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    Liam Robertson.
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    Jess Wilson is producer for the upcoming Broadway Showcase.

The show goes on for Horsham Arts Council

By LOTTE REITER

Ask anyone involved with Horsham Arts Council and they would likely say it is ‘exciting times’ for the Wimmera theatre company.

After closing the curtain on its two premier productions – Rock of Ages and Mamma Mia – for the year, the group was back under the spotlight following a week of award nominations as well as cast announcements for its first 2020 show.

A Broadway Showcase, featuring 24 musicals previously unsung by the council, will have 70 cast members performing songs from the likes of Wicked, Matilda and Hamilton in May next year.



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But before the production hits the stage, Horsham Arts Council hopes to secure a win from eight nominations in the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria, MTGV, awards.

The awards will be at the 33rd Bruce Awards Ceremony at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat on December 14.

Council president Simon Dandy said the group joined the guild in 2007 and had received either a commendation or nomination for every show since Cats in 2008.

He said while Horsham Arts Council members never did shows for awards, nominations were confirmation the group was ‘stacking up’ against its peers.

“It really is the icing on the cake,” he said.

“We know we have had two really good shows this year – to get the sold-out shows that we did for Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages, that’s all we care about.

“But if we get to take home any awards, that provides us with the knowledge that we’re doing something good.”

Council’s MTGV nominations this year are Liam Robertson, junior performer in an open production for Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages, and dancers award for Mamma Mia; Susie Mibus, ABBA costumes for Mamma Mia; Jessica Wilson, supporting role for Rock of Ages; Brady King, supporting role for Rock of Ages; Shane Podolski, lighting design for Rock of Ages; and Horsham Arts Council, award of excellence.

Liam, 16, admitted he ‘never really expected’ to be in the running for an MTGV award. The Horsham College student said he was moving to Melbourne next year after being accepted into performing arts school Patrick Studios Australia, with a long-term goal of entering a Broadway career.

He said his three MTGV nominations, for roles of Franz in Rock of Ages and Pepper in Mamma Mia, meant he was taking the right steps to advance his profession.

“It’s quite exciting. It’s pretty much been the whole year that I’ve put so much work into this, and to be recognised for that at a state level is pretty surreal,” he said.

“Particularly in a performing career where nothing is certain, this is a good pat on the back.”

Fellow Horsham Arts Council nominee recipient Jessica Wilson, who has had nominations and won awards for previous shows including Horsham Arts Council’s Godspell, said this year’s nomination was equally unexpected and exciting. 

Huge response

Mrs Wilson is also producer for the upcoming Broadway Showcase.

She said the arts council had received a huge response when casting roles, with performers including Chris Versteegen, Grant Johnson, Pam Deckert and Rachel De Graca Costa, as well as children’s cast Orlan Hart, Harriet Overman and Claudia Lopez, among the successful.

“We had more than 100 people audition,” she said.

“We originally hoped for a cast of 50, but we’ve blown it out to 70. It was getting to the point where we might have been saying ‘no’ to really talented people, so we just thought ‘what’s 20 more?’

“There’s such a mix of musicals that are part of it, from new ones that are out on Broadway, as well as the classics. I think that’s why we had such a huge response. It’s exciting times.”

Mrs Wilson said cast members came from a variety of towns including Ararat, Warracknabeal, Nhill and Rupanyup.

She said the group would start rehearsals in mid to late January, 2020.

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire October 30, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!