BWW Feature: LIGHTS UP ON THE ARTS [HOME DELIVERY]
The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has devastated the Australian theatre industry. While the closure of theatres has significantly helped fight this pandemic by ensuring social distancing, Australian arts' workers have been left with the grim reality of unemployment. Despite this sudden and unforeseen shutdown of theatre, the comradery and resilience of those working in entertainment continues to shine. This is evident in the hard work of James Cutler and Joshua Robson Productions who have ensured that the show will go on, by establishing an outstanding performance initiative called LIGHTS UP ON THE ARTS [HOME DELIVERY].
This exclusive concert, hosted by James Cutler (School of Rock), will be held on Facebook Live on Monday 11th May, from 7pm. Audiences will be delighted to see some of Australia's finest music theatre talent sing live from their living rooms. Songs from acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz will be performed. Schwartz has an extensive body of work which includes Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, The Prince of Egypt, Children of Eden, The Baker's Wife as well as many other works and collaborations. An evening of such devine, powerful and joyous music is the perfect opportunity to allow audiences to help support the backbone of Australian musical theatre.
Sitting down, via zoom, I got to catch up with Andrew Cook and Glenn Hill, who are two of the acclaimed performers appearing on Monday night. We discuss politics, what life is currently like for the Australian arts' community, the current trend of filmed theatre performances and their first hand experience of seeing a show shut down. Both Cook and Hill were starring in Darlinghurst Theatre Company's intimate production of A Chorus Line, when it was suddenly closed.
Cook discusses, "We were cancelled literally the day of our opening night... it was really devastating... we were all super passionate about that piece... and Darlinghurst [Theatre Company] are the most amazing company... I have never seen a company work so hard to keep a show on in my life."
Hill elaborates "I've never heard of or seen anything like this...entertainment kinda gets people through, entertainment is something that can take people out of their daily lives... we're sort of a bit of an escape for people, and I think it's just a real kick in a time like this... when people really need it and they just can't get access to it... it's really sad."
On the discussion of their participation in LIGHTS UP ON THE ARTS [HOME DELIVERY] on Monday night Hill mentions, "What we're trying to do with nights like this is... give people a night to sit back and be entertained... take their minds off things for a while."
We move to the topic of how modern technology and social media platforms are allowing performers to share their craft. "We're adaptable little creatures and we're resilient... people aren't just lying down, they're coming up with new ideas... and there not going to let this stop us from doing what we do...I think the world without arts is a pretty sad and scary place, and I feel we really really all need to band together to save it", says Hill.
Cook and Hill will be joined by a plethora of talent from shows that have recently closed, been postponed or delayed. These performers include Johanna Allen (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Michelle Brasier (Melbourne International Comedy Festival), Ryan Gonzalez (Merrily We Roll Along), Doug Hansell (Come From Away), Georgina Hopson (The Secret Garden), Loren Hunter (Six), Joe Kosky (School of Rock), Andrew Kroenert (School of Rock), Lucy Maunder (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Todd McKenney (Shrek), Ben Mingay (Shrek), Cle Morgan (Harry Potterand the Cursed Child), Sarah Murr (Shrek), John O'Hara (School of Rock), Monique Salle (Shrek), Jamie Rogers (Billy Elliot), Justin Smith (Billy Elliot), Alana Tranter (Come From Away), Lyndon Watts (A Chorus Line) and Chloe Zuel (Six).
Producer Josh Robson has said, "It is our hope that the optimistic and uplifting nature of Stephen Schwartz' music, together with our program, will remind Australia and beyond that the arts matter, that we are a source of joy in the world, and, failing all else, the arts will sustain our world through even the toughest of situations. We think that's worth celebrating!"
LIGHTS UP ON THE ARTS [HOME DELIVERY] will be streamed on Facebook live from 7pm on Monday 11th May. More information can be found at facebook.com/joshuarobsonproductions