Strange Bedfellows: An All Australian Musical


Strange Bedfellows – The New Musical, will make its way to Melbourne in just a few months and I caught up with some of the cast and creative team recently for a chat about the show, it’s development and the underlying theme – the profoundly Australian paradigm; mateship.

Peter Cousens, Melissa Langton and John WoodStrange Bedfellows – The New Musical, will make its way to Melbourne in just a few months and I caught up with some of the cast and creative team recently for a chat about the show, it’s development and the underlying theme – the profoundly Australian paradigm; mateship. 

Starring Peter Cousens, John Wood, Melissa Langton, Lucy Durack, and Kevin Harrington Strange Bedfellows is the story of two best mates, Ralph and Vince (Wood and Cousens respectively) who register as a same-sex couple in order to take advantage of a new government legislation giving same-sex couples equal tax breaks to married folk. What begins as a simple white lie, unleashes one hilarious adventure, and as the cast tell me – one hell of a ride! 

“Having had a career in very turgid, serious musicals, I have never been in a show where we’ve actually had to stop and wait for the laughter to subside before we can go on with the scene!”, said Cousens, of the out-of-town tryout staged in Albury last year.

“I cannot emphasise how good this show is”, adds Wood. “It’s a really good, simple story which is very well told. At it’s core – the main theme is mateship – a truly Australian ideal. Just how far you will go for your best mate? In terms of the journey, obviously there are lessons of tolerance and acceptance to be learned as well.”

Twelve thousand people saw the show in Albury over the 23 performance run, and if the audience response in Melbourne is half as good as it was out in the country, Strange Bedfellows is destined for great success. With a score composed by John Foreman, script by Dean Murphy (who also wrote the original 2004 film script), and lyrics by Jon Stephens, Strange Bedfellows is what producer Spencer McLaren refers to as a ‘musical within a comedy’. 

“We had a debate about what to call the show, and ended up settling on Strange Bedfellows – The New Musical, but one of the ideas I was pushing for was a musical within a comedy … because the book is so strong and it’s such a story driven piece”, McLaren says. 

“Yes, there are 28 songs, but the story is core of the show. We didn’t want to do a jukebox musical, we wanted all original songs which were written for a purpose and for the ‘moment’. It’s probably been 3 years in the making”, he said. 

McLaren explained that once himself, Dean Murphy and Jon Stephens had decided to make the show into a musical, they knew the next important step was finding someone to compose the score. 

Spencer McLaren, Lucy Durack, Peter Cousens, Melissa Langton, John Wood, Dean Murphy

“We sent 3 sets of lyrics out and asked 5 composers to submit material. John [Foreman] was one we went to straight away. His music was far and away the outstanding choice for the show, and he actually used Melissa Langton in his demo, which is how we came to be introduced to the idea of her playing the role of Vonny.”

Langton, widely known as one of Australia’s most versatile music theatre and cabaret performers, (having played everything from sassy Killer Queen in We Will Rock You to the uptight Patricia Foder in Crazy For You) enjoyed the Albury run – despite the locust plague, the storms and the shipping container dressing rooms! – and is excited to be working on the show for the Melbourne season. 

“I feel like we are all invested in it, since we have all been there from the beginning. It’s great to be involved with something from the start. The producers have been very inclusive and collaborative – really open to us all being involved.”

A complete overhaul of the sets and even parts of the script have occurred in preparation for the show’s transfer to Melbourne. In fact, the show has undergone a huge transformation since its inception, with the writers changing script and lyrics according to the reactions of the Albury audience. 

“The season in Albury was informed by the nature of it. In other words, budget etc. Having learned a lot about how the audience reacted to it, the writers are redesigning the script and letting it evolve, as it should do”, said Wood. 

Writer Dean Murphy explains that the musical is quite different from the original film and that he had always thought the show would make a better musical than movie. 

“It developed a lot from what the film was. We always thought when we were writing the film we thought it would make a better musical. There were times where we thought it would be better if the characters could just break into song”, Murphy said. 

“When we were shooting the film, Pete Postethwaite, one of the actors, said ‘have you ever thought about turning this into a musical?’ to which i said ‘well, yeah we have’. It sprung from that idea”, he adds. 

Set to start rehearsals on September 12, the stellar cast will be working towards an opening at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre in mid October, for a limited season. Directed by Rodger Hodgman (MTC, Guys & Dolls, City Homicide) and choreographed by Dana Jolly (We Will Rock You), the show is sure to have a few productions numbers ready to wow audiences.

“There are no feather boas and fishnet stockings, but Dana has a big tap number up her sleeve at the moment”, quipped McLaren.  

Musically Directed by Kellie Dickerson, one of the most sought after musical directors in Australia, Strange Bedfellows will feature an ensemble of 10 musicians in the orchestra pit, complementing the cast of 22 onstage. 

The team are also hoping to tour the show to Sydney after a 12 week run at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. 

Tickets are now on sale – book through the website:

See our exclusive video footage below – with interviews from Peter Cousens, John Wood, Lucy Durack and Melissa Langton. 

Also featured in our exclusive video are three numbers from the show ‘When My Glass is Full’ (performed by Peter Cousens), ‘Trust Me’ (performed by Peter Cousens and John Wood) and ‘Where Have The Good Blokes Gone’ (performed by Melissa Langton).



Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *