Thoughts… ravings… and more…

Mergers, Acquisitions and Changes… oh my

This morning I work up to the exciting news that the team at are joining the Atlassian family.

Most of the world will be ignorant of – but this is exactly how it should be. is an online service status dashboard. It’s externally hosted, which means that it shouldn’t be affected if you have an outage that affects your infrastructure. This means that you can communicate and connect with your customers – even when something is going wrong.

We’ve been using StatusPage at Real World for about 2 years. It’s transformed the way we handle service information and has made it easy to communicate and disseminate information – even when something is going wrong.

I’m a massive advocate of StatusPage internally, and also to our customers. We work with a number of ISPs who buy services from us, and upstream providers who often still lack this relatively basic, but essential piece of communications infrastructure. I’m always raving about how StatusPage makes it easy

So what’s the big deal?

The challenge for every startup is how they engage with their target market. They need to acquire customers, get access to infrastructure and be able to integrate their technology with other systems and platforms to deliver a customer experience that works. has grown tremendously over the last few years; from a niche service tool to something that i now quite mainstream.

Merging with Atlassian gives them access to a wider customer base, infrastructure and scale teams and should help their platform grow. It mobilises sales and marketing teams to help them expand.

But what could go wrong?

About 3 years ago, another of my favourite tools, HipChat was acquired by Atlassian. They had a massive cult following as an amazing enterprise collaboration tool. We love it and it has transformed the way our business communicate. But Hipchat’s development has languished. They haven’t innovated at the same rate as their competition. They’ve also had a litany of infrastructure and performance issues.

So what happened? Well, from the outside it looks like HipChat grew exponentially. They started to try to do more. They grew and they lost their core focus – innovative enterprise collaboration and integration. Other tools like Slack have come into the market, and have begun to steal market share. Hipchat’s competitors have managed the conversation landscape.

Will the same happen with StatusPage? I hope not. Time will tell!


And the world keeps spinning

We’re home. We now know that there is nothing critical wrong. Is that even the right set of words? There was something critical wrong. Our baby stopped breathing. But it’s nothing major. Is that even right? Her face was blue. There is no significant medical reason why this might have happened, and she is developmentally a well baby.

We are happy. How could we not be happy? A simple diagnosis, and a likelihood that it won’t be an issue again.

And the world keeps spinning.

Oh – you’re baby has been in hospital? Is everything ok? Oh, it’s just reflux? We’ve been there. Probably nothing really. But it was a big deal. SHE STOPPED BREATHING. HER FACE WAS BLUE. But she is OK now, and we know what to do. We’ve had CPR training. 5 rescue breaths, 30 compressions, 2 breaths, 30 compressions, 2 breaths. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

And the world keeps spinning.

At least you’re self employed. At least you can take time off work. You’ve got staff; they’ll look after things while you are gone. But how long will the emails wait? How many decisions will be made or not made? Which contracts will be won, lost or passed over?

And the world keeps spinning.

So many people have gone through worse. Families have lost children both within and outside of the womb. Good friends have had their children in special care for weeks on end. Their loss and grief must be so much greater. Families have struggled with pain over ongoing sickness and health. Our 3 days is nothing in comparison. Or so I tell myself.

And the world keeps spinning.

My wife and I joke about the fact that we’ll take turns in staying up to watch her. We laugh about how we’re not sure we’re going to sleep for the next few weeks. But we aren’t laughing on the inside. The fear of it happening again, however unlikely, however not life threatening, continues to loom over us.

And the world keeps spinning.

We are lovingly told that it will be hard. We are told that we must be racked with worry. Or filled with relief. The discharge nurse said we must be happy. But the feelings are so much more than that. So much more deeply complicated and full.

And the world keeps spinning.

But my world isn’t spinning.

It’s stopped today.

Right now I’ve got grief, sorrow and pain. And relief and joy. But sadness and pain. I know that this too shall pass. I know that sorrow and grief are temporary. I know that my hope is not found in this life, but in the next. But right now it just hurts.

Is the Turnbull NBN A National Disaster?

There are so many things to care about in the upcoming election. Issues of significant moral conscience, national stability, and economic futures. Issues that are set to shape the future of Australia and that need to be seriously considered and managed.

But one issue that keeps popping back up for discussion is the National Broadband Network. In particular, many people (me included) are criticising the current federal governments MTM (Multi-Technology Mix) approach. This is an area which I think I actually can speak with some authority. In a professional context I am a customer of an NBN aggregator, and also run a Carrier business that competes in the NBN rollout space. I’ve worked in the telecommunications industry for 16 years, and telecommunications is a significant part of what Real World does.

But to do this I need to lay out some information that is important to understand in the context of the discussion.

The NBN was already broken

(because it’s too expensive to get access to and deliver services over)

The NBN was designed to create infrastructure that would benefit the whole of Australia, to foster growth, economic stability and a technological future. It relied on cost modelling that subsidises regional Australia with comparatively high connectivity costs by building lower cost services in metropolitan areas. The project was always going to be difficult to be cost neutral – but it was infrastructure which was to have a 20 – 30 year life, and so many argued that the investment was worth it for the future.

Like any product that is sold, it needs to have a cost model and fee structure. When you work out the price of an NBN retail service (i.e. what you buy) there are three principal components to the cost.

  1. The NBN Access Charge. This is the cost for an NBN “port” in your house, and the path between your house and the NBN Point of Interconnect.
  2. The NBN CVC (Connectivity Virtual Circuit) charge. This is the cost for your ISP to buy access to a “port” in a Point of Interconnect and is purchased in “Megabits per second.”
  3. The “Backhaul” charge. This is the cost of your ISP taking the service from the Point of Interconnect back to their network.

So how much does that actually cost, and what’s the issue?

