From Monty Python to Gilbert and Sullivan, from the Darlinghurst Underworld of the 1920s to 1960s Louisiana to a psycho on the streets of 1980s New York, the Hayes Theatre Co’s 2019 season takes in an excitingly diverse range of musical theatre.
“Our musical program this year displays all sides of the human condition – from villains, murderers and conmen to knights in shining armour, those struggling to know what is right to those who are driven by principle,” writes Lisa Campbell, Chair of the Hayes Board, in the 2019 season brochure.
2019 marks the company’s fifth birthday. In that short space of time the Hayes has become an integral part of the musical theatre fabric in Sydney, with productions like Calamity Jane also proving wildly successful interstate.
The Potts Point venue will be dark for the first two months of the year to allow for front-of-house renovations. Then in March it launches into action with Spamalot, Eric Idle’s musical “lovingly ripped off from the Motion Picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as the show is billed. It will be the first time the stage show has been staged professionally in Sydney, as the commercial production that played in Melbourne in 2007 didn’t make it to Sydney.
In inimitable Monty Python fashion, Spamalot re-tells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and their search for the Holy Grail, guided by the fabulous belting diva, The Lady of the Lake. A smash hit in London and New York, Spamalot won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical. Richard Carroll (Calamity Jane) directs, with Cameron Mitchell as choreographer. The cast includes Josie Lane as The Lady of the Lake. Audiences can expect a wildly irreverent time, and a chance to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
American Psycho, which was scheduled this year but had to be delayed, makes it onto the boards in 2019. With music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the dark, satirical, blood-soaked musical is based on Bret Easton Ellis’s notorious, best-selling 1991 novel about Patrick Bateman, a young, handsome, wealthy investment banker living in Manhattan, with a very dark side. The score also includes classic pop hits from Phil Collins, Tears for Fears, New Order and Huey Lewis and the News. The production will be directed by Alexander Berlage (who directed the fabulous Cry-Baby at the Hayes this year), who last year recommended “BYO poncho” for audiences.
In June comes the new Australian musical Razorhurst which examines the lives of vice queens Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine, who ruled the Darlinghurst underworld in Sydney from the 1920s to the 1930s. The musical explores what it means to be a woman in a man’s world, forced into a life of crime by circumstance. Featuring book and lyrics by Kate Mulley and music by Andy Peterson, Razorhurst received its world premiere at Luna Stage in New Jersey in the US. Benita de Witt directs.
Zahra Newman will star in Caroline, or Change. Photograph supplied
LPD, the company which produced Cry-Baby, High Fidelity and Rent at the Hayes, produces the criminal musical Catch Me If You Can in July. Based on the hit film, itself based on a true story, the musical has a book by Terrence McNally (The Full Monty, Ragtime) and a swinging score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). It tells the tale of precocious teenager Frank Abagnale Jr., a conman who is living the high life, thanks to oodles of charm and millions of forged dollars, until he catches the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who pursues him across the country. The show received four Tony nominations in 2011, including one for Best Musical. Cameron Mitchell directs and choreographs.
The 2019 season also include two productions from the company’s Artist Led Program, an initiative launched this year, which calls for artists from any theatrical field to come forward with ideas for production. Erin James directed She Loves Me as a result of the initiative in August. In 2019, Mitchell Butel directs Caroline, Or Change with book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet). Set in Louisiana in 1963, it is loosely based on Kushner’s own memories of growing up, and tells the story of the maid of a family, Caroline, and her relationship with eight-year old Noah who is heartbroken after the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage. Zahra Newman (The Book of Mormon) plays Caroline.
The season includes a “re-imagined, gender-bending” take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. Photograph supplied
The other musical to be staged under the Artist Led Program is Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, directed by Kate Gaul with a cast including Thomas Campbell and Andy Dexterity. In her Hayes debut, Gaul promises a “re-imagined, gender-bending, hyper-theatrical and kinky take” on the G & S classic.
The cabaret program features Nancye Hayes, Kerrie Anne Greenland, Steven Kreamer, Carlotta, Michael Griffiths, siblings Daniel and Chiara Assetta, and Catherine Alcorn performing with Phillip Scott.