May 2014

Well, I know I’ve been slack but I have a very good excuse-I’m currently in the Galápagos Islands indulging in my other passion-animals!

I’m off on a huge tour that’s as contrasting as being a VIP at Britney Spears in Vegas, swimming with sharks in Ecuador, climbing mountains in Peru, visiting the ancient city of Macchu Picchu, get up close to iguanas in the Galápagos, teaching at Stella Adler (New York), sailing the oceans blue, performing my show, ‘A Light in the a Dark’ at a Don’t Tell Mamma’s (New York), seeing Broadway shows and writing a lot!

June is spent in New York with several projects to be developed. Very exciting times!
I’m thrilled with the success of Children and art at the start of this month. It sold out at the Art a Gallery of NSW and received a sensational review-

“Tyran Parke never fails to astound and delight in live performance. His new one man show Children and Art, which debuted at the Art Gallery of NSW on Friday is no exception. A masterful creation of subtle skill and emotional depth, this cabaret has to be one of the most emotionally honest and shattering to be seen on a Sydney stage in years.” Aussie theatre.com

Full review at review page.

Next up I am teaching at Stella Adlers in New York and performing my cabaret show, “a Light in the Dark” at don’t tell mamma’s, New York on the 18th June.

And now, it’s off to flit around New York-I’m sure there will be lots to tell for the June update!

February 2014

Well the year is certainly underway, I sit contemplating as I write February’s entry in the middle of March! Oops!

February was a blur- taken up mostly with Sport for Jove and particularly Twelfth Night which played a short but very successful season at Paramatta Riverside Theatres. The production was heavily praised as happily, was I for my role as Feste;

“Last things first. Five stars. Or five-and-a-half. If there’s any company other than Sport For Jove making Shakespeare live and breathe all over again, in new ways, I don’t know of it…Tyran Parke, as the inadvertently wise clown Feste, wears his mask well, as the comic conscience of the play and sings beautifully, to boot…Ryan’s Twelfth Night is bursting at the seems with fresh, imaginatively executed ideas, tricks and treats. Even the worst old school highschool encounters with the Bard would be assuaged by this production. Take someone who professes to hate, or not understand, Shakespeare. If they come out the other side of the same persuasion, well, I speak nothing but madman.” Crikey.com

The guy (like so many others) clearly loved it…and here’s another one! BOOK your tickets – we only do a handful of performances at the Seymour Centre from April 1st.

“Taking Twelfth Night into the 1960s has given director Damien Ryan full rein to use his well-proven vision and creative imagination…The eighteen-strong cast works with high spirits and energy throughout this production. Their characters are strong and vibrant, even when they are moving props and transforming scenes. They establish an atmosphere of vitality that pervades the production and captures “the play’s wonderful sunlit holiday spirit and its bleakness, hated, revenge and madness”…There is so much that is innovative about this production. Yet, though fast and rollicking, it still maintains the introspection and melancholy that is the real heart of the play, and is made poignantly clear in Tyran Parke’s rendition of Feste’s final song, ‘The Wind and the Rain’ put beautifully to music by Christopher Harley.” StageWhispers

And lastly Bob Ellis thought these nice thoughts…

“And…Tyran Parke as Feste. A careless, grimy hippy with an angel voice, he speaks for all of us, and tells us, again, again, what we always knew — that love dies, age comes, and revenge, a stupid pastime, must at the last give way to song — and, in music for the ages but lately made by Christopher Harley, a composer of genius, he sings us down, down, into our glad graves, tenderly…my superlatives, my masters, are at an end. I feared I had seen its second last outing; but it is coming to the Seymour. It has won many prizes already. I beseech you, see it.”Ellistabletalk.com

There was other stuff too – rehearsals for Children and Art have commenced with MD Luke Byrne for the concert at the Art Gallery of NSW on May 2nd and I recently have accepted several performance and teaching positions during my upcoming trip to New York! Exciting!

More soon….