  1. NBN Access Charges vary, but a 25/5Mbps costs $27.50 per month.
  2. NBN CVC Costs $17.50 per Megabit per second. So, for a provider to provide 25 Megabits per Second of speed, they need to buy $437.50 worth of access. This access can be shared between multiple customers, but this creates “contention” – just like when you have two people having a shower at home using the same hot water system. Most networks contend their access at 50:1 – so for every 1 Mbps they buy, they have 50 customers trying to use the same space.
  3. Backhaul charges vary depending on the location of the POI, but range from 30c per Megabit per second up to $8 per Megabit per second.

Now these numbers don’t look like they are “too” big a problem until you start to work it out. Telco’s used to buy ADSL access from Telstra per State or Territory around Australia at $35 per Megabit per second (the price is cheaper now). There is now 121 places that ISPs can buy NBN services from. ADSL services on average run at about 1.3Megabits per second.* Because NBN services are faster, the average usage jumps on them from 1.3Megabits per second to 6 Megabits per second. This means that the average cost is 3 times that of an ADSL service – but the retail price has stayed the same. In addition, there is extra costs associated with delivering the services as there is more places to interconnect, with significantly more variation in backhaul costs.

Fundamentally, this makes the NBN “unaffordable” to sell, without offsetting your internet service revenue against higher cost “business” services or subsidising NBN with other technologies such as Voice over IP, Video on Demand or Mobile.

Take home message: The CVC cost and number of POIs are too high and too many to make the network affordable to use.

Copper isn’t a big deal today

Memes like this annoy me a bit.

Copper NBN is not “slow”. It’s not as “fast” as Fibre, but it is still fast. The technology (Fibre to the Node) is good science and has a definite place in telecommunications. But that’s not the problem with it. Most individuals and businesses don’t need the speed that Fibre offers today. In most cases, 25Megabits per second (a reasonable average VDSL speed) is perfectly reasonable. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule. The problem is not that VDSL is bad today – the problem is that VDSL is not a long term solution.

Why? Because the copper network is not that great. Copper is a metal, and it corrodes and degrades. It has a limited shelf-life (20 – 30 years from what I’m told). Physics shows us a lot about how electrical pulses can be sent over copper, how they interfere with each other and at what rate the degrade. And in many parts of our country we are already seeing the effects of the age of the network and degradation. In addition, copper services can’t be shared – so one “pair” of copper cables equals one service.

In comparison, fibre is glass or plastic. It has a shelf-life of 60 – 80 years. Light travels along it just below the speed of light. The major issues with fibre are that it gets cut or dirt gets into the connectors, which can be cleaned with an air gun. Fibre services can be shared as multiple colours of light can be sent down the same strand of fibre allowing you to run multiple seperate services on one piece of glass. The downside is that you have to run new fibre cable to each premises you want to service.

Is copper cheaper? Well, yes it is. Because we already have a lot of it in the ground, and so we can install a “node” and connect the copper that is already there to the node. But at some point, the cost of installing, running and maintaining nodes, upgrading or repairing the copper outweighs the cost of installing fibre. And we are still needing to run fibre to each node; so there is still a lot of cost involved in getting the fibre there.

Take home message: FTTN (or the Copper NBN) is not a “slow” solution today. But it is going to cost a lot to keep running and won’t scale into the future.

The cost justification is wrong

The Senate Estimates Committee has made it very clear that infrastructure spending for the NBN is a 4 year election-based decision. Unfortunately, any telecommunications network is a 10 year investment at minimum. When you make decisions about spending on an election 4 year cycle, it makes sense to choose the option that will best benefit your bottom line over a 4 year period. But the down side is that you push the cost of running and maintaining that network 4 years down the track – and ultimately onto our children, or children’s children.

For something that is of such national importance, it makes sense to consider the long-term economic costings, which are heavily geared towards Fibre being cheaper in the long term because the density and maintenance costs are lower.

Most of the numbers being released by politicians suggest that the MTM NBN may save us much as $30 billion, although this number changes regularly because no one really knows how much either network will actually cost to build. The industry estimates seem to suggest the numbers are closer to $10 – 15 billion – which is about 20% of  the overall cost of the project. [Note: this paragraph previously stated grossly inaccurate cost savings.]

Comparatively, Telstra’s agreement to maintain the copper network  it sold to NBN is worth about $80 million per year; on top of it’s Fibre maintenance costs. (This cost also includes new connections, so arguably the maintenance costs are only a portion of this final figure).

My concern is not about the incidental cost now – my concern is how much are we going to have to pay to keep the network running 5, 10 or 15 years from now. Are our Children going to be having this conversation all over again, being forced to spend the same money all over again to keep the telecommunications infrastructure up and running in this country to deliver the services they need.

It just doesn’t make sense to save a few dollars now for the sake of a much larger cost later.

Take home message: We are wasting money by spending so much on a Copper NBN when we are going to have to maintain and replace it in the future. We should just do it right once, knowing the decision we’ve made will last another 60 – 80 years.

Will the NBN influence my vote on Saturday?

Probably not. I’d like it to, but there are so many other things that are big issues for our nation such as:

  • the treatment of Asylum Seekers
  • the need for greater Domestic Violence Prevention
  • the state, health and protection of our Environment
  • the role of Gender Identity in our education system
  • the definition of marriage
  • the funding of Tertiary education
  • the state of our Nation’s economy
  • the impact of Brexit on Australia
  • the need to protect free speech across our country
  • the global impact of terrorism
  • the need to foster innovation and development to grow our economy
  • the need to foster and grow small business
  • the continued provision of quality health care

… and so many more big issues that weigh on my mind. But let’s at least go into this with our eyes open, understanding the issues and be prepared to meaningfully discuss what is going on.

The NBN may in fact be the burning issue that gets your vote – but just remember that it is one of many big things that are impacting our nation at the moment.

* This isn’t your peak speed, but when you plan your network, you can guess that your customers will use about that much bandwidth and build your network from there.

For some further reading around the cost model this article is helpful on cost modelling. This presentation from AusNOG last year also has some good analysis of the speeds required for NBN services and the impact on CVC.

