Geelong Theatre Is Back!
The big news is that following almost two years of Covid-affected closures postponements and/or severely restricted-audience performances, Geelong’s theatre and musical companies can plan for the future with a degree of certainty. The region’s exceptionally high vaccination rate, with more than 92% of adults fully protected, means that local venues are now preparing to launch some innovative 2022 seasons. Some have already been announced, with Geelong Repertory Company among the first to unveil, while others are waiting for the New Year. Some shows are finally making the stage after multiple delays while others have been shelved and replaced. There are big changes in our venues, too. With the Geelong (performing) Arts Centre still closed for its $multi-million rebuild, The revamped Palais Geelong, at 297 Moorabool St, has emerged to host both Footlight’s Chicago and the 2022 Medimime with the promise of more to come. The City’s Potato Shed, too, has opened a new open-air performance space for Covid-safe concerts.
But be assured that all of our region’s plays, concerts and festivals will appear on these pages.
Geelong’s Dream Lab opens
Geelong’s Essential Theatre has opened a brand new immersive theatrical experience titled The Dream Laboratory in an innovative city-centre venue. The Dream Laboratory will run until January 23 with two 60-minute performances daily at 6pm & 8.30pm .
The event’s promotion reads… “You’re invited into a labyrinth of magic and adventure where reality and dreams collide.
Part narrative, part roaming, part ‘choose your own adventure’, The Dream Laboratory will provide a unique interactive live experience like nothing Geelong has seen before.”
The Immersive Theatre performance is experienced by moving through the venue as the story plays out around the audience. No seating is available for the duration of the performance.
“Immersive” means that the environment is designed to deliver an all-encompassing experience; from the moment guests enter the building, they will feel transported. There may be the opportunity to follow characters or other guests into smaller rooms and spaces if you so choose. You need only interact as much as you are comfortable, or if you prefer to observe from the sidelines you are most welcome to do so. Every choice you make will be the right one.
COVID SAFETY The Dream Laboratory is performed to just 35 audience members at a time. The spaces in the performance are designed for audience members to maintain social distancing and are thoroughly cleaned between performances in line with our COVID-19 venue safety protocols. We will adhere to the COVID 19 government guidelines regarding mask wearing etc.” .Find full details and book for the experience at https://www.essentialtheatre.com.au/essential_production/the-dream-laboratory-in-development/
Read this site’s REVIEW HERE
The Spiegeltent is pitched
With thousands of Melbourne tourists camped along our Peninsula’s coastline, the big smoke’s entertainment has arrived, too. The Wonderland Spiegeltent has returned to Barwon Heads with its highly commercial mix of daytime circus and family shows with adult evening entertainment.
The circus plays throughout the daytime, the packed evening entertainment ranges from Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows to Kate Ceberano, The Big Bash Band, Ella Hooper and more. The Wonderland Spiegeltent will be at its riverside site in Barwon Heads until January 30.
For full programme and booking, visit https://www.wonderlandspiegeltent.com.au/barwon-heads
Rep opens with Nowra’s Aliens
Geelong Repertory Company opens its 2022 season of plays with Louis Nowra’s Summer Of The Aliens directed by the talented and awarded Stacey Carmichael.
The year is 1962 and the whole world is worrying about the Cuban missile crisis – apart from Lewis, a youth on the cusp of manhood who is growing up in a Melbourne housing commission suburb. He is preoccupied with flying saucers, much to the annoyance of his friend Brian, who thinks only of losing his virginity…
The play centres on relationships, especially between 14 year-old Lewis and 14 year-old Dulcie. It is through Dulcie that Lewis begins to understand that the transition to being an adult is the struggle to understand the world around him. A vivid and amusing evocation of a family and a neighbourhood whose increasingly strange behaviour Lewis is forced to interpret in the only way he can… Summer Of The Aliens is in Rep’s Geelong West Woodbin Theatre from January 6 to 16. Book through www.geelongrep.com/summer-of-the-aliens
Cinderella in Queenscliff postponed
Queenscliffe Lighthouse Theatre Group has postponed its proposed School holidays pantomime
Cinderella, slated to run from Monday 10 January to Saturday 15 January in the Queenscliff Uniting Church Hall. The company stated that uncertainty from the latest Covid numbers caused the delay.
