It’s the second largest high school in Townsville, with one of the most reputable music programs in the city. And its renowned annual showcase is just weeks from opening night.
Pimlico State High School’s iconic Pimlico Presents will return for two nights this August, shining the spotlight on some of our city’s most talented future stars. The variety performance is a chance for imaginations to run wild, with each piece featured in the show something the students auditioned off their own bat: it’s a production not only featuring students, but created by them.
Pimlico Presents Director Claire Davies said that while a core team of teachers was involved in overseeing the finished product, the performance is by-and-large about giving the students their moment.
“On each side of the stage we have two adults, but the rest of the crew are all high school kids. Kids doing hair and makeup, helping to mic people up and doing all of that backstage work as well as what you see on stage,” said Claire.
“It’s about capacity-building these teenagers, and giving them these opportunities and experiences at an early age. I’ve never had a student who has had to walk off or not finish. But at the same time, it is a teenage show so if there is some small hitch, the parents understand and aren’t going to trash it.
“What I really love about Pimlico Presents is students get to audition their own items and be creative; be their own choreographers and arrangers of music; write their own stuff, and perform things they want to perform. Musicals are great for high schools, but there’s only so many people you can cast. With Pimlico Presents, we can have three times as many in our show – they’re not on stage all the time but they get to perform how they want with their friends.”
Claire said Pimlico Presents was an important event on the school calendar, and was a legacy of former teacher Karen Vane.
“When Karen passed away unexpectedly, no one wanted the show to go under – it was her legacy and to this day, it still is. And it’s growing yearly.
“We have somewhere between 300-400 students involved annually now. This year, we’re at around 320 which doesn’t include hair, makeup, and backstage crew, which round it up to about 350 students.”
The show’s opening number, involving any student interested, will this year centre around the man that loves it shaken, not stirred.
“The opening item is really the 15-minute kick-starter of the show – a medley that any student from year 10-12 can be a part of. They just have to be committed, so don’t have to be the best singer, dancer or actor. Which is good, because the rest of the show is heavily auditioned so otherwise some of these students would completely miss out.
“It’s getting to the stage where unless you really seek out opportunities as an adult and have a decent level of experience and talent, it can be hard to crack the next level up from high school. Especially with NQOMT and TCS as companies that are producing high-quality musicals locally, you almost need to have come through a school system which has allowed you to be on stage. That way you know how to audition, and have those experiences in place.
“This year’s opening item is James Bond which is basically a wrap-up of the major themes everyone will know, weaving a story through that. Apart from that, the rest of the show has no theme – it’s just the items that were successful in auditions.
“I stitch them together into a show that, for an audience, makes as much cohesive sense as possible. Otherwise you run the issue of – if you just haphazardly stack your run order in a way that functions, but doesn’t take into account how an audience responds to it emotionally – ending up in sticky situations where you have a really serious item on the back of a funny item and some of that seriousness is lost.”
It has arguably the strongest standing among school productions locally, and for good reason: Pimlico Presents is a chance for students to not only show off their creativity, but gain experience in all areas of the performing arts. It is a production imagined, created and performed by students, with both the performer numbers and talent level increasing every year.
Experience Pimlico Presents at the Civic Theatre on 11 or 12 August. Tickets are now available through the TicketShop.