NOVA brings a new show to the amateur arena, debuting the first non-professional production of Dr Zhivago.
Based on the 1957 book of the same name, Dr Zhivago premiered at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney in 2011, starring musical theatre favourites Anthony Warlow and Lucy Maunder.
Set in the early 20th century, Doctor Zhivago tells the story of Yurii Andreyevich Zhivago, who has been raised as an aristocrat. The stirrings of the Russian Revolution send his life in chaos as he is torn between a life with his childhood friend and wife or the mysterious Lara Guishar. He is not the only one in pursuit of her affections and he must compete with revolutionaries and aristocracy alike to win her heart.
Director Noel Browne is at the helm tackling the challenge with a stellar cast and plenty of research.
“Its in many ways more moving and dramatic than the film version because its live and in front of you, but really its up the audiences personal acceptance of the romantic story that survives all the difficult times that they (the characters) live in”, he said.
For Daniel Nieborksi, who plays Pasha Antipov/Strelnikov the experience has been an exciting one.
“The privilege of taking part in the Australian non-professional premiere of Doctor Zhivago is that there isn’t much else to compare our production to. It’s all original ideas. It’s all original thought. From an acting point of view, that’s an incredibly liberating thing – there is little pressure on replicating what another actor may have done with the role. Everyone has been able to develop their characters in their own unique ways – just as the direction and staging of our production is an entirely new interpretation of the show”, he said.
Lauren King, who plays Lara Gusihar, agrees, but also notes the importance of research when tackling such a complex piece of theatre.
“History isn’t my strong point, so I’ve done a lot of research on the Russian revolution and its place in World War One to understand the circumstances and conditions that the characters were living in. I made the conscious decision not to read and watch the various adaptations of the story, as I wanted to make sure that my portrayal was my own, and not bits and pieces from other people’s performances of the role. As a result I’ve spent a lot of time in script analysis, working out the relationship my character has with everyone she meets”, she said.
Something a little unusual about this adaptation is how closely aligned it is to the movie script, which can make some of the scenes and places in time difficult to portray on a stage.
Browne credits his strong cast on being able to adapt and work to create a flow within the production.
“The cast have been really great to work with and are working hard to get the feelings and emotions that they need to convey as well as making the storyline flow”, he said.
Brenton Van Vliet, who plays Yurii Zhivago credits Noel Browne for allowing the actors to explore their characters.
“Noel, our director, has been great in that whilst he has a vision for each scene he allows us as actors to try out new ways of approaching lines and situations, which really gives us a sense of ownership over the roles we are portraying”, he said.
For all though, the hero of the production is the music and the score, composed by Tony nominated Lucy Simon.
“The music of the show, which I think is best described as simply beautiful, I believe will surprise audiences. There are so many “unknown” songs in this production that are instant classics, and when the music plays for the first time an audience may hear it, I think it may be hard not to fall in love with at least a few of the melodies”, said Nieborksi.
Angeline Thompson, who plays Tonia Gromeko agrees. “When the show is finished, I’m going to buy the CD so I can keep listening to it over and over and over”, she said.
Doctor Zhivago opens on Saturday the 27th of October at the Whitehorse Centre in Nunawading.
Saturday 27th October – 8pm
Sunday 28th October – 2pm
Thursday 1st November – 8pm
Friday 2nd November – 8pm
Saturday 3rd November – 2pm & 8pm
Wednesday 7th November – 8pm
Thursday 8th November – 8pm
Friday 9th November – 8pm
Saturday 10th November – 2pm & 8pm
Sunday 11th November – 2pm
Child under 15: $38
Group 10+: $38
Purchase tickets here: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=327948
The Whitehorse Centre
397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading, VIC 3131
For more information head to the NOVA website: www.novamusictheatre.com.au