January 2014

Well 2014 has certainly started with a bang!

I was fortunate enough to bring the New Year in on Sydney Harbour just near the bridge with dear friends in tow and resolutions a’ ready.

(Perhaps one of them should have been keeping my website up to date?)

January was spent with several theatrical diversions;

I worked for NIDA on their summer program and also taught at the Christchurch International Summer School alongside a group of wonderful tutors including my childhood idol and now friend, Delia Hannah as well as Broadway’s, Andrea Burns. She was the most gracious of performers and we connected over our similar stories about how we both had considered never working again after doing ‘Sunday in the Park with George’ because we knew nothing would ever top it. (Andrea played Dot in Chicago.)

I have started work on Sport For Jove’s production of “All’s Well That End’s Well”. The production will play in repertory with a remount of “Twelfth Night” at the Seymour Centre in March.

I also had the pleasure of judging the Short, Sweet and Cabaret competition.

I’m back at NIDA and AIM as well as teaching a small handful of students from home.

And this week I start meetings for ‘Children and Art’, my new solo show to be presented at the Art Gallery of NSW on the 2nd May.

I was really proud to recently read the below quote on Aussie theatre.com in their 2014 which listed RENT in the top highlights;

“Tyran Parke directed RENT at AIM this year for just a handful of performances. The show, while scrappy, was surprisingly incendiary. Parke built in an authentic sense of urgency, of wilful. aimless artistry, and of youthful emotion. If the performances were raw, well these were students-some of them had never performed before- but RENT can also afford to be raw, should never be too polished. Parke speaks musical theatre’s language and we see this mostly when he performs, but its also there when he directs and next time he directs something in Sydney, make it a must-see” Aussietheatre.com

See you in Feb!

December 2013

December.

Tis the season to be mispronounced!

Yes despite all the fun and theatrical adventure of the previous eleven months, December is always fun because of the Carols and, going hand in hand with that, the attempts at pronouncing my name.

Several years ago at the Botany Carols, the divine Joy Smithers introduced the equally divine Lucy Maunder and myself with great fanfare as “Lucy Maudlin and Tryan Parke”! (This spawned a whole character and facebook page devoted to it as my evil nemesis, Tryan)

Well, this year was my tenth year at Botany Carols (and Joy’s) and the pronunciation was fine. In fact it was awesome fun. Joining us was my dear friend from WAAPA, Lena Cruz, and my good buddy Michael Falzon who sang every time the notes went too high above the stave. There were also a great choir made up from AIM students who were so great I invited them back to my house where I got very drunk and the neighbours complained about the noise. But at least Joy said my name right!

It’s the end of a big year. In the past month I did a guest spot on the TV series Wonderland, which was as bizarre as TV always is. Do you know I think there was someone who was being paid just to make sure my stethoscope was even around my neck?! It’s like that is the dead giveaway that you are not a real Dr- just an actor. A REAL doctor would always have an even stethoscope. (Who does that in real life for Doctors- or is that a skill you pick up doing 7 years study – without that you just need to pay a guy)

It was fun, though TV, as we know, is boring to make.  Aside from the great deal of attention spent on the length of my stethoscope, there were some other continuity problems. My name was clearly Dr Benson in the script but it was pointed out that my ID card said NURSE *something that sounded Middle Eastern* – I wasn’t even a Dr! Realising this I of course, weaved it into my character and if you look closely you will see when I give Ben Mingay the diagnosis on his brother’s condition, I get shifty at the end and exit shuffling. You see, in my back story, the REAL Dr Benson was at that moment coming down the hall with a bunch of big guys who could see from a mile off my stethoscope was not straight and I was therefore just a middle eastern NURSE posing as a Doctor. All the best drama happened off camera.

