Presidents Report – March 2018

As we celebrate another successful year of the Guild, we can reflect that 2017 gave us comedy, drama, innovative and emotive productions. We all leave a legacy and are impacted by the legacy left byothers, whether we realize it or not. Embracing the vision and characters of certain shows sometimes causes us to reflect on our own life lessons, both taught and learnt, and how these influence our choices and the way we behave. Musical theatre is not just entertainment it is a marriage of musical ideas and themes providing an avenue to nurture passion and enjoyment to share the universal language that is music.

We are blessed with so many amateur member companies in Victoria and it is interesting to note that productions from the Junior Section of the Guild exceeded those of the Open in 2017, ensuring that the future of young talent will continue to be recognised and showcased. It was hard to believe that some of the performers were still students, as their talent was exceptional.

It is not always the case that big productions dominate. Many small companies have given us the element of surprise with clever, creative direction, sometimes in limited spaces with limited budgets and limited resources, proving that sometimes less is best. We are living in a technical age where minimal sets are used and special effects take over. This can sometimes distract from the actual show content if there is excessive overuse of lighting and projections. I am sure we are all aware that the heart of any production is the quality of its cast and their ability to achieve the perfect balance between score and character. Peripheral enhancements are the dressing but the core is the cast and production team; the glue that holds a show together. So, to the many smaller companies whose budgets do not cover the luxuries that modern technology have on offer, build and develop your core and the results will speak for themselves. Excellence comes from passion and commitment and that costs nothing.

Sincere thanks go to the judges from both panels for their dedication, time and energy in adjudicating 107 productions in 2017. They travel thousands of kilometres to see the wonderful talent this state has to offer and should be duly acknowledged for their efforts.

I make special mention of Open Panel Chairman Brad Fischer and Junior Panel Chairman David Crawshaw for their outstanding work in 2017. We welcomed new judge Carole Cuthbertson to the Junior Panel and offered our thanks to Open Panel Judge Shaun Kingma, who has stepped down. To our relief judges, Carla Gianinotti, Fran Boyd, Melinda Gregory, Peter Maver, Elyse Carmichael and Scott Hili, we thank you also for volunteering your time and expertise.

To the Bendigo Theatre Company who generously hosted the Awards Night, we thank them for their support in the preparation and Front of House management and also Bendigo South East College for providing the venue for the Guild rehearsal.

The Ulumbarra Theatre proved to be a stunning and wonderful venue and truly set the scene for a fantastic night of musical celebration.

Thanks go to the production team of Director Vern Wall, Musical Director Cynthia Holsworth, Production Manager Brett Wingfield, the wonderful orchestra and everyone behind the scenes. Feedback from the night has been very positive. The performances, carefully chosen throughout the year by our judging panels, were a showcase of excellence from companies and schools far and wide in Victoria and made a statement that talent is not discriminated by location.

Congratulations to Edith Harrhy Award recipients Bernard and Gemma Hedger, acknowledging their outstanding contribution to musical theatre and to Malcom Huddle, recipient of the Musician’s Award. Congratulations also to the dual recipients of Junior Production of the Year – Mary McKillop College for Blood Brothers and St. Helena Secondary College for Rent, and to the recipient of Open Production of the Year, Babirra Music Theatre for Thoroughly Modern Millie. To all nominees and recipients in 2017 congratulations for creating, innovative, beautiful and entertaining theatre for our collective enjoyment.

I am very grateful to my Guild Committee colleagues, in particular for their time, support and cohesive work throughout the year and we should not forget the partners of Judges and Committee whose unseen support is also acknowledged and greatly appreciated. To my Executive Brett Wingfield, Fran Boyd and Elly Foster personal thanks seem inadequate to fully appreciate all the great work that you do. Without your cohesive support the Guild would not be able to function as efficiently as it does.

I would also like to acknowledge those companies, individuals, corporate bodies and foundations that sponsor our Bruce Awards each year in support of the Awards Night.

To all companies and schools, I wish you success with your productions and look forward to seeing you at the 32nd Bruce Awards for Excellence in 2018, to be held at the stunning new Bunjil Place Theatre in Narre Warren, in the very capable hands of Director Stuart Dodge and Musical Director Malcom Huddle.

Our thoughts are already in 2018 mode with the prospect of an exciting and creative year ahead.

Beverley Meldrum
Music Theatre Guild of Victoria
17th March 2018