“Eurobeat, the glorious stage musical that celebrates everything we love and cringe about every time we watch the Eurovision Song Contest.” This is the opening line of the synopsis for Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision and immediately it promises so much. Everyone has heard of Eurovision, and, at some time in our lives, we have watched some of it, whether we were forced to by friends or eagerly settled down onto the couch with popcorn ready for a night of interesting entertainment. Whether embarrassed or proud to be watching, between 100 million and 600 million people worldwide have tuned in to the Eurovision Song Contest, making it one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world. It has launched the careers of Celine Dion and ABBA, and, beginning in 1956, is one of the longest running television shows in history.
And now, GSODA inc. The Geelong based Theatre Community, is taking its audiences on trip around the world with Eurovision: Almost Eurobeat. As an interactive show with rules such as ‘marvel at & ogle the contestants in wonderment’, and ‘practice waving your flag’, audiences are bound to have a good night out.
The director, Christian Cavallo has had much experience in musical theatre, boasting 30 plus shows under his belt, including Grease, Les Miserables, Anything Goes, Rent, and is about to go to New York to perform John Bucchino’s musical It’s Only Life. He had this to say of his first production as a Director.
“Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision parodies the well known annual Eurovision Song Contest. So in essence, our show is one big concert where the audience is treated to a musical and visual feast as well as a laugh-per-minute evening of entertainment. For this reason, I tend not to refer to it as 'musical theatre', even though in essence it is and the 'musical theatre' setting allows us to parody the real-life event. What you could definitely call unusual are some of the songs sung by some of the countries that are competing throughout the night. Keeping in line with the Eurovision Song Contest, we have been able to create some very zany characters, include some outlandish costumes and creatively experiment with looks and themes and incorporate lighting and multimedia in a way that most shows don't get to.”
Many shows also don’t get to create a show with such a unique kind of audience participation, with the audience being given a country to support and voting for the best acts. But with audience participation comes the danger of things going wrong. The cast has to be very prepared for anything.
“I think I've been very lucky in this respect based on my cast alone,” says Cavallo. “ I am blessed with two very capable and experienced hosts. Sergei is played by Shane Lee who can ad-lib like there is no tomorrow. Shane has been engaged in many amateur and professional productions over his career, is perfectly hilarious in this role and his comic timing never falters. Boyka is played by Geelong's "Queen of Radio", Paula Kontelj. Paula hosts the breakfast program on 93.9 Bay FM and comparing and interviewing on the fly are second nature to her. These two really drive the show and have a fantastic rapport. The rest of the cast are made up of some of Geelong and Melbourne's best talent and these guys are ready and raring to go in any situation! As the audience will be voting for the winner each night, and the result can vary, we've rehearsed ending options for any given situation, and the cast know that while we have set modules of script and dialogue, they need to be prepared for the order of things to change each night.”
In terms of the process, Cavallo says it’s been “very challenging, but highly rewarding. As I currently live in Melbourne, and have been largely away from the Geelong theatre scene for the last five years, the talent I was aware of in the region were mainly people I performed with five years ago along with a few new faces where I've attended recent local productions. With that in mind, I had a wish list of people I hoped would audition, but was definitely open to whoever came through the door. I ended up casting a balanced mix of people I did and didn't know, and I have loved working with all of them. I struggled for a few boys initially, but after a few phone calls and some hard selling, I was very happy that we were able to cast each role appropriately. Each country features a smaller group of performers from the ensemble cast and this made the rehearsal attendance less regular for some in the beginning, making the commitment to this show more manageable. We also had two cast members drop out midway due to other commitments and this did impact us, but we were able to recast the roles and I am pleased to say everyone involved has had a blast through the rehearsal period. I can honestly say I have spent most rehearsals laughing which is a very good indication of where we're at. The cast have bonded nicely, and I think this is evident as they perform together. It's very much a show that you fall in love with and you look forward to the next rehearsal because it is, quite simply, fun.”
And why should audiences get out to Geelong for this show? Quite simply, because it’s fun! “This show has something for everyone, and you can't help but enjoy the spectacle. The talent on display is fantastic! We are also lucky enough to feature two premiere songs which makes the production even more exciting! The choreography by Kirsten Blake, Meriki Comito and Simon Vowles varies from cheesy to intricate and clever. The costumes by Sally Smith are fantastically loud and eccentric. The lighting and multimedia design by BAAC Light is incredible and never before has a lighting design of this scale been produced at an amateur level. Lastly, we have had a chance to create some of the most diverse and relatable characters you will see on the stage, drawing on all kinds of pop-culture references and ethnic backgrounds. If you've ever wanted to see the Backstreet Boys, Bjork and Britney share the stage, you won't see it here… but you'll get something very close in amongst our 14 competing countries! I am confident that our audiences will enjoy the night out!”
This exciting production will be staged in the Playhouse Theatre of Geelong Performing Arts Centre from 20th August. To book tickets, go to the following link: