Tag Archives: Neil Gooding


To kick off Hayes Theatre Co’s 2020 season, 100 Coffees Productions and Neil Gooding Productions are thrilled to announce the World Premiere of the new musical, THE LIFE OF US.

Directed by Neil Gooding, this modern-day musical written by Ashleigh Taylor, composed and written by Ben Bennett and mentored by the legendary Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell), is being performed at the Hayes Theatre  from 16 January 2020.

THE LIFE OF US follows the long-distance romance of Charlie and Ellie. Forced apart by circumstance, they maintain their relationship through technology, but how much connection can a person truly feel through a screen? As we watch their lives unfold and their relationships crumble, we begin to understand what we want isn’t always what we need. THE LIFE OF US is a modern-day musical that looks at how we love and what it means to be connected. Continue reading THE LIFE OF US : COMING TO THE HAYES IN JANUARY 2020


Joe Kalou as Jesus

Neil Gooding and Packemin Productions have brought a sensational version of this ‘rock opera’ to Parramatta Riverside Theatres. The strong, powerful production is fresh and vibrant and simultaneously full of great attention to detail and yes respectful too even though perhaps a touch controversial in a couple of aspects.          Continue reading JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA


This image: Joe Kalou as Jesus and Toby Francis as Judas
Featured image: Brittanie Shipway as Mary

In a rare treat for our readers, Sydney Arts Guide was invited into the rehearsal room for the first full run-through of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, produced by Packemin and directed by Neil Gooding.  Escorted by the disarmingly chatty and vibrant Brittanie Shipway, who plays Mary Magdalene, assisted by the completely charming Toby Francis, taking on the role of Judas, I had a production desk seat for a thrilling evening of unburnished performance excellence from the full cast of nearly 70.

Flouro lights above, only a piano, bass and drums, no mics, a no-set flat floor and a Green Room in the carpark, not to mention a Quidditch T Shirt in the crowd, the noise and pre-rehearsal hubbub hit a peak with a whole cast warm up to Calvin Harris’ ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’.  Then that mysterious thing happened with one bar … just one bar … of an electric guitar wail as an ensemble of superior focus transmogrified the place and time. Continue reading JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. REHEARSAL VISIT AND INTERVIEW WITH MARY


STALKING THE BOGEYMAN – Production images by John Marmaras

STALKING THE BOGEYMAN is certainly a play of stealth. It sneaks up on you, more shock than awe, to insinuate itself in a creepy, thought provoking, emotionally exhausting way that had my friends arguing loudly over our after-matinee dinner.  Would you or wouldn’t you, did you believe him, all sorts of questions flying.  Helmed by a terrific performance, this show is a conception which will furtively stalk you for days after. Continue reading STALKING THE BOGEYMAN – A WITNESS STEALTHILY CRAFTED


Teagan Wouters and Toby Francis in HIGH FIDELITY
Production Images:  Robert Catto

HIGH FIDELITY is playing the Hayes Theatre and spins the platters to give a very entertaining night out.  Drawn from the movie of the same name from the book of the same name, it has a slightly overachieving pedigree. Nick Hornby (Fever Pitch, About A Boy) wrote the novel.  The book of the musical is by David Lindsay-Abaire (Pultizer for Rabbit Hole), lyrics are by Amanda Green (Bring It On and the Jonathan Larson Award) and music by Tom Kitt (Pultitzer for Next to Normal).  Why then did HIGH FIDELITY fail so spectacularly on The Great White Way? Continue reading HIGH FIDELITY SPINS A HIGHLY ENJOYABLE NIGHT OUT


One of the best shows on in Sydney at the moment Packemin’s production of MISS SAIGON is both lyrical and chilling, explosively powerful and softly haunting .

Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, the team who brought us Les Miserables (and yes you can hear similarities in the score, which at times is quite operatic) this is an updated version of Madame Butterfly set during the Vietnam War featuring a rather operatic dose of lyrical romance, passion biting wit, politics and corruption. The show ran on Broadway, and in London, for over a decade and has had major productions world wide.

Set in 1975, during the last days of the American occupation of Vietnam, MISS SAIGON tells the dramatic, moving story of a young Vietnamese girl, Kim (Vivien Emsworth) and an American GI, Chris (Haydan Hawkins) whose lives briefly, magically intersect ; a moment that changes their lives forever, especially when they are catastrophically torn apart by war.

Under Neil Gooding and Ylaria Rodgers’s superlative direction with a very strong cast it is at times bright, bold and colourful, tightly choreographed and sometimes very visually dramatic. Technically, the production crew were excellent The set design (Neil Shotter) with its fluid scene changes from neon lights of the garish bar to bamboo textured slats, or wire fences for example, is excellent.

