Gay Bushranger Captain Moonlite’s Real-Life Story Is Inspiration For New Musical
The new Australian musical ‘Captain Moonlite,’ explores the real-life story of the queer Australian bushranger through his unsent letters about his actions leading up to his death and relationship with a fellow outlaw.
The musical is set in a death cell in Sydney’s Darlinghurst Gaol on the eve of Andrew ‘George’ Scott’s execution. His letters come to life and tell the story of the alleged bank robbery and shoot out near Gundagai, which lead to the death of his male lover and companion, James Nesbitt.
Star Observer spoke with creator and composer Jye Bryant, following the “long-awaited” Sydney premiere, new developments for the production and his journey in exploring the bushranger’s story.
Discovering Captain Moonlite
Discovering the story of Captain Moonlite from a book by Jane Smith, Bryant was captivated by the story and led to further discoveries of the bushranger’s letters about the tragedy of his life and lover.
“I’ve always thought that the idea of a bushranger being gay seemed to challenge the whole stereotype of a bushranger being this sort of very masculine type figure,” said Bryant.
This juxtaposition of stereotype and Scott’s character was the foundation that brought this musical to life, with Bryant hoping “it gives Andrew George Scott’s letters an audience.”
Bryant explained his personal research and pilgrimage to Gundagai as well as the bushranger’s grave. George’s anti-hero status provides “something that you can just really have a think about.”
“I don’t know whether they [audiences] will side with him necessarily, but I think they might get that it’s a little bit more complicated than him just being a bushranger… There were some other things, social things,” he explained.
Music Takes Inspiration For Iris Folk Music
Taking inspiration from George’s Irish roots, Bryant’s original music for the production takes inspiration from Irish folk music. Listening to a lot of Irish music, Bryant said he utilised violins and flutes throughout the production.
“It’s very sort of Irish Celtic and it’s accompanied by a folk band, so it’s very Irishy,” said Bryant. “The good thing about Irish music is it can sound fairly sad when it’s slow violins and things like that, I think it’s pretty easy to sound intense and sad.”
Discovering the emotional capacity of the folk sound, Bryant provided a new layer to the performance’s emotional storytelling.
Bryant aims to honour the history of this complex figure, with new choreography and enhanced script to help “flesh out” characters and provide audiences with a new piece of queer history.
Along with Bryant’s extensive background in musical writing and composition, the show is directed by Johnathon Brown, Musical direction by Susan Brown and Choreography by Anthony Ashdown rounds out the amazing production team.
The cast starring Peter David Allison as George, Michael Clewes as James, and many more amazing talents, are ready to entertain audiences about the infamous bushranger’s adventurous and tragic life.
‘Captain Moonlite’ – A New Australian Musical, comes to the Richmond School of Arts this August.