The Production Company Opens SHOWBOAT Tonight at Arts Centre Melbourne

SHOW BOAT, the first great contemporary musical opens tonight, August 16 in Arts Centre Melbourne's State Theatre for 10 performances.

Alinta Chidzey, Gareth Keegan and Christina O'Neill are the young stars in this new staging by Roger Hodgman with musical direction by Kellie Dickerson. Opera bass, Eddie Muliaumaseali'i makes his first appearance with the company as Joe who sings the show stopping classic, Ol' Man River.

The Production Company is presenting this true classic of American musical theatre for a season of ten performances only. Based on Edna Ferber's novel of the same name, Show Boat is the story of the Hawks family and their show boat troop of actors aboard the Cotton Blossom floating theatre. It's a celebration of the extended family and theatre people.

This tale of life on the Mississippi River is both a poignant love story and a powerful reminder of the bitter legacy of racism. It spans four decades, starting in the Deep South in the 1880's in the years following the Civil War, and moving on to turn-of-the-century Chicago, World War l, the jazz age and the Roaring Twenties.

The magnificent Jerome Kern / Oscar Hammerstein II score, which includes such classic songs as Ol' Man River, Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man, Make Believe and You Are Love, will sound glorious under the authoritative baton of music-theatre maestro Kellie Dickerson conducting Orchestra Victoria.

Tickets start at just $24 Bookings can be made at artscentremelbourne.com.au or ticketmaster.com.au and they are priced from $24 to $119.

The Production Company's season runs from August 16 to 24 for ten performances in the State Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne.

ABOUT THE CAST:

ALINTA CHIDZEY
Magnolia Hawks

This is Alinta's third season performing with The Production Company. Previously she has starred as Svetlana in Chess and Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain, receiving Green Room nominations for both roles.

Alinta played the role of Anita in West Side Story, where she was nominated for a Helpmann Award, Green Room Award, Sydney Theatre Award and two GLUGS Awards as Best Supporting Actress and was awarded the Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Performance.

Other credits include Mickey in Leader of the Pack! (Green Room Award), The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary), Demeter in Cats, Dusty - The Original Pop Diva!, Mamma Mia!, Dirty Dancing in the Netherlands and Alice in Patrick Marber's play Closer.

Alinta's screen credits include the U.S. telemovie The Frontier for Sony, the short film Courage, two ABC series, The Dr Blake Mysteries, Winners and Losers and Neighbours.

For the past two years Alinta featured as soloist with The Queensland Symphony Orchestra for QPAC's season of The Spirit of Christmas. She fronts her own jazz/soul band Alinta and the Jazz Emperors and would like to dedicate her performance to her husband Remco.

GARETH KEEGAN
Gaylord Ravenal

Gareth's graduated from WAAPA IN 2007. His theatre credits include Mickey in Blood Brothers, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance for The Production Company, Stormy in the World Premiere of Cat Steven's Moonshadow, Gabe in MTC's Next To Normal (Green Room Award Nomination), Alternate Frankie Valli in the Original Cast of Jersey Boys, Gaybies for the Midsumma Festival 2013, Phantom Swing in Gale Edward's The Rocky Horror Show, Young Thing in Hello Again, Ste in A Beautiful Thing at the Stables Theatre, and Les Darcy in Nick Enright's The Good Fight (New York Music Theatre Festival).

He performed at the 2013 Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Tyran Parke's Compositions and features on the album of the same name. Gareth has also been involved in various workshops of new shows such as All Out of Love: The Air Supply Musical, Dreamlover, An Officer and a Gentlemen, Truth Beauty and a Picture of You: The Whitlams Story, Tim Finn's The Woman in Black, Matthew Robinson's Happy People, The Silver Donkey, Moonshadow and Georgie Girl. Television credits include Kurt Cobain in Mr & Mrs Murder, Constable Archie Cooper in Underbelly Squizzy, and Rueben Hayes in The Dr Blake Mysteries.

