Jul 20, 2023

Tom Gleisner’s debut musical on life in aged care in theatres now

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Frankie J Holden, Vidya Makan and Anne Edmonds in aged care musical Bloom. [Source: Melbourne Theatre Company]

Television host and screenwriter, Tom Gleisner has channelled his creativity into combatting ageism with his new musical about aged care, Bloom

Having seen the realities of aged care by navigating the system with his in-laws and his own father, the Have You Been Paying Attention icon knows first-hand the ‘less-than-human’ treatment older people receive both in the community and in aged care. 

“The sunken eyes and slumped-over bodies stuck in front of an André Rieu DVD. The danger is that you start to think these people are all the same,” he told The Guardian

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Composer, Katie Weston with writer, Tom Gleisner. [Source: Melbourne Theatre Company]

As Mr Gleisner’s first step into the world of musicals, he is accompanied by singer, actor and composer Katie Weston and director Dean Bryant to tell a tale inspired by a Dutch aged care facility that offered local students free boarding in exchange for care work.

Bloom follows struggling music student, Finn, played by Slone Sudiro, who takes up a similar opportunity in a Melbourne aged care facility. In the musical, Finn battled with his own prejudices about older people and experiences conflict with the dictatorial owner of the facility, Mrs MacIntyre – played by Anne Edmonds.

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Mr Gleisner’s in-laws were in aged care during the COVID-19 pandemic where they experienced the isolation of having no visitors for weeks. [Source: The Guardian/ Photograph: Pia Johnson]

While the aged care system battled the repercussions of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report and the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Gleisner was conscious not to add fuel to the fire but also depict reality.

“Too often in films or television, old people are the punchline,” he explained. 

Bloom is in theatres now at the Arts Centre, Melbourne until August 19.

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  1. People tend to dismiss the power of music in aged care. It can be very calming to some people and it can be used with reminiscing as therapy. People such as Andre often play music they can recall or they may have danced or spent time sewing dresses and shirts for dances. It depends how the DVDs are used and this maybe down to staffing availability. I hope Bloom is recorded as it would be a good resource for staff training and education of health professionals.

  2. Hello will the movie be screened in Sydney, I would be very interested in viewing.
    Regards Deborah


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