Book by BLAKE ERICKSON & JAY JAMES-MOODY
Music & Lyrics by LAURA MURPHY
Conceived & Directed by JAY JAMES-MOODY
An ambitious original musical like The Dismissal requires a lot of elements to fall in place for success. We already have a moving and humorous script, a dynamic score, and a team of exceptional creatives to take us back to the 1970’s. What is harder to come by are generous donors and philanthropists - the people with the financial means, even in our tenuous current conditions - to make The Dismissal a reality and achieve its full potential. So over the next 30 days as we head towards the end of the financial year, we’re spreading the word and asking for anyone with the capacity to contribute to get behind The Dismissal as an angel donor.
Your contribution will be used to support over 50 Australian arts professionals and their work including, further workshops with creatives and cast, development and rehearsal expenses, production and crewing, design, promotion, education development, and administration.
And the best part of all, Squabbalogic is a registered deductible gift recipient, so any financial gift you make to our landmark production is tax deductible.
You can donate here right now, directly ensuring The Dismissal becomes a national production and achieves its full potential!
“You will recall [me] having raved about the historical musical Hamilton which – documenting the extraordinary story of George Washington’s right-hand-man Alexander Hamilton - I have seen several times in New York… But even while watching it I was lamenting the fact Australia hasn’t yet come up with our own commercial blockbuster musical based on our own fabulous history. Well, on Thursday evening at the Seymour Centre, I might have seen it. It’s in its early off-Broadway stages, but The Dismissal – The Musical, telling the story of Gough Whitlam’s sacking was fabulous from first to last, and received a standing ovation.”
Peter FitzSimons for Sydney Morning Herald
“The producers of The Dismissal requested no reviews of this short try-out season. So please don’t consider this to be one. But after seeing what I think is the best Australian musical of the century so far – it’s hard not to respond… The book (Blake Erickson and Jay James-Moody) sparkles with meta-theatrical humour, chuckling at the conventions of the genre as much as the political figures it skewers…. Laura Murphy’s immensely appealing score bridges the worlds of music theatre and pop, cementing the show’s appeal to those generations of audience members too young to have a political response to the events depicted. She’s written a couple of genuine bangers, too – one of them for Queen Elizabeth II… That The Dismissal will come back is, I think, a certainty. It could run and run.”
Jason Blake for Audrey Journal
“Wow. The Dismissal bowled me over… First we had Muriel’s Wedding, now “The Dismissal”. Things are looking good right now for the Australian Musical…”
Jo Litson for Limelight
The notion of presenting a theatrical exploration of the events surrounding the sacking of the Whitlam government in 1975 was conceived by award-winning director Jay James-Moody and declared as a potential project for his acclaimed boutique company Squabbalogic in 2015. With the generous support of The Russell Mills Foundation, early research and development began in earnest in 2016.
Blake Erickson, a frequent artistic associate of Squabbalogic and political aficionado, was engaged to collaborate on crafting a mostly-historically accurate, contemporary, dynamic and relatable book for the show. Actor and songwriter Laura Murphy was invited to provide a collection of rousing anthems to capture the spirit of 1975 through a modern lens, with both book and music elements to be shaped by the vision of conceptualist and director Jay James-Moody.
The three authors are individually highly in-demand artists. Laura began writing songs for The Dismissal without the benefit of a script or completed outline, working from Jay’s scene sketches and briefs. Jay and Blake would write sequences separately before exchanging over email for revisions while all three worked on commercial projects including Les Misérables, The Book of Mormon and Muriel’s Wedding across Australia and internationally, making for an unusual and dispersed creative collaboration.
In May of 2019, with a rough draft of the libretto and a number of completed songs, the authors gathered with musical supervisor Steven Kreamer and a cast of actors for one week to workshop the music and read the book in a robust creative pressure cooker.
In June of 2019 the cast and creatives convened again for a three-week workshop rehearsal, initially intended to be a far more simple and sparse presentation to test the quality of the work and interest from audiences.
The cast for this development included Matthew Whittet as Norman Gunston, Justin Smith as Gough Whitlam, Andrew Cutcliffe as Malcolm Fraser, Marney McQueen as Sir John Kerr, Blake Appelqvist as Sir Garfield Barwick, Georgie Bolton as Rex Connor, Christian Charisiou as Jim Cairns, Jodie Harris as Junie Morosi and Anne Kerr, Monique Sallé as Tirath Khemlani and Billy Snedden, and – reprising her role from the acclaimed mini-series - Nancye Hayes as the voice of Connor’s Secretary.
The creative team included Jay James-Moody (Director), Steven Kreamer (Orchestrations), Andrew Worboys (Musical Director), Chiara Assetta (Choreographer), Sean Minahan (Set Designer), Aubtin Namdar and Jessica James-Moody (Sound Designers), Elizabeth Franklin and Lyndal Tuckey (Costume Designers) and James Wallis (Lighting Designer).
As a result of the passion for the project, theatrical acumen of the team, and a collective desire to present this bourgeoning and risky new Australian musical at its best, The Dismissal’s pre-world premiere became a fully-staged theatrical work that belied the limited time and financial resources underpinning its creation.
The benefit of presenting the show before seven full audiences at the Seymour Centre has allowed us to understand the positive and negative responses to moments, clearly see opportunities for more efficient storytelling, and to further shape the show into a leaner, more energetic and exciting theatrical event for future audiences and lift an already rousing show to even greater heights.
The Future of The Dismissal
Revisions and further workshops will take place throughout 2020 ahead of a full World Premiere production in 2021. From this launching pad we intend on sending The Dismissal far and wide across the country in partnership with key arts festivals, venues and promoters that share our vision for a Great New Australian Musical that challenges our history and celebrates our future potential as a nation.
