MICF – Mike McLeish Adult Beginner

by | Apr 14, 2024

By Nick Pilgrim

Familiar to audiences on both the stage and screen, Mike McLeish is a man of many talents. His diverse list of performing credits includes:

  • Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,
  • Bed of Roses,
  • David Bowie’s Lazarus,
  • Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical,
  • Keating! The Musical,
  • The Librarians,
  • Lowdown,
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,
  • Offspring,
  • Shane Warne – The Musical,
  • Spontaneous Broadway, 
  • Utopia, and
  • Wentworth

McLeish is also an accomplished writer, having co-created a pair of novels, The Pick-Up and The Drop-Off with his wife and collaborative partner, Fiona Harris. (It should be noted these books were based on an earlier webisode series, also called The Drop-Off. Winning a slew of international awards, that presentation was eventually broadcast as a telemovie on Channel Nine.)

Exciting news to fans and friends of the first two publications, a third novel is also in the works.

Playing for the full duration of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until Sunday April 21, Adult Beginner is a revelation. Both a showcase of McLeish’s cheeky, natural stage presence and his expert ability to hold court telling tales, this show will speak to anyone who has regretted giving up something they love. Meaning, did I quit too soon before reaching my full potential?

For sixty jam-packed minutes, McLeish details the Gen X experience in spades. This anecdotal lucky dip covers both relatable and quirky territory such as:

  • The chaotic, winding nature of job goals and aspirations,
  • The differences between amateur, independent, and professional theatre gigs,
  • How to spot beginner, intermediate, and expert adults (and who to avoid!),
  • Definitions of self-medication and how to spot them,
  • Why the euphonium isn’t a cool instrument of choice,
  • Reconnecting with people you knew as a teenager,
  • Quitting ‘quitting’, quitting ‘regretting’, and quitting ‘regretting quitting’, and
  • Finding closure and renewal (which without giving too much away, McLeish proudly demonstrates at the completion of his show).

Beyond using career experience and personal stories as leverage, McLeish has a serious set of pipes.

Sprinkled throughout the hour-long set, viewers are also graced with three original songs. Using the guitar (amongst other instruments) as accompaniment, each tune has that spontaneous joy ideal for festival audiences. (Think the likes of Gillian Cosgriff’s Actually Good, playing until April 21 at the Melbourne Town Hall. Cosgriff, it should be noted, directed this piece as well.)

Feeling at times like a form of therapy up close and personal, Adult Beginner is ultimately about the joy of rediscovering yourself before middle age. The perfect addition to any comedy or cabaret festival calendar, the gentle art of growing up has never felt more poignant or sweet.

Don’t miss out!


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