Lisa Freshwater

New independent theatre company THE THEATRE DIVISION will produce RUTHLESS! THE MUSICAL

Winner of the New York Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, RUTHLESS! is a razor-sharp send-up of the entertainment business, full of witty one-liners, bright, brassy show tunes and ingenious plot twists. RUTHLESS! turns housewives into movie stars, grandmothers into grand dames, and children into sociopaths, all the while parodying Broadway and Hollywood classics GypsyMameThe Women, The Bad Seed and All About Eve.

We had a chat with the maker of it all – Lisa Freshwater

Hi Lisa, firstly congratulations on launching THE THEATRE DIVISION last month! With your first production RUTHLESS! opening in June, can you give us a sneak peek as to what we can expect?

Thanks, my partner in theatrical crime, Alistair Thomson and I are thrilled to have launched our new company after working together on and off for the last 15 years.  With our first production, you can expect a lot of fabulous drama, high camp and a murder or two all wrapped up in a theatrical set and played out by some of Australia’s finest leading ladies of musical theatre.

What was it like working with an all-women cast?

Well, there’s a lot of passion and excited noise in the rehearsal room.  There’s some chatter about what happened in our days, a little political discussion and then (as 90% of the cast are 40+) some discussion about our physical ailments.  This is all punctuated by a lot of laughter. Once all of this is out of the way we start work and the real drama begins.  The performers are very experienced so we move quite quickly. They are all interested in exploring the ideas and themes of the production, open to making brave choices and are very generous performers.  It makes the process a joy. This production is a farce and all the characters are diva’s at one point or another so there’s high intensity.  We have a lovely calm and patient male stage manager to keep us on track.

So musical theatre is about being able to express yourself – is this something that just comes naturally for you?

Hmmm, I think what comes most naturally to me is being able to see the big picture.  I can visualize an idea and bring it to life.  A handy trait for a director.

And while we are on the topic of expressing oneself, was ‘coming out’ ever an issue for you?

I came out in my early 30’s so I was already confident about who I was as a person.  I was working on a big commercial production at the time and the creative team, with who I shared an office, were all gay so they were very supportive, there was little fuss and I really just felt like everything was as it should be.  I’m also lucky to have a family that embraces love in all its forms.

For people who are interested in musical theatre, how would you suggest they give involved?

There are many community theatres that stage musicals and are always looking for volunteers.  In Sydney, there is an excellent musical theatre course at AIM – I’ve cast a few of their graduates recently and they are completely industry-ready.

So one last thing… Describe RUTHLESS! in five words!

Murderous, thrilling, intimate, hysterical, fabulous,