When Big Media Aren’t the Biggest

I’ve just spent the last few months helping to put the final touches on massive project for the Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council (SHYAC). Grease took between 15 and 35 hours each week since early September, and a large amount of time before that. I think I’ve been working on the project since about September 2010, so it has certainly been a huge part of my life.

Since SHYAC is a non-profit community organisation that is largely funded by members and income from it’s own activities, there is an overriding imperative to ensure projects are well-managed and financially sound. Grease was a very large production for SHYAC and was unique in a number of ways, including the venue, cast age, and a production team who had largely never worked together or with the organisation before. As producer, I began planning the project more than a year ahead of the scheduled show run, in concert with the SHYAC management committee. Such a lead-time was important to ensure the success of the production. My role included rehearsal and show venue management, negotiating with and appointing the production team, public relations and promotion, ticketing, arranging auditions, management of the cast, coordinating and designing the program, supervising rehearsals, supervising performances, liaising with SHYAC’s management and volunteers and arranging sound effects and music licensing. Given the complexity of the show and my role, I needed to plan many of my activities well in advance in order to ensure they were competed satisfactorily. This was the first project of that size I have managed and it refined and improved my skills immensely.

For the duration of the show run, I was able to just sit in the back rows of the audience and watch. Mostly, I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. Our cast was so talented and so wonderful. And then we started getting brilliant reviews like this. The cast has bonded so tightly together and even threw around the idea of touring. They are a great bunch of people and I can’t wait to work with them again.

What makes the work so valuable to me is seeing the young people come up to standards they never knew they could reach. It’s such a joy to be part of. My mate Adam Fisher was awesome as director, and was wonderfully supported by experienced performer Michael Turkic (who made a cameo as Vince Fontaine) and, of course, the always fantastic Michael Cooper as musical director. Chereographer Kelly Duroy also made a huge contribution. If you didn’t see this show, you really missed out. I had so much fun with it, and I didn’t even get on stage!

Thanks to all my Greasers for their hard work.