The Morning of the Dragon scene, with its HUGE cast (yes including a dragon and martial arts allusions) of the menacing masked army invading the stage with their guns and the red lighting is both thrilling and chilling. Continue reading MISS SAIGON @ PARRAMATTA RIVERSIDE THEATRE

Lucy Maunder in Irving Berlin: Songs in the Key of Black @ The Hayes

Lucy Maunder in Irving Berlin: Songs in the Key of Black
Lucy Maunder in Irving Berlin: Songs in the Key of Black

It is getting wintry in Sydney. On a Sunday afternoon in the ‘long, dark teatime of the soul’, the autumn leaves are floating down from a grey threatening sky. A perfect time to curl up with a familiar DVD or a well-thumbed novel. Or…..

Settle in with a hundred other music lovers to be transported to a Prohibition honky- tonk in the infamous Bowery section of early 1900s New York. There to raise a teacup of gin to the loved songs of Irving Berlin interpreted by the elusive Lucy Maunder. LUCY MAUNDER IN IRVING BERLIN: SONGS IN THE KEY OF BLACK was a delicious and warm afternoon’s entertainment.

Irving Berlin was a self-taught pianist who remained unable to read music despite rising from the Jewish ghetto of the New York’s Lower East side to be one of the great American songwriters. Responsible for so many well-known tunes, often written for the black keys because of his poor musicianship, his “God Bless America” is an unofficial national anthem. Continue reading Lucy Maunder in Irving Berlin: Songs in the Key of Black @ The Hayes

The Phantom of the Opera @ The Riverside


THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , Lloyd-Webber’s musical based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux , opened in 1986 in London. By 2011 it had been seen by over 130 million people in 145 cities in 27 countries, and it is now one of the world’s most popular musicals. Most of the performances of this season at Parramatta are extremely heavily booked, if not already sold out.

Continue reading The Phantom of the Opera @ The Riverside



The cast of a a new musical about Tim Freedman and THE WHITLAMS
The cast of a a new musical featuring the songs of Tim Freedman and THE WHITLAMS

Everyone who adores the music of Tim Freedman and The Whitlams, should see this new musical with a strong autobiographical bent: TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU.

The long anticipated musical, TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU, is now on stage in its World Premiere. Directed and produced by Neil Gooding, and stars Ian Stenlake (Guys and Dolls, Sea Patrol), Erica Lovell (Little Women, Spring Awakening), Scott Irwin, Toby Francis and Ross Chisari, and is inspired by and based on the song characters, stories and lyrics, of one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters, Tim Freedman.

On 4th December 2011, I saw the one workshop presentation of this new Australian musical at the Fusebox in Marrickville. The very early beginnings of TRUTH, BEAUTY AND A PICTURE OF YOU, was part of a New Musicals Australia Workshop Presentation, and this new musical had a very limited seven day rehearsal process, with a full professional cast and production team.

Based on an original story idea by Alex Broun, Tim Freedman’s classic songs have been cleverly crafted into an original storyline and very moving drama. Many years ago, all the band members were legends living in three blocks in the inner-west. Tightly paced, the story quickly moves backwards and forwards through time, as seen through the eyes of Tom, the 20 year old son of a former band member, and his Mosman girlfriend, whilst revealing all about the life-long friendships of his Dad’s Newtown band and the band mates’ lost youth, and the son finally discovers the whole truth about his father. In the words of Alex Broun, “Tim’s music and lyrics have always captured a timeless essence of human interaction – love, longing, loneliness.”

Highly Recommended, a great nights entertainment as this extraordinary cast of Sydney’s finest musical theatre talent, showcase THE WHITLAMS’ biggest hits from their four platinum albums, and their lyrics quickly move the story forward, and include: You Gotta Love This City, Laugh in their Faces, God Drinks at the Sando (yes The Sando has gone, so these days the “Botany View Hotel”), Buy Now Pay Later, Beauty in Me, No Aphrodisiac, Blow up the Pokies, Fall for You, Charlie No.1, Keep the Light On and Best Work.

Directed and Produced by Neil Gooding
Musical Direction by Andrew Worboys
Music and Lyrics by Tim Freedman
Book by Alex Broun and Tim Freedman
Based on an idea by Alex Broun

Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point

9 May 2014 until 1 June 2014


This show contains some coarse language and sexual references. May not be suitable for children under 13.


When you put together five very talented actors, four of whom have acquired the unique skill of manipulating puppets to perfectly reflect the speech, movements and mannerisms of well-known television characters, and add witty dialogue which rises at times to being belly-achingly funny, you have good entertainment.

The play, written by Thomas Duncan-Watt and Jonathan Worsley,and well directed by Neil Gooding and Luke Joslin, is quite openly built around the award winning television  series, “The Golden Girls”.