Is Sydney ready for Inner West Side: The Musical?

The inner west of Sydney is close to our hearts at Happy. It’s where the office is, it’s where we hold our shows, and there’s never a shortage of awesome stuff going on.

One such awesome thing is Inner West Side: The Musical, a production showing at the Seymour Centre from September 18-22 as part of Sydney Fringe Festival. It’s the lighthearted tale of Andrea, a privileged North Shore escapee desperate to hide her past from a set of woke new friends.

Featuring original music composed by Tom Cardy (The Lulu Raes), the creative backbone of Sydney crew Ultracult, and an ensemble practically rippling with star power, it’s a calendar date we’ve been looking forward to for months now.

With opening night a mere eight days away, we spoke to Andrea herself – actor Laura McDonald.

inner west side: The musical

Inner West Side: The Musical is fast approaching, but is the inner west ready? We spoke to Laura McDonald, aka Andrea, to find out.

HAPPY: Hey Laura, how are things? What are you up to at the moment?

LAURA: Helloooo, I am very well! The universe has decided to hit me with everything in the one week so I’m a little all over the place. It’s nice to be busy though and have lots to do.

HAPPY: Nice one. So you’re playing the leading lady Andrea in Inner West Side: The Musical. What can you tell us about her?

LAURA: I am! It’s honestly the strangest thing. I never thought I’d be the lead in a musical, especially as my first role after drama school. But it sort of makes sense. I feel like the majority of us feel a little obliged to hide away certain things that we said or did in high school. And it’s very funny to see old high school friends, who now have septum piercings or mullets, kinda of shake off who they were and begin to find themselves.

Andrea mixes all that up in her head. She comes home from her gap year and realises her wealth and privilege has limited her life, not made it a heck of a lot easier. She wants to be ‘poor’ and lies about her past in order to be the best and most wholesome version of herself. It’s a joy to watch because you can really laugh at yourself. We’ve all adopted new discourses to keep up with the way our generation is progressing, and similarly to 22 Jump Street, it’s not cool to be ignorant anymore. But at the same time, it’s always fun to take a step back and see how hard Andrea has to work in order to be ‘woke’.

HAPPY: Are you seeing pieces of Andrea in the people around you? How so?

LAURA: Definitely! I went to a private school and was given all the best opportunities to reach my full potential in the classroom. But out of the classroom, I was living to impress boys and get invited to parties. I think it’s changed now but in my time (I sound like an old person) I wasn’t comfortable to be myself. It was only after school that I felt like I could really be who I wanted to be. And similarly to Andrea, I might have untagged a few photos from formal afters and thrown out some of my bodycon dresses in order to hide that part of my life away and start a new one. It sounds cheesy, but there’s a little Andrea in all of us who grew up here.

HAPPY: Thanks for being honest – which other inner westie stereotypes are hanging around in the cast?

LAURA: Without giving away too much, we’ve got the PC poet, the sensual and holistic DJ, the hot barista, the girl who grew up here, the queen of the inner west who’s pretty much sponsored by CostumeBox, and then to top it all off The Generic White Boys, the sickest band in Sydney.

HAPPY: It’s sounding awesome. Can you talk about the team behind the show? Who’s directing and writing, are they locals too?

LAURA: Jake Bayssari, Maddie Johnston and Lucille MacKellar are the brains behind the production. They have a production company called UltraCult which brings creatives from all over Sydney together to make original works. I think they are all the coolest. We all have ideas that pop into our heads but I’ve never met a bunch of go-getters like these guys before. Just the fact that they sat down one day and wrote a musical and now it’s on at the the Seymour Centre is pretty awesome. It’s inspiring to work with such amazing people.

Tom Cardy is our saucy composer who’s genius continues to baffle me every time I hear something he’s put together. Since it is an original musical, the songs were completed throughout the rehearsal process, so every few weeks we’d get to hear a new song. It was genuinely like Christmas, each song became a new favourite every time. We have Amy Kimball who’s our little behind the scenes boss, Adrienne Dell who’s making us look hot, Matt Clark who’s going crazy trying to get us to sound perfect, and a whole lot of other amazing people working super hard to make this the best show ever. I’m a little in love with everyone involved.

HAPPY: Sounds like it’s going to be a little rough when the show’s wrapped?

LAURA: It’ll be a sad day when we finish, but I have a feeling that it won’t be the last time we do the show 😉

HAPPY: Opening night is on its way pretty soon now. How are the cast feeling?

LAURA: The show is looking pretty amazing at this stage. We’ve got a great vocal and physical warm up inspired by Lindsay Lohan partying in Mykonos, so we’re well prepared for each run. I’m very proud of everyone and all the work they’ve put in and can’t wait to see the final shape of the show.

HAPPY: Sounds like the warm up is as spicy as the show. It’s at the Seymour Centre’s Reginald Theatre yeah? Have you been rehearsing in the space?

LAURA: It is! We have been rehearsing in a quaint little community centre called Cliff Noble in Erskineville. We won’t be able to go into the performance space until next week so it’ll be the cherry on top of all our hard work!

HAPPY: Are there going to be any challenges involved in that switch up? Or are you all too excited and nervous to be thinking of that right now?

LAURA: It’ll be a challenging 48 hours in the lead up to the show. We’re all need to learn how to use the set, practice quick changes, get comfortable in the space and conserve our voices. I think because it’s an original musical we’re all a little nervous, but it’s really come together perfectly. It’s just the little details now.

HAPPY: Sick! Which nights are the tickets still going for?

LAURA: Opening and closing night see almost sold out, but it runs from Tuesday through to Saturday night.

HAPPY: Last question – if you had to boil Inner West Side down to one word, what would it be?

LAURA: Tom that’s the hardest question ever.

HAPPY: Just hit me with it.

LAURA: Hot. Or iconic. Probably hot though.

HAPPY: Hot and iconic, I’ll give you two.

LAURA: My director is gonna kill me.


Inner West Side: The Musical is showing at The Seymour Centre from September 18-22, as part of Sydney Fringe Festival. Grab your tickets here.