Not in canvas anymore
No expense spared in extravagent school musical ‘arms race’
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.
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