Glynn Nicholas has a grand plan for community theatre. It’s a grand “euro” – vision.

Nicholas has always been a fan of Eurovision.

“I’ve been watching Eurovision pretty much all my life really and it seems like the perfect variety show.”

While he says there are too many favourite Eurovision moments to mention, Nicholas thinks his earliest memories would be when Abba won with the song ‘Waterloo’. Nicholas also remembers watching when Buck’s Fizz and Celine Dion participated.

Now it’s just part of the annual entertainment for Nicholas – and for many other Australians. Over 4.2 million Australians watched Eurovision last year, when Australia was entered as a contestant for the very first time. This year, Australia returns to the competition when the song contest takes place in Stockholm, Sweden next month.

Sweden is a long way from Australia. St Kilda, is much, much closer!

Song Contest – The Almost Eurovision Experience is as close as you can get to the real thing, “It’s just like being there, but instead of having to go to, this time, Stockholm Sweden, you just come to St Kilda! It’s a lot closer!”

What Nicholas has tried to create is an accessible version of Eurovision. Like the famous European song contest, he’d like the musical Song Contest to be an annual event.

“Like Eurovision, it will be on every year. So it will be on again next year – the same brand, the same product, but a new host city, with new countries competing,” explained Nicholas.

Song Contest - Iceland

There is no limit to the acts in Song Contest.

“Anything goes – the more cheese, the better!” laughed Nicholas.

What makes Song Contest – the Almost Eurovision Experience different to other theatre events, and the reason why audiences and critics have been raving since it opened at the Alex Theatre, is the level of engagement from the audience. Audiences are assigned to a particular country and vote on the night to determine which country takes out the prize for that performance.

“There’s nothing more dramatic than deciding what’s going to happen, so the audience votes and chooses who wins on the night. Eurovision is a social event, not just a passive event. That’s what we’re aiming for,” said Nicholas, explaining that audiences become very passionate once they’ve been assigned to a country.

“People like to be in tribes. They like to belong and there’s a very friendly competitiveness that happens in the theatre itself, so that’s lovely.”

Song Contest - Russia

The grand vision for Song Contest extends way beyond this current season at the Alex Theatre.

“We’re putting a production of this on in Germany next year. We’re already got two groups in the UK and one in New Zealand who want to put it on.”

Nicholas also wants to encourage community groups to see the show and then put on their own production.

“We’d love this to be the most sought after production for people to put on. We’ll be doing a lot to help them with marketing and merchandising,” said Nicholas, explaining how community groups will be supported via a website where ideas can be shared and groups can be supported.

He wants this to be an easy show for community groups to produce.

“We’ll be right in the middle of it all and helping with any problems they may have,” said Nicholas.

Song Contest flags

For now, the first season of Song Contest – the Almost Eurovision Experience is playing at the Alex Theatre St Kilda.

Grab some friends and head to St Kilda for a night of hilarious fun. If you’re already a fan of Eurovision it’s the perfect warm up event before the actual contest next month. If you know nothing about Eurovision it’s the ideal introduction.

To quote Glynn Nicholas, Song Contest is “a joyful celebration of this weird, wonderful and ridiculous competition.”


Song Contest – the Almost Eurovision Experience is playing at the Alex Theatre, St Kilda until Sunday May 1st.