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beau_t

Home and Away Stage Musical in UK 1991

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Does anyone know anything about this production or even saw it?

It featured Carly, Ben, Steven, Roo and everyone's favourite memorable character Viv :lol:.

Does anyone know what the story was, and what songs featured? Who wrote it, etc? There doesn't appear to be any information about it at all online which is weird.

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The following is a review by Tony Barrow of the musical, as published in "The Stage" in its 11th July 1991 edition. The copyright resides with The Stage Media and/or Tony, but I reproduce it here as fair use and for the purposes of review:

This show reproduces accurately the artistic talents of its source, an Australian television soap opera. Surely tailored exclusively for the most fanatical and addicted viewers, the stage musical represents simple, childish entertainment performed by a young company and presumably designed for a juvenile audience on the interesting premise that very young people buy £12.50 theatre tickets. Perhaps they do nowadays, certainly the dress circle of the Opera House was packed with teenagers.
The cast consists of five Oz imports, Justine Clarke, Mouche Phillips, Sharyn Hodgson, Julian McMahon and Craig Thompson, playing some of the star attractions from Home And Away, characters such as Roo, Viv, Carly, Ben and Martin, supported by British actors and dancers. The zestful dancing is the best element of this otherwise lifeless production.
The story centres on the Summer Bay diner run by Roo, popular hangout of the local surfin' set, and the attempts of a Mr Big and his henchpeople, headed by the unbelievable Gina (Karen Heyworth), to buy the place by force and turn it into a burger palace.
Slapstick comedy comes from a panto-style pair of rogues, Lance (Andrew Lawden) and Martin (Thomson). The latter is absolutely no threat to Jason Donovan, although that's his clear intent.
To get away with a weak plot such a show needs tip-top tunes, but the songs here are neither catchy nor at all memorable, although a burst of applause greeted the Home And Away theme. Paul Murphy made the most of Mr Big's production number, and the best singing voice belongs to Matthew Cammelle as Frank.
The problems within this production appear to be widespread. The pace, particularly in the first half, needs to be picked up. The actors fail to project their given personalities, they need to react far more emphatically to one another. To make a story come alive on stage, it's essential to convey feelings boldly, but much of the dialogue is delivered with stunning indifference so that the potential drama is drained from scenes where goodies encounter baddies and there is no visible or audible atmosphere of romance generated between the various young lovers. There is a lot of obsessive on-stage furniture removing thoughout the show, done choreographically, so that far from becoming inconspicuous, it's very noticeable.
The cliché-ridden script doesn't help these young actors to hold an audience's attention, nor do some basic inconsistencies in the continuity of the characters.
The producer/director is Paul Hammond, original music is by musical producer Chris Summerfield and choreography is by Trudy Moffatt.
Tony Barrow

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Thanks for posting that, Dan!

The reviewer sounds very snobby and probably in a bad mood that his boss made him go and see this to review it. A "Home and Away" musical was never going to be Les Misérables, was it? I have no doubt that it wasn't very good, but I'm sure it was fun and probably tongue-in-cheek. He writes about the audience being mainly teenaged as if that's somehow an indication of the show's quality and I'm not sure if that's more of an insult to teenagers or the show. It's obviously going to be aimed at them... or is that not allowed in stuffy hoity toity theatre-land?

Interesting that Lance was re-cast and the plot (what he manages to write of it) sounds interesting and reminiscent of Bonza Burgers! I wonder if the Diner Set was reminiscent of the set on the show or completely different.

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According to a small piece in "The Stage" a couple of months earlier there was originally going to be 6 original cast members in it, but this review only details 5. My guess is that the 6th would have been Peter Vroom, in which case he was also doing a show in the UK called "Privates On Parade" in that year, so perhaps he ditched this show when that one came about. Or maybe it was Alex Papps who was meant to be in it? Or maybe the exact line up of original cast just changed during the run depending on who was available at any given time. I notice that Roo owned the diner in this, so they either didn't ask for, or couldn't get, Judy or Ray.

