Taking a slew of Australia's hottest theatre performers and throwing them at musical numbers written for the opposite sex, Twisted Broadway is a night of pure fun. Hosted by Melissa Bergland (Winners and Losers, 2012 Logie winner) and Rhonda Burchmore in its Melbourne run, the cast features members from many recent hit musicals, including Annie, Legally Blonde, Moonshadow, An Officer and a Gentleman, South Pacific, A Chorus Line, Next to Normal and more. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDs, so it's guilt-free fun too.
How did you become involved with Twisted Broadway, Melissa?
Last year I was doing a cabaret show for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and I met Matt Holly, who was in last year's Twisted Broadway. He asked me to go and have a look at what he’d been doing, so I went along to the show and thought it was fantastic! I met the producers and asked them, when it comes around this year, if I could be a part of it, even if I could sing just one song. They actually asked me if I would host it instead. So, I guess in a way I bullied them into it, but I’m so glad I did.
Have you always been interested in musical theatre?
Yeah, most of my training and upbringing has been in musical theatre, which is why it’s so funny when people are shocked by it. They don’t think of me as a musical theatre performer because they know me so well from Winners and Losers. Just before I was offered the role of Jenny in that TV show, I had made it down to the final four in the auditions to be Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray. The day I got a no from Hairspray, I got a yes from the Winners and Losers people. I’d still love to play Tracy Turnblad some day, but I absolutely wouldn’t change a thing in the way that this has all happened.”
The concept behind Twisted Broadway is that the show tunes traditionally sung by men are instead performed by women, and vice versa. It must be fun reversing gender roles and subverting expectations?
It’s really great for the performers because often as a performer there’s a song you’ve always wanted to sing but you know you’ll never be cast in the role because you’re the wrong gender. So this gives performers an opportunity to sing the songs they’ve always loved. I’m singing the opening number, and also a number in the second act.
What makes you interested in being involved with Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDS?
I really like the way the money’s spent. The donated money goes into a big pool, and then it is donated to projects for HIV/AIDS that are already under way. Last year, they gave money to a project that boxed up utensils and food portions that people need to be able to cook their own meals. A lot of people who have HIV/AIDS still want to feel independent. They don’t want to feel hopeless, but it can still be a chore to go to the supermarket, so rather than just giving them a meal we give them what they need to make their own. That way, they feel like they’ve contributed to their own dinner. I think it’s really respectful and dignified. A lot of the projects Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDS have going on are about offering assistance and treating HIV/AIDS victims with respect.
What’s your favourite musical and why?
Rocky Horror Picture Show – I grew up on it! I love it because it’s a little bit naughty. If you’re too young to know what it means, it will go over your head. If you’re old enough to know what it means, you should probably have a chat with Mum about the birds and the bees. I really love anything with a gothic/horror twist. I still endeavour to own a house like the one in the show!