Spring Awakening

As I enjoy attending various musicals and on occasions have attended several of StageArt’s productions who produced three musicals per year.  For the second musical for 2017, they are presenting the Victorian professional premiere of Spring Awakening. It will be staged at Chapel off Chapel from 19 May to 10 June, 2017.

Spring Awakening is set in late-19th-century Germany, telling the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of teenage sexuality when sexual education is non-existent.

Based on a original play by Frank Wedekind.  Spring Awakening01Book and lyrics are by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik.

It contains nudity and strong sex scenes.  Parental guidance is recommended for people under 15 years.

Starring Ashley Roussety, Jessie-Lou Yates, Brent Trotter, Hannah McInerney, Henry Brett, Luisa Scrofani, Alex Thompson, Jordan Mahar, Nathan Fernandez, Grace Browne, Alice Batt, Olivia Solomons, Barry Mitchell, Adam Canny and Gabriella Barbagallo.

Click here if you would like to read my Coffee Break With Belinda interview with Brent Trotter who plays Moritz Steifel.

Image supplied. Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Let It Be: The Songs of Lennon and McCartney

Growing up you discover the music from The Beatles who are regarded as the world most iconic musical bands with members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are one of the most famous songwriting duo in musical history.  Their partnership has created more than approximately 180 jointly credited songs including “Let It Be“, “In My Life“, “Love Me Do“, “Yesterday“, “Penny Lane“, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

Let It BeAfter the sell-out one night performance on 13 April, Flourish Productions are presenting two encore shows of Let It Be: The Songs of Lennon and McCartney at Chapel off Chapel on 29 April at 3.00pm and 8.00pm.

Let It Be: The Songs of Lennon and McCartney will be directed by Drew Downing and features some of Australia’s up and coming talents of musical theatre and live music.  The cast include Jessica Fairlie, Bram Harris, Tyson Legg, Andy Seymour, Vidya Makan, Ana Mitsikas, Adam Perryman, Luisa Scrofani and they will be accompanied by a five piece band.

If you love the music of The Beatles; make sure you attend a performance during this limited season of Let It Be: The Songs of Lennon and McCartney.


After a successful sell-out season of Cabaret at the Hayes Theatre Co. in Sydney, the Kit Kat Club is moving into the Athenaeum Theatre from 27 April to 27 May, 2017.

In its musical form Cabaret is based on “The Berlin Storiesby famous author Christopher Isherwood who exchanged his upper-middle-class conservative upbringing for the sexual freedom and social liberation of Berlin during the bustling 1930s.

John Van Druten adapted the Isherwood’s stories into a play. Songs and lyrics were written by highly successful American songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Set in Berlin during 1931 as the Nazis are rising to power, the story centres around the   nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around young American writer Cliff Bradshaw and his relationship with 32-year-old English cabaret performer Sally Bowles.


You’ll hear all the hits songs including “Willkommen“, “Telephone Song”, “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”, “The Money Song & Sitting Pretty”, “Married”, “If You Could See Her” and “Cabaret“.

Producing this new Australian production of Cabaret is David M. Hawkins and the Melbourne season will be directed by Gale Edwards.

Starring in Cabaret will be Paul Capsis, Chelsea Gibb, Michael Cormick, Kate Fitzpatrick, John O’May, Debora Krizak, Jason Kos, Michelle Barr, Angelique Cassimatis, Sam Hooper, Nick Jones and Matthew Manahan.

The Kit Kat Klub band features conductor/piano Lindsay Partridge, Andrew Worboys on accordion and keyboards, Tamara Murphy on bass,  Dean Cooper on drums, Marcus Kurban on guitar and banjo, Cara Taber on reeds and Adam Grech on trombone.

For more information about Cabaret, visit the website here.

Tapestry – The Songs of Carole King

After a successful sell-out season during 2016, iconic performances Vika Bull and Debra Byrne are back for five shows only to perform Tapestry – The Songs of Carole King at the Arts Centre Melbourne from 4 to 7 May, 2017.

Carole King’s Tapestry album was released in 1971 is celebrating its 45th anniversary.  It celebrated No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for 15 weeks with more over 25 million copies sold worldwide.

Featuring some of Australia’s finest musicians, The Brill Band will again accompany Vika and Debra.

