history of the show
the story of the show's development... thus far
as told by amity dry - december 2020
The genesis of the new Australian musical ‘The (M)other Life’ was born out of the success of a one-woman cabaret show titled ‘Mother, Wife & the Complicated Life’, written and produced by Amity Dry, inspired by her experiences of new motherhood. It debuted in the 2009 Adelaide Fringe Festival, selling out its season.
After witnessing the extremely positive audience reaction to the show and realising there was a huge appetite for stories about women, in particular an honest reflection of marriage and motherhood, Amity extended the concept into a four-hander ensemble musical, which followed a year in the lives of four best friends. Amity wrote both the book and lyrics and composed the score, a rarity in the industry, and the musical premiered in the 2011 Adelaide Fringe Festival, receiving 5-star reviews.
Later that year Amity set up her company Popjam Productions, which toured the show throughout regional SA. In 2013 the show made its national debut with seasons in Melbourne’s Chapel off Chapel and Sydney’s Seymour Centre, both produced independently by Popjam Productions and receiving 5 star reviews.
In 2013 the show was selected for the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) as one of 11 invited shows from hundreds of international submissions. It was workshopped with a team of Broadway cast and creatives and performed 6 shows at the Signature Theatre on 42nd St, receiving attention from Broadway producers.
In 2014 Amity was approached by the Artistic Director of the Kilden Theatre in Kristiansand, Norway and a Norwegian production was commissioned. The show was translated into Norwegian and performed a 4 week season in their 500 seat theatre, again receiving favourable reviews and audience reaction.
In 2015 the show was invited to perform at the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women Conference in New York, after a delegate who’d attended the NYMF show thought it gave a powerful depiction of the modern woman’s experience. The original Adelaide cast travelled to New York to performed the show at United Nations Headquarters, after receiving a last minute $50,000 Grant from then Finance Minister Joe Hockey. They also performed a showcase at the famed cabaret bar 54 Below, receiving a standing ovation from the industry guests.
Later in 2015 Popjam Productions produced a 43-show national tour including Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and regional theatres such as the Wagga Civic Centre, Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool and Glasshouse Port Macquarie. This was a significant feat for an original Australian musical, produced by an independent producer, with the tour being both self-funded and profitable.
In 2016 the show received interest from London based expat Producer Daniel Sparrow, who as an Olivier award winning producer and manager of dozens of musicals and plays felt the musical had the potential to play on the West End and internationally. Subsequently, in 2017 Amity travelled to London and undertook a four-week developmental workshop, culminating in a Showcase concert performance at the Wyndhams Theatre in London’s West End, with a revised script, new songs and the new title ‘The (M)other Life.’ This performance received a standing ovation and further encouraged Daniel Sparrow that the show had potential for international success. In 2018 and 2019 Amity travelled back to London for two further workshops, with renowned Director Sarah Tipple and Composer/Arranger Matthew Brind, both funded by Daniel Sparrow Productions and Popjam Productions. Throughout this process the book, lyrics and music have continued to evolve, through countless rewrites and workshopping designed to make the musical a world-class offering.
In 2020 Amity was due to return to London for a final workshop before the show would be presented to theatres and investors, with the aim of financing its West End debut in 2021. However, due to Covid all of this planning came to an abrupt halt.
In 2020, during lockdown, and whilst theatres were shut due to the pandemic, the show was selected as the first show in the online initiative, Hope New Work Development Initiative, which paired Australian musical theatre writers with local actors, to undertake workshops via Zoom, during lockdown.
As a result of Australia’s world leading response and management of Covid, and with Australian theatres reopening in 2021 ahead of Broadway and the West End. The producers were approached by Mike Walsh, owner of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne and asked to present the world premiere of The (M)other Life in Australia in 2021, helping to re-open Her Majesty’s, before embarking on a National Tour. It feels apt that the Premiere of this original Australian work of musical theatre should in the end, debut in Australia, on the 10-year anniversary of the debut of its original cabaret incarnation in Adelaide, the culmination of an exciting and journey of development.
We are incredibly excited about the next chapter in the story, and for what the future holds for this piece - a new, original and commercial Australian musical, that has every potential for international success.