It might be around seven years since musical theatre fans last saw the hilarious Offbeat Broadway but the original trio Anton Luitingh, Lindy Abromowitz and Paul du Toit are back and they are behaving badly.
Although the energy, comedy, and moments of poignancy are still the same, the audience are promised a different show with interesting material that people have never seen before.
The team, now in their 40s, say they’ve taken the plunge and written a brand new show.
Lindy says the audience can expect a more edgy and interesting show with stuff that they can relate to.
“There’s a lot of fun and yes the comedy has always been there, but this time around, it’s a comedy with a bite,” she says.
Anton says they are at an age where they feel they can say what they want to say and they have learnt a lot from their experiences.
“The older you get, the more you feel like you don’t have to be polite, you can behave a little more badly, you say things as you feel them, you’ve earned your stripes in the industry, you have an opinion and you’re not embarrassed to say it,” he says.
Sharing their sentiments, Paul says there has to be progression and growth and the show has to adapt through that because in the past 20 years, not only have they changed but the industry itself has changed.
“Twenty years ago the big musicals didn’t come to SA and the audiences were not exposed to them, they could only hear of them or could only see them when they travel overseas,” he says.
Touching on the preparation for this season, the trio said it was not a walk in the park.
“We’re in our 40s and busy and we found ourselves doing a lot of stuff and sharing ideas via the internet. It took months and months of work to get here and using our director, Alan Committie as a foil, he was quick and we were brave enough to dismiss things that weren’t working.
What we’ve kept, is the stuff that actually worked,” says Paul. He says the audience is always the missing character.
“Up until you’ve tried out work in front of an audience, you don’t really know what works or not,” he says.
“What’s great about it is that it’s constantly evolving; we keep on tweaking and adjusting stuff. It’s fluid until we find the right recipe,” adds Lindy.
Anton says coming back to this material after seven years reminds one of the intrinsic energy and musicality that the three of them brought in the beginning.
“Putting the harmonies and the music together, I’ve always known that the three of us have what it takes to pull it off; it’s just a case of learning new harmonies and lyrics, but the basic connection that made us successful in the past has always been there, and we knew we could count on it. It’s like coming back to visit an old friend,” he says.
The trio say there’s so much going on the show and the audience will take away different things.
They say they’re looking at the world around them, and touching on social issues, trying to make people think about things.
“We also like to educate our audience about musical theatre by packing in as many musicals references and extracts on musicals so that by the end of it they feel that there’s no musical that we didn’t touch on,” says Anton.
The trio say they’ve made the show South African.
“Being South Africans, we refer to everything that relates to our experiences of musicals in this country. We’ve had to make this about us and not New York, so our audience can relate,” says Anton.
Touching on the level that the country’s musical theatre is at, Paul says the country is right up there with the best in the world.
However, he admits that the industry is competing with a lot more than it did in the past.
He says sometimes it’s a challenge to get the audience to come to the theatre.
“I can’t tell you where the industry is going, but this is what we’ve chosen to do and what we’re incredibly passionate about. It’s more than a job, it’s a vocation.
“When I’m up there on stage all the lambs stop screaming in my head, all the demons stop and I can just focus on being in the moment and doing something beautiful that will exist only for that little moment in time for the few that are there to see it and that will be a secret that our little group will keep forever and that’s a blessing,” Paul says .
Directed by comedian Alan Committie, Offbeat Broadway 5 — Behaving Badly runs at Theatre On The Bay until May 11.