There’s something funny afoot in Gungahlin this week. Three-time Gold Logie winner and former Hey Hey It’s Saturday host Daryl Somers is currently starring in Dramatic Productions’ The Producers and, what’s more, it’s all for (many) a great cause.
The Producers was a smash hit on Broadway when it premiered in the early 2000s, having started its life as a film in 1967, written by comedy legend Mel Brooks. The musical follows the escapades of a shonky, has-been producer named Max as he endeavours to regain some sense of relevance in the cutthroat theatre world.
“We have Daryl Somers as Max,” says Bernadette Ryan, business manager at Dramatic Productions. “He and a terrific ensemble cast, they just create the most dynamic characters throughout the show.
“Leo [an accountant, played by Canberra newcomer Jason Bensen] accidentally mentions to Max that a producer can make more money out of a flop than a successful show by capitalising on their investors. They team up to hire the worst director, the worst actors, but it all goes terribly wrong. Despite all their best efforts, it becomes a hit and they have to work out how to manage that.”
The show is presented by Dramatic Productions, a theatre company set up by Richard Block more than five years ago with the aim of getting more of Canberra’s theatre-makers involved with high-quality productions and making it a more rewarding venture for everyone involved.
“I came on board about three years ago,” says Ryan. “We decided we wanted to make what is now our tagline: ‘a dramatic difference though the arts'”.
And make a difference they have. Ten per cent of the company’s ticket sales find their way to local not-for-profits and charities. Across the 14 shows in this run, 12 are directly partnered with charities, including Home in Queanbeyan, Everyman, Diversity ACT and CanTeen.
“That’s something that we’re incredibly proud of,” says Ryan. “For each of the charities, we do a live stream or an interview, just to give our community awareness and exposure to what they do. We love the involvement that the charities make. We give them tickets and they can fundraise at the show. For instance, CanTeen will be in on Friday selling bandanas.”
It’s an exciting concept. And the opportunity for local creatives to work alongside an Australian icon like Somers speaks to the success of the model. It’s all taking place at the Gungahlin College Theatre, a relatively new space for Canberra’s arts community, but one with a bright future.
“It’s a 200-odd seat, fully-equipped theatre that people can access quite easily with light rail and ample free parking. That’s perhaps one of our biggest challenges – theatre-goers are used to seeing theatre at Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra Rep, The Street. There’s a perception that it’s only for school productions, but the productions we put on are always very well-reviewed. We couldn’t have had better reviews.”
Though Ryan assures me that it has never been needed, Dramatic Productions are offering a full money-back guarantee for ticketholders in the unlikely event that the show doesn’t live up to their expectations.
What with the aforementioned accessibility, a smorgasbord of places to eat nearby and the chance to catch one of Australia’s most beloved performers, all while making a difference in the community, a night out at the theatre in Gungahlin suddenly seems like a rather enticing prospect.
The Producers is showing at Gungahlin College Theatre until Saturday, October 26. Tickets are $64 for adults, $59 concession and $32 for children under 18. Bookings can be made via www.stagecenta.com or by calling 02 6253 1454 (between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday).
A full list of session times can be found here.