I'd guess the diner set was a simplified version at the very least, since it seems from this review that the cast (presumably the extras) were having to incorporate moving the set on and off into the routines, and they'd have been there forever with a full diner set lol. 90s homes in H&A were mostly very basic anyway, so if any were used in the musical they were probably much like on the show.

In early 90s in the Uk the media, especially the higher brow end, tended to think that young people/teens equated to drugs and trouble, which is exactly the sort of unhelpful view that caused H&A to be created in the first place. Having said that I would imagine that teenaged audiences were an unusual sight at theatres at that time... once you'd grown out of Button Moon On Tour, and the annual panto, you probably wouldn't find all that much aimed at you until you got old enough to see your former teen idols doing nostalgia tours (or at least that's how it would have appeared from the sort of shows that played in our small local theatre).

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Most of these Theatre Critics are pretentious ******s anyway!

You can watch something terrible and still have a bit of fun with it!

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I have just discovered another relevant article in The Stage, this time from 13th December 1990, entitled Hammond's Home And Away at Montrose, by James Green, which features an interview with the director, Paul Hammond, and which gives some background into how the musical came about. Again the copyright resides with The Stage Media, James Green or Paul Hammond, but I reproduce it here as fair use and for the purposes of review.

At the age of 14 Kent schoolboy Paul Hammond was making headlines as the youngest director in Britain. He had pushed “very hard” to convince everyone to give him a chance and he directed a profit-sharing professional production at the Oast Theatre, Tonbridge, involving seasoned professionals and adults in their fifties.
Not surprisingly, today, at the age of 28 and with years of directing, producing, and performing as comedian, singer and actor, behind him, he has ambitions to follow in the musical footsteps of the big name producers, such as Cameron Mackintosh and Bill Kenwright.
He is managing director of the active Montrose Management company, which he formed himself and is based in Tonbridge, and which has two main arms in Logical Productions and Montrose Entertainments.
Hammond and his Montrose team make their biggest move next June now that they have the rights to put on Home And Away, the popular Australian TV soap, as a full musical.
“These are early days,” he says, “but we are planning a full-blown touring musical to go out for 12 weeks from July to catch the summer season business.
“We want it to play the large No. 1 venues and our story will be based on the original TV pilot and early episodes of Home And Away.
“There will be four or five Aussie artists from the TV show in a cast, with chorus, of around 18. The chorus will be British and there will be seven musicians in the band.
“Albemarle will be providing the scenery and costumes, I will be the director, and our company’s musical producer, Chris Summerfield, formerly Joe Longthorne’s MD, will write the music.
“I believe that Home And Away, set around Summer Bay which is the television location, will prove a terrific attraction and rather like a Grease of the nineties. It is intended as a young person’s show.
“We are theatre people who believe in the theatre. The facts are that many of the public only go into a theatre for pantomime – and because some face they know from TV is taking part.
“Through Home And Away we want to get those people back into the theatre and we’ll be attacking that section of the market. To put on shows you need to be a good businessman. You must have a deep love for theatre.
“That’s why I admire Mackintosh and Kenwright. They have been god for the business, but I wonder about some others, whether they are doing it purely for money reasons.”
But he has other more immediate things on his mind at present. He has two-and-a-half weeks to direct and rehearse three Christmas shows that his company are presenting.
“The first,” he says, “is Cinderella, at Leicester, with Nicole Dixon and Alex Papps, who are both from Home And Away.
“The second at the Broadway, Barking is Snow White, with two more from Australia, Justinne Clarke, who plays Roo on TV and the other is Ray Meagher. Another in the cast is comedienne Effie Starr.
“Finally, and without making too much of it, there is a charity show at Tonbridge, with Emily Symons from Home And Away. As a change from pantomime it is a musical called Follow The Star. That is the story of the Nativity with some lovely music, and runs for two to three weeks.
