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Red Scare’s latest musical: a dark rock fairytale

The Bone Thief is the latest musical by the prolific Red Scare Theatre Company (nominated for Most Promising Newcomer, Wellington Theatre Awards 2017). After their hit comedy Movers, this new work is a complete change of pace: a rock fairytale with a streak of horror running through it. The Bone Thief takes place in an old ex-mining town where a monster preys on local children. Young Aletta (Kiya Basabas) lives a life of privilege, but a friendship with an orphan boy (Devon Neiman) and a love of stories leads her on a hunt for the monster.

The Bone Thief reunites the founders of Red Scare, Cassandra Tse and Bruno Shirley, who worked together on Red Scare’s first shows Right Dishonourable, Bloodlines and Battle Hymn. Artistic Director and writer Tse says, “When Bruno first pitched The Bone Thief to me, I was drawn to the timelessness of the story, which felt lived-in and ancient to the extent that I was surprised to learn that it was not a pre-existing piece of folklore.”

Tse’s interest in folklore and storytelling can be seen threaded throughout her works, from Long Ago, Long Ago’s Audrey’s obsession with using narrative tropes to pick apart the events of her own life, to Under’s use of unreliable narrator. “With The Bone Thief” says Tse “it’s given me the opportunity to create a folkloristic work of my own that feels like an authentic campire tale… as I explored the story further, I wanted to focus on how I could use this narrative to explore class tension and working class exploitation. It may be a fairytale but it’s grounded in real world problems”.

The music of The Bone Thief is something quite different from what Red Scare has done before, and they’ve secured microphones for performers to ensure the band can play as loud as possible. Shirley says, “After the workshop, one of our readers said 'this is the show that Bruno's always wanted to write.' This really is the perfect combination of my twin loves.” The two founders of Red Scare have a huge affection for each other’s talent. Tse says Shirley’s “breadth of musical theatre knowledge as well as thrashier rock music makes him the ideal composer for a through-composed rock musical like this.”

“What I love most about working with Cassandra,” says Shirley, “is that her lyrics are just so economical, there's not a single wasted syllable. It really encourages you to write music with similar purpose and really consider the purpose of every note and rest - is that what's going to best serve the story?”

The production features an exciting mix of experienced veterans and rising stars including Kiya Basabas (Annie, Hairspray, Rock of Ages), Jo Hodgson (Evita, Les Miserables, Cats), Devon Neiman (The Addams Family, Seussical), Matthew Pike (Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon, Evita), Jesse Finn (Rock of Ages, Rent) and Imogen Prossor (Spring Awakening, Once On This Island) and is directed by Alick Draper, who recently directed the highly acclaimed performance of The 25th Annual Putnum Spelling Bee for Wellington Footlights. Matthew Pike, who plays Yannick, a street musician who acts as narrator for the story is “loving the work... it’s a highly emotive cautionary tale. And the music is also right up my alley, as it brilliantly blends the best aspects of blues, folk and rock.”

The Bone Thief is on at the Gryphon Theatre from the 12-21 July, 7:30pm $25/$20 Tickets are available now at:

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