Last week we featured David Harris’ first exclusive AussieTheatre blog, detailing his adventures in a whirlwind theatre tour of London. After seeing Warhorse, Les Miserables, Blood Brothers, Phantom, and enjoying a backstage encounter with the West End cast of Legally Blonde (Harris will star as Emmett in the Australian premiere production later this year), David packed his bags and began the next leg of his tour.
This week, we bring you part two of David’s adventures. Find out which shows inspired him, and discover what makes this star of Australian musical theatre tick…
The next morning it was on to Montreal. This provided a few days rest from the frantic week in London and before I hit the Big Apple! Although, I did manage to get some great tickets to the new Cirque Du Soleil show, Amaluna which had just opened there, thanks to master juggler Viktor Kee who is one of the brilliant performers in the show.
Is it just me, or does everyone else walk away from a Cirque show feeling absolutely talentless and regretting the burrito they ate at lunch? I was floored with the talent and skill of both the performers and creators. It’s one thing thinking up these concepts, but it’s another actually making them come to life. I have seen many Cirque shows over the years, but there is something electric and special seeing one in Cirque’s hometown of Montreal.
The audiences are loud and buzzy, like watching a hometown sporting match which only adds to the show and atmosphere. If you head to Montreal and there is a Cirque show on, go see it!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
To me, the last stop was always going to be the main event – New York. It had been nine years since last being there, not as long as my absence from London, but still far too long between drinks. Thanks to some friends now based in New York, I was able to stay in their guest room on the 40th floor of their apartment on 57th and 8th.
Yep, I felt posh. Especially as my bathroom overlooked Times Square so each time I showered I would just stare outside the window onto all the excitement and action of Times Square! And if anyone looked up into that window at night, they would have seen me buck naked, but I didn’t care one bit!
Also, quite coincidently when I left the apartment each day, I was directly opposite the Gershwin Theatre where Wicked is still playing to full houses and where nine years ago I rocked up to get the last preview ticket left, not knowing a damn thing about this show called Wicked. Now it’s a whole different story!"For those who are yet to experience New York, it’s everything you think it is and just like what you see in the movies"
For those who are yet to experience New York, it is everything you think it is and just like what you see in the movies. It’s as exciting as you would expect, yet also very accessible, tangible and welcoming. People are willing to say hi and have a conversation if you are just as willing. One of the best things about heading back this time around too is that I was now able to score house seats for most shows I saw. The perks of the job, I guess.
THEATRE IN NEW YORK
First off was Disney’s Newsies.If there was ever a show to see if you are a performer who needs motivation and inspiration to give their A game every show, this is the one to see. These boys GIVE it! Not one weak link and not one moment where they dropped the ball. It’s easy to see why people are raving and why the Tonys took notice. It’s a great family show with terrific performances. Jeremy Jordan is a perfect leading man and the ensemble hardly seemed like they were ensemble. Each got their chance to shine and each did, thoroughly deserving the standing ovations.
Actually, standing ovations are kind of mandatory on Broadway it seems. Well at least the shows I saw. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. New York audiences LOVE seeing shows and love showing their appreciation; it made me love New York even more. It fosters theatre and it seems that everyone wants everything to work and succeed. It’s a wonderful thing to witness and something we don’t often see so clearly in Australia.
Of course it’s a tough “business” and I would hate to be a producer, but it was just nice to be amongst such positive audiences.
The next day was a day of plays. I managed to get tickets from TKTS in Times Square (offering discounted tickets on the day of the performance) to see End of the Rainbow and Peter and the Starcatcher. Now, if you haven’t yet heard of Starcatcher, you certainly will. It is brilliant. It’s a cleverly written and superbly acted story of how Peter Pan became Peter Pan; kind of like a prequel to the story as we know it, like Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz. But unlike Wicked, this relies heavily on the skill and craft of the actors creating the sets and scenes, as if they are kids in an attic with only the bare minimum of toys to create their world.
Like Blood Brothers in London, it was brilliant to see the actors bringing the story to life. The direction and design were inspiring and cast perfect. Christian Borle clearly shows why he is a Broadway leading man. He is funny – damn funny – milking every drop from his Captain Hook!!!
End of the Rainbow is a play with a spattering of Judy Garland hits and is a tour de force for Tracie Bennett as Judy. She must seriously be knackered at the end of the show as she hardly ever leaves the stage, turning out a huge performance of Judy’s final concerts in London. The set cleverly changes from her hotel room where all the scenes take place to onstage at Talk of the Town with the live band appearing behind her. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to see Judy perform, but this show captures her final tortured struggle brilliantly and quite sadly. Again, it was an example of giving 100% to your audience.
Stay tuned for the third and final part in David’s Whirlwind World Theatre Tour series.