As Covid-19 hit at the start of 2021, The Production Company was preparing for a final show in 2020. It never happened. However, what did happen prior to 2020 was an incredible run of 64 musicals and more than 500 performances for the people of Melbourne.
The Production Company was an entertainment treasure with thanks to Jeanne Pratt, Ken Mackenzie-Forbes and Rachel D Taylor. Between 1999 and 2019 this dynamic trio brought to life some of the world’s greatest productions. The shows featured many of the world’s biggest stars and created thousands of jobs in entertainment by filling over one million theatre seats over time.
Now The Production Company website documents it all from the very first show ‘Mame’ in 1999 through to the final season in 2019 with included David Bowie’s final project with the Australian premiere of ‘Lazarus’ (and to date the only Australian production of ‘Lazarus’). It was an incredible output.
Artistic Director Ken Mackenzie-Forbes said in a statement, “We are understandably proud of the unique contribution we made to the musical theatre industry across twenty-one years. This online archive will enable our subscribers, sponsors, artists and creatives to relive the excitement of those years. This journey through the archives will bring back the joy and delight these memorable productions gave us all.”
Executive Director Rachel D Taylor joined the company in 1999 as Production Co-ordinator, became General Manager one year later and Executive Director in 2006. She says, “The online archive is a major resource on the company’s history. It’s a beautiful reminder of the outstanding job The Production Company did presenting and promoting Australian talent, giving Melbourne audiences the best shows for twenty-one wonderful years. The website honours our artists, creatives and collaborators with a permanent presence, long after the curtain has fallen. It was a joy to create and I think it will make people very happy.”
The Production Company attracted Australian theatre royalty.
Across two decades Australia’s theatre stars were The Production Theatre stars. The Roll Call includes Geoffrey Rush, Rhonda Burchmore, Lisa McCune, Caroline O’Connor, Marina Prior, David Campbell, Nancye Hayes, Amanda Muggleton, John Wood, Marty Fields, Ron Guest, John Stanton, Terence Donovan, Debra Byrne, Lucy Durack, Rob Mills, Trevor Ashley, Todd McKenney, Amy Lehpamer, Gina Riley … and that is just covering some of the shows.
The Production Company was made viable by the vision and generosity of the first lady of Australian theatre, Jeanne Pratt AC. Jeanne established The Production Company in 1998 as a Not-For-Profit theatre business to bring Broadway to Melbourne and make the world’s greatest shows affordable to everyone. With thanks to Jeanne, tens of thousands of school children had the opportunity to see their first theatre shows and, no doubt, some would eventually join the productions.
In September 2019 Jeanne announced the company was coming to an end. It was appropriate that the final show ‘Ragtime The Musical’ had its Australian premiere via The Production Company. The Production Company had many Australian firsts over its years.
The shows of The Production Company, an innovation of Australian Theatre, can now be enjoyed online. Continue to enjoy this treasure trove of Australian theatre.
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