Emerging Australian musical theatre composer Madeleine Nicole Hale is preparing to take Melbourne audiences on an epic new musical journey. She has written a brand-new show and as it progresses in its development, it has attracted a first-rate creative team from some of the biggest shows in Australia over the last couple of years.
AENEAS, The Musical is a tale of life and death, love and war, displacement and homecoming, based on Virgil’s The Aeneid and a staged reading of Act 1 will take place at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 16th November.
Aeneas is a different kind of hero. He is called upon by the gods to lead his people across the sea in search of a new home as the city of Troy is falling. At the hands of the vengeful goddess Juno, the Trojans are shipwrecked in Carthage where they are welcomed by the beautiful Queen Dido. Aeneas falls in love but must ultimately choose between following his heart and following his destiny.
It’s a show that explores the futility of war,” Hale explains. “It’s a story about refugees and their journey, of self-discovery and love. These are universal and enduring themes for a modern audience.”
Madeleine Hale is a commercial lawyer, teaches as an associate of law at Monash University and a trained cellist and soprano. She toured internationally as lead cellist for the Chamber Strings of Melbourne for five years, but wanted to branch out into other genres like musical theatre, soundtracks and pop.
“I grew up reading classic mythology. At school I studied Latin and read The Aeneid with an amazing teacher who brought the story to life and I always thought it would make a great musical.”
Inspired by the big French musicals like Notre-Dame de Paris and having seen the You Tube phenomenon of A Very Potter Musical, she realised that it is possible for young people to write and produce successful musical theatre.
AENEAS, The Musical was written over a 5 year period. “I started with the first scene and then the first song. The hardest part was trying to condense the background story into the musical in a way that people understand. It takes a lot of self-belief but I believe in the work.”
So far, Madeleine Hale has self-funded the development of the show with money she saved while working as a lawyer.
“I have visualised every scene, so the challenge is bringing it to life the way I see it in my head.”
She has enlisted the help of James Mustafa as Musical Director and Lauren McKenna as the show’s Artistic Director.
“Having a female director is rare and exciting. There are not many female role models who are theatre writers or directors. I love that this very masculine musical is written and directed by women. Maybe it will provide a different insight into the relationship between Aeneas and Dido.”
Casting the show was so important that Hale researched and handpicked every actor who will bring her creation to life for the very first time. Zoy Frangos (Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar) plays the title role of Aeneas. Olivia Charalambous (Puffs), plays Juno, Elisa Colla (My Fair Lady) plays Venus and Akina Edmonds (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) plays Dido.
“Aside from the male lead, it’s great to give actresses strong meaty parts”.
Over the last couple of years Australian theatre has played host to a number of revivals and jukebox musicals so it’s exciting to hear original music in an original production based on this classical masterpiece.
“I realised I had to push my own work. Life is short and you’ve got to do what you love to do, so if I don’t do it now I never will.”
This reading of Act 1 will debut to an intimate audience at the Primrose Potter Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre. While it gives Hale a chance to see and hear the work come to life, it allows her to gauge audience reaction. It also gives an opportunity for any potential producers to get a taste of the show should they want to be part of its future development.
Demo versions of three songs are available for download at Madeleine Hale’s website, including the beautiful ballad, ‘Sail Away’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, a powerful torch song recently performed live at Home Grown at Chapel off Chapel.
“These stories are timeless and speak to everybody, especially people from the Greek and Italian community. There is an innate understanding. Regardless, everybody needs a hero.”
AENEAS, The Musical: A Staged Reading of Act 1 is exclusively playing at Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 16 November 2018 at 7pm. Tickets are $10 (plus booking fee) and are selling fast.
Tickets available at the following link https://www.melbournerecital.com.au/events/2018/aeneas-the-musical-a-staged-reading-of-act-1/
Listen to some of the songs from the show at https://www.madeleinenicolehale.com/music