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Songs for Sarah Connor - A Love Story, Terminated

Home > Brisbane > Musicals | Music | Comedy | Cabaret | Theatre
by Kitty Goodall (subscribe)
I love the arts and creativity. My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for film, theatre, comedy and improv shows. Now I'm a professional creative content producer, mostly on digital platforms.
A Love Story Terminated
alastair, tomkins, songs, sarah, connor, terminator, cabaret, musical, qpac, brisbane
Alastair Tomkins as the all singing T-800

Sometimes a show comes along, and it's such a brilliant idea, you can almost see its future. If there is any justice in the world, some clever producer is going to throw a bunch of money at Alastair Tomkins, creator of Songs for Sarah Connor - A Love Story, Terminated when they see the show at QPAC's Cremorne on the 18th of June. Then it can go from a stripped back performance by a pianist (musical director Tnee Dyer) and two triple threats (Tomkins as the Terminator T-800 and Ruby Clark as Sarah Connor) to a full blown Broadway musical with all the trimmings.

Songs for Sarah Connor - A Love Story, Terminated, as you may have guessed, is a cabaret style, musical retelling of the story of Terminator. The idea is so brilliant, it makes me wonder why it's not already been done, especially in the current climate of reimagining everything as a big budget stage musical: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and The Lion King to name a few.

I was fortunate enough to catch an eight minute preview of Songs for Sarah Connor - A Love Story, Terminated at The International Cabaret Contest in January, where show writer and lead of the small ensemble, Alastair Tomkins had me crying with laughter at his mix of patter and songs from the T-800. The show parodies the films, with lyrics set to famous tunes from artists like Radiohead, the Gershwin brothers and Patsy Cline.

"Initially the idea of a T-800 singing and revealing his inner monologue and feelings was completely oxymoronic," Alastair says, "The show fragments developed as a series of short sketches. They were humorous but essentially a light-hearted disjointed riff on the subject matter."

The spark of the idea for the show occurred in 2001 when Alastair was in Japan portraying Charlie Chaplin for Universal Studios, working with other actors playing characters and action heroes as part of the theme park shows.

"From 2001 to 2003 I had this great job in Japan," says Alastair, "My best mate was a Terminator. We all lived in this special apartment block they'd built for all the westerners. We'd go out at night and we'd get into an elevator with three other Terminators."

While Alastair had always been a fan of the Terminator movies, it was these formative years that found him first riffing on the idea of Songs for Sarah Connor. As many people do, Alastair had a lot of fun parodying Arnie's accent and imagining the Terminator in different scenarios.

"You take a character out of their usual setting and you riff on that idea," he says of how the early concepts formed.

When Alastair came back to Australia he began working with musical and cabaret groups, and teaching musical theatre. That's when he began to further develop his riffs on Terminator, wondering, "What would he sing about?" "What's his inner monologue?" "What is his back story?"

songs, sarah, connor, love, story, terminated, cabaret, brisbane, festival, qpac, alastair, tomkins
The Explosive Poster for Songs for Sarah Connor - A Love Story, Terminated

"The ideas just started flowing from there," says Alastair, who adds that the cyborg really does go through an emotional journey throughout the show.

A cyborg having an emotional journey may be the most surprising thing about this show. You'll empathise with his plight and care in the moments of pathos, but you will still wind up laughing your head off at the clever libretto.

"T-800 is clearly a villain in the first movie but later transitions to a heroic role, complete with the ultimate heroic sacrifice of his own existence in order to protect his "family"," Alastair reveals, "It was also clearly established that the T-800 became more "human" as the movies developed; this was evident not only in his expanded vocabulary, interaction with other characters but also his understanding of the human condition."

But those who think the story, based mostly on Terminator one and two, might lack depth will find there's more to the action packed narrative than they expect.

"In the second movie they stop for petrol and there's a cutaway shot of two little boys running around with plastic guns and sticks and trying to hurt each other," says Alastair, "Johns sees it and looks at the Terminator and the Terminator sees it as well, and John says, "We're not going to make it are we?""

"That's a very profound thing to say," Alastair explains, "and a very accurate one sentence description of the human condition. Since day dot we've been killing each other and it's still happening."

So you're not just going to get chuckles and ear worms from this show. Songs for Sarah Connor will have depth and social commentary too. Most importantly, it promises to be unlike any cabaret you may have seen before. The lyrics are ridiculously clever and funny, the narrative is familiar yet still manages to surprise, and the song styles are eclectic and therefore more inclusive for audiences with varying music tastes.

Musicals and cabaret shows have to be pretty amazing for me to enjoy them, so you know it must be a mighty good cabaret show if I recommend it. In the case of Songs for Sarah Connor, I don't just recommend it, I think you'd be mad to miss it.

This show contains adult themes and is recommended for mature audiences. It's presented by QPAC in association with QLD Cabaret Festival.
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Why? See This Show if You Want to Live
When: Thursday 18th of June at 7.30pm
Phone: 136 246
Where: Cremorne Theatre QPAC
Cost: $35 - $29; a $6.20 fee applies per transaction
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