When Squabbalogic burst onto the Sydney theatre scene in 2008, it was exactly everything the city needed: an independent company dedicated to boutique musical theatre: the weird and wonderful, the challenging work often neglected by commercial theatre.
And they started with Reefer Madness. From there, it’s been a cavalcade of the eccentric, the eclectic, the beautiful. The best of small-scale musical theatre. Meta-musical [title of show] (it scored an encore season). William Finn’s clever, autobiographical A New Brain. The deceptively heartwrenching Ordinary Days. The laugh-out-loud Forbidden Broadway.
We haven’t seen Squabbalogic since January 2012’s Ordinary Days, and in their absence, they have been busy developing a three-show 2013 season – their first official season. It’s ambitious, it’s uncompromising, it’s contemporary, and it’s everything a musical theatre fan could want.
First up is an encore season of the beloved 2009 show Forbidden Broadway, a lovable roast of all things showtunes and Great White Way, a tribute to the art-form of musical theatre that we love (and love to hate). A sell-out for the company in its first-run, Squabbalogic will star Christina Byrne, Blake Erickson, Linda Hale and Mark Simpson. Look for this in July at the Vanguard.
The second show is a 2010 gem that managed a Broadway transfer and is well on its way to becoming a cult hit – Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. It’s a 90-minute wonder about the seventh president of the United States (and punk rock political superstar!) and a deeply corrupt America, that poses the question: Would you vote for this guy? Okay, but what if he was hot? A rollicking show with a red-hot book (Alex Timbers) and score (Michael Freidman), Craig Stewart will direct this Australian premiere, and it’s going to be an event. As they said on Broadway, “history just got all sexypants.”
Finally, the season will conclude in November with a bonda fide cult obsession of the musical theatre world, recently re-staged off-Broadway and a notorious flop upon its original debut. You know what this is already. It’s Carrie. She might be getting a new movie, but even more excitingly, she’s coming to Sydney and bringing that infamous, troubled, tragic prom-queen spectacle with her. This is the real deal. This is a show that somehow – somehow! – was re-worked and re-staged adter a legendary 1988 run consisting of 16 previews and only 5 performances. The revised version came to off-Broadway last year and was considered to give this show a new life – and now we get to see Sydney actor-director-wunderkid Jay James-Moody put his spin on it. Carrie is coming. Are you ready?
This is a bold season making strong, compelling programming choices with a deft and talented creative team at the helm. Sydney, this is your musical theatre wake-up call. Don’t miss it.
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.
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