Neglected Musicals to stage Sondheim’s ANYONE CAN WHISTLE

Anyone Can Whistle, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ scathing social satire, will be Neglected Musicals’ next production!

Helmed by director Tyran Parke, the show is an indictment of insanity and conformity, relevant themes even 58 years since its Broadway premiere. Full of fraud, fakes, and folly, the score includes some Sondheim staples, such as “Everybody Says Don’t” and the titular “Anyone Can Whistle.”

Producer and Creator of Neglected Musicals Michelle Guthrie said that Tyran brought the show to her as a potential choice, and the rest was history:

Interestingly, when I was formatting the idea for Neglected Musicals back in 2009, Anyone Can Whistle was at the top of the list, having only done a few performances on Broadway. The musical and its tunes are much loved thanks to the cast recording, however very few have seen it performed. Being able to present a Sondheim/Laurents musical is such a treat.

The Neglected Musicals process is unique in itself. Michelle will work alongside a director to see whether their selected show is available for licensing. Once it is, they undergo the casting process, and then on the Monday of the week of presentations, they rehearse the entire show in just one day. The final performances are script in hand with only a piano accompanying cast. With minimal costuming and props, it’s a very stripped back production, but truly allows an audience to focus on the text.

With the original production running for only 12 previews and 9 performances before its closure, Tyran has been tasked with retelling this story in a completely different context:

The original only ran a handful of performances and time itself has changed our connection to the show. It’s really an absurdist piece with a romance placed right in the middle of it. When it first premiered in 1964, I don’t think people were as critical of the flaws in their leaders – there was no interrogation of power, nor the corruption that so often accompanies it, so people didn’t resonate with the ideas in the piece. Now, we understand it’s important to turn the spotlight on our systems and institutions and demand integrity. We also embrace a range of styles of storytelling in our mainstream media. This is such a dark absurdist piece and, while it might have been at odds with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s era, it would not be out of place next to most of the current satires on Netflix. Much of the music has taken on post Pandemic resonance – I can’t quite hear, “With so Little to be Sure of” without thinking of the past two years!

Angela Lansbury in the original Broadway production of Anyone Can Whistle

Anyone Can Whistle tells the story of a corrupt mayoress who fakes a miracle to revitalise her bankrupt town (through the resulting pilgrim trade) and the ill-fated romance between the rational nurse, out to expose the fraud, and the easygoing doctor who is determined to enjoy the chaos that it brings. In the end, the show delivers a poignant message about the importance of the individual in a conformist society – but not before aiming its still-relevant barbs at government, religion, science and anything else that stands in its way.

Tyran, a self-proclaimed lover of Sondheim, believes that just because a show has not received critical success doesn’t mean that it cannot still be enjoyed. “‘Whistle’ has got the most fantastic score and like all Sondheim shows, the approach and the artistic vision is astounding, but theatre is tricky – particularly when it is driven by collaboration and the original production was limited. Given the recent passing of Sondheim, we get the chance to reflect on his remarkable influence on Musical Theatre and in this show, see where it all began.”

On what audiences can expect from the Neglected Musicals production, Tyran said it is “a very funny, absurd and sharp satire with glorious music performed by an amazing cast (yet to be announced) from one of the theatre greats. Given the minimal staging opportunities in a Neglected Musical, this show fits the format like a glove. It’s a show that is served well by minimal sets and mighty imagination!”

Casting is yet to be announced.

For tickets and more information, visit the Neglected Musicals website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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