I Can Jump Puddles The Musical

AAR-ATC-I-Can-Jump-PuddlesTwelve months have flown by since the last workshop held at the Clocktower Centre in Moonee Ponds. The previous rendition concentrated mainly on the relationships with the children in the cast. This third workshop was a more fully fledged presentation of the show with a larger cast and some musicians.

It was great to see both the first and second act in the one presentation. Musically the show is very solid with the small band, one could hear the orchestration and flavour emanating from the composer’s, Xavier Brouwer’s, mind.

This added both atmosphere and assisted with emotional moments throughout and gave a more solid backing for the singers. The singing was delightful with beautiful harmonies, lead by the Musical Director Ana Mitsikas.

This workshop was presented with the Director Terence O’Connell who introduced the concept of the show with some description of setting the scene/s for the first and second act.  He has been tireless with the effort that has gone into the research and writing of the book together with his additional lyrics for the songs.

The choreography by Freya List is both imaginative and emotional but due to the constraints of the very small space I believe her vision is not yet fully realized.  This musical needs the space to spread its wings both visually and dramatically through set design and choreography.

I believe Terence has a great visual concept for this production by evoking the atmosphere of the abstract and surrealist paintings of Russell Drysdale, which will emotionally enhance the production with a stunning scenic design and full staging.

It is therefore imperative that this new Australian Musical be given the theatre space that it deserves, so when looking at a professional production sometime next year it would be ideal to match a theatre that will give the impression of the wide-open plains of the Victorian Bush but not too large that the audience still has a closeness to the performers, such as the Playhouse at Arts Centre Melbourne or the Beckett Theatre at The Malthouse.

The musical follows Alan Marshal’s journey growing up in drought-riddled rural Victoria where his aspirations of becoming a horseman are crushed when he is diagnosed with polio, losing his mobility in the prime of his youth.

Together with his friends Maggie and Freddie, Alan and his family seek to overcome their challenges in an uplifting tale of determination and grit.  This is a timeless story about family, friendship and never giving up.

Which brings me to the cast. Both young and teenage Alan’s were performed with great energy and enthusiasm by Daniel Nunan and Matthew Hearne respectively. They were assisted by a great ensemble with some doubling up as the characters Freddie and Maggie who are Alan’s best mates. The parents were portrayed by the multi-talented Sophia Katos and Nick Simpson Deeks.

Brandon Page, Artistic Director of Antipodes Theatre Company is on board to assist with the great new work and bringing it to its fully realised potential with a professional production in the not too distant future.

Creating a new musical is like baking a cake, all the ingredients have to come together, it has to look stunning but also be emotionally satisfying once you have taken a bite. This great new Australian musical deserves all the backing/funding that is available, we need to see our great classic Aussie tales on our Australian stages.

I Can Jump Puddles The Musical
Irene Mitchell Studio – St. Martins Theatre, 28 St. Martins Lane, South Yarra
Full Reading Presentation: Saturday 22 April 2023 (11.00am & 3.00pm)

For more information, visit: www.antipodestheatre.com for details.

Image: The Cast of I Can Jump Puddles (supplied)

Review: Brenda Clarke