A massive cult hit in New York that went on to enjoy a sell-out US tour, Buyer and Cellar is a shopaholic’s delight and an adoring fan letter to Barbra Streisand at Arts Centre Melbourne from 5 November 2015.
The play is pure fiction. Well except, of course, the part about a singing legend by the name of Barbra who has a passion for design. And, true, she does have a fabulous house in Malibu, and, yes, in her vast basement she has created her own shopping mall to display all her stuff. But the whole business about Alex, an out-of-work actor, who takes a job looking after the mall, with dreams of serving its only customer – well, not a word of that is true. At least, not as far as we know.
For playwright Jonathan Tolins, Buyer and Cellar began with a passing comment, “How’d you like to be the guy who has to work down there?” The notion stuck, and after reading Streisand’s Passion for Design cover to cover, sifting through biographies and watching old interviews, he had written a comedic play set entirely in the star’s basement.
Jonathan Tolins is a Brooklyn-born writer and producer whose other work includes The Twilight of the Golds, If Memory Serves, The Last Sunday in June and Secrets of the Trade. His film work includes The Twilight of the Golds and Martian Child, and for television, he was a writer for Queer as Folk, the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards and Partners.
“I am thrilled at the chance to work with the supremely talented Ash Flanders on this hilarious and witty multi-character one-man play,” says Director Gary Abrahams. “Jonathan Tolins’ razor sharp script is perfectly tailored to Flanders’ comic stylings. I laugh out loud every time I read it and I laugh even louder when I imagine Ash performing it. It’s demented, wicked, fabulous fun. A wonderful ode to celebrity and the rampant narcissism it requires to become one.”
Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2009, Gary Abrahams has worked as a director, writer and dramaturg. In 2010 he wrote and directed Acts of Deceit (Between Strangers in a Room) and Something Natural But Very Childish, winning him the 2010 Green Room Award for Best Director Independent Theatre. For Red Stitch, he directed Day One. A Hotel, Oh Well Never Mind Bye, The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, The Pride and ROAM.
Gary has worked as an assistant director at MTC on All About My Mother, Songs for Nobodies, The Gift, Australia Day and Complexity of Belonging, a collaboration between MTC, Chunky Move and the Melbourne and Brisbane Festivals. He also recently directed the Broadway and West End Hit Bad Jews, which premiered at the Alex Theatre in August. He is currently Resident Dramaturg at Red Stitch Actors Theatre.
Ash Flanders makes his MTC mainstage debut in Buyer and Cellar, having appeared in The Golden Dragon for MTC’s 2012 Lawler Studio Season and in The Sovereign Wife with his company Sisters Grimm as part of MTC’s 2013 NEON Festival of Independent Theatre. His recent acting credits include La Traviata (Belvoir), Meme Girls (Malthouse), Calpurnia Descending (Malthouse), Hedda Gabler (Belvoir), Psycho Beach Party (Little Ones Theatre) and Tame (Malthouse). Flanders was nominated for Best Male Actor at the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival for his performance in the one-man show I Love You, Bro.
“The show is a crowd-pleaser and it doesn’t take you long to figure out why.” – The New Yorker
Director: Gary Abrahams Featuring: Ash Flanders Set and Costume Designer: Adam Gardnir Lighting Designer: Rachel Burke Composer & Sound Designer: THE SWEATS Voice & Dialect Coach: Suzanne Heywood
Buyer and Cellar
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 5 November – 12 December 2015 (previews: 30 October – 4 November)
Bookings: (03) 8688 0800 or online at: www.mtc.com.au
For more information, visit: www.mtc.com.au for details.
Image: Ash Flanders in Buyer and Cellar – courtesy of MTC