Following the sell-out success of its previous Mystery Musical productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Hello, Dolly and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre is back with its fundraiser with a difference, inviting audiences along for another evening of surprise entertainment at Mystery Musical #4.
For the benefit of those unacquainted with Squabbalogic’s Mystery Musical concept, the event will involve the company presenting a one-off staged reading (and singing) of a musical theatre classic, the identity of which will only be revealed as the performance itself begins! The fun takes place next Wednesday 3 August at Sydney’s Seymour Centre.
The cast for Mystery Musical #4 will include Martin Crewes, Caitlin Berry, Simon McLachlan, Stephanie Priest, Mark Simpson, Brendan Hay, Nathan Farrow, Jim Burns, Courtney Glass, Brent O’Neill, Stephen Madsen, Garth Saville, Rowan Witt and Garry Scale, appearing alongside a full ensemble of emerging theatre performers.
Musical direction will be by Hayden Barltrop (Squabbalogic’s Grey Gardens) and choreography by Alexandra Lewtas (Squabbalogic’s The Original Grease), and at the helm of the entire production is the esteemed international director and actor, Nicholas Hammond, best known to Australians as the actor who portrayed Friedrich von Trapp in the classic film The Sound of Music.
Theatre People had the privilege of talking with Hammond about the upcoming Mystery Musical.
“It’s a great chance to do something that’s a fundraiser and for a good cause,” he says.
So, how did Hammond come to have directorial responsibilities for the latest chapter of the Squabbalogic fundraiser?
“I worked with Jay James before in a production of She loves me that I directed, and I’ve directed a couple of other musicals for Neglected [Musicals]. I did Dear World and I did Girl Crazy,” Hammond tells Theatre People.
“I love doing these because I think it’s an opportunity for a Sydney audience to see a show that… wouldn’t necessarily be seen on a regular basis or to see a glimmer of great Broadway shows and great musical theatre done in a presentational way, where they can see how much talent there is here locally to do these kinds of things. To me, it’s a real pleasure.
“Of course, there’s never enough time, and you’re always frustrated because you do the show and then you think, ‘Now, we’re ready to do the show!’ But it’s always that way, and [the audience] seems to have a terrific time… So I’m really looking forward to working with Jay James again. I think it’s going to be great fun and, also, a number of the actors who are in it are actors I’ve worked with before or whose work I’ve admired for a long time.
“It’s a really good opportunity to do a presentation of wonderful musical theatre.”
Hammond says he likes to do whatever he can to support those who invest their time in promoting and supporting musical theatre in both Sydney and across the country, and he’s excited to have the opportunity to work with up-and-coming artists on the project.
“I don’t pretend to know everything, but I have picked up a little bit a long the way… You work with people who are on their way up the ladder and it’s a way of passing the torch to another generation and sharing what you’ve learned… and I just think that’s what theatre is all about.”
Hammond talks about his own experience as a young actor.
“I remember so much appreciating and getting so much out of the older, senior artists that I had a chance to work with,” he says.
He tells Theatre People that supporting fundraising events like Squabbalogic’s Mystery Musicals can make a huge difference to the fortunes of a company.
“As you know, arts subsidies across the board have been radically cut… For small independent companies like this, it makes a difference between the company surviving and not surviving,” says Hammond.
“Small companies survive on the patronage of their audience, and that’s why these mystery musicals are an opportunity to springboard and bankroll a major production that will then be something a great deal of people can see and enjoy.
“So, everyone who buys a ticket to one of these is, in a way, a shareholder in the company, and is a patron of Squabbalogic and a patron of musical theatre… It’s absolutely providing the lifeblood that is necessary to keep this kind of theatre company going.”
So, will Hammond divulge any clue as to the identity of the work selected to be Mystery Musical #4?
“It’s a fabulous show, and I can promise you, within the first eight bars of the first musical number, every single person at the Seymour Centre will know exactly what show it is and they will be thrilled!
“That’s the only hint I’m going to give you.”
MYSTERY MUSICAL #4
Date: Wednesday, 3rd August 2016
Tickets: Executive $98 / Premium $78 / A-Reserve $58 / B-Reserve $38 / C-Reserve $28
Venue: The Everest Theatre, the Seymour Centre (Corner City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale)
For more information or bookings, visit www.seymourcentre.com or phone the Seymour Centre Box Office on (02) 9351 7940