Photography by Sarah Walker, Jodie Hutchinson, and Nick Simpson-Deeks
Site designed by Nick Simpson-Deeks
Watch This is a community of artists and arts managers with a shared vision and a wealth of professional experience in our respective fields. In just three short years, we've come to be recognised as major players within Melbourne's theatrical landscape, garnering eleven Green Room Award nominations for our first two shows: Assassins 2013 and Pacific Overtures 2014 (winning Best Supporting Actor - Adrian Li Donni). We've also successfully piloted a full scale musical tour to regional centres with Assassins in 2014 and are poised to repeat the adventure, taking our sell-out 2015 production of Company on the road in 2016.
From the outset, our goal has been to launch a Sondheim repertory company - an Australian first - creating opportunities for artists and audiences to regularly explore an extraordinary, diverse and challenging body of work by one of the undisputed masters of contemporary music theatre. We are passionate about creating exciting, immediate theatrical experiences for theatre-goers. We are also committed to ensuring that these experiences are available to as many people as possible - a philosophy that informs the relatively simple matter of ticket pricing to more complex regional touring proposals!
In 2016, we are once again poised to get a show on the road. Following a sell-out season in Melbourne last year, we're thrilled to be taking Company to Geelong, Ballarat and West Gippsland, with help from our friends at Regional Arts Victoria & Creative Victoria.
Tickets are on sale so book now:
26 – 28 May: Geelong Performing Arts Centre
www.gpac.org.au / (03) 5225 1200
3 & 4 June: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat
www.hermaj.com (03) 5333 5888
8 & 9 June: West Gippsland Performing Arts Centre
www.wgac.com.au (03) 5624 2456
All projects to date have been made possible by the generosity of the Lyngala Foundation and other visionary individuals/ organisations, including the Opera & Arts Support Group. Most recently, Watch This are grateful for critical support from the Clifton Hill / North Fitzroy Community Bank and Robert Salzer Foundation.
Assassins, by Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman
Directed by Tyran Parke, Music Direction by Luke Byrne
Amidst the lurid debris of a traveling carnival, a Proprietor invites nine would-be Assassins to step up to the mark and hit the target in return for a glittering prize. As he hands out guns with a glib invitation, "c'mere and kill a President", we are introduced to a collection of America's most disturbing characters from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald. This killer black comedy takes a provocative lens to the dreams, distortions and delusions of nine infamous Americans.
This outstanding debut production by Watch This received three Green Room Award nominations including Best Musical Direction, Luke Byrne, and Best Supporting Actors, Matt Holly and Nick Simpson-Deeks.
Featuring: Mark Dickinson, Nadine Garner, Shelli Jean Grant, Matt Holly, Nic Kyle, Martin Lane, Luigi Lucente, Shane Nagle, Jennifer Reed, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Tod Strike, Sonya Suares, Aaron Tsindos and Leighton Young
Special Guest: Matthew Cook
Musicians: Ashley Carter, Simon D'Aquino, Curtis Reardon, Allison Wright
Set and Costume Design: Crisanne Fox
Lighting Design: Rob Sowinski
Production Manager: Jenn Taylor
Stage Manager/Operator: Alison Huth
Presented April 10 - 21, 2013 at Fortyfivedownstairs in partnership with Auspicious Arts Projects by arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd.
Proudly supported by Lyngala Foundation and Opera & Arts Support Group.
Pacific Overtures, by Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman
Directed by Alister Smith, Choregraphy by Michael Ralph, Music Direction by Robyn Womersley
The end of the world is coming.
It is 1853 and American warships are poised in the waters around Japan. A fisherman and a minor samurai are dispatched to 'stop the boats' and hold back the tide of Western incursion – at stake is a way of life.
Stephen Sondheim’s extraordinary epic is hysterically funny one moment and deeply moving the next, as it explores the forces of cultural change in two hours of highly charged theatre.
Featuring: Bianca Baykara, Anton Berezin, Reece Budin, Emma Clair Ford, Jacqui Hoy, Andrew Kroenert, Adrian Li Donni, Noni McCallum, Tim Paige, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Elenor Smith Adams, Sonya Suares and Leighton Young
Musicians: Daniele Buatti, Aaron Klein and Lara Wilson
Set Design: Eugyeene Teh
Costume Design: Chloe Greaves
Lighting Design: Rob Sowinski
Production Managers: Linda Hum and Tanje Ruddick
Stage Manager/Operator: Mel Moldrich
With thanks to Robert Johnson (AD/ Operator), James Lew (Assistant LX), Shane Thompson (Assistant Set Design), Stephanie Dimitriou (ASM), Jean Grant (Producer's Assistant)
Presented February 20 – March 9, 2014 in association with Theatre Works and Auspicious Arts Projects by arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd. A co-production with Manilla Street Productions.
