Australian Premiere season of MEL BROOKS musical
Before it was ‘Keep it Gay’ in The Producers it was ‘Toujour Gai’ in archy & mehitabel, the first Broadway musical that comedy legend MEL BROOKS was a collaborator on. A rich jazz score, witty lyrics and dialogue with characters from Don Marquis’ famous New York news column make this Australian premiere season by the Magnormos Music Theatre Readings Program a must-see.
Limited Season - November 28th - 30th
Theatreworks, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda @ 8pm
Tickets: Full: $22 Concession* $18
* Magnormos Contributing Artist, valid concession card holders MEAA Members
BOOK: online at www.magnormos.com or on: 9534 3388
Starring Jane Badler (Diana in ‘V’, ‘All Het Up’, ‘Mission Impossible’) as Mehitabel, Matt Hetherington (‘The Full Monty’, ‘Hair’) as Big Bill, Robert Grubb (‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Flying Doctors’) as The Newspaperman, David Gauchi (‘A New Brain’, ‘High Society’) as Tyrone T Tattersall, and Michael Lindner (‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’) as archy.
In a deserted office, a cockroach dives headfirst onto the keys of a typewriter, pouring out the ruminations of his soul. It’s “archy” (he’s too small to hold down the shift key), poet, philosopher, moralist and futile worshipper of “mehitabel,” the alley cat. This bizarre, highly original musical takes us into the streets of the big city as archy tries hopelessly to bring the “toujours gai” mehitabel off the back fence and into a respect-able home as a housecat.
It all began in 1916, with Don Marquis’ whimsical stories for The New York Evening Sun. In 1954, a 45 minute album was recorded, with Carol Channing as Mehitabel and Eddie Bracken as Archy. Renamed as Shinbone Alley it opened on Broadway in 1957 at the Broadway Theatre, with Bracken and Eartha Kitt (understudied by Chita Rivera) in the leads. The book was co-written by lyricist Joe Darion and Mel Brooks, the future director of future Hollywood satires like Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, The Producers and History of the World, Part One. Way ahead of its time (Cats didn’t open for another quarter-century) Shinbone Alley lasted only 49 performances. But it wasn’t over then. Popularity was such that the show was presented on television for a national audience, this time with Bracken and Tammy Grimes. Finally, Shinbone Alley was made into an animated film with the leads who began it all, Channing and Bracken. Today it is often singled out as one of the most daring and innovative musicals of the Golden Age of Broadway, and finds its Australian premiere as part of the Magnormos Music Theatre Readings Program.
What is a ‘Reading’?
Traditionally a reading is a ‘read through’ performance of a text, without settings, props, costumes or other theatricalities, just the actors and their scripts, and generally with very limited rehearsal process. The Magnormos Music Theatre Readings Program is a program of ‘rehearsed readings’, which involve a short rehearsal period, relevant but limited stage direction, choreography, costuming and musical preparation/arrangement, and comprehensive focus on
the actor and the text.
Previous Magnormos Readings
‘Saturday Night’ (Australian Premiere), ‘Nile Blue’ (Australian Premiere) ‘Dutch Courage’ (Victorian Premiere), ‘Water Into Wine’, ‘A Bunch of Ratbags’.
What’s been said about the MTRP
’all you could want from Sondheim on any night … a bullseye!’ (The Age)
“Fizzed with focused energy … one to watch …” (Herald Sun)
“… the most fun I’ve had in a musical all year … ” - (The Age)