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Boychoir – Masters of Music, Resonating all too Fleetingly

Dustin & Boychoir

Actor Dustin Hoffman surrounded by some of the members of the American Boychoir.

Canadian director Francois Girard is becoming renowned for films with a theme of classical music. In his latest work Boychoir he provides an image of a boy prodigy, who if he is to succeed in life and the art of music needs to first triumph over adversity and learn to respect himself and others.

You cannot give birth to beauty however, without pain, a maxim that it seems for many is hard in learning. Stet an 11 year old is on the threshold of manhood. He is struggling against all the odds stacked against him personally.

The role of Stet is played with great natural ability by newcomer Garrett Wearing, who skilfully mimes the simply glorious boy soprano voice of singing and composing prodigy Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg.

Classical music is the one thing in life Stet responds to. It gives him both a connection and purpose, steadying him with its glorious rhythms, marvellous harmonies and sounds of unparalleled intensity. Born of an exciting free imagination classical music achieved a complete medium of expression and highest pinnacle of achievement in a climate seldom granted to any other generation during the 18th century.

Photography By Myles Aronowitz

Stet played by Garrett Wareing – Photography By Myles Aronowitz

When we meet him Stet is at a public school, low down the scale in terms of parent participation in a poor neighbourhood. He is rebellious, disturbed much of the time and completely anti social.

His studies are affected, but it is easy to see he’s a sensitive boy with a bright mind and capable of very much more.

His Headmistress played with great sincerity by Debra Winger does, and she believes he is especially gifted and wants to help him so that he can have a future.

She persistently petitions the American Boychoir to come to the school and perform hoping to inspire her students while providing an opportunity for her to place Stet in front of its legendary Conductor Master Carvelle played by Dustin Hoffman.

Garrett Wearing 2

Garrett Wareing, featuring in Boychoir, at the premiere in Toronto

Embarrassed when unaware of what she has done for him she asks him to sing solo for the Master he turns and runs out of the audition, seeking safety and security at home.

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Orphans by Lyle Kessler at Old Fitz Theatre, Sydney – Review

ORPHANS 3 - Aaron Glenane - Photo by Rupert Reid

Orphans by Lyle Kessler, Aaron Glenane – Photo by Rupert Reid, courtesy Old Fitz Theatre

Prior to attending a performance of Orphans by Philadelphia born playwright, Lyle Kessler I was fortunate to interview Andrew Henry Co-Artistic Director of the Old Fitz Theatre and currently starring in the Red Line Production’s presentation of this highly acclaimed theatre piece.

Orphans premiered in 1983 at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angles, was subsequently produced by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company and was adapted for film in 1987.

Since then according to Kessler “the play has been done everywhere, from Japan to Iceland to Mexico to South America … it just boggles the mind. It’s amazing the evolution of the play and its reception in the world.”

I was very excited to uncover the reasons from Andrew for choosing the Play. According to him Orphans is one of the great underexposed plays in Sydney.

It hasn’t had a production here since 1988 but over the past few years has received an increase in attention due to it being performed as part of the Larry Moss Masterclass.

I became aware of the play in 2011 when studying at the School at Steppenwolf in Chicago. As a huge fan of Sheppard, Pinter and Mamet I knew I had stumbled across a gem that for me was an electric combination of the three.

I always find it desperately funny and ultimately devastating. It was a perfect fit for the Fitz so I couldn’t help but program it.”

ORPHANS 4 - Andrew Henry - Photo by Rupert Reid

Orphans by Lyle Kessler, Andrew Henry – Photo by Rupert Reid, courtesy Old Fitz Theatre

I wanted to discover what attracted Andrew Henry to performing in Lyle Kessler’s play Orphans.

He was very forthcoming articulating “I don’t know what to say…I couldn’t help myself. It’s been on my mind for four years so I had to put myself to the test and see what those four years of thoughts festering about the role of Treat would amount to – a valuable contribution by being involved as an actor.”

Knowing Andrew Henry also has the role of Co-Artistic Director for the Old Fitz Theatre learning about some of his responsibilities in this vital theatrical role helped cement my understanding about the nature of delivering highly successful well-run productions in this small, intimate and quirky theatre.

Andre Hawkins replied “Sean Hawkins, Vanessa Wright and I have set out to collaborate far and wide. There is the obvious- programming a main stage season but in addition we are facilitating many late shows to open the venue up to as many artists as possible. In addition, the three of us are doing box office, buying props, and lots of other bits and bobs. It’s the best experience I have had in my life. Working with so many people I admire and my two best friends.”

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