Thanks to Karl Auer for helpful criticism and comment which has resulted in a few modifications and clarifications to this post. Karl has also pointed out that a number of the elections issues I’ve identified are helped by an excellent, fast, national broadband network, that is ideally delivered over Fibre. I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. Thanks!



Just over a week ago, we welcomed our third adorable child into the world. She is gorgeous, and I’m overcome with love for her.

Birth isn’t just about her. There is so much truth to this beautiful comic. I thought I needed to share it. I’ve been sitting on it for a few weeks, because I’ve seen my amazing wife in action before, and knew it would be true. It was. She is amazing.



We’re so thankful for the many friends and family who have supported us over the last few days. You’ve loved, cared, cleaned, cooked, and simply shared our joy. And we are so grateful for your generosity and genuine love for us.

Last night we took our baby up to the hospital again. She is still well (and in fact, was by the time we arrived at hospital).

I’m so thankful that the numbers on this medical device are what they are. I’m also thankful for the wonderful healthcare system we have in this country. We are so blessed to live in Australia.


I’m reminded of how fragile life is.

I don’t think I’ve let myself adequately process the grief associated with this event yet. We’re not unfamiliar with hospital trips for very young children, but the anxiety, powerlessness and distress are gut wrenching.

Many parents have gone through worse.

We’ve gone through worse.

But that doesn’t make it hurt any less now.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from my enemies
and from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.

Psalm 31:14 – 16 (NIV)

I should be writing right now…

I should be writing right now. It’s ironic really.


I’ve worked out over the last few weeks that one of the largest parts of my job is actually being an author. I don’t write brilliant stories for consumption, or polemics espousing the merits of coffee over diet soft drinks, but I do write a lot. And what I write matters, and how I write it matters. I change people’s minds and opinions based on what I write. And my livelihood, and others actually depends on it.

This isn’t remarkable, but just something new and nice to understand.

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Now that that’s out of the way – this morning GMail experienced a “service interruption”. I use GMail for my email. But I couldn’t send email. I could occasionally receive email. I couldn’t search email. And I realised how much of my life depends on my email. I have information I need in there. I have ways to communicate with other people.

Not having my email was isolating. There were moments of panic and stress as I wanted to check or know something that I could not know. It was frightening. I resorted to other mediums for communication – our internal office chat system, iMessage, Facebook – but none were quite the same.

But it is back now. #firstworldproblems


Last week I came face to face with a dark side of the Internet. Some websites my company hosts were hacked through a software flaw. This kind of thing happens all the time in the online world, but I generally don’t have to deal with it.

The home pages of the websites were replaced by a page from an anti IS “ethical hacking” group. To be honest, I avoided the content. The imagery was horrific and disgusting.

My passive mind wonders if their message is true. If the hideous imagery is real, or just some artistic fakery? I ponder whether their message has any value given the method they chose to disseminate it.

And I worry. My mind, although content to idly contemplate such existential questions is detached. This is a mere mental exercise for me. My heart is unmoved.

When did I become like this? When did the cry for human life fall on deaf ears? When did my soul become untouched by the horror of humanity? When did my passion for those made in the divine image fade?

I have people I love. I have people I care for. What if it was them? What if it was my family?

And if my heart breaks, only to find that it was for political or personal gain, what then? Is my sorrow less valid? Is my hurt on behalf of those who are not hurt any more any less real?

Lord, break my heart for your creation. Help me understand. Change me.

Godspell Reflections

At the end of the day, another musical season draws to a close. I’m honoured and privileged to have been part of EUCMS production of Godspell as Musical Director. I had the privilege of saying thanks to many people last weekend who have been integral to that, but I wanted to extend my thanks into the virtual world and use a few more words to do it.

Firstly, I am thankful to my great God and Saviour, Jesus. To many of my Christian friends it might seem bizarre that in a production such as Godspell you can see anything but Jesus, but I can tell you first hand that watching our cast – both those who were familiar with the stories and those that weren’t – that understanding the stories that Jesus told, and acting them with meaning and emotion is no meagre task.

Many of the productions of Godspell I looked at in the lead up to doing this show left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was feeling a severe disconnect when I compared the picture of Jesus and his disciples with the biblical accounts to the interpretation of the music. In several of these productions, Jesus was a delusional character who was adorable in the way your misguided, naive friend might be. In some he was sarcastic and unbelievable. In others he was misunderstood like Brian, the mistaken saviour from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. To avoid this with the script and music, we were required to masterfully produce a work of drama and performance, and I am thrilled with the work we created.

Having the privilege of working with the cast and exploring the teachings of Jesus as contained in the gospel of Matthew and Luke each week was an absolute delight. Spiritually and personally I enjoyed getting reacquainted with parts of the bible that had become dull and routine to me . I have begun to see them with a fresh set of eyes. I enjoyed the challenge of synthesising my faith into my explanations of songs and deep doctrines that were expressed through the language and text of the songs and play. I benefited personally so much from this, and the constant exposure to the words of Jesus, and I honestly think it has enriched my faith and my love of him. If for nothing else, this makes Godspell worthwhile for me personally.

The creative team

I’ve learnt a lot about myself, my personality, and my skill. The production team and process for Godspell was very different to my last experience as Musical Director. Wendy and I shared a common creative vision, but initially we didn’t always share the same view or interpretation of scenes and key moments. Due to the quite different format of Godspell, in many cases I felt disconnected from the script (libretto) and not quite sure how the characters fit together. It was unclear to me who was playing what character and how the music served the narrative of the show.

I learnt, throughout the rehearsal season, to exercise humility on my own desires and expectations for the show, and to come to love and embrace Wendy’s vision for how the show would came together.

