THE ADAMSON THEATRE COMPANY AT WESLEY COLLEGE ST KILDA ROAD PROUDLY PRESENTS
BY BENNY ANDERSSON, BJORN ULVAEUS AND TIM RICE
THE ADAMSON THEATRE COMPANY AT WESLEY COLLEGE ST KILDA ROAD PROUDLY PRESENTS
MUSIC BY BENNY ANDERSSON & BJORN ULVAEUS
LYRICS BY TIM RICE
BASED ON AN IDEA BY TIM RICE
AMATEUR PRODUCTION BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT WITH DOMINIE PTY LTD
MUSICAL DIRECTION BY MARGARET ARNOLD AND DAVID MOWAT CHOREOGRAPHED BY ALICE DIXON TECHNICAL DIRECTION BY SABINO DEL BALSO COSTUME DESIGN BY STEPHANIE DES BARRES AND JILL WELCH DESIGNED BY TONY SCANLON PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY DAWSON HANN AND FELICITY PEARSON PERFORMED IN ADAMSON HALL, WESLEY COLLEGE ST KILDA ROAD 16, 17, 19, 20, 21 AUGUST 2010
A MUSICAL PUZZLE: STAGING CHESS Since its original concert versions and concept album release way back in 1984, Chess has had a troubled and often mysterious passage into the world of contemporary musical theatre. Even the largely successful West End production, which opened in May 1986 and ran for three years, was beset by artistic differences and changing conceptions of the material. Chess is a musical riddle wrapped in an enigma, and then moved around a theatrical chess board of commercial possibilities and complexities. There seems to be no single definitive version. It has been tinkered with by a raft of ambitious and muddled directors determined to imprint it with some distinctive if misguided vision. It has turned up as a musical within a musical (a New York version had as the central idea a company of actors putting on a musical called Chess. Get it?) Plot lines have been tampered with to have a different champion at the end, presumably ignoring the love story which is the show’s emotional heart. Chess, it seems, could be whatever you wanted it to be. Despite the persistent attempts of numerous confused productions to destroy its integrity as a full operatic work, what has survived intact is its gloriously melodic score by those musical geniuses behind the 70s pop group ABBA, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Caught very much in the shadow of the Big Three of Eighties theatre (Les Miserables, Cats, Phantom of the Opera), the Chess score has rarely received the recognition or admiration it so richly deserves. Librettist Tim Rice has acknowledged that even the most misconceived productions, with bewildering plot lines and oblique characterisations and motives, simply could not destroy the songs. Wonderful music, exciting rock rhythms, plaintive and heart-rending melodies, just keep turning up every few minutes. By the power of its music has Chess survived the reckless assaults on what is, in then end, a very accessible musical experience. Some in musical theatre will happily contend that the Chess score surpasses in brilliance and consistency those of its more famous Eighties rivals. For the version you are seeing tonight, we have gone back to the basics: the original concept album, the London stage production of 1986, and some new material provided by Tim Rice for a Concert Performance staged in the Royal Albert Hall as recently as May 2008. (This additional material has helped clarify one or two murky plot moments, while the re-positioning of two songs and of an early scene assists with narrative coherence and
characterisation). Not too much tinkering. We have taken our cue from Mr Rice, who as the writer and owner of the original idea, argues that this combination of sources “is the definitive version, in story and style.” To reach this point has taken, it would seem, a mere twenty five years. Chess has a sophisticated plot-line (a helpful synopsis is provided elsewhere in the program) but it is by no means as impenetrable as some seem to have found it. The setting is the height of the cold war, and the histrionic chess games of the era between memorable contestants Bobby Fischer of the US and Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union are a clear historic inspiration. Tim Rice has freely acknowledged the behaviour of the mercurial and media-driven Fischer as one source for the character of Freddie Trumper, the opera’s bad boy. Chess the game is established throughout as a metaphor operating at several levels: on the broader scale, it represents the dark world of political manoeuvring, of plotting and opportunism engaged in by the super powers, whose chess champions were fighting another battle in the cold war in the chess arenas of the world. And at a more personal level, the chess metaphor helps the play, through its songs, explore all the moves and counter-moves, and the inevitable check-mate, in the eternal and universal story of the human heart which gives the show its soul, removing it from the more abstracted world of politics, international intrigue and nationalistic posturing. No wonder when Florence sings at one point the beautiful “Heaven Help My Heart” we feel we have arrived at an emotional core.
