STEP UP: Simon Gallaher is heading the audition panel for an upcoming musical.
STEP UP: Simon Gallaher is heading the audition panel for an upcoming musical. Contributed

Wicked entertainer hunting Ipswich talent

PRIMED and ready to be pleasantly surprised, Queensland stage actor, singer and entertainer Simon Gallaher is coming to Ipswich this month to get 'Wicked'.

He's going to head the audition panel in choosing who will get on stage for the production of the smash hit musical 'Wicked' which is coming to the Ipswich Civic Centre in September.

The show has just become available to community groups who want to perform it, and this will be only the second amateur production of the popular musical in Australia.

Ipswich Musical Theatre Company (IMTC) has in previous years delivered Mary Poppins, Oliver, The Producers and The Phantom of the Opera, and this is the company's most ambitious project to date.

Simon played the role of The Wizard in the last production of the Broadway show that toured the nation last year, and knows the show inside out.

"It's the first time I've done auditions in Ipswich, and they asked me to be involved due to my experience with the professional production," Simon said. "It's also a case of trying to help out theatre groups and helping them to raise the bar.

"Many times when I've sat on auditions in the past, everyone comes in and sings a song from 'Wicked', so I think that shows the devotion that people have with the songs from that show. I'm sure people are going to come out of the woodwork all over South East Queensland to be in this show."

Simon spent over a year performing in Wicked when it played Sydney, Perth and Brisbane in 2015, and has found that people are happy to see it several times.

"Going into the show last year, I found that the show was not really a cult, (if that's the right word) but a phenomenon.

"It's currently on all over the world, and people go back to see it again and again. Some people often didn't know they liked theatre, but Wicked just pushed their buttons," Simon said.

"I avoided seeing it for a long time, as I suppose I had some musical snobs around me who told me I wouldn't like it, but when I did, I loved it, and I felt that it was a case of a new show, with a familiar story, and that's what made it work.

"We all know the story of the Wizard of Oz, but this is an entirely new story that takes us on a journey, with characters we all know, and in many cases that we grew up with.

"Combine that with a very contemporary score, sung in a popular manner… I now understand why people, and especially younger people flock to it.

"Personally, from me being in it, I've found a whole new audience.

"That's what Wicked does, it crosses over to all generations."

Simon is best known for his work in many productions of 'The Pirates of Penzance', and to this day has people reflect the show's many runs at QPAC.

"I've had a 25-year-old come up to me and say 'I loved you in Pirates of Penzance', and then tell me they were three years old when they saw it!

"Despite making me feel old, that's a great thing, as that's what made people enjoy musical theatre for the first time which went on to last a lifetime. I find that very sweet."

Simon will be involved in the auditions initially, and rehearsals are expected to last from April through to early September for the show's 6 shows from September 9th.

Director Robbie Parkin has previously been involved with Harvest Rain, and Musical Director Robert Clark is coming from his base in Los Angeles to assist with the production.

So if you've ever wanted to be involved in one of most popular shows in recent years, here's your chance, as Simon is raring to see you.

"I think the best possible skill set is what we're looking for, along with trying to prioritise people from the local Ipswich area.

"I know this will bring people from Brisbane, Toowoomba and the coasts as there are lots of budding performers around the place, but it's also important that the local community supports their own, so it's always nice to prioritise the local talent.

"I don't envy the lead roles, they are going to have to be good, as they are a couple of rippers. I was involved in a recent production of 'Pirates of Penzance', and some of the people who auditioned for that were sensational. It's incredible how many people in the amateur circuit are out there.

"You think nobody can come up to the standard, but I'm ready to be pleasantly surprised when I get to Ipswich in two weeks!"

Auditions are being held March 19-20. For more information visit ipswichmusicaltheatrecompany.com.au



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