Matthew Lee Robinson’s Happy People
Independent theatre is really taking off in Australia. Every week there seems to be a new independent production getting acclaim from audiences. Recently, we have had Parade by Collective Theatre, Ghost Light’s Carrie and a huge number of cabaret style shows. But Matthew Lee Robinson’s exceptional Happy People provides clear evidence why this shift towards independent theatre is happening.
Exposing the private lives of an American children’s entertainment group, Happy People follows the performers as they descend into chaos both on and off stage. The show takes place as they launch their highly anticipated 10th Anniversary Live National Tour and the Executive Producer tries to keep the four members (and immensely popular suited character Edison the Elephant) from imploding at the hands of their own group tensions.
There are two reasons why Happy People is leading a resurgence of independent theatre in Australia. Firstly, this limited season has managed to secure an incredible cast which will surely bring their hordes of fans into the theatre. The production stars Bobby Fox (Jersey Boys), Gretel Scarlett (Grease), Tom Sharah (That 90’s Show, I Will Survive) and Sun Park (Hi-5) as the perky on-stage human hosts alongside Bert LaBonté (Let’s Get It On: The Life and Music of Marvin Gaye, The Moutaintop, Atlantis) as Edison the Elephant and Robyn Arthur (The Boy From Oz) as the Executive Producer.
These actresses and actors deliver incredible performances as the entertainment group slowly descends further and further into chaos. Highlights include Gretel Scarlett performing the ultimate breakdown song ‘Nice’, Tom Sharah singing a tribute to Boybands in ‘Boyband’ and the entire cast in their finale song ‘Room to Grow’. As is the mark of a future success, it was near impossible to not continue singing that last song as you walked out of the theatre.
The second reason why Happy People proves the resurgence of independent theatre?
Matthew Lee Robinson’s incredible writing.
We are lucky in Australia to have a whole host of talented artists, but not many of them stand up to the calibre of Matthew Lee Robinson. His debut of Atlantis earlier in the year had audiences raving (I desperately want a recording of this soundtrack!) and this latest premiere is sure to elicit the same reaction!
His writing draws on universal themes that strongly resonate with audiences. His characters are immensely relatable. But most importantly he writes new music that is easily accessible to any audience member and is so memorable that it secures itself as a conversation topic with anyone you see for the next couple of days. (Seriously, his harmonies make you melt!)
It is great to see the leading professional performers coming back to do smaller independent theatre productions, but none of this would happen if it wasn’t for the incredible standard that is being set by emerging writers, composers and lyricists. And Matthew Lee Robinson’s Happy People is the perfect example of this.
Happy People is only running this weekend at Chapel off Chapel. Tickets are much cheaper than professional productions, but the experience is just as good if not better so make sure you get there tonight!
For more information and to book tickets, visit http://chapeloffchapel.com.au/melbourne-comedy-theatre-art/melbourne-events/melbourne-comedy/happy-people-in-concert-18-19-oct/