Producer, Concept, Director & Co-Writer
Jay James-Moody is an award-winning actor, director, writer and producer. He is the creator and Artistic Director of acclaimed boutique company Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre, was a co-founder of Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Company, is the co-author of the musicals GOOD OMENS (with Vicki Larnach & Jim Hare), and made his professional debut in JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA at the Sydney Opera House. Recent credits include ROMEO & JULIET and TWELFTH NIGHT for Sport For Jove, HERRINGBONE, WEST SIDE STORY for Handa Opera on the Harbour, A CHEERY SOUL and A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM for Sydney Theatre Company, SHE LOVES ME for Hayes Theatre Co and THE BOOK OF MORMON. Directing credits include THE DISMISSAL, GOOD OMENS, HERRINGBONE (with Michael Ralph), STRAIGHT FROM THE HART, BRING IT ON, THE ORIGINAL GREASE, GREY GARDENS, TRIASSIC PARQ, MAN OF LA MANCHA, SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE and CARRIE.
Blake has worked throughout Australia, Asia, Britain, and the United States as a writer, actor, and singer. He studied drama and musical theatre at the University of Sydney & The Actor’s Connection New York. He is the co-writer of the new Australian musical THE DISMISSAL, which premiered at the Seymour Centre in 2019. Past credits include SHREK (GFO), the international tour of Cameron Mackintosh's LES MISÉRABLES (Michael Cassel Group), MAMMA MIA! (Packemin Productions), CRY-BABY, HIGH FIDELITY, MELBA, and his acclaimed cabaret HOLD ME CLOSER LOGIES DANCER (all at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Co.); the Australia & New Zealand tour of MADIBA, OF THEE I SING at the Sydney Opera House; GREY GARDENS, FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, and SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM for Squabbalogic. For his performance in the title role of the one-man show PEARLS BEFORE SWINE: AN EVENING WITH ORSON WELLES (Neil Gooding Prod.) Blake won Best Actor at the inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival Awards.
Music & Lyrics
THE DISMISSAL marks Laura’s first time composing a score for a musical. She most recently toured Australia as ‘Tania’ in MURIEL’S WEDDING THE MUSICAL. Her previous performing credits include ALICE IN SLASHERLAND (Old Fitz Theatre), INTO THE WOODS (Bloom Creative), CRY-BABY (Hayes Theatre Co) for which she was nominated for a Sydney Theatre Award, MURIEL’S WEDDING (STC/Global Creatures), YOU’RE A GOODMAN CHARLIE BROWN (Hayes Theatre Co) for which she won a Sydney Theatre Award, FUNNY GIRL (Sydney Symphony Orchestra), SHREK THE MUSICAL (Free-Rain Theatre Company), the world tour of GREASE (GFO), AN ACT OF GOD (Darlinghurst Theatre Company), WICKED (Free-Rain Theatre Company), THREE IN THE BED, THE WIZARD OF oz (Packemin Productions). Laura’s composing credits include WILLIAM AND SPARKLES’ MAGICAL TALES, MAGICAL TALES: SURPRISES AND IMAGINATION TRAIN (Nine Network). Laura is currently composing the score for a new musical THE LOVERS.
Arguably Sydney’s premier and most prolific producer of intimate music theatre, Squabbalogic has presented an eclectic range of new musicals and reinterpretations from the canon of outstanding musical theatre to great acclaim.
Founded in 2006, Squabbalogic provides a stage for Australia’s finest emerging and established artists to present exciting and dynamic work, while nurturing a vibrant, inclusive professional creative environment. Squabbalogic fills a void by connecting with challenging work and writers often neglected by commercial theatre and sharing it with audiences eager to experience an alternative to large scale spectacles.
We have enjoyed previous partnerships with New Mardi Gras, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Seymour Centre’s Reginald Season, Critical Stages, Noosa Long Weekend, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Squabbalogic were instrumental in acquiring and establishing Hayes Theatre Co in Potts Point, and are presently a resident company at the Seymour Centre.
Our projects have included Forbidden Broadway (two Sydney seasons, interstate tour, international tour), Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, [title of show] (two Sydney seasons), A New Brain and Grey Gardens; and the Australian Premieres of Reefer Madness!, Ordinary Days, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Carrie The Musical, Sondheim On Sondheim, Triassic Parq, and The Original Grease. Our sell-out production of The Drowsy Chaperone was honoured with awards for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Set Design and Best Costume Design at the 2014 Sydney Theatre Awards, and our inventive reimagining of the classic musical Man Of La Mancha saw Australian theatre legend Tony Sheldon return from Broadway to play the lead role for a limited, sell-out season.
In 2015, we initiated our Mystery Musical fundraiser series with Bye Bye Birdie. Further Mystery Musicals have included Hello, Dolly!, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, and Kiss Me Kate. Squabbalogic has also collaborated with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs to present two very special concert presentations; the Pulitzer Prize winning Gershwin musical Of Thee I Sing (2015), and Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town (2016), both presented at the Sydney Opera House.
Squabbalogic presented two original development productions in 2019: The Dismissal, based on the tumultuous final days of the Whitlam government, and Good Omens, from the best-selling novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman; and has commissioned a new theatrical adaptation of the seminal science-fiction classic The Day of the Triffids.
TO DISCUSS YOUR SUPPORT OR ARRANGE A MEETING PLEASE CONTACT
Squabbalogic Artistic Director & Producer
Thank you to our existing supporters of THE DISMISSAL