On Friday, May 18, Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre announced the final production to complete their 2013 season line up. Over the course of 5 months, the company will stage a return of their 2009 sell-out production of Forbidden Broadway, the Australian Premiere of the political punk-rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and will also include one of the genres most infamous shows of all time, the revised and re-imagined production of Carrie: The Musical.
Since their first production in 2008, Reefer Madness starring Barry Crocker, Squabbalogic have been making a name for themselves as Sydney’s premiere boutique music theatre company, having produced some very popular, but seldom seen in Australia shows, such as Forbidden Broadway, Thrill Me, [title of show], and A New Brain. Their approach of staging more intimate, quirkier musicals has proved a hit with audiences and performers, with their January production, the Australian Premiere of Ordinary Days, attracting the likes of Rachel beck, Michael Falzon and Erica Lovell.
Their 2013 season contains two shows previously unseen in Australia. The revised version of Carrie: the Musical moves away from the high-production, Broadway style of musical theatre for a more intimate and character-focused story. Squabbalogic's Artistic Director Jay James Moody, who will be directing Carrie, says that even though the show has been reduced in scale it will still produce some interesting challenges for staging. Perhaps the most notorious image from the film and original musical is that of the central character covered in blood in the third act. James-Moody jokes that perhaps the first few rows of their production will need to be declared a splash-zone, and that merchandising in the form of plain-white shirts to be worn during the show might provide a memorable, blood-splattered keepsake for audiences.
Despite the legendary gore of the story, James-Moody says that what really attracted him to the show was that the first two-thirds present a fairly relatable story of a bullied teenager who struggles with people at school as well as an oppressive mother at home. James-Moody is looking forward to the challenge of bringing that story to life in Squabbalogic’s production, and letting it play as prominent a role in the audience’s experience of the show as the well-known telekinetic slaughter-fest of the final story.
Squabbalogic’s Associate Director, Craig Stewart, is directing the Australian premiere of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Described variously as a punk rock musical, or sometimes as ‘emo-rock’, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson tells the story of Andrew Jackson’s attempts to return political power to the public, in the lead up to his run for the U.S. presidency. The show received a Tony Award nomination for best book, and won the Drama Desk award for Best Book as well as the outer Critics Circle Award for 2013 Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical.
Stewart first encountered the recording of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the same time that he heard the soundtrack of Book of Mormon. He had expected the Book of Mormon soundtrack to be a personal favourite, but quickly found himself paying a lot more attention to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. What attracted Stewart to the show was the recognisable story of political turmoil that resonate beyond the time and place of Andrew Jackson’s story. Just like Australian parliament after the 2011 election, Andrew Jackson had a tumultuous election experience that actually saw him win the popular vote, receiving the largest number of individual votes, but lost the electoral-college vote, meaning he lost the presidency. Stewart says Squabbalogic deliberately tried to stage this production as close to the Australian election as possible, because there are many parallels to be drawn between the absurdity of politics depicted in the play, and the events we see played out in our own election campaigns.
Stewart says that what he also loves about this show is the sense of American politics and culture as a defiant teenager that is captured by the rock music style that accompanies the story of political rise, betrayal and downfall that is Jackson’s first run at the presidency. Initial designs for the show involve starting with a pristine set that is slowly trashed as the story develops. Stewart says they drew some inspiration from the tale of Jackson’s first inauguration ball, when he finally did win the presidential election in 1828. He was the first president to make his inauguration ball open to the public, and such a crowd turned up to the White House, and caused such damage, that the staff relocated the food and alcohol to the lawn in order to draw out the crowds, and then locked the doors behind them as they left. Staging this production in the Factory Theatre, Squabbalogic aims to present a live-music, rock band experience for the audience, enhancing the punk-rock stylings of the music.
Together with a return season of Forbidden Broadway, the musical theatre review show that has been a long standing favourite of Broadway, Squabbalogic’s 2013 season promises some fun new challenges for audiences and performers. More information about their productions, auditions and tickets can be found at their newly designed and re-branded website, at www.squabbalogic.com.