Following a sold out season of West End to Broadway – In the Reservoir in February, the Underground Opera Company (UOC) will open the historic Spring Hill Reservoir doors in August, with the show’s sequel, Volume 2.
The season, from August 12 – 28, will mark the mid-point of what is UOC’s busiest year, as the company gets close to its 10th anniversary in 2017.
West End to Broadway will see soprano Ashleigh Maclaine (UOC and Opera Q) take to the stage complemented by mezzo soprano Louise Dorsman (Opera Q and Victorian Opera); tenor Bradley McCaw (former Ten Tenor) and baritone Lionel Theunissen (Opera Q and Best Actor Sweeney Todd, 2014), accompanied by Brendan Murtagh (The Sound of Music, Les Miserables).
The past nine years has seen an exceptional period of growth for UOC, which had its first performance in 2007; an opera concert at Kilkivan gold mine, 54kms from Gympie.
By the end of this year, UOC, will have performed almost 80 shows, giving performance opportunities to around 30 local performers.
UOC’s Director and Founder Bruce Edwards, a former miner and tunneller of 20 years, said launching the company at first seemed a crazy but promising idea.
“I was down a mine one day when I decided to test the acoustics…after making sure my colleagues weren’t around,” he said.
“It was sensational, and as I got a bit more exposure to musical theatre, and tried my luck with community theatre in Brisbane, I began thinking how I could combine my skills to create the Underground Opera Company.
“We’re now Ticketmaster’s highest rated opera company in Australia and provide so many professional performance opportunities to artists, while encouraging growth of the arts and tourism in each place we perform.”
Seeking the most unconventional spaces for concerts has been key to UOC’s mantra, with some of the tamer locations, The Sunshine Castle, Bli Bli, and the Capricorn Caves in Rockhampton.
More logistically challenging to adapt include the 140-year-old Spring Hill Reservoir in Wickham Terrace, Brisbane and the Hard Times Mine, Mount Isa, while the list grows.
“Bringing world class voices into unique spaces means we are not just putting on a concert, but also creating a physically audible experience for our audience. We’ve all been to the big theatres to see massive productions, but there’s something so special and shiver-provoking about sitting just a few metres away from performers, as they take on various roles,” Mr Edwards said.!”
The Spring Hill Reservoir sits in the shadow of the Old Tower Mill, six metres below Wickham Terrace. A performance space has been created at the centre of the reservoir, with four wings for seating, under hand-lain brick archways which attribute to sensational ambience.
“The Reservoir becomes the perfect setting for a number of classic and contemporary musical theatre songs performed. Our audiences will feel like they’re in the Phantom’s lair, in the Wizard’s chamber’s in Wicked, planning a revolution during Les Miserables’ pieces, or like a New York City bohemian, when we perform songs from Rent. The shows are that personal!” Mr Edwards said.
UOC’s other shows this year include Opera in the Castle, Sunshine Castle, Bli Bli (October 28 - 30), Opera in the Caves, Capricorn Caves (November 4 – 6), Opera in the Reservoir (November 11 - 27), and Carols in the Reservoir (December 2 – 11).
Tickets for West End to Broadway – in the Reservoir can be purchased via www.ticketmaster.com.au.
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