An industrywide shortage of stage production staff, caused by prolonged lockdowns during the pandemic, has prompted a Sydney musical to throw open its doors to inspire a new generation of theatre workers.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical, currently enjoying a prolonged run at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, will reveal the backstage magic of theatre-making and showcase the varied career opportunities available in the business, in a one-off Open Day tomorrow.
General manager Dawn Martin told Central News the theatre was taking recruitment into its own hands by appealing directly to school leavers and tertiary graduates.
Martin, pictured above, a stalwart of the theatre industry, having spent the past 38 years working in production management, oversees the business operations of the production and has experienced firsthand the mass exodus of theatre professionals in the industry.
“During Covid, a lot of people stopped working in theatre. They had to stop working obviously because of the shutdown and they never came back,” she said.
“The natural process of people coming in at the bottom level, learning on the job, developing their skills and their experience, that all ground to a halt for two years, so there’s a massive gap now of trained, experienced backstage crew and up-and-comers.”
That experience of working together as a big team – the cast, front of house, and us backstage – is the most amazing experience.
As the industry calls for more crew and funding, the theatre’s ‘Get Technical: behind the curtain of Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ hopes to inspire the next generation of theatre-makers.
The open day tomorrow (December 1) at the Capitol Theatre features a Q&A with the backstage crew, followed by explanations of the ins and outs of scene changes, sound checks and special effects, before closing the day with a performance of the show’s opening number.
Martin said she was particularly excited for attendees to witness the intricacies of a quick costume change.
“Wardrobe, wigs, hair and make-up, their job is incredible on this show because those costumes are amazing. As are the wigs and the whole look of everybody on stage, so that requires a huge amount of care and maintenance,” she said.
For Martin, it is an exciting first step in revolutionising the recruitment process of the next theatre professionals. In particular, she is keen to offer an opportunity for graduates who may have transferable skills or an interest in working backstage in theatre but aren’t sure where to start.
“As long as you really want to be there and you’ve got the right aptitude, you can pick up those skills,” she said.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the live adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 jukebox musical film, Moulin Rouge! The Australian production of the musical just celebrated its first anniversary in Sydney, and with no sign of slowing down, has extended its performance season, returning to Melbourne in August 2023.
In large part, the success of Moulin Rouge! The Musical has been through retaining Luhrmann’s signature maximalism aesthetic and titillating phantasmagoria that captured the hearts of Moulin Rouge! fans over two decades ago. Executing a show of this scale is no mean feat and requires a large team of backstage crew and technicians to bring it to life.
It’s this collaborative team effort that Martin says is the charm of working in theatre, adding: “It has a kind of a family feel that you may not experience in any other industry, but that experience of working together as a big team – the cast, front of house, and us backstage – is the most amazing experience.”
Get Technical: behind the curtain of MoulinRouge! The Musical is happening Thursday, December 1, at 1:30pm. Register your attendance here
Main images supplied.