Joining the cast of the new Australian musical recording, Any Moment, is Greenroom Award nominated actor Jonathan Hickey. Hickey, a graduate from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, is fluent in Italian and played Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza at Arts Centre Melbourne in 2017. He’s been making waves in the Brisbane theatre scene, working on productions of A Little Night Music, Bare and touring with Opera Queensland. I spoke to Hickey while he was touring regional Queensland about what it’s like to join the recording of Any Moment, and what it means to him to be involved in new Australian work.
“I wasn’t sure if I was able to do the production, as I’m on tour and then I head down to Sydney for a production there, but fortunately I have a few weeks spare so I can be involved,” Hickey laughed.
“It’s called Any Moment and it’s set over the course of 24 hours, and each song and scene takes place in the one town. The musical goes into different people’s lives throughout the course of the day; it begins at midnight and progresses through the everyday stories that unfold minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. Inspired by the famous John Lennon quote, ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’ – it’s looking at the lives of everyday people and everyday day situations. Brad (McCaw, writer of the show) says it aims to highlight the beauty and fragility of life, asking if the ultimate theme for all human beings is that all of our lives will play out one minute at a time, who knows what would and could happen at any moment,” he explained.
This original two-act revue, with music and lyrics by Bradley McCaw, is inspired by such works as Closer Than Ever, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Songs For A New World, and I’m getting strong Working vibes, in unfolding the everyday, normal stories of the ‘average’ people. Old Fashioned Production Co. is currently fundraising through KickStarter for support to get a cast recording underway for the show, the first step in a longer plan to stage the work professionally in Queensland before 2021.
“I’ve only had two sessions from Brad; I’m only doing a quartet and a solo piece which I haven’t even heard myself! He has given me a brief on what the show is about, and his plan for the future of the production. The music is great, what I have heard is really great stuff. It’s more of a turn on Australian stories, with truck drivers on the road to see their families, there’s one song about a girl who’s at a party, and she’s drunk and is that all she’s worth… that’s only two little stories and I assume there’s heaps more! It talks about the lives of all these different people, a song cycle like Songs From A New World, all separate themes that just links into one,” Hickey revealed.
Jonathan Hickey has only heard parts of the show and one of his songs, but loves the music and the influences he is hearing.
“He reminds me a lot of Jason Robert Brown, a bit of a jazz theme. It’s got that contemporary musical theatre feel, but in his own style. A jazzy, blues feel, with pop – Brad likes to play a lot of pop songs and I think that’s evident in his music, that influence. One of the songs I was singing has a very country blues feel… very The Last Five Years feel…”
Hickey begins to sing for the second time in the interview, which is heaven to listen to. Having seen him in The Light in the Piazza in 2017, we talked about how this is different to his work in opera.
“I’m classically trained, more of a lyrical background. I was a boy soprano for St John’s Boys Choir for five years… then my voice broke and I didn’t sing for a while. I did a musical theatre course, but I guess that foundation of being a boy soprano and that classical training and being a violinist, that helped me, and I had a great singing teacher at uni at the Queensland Con. I was a more lyrical voice, which enabled me to sing the repertoire of The Light in the Piazza; I’m sort of leaning towards that. I’d love to one-day branch into opera as well as musical theatre! I think my voice type suits other classical material, like Andrew Lloyd Webber … I’m doing Aspects of Love at the Hayes at the end of the year… the music fits my voice very well!” Hickey said.
“The Light in the Piazza was a big break for me, then I had a year off where I didn’t really do that much. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying, things weren’t really coming my way. I decided to go overseas for a couple of months. I ended up meeting a guy on the train in the UK, and we got chatting about what we did, and he said, ‘I was in the original Phantom for five years!’ Wow. When I got back to Brisbane I did an Underground Opera gig, and I did a concert of A Little Night Music at the Powerhouse, and then Bare at the Powerhouse… and then next to Sydney to do Aspects. This year has been a really busy year, being able to do theatre all year!“ Hickey said about leading up to this recording project.
He’s a Brisbane local, but spends plenty of time performing in other cities. I asked about the local theatre scene and whether enough theatre is being done in Queensland, as we’re always talking about Melbourne and Sydney as hubs for new work to thrive in.
“Theatre is happening in Brisbane, and it’s really exciting – we have productions like Rent and we just did Bare at the Powerhouse, with a nearly sold out season. They’re putting on Spring Awakening … It’s interesting, because there are producers who are trying to make it a bigger industry in Brisbane. It’s so often you see a performer having to move down to Melbourne and Sydney to get work, and that’s what I’ve been doing: I’ve been flying down to do shows. I don’t want to say it’s a different level, because it’s such a high standard in Brisbane, because it seems like all the creative of all the many stage shows are down in Sydney and Melbourne, and we’re kind of left out in that regards, but there is so much going on in Brisbane, and all the main stage shows come here, it’s just that you have to be in Sydney or Melbourne to audition for them. Theatre is definitely happening in Brisbane – I’ve worked the whole year doing profit share gigs and other work, so that’s been really great.”
There are so many Australian stories, and they need to be on our stage. So much of our musical theatre these days is American musicals, and there’s definitely a place for more Australian stories on our stages. That is McCaw’s aim with the recording, and what Hickey is happy to be helping with.
“I’ve met Brad a couple of times and unfortunately wasn’t able to be part of his recent project, but he messaged me about this one and I was definitely keen. I’ve never really had the experience of working on any new musicals. It’s been really cool to be working with Brad on something he just wrote, and being able to go back and forth and put my own take on it – it’s been an amazing experience working on music that’s never been done before, and I’d love to do more of it. As a performer, it’s amazing to do your own take on a piece and to be the first person to work on it.”
The recording will have 17 new Australia songs, and also features Trevor Jones, Kurt Phelan, Liz Buchanan, Kathryn McIntyre, and a host of other fantastic Australian performers, with a live five-piece rock band.
The recording is being made possible with the support of Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse and Hayward Street Studios.
Get behind them before their KickStarter closes on Monday 10th of September at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/anymoment/original-concept-recording-of-any-moment-a-new-mus/community