Show preview: Shutters a Lesbian Opera (Omnibus)

Shutters: A Lesbian Rock Opera, a groundbreaking new musical, will premiere at the Omnibus Theatre in London.

Released to coincide with LGBTQ+ Pride month, it follows the protagonist, Saving Liz, as she navigates the struggles of coming out, life as a young lesbian, and aging as a woman in the entertainment industry.

WHERE: Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common North Side, London SW4 0LH

When: 6-24 Jun (7.30 Tue-Sat, 4.00 Sun)

Ticket link:

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ShuttersRock @VindicateThe

“I wrote ‘Shutters’ for my younger self,” said Rena Brennan, writer and executive producer of ‘Shutters: A Lesbian Rock Opera,’ “because I wished a show like this existed when I was younger. Also, queer people, especially lesbians, deserve a story they can actually relate to.

The show’s protagonist, Saving Liz, starts out as a young idealistic Punk Rocker with a deep desire to change the world through her music. As the show progresses, Saving Liz experiences the joys, struggles, and nuance of life as a queer woman, especially the sanctity of queer spaces.

My team felt it was especially important to premiere ‘Shutters’ in London during Pride month — to express the importance of lesbian visibility and representation, and to show that queer people and queer spaces will always be worth investing in.”

We caught up with Rena to hear more about this important new LGBTQ musical.

Rehearsal photo from Shutters

Tell me a bit about Shutters: A Lesbian Rock Opera. What should audiences expect?

Shutters: A Lesbian Rock Opera traces the lives of four friends over twenty years from their idealistic beginnings to their naïve longing for the perfect relationship. Such as Saving Liz and Maggie.

They fall in love, move in together after a weekend of great sex and chat (every lesbian’s love story) and live kind of happily ever after.

OK, so Liz has an affair with Billie while still married to Maggie – (also every lesbian love story).

Ultimately they find the sex is still good but loyalty can be very wicked. I want audiences to leave feeling like they have seen what being queer is all about.

I want them to laugh. I want them to cry, and I want them to sing the songs as they leave the theatre. That would be a dream come true.

The show is running alongside the 96 Festival, a celebration of queerness and theatre, at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, from 6-24 Jun.Was this a deliberate choice of timing and venue?

We were approached by the Omnibus Theatre in 2019 to participate in their Engine Room programme for new writing.

Then Covid happened and we started up again in 2021 with a script-in-hand industry reading, on the back of which Marie McCarthy (Artistic Director of the Omnibus Theatre) got in touch to say she wanted Shutters to headline this year’s 96 Festival.

I felt I had come full circle as I was at that Pride in Clapham in 1996.

Rock operas and gig theatre seem to be thriving at the moment. Have any other shows caught your interest while planning Shutters?

I went to see The Secret Life of Bees at the Almeida at the beginning of May. I really loved it. I absolutely loved Scrounger at the Finborough it was in your face – fuck off angry and inspiring.

I worked at the Camden Fringe for Josh Weller, and I loved all his Genesis gags. And then last summer I was tour manager for The Paranoyds a punk band from Los Angeles. That was an inspiration. I could go on and on….

Shutters is about history, lesbianism, love and songs. What has most influenced the show in terms of world events?

Too many things to mention, but Hong Kong going back to China. I remember it so well. And I remember the promises China made.

9/11 it was devastating for me as a friend of mine was on the second plane that crashed into the tower. And of course Bill Clinton passing DOMA after he was caught with his trousers down.

You couldn’t write the stuff….funny thing is that most people don’t realize the devastating effects that governments have on…well come and see the show….

What’s next for the Vindicate Company?

I have a double bill going to Edinburgh Festival in August called Ginzel’s Little Cordoba – Little Cordoba is a picaresque play set in 1522 and Ginzel is a modern conversation set in 2022 café about hopes and dreams it.

And I have been commissioned to write a creative response to a Tennessee Williams play – didn’t even knew it was a dream until they asked me to do it – which will be called Artifacts.

Oh, and my play The History of Two Lovers is in the hands of the very talented director, Anthony Biggs. I would love to go to the Minerva in Chichester for 2024 – my, my the Minerva that’s still waiting on my bucket list.

Inage credit: Johnathan Phang