This year the award-winning Marie Clark Musical Theatre Company celebrates its 40th year of bringing musical entertainment to the people of Adelaide. As with most things, the company started as one person’s idea and took seed from there.
Tea Tree Gully piano and singing teacher Marie Clark formed what she termed a Concert Party, consisting of her students and local singers, to entertain schools and various charity groups such as Legacy and Red Cross.
1974 saw the company’s first major stage show presented; Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury. They have performed every year since, now having presented over 50 productions including musical classics such as Oklahoma!, Kiss Me Kate, Oliver!, How to Succeed in Business and this month’s upcoming Calamity Jane. Their history also proudly boasts Australian musicals like The Merry Widow From Bluegum Creek, The Boy From Oz and Jon English’s Paris, along with the South Australian premieres of Honk!, The World Goes Round, Forbidden Broadway (winner of the 2012 Adelaide Critics Circle ‘Best Ensemble’ award) and, later this year, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.
Current Vice-President of the company, Ben Stefanoff says that the company exists to promote appreciation of live community theatre, provide entertaining live theatre for the public, and encourage performers of all ages to develop their talents and self-confidence.
To help celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, Stefanoff wrote a ‘highlights’ production, Forty Years of Love, celebrating the company’s rich history. It was performed last year, and this year Marie Clark Musical Theatre presented its first ever Adelaide Fringe performance, From Stage and Screen.
Contemplating the company’s recent past, its present and future, company President Rachel Dow is optimistic and very excited.
“It’s an ever-present issue for amateur theatre companies to balance budgets for shows,” she says. “There’s not a great deal of funding out there, but there’s also pressure to put the most we can into a show to make it slick and professional. In 2013, we placed our focus on fundraising, to better position the company to continue bringing our favourite shows to the stage.”
Dow talks enthusiastically about how wonderful it was to see the Adelaide community get behind the company and support their recent fundraising to keep Marie Clark’s vision alive. Thanks to the local community, they are now able to bring two exciting shows to Adelaide in 2014 and are already looking ahead to 2015.
“We have had some great achievements in recent years and look forward to building on this in the future,” Dow says.
“Marie Clark Musical Theatre is proud to bring Calamity Jane to the Arts Theatre in the coming weeks. We know this is a show that audiences know and love, and our highly talented cast have truly brought this show alive.”
When asked why this particular show, director Stefanoff said, “We all have that special song or show that we hold close to our heart. For me it is Calamity Jane. It was my first show in the Adelaide theatre scene in 2009. I musically directed this production for The Met. There is something just beautiful about the show. Whether it’s the show’s powerful, beautiful and emotive score, the tongue-in-cheek humour of the script, or the fact the show brings to the stage the classic Warner Brothers film that starred Doris Day, I love it.”
From something old to something new, Marie Clark Musical Theatre will follow Calamity Jane with the South Australian premier of Mel Brooks’ popular musical-comedy, Young Frankenstein from 31 October.
“It’s looking to be a brilliant 40th year for MCMT and the future looks very exciting indeed,” Dow beams.
Interview by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Arts Theatre 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 23 – 31 May 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 min including interval
Tickets: $25.00 – $30.00
Bookings: Book through the Marie Clarke Musical theatre on [email protected] or phone: 8251 3926; or book online through TryBooking.com
Photo of Calamity Jane supplied by Ben Stefanoff