In their first full musical production, Blue Saint Productions won Best Production of an Independent Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Mitchell Butel) and Best Musical Direction (Lucy Bermingham) in the 2015 Sydney Theatre Awards for their Australian professional premiere of Violet. The musical is from the Tony Award-winning Jeanine Tesori (Caroline or Change, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek The Musical) with a libretto by Brian Crawley (The Little Princess).
When I asked award-winning director, Mitchell Butel about the recent success of Violet in Sydney, he replied, “It’s an incredibly beautiful score and I couldn’t have asked for a better cast, either in Sydney or in Melbourne.”
It’s now Melbourne’s turn to experience this award winning production as Violet opens at Chapel Of Chapel tonight. Reprising their roles for the Melbourne season are Samantha Dodemaide, Steve Danielsen and Barry Conrad.
“Oh, they’re amazing!” remarked Butel about his leading performers. “Apart from being gorgeous and singing like angels, they have a great chemistry between them.”
Also returning for the Melbourne season are Damien Bermingham as Violet’s father and emerging star, Luisa Scrofani as the young Violet.
New to the cast are Deidre Rubenstein, (fresh from the sold out Melbourne season of Ladies In Black), Jordan Pollard, Cherine Peck and Jack O’Riley. Butel regards the Melbourne cast as being equally as strong as the original Sydney cast.
Butel says the production will essentially be the same as the Sydney season, but they will simply “fan out” a little more to accommodate the larger theatre at Chapel off Chapel. The old church is the ideal venue for this particular musical.
“It always sounds fantastic in there, so it will be great,” commented Butel.
The musical revolves around the character of Violet – a young girl who was left disfigured in a tragic accident. Carrying both facial and emotional scars, Violet sets off on a search for beauty across the country. The musical is set in the American South in the 1960’s.
Butel admits Violet is a tough character with deep emotional scars and initially he was uncertain if audiences would be willing to embrace her.
“She’s certainly not Maria Von Trapp on a hill!” laughed Butel.
Thankfully, audiences have embraced this character and have been willing to go on a journey with Violet. Butel said audiences connected emotionally to the story. The Sydney season saw audiences in tears, with standing ovations each night.
Violet is a show with a wide appeal. While regular musical theatre lovers will enjoy Violet, it’s also been well received by people who don’t usually enjoy musicals. The vibrant, multi-genre score encompasses Blue Grass, Soul and Gospel styles of music.
“It’s just a really well told story,” said Butel, inviting Melbourne audiences to “get on the bus” and take this latest journey with Violet.
Violet is playing at Chapel Off Chapel until March 20th.
For tickets: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au