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December 2022 – John McRae Photography & Studio

Moulin Scrooge – from back-stage to front of house

On Friday night (December 9), I had the extreme pleasure of being entertained by Trevor Ashley’s production of Moulin Scrooge at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. Only a week prior, I was backstage photographing the performers during their preparations for the dress rehearsal of this new adult panto, which I also recorded.

Carlotta and Trevor Ashley on stage during the dress rehearsal for Moulin Scrooge

When it’s possible, I like to capture informal shots in the dressing room, with the actors applying their makeup, prior to the main shoot. This helps to establish a good working atmosphere. Trevor said to me: “Come a bit earlier, if you like, because I know how you love to get a few shots backstage”. And it’s true, I do find these behind-the-scenes photographs and outtakes fascinating.

Now a week later, as an audience member, I thoroughly enjoyed the production, cleverly written by Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott. And performed beautifully by Trevor, his “high-kicking” supporting trio of Jakob Ambrose, Jarrod Moore and Stephen Madsen, and of course his magnificent co-star Carlotta (“the Queen of the Cross”). I also have to mention the fabulous costumes by Angela White.

Carlotta applies her lipstick in preparation for her role as Astrid Zeneca in Moulin Scrooge

Carlotta’s show-stopping performance of the Sondheim classic “I’m Still Here” (with a poignant libretto rewritten by Ashley and Scott), tracked her journey from a vilified Balmain schoolboy to national icon. Her rendition moved the audience to their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation. It is a testament to why Carlotta is considered one of Australia’s ground-breaking treasures and why Ashley so generously provided a new platform for one of his all-time “drag mothers”. Nearing her 80th birthday, Carlotta especially came out of retirement to perform as the club-owner of Moulin Scrooge.

The season for Moulin Scrooge has been extended so get in fast to buy tickets here:

An article with one of my photos, from the Sydney Morning Herald, December 10-11, 2022

“So French So Chic” autumn catalogue shoot

A stately Vaucluse residence set the scene for my latest fashion shoot for the label So French So Chic. My trusted team of Valeria Sizova (model), Kevin Vella (MUA & stylist), Valerie Tsoukaris (client & creator), Caro Davis (styling) and Nick Jones (photographic assistant), worked together to create our vision of the upcoming autumn range.

It was a fine Sydney day, so it was wonderful to be working outside on the verandah of the house, and taking photographs down into the landscaped gardens. We all worked hard and the crew produced a strong series of images … see our contented faces in the group shot at the end.

Now that the autumn fashion range has been photographed, we are working on a selection of images for inclusion in the new published catalogue. For a look at the entire So French So Chic collection, follow this link: So French So Chic

John, Carolyn, Valerie, Valeria, Kevin, in a photograph taken by my assistant Nick Jones

Sydney tower named the world’s best building

Upcycling an existing 1970s office block paid off for the architects behind Sydney’s new Quay Quarter Towers, which won the World Building of the Year in late November 2022, the second major international award in less than a month. I photographed the project management team and the final stages of construction for Multiplex back in March 2021, when it was clear that the redesign would have a huge impact on the city skyline.

My photograph taken during the final building stages in early 2021, of the award-winning Quay Quarter Towers in Sydney

Designed by Danish architects 3XN with BVN architects in Sydney, Quay Quarter Towers was announced as the world building of the year at the annual world architecture festival in Lisbon, which attracted nearly 800 entries across a range of categories. The shortlist of 252 completed buildings included diverse projects, ranging from homes to museums around the world. The 206-metre-high building at 50 Bridge Street in Sydney’s CBD, which was developed by AMP Capital, also won the award for the world’s best new skyscraper. 

The construction of Quay Quarter Towers retained two-thirds of the beams, columns and floor slabs and 95 per cent of the original core built for the AMP Society in the 1970s.  Adapting the earlier skyscraper was a smart financial decision because repurposing a building rather than demolishing it to rebuild meant a faster return to market. It was also smarter for the planet because it saved more than 7 million kilograms of carbon. That’s equal to 35,000 flights from Sydney to Melbourne.

“Moulin Scrooge” slays it at the Seymour Centre

“Moulin Scrooge” has opened at the Seymour Centre in Sydney to wild laughter and much merriment, both on-stage and off. I have had the pleasure of photographing the various stages of the production, including the poster and the dress rehearsal, which gave me a sneak preview of Trevor Ashley’s latest parody. This pre-Christmas spectacle features the iconic Carlotta, known as The Queen of Kings Cross, who shares the stage with Trevor, Jakob Ambrose, Stephen Madsen and Jarrod Moore. The mood is fiery and fierce. 

Playing the role of club-owner Astrid Zeneca, Carlotta is a force to be reckoned with. As Australian entertainment royalty, Carlotta is an original cast member of the long-running Sydney-based male revue Les Girls cabaret show, which established an international following starting in 1962. Although best known as a cabaret performer, Carlotta appeared in the television series “Number 96” in 1974 as Miss Robyn Ross, in a storyline where she reveals that she is transgender. Her ground-breaking appearance in the show is the first time a transgender actress played a transgender TV character anywhere in the world. We need to applaud our true legends.

Carlotta takes the stage

Meanwhile Trevor Ashley is known for his irreverent revues which include the likes of “The Bodybag”, “Little Orphan Trashley”, “Fat Swan” and “The Lyin’ Queen”, some of his long line-up of stage hits. Now, together with Phil Scott,  Ashley has written a madcap adults-only panto as a satirical twist on a beloved Dickensian tale. 

Here are a few images from the fast-paced show, with choreography by Rhys Bobridge, costumes by Angie White and lighting design by Sam Wylie. Book a ticket and treat yourself to a hilarious evening of stirring musical extravaganzas, purposely bad jokes, salacious dance numbers and lots, lots more.

“Moulin Scrooge” is now playing at the Seymour Centre, Sydney from 1 December – 15 December, 2022 Book here: