Getting a major new musical to the stage is always a significant challenge, particularly when you're in Australia. You can count the number of large-scale local musicals that have really broken through in recent years on just one hand: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Muriel's Wedding, Dream Lover, King Kong and Strictly Ballroom are the only ones that have had big, successful seasons.
The producer behind the stage version of Priscilla, Gary McQuinn, has come up with a unique way of workshopping his next musical and seeing it onto the stage.
It's an adaptation of Starstruck, Gillian Armstrong's 1982 musical movie about two teenagers trying to crack into the music business. The movie is perhaps best known for its soundtrack, which spawned the song 'Body and Soul', penned by Tim Finn (check out the delightfully daggy retro film clip). Most the songs on the soundtrack were by artists from Michael Gudinski's Mushroom Records, and the stage version will feature more songs from that era of the Mushroom catalogue.
A whole bunch of major players from Australian entertainment have joined together to develop the musical, including Gudinski, Destination NSW, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), David Elfick of Palm Beach Pictures, and the owner of Sydney's Lyric and Capitol Theatres, Stephen Found.
Their plan? To workshop the musical at NIDA and produce a staged version at Parade Theatre late next year, showcasing the 2019 graduating class of NIDA. And yes, you'll be able to buy tickets to see its first public staging in Sydney.
It's the first time NIDA has been involved in the development of a musical of this scale, but if you need some reminding as to NIDA's kudos, here's a list of just some of their famous alumni: Cate Blanchett, Baz Luhrmann, Toni Collette, Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving, Yael Stone and Sarah Snook.
The creative team for Starstruck includes director Simon Phillips (who did Priscilla and the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies that's been touring the world for the last few years), set designer Brian Thomson (the Tony Award-winner behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Priscilla), choreographer Andrew Hallsworth (Sweet Charity, Anything Goes, Dream Lover) and award-winning actor Mitchell Butel, who's writing the book of the musical.