Praise for 'Becoming Bill Record'
"It is always very satisfying to know that there is talent out there writing new material and pushing the boundaries in musical theatre. You can tell from listening to this highlights album that Bradley McCaw has a great future ahead of him, not only as a superb vocalist but also with excellent writing talent. The highlights only show a little of what this piece is capable of and I do wish that the rest of the tracks had been included, as these eight musical numbers leave you wanting more. Who knows… maybe we will get the chance to hear the complete musical one of these days."
Musical Theatre Review (UK)
"Sometimes, the experience of musical theatre can be so special as to leave you in want of a thesaurus to do its distinction justice..." Meredith Walker 'Blue Curtain'
"McCaw’s versatility is actually astounding..." XS Entertainment
"Bradley would charm the socks off your mother and easily works the crowd, egging them on for sing-a-long choruses and as the star performer, he is also very generous with praise of his cast." Sonny Clarke 'Culture Box' Record Launch
2016 New Musicals Australia Snapshot Presentation Winner
2017 Official Selection of Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival
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An ordinary family confronts the ghosts from their past, as Bill, a first time writer, struggles to writes a musical.
Bill’s life is going nowhere. Sure, he is stuck in a dead end job and his family life is frustrating, but things could be worse…. Right? Ok sure, his brother James hasn’t left the couch in four days and his girlfriend Kimberly has broken up with him four times over the past three years, the last of which was last week! Yes, his mother Jane won’t stop looking through old picture albums and talking of the past. Doesn’t she understand, Bill doesn’t want to remember his childhood… He doesn’t care that he grew up without father and they were poor and unhappy. He just wants to get on with his life. When Bill gets a phone call from a theatre company asking him to write a new musical for an upcoming season, he struggles to find any inspiration. Ultimately deciding to base it upon his real life and family, he unknowingly disturbs the fragile space between them. As Bill searches for something ‘interesting’ to write about he discovers their lives are not as simple and dull as they first appeared.
Full Synopsis: Act 1
The play opens in the living room of Bill's suburban living room. In a dream like state, we see Jane, James and Kimberly singing (We Come, We Go). Lights rise on Bill, they look toward him. They stop. Bill addresses the audience. He explains that this is the first thing he has ever written- that ‘someone called and asked me to write a musical…’ He commits to telling them this story with truth, no matter how it makes him seem. He introduces his family home, which includes his brother (James) who hasn’t gotten off the couch in three months, Jane (his mother) who persists in coming by an making sure they are ok, his long term ‘on and off’ girlfriend (Kimberly) and him, trying to write something… anything… (Opening) Jane gives him a gift, a picture frame of their family portrait. In it is Bill’s father, who left their family some ten years ago. This stops the song. Bill is stunned. ‘That was a long time ago,’ Jane explains. ‘It’s time to move on.’
The next day Bill heads off to work and receives a phone call asking him to write a ‘musical,' for a season in Sydney. He is shocked but curious of the opportunity- the different track his life could’ve taken and what would happen to his family if he actually left to pursue an old ‘dream.’ (Is This What I Want). During the day Jane’s car breaks down and in a rush of panic Bill commits to picking her up the following evening. The next morning, back at home, Kimberly is over for family breakfast, unable to connect to anybody else in the family. As Bill reflects on the ‘craziness of actually considering writing this 'thing,' he receives another offer of promotion from his administration job, and he decides to turn the offer to write a musical down. In an awkward moment Bill and Kimberly confirm tonight is their first ‘real date’ since they got back together - this time… One by one everyone departs; Jane reminds Bill he has committed to picking her up that night, and Kimberly for their date. James breaks Bill’s fantasy by pointing out he has clearly not realised he's committed to 'two dates' and can’t possibly do both - Bill resolves too make everyone happy and pull off the impossible… But he fails, Kimberly is left to question 'why he is so close to his family.' Bill sits at his piano and starts to write a song. Kimberly appears. They both sing of, questioning 'when and if love can ever truly be over’ (Writings On The Wall).
That night, Bill picks up his mother and she reaches out, asking if this 'Bill' is the person he wants to become. (Are You Happy). Now late for dinner, he arrives to a furious Kimberly who - regardless of how much she tries - can't keep her true feelings to herself (Let’s Not Have This Fight).
Bill returns home dejected and deeper into his depression, James reminds him their annual movie night will help him forget (No Feelings Today). Bill escapes to his room and tries to ‘write something…’ Something that might turn into a musical and change everything for him. He fails, he goes to bed unable to see a way out.
Later that night Jane calls both her boys, shaken from looking through old photo albums… She explains ‘they are nothing like their father…’
(Boogey Man) Bill wakes up in a ‘dream world,’ where he and James have swapped- Bill has been on the couch for 3 months and James is married to Kimberly with children. Slowly a shadow and a man appears behind them and casts a dark cloud over Bill’s dream. It becomes a nightmare as Bill is taunted by his family and the shadow. He confesses to being afraid of the boogeyman who’s inside him. He eventually wakes up, on the couch hugging his brother James.