An authentic production of Chess should attempt to balance these elements; interestingly, the Broadway version of the late 80s attempted to overpropagandize the material, re-inventing the plot line to ensure that the endgame which powerfully concludes the story became an expression of American triumphalism (the Berlin Wall had not yet come down). Ignoring the exquisite poignancy of the smaller story inside Chess, the production was a critical and commercial catastrophe, closing after an eight week run. Those New Yorkers know their theatre.
enunciating the moral dilemmas faced in the interior worlds where the play’s deepest feelings are to be encountered. Perhaps as a theatrical device they are nearest to the chorus in the plays of Greek antiquity, and we have certainly envisaged them in this way, as they provide a dramatic link throughout. The wider ensemble (the “legit choir” so called) emphatically lift the story beyond its more personal domains, giving powerful musical authority to those exhilarating times in the opera when the universal themes are engaged and the world at large is embraced; the brilliance of the music here transcends the darker political substrata where “man’s petty nations tear themselves apart.” You can’t have a great musical without these sublime and heart-lifting interludes. So we leave you with our interpretation of what we think is close to the original conception of the composers and writer. The hugely talented singers have embraced wholeheartedly the challenge of staging Chess, and we trust you enjoy the fruits of their musical labours. A final word from Sir Tim Rice, writing in the program notes for the recently reinvented concert version in London:
So this production of Chess seeks to knit these disparate elements, moving through the smaller more intimate stories of the contestants and their entourages to moments of a grander, more epic nature. And here a problem for staging needed to be confronted and dealt with. A big-scale musical demands the usual swelling choral moments, but unlike in more conventional shows, it is never entirely clear where this ensemble fits in: who are they at any particular moment in the show? The musical score rather unhelpfully designates a “pop choir” and a “legit [legitimate] choir” (the latter to be used for the most heightened choral expression of the universal themes). To integrate these in ways that made dramatic sense without inviting narrative incoherence was undertaken in two ways. The “pop choir”, the essential vocal support in rock opera, we have called the Chess Acolytes, borrowing a description from the libretto. You will see them on the side stages, sometimes behind as the Arbiter’s assistants, often just observing and commenting on the actions and motives of the principal players engaged in all the “chess games” going on around them. At times they are haunting presences, echoing the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists,
“In essence, Chess is [once again] as it was way back in 1984. With the passing of time it is now, to its advantage, more clearly a period piece. To think that the magnificent music of Bjorn [Ulvaeus[ and Benny [Anderssen] had only been known to the world for ten years when we embarked upon Chess is extraordinary; the world now knows that their music is timeless and lasting. I hope the work I was fortunate enough to create with them will one day be recognised as a full part of their brilliant legacy”.
SYNOPSIS The Prologue: the Arbiter and his acolytes sing and dance the story of chess, a game invented to resolve a dispute between two Hindu princes, fighting for the right to a throne some fifteen hundred years ago…
ACT ONE In Merano, a self-consciously beautiful mountain spa town in the Tyrolean region of northern Italy, the World Chess Federation, through its President and Arbiter, announces the next World Chess Championship. The temperamental, volatile American Grandmaster, Freddie Trumper, arrives with his Hungarian-born British second, Florence Vassy, and immediately alienates both the press, and his Russian opponents, Anatoly Sergievsky and his second, Alexander Molokov. The two chess combatants are very different in style, and Freddie’s truculence and arrogance contrast with Anatoly’s calm self-possession. Anatoly is his own man, but at the same time is only too aware of the restraints imposed on him by the Soviet ideological machine. The American and Russian delegations make a point of protesting each other’s conduct in the lead-up to the first match. The Arbiter explains the rules, a reverential song to chess is sung, but the vulgar commercialisation of the Championship, sponsored by western media interests, is soon apparent. The first match ends with an enraged Freddie creating a scene, abandoning the game and storming out of the arena, leaving the Arbiter, Molokov, Florence, and Anatoly to sort out the mess. Florence and Molokov explore a way to bridge divisions and restore the integrity of the Championship, insisting “the game is greater than its players.” Freddie accuses Florence of disloyalty, of siding with the very country she should hate for what it did to Hungary, her country of birth, in the 1956 uprising. Florence understands that “nobody’s on nobody’s side”, that chess merely reflects a cynical world of opposing ideologies and selfish motives, where everybody plays the same game by different rules. Florence agrees to meet Anatoly in a mountain inn, and they realise immediately they are attracted to each other. Freddie turns up for the meeting as instructed, and berates Florence for seemingly cooperating with the Soviets, the ideological enemy. With Freddie’s fragile equilibrium now destroyed, Anatoly surges to a 5-1 lead in the second match. Florence is torn between her duty to the spiteful Freddie and her awakening feelings for Anatoly. Shaken by Freddie’s cruel accusations, Florence
quits, leaving the American to indulge his wounded ego. By now, Anatoly has found that his love for Florence has overwhelmed his responsibilities to his country, and to his wife Svetlana, still back home in Russia. Abandoning patriotic and familial obligations, and beguiled by love and the promise of greater freedoms, Anatoly defects. Walter, Head of the American Delegation and of a Trans-global Television company, recognises the commercial possibilities of Anatoly’s decision, and informs the press, who accost the Russian and question why he is defecting. Anatoly answers, in the stirring anthem, that he leaves nothing, because his true country lies deeply embedded in his heart, safe from the destructiveness of man’s petty ideological squabbles and political obsessions.