But aside from these small matters, which in the end only served to strengthen my characterisation, I think it went well. I was pretty happy that I said “Cardiac Arrhythmias” correctly. I always think that’s the give away- when you can see that the actor is not very familiar with the professional language. But I practiced it as much as Joy Smithers did my name at this year’s carols and it fell trippingly off the tongue. So, trippingly that the director asked me to improvise a bit around the condition (a condition he knew nothing about). Well luckily I was trained well and I could give any one of you a diagnosis should you ever have a cardiac arrhythmia. In fact if you ever do, you know who to call. Me. Or a doctor. As long as he has his stethoscope on straight.

Aside from my spot on TV, I launched the tour of Assassins in regional Victoria. The ever-talented Nick Simpson-Deeks and I toured around the place spreading the word of Sondheim, which is always rewarding. It went a bit pear-shaped when in Geelong, our fantastic lead, Mark Dickinson, got ill and I had to take the stage with Mr Simpson-Deeks in an unrehearsed Sondheim duet. I could have just said I was Mark, people will believe anything these days and it appears identity is not high on the priority list.

So, with Assassins launched, Wonderland in the can, Smithy grounded, I went off for my first holiday in ten years to a deserted island off the coast of Bali called Gilli Trawangan with friend and director/composer/writer/everything, Neil Rutherford who is so good at so many things he does them under different names. The reasoning behind this still baffles me. He reckons that people cannot accept someone being good at many things, so in order to be taken seriously, you need aliases! (Maybe that’s not a bad idea – maybe my “Carol” persona is Tryan Parke, then again, I’m not sure he does anything that well that the audience could not accept him just another part of me)

We ate, snorkelled, cooked, ate, slept and ate some more. In fact I’m feeling very Eat/Pray/Love at the moment – the trouble is I’m really stuck in the first phase. I’m sure I’ll get in a bit of Praying and Loving post Christmas. And, despite the fact that everyone thought we were a couple and the staff brought us candles and tried to entice us into joint baths, we had a great time.

Then too soon I was home again, just in time to head to Coogee Carols where the real magic happens. Except for this year where I might have been a Middle Eastern doctor or Mark Dickinson or Mrs Neil Rutherford or any other of my aliases for I was introduced as “the guy from up the road, Tyraine Park!”

Merry Christmas!

November 2013

Well, my flight to Sydney is delayed. I’ve already eaten, I’ve caught up on emails, rung some friends… so what’s left to do but boast about recent successes?

November was big. It was largely concerned with the workshop production of ‘King of the Air’, which I staged at Trackdown Studios starring my good friend Simon Gleeson. When we were at WAAPA together we used to sit and talk about how to make musicals better. And here we were being paid for it! Joining Simon were Philip Dodd, David Hooley and Meredith O’Reilly who were all a joy, along with newcomer Jaime Hadwin and the ensemble from the Australian Institute of Music. It was a good bunch but it nearly killed me.

And the results were wonderful.

In amongst all of this, I again hosted the Opera and Arts Support Group Fundraiser which was quite possibly the best one yet- I’m not sure if that was due to the programming or the fact that Nat Gamsu got tipsy and stayed out at City Extra into the wee hours of the morning. Either way- it went off, raised a lot of money and I was again proud to sing at it and host it.

I’m sitting in the airport lounge now, having spent three days touring the provinces spreading the word that ASSASSINS is coming back! It is so awesome to be back in the world of Sondheim and with such a great team.

We started in a place called Warragul, which has a lovely theatre and a great bakery that serves “Breakfast pies” – which is basically just everything you could eat for breakfast in a pastry base. Aint that novel- eggs, bacon, sausage, beans – yes even beans, hash brown – everything except coco-pops and I bet the good people of Warragul bakery would include those if you asked. That’s just the kind of people they are. They love their theatre and they love their pastries.

At the launch, John Blackman interviewed me, which was exciting cause I used to watch him on “Hey, Hey it’s Saturday”. But like everything prior to 1990, it’s better in my memory than in reality. That said, he did a great job and then Nick Simpson Deeks sang the Ballad of Czolgosz.  I can barely remember anything about the show, so when Mr. Blackman asked who Leon Czolgosz was, I could not respond- I’ve done three shows since then- if he asked me who was Charles Kingsford Smith, I could have talked for days but off the cuff all I could come up with was, “Luigi Lucente?” who was the awesome actor who played the role. I’m not sure if I instilled much confidence as a director.

