A TREEHOUSE TRIBUTE

James Lee as Edward Scooperhands, the ice-cream dispensing robot.

James Lee as Edward Scooperhands, the ice-cream dispensing robot.

Apologies for my absence from cyberspace during the past weeks. I’ve been busy with matters theatrical.

The epic national tour of The 26-Storey Treehouse ends today, in Wagga Wagga*.

I want to use this post to pay tribute to the fabulous work of the cast and crew.

They’ve done 299 performances, in 55 different theatres, including all the big ones (Sydney Opera House, Victorian Arts Centre, Canberra Theatre Centre and Adelaide Festival Centre). They’ve criss-crossed the country and visited every Australian state and territory. Final attendance figures aren’t in yet, but they must have played to well over 100,000 adoring fans of Andy Griffiths’ and Terry Denton’s bestselling Treehouse books.

Matthew Lilley, Eliza Logan, Andrew Johnston and Berynn Schwerdt workshopped my first draft in February 2014, contributing enormously to the version we then took to the rehearsal room. Matt, Eliza and AJ were joined by James Lee for two blockbusting seasons in the Sydney Opera House. Then Luke Carson, Freya Pragt and John Shearman, along with James, became the touring cast.

Stage managers Bernard Angell, Michael Rogerson and Michaela Clifton were the hard-working touring crew.

Matthew Lilley, Eliza Logan, Andrew Johnston and James Lee in the Sydney Opera House season. Photo: Gaica Branca.

Matthew Lilley, Eliza Logan, Andrew Johnston and James Lee in the Sydney Opera House season. Photo: Gaica Branca.

Having not seen it for several months, Mevrouw T and I were able to catch the show again in Riverside Theatre, Parramatta a couple of weeks ago. Though we knew the dreaded flu had struck the team the week before, it was looking better than ever, and the energy and effort of the cast could not be faulted. A packed house cheered them on.

Touring is sometimes exhilarating, but often exhausting. Though travel can broaden the mind, living out of suitcase, eating takeaway pizza and watching late-night TV in a motel room can shrink the brain too. Performing for a full house of excited kids is fun; doing it for the third time in a day, when you’re sick, tired or injured is a test of professionalism and commitment.

Luke Carson, John Shearman, James Lee and Freya Pragt rehearsing the automatic tattoo machine malfunction incident.

Luke Carson, John Shearman, James Lee and Freya Pragt rehearsing the automatic tattoo machine malfunction incident.

So a huge thank you to all, not forgetting the team at CDP Theatre Productions who planned the logistics of the massive enterprise.

I hope the touring cast and crew have saved enough of their little Aussie dollars and air miles to take a fabulous holiday somewhere – like at home, in their own beds!

Meanwhile, the Treehouse juggernaut rolls on. The 52-Storey Treehouse is well into rehearsal (that’s where I’ve been) and begins its preview seasons in Sydney next week. More about that soon!

*Yes, non-Australians, it’s a real town in New South Wales.

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