ACT TWO A year on, and the Chess caravan has moved on to Bangkok, Thailand, where the chess contests continue now between two Russians, Sergievsky and Viigand. The former is now officially a stateless person, but playing on behalf of western interests. Anatoly and Florence remain in love and together, but Florence is disturbed to hear that Anatoly’s wife, Svetlana, is rumoured to be coming to Bangkok (a KGB-inspired move to unsettle Anatoly and even win back his loyalty). They still believe their romance can defy the odds and achieve a happy ending. Molokov ensures that Viigand, the challenger, a KGB chess automaton, is petrified of the personal and political consequences of losing to Anatoly: the Soviet Machine must crush and humiliate its western opponents. Molokov contacts Walter ( also a likely CIA operative) to inform the Americans that Florence Vassy’s father is still alive after 30 years in a Soviet prison, and will be traded (along with others of interest to the Americans) for the price of a Russian victory in the final chess game. The Americans will win an impressive human rights victory – provided Anatoly loses. Svetlana arrives on the scene, wondering whose story she now belongs to, feeling no longer a part of Anatoly’s life, but resolved to make the best of how the pieces fall in the end. Despite Florence’s scepticism and lack of cooperation, a deal is brokered. Freddie, now in Bangkok commentating for Transglobal Television, makes a desperate attempt to win back Florence after the deal is made, and when she rejects him one more time he is left alone to contemplate the misery of his solitary life, pitying the child he was, and pained by how he has turned out the way he is, a victim of a life of rejection by others. Svetlana and Florence also reflect on their different connections to Anatoly, the man they both love, yet seem both destined to lose. Freddie, meanwhile, has observed Viigand’s weakness, and shows Anatoly the move that will ensure victory. Anatoly is puzzled at Freddie’s willingness to help a former enemy, and indeed Freddie’s motives remain ambiguous: is it a selfless act made in the greater interest of the game itself (as Freddie insists) or yet another cynical manipulation, a trick to ensure that Anatoly’s and Florence’s relationship is finally ruined, and that Anatoly will return to the Soviet Union? In a dramatic endgame,
Anatoly sets off a series of sensational moves and wins the game, thereby demonstrating that choice and personal freedom lie at the heart of a man’s true actions. The longed for happy ending can never be, and Anatoly must return to his family, his wife and homeland. At least Florence might be consoled by having her father returned to her, as guaranteed by the “deal”, but even this hope is cruelly check-mated. Walter casually informs her that when the deal was set, there was no certainty her father was alive, only a “possibility”. She has been merely a pawn in another political chess game. Walter sneeringly reminds her that she’s no worse off anyway, and Florence is left alone to contemplate the bitter truth that, in a world where lives are played with like chess pieces, the only safe territory lies within the borders of one’s own heart.
