New Initiative brings neglected musicals to life

My Favourite Year
Who knows the musicals My Favourite Year and See Saw? Ok, how about No Way To Treat A Lady, and Girl Crazy?

Yes, yes, some of you may have heard of them, and even listened to the original cast recordings… but how many have actually SEEN them live onstage?

It’s a sad fact that, despite the multitude of musicals in existence and the constant growth in the industry overseas, Australia simply never sees enough of these shows produced on our shores.

I’m certainly not bemoaning the selection of professional shows we have had on display over the last few years here in our wonderfully theatrically talented (yet strangely sport-centred) country. Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Billy Elliot, Wicked – all ‘block buster’ musicals which have enjoyed large commercial success overseas before importing their sets, costumes and directorial concepts to Australia.

The fact that we have directors, designers and actors who can create breathtaking concepts for these shows on their own merits(Priscilla, Love Never Dies, Dr. Zhivago and Hairspray to start with) means nothing to the global machines which are merely replicating a carbon copy of their original production elsewhere (but that’s a discussion for another day)!

Thankfully, a wonderful new initiative in Australia’s Music Theatre scene is set to change all that I’m complaining about.

The aptly named “Neglected Musicals” is a new theatre initiative dedicated to presenting musical theatre that has never (or rarely) been seen in Australia, whether it be that the musicals were not considered commercial enough for an Australian season or they just didn’t get picked up by an Australian producer.

A musical chosen to be presented by Neglected Musicals may have had a long and successful run on Broadway and the West End but never made it to Australia.
It may have had a short run off Broadway to critical acclaim but didn’t go any further. It may even have been a financial flop overseas but have artistic merit and worth a look here in the land down under. Whatever the reason, thank goodness for this company.

Neglected Musicals was established in 2010 and since it’s inception has produced the 4 musicals I first mentioned (SeeSaw, Girl Crazy, No Way To Treat A Lady and My Favourite Year – pictured left), giving audiences a taste of some of the best work from around the world. The productions are considered ‘staged readings’, with all the musical numbers sung through, and a small amount of direction and some design elements.

Next in line is a show called Nick and Nora, a musical based on the characters created by Dashiel Hammett in his novel The Thin Man.This musical has not been seen since its very brief original Broadway run of 71 previews and 9 ‘official’ performances in 1991.

The cast of includes Lisa Adam (Jersey Boys) in the role of Nora Charles and Justin Smith (Billy Elliot) as Nick Charles with Octavia Barron-Martin, Blake Erickson, Chris Horsey, Debora Krizak, Josie Lane, James Lee, Kate Parry, John Rowe and Matt Young.

I urge everyone to support the Neglected Musicals initiative. It is currently a Sydney-based project, but with the help and encouragement of Australia’s theatre community this humble, not-for-profit organisation may be able to branch out and become national. Could you imagine!?

Nick and Nora
Monday, 8 August
Darlinghurst Theatre 2pm & 8pm 

Directed by CJ Johnson
Musical Director Craig Renshaw

Booking Information:
(02) 9331 3107

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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