Young, fresh and brimming with potential
By Deborah Langley
It is a rare to sit in the audience of a first. First dates are exciting because you just don’t know where it’s going to lead you. With similar anticipation, the audience shuffled into The Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne to be introduced to another kind of first: the emergence of some really fresh, raw musical theatre talent that has been hiding somewhere in Melbourne.
Once We Were…. opens with a Broadway-style ensemble number where we are introduced to some very familiar characters. This contemporary musical is set in the States (which is slightly disappointing for an Australian musical – but that is a side note) with catchy, pop-inspired music, fun accessible characters and witty dialogue which would feel just as at home on any Gen Y hit TV show.
At its heart this musical explores relationships as our writers understand them. We meet the straight couple who get together during college, the gay guys who are feeling their way through coming out to parents and dealing with an eight-year age difference, and the awkward lesbian couple who prove that opposites do attract.
The creators, Rowland Braché (composer/lyricist) and Lauren Seymour (writer/co-director) have been able to combine honest tales of love with great music and perfect timing in a musical which is reminiscent of a pop-inspired Spring Awakenings. Kim Edwards (director) has brought it to the stage with simplicity and sincerity which allows these characters to really come to life.
The ensemble cast including Jacqui Levitas, Tyson Legg, Kathleen Amarant, Callum Botica, Christian Cavallo, David Miles, Kellie-Anne Kimber, Maverick de Leon, Cassie Lee Elliget and Jack Van Staveren work brilliantly together, but easily the stand-out in both performance and story line is the lesbian couple, Cindy (Jaclyn DeVincentis) and Olivia (Candice Sweetman) whose awkward banter and unpretentious reflections were both silly and poignant, and simply a joy to watch.
Like all first runs of successful shows, Once We Were…. is brimming with potential and spotted with imperfections that need an audience to highlight. I can’t wait for the second season and feel privileged to say that I was there to witness the first…. and you should be too.
Once We Were… is playing until 2nd July at The Lithuanian Club, 45 -50 Errol Street North Melbourne. Go to www.trybooking.com/OLJ for more information or contact 0487 487667