Shaking it up: Twisted Broadway Returns’s Erin James catches up with Dan Benge – producer of Twisted Broadway.

Michael Falzon
Michael Falzon

A common plight of the performer is what I refer to as ‘gender envy’. Sounds strange, but let me explain it to you thus:

It isn’t uncommon in the theatre world to overhear male members of a show discussing their desire to perform some of the female choreography. Let them sink their teeth into a layout or a smart bevel and they are happy boys indeed.

On the other side of the fence, a female colleague of mine quipped recently: “All the best songs are for guys” – while bemoaning the abundance of “really great” male music theatre songs. Female performers often wish there were songs like ‘Bui Doi’ or ‘Lilly’s Eyes’, or ‘Agony’ written for women.

“The grass is always greener”, so they say. It’s human nature: to desperately want that which is out of reach…

Why can’t we shake it up every now and then? Let our hair down and do what we wanna do?

Enter Twisted Broadway – a cabaret event in which professional performers from around Australia take to the stage and perform music originally written for the opposite gender. A one-night-only affair, the show raises money for Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights Aids and is shaping up to be an amazing evening at the theatre. spoke with founder and co-producer of the event, Daniel Benge to find out more about this fabulous initiative.

“The concept is 5 years old”, says Benge. “It’s taken from a concert called Broadway Backwards, which is performed in New York. Basciallly it’s singers singing songs originally written for the opposite sex.”

With a laugh, Benge is quick to add: “It doesn’t mean ‘Drag’. It’s taking a song and switching the gender of the singer, allowing the piece to take on a whole new meaning.”

Following its sell out inaugural performance last year, Twisted Broadway will be performed at the BMW Edge Theatre at Federation Square, Melbourne, on July 18 2011. Musically Directed by James Simpson and hosted by Brent Hill and Leah Howard, the show will feature cast members from Rock of Ages, Dr. Zhivago, Love Never DiesNext To Normal, Prodigal and more.

“I thought it was an incredible way to link the entire professional community together. It’s great to be able to get everyone together for a united cause, and it’s equally exciting for the performers to be able to present material which they would never usually have the chance to do, cause the songs aren’t written for their gender”, he said.

“This year we are hoping to raise over $20 000 for Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights Aids. We are hoping to build this show into an annual event, so we want to establish it as something which people will look forward to every year. Eventually we want to make this concept a national thing – having one show in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane…”, says Benge.

Featuring Michael Falzon (pictured), Amy Lehpamer, Francine Cain and Samantha Hagen (Rock of Ages), Simon Gleeson and Stephanie Grigg (Love Never Dies), Josh Piterman (West Side Story), Gareth Keegan (Next To Normal) and Belinda Wollaston (Dr. Zhivago), Ed Grey (Prodigal) and many more, the show presents a dynamic spin on contemporary and classic music theatre numbers.

“It’s really quite hilarious sometimes, and often can be very emotional”, says Benge, “and it’s a chance to have a laugh and see everyone in a different light”.

For one night only, Australia’s professional arts community will be stripping back the gender barrier, and performing their twisted versions of Musical Theatre’s well known – and not so well known – material. Rumour has it: the Love Never Dies male ensemble’s rendition of ‘Cell Block Tango’ from Chicago will be a show-stopper, and Stephanie Grigg’s performance of ‘King of the World’ (Songs For A New World) is breathtaking.

So come along to see Twisted Broadway on Monday July 18 to support Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights Aids.

Tickets are available through Book now so you don’t miss out!

Check out some footage of Brendan Yeates and Matt Holly rehearsing for Twisted Broadway below.  




Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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