Zack Anthony Curran (Fiddler on the Roof, A Lie of the Mind ), Keane Fletcher (We Will Rock You, The Ten Tenors) and Andrew Kroenert (Dream Lover, Fiddler on the Roof) decided they wanted to do a show together.
“We were brainstorming different ideas and I think at some point someone mentioned Judy Garland or Edith Piaf … and then we talked about how tortured their lives were in comparison to the art they produced,” explained Keane Fletcher.
“The conversation then progressed onto someone asking, ‘Have you heard about the 27 Club thing – all these amazing musicians passing away when they were 27?”
The 27 Club. It’s a term used in reference to the unusually high number of musicians who have died at the age of 27.
Curran, Fletcher and Kroenert read through the long list of names listed in The 27 Club and discovered the rich material from these artists, despite the contrast of their troubled lives.
“So we chose our five favourites – and probably the five most famous to concentrate on,” said Fletcher.
Their show, The 27 Club, highlights the music and lives of five members of the so-called 27 Club: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.
Using the music as their starting point, Curran, Fletcher and Kroenert have developed a one hour show that looks at the darker side of the lives of these five members of The 27 Club through the people who knew them and the singers own diaries, in an attempt to consider how they went from great musical talents to such tortured souls.
“Andrew Kroenert is an amazing performer, he does a lot of musical theatre, but he’s such a gifted musician. We’ve got some very faithful arrangements and then some re-workings because our music set up is … ah … well … we don’t have drums and electric guitars because in the Butterfly Club people’s faces would be melted off!” laughed Fletcher.
Fletcher says their show appeals to a broad age range, because so many people are fans of at least one of these big name artists. Songs in the show include Joplin’s ‘Mercedes Benz’, Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ and Cobain’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
Fletcher’s personal favourite song in the show is ‘Chelsea Hotel’. The song was written by Leonard Cohen about his impression of Janis Joplin.
“We do a kind of mash up between that and ‘Piece of My Heart’ by Janis Joplin. That is my favourite one to do,” Fletcher commented.
Keane Fletcher said there is such a broad range of musical styles in the show: from psychedelic rock to country rock to complete grunge and neo jazz.
“But you look at the trajectory of all of their lives and they are so similar. How did these artists, that came from such different backgrounds, follow such a similar path?” asked Fletcher.
“There’s that great myth that you have to be a tortured soul to produce great art … So we look at these lives and how their greatest pieces of work have come out of the most tumultuous times in the lives,” said Fletcher, explaining Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black was written off the back of a tortured relationship and drug use.
“If she hadn’t been in that tortured state we wouldn’t have that album. I don’t think you have to be tortured to produce great art, but in these circumstances, if they weren’t, if they hadn’t had so much going on in their personal lives,we wouldn’t have got these amazing pieces of art.”
Fletcher said the songs of these artists may be catchy, well written numbers, but explained that when you really dissect them, you see they are poetry that has been put to music.
“People don’t realise how intricate and how revealing their songs were – and are.”
Fletcher said this is why people keep going back to the music of these artists.
“They’re not just written as pop hits, they’re like real confessionals,” said Fletcher.
“I think their lives were pretty tumultuous … we were just lucky they had music as an outlet to channel it. I think they would have probably ended in tragedy sooner, so we’re lucky we had them as long as we did.”
The 27 Club plays at The Butterfly Club for a limited season.
FEBRUARY 7-12 at The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Pl
All shows at 8:30pm, 60 minutes no interval