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