By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on April 12, 2019
ALBANY school teacher and poet Giles Watson’s original libretto will come to life this week at Perth’s Regal Theatre.
Mimma, Watson’s first musical, was co-created with Orana Cinemas owner Ron Siemiginowski after a chance meeting between the two.
With Watson’s words and Siemiginowski’s music, Mimma was born and so with it Watson’s first encounter with theatre writing.
He sat down with The Weekender a few days before the musical’s premiere to give an insight into what it takes to pen a theatre show.
“I write a lot of poetry,” Watson said.
“And I’ve written two short novellas.
“Doing a musical is something I’ve always wanted to do and some-
thing that Ron wanted to do.
“My housemate Simone Keane was recording a song for Ron and she suggested that he and I get together, and we connected.”
Watson has a passion for the Second World War, being a university history major, and hoped his knowledge could help shape a musical one day.
It was timely that at their chance meeting, Siemiginowski was playing Italian-inspired music, which immediately triggered Watson to build a war-themed story.
“I sat and wrote the plot while Ron played,” Watson said.
“It focuses on Mimma, who’s an Italian journalist in 1938 and is sent to England in exile.
“It’s at her uncle’s bar – where she’s staying – that she meets Sarah, who’s English, and they develop a friendship.
“So the main plot is on their friendship and the threats that face it, with the sub-plot of the Italian Resistance.”
Watson said drama is at every turn during the musical.
“The first crisis they face is when the London police are removing Italians from businesses, cafes…” he revealed.
“There’s the drama of separation and loyalty.”
Starring as Mimma is Mirusia Louwerse, who has spent the past decade as the star soprano for internationally-renowned violinist and conductor Andre Rieu.
Opera Australia peformer Holly Meegan will play Sarah Parker and Canadian-American soprano Suzanne Kompass will star as Ada Marini.
Watson is still taking in the fact that so many big names in the opera world are performing his musical.
“It’s really huge,” he grinned.
“And quite overwhelming; I’m fulfilling a dream.
“From it being just Ron and I to people who are calling themselves the Mimma family, it’s fantastic.”
Watson said Mimma “breaks the mould” of modern musicals and is keen to see how people react.
“It’s about events that have happened in our time and looks at a friendship between two women, which isn’t always seen,” he said.
“It approaches the issue of humanity and I hope people feel…one person described it as ‘validated in goodness’ and I really like that.
“I hope people enjoy seeing a really crucial time in our history.”
Watson’s ultimate goal is to see Mimma tour Australia and one day, perform on the stages of New York City’s Broadway and London’s West End.
“I do think it has that potential,” he said.
“And I already have two sequels in my head!”
Mimma is on now at Perth’s Regal Theatre and will play until April 21.