Those that know me well can understand how this is particularly challenging. This may come across as a negative comment – but in fact, it’s the opposite. Part of the role of a musical director within our society is to sit under the creative vision and direction of the Director. There are times when I definitely need to hold my own, or articulate my point of view clearly – but ultimately the music must serve the overall production, and not the other way around. To learn to be able to do this, even when it was challenging for me personally, is absolutely essential.


In case you were wondering, I love Wendy’s vision. She had a picture and a story for every moment of the show, and an amazing overview of how it all fit together. For a show like Godspell, this is amazing.

I’m particularly thankful to Wendy for her boundless patience with me through many arguments and indecisive moments. She continually demonstrated grace, humility and sensitivity towards me. Her naturally collaborative and creative approach to the show pulled together a brilliant production that the audiences loved and that will fuel many memories for them and our cast for many years to come.

Even though this is a challenging show, it was an absolute joy to collaborate with Clare and Wendy. They are so much fun to work with, and have such a rich vision of ideas and how things come together on stage. I learnt so much from them and really enjoyed being part of a team that was so passionate about pulling this show together.

If you didn’t know, Clare choreographed and staged almost all of the principal solo songs. I got to work really closely with her around how the music and dance would fit together. It was an absolute joy to throw ideas around. I’m so glad that she could tolerate my constant changing tempos, my re-interpretation of creative ideas, and even my occasional balter. The creative dance interpretation, even when I was thoroughly confused and thrown by how it would come together was just so good.

Clare’s enthusiasm was demonstrated through countless emails and Facebook messages, the occasional written note, and many quiet words around the edge of rehearsals. Her creativity was a constant inspiration for me and drove me to make sure that we could match her brilliant choreography musically and vocally.


In fact, I just need to dwell on this a bit longer. Our team was really a team of four. Even though this might be hard to see at times, Kath’s devotion behind the scenes was absolutely one of the key reasons I could enjoy the show, and why we got on stage so well prepared. But to say that Kath was just limited to “production logistics” would be an understatement. Kath contributed creatively and imaginatively, even from when we first sat down together to look at how this show worked as a single work.

Godspell is a hard show. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on first reading. You read the script and you are often confronted with phrases or sections that you simply sit there and say “WHAATTT???”. But from the very first time we sat down and team-read the show, I was hooked. The creative energy was amazing. The way that we could see the ideas and concepts we had been bouncing around for months coming together was just brilliant. The co-ordination that went into the use of the set, the props, and the milk crates(!) was just genius.


When there are so many moving elements, and so much energy being divested from the cast into the show, you can only pull it off with a strong direction and vision on all our fronts, and we really had that for this show.

The music team

Beyond the executive-production-team, I had an amazing musical team to work with. When I first decided I would love to be the MD for this show, I had in mind that I needed a competent assistant who I could work with to interpret the music of the show. I needed someone that possessed vocal skill, a passion for musical accuracy and that had a flare for dealing with the unpredictable.

Typically, when you rehearse a musical you have one or two cast members who are in almost every scene, but the majority of your principal and ensemble cast is split into at least two groups. This means that you can rehearse scenes concurrently. It also limits the stage time and helps to moderate the energy level of your principal cast. Godspell is not like this. Almost all of our principal cast was on-stage from the prologue right through to the end of the show. This means that there is a lot of music they need to learn. We also needed to teach our chorus and minor principals the music. For this show, it made the role of an assistant so much more necessary.


Steve was my first choice, and a choice I would make again in a heart beat. I had worked along side Steve when we did Narnia and he played the role of Mr Tumnus and also assisted me. But this show was a different beast.

The musical arrangement for this production of Godspell was hard. We were performing a modern rock-opera, in a way and a style that was very different to what many of our cast knew. It had a lot of a cappella which is a unique style of music. It had a lot of room for musical improvisation. The score features a lot of Jerry Lee Lewis rock piano, a bit of bosa-nova soul, mixed with a bit of swing, gospel, broadway, cabaret, and at least half a dozen more styles. It was going to be challenging. Aside from that, our 10 principals are on stage for pretty much all of the show.

Steve provided creative input, direction, teaching, patience and an extra pair of hands whenever I needed it. I’m so thankful for his assistance, patience and effort – particularly in directing the prologue. If you haven’t heard it before, the prologue is entirely a cappella. It changes rhythm, tempo, and key at least 5 times. It is really hard. Steve took the lead on this number and taught it to our minor principal cast. There were many times when we were worried we wouldn’t get it on stage – but his persistence, patience and dedication to making sure that it came together was unmatched. Even though I’m grateful for everything Steve did, I’m most grateful for his dedication to this very difficult number.

I was privileged to watch two shows during the performance season while Steve conducted. I’m thankful that I knew I could confidently hand the show to him and know that I could sit in the audience and enjoy the show. I’m looking forward to the day when I get to see you with your own show.

Shortly after Steve agreed to be my assistant, we were fortunate to have Jess agree to be our Vocal Coach. EUCMS doesn’t typically have someone in this role. But, as I’ve already mentioned, a show like this has a lot of singing – particularly for our principal cast. It’s in styles and voices that are foreign to many of our performers. We needed someone with the vocal skill, training and knowledge to help them perform at their best. Jess’ knowledge and expertise were absolutely essential. From vocal care through to performance training – so many of our cast benefited amazingly from everything she offered to our team.

For three of our principal cast, this was the first time they had a principal role. Jess’ training helped them calm their nerves, find their centre in their music, and learn it and perform with confidence. Jess helped them bring their character into their songs and develop the vocal timbre to match my vision for how each song would sound and fit in the production.

Often she would work one-on-one with our principals. As a result, I didn’t get to see how she did a lot of what she did, but I saw the results of it. I did also learn a lot about how the human voice works. I learnt more about how to shape it. I now know a lot more about how to care for it. There is such a wealth of knowledge contained in her head, and I’m so glad she chose to share it with us.


