“Talent, tenacity, and teamwork.”

These are the three words that have been chosen to describe the unique and wonderful experience that is Starbound.

Run at the start of every year, Starbound is a two week full-time intensive musical theatre workshop that culminates in three “huge” shows for enthusiastic, energetic and above all passionate 14-21 year old performers.

Coming into its 12th year of production, audiences have been treated to an eclectic mix of show-stopping numbers at past events, including everything from passionate renditions of ‘One Day More’ (Les Misérables) to hilarious performances of ‘Turn it Off’ (The Book of Mormon) as well as original pieces of material such as ‘Oprah’ (The Other Man) and co-founder, director and producer Jason Parker is as excited as ever to keep on bringing the magic.

“This year I’m trying to think I’m starting again and I’m so excited by the songs,” Parker says. “I am scared by a couple of them. […] Like how do you potentially do ‘Circle of Life’ (The Lion King) without having everyone dressed as animals?”

That question will inevitably be solved by the dynamic duo of Parker and his wife, Georgie Parker (co-founder of Launchpad Drama and Starbound) as they have been for the past 14 years.

Starting in 2002 with As You Wish Productions (a 6 week part-time version of the current Starbound formula) the Parker duo have been making the magic happen ever since. Due to the popularity of the format, the not-for-profit “As You Wish” was cut to make way for a new bigger and better, and spectacular venture.

And as they say, the rest is history.

Beginning with a cast of 33 in its first year, comprising a cast of local school kids, Starbound has gone from strength to strength building in cast size every year drawing from all over Victoria. The unexpected yet highly welcomed influx of participants within the first six years forced the program to be moved from the Royce Theatre at Rutyon Girls School to the larger Geoffrey McComas Theatre at Scotch College in Hawthorn.

“At Ruyton I think the most we thought we could get in there physically was 62, and that was probably too many.

“You would have to get dressed outside, running from left to right outside the theatre, with costumes stored under the trestle tables in the foyer. It was a mad house!”

The move proved vital to Starbound’s growth, with cast sizes now averaging around 80 youth members.

With this growth the standard is constantly increasing. This is also partly due to the incredibly talented professionals coming in each year to help choreograph and direct numbers. Names such as Michael Ralph (West Side Story), Luigi Lucente (Dogfight), Dana Jolly and Mr. 24601 himself, Simon Gleeson (Les Misérables) have all played their part in creating Starbound productions over recent years.

One might imagine booking these talented artists as mentors would be a mammoth task, but Mr. Parker says it is quite the opposite.

“I don’t think there has been anybody who hasn’t wanted to come back.”

He believes that is down to the environment that is fostered at Starbound.

“Once they’re in, they enjoy the enthusiasm of the kids, they enjoy the professionalism of the schedule and of what they are doing. They are not just babysitting, they are coming in to work hard and being challenged artistically.”

Despite all the success and popularity of the workshop, Mr. Parker firmly believes that it is the kids themselves that makes Starbound so special.

“[Starbound is a place for] young people to work passionately with other young people on something that they are passionate about…where they can take risks and where they can feel supported by a family type atmosphere.”

With the amount of interest and support for Starbound in the community, the Parker’s would love to consider touring in the future.

“Every year we say, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could do [another weekend of performances] and do a Friday night in Ballarat and a Saturday night in Bendigo?’”

They also toyed with the idea of taking the model to Adelaide or to Sydney.

“What an experience for the cast. What an experience to be able to show people what young people can do!”

Starbound 12 will be auditioning this weekend, read below for more information.

Auditions: Sunday 15th of November, at Strathcona in Canterbury. Times: 11am, 1pm or 3pm (call or email to register). Auditions may be submitted by video, but must be registered. Contact Jason Parker on 0425760470 or [email protected] to book an audition, and visit the Starbound Facebook page for further info.