Soccer Mums and Dads in New Aussie Musical

Soccer Mums and Dads in New Aussie Musical

New Australian musical Every Single Saturday has grown from an initial 10 minute incarnation to a full-length song and dance story of soccer mums and dads which is set to tour to Glen Street Theatre, Sydney’s Theatre Royal, Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford and Parramatta Riverside Theatre during February and March 2012. Writer / composer Joanna Weinberg speaks to Neil Litchfield.

Where did the idea for Every Single Saturday spring from?

“About four or five years ago Short + Sweet had an inaugural competition for ten minute musicals.

“I thought, OK, what’s really, really exciting, that I could explore, that would only last 10 minutes. At the time I still had a kid in the soccer team, and I thought OK, what about four parents during the last 10 minutes of a match, when everyone’s getting really heated up and excited. So I wrote a 10-minute piece, and it got a really amazing response. It didn’t win, but it got into the final 10.

“The amount of people that came up to me afterwards and said, what a great idea! Write it into something bigger! It’s Australian and we relate, particularly because there’s a character who doesn’t relate at all to sport. That is basically me, in disguise. So I waited until I had this really empty time, about a winter later, and I thought, good, I’m going to use this time and develop it into a fuller piece.

“I got a grant from the Australia Council for new musicals, which enabled me to run quite a substantial month-long workshop with four brilliant singers, and that developed into the piece that I put on at NIDA in 2010.

“Then it got picked up by an independent producer, Les Currie, who at the time was the venue manage at NIDA. He saw the workshop, and the production, which I directed, and he responded to and related to it.

“He’s responsible for this new, big version of the show.”

So the characters are four soccer parents.

“Yes, they’re four soccer parents who don’t know each other, who come together because for one reason or another they’ve all ended up with children on the same team.”

What sort of chemistry does that lead to?

“There’s one mum, who has come to the area. She’s got a dark secret and is trying to fit in. There’s a dad, who’s returned after leaving Australia to become a conductor in Europe, who has a child that he doesn’t know and hasn’t bonded with. He’s come back to get to know his kid.

“There’s mixed class things happening as well. The conductor and the single mum are both pretty well educated people.

“The other two are a little bit more salt of the earth. One of them is Carlo, who’s an ex-player himself, obsessed with football. Then there’s Sandy, who’s a failing personal fitness instructor. She’s trying to sell a new concept called Babe Dance, which is a sort of mix of Pole Dance meets Disco / Zumba, to help her flagging career, and she doesn’t understand why it’s not taking off.”

Are the characters actually based on people that you met on the sidelines?

“I would never just lift a character from real life. They’re all conglomerates. They’re all little bits of different people that I know. There’s a bit of me in one of the characters, there’s a bit of my husband in the soccer tragic, so they’re all based on different people. But the really important part is their relationships with their kids.”

Who we never actually see.

“We never see them, but each parent goes through a profound journey as far as their kids are concerned. Each parent has a dream and a vision for their kids, and all of those dreams and visions are challenged . The message of the piece is probably that you can’t actually control the way your child is going to turn out.”

Tell me a little about how the musical has developed.

“The ten-minute piece was the last ten minutes of a whole season, so I was dealing with characters who already knew each other, who already hated each other, and who had developed a relationship with each other already.

“When I did the second version, I decided to keep it all on one day. It was still the final, and they had still developed a relationship, but I had a much longer time. I had ninety minutes to develop all those relationships.

“The biggest change with this new version of the show is that I’m taking it over a whole season, from the point where they first meet, so you see a much broader sweep of time.

“That’s exciting, because the thing that people loved best in each of the two previous versions were the characters. Taking it over a longer sweep of time gave me much more opportunity to develop the characters, and to see how their irritations with each other develop, particularly the women, who just can’t stand the sight of each other.

“There’s a lot of new songs, including new opening and closing numbers, both of which are very physical. There was a soccer opera in the previous version that’s gone, unfortunately. I loved it but we couldn’t make it fit the new production.

“The single mum now has an extra number, and there are two duets, which I was dying to write but didn’t have time to put in the previous production. The women have got a sort of I can’t stand the sight of you duet, called ‘Not My Day,’ and the men have a duet in the hospital scene, where something dreadful happens, and they’re forced to talk about their feelings, which is hard for them. It’s called ‘I Can’t Pass it On,’ and is about their inability to pass their talent on to their kids. You’ve got a conductor, whose child is tone deaf, which is very hard for him, and a sporting fanatic whose child just wants to sing and dance on Australian Idol.

“There’s a strong psychological undercurrent in this piece, but its pretty frothy and fun on the surface. It’s definitely got a few messages.

“We’ve also put more dance numbers in.”

What led to increasing the dance component of the show?

“That was really the producer’s input. Les Currie thought there was much more potential for movement than I had managed to realize in my version of it. We were in a very small theatre, and we had no set, so we had no levels to play with. Plus, it was an incredibly new piece, and we just ran out of time, quite frankly. That three-week rehearsal period for a new Australian musical is just not long enough, but it was all we could afford. You really need six weeks for a new piece, but that’s a huge financial commitment for the producer to make.

“What’s wonderful about doing it again, is there’s more time.

“I’ve kept all the numbers that were hits, and the producer said, ‘let’s have a big dance number here, and a big dance number there,’ and we cast accordingly. The director, Lisa Freshwater, has got the most terrific eye, and she was a dancer herself, so she’s brought a wonderful physical feel to the thing. We’ve also got a brilliant choreographer in Joseph Brown who has danced with the Sydney Dance Company.

Images: Neil (Scott Irwin), Sandy (Maria De Marco), Carlo (Christopher Horsey) and Liz (Katrina Retallick) & writer / composer Joanna Weinberg.

Every Single Saturday stars Maria de Marco, Christopher Horsey, Scott Irwin and Katrina Retallick. Director Lisa Freshwater; Musical Director, Brad Miller; Choreographer; Josef Brown, Set and Costume Designer, Justin Nardella; Lighting Designer, Martin Kinnane; Sound Designer, Nate Edmondson and Producer, Les Currie.

Revised Tour Details

Glen Street Theatre, Belrose

February 15 – March 3, 2012

Bookings: 9975 1455 or www.glenstreet.com.au

Laycock Street Theatre, North Gosford

March 26 – 28, 2012

Bookings 4323 3233 or  www.laycockstreettheatre.com

Riverside Theatre, Parramatta

March 29 – 31, 2012

Bookings 8839 3399 or www.riversideparramatta.com.au

Further reading

Musicals in 2012 and Beyond

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