CHRISTINA O'NEILL
Julie LaVerne

Christina graduated from WAAPA in 2005 and has also trained at 16th Street Actors Studio and Stella Adler Studio of Acting. Most recently, she played The Baker's Wife in Victorian Opera's Into the Woods and last year she performed the role of Dot/Marie in their production of Sunday in the Park with George.

She is currently an ensemble member of Red Stitch Actors Theatre and has appeared in Belleville directed by Denny Laurence, Straight directed by Dean Bryant and The Motherf**ker with the Hat directed by David Bell. Christina toured in the hit production Avenue Q, winning a Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role as Christmas Eve in 2010.

Her other stage credits include Gaybies at MTC, part of the Midsumma Festival, Savage in Limbo (Workhorse Theatre Co), Prodigal (Midsumma Festival) Monty Python's Spamalot, Tell Me on a Sunday (Kookaburra) and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the Musical. She also features on the Priscilla Queen of the Desert Original Cast Recording as a Diva. Christina's film and television credits include City Homicide, Jeopardy and The Great Raid.

Christina is delighted to be making her Production Company debut in Show Boat.

EDDIE MULIAUMASEALI'I
Joe

Eddie studied at the Brisbane Conservatorium of Music and was the winner of the McDonald's Aria Award (Sydney). He became a member of the Tiroler Landestheater (2000-2005) in Innsbruck, Austria, performing in both Opera and Musicals. In Australia, Eddie has worked with Opera Australia's OzOpera since 1999 in productions of Carmen (Zuniga), Rigoletto (Sparafucile, Monterone and Ceprano), Madama Butterfly (The Bonze) and Barber of Seville (Basilio) as well La traviata (Marquis and Doctor).

Other key roles include Joe in Show Boat, Paul in Kiss me Kate, Horse in The Full Monty, Mephistopheles in Faust, Zuniga and Doncairo in Carmen, Tom in Un Ballo in Maschera, Angelotti and the Sacristan in Tosca, Colline in La Boheme and the Commendatore, Leporello and Masetto in Don Giovanni. He has performed the roles of Porgy, Crown, Jake and Jim in Porgy and Bess.

For Melbourne Opera, Eddie has performed in Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly and La Boheme. He has also performed with Opera NZ as Angelotti in Tosca and Monterone in Rigoletto for Opera Queensland, Stopera and Christchurch Symphony.

Eddie developed the Education Workshops for Opera Australia's Ozopera Tours from 2000-2014. He facilitated these workshops in every state and territory in Australia at schools, conservatoriums as well as community groups. He has worked for organisations such as Artology and More than Opera as an educator and team leader working in projects such as creating operas in four days.

ROGER HODGMAN
Director

This is the tenth musical Roger has directed for The Production Company. He has directed well over a hundred plays, musicals and operas in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England as well as many hours of television drama.

He was Artistic Director of MTC for twelve years until 1999 (Green Room Awards for best director for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and A Little Night Music). Before that he was Dean of Drama at the VCA and Artistic Director of the Vancouver Playhouse, where he collaborated with Tennessee Williams on premieres of two plays.

Highlights of his busy freelance career since leaving MTC include many episodes of A Secret Life of Us (AFI best director nomination) and Stepfather of the Bride (Telemovie by Geoffrey Atherden, Chicago Film Festival Award for Best Telemovie). In the last three years he has directed Grey Gardens (Helpmann award for best director), several episodes of Packed to the Rafters, the first episode of A Place To Call Home, Don Pasquale (Opera Australia, Tokyo ,Sydney) Rigoletto (OA, Sydney, Melbourne), the National tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Nixon in China (Vic Opera, Green Room award for Best Production), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Sydney Critics Award for Best Musical) and As You Like It for Black Swan.