In the lead up to our rehearsal season we were struggling to find a rehearsal accompanist who would commit to the show season. Many of our usual accompanists were unavailable for various reasons during our rehearsal period or challenged by the style of the show. Sharon came to my rescue and whole-heartedly jumped into our rehearsal season supporting each of our rehearsals. I appreciated her creative input from the first time she, Steve, and I sat down to go through the score and how we would interpret the show musically.

Sharon had insight and clarity that was absolutely necessary to understanding the makeup of the show. Her dedication was unbelievable. Much of the score for this show was very challenging; and yet Sharon always gave 300% to each rehearsal. I know how much of her own time she gave to rehearsing and preparing for each week and our performances. She graciously dealt with changes and my random decisions to cut, repeat or reinterpret chunks of the music.

I’m also thankful for her brilliant performance on Keys 1 for our final weekend of shows. Making the jump from Keys 2 to Keys 1 is no easy task, and Sharon did it without fault. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for her support during this show.

When it came to arranging the show and pulling together our band I am indebted to Michael. If anyone has the opportunity to collaborate with him in the future – on anything – take it. Michael’s musical genius in interpreting the score, understanding the depth of the orchestration, and the musical base for the show was literally unmatched. I can’t say how privileged I felt to work with such amazing talent.

My joy is evident in so many moments. There was the time when I said something like, “Hey, I think we could use that riff from Downtown in this show” and he said something like “Oh… you mean like this.” There was the time we were looking for a drummer for one of the shows. We couldn’t find anyone, and as we were lamenting what to do, Michael said, “I could jump off Keys and play drums.” Michael prepared our rehearsal material for Alas For You (one of the more musically challenging numbers in the show) – developing five seperate versions  for comment and feedback. Only one to ever see the light of the day. This level of passion and dedication for this show has made it more than a joy to collaborate with him.

He also programmed the keyboards for the show and drove so much of our rehearsals with his helpful suggestions of “what if we play it like this”. In so many ways, this show would not have come together musically without his tireless input and patience with me. Even though Michael wasn’t able to play for our full performance season his imprint is left on the hearts and minds of everyone who worked with him in this season.

I need to particularly also thank Nick for becoming part of our Godspell family, rehearsing with our cast and being an excellent musical support at just the right time in our rehearsal period. His musicality, humility and humour were a delight to work with each week. Nick’s personal encouragement to me, both socially and spiritually, has been one of my personal highlights for this show.


Taso, thank you for performing with us and sinking your teeth into Godspell. I’m thrilled you said yes – and it’s been a joy from that first performance at the primary school through to the final weekend of shows it was an absolute joy to play with you. I have loved watching you develop musically through the show and getting to know more of you as a performer.

Gilbert, thank you for your agreement to perform at that first performance even though you couldn’t join us for the show weekends. I hope you are enjoying Japan and are being blessed by your time over there. I’m disappointed we couldn’t have you join us for this season of shows, but I look forward to having the opportunity to perform with you again in the future.

Matt, you are amazing.Whether you are reading notes on a page, or playing from ear – I actually don’t care. You held a steady constant groove that just supported our whole show. Your godly example of service was a joy to see – whether it be in bumping in our orchestra, making speakon cables without being asked or just supporting and encouraging everyone. You are a talented performer, and it has been a real joy to serve with you.

Daniel, Kay, David, Brendan and Brody – we didn’t play the whole season together, but it was a joy to perform with each of you. Your musicality brought unique dimensions to each show, and I feel privileged to have been able to conduct you. And when we got into that groove – it was sic!

Our sound production

I’ve received many comments that this was one of the best sounding EUCMS shows that people had been too.

Before I had asked Steve to assist me, I began talking to Laura about helping with Godspell. I needed someone I knew I could trust to produce a vocal and ensemble sound-mix that would do justice to the level of complexity the show had. Laura has a level of musicality and skill that I am continuously envious of. She is passionate, dedicated, and outstanding at what she does. When she joined us in our final rehearsals she quickly adapted to a very complicated show and mix (I think we ran around 46 channels, 8 effects buses and 9 mix groups), a substantially modified script, and took everything in her stride.

I can’t say enough how thankful I am of what she gives to each show I work with her on. Her passion for theatre, candid humour and honesty means that she is an absolute joy to work with. Each time she gives me exactly what I want, and more besides. I can’t wait until the next time we get to work together again. This show wouldn’t have been the same without her.


Beyond Laura’s work, a large part of our audio production was due to the high quality of equipment we were able to source, very much below market price from a number of very generous individuals and orgnaisations.

Our fantastic Front of House fly speakers, front fill, amps, antenna distribution system, and foldback system was provided by Tim Kuschel from GuzBox Design + Audio. Tim’s willingness to donate so much equipment for our show run from very early on was such a blessing. His knowledge when it comes to system design, wireless spectrum management and acoustic behaviour have been an amazing blessing to me and our show.

David Cox and James Kirsop supplied the amazing Yamaha QL5 for the show, IEM systems for our band and cast, our handheld audio units, and some of our headset microphones. James’ engineering support and preparation meant the show production could be seamless, and I’m grateful for their substantial generosity in terms of time and equipment.

As always, I’m grateful to the wonderful Neale and Carolyn at Entertainment Installations who provided our Shure wireless systems, hardware, DIs and more. Their generosity, enthusiasm, and support over so many years is something I value immensely. Honesty and integrity in the production industry is hard to find at the best of times, and these guys have it in droves.

I remain indebted to Declan Wood from High Voltage Productions for giving his time and energy to help with our Front of House speaker hang and rigging requirements. Your gracious enthusiasm is a pleasure to work with.


Our lighting director, Wayne, also provided much of the atmospheric effects for the show and recorded the opening Voice Over. His enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment extend beyond his ability to make our set and cast look brilliant. It is always a privilege to work with his experience and talent.

We are also indebted to Michael for loaning his keyboard and electric kit to our show, and even allowing one of our drummers to practice outside of our performances. Thank you again for your generosity.

