A look inside exciting new Australian musical, Between Worlds
Aloha AussieTheatre world!
Although it seems as though I have fallen off the face of the earth, the last few months have been a time of incredible adventure; I won the TDP/ ASCAP Bound for Broadway Scholarship for 2017- New York here I come! (Watch this space), saw many amazing productions (Go and see Big Fish. Now), had new headshots done (Amy Benjamin is a Goddess), and even watched some strange muggle game where testosterone fuelled men kick balls through big metal sticks and hurt each other. Apparently they call it “AFL”. (Picture a footballer on stage in “Omigod You Guys”, then reverse it. That’s how out of place I was).
But my most exciting news was being invited back to perform in the third workshop of Between Worlds led by Director Jason Langley and Musical Director Michael Tyack from 26 June – 14 July. Composer Gareth Hudson and writer Nick Higginbotham began the project in 2007, and are excited to bring the musical theatre show based on Captain Cook’s final voyage to the public for the first time at the Australian Theatre for Young People on the 15th (3pm & 8pm) & 16th July (3pm).
Nick states that “Ironically, writing (and re-writing…!) this musical seems to be taking longer than the navigator’s three voyages in the Pacific”; but I assure you, the years of development have paid off in this incredible work. In 2016, I had the privilege of working alongside Tyran Parke, Hilary Cole, Beth Daly, Blake Erickson, Brett O’Neill, Leah Howard, David Hooley, Nic Starte, Riley Sutton, Imraan Daniels, Scott Morris, Tayla Jarrett, Bridget Woolnough, and Callum Sandercock in the shows 2nd Workshop after it had been awarded a New Musicals Australia ‘Snapshot Presentation’ before industry judges.
A quick recap on the plot: Between Worlds tells the story of James Cook’s ‘first contact’ with the Hawaiians in 1779, exploring how the desires and tensions brought to that encounter shaped the ecstatic and tragic moments that unfolded. The story reveals his openness to embrace Polynesian culture, and his single-minded ambition to go ‘farther than it is possible for man to go’ in the quest for immortality; ultimately leading to his death on a remote beach, which few Australians know much about.
Over the past three years, Jason Langley has drawn together a collection of Sydney’s seasoned and emerging musical theatre talent to help move the show from libretto to the professional stage, leading to the goal of a full cast production on a big stage in time for the 2020 commemoration of Cook’s landing in Australia.
Jason recalls: “I was attracted to this new Australian work with strong female characters, a culturally diverse cast, a little-known story of the death of James Cook, an unexpected folk/rock score with Indigenous Hawaiian influences and a moral tale about the cost of overweening ambition.”
The July performances will see Blake Erickson as James Cook, Pippa Grandison in the role of Elizabeth Cook, and Phillip Lowe as the narrator, Admiral Isaac Smith. Actors performing Hawaiian roles are Kuki Tipoki, Nic Starte, Nana Matapule, Chloe Zuel, Julian Kuo, Brendan Xavier and Marissa Saroca. The British crew are David Hooley, Imraan Daniels, Maxwell Simon and Riley Sutton with Kayla-Maree Spiteri and myself as ensemble, and I could not be more excited.
Nick believes that with the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour’s arrival in Botany Bay on the horizon, Between Worlds reimagines for Australian audiences the explorer’s desires, creating an unexpected image of an iconic figure.
Out of all of the productions I’ve worked on, this show has to be one of the most incredible examples of telling a story through a brilliant book and score. I urge you not to miss out on being one of the first people to see this magnificent work before it becomes an iconic part of Australian history.
More about Between Worlds is available at Betweenworldsmusical.com including booking tickets for the workshop performance and how to help with the Australian Cultural Fund crowdfunding campaign.