KELLIE DICKERSON
Musical Director

Kellie is recipient of a Bachelor of Music (Honours, Performance) from the University of Sydney, the Donald Peart Memorial Award for Music, the Brian Stacey Memorial Trust Scholarship to Young Conductors and a place in the Symphony Australia Young Conductor's Programme.

Her career began as pianist/keyboardist on The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon (both Cameron Mackintosh), Turandot (Opera Australia) and The Three Divas, continuing as assistant or associate musical director with Beauty and the Beast (Disney/Jacobsen Entertainment), Show Boat (LiveEnt/Marriner Productions), The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, The Producers (Gordon Frost Organisation), The Mikado (Carl Rosa Opera Company), and The Witches of Eastwick (Cameron Macintosh/Jacobsen Entertainment).

As musical director and/or conductor, engagements include Amici Forever (Sydney Opera House), Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow (Opera Queensland), Respect (Jim McPherson), Annie Get Your Gun and Thoroughly Modern Millie (The Production Company), Australia Plays Broadway (Carnegie Hall) and Wicked (Gordon Frost Organisation/Marc Platt/Universal) for which she won a Green Room Award. As the late Rob Guest's musical director Kellie toured Australia and New Zealand extensively, and with the establishment of an Endowment in his name she continues to be dedicated to the development of young singers, musicians and technicians in our industry.

Kellie was involved in the development of the new Australian musical, Strange Bedfellows (Instinct Entertainment), and was honoured to conduct the Australian premiere season of Dr Zhivago (GFO). More recently she conducted the Australian premiere of Grey Gardens for The Production Company, supervised the Korean language production of Dr Zhivago, and continues to supervise Wicked for the Australasian tour. Through 2012/2013 she was the musical director for the Australian production of Legally Blonde, and joined the supervising team for the Korean language production of Wicked.

Earlier 2014 Kellie traveled on a Churchill Fellowship for professional studies in new music theatre works (New York and Boston), and later this year will be a part of the team supervising the Melbourne and Seoul premieres of Once (GFO, MTC). She is thrilled to be working on a revival of Show Boat with The Production Company, celebrating one of the great scores of musical theatre.

DANA JOLLY
CHOREOGRAPHER

Dana's career began at the age of nine, when she played Gypsy Rose Lee as a child in Gypsy at Her Majesty's Theatre Melbourne. She trained at the Victorian College of Arts and after graduation, danced with the Victorian State Opera and the Australian Contemporary Dance Company.

Dana spent ten years in London, performing and choreographing in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan. Shows included Wayne Sleep's Hollywood and Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance, The Royal Variety Performance, British Music Awards, National Music Express Awards, Winter Olympics in Norway, various fashion, corporate and hair shows, TV, film, video clips, world pop tours, and the Miss World Competition. Dana has worked with Ray Charles, Madonna, Prince, East 17, Cliff Richard, The Kinks, Ewan McGregor, Ray Charles, Michael Ball and Michael Crawford to name just a few.

Various projects in Australia include choreography for several Australian pop artists, corporate jobs for companies such as Crown Casino, Australia Post and The Liberal Party and several television commercials for Channel 9. For three years she was choreographer and movement consultant to Melbourne's Moomba Parade and Water Festival. Dana was Resident Choreographer for the Australian production of We Will Rock You, and The Producers, before choreographing a cast of 2,000 dancers and puppeteers in Citrawarna Colours Of Malaysia Festival celebrating 50 years of Independence. Dana choreographed two productions for The Victorian Opera and the cabaret show Everybody Loves Rhonda for the opening of The Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Dana's Musical Theatre credits include Respect the musical staring Rhonda Burchmore, the recent Australian tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Sydney premiere of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. For The Production Company she has choreographed Anything Goes, Kiss Me Kate, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Little Me, Follies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Show Boat.

Dana also runs her own entertainment company, Voltage International Productions, and is in demand as a freelance teacher throughout Melbourne and Australia. She dedicates all her work to her late parents, who made this all possible, and Ewen and Darcy.

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