Homegrown musical’s journey to the comedy festival

Ursula Searle as The Princess who discovers her grunge side. Photo: Julia Kaddatz

By SHELBY BROOKS

The typical role of the tree in a school play involved the clumsy kid waving their arms above their head in the background, as the more talented students took centre stage.

That  school musical stereotype is totally uprooted in Pining for Affection: A Tree Musical, which opened at the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Monash University students Dylan Marshall and Earl Marrows co-wrote the piece and formed Marshall and Marrows Productions this year.

Originally a 15-minute musical item for MUST(Monash Uni Student Theatre) Cabaret Festival, Marshall credits the positive responses and support at MUST for giving them the confidence to take their show to a professional venue.

The cast of Pining for Affection: A Tree Musical. 

“It kind of started as an inside joke with just myself, but it turned into something that really resonated with people,” Marshall said.

“The idea came from the stereotype in theatre, that someone always gets cast as a tree.  I’m like ‘I want a show about that guy!’”

Pining for Affection was one of the 20 shows chosen out of 250 applicants to be performed in a highly coveted spot at The Butterfly Club, off Little Collins St.  

Marrows composed the music for the show and Marshall wrote the lyrics. 

“I am very lucky in the sense that Earl is very easy to write with and we compliment each other extremely well,” Marshall said.

“Usually I’d just write up the lyrics to a song, which would take anywhere from two weeks to 20 minutes with a melody in mind, send it off to Earl and he’d usually scrap my melody and do something 100 times more impressive.”

Since the original version was only 15 minutes long, the pair had to see what areas of the original production they could flesh out, to create interesting arcs for the characters to last an hour.

Stephen Amos as The Tree, a forlorn and lonely character sick of being scenery in someone else’s story. Photo: Julia Kaddatz

The duo’s desire for a fight scene also shaped the storyline.

“We liked the idea of playing with stereotypes and then it was simply a question of ‘how would these characters interact with each other?’ and ‘where would it go from there?’” Marshall said.

The musical only had four cast members, all Monash University students with impressive experience behind them already.

 

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Marshall said many people had suggested a remount of the show after receiving very positive audience feedback.

“Honestly, it feels legitimately amazing, like a confirmation that this is something I can do in the future and as a career,” Marshall said.

“Originally it felt like a step into the unknown, but now it feels like a step in the right direction.”

Check out Marshall and Marrows Productions’ Facebook page for future shows.