The Subtle Art of Flirting - Season One
“The Subtle Art of Flirting” was a very special play for me. The year was 2005 and I had produced a number of plays, with my play, “Go West”, selling out a season at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta and having a second season at the SBW Stables Theatre. But with “The Subtle Art of Flirting”, it felt like it all started coming together for me.
“The Subtle Art of Flirting” is a romantic comedy for the stage, that’s even how we sold it. It wasn’t really done much at the time and some thought it was a cop out while many more loved the show. I had booked into the Newtown Theatre, which was a big turning point. It became my hub for a number of great years. I lived and made art in Newtown and loved it - I miss those days.
Such a big part of this show was the cast. We ended up doing this show many more times, and the core cast stayed the same. There was Nicole da Silva, who went on to massive TV fame. There were the awesome, Sean Kennedy, Rebekah O’Sullivan, Duncan Armitage and of course my best friend, the delightful, Charlene Ramage. This cast feel like family and were so integral in the show’s success.
There were so many highlights from this season, they include:
The night that Charlene and I stayed at the theatre until 3am painting the set. We played music and talked. It was a year after we met (we first worked together in 2014 for “The Bridesmaid Must Die”) and we were fast becoming best friends - so it was the perfect night. 44 year old Wayne winces at the thought of being there until 3am (I like to go bed early now)
It was a nightmare at the time, but hindsight makes it a good memory. Nicole struggled with illness during the show and one night lost her voice almost completely. She rang me in tears - with the tears and the voice it was hard to understand. It shows her professionalism and heart that she was so devastated she couldn’t go on that night. But the co-producer, Megan Wynn, stepped in, with script in hand, and did a great job. Nicole still came that night, sat up the back to encourage Meg. She took the stage next night, real professional!
It was my 30th birthday during that season. The night before closing. It was a great full house. Of course, I was having a crisis in the backstage corner about my age. But the show was great. We went out afterwards to the Imperial Hotel and drank “creamy” cocktails (thanks Morgan). And that night I met a great guy when he came to the show, who I dated for quite a long time.
Our lovely lighting operator, Srey. She was such a wonderful person. She sadly died a few years ago and I miss her so much and think of her often. She was loved and respected.
My favourite show moment came in the final scene one night of a full house. My character, Foster, starts the play breaking up with his girlfriend. He goes on a disastrous date (love that scene with Nicole), before he realises he is actually gay. He finally accepts who he is in this scene and arrives at the house of Elijah (Duncan Armitage). Elijah is playing an old song, which just happens to be Foster’s favourite. They begin to dance and then they kiss. Audiences loved this moment, but this one night you can could hear a women audibly crying. She breathed in so loudly through her tears. It is the moment a theatre actor loves, when you know your performance has moved an audience member that much. It is up there as one of my favourite stage moments of all time.
This show has been such an incredible success for me. I produced two more seasons in Sydney - including one season where we also toured to the Riverside and Glen St Theatres. A student company has performed it. Neighbours star and director, Scott Major, directed a Melbourne season that featured some amazing actors, including Caitlin Stasey. I even did a modern rewrite and sold out a season in Melbourne in 2015 at the Butterfly Club.
This show will always hold a special place in my heart. If you saw it, what was your favourite part?