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Burger Brain – The Fast Food Musical

Production dates: September 26, 1988
Venue: The Australian Theatre for Young People
Directed by: Stephen Lloyd Helper
Literature: Chris Harriott, Dennis Watkins
Costume Design: Colin Mitchell
Set Design: Colin Mitchell
Music: Andrew Ross

"Burger Brain" begins on a typical Saturday morning as the juvenile workforce of Hackett's Fast Food corporation prepares to open a new, improved Hyper Store. Nice, polite, considerate, egalitarian Waldo (Huey Acuna) is promoted to store manager by the Burger Brain, a giant burger that floats in with the lot, including flashing lights and voice modulation. Waldo is not only promoted, he allows himself to be transormed. When Kirk, the burger-bar Romeo, celebrates his 18th birthday and is "let go" by Waldo for being over-age, the rest of Waldo's workforce walks out in protest. They set up a rival takeaway on Bondi Beach, rejuvinating a rundown sandwich bar.

Cast & Characters

Huey Acuna (Waldo), Toni Collette (Hanna), Nadine Weinberger (Dorina), Daryl Aberhart (Alex)

Production Notes

From the “Burger Brain” programme: The cast and crew of “Burger Brain” are aged between 12 and 24, the majority being in their mid-teens. They come from a sprawl of 23 of Sydney’s suburbs and N.S.W. regions as far north as Palm Beach, as far west as Blacktown. Auditons were open to all interested young people and many of those selected are performing with the Australian Theatre for Young People for the first time. They represent not only a diverse group of age ranges and geographical regions but also of background and interest. Many are still at school, others are undertaking higher educations, some are working and others still are unemployed. The cast took part in 10 weeks of weekend workshops in acting, singing and dancing prior to the part-time 10 week rehearsal period. ATYP is proud to be able to draw together this selection of young talent in this way and we are certain that their efforts will not only develop their own critical and artistic faculties but also thrill audiences for the duration of the Burger Brain season.

Reviews

The Sydney Morning Herald, Bob Evans (September 29, 1988)
Its production values make “Burger Brain” a three-course, big-time, sit-down musical, not some sticky-fingered, foam-boxed takeaway. The show is greatly enchanced by Colin Mitchell’s set and costume designs and John O’Connell’s choreography. The young cast mostly handle it well, although at times the spick-and-span conception borders on the slick. There are some wonderful performances, particularly from Toni Collette, who plays Hanna and sings like a dream. My only real beef with “Burger Brain” concerns the music. In one way it’s remarkable, because composer Chris Harriott has actually manufactured a sound that is all-but indistinguishable from the full-blown version of West Coast America (right down to the vowels) with shades of Broadway, even. But do traces of “Grease” and the echoes of “Saturday Night Fever” really ring true for these kids, here and now? I would have liked something closer to home, but there is no denying that songs like “Opportunity, I Can’t Understand It” and “Hanna” finally won me over. And any show that’s dedicated to putting beetroot back on burgers, making chips with potatoes and thick-shakes with real icecream has to be applauded.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Emily Gibson (October 06, 1988)
The ATYP auditioned more than 600 people for the cast of 40 and engaged a variety of professionals to work with them in a ten-week rehearsal period, so the production, despite the youth of most of its performers, has a very professional feel. To give more opportunity to the cast, siy lead roles are each shared between two players. On opening night Huey Acuna and Toni Collette played Hanna and Waldo whose innocent love is blighted by forces more powerful than they realise. They were both likeable in the parts and extremly capable of all-round performers. It’s very hard not to be affected by 40 people singing and stamping their hearts out on stage. “Burger Brain, The Fast Food Musical” is an infectiously enjoyable show.