I utterly admire any musical theatre producing organisation in Australia that puts Australian musical theatre creatives front and centre in their mission statement – and then actually follows through on enacting that mission. Kudos then to Music Theatre Melbourne (MTM) for leading the way in this regard.
Over the years there have been several ad hoc initiatives across Australia to provide composers/songwriters, lyricists and book writing teams with opportunities to create, critique, workshop and, in rare instance, receive a fully-staged production of new work. Previously, the best of these initiatives was the long-running OZ Made Musicals but that baton has now been passed, for all intent and purposes, to MTM.
Leaving myself aside, the judging panel secured for this contest is well and truly up to the unenviable task of reviewing submitted entries down to a shortlist before final judging.
Leading the panel is AFI Award-winning director, screenwriter and author, Peter Fitzpatrick. With the exception of Peter Pinne and Peter Wyllie Johnston (Authors of The Australian Musical: From the Beginning) I doubt there is anyone who knows more about theatre in Australia than Peter. Angela Scundi is an outstanding musical theatre actor whose song interpretation skills rival the best I have seen in this country – and it is so very important to have the actor’s voice present in assessing new scripts. Lastly, stage director and choreographer, Roman Berry, is a hugely talented independent theatre maker whose work in the U.K. has been widely lauded across the industry.
To all submitting writing teams, I wish you all the best. We’re so keen to read and listen to your work. I’m sure, once again, I will be reminded how much musical theatre writing talent we have – but have yet to learn to appreciate and fully support – across the Australia performing arts industry.