The family show, adapted and directed by Debbie Fraser, will be restaged at a date to be announced.
Open air theatre in the cemetery
Geelong’s astonishingly successful History Alive! tours of Geelong cemeteries are about to resume mid January. The tour concept is simple. Groups of 25 people are shown around their graveyard by a cemetery ‘resident’ and on the way, they meet other residents by their graves. Each tells their life story and how they affected Geelong’s – and Australia’s history.
Every resident is carefully chosen, then deeply researched, immaculately costumed – and portrayed by one of our region’s most experienced and awarded actors.
The tours have been described as ‘Geelong’s best open-air theatre’ on many occasions.
Now in their seventh year, and more than 3,000 tourists later, the tours have expanded. 2022 will see five different themed History Alive! tours.
Opening on the weekend of January 15, is the West Geelong Cemetery tour.
There, you’ll meet MP Fanny Brownbill, College founder Dr George Morrison, property owner Mrs Lilias Strachan, benefactor Alexander Miller, ute-designer Lewis Bandt and romantic heiress Mrs Fanny Clee.
Tours are only held at weekends, at 11.00am and 2.00pm.
The Weekend January 22 has an all-female founders tour at Eastern Cemetery; January 29, has Region’s Pioneers; February 5 explores Queenscliff Cemetery and February 12 has an All Champions tour at Eastern Cemetery.
All tours cost $17, book through the Geelong Cemeteries Trust at https://gct.net.au
Take Tea With The Ancestors
An offshoot of Geelong’s History Alive! cemetery tours is a brand new initiative from Drop Of A Hat Productions. It’s titled Afternoon Tea With The Geelong Ancestors and it takes place monthly on a Wednesday afternoon at Club Italia, 505 Bellarine Highway.
The spacious club is ideal for this Covid-safe event – it’s held in the spacious club’s ballroom.
At the afternoon teas, four characters drawn from different History Alive! tours will be in attendance.
They will greet, serve tea & scones and chat to their guests.
They will also take to the Club’s stage and microphone to tell their stories in 5-7 minute chats during the two-hour presentation.
The new production is a response to many requests from patrons who want to meet the History Alive! cemetery tour ancestors without walking around Geelong’s cemeteries.
The first Afternoon Tea With The Ancestors takes place 2.00pm – 4.00pm Wednesday January 19th, with Mr Charles Brownlow, Mrs Elizabeth Austin, Mr James Harrison and Mrs Lilias Straughan in attendance.
Cost is $22, book through https://trybooking.com/BWNDM
Ladies In Black Are finally here
Following a year of Covid-lockdown postponements and some related cast and crew changes, Theatre Of The Damned’s performance of the Australian musical Ladies In Black is set to open mid February at East Geelong’s Shenton Theatre.
The musical, with songs written by Tim Finn and book by Carolyn Burns, is set in a snooty 1950s Sydney department store. The show opened in Sydney in 2015 to critical acclaim and transferred to Brisbane, then Melbourne in 2016 and Canberra in 2017.
Like most shows from Theatre Of The Damned, this is the first time that Ladies In Black has been staged in Geelong.
Ladies In Black is in the Shenton Theatre February 18 – 26, tickets at $37.50 including programme, are at try booking
Cheatin’ At The Potato Shed
Drop Of A Hat’s first Morning Showtime at The Potato Shed is a brand new musical biography of Hank Williams. Researched and written by Colin Mockett, the show will be presented in the company’s familiar format of live music and narration in front of images on the venue’s big screen.
The music for Your Cheatin’ Heart is provided by All Shook Up’s frontman Allan James, who is a long-time Hank Williams fan and who suggested him as a subject for this year’s opener.
But even he was surprised at what Colin’s research has unearthed.
Without giving away too much of Your Cheatin’ Heart’s storyline, Hank Williams was a fascinating character who had more than 30 hit records in his eight-year career. Most are now counted as classics in their genres.
Hank is credited with pioneering both country music and rock & roll – he’s in both Halls of Fame – yet he lived and worked before both genre terms were coined.
And he lived a lifestyle that set the format for the ‘Live Fast And Die Young’ style of rock musicians that followed.
Your Cheatin’ Heart is in The Potato Shed 10.30am Tuesday March 8. Seats aren’t available yet – the season isn’t launched until Feb 2 – but the Potato Shed’s box office number is 5251 1998.
Basilica Concerts At The Double
Geelong’s annual Windfire Concert Series presented under the Music At The Basilica banner and directed by Frank De Rosso will appear twice in 2022. The 12th Annual Windfire Music Festival, postponed from 2021, will be presented in full between Friday March 11 and Sunday March 20 at churches throughout the Geelong region. The series includes concerts by Orchestra Geelong and the Geelong Youth Orchestra, the Vardos Trio, Excelsis Choir; a Choral Workshop on the Bellarine with Kym Dillon Organ Plus 1 recitals include Bradley Treloar with Tania Grant (soprano) and Terry Norman with Meredith Norman (soprano). There’s African Drumming with Jacqui Dreessens and the Melbourne Chamber Choir, Director Alan Cook in the beautiful Geelong Basilica.
The second Windfire Season, always planned for 2022, will be presented later in the year beginning in July.
Find details and book for individual concerts or the full festivals at https://musicatthebasilica.org.au/music-festival/
Chicago at the Palais
Footlight Geelong’s summer musical, the sizzling hit Chicago, will open late March at the Palais Geelong in Moorabool St.
The story of murderess Roxy Hart, her sassy cell-block mates and smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn is told with red-hot choreography, a sizzling score and show-stopping songs including All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle and Cell Block Tango. Small wonder that Geelong’s Chicago is already being touted as ‘the sharpest slickest show on the block’.
Tickets, from $40 – $50, can be bought at The Palais website
Medimime’s at the Palais, too
After two years of postponements, Geelong’s Medimime Productions has announced a new date for its production of The Little Mermaid.
Medimime is traditionally Geelong’s children’s pantomime. It’s a collaboration between the region’s medical and theatrical communities that sees doctors and nurses take the stage alongside actors, all in the interest of charity. All profits are donated to different departments of the Geelong Hospital via Barwon Health. The Little Mermaid will finally and definitely be staged at The Palais Geelong for 8 shows from 29 April to 7 May 2022. The company thanks its patrons who have already purchased tickets for the production. These will be automatically transferred to the equivalent performance on the new dates, and new tickets sent. Further changes and new tickets, from $30, can be bought at The Palais website
Bright Star coming to Geelong
And hard on the heels of its Ladies In Black, Geelong’s Theatre Of The Damned is set to open another musical that is brand new to Geelong.
Bright Star will open April 29 an run until May 7 at East Geelong’s Shenton Theatre.
The musical was written and composed by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. It’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains Of North Carolina in 1945–46 with flashbacks to 1923. It was inspired by their 2013 collaboration on the album Love Has Come To You. The show opened in Washington in 2015 and ran throughout the US for 109 performances until 2016. This is the first production in Geelong. Bright Star is in The Shenton Theatre April 29 – May 7.
Tickets at $37.50 including programme, are at try booking
Rock & Roll History at The Shed
Drop Of A Hat’s second Morning Showtime at The Potato Shed is the History Of Rock & Roll.
Researched and written by Colin Mockett, the show is presented in the company’s familiar format of live music and in front of images on the big screen. The music for The History Of Rock & Roll t is provided by Geelong rock band All Shook Up.
The show goes back to before Sam Phillips opened his Sun Studios at Memphis and it features the music of every performer pictured it its promo.
The History Of Rock & Roll is in The Potato Shed 10.30am Tuesday May 3. Seats aren’t available yet – the season isn’t launched until Feb 2 – but the Potato Shed’s box office number is 5251 1998.
Les Mis is back at The Costa
The world’s most popular musical, Les Miserables, is returning to Geelong’s most prestigious venue. A new production from Geelong’s CenterStage company will present the musical at the 1,400 seat Costa Hall early June.
The show, set at the beginning of the French Revolution, has become the world’s biggest and most successful musical with more than 100 international awards and having been seen by more than 65 million people. It was last staged in Geelong at the Costa Hall by Lyric Theatre Company.
The new CenterStage Geelong production will be directed by the experienced and awarded Martin Croft.
Les Miserables is in the Costa Hall, Deakin University’s Waterfront Campus June 3 – 11. Tickets from $51.90 – $42.90 are available through geelongartscentre.org.au