Bendigo Theatre Company's production of Wicked is its most expensive and ambitious project to date.
But for audiences it means higher ticket prices than in previous years.
With ticket sales and audience numbers used to help the company recoup its budget, BTC president and Wicked production manager Abe Watson said setting ticket prices was tough.
He said the price for an adult ($60) was only a few dollars more than in previous years but that it would be worth it.
"The cost of technical production for a show like Wicked is so huge that it's not possible to set a lower ticket price when we solely rely on Box Office takings as our sole revenue stream," Mr Watson said.
"It's really tough. This show we charge more for a ticket than our previous shows but not too much. We do a calculation based on (how many tickets) we expect to sell and then (look at) the break even point."
Mr Watson said ticket sales was the only way the company could cover its production costs.
"Personally, for me as a producer, I'm all about increasing access to events - that does include reducing ticket prices - but we have to ensure a project covers cost," he said.
"If we were funded in other ways to put on a production like this, we could make tickets free - I would love that - but that's not the climate we find ourselves in. Even professional arts organisations are under-resourced and under-funded.
Wicked is a complex show to bring to life, which meant the company has spent more time in tech week ensuring everything is working, Mr Watson said.
"Our tech week in the theatre has been a lot longer than previous shows, purely because there are so many complex technical elements like complex fly movements and lighting cues that can't be rehearsed until we're in the space," he said.
"That means our cost goes up in terms of theatre hire and technical staff labour. People also forget how expensive rights are (for a show). To perform the show of Wicked, paying the license to let us do that and it is quite a significant amount of money."
Wicked is the biggest production BTC has tackled and Mr Watson said it will be worth the ticket price.
"It was a calculated decision and we certainly weren't going to do anything to jeopardise the future of the company. It was well considered and it has paid off," he said.
"At the end of the day it's about break even and providing really good quality theatre.
"When we committed to Wicked, we decided also 'let's not do a half job of this, let's really make it something special' and so we did. We have run with a tight budget but it's a realistic one.
"Ticket sales were slow and steady for a while but it has picked up in the last few weeks, which is what we expected.
"We're close enough to breaking even now that I'm not too concerned. The maximum capacity is 8886 for 10 shows, I think we're around the 3000 number (at the moment) which is okay."
Mr Watson said any profits made from Wicked will benefit the BTC's future shows.
"If we make some money, that's great, we can put it to the next show," he said. "If we lose some money, its okay because we set budget well enough that it wont cause significant financial strain on the company."
"We predict (our entire) season and want to break even across the year. If some projects lose a bit of money, that's okay. It's not always about the dollar value.
"Something like our workshop season, we expect to lose money. But the point of that isn't revenue, it's bringing nationally recognised talents to Bendigo to work with the local community and upskill them . You can't put a dollar value on that.
"Money is one thing but it's not the whole story. At the end of the day it is less important than what theatre does for people and how that changes them.
"We know theatre builds high levels of empathy, understanding and acceptance. What else do we need more in the world than that right now?
"So the economic value is one thing but it's certainly not what we focus on."
Bendigo Theatre Company's production of Wicked is at Ulumbarra from October 25 to November 3. For tickets visit www.bendigoregion.com.au
Wicked production raises the bar for BTC
Wicked director Paul Watson is excited to help bring one of Bendigo's biggest community theatre shows to life.
The Geelong-based director said he has been embraced by Bendigo with the city's theatre scene impressing him
"Coming from out of town, I am not as familiar with the size of a Bendigo production but I have been told by lots of people this is one of the biggest things that's been here," Paul said.
"There's still lots of work still do but we'll be ready. It's been really rewarding. The lead cast have been outstanding and, coming from community theatre in Melbourne, their work ethic is, honestly, I've never seen better.
"The ensemble are super hard working, super friendly and whole company is a real family. When I drive down here it's not a chore. I've been really impressed. It's everything a director dreams of."
Wicked production manager Abe Watson (no relation to Paul) says Bendigo Theatre Company's new production is something special.
"This is on a completely different level, you're not going to see something like this (in Bendigo) any time soon," Abe said.
"I'm super proud of this production, we've assembled a really incredible cast, crew, production team and orchestra. Everyone is a pleasure to work with and the show is really special."
Paul said some creative decisions mean this version of Wicked won't the same as fans of the musical might have seen before.
"We didn't want to create the same production, I don't think there's any value in that. I wanted to create Bendigo's Wicked - something the company can claim as its own.
"People who are fans will love this version, there's a couple big decisions that differ from Broadway that we're keeping secret. For people who haven't seen it, it's a lovely version to introduce yourself to."
While Paul had been impressed with Bendigo's theatre scene, he said it was important for the theatre community to keep going and embracing different things.
"No matter where you are, you never stop learning or improving your craft," he said.
"The best thing Bendigo can do is keep encouraging people to work with them. But not just people from Bendigo, invite people to Bendigo. When something becomes a creative hub, people flock to it.
"Bendigo has a great theatre culture, but the more people who come and join means you get more ideas. The idea of regionism shouldn't exist, everyone should be embracing everyone from all over. They've done that for me and it's been wonderful.
"It's good to experience new energies and talents. Local theatre can be really high quality and people work their hardest to provide audiences with something amazing."
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