Amity Dry

Entertainer Amity Dry joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about her career to date.  Amity will be performing her show “39 Forever” at Chapel off Chapel in Melbourne on 3 to 7 May.

Can you tell me about how you came up with the idea of “39 Forever”? What is the show about and how long did it take to develop?
The title of the show actually popped into my head when I was going to sleep one night! My 39th birthday was coming up and after the title came to me I started writing down lines about how I was feeling, being on the cusp of 40. I keep jotting down ideas and then trying to go back to sleep but after an hour of doing that I realised I had to get it all out so I sat up in bed and wrote til early morning. The next day I wrote for 18 hours straight (in between school drop off, pick up and making family dinner) and realised that night I had written an entire cabaret show! So I registered it for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and then continued to develop it over the next 5 months. In the end it was quite therapeutic for me. I feel like I’ve worked through all my angst about turning 40 and now I’m ok with it!

Are you looking forward to “39 Forever” having its Victorian debut at Chapel off Chapel in Melbourne?
Absolutely! I loved playing at Chapel off Chapel with my last show ‘Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life’ and I’m excited to bring this new show back. It’s a great venue.

What songs will be included in “39 Forever”?
There are lots of 80’s and 90’s flashbacks with some of my favourite childhood songs. There’s some Kylie, some big 90’s power ballads, Alanis Morissette numbers and even a Broadway tune. Plus, there’s two of my original songs, one which I think is one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written (and the audience loved in Adelaide).

“39 Forever” first debuted at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival. By popular demand more shows were added were you surprised how successful the show was?
Yes and no. When I was writing it I had a really good feeling about it so I was pretty sure audiences would love it and word of mouth would be strong. But we sold out our initial 12 shows a few weeks before we even opened! So that was a wonderful surprise. We then added 5 more shows in a much bigger venue and two of them sold out as well. So it was fantastic. And the audiences loved it even more than I’d hoped for! The response was wonderful and it was the most fun I’ve ever had on stage, every night.

“Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life” was first developed as a cabaret show, when did you decided to develop it into a full length musical?
After the first season of that show I could see how much women wanted to hear about the challenges of marriage and motherhood and how emotionally it impacted the women in the audience. So I googled musicals about motherhood to see what was already out there and to my shock there wasn’t a single show I could find. So I decided I would write one and I turned the initial idea from a cabaret to a musical that featured the experiences of four friends. By that point I was pregnant with my second child so I wrote most of it when she was a newborn. And in my wildest dreams I never imagined where that show would take me!

How was the experience of performing the concert version of “Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life” at New York’s hottest cabaret club, 54 Below?
It was of the best moments of my career. To perform my show in such an iconic New York venue and share the thrill with our original cast and creative team, who are like family to me, was just a magical.

Can you tell me about performing “Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life” at the United Nations?
That was another moment that was just so thrilling it was almost hard to take it in. I was doing a lot of pinching myself night. I mean, the United Nations?!

What was it like to perform “Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life” in Norway?
I didn’t actually perform in that version, I just went over to consult and watch it. It was all in Norwegian so it was a strange thing to watch when I knew everything they were saying but couldn’t understand a word! But that was also such a thrill. I loved the director and the version she did and they had a much bigger budget than I’ve ever had here, which was both wonderful and frustrating that I can’t achieve that in my own country! But it was also so great to see that it had the same impact on audiences on the other side of the world, because our experiences as wives and mothers are pretty universal.

Amity, people might remember you from your two appearances on the reality television show “The Block”. How did you enjoy the involvement on the show?
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also the most fun and rewarding. The first series changed our lives. I had a top ten album with The Lighthouse after it and we were catapulted into ‘instant fame,’ so it was a crazy time. With the All Stars series we had two children so we just did it and pretty much went back to our normal lives, just with more kids wanting our autographs at school pick ups! But winning that series was completely unexpected and pretty fantastic and reignited a love for interior design that I still have now.

Your second musical “Famous” was presented for a panel of musical experts during 2016. Will be fans be able to see this show in the future?
I hope so! Famous is a much bigger show than Mother, Wife with a cast of nine so it’s a more expensive exercise getting it on stage. It’s just so hard developing new musicals in Australia so it takes time, but I will keep working on it.

You always had an interest in music and performing can you tell me about the two albums which you’ve recorded?
I have been writing songs since I was 14 and performing shows since I was 6 so it’s been my lifelong love. The reason I did the first Block was to help get a record deal and I was signed to Universal and released The Lighthouse album off the back of the publicity I got from the show. I wrote every song on that album and it made it to #6 on the Aria chart, with GOLD sales. So it was the culmination of every dream I had and at the time it was thrilling. Unfortunately, I found that my record company lost interest as soon as I was off the TV, which was pretty heartbreaking at the time. So I recorded and released my second album ‘True To Me’ independently, but it was nearly impossible to get it played on the radio without the support of a major label pushing it. But I am still so proud of that album and highly recommend people check it out on iTunes – it’s really good!

Can you tell me more about some of the cabaret shows you have performed?
I did The Block to Broadway in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival a few years ago and that was about my experiences of doing the first Block, having a top 10 album, feeling like my career was over and then having this amazing career resurgence that saw me taking my show to New York. So that was a fabulous show to do and felt very full circle.

What was it like to achieve your childhood dream performing at Carols by Candlelight?
AMAZING! I have watched those carols every year of my life and when I was a little girl I would tell my family that would be me up there one day. So when I was on stage I was so emotional, it really was a dreams come true moment. It was equally thrilling for my parents to see me do it as well, so it meant a lot.

How do you maintain your career with parenthood because you have two young children?
It’s a juggle, that’s for sure! Our life is very hectic, particularly when I have a show or tour on but my kids know that I love my job and that being a mum doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the job you love. And while it’s very busy when I have projects on at other times I work from home and I’m there for every pick up and drop off, so it’s peaks and troughs. But they come to rehearsals and shows and they’re surrounded by creativity and creative people so I think their childhoods are richer for it. On top of that their grandparents are very involved and have them when we’re away and their lives are certainly richer for that. We have such supportive family and friends and our kids are raised in that village atmosphere so I feel so lucky we can make it work.

Do you have any hobbies?
I think my job and hobby is the same thing! I don’t really have time for hobbies outside that right now, but I don’t mind that. I love reading though and listening to podcasts.

What’s your favourite food?
Asian food. Yum.

What’s your idea of a good holiday?
We went to Fiji last year and that was the first proper holiday we have had in about ten years that didn’t include any work. I just swam, ate, read books, had naps and played with the kids and it was HEAVEN.

What’s the last album you listened to?
The soundtrack for the new Broadway musical ‘Dear Evan Hanson.’ I am obsessed with it.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
A piano. Not very practical but at least I’d be happy!

Is there anything which you don’t leave home without?
My phone. Being without it would be like missing a limb. Sad, but true.

What’s next for Amity Dry?
We’re workshopping Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life in London this August, to present it to West End theatres. Which is so exciting I can barely believe it!

For more about Amity Dry, visit her official website, or you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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