Trendy topical music theatre for all you Melbournites
By Bradley Storer
At the beginning of the show, the stage at Theatreworks is set up like the lounge room of a northern Melbourne share-house: strewn with the debris of the night before, accumulated mess, milk crate furniture and the bodies of several cast members.
Like the other work with which it shares the double-bill, Housewarming, Give My Regards To Broady is a musical dedicated to the mixed blessings and tribulations of youth through the experience of house-sharing.
The plot of Broady revolves around the daily lives and trials of a group of performing arts graduates all desperate for their big breaks and forced to find some way of co-existing peacefully. There’s Karin (Claire Healy), the lazy and poverty-stricken song-writer from Broadmeadows, her delightfully camp housemate and song-writing partner James (Leigh Jay Booth), a theatre-restaurant worker obsessed with celebrity networking, their friend Erin (Lauren Murtagh), a vainglorious South Melbourne heiress, and her ’accessory’ Luke (Joe Kosky). Lurking in the background is the rest of Karin’s housemates/backing band, with amusing interjections and intrusions from multi-instrumentalist Emma Muiznieks.
Broady is a love letter from its creators Karin Muiznieks and James Simpson, firstly to the enthusiasm and courage of young people who choose to work in the arts industry; when asked to compare her life with that of a Third-World child she sponsors, the character Karin counters ‘he doesn’t work in the arts!’.
Secondly to musical theatre itself, signalled by the posters of Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, Chicago and many other productions decorating the walls of the house. Muiznieks and Simpson play with standard musical tropes, amongst other things hilariously parodying the love duets of classic Broadway musicals and play out a wickedly vicious West Side Story-style scrag fight.
Lastly to the city of Melbourne itself, with songs devoted to topics like Melbourne Cup Day hook-ups, Crown Casino, half-built Ferris wheels – one song shows the characters trying to illustrate their relationships by comparing them to the qualities of different suburbs.
After a slow start, the show picks up strength and energy as soon as the first musical number appears. The four leads, under the direction of Scott Gooding, are all uniformly strong – the standouts are Murtagh and Kosky, who are given several moments to shine in numbers like ‘Erin’s Turn’ and the show finale. Healy and Booth ably handle the weight of keeping the show’s plot moving through several twists and turns with enthusiasm and flair. Give My Regards to Broady is an uproarious night at the theatre for music theatre lovers, Melbournites who love their local references and for anyone in general who enjoys a good laugh.
Dates: 28 Nov – Dec 10 at Theatre Works, St Kilda
Times: Nov 30 to Dec 3 at 7:00pm / Dec 5-10 at 8:45pm