“It has taken me six months to put together an Educational Source Pack which is being distributed through schools in Leicester and London that deals with the history of theatre and pantomime.
“On special occasion, before the show, I give a 40 minute talk intended for children explaining about the history.
“I was once artistic director at a theatre school and I noticed while visiting that children’s introduction to theatre or literature is invariably through reading drama in class.
“It could be Romeo And Juliet – and some of those reading aloud could hardly read, So who can blame children for thinking that they don’t like drama and theatre. We have to make sure they do enjoy it, and bring them into the fold through pantomime.”
Hammond continues that the company looks after a selective group of a dozen artists. The list could be much larger with hundreds of “hopefuls” anxious to be put on the books.
“I think from personal experience it is unfair to take them on. I started as a performer at 16 and sent off CVs and tapes to every agency in the country.
“Some of them would write back ‘You are now on our books’ and I thought I was being looked after by an agent. In fact, all it meant was that I was on a file. Hundreds of kids fresh from college still think they are on their way to big time if they can get an agent.”
He attended drama school at Guildford, directed farces like Dry Rot, and appeared in small productions as an actor.
“I had a 45-minute comedy and singing solo act at 19 and went all over the country with that. I’d won a Wimbledon talent show and an agent who called me backstage put me on a circuit.
“If I wasn’t acting then I would sing in clubs and made two albums. This Is Me and This One’s For You, which I sold after by cabaret appearances.
At Norton Park holiday centre, Devon, I was entertainments manager for a whole complex. Then I moved to the Isle of Wight – Puckpool and Yarmouth, combining admin work with entertaining.
“The meant greeting the visitors at breakfast from 8am, doing the office work, and putting on the black tie and dicky suit to compere and perform at night. I recall it was a 14-hour day at Combe Haven for £72 a-week.
“In all I had six years of holiday centres, pantomime, cabaret, variety bills, and one nighters.
“The bookings I remember were a summer season at Scarborough, where I did two theatres and was lucky to learn from many experienced and talented artists, and panto at the Buxton Opera House.
“I was an Ugly Sister and Melvyn Hayes was starring as Buttons.
“He is fun and he’s done and knows so much that he makes a wonderful teacher.
“On the directing side I can reel off titles for ages. Some were professional and other were amateur. If you want to direct then you write everywhere.
“I started off with youth theatres and at the Spotlight YT I directed Bugsy Malone, The Boy Friend, West Side Story, and Grease etc. People then used to say I should do if for a living and would succeed in the West End.
“What you find is that the best way of getting work as a director is to set up your own company. That’s what I did. Logical has been going for five years, and Montrose for three.
“The reason I have so many actors from Australia is that I went there looking for artists who were right for panto and could fill a theatre. I took scripts and music with me.
“Had I known how hard production work is I don’t think I would have started. You are like a boxer and every day you take a punch and ride others. You come off the ropes only to take another punch.
“Eventually the day comes when you’ve taken too many punches and you decide to get out.
“I often wish I had been alive just after the war in the 1950s when TV was in its infancy, there were plenty of top quality performers available.
“Artists like Arthur Askey and Tommy Trinder knew what they were doing. Hollywood was putting out great musicals. It was a magic time. But things have changed.
“Anybody can produce a show now. You just book a theatre and include the local MP and a badminton player! The quality too often just isn’t there. And that’s not going to build the theatre-going habit.
“Above all, I love musicals and one of my ambitions is to put on West Side Story with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre as a chorus.
“I think that would run. However when you look at what is happening in the London theatre you realise how careful a producer has to be.
“When I get Home And Away on the road next summer I have no dream of bringing it to the West End. It will appeal in the regions, but wouldn’t work in town.
“But what will travel is the Snow White production. I am hoping to present it in Melbourne – and using English cast. The experts will argue it is hot then, nobody wants to go to panto, and there never has been any call for pantomime.
“My answer is that there are 4m people in Melbourne, there is no competition from other pantos, and it may well be that they welcome the innovation. Oh, yes they will?


 

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