DreamSong at Alex Theatre
Pastor Richard Sunday runs the Mega-Church of DreamSong, along with his wife, Australia's leading Christian Pop Artist Whitney Sunday. The Australian Prime Minister, Darren Cunningham, has lost favour with the Aussie public, So Pastor Sunday concocts a plan to bring his church back into the spotlight, and win the election for Cunningham! But will Jesus see their actions as Holy?
Rosie spoke with performer Nelson Gardner about Australia's answer to The Book of Mormon, and what we can expect from the shoiw. Read the full interview below:
Dreamsong is a satirical musical comedy about Pastor richard Sunday, who runs the Mega-Church of DreamSong, and plans to bring the church back into the spotlight. What first attracted you to this script and why do you think Melbourne needs to see this show in 2019?
I was lucky enough to originate the role of Pastor Richard back in its first ever staging at VCA, in 2011. It was brilliant then and has been revamped and updated in order to stay relevant. The thing is, megachurches aren't going anywhere. They are still giant, tax-exempt organisations with numerous scandals running through them. PM Scott Morrison just recently stood on stage with Hillsong's founder, Brian Houston, who is currently under police investigation in regards to covering up his father's child sex abuse. DreamSong has always been about how religion and politics feed off each other and unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be changing any time soon.
Dreamsong has been dubbed the “Australian Book of Mormon”. What has been your experience working on such a tongue-in-cheek, hilarious show? Do you feel any pressure with such a comparison?
I’ve always loved DreamSong and I’m absolutely stoked to be working on it outside of VCA. Interestingly enough, we were workshopping scenes from DreamSong before The Book Of Mormon made its debut. I think that’s the reason I've never felt any pressure with that comparison. They're both terrific shows with some thematical similarities, but go in very different directions.
Australia is seeing a lot of fantastic new musicals this year. Why do you think it’s so important to foster the musical theatre scene in Australia? How do you hope to see this community develop in the next few years?
The Australian performing arts industry is constantly having its funding chopped. Theatre is a platform from which we can educate, inspire and entertain. It's where we can highlight problems in our government without being censored. Our government would very much like us not to have that platform. I hope to see more independently funded theatre that makes a difference and engages a modern audience. It's all well and good to drag out another musical from the 40’s so everyone can go home whistling, but that's never going to attract people who don't already love musicals. I genuinely hope to see more shows that can convert non-theatre-goers. Only then can we have a thriving industry that genuinely has a stake in how our country is run.
What do you hope to achieve with Dreamsong, and why should audiences see this show?
Without getting too specific, I hope we can highlight the absurd relationships between religion, money and politics. At the end of the day though, I really do want to make people laugh and have a damn good night out!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
The Book Of Mormon on Broadway, with Ben Platt as Cunningham. He was only 19 and absolutely blew me away.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
That beach island where you can swim with wild pigs.
Dream show to create?
The Nightmare Before Christmas on stage.
Plays or musicals?
I'm not really that kind of person.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Eating amazing food and drinking awesome wine.
What’s next for you after this show?
Hang out with my girlfriend. Take our dog for a run. Pat the cat.
DreamSong opens at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda on November 21, 2019. You can get your tickets here.