The Witches Of Eastwick By John Dempsey lyrics and Book and Dana P Rowe music Directed By Angel Dolejsi and Amy Fitzpatrick Choreographed By Dolejsi Supa Productions ANU Arts Centre, March 14 To 29 Tickets 403525, Canberrareporgau Or 6257 1950 Dinnershow Packages Available From Teatro Vivaldi On 6257 2718
Three bored, divorced female friends living in a small town wish for the man of their dreams. But, as the saying goes: be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. When he arrives, they - and the town - are in for a devil of a time.
The Witches of Eastwick began as a novel by John Updike and was adapted into a 1987 film. The musical version premiered in London in 2000 and has had professional productions in several countries. This Supa production is the show's Canberra premiere.
Alex (played by Louiza Blomfield), Sukie (Vanessa De Jager) and Jane (Kelly Roberts) are the three unhappy women living frustrated lives in the small town of Eastwick. Their collective longing for an ideal man results in the arrival of the mysterious Darryl van Horne (Jarrad West) who seems to be just what they wanted - at first.
Co-directors Amy Fitzpatrick and Angel Dolejsi (who's also choreographing) have both been fans of The Witches of Eastwick for a long time.
Fitzpatrick describes it as funny, sad and scary.
Dolejsi adds: ''The score is beautiful, the music is divine. I always felt it was one of the last traditional musicals written before the poperatic musical influx. It's what musical theatre is supposed to be.''
Both acknowledge it isn't a well-known show but that has increased their determination to put on the best production they can to entice audiences - including the spectacle of the three witches taking flight.
''We'll give [the audience] the wow factor of actually flying them. That's not really been done in Canberra, three girls flying in the air,'' Dolejsi says.
And the three actors are up for it, no pun intended.
Blomfield says Alex is ''an earth mother type … she mothers the other two''.
She's also a more confident character than the awkward Sukie, whom De Jager says is ''very childlike … she's looking for a man to take care of her and dote on her''.
Jane, says Roberts, is ''the most uptight, repressed character of the three''.
They're already not popular with the other women in Eastwick, suspected (not without cause) of dallying with some of the menfolk. In particular, Felicia (Michelle Klemke), who for all intents and purposes runs the town, is very down on them. But things change when Darryl arrives. He casts his spell on each of the three women in turn, teaching them how to expand their hidden powers, which leads to some unexpected - and alarming - consequences.
For West, Darryl, as a sly villain, is great fun to play. ''He's not the sweet, charming innocent that he projects himself as. He is quite evil and inconsiderate of other people.''
Murder and mayhem ensue and the women must decide what to do about the devilish Darryl. Can they defeat him?
Roberts says the heart of the show is in the women finding themselves … and realising they can stand on their own two feet.
''They've got each other; they don't need a man.''
Blomfield says, ''all people, all women, no matter what stage of life they're in have power within them in all senses''.
''This is an extreme case in which magic becomes the overwhelming feeling - they all have their own power, it was always inside.''
While it might have taken the devil to show them that power, they have to decide how to use it.
Echoing this, Fitzpatrick says, ''it's about finding out who you are, being yourself first … and believing in what you're capable of''.
And that includes the cast, who range in age from 11 to 70 and who are taking on the challenge of mounting a show that's new to Canberra with a range of demands including magic tricks.
While it may lack familiarity - though many people will have seen the film, starring Jack Nicholson - it seems to have been fun for all concerned. West, who is co-artistic director of Everyman Theatre, says it's nice doing a show with another company where he's not in charge.
''I'm just an actor and I get to focus on my role. It's nice to be in a premiere in Canberra, a show that no one's done before: you're not being compared.''
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