Broadway’s most in-demand composer and lyricist Eddie Perfect performed his one night only show – Introspective to an eager and thrilled Australian audience at QPAC’s stunning Concert Hall. After months of rescheduling, the Brisbane theatre lovers were intrigued and excited to enjoy the musical stylings of the comedic songwriter who has achieved incredible success on Broadway and Down Under, nevertheless Eddie emphasised that failure is part of the gig. Perfect is a brilliant storyteller as he used genuine Aussie humour through anecdotes and gave electric performances. He took the audience on a trip down memory lane through songs that have shaped his narrative to Broadway and beyond.
Eddie has the innate ability to write a killer tune about anything whilst simultaneously shining as a pianist. He was accompanied on stage by talented and charming cellist Anita Quayle and violinist Fem Belling. All three musicians were thrilled to finally be performing after months of lockdown and rocked exceptional jumpsuits as they told stories through their sweeping rich musical sounds.
Eddie used his dry Australian humour to tell various tales and then would transcend the audience to the moment through witty songs. During one of the several Melbourne lockdowns with curfews of 8pm, bin night became a thrilling adventure within itself for Eddie as he would sneak his scraps into neighbouring bins – no-one that he knew of course. But it was an exciting moment in his week in the dread of isolation and the hilarious tune ‘Taking out the bins’ was born.
The songwriter reminisced on his time in America when he was an avid people watcher. He found that quite a lot of Americans in comparison let people know their good deeds and Australians generally don’t brag. Eddie played the song ‘Rescue dog’ when he was inspired by a woman he walked past in New York. She was struggling with four rescue dogs with her daily inner conflict to seek society’s validation. Eddie hilariously turned this situation into a musical number. It was about feeling like you need to be charitable but you know you can’t do it all. He really can write a show-stopping tune about anything.
Eddie Perfect is the composer for the new contemporary musical comedy Beetlejuice. Eddie moved to New York to write the surprise triumph of the 2019-2020 season based on Tim Burton’s cult classic 80s film of the same name. During this cabaret performance Eddie passionately performed the ‘I want’ song that Lydia sings in the show – ‘Dead Mom.’ He additionally revealed that there were a few different versions of the opening number ‘The Whole Being Dead Thing.’ ‘Death’s not great’ was the initial version of this song in the workshop but was cut as the American team couldn’t relate to the blunt crude humour that we all find sarcastic and amusing, but wouldn’t fly with a typical Broadway audience.
Eddie also presented us with a sneak peak of another cut song from the monster of a show entitled ‘A little more of your time’ that was written for Lydia’s father Charles to perform. It illustrated Charles’ reflection on trying to connect with his daughter before it is too late. Eddie gave us a beautiful rendition of the emotional number.
The talented comedic writer explained that everything turned a surprising corner when Beetlejuice performed at the 2019 Tony Awards. The show had not been doing well at the box office so they said stuff it, and they altered the opening number of the show to shake things up at Broadway’s biggest night. Eddie was ecstatic that superstar Alex Brightman who played the demon title character crushed the changes and absolutely nailed the live telecast performance. Perfect revealed that CBS uploaded the number to YouTube and the clip went viral – resulting in a major boost of visitors from around the globe that broke box office records. In the new age of TikTok the youngest cast member Presley Ryan made videos in costume and gained a huge cult following with the younger generations.
As a juxtaposition to Beetlejuice, Perfect was additionally struggling with writing another beast of a production with Broadway’s King Kong Live on Stage. Unfortunately this flop of a show closed quite quickly following its opening. He realised that the American public were confused about what the show was and what it was trying to say. Eddie’s tell tale sign that the show was not as popular as once thought was when he was sitting in the theatre one night next to the Director of Puppetry. During the interval a woman piped up behind them and said ‘what a shi* show.’ The patron realised that she wasn’t gaining a mutual response and said ‘Oh you are with the show aren’t you?’ Eddie at this point is telling the story in a self-deprecating and embarrassed tone and he said the woman muttered ‘The monkey was ok…’
Eddie knew at that moment that the show was not going to live on and people are just brutal in New York. It was so stressful he was unintentionally pulling out his hair. He thought he would go outside and sit in nature for a while. That’s when he wrote ‘New York Fledgling’ – a glorious tune about the starling birds that would live and be fed on the streets of Manhattan. Which is a sort of reflection on foreign writers in New York and the risk that they take when they dive in and go for their dreams not knowing how it will turn out.
Eddie has been given wonderful opportunities over the years. He mentioned that he was asked to write a new Australian promotional song to encourage British people to holiday and visit Australia during Brexit – the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. He had written a hilarious and accurate depiction of life in Australia as he sees it, that he belted out for the audience with passion.
However, once they had filmed the music video in various infamous Aussie locations with Kylie Minogue as the star singer, they released it and thought this cannot continue to air. As it was insensitive considering the country was on fire with the 2019/2020 bushfires ravaging the nation. They took it off air but Eddie played us the original version and we nearly fell off our chair with delight – he can truly write a brilliant song, especially about his home country.
The final encore number he presented to the overjoyed Brisbane audience was illustrated as a Christmas song, an Australian one at that. It was titled ‘Trampoline in the dark’ and explored the utter ‘delight’ that parents go through trying to set up a trampoline the night before the big day. It was a side-splitting farce on the inevitable challenge that comes with a hot Summer Christmas and the exhausted mess and pressure parents put on themselves to provide a fun holiday. As the final song for the evening it was charming, sarcastic and quintessentially true blue.
Eddie Perfect was just that, perfect in every way. The show was relatable to Australians but also taught us that it is okay to fail. Failure is one of the grandest aspects of life, especially in the musical theatre industry. He gave the audience a reason to cackle with laughter and genuinely have a fantastic night at the theatre as Eddie presented new, old and never played before comedic music for the ages. Eddie Perfect is the most brilliant, genuine and celebrated Australian theatre composer of this era. Congratulations on your incredible show – Introspective.
All images – Supplied