From Boq to Bennetts Lane: Edward Grey on his one night only show

Ed Grey has made a bit of a splash in the musical theatre world. Recipient of the Production Company Artist Development Award at last year’s Rob Guest Endowment gala event, Ed has been in Sydney Theatre Company’s Spring Awakening, as well as the excellent national tour of Legally Blonde.

He’s presently playing Boq in Wicked, and, because he’s not quite busy enough, is producing and starring in a production of Elegies for one night only at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne. We chatted to Ed about Wicked, William Finn, and loving the theatre.

Edward Grey.
Edward Grey.

He’s a friendly guy, our new Boq; pleasant and generous with his time, the bulk of which tends to belong to Wicked, that bona fide blockbuster.

“We’re coming to the end of our Melbourne run, and it’s such a joy of a show, honestly. I know everyone says that about different shows, but, the fans make this show. You go to the stage door every day and and there are lovely people who just love Wicked and you always remember that.

“And I love my role, I love Boq, it’s so fun. And I get time with Elphaba, I get time with Glinda, I get time with Nessa, it’s just such a treat. I get to have a lot of different bits and pieces with a lot of different people, which is awesome.”

The most exciting thing on Grey’s horizon at the moment, however, is Elegies. A song cycle written by William Finn (A New Brain, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), the show is a remembrance of people – some in the public eye, some not – who have passed away. Written right after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the show is deeply a New York work and deeply full of that loss. It’s beautiful, and Grey has recruited his dream cast for one performance of the piece.

“It  seems sad, but it’s really a celebratory piece about life… hearing all these stories at once, there’s something uplifting about it, and ultimately really joyous. I find that to be the appeal of it for me, the joy, even though it’s a piece about death.”

“I produced John and Jen at the Sydney Fringe a few years ago,” he explains, “And that gave me a taste for producing.” He also noticed that in New York, performers are more inclined to keep producing their own work, concerts and shows, on the side, even as they are performing eight times a week.

The cast of Elegies.
The cast of Elegies.

“I just really wanted to do a piece, and I’ve loved Elegies ever since I first heard it in 2006, and it seemed like the perfect fit. As soon as I thought of it, I knew exactly the cast I wanted to ask, and they could all do it!”

In his hand-picked cast are fellow Wicked cast member John O’Hara (his voice is “sublime”, Grey promises), Naomi Livingston (Les Miserables), Martin Croft (Miss Saigon), and Anne Wood (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).

“I could not imagine a better group,” he enthused, fresh off a run-through with the cast. They really are perfect. I’m really proud of the group that’s come together.”

Sometimes it’s a bit of a shock to jump from the big musicals, like Melbourne’s current big four, to a smaller, more intimate piece of musical theatre or even a song cycle; it can be difficult to know what to expect. But Grey thinks the smaller pieces are just as essential to Melbourne and Australia’s musical theatre culture than having four big shows playing at once.

“I think it’s really important to have both in a healthy arts scene, and I think you can’t have one without the other. I mean, I love Wicked and Legally Blonde, that’s my career, but I feel really strongly about the fact that musical theatre as an art form needs both the big and the small.

Wicked's Edward Grey and John O'Hara
Wicked’s Edward Grey and John O’Hara

“I’m trying to create somewhere in the market for that sort of work, because I think it’s so valid and so beautiful, and at the moment, we don’t have enough of it.”

We threw in three rapid-fire questions, just for fun:

The currently running show he’d most like to be in if he weren’t in Wicked: “Les Mis.”
The character he’d like to play in it: “Javert, but in thirty years’ time!”
The character he’d most like to play in Wicked, other than Boq? “Elphaba.”

 You can see Ed and his brilliant cast in Elegies only on Monday 11th August at Bennetts Lane. Tickets are only $28.00, and you can pick them up here: Don’t miss out!

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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