Once We Lived Here in London
After award winning Australian seasons and a trip to New York, Dean Bryant and Matthew Frank’s original musical has made it into London. Replete with a spectacular cast of Aussie talent, the musical will run at the Kings Head Theatre in London until April 26.
Once We Lived Here debuted on Melbourne stages in 2009 where it proceeded to enrapture audiences and critics alike. The cast album (available here on itunes), featuring once and future music theatre royalty Esther Hannaford and Christie Whelan-Browne has since become a favourite for anyone with a passion for Australian grown musical theatre. The score by Matthew Frank possesses tinkling hints of Sondheim while the book by Dean Bryant conjures up a rural conundrum passionate and vivid. The musical put these two Australian artists on the map. A season in New York in September 2013 followed a successful Australian tour, and now the show has found its way to London where yet another talented Australian cast takes this musical to its newest but certainly not its final frontier.
Featuring Melle Stewart (The Hatpin), Belinda Wollaston (Doctor Zhivago), Simone Craddock, Iestyn Arwel and Shaun Rennie, the musical – directed by Dean Bryant – has opened at the Kings Head Theatre to pleasing reviews and a warm audience response.
“Mathew Frank’s songs swing between very conventional modern musical theatre style and a slightly-off Sondheim experiment. They tell the story efficiently and among them are some really beautiful pieces. The energetic ‘What The Hell’ is a lot of fun and the ballads ‘As Far As The Eye Can See’ or ‘Patch Of Dust’ are genuinely touching. A good book by Dean Bryant although some of his lyrics are quite a mouthful for the performers and sometimes the sincerity of the story takes over and the drama can feel a bit excessive.”ThePublicReview.com (You can read the full review here.)
Esther Hannaford sings “As Far as the Eye Can See” from Once We Lived Here at the 2011 Rob Guest Endowment Ceremony.
This musical, with its exceptional artistic pedigree, is an unquestionable stand out in the last decade of Australian musical theatre, and, at present, one of the most successful original works in the genre. The on-going success story of the show can only serve as a sign to international audiences and producers of what Australian artists are capable of – a sign of the times? Maybe it’s time for an Australian invasion of Broadway and the West End? With writers and composers such as Eddie Perfect, James Millar, Anthony Costanzo and Matthew Robinson (to name but a few!) storming Australian stages… certainly it is now a question of when and not if. Watch this space.
If you happen to be in London in April, tickets and information about this shows season at the Kings Head are available here.