But Nick saved the day by singing like a dream and flirting with all the women in the building and a good portion of West Gipsland. I, meanwhile, was off eating breakfast pies for dinner.

Then we travelled to Sale to do a site inspection, which was a bit more subdued- possibly due to the red wine pajama party that occurred after the official proceedings concluded the night before. It was on this road trip that Nick quipped, “We should sing a Sondheim duet together”. “One day”, I replied…

The next day, at our biggest launch yet, in Geelong, our lead went down ill and I went on as John Wilkes Booth singing a great Sondheim duet with Nick Simpson Deeks unrehearsed. Cause that’s always easy. Sondheim unrehearsed.

Careful what you wish for Mr. SD. Careful.

I’m now trying for a million dollars but I’m not sure if I’ve got Nick’s touch.

Having lowered my voice into that of a heavy baritone, I swanned around looking important and receiving words of support;“ you know you’ve got a good voice…for a director!” then went out in search of Geelong’s equivalent to the Great Warragul breakfast pie.

And that’s pretty much the month. To be honest, it has been hard. But recently I’ve sat with young people battling their feelings of sadness at not getting into WAAPA or the equivalent and realized, it’s often hard. But sometimes at the end of it all there are great rewards; friends, Sondheim and breakfast pies.

 

October 2013

Welcome to October!

I’m writing this not too long after the September update but I’ll try and find new things to boast about. Lets start with some name dropping- always good for websites.

I am writing from beautiful Norfolk Island where I am dramaturging a new musical with Colleen McCullough and Gavin Lockley based on her bestselling novel, ‘Morgan’s Run’. I’m actually directing a workshop of Gavin’s other musical based on Charles Kingsford Smith at AIM at the moment and through that I’ve also muscled my way into this piece. It’s remarkably interesting and Colleen, well, she’s a legend.

When not writing, I’m eating or exploring or writing my book – one wonders if it will ever be finished but I love the central character and he’s a delight to visit every now and again. I’m also working on the Opera, ‘The Fairy Queen’ which opens in two weeks(!). I’m trying hard not to piss off the opera buff’s too much but hey, some of this stuff doesn’t make much sense and Opera buff’s are the easiest people to piss off, so I don’t like my chances.

In addition, I’m starting a new course at NIDA and writing a new cabaret show for a great venue to be announced shortly.

I’m thrilled that I will again be performing at Light the Night (must have been OK last year?). The concert is always fantastic and we are busy putting together a visual package so that we might premiere a song direct from Compositions; Christopher Harley’s beautiful, ‘This is My House’.  The concert is on Monday 28th October at Angel Place Recital Hall in Sydney.

And then, given that the Fundraising season will be upon us, it’s almost time to get the annual Opera and Arts Support Group Fundraiser sorted. Each year I produce and host this event for a most worthy cause.

But for now, It’s time to soak up Norfolk- hope to see you in a theatre soon!

September 2013

Web Update September

I always feel like you get on an invisible slide somewhere around May each year and before you know it you are unceremoniously dumped into October – how does this happen.

This is my pathetic way for apologizing for not updating my website but sometimes it all just feels a bit wanky. But rather than whinge about my inability to feel passionate about my achievements, I best just list them, throw in a few quotes, sound self important and consider this month’s update over.

It’s been busy. Those that know me will grin. It’s always busy!

One my proudest achievements in theatre happened over the past few months. To my huge surprise it was not a revival of a Sondheim that I starred in nor a new CD- it was a student production of RENT, which I directed for the graduating students at the Australia Institute of Music (AIM). I worked on this show for many months and was so proud with the final result. I can only hope every project is as rich.

