Fac­ing life af­ter the fi­nal cur­tain

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - JO LITSON ARTS WRITER [email protected]

Syd­ney got to know Amanda Har­ri­son’s mu­si­cal side when she starred as the green­skinned El­phaba in Wicked. Now she’s back in a new Aus­tralian mu­si­cal called Evie May, open­ing at the Hayes The­atre Co.

In the in­terim she has per­formed her cabaret show Up Close And Rea­son­ably Per­sonal at the Hayes so she knows the intimate space well.

“It is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent do­ing a show (there) but my ex­pe­ri­ence is that it’s a beau­ti­ful, intimate space, and the au­di­ence is right there at your feet, shar­ing your emo­tions and your per­for­mance,” she says.

“It’s such an intimate piece. There are only six ac­tors on the stage and es­sen­tially it re­volves around three char­ac­ters, so I think it’s the per­fect space for its de­but.”

The show is set in 1966 on the evening of Syd­ney’s last ever Tivoli per­for­mance. Vet­eran star Evie May re­flects on her some­what trou­bled life and ca­reer, know­ing that as the cur­tain falls on the Tivoli, her life as a per­former is prob­a­bly end­ing too.

Com­poser Naomi Liv­ingston and writer Hugo Chiarella be­gan work­ing on Evie May while per­form­ing in the re­cent Aus­tralian tour of Les Mis­er­ables.

“The first no­tion I had was the idea of a per­former look­ing back on her life, and I ap­proached Hugo to build a one-woman show, and then it took on a life of its own from there and be­came what it is now,” says Liv­ingston.

“The Tivoli idea grew out of the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hugo. We felt this amaz­ing part of Aus­tralia’s history, that ex­isted for over 70 years, was a fas­ci­nat­ing back­drop with which to place our story.”

Har­ri­son, who has just fin­ished tour­ing in The Rocky Hor­ror Show (which by­passed Syd­ney), plays Evie May, while Loren Hunter plays her younger self, with Kate Cham­pion di­rect­ing.

“I’m very in­ter­ested in think­ing about the fin­ish of some­thing be­cause al­though I have a fam­ily, it feels like it’s very dif­fi­cult to con­tinue in this busi­ness, at this age, and I have felt that for a num­ber of years,” says Har­ri­son.

“Evie is lit­er­ally at the precipice of the end­ing of her ca­reer. She doesn’t know how it is go­ing to con­tinue any­more be­cause she is a stage per­former and tele­vi­sion is tak­ing over, so that is such a big deal for her. I feel quite con­nected to that be­cause I feel my­self on the precipice go­ing ‘Is this worth it? Do I con­tinue?’ — al­though the choice for Evie May is not re­ally hers, it is shut­ting down around her. And it’s in­ter­est­ing to ex­plore (what I’d feel) if I had to give my own chil­dren away — which is part of Evie’s story; she has to give up her baby. It is a pretty full-on thing to think about as a mother.”

The show uses “two very dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal styles”, says Har­ri­son. “We use what you would call con­tem­po­rary mu­si­cal the­atre to tell our story but then when we go back into the land of the Tivoli, the mu­si­cal style is very much of that era.”

Adds Liv­ingston: “When we are ex­press­ing the in­te­rior world of the char­ac­ters we have tried as much as pos­si­ble to keep the tone very con­tem­po­rary, so that when those Tivoli num­bers come up the de­light of that nos­tal­gic feel re­ally hits you in the face.” EVIE MAY, HAYES THE­ATRE CO, OC­TO­BER 12- NOVEM­BER 3. BOOK: HAYESTHEATRE. COM. AU OR 8065 7337

Evie May star Amanda Har­ri­son. Pic­ture:Richard Dobson

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