MUSICAL NUMBERS PROLOGUE 1. The Story of Chess
Arbiter, Dancers and Chess Acolytes
ACT ONE Scene 1 A railway station in Merano, Italy 2. Merano Ensemble, Mayor, Freddie, Florence 3. Press Conference Reporters Scene 2 Palace Hotel, Merano, Freddie’s suite 4. Commie Newspapers
Scene 3 Hotel Steiner, Merano, Molokov’s suite 5. Anatoly and Molokov
Anatoly and Molokov
6. Where I Want to Be Anatoly and Chess Acolytes Scene 4 The Arbiter’s chambers, Merano Chess Complex 7. Diplomats
Molokov, Walter, Russian and American Delegates
8. The Arbiter Arbiter, Dancers and Chess Acolytes 9. Hymn to Chess 10. The Merchandisers
Scene 5 The Chess Arena 11. The First Game 12. A Model of Decorum and Tranquillity 13. Florence and Molokov
The Arbiter, Florence, Anatoly and Molokov
Florence and Molokov
Scene 6 A television studio and control room 14. 1956 – Budapest is Rising 15. Nobody’s Side
Walter, Freddie and Florence
Florence and Chess Acolytes
Scene 7 The Merano Mountain Inn 16. Der Kleine Franz 17. Mountain Duet
Anatoly and Florence
Scene 8 The Chess Arena 18. The Next Games
Scene 9 The Palace Hotel, Freddie’s suite 19. Florence Quits 19A Freddie’s Lament
Freddie and Florence
Scene 10 The British consulate in Merano 20. Embassy Lament
21. Heaven Help My Heart
22. Anatoly and the Press
Anatoly and Ensemble
Dancers and Orchestra
Freddie and Ensemble
Anatoly and Florence
Anatoly and Florence
ACT TWO Scene 1 The Streets of Bangkok, one year later 24. Golden Bangkok 25. One Night in Bangkok Scene 2 The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok 26. One More Opponent 27. You and I Scene 3 The Royal Orchid Hotel, Bangkok 28. The Soviet Machine
Molokov and Soviet Delegation
Scene 4 A Television Studio in Bangkok 29. Interview
Walter, Anatoly, Freddie
Scene 5 The foyer of the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok 30. Someone Elseâ€™s Story 31. The Deal
Arbiter, Molokov, Svetlana, Walter, Florence, Freddie, Chess Acolytes
32. Pity the Child
33. I Know Him so Well
Florence and Svetlana
Anatoly and Freddie
Scene 6 Outside a Buddhist temple 34. Talking Chess Scene 7 The Chess Arena, Bangkok 35. Endgame
Molokov, Walter, Florence, Anatoly, Svetlana and Ensemble
Scene 8 The empty Arena, later Bangkok Airport 36. You and I (reprise)
37. Walter and Florence
Anatoly and Florence Walter and Florence
Epilogue 38. How to Survive Them?
Florence and Ensemble
Chess runs for approximately two hours and thirty minutes: Act One: 85 mins | Act Two: 65 mins There will be a twenty minute intermission between acts, during which refreshments will be served in the Cato room. We would ask you to resume your seats promptly once the warning bell is sounded.
CAST OF CHARACTERS PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS (in order of appearance)
The Arbiter, president of the World Chess Federation Frederick Trumper, American Grandmaster Florence Vassy, his second, and lover Alexander Molokov, head of the Russian Delegation Anatoly Sergievsky, Russian Grandmaster Walter de Courcey, head of the American Delegation Svetlana Sergievskaya, Anatoly’s wife The Mayor of Merano Merano opening soloists
Noah Harris or Angus Attwood Daniel Smorgon or Adam Friedman Hannah Wright or Rachael Findlay Ryan Murphy or Martin Quinn Michail Shalit or Liam Allan Julian O’Donnell Ellie Coker or Megan Burling Julian Newman Tessa White or Mary Ensabella
THE CHESS ACOLYTES Wilde Anderson Angus Attwood Isabella Baring Megan Burling Zoe Castran
Ellie Coker Mary Ensabella Rachael Findlay Emile Frankel Adam Friedman Beth Wilson
Branford Gruar Noah Harris Maddy Hunt Seamus Kavanagh Stephanie McMahon Hannah Wright
Julian Newman Ben Symon Hamish Taylor Darryl Tirtha Tessa White
(Citizens of Merano, the Russian and American delegations, merchandisers, civil servants, Bangkok tourists and the Chess arena audiences)
Costa Andrianakis Lauren Karas Gabriel Nash Chloe Stringer Georgia Vann
Georgina Barlow Alice Maxwell Emmeline Neate Caitlin Symon Tim White
Scarlett Davey Kade Main Lucy Orr Noam Tidhar Isabella Wright
Joshua Hetzel Hugo Mclachlan Stella Silagy Alexia Thorne
THE SPECIALIST CHESS DANCERS Annamika Aswani Felix Kramer Matt O’Brien
Alice Arch Elizabeth Goldsmith Raquel O’Brien Tim Kenyon-Smith
Lucy Bulling Sarah Mealor Hannah Simon
THE ORCHESTRA Violin
Cello Flute / Piccolo Oboe Clarinet Alto Saxophone Baritone Sax and Clarinet Horn Trombone
Mimi-Cecilia Pascoe John Woods-Casey Milla McLean May Yang Darcy Holdsworth Chilli Anderson Annie Tang Georgia Smart Jill Norton Esther Leung Malcolm Liu Alex Cohen Rachel Ben-David Joe Buchan Jess Keys Mikaela Mowat Syd Zygier Matt Linden