I also just finished starring in LifeForce – a new Australian musical about the unlikely subject of IVF.I played Joel a gay sperm donor who had to jism nightly into a cup. Well, perhaps I should have done this earlier in my career cause I got awesome reviews, which you will now be subjected to…

“In the musical she chooses a gay friend Joel (Tyran Parke) to be the donor. He was the stand out star in this musical.

Joanna Weinberg has composed the most gorgeous ‘aria’ for his character, called a suitable man, which would not be out of place in any smash hit musical. But no one left disappointed from what was a very special night in the theatre.

Bravo to the Australia Council and Robert Albert for sponsoring such a high quality opening for this gem of a show.Stage Whispers

 

I might cut that one out and send it to my mum.

 

“Tyran Parke demonstrates outstanding abilities both as a vocalist and actor, with a performance that is simultaneously entertaining and moving. Themes of family and parenthood when taken seriously, never fail to connect. In the case ofLifeforce, we are served an earnest and thoughtful tale of motherhood in several forms. Along with clever song-writing and beautiful singing (King St Theatre’s cosy acoustics are the perfect showcase for a small musical), this is a show that aims for the heart and never misses its mark.” Suzygosee.com

 

Nice, I have no idea who she is but I like Suzy and I hope she Goes and sees a lot more!

 

Then there was this woman who was brief but nice;

 “Tyran Parke is excellent as the young gay Joel who has been asked to be the “donor”.” Lisathatcher.com

 

And then there was the best of all;

 

 

 

Unfortunately that woman wrote in white writing so it isn’t visible here – but rest assured-it was good!

And then of course there was good ol’ Aussietheatre.com who I promise I am not sleeping with or paying.

 

“There is so much potential in the piece. There are two especially interesting supporting characters – Joel (the fabulous Tyran Parke) and Sally (Monique Salle) who both have exciting points of view… Lifeforce features some stunning vocals –Parke is as heavenly as usual, and that his profile isn’t higher remains a mystery; he blends effortlessly into harmonies with Lotkin, who is a fine performer, at her strongest singing with Parke.”

 

All in all it was a great show to be a part of. It won the best musical/cabaret award for the Sydney Fringe and we are eve recording a cast CD – watch this space!

 

Aside from these two productions, I am well underway directing my first Opera, Purcell’s, The Fairy Queen which is daunting but fun.

I also managed to fit in a trip to Port Augusta to teach some skills to a local choir, further pushing of the new CD – you can buy it here and teaching at NIDA, AIM and AADA.

 

There is an exciting announcement coming up to do with teaching plus a new piece to direct, another to dramaturg and a return of a previous success. But as C.J. Craig says from the West Wing, “That’s a full lid” I’m not really sure what it means but she always sounds powerful and sexy when she says it so till next time, imagine me powerful and sexy and that’s it!

 

June 2013

Ok, so I’ve been a bit slack but it took me a while to get over the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. It was such an awesome experience – FINALLY bringing to the stage Compositions, A musical close-up.

The show premiered to standing ovations and great acclaim. Each song was played by the Adelaide Art Orchestra under the amazing leadership of MD Vanessa Scammel and was visually accompanied by the many startling images of my brother Trent Parke. A special pleasure was singing the ‘vocalise’ whch was written by Peter Rutherford (The composer of The Hatpin and Love Bites) just two weeks before the concert to underscore a delicate animation by my younger brother Grant Parke.

The CD is now available through this website on the CD page.

Next up, I’m excited to be directing RENT for the Australian Institute of Music (AIM). It is a piece I really love. Having played the composer, Jonathon Larson in Tick Tick Boom! A few years back, I’m thrilled to bring to the stage his great masterpiece.

Then I’m directing another one man cabaret for the Sydney Fringe Festival and appearing in the new Australian musical, ‘.Life Force’.

So, it’s busy times ahead but I guess that’s how I like it!

