Scott Irwin is one of Australia’s most hard-working actors. Fresh from playing Corny Collins in the recent, sorely underrated Melbourne and Sydney seasons of Hairspray, he has been working on Every Single Saturday, a new Australian musical that is currently playing its debut season at the Glen St. Theatre, with a very real possibility of a forthcoming tour once the Glen Street season has finished.
I caught up with Scott right after producer Les Currie announced that Every Single Saturday’s scheduled season at Sydney’s Theatre Royal (recent host of smash hit Jersey Boys) was to be cancelled in favour of extending its season at its current home at Glen St. Scott is warm and conversational – but also completely straightforward.
“The show’s been great at Glen St,” he tells me, without a moment’s hesitation. “It has a great subscriber base that has generated a lot of interest. We wanted to honour that subscriber and audience base, and Glen St, who have been so good to us, by extending the season.
“The show itself,” he continues, “is I think much more suited to Glen St’s 300-foot space, in a more intimate setting. Glen St’s a superb venue, and [Every Single Saturday] is a suburban show – not a city slicker show. It makes sense to see it in the suburbs where the audience relates to it.”
Despite it being difficult, as Scott acknowledges, to get a new musical off the ground, especially in finding venues to host new material and being able to generate revenue to sustain runs in bigger-capacity venues, (he doesn’t shy away from mentioning that the planned Theatre Royal season just wasn’t, in the end, expected to make a lot of money) he really believes in this new four-hander by Joanna Weinberg. He says is striking a chord with audiences because they are “really seeing themselves in the characters and the story.”
Coming from a four week long rehearsal and workshop period, the show has been a very collaborative experience for cast and creatives alike. Scott says it was quite intense, and everyone became very attached to the songs and text. He speaks highly of the cast and crew, and with awe about the opportunity he was given to have input into the show – to have the chance to ask of the lines “would my character really say this?” He believes this process has made the show stronger.
“It’s been a labour of love.”
“It’s sort of a story about every family. It’s based around soccer but really, it’s also about any endeavour with kids, whether it’s sports or weekend activities. It’s about adult relationships and parent-child relationships. And it’s a funny show, and it’s being described as a funny show, but it’s really more of a chuckle-along show with a few funny moments. What’s great though is that it’s really unexpectedly moving.”
Throughout our conversation, Scott often interrupts himself to talk about the positive experiences he’s had talking to audience members after the show, and it’s here that he tells me about an older lady who had come up to him after a show who’d said she didn’t expect to need her tissues that night, but ended up reaching for them three times. He tells these stories with clear affection and appreciation; it means a lot to him to be in a show that is so immediately resonant to a local audience.
A lot of this, he thinks is due to the fact that the show is so profoundly Australian.
“It’s nice to do a show in our native tongue!” he explains with a bit of a laugh. “I think you’re less aware that someone up there is acting when your ear can relax and hear the local language… I think Australians are really suspicious of Australian work both on film and on stage, and it comes as a surprise to like it… when they do, they really go wow.”
Part of being a working actor in Australia, Scott says, is having the ability to work consistently over a wide variety of projects. “20 years ago I might’ve said success as an actor would be moving from one big show to another big show, but over the years I’ve learned to see that it comes from everything – from the big shows to concerts and the corporate circuit, and small shows – even teaching.”
Coming from Hairspray to Every Single Saturday, though, Scott says, is like coming into a whole new industry.
He is so clearly passionate about the process of making a show and bringing it to stage, I can’t help but ask if he would ever consider working on a production from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, particularly directing. His answer is a resounding and enthusiastic “Definitely!
“I would love to do some directing, love to think I could produce, though that’s a difficult game. But I would love the work of overseeing the process of actors and creatives as a director, or even as a resident director on an existing show.”
We may just have something to look forward to in the future.
I asked Scott in closing why he thinks people should see Every Single Saturday at the Glen St Theatre, and he told a story that he thinks says it all.
“An elderly man came up to me after the show the other night, still in tears, and he said to me, “I played first grade footy when I was at school and my dad never ever came to a match. And he was at least eighty-five, and he still remembered that.
If we can do that – if we can touch people like that, then that’s really all you can ask for.”
Every Single Saturday is playing at the Glen St Theatre until Saturday March 3
Extended season performances are as follows:
Wednesday 29 February, 8pm
Thursday 1 March, 7.30pm
Friday 2 March, 8pm
Saturday 3 March, 2pm and 8pm