Lauren Burgueno from MWSG Magazine speaks with Laura Fitzpatrick who plays Mama Michelle in the musical, ‘Flowerchildren: The Mamas and the Papas Story’.

:: Before being cast in the musical, were you a fan of The Mamas and The Papas?

I have to be honest and say no, but not because I didn’t like them, just because I didn’t really know their music. I think most people of my age and generation, if you say The Mamas and The Papas they know California Dreaming and Monday, Monday and go oh yeah they are cool, but I don’t think there are any die hard fans under a certain age.

:: What has it been like playing your character Mama Michelle?

Awesome! I love Michelle, she’s such an interesting woman. I think throughout the show many of the characters, and the audience as well, are wondering what is going on inside her head, as she behaves in some very strange ways. But I think of all of them she was really a kid when she was doing this stuff.

She was so young and trying to pretend to be grown up, but throughout the show you actually do watch her grow up. So you see her go from being silly and flighty and not really thinking through the consequences of anything, to becoming quite a grown up, thoughtful woman at the end. It’s good to play that journey.

You do get quite an insight into the different sides of Mama Michelle, because the way the show is set up each of the four mamas and papas gets a chance to tell some of the story from their perspective. So you get to see Michelle when she is being stupid and 21 years old, and just having fun and not really thinking about anything. But then you also get to see her in the present as a 68 year old reminiscing about that time many, many decades ago. So it’s a big shift and it’s really cool to play that.


:: Has it been interesting telling the somewhat untold, ‘behind the music’ story of the band?

Again, people who were around in that era might have an idea of some of the things that went on, because there’s quite a famous love triangle within the group. It’s a pretty full on story. And John, who wrote all the music, was basically writing about exactly what was happening between the members of the group. So all of the songs that the mamas and papas are famous for are actually kind of autobiographical.

A lot of musicals which have become really popular now use existing music and put it into a storyline or narrative. Sometimes they struggle a little  bit because they are trying to kind of fit the songs in and build the story around them. But the way that this is done, the songs themselves tell the story.

:: How has it been working with the rest of the cast?

It’s pretty intense. There are definitely some very dramatic scenes, which can be hard to do, but I’ve known both Dan who plays Denny and Matt who plays John for many years and I’ve worked with them a lot, so I really feel very comfortable with them and I totally trust them.

The four mamas and papas, we all did the show a couple of years ago – a smaller version of it. And a lot of the production team, including the director and the musical director worked on that version as well, as well as a number of the members of the band.  So that’s really cool. And we’ve got some new people in the show as well, who have just totally slotted into the family. They’re really great to work with, it’s a good bunch.

:: You have been in  many shows including FAME- the musical , My Fair Lady and The Full Monty. Have your experiences in this musical been different?

In some ways it’s definitely been a little bit different. For a start it’s a group of people I’ve worked with before which is amazing because I know them all and like them all, and some of them are really good friends of mine so it’s pretty exciting that we are all getting to do this together. Plus I think the show is one of the best shows I’ve done, so in that way it’s different as well as being good quality. It’s a really good script, so that’s just an exciting thing to be able to tackle. The focus is always on the music but in this one the focus is on the music and the story behind it, which is awesome.




flowerchildrenWith a fabulous cast, clever use of staging, wonderful script and unforgettable hit songs, Flowerchildren The Mamas and The Papas Story is a musical which will have you experiencing a wide spectrum of emotions!

Directed by Aaron Joyner and starring Matt Hetherington, Dan Humphris, Laura Fitzpatrick and Casey Donovan, Flowerchildren revives the flower power era, telling the turbulent story behind the songs of the iconic ’60s folk rock quartet The Mamas and The Papas.

Opening with The Mamas and The Papa’s most famous hit ‘California Dreaming’ being performed on a TV variety show, the musical focuses on the underlying tensions, and the highs and lows that existed behind the scenes for The Mamas and The Papas.

