantastically. The show still delivers the same message as [Russell] intended but it brings the action closer to the local community's heart. I'm not trying to mask the themes – class, poverty, wealth, hate, suspicion, and guilt aren't only found in Liverpool!"
Diami, Holly, Trent, and Georgie.
"The people who interpreted the audition listing as the show having 'no singing' are wrong – I said that singing wasn't essential. Some people who auditioned would never have auditioned for a musical and this gave them the opportunity to be involved and get the experience of bonding and working with new people. Some of those who auditioned not expecting to sing are now singing with the support of the cast and creative team. You can see they want to – they really want to give it a go – and the audition requirements gave them that opportunity."
Gemco is a small theatre company in the hills district of VIC intent on supporting their community.
"Tracey Wadelton, who plays Mrs. Johnstone, has never been on stage before. She has the voice of an angel and is a director's dream because she has absolutely no preconceptions. She's pure as the driven snow. Mat Greenaway, who plays one of the other leads, is the son of Gemco's founder, David Greenaway, so that's what we mean about keeping it in the community."
"I honestly loved the reaction to the [TP Talk] thread – it's inspiring! I hope people will see this show and appreciate our interpretation but also consider the importance of thinking outside the box. Our goal is to provide opportunities and entertainment to the local community – we're not trying to turn a tractor into a Mercedes."
Blood Brothers opens tonight at the Gem Theatre, Emerald – click here for more info.