New Harry Chapin musical Short Stories to be developed in Melbourne this February

Monstrous Theatre Short Stories CastMonstrous Theatre has announced the first development workshop for Short Stories – a new musical with book by illustrious British screenwriter, Mike Bullen, and music from the back-catalogue of the late, great, American singer-songwriter Harry Chapin.

This will be the third new work Monstrous Theatre has workshopped in the past 12 months, following on from an adaptation of Helen Garner’s The Spare Room, and a new play Jump by Theresa Borg.

A who’s who of Musical Theatre stars have been assembled for the February development, including Robert Tripolino, Georgina Hopson, Johanna Allen, Justin Gray, Rachel McCann, John O’May, Greg Stone and Tod Strike.

The workshop will be under the Musical Direction of Anthony Barnhill with Rainer Pollard as Repetiteur. Mike Bullen will direct the workshop with Theresa Borg as dramaturg. This workshop is possible due to the generous support of The Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts and Monash University.

“We’re so excited to be developing this brand-new work, right here in Melbourne. I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Bullen’s work since I first watched Cold Feet, some twenty years ago, and I grew up with Harry Chapin’s timeless music. Chapin authored so many iconic songs, including the classics Cat’s in the Cradle and Taxi,” said Producer Anton Berezin.

“I first came across the music of Harry Chapin as a young teenager and immediately became a die-hard fan,” said Mike Bullen. “Harry, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1981, wrote story songs and I’ve long felt that they would translate well to the stage.

“During Covid lockdowns in Sydney, I had the opportunity to test this notion. I wrote a script that linked some of the characters in Harry’s most theatrical songs in a story that explores his favourite themes of loneliness and love.”

“Last year I had lunch in New York with Harry’s widow and son who gave their blessing to this project. It was thrilling to me to think that decades since meeting my hero at the end of one of his concerts, I was becoming acquainted with his family.”

“After a career writing for television, I’ve found it refreshing to write for the stage, something I haven’t done since university. I’m delighted to have teamed up with Anton Berezin and Theresa Borg at Monstrous Theatre, whose experience is invaluable.”

“They’ve assembled a first-rate company to workshop my script with Harry’s music. I am excited to see where this next step on the journey of Short Stories takes us,” said Bullen.

“Although, the rehearsed presentation this February is by invitation only, we are confident that this brilliant show will be coming to a commercial stage very soon,” added Berezin.

Harry Forster Chapin was an American singer-songwriter, philanthropist, and hunger activist best known for his folk rock and pop rock songs. He achieved worldwide success in the 1970s. Chapin, a Grammy Award-winning artist and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, has sold over 16 million records worldwide.

Chapin recorded a total of 11 albums from 1972 until his death in 1981. All 14 singles that he released became hits on at least one national music chart. Chapin’s best-known songs include Taxi and Cat’s in the Cradle.

As a dedicated humanitarian, Chapin fought to end world hunger. He was a key participant in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger in 1977. In 1987, Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work.

Mike Bullen is best known as the BAFTA-award winning writer/creator of the British TV comedy drama, Cold Feet, which ran for nine series from 1997 – 2003 and 2016 – 2020. He is the creator of four other TV series, most recently North Shore (2023) for Paramount +.

In 2003, he was named Writer of the Year at the UK TV Comedy Awards. Mike is also a novelist and was previously a radio producer/presenter. In 1991 he won a Sony Gold Award (the BAFTAs of the British radio industry) for best current affairs documentary series. Short Stories is his first musical.

Monstrous Theatre is a commercial producer of plays, opera and Musical Theatre based in Melbourne, Australia. The independent production company was established by husband-and-wife team, Theresa Borg, and Anton Berezin, after selling their previous businesses, Life Like Touring and The Entertainment Store, to TEG/Ticketek.

The pair have entertained more than 7 million patrons globally with their original family shows and musicals. Borg and Berezin have had multiple presentations of their work on Broadway, London’s West End and countless productions across every continent of the globe.

Monstrous Theatre will announce two premiere productions during Q1 2024, with further productions slated for development throughout 2024 and 2025.

Image: Robert Tripolino, Georgina Hopson, Johanna Allen, Justin Gray, Rachel McCann, John O’May, Greg Stone and Tod Strike (supplied)