Every two weeks the Home Grown Spotlight will shine the followspot on one of the Aussie originals available for purchase on the Home Grown website. Featuring fun interviews with writers and performers to give everyone some backstage insight into what it takes to create new Australian musical-theatre.
This week we start with…
Composer: Matthew Lee Robinson
Where to find it: http://www.homegrownaus.com/store/boyband
Question Time with Matthew Lee Robinson
Could you please briefly walk us through the process of writing your song ‘Boyband‘?
I was living in South Yarra at the time, and as always, my keyboard lived in my bedroom. I knew I wanted to write a show about the onstage and offstage life of a children’s television performing group like Hi-5, and I’d been imagining a moment in the show when the Nathan Foley of the group (who’d been in Hi-5 for ten years at that stage) had to decide if he was going to stick with it or pursue his life-long dream of being a pop star. That combined with the fact that I used to imitate the Backstreet Boys as a child made for some straight up storytelling. Every time the song hit a new verse, bridge or key change, it just got more real!
What was it like performing ‘Boyband‘ at the 2016 Junior Theater Festival?
I’ve never experienced anything like it! 5,800 elementary, middle and high school students from around the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and South Korea gathered in Atlanta to perform, compete and immerse themselves in everything musical theatre! I’d performed ‘Boyband’ the night before for 400 people in the convention centre atrium. Then the next morning, 15 minutes before the 5,800 strong audience settled in to watch a concert and hear interviews with theatre superstars like Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect), Pasek & Paul (A Christmas Story), Corey Cott (Newsies), Ryann Redmond (If/Then), the list goes on…iTheatrics CEO Tim McDonald asked me to close the concert with ‘Boyband’. Needless to say, I hadn’t warmed up my top Bb. No, however, was not an option. I felt like Liza Minnelli in that scene from Boy From Oz where she steps on stage at the last minute and sings ‘Sure Thing Baby’ (which is one of the campest thoughts I’ve ever had). The crowd went nuts. I signed programs and had selfies with the kids on and off for five hours afterwards. The iTheatrics team who put the Festival together are superstars!
You’ve had some pretty stellar audience reactions to this song. Can you tell us about the time you sang it for Liza Minnelli?
Anyone who’s been to Cast Party at Birdland on a Monday night in New York knows the host, Jim Caruso, knows how to draw a crowd. Jim put a couple of seats aside for me one night, I raced from watching a reading Downtown and I was third singer up (it’s an open mic night that goes for a good three hours at least!). I sat at the grand piano, played and sang ‘Boyband’, and on the way back to my seat I saw a figure draped in black standing with her arms outstretched saying, “You’re just fabulous! Where did you come from?” It was Liza Minnelli. We bear hugged. I died. She’d been sitting behind us the whole time.
Find the sheet music to ‘Boyband’ at www.homegrownaus.com, along with many more Australian songs from some of the country’s top writers. See you in two weeks!