Bringing Back The Sunshine Club

Director Wesley Enoch talks remounting the hit musical more than 20 years later

1 min read

First performed by Queensland Theatre in QPAC’s Playhouse in 1999, The Sunshine Club received wide acclaim during its initial run and will return from 9 to 30 July 2022.

The hit Australian musical follows Frank Doyle, an Aboriginal serviceman who spent years fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with troops from all over Australia only to find race relations hadn’t changed at all when he returned home to Brisbane after World War II.

Rose (Irena Lysiuk) and Frank (Marcus Corowa)Rose (Irena Lysiuk) and Frank (Marcus Corowa) in The Sunshine Club. Photo by Brett Boardman.

Internationally acclaimed Nunukul and Ngugi playwright and director Wesley Enoch will direct the revival, returning to Queensland Theatre – where he was Artistic Director from 2010 to 2015 – to remount the show he was commissioned to create at just 28 years of age.

Reflecting on what it feels like to come back to the work, Enoch says:

“There’s a younger artist in this work. There’s this young, idealistic, thoughtful artist who wanted to change the world. And now in my 50s I look back and I go, ‘actually, I want a little more of that idealism’.”

When conversation around the late 90s revolved around reconciliation, Enoch contends dance was the “best metaphor ever” for bringing everyone together. The characters in The Sunshine Club sing because they can’t hold in their emotions they’re not cynical; they’re joyful and exuberant.

“We are the descendants of these people that learned to dance together. What’s our future?” Wesley Enoch

He adds in 2022, the focus has shifted to truth-telling, and presenting stories that must be held true, whether they are comfortable or not.

“To tell this story in that context; to say ‘here is a historical perspective of what it was like to live in Brisbane or anywhere else in Australia at this time’.... There was good and bad, and we have to acknowledge that that’s our truth... our shared truth.”

Watch the full interview:

The Sunshine Club is presented by QPAC and Queensland Theatre.

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