The MGH becomes a ballroom

For the past 18 months we have been working to get our Middle School production of Strictly Ballroom to the stage. What a saga it has been! The cast have been magnificent. During the recent lockdown period, we continued rehearsals with both drama and dance rehearsals going online. I tuned into several of the Zoom dance sessions and I was so impressed by the fantastic efforts of our students as they bravely negotiated dance routines in their bedrooms. The cast also worked industriously over the long weekend, and we are now in the final phases of transforming the Memorial Great Hall stage into a ballroom.

One of the absolute joys of the process of developing the musical is the opportunity for our students to benefit from the artistic skill and expertise of the artists we are able to bring in. I think I have already extolled the privilege of watching our choreography team, led by Dalena Ebadi, developing the complex dance sequences with students from very varied movement backgrounds. These sessions really are a wonderful lesson in good teaching.

However as the production starts building we are benefitting in other areas. Riley Tapp is a wonderful young set designer, a recent graduate from WAAPA (West Australian Academy of the Performing Arts) who has designed a beautiful set for our show (image of set model featured above and below). For this, the construction of the intricate art deco lacework has been facilitated by Mark Hannaford from Carey’s Product Design and Technology workshops, using the School’s laser cutter. This has been a terrific program of collaboration, ably supported by our theatre artist in residence, Tim Schwerdt. Lighting will be designed by another young recent graduate from the Victorian College of the Arts, Jacob Shears. Sound design is by long-term Carey friend Greg Ginger, an Old Carey Grammarian who graduated from crewing the annual Carey musicals to building a highly successful audio production company.

There is another great performing arts opportunity available to our Middle School students: the Middle School Play and Performing Arts Tour. We are looking for a group of around 30 actors and 15 musicians. Together we will be developing our own adaptation of the Dickens story A Christmas Carol. This innovative production with music will be presented at Carey in the last week of October. It will then hit the road over the Melbourne Cup weekend, with performances booked in Beechworth, Chiltern, Corowa, Yackandandah and Bright. The play will be directed by Melbourne actor David James. We have been presenting country tours for many years, and they provide a fantastic way to both develop strong performance skills and to share experiences with local communities. Applications are due next term. Full details can be found here.

Martin Arnold
Head of Music

Feature image: Model of the Strictly Ballroom set designed by Riley Tapp.

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