The Sutherland Shire isn’t exactly known for being an open and accepting sort of place.
To this day it’s considered one of the most un-multicultural parts of Sydney and has been compared to what Australia was like in the 1950s.
Basically if you’re not white, heterosexual and obsessed with sport it’s not necessarily the greatest place to be.
So some people will be surprised to learn the Shire Music Theatre company is staging a gay-themed musical as part of the Mardi Gras festival.
Prodigal is an Australian drama about an 18-year-old who leaves his family in the fishing town of Eden, on the NSW south coast, and moves to Sydney where he discovers he’s gay.
After coming out he’s rejected by his family and gets caught up in the drug and party scene, until an overdose forces his loved ones to confront their prejudices.
Prodigal is a contemporary retelling of the biblical parable about the prodigal son and was the first Australian-written musical to have its premiere in New York.
This new production is the first chance Sydney audiences have had to see it.
The lyrics were written by Dean Bryant and the music by Mathew Frank, who recently won The Green Room Award for Best Music and Best Lyrics.
A lot of people are excited there’s a Mardi Gras event in the Shire this year, Lyndell Garrard, Shire Music Theatre treasurer and occasional sound assistant says.
She hopes Prodigal will help educate people about some of the issues queer youth face.
It’s about time we got out of the Middle Ages, really.
There was a bit of trauma when we first decided to do it because a lot of our audience like the traditional musicals, such as Oklahoma! and Carousel.
But we want to get right away from those. So we’ve been doing lot of new musicals and targeting a much younger market.
Director Craig Stewart agreed there’s no point in doing the same old thing over and over.
The immediacy of the show and its themes of acceptance and compassion make it instantly relevant, especially to the youth of today, who have to deal with sexuality and drug use in a very different way than any generation before them, Stewart said.