shows: On Air! On Air! – it’s a world pre­miere ....................

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS - – JESSICA HUXLEY

IF you’ve ever won­dered what goes on be­hind the scenes at a ra­dio sta­tion, On Air! On Air!, which opens tonight at Spot­light Theatre, is ex­actly the bucket of laugh­ter you need.

The 2012 Gold Coast Lit­tle Theatre Dol­phin award win­ner (best di­rec­tor and best over­all pro­duc­tion) Helen Maden di­rects this hi­lar­i­ous, world-pre­miere play, writ­ten by her hus­band Peter Maden.

‘‘Peter and I have worked in the ra­dio in­dus­try for over 25 years, which is where he got the in­spi­ra­tion to write this show,’’ Helen says.

‘‘He wanted to write some­thing re­ally creative and as he be­gan typ­ing he started form­ing a play based on real things that hap­pen in the of­fice. If peo­ple have ever won­dered what a job in ra­dio is like, this is it.

‘‘We work at South­ern Cross Aus­tereo which owns more than 80 sta­tions across the coun­try in­clud­ing Gold FM and Sea FM here on the Coast. We write ra­dio com­mer­cials and Peter is the creative di­rec­tor for all the sta­tions.

‘‘When you look at the set, it re­ally is as though you’ve stepped into our of­fice. Ev­ery mishap in the play is based on some­thing that has ac­tu­ally hap­pened. At the same time ra­dio is full of fab­u­lous, creative, im­pres­sive peo­ple and all of this is about hav­ing a good laugh at them and find­ing the hu­mour is what oth­er­wise could be a very high stress sit­u­a­tion.’’

You may have heard the author’s many al­ter egos on Sea FM break­fast shows.

Peter Maden is the cre­ator, writer and voice be­hind Don Dead­line, The Rev­erend Randy Pecker, Mur­ray Walker, Doc­tor Felix Fro­tage and Ste­wart Gabois.

‘‘We haven’t had any clashes at all – he has an amaz­ing tem­per­a­ment to al­low me di­rect what he wrote,’’ Helen says.

‘‘This is a re­ally unique sit­u­a­tion where the author ac­tu­ally gets to be around the creative de­ci­sions sur­round­ing their play and how it goes to stage.

‘‘It’s just re­ally ex­cit­ing and I’m re­ally proud of Peter – it’s a hard thing to do, to write a full-length play.

‘‘For me it’s also ex­cit­ing to di­rect a play that has never been done be­fore – no au­di­ence has ever seen it and no ac­tors have ever per­formed it.

‘‘Peo­ple who saw my show Cal­en­dar Girls last year are buzzing about this, which is both re­ally ex­cit­ing and nerve-rack­ing, as they will be ex­pect­ing a lot and we have put in a lot of hard work to make sure it’s up to stan­dard. We’re call­ing the play a ‘drom­edy’ – about 20 per cent drama and 80 per cent com­edy. ‘‘It’s hi­lar­i­ously funny but might pro­voke a few lumps in the throat as well.’’

Helen and Peter met on the stage 20 years ago. Helen says it was love at first chat.

‘‘Iron­i­cally Peter and I met dur­ing No Sex Please We’re Bri­tish at Gold Coast Lit­tle Theatre,’’ she says.

‘‘He was in the play and I came into it late and we hit it off straight away. Af­ter we had chil­dren we both took a break from the stage, but then I got back into it and he was so help­ful with the kids. He didn’t have that long­ing for per­form­ing at that time.

‘‘Ear­lier this year when The Man in The Chair role came along in Clem Halpin’s pro­duc­tion of The Drowsy Chap­er­one at the Spot­light Theatre, he felt he would be good at it and he stepped back into the spot­light.

‘‘The cast for On Air! has been fan­tas­tic, they all loved the script when they first read it.

‘‘We picked up five of the best ac­tresses on the Gold Coast – Del Halpin, Vir­ginia Leaver, Katie McNair, Tara Page and Libby Ban­croft – which is won­der­ful for my con­fi­dence as a di­rec­tor. Del won a Dol­phin for her lead role in Cal­en­dar Girls, Katie also won an award for her part in The Boys. Katie and Tara have just come out of Mac­beth and Vir­ginia just had the lead role in The An­niver­sary at Javeen­bah.

‘‘We’ve had a lot of fun putting this show to­gether – I al­ways love the di­rect­ing process.’’

On Air! On Air! fol­lows hard-nosed salesperson Katie who needs an ad for a dodgy jewellery re­tailer writ­ten, pro­duced and on air im­me­di­ately. De­spite the ef­forts of the creative team, the pro­ject is thwarted by disas­ter and even­tu­ally the stress be­comes too much.

On Air! On Air! plays The Base­ment, at Spot­light Theatre, from to­mor­row un­til Oc­to­ber 5.

Katie McNair and Peter Maden in On Air! On Air!. – Pic­tures: BRON­WEN ROWLES

Libby Ban­croft as Shayna

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