Inner West Wide Story: Jake Bayssari, Tom Carmody

Sylvie Woods
22nd Sep 2018

Out of UltraCult and The Lulu Raes’ Tom Cardy comes Inner West Side: a new musical about one Sydney girl (Laura McDonald) and her transformation from north shore bespoke to Newtown woke. The musical debuted at The Seymour Centre for Sydney Fringe Festival, but creators are optimistic the work is destined for another couple of runs.

With critical acclaim such as ‘an ingenious representation of our young, with all their contradictory concerns forming the basis of a most amusing work’, (Suzy Goes See), we hit up director Jake Bayssari and composer Tom Cardy for the scoop on where Inner West Side went right.

Jake Bayssari - Director

How was Ultracult formed? UltraCult is the baby of myself and Lucille [Lucille MacKellar] - it formed from the basis of wanting to create a company which focused on young people creating theatre and film - fun and yet accessible to everyone.

How did you come to put together Inner West Side? It honestly started with a pipe dream, just a silly idea which I continued to develop. Tom then came onboard which made the show what it is. It required a lot of hours by the fabulous cast and crew but it ended up better than I could ever of imagined. Musicals are an undertaking and this was no exception haha!

What were the greatest challenges and rewards of the process? I feel like the greatest challenge lay within the mass of people involved and the process of creating something with so many different people, another challenge was making the story accessible to all, not just Sydney Sixers which I think we accomplished based on the feedback. The biggest reward was seeing it come together, I know it sounds corny but on opening night, that’s when I realised we had something special. Also having people buy the album and sing all the songs😊

Would you be interested in doing something like Inner West Side again? Inner West will hopefully have another couple of runs! I also hope to create more Australian works, it’s important to tell stories about home and what it means to be Australian as I think it’s lacking especially in younger culture!

Tom Cardy - Composer

How did you come to write the music for Inner West Side? Jake and I were at a mutual friends for a drink when he told me about the musical he was writing. I thought a show about Hipsters, Newtown and rich kids was funny and would scratch an itch for a lot of audiences, so I forced Jake to send me lyrics and concepts for the first few songs, which I sent back demos for. It all clicked in really well.

How closely did your work with the lyricists? It was interesting, because I’d get lyrics to fully written songs and then do music, melody and a little extra if it needed. It worked really well, because the full idea of the songs would inspire me and give me heaps to play with. I might work with lyricists (Jake or Lucille) if the sections needed some reworking or if some lyrics needed changing to fit better, but it usually worked immediately.

What were your inspirations? Jake and Lucille would have concepts and genres they wanted each song to fit, so that with the lyrics gave me a great starting point in composing. We had to work within the limits of a fringe show, so even though I love musical comedy like “The Producers” and “Book of Mormon”, I tried to fit in the energy and comic timing of these big broadway hits into 4 piece rock band compositions.

What was the most enjoyable part of the experience? It was great fun just to buckle down in my room and pump out demo recordings for the directors and cast. Very satisfying to get an idea from someone else and develop it into a full song.

And finally, are you working on writing any other musicals at the moment? I’m currently working on some musical comedy for Freudian Nip, a hilarious comedy group that do these big variety shows at The Giant Dwarf Theatre. Last time we did a short Les Mis style musical about the Australian Emu wars, so it’s very silly. It’s on the 30th of October, wanna come?