Proudly supported by Lyngala Foundation.
Following our sell-out season of Assassins at Fortyfivedownstairs in 2013, Watch This took the show on the road for a two-week tour in October. A black comedy that explores the dark side of manifest destiny narratives, Assassins received three Green Room nominations for its debut season. Our 2014 micro-tour was a bold experiment and one squarely aimed at offering a unique opportunity for regional venues and audiences to access a full scale production of a sophisticated musical by an outstanding cast and creative team.
Director: Tyran Parke
Musical Director: Luke Byrne
Featuring: Johanna Allen, Nicholas Christo, Mark Dickinson, James Millar, Luigi Lucente, Shane Nagle, Jennifer Reed, Glaston Toft, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Tod Strike, Sonya Suares, Rowan Witt, Anne Wood and Leighton Young
Musicians: Curtis Reardon, Lara Wilson and Allison Wright
Set and Costume Design: Crisanne Fox
Lighting Design: Rob Sowinski
Tour Production Manager: Meg Richardson
Stage Manager/Operator: Jenn Taylor
With thanks to Isaac Haywood (Repetiteur), James O'Donoghue (Assistant LX), Alison Huth (Props) and Mandee Everitt (Assistant Costume Design).
Presented October 14- 25, 2014 at West Gippsland Arts Centre, Esso BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre, Geelong Performing Arts Centre in partnership with Auspicious Arts Projects by arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd.
Proudly supported by Touring Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria, Lyngala Foundation, Opera & Arts Support Group, Creative Partnerships Australia and more than fifty generous individuals.
Company by Stephen Sondheim & George Furth
Directed by Kat Henry; Musical Direction by Lucy O'Brien; Choregraphy by Michael Ralph
It’s Robert’s birthday - he is turning 35 and his closest friends are throwing him a surprise party. Witty and well-liked, living in the heart of New York and dating three gorgeous women, Robert has it all … so why can’t he blow out the candles on his birthday cake and make a wish? Each attempt triggers the next turn in Sondheim’s beloved ‘concept musical’. Company examines the affairs of the heart: can a sophisticated person in a modern metropolis function happily in a relationship, sustain an emotional connection or even recognise love? Via the uncertain romantic Robert, Sondheim windows into the lives of five married couples and three women to explore these ideas in all their hilarity and complexity.
Featuring: Johanna Allen, Bianca Baykara, Sally Bourne, Gillian Cosgriff, Nathan Carter, Mark Dickinson, Nelson Gardner, Madeleine Mackenzie, Nicole Melloy, John O'Hara, Tim Paige, Sonya Suares, Carina Waye and Nick Simpson-Deeks as Robert
Musical Supervisor: Luke Byrne
Musicians: Victor Brincat, Miles Izzo, Lara Wilson and Allison Wright
Set Design: Eugyeene Teh
Costume Design: Zoë Rouse
Lighting Design: Rob Sowinski
Production Manager: Julia Truong
Stage Manager/Operator: Meg Richardson
With thanks to Dirk Hoult (Assistant Director), Max Paton (Directorial Secondment), Matt Hirst (ASM/ Sound Design) and Oliver Bailley (ASM).
Presented September 16 – October 4, 2015 at fortyfivedownstairs by arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd.
Proudly supported by Lyngala Foundation, Opera & Arts Support Group, Creative Partnerships Australia and our wonderfully generous donors.
Following another sell-out season at fortyfivedownstairs in 2015, we are once again embarking on a regional micro-tour with Company. A musical comedy that explores love, relationships and the struggle for intimacy, our original Melbourne season earned Watch This our 12th Green Room Award nomination and the third in a row for leading man, Nick Simpson-Deeks. Tickets are on sale BOOK NOW!
Director: Kat Henry
Choreographer: Michael Ralph
Musical Director: Lucy O'Brien
Featuring: Bianca Baykara, Amy Berrisford, Elise Brennan, Lyall Brooks, Bronte Florian, Sally Bourne, Gillian Cosgriff, Nathan Carter, Mark Dickinson, Nelson Gardner, Andrew Kroenert, John O'Hara, Sonya Suares, Chloe Elisabeth Wilson and Nick Simpson-Deeks as Robert
Musicians: Emily, Clarke, Sean Loughran and Allison Wright
Set Design: Eugyeene Teh
Costume Design: Zoë Rouse
Lighting Design: Rob Sowinski
Production Manager: Jessica Frost
Stage Manager/Operator: Meg Deyell
With thanks to Bryn Cullen (Associate LX) and Shane Thompson (Set Design)
Watch This is partnering with Regional Arts Victoria to deliver this tour, which is made possible with funding by Creative Victoria and the generous support of Lyngala Foundation, Robert Salzer Foundation and our wonderful donors.
