Broadway comes to Oz via talented duo

In an Australian coup, composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, who co-created scores forSeussical, the animated feature Anastasia, and many other well-known shows, will be in Australia due to a unique partnership between the University of Tasmania (UTAS) Conservatorium of Music and the American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP).

Stephen Schwartz, of Wicked fame, will be here next year as a result of the same initiative.

Only weeks before their epic musical Ragtime is to re-open on Broadway, Flaherty and Ahrens will visit Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart to engage with cabaret and musical enthusiasts for one night only in each city.

The Ragtime revival celebrates one of Broadway’s most successful writing teams.  An ambitious, large scale musical, Ragtime depicts the clash of cultures in early 20th Century America and its score is recognised as one of the greatest ever-written for the stage.

In Australia, Ahrens and Flaherty will share personal stories of Broadway, take questions and perform some of their own award-winning songs.

They will be joined in song by four of Australia’s premiere Music Theatre performers: Christopher Parker (Crazy For You, Sideshow Alley, Oklahoma!), Kellie Rode (Mamma Mia, The Rocky Horror Show), Julie O’Reilly (Jerry Springer, The Producers) and Adrian Li Donni (The King And I, Rent).

The show fill feature the Sensational Southern Gospel Choir under the direction of Andrew Legg, and the ‘Broadway to Australia Orchestra’. columnist Will Conyers will direct.

The initiative, created by Michael A. Kerker, Director of Musical Theatre at ASCAP, and Kevin Purcell, Australian Musical Director and Conductor (UTAS), also offers a Melbourne-based workshop with the Ahrens/Flaherty duo, enabling writers and performers of commercial musical theatre, cabaret and contemporary popular music to learn from Broadway’s most illustrious creative practitioners.

The University of Tasmania Conservatorium is to begin Australia’s first post-degree qualification in Cabaret in 2010.

The Melbourne Show is at the Melbourne Recital Hall on September 4. Call (03) 9699 3333 for tickets.

The duo is at the Sydney Recital Hall on September 7. Bookings: (02) 8526 2222.

In Hobart, the show is at the Wrest Point Entertainment Centre on September 9. Bookings: 1300 795 257.

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

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