Many amateur theatre companies in Victoria have struggled to stay afloat in recent times, particularly since the Global Financial Crisis intensified in 2008. Potential theatre goers became more thrifty and with so many companies indirectly competing for audiences it is understandable to have had companies scaling down productions or even taking a final bow. Despite this Players Theatre Company (PTC)has achieved great success and stability.
President, Mario Mohorko, describes 2009-2010 as significant break out years in the history of the company. For the 2010 season alone the company received 16 Lyrebird Award nominations. “Of course, it’s not about the awards but it is a good feeling to get the recognition for all of the effort everyone has put in.” Said Mohorko.
A small local company based out of Fleigner Hall in Clayton, PTC were formed in 1982 as a church theatre group for the Holy Family Parish. In the last five years the company has been revamped and has grown from strength to strength – producing a series of high calibre shows involving many local thespians both on and behind the stage. When asked how the company has managed to attract such a diverse membership Mohorko explained “If a company can consistently provide a fun, comfortable place to be, that’s what keeps people coming back. New performers can see from the get go that our committee members have a presence, are involved in almost every facet of a production and make people welcome to the company. We welcome new energy and ideas, and this also helps in retaining quality talent.”
This can be seen in that many of the current and recent members of the committee are relatively new to the company. In fact 75% of the cast of 2010’s ‘Hot Mikado’ were new. This influx of ‘new blood’ on stage and off is partly credited for PTC’s success. “The addition of Simon Horsburgh as treasurer has been fantastic. He’s been integral to the reassessment and reigning in of our show budgets, allowing us to increase our financial stability while still putting on quality performances.”
Given the passion of any company committee there is often an excess on original budget plans for a production – an occurrence which the new treasurer has helped alleviate. The entire committee should be commended for recognising that an audience will regularly forgive a ‘cardboard cut-out’ set provided that the performers, orchestra and sound are of a high standard.
PTC have committed to producing a small show followed by a large scale production for each season. The company’s latest venture – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – is led by a young, passionate production team, several of whom have gained the opportunity after appearing in previous PTC shows.
Tim McDonald, who plays the title role in the production describes what attracted him to the company and the show “[You’re a good man, Charlie Brown] has been a favourite of mine since I first heard the soundtrack when it came out. I heard that Players were doing Charlie Brown,[and] it was a no brainer, I had to audition. It’s such a fun show, the music is fantastic, and I love the character style of performing. If you had asked me any time what my dream show would be, it would have been You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Besides that, Players is a great company, and I really enjoy working with them, but that’s what attracted me to audition in this particular case. It’s a great show choice and a really fun show.”
With a small cast and venue the performances will be more intimate for the audience than a large- scale production. “It is a fun light hearted show, but it’s also very innocent and it pulls at the heart strings,” McDonald says, “When Charlie Brown was on television, he got so much sympathy from audiences, that television stations were inundated with Halloween candy and Valentines cards for the little boy who never got a Valentines card, and only ever got rocks for Halloween. Everything keeps going wrong for him, and any reader of the comic strip would be well familiar with his bad luck. But he just keeps getting up again and giving everything he’s got. It’s inspiring and people love it. And all the characters in the show are lovable. It’s such a fun and innocent production. It’s got heart.”
Apart from sticking to a conservative budget, show choice has been integral to the recent success of Players Theatre Company. The committee selects shows which will attract quality performers “‘Charlie Brown’ hasn’t been done a lot locally, and audiences are perhaps leaning toward these ‘newer’ shows over those that are getting a bit long in the tooth. The show fits the mould of the company – seeking to put on shows that people of all ages can enjoy and relate to. Furthermore, this show and others we’ve done recently have attracted quality performers that people will come to see,” says Mohorko. MacDonald agrees, “The cast is great, the music is catchy, the sets are looking fantastic, and all the choreography is looking perfect too. If you want a fun night then you really can’t go wrong with this show.”
Mohorko concludes “If you don’t know Players Theatre Company, the cast or the show then definitely get behind it!”
To book tickets for ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’ call 0434 669 594, or visit the Players
Theatre Company website at http://www.playerstc.net/current-show.htm.