A musical and dance spectacular featuring 2500 Victorian State School students.
The Victorian State Schools Spectacular is an annual arena musical concert produced for Victorian Department of Education & Training. In 2008 the department’s creative team had chosen the Aussie music theme, and they contracted John to be creative and show director. The show featured 2500 school students from around the state, split over the orchestra, a mass choir, a group of lead/solo perfomers, an advanced dance troupe and mass dance ensembles. It was performed in Melbourne’s Hisense Arena to sold out audiences.
John worked with the Mark Laguerre and Kirk Skinner to come up with the musical and thematic content of the show, which moved through different landscapes and the many facets that make up the “Aussie lifestyle”: from beach culture to the boys from the bush, the dusty outback to the urban sprawl of the big smoke, from the growth period of the 50’s and 60’s (complete with Hills hoists and Victa mowers) to the cosmopolitan modern age. All threaded by a soundtrack of classic Australian music, plus tributes to some big-name Aussie musical icons. Holding it all together was a clown inspired “everyman” character who tuned into various radio stations on his oversized boom box throughout the show, leading the audience from one theme to the next.
This production was large scale on every level, from the sheer number of performers, to the mammoth amount of creatives and backstage crew required to bring it all together. John not only directed the production on a macro level, but also used his coaching talents to help stage the solo and small group performances. He was also heavily involved with all the creatives to shape the direction of the show on each level from costume design, lighting design, stage design and musical direction.
While all of the eastern states of Australia have a Schools Spectacular program, the Victorian model is one based more on the concept of inclusion and involvement. Although there was a core group of specially auditioned talent who are part of an ongoing training process, the bulk of the perfomers in the mass choir and in the mass dance ensemble were made up of anyone from any school who wanted to participate. It gave the show a different look and feel to some of the other Schools Specs, but seeing so many kids from so many areas getting an opportunity to be involved in something special carried with it its own kind of magic.
Creative & Stage Director - John Rowe Artistic & Dance Director - Mark Laguerre Musical Director - Kirk Skinner Costume Designer - Isaac Lummis Lighting Designer - Jason Bovaird Production Manager - Sanna Raymond Stage & Technical Manager - Adam Lowe Executive Producer - Julie Alliston
"Seeing such a diverse range of kids being given a chance to shine on this scale was something else. It produced life-long memories for everyone involved: the participants, the audience, and especially for one director!" - John Rowe