 

“WORLD premieres are a dime a dozen, but those present at the first night of Tyran Parke’s Compositions might just have seen something special…the songs are artfully tailored to his lyrical tenor…Being present at the first ever performances of new songs by these Broadway greats is a rare treat” Adelaide Advertiser

 

With a charismatic smile to win you over and a voice to captivate an audience, Tyran Parke shoots right at the heart of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival…he has brought these songs to life with a presence that is irresistible.For the audience, there is only one thing to do: sit back and enjoy the journey through the cheeky smiles, contagious emotion and warming sincerity.From quirky show tunes to dark tales of disappearance, the show seemed to pass too quickly…Compositions: A Musical Close-Up is a rare and generous collaboration of world-class artists successfully sharing a performance across mediums” In Daily

 

“Beautifully crafted and haunting, Parke’s undisputed talent was moving and uplifting.” Glam Adelaide

 

“Compositions: A Musical Close-Up” is an innovative, exciting project. Part art showing, part cabaret, the production is certainly one to watch. The artwork of Trent Parke is consistently unrestrained and captivating; it’s easy to see why so many composers were inspired to contribute to the project.

Each musical contribution is unique and elegantly crafted, with never a dull moment in the line-up…With dynamic, powerful vocals. Parke’s excellent storytelling skills transition easily into his singing… The Orchestra adapted to each song skillfully, mastering electric-guitar-filled rock numbers and soulful ballads alike. The scores and arrangements are luxurious and consistently well-played…This global collaboration is one of a kind, but hopefully not for long…it will surely be a world-class performance export for Australia, with similar projects hopefully following suit” Adelaide Theatre Guide

 

“Tyran sings, beautifully, with a confidence and a passion, devoid of arrogance but with a gentle showmanship that reveals his identity and genuineness.” Krytzoff

 

“It’s a bit of a fantastic list of composer names that Parke drops throughout the show – Sondheim, Schwartz, Bucchinno, Perfect, Robinson and a heap more.  The music theatre geeks (like this reviewer) may well have squealed quietly with every name drop.” Aussietheatre.com

 

May 2013

Well, when it rains…I recently returned from New Zealand where I performed my award winning cabaret show (I love being able to say that!), “A Light in the Dark” to rave reviews including this one on theatreview.com;

I will start by saying that I like musicals. I grew up with musicals, my mother is a big fan; Oliver, The Pirates of Penzance, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Chess, Chicago, and her absolute favourite: West Side Story. Mum would turn the volume up as loud as it could go while the three of us danced and sang around the living room.  As a result I have my own favourite musicals and a firm appreciation for the genre. I am looking forward to this show!

Though I am not ‘up’ on the play when it comes to Tyran Parke, the impression I get from the noisy capacity crowd is that there are plenty of people who know exactly who Tyran Parke is. Which is exciting to me. I love the build up to a show when I can almost take a bite of the electricity in the room.

Here we are, an ebullient bunch who have braved some of the worst driving weather of this odd autumn. As such everyone takes a while to get their seats and settle so the show goes up fifteen minutes late, any tarry over that disappears as soon as I hear this man’s incredible voice pouring out the sweet opening lines of ‘Something’s Coming’ from the Song Cycle Brick Walls and Waterfalls by Christopher Harley. He isn’t even on stage yet I am captured by the power of his voice. I get a stab of excitement, all of a sudden I can’t wait to see the rest of this show. 

He is quick to tell us he loves musical theatre; he ‘came out’ as a musical theatre fan during Sydney’s Musical Theatre Festival last year. I have to laugh as he bluntly says, “In the entertainment industry it is pretty cool to hate musical theatre.”

I think it is his genuine love of it that gives him such a talent for it. So why the heck not chart his memoirs with a collection of fabulous show tunes that make his already very touching personal stories even richer. This show is certainly not a collection of songs thrown together, this show proves that music is the most universally valid form of social and cultural expression.

I have to wonder if he has jumped the gun on himself writing a memoir show, given he is still in his very early thirties. My mind is changed by the living this man has done for his years. He has been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things.

