NEW YORK, NEW YORK? If I can make it there…

What happens when a musical theatre performer and an opera singer arrive in The Big Apple full of romantic expectations? Their dreams of fame and fortune are quickly shattered of course! But for Caitlin Cassidy and Morgan Cowling, their experiences in New York as bright-eyed artists went on to inspire their new Fringe World show New York, New York? a comedic musical cabaret showing at Lyric’s Underground from Saturday, February 12 to Sunday, February 13. KWANWOO HAN caught up with Caitlin and Morgan to find out about their time in The City That Never Sleeps and how the stories they brought home with them are as grand and as gritty as the city itself.

Congrats on bringing New York, New York? to Fringe 2022! How does it feel to perform this year?

Caitlin: I feel incredibly lucky on a lot of fronts not excluding limitations presented by COVID. This feels like a show where I could purge some of my feelings about living and studying in New York which was a dizzying and challenging experience in many ways.

Morgan: A part of me will always feel lucky to get up on a stage but it’s tenfold since the pandemic. And to share the stage with Caitlin, it feels like a big giant sassy hug.

A lot of work goes into developing and organising a theatre production. How long has New York, New York? been in the works?

Caitlin: This cabaret was developed over a few months, over many cups of tea, laughter and tears. The songs we chose either have something to say about our experiences or are pieces of music we sang a lot during our time in New York studying, auditioning and performing.

Morgan: I saw Caitlin perform with Dani Sicari and Leah Guelfi in Let’s Misbehave at Fringe World last year. I loved it so much and felt inspired to do something of my own for the next Fringe World! After their show Caitlin and I were chatting and she had the idea we should do something together! We didn’t start work until about September last year but I guess the idea was inspired exactly a year ago!

Youll be performing the show together to present the story. How did you meet and choose to perform together?

Caitlin: We met at WAAPA several years ago in the Opera Department. I was a big admirer of Morgan’s gorgeous voice and effortless stage presence. We diverged slightly in our paths, Morgan towards musical theatre and myself towards opera and cabaret. I think we bonded over the absurdity of being a performer and the Gilmore Girls primarily.

Morgan: Yep, as Caitlin said, we met at WAAPA, but we had been rivalling it out at Music Eisteddfods a few years before meeting! I’ve been a big fan of Caitlin’s ever since! It’s amazing how the universe has kept bringing us into each other’s lives, so New York, New York? just seems meant to be! (But yeah, what cinched it for me was when I found out Caitlin also loved Gilmore Girls #nerds).

How did you start wanting to perform on the stage? Was there a moment that made you say, yeah, that is what I want to do.”

Caitlin: I was a performer and class clown from a very young age. As the youngest child I was forever wanting to entertain my family. I started singing lessons at 11 and from there I was hooked.

Morgan: I think I caught the bug when I did my first ballet concert at five years old, but my mum always reminds me at the age of three, I would sing into an imaginary microphone at gym class instead of listening to the coach… so I guess it was already part of my DNA from birth.

The show will present how real the creative and entertainment industry world can be. Is this based off of your own experiences?

Caitlin: This show is autobiographical, yes. I think we both had a lot of romantic, comedic and sad things to say about our respective times living in New York and we thought that it would be interesting for people to get a glimpse behind the curtain at the journeys of performers.

Morgan: Oh absolutely, it’s the whole inspiration for our cabaret. Caitlin and I spent a good few hours on FaceTime one day swapping war stories from our respective times in the Big Apple, and had a “lightbulb” moment – we need to turn this into a cabaret! This is a comedic yet very real depiction of the audition grind and what being an artist in NYC really looks like. And an insight to the fabulously-wonderful-Nora Ephron-esque-NYC moments, to the upstairs-neighbour-nearly-burning-the-building-down moments.

Youve performed in several shows over the years. How does New York, New York? compare to those?

Caitlin: New York, New York? is perhaps one of the most honest shows I’ve ever written. We’re not hiding behind anything. Just chatting, spilling the tea and singing.

Morgan: This is the first cabaret I’ve written and collaborated on. It’s invigorating! There’s a huge difference between learning someone else’s lines and choreography and getting to create your own. It’s also a little scary, putting your own experiences and ideas out there, especially in front of close friends and family! However, I’m really excited for New York, New York? to have its world premiere in Perth, our home state!

This will be a show with very real lessons others can take. What should the audience expect or take from it?

Caitlin: I think the show is largely about the dissonance between our dreams and reality. New York is an extraordinary place stuffed to the brim with art, ambitious people and magic. New York is a city that is highly prized and mythologised and it’s easy to sacrifice too much to use living there as a symbol for success.

Morgan: Exactly what Caitlin said! I also think the audience can expect us to be honest, funny and down right entertaining!

Are there any shows that we should look forward to down the line? Maybe something you want to try in the future?

Caitlin: This Fringe I am also in a show called My Best Judys which features the music made famous by Judy Garland. I am extremely excited by this as Judy Garland is one of my idols. I also cannot wait to feature as a cabaret singer in Freeze Frame Opera’s production of La Boheme with some of Australia’s finest opera singers Teddy Tahu-Rhodes, Rachelle Durkin and Paul O’Neill.

Morgan: I’m also in another Fringe World show, Bridezilla: A Musical Rom-Com at the Sewing Room from February 2 to 5! We have some serious talent in this show and if you like musicals, rom-coms or a fun, silly night out, this one’s for you! I’m also very excited to perform with the Perth Symphony Orchestra at Rockingham’s annual Symphony on the Green for Perth Festival on February 19. It’s a free event, so bring your picnics and enjoy a night of beautiful music out on the Village Green. After writing this cabaret with Caitlin I’m definitely inspired to write another one, so stay tuned!

You have been challenged to a duel using quotes from Shakespearean plays. What is your first line? And no, you cannot start with villain, I have done thy mother” by Aaron the Moor.

Caitlin: “I’ll beat thee, but it would infect my hands!” Timon, Timon of Athens (Act IV, Scene iii).

Morgan: “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” Lady Macbeth, Macbeth (Act V, Scene i)

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