Shows: Nothing staged about this musical marriage.
They’re Playing Our Song.
MUSICAL theatre stars Danielle Barnes and Scott Irwin take their real-life romance to the stage in a new version of beloved 1970s Broadway musical They’re Playing Our Song, which lands at The Arts Centre Gold Coast tomorrow.
Barnes ( The Boy from Oz, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and Irwin ( Hairspray, Les Miserables) play the leads in the production, based on the relationship of Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager and written by Tony and Pulitzerwinner Neil Simon.
Two months into an exhaustive national tour with the timeless twohander, Irwin says the real-life couple’s relationship hasn’t hit a bum note.
‘‘We’re still married. We’ve survived so far. We’re taking it one day at a time,’’ he says, laughing.
‘‘It’s the biggest thing we’ve done together and the most intense. It’s just the two of us on stage.’’
The couple, who have a five-yearold daughter, Sienna, met as castmates in another stage musical, Beauty and the Beast, in 1995.
‘‘We haven’t worked together very much over the years – it’s only in the last 12 months that we did some concerts together and then we were both offered work in China over Christmas/New Year, creating a new bilingual musical called Cho Cho,’’ Irwin says.
‘‘It’s half English/half Mandarin. Danielle speaks a bit in the show but my character didn’t have to speak any Mandarin. Danielle had to sing quite a bit in Mandarin.
‘‘We went over to China – the three of us. It was our daughter Sienna’s last holiday before she went off to school. It was a fascinating experience. We came straight home and into They’re Playing our Song.
‘‘We were delighted to be asked to do this together.’’
An embarrassment of riches, the show features music by Hamlisch ( A Chorus Line) and lyrics by Bayer Sager ( That’s What Friends Are For) including I Still Believe in Love, If He Really Knew Me, They’re Playing Our Song and Fallin’.
When it comes to making music, Barnes and Irwin, like the characters they play, are a match made in heaven.
Irwin says Barnes has always impressed him as a performer.
‘‘I don’t want to sound corny but I’ve always been a fan. One of the things that attracted me to Danielle is her acting ability. She’s a genuine triple threat and believe me, there are not many of them around.
‘‘The term gets bandied around a lot but to be a triple threat it means you have to be able to get into a dance show purely as a dancer, into a singing concert as a singer, or get into a straight play as an actor. And Dan certainly can.’’
Its rich musical score aside, Irwin says They’re Playing Our Song also boasts a superb script from the pen of Neil Simon.
‘‘Neil Simon wrote this play about his two friends without them knowing about it initially and then invited them on board to write the music,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s a musical comedic play – like a Seinfeld episode or an episode of Friends with music.
‘‘A lot of people coming to the show say they have a memory of seeing it when they were young, or 15 to 20 years ago. An astounding amount of people say it’s their favourite ever musical.
‘‘Jacki Weaver and John Waters did it; Simon Burke and Georgie Parker did it. It’s been done a few times but not as much as it could have been.’’
– SUZANNE SIMONOT
They’re Playing Our Song plays The Arts Centre Gold Coast tomorrow and Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are $64.
Real-life husband and wife Danielle Barnes and Scott Irwin play a married couple in the romantic musical