"'Everybody’s got the right to their dreams!' With these deceivingly sunny words we are drawn into the grim world of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, a dark twisted carnival in which the murderers of history exist in a fantastical purgatory… Mark Dickinson as John Wilkes Booth brings a sonorous baritone and combination of Southern and Satanic charm to the role, quietly commanding every scene he enters. Nadine Garner is pitch perfect as Sarah Jane Moore, one of the two ladies who attempted to kill Gerald Ford, and her scenes with Sonya Suares as Lynette Fromme are a comic delight. The rest of the cast deliver solid performances… Director Tyran Parke is to be commended for his direction of the show, and his vision shines through strongly in the assassins' individual songs and scenes … Parke and the cast do a fantastic job of humanising the characters and mining the comedic potential of the material."
— Bradley Storer, Theatre Press
"This production, by new company Watch This, captures the bizarre nature of the characters and the wry humour, political satire and moral commentary of the script. […] In a compelling, abstract world, killers from different time periods collide, sing about their obsessions, explain their motives through monologues, scenes and songs, including the poignant November 22, 1963, in which people recall where they were when Kennedy was shot. […] Nadine Garner's bold, comic characterisation of failed assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is hilarious, and her comic timing and delivery are deliciously wicked. Luigi Lucente gives a compassionate, complex portrayal of Leon Czolgosz, the downtrodden factory worker who kills President McKinley as a political statement."
— Kate Herbert, The Herald Sun
"Director Tyran Parke has done remarkably well with this production of Sondheim's lesser-known Assassins, first staged off-Broadway in 1990 and locally by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 1995. […] The final numbers are brilliantly realised. […]This is social critique with high kicks and harmonies."
— Rebecca Harkins-Cross, The Age
"Weidman's book sparkles like it was written yesterday, but the showpiece here really is Sondheim's score. Twenty-three years after its off-Broadway debut, it still packs a mean punch. […] Nick Simpson-Deeks as The Balladeer — who has possibly the prettiest voice in musical theatre — gets the best material in the show, sharing The Ballad of Booth and The Ballad of Guiteau with the respective assassins, and busts out his masterful acting chops in his eleven-o-clock transformation into Lee Harvey Oswald. Nadine Garner as the manic, gangly Sarah Jane Moore is phenomenal. Her brilliantly bizarre line readings and switchblade-sharp timing are as good as anything on a Broadway stage. Aaron Tsindos as Charles Guiteau, is marvellous. You can’t take your eyes off his demented, egomanical, smiley-faced soft-shoe. Matt Holly is heartbreakingly good as John Hinckley, Jr. […] Shane Nagle as Samuel Byck delivers an incredible performance […] The reveal of entirely different set pieces and a backdrop — the raw, window-laden wall of the space itself — towards the end of the show is brilliant […] This is the first professional production of the show since the MTC did it in 1995; don’t wait 18 years for another one."
— Byron Bache, Crikey
"Mark Dickinson's portrayal of John Wilkes Booth struck the perfect note between hilarity and tragic irony. […] He inhabited the role of the vain actor so completely that the audience felt as if they were living within the character. The duet, The Ballad of Booth, performed by Dickinson and Nick Simpson-Deeks, as the balladeer, was impeccable. […] Aaron Tsindos gave a brilliant performance as Charles Guiteau, endearing all the way to the gallows. […] Nadine Garner proved she has great skill as a comedic theatre performer with possibly the best part of the book, Sarah Jane Moore. She wonderfully brought to life a sad and forgotten housewife whom it was impossible for the audience not to love. Her comic timing was impeccable. And while we're on the topic of impeccable comic timing, Shane Nagle rates a special mention. As a struggling Santa Claus and would be Nixon assassin, Nagle delivered his monologues with such pathos that you almost found yourself rooting for him to succeed in his plot. […] The set design was interesting - a carnival like environment artfully created with a shooting gallery of men in suits with targets for head, representing each president. […] Assassins is well worth the cost of admission to see the performances from the entire ensemble who managed to fully entertain for the duration."