Nathaniel De Bell Lachie Bagnara Jack Howard
Katherine Hymer Gloria Guo David Xu
Sophie Brown Will Base
MICHAIL SHALIT (Anatoly: Mon, Thurs, Sat evening) Michail first came to musical theatre notice in the dark, literally. Two years ago in Cabaret his chilling rendition of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”, beginning on a darkened stage which grew into an uneasy light, signalled the arrival of a major vocal talent. He has a compelling and unusually interesting and distinctive voice for a young singer, and this was again put to memorable effect in “What A Piece of Work is Man” in last year’s Hair – one of the most purely musical moments in that exhilarating show. Now in year 12, Michail tackles the big part that has been beckoning, and delivers in spades. If you have a voice, who wouldn’t want to sing the Chess “Anthem”? Michail has been musically active from an early age, and some scratching about on the violin gave way to a deeper recognition: that his voice is his greatest musical asset. The singing ensembles organised by the Music department have generally benefited hugely from his talents and passion.
LIAM ALLAN (Anatoly: Tues, Fri, Sat matinee) We can only be grateful that Liam was cajoled into trying out for this year’s show by persistent friends who recognised the quality of his lovely tenor voice. His engaging modesty might well have meant that we would never have got to hear it, and that would indeed have been a pity. While he kept things fairly quiet at the Elsternwick campus from which he hails, rumours of his voice nevertheless refused to die. The result is a major role in his second stage appearance (he was in Bats in an earlier life), and those who attend his performances will be thrilled by the maturity and conviction of his rendition of Anatoly. Music is in Liam’s blood: he’s first at rehearsal usually, tinkering away at the piano. And the Pop choir and the A Capella choir have both been enriched by his presence. Liam is a year 11 student, so we can all hope there will be other chances to appreciate his qualities.
RACHAEL FINDLAY (Florence: Tues, Fri, Sat matinee) Still only in year 11, Rachael’s first senior musical was in 2006, as Cosette in Les Miserables. But her association with the ATC stretches back two years before that, to a role in Sign of the Seahorse in 2004, while in Year 5. Rachael was born to the stage, and is equally at home in musical or straight theatre. Her achievements have been outstanding, and her professionalism is a model for others. She appeared in the Middle School in It Happened in Hamlin (2005), Bugsy Malone (2006), I Was a Teenage Dracula and Honk! (2007) and in 2008 received a Music Theatre Guild of Victoria commendation for her role as Maizie La Bird in Seussical. Since arriving in the Senior School she has continued her exemplary theatrical development, last year as Chrissie in Hair, and as a gorgeously croaky Elizabeth the First in The Clink. And she still found time to enhance her experience by assisting in the direction of Wizard of Oz. Florence Vassy is her most challenging musical role to date, and she has relished it. It is hard to imagine Rachael doing anything not involving the joy of performance; outside school, in 2009, she appeared with the Victorian Opera as Juliette in Benjamin Britten’s The Little Sweep. Rachael will be one of our graduates to watch out for later.
HANNAH WRIGHT (Florence, Mon, Thurs, Sat evening) Hannah is another story of a talented singer who has done the hard yards in the chorus and in minor roles, honing her singing techniques and exploring her vocal range, and learning along the way some of the skills of stage performance. Now in year 12, she was clearly ready for a major role, and she has grabbed the opportunity with both hands, as well as with her thrilling voice. At Elsternwick, Hannah appeared in Bats and Oliver, and since moving to the St Kilda Road campus she has been a pivotal member of the singing community, in both the Pop Choir and the A Capella choir. Hannah’s first appearance with the ATC was as a member of the Cabaret ensemble in that distinguished 2008 production, and last year she attracted some solo work in the exuberant Hair. Perhaps it was the sheer energy and riskiness of this latter production which provided the confidence she needed to take the next step, but take it she did, and finds herself absolutely ready for a truly demanding singing role, as the female lead in Chess.
