Worldwide musical hit Wicked will come to Bendigo next year.
The popular show will be the Bendigo Theatre Company’s major production with 10 performances scheduled for the second half of the year.
BTC president Abe Watson said while the production was ambitious and a financial risk, he believed the company could pull it off.
“It's an incredible show, I have seen it four times – twice in Melbourne, twice on the West End,” he said.
“It is a bit of a financial risk, our budget is double our previous musical, and we have decided to 10 shows in Ulumbarra.
“It is a really exciting show with some undercurrent issues, it’s not all fluffy and pink on top. There are apt and relevant themes of isolation, fear of something different and not judging a book by cover.”
The production will take up almost half the company’s time next year with a 20-week rehearsal period scheduled.
“So much work goes into a show like this. Our rehearsal period is normally 13 or 14 weeks for a large-scale musical. We have allocated 20 weeks for Wicked,” he said.
“There will also be a lot of pre-production meetings meaning about 30 weeks (of work) in total).”
The other major production will be Tribe Youth Theatre’s drama Blood Brothers in April.
Taking on the philosophical question of nature versus nurture, Blood Brothers follows twin brothers who were separated at birth and brought up in diametrically opposite circumstances.
“It’s a story that is pretty incredible and was originally written as a high school production,” Mr Watson said.
“There are some important elements in it that will make it a challenging show for the young people involved but we are excited to see Tribe pull it off.
“Those kids are exceptional, no question. They amaze me, not only in the development of performance skills but in their professionalism. That is obvious in all their shows.”
Summer pantomime, Sleeping Beauty is in rehearsals and is on in January followed by the popular TENx10 short play season in March.
Four workshops have been planned for 2019 with dance (June 8), script writing (August 10), stage combat (September 23) and professional ethics and career developments (November 16) sure to fill quickly.
The newly established BSharp Chorus will have recitals in June and November while the Member’s Christmas Cabaret and Kids’ Christmas Concert set for December, 2019.
“TENx10 has produced some powerful, exceptional short dramas,” Mr Watson said. “We are always excited to see new faces and give people the toe-in-the-water experience of theatre. We love TENx10 for that reason. Involves so many people.
“One of highlights season 2018 was watching the BSharp’s first recital. It is an amazing, non audition group about building relationships and giving people a great experience.”
Such a big budget musical has meant a quality offer quantity approach to the rest of the BTC season.
“We have effectively dropped two productions but comparing with the 2015 season (which featured Mary Poppins), we’re on a similar scale,” Mr Watson said.
“Last year was big season, which was done intentionally. We are aware (Wicked) will require a lot of resources and we want to do that to the best of our ability.
“There is the possibility of slotting in a drama, but we are not 100 per cent sure where it might falls or how it could look.”
Mr Watson said outside of Wicked, 2019 would be a year of growth and development for Bendigo Theatre Company.
“We made some decisions for the season. One was to pair it back because of Wicked but also to ensure BTC remains a vibrant, cultural organisation for the next 65 years.
“We are working on policies, procedures and governance to make sure the organisational structure is on point and can have the best success.”
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