Musical theatre out of hibernation

The Highlights — Celebrating A Decade of Musicals show director Doug Kamo (left) and Strawberry...
The Highlights — Celebrating A Decade of Musicals show director Doug Kamo (left) and Strawberry Sound lighting designer Alex Jones discuss lighting colours (in this case pink lighting), while Strawberry Sound technicians, Regent Theatre staff and volunteers continue setting up the stage for the large-scale show, which opens next Wednesday. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
After a very lean year for the arts, the chance to sing and dance for real live audiences is a great thrill for the 60-strong cast of The Highlights.

A joint effort from Musical Theatre Dunedin, Taieri Musical Society, and DKCM Productions, the show celebrates a decade of musicals in the city.

Director Doug Kamo said musical theatre in Dunedin had suffered the double blows of losing planned productions of Les Miserables and Mama Mia! this year, due to Covid-19.

"Both of those shows had been cast and were in rehearsals, so having to postpone both until 2021 was a huge loss for the musical theatre community," Kamo said.

In addition, work had dried up for lighting and sound technicians and other production support staff, which had led to some having to leave the industry.

"Things were looking pretty dire, so it became clear that we needed to try and do something to bring musical theatre to life this year," he said.

With large-scale productions becoming increasingly popular in recent years, musical theatre in the city had a solid patron base of about 10,000 people.

There was also an extraordinary pool of talent, including many "triple threats" (people who can sing, dance and act), yearning for a chance to perform.

"So, it seemed like a good time to come together to bring world-class entertainment to our audience, and to help recoup some of our losses," Kamo said.

During the past 10 years, the three production companies have staged about 25 shows, which has given the production team of Doug Kamo (director), Michael Grant (musical director), Emma Holloway (choreographer), Beth Waite (vocal director) and Jen Hughson (wardrobe design- plenty of choice.

"We are allowed to do three numbers from each show, which means there will be production number after production number — just the big hits," Kamo said.

Performing the songs is a very large and enthusiastic local cast, including 25 experienced lead performers among 60 adults and 70 children learning about musical theatre in a Taieri Musical Society school holiday programme.

As the show needs to move quickly, the staging also includes a large multi-media component, created by Ben Thomas, Kamo said.

"The show is going to look great, and there is a fantastic energy about it from cast, crew and audience - tickets sales have really taken off.

"It’s going to be a fabulous season of entertainment - all 100% local."

• The Highlights - Celebrating a Decade of Musicals will run from October 14 to 17 at the Regent Theatre.

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