Urban planning is a pretty hot topic in Canberra at the moment. From the redevelopment…
I have known Emma Grey for over three years now.
Chances are you know her too. You might know her from her writing for HerCanberra or if you have a teenager (or are a fan of YA novels), chances are you’ve bought, read or heard about Emma’s sensational novel Unrequited: Girl meets Boy Band that hit the shelves recently after being picked up by HarperCollins. You know, no big deal.
Most importantly, however, if you’re familiar with Emma and her work, you’ll know about the struggles she’s coped with over the past year and a half with the untimely passing of her beloved husband, Jeff. So it was news that truly warmed the heart when Emma told me that her novel was being turned into a musical by herself and good friend, ARIA award-winning composer, Sally Whitwell.
Now, some months later, the first step of putting Unrequited on stage has now manifested in the Unrequited Musical Theatre Project, which has been produced in partnership with St Clare’s College and St Edmunds College and will run for four performances over three nights from Thursday 2 – Saturday 4 November.
I was lucky enough to attend the opening show last night and watch Emma’s words and characters come to life on the stage before me.
From a book that was written by Emma to coax her One Direction obsessed daughter into reading more often has come a musical extravaganza the likes of which I can safely say I have never experienced before. A glittery, loud, proud and completely unique musical extravaganza.
If you haven’t read Unrequited (yet), let me set the scene.
Seventeen-year-old Kat Hartland loathes Unrequited, the world’s biggest boy band. She’s 100 percent immune to “perfect” singer Angus Marsden and his unfailing predictable lyrics. Show her the anti-fan club….she wants to be its president! Just give her a proper musician. Or maybe the seriously hot med student who rescued her on the train. Ideal formal partner, right? Ideal everything…
But when Kat comes face to face with Angus Marsden himself, things start to get complicated. Throw in a deranged female singer, an enraged fandom, final exams, a part in a musical and a Mum who just doesn’t get it.
With this kind of blurb, you can imagine the wonderful musical numbers that play out on stage – think cleverly worded boyband numbers, beautifully orchestrated ballads and hilariously vain pop star numbers.
Lydia Milosavljevic was perfect as the headstrong yet vulnerable Kat, swinging between acerbic witticisms in the opening song to heart-wrenching duets that wouldn’t be out of place on Broadway. Her voice is superb.
Sharing the role is Canberra’s own Voice superstar Lucy Sugerman, who played Kat’s best friend Lucy in last night’s production with much aplomb – I especially loved her as ‘Subconscious Kat’.
And as for the titular boy band, Angus’ facial expressions (so perfectly cast with an authentically British Tom Stewart) cracked me up, with equally impressive Unrequited band mates behind him.
My favourite moments, however, usually occurred when American pop
darling diva Cassidy Moore (played by Samantha Quilliam) appeared on stage. Her fabulous entrance (which I will leave as a surprise) was a testament to the deft production applied to Emma’s characters, Sally’s arrangement and the blending of her, let’s say ‘signature’, singing style with the rest of the cast, which was just masterful.
I could honestly go on for longer, especially about the other brilliant cast members and how phenomenal Sally’s lyrics, music and arrangement were, but instead let’s just say this: even if you aren’t familiar with Emma’s journey or writing, Unrequited the novel or not even into musical theatre, Unrequited Musical Theatre Project is, put simply, a delightful time spent riding the rollercoaster of teenage fandom which will bring a smile to any face. With added glitter. Lots of glitter.
You can purchase tickets for Friday and Saturday nights performances on the door – first come, first served.
What: Unrequited Musical Theatre Project
Where: St Clares College Hall – parking off
When: Friday 3 and Saturday 4 of November at 7.30 pm with a matinee on Saturday 4 November at 2 pm
Tickets: $12 for students and $16 for adults, purchase at the door (first come, first served)
Website: view the Facebook event here
In the meantime (or once you’ve seen the show and been blown away) click here to read a sneak peek of the first two chapters of Unrequited!