After revealing it to the industry live on stage at the Helpmann Awards last week, this morning Baz Luhrmann, alongside the creative team from Global Creatures (responsible for the recent Melbourne premiere of King Kong, his wife Catherine Martin, Premier Barry O’Farrell and some sequined dancers, held the official media announcement for the April 2014 premiere of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical at Sydney’s Town Hall.
Not much was revealed about the production, though a March 25th date was given for previews and April 12th, 2014, for the official world premiere, to be held at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre. Creative ensemble Global Creatures will be presenting the production, following on from acclaimed, larger-than-life productions of Walking With Dinosaurs, How To Train Your Dragon: The Arena Spectacular and of course King Kong, which Luhrmann called ” a theatrical musical event… it’s a new form of the musical”.
What they would be bringing to the stage would be seen in two parts. Firstly, as CEO Carmen Pavlovic explained, “Global Creatures have a philosophy of creating locally and exporting to the rest of the world.” This is, of course, a sentiment also held by Luhrmann’s own Bazmark Inq. On this, Luhrmann described his own philosophy, “There’s no reason why we can’t create here… we create our own language and our own way.”
Then there’s the production itself, which Luhrmann promises will “break new theatrical ground”, going on to say “…if we are not breaking new theatrical ground, then at my age why would you bother?” The only features of the show he revealed that would support this claim were that there would be a “participatory element to the show” on behalf of the audience, as well as hinting that “everything in this show would dance…” As for the music? “It’s strictly ballroom, so it dances, but it’s a musical so it sings. It will be a mix of what you know and love and new music created especially for this production.”
Luhrmann talked briefly on the origins of the original film, speaking on the 20 minute University play that started it all, developed “as a response to the cold war”. He said “I’ve never felt the thrill of an audience after walking off stage performing Strictly Ballroom” and that one thing he’s learnt in the decades that have followed has been that “you never know who’s going to be a strictly ballroom fan… (from Bill Clinton to The Pope)…”
Luhrmann admitted that the process of creating this musical has been a challenging one, pointing to the fact that successful productions go on to “live forever” and that they had yet to lock in their lead actors. But with that in mind, he left us on this note, among others: “My great joy is in surprising people. We are going to do everything we can as a team to bring you the best all-singing all-dancing version of Strictly Ballroom… (Sydney is) the right place to do it and this is the right moment for my own personal journey at the age of 50.”
As the search for the leads continues, head to http://www.strictlyballroomthemusical.com/ to find out how you can audition. Or as Baz calls it, “rehearse”. The production will open with previews on March 25th at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre ahead of the World Premiere on April 12th. Stay tuned to the AU for news and updates about the highly anticipated production.