Merrigong launches 2015 season

Samantha Leigh Dodemaide performing in Sweet Charity, one of the shows scheduled to play at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre next year. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIA bearded bushranger, a gaggle of scheming witches and a sassy New York dancer are just a few of the characters set to take over the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre next year.

Merrigong launched its 2015 season on Tuesday, ushering in a mix of classic Australian stories, plays for the littlies and a smoking-hot musical.

Helpmann Award-winning show Sweet Charity is set to be the company’s hot ticket item next year, coming straight from aseason at the Sydney Opera House.

The Queensland Theatre Company’s production of Kelly, a play about Ned Kelly, along with Storm Boy and the return of Circus Oz are also set to be popular with theatregoers.

Children will look forward to an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches and a production of The 26-Storey Treehouse, based on the book written by Australian author Andy Griffiths.

Merrigong artistic director Simon Hinton said the season focused on storytelling, promising “big” shows that would challenge – and entertain.

“I think this is the biggest season we’ve done, definitely in the 10 years I’ve been here,” he said.

“You have to find a balance – our job is to give people what they want to see but also to find shows that will challenge them.

“I think coming to the theatre needs to have a level of discovery – if you get exactly what you think you’re going to get, you may as well watch TV.

“Theatre is fantastic because it does allow people to discover – we like bringing people new things, developing works and presenting things that take people a little outside their comfort zone.”

The company is embarking on a new challenge of its own, taking several productions on the road.

Mr Hinton said season ticket holders outside the Illawarra wanted shows closer to home.

“We’ve always had a lot of ticket holders in the Southern Highlands and along the South Coast so we wanted to take some shows to them,” he said.

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