A Light In The Dark is a beautiful memoir of Tyran’s life charting his journey from rural Newcastle Australia. We meet him as the young boy losing his mothe; as a thirteen year old watching Les Miserables. We share his letter exchanges with leading lady (Kiwi) Delia Hannah; we follow on with him to train in Perth and on further into his professional career as a musician, singer and actor, sharing the highs and lows of life on stage.

Here is this talented man pouring out his very heart to us in speech and in song. This is a genuinely sweet, heartfelt, funny show. 

Tyran points out that he knows a few of the faces in the crowd tonight and on more than one occasion his audience bantering brings warm laughter rippling through the room. His song choice and singing is exemplary, each of the twelve songs on the playlist wraps around the fine silks of his life stories and is delivered with the right amount of lightness and shade to bring this hardened Hamiltonian to tears more than once.

His good humour also helps him immensely with the technical snags (the microphone stand comes apart, the operator misses a couple of lighting cues) then I get the feeling nothing could stop this man sharing this show with us tonight.

As the show draws to a close I reflect: Tyran Parke is an exceptional story teller with the gift of humility and boy can he sing. So what of his planned encore? I have to ask myself, “How does he top this?”

The house goes wild as, after much thanks and praise to his team in New Zealand (and yes, he loves it here!), he introduces ‘Seeing is Believing’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love (you know, the one where the young man develops intense feelings for the leading lady in a musical? Yeah, that one.) Which also happens to be my favourite Lloyd Webber musical.

As if that’s not enough he then brings to the stage the very leading lady who has been a massive inspiration over his entire career, Delia Hannah (who incidentally became a Broadway star playing the leading lady in Aspects of Love). Their voices sound made for each other as they beam out at us, every bit of them the stars in the room. It is beautiful to watch. As for the rapturous round of applause as they close, I doubt anyone was not clapping their loudest in appreciation.   

Sensationally good cabaret, Tyran Parke is a genius!

 

And now I’m directing RENT for the Australian Institute of Music while preparing to release my new CD, ‘Compositions; A musical Close-up’.

April 2013

Ok, so I missed a month! Sorry, I was up to my eyeballs in Sondheim! Yes, Assassins has opened in Melbourne to a wild audience response, wonderful reviews and three days after we opened is COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!

I’m so proud of the production and the amazing cast.

The reviews say it all;

Director Tyran Parke has done remarkably well with this production of Sondheim’s lesser-known Assassins, first staged off-Broadway in 1990 and locally by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 1995….The final numbers are brilliantly realised.

This is social critique with high kicks and harmonies. The Age

This production, by new company Watch This, captures the bizarre nature of the characters and the wry humour, political satire and moral commentary of the script… In a compelling, abstract world, killers from different time periods collide, sing about their obsessions, explain their motives through monologues, scenes and songs, including the poignant November 22, 1963, in which people recall where they were when Kennedy was shot.

Nadine Garner’s bold, comic characterisation of failed assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is hilarious, and her comic timing and delivery are deliciously wicked.

Luigi Lucente gives a compassionate, complex portrayal of Leon Czolgosz, the downtrodden factory worker who kills President McKinley as a political statement. The Herald Sun

 Weidman’s book sparkles like it was written yesterday, but the showpiece here really is Sondheim’s score. Twenty-three years after its off-Broadway debut, it still packs a mean punch… Nick Simpson-Deeks as The Balladeer — who has possibly the prettiest voice in musical theatre — gets the best material in the show, sharing The Ballad of Booth and The Ballad of Guiteau with the respective assassins, and busts out his masterful acting chops in his eleven-o-clock transformation into Lee Harvey Oswald.

