On stage for a spell
WHEN audition day arrived for Midnite’s latest theatre production, artistic director Gregory Jones had specific criteria in mind.
He needed six adult cast members who could keep the wonder of youth alive.
With a sense of abandonment and innocence at the fore, they would throw off the shackles of adulthood and transform into 12year-old outsiders in the Tony Award-winning musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
“It’s about being fearless,” Jones said.
“As adults we tend to want to always get things right.
“We needed people who could connect with that energy of having the world at their feet.”
The Midnite Youth Theatre Company, housed at Christ Church Grammar School and open to anyone aged 10-25, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Jones, who performed with the group in 1994 aged 18, has experienced plenty of highs in his four years at the helm.
“Midnight has always been very well known throughout Perth and I’ve been director of drama at Guildford Grammar School and Camberwell Grammar School in Melbourne, and when this job
came up it felt like the right fit for me,” he said.
“We’ve been selling out a lot of shows, which is one of our biggest achievements so far, and we’ve got a really great fan base now.
“Also, we’ve done productions at the State Theatre Centre of WA, so we’ve had the opportunity to take young people over there and this year will be a big milestone when we do Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Heath Ledger Theatre in August.”
The upcoming musical incorporates audience interaction, resulting in a different show every night.
“We sign up four volunteers beforehand and they compete as a speller on stage against the six 12-year-olds,” Jones said.
“The show is incredibly funny and teaches us that winning isn’t everything and losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.”
Kieran Lynch, Clare Martis, James Pinneri, Phil Lynch and artistic director Gregory Jones from Putnam County Spelling Bee.