Presented by the Centre for Theatre and Performance, Key Changes is a cabaret collaboration between Monash University’s Music Theatre students and acclaimed duo Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank. The show focuses on the past, present and future, discussing the contentious relationship with progress and history.
Part of MLIVE’s Progress series, the cabaret is one of many works which aims to challenge our idea of moving forward as a society. Musical theatre has had an interesting relationship with history and progress, with some shows responding to the current political climate and others aiding its development – Key Changes responds to this conflict.
Dean Bryant is no stranger to the world of theatre. As MTC’s Associate Director, he’s worked on recent plays including The Lady in the Van, Born Yesterday, and An Ideal Husband. He also has an extensive history with musical theatre, between writing with Mathew Frank and directing productions such as Assassins, Little Shop of Horrors and Sweet Charity (all for Hayes Theatre Co.), Anything Goes (Opera Australia), and La Cage Aux Folles (The Production Company).
Dean and Mathew are working at Monash University as part of the Jeanne Pratt Artists in Residence Program and will be working with the Musical Theatre students on various projects, including a full scale musical adaptation of Miles Franklin’s novel My Brilliant Career in October. I spoke with Dean about the process ahead of Key Changes’ premiere.
Could you tell me a bit about your history with music theatre and writing?
Mathew and I started writing together in 1998 – we met as students doing Music Theatre performance at WAAPA. He’d always composed and I had never written, but we wrote a musical called Prodigal together, workshopped it at WAAPA, then produced it at Chapel off Chapel. It won a few awards and was produced off-Broadway in 2002. From this we got commissions to write some more musicals, Once We Lived Here, Virgins: A Musical Threesome and an adaptation of Sonya Hartnett’s novel, The Silver Donkey. We’ve written a lot of one-person shows – Britney Spears: The Cabaret was created for Christie Whelan-Browne a decade ago and has played constantly since then (including another season at Chapel in May) – a highlight was performing for Andrew Lloyd-Webber in his theatre in London in 2017. I work as a director – I’ve been at Melbourne Theatre Company for a few years as Associate Director – my next production for them is the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman starring Caroline O’Connor. Mathew works as a Sound Designer (we just did Lady in the Van with Miriam Margolyes) and a Music Director (he did the Australian premieres of Drowsy Chaperone and Next to Normal).
Why do you think music theatre is a good tool for discussion?
Music gives emotional weight to subjects and characters, so creates a more satisfying theatrical experience. It’s also a fantastic tool for shaping the rhythm throughout a piece. And nothing brings people together like making music.
How has working with students influenced or affected the work?
It’s entirely created by the students, so…a lot!
What can people look forward to in Key Changes?
The ideas of the Monash students – where their interests lie as people in their 20s, the things they want to write and talk about. Very few of the students have experience in creating their own work so it’s very fresh.
What’s one thing you’d like to see change in the next 50 years?
The level of carbon in the atmosphere and the level of corruption in politics. I’d prefer both of them to go down.
Monash University and MLIVE Present Key Changes
Saturday, 25 May 2019, 8pm at the Jazz Club, Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts – free admission.
For more information and ticket registration, please visit the MLIVE website.