Michael Butler heads down to the Fab Factory to check out all things Spring Awakening.

We often get contributors to this site who make the comment that they had the privilege to sit in on a dress rehearsal for an upcoming show. Generally these comments come with a recommendation to see the show, and a declaration of how fabulous it is. It got me thinking: maybe it would be kind of cool to visit a company during their production week and check out what’s going on. Perhaps I could write a different kind of show feature for them. And yep, you guessed it – that’s exactly what I have done.

Tonight I had the opportunity to sit in on the final dress rehearsal for a company with a small and intimate space but a huge reputation for high-quality musical theatre – Fab Nobs. The drive down to the quiet and somewhat dated industrial lot in Bayswater is always a trip well worth making. Over the company’s history it has produced some of the most highly anticipated and high-level Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals in Melbourne. Actors come from far and wide to be a part of the unique Fab Nobs experience and the company never fails to get the best artistic teams in Melbourne working for them.

Fab Nobs are again producing wonderful theatre and this time around they are presenting one of the most controversial and popular shows of the last decade, Spring Awakening.

The cast are abuzz as I arrive at the Fab Factory, running around making last minute adjustments to costumes and waiting patiently for microphone fittings. Amid the chaos, committee members are busy stocking the Factory’s ‘Blue Bar’ in preparation for opening night whilst musicians are tuning their instruments in the band room. James Cutler – one of the show’s highly acclaimed directors – talks quietly with company president Leanne Gooding. Meanwhile, co-director Karl McNamara is busy making adjustments to some very impressive set pieces.


The Factory stage has been transformed into what almost looks like a hundred-year-old library. There are literally hundreds of books covering the set and the stage. Yet again Fab Nobs have outdone themselves with an impressive setting on a small stage.

You can feel a mixture of excitement and tension in the air. The cast are looking forward to the night’s proceedings, but you can tell that what they are really counting down to is the opportunity to show their work to an audience. Tonight, however, they will have to settle for the directors, some committee, a few techs, a photographer, and me to cheer them on. As they stand on the stage and commence their vocal warm up under the guidance of musical director Tyson Legg, I have a quick chat with Jack Van Staveren – a young man with endless enthusiasm and talent to match. There appear to be no nerves in him at all; just increasing excitement about the week ahead. For Jack, the rehearsal period has lasted three months, but his love for the show dates much further back.


The stage manager Kat McDonald gives the nod and we are away. Now I am not writing a review of what unfolds for the next two hours but I will just say that the staging and the cast knocked my socks off.

The show comes to an end, and the eyes of the cast and directors depict both relief and excitement. They have pulled it off. Their masterpiece is finished; it is ready for its audience. The last minute blocking of bows takes place amongst what is now almost uncontrollable excitement. What is particularly obvious to me is that this is one of those shows where the cast are extremely passionate about the material, and that they are a cast who have bonded strongly. The friendships that have developed here are solid, and this is obvious in their comfort levels with each other on stage.

The directors are as proud as punch and they let their cast know it. They know that they are on to a winner, regardless of the praise or criticism of public opinion. It is a dream come true for all of them.

I encourage you all to drop by the Factory over the next few weeks to check out an amazingly high-quality production of a high-quality musical. The bar will be well stocked and Fab Nobs will be turning on their always refreshing charm.


Fab Nobs Theatre presents

Spring Awakening

The Fab Factory, Bayswater
18 March – 2 April

For more details check out our ‘What’s On’ section