Share House: The Musical 

Arts Centre Melbourne Share House The Musical 2024 photo by Nick ManuellI don’t think it’s possible to see one of Jude Perl’s solo cabaret shows and not become a dedicated fan. Her original songs and storytelling are personal, honest and connect with audiences who also haven’t got a perfect life.

So, it’s exciting to see Arts Centre Melbourne develop her 2018 solo show Roommates: The Musical into a full-length, with 15-piece orchestra, work called Share House: The Musical.

This short season only ran for three days but expect to see it back as it continues to develop and grow.

New musicals don’t happen quickly; they need to run on stages to see what connects. One of the biggest issues with creating new musicals in Australia is that they aren’t always given these short-run development seasons and too many potentially amazing shows have been lost, forgotten or panned because they weren’t ready.

Share House: The Musical isn’t great yet, but the writers and long-time collaborators Perl, Brendan Tsui (also musical director) and Desiree Munro (also director) have so many irresistible ingredients to work with that it cannot be forgotten to fester at the back of the fridge.

Lucy (Perl) is living in a share house at 35. It’s not what she hoped for as a child. Or as an adult. She also didn’t think she’d be in a boring job, single, obsessed with procedural shows – it’s worth seeing for the NCIS jokes – and generally miserable.

Luckily, she’s still living with Jane (Isabelle Davis) who has been her friend since primary school and tells Lucy what to and what not to do. And neither seem to remember their school dance performance, which plays out in parallel with Jasmine Tuvey and Amie Zwag as young Lucy and Jane.

It’s a story about friendship, but friendship also isn’t as glowy and positive as we wish. When super-positive new housemate Alice (Anita Mei La Terra) moves in and even enjoys cleaning the toilet, years of unspoken conflict come to the surface.

Perl’s solo shows are personal and revealing. She sings about doubt and mental health and the ridiculous standards that women are expected to maintain as performers and as humans who dare to interact in the world.

And she’s funny as. She laughs with us about some of the worst times of our lives, while creating some of the best times – and some of the best rhymes.

Putting herself as a semi-fictional character takes away some of Perl’s authenticity and seems to make the stakes feel lower. The threat of Lucy possibly losing a passive-aggressive friend isn’t strong enough to drive the action and story.

And that’s why shows need to be seen and loved and changed at all levels of development.

Share House: The Musical has amazing songs and music, the cast are spot-on, and the theme of friendship and created family is on target for a time when the Aussie dream of living in a secure house and being able to afford groceries has become a nightmare. But it hasn’t found its bigger story yet.

So, I will be there for the next version and for anything else this team of creators makes because watching work develop into something unforgettable is exciting.

Share House: The Musical 
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 18 May 2024
Season: 16 – 19 May 2024 (ended)
Information and Bookings:

Image: Isabelle Davis and Jude Perl in Share House: The Musical – photo by Nick Manuell

Review: Anne-Marie Peard