Director Emily McLean admits she’s set a bit of a brutal schedule for herself this year, going from the biting season of WA’s Black Swan State Theater Company at Animal Farm straight to Nick’s fun and nerdy Australian musical Summer Rain. Enright at WAAPA.
What made it easier was the knowledge that the works were about as far apart as possible from each other, as well as the fact that McLean was fortunate enough to be taught by Enright during his own WAAPA days at study the realization in what is now called Enright Studio. .
“He was an amazing teacher who was very present, observant, kind and funny and he really knew what he was talking about; he could see where he needed to guide people, ”said McLean of Mt Lawley.
“I was an assistant director on Blackrock (written by Enright) when I was a student at WAAPA, then I directed it a few years ago at Curtin University, so I also worked closely on his lyrics before. . It definitely gives me a little edge at home. “
Enright wrote Summer Rain in 1983 as an ensemble work for students of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and WAAPA performed it in 2000.
The musical follows the story of a traveling show troupe who loses all of their performers on Christmas Eve except for the Slocum family who own the show, and in desperation Father Harold decides to return to a town called Turnaround Creek, which had been kind to him. 15 years ago.
“It’s raining and they’re all stuck with each other in this little town in the Outback,” McLean said.
“They arrive Boxing Day and they are there until New Years Day, so it’s a week of change, confrontation and personal growth. It was written as an ensemble piece to give everyone a try, rather than having two lead actors getting all the fame.
The musical is performed by sophomore theater students rather than musical theater students, who McLean said had particularly strong lungs and used their singing skills a lot.
Although she has worked on plays with songs before, Summer Rain is much more in the music camp than McLean has ventured before as a director and she loves it, in large part thanks to her collaboration with musical director Bronwyn Gibson.
She said it felt incredibly appropriate to present a touring troupe, which performs in a tent, in WAAPA’s The Edith Spiegeltent.
“That alone is reason enough to do it and it’s special to perform in a space that has such a history of carnival and folk performance; those walls and the roof speak to us and I really like that, ”said McLean.
“It comes with its fair share of challenges, especially since it was incredibly humid during the rehearsal period, but it’s like an animal where it breathes when you’re in it.
“It’s a vocally difficult space for the actors to work, so we take up this challenge from them who need to fill that space. The walls are moving, the roof is moving, and there is noise outside that you can hear, but you still need to have emotional truth and clarity in your voice.
Summer Rain is at Edith Spiegeltent, WAAPA, November 13-18.