When you watch certain shows, it’s easy to compare them to their Broadway equivalent: not only is the talent of local thespians incredible, but if a show’s strictly copyrighted, everything down to the choreography is the same from start to finish.
However, that’s not the case when groups take matters into their own hands and produce an original cabaret.
North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre (NQOMT) will stage Calling All Cast at the start of June; an original cabaret directed by Alyssa Oliveri and Katie-anne Grice. While the basics of the plot were already set out, Katie-anne said the finer details were left until they had a good idea of the skills of their cast.
“Obviously we have a lot of ideas around the theme and storyline, but the beauty of a cabaret is you can tailor it to suit who’s cast and don’t have to chop and change it to fulfil the guidelines of some musicals,” Katie-anne said.
“We underestimated NQOMT’s last original cabaret and it sold out – there were people trying to cram in the doors to watch … and I think it opened people’s eyes.
“Townsville has a thriving cultural community, but it was condensed for a very long time to whatever was available, which most of the time was shows people had seen a hundred times. That’s changed so much now; people in Townsville are being innovative and taking risks.”
Alyssa said another great aspect of original cabaret was that locals were able to demonstrate their own skills in auditions.
“Part of this is about giving people the opportunity to showcase talents they’ve already got – whether it’s songs, dances, skits, or things that aren’t normally seen in a stage show. When you have shows like Little Shop of Horrors or Strictly Ballroom, they have their set genres, which tend to unwittingly exclude people from auditioning,” said Alyssa.
“When you have someone who specialises in tap, they might be an incredible performer but avoid Strictly Ballroom because it’s not their style. Whereas if you have a cabaret, you give them the chance to show off whatever they can do from tap to ballroom or anything else.”
The cabaret atmosphere has a different appeal to that of larger productions, too.
“At the theatre, you can’t take a glass of wine in – you just sit there and take in the performance, which I definitely think has its place. But when you look at things like Theatre iNQ’s Shakespeare Under the Stars where you can take your own picnic or sip a wine during the show, there is just something so special about that. It’s like cinemas: they’re synonymous with popcorn, Maltesers and choc tops because people want that full experience. Going to the theatre, that extra element is removed – but is brought back in with cabaret,” said Alyssa.
“Traditional theatre will always have its place, they’ll never lose their audiences, but it’s also great to see what our locals are capable of on stage as well as in the writing and creation process,” said Katie-anne.
Catch NQOMT’s original cabaret Calling All Cast at their Gill Park Hall on 1-2 June, with tickets available via nqomt.com.au. Depending on numbers, an extra weekend of shows may open up – check NQOMT’s Facebook page for updates.