A Chat With Aaron Joyner, Artistic Director of Magnormos, Melbourne

 AussieTheatre.com caught up with Aaron Joyner, Artistic Director of Melbourne production company Magnormos. Their production of The Hatpin (written by James Millar and Peter Rutherford) opens in Melbourne tonight. 

AussieTheatre.com caught up with Aaron Joyner, Artistic Director of Melbourne production company Magnormos. Their production of The Hatpin (written by James Millar and Peter Rutherford) opens in Melbourne tonight. 
AussieTheatre: You are the mastermind behind Magnormos – Tell us a bit about what the company does.
Well I’d like to say we produce exceptional theatre, but that’s really something that someone else should say, so I guess I will say that Magnormos exists to fill a void in the development of musical theatre in Australia.  That’s both from a writing point of view, with our OzMade Musicals showcase that we’ve been producing since 2003, and also our various other initiatives including workshopping programs and the Musical Theatre Readings Program.   Since we started we’ve produced public seasons of 7 Australian musicals (by the end of this year it will be 9), provided full workshopping services to two more, and supported/developed over 50 Australian musicals through OzMade Musicals.  The programming of international works focuses on landmark musicals that may otherwise not be seen in Australia (although our new initiative, the triptych at Melbourne Recital Centre is also dealing with more commercial works) so we’re unique in Australia.  There isn’t any other theatre company that has its primary focus on supporting the work of Australian musicals.
AussieTheatre: What drew you to produce The Hatpin?
I’ve been following The Hatpin since its premiere in Sydney, and when I first heard the soundtrack I knew Magnormos had to produce it.  Initially I was interested in it from a directors perspective, but with the scope of this year I knew I couldn’t do it justice so I brought in Shaun Kingma, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.  Shaun has a knack for the dramatic musicals, and his work on this has been exceptional.  What I love about The Hatpin is that it is so emotionally charged, so powerful, and has its own musical and dramatic voice.  It isn’t derivative of another writer, and although its set in 1892, it doesn’t have that hokey Australian bushranger sound (even though the musical score is completely suitable for the era).  It’s an important story that not many Australian’s know about, from one of the dark chapters of our history.
AussieTheatre: Tell us a little about the uncovered transcripts of Amber Murray?
The diary entries we have been releasing through Facebook and Twitter, and will continue to be released right up until the first preview on Friday 13th May (specifically chosen) provide some backstory to the central character Amber Murray, and actually fill in some of the events that happen before we meet her at the start of the show.  We have photographed, and provided transcripts for seven of the diary pages, one each day for the week leading up to the first performance, so make sure you follow Magnormos on facebook and twitter to get them all! AussieTheatre: What exciting projects have you got up your sleeve for the Magnormos’ 10th year in 2012? Ahh…. nothing has been revealed yet.  But you can rest assured that there are lots of pots bubbling on the fires… 
AussieTheatre: What are your other projects for this year?  We follow The Hatpin with A JERRY HERMAN TRIPTYCH at Melbourne Recital Centre, to celebrate the career of one of the worlds best loved composer/lyricists.  We will be presenting three Herman musicals in three weeks, each as a one-night-only performance, which follows in the footsteps of the successful A SONDHEIM TRIPTYCH we presented last year. The three musicals are Herman’s first Milk and Honey on July 4, the Tony Award winning Dear World on July 11, and to complete the triptych is one of the most successful musicals of all time (and the first commercial work Magnormos has produced) Hello Dolly! which will star Susan-ann Walker and Robert Grubb.  
After the triptych, we present the world premiere of Flowerchildren – The Story of The Mamas and The Papas in August/September, which stars Matt Hetherington, Laura Fitzpatrick, Dan Humphris and Casey Donovan as Mama Cass. This is a three week season that is already selling like hot cakes!
To complete the year (unless I come up with something else to throw in this quiet little season) we will present OZMADE MUSICALS 2011 at the Comedy Theatre. Submissions for this have just closed and it looks like we are going to have another exceptional smorgasboard of Australian musicals to present at this one-night-only gala concert. For more information about Magnormos or The Hatpin visit: Magnormos.com

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com'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).

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