Published: 20 December 2021

Legislative Council, Tuesday 9 November 2021

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I continue to be amazed by the talents of our local students, and their willingness to extend themselves, often well beyond their comfort zones, to perform on the stage for our enjoyment.

I was again fortunate to attend another wonderful high school musical production. On this occasion, Burnie High School's production of Sleeping Beauty - and who does not love a good fairytale - on Saturday 11 September at the Burnie Arts and Function Centre.

The performance marked the end of six months of dedicated hard work for many staff and students and was a tremendous celebration of their achievements. All 200-plus of those involved did an amazing job in every aspect of the production and are to be commended for their wonderful creativity and talent.

Director, Ben Lohrey, described the production in The Advocate newspaper as being, 'not what an audience may ordinarily expect for a Sleeping Beauty with the students putting their own unique twist on a much-loved story'.

Of course, there were some of the local in-house jokes and the friendly digs at the neighbouring school, Marist Regional College, and a number of politicians. I did not feature, it was more of the federal members. The performance included a range of music for the show from the 1950s and 1960s right through to more recent releases.

Mr Lohrey also stated in his media comments, 'We found being able to incorporate music that not only they were familiar with but that their parents' generation is familiar with really works'.

As I said, 200 Burnie High School students, which is more than one-third of the school, were involved in the production. Of the cast of 148, 54 students had speaking roles. A further 22 students were involved in the band with 30 working backstage and behind the scenes. All the choreography for the show was devised by the students and it was fantastic. There was a total of 19 musical numbers and there were 32 students in the choreography team with 13 chief choreographers.

To have so many students involved on the stage was quite an achievement and what was even more impressive was the fact that all students kept perfect time. Their timing was impeccable, you could hear every spoken word and every sung word. The inclusion of students in all aspects of production provides opportunities and skills across a wide range of areas. Rehearsals started back in March with many rehearsals conducted during class time. Students with larger speaking roles cycled through an after-school rehearsal schedule which ran every week day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., so it is a fair commitment for those young people.

Mr President, this was a massive commitment on top of their regular studies, particularly for those with central roles and they had two casts which gave more young people a chance to actually be the lead. The rehearsal schedule also included all the chief choreographers. The many hours that this group have put in is incredible and important to acknowledge. The show would not have gone on without them.

Staff are also to be commended. The theatre staff comprised a team of nine led by Ben Lohrey who teaches drama and media at the school and was the show's producer and director. He was assisted greatly and ably by Maree Welsh who was also the show's assistant director and costume director and also Bronwyn Darvell, musical director and assistant director. A large number of other staff, parents and community members assisted in all sorts of ways to bring Sleeping Beauty to the stage.

The team is indebted to Heather and Ian Wild, parents of ex students, who did a huge amount of work painting sets for the show and creating a wonderful remote-controlled clock. We could do with one here. The school is also indebted to the large number of parents and businesses who sponsored the show. A fundraising drive raised over $6000, all of which was invested into materials for costumes and sets.

Sleeping Beauty attracted a great response with 4002 people attending throughout the season. There were seven public performances, five of which were sold out and two others at 90 per cent capacity. It just shows, if you put things on, people will come. There were also five school matinee performances, all about 90 per cent capacity.

Personally, I know how much work goes into these performances and the commitment of teachers, students, parents and friends of the school, having my own children involved in the past. The amount of effort that goes into the sets, the costumes, the music, the choreography, sound and lighting, as well as the extraordinary commitment of time for rehearsals is testament to the value students, parents and teachers see in the involvement of such a production.

The great work of the backstage crew is also to be commended. Whilst not visible for the majority of the show, their efforts created a seamless quality for the performance. It was a delight with all involved truly shining in their roles and I was thoroughly entertained. I know all students involved in whatever capacity have gained significantly from their experience

I thank them all for their hard work and for the fantastic show they put on, a truly professional performance and a credit to them all.

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