A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Last night, I saw ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ (from here on GGLM) at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The show is like an English farce made into a musical and by Americans!

GGLM tells the story of Monty Navarro who discovers that he is actually a member of the D’Ysquith family and eighth in line to become Earl. Madly in love with Sibella, a beautiful society girl, Monty wants to do everything in his power to speed up the process of succession so that he may provide everything that Sibella dreams of. Along the way, we meet the members of the family, all played by Jefferson Mays in the show’s standout performance. We also meet Phoebe D’Ysquith, who is desperate to compete with Sibella for Monty’s affections after her husband…dies. 

As Monty, Bryce Pinkham is light hearted, energetic and vocally on point. His innate sense of comic timing and incredibly alive facial expressions give his character a warmth and humour that pulls the audience on side within seconds. You want him to succeed, no matter how he goes about it. Lisa O’Hare as Sibella and (for my performance) Pamela Bob as Phoebe, play with Monty’s emotions to such an extent that you can only feel sorry for the man. They sing their roles superbly, ‘I’ve Decided to Marry You’, the group’s trio in the second act, is by far the highlight of the show musically. 

As every member of the D’Ysquith family, Jefferson Mays delivers a virtually faultless performance. Every character is deeply constructed, unique and seemingly, even more hysterical than the last. The best of the best, his portrayal of Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith and his song, ‘I Don’t Understand the Poor,’ one long extended joke about the British Upper class and their view of those below them. 

GGLM enjoys excellent direction and choreography from Darko Tresnjak and Peggy Hickey, who understand the over the top nature of the writing, but also manage to humanise each character. The set design is flexible, efficient and simple, and the lighting helps the audience to follow what, at times, can be a very fast paced script. 

GGLM has an excellent book, excellent music and an excellent cast. There really is a lot to enjoy in this production and it is no surprise to me that it took out Best Musical at this year’s Tony Awards. It is also, satisfyingly, not adapted for the stage, it is a work all of its own, designed specifically for the stage. And it shows. 


One of the best parts about visiting New York in July as a Theatre lover is the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). An institution for 11 years now, it has become a place where composers, book writers, performers and audiences, come together to work on and witness the creation of new work or the continued growth of a past project. 

Last night I saw the reading ‘HouseWarming’, an Australian written show, about a group of twenty somethings living out of home for the first time. The show focuses on Tom, who is hosting a house warming for his new place, and the friends he invites around. The book, music and lyrics were written by William Hannagan and Belinda Jenkin, both based out of Melbourne. The show premiered there through TheatreWorks and this is a now an updated and Americanised version. It’s a well written piece with a solid script. The dialogue sums up Generation Y without becoming a cliche of itself and the music’s style and lyrics fit the age of its characters. 

'HouseWarming' featured a cast of up-and-coming actors who all excelled in their roles. Vocally, MJ Rodriguez and Celeste Rose stood out as two best friends, Luke and Kelly, and Shauna Goodgold, sung and played the role of the young ingénue, Mia, with great innocence and a charming sense of humour.

It’s great to see these sort of works being performed (and attended) as part of NYMF. Hopefully, more companies like TheatreWorks will start encouraging Musical Theatre composition in Australia and maybe then projects like New Musicals Australia will be able to thrive and Australian works will have as much success at home as abroad. 

Bullets Over Broadway The Musical

'Bullets Over Broadway' (from here on 'Bullets') is the ultimate in Musical pastiche. Set in the 1920's, it tells the story of a struggling playwright and his first chance to direct his own work on the Great White Way. 

First, the book is superb. While Woody Allen is not everyone’s taste, he is an undeniable master of quick wit, especially when it involves crazy New Yorkers. ‘Bullets’ could have so easily been a play rather than a musical but Allen seemingly understood that adding music would make the show just that bit more alive. The songs, while not all original, give the characters that extra little bit of heart and help to justify the, at times, completely over-the-top dialogue and action. 

Performance wise, ‘Bullets’ features no weak link. Betsy Wolfe as ‘Eden’ and Marin Mazzie as Helen Sinclair deliver a vocal masterclass for the modern Musical Theatre. Each has control and energy that astounds and surprises at every moment. Zach Braff as our hero, David Shayne, optimises the crazy New York Jewish writer. His breathtaking comic timing and constant urgency make him an absolutely frenetic watch in the best way possible. The outstanding cast member though is Nick Cordero as the loveable henchman, Cheech. Vocally, Cordero has the chops to pull off everything asked of him, and he manages to make a real dislikable character, so very, very loveable (as most of Woody Allen’s ‘evil’ characters should be).

The piece is also superbly directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman who seems to have an innate understanding of what pastiche should feel like on stage. Not once does it become predictable or cliche. It feels as if we are transported back in time to a musical comedy of the era, just with all the bells and whistles of contemporary theatre technology thrown in! 

'Bullets' is an absolute Broadway triumph and one which no Musical Theatre lover should miss if they get a chance! 