— L.B. Bermingham, Stage Whispers
"This Melbourne production […is] a disciplined and tightly choreographed satirical drama. Even its clichés seem original and persuasive. The ensemble work - vocally and physically - is especially good. As the unnamed narrator, Anton Berezin has a load-bearing role. And he inspires complete confidence. Adrian Li Donni is an engaging Kayama Yasaemon […] In a variety of roles, Noni McCallum is scintillating. She epitomises the spirit of the production with her reckless confidence in the material, her bright character and sharp sense of fun."
— Chris Boyd, The Australian
"Pacific Overtures […] is a theatrical tour de force. The cast are so strong both dramatically and vocally that it is extremely difficult to pick and outstanding performance […] Director Alister Smith, along with choreographer Michael Ralph, have done an exemplary job of building the striking, dramatic images that make up this epic tale. […] In a quieter moment, the song 'Poems' spins together the heart-meltingly lyrical tenors of tenors of [Adrian Li] Donni and Nick Simpson-Deeks into a sequence of heart ravishing loveliness. This production of Pacific Overtures is a seemless meeting of dramatic intensity, musical beauty and compelling story performed by a highly skilled company of actors and handled by an endlessly inventive creative team!"
"This production […] is perfectly pitched, eschewing the oversized cut-outs of the original for a stripped-back elegance that suits the show and the Theatre Works space. Eugyeene Teh's set is simplicity itself, a painted white circle and a series of screens, brought ingenuously to life by Michael Ralph’s choreography. […] The direction by Alister Smith is sensitive and confident. The Peter Brooks-inspired use of red ribbon to suggest blood is appropriate, and has a handsome pay-off in the final, chilling number 'Next'. The leads are all strong with Li Donni and Simpson-Deeks in fine voice. The ensemble are also impressive, especially the women. Noni McCallum is stunning in a number of roles and Sonya Suares delivers a monologue in Act 2 that is a study in high rhetoric."
— Tim Byrne, Time Out Melbourne
"Eugyeene Teh's set is attractive, featuring a large, white painted ensō: a circle drawn in one handstroke which symbolises the moment the mind is free to let the body create. Above it hang bamboo branches, filled with lights, which in the second act are lit red and blue, symbolising the encroachment of American culture on Japan […] the effect is stunning thanks to Rob Sowinski's lighting."
— Ben Neutz, Crikey
"Director Alister Smith has elicited focused, committed performances from the cast […] Choreographer Michael Ralph has again demonstrated his signature strength for tight, inventive, character-focused choreography with particularly strong and interesting work in placement. […] Musical director Robyn Womersley's efforts with the singing have allowed the fiendishly difficult score to sound natural and generally effortless. The four musicians sound like several more, with special mention going to Lara Wilson for bringing to life the fascinating range of sounds in the percussion score. […] Designers Eugyeene Teh and Chloe Greaves have clearly worked closely to achieve a synergistic match between sets (Teh) and costumes (Greaves), in fact one could be excused for thinking the design was all by one person. […] Rob Sowinski's lighting enhances the design, particularly the creation of shadow images […] Anton Berezin uses his mellifluous vocal tones and gentle but commanding presence to excellent effect as the Reciter. Noni McCallum demonstrates her delightful flair for understated comedy [...] Adrian Li Donni and Nick Simpson-Deeks are well paired as east/west duo Kayama and Manjirō […] Jacqui Hoy delivers the wicked twist in 'Chrysanthemum Tea' with terrific storytelling skills […] Bianca Baykara is a moving heroine for the of dastardly undertones 'Pretty Lady' [...] Leighton Young has a strong and convincing presence in a range of roles. Sonya Suares shows her skills in conveying delicately expressive physical and facial gestures, gaining sympathy, in particular, for Kayama's ill-fated wife Tamate. […] Sondheim enthusiasts will certainly not want to miss seeing this production."