The Cast

Each of my cast members deserves their own essay in praise of their work in preparing for the show. I doubt that I will be able to actually do this; but I know that each one of them gave so much of their time, and selves to preparing for this production.


To be honest, I was nervous about working with such a talented cast. Whilst I know that I am good at what I do, I knew that I was working with such an amazing pool of talent. Many of the cast have worked as musical directors or directors before. Many of the cast are accomplished musicians and performers in many spheres. This meant that it was intimidating to be faced with the challenge of directing them, but I’m thankful for the way that each of them worked with me and embraced my musical vision for the show.


My first congratulations must go to Sam. What an amazing job he did in the role of Jesus. His performance was filled with joy and affection. My personal highlight was the matinee performance I had the joy of watching from the audience. On stage right there was a group of about 10 children sitting in the front row. He conveyed love, passion, enthusiasm and energy at every moment. His performance exuded warmth and character that reflected the love I, and so many others, see in the person of Jesus. He had these children hooked on his every word. I loved working with Sam’s beautiful voice. It cuts through a crowd with presence and style. It warms my heart and brings anguish to my soul – each in its own season and time. His musicality was present at every rehearsal, and his willingness to teach and encourage all of our principal cast was a privilege to work with. I’m so grateful we got to see him in this role.


Anthony’s performance as Judas and John the Baptist was a brilliant work of theatre. I love the passion he brought to the character. The way he synthesised the role and made sense of it in the context of the narrative of Godspell is something that I have rarely seen done well. Beyond that, I am overwhelmed with the dedication he brought to every rehearsal. He demonstrated continued leadership to the rest of the cast in your preparation. His performance shone in so many moments and ways. I will forever love his opening Prepare Ye the Way, and the anguish in his face when he betrayed Jesus to the pharisees. I laughed so hard each time Anthony and Sam performed together in All for the Best. Anthony, thank you for blessing us with your performance on stage.


This was Kathryn’s first time in a principle role. Her contrasting timidity and confidence were blended in her character so well; matching the role we wanted her to play. I loved her beautiful voice, and I’m so glad we got to see it shine in this show. Her character was so well put together. I loved how she managed to infect our show with her Disney passion and even convince us to “let it go.” (If that wasn’t her idea, I don’t care. She gets the credit.) I enjoyed watching her facial and body expression as she moved around the stage, and watching her character emerge throughout the show. I still regret that I didn’t get to sit through one show and just watch her perform. I feel like if I did there is so much more that I would have seen. I love that about her performance, and hope that I get to see it again soon.


I loved Chloe in the role of Maddy. I loved her witty one-liners throughout the show. I loved her patter in the unscripted moments. I loved her tenacity and boundless enthusiasm. I loved her child-like enthusiasm and boundless energy. I really dug the grove she hit in Learn Your Lessons Well, and her adaptability to the changes in choreography that I threw at her when we reset the orchestration for it. I valued her keen sense of musicality and her constant instance that a triplet really was a triplet and not some dotted quaver-quaver-dotted quaver pattern, or that the note in the tenor part was actually a G sharp. Every performance I sat trying to pick her out of my in-ear mix because I knew that there would be something new to enjoy. It was a blessing to work along side her, and I’m looking forward to the next time.


Emma was a privilege to work with. From when we first performed Bless the Lord at the primary school fete through to when the show came on stage, she continued to deliver her amazing vocal depth and dynamic nature in every show. That said, I don’t think I really appreciated her character until I saw it at work with all the other principals on stage. She was boundless in energy and enthusiasm, tenacious but at the same time loving and compassionate. From the first “playful” interaction with Jacob (Isaac) through to the final resurrection scene I was captivated by her performance. Outside of her work on stage, she provided so much support behind the scenes particularly in teaching the complex a cappella riffs and harmonies for so many of our cast members and was a tremendous support to me. Each week I looked forward to how she would engage and thrill our audiences with her brilliant performance. Thank you for giving your heart and soul to our show.


If one person had the opportunity to steal any scene, it was Isaac. I loved his constant enthusiasm and the way he just inhabited his character. He drove so much of the humour and comic timing throughout the show and pushed the improvisation of all of our principal cast to a performance level that I have not seen on the EUCMS stage in the last 10 years. Isaac’s performance of All Good Gifts matched his character so well – and this remains one of my favourite songs from the show. He has a beautiful tenor voice and it was an absolute joy to work with it as part of the principal cast. Just like Chloe, I knew that his vocal patter would deliver me new amusement every show and I am so looking forward to the next time I can see him on our stage.


Michael is one of my unsung heroes for the show. A late arrival to our principal cast, Michael worked hard to not only learn all of the material he missed but also stay on top of one of the most vocally demanding male solos in the show, in terms of pitch, style and energy. Michael took everything in his stride as the cool calm and collected “tradie” that he portrayed on stage.  You wouldn’t know that this was Michael’s first role as a principal (or in fact… on stage) from any of his performance. He easily matched the rest of our principal ensemble with his characterisation and stage presence. Outside of role in our cast, Michael also consistently and continuously helped bump in our PA each week; both in rehearsal and performance season. He was also one of my main “transport” go-to-people and was always willing to help with whatever was needed. I hope that Michael decides to return to the stage very soon, and that we can work again together soon.


Suzanne was an absolute star. With one of the most complex character briefs (“be sexy, but not too sexy, oh and be an actress”) and a challenging vocal role, she remained cool, calm and collected at every moment. I loved her sass and panache, as well as her enthusiastic “overacted” characterisation. It fit so well on our stage. Suzanne was always dependable and encouraging to everyone she worked with; but still strove to make sure that our vocal performances were as good as they could be. I loved her passion, drive, musicality, and stage presence – which even extended to convincingly playing a note-munching pig. Thank you for being part of our cast team and gifting us with your performances each week.


