As a young child, Joseph May-Dessmann had always been fascinated by the character of Jack Frost. Two years ago he was sitting in a Richmond restaurant when he asked his friend what she thought about the idea of a Jack Frost musical. She was intrigued by the concept and from there Joseph May-Dessmann began to form a potential plot.
About eight months later, an early version of Jack Frost was submitted to Home Grown Australia for their Grassroots Initiative Scheme. The show was accepted and workshopped with a group of actors before being performed to a panel of industry experts.
“That went really well. We got some really great feedback from the panel. That was the catalyst for how the show is running now,” explained May-Dessmann.
One of the changes was to drop the American accents they’d first adopted in preference for Australian voices.
“The first version of the show was almost cartoon-like, very magical fantasy based, and after the workshop feedback we were sort of confused with what these characters were doing in this fantasy world, so we decided to add a bit of naturalism and bring in some Australian themes.”
Joseph May-Dessmann’s original inspiration for Jack Frost came from German and Swiss folklore, although he admits there’s not much available.
“Generally there’s not much based on his folklore, other than he created seasons. Funnily enough, autumn was his first season, even though he’s winter based,” explained May-Dessmann.
May-Dessmann merged all the stories to create this new Australian version of Jack Frost. His original concept was for Jack Frost to be almost cartoon-like.
“I think we’ve kept that youthfulness, the brighter version of him, but just added a bit more maturity for this version of the show.”
The decision was also made to focus the musical on the female protagonist and her connection to Jack Frost, rather than Jack Frost himself.
“When writing this, we realised a lot of this story is generally about a certain woman who has a family history connected to Jack Frost. So, rather than Jack Frost being the front and centre character, this story cannot exist without Jack Frost existing. We wanted to tell a story about a young woman finding her place and finding her connection to her family,” said May-Dessmann.
Jack Frost is a now full length musical with an original score. Joseph May-Dessmann describes the music as being a contemporary musical theatre style, although there’s also some jazz influences and even a Beach-Boys inspired number! Jack Frost will appeal to all ages, with its universal themes of family and finding who you are.
“It’s very family-friendly. There’s something for everyone!”
The cast are now preparing for their premiere next week and Joseph May-Dessmann couldn’t be happier with how amazing they sound. All it needs is an audience.
“It’s up to the audience to see what they like and what they dislike. At some stage you have to go to an audience to see how they respond to the material. Generally an audience’s reaction can tell a lot about a show – are the jokes landing, are the references landing, is the music or the general vibe of the show connecting with the audience? And of course the reviews and the audience feedback as well.”
After this premiere season Joseph May-Dessmann will decide if his new musical requires any further edits and hopes Jack Frost will continue to have another life. Although, he said, this current version is actually already pretty magical!
Jack Frost the Musical opens on Tuesday 17th March at St Martins Theatre for a limited season.
44 Saint Martins Lane
South Yarra, VIC 3141
For more information and tickets: https://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/jackfrostmusical
Follow the event with #jackfrostmusical