Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
A CLASSIC Australian musical is being brought to life at Playlovers this July with experienced Perth director John Milson at the helm.

Based on the 1911 Louis Stone novel, Jonah is set in the inner slums of Sydney and follows the story of a hunchback who rises to become a prominent businessman.

The novel was made into an ABC mini-series in the 1970s and a musical version by John Romeril and Alan John was commissioned by the Sydney Theatre Company in 1979, premiering in 1985.

Milson has had a leading hand in Jonah’s development over the years, refining it during his time as head of musical theatre at the WA Academy of Performing Arts.

With four productions at WAAPA over a 14-year period, various revisions have been made each time to make Jonah smooth, slick and seamless.

“It’s packed with vulgar, colourful types who are presented in a totally unsentimental way,” Milson said.

“Despite the popular and romanticised 19th century depictions of a wide brown land where farmers battled flood, fire and famine, Australia had long been a nation of city-dwellers.

Jonah takes in locations such as Paddy’s Market, a two-up game and the streets and backyards of Sydney before World War I.

“This musical is distinctively Australian and has a dramatic integrity, which makes it a very powerful work that really should be heard more often.”

Describing it as a “rags-to-riches” tale, Milson said Jonah’s appeal stemmed from it being a rattling good story matched with an uncompromising score.

“The music is entirely apt for the realistic presentation of the plot and characters and is extremely sophisticated, often reminiscent of Stephen Sondheim in style and technique,” he said.

“There are quirky, humorous and poignant touches in the tough world displayed with lots of friendly advice, truisms and Australian philosophy.”

Milson, originally from Sydney, has been based in Perth since 1986, and has won an Order of Australia for his lifetime spent working in theatre.

During his 12 years at WAAPA he worked with a vast array of students who went on to bigger and better things, including Lisa McCune, Lara Mulcahy and Alexander Lewis in musical theatre and Emma Matthews in opera.

Jonah plays at 8pm, July 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 and 31 with a 4pm matinee on July 25. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book on 0415 777 173, [email protected] or through BOCS on 9484 1133.

Playlovers is located at Hackett Hall, Draper Street (off Underwood Avenue), Floreat. More information about Playlovers is at www.playlovers.org.au.

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Playlovers has been in operation for more than 50 years. Generally performing from Hackett Hall, Draper Street, Floreat, the company puts on four to six seasons a year - including one to two musicals.

Members are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the club: on the creative side (performing, directing, etc), the more technical activities (lighting, backstage, set-building, costume-making, etc) or on the sidelines (serving teas and coffees, and generally helping with other front of house activities).
John Milson
P: 0437 617 502
W: www.playlovers.org.au


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