Darlinghurst Theatre Company has announced that it has been awarded $605,562 through the Australian Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund for a 21-week tour of the multi award-winning musical ONCE in 2021.
A smash hit around the world, ONCE is based on the movie of the same name by John Carney and features a spell-binding score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including their Oscar-winning song Falling Slowly. It is the only Broadway show to have music that won the Academy Award, Grammy Award, Olivier Award and Tony Award.
Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed production opened in June 2019. Directed by Richard Carroll, it also featured choreography by Amy Campbell and musical direction by Victoria Falconer-Pritchard. Starring Toby Francis, Stefanie Caccamo and Cameron Daddo, it was completely sold out and played to nightly standing ovations.
Following a transfer to Merrigong Theatre Company, it returned to the Eternity Playhouse for an extended season. Now all of Australia will be able to fall in love with this unforgettable musical that pulls you by the heart strings and never lets you go.
“We are absolutely thrilled to receive a RISE grant to tour ONCE in 2021 – our sell-out show that was first performed in 2019 at our home, The Eternity Playhouse,” says Vicki Middleton, Chair of Darlinghurst Theatre Company. “This support marks a game changing moment for us, as we strive towards not only our post-Covid recovery, but a sustainable and ambitious future.”
“Through this grant, we take particular joy in being able to offer our incredible artists and artworkers months of employment after such a devastating year that has hit them particularly hard. We can’t wait to hit the road into regional and metropolitan Australia with this amazing work,” says Ms Middleton.
Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s founding CEO and Co-Artistic Director, Glenn Terry, shares Middleton’s enthusiasm. “The RISE funding is a life saver for our company. COVID has been devastating for us as we survive mainly from our own earned income, which dried up during COVID with the closure of our theatre. This support will help us to truly relaunch in 2021 with power and passion.”
Terry is excited about engaging with new audiences across Australia. “Touring has always been part of our DNA. It even led to the creation of Critical Stages Touring in 2005. We’ve always tried to bring the experience and joy of live entertainment to as many people as we can,” he said.
“This is more important now than ever before. COVID forced the closure of our borders and sadly many live music venues. Australians everywhere have been stuck at home. They’re desperate to get out and enjoy the thrill and emotional reward only live theatre can provide.”
Co-Artistic Director Amylia Harris agrees. “The RISE Fund was established by the Australian Government to help kick-start an industry that has been brought to its knees. We’ve spent much of this year innovating to find new ways to keep theatre alive as we’ve slowly emerged from lockdown, she said.
“We are so grateful that this funding will allow more people than ever to see the work we do on its grandest scale, and to enjoy the same levels of artistic excellence all around the country,” said Ms Harris.
“Everyone heard about ONCE last year,” Harris continues. “We had people travelling to Sydney specially to see the production, and they all said they’d never seen anything like it. Now, more than ever, there is an appetite to get out of the house, to come together and to be uplifted by life-affirming stories.”
“ONCE does that in spades. It’s also a large-scale production that employs lots of multi-talented artists. It’s a win for audiences and the industry,” said Ms Harris.
Award-winning Director Richard Carroll considers ONCE to be one of the most challenging musicals for the artists involved. “It asks for so much from its actors. Not only do they need to tell this beautiful story every night with truth, passion and humour – they also need to sing the exceptional songs with all of the same qualities,” he said
“AND they are their own band, so every one of them needs to be an exceptional instrumentalist. I was blown away by the capabilities of the cast and creative team we assembled for ONCE last year, and I can’t wait to do it all again for the entire country to see,” said Mr Carroll.
Further details about the 2021 national tour of ONCE will be announced early next year. For more information about Darlinghurst Theatre Company, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.
Image: ONCE (Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 2019) – photo by Robert Catto