This Theatre Works production was one of the most life-affirming and delightful shows I saw all year; for charm and freshness it beat major touring productions such as Annie hands down. The only times I wasn’t smiling in this fresh new Australian musical about the life of national living treasure Margaret Fulton was when I was wiping away tears, during its deft transitions from comedy to pathos. If it has a return season, kill to get a ticket
— Richard Watts, 3RRR & ArtsHub


Margaret Fulton is more than just our national cooking matriarch, she is a living legend. Her life story is full of the ingredients needed to make a musical.

In November 2012 the Present Tense ensemble and Theatre Works presented the Australian premiere of a new musical about national living treasure Margaret Fulton. The work was supported by the City of Port Phillip Cultural Development Fund.

Doug MacLeod (head writer and producer of The Comedy Company and Fast Forward) and Yuri Worontschak (composer of everything from Fast Forward to Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell) collaborated with Present Tense to bring her unique and surprising story to the stage, in this highly original musical experience.

Stage and music directors Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes are marginal no longer.
A rare and delightful theatrical savvy operates at almost every level of this production, from the hyperactive backing singers through to the lighting operator. The show is on from the moment the audience enters the space, and the energy doesn’t flag in 90-plus minutes and more than a dozen songs
— Chris Boyd, The Australian Newspaper
Equal parts funny, energetic and poignant, the show has a peppy revue-sical style that covers a true blue dinky di nostalgic journey without a hint of mawkishness or cultural cringe. Directors Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes have achieved a zany, almost improvised feel. The action takes hold in the opening minutes and never lets up, leaving the audience smiling even during the more sentimental moments. The masterstroke of Ives’ direction and Lehpamer’s characterization is the portrayal of Fulton as a grounded, driven, self-reliant figure
— Simon Parris, Theatre People


For members of the Present Tense ensemble (mostly born in the eighties) it’s staggers us to think at some point not so far in our recent past eggplants and olives were strange foreign items not to be found in Australian kitchens or supermarkets. It may seem cliche to say, but we have come a long way. 

Australia is certainly not a perfect nation, not even close, and the recent misogyny in our Parliament reminds us that there will always be new challenges to overcome, particularly for women. 

Tonight we passionately say despite all of this, we have indeed done a lot of growing up. The Australia of Margaret Fulton’s youth is a distant memory, and in it’s place sits a vibrant multicultural country, that eats exceptionally well. Food is crucial to the development of modern Australia, and Margaret Fulton is central to all of this. 

We love that this is the story of a strong Australian woman. Margaret Fulton is more then just an icon, she has lived her life to the fullest and always been authentic and true. She was not an invented brand. Her brand was authentic, honest and reflected her integrity.

We’ve taken a huge risk in developing Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert. As a group of artists we have chosen to allow the work to organically develop and grow. This is a constant work in development and we’ve actively decided to stage this season on the smell of an oily rag, away from the pressure of commercial investors, giving us the chance to breathe, to grow and develop with an audience. You are crucial to our growth and development. 

The goodwill shown towards this work is testament to our belief that communities want more local and creative musical theatre work. Over one hundred individuals donated their own money to our Pozible campaign. Theatre Works and the City of Port Phillip gave us the assistance to get this idea off the ground and realise this season. Many, many, many individuals have sent us tea towels and cook books. We are thankful for all the love, good will and support that has been offered. 

We must thank the Present Tense ensemble, our guest artists and production team. I'd also like to thank my kitchen cabinet: Doug MacLeod, Yuri Worontschak, Nathan Gilkes and Sean Bryan, for their tireless work in developing this show. Doug and Yuri have been working on this idea for quite a few years, their passion and dedication is infectious and I hope we have served them well. 

Finally, we do this for Margaret Fulton. Her support, input and encouragement has been invaluable. If this work achieves nothing else, we hope that it letsMargaret know, on behalf of us, that Australia loves her very much.

Nate Gilkes & Bryce Ives 2012