A Broad Spectrum for Festival Centre in 2017

Despite works closing down the Festival Theatre for five months during the second half of next year, the Adelaide Festival Centre’s 2017 program still features major musicals, its three festivals as well as exciting national and local work.

“I hope our audiences and our partners are resilient enough to get through what will be some short-term pain for long-term gain in that respect,” says Douglas Gautier, Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director, of the redevelopment works.

“Overall, I’m pretty happy with where it is [the 2017 program]. It’s the sort of thing that despite the loss of the Festival Theatre for that half-year [other Festival Centre venues the Dunstan Playhouse, Space Theatre and Her Majesty’s will remain open], is the sort of combination and balance of programming of arts and entertainment for different audiences. We have been steadily working towards that over a 10-year period: a broad spectrum of work.”

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This broad spectrum includes the big budget Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production of Tim Minchin’s musical of Roald Dahl’s Matilda and the return of Dusty the Musical over the New Year period.

These musicals are programmed alongside the AFC’s three festivals (Cabaret, OzAsia and DreamBIG) while independent theatre company Brink Productions will present two shows (Long Tan and Ancient Rain with Paul Kelly and Camille O’Sullivan) and new cutting edge local work will be delivered throughout the year as part of the inSPACE program.

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“An arts centre generally – no matter whether it’s here or in Singapore or in Berlin, but particularly in Australia – needs to think about how it really is accessible to the community of the day,” Gautier says. “When you look at musicals: Dusty, with a great cast, Matilda, this is a great collaboration with an ex-Adelaide person Louise Withers (the producer of the RSC). It’s probably one of the biggest musicals that’s ever been brought here and it gives us a tick of approval from a big commercial outfit that we are getting the numbers back here, we are truly back on the national network of big musical productions.”

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The centre will also collaborate with the Adelaide Fringe to bring the award-winning stage production of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting here for the entire Fringe season, while music is high on the AFC’s Fringe agenda with a production about Memphis’ famous Sun Records, Sun Rising, as well as Tubular Bells for Two and An Evening with Amanda Palmer.

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Gautier says music is a major focus for the AFC, especially in light of Adelaide’s announcement as a UNESCO City of Music in 2015, which Gautier says is “paying dividends” with the Centre holding its International Jazz Day with James Morrison that will kick off a week of jazz celebrations in May. Gautier says there will be more music celebrations in the pipeline under the UNESCO umbrella.

“If you trail through any of our festivals and our programming, you’ll see that there’s an increased emphasis on music. The UNESCO tick just really helps us with that.”

Explore the full program for 2017 at adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au