25 Jun 2004, Comments (0)

The Full Treatment

Author: Helen

How will our arts and entertainment industries fare under the coming FTA? Many people are worried. This may be a bit out of date, but it’s a fine example of why we should be.
Worried, that is.


The Australian production of The Full Monty, starring Paul Mercurio (best known for his role in Strictly Ballroom), has closed after only three weeks with its producers unable to explain why the show couldn’t attract a decent audience. The Melbourne season will now end on February 29, one week earlier than scheduled. The Sydney season, scheduled to start on March 18, has also been cancelled.

“WE have produced a first class contemporary musical, assembled Broadway’s premiere creative team and have a brilliant Australian cast. But with our combined experience we are at a loss to explain why audiences have not embraced this show in the numbers it deserves or that we had expected,” said producers IMG and David Atkins Enterprises in a joint statement.

THEY’RE at a loss? Maybe it was the decision to set the musical in the United States and have the actors speaking in rather dodgy American accents, rather than sticking with the decaying British town which appealed to fans of the movie.

The sheer, head-banging stupidity of it reminds me of an interview I heard on the ABC a while ago, so I’m paraphrasing from memory, OK; but I’ll render the general sense of what I heard as well as I can.

Young Australian scriptwriter is in conference with cigar-chomping American film producer (OK, maybe I made the cigar-chomping bit up, but you get the idea). Movie Mogul is taking young Australian scriptwriter through all the things he must cut out or replace in order to be comprehensible to an international (read, US) audience.

One of the things he must cut out is “What’s up, Doc?”*

Young Aus.Scr. points out, reasonably, that this is in fact an all-American expression from a Warner Bros cartoon character, Bugs Bunnny, and therefore isn’t at all problematic for even the most insular Midwestern audience.

Movie mogul scowls at Young Aust Scr under bushy eyebrows (OK, maybe I made the eyebrows up), and says, “Mickey Mouse is better known in America.”

*I clearly remember it was a Warner Brothers character, so I may be mistaken there. It could have been Sylvester the cat and “THIX WEEKTH! I’LL THTARVE!” or something. The point of this rant isn’t affected, though.

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