10
Sep
13

Something Great is Coming…it’s West Side Story but not as you know it!

Something Great is Coming…it’s West Side Story but not as you know it!

 

West Side Story Image by Andrew Seymour

 

 

TONIGHT, TONIGHT…

Noosa Arts Theatre previews its bold reimagining of the classic and much-loved musical West Side Story.

Directed by Sam Coward, this version is nothing like you’ve seen before, with the cast on stage for the duration, and ensemble members performing multiple roles, including that of lighting techs, in a first for the Sunshine Coast when in addition to their character roles, they manipulate hand-held lighting devices to support the action. The lighting design itself is something special, thanks to the vision and technical expertise of our dear friend Travis MacFarlane, who trained – and teaches – at WAPPA.

 

I’m not even biased (in fact, I’m probably more critical of my husband than of any other director) when I say that this production could be re-staged successfully anywhere in Australia, and if I could fly in some of the producers from down south to see it, I would. LISA CAMPBELL, DAVID CAMPBELL, NEIL GOODING, I’M LOOKING AT YOU.

 

Skeptics noted the small space and the young cast from the start, but the space is intimate and works well, allowing the audience to get up close and personal with a cast of mixed ages and experiences, and with a couple of things in common. They share Sam’s vision, despite some early insecurity (ye of little faith!), and they’ve worked damn hard to lift the level of performance to the standard Sam always demands of his performers. The look and feel of this production is something entirely new, and with some seasoned actors in the mix, including Adam Flower, Frank Wilkie, Stephen Moore and Ian Mackellar, the younger members of the company have delighted in seeing the theory put to action. There will be audience members who KNOW these performers and wonder how on earth they have come so far in just a few short months, with school and family and friends and jobs happening concurrently with demanding dance, vocal and acting rehearsals. PROPS TO FAMILIES AND PARTNERS!

 

West Side Story Image by Andrew Seymour

 

As happens during the creative process (if it doesn’t there’s something very wrong with your cast and your process!), the company has become very close and this is in no small part to the efforts of everybody involved, but most of all it’s ingrained in the way Sam prefers to work. If you’ve done a show with Sam you’ll know he’s more of a Mother Hen than the cast’s eldest matriarch! He seems to spend valuable sleeping hours (or cleaning the floors hours) with cast members or the creative team, either on the phone or in person. This makes for hellish conditions at home, with both of us too tired and too cranky to actually uphold our respective ends of a conversation, but the extra time and the personal connections Sam makes and encourages others to make result in a better, sharper show and a more enjoyable process…for those involved in the process. Parents of the students involved might be feeling much the same way but I cannot tell you how proud you’ll be to see the end result! AND QCS IS DONE AND DUSTED! CHEERS! HOORAY!

 

West Side Story Image by Andrew Seymour

 

I’m always really proud of our shows – and I’m terrified of our next one, but more about that burlesque beauty later – and in that regard, West Side Story is no different. Community theatre is about community. Of course it is. We make friends, we have fun, and we put on a show. But when the creative process is enlightening, and the show is sensational, we enjoy the whole experience even more. The event is more fun when we WIN! As audience members, we get for nix the experience of another world at our doorstep and a story – and talent – to talk about for ages. If you’re in Brisbane, Caloundra, Cotton Tree or wherever and you think it’s too far to travel for an “amateur” show, think again. The amateurs are doing it for love at a very professional level. Come up for a weekend in the sun by the sea and just see for yourself what we’re doing up here.

CHOOKAS and big love to the awesome cast and crew of West Side Story, and congrats to Noosa Arts Theatre & committee for having the vision and the guts to get this one up.

 

West Side Story Image by Andrew Seymour

 

West Side Story previews tonight, opens Thursday and continues until September 28. Limited seats remaining. Bookings noosaartstheatre.org.au

 

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