Interview with David Megarrity: Tyrone and Lesley’s Bear with Me

David Megarrity performs as Tyrone in Bear with Me. Image supplied by David Megarrity.

David Megarrity is an award-winning playwright, performer, and one half of ukulele and double bass duo Tyrone & Lesley. With collaborator Samuel Vincent, David will perform a 10th anniversary season of Tyrone and Lesley’s show Bear With Me at Metro Arts this December – a playful music and theatre show specifically made for children and their bears.

How does Bear with Me differ from Tyrone and Lesley’s other shows?

Well, the audience is more active, and it involves more bears! The fact that it’s a children’s show isn’t as much a differentiation from what we usually do as you might think. We actually started out as a duo with a children’s show called Ukulele Mekulele which played at QPAC and the Sydney Opera House before we diversified into making music and shows for adults. What it does have in common with what we usually do is that it’s a performance led by great original songs that mixes theatre and screen.

What can audiences (adults and kids) expect from the show?

The show is a music-led celebration of bears and the role they play for children 3-6 and their families. In a way it’s a cabaret for bears, so you’ll need to bring one along. It doesn’t have to be a bear – that’s more a catch-all phrase for soft toys that are special to us – we’ve had everything from unicorns to octopi attend! Grownups also tend to bring bears, so we’ve seen some quite elderly Teds come to the show, who’ve had a ball. The show’s led by a sense of play, but there’s just as much chance to sit back and let it wash over you – there’s choice. Plus, there’s ukulele and U-bass, which is like a miniature bass guitar. And we dance.

David Megarrity performs as Tyrone in Bear with Me. Image supplied by David Megarrity.

How has the show evolved and changed in the ten years since you started performing it?

When we fully grasped the power of the audience as co-creators of the show, we re-wrote it a little to open it up further and it’s that version of the show that’s since toured to Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. Since 2012 Tyrone and Lesley have written and released seven albums of original songs, and played all sorts of gigs and festivals, so our bond as songwriter/performers is even tighter. I can hear the playing of ’10-years-ago-me’ on the backing tracks we play along to, and I reckon just quietly I’ve become a better ukulele player along the road.

What is your favourite part of the show?

Every show’s different because it’s very playful and participatory – I’m constantly surprised at how keen audiences are to sing along – but a highlight for me is when we go through a lullaby sequence. We quietly play the title tune of the show, the lights soften, and our ‘Bear Experts’ – because that’s what the children are in our show – look after their bears and put them to bed. The tenderness and delicacy with which they look after these special toys suggests they’ve learned well about how to look after others, probably from the families that brought them along. At this moment, Samuel Vincent (a.k.a. Lesley) and I hold our ukes, holding the song, holding the audience, who often hold their children, who hold their bears, who hold us, in their way, holding a moment before moving on. I’ve used the word hold a lot there, haven’t I? But it’s really what the show’s about, how Teddy Bears (and their cousins) kind of symbolise the holding environment that our youngest citizens need to thrive. 

David Megarrity performs as Tyrone in Bear with Me. Image supplied by David Megarrity.

Could you tell us about the charity Mummy’s Wish, and how the show is partnering with them?

Sure. Mummy’s Wish is a charity focused on providing practical support for mums diagnosed with cancer who have children under 13. It does all sorts of great things to help these families – kids and grownups – be together and get well during tricky times. Treatment may sometimes involve separation between mums and their children, and that’s where the bears come in. I might leave your readers to found out how, but our opening night (which is more of a late afternoon, given our audience) is a special fundraising event where we’re just doing a few simple things to raise awareness of what Mummy’s Wish is all about and gather support for what they do.

Read more about Mummy’s Wish here, including their Bear Appeal.

Anything else to add?

If you can bearly make the show, the soundtrack is available online on Spotify or Bandcamp

Bear with Me will play at Metro Arts from 7 – 10 December 2022

For ticketing and further information, visit the Metro Arts website here

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