This was the second time I had the opportunity to work with David, our youngest principal, and I must say it was a joy once again. He continued to amaze me with his immense capacity to perform and fill the stage. From his bewildered introduction to the group of disciples through to his enthusiastic and convincing hip-hop dance routines, David was a joy to watch. Vocally, I was amazed by the strength and passion he brought to We Beseech Thee. It’s a really hard song to sing and he nailed it each time. Beyond that, I’m really enjoying watching David develop as a performer, building stage confidence as he plays a range of different character roles. Seeing this maturity building through our regular EUCMS cast is something that I am really proud to be a part of. David, I hope that you keep building your love of performance and we get to see you again soon.


Rebecca was an absolute star. From the first time she started talking about her character she had me hooked. She knew her inside out, and I loved that I could see her come alive. And yet, I felt like each show I got to know her more. I’m still filled with wonder as to who she is, and what she would do – and was noticing whole new dimensions to who she was even in the last show we performed. I loved her vocal timbre in By My Side, and how she supported and drove the fantastic harmonies through this song. You wouldn’t know that this was Rebecca’s first role as a principal on stage, and she matched every one of our talented female principal cast in every way. Rebecca, I’m grateful for your loving service, passion and Christ-centred attitude which was ever present in everything she did. I can’t wait to see the next role you tackle.

Of course, it’s not all about the principal characters.

Our prologue minor principals – Rachel, Myfanwy, Guy, Caz, Juliet, Josh (supported by Chloe, Michael, Isaac and Emma) worked so hard. I’ve already said that the prologue is one of the hardest pieces of music in the show, and each one of these talented performers worked their collective backsides off to make sure their doots and dahs were in the correct spots, their key changes were right, and their harmonies held together. I was so passionate about performing the 2012 version of the Prologue, and what it added to context and story for the show.  I’m so impressed with the work they did, on top of each performing outstanding roles through the rest of the show.

Cathy, Josh and Lynn did a fantastic job with the beautiful On The Willows. When I first heard the song I didn’t see how it was necessary to the plot of the show, and to be honest I didn’t really like it. But collectively these three made me love it. The beautiful harmonies were a real blessing to perform with each week, and provided such a beautiful dramatic counterpoint to such a pivotal moment of the show.

Beyond that, each of ensemble members were brilliant. There are so many fond moments I have of each of you in your various roles at different times. As I look reflect back on our cast, one week on, I can see joyous moments that are etched into my memory from each of you. It really has been a joy to partner with you musically in this show, and I thank you for the privilege of letting me lead you in this way.

I want to particularly thank Elaine for her personal support during this show season. This hasn’t been an easy few months personally, and Elaine was always keen to see how “I” was doing, and provide practical support to our family at times when we needed it most. Thank you for your patience with me, and supporting our whole team.

The rest of the crew, lighting and front of house team also are owed much thanks for their hard work, devotion and dedication. I don’t see half of what you do or what is involved in what you do to put on a show like this, but I know that without the hard work and effort of each of you it would not be possible.

Outside of the show

There are so many people outside of the show that made this possible.

My amazing team at Real World gave so much of their time both indirectly and directly. Daniel and David, thanks for transporting equipment all over the country for me. Elle, thanks for photocopying and printing whatever I asked. Wesley, thank you for shouldering the extra load while I left early to work on this project. I know it hasn’t been an easy few months, but you’ve taken this load like a saint. Mark, thank you for working extra on those Friday nights where I was otherwise occupied and allowing me to focus on what I need to. You guys are all fantastic, and it’s a privilege and a blessing to work with you.

My church family at Cherrybrook Presbyterian have been praying for and supporting this show for months. I’m thankful for the enthusiasm with which they have supported me while I’ve worked on this project, and freeing me to be able to work on it.

Many of you may not know that my amazing wife, Bess, is pregnant and due any day now. We found out that we were expecting our next child shortly (well… I think 3 days) after I said yes to this show. We feel very blessed that our child is healthy and that we will have the privilege of welcoming him or her into the world shortly. Despite this, Bess hasn’t had a very easy pregnancy with a host of medical complications along the way. Even despite the stress involved through this, she has been a continual rock for our family – looking after our two other beautiful children while I’ve run away to pursue this venture. She has given up so much of our family time over the last five months – and even while I’ve been writing these reflections over the last week.

Creatively, she has always been there to bounce ideas off or talk through difficult situations. Her boundless knowledge of stagecraft and performance have helped me think through so many otherwise difficult situations, and understand this craft better than I otherwise would have been able to.

Beyond that, she has been a pillar of support to me personally. There have been times when this show has been hard, things have busy at work, stress levels have been high – and in each case she has loved, cared, supported and prayed for me. I appreciate her commitment to me above all else, and am so thankful for the way in which she has been able to contribute to this show in perhaps one of the most important, but unseen ways. I can’t say thank you enough, and so I’m going to say it again. Thank you.

Closing thoughts

I’m thankful to the EUCMS executive for supporting Wendy in her choice for me to be MD again for this show. I hope that I get this opportunity to do it again.

I’m sure there are others that are deserving of thanks and praise, and unfortunately there are probably omissions even in this. If you were involved in this show, in any way, please know that you have my undying gratitude for what you did.

Godspell is over for now, but it will continue to live on in my heart. I’m grateful for what it has contributed to my life. I’m grateful for the new friendships that I have built and those that have matured. I’m grateful for the way it has brought me closer to Jesus. I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had to be part of people’s lives in ways that I never dreamed possible. I’m grateful for the audiences that were touched by our shows.

I long, now, more than ever, for the day when my Lord and Saviour returns. I pray that many hearts and lives will be changed as their hear His message of love and forgiveness – but I pray most of all that they might find salvation in Him. Jesus resurrection from the dead is what gives me hope for the future. As the New Testament writer, Paul, says:

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

(1 Cor 15:13 – 19 NIV)

Why I get concerned about articles like “The Myth of the Hateful Christian”

Last night I came across a very well written article by John Dickson exploring “The Myth of the Hateful Christian“. John is (almost always) well reasoned and written on a wide range of issues surrounding the Evangelical Christian Context in Australia, and this article is no exception.