Now the early morning, Bill rushes to Kimberly’s in a desperate plea to explain he now ‘knows what he wants…’ Her. (This Card) He gives her a card with an engagement ring inside it. He proposes to her. She recoils explaining ‘I might someday want to marry you, but if it happened, you’d need to be with me… Need me first.’ He confesses he could do this, and Kimberly commits to ‘maybe, someday, sort of, thinking about getting married...’ This is enough for Bill. He leaves her place with a new zeal for life (Opening reprise). He is interrupted by the city and the realisation that he still needs to choose; between his family, his true love or the opportunity to life a new live in a land far far away.
(Day by Day) Months later Bill has accepted a new promotion and work and he and Kimberly are better than ever. At least that’s the dream land he believes he is living in. As Jane calls each person to organise a ‘family dinner’ to celebrate Bill’s new promotion, Kimberly is reminded that she will never be the most important thing in Bill’s life (Mother And He Son).
Dinner, the following day. They sit around the table, nothing to say to each other. (Close Calls) Jane is visually shaken and is attempting to bridge the past with the present. Her son James hasn’t gotten off the couch, and Bill is pretending he is happy, her life is now crumbling around her. As she confronts Bill on whether he remembers anything from his childhood, Kimberly interrupts overcome by the closeness of Jane and her son’s relationship. Kimberly goes to storm out and Bill stops her by announcing they are getting married. Kimberly is shocked. Jane is tremendously happy, until Kimberly declares ‘it’s not happening- why would I marry into this! He doesn’t need me and he has you… What’s wrong with you people.’ Bill and Kimberly move to the kitchen, fighting, as Jane recalls what really happened all those years ago (That’s The Way It Was For Us).
Everyone leaves. Bill get’s a phone call from Sydney, letting him know they haven’t given up on him writing a show… They still hope he decides to work with them on something. Bill can’t believe it. He then receives a second call from the office, saying the work promotion is off, someone's sister got the new office instead. Bill is devastated. What is happening to his once perfectly ordered and understood life. He and James argue over who and what is to blame (View From The Couch). As the fight reaches it’s climax Kimberly returns at the front door to patch things up, only to have Bill unintentionally yell in her face. She declares it’s really done this time (Goodbye). Bill sees the new picture, repaired from Jane and placed by his piano, he smashes it and exits chasing after Kimberly. James sits alone. Again. (Just Be Yourself). As the song ends he calls Jane saying he wants to come over to 'talk.' Just as it looks like he is about to get off the couch - the lights shift.
Bill rushes through the streets trying to find Kimberly. His hysteria reaching an overwhelming level. At it’s peak Kimberly enters finding him distraught. In a moment of vulnerability they admit they love each other dearly, but neither understand what stops them from actually making it work. ‘Is this it, is this love,’ they ask themselves (Maybe We’ve Reached It All).
Bill is left alone. Finally admitting it is over between them. He explains to the audience he then ran home to his piano and words and music started rushing out of him. He continued to work on the play for seven years. And 'seven years is such a long time...'
Lights shift. Seven years later in Bill’s apartment, actors enter all playing their original roles (Jane, James & Kimberly). Bill explains this new version of ‘Becoming Bill’ is still a work in progress and the ‘reading’ performance’ is just a test to see if people like it. The cast present a wrapped gift they found on his couch. It is from his Mum, a photo frame with their whole family together. ‘Don’t be afraid of where you came from… You are you own person. Be whoever you want to be.’ The actors sing the new final scene Bill has just finish, (We Come, We Go). The cast return to themselves as if now within Bill’s play and rejoice the journey they have taken together, recognising ‘we all have a story… We are all work’s in progress…’ The song links into a celebration (Opening reprise) as they from a tablo not unlike a family portrait. The show ends with Bill confessing to the audience;
“My Name is Bill. Seven years ago I started writing a show..." The cast continue to sing the opening reprise; ‘And that’s Becoming Bill.’
Workshop and sold out reading performance at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Produced by Joymas Creative.
Directed by Simone De Haas.
Cast: Bradley McCaw, Leon Cain, Kathryn McIntyre & Alice Barbary. Pictured right.
Private workshop by An Old Fashioned Production Company.
Directed by Catarina Hebbard.
Cast: Henry Kafoa, Leon Cain, Heidi Enchelmaier & Alice Barbary.
Winner of New Musicals Australia Award (Snapshot Award)
Presented at Hayes Theatre. Cast: Bradley McCaw, Kathryn McIntyre, Rob Johnson & Margi De Ferranti