Professional Practice Fellow in Voice Arlie McCormick and alumna and music teacher Bridget Telfer-Milne.
Born out of last year's COVID-19 lockdown Pop Up Productions NZ is bringing something new to the Dunedin theatre scene.
Professional Practice Fellow in Voice Arlie McCormick and alumna and music teacher Bridget Telfer-Milne developed Pop Up Productions to produce contemporary theatre and cabaret productions in 'pop up' locations throughout Dunedin.
Seeing how the pandemic has affected the performing arts, Arlie and Bridget decided they wanted to shake up the traditional style of productions in the city and found a new theatre company, open to everyone interested in performing.
“We just thought that musical theatre performers needed something to look forward to. They'd been rehearsing for something while being half-excited because no one knew if productions could go ahead,” Arlie says.
Bridget has long been involved in both the Dunedin and Taieri musical theatre scene and says they thought the time was ripe to try something different in Dunedin and provide a theatrical experience that was a little more edgy and quirky to what audiences would generally expect from an evening out at a show.
“We ended up attracting this whole group of people and lots of them have probably never auditioned for theatre in Dunedin."
That edginess will be on display in Pop Up Productions NZ's first show Heathers: The Musical. Based on the 1989 movie of the same name, the black comedy rock musical delves into dark issues of bullying, teen suicide, sexual assault and school violence.
Arlie says it's the perfect choice for their first show. However, they are including trigger warnings for some of the darker content in the show.
Among the cast is a high standard of talent, many of whom are University of Otago students. All of the lead roles have gone to students in contemporary performance programmes.
“We ended up attracting this whole group of people and lots of them have probably never auditioned for theatre in Dunedin,” she says.
Often there is a perception that musical theatre in Dunedin has a lot of the same faces, so this was an opportunity to let new talent shine, she says.
“What blew my mind was I did not know 75 to 80 per cent of the people who auditioned. There was so much talent we could have cast it twice.” Bridget says.
In providing a new theatre company, Arlie and Bridget decided on a motto of 'dare to be different'.
Pop up locations provide a different theatre experience for the audience, and Arlie and Bridget are hoping to attract a different audience along with those who would usually support local and more traditional theatre.
“This is the first of what we hope will be many. We're looking for sponsorships and we've got a few plans for the rest of the year. We just want to keep the momentum going,” Arlie says.
Three shows of Heathers: The Musical will be performed at NEW NEW NEW Corporation brewery on 15-18 April. Tickets will be $59.95 and include a drink.