Shows: Noth­ing staged about this mu­si­cal mar­riage.

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

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