Directed by Mr Peter Lamb, Produced by Ms Alison Jinga
Louis Nowra’s Così tells the story of Lewis, a recent university graduate who in a desperate search for cash, ventures into the world of directing in the early 1970s. Except he’s not just directing any normal ‘Brecht’, or even any normal actors. Instead, he’s been given what seems to be an impossible task – to direct an adaption of Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte, starring the patients of a Melbourne mental asylum. The ragtag group set about the task in what has become an Australian classic, praised for its humour, compassion and vibrancy. For years, audiences have been blessed to see this play brought to life by incredible production teams, and the 2022 Waverley production is no exception.
Director Peter Lamb’s vision is beautifully brought to life in the time capsule production. As soon as the audience enters the theatre we feel as though we’ve been transported back to the 1970s, and admitted into the hospital ourselves. Designer Peter Mussared has perfected the aesthetic of a shabby, thrice burnt-down theatre. We can almost smell the smoke and lighter fluid spilling from Doug’s (Jules Cibej) pockets or hear one of Nick’s (Michael Richmond) anti-war protests march its way past the doors. The costumes for each character are so beautifully crafted. Cherry’s spectacularly eccentric headpieces are a standout throughout the show, and in such wonderfully tailored contrast to the relaxed style of Julie, Madison Crosby (Penklis). Every small detail of the characters and relationships are reflected in the world around them.
This is amplified by the technical work of the Year 12 Entertainment students, who balance the eccentric characters, costumes and set with beautifully crafted lighting and sound design. The ability to know when to hold back technically is a credit to their professionalism and sense of design. They beautifully complement the design and acting in a way that lets them sing (literally) on stage for the audience.
The exceptional cast goes above and beyond to bring these characters to life. If you weren’t told they were students, you would believe them to be professional actors due to the grace and professionalism they have dedicated to their roles. Jessica Campbell’s Cherry has us in stitches from her first entrance to her final exit. Dexter Craddock’s Roy, brings an infectious energy to the stage in a way that amplifies the humour. His ability to balance this with moments of refrain also shows off his depth as an actor. He has the audience swimming with Roy in disappointment as his operatic dreams tumble out of his control. Paired with the work of Sam Stewart’s Lewis, beautifully portraying how it feels to be swimming in chaos and also learning how to thrive in it; the two create moments of dramatic relationship that are simply a pleasure to witness. The entire ensemble works together to build the world, and show us that sometimes madness is the key to creativity.
All these wonderful components come together in the fantastical finale. The Così curtain splashes the fun and colour of the entire production up into one beautifully chaotic mess of materials. As the cast comes together one last time to sing us out – led by Luke Crosson and the added ensemble, a masterful addition by Mr Lamb to showcase the musical talents and creative future of Waverley College – the audience is swept up in the magic of the entire show. We laugh, we cry and we feel for every single character on that stage. And most importantly, we leave the theatre with a smile on our faces, and want nothing more than to return and see this incredibly talented team again.
Ms Erin Golden
UNSW Drama Method Practicum student
Ms Alison Jinga
Head of Drama and Entertainment
Public performances require an extraordinary amount of work, particularly when they are produced at a high standard. As well as creativity, an immense amount of planning, coordination, people skills, patience, good humour and flexibility is required, in the lead up to the event, during the performances and after the show is over. It can feel like a heady mix of exhaustion and exhilaration, all at once!
The creative work of all people involved in a production, particularly those ‘behind the scenes’, is crucial to every public performance. To this end, thanks are due to these people, whose contributions are so good that they can sometimes be invisible to an audience:
Set, costume and properties designer, lighting designer, production manager, lighting operator, follow spot, costume dressers, backstage supervisors, set construction and dress, sound designer, stage manager, sound operator, photographer, administration, videography, make-up, program designer and writer, and supporting teachers, staff, our two principals and our cleaners.
We would also like to say an enormous thank you to the Issac family. ‘Jams Catering’ by Naomi Isaac, catered at the Così performances, with all three of her wonderful boys from Years 11, 9 and 7 assisting not only with the food, but also with the preparation of setup and pack down each night. Alistair, Lachlan and Oliver put so much effort into making sure each evening ran smoothly, along with helping to serve the sumptuous food, and making sure everyone was made to feel welcome. These boys’ attention to detail and assistance was invaluable. Lachlan was also the talented trumpeter in Così. You are amazing – all three of you. A big thank you must also go to Naomi’s husband Greg, and Naomi’s mum.
Ms Keiran Kossenberg
Performing Arts Centre Coordinator
Ms Vanessa Witton
Marketing Communications Specialist