Nadine Garner as the manic, gangly Sarah Jane Moore is phenomenal. Her brilliantly bizarre line readings and switchblade-sharp timing are as good as anything on a Broadway stage. Aaron Tsindos as Charles Guiteau, is marvellous. You can’t take your eyes off his demented, egomanical, smiley-faced soft-shoe. Matt Holly is heartbreakingly good as John Hinckley, Jr. The cast are — for the most part — stellar… Shane Nagle as Samuel Byck delivers an incredible performance… The reveal of entirely different set pieces and a backdrop — the raw, window-laden wall of the space itself — towards the end of the show is brilliant… This is the first professional production of the show since the Melbourne Theatre Company did it in 1995; don’t wait 18 years for another one. Crikey

 Mark Dickinson’s portrayal of John Wilkes Booth struck the perfect note between hilarity and tragic irony. Vocally he was powerful. He inhabited the role of the vain actor so completely that the audience felt as if they were living within the character. The duet, The Ballad of Booth, performed by Dickinson and Nick Simpson-Deeks, as the balladeer, was impeccable…Aaron Tsindos gave a brilliant performance as Charles Guiteau, endearing all the way to the gallows. Again Simpson-Deeks was called upon to chronicle the demise of Guiteau as the balladeer creating the second stand out number of the evening. Nadine Garner proved she has great skill as a comedic theatre performer with possibly the best part of the book, Sarah Jane Moore. She wonderfully brought to life a sad and forgotten housewife whom it was impossible for the audience not to love.  Her comic timing was impeccable. And while we’re on the topic of impeccable comic timing, Shane Nagle rates a special mention.  As a struggling Santa Claus and would be Nixon assassin, Nagle delivered his monologues with such pathos that you almost found yourself rooting for him to succeed in his plot… The set design was interesting- a carnival like environment  artfully created with a shooting gallery of men in suits with targets for head, representing each president… Assassins is well worth the cost of admission to see the performances from the entire ensemble who managed to fully entertain for the duration. Stage Whispers

 Sondheim fans don’t need anyone to convince them to see a production of Assassins, and they are selling out fortyfivedownstairs every night to see new a company, Watch This, take aim and fire… Watch This is Sonya Suares’s (who was General Manager of Red Stitch) new company and this debut has assured that Melbourne’s music theatre lovers are already looking forward to their next production… With a rehearsal time that was counted in days, not weeks, their Assasins is assured and complex and deserving of its full houses. While there’s an inconsistency among performances and voices, this doesn’t take away from the production and leaves us imagining how amazing they will be with the support and funding to rehearse for a reasonable amount of time… Sondheim fans, don’t wait to get a ticket for Assassins because there might not be many left. It’s not a perfect production, but it captures the mood and power of the work, asks questions that resonate, introduces some terrific new talent (and reminds us why we love some of the old) and as this is Watch This’s first show, I’ll be first in line for their next one. Aussietheatre.com

‘Everybody’s got the right to their dreams!’ With these deceivingly sunny words we are drawn into the grim world of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, a dark twisted carnival in which the murderers of history exist in a fantastical purgatory… Mark Dickinson as John Wilkes Booth brings a sonorous baritone and combination of Southern and Satanic charm to the role, quietly commanding every scene he enters. Nadine Garner is pitch perfect as Sarah Jane Moore, one of the two ladies who attempted to kill Gerald Ford, and her scenes with Sonya Suares as Lynette Fromme are a comic delight. The rest of the cast deliver solid performances… Director Tyran Parke is to be commended for his direction of the show, and his vision shines through strongly in the assassins’ individual songs and scenes … Parke and the cast do a fantastic job of humanising the characters and mining the comedic potential of the material.”Theatre Press.

Next up, I will be performing in ‘A Light in the Dark’ in Auckland NZ on the 25th May. It’ll be my NZ cabaret debut which is really exciting! Details to come.

And of course, the big one is ‘Compositions, a musical close up’ which premieres at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June and brings together my brother, Trent’s award winning photographs with songs written by some of the best music theatre composers in the world. The show was recently launched in Adelaide to a great response;

www.adelaidecabaret.com/Tyran-Parke-Compositions-A-Musical-Close-Up

So much to do! Hope to see you in a theatre soon!