It is not for nothing that Melbourne is considered one of the world’s most liveable cities. We may have highly emotional weather but our 4 million residents are able to console themselves with access to the very best of food, wine, culture and sport.
A creative town, we play host to world-class productions and festivals through-out the year and we are just as mad for our sport - never more so than April through September when Footy season takes hold.
The new production BARASSI THE STAGE SHOW aims to marry these two great loves for Melburnians, and according to its star Steve Bastoni, this particular combination of theatre and sport is a match made in heaven.
BARASSI THE STAGE SHOW is an original production that debuts in Melbourne this week. Presented by Jager Productions and staring film and television actor Steve Bastoni, BARASSI explores the life and legacy of Ron Barassi, the Australian sporting icon considered the ‘father of modern football’.
Written by Tee O'Neill, the show came to be after a producer saw an American production of LOMBARDI, the play based on the life of the iconic Green Bay Packers coach. Struck by how this play appealed to both theatre and football fans at once, he approached O'Neill with the idea of creating a play of Barassi's life for Australian audiences. Upon reading Barassi's biography, O'Neill was on board; Barassi's life, she realised, involved so many great characters just waiting to be dramatised.
The play features a large ensemble cast that includes Jane Clifton, Richard Sutherland, Matthew Parkinson, Amanda Labonte, and former Melbourne player Russell Robertson, with Bastoni taking on the role of Barassi. As one of Australian television's most familiar faces Bastoni has appeared in a string of successful shows inclucing Neighbours, Police Rescue, Wildside and Underbelly. He is also no stranger to the world of musical theatre, having played Bill Sykes in the Sam Mendes production of OLIVER! in both Sydney and Melbourne.
BroadwayWorld put a series of questions to Bastoni as he prepares to don the moustache and the mantel of a local legend:
Ron Barassi is known as the ‘father of modern football’. With your involvement in this production, what is your take on his legacy?
Barassi changed the way the game was played, his use of handball and one on one marking were ahead of their time and are still widely used today. He is also the reason why the "Father/Son" rule was created so his impact on the game was and is huge.
What are the challenges of playing a living, well-known identity?
He is such a well known and well loved person that there is a certain pressure to get it right from the point of view of characterization. But also out of respect for the man. The advantage of having a well known, living subject to base the character on is that there is a wealth of research material available.
We’re a theatre town and a footy town, but the two can seem mutually exclusive – what will footy fans get from this theatre production?
Apart from the Collingwood fans in the audience getting a dose of culture, the production will introduce theatre lovers to the art of AFL and the AFL lovers to the art of theatre - a match made in heaven.
And lastly, because we’re BroadwayWorld ... what is the next great musical just waiting to happen?
Barassi the Musical of course! I`m getting my baritone on as we speak.
You can catch Bastoni in BARASSI THE STAGE SHOW - sans singing - from September 20th at the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne.
BARASSI THE STAGE SHOW
Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
September 20th - October 7th
For tickets and further information click here.