'If/Then' is a musical about how the choices we make, alter the lives we lead. While not a new concept, instead of focusing on major decisions, it focuses on the little ones; do I go to lunch or to a party? In this way, our central character, Beth, meets different people at different points in her life and the outcomes are massively varied. 

Musically, the show is decent, but not overly exciting. Tom Kitt’s score is at times a little one dimensional, sticking to an indie pop sound throughout. Brian Yorkey’s lyrics tell the story, but are more descriptive than narrative, meaning that the plot only really progresses through the script. The best thing about the score is the way it is sung by an incredibly strong vocal cast. Idina Menzel sings Beth beautifully; soft at times, big and belted when necessary. She is beautifully committed to the character’s ups and downs and gives a spectacularly emotional performance. Anthony Rapp as ‘Lucas’ delivers a very similar character to Mark in ‘Rent’. He fights for the rights of the downtrodden of New York and the character is, at times, a little too good to like. However, once again, the role is sung brilliantly, and he manages to get as much from the material as possible. 

The cast standout though, is LaChanze as Beth’s best friend, Kate. Kate is your classic New Yorker; big, proud, brash and loud. Her overwhelming positivity in the beginning is beautifully contrasted by her reactions to several plot points during the show and she delivers a masterful vocal performance. 

The design of the show is beautiful, featuring a ton of glass and steel pieces that move fluently to create a huge number of different locations. Without this, the audience could well have been very confused about the various settings that the characters scream through. 

Overall, it is an enjoyable show, if a little disappointing of a follow up to ‘Next to Normal’ for Kitt and Yorkey. Definitely worth seeing for the performances though, and a great first show!

Linda Lavin and Billy Stritch @ Birdland

Last time I was in New York I saw a cabaret from Linda Lavin in midtown which was essentially a compilation of favourite songs played to a crowd of very passionate fans and friends. This evening was a little different.

With this new show, MD’d by Billy Stritch, the songs tell the story of her career from the ‘downstairs’ shows in New York in the early 60’s, to Florida and then through her TV days. 

Lavin is remarkably comfortable on stage, easy going with her audience and incredibly secure. You trust what she is doing. I did find myself however, wanting more music. When she did sing, she was incredibly moving. The highlight of the evening was a beautiful version of Cy Coleman’s ‘I’m in Love Again’ which complimented both her voice and the beautifully balanced sound of the quartet behind her. Stritch’s eloquence on the piano is something to behold and his playing in this tune alone makes the whole show worth seeing. 

Later in the evening, Lavin was joined by young Jazz violinist, Aaron Weinstein who plays with a real urgency and provided a welcome contrast from what had come before. His solo at the end of the evening over ‘How High The Moon’ was superb.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening at Birdland. 

Gonna Be Alright

Julian 26

Julian has just released his first original track on Soundcloud! ‘Gonna Be Alright’ was co-written with Tim Lockwood and features Lockwood on Guitar, Kuo on vocals, Callum Eggins on Bass and Raph Strazz on Drums. Check it out at the link below!

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - ON SALE NOW!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – ON SALE NOW!


Tickets to Exclaim Theatre Company’s production of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ are now on sale through eventbrite.com! The show runs at Australia Hall, 23rd May – 1st June.

Make sure to click the link below and get your tickets now, they are not going to last! All tickets are $20.

Tickets from…

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Private functionsHad a great time playing at Jo’s Surprise birthday today! Live music can add that little extra…View Post

Private functions

Had a great time playing at Jo’s Surprise birthday today! Live music can add that little extra…

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Sovereign Room @ The Star

New dates announced for Julian Kuo and Casey Golden at the Star! Join us on the 21st and 28th February at the Sovereign Room!

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Oasis Lounge

For all those members of the Oasis Lounge and the Sovereign Room, come down to the Star on Monday or Tuesday next week between 11:30am and 2:30pm for a bit of Jazz and easy listening with Julian and Casey Golden! 

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Broadway Bard Selected to compete in the Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest!Broadway Bard, written and directed by Melvyn Morrow, Starring Julian Kuo, with Choreography with…View Post

Broadway Bard Selected to compete in the Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest!

Broadway Bard, written and directed by Melvyn Morrow, Starring Julian Kuo, with Choreography with…

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The Oasis Lounge @ The StarJulian will be playing a couple of gigs at The Oasis Lounge, The Star on December 17th and 28th…View Post

The Oasis Lounge @ The Star

Julian will be playing a couple of gigs at The Oasis Lounge, The Star on December 17th and 28th…

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The Star

Julian will be playing a couple of gigs at The Star on December 17th and 28th from 11:30am – 2:30pm!

Stay tuned for further details! Hope to see you there for some summer afternoon Jazz, could there be anything better!?

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The Taste of Coogee, 2013On the 3rd November, Julian will be playing at the Taste of Coogee Festival on the Coogee Green.
Co…View Post

The Taste of Coogee, 2013

On the 3rd November, Julian will be playing at the Taste of Coogee Festival on the Coogee Green.


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The Long Weekend Affair - Shot by Jake Weisz