ADAM FRIEDMAN (Freddie, Tues, Fri, Sat matinee) Raised at least partially on a musical diet of Liza Minnelli (mum) and Barbra Streisand (dad), Adam’s abilities were apparent early enough for him to seek out performing opportunities since kinder. This led to a promising, albeit unheralded, debut on the Wesley musical stage as a lead catfish in Sign of the Seahorse, but it certainly didn’t end there. In 2007 he was played the lead role in Honk! before his outstanding talent with the trumpet kept him busy for a while with the legendary Big Band (of which he has been a member since year 8!). Adam has twice been selected in the James Morrison Super Band chosen each year after the national titles in Mt Gambier. But the limelight lured once more, inevitably, and last year he was tempted back into the cast of Hair, encouraged by the prospect of some provocative stage time involving a controversial scene or two. And this year his tuneful and melodic rock tenor voice is ideally suited to the part of Freddie, and Adam’s deep musicality has been a great bonus for this production in numerous ways. A year 11 student, Adam is bound to find another musical next year irresistible.
DANIEL SMORGON (Freddie, Mon, Thurs, Sat evening) Daniel usually brings to rehearsal enough energy to light up a small city, and this eventually finds its way on to the stage and into his characters and singing. He is a robust and dedicated performer, in love with theatre and his craft, and has already chalked up some significant achievements. Outside school he has done a fair bit of work in commercials, and won a Young Artist Award as an Outstanding Young Performer in a national commercial in Los Angeles. At school, he went progressively up the animal scale from a weasel (in Toad of Toad Hall) to a catfish (in Sign of the Seahorse), finally landing a lead as a cat (actually the cat) in the 2007 production of Honk! Amidst these feral impersonations, he squeezed in the part of “Knuckles” in Bugsy Malone, enjoying a return to the human dimension. Last year he captivated audiences with his portrayal of the adorable Woof in Hair, for which he received a Music Theatre Guild of Victoria nomination as Best Actor in a Lead Role in a Musical. As Freddie in Chess, Daniel has confronted his most difficult musical score to date, and has proceeded to tackle it brilliantly with his customary bravura.
RYAN MURPHY (Molokov, Mon, Thurs, Sat evening) Ryan is the Adamson Theatre Company’s present equivalent of a theatrical knight. (More junior members are encouraged to be suitably deferential and call him “Sir Ryan”). His performances are distinguished by thoughtful characterisation, wit and insight, and that greatest of old-fashioned theatrical virtues, clear diction. Since arriving from Elsternwick in 2008, Ryan has delivered some of the most memorable characters of recent years, and he is equally at home in musicals or dramatic works. His Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest was a gem; likewise the shy suitor Herr Schulz in Cabaret (where he sung hilariously about what to do with pineapples). Another lead in The Clink followed in 2009, and some shameless scene stealing as a member of the Tribe in Hair. Earlier this year he delivered a Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire that was painfully truthful, and which moved audiences profoundly. The Russian Molokov provides Ryan with the opportunity to pull together his vocal, dramatic and comic skills into one hugely enjoyable character.
MARTIN QUINN (Molokov, Tues, Fri, Sat matinee) The most likely heir to the position left vacant by Sir Ryan Murphy (see separate bio) as the most stabilising role model in the Company, Martin has pushed all the right buttons on his way to the top, not the least of these being his passion for theatre, and the exemplary professional way in which he prepares for parts. According to his very few detractors, sharing a birthday with a senior Director may have accelerated his climb up the ladder. He has the usual Middle School CV for a Wesley student of his year level: Bugsy Malone (2006), I Was a Teenage Dracula and Honk! (2007), Seussical (2008). But two roles stand out, and define him as a young actor of intelligence and intuition: Benedick, in an eccentric and entertaining version of Much Ado About Nothing (2008), and, in his first year in Senior School, the demanding and exhaustingly lengthy lead role of Lucius Bodkin in The Clink (2009). Martin demonstrated not only his talents, but his stamina, and performers need both. Immersed happily in the Hair tribe, Martin emerged relatively unscathed to appear as Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire earlier this year, and has grasped the opportunity to sing his first major musical role.
