Brisbane Arts Theatre proudly stages the Queensland premiere of 'Our House', the award-winning musical based on the music of 1970s-80s ska-pop mainstays Madness.
First staged in 2002 at The Cambridge Theatre in London's West End, 'Our House' is being brought to local stages by Brisbane Arts Theatre under the directorial guidance of John Boyce.
“This is the first time it's ever been done in Queensland so it's always really nice to get a premiere out there, which is a little bit odd because the show has been around for quite some time now,” John says.
“It debuted in 2002, so it hasn't had the interest in Australia as what it has had in the UK and even in places like Japan where it's been really quite successful. So we're the first ones to grab it here in Brisbane, although I've been considering and wanting to do the production for seven or eight years but I was warned off doing it for that very reason, because no-one else had touched it. Then I thought 'no, damn it. I'm going to do it'.”
For many, the music of Madness is ubiquitous with their experiences growing up during the 1980s. Even today, songs like 'House Of Fun' and 'Baggy Trousers' are instantly recognisable hits that return people, including John, to their youth.
“I love the music of Madness,” John says.
“For me it's a real trip down memory lane because when these songs were current I was pretty much in my formative years as a youngster growing up. When songs like 'Baggy Trousers' and 'House Of Fun' and whatnot came out, I was in my late teens, early 20s, so I always had a great deal of respect for the style of the ska-pop music of Madness.”
'Our House' tells the story of Camden lad Joe Casey and a split-second decision made on the night of his 16th birthday that leads Joe down to diverging paths.
“It's a coming-of-age story, which is lovely,” John explains.
“It's a 'Sliding Doors' type of thing – somebody is given 20 seconds to make a decision which could impact their life one way or the other, so it explores both those options. Something as simple as 'will I or won't I?' or 'should I or shouldn't I?' suddenly pans out to be such an important choice, and this show goes down the lines of exploring what would happen to Joe if he takes the so-called good or bad path. That's what makes it really interesting.”
Rather than shoehorning a loose narrative around the Madness catalogue, John says the story of 'Our House' plays out in direct relation to the music.
“The show itself, unlike other jukebox musicals that I've either seen or been involved in their creation, this one makes a hell of a lot of sense,” John says.
“The songs inside the scenes make a lot of sense, whereas in a lot of the others you have a scene with an unrelated issue suddenly leading into a jukebox-type song.”
'Our House' is on at Brisbane Arts Theatre 4 April-16 May.