Green Room Award nominee Fem Belling took time out of her rehearsal schedule (literally) to chat with AussieTheatre about the much anticipated return season of Genesis To Broadway.
The delightful Fem Belling answers my phone call a little out of breath: “I've just walked out of a scene to answer the phone”, she laughs.
Finding time to chat with Belling about her latest musical venture isn't easy – she's a busy lady! Thankfully, we manage to squeeze in 15 minutes before she is required back in the rehearsal room for Genesis to Broadway, a new musical by Frank Howsen which opens at Chapel Off Chapel tonight.
Belling's performance in last year's world premiere season of Genesis to Broadway earned her a Green Room nomination, and now she's back on board with writer/director Frank Howsen, Musical Director Warren Wills and co-star Tod Strike for a newly “tweaked” production. And it sounds absolutely fascinating.
“It is 5000 of music, basically. And how, from the beginning of time, the first strands of music have influenced musical theatre”, she explains.
“It's actually quite amazing just how much musical theatre has borrowed from the folk sounds of music across the centuries.”
Do not for a second be tricked into thinking this is a didactic piece of theatre, designed solely to teach the audience a lesson, as Belling initially did.
“In the beginning I thought 'oh god, it's going to be a huge history lesson'”, she laughed. “I can imagine people would think it's going to be a long, arduous tale of musical evolution, but it actually just flies.”
[pull_left]It's actually quite amazing just how much musical theatre has borrowed from the folk sounds of music across the centuries[/pull_left]
Fem and her co-star (and long time friend) Tod Strike spend the entire show in a state of madness, chaos and split personality as they sing and act their way through the evolution of musical theatre. With a minimalistic set and a host of fun props, the pair become everyone from composers of the 1600s to opera stars to characters in RENT as they demonstrate the influences of different musical developments in modern day musicals.
Chock full of hit musical numbers, original songs, and a host of interesting facts, the show is a combination of skits, scenes, song and dance – and Belling is having a ball.
“I get to sing 1001 songs I would never usually get to sing. It really is amazing”, she said.
“I sing a traditional Jewish song, then I also get to sing Somewhere from West Side Story, and right at the end of the show I sing an 8 minute medley of every single show that has ever opened on Broadway!”
When asked about the demographic for a show such as this, Belling is quick to assure me that there is something in it for everyone.
“It's just such a great show for people to get stuck into – I know we are up against the big guns, you know, budget wise, but I think this is a really interesting concept”, she said.
“We are in an era where people would much rather sit at home and watch people lose weight on television. For people to come to the the theatre, you need to open it up to absolutely everyone, and this show does it perfectly. Everyone will come away with something that they like. Whether it's our marvellous faces or an actual education!”
Such an interesting concept has legs, and while the show is still in its infancy, Belling has no doubt this production will carry on further than two seasons at Chapel off Chapel. Plans are already in place to take the piece overseas, and Belling is not surprised.
“I think the show has a greater life in the theatre somewhere. It closes the circle”, she said.
Genesis To Broadway is playing 11 performances only. Booking information below
BOOKINGS: (Online) www.chapeloffchapel.com.au – or (Tel) 03 8290 7000. 11th -20thJune
Performance Times: Tuesday-Saturday 8pm. Sunday 6.30pm.Matinees Saturday 2pm.
Tickets: $46 (Full Price) $38 (Concession and Groups of 10+)