Tapestry is considered one of the most important pop albums of the 20th century, producing the mega hits I Feel the Earth Move, You’ve Got A Friend, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, It’s Too Late and Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

Vika And Debra02

Vika Bull has established herself as one of Australia’s most powerful female voices performing alongside her sister Linda, The Black Sorrows, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Sting, Joe Cocker, Paul Kelly, Renee Geyer, John Farnham, Hunters & Collectors, Tim Finn, Kasey Chambers, John Butler and Dan Sultan.  Since 2013, Vika has been performed At Last: The Etta James Story around Australia

Debra Byrne is an Australian music icon who’s been performing since the age of 14. She was chosen as one of six original team members of Young Talent Time. At 16 Debra had won a Logie and the Queen of Pop award and had a single at number one for seven weeks. She found her love of musical theatre performing in Cats, Jerry’s Girls, Les Miserables, Hot Shoe Shuffle and Sunset Boulevard. Having recorded three solo albums and has starred in many Australian television series, most recently as Judy Moran in Fat Tony and Co.

Who better to perform the songs of Tapestry – The Songs of Carole King than Vika and Linda who have had many years experience in the entertainment industry.

Tommy Kessler

Musician Tommy Kessler joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about his career to date.  Tommy is a guitarist with the iconic band Blondie.  Blondie are currently touring  Australia with Cyndi Lauper.

This tour of Australia and New Zealand is one to savour as Blondie will be co-headlining with Cyndi Lauper. Are you looking forward to returning to Australia?
I always enjoy coming to Australia.  The trip is long to get here but I find it’s a very easy place to adjust to quickly.  The fans here are always very receptive to us being here as well and I feed off of that energy on stage.


How did you become the guitarist for Blondie?
Matt (keyboards) called me one day and asked if I was interested in auditioning for the band.  My name came up to him through a couple of mutual friends and Matt had been recommended to me as a sub for “Rock Of Ages” (Broadway).

Are you able go into further details about the upcoming album “Pollinator” which will be Blondie’s eleventh studio album?
I think this album is a good example of how the band sounds currently and I’m very excited as well as proud of it.  We had a great time recording it and taking the songs and making them Blondie songs as a band.  I hope fans who have might not been fans of the last couple albums will give this one a shot with fresh ears.  It’s well worth it.

What was it like to perform in “Rock of Ages” on Broadway as a member in the rock band Arsenal?
“Rock Of Ages” was such a fun time and experience that I am so happy to have had.  I never really expected to do a Broadway show, let alone one that would make a 6 year run.  Joel Hoekstra called me one day and asked me to be his sub for Guitar 1 and weeks later I was doing Guitar 2 with Joel on Guitar 1.  You learn a lot when you are in a controlled environment like that where you do the same show 8 times a week for 6 years.

Does it sound surreal when people mention that you have performed more than 1000 times on Broadway musical with “Rock of Ages?
Anytime you look back and think about performing in a show that many times it does feel surreal.  I’m not sure I’ll ever play that many shows with anyone in my lifetime.  The numbers add up when it’s 8 shows a week for 6 years.

Are you able to tell me about “I Love the ‘90s” show?
Absolutely.  It’s what I am currently doing every Friday at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.  The band is called “The Fresh Kids Of Bel-Air” and I would say it’s nothing short of the best 90’s themed party you could ever see.  We play 2 hours straight of all the hits you’d want from the 90’s.  Backstreet Boys to Green Day and Kris Kross, it’s all in our set.  Before we have a DJ warming everyone up and then keeping the party going after.

Tommy02Why did you decide to play guitar as your mother Linda, is a classically trained pianist?
The main reason I decided to play guitar in the beginning was how successful she already was by the time she was my age.  I didn’t want to have to live up to that.  Once I picked up the guitar, it wasn’t long before I was very happy with my decision but I do still enjoy writing a lot on the piano.

Who were your musical influences growing up?
My first concert was Van Halen and then shortly after that my big influence was Randy Rhoads.  I pull from a lot of different influences.  The right hand technique of James Hetfield and the riffs of Dimebag Darrell.  I always liked the lead playing of Eddie Van Halen, Slash and Randy Rhoads.  I could go on forever but those are the 5 names that show up a lot in conversation and I see in my own playing.

Can you tell me about your involvement with the Blue Man Group?
I joined Blue Man Group about 10 years ago.  It was my first real name thing that I had done when I moved to NYC.  I was so excited and proud when I was brought into the band for the show in NYC.  I do shows there when I’m in NYC as a sub for all of the string instruments.

Do you get time to sleep Tommy, as you’re also a songwriter and producer. What other projects have you been associated with?
I can always find time to sleep, just sometimes not for a full night! I spent a lot of years writing in my studio with my good friend Carlo Colasacco and he’s gone onto being a very successful songwriter.  It was during that time that I learned a lot about writing, recording and mixing.  We did everything on our own through trial and error in my studio that was being slowly built during the 6 years of “Rock Of Ages”.  I’ve mixed a handful of records for Joel Hoekstra.  My first experience at producing and writing an entire album with a band was with “Telling On Trixie”.  That was another huge learning experience and pre “Rock Of Ages”.  I music direct as well and am currently working with Liz Asaro on putting her shows together for her new album.


Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
My biggest piece of advice is to play with as many people as you can.  Half of making a living in music is just who you know and if people enjoy you being around.   You have to be able to play your instrument but you don’t need to practice 100% of the time.  I think a good balance between playing and business is best.

Tommy, we are both fans of Wheels & Dollbaby. How did you discover this Australian fashion label?
I met Melanie through the band.  Melanie and Mark have been friends with the band prior to me being in it and I met them the first time I came to Australia.  I loved Mark’s pants and Melanie offered to make me a pair using a pair of my jeans.  I think her eye for fashion is great and am always pushing her to release more stuff for men…. so I can wear it!

Do you have any hobbies?
I used to race cars when I was younger so I love cars and enjoy driving them.  I have been fortunate enough to be trusted with some really beautiful cars due to also being able to drive them instead of just look at them.  I also collect old video games like the NES, SNES, Sega and N64.  I usually end up with new games every time we go out and when I get home, I clean them and play them in my spare time.

What is your favourite food?
It’s usually Mexican food with a close second to Indian.

Tommy04Do you have a favourite movie?
One of my all times favourites is Pulp Fiction.

What is your idea of a good holiday?
With my schedule? Sleeping in a comfortable bed in the middle of nowhere.

What is the last album you listened to?
Ariana Grande “Dangerous Woman”.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
A chicken, a rooster and an acoustic guitar.

Is there anything which you don’t you leave home without? 
Anytime we go on tour I usually bring some sort of video game system and a game or two to play through.  Right now it’s a Nintendo DS Lite with Final Fantasy III.

What’s next for Tommy Kessler?
I’m in the process of forming my own Tequila Brand.   We are going through all the trade marking process right now but keep an eye out for that within the next year!

For more about Tommy Kessler, visit his official website, or you can follow him on Facebook, TwitterInstagram or You Tube.

 Images kindly supplied by Tommy Kessler.

Circus Oz

For more than 35 years Circus Oz have been entertaining audiences, this Melbourne-based company will be visiting Ballarat as part of their Australian tour.

Their latest show Model Citizens will be performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 31 March to 1 April.

Model Citizens will feature Circus Oz’s distinct brand of Australian humour. It unpacks the myths of Australia and what it really means to be a model citizen in the ‘lucky’ country today.

The show blends the risk and beauty of breathtaking physical improbability with theatricality, choreography and is driven by a sensational live music soundtrack.

Circus Oz

Exposing circus skills in unconventional ways, performers will back-flip off a giant vertical clothes peg, become tangled in an oversized cotton reel, quirky ball juggling, unzip giant zippers, diving through giant scissors, hard-core hula-hoops, pyjama escapism, balance on a house of oversized collapsing cards and fly high in an enormous pair of aerial undies.

Performers include Roseanne Chalker-McGann, Jarred Dewey, Freyja Edney, Luke Ha, Mitch Jones, Lachlan Sukroo, Steph Mouat, Olivia Porter, Jake Silvestro with musicians Ania Reynolds and Jeremy Hopkins.

Only three performances will be staged in Ballarat.  The evening performances on 31 March and 1 April will take place at 7.30pm.  While the matinee show will begin at 1.30pm on 1 April.

For further information about Circus Oz and its current tour, visit the website here.



Having attended a performance of Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country at La Mama Theatre during 2015. I was pleased a national tour presented by Ilibjerri Theatre Company and Belvoir will take during 2017.

Like many other school children growing up I was neglected to be told the Aboriginal stories from Australian history.  The story of Coranderrk is one of those.

CoranderrkIn 1881 at a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry, the men and women of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve went head-to-head with the Aboriginal Protection Board. They simply want to continue the experiment in self-determination they had pioneered for themselves on the scrap of country left to them.

Coranderrk revives the voices of all those, black and white, who fought for a better pact between the country’s oldest and newest inhabitants.

This production pays tribute to the resistance and flexibility of a people who rose to the challenge despite the odds, appropriating the power of the written word to make their own voices ring loud and clear.

Written by Andrea James and Giordano Nanni and it will be performed by Trevor Jamieson, Jesse Butler, Mathew Cooper and Ebony McGuire.

For further information on Coranderrk and Ilbijerri Theatre Company, click here.