Wonthaggi Theatrical Group – Little shop of Horrors
22 September – 2 October 2016, Wonthaggi State Coal Mine
On Thursday last week I attended the opening night of Wonthaggi Theatrical Group’s (WTG) 2016 production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, directed by Karen Milkins-Hendry. Ten years ago, I shared Wonthaggi’s stage with my two best friends in the very same production, directed by Karen Milkins-Hendry. The experience I had on Thursday was un-real.
First of all, the production is an absolute delight. Milkin’s Hendry has taken the Musical to it’s limits – developing it’s characters and setting with a focus on intriguing, engaging and captivating the audience. The production was absolutely magnificent with strong performances all round, fabulous vocals, a smashing band and sensational puppets (you have to go and see this show!).
As a ten-year anniversary production, Milkins-Hendry honours her earlier work by providing moments to reflect the 2006 production. The subtleties of a picture, direction, or moment in imitation of the 2006 production play a tribute to the earlier performance, and importantly reflect on the 10 year journey of WTG. The current Little Shop production opens a new performance space; it is the first production hosted at WTG’s venue at the State Cole Mine. This invaluable venue is the product of years of volunteer work: dreaming, planning, building, applying for grants…the hours are countless and the work is often thankless. WTG’s new venue paves the way for a bright future in performing arts locally and is the perfect venue for this anniversary production.
In addition to the amazing performance and venue, for me the experience was more sublime than the entertainment and excitement of those in the audience around me as I wasn’t only transported to the fictional Skid Row – I was literally taken back in time.
2006 was a big year for me. At the end of 2005 I had decided between Advanced Marine Biology and Musical Theatre – choosing to take a position at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in pursuit my dreams to be a Musical Theatre performer. While studying at the VCA I landed my first lead role as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors with Wonthaggi Theatrical Group. Little Shop gave merit to my decision to follow a performance pathway and fed the creative motivations of Rory, Will and I. From this we went on to write and create several comedic, raucous and fun-filled theatre pieces for our hometown audience and eventually branched out into our own niches. On Thursday night I had a very rare experience of re-living the beginning of it all.
The gratitude hit me like a rock. I am so lucky. Lucky to have landed those opportunities at exactly the right time. Mostly, lucky to have such amazing and special friends. Now, ten years on, I realise how unique those friendships are. I also realise more than ever the value of community theatre. Without community theatre I simply would not have had the courage to dream, or the support to realise those dreams. Today, community theatre plays a different role in my life – one where I hope I can help inspire and motivate young people, and where I can express myself and indulge my passions for music and performance.
It’s been a long time between blogs and I hope to close the gap for good.