Producing one musical is usually enough for a producer, but for Vic Theatre Company’s final season of the year, Glenn Ferguson is staging two shows.
The Last 5 Years opened on Saturday night to rave reviews. Written by American Jason Robert Brown, many musical theatre fans may be familiar with the music, but have not actually seen it staged live. Ferguson admits when he was a performer, The Last 5 Years was one of those “bucket-list” shows.
To portray the two characters in this two-hander musical, Ferguson approached Helpmann Award winner Verity Hunt-Ballard and Green Room Award winner Josh Piterman.
“I thought it would be a bit of a match made in heaven. Both immediately said, ‘Yep, I want to do it’,” said Ferguson.
With such quality performers, Ferguson commented, “You’re not going to see a better version of it.”
However, The Last 5 Years is not the only show being performed in the space at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs. Ferguson is also staging the new Australian musical The Gathering.
Vic Theatre Company hadn’t staged a brand new work, but when writers Belinda Jenkin and Will Hannagan approached Ferguson for assistance, he decided to support this new Australian musical.
“I listened to the songs and thought, ‘This is really great’. This a really cool piece that could be the future of Australian music theatre and that’s something we should all be behind,” explained Ferguson.
“I thought, “I know, what if I put it in the same venue as something that everybody knows, with two people that everybody knows, and have it in conjunction with this new Australian work?’ I thought it was a clever marriage. Hopefully, when audiences see The Last 5 Years they will be interested in seeing The Gathering as well, ” said Ferguson.
The Gathering was recently workshopped at the New York Music Theatre Festival to sold out audiences and has undergone further changes during the rehearsal period for this fortyfivedownstairs season.
Ferguson explained the cast have been an important part of this latest workshop process.
“It’s been an amazing process to watch and be a part of. The cast are so hardworking. I have such an admiration for them,” Ferguson commented.
“The script has changed a 1000 times in 6 months – and then again since we got in the (rehearsal) room. It’s amazing! An integral part of any new Australian work is the re-writing and the cutting. The thing that gets in the way of a lot of new Australian work is the writer who won’t let go of any song, or any scene, or any word, whereas Belinda and Will and Chris (director Chris Parker) have worked so hard together to really create something that is relevant and precise – everything that is in there is absolutely needed to further the story, and we’re really proud of that,” said Ferguson.
With each show having its own set, the alternate performances mean the set is bumped in and out for each show every night.
Glenn Ferguson hopes that theatre goers will come along to see The Last 5 Years and be intrigued to also check out something new in The Gathering. Patrons can save by purchasing tickets for both shows together.
The Gathering opens on Wednesday 30th November.
The Last 5 Years and The Gathering are playing at fortyfivedownstairs for a limited season.
Photo Credit: James Terry