In essence it tells the stories behind the songs. Think distrust, dangerous passions, complex entanglements and a variety of different drug and alcohol addictions, all coinciding with the group’s spectacular rise to fame.  It’s a very well written script with some killer one-liners and just the right amount of humour, drama and pathos. At the core of the show are the emotions and motivations of each of the four main characters, and the impact their decisions have on each other that threaten to tear the group apart.

The cast did an amazing job. The four members of the quartet were a real stand out; each voice aurally delightful, the complex harmonies both stunning and seemingly easy.

Casey Donovan perfectly captures the sass of her character. Her powerful vocals are evocative of the unique voice of Mama Cass, bringing joy and pain to her signature solo hit, Dream A Little Dream Of Me. It is bound to send chills down the spine of anyone listening. Laura Fitzpatrick as Michelle, the unfaithful wife of John Phillips, is able to show all aspects of Michelle’s personality from youthful, playful and flighty, to more mature, sensitive and sincere. Her rendition of Dedicated To The One I Love is particularly sweet and emotive.

111753442_328161cThe male leads, just like their female counterparts, are equally as talented both in vocals and acting. Dan Humphris as Denny displays a spectacularly bright tenor, and is able to capture the sensitive, love struck, booze addicted nature of his character.  Finally, as John Phillips, the talented yet high on drugs song writer, Matt Hetherington is brilliant and compelling. He truly captures his character’s arrogance and confusion with his affecting vocals.

Overall, Flowerchildren is a story which will have members of all generations enjoying the thrilling harmonies and the compelling story behind them.  I thoroughly enjoyed the show, humming California Dreaming for days afterwards! The juxtaposition of the classic ’60s hits with the humorous narrating asides and the stunning performances make for an incredible, compelling musical.  A solid 8.5 out of 10 stars!


Film Review: The Sapphires


A fun film that manages to celebrate life and covers a range of social, political and racial issues, all while entertaining a diverse audience. Sounds impossible, right? Well, Deborah Mailman manages to do just that in her stunning new Australian film The Sapphires.

Inspired by a moving true story and adapted from a stage play, the film tells a quintessentially Australian tale- following an all {Aboriginal} girls’ group during the 1960s as they strive to make their dreams to become stars come true.

The McCrae sisters, Cynthia {Miranda Tapsell}, Gail {Deborah Mailman} and Julie {Jessica Mauboy} grew up on a remote Aboriginal mission where singing was a huge part of their lives from a young age. They honestly believed country music was the best kind to sing to help them realise their goals. Until, that is, they entered a talent competition and met a boozy Irishman in the music industry named Dave Lovelace {Chris O’Dowd}.

He gives the girls a Motown makeover introducing them to soul music, and it seems their dreams could come true once and for all.  With the addition of a fourth member, a long estranged cousin Kay {Shari Sebbens}, the group undergoes a transformation into the shimmering Sapphires, becoming an instant song and dance sensation. They’re offered the chance of a lifetime playing for the troops in Vietnam.

Filled with fabulous, sparkling ‘60s outfits and a lot of soulful singing that will have you wanting to dance in your chair, The Sapphires not only has elements of comedy, but probes more dramatic and profound themes as well: illustrating the realities of war, the harshness of racism extant in Australia during the time and even referencing the Stolen Generation.

However, overall the film still manages to be uplifting and positive; using the music and classic tracks such as “I’ll take you there” and “I heard it through the grapevine” to impart a sense of joy not only to the soldiers within the film, but the audience as well.

The use of black and white archival footage of the war and of the Aboriginal camps of the ‘60s adds a great effect to the movie, truly emphasising the harsh reality of these situations, especially when juxtaposed against the glamorous entertainment industry.

All of the actors perfectly encapsulate the essence of their characters, and the beautiful vocals only enhance their performances. Deborah Mailman, who is the most experienced of the four leads, plays the majority of the more dramatic scenes and does a truly wonderful job in the way she handles them.

I would give The Sapphires a solid 8 out of 10 stars. It is a great Australian movie that will have you experiencing the widest spectrum of emotions, so have your tissues ready and be prepared to want to dance along to each and every one of the songs.