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Platform Paper 42


Launch: Martin Portus, Gale Edwards, John Senczuk,
Katharine Brisbane & Nancye Hayes

WAAPA graduate Adele Parkinson performes with
Musical director Tim Cunniff (currently AMD on Dirty
) at the Australian Theatre Forum 2015

AIM graduate Damon Grebert-Wade performs at ATF

< Back

Platform Paper 42

Dates: 01/09/2014 - 02/07/2016

Location: Hayes Theatre

"The Time Is Ripe for the Great Australian Musical"
by John Senczuk
Currency House

"The most intelligent clarion call on behalf of the Australian musical ever written." - Gale Edwards

Australian audiences have an unquenchable thirst for musical theatre.
Musicals are ‘big show’ business! But as the royalties and profits - from yet another revival of Les Mis or Cats - flow back to creatives, production companies and investors abroad, the local, indigenous musical is virtually an extinct beast; music theatre colonisation is rampant!
Australia is able to boast of its ‘triple threat’ performers, its internationally awarded directors and designers. Too often relegated to the bijou co-op venues, we also have writers and composers of world calibre, but rarely, if ever, are they given the opportunity locally to develop large industry-scale work.
There’s no use tinkering away at the edges of the art form to encourage a solution. What the industry needs is a proactive, sustainable national funding and development program to nurture ideas through creative building programs that lead to ‘commercial market readiness’ for both the local and international market.

Media Release

Australian Theatre Forum 21 February, 2015
John Senczuk discusses his Platform Paper with Journalist Martin Portus at the Australian Theatre Forum 2015
With musical highlights from singers Adele Parkinson and Damon Grebert-Wade with pianist/composer Tim Cunniffe

Launch of Currency House Platform Paper No. 42 16 February, 2015
Introduced by Nancye Hayes, launched by Gale Edwards, with John Senczuk

See Launch Proceedings

Contact Currency House to purchase either electronic or hard copies of Platform Paper 42


David Spicer, "Making Australian Musicals Great", Stage Whispers, December 2015

Margot Fenley, VCA, convened the first - of a proposed annual - Australian Music Theatre Symposium on Monday 18 September; see Richard Watts article on Artshub

Kevin Purcell can't help himself - but he still won't respond to my emails nor engage in a discussion.

"... a number of good points ... about developing 'a coalition of the willing' to provide the resources to develop new musicals. Perhaps now that the Perth Theatre Trust has taken over the management of its venues in-house there might be an appetite to participate .... The Chamber would always welcome new initiatives that provide opportunities for its members."
Henry Boston, Executive Director, The Chamber of Arts and Culture, Western Australia

Review, Richard Letts, Director, The Music Trust

Kevin Purcell, Blog - Although Mr Purcell invites comment, it's disappointing, in the interest of fair and honest ongoing debate, that he won't publish my response!

"Congratulations on your Platform Paper. The voice of experience. It is so passionate and instructive." 
Richard Letts, Director, The Music Trust

Jane Howard, "Thinking outside the Box Seats: the Future of Australian Opera and Music Theatre, Kill Your Darlings 9.2.2015

"Where is the Australian Musical hiding?" Margot Fenley speaks with Melanie Tate, RN 20.2.2015

"...excellent paper. ... The AIM Music Theatre Department is thriving at the moment. We are very committed to providing a learning environment which value adds to Australian Music Theatre community. Many of our programs and units of study focus on providing opportunities for students to workshop new Australian works with the new wave of Music Theatre creatives. We have an exciting mentor program and an AIM Alumni Music Theatre Company called EXCLAIM."
Jennifer Murphy, Head of Music Theatre, Australian Institute of Music

"Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (QCGU) supports the call for a great Australian Musical.... I would posit, then, that Queensland is actually the place for out-of town tryout of new operas and musicals and that, while youthful, we have the capacity and frontier mentality to pull it off."
Professor Scott Harrison, Director, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University - see Prof Harrison's full response

"Personally and on behalf of DCA I am in support of the Perth Solution or at least in seeing the Maj as a potential out of town try out venue and the synergies possible with WAAPA, West Australian Opera, Black Swan and other producing entities."
Duncan Ord, Director General at Department of Culture and the Arts, Government of Western Australia

Margot Fenley and Dr Zachary Dunbar, VCA, Response to "The Time is Ripe for the Great Australian Musical"

Jane Howard, Kill Your Darlings 19.2.2015

Peter J Casey "About that 'Great Australian Musical': A response." Major Minor/Arts Hub


Geoff Hutchison, ABC Radio Perth 21.1.2015
Australian Theatre Forum 2015 discussion panel hosted by Martin Portus 21.1.2015
Aimee Bransgrove & Chris Virtue, Radio Active 2RRR 23.1.2015
Bill Stephens “Dress Circle” Artsound FM 92.7 Canberra 21.1.2015
Peter Goers, ABC Radio Adelaide 29.1.2015
Gaz Simpson & Diana Simmonds, Arts Tuesday 89.7FM 20.1.2015
Kim Williams, The Daily on Monday, 2SER-FM 16.2.2015

"Arts and Literature", Melanie Tate, ABC Radio National 21.1.2015
"Some simple steps to discover the Great Australian Musical"The Daily Review 23.1.2015
"Proposal to get Australian musicals kicking up their heels", Arts Hub 23.1.2015
"Director John Senczuk argues the perth solution would fund new australian musicals", Andrew Taylor, SMH 22.1.15
Save VCA Website

David Iliff, [YouTube]ABC Toowoomba 5.2.2015 



13 March - Enthusiastic and positive meeting with Paul Mason, Director of Music Arts Strategy, Australian Council for the Arts; we can look forward to a more coordinate national discussion on the issue I raise in the Platform Paper over the next twelve months!
10 March - in contact with Avigal Herman who is keen to keep the issues alive in terms of setting up a network to encourage dialogue between music theatre makers nationally.
10 March - my colleague from WAAPA, Crispin Taylor - who is the convenor of the MTEA (Music Theatre Educators' Alliance) Conference "Australasian Overtures" - has just announce that British performer, teacher, coach, broadcaster and writer, Mary King, will be a guest presenter. More information about the WAAPA Conference scheduled for 20-23 June here.
9 March - Jane Howard, Kill Your Darlings, has written another piece "Thinking Outside the Box Seats: The future of Australian Opera and Music Theatre"
3 March - Good to hear from friend and colleague from University of Wollongong Days, Clem Gorman; his musical At The Booker T., (about an African American soldiers’ club of that name set up in Sydney in WW11 by the American Red Cross, because the US Army didn’t integrate until 1947) is in development.
2 March - Was very pleased to supply a letter of support requested by the Hayes Theatre Company for funding purposes.
28 February - Email from Jennifer Murphy, Head of Music Theatre, Australian Institute of Music
27 February - Received fabulous package of material from Darryl Emmerson: a copy of his John Shaw Neilson musical play The Pathfinder; and the script and recording of his musical Martin and Gina.
16 February - Launch of Platform Paper 42 hosted by the Hayes Theatre Company. Great to see a lot of old mates amongst the full house crowd: Max Lambert, Michael Tyack, Peter Cousens, Noel Hodda, Penny Nelson, Linden Wilkinson, Kath Thompson, Julie Lynch, Les Currie, David Spicer, Dominic Cudmore, Larry Galbraith, Bruce Pollack, Brian Mead, Robert Love, Avigail Herman. It was great to meet Ian Whitney and Paul Mason representing the Australia Council.