‘Hairspray - The Big Fat Arena Spectacular’, produced by Harvest Rain, was an amazing experience which we (Candice Taylor - Year 9 Starkey, and I) would do again in a heartbeat.
In rehearsal preparation, there were a few intensive bootcamps leading up to it; one at the Harvest Rain Studios and one at the Chandler Arena before school began in Term One, and another two these previous holidays. All bootcamps included Monday to Saturday, 8.00am to 3.00pm, with lots and lots of dancing and singing. The professionalism provided, and the professionalism we had to provide ourselves, really helped us to work hard for the end goal – six performances at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Our director – Callum Mansfield – was so amazingly patient, that during all of the rehearsals, we never heard him raise his voice once. For someone teaching a cast of 900 energetic performers choreography, that’s pretty good!
Being surrounded by other musical theatre fanatics for each rehearsal was awesome, and lots of new friends were made. Harvest Rain also offered us the chance to work alongside major performers such as Christine Anu (Motormouth Maybelle), Simon Burke (Edna Turnblad), Tim Campbell (Corny Collins), Lauren McKenna (Tracy Turnblad), Barry Conrad (Seaweed J Stubbs), Dan Venz (Link Larkin), Stacey De Waard (Amber Von Tussel) and many more. Being able to rehearse and perform beside these professionals was so fulfilling, and really cemented everyone’s dreams of someday being one of these performers ourselves. So much fun was had at every rehearsal, especially when we got to wear inflatable fat suits in Welcome To The 60s! People like Callum and Tim O’Connor – our producer – were so inspiring, and made us want to do better every time we walked through the doors into rehearsal.
Of course, closing night was filled with tears, as we realised that our awesome production was coming to an end. However, if you missed the Brisbane performances, the professional cast is picking up a new ensemble in Adelaide and Newcastle, as they tour Australia with the show. We would like to acknowledge our Harvest Rain choreographers - Callum and Claire – and also send out a big fat spectacular thank you to our parents who drove us all the way to Brisbane and back for every rehearsal. For a first major audition and performance experience, Harvest Rain provided everything a young performer could ask for – patience, professionalism, kindness, and lots of fun! We will definitely miss the production, but are very grateful that we could partake in such a wonderful experience.