Lane Hinchcliffe (Dr Lane to his patients) is an Adelaide-based GP and musician. His new cabaret show, Prepping for Theatre, tells the story of his life as a performer and medical professional. He compares stage with surgery – he’s equally at home in both, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Bursting into “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, Dr Lane begins by taking us on an introductory tour of musical theatre from its earliest origins to the present day. It’s a great device for setting the scene. The doctor can sing, and it quickly becomes obvious that we’re in for an entertaining blend of candid personal revelation and humour.

Through excerpts of songs from ShowboatPhantom of the OperaHairRentChessMiss Saigon and more, Dr Lane exposes the influences of his formative years, lyric by well-chosen lyric, each selection connecting to key life milestones and “the person behind the character”.

As a teen, Lane blamed himself for not fitting in. He knew he was different but, after absorbing pervasive homophobic messages at the height of the AIDS epidemic, was unable to acknowledge his sexuality. He abandoned his devotion to musicals and turned down a chance to take part in the school production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

A turning point came when he was forced to join the school choir, and the arrival of a new teacher and the enrolment of girls at his previously all-male school brought him new perspectives and some peace from the bullying he’d been experiencing. A move to medical school in Adelaide eventually helped heal childhood traumas and the repression of his true identity.

Prepping for Theatre, one of a suite of Black Box Live productions showing during this year’s Adelaide Fringe, was directed by cabaret artist Amelia Ryan and recorded in front of a live audience. Multiple high-definition cameras were used along with traditional theatrical technology to capture the performance and create a “digital destination” accessible to theatre-goers in any location. The staging is simple (one man and a chair), but close-ups and audible audience responses work quite well to ensure the show connects with home viewers.

There is an honest rawness to what Hinchcliffe discloses. He’s candid in his sharing of his personal struggles and his early fears (ultimately unfounded) of other people’s opinions. He doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of dealing with his demons but rejoices in revealing that the future did indeed live up to his expectations and dreams. Medicine, music and a loving, fulfilling home life – he didn’t need to make a choice after all. Ultimately, life can change for the better and we can write our own script for happiness.

All ticket sale proceeds will contribute to Community GP, Hinchcliffe’s own not-for-profit organisation, to fund the development of an online program supporting youth mental health.

Prepping for Theatre is showing online via On Demand at Black Box Live throughout the Fringe.

Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.