Out of the Blue was established in 1999 when a number of inspired individuals in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney, who had worked together on a remarkable production of West Side Story, decided to establish an ongoing vehicle for young people to develop their skills and share in the creation of work that aimed for the highest standards. Productions included Jesus Christ Superstar (2000), Gypsy (2000), Les Miserables (2001), Life on Mars (2001), Into the Woods (2002), Godspell (2002), Tommy (2003) and Diamond Eye (2003)
Out of the Blue Performing Arts
Out of the Blue came into being at the end of 1999. I had just directed West Side Story for the Blue Mountains Musical Society and many of that cast were keen to continue working together.
The idea was to give young people a taste for performance at the highest possible standard.
We were living in the Blue Mountains. All around us were gifted and talented people of all ages – singers, actors, dancers, musicians, designers, technicians - and yet somehow we were led to believe that all the good stuff is only possible in the CBD's of our major city, Sydney, and we were 90 minutes drive from there so we couldnt possibly figure in the equation!
This centric view plagues all levels of cultural activity in Australia to this day. It's why we don't have a sufficient audience base to provide sustainable careers for our artists.
Back to Out of the Blue!
Ambitious project! Young people want to be part of making something happen. They want to experience the creative process firsthand. So everything, from auditions to rehearsal schedules, to dress reheasals and bump-outs was done to professional standard. It was tough!
Conceptually, each production was approached with the utmost rigour.
Do you hear the people sing?
We presented the first Les Miserables in contemporary dress with Cameron Macintosh's approval. No mop-caps! And women amongst the students!
Out of the Blue as a project was scary on many levels. Cast, orchestra (led by David Kalman) and crew could be in excess of 100 people for some shows.
We were always breaking new ground. Here's a taste of what was achieved from the years 2000 to 2003.
For every life there is an amazing journey!
The Australian premiere of the Broadway production of the Who's Tommy! From the spectacular multimedia by Rob Leggo, to the outstanding costuming (Wendy James, Jane Mason, Romola Hollywood and Leone Sharp) that captured post war Britain's malaise and the beginning of a pop culture revolution, to the explosive choreography by Jonathon Rosten, this was production on a huge scale. Very few professional productions can feature such large numbers of people on stage or in the pit. To top all this, a fire in the Evan's Theatre at Panther's World of Entertainment just days before opening night stalled the season and left a devastated cast in a whirlwind of uncertainty. The show would eventually play in the Springwood Civic Centre and Riverside Theatre Parramatta and received overwhelming critical acclaim.
The boy in the bright blue jeans jumped up on the stage...
Out of the Blue devised and presented new work. Life on Mars, gave added theatricality to the early music of David Bowie. Aidan Roberts as musical director did an incredible job translating Bowie's repertoire which include dmost of Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane. Liam Judson and Tim Crew, as twin brothers on opposing paths (the Bewlay brothers) shone in the second incarnation of this intimate and interesting work that we all felt was a little before its time. Bowie fans were ecstatic.
In addition to the major productions – Jesus Christ Superstar (2000), Gypsy (2000), Les Miserables (2001), Into the Woods (2002), Godspell (2002), Tommy (2003) and the original musical Diamond Eye (2003), the company conducted numerous workshops for young people throughout the Blue Mountains, presented concerts and performed in a range of venues across the region from Wentworth Falls to Springwood, from Penrith to Parramatta and Newtown.