Friday, June 3rd, 2011
DUBBED “The Office with music”, Blak Yak Theatre (note to subs: there is no ‘C’ in Blak) is staging the Australian premiere of Funny Business this July.

Directed by Lorna Mackie at the Subiaco Arts Centre’s Studio, it’s an original musical with a pop-Broadway score developed on Canada’s improvisational comedy circuit.

Five ordinary office workers have to mount a team-building talent show to save their jobs – and it rapidly degenerates into an every-man-for-himself battle of office skills, featuring more backstabbing than the HR department can handle.

“This is the first international performance outside of Canada; they haven’t granted the rights before,” Mackie said.

“I love the thought of doing something new and different rather than recycling the same musicals.

Funny Business is part improv and part musical theatre and takes characters you recognise from around the water cooler, exploring their relationships with hilarious results.”

Mackie said she was also looking for a show that was “wickedly funny”.

“Large sections of the script are open for improv and I have a lovely letter from the author, Daniel Abrahamson, telling us to have fun and play with the score and script,” she said.

“The score is brilliant but challenging – it’s performed in an intimate setting with just five performers and a pianist with a minimalist set.

“That means there is nothing between the audience and the singers, so it’s all about the singers, the music and the comedy… and the puppets in the show.”

Mackie has been acting since her teens in the UK, originally starting as a soloist in a ladies’ jazz group before performing in Calamity Jane, The Little Mermaid and Africa.

After emigrating to Australia, she has most recently performed in The Geometry of Love, Meals Warmed Up and Intermission Theatre, designed costumes for Some Enchanted Evening, Get Smart and The Admirable Crichton and stage managed Trainspotting.

Last year, Mackie’s production of Reefer Madness scored nominations for best director, best musical direction, best lead female and best choreographer at the annual Finley Awards, also picking up an adjudicator’s certificate for best first-time direction of a musical.

She admits she faces a few challenges with Funny Business.

“The score is technically complex with large sections open to five-part harmonies,” Mackie said.

“With just five performers, every single person needs to be equally strong – there is no room for error and no place to hide.

“The improv is also a challenge because, in addition to rehearsing the actual script, we need to work through a load of improv exercises.

“With only one of our performers experienced in improv, this is really pushing the cast out of its comfort zone.”

Funny Business plays at the Subiaco Arts Centre’s studio at 8pm, July 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Tickets are $26, $18.50 concession – book through BOCS on (08) 9484 1133.

The Subiaco Arts Centre is at 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco.

funnybusiness1.jpeg: Will Groucutt, Emmet Nichols, Casey Edwards, Charles McComb and Phoebe Jackson are five office workers trying to save their jobs by devising a musical in Funny Business. (Picture: Michael McAllan).

funnybusiness2.jpeg: The Australian premiere of Funny Business – dubbed “The Office with music” – comes to the Subiaco Arts Centre this July with Casey Edwards, Phoebe Jackson, Emmet Nichols, Will Groucutt and Charles McComb. (Picture: Michael McAllan).

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Blak Yak Theatre

Established in 1993, Blak Yak is committed to producing high quality theatre. Productions have been taken from such diverse sources as William Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, Terry Pratchett and even television sitcoms.

We’ve always been an advocate for the underdog, and were originally founded to give first time writers and directors a chance to stage their shows. We still have that nurturing attitude, and we’re always looking for people, which means that Blak Yak is a great first step into theatre for performers, directors and technicians.

Blak Yak does not have a home. We are one of the few nomadic clubs in the Perth metro area. From Wanneroo to Kwinana and from Fremantle to Kalamunda, we have taken our unique and award-winning brand of theatre all over Perth.
Lorna Mackie
P: 0413 031 509


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