Not in can­vas any­more

No ex­pense spared in ex­trav­agent school mu­si­cal ‘arms race’

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - KATE PARASKEVOS

HAND-SEWN cos­tumes and card­board sets are a thing of the past at Gold Coast schools com­pet­ing to stage the city’s most im­pres­sive school play.

In their place have come pro­fes­sional chore­og­ra­phers and set-builders at schools where bud­gets for the lav­ish pro­duc­tions some­times stretch into five fig­ures.

Head of Drama at St Hilda’s in South­port, Belinda Gravel, said the school had in­vested “thou­sands” in their pro­duc­tion of The Wiz­ard of Oz which fea­tured state of the art au­dio­vi­su­als, a pro­fes­sional chore­og­ra­pher, a live sound­track and even a qual­i­fied act­ing dog named MacDougall in the role of Toto.

With a cast of 160 stu­dents from grades 7 to 12, Ms Gravel said the hum­ble school play had be­come a “mas­sive” event in re­cent years.

“They are very big and ex­trav­a­gant pro­duc­tions these days,” she said.

“Gold Coast schools do mu­si­cals very well and the teach­ers in pri­vate and pub­lic schools work.

“It’s an investment in the com­mu­nity and these shows are in­cred­i­bly val­ued by the com­mu­nity and stu­dents.”

The cast of The Wiz­ard of Oz will per­form at the HOTA stage and ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like to work in a pro­fes­sional set­ting with the show chore­ographed by St Hilda’s old girl turned pro­fes­sional chore­og­ra­pher Prue Wil­son.

Trin­ity Lutheran Col­lege at Ash­more per­formed the same pro­duc­tion last year af­ter two years of plan­ning and a year do ex­tra­or­di­nary re­hears­ing. The mu­si­cal in­cluded 350 cast mem­bers who per­formed sold-out shows to 1400 peo­ple.

Cherie Smith, pro­ducer and artis­tic di­rec­tor, said the scale of the pro­duc­tion even “sur­passed their own ex­pec­ta­tions”.

“The sets were spec­tac­u­lar, the cos­tumes were stun­ning, the aerial com­po­nents were breath­tak­ing, the mu­sic, danc­ing, singing and act­ing were ex­cep­tional,” she said.

In a sim­i­lar large-scale ef­fort, stu­dents from Em­manuel Col­lege in Car­rara will be per­form­ing The Lion King, with head of ju­nior mu­sic Trevor Kraak say­ing the bud­get ran into the “tens of thou­sands”.

The sets were con­structed by a pro­fes­sional builder and the cos­tumes out­sourced from a pro­fes­sional de­signer.

“Gone are the days of us­ing fridge boxes and paint­ing them as cas­tles,” he said.

Drama teacher at Mary­mount Col­lege in Burleigh Wa­ters, Amy An­der­son, had the mam­moth task of pro­duc­ing Rock of Ages last year with a cast of 150.

Pic­ture: JERAD WIL­LIAMS

St Hilda’s has spared no ex­pense in its pro­duc­tion of The Wiz­ard of Oz (Tinman), Stephanie Nickel (Lion) and Tasha Shep­pard (Dorothy). with a cast of 160 stu­dents and star­ring Chiara Lin­nane (Scare­crow), Daria Ch­er­nova

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