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Rebecca - The Musical based on 'Rebecca' by Daphne du Maurier-book...

Held at the Concert Melba Hall, University of Melbourne on the 19th June 2004. Music was by Kevin Purcell, Lyrics and Book by Victor Kazan. The original direction was by Aaron Joyner-Director with Victor Kazan. The Musical is a haunting and suspenseful Gothic thriller set against the backdrop of the English Cornish coastline. With a sweeping score and eloquently evocative libretto, it is a musical adaptation of the timeless story. Actors on Rebecca - The Musical 2004 were Richard Thomas, Monique Pitsikas, Lauren Elise, Maureen Andrew, Jane Badler, Will Conyers, Ian Sandercoe, Robert Harsley, Sean Gunn and Katrina Wellins.

Ian sandercoe was a vocalist and actor in Rebecca - The Musical and played the characters Frank Crawley (manager of Mandalay), the Coroner and Ian was the understudy for the lead role of Maxim.

REVIEWS: for Rebecca - The Musical

By Sam Elliot  (

"The score captures all the elements of romance, suspense and mystery evoked by the story in an appropriately rich and swirling melody that pervades throughout the piece. The music has an incredibly filmic quality to it reminiscent of the scores of those blockbuster melodramas of the 30s and 40s giving the piece a befittingly 'classic' feel."

"The orchestra and their conductor (the composer, Kevin Purcell) were magnificent - a real joy to listen to - in fact their skill and the quality of the score stood so well on their own merits, an evening of simply this alone would have been equally as entertaining as it was with book and lyrics to embellish upon it."

PREVIEW - Herald Sun Newspaper
Friday June 18, 2004
Simon Plant

LAST night, Kevin Purcell dreamed he went to Manderley. Then again, with the Melbourne composer knowing the world premiere of Rebecca-The Musical is just 24 hours away, it wasn't surprising.

Purcell and lyricist Victor Kazan dedicated two years to the project, deciphered each line of Daphne du Maurier's story and scrutinized every screen version, including Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 production
with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.

Tomorrow night's Magnormos production at Melba Hall, directed by Aaron Joyner, finds surprising new angles in Rebecca and wraps rhythms around this dark tale for the first time.

"Our version is not the gothic Hitchcockian one. The mood of the musical is one of haunting melancholy," Purcell says.

Set in the 1930s, in a mansion on the Cornish coast, Rebecca is about a newlywed who cannot escape the shadow of another woman.

Maxim De Winter (Richard Thomas) has brought his young bride (Monique Pitsikas), back to Manderley, but he still broods over the death of his first wife, Rebecca (Lauren Elise).

Did she really drown as Maxim says? Or can the grim house-keeper Mrs. Danvers (Maureen Andrew) tell a different story?

"We decided early on to explore the thriller aspect," Purcell says.

After much argument, the writers also agreed to make Rebecca visible - as a ghost.

"At one stage we thought of having her as a voiceover, but I really wanted to write a couple of songs for her. She had to sing."

Rebecca - The Musical demands a 23-strong orchestra and a cast of 10. But Purcell has international experience as a musical director and conductor.

In the mid-'90s he worked exclusively for Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd-Webber and watched those theatre giants making a song and dance.

"You don't have to like all their shows," Purcell says.

"But as pieces of theatre, they're brilliantly conceived and immaculately executed."

Rebecca has the sort of Gothic mystery that might appeal to Lloyd Webber. But in transforming du Maurier's 1937 best seller into a musical, Purcell found a sound all his own.

"It's the sound of the sea. It runs through the music like an undertow," he says.

Rebecca had one other essential element for a musical: a redemptive ending.

"As the young Mrs. De Winter grows in stature, the man she married no longer seems infallible. Yet by the end, she's picked him up," Purcell says.

Much as they would like to give it an outing in Australia, the team behind Rebecca realise their best shot lies offshore.

That's why the show is being filmed and recorded tomorrow night, so Purcell can knock on doors on Broadway and the West End and "hopefully light producers' imaginations".

"As a composer, you've got to think in international terms," he says.

Other Press Reviews

"Musically this was also a very enjoyable production, with tight musical direction under Kevin Purcell…"

"the skilful singing is accompanied by an accomplished onstage band…the music and singing by this young company are terrific."
Kate Herbert, The Age
Reviews RENT 10/02/06

"The whole concert had a wonderful energy about it, which came from Music Director Kevin Purcell's dynamic leadership, and his obvious rapport with the musicians."
Lyman Leathers, Gazette Music Critic
The Delaware Gazette, February

"Finally, the conductor - how fortunate COSO must feel to have Kevin Purcell as its conductor. This was my first opportunity to see Mr. Purcell on the podium and his outstanding ability was inspiring to watch."
Nancy S. Nocks, On Site Review,
Ohio Arts Council, February

"Purcell conducts the 24-piece orchestra with crystalline clarity, lilting rhythm and passion"
Michael Grossberg, Theater Critic,
Columbus Dispatch, USA

"Last Saturday I had the opportunity to once again see...'A Little Night Music'. It was good, or better, than most on- and off-Broadway productions I've seen over the years"
Roger Morris, President,
Columbus/Franklin County News Bureau

"Purcell meets challenge"
Clive O'Connell, The Age

"Kevin Purcell knows all about entertainment..."
Elizabeth Fortescue,
The Daily Telegraph Mirror