A Singular Impresario

An impresario is the one who makes something happen.


Adam Goodburn is an impresario in the best sense. He created Singular Productions in 2007 with the intent to present music theatre works that would not otherwise be seen in South Australia.


Collaborating with three other colleagues, Adam and Deb’s first production was the American musical revue “I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change” which found success in seasons at home and on a tour of the state.


Adam took the title of that show to heart and decided to take on an even more ambitious challenge with the company’s second outing. While touring regionally he’d seen a number of posters for an Australian sketch comedy piece that had played those same theatres years earlier. Reflecting on the format of “I Love You” which had interspersed sketches with songs, Adam wondered if he could add songs to the script of this uniquely Australian take on fatherhood called “It’s a Dad Thing.”


As the impresario, Adam made this old show into a new show. He gathered a team of people to make it happen and by virtue of his inspiration, leadership and patience the show premiered with new scenes and songs in 2010. “It’s a Dad Thing” provided an opportunity for its creators, performers and producers to be part of creating new work that showcased their talents and offered a chance to tell their own stories.


Producing music theatre is not a simple endeavour. There are a multitude of elements that need to come together to make it happen and it comes with the inherent financial risk of creating something new.


I often quote Amy Whitaker’s definition:

Art is a process of creating something new in the world, that changes the world to allow itself to exist.


I think the best art offers you a chance to see something of yourself in its reflection. The work Singular presents gives both its creatives and audience wonderful opportunities to do that.


“It’s a Dad Thing” is a musical created by a team of blokes considering what it’s like to be a father in contemporary Australia.


Singular’s next piece, “Different Fields,” was the very rare intersection of opera and Aussie Rules Football. The work Adam has shepherded has not only created original content, but established original genres.


The company revisited its original mandate with the song cycle “Elegies”, presenting a beautifully moving work that would probably never have been produced in Adelaide by a commercially focused company.


I’m not sure where the name Singular came from. In my mind it’s from the eponymous song from “A Chorus Line” – one, singular sensation. The name always felt a little ironic to me, for a company that has always been so wonderfully collaborative. I must not minimise the influence of co-founder Deb Caddy. Although it would mostly be Adam on the phone, excitedly telling me what was happening next and threatening to tear his hair out about deadlines I’d missed, I know that as his longtime creative partner Deb has been instrumental on and off stage in making Singular the treasure it is.


Making new out of something old is a Singular talent and “What Is This Thing Called Love” was a new show featuring the old songs of Cole Porter. Deb and Adam devised a script that examined and paid homage to Cole’s relationship with his wife Linda. Their onstage story drew an interesting parallel with their offstage collaboration. Both Deb and Adam have had great professional success working independently before and during the ten years they have led this company, but to an outsider it seems they are constantly drawn back to this work together. as though their Singular projects together fulfil a creative need or potential that doesn’t get satisfied in the same way through the work they do independently.


The company’s next project, “Innocence” was a culmination of everything Adam had learned and achieved to date. Adapting the Stephen Orr book “Time’s Long Ruin” which reflected a particular time  and event in South Australian history, Adam took on the role of librettist and together with composer Anna Cawrse created a wholly original opera piece. The work represented the company’s most challenging project to date in terms of the scope of the writing and the size of the show. As it was in the beginning, Adam used his blend of charm, chutzpah and Singular vision to bring together a crack team to create something where there once was nothing.


With another piece “The One He Loved” in the wings, Singular Productions has a lot to look forward to, but the company is taking a moment to look back at their first ten years of accomplishments. Adam and Deb are presenting a retrospective concert on Dec 1 at The Opera Studio in Adelaide. It should be a wonderful celebration of the incredible contribution that Adam, Deb and the many collaborators they have led have made to arts of South Australia.

photo: Harmony Nicholas

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