The Gathering: making a new Australian musical

“The only reason to write is from love”- Stephen Sondheim.

Being a part of a new musical is a unique creative process for almost everyone involved. While it is by no means an easy feat, new works are so necessary in the development of our industry and the identity of the Australian music theatre scene. (Don’t mind me over here, pretending I’m actually an Australian).


Written by Belinda Jenkin and William Hannagan, The Gathering is a new Australian musical that now has a lifespan of over five years.

Previously known in workshops as Housewarming, this show has just enjoyed a sell-out reading series at the New York Music Theatre Festival.

Through winning a grant from the City of Melbourne, The Gathering is about to enjoy its professional premiere in Melbourne at the end of this month, produced by Vic Theatre Company (Loving Repeating, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee).

The Gathering tells the story of Tom who, after disappearing for five years, invites his closest friends to an old, rickety, seemingly abandoned house for a housewarming party. As the night goes on, you discover the truth about these six characters and the secrets they have been keeping since Tom disappeared. Set to a truly beautiful pop-rock score, The Gathering explores many issues of Generation Y, and our means to accept love and love others.

The Morning After
The Morning After

Having been fortunate enough to be cast as the role of Tom in this wonderful show, we are now entering into our third week of rehearsal.

Directed by Chris Parker, with Musical Direction by Daniel Puckey, and featuring the talents of Olivia Charalambous, Daniel Assetta, Shannen Alyce Quan, Daniel Cosgrove and Hannah Sullivan McInerney, this project features some of the most creative, talented, intelligent, and downright awesome human beings I’ve ever worked with.

As actors, we so often take on words that have previously been tried and tested all over the world before we get our hands on it. Being part of a new work with the writers in the room, having the show change based on what you can bring to the character and what you believe will work best, is such a creatively empowering experience.

And although Belinda and Will have presented their baby to us and patiently allowed every man and his dog to give their opinion about how it should be shaped, their openness and trust and willingness to create the best possible product is truly inspiring. I continue to be astounded by their creativity as a team, and how they manage to go away and force themselves to rewrite an opening number in a night, while I continue to sit and struggle with writer’s block over this mere column. (I literally logged onto facebook over 15 times before this article was completed).

14956404_10153866403502821_4555831175575012540_nOne of the major differences in working on a new piece is the necessary willingness to be open to change. Every day, lines and songs are tweaked or totally rewritten, and my control-freak nature has actually been ok with it. I’ve also found it quite freeing to have no preconceptions about a role or how it has been done- and to not even be subconsciously influenced by previous recordings. I may be playing the character totally wrong, but at least none of the audience will be able to compare me to anyone else!

Of course it’s always important to see and support new Australian works, but I genuinely believe The Gathering is worth seeing anyway for being a wonderfully crafted, moving, fun musical that really showcases some incredible talent we have in this country, both on and off stage.

Book online at, or call 03 9662 9966

26 November – 11 December 2016
Saturday 26 November & Sunday 27 November
Opening night: 
Wednesday 30 November
Nov 30 Dec, 2, 6, 8, 11, 7.30pm
Nov 26, 4pm
Dec 3,10, 8.30pm
Nov 27, Dec 4, 3pm
Ticket price: $38 – $42


Joel Granger

Born in the land of sheep and hobbits, Joel Granger moved to Australia to study at WAAPA's Music Theatre course, class of 2015. Currently playing the role of Elder McKinley in the Australian tour of 'The Book of Mormon' tour, his other stage and screen credits include 'She Loves Me', 'Brigadoon', 'Sweeney Todd', 'Please Like Me' and 'True Story with Hamish & Andy.' He would like to say he enjoys long walks on the beach, but his ginger hair and freckled skin means he actually avoids sunshine as much as possible. Follow Joel on instagram at: @joelgranger_

Joel Granger

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