— Simon Parris, Theatre People
"In a time where the fundamental elements of marriage are under scrutiny in Australia, theatre company Watch This slings together a cast and crew who are equal parts talented and intelligent enough to pull off the Sondheim provocation... Michael Ralph's choreography is frantic yet fine-tuned to the space and super enjoyable. The band matches slickly to the cast and the low-lit colours of the piece under Lucy O’Brien’s music direction... Some incredible performances in a pretty stellar ensemble, smart laughs and dagger-sharp banter pull us from the hips into the metropolitan lives of these New Yorkers. Come for the cake, stay for the people. Astounding." ☆☆☆☆☆
— John Back, Time Out Melbourne
"Simpson-Deeks is a formidable anchor as the reluctant Robert. His high tenor is comfortable and warm ... he manages to bring a fragility and emotional intensity to the part that proves galvanising. It is a pitch echoed in Sally Bourne's Joanne, whose brittleness constantly threatens to topple into outright hostility... In the more broadly comic roles, Carina Waye is a delight as the ditzy flight attendant April, and Johanna Allen is superb as Jenny. Her scene with Robert and husband David (Mark Dickinson), sharing a joint, is a comic highlight, even if it soon veers off into darker territory." ☆☆☆☆
— Tim Byrne, Australian Book Review
Forty-five years after its premiere, Company is as fresh and troubling — as knotty and brilliantly glib — as a good episode of Sex and the City ... An exceptionally strong piece of theatre... I don’t think I’ve seen a better acted musical since Gale Edwards directed Aspects Of Love. Marilyn Monroe couldn't play the "dumb" flight -attendant April any better than Carina Waye. She's hard to watch at times. Sally Bourne is a scintillating Joanne, Bobby’s cynical and multiply divorced friend. As Joanne's husband Larry, Nathan Carter looks like he's strayed from a classy German porno, all skivvy and curvy-rimmed specs. Gillian Cosgriff and Nelson Gardner turn cliche into truism as the about-to-be-divorced Susan and Peter. The antics of John O'Hara and Nicole Melloy are as hypercoloured as a tray of jelly shots. And about as much fun. The production, too, is tightly choreographed (by Michael Ralph) and well-rehearsed."
"Nicole Melloy is delightful as Sarah with a formidable voice, Sonya Suares handles her prenuptial breakdown with aplomb as Amy, and Sally Bourne [...] belts out Ladies Who Lunch with the same drunken ferocity immortalised by Elaine Stritch in the Broadway/West End original. Company holds its own in an era of high divorce and non-traditional relationships. Its honest look of love — "you’re scared she’s starting to drift away / and scared she'll stay" (Sorry-Grateful) — resonates as much now as ever. It's Sondheim at his most naked, and arguably at his best."
— Jason Whittaker, Daily Review
"The cast are sublime [...] In fact, the creative team have likewise done a spectacular job. The choreography by Michael Ralph was inventive and finely detailed [...] Costume design by Zoe Rouse carefully managed a balance between current fashion and the 1970s era in which the show is set [...] the direction and staging was flawless. A sparse and economical set by Eugyeene Teh was transformed under the direction of Kat Henry into the multitude of locations required, and Henry’s tight direction kept the momentum going through the quietest of scenes. [...] There is something so much more engaging and compelling, particularly in an intimate show like Company, to hear the performers under the musical direction of Lucy O'Brien without the filter of amplification [...] Watch This have presented a brilliant production of Company."
— Adam Tonking, Theatre Press
"Comic acting is the strong suit in Kat Henry's production. The performers bring a zest and psychological astuteness to George Furth's mordant vignettes: the couple taking out their latent aggression through competitive abstinence (and eventually karate), another reliving their misspent youth in a haze of marijuana smoke. Hilarious stuff. Nick Simpson-Deeks sings and acts with delicate precision as Robert, the compulsory third wheel. And Carina Waye, Madeleine Mackenzie and Bianca Baykara are terrific in You 'Could Drive A Person Crazy', the Andrews Sisters-like pastiche sung by Robert's lovers."
— Cameron Woodhead, The Age
"As Harry, John O'Hara gives a fine performance alongside Nicole Melloy, his wife Sarah. Act I's karate demonstration in 'The Little Things You Do Together' is impressive and Johanna Allen is a hoot as the stoned, unknowingly innuendo-speak Jenny. As the sarcastic, smoking, third-time married Joanne, Sally Bourne [...] gave Act II's 'The Ladies Who Lunch' a good scathing. But nothing shines brighter than Robert's trio of girlfriend all-sorts as they step out singing and dancing in 'You Could Drive a Person Crazy' with blastedly great fun."
— Paul Selar, Aussie Theatre
"Wonderfully coherent ensemble who never faltered, energy, concentration... what I have come to expect from Watch This productions: full on excellence."
— Peter Green, 3MBS
"You should rush out and see Company with its idiosyncratic music, bevy of bonkers characters and witty but wise reflections on relationships in a modern world."
Freshmint Theatre is dedicated to the production of outstanding and dynamic theatre with a unique voice and contemporary relevance. It is a new initiative under the Watch This banner, aligned in its philosophies but distinct from the production of Sondheim repertoire.
Watch This Space.