In 2013, Townsville Choral Society’s The Sound of Music had sold 2,000 tickets a fortnight before the show opened. It was a record unheard of by the group at the time. But this year, they have hit an even higher note, surpassing that figure for Wicked two months before curtains up.
Choral Society Vice President Claire Davies said fostering a sell-out culture within the theatre community has helped drive audiences to book earlier.
“Since The Sound of Music we’ve had a few shows: people booked early for Mary Poppins and Grease, and Annie sold out, so having short-run shows that do sell out drives people to book earlier next time. They remember they couldn’t get tickets,” said Claire.
“People react to being part of a sold-out crowd too. When you look around and there’s not a seat free, you feel part of something that not everyone got to have – like going to a sold-out footy game or concert. You feel like one of the elite, one of a special group there for that particular experience.”
Many may envisage musical theatre as a dog-eat-dog industry; but the local companies wouldn’t survive without each other’s successes.
“The general public doesn’t know there’s two musical theatre companies, they just see musical after musical being put on – so apart from maybe registering which one is which when they go to a website or Facebook page for information, the average person doesn’t know. We live and die together.
“The more successful NQOMT is and the more successful the Choral Society is, the more people will come to musical theatre. And after NQOMT’s show, we’ll be the next one coming in! It’s the same with them – if we epically fail, and people get turned off that theatre experience once, they won’t come again and it affects the next show. Everyone just wants the best for the theatre community: the larger the audience, the more we can offer.”
One challenge looming is the closure of the Civic Theatre for scheduled upgrades over the first half of 2018.
“We’re performing outside the Civic Theatre during that time and I’m sure NQOMT is too. I think if we didn’t do anything while it was closed, it could be problematic because people do get out of a habit. Both companies are doing their best to ensure that doesn’t happen, and have something in that gap to keep people engaged.
“The Choral Society used to be known as the very conservative group, pumping out The Sound of Music every few years – but now we’ve done Spring Awakening and Rent, and we’re doing We Will Rock You as an arena spectacular next year, so I think we’re getting very good at mixing the new and edgy with traditional favourites people still justifiably enjoy.”
With performances that rival touring professional productions, both the Townsville Choral Society and NQOMT are delivering show-stopping performances using nothing but local talent, leaving little wonder as to why tickets are being snapped up fast.