Joshua Robson was performing in the world premiere of King Kong when he first noticed the talents of Angelique Cassimatis. They were covering the roles of Jack and Ann when Robson realised Cassimatis was being underutilised.
Later that year, when Angelique Cassimatis appeared as a finalist in the Rob Guest Endowment Concert, it confirmed her star qualities as a true triple threat performer. Cassimatis performed ‘I Can’t Do It Alone’ from Chicago.
“When I saw her in Rob Guest I basically went, ‘I need to write a show for her because she’s a true triple threat!’,” said Robson.
Joshua Robson regards Angelique Cassimatis as the epitome of a triple threat and wanted to write a show that would showcase her extraordinary talents.
“When I thought about what was the most triple threat type show in musical theatre I thought Chicago, and that ‘Cell Block Tango’ song – that’s the epitome of a triple threat music theatre female song. That then inspired me to write something along those lines,” explained Robson.
That one-woman show is Guilty Pleasures. The book is by Joshua Robson, with original music by Hugo Chiarella and Robert Tripolino (DreamSong) and choreography by Amy Campbell (In the Heights, Oklahoma). Guilty Pleasures had its world premiere at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel to rave reviews.
A lot of has happened since that first premiere season of Guilty Pleasures. Angelique Cassimatis has played Annette in Saturday Night Fever, a Diva in Priscilla in Queen of the Desert and Columbia in Rocky Horror Show, to name just a few of her roles.
Joshua Robson has also been busy treading the boards, most recently as the hilariously scene-stealing, cheating bridegroom ‘Chook’ in Muriel’s Wedding the Musical.
Robson said he produces something when the creative inspiration hits. When randomly looking through archive files on his computer, Guilty Pleasures popped up. Already popular with audiences and critics alike, Robson felt the show could only be better with Cassimatis’ further leading role experience and it was time to bring back Guilty Pleasures. However, looking at the archival footage, Robson could see how the already successful one-woman show could be further improved, with the addition of an extra character.
“It’s not a character you’d expect – it’s a five year old girl. It puts a totally different spin on the whole show and comes at a really important time in the show. It’s been quite heavy and it’s quite a release towards the end of the show,” explained Robson.
Joshua Robson is currently dividing his time between performing and his production company, Joshua Robson Productions. His production of In The Heights transferred from the Hayes Theatre to the Sydney Opera House and has earned Robson a Helpmann Award nomination for Best Musical.
He admits the juggle can be a difficult one at times but enjoys both performing and producing. When asked if he’d prefer a leading role or to produce a big commercial show he replied, “They’re both on my bucket list!”
He also understands the balance of producing a known work compared to writing something new and original.
“There’s an incredible lack of original Australian work,” lamented Robson.
He knows the big ticket sellers are the well-known works and these are needed in the industry to help fund the new and original works. Similarly, his performance work is helping to fund his work as a producer.
Joshua Robson is himself a winner of the Rob Guest Endowment award. Robson’s performance remains the standout performance from any RGE finalist. However but doesn’t plan to write a show to showcase his own extraordinary talents.
“I’ve started my company to provide opportunities for others, not opportunities for myself, and I want to keep it that way,” said Robson, although he admitted he’d happily accept a work written by someone else for him to perform!
With the current #metoo movement, Joshua Robson feels it’s timely to bring back Guilty Pleasures.
“These women are standing up to the men in their lives,” explained Robson, who feels the show might take on a whole new meaning this time round.
Guilty Pleasures explores how “love, passion, jealousy, loneliness and desperation can lead us to react far beyond the limits we ever thought we would”. Cassimatis portrays ordinary women who are driven to acts of extraordinary violence.
This new, updated version of Guilty Pleasures has already debuted in Brisbane, with fans returning several times to see this one hour show.
“There’s so much thrown at you in that time and such a brilliant performance by Ang. You can really unpick it. You could see it three or four times and see new things.”
Joshua Robson encourages audiences who saw Guilty Pleasures last time to return for this latest season.
“Coming back this time, they’ll see a totally new character and a totally new performer with five more years of experience under her belt. Classic musical theatre lovers will love it. Women will really love this show,” said Robson.
Before Chicago hits Melbourne, there is Guilty Pleasures.
Guilty Pleasures is playing at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel this Friday and Saturday only!