Babirra are presenting the charming Arabian Fantasy Musical, and fate allowed me to catch some of the Cast and Production Team between Sitz Probe and Rehearsal to see what fate has in store for them…
Fate is a tricky concept I think, one that gets me thinking when I’m feeling deeply philosophical. Times like when you are waiting in a bank cue, or you are stuck on the Eastern Freeway, outbound, between Chandler Highway and Bullen Road at 5pm on a Monday afternoon. And because there is a Musical about almost every topic under the sun (or it may seem that way) luckily for me, some lovely men in the 50’s adapted the music of classical composer Alexander Borodin in order to make a musical on this very topic of fate. It has all the ingredients you need: catchy songs, romance, high-jinks, and … slave girls?! If it takes you’re fancy, then sure! Babirra are one of the few companies that are committed to presenting classic Musicals and Operetta; and also have a reputation for always being good for a cup of tea and a biscuit. My visit was no exception.
Being only five days out from Opening Night, fate certainly worked in my favour as I traveled to Canterbury to catch President Owen Davies, Director Rachel Buckley, Musical Director Hamish Paterson and young stars Ashley McPherson and Laura Slavin between Sitz Probe and final rehearsals for the show. Having already had a busy day, it was most gracious of them to meet with me. Their excitement was palpable and the adrenaline obviously pumping with the first day of Prod Week inspiring them all to greater heights.
President Owen Davies gave me the official and unofficial scoop as the reigning Pres and a cast member. “The Committee are very pleased with the progress of the show, as the last two weeks of rehearsals have been very good. The Directors are also pleased with progress at this stage, and now that we’ve bumped in, I can say that this show is going to look fabulous. As a cast member, excitement levels are certainly building after being at the Theatre. I am not aware of any nerves yet, but I’m sure there’ll be a few hearts pumping come Opening Night! It will be visually stunning and fantastic show. It’s a night of great fun in the Theatre.”
Rachel the Director gave no impressions of doubt. In fact for a Director so close to tech week; I have never seen such positivity and enthusiasm! At the very least, she did not appear to be frazzled in the slightest. Smiling is always a good sign, and Rachel had plenty to spare for me! “I know that all Directors are biased, but I think they are magnificent! I can’t believe how well everything is going and I am genuinely impressed. I am very proud, they are like my little Chickens and I am the Mother Hen. They have worked so hard and picked up things so quick, I have always been confident that we have been on schedule. The Costumes are stunning, Roz
Thompson has done a completely new design which I adore. My highlight is the voices. The Quartet in particular will bowl the audiences over I’m sure.”
“Ash in the demanding role of the Poet has been phenomenal, he’s always so prepared. I’m very happy with my leads. They all work so well together, the dynamics of the characters and their interactions are great. You can tell they are living the role and this is precisely what I want them to do. I don’t want to see ‘acting’ I want to see them living their character.”
“Hamish has done a sterling job. He has helped everyone to improve and is getting such a lovely sound from the cast.” Hamish took this opportunity to agree with Rachel. “Everyone’s boundaries have been pushed musically, including mine and I am very happy with our progress. The music of the show is great and the cast bring it to life so well. I think that some of our shows are close to sold out so I urge any potential audience members to book tickets so they don’t miss out!”
And now to the performers of the piece: young Ashley and Laura, each with talent aplenty. Playing father and daughter, the two were certainly excited about the upcoming Opening. “I’m having a great time with Babirra,’ said Ash. “They are such a very social, friendly company which I love. Their priority is making sure everyone is having a good time and enjoying the process. There are no politics or backstage happenings, everyone is great. I also hear they put on a great Gala Supper too, so I’m looking forward to that!”
In terms of the show, Ash came to be playing the character of the Poet by chance, some would even say by Fate…. “I wasn’t familiar with the show previously but I’d heard great things. I was actually interested in playing a comedy role, the role of the villain. I ticked the box for the Poet because I had the right vocal range… Rachel liked me and here I am!”
Laura, playing Marsinah the daughter, has previously been involved with Babirra. “They are such a lovely group, really organised. The production teams have been lovely for both shows, really friendly. Kismet is great because the music is beautiful, it’s a bright colourful show and there are lots of people involved. I think come Friday night I will be nervous and excited, but more excited, especially having heard the orchestra for the first time today!”
Babirra Music Theatre’s production of Kismet opens at The Whitehorse Centre on Friday 28th May and runs until Saturday 5th June.