Michael Butler chats to Emil from BLOC Music Theatre about Spring Awakening, opening February 9.
TP: BLOC still remains a bit of a mystery for theatre people based in Melbourne. Can you demystify both BLOC and theatre in Ballarat for the rest of us?
Emil: The strength of BLOC has always been in its foresight and the supportive environment in which it nurtures young talent. BLOC receives strong support within the local community and it in turn gives much back. I must commend BLOC on taking a chance and investing resources in to the senior ‘Boutique’ season (I love you, you’re perfect, now change!; Spelling Bee; and now Spring Awakening), for recognising there is an Off-Broadway sized hole in Ballarat’s theatrical landscape and for allowing us creative freedom to do what we do.
BLOC also has a strong juniors program, which I believe is the main reason it is such a successful company. Junior shows provide a real opportunity, not only to performers but also to people wanting to try their hand in stagecraft. This provides a chance for people to work in all aspects of the theatre, to become theatre people, and as you well know, being a theatre person is for life.
Many people talk about the BLOC family, and it does feel that way. I have risen through the junior program, not only
performing in both junior and senior production, but also running props, production-managing, assistant directing and of course directing. For this opportunity I thank BLOC, I feel very honoured to be entrusted with a production on the scale of Spring Awakening.
TP: You have chosen a great show and have a value for money ticket price. What other reasons do you think people will make the journey for Spring Awakening?
Emil: People should make the journey for three reasons: Cast, cast, cast. In this regard we have being lucky beyond belief and beyond what I could have hoped for. The passion, driv,e and commitment shown by all members has been exemplary and I cannot thank them, or praise them, enough. Not to mention the sound when they all sing together, it is something to savour.
Then of course there is the choreography. Eamonn George and Vanessa Sheehan have worked tirelessly with the
cast to craft some beautiful original work, which really must be seen.
The band, led by Stacey-Louise Camelleri, are not only phenomenal musicians in their own right, but muso’s who really understand and relish playing together; and you can hear it.
To top it all off the Helen MacPherson-Smith theatre is a truly unique space and anyone who is yet to
experience a show there, is missing out.
TP: Spring Awakening is one of those once-in-a-generation kind of shows and the hype behind it is huge. Why do you think this is?
Emil: Spring Awakening has been a revelation to Broadway and to 21st-century Music Theatre. It is relevant and it
is accessible to modern audiences (no mean feat considering the original play was written in 1892). Apart from that the show is non-conventional. It is a surprise for people who are used to a certain format when they go to see a show. These factors coupled with the score and script make for an exciting production.
TP: What moves you personally about the show?
Emil: What I love about the show is it’s boldness and it’s message. It’s not fluff, it’s not pure sentiment, it’s got a message.
TP: The show has a bitching score. How is it all sounding and what are some of the highlight moments?
Emil: Everyone will have his or her own highlights. That’s what’s so good about this show. Everyone relates and reacts to different things.
TP: The original Broadway production was produced in a very specific artistic way. Are you staying true to the format, getting a litte creative, or taking a totally different approach?
Emil: I’ve tried my best to hold true to the message of the show, but have been happy to allow the creative process to influence this production. I’ve tried to grow it from the ground up. The cast have had a huge influence on the creative process through work-shopping and improvisation and im proud of that. I never want to present a diet version of another production and I’ve tried to look at everything at it’s merits and go with what is best for our production
TP: BLOC casts/crews are always credited as being particularly talented. What can we expect from you current group?
Emil: The fact that we’re doing a production as exciting as Spring Awakening attracts people from far and wide, people who like the cutting edge. Not only that but because of the way these boutique productions work, university students and people who are generally too busy with work, are able to do these shows during the summer…This translates to a shit hot collaboration.
9th -13th February
For more details check out our ‘What’s On’ section