Ghosts of Cooma come to life on stage

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CANBERRA theatre staffer and ace photographer, Greer Versteeg, was on hand yesterday with “CityNews” at the Playhouse to watch BigHART theatre director Scott Rankin putting his cast through their paces for a world premiere.

The ensemble on stage
The ensemble on stage

On stage were Canberra musical legends Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen – Mikel Simic, Pip Branson, Phil Moriarty, Guy Freer and Sam Martin – weaving among the actors, Lex Marinos, Anne Grigg and Bruce Myles, involved in a love triangle inspired by true stories from Cooma, New South Wales.

Myles and Marinos
Myles and Marinos

All the while, they are observed by Roslyn Carroll, Margaret Keefe, Nettje Thereciana, Tyas Smith, and Claire Neumeyer, community actors from Cooma who act as witnesses to a tale set around that engineering and social game-changer for Australia, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme— the scheme of the title.

It’s been a mighty project, consistent with other works like ‘Namatjira’, ‘Ngapartji’ Ngapartji’ and ‘Hipbone Sticking Out’, that we’ve seen from the company, which were researched for years before hitting the mainstage.

Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen
Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen

“Cooma has always been a gateway to pleasure, and in the 1950s it played host to an extraordinary influx of people from around the world, escaping their past, to work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme,” BighART says, “They brought with them ideas, espresso, food, music, dancing and optimism for love and life in the New World.”

This theatre project has been done in collaboration with the Canberra Theatre Centre so we were pleased to see some familiar Canberra names among the creatives, not least Adelina Larsson as choreographer Gillian Schwab as lighting designer Kimmo Vennonen in sound design and “CityNews” art reviewer Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak as stage manager.

“Ghosts in the Scheme” at The Playhouse, tonight September 2 to Saturday Sept 5, booking sot or 6275 2700.



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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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