West End is Down Under
AUSTRALIANS get the chance to experience the West End at their local cinema as the Australian company that brought Andre Rieu’s 2013 Maastricht concert to cinemas brings the musical Merrily We Roll Along to screens. The acclaimed production, by Stephen Sondheim, is the first of many West End shows people can expect to see on Australian screens. After 18 months working on the deal, Digital Theatre and Australian company CinemaLive will screen a series of productions from the West End’s leading commercial theatre producers to cinemas around the world. CinemaLive co-director Janelle Mason says it means Australians in cities and regional areas will get the chance to watch some great West End theatre at their local cinema. ‘‘Our initial feeling was that Australia is fairly geographically challenged and the small communities, the regionals, just don’t have the opportunity to see theatre of this calibre,’’ she says. ‘‘Actually seeing everything on the big screen, it’s definitely a great way to experience a theatrical production. It sounds amazing.’’ Mason says CinemaLive is very keen to make it work, especially after the success of National Theatre Live and The Metropolitan Opera in cinemas. ‘‘There is obviously a huge kind of calling for cultural product around the world and the West End is up there with Broadway, so it was a huge coup for us the only company delivering West End to the world,’’ she says. She says Merrily We Roll Along is a good first choice because of its broad appeal, but this production in particular is special. ‘‘This one got more five-star critics’ reviews than any other musical in West End history, so we thought, well that’s good start,’’ she says. Sondheim has called this production of Merrily ‘‘the best I’ve seen’’. The cast includes Australian actor Damian Humbley as Charlie.
Merrily We Roll Along screens at Pacific Fair on Saturday and Sunday.