I had posted this article on my Facebook feed with the following, surface level analysis:

I read this article by John Dickson tonight. I think he may have captured a large part of where the problem may come from; but I wonder – to what extent is the Christian church, when in argument with secular society, responsible for consistently re-establishing the framework of grace – each and every time we begin a conversation.

John touches on this at the end of his article when he writes “[a]s Australia secularises, perhaps there will be less and less of a tradition of grace. Ethical disagreement may increasingly be equated with judgment and bigotry. Christians need to think through the implications of this for how we communicate in public.”

But surely as we analyse this, we also need to ask the question of how /will/ we communicate, and in what way does our message need to be nuanced to reflect the culture and society we are actually speaking to.

I wasn’t flooded with likes or shares, but as I looked at the shares and subsequent on-shares over the last 12 hours or so, I’ve become concerned about the way that articles like this are used.

My hypothesis is this – a number of Christians use articles, such as this, to justify and then excuse why the secular world takes offence at the position they hold on moral and ethical issues.

Whether it be issues such as Same Sex Marriage, ordination of practicing Homosexuals, Euthanasia, Abortion, the Role of Women in the church – in each case, the church often has quite distinct, counter-cultural views of how these individual “moral” and “ethical” topics play out within the life of the church, and the world. We are often very quick to state our view as the “Christian” view because “God says it in the Bible” – but very slow to shape and mould our argument to win the hearts of those we are speaking to; and then when people react negatively to our arguments blame those that listen for our failure to communicate.

While it may be true that we are not speaking to a culture as steeped in grace as we once were – if anything the fault should be ours for becoming lazy and complacent about the argument we place forward and assuming that our listeners will assume grace.

It is true – the Church must remain salt and light in the world. We, as Christians, believe that belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation and the chance to live life to its fullest. Now we just need to learn how to share that, as a Church, with the world we live in.

Content is probably good…

This really is a post about nothing. Like, literally nothing. Well – that might be a lie. Because for it to be a post about nothing, it actually needs to not exist. So even, being a post about nothing, at worst it is a post about posting about nothing, rather than actually a post about nothing.

In principal, this is just existing so that I can check how some content will format on the site. By actually writing some words on a page, I can see how they fit together and where they will appear. It’s pretty boring – but that’s one of the things that makes it special.

In other news, I think I used an Oxford comma correctly today. In fact, it was verified. This is pretty good. However, I’m yet to see if I can use it repeatedly correctly. Thanks for reading. Hopefully you didn’t waste too much of your time.

Islaam under fire

The last 24 hours have seen unrest in Sydney caused on religious grounds, the likes of which I have not seen before in my life. Most people will be aware that the protests stem from a particularly offensive depiction of the prophet Mohammed by a western film. What appears to have started as a peaceful protest turned violent, and police intervened.

Let me be clear, that I am not condoning the actions of the protestors. I think that violence is never a solution to problems, and I metaphorically stand beside those who have spoken out condemning the actions of those who were involved in the protest.

Let me get a few things out of the way. I firmly believe that faith and trust in Jesus is the only way for any person to be saved. I do not believe there is any merit to the claims of Islam to truth in their faith, and see a number of inconsistencies in their beliefs, and hope that all people who trust in Allah for salvation may come to know the Christian God, and his son Jesus.

At the same time, a number of my friends are believers of Islam. As a number of my friends profess no faith or religion. Some of my friends, in particular followers of Islam, are quite passionate and committed to their beliefs – as much as I am to Christianity, and at times even more so. This does not mean that my opinion of them is reduced or diminished. They are intelligent human beings, who are lovely people that I enjoy spending time with.

What troubles me, however, is the reaction of many of my Christian friends. It appears that these events have created a climate where intolerant, sometimes abusive and racist rhetoric is now acceptable – both in public verbal conversation and online. More than that, the words and phrases appear to be targeted against all people of Islamic faith, stripping their humanity and treating them as nothing but objects to be condemned.

This attitude towards the Islamic faith, but more importantly, towards the individuals that profess to be part of that faith troubles me deeply. I do not for a second think that the Christian God will accept their faith on the last day – but neither do I believe the Christian God calls his people to condemn the followers of other religions.

Rather, as I read scripture, I see commands for us to love those who are outside the church (cf Luke 5:27-32), a call to share the gospel with all to the ends of the earth (cf Matthew 27), a call to be all things to all men (cf 1 Cor 9:22). I see Jesus reminding us time and time again to ensure that we have our own hearts and minds right before him (cf Matthew 5 and 6), and again being reminded by the apostles time and time again to ensure that we are living out the faith that we have been called to – and to put off rage, slander and malice (cf Eph 4:31).

Does this mean that we shouldn’t make the claim that Christianity is right, at the exclusion of all other religions? No – as Jesus says in John 14:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

But when we speak to those outside the church, we should do this with gentleness and respect, so that, in the words of Paul, we might hope to win some. I am sure that Jesus’ command to love our enemies, and to love our neighbours as ourselves were not meant to exclude our responsibility to love those that we had little-to-no connection with. I’m certainly sure that they weren’t meant to give us the right to public vilify all who follow a different religion to us.

I want our Australian society to remain free to have open, intelligent and thoughtful debate about the truth and claims of Jesus. I believe that the strength of the Gospel of Jesus is sufficient to stand up to scrutiny, abuse and trial. I implore my Christian brothers and sisters to not create a culture in which it is right or acceptable to vilify another person’s faith; but rather to create a community where helpful and intelligent thought and discussion are the norm. I implore my Christian brothers and sisters to not react without thinking, but to instead consider their words and actions and how they might be perceived by others.

And above all, I implore my Christian brothers and sisters to each day seek to follow Jesus and be transformed by his spirit; because surely our presence in the world as salt and light is our greatest opportunity for impact on the world and community we are in.