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A little about Broadway Unplugged in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Last Sunday’s (February 18 2024) Broadway Unplugged at the Royal Botanic Gardens brought to you by Be You Group and Australian Shakespeare Company.

 

Broadway Unplugged is a concert that I’ve been running for the last 10 or so years. We perform show every two months at The Toff In Town. Broadway Unplugged is a concert that I’ve been running for the last 10 or so years. We perform show every two months and once a year, for the past 7 years, we’ve put on a large concert in the Royal Botanic Gardens. There’s a lot that people don’t know about how this show comes together so enjoy this broad overview!


My responsibility for the night is to liaise and work with the artists - who have all kindly expressed their interest via our EOI form. We then choose songs. And not just any songs. I really try work with the artists to find songs that make their heart sore, whilst also balancing the need and requirements of the general public (a fine balance!).

 

Once songs are chosen, I effectively borrow away for several weeks and begin the arranging process. I arrange for all 10 musicians (including myself). I combine several reeds, percussion and other instruments and design Keyboard books that cover these parts, in addition to that I arrange for the string quartet (Prue Jury, Jessica Leigh, Eugenie Lyons, Darcy Gilkerson) and the remainder of the rhythm section - guitar, bass, drums (Jason Rodi, Olie Powell, Sally Ingram).

 

Charts are finished and emailed out to all. Printing is completed.

 



Keyboards are then programmed! This means choosing EACH sound to be played at very specific moments in the show. And the keyboardists on the day (the wonderful Shuko Hirose and Samuel Loomes) will then use a patch change pedal to cycle through this sounds, at the right time, to produce the desired sound. Keyboards are setup in my living room, trialled and tested, tweaks are made. The living room is a mess.

 

Other than that, I work with our Resident Artist groups (2023 and 2024 as well as cover group - about 20 or so) for 4 rehearsals (across 5 weeks) prior to the night. I work with them and teach them the repertoire that’s required on the night. Both groups perform their own group song(s), as well as perform back up vocals for a multitude of varying styles of music - which is a challenge in itself!

 

The day consists of soundcheck and the show… And just a moment about the music and musicians:





 

Firstly, all the musicians and myself rehearse for the very first time only hours before the show. This is partly due to a limited budget to work with but mostly due to the fact that there’s a level of joy that comes from sight reading something for the first time whilst not having to exhaust everyone with hours and hours of rehearsals (not to say there’s never a time for that). There’s also a great challenge in seeing if we can achieve the emotion and heart a piece requires, whilst also balancing our natural inclination to want to get everything perfect! So, part of the joy for me is seeing how courageous we can be to launch as much feeling into the music, with the risk of mistakes arising. I couldn’t be more grateful to be working with such an incredible group of musicians. Amazing readers, kind people and brilliant musicians. Thank you for your heart and contribution to the night.

 

We are graced with the presence of our host, Gillian Cosgriff, who is an incredible force of talent in her own right. So much joy and poise and humour in everything she does. Such a treat to watch her.

 

Photos are taken by Vu Le Photos. Vu has contributed and volunteered his time and efforts to take photos for Broadway Unplugged for many many years now and I could not be more grateful.

 

Our operations team, consisting of Bradley Dylan (Producer), Brendan Jelley (Casting and Comms) and Weng Yi (Production Manager) really ensure that everything moves without a hitch. They are the reason the day (and the show) happens. We meet weekly and they deal with my emotions and concerns whilst also dealing with their own portfolios!!

 

Thank you thank you thank you to all artists who were involved on the night. Such a treat to work with you all. We might not have all the bells and whistles (ie. crazy budget and in ears), but we put on a hell of a show filled with heart, soul and spirit.




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