NOAH HARRIS (The Arbiter, Mon, Thurs, Sat evening) Apart from an appearance as a policeman in I Was a Teenage Dracula, which he confesses may be remembered chiefly by family and close friends, Noah has not before graced the Adamson Hall stage in a major production. His wonderful pop rendering of the role of The Arbiter in Chess confirms the wait was worth it. Noah is already quite famous amongst his peers as a singer with a silky voice whose group The McQueens (which he formed with other Chess cast members Julian O’Donnell and Julian Newman) enjoys cult status, and features regularly in the lunchtime talent quests that so emphatically showcase the talents of many students. The McQueens have already recorded some demonstration tracks of some of Noah’s own songs, as he is a gifted lyricist as well as musical composer. Staff members who have heard him sing strenuously argue a case for “a young Billy Joel”, thereby hoping to confirm that they are still with it. A Year 11 student, Noah is a musician with a bright future, and hopefully his enjoyment of doing a stage role in a big musical will lure him back on to the boards again next year.
ANGUS ATTWOOD (The Arbiter, Tues, Fri, Sat matinee) Gus is an ATC fixture: a self-confessed theatre tragic, you only have to get him on stage in any capacity to know that he will contribute passionately. He has even worked back-stage in recent Middle School productions, usually a “no-go” zone for those who enjoy the lights of theatre lamps, that certain squint of the eyes, so this gives you some appreciation of his commitment to the histrionic arts. Gus reached semi-stardom early, as Gavroche in the 2006 production of Les Miserables, and since descending from the barricades has lent his support in the chorus or in minor acting roles to a variety of productions, from Seussical and Honk! and Hair (he was a very authenticlooking hippie) to The Clink and A Streetcar Named Desire. Gus has that wonderful understanding that only parts are small, never players, and this has been the hallmark of his contribution over the years. Now in Year 11, he has been in ten ATC productions since year 7, an achievement in itself, and everyone in the Company is delighted that at last he gets to show his talents as both a singer and actor in a substantial role.
ELLIE COKER (Svetlana, Mon, Thurs, Sat evening) Ellie has been embedded in the performing arts from her early days, having established her credentials in the usual run of shows performed with her contemporaries, and acknowledged repeatedly in these notes. Numbered only amongst the river folk in Toad of Toad Hall, she worked her way up through a number of other animal parts in musicals like Sign of the Seahorse (2005) and Honk! (2007), with a brief digression into cute gangsterism (Blousey Brown in Bugsy Malone) in 2006. All these proved to be a fine training ground for Ellie’s theatrical talents: she sings and dances with flair and sophistication, but is also an accomplished dramatic actor. Her performance as Stella in the demanding play A Streetcar Named Desire earlier this year is amongst our recent highlights – a beautiful study of conflicted love. And, of course, her poignant lament for “Frank Mills” in last year’s Hair broke audience hearts. Now in year 12, Ellie impresses once more as Svetlana, and has enjoyed the opportunity to sing a couple of the best melodies in Chess: a memorable way for her to end an outstanding contribution to Wesley theatre.
MEGAN BURLING (Svetlana, Tues, Fri, Sat matinee) Megan is a relatively recent arrival from England and is in year 11, so her beautiful voice has been little enough heard on the stage so far. Although she is an active member of both the Pop Choir and the A Capella choir, she missed last year’s production of Hair because of family commitments away from Australia. This year, her first audition immediately turned heads, and she was straightaway in line for a principal singing role. Despite an inauspicious CV that cites only a year 8 production of a play called Trolls (she was a goblin), and the 2008 Middle School musical, Seussical, as her only previous experience, there will be no stopping her now. Megan is a gifted singer, and her sensitive interpretation of Anatoly’s wife Svetlana demonstrates all her performance skills. And apart from that, she gets two of the best songs in Chess: “Someone Else’s Story” and “I Know Him So Well.” Not a bad return for a first-timer.
