Recent off-Broadway musicals like I Love You Because… and The Last Five Years have sought to chart the
story of a relationship, from beginning to end, and enjoyed substantial success. The new musical from
local talent Rowland Brachê and Lauren Seymour, Once We Were, has taken on an even more daunting
task: to tell the story of three different couples, in different decades, as they fall in and out of love.

Brachê explains that, for his first musical, he was aiming for simplicity: “I wanted to take a relatively
simple story, a simple topic, and make it as original as possible. And what could be more relevant than
relationships? It’s something that applies to everyone.”

He began writing in June 2009 and had already written sixteen songs and much of the script when he
asked Seymour to come on board in February 2010. “I could handle the music, but the script needed a
lot of work. I needed someone who could write to get it good.”

Seymour, who is co-directing the production with seasoned cabaret director Kim Edwards, says: “The
show as we see it now is very different to the original idea. It has two different time periods – one is
set in the 1980s, and then there is a more contemporary story… we wanted to examine relationships,
to show that over time, people make the same mistakes, to look at how different people deal with the
same problems.”

Brachê, who also acts as Musical Director for the show, sees this as the primary thing to differentiate
the musical from similar shows which examine relationships: “Similar musicals just focus on gay, or just
focus on straight relationships. We’ve integrated three different couples, one gay, one lesbian, one
straight. Because no matter whether you’re gay or straight, you’re encountering the same problems and

However, the musical integrates more than just sexual relationships. Seymour explains: “It’s also about
friendships and family relationships because relationships are never just about two people. There are
always other pressures and other people who feel like they are involved.”

The cast of twelve were found through friends and acquaintances and there was no audition
process. “We handpicked the cast,” Seymour says. “We knew most of them through our contacts in the
amateur theatre community and four of the lead roles were written specifically for those cast members.
I’ve been involved in amateur theatre for six or seven years; you get to know a lot of people and I feel
that we have a really strong cast. ”

The rehearsal period has been running for over two months and Brachê seems confident that the show
will be ready in time for its June 24 opening. “I’m just really excited. I’m not worried at all. We have a
great cast and we’re very prepared. ”

Seymour adds, “The cast is easily at the standard of professional shows you will see. We have an eleven-
piece band and it’s a really high quality show. I am apprehensive of course because it’s something that
hasn’t been done before, and there’s always a risk associated with a new show, but I’m confident that
it’s going to be great. ”

The cast are paid, which Brachê states was very important: “We budgeted that cost in, because we know
that there is a risk involved in doing something which hasn’t been done before. With most amateur
shows, you audition because you love the show or you know the music, but something like this… we
needed the cast to have faith that it would be good, so they’re getting paid. I’ve done an original show
before though (as an actor), and it is a very rewarding experience. I think there’s no expectations from
the audience so you can truly make a character your own. ”

Seymour hopes that, if the show is a success, it will encourage more local writers and directors to pursue
their dream of theatrical success. “It shows it’s possible. Lots of people have aspirations – but this shows
it is able to be done. ”

The passion that both clearly feel for the amateur theatre scene in Melbourne is palpable. Brachê has
the last word: “People should come and support original musical theatre. They’ll get to see something
new, before everyone else. Melbourne is really great at supporting international theatre, but stuff needs
to grow here. People in the theatre community and the wider general public should come and support

Tickets to Once We Were are available online at (go to buy tickets, then
search “Once We Were”) or through the booking line: 0487 487 667.

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