JULIAN O’DONNELL (Walter De Courcey, all performances) Julian was an early casualty of the cutthroat “child star” system, cruelly cut adrift by Paramount Pictures after a promising debut performance in Charlotte’s Web, and another film with Sam Neill (who vowed to be a mentor but has not been heard from since). In no way unnerved by this setback, Julian has appeared in a variety of short films and commercials, and was fortunate to work with the magnificent comic supremo John Clarke (the latter at that time in a directing capacity). On the road to emotional recovery from the fading of celluloid dreams, Julian ironically set about finding himself in the lyrics of Abba songs. He has pursued many musical interests (he is a member of the emerging local band The McQueens), and is also a fine IB scholar. Last year he was a member of the Hair band, and became excited by what he couldn’t see (they were tucked away backstage), but which seemed to be inducing ecstatic reactions from the audience. Determined to be a part of this action, Julian auditioned for Chess, demonstrated an outstanding, melodic voice, and landed a plumb role. So the wheel of fame and fortune has begun to turn again. If there are any agents out there, Julian is contactable most of the time… DAVID BROWNE (Sound Controller) David is the Performing Arts prefect for 2010, and virtually an Adamson Theatre Company institution. Apart from his technical expertise on the sound desk he mans the box office, stage manages, lends a hand building sets, even shifts sets in an emergency and, yes, has been caught sweeping the stage. Once the junior partner in the sound team of Whitney and Browne, which oversaw the excellent sound qualities of shows like Les Miserables, Hot Mikado and Cabaret, David has been finally the man-in-charge, for Hair last year, and now Chess, following Whitney’s inevitable defection to university and smaller budgets. David is enormously thorough in his preparations, resourceful in finding the means to enhance the sound reproduction of a musical, and helpful and patient with directors less skilled in the technicalities of how the look and sound of a musical is actually achieved. When called upon to be stern, he can do it diplomatically. In year 10, David managed some work experience with System Sound, who set up all the big productions in Australia and Asia, and who generously help out with much of our equipment too, so it is likely that all this madness will remain a part of David’s future life. For a while anyway.
PRODUCTION TEAM Directed by
DAWSON HANN and FELICITY PEARSON MARGARET ARNOLD and DAVID MOWAT ALICE DIXON TONY SCANLON
Make up by Produced by Rehearsal Pianists Vocal Assistant and Coach
STEPHANIE DES BARRES, JILL WELCH, VAL CREES DAWSON HANN CLIO RENNER, GEORGE KOZLOWSKI, SOPHIA EXINER ELLA PATTISON
Sound Mixing by
On-stage Video Operator
THOMAS ORCHARD LISA BENNETT DANIEL WARWICK, RYAN SANDOR, DANIEL REDDI-CORONELL RON TIDHAR (OW2009), ELLIOT MAJID (OW2009), TONY SCANLON, WILL COOK, ALEC STEVENSON, ALEXIA THORNE, ALMIRA ABAZOVA, BEN VERZIJL, BENNYJOSHI LIN, CHESNEY HOSKING, DANIEL REDDICORONELL, DANIEL WARWICK, KARL ROBSON, LAUREN BROWN-JOHN, LEA ELLMANNS, MARCUS GRAHN, MARKO RADULOVIC, MAX TRAVERS, MITCH TURNER, PHILLIP HIGGINS, SAM KING, SAM NEEOUTHONG, SAM PINTO, TIJS VANDEPOL, VISHESH BHOJWANI, AIDEN LIN ALEC STEVENSON, BEN VERZIJL, CHESNEY HOSKING, DANIEL REDDI-CORONELL, DANIEL WARWICK, LAUREN BROWN-JOHN, LEA ELLMANNS, MARCUS GRAHN, MARKO RADULOVIC, MATT DONNAN, MAX TRAVERS, MITCH TURNER, NYSSA WATSON, SAM PINTO, TIJS VANDEPOL EMILIE ASSELINEAU, JAMES BARBER-WILSON, MATS BAUER, GEORGE BERESFORD, DAVID BROWNE, DANIEL DIMASI-WHYTE, JOSHUA EVELY, JAMES GODFREY (OW2008), DUNCAN JARSLOW,
MATT LINDEN, COOPER-LILY NIKORA, THOMAS ORCHARD, ADAM OUSALKAS (OW2009), REMY PERIN, CAMILLE SAUNDERS-BROWNE, LEANI TEGMANN, HAMISH WALLACE, NYSSA WATSON, SAMANTHA WILLIAMS
MOLLY WOOLFORD, KIRSTY BRINKWORTH, GRACE FENNEY-CONNOR, ANITA QUIST, PAULINA PAJAK, ELLA THOMPSON, JUSTINE LOWE, MIRANDA LOWE, ZARA HENDERSON, EMMA WATTS, MARAED ROSA, SAMANTHA GOLE, SOPHIE DON, MADELEINE SARIC, PHILLIP HIGGINS, LAUREN GRANEK, MATT DONNAN, SAM KING, WILLIAM BECKHAM
Scenic Artwork by
Sound Equipment provided by by
SYSTEM SOUND DAWSON HANN and BRETT FAIRBANK (OW2003)
Business Manager, Front of House & Publicity