As a publicist, the task of pushing a brand new musical is a difficult one. It is after all an untested and unknown product, and in a city such as Sydney,
the media can often be unforgiving when it comes to giving space to the arts.
As a publicist, the task of pushing a brand new musical is a difficult one. It is after all an untested and unknown product, and in a city such as Sydney, the media can often be unforgiving when it comes to giving space to the arts.
In the case of Doctor Zhivago, however, the media has very much jumped on board.
With the assistance of a strong marketing campaign that has included television, print and a strong campaign on Sydney’s number one radio station, 2GB, Ian Phipps and his team have scored some massive wins, including some money-can’t-buy opportunities.
Now, with the Doctor Zhivago brand well and truly in the minds of the general public, the next big test begins: showing it to an audience.
The cast and crew have been inside the Lyric Theatre for nearly a week now, getting the show technically ready for the first preview performance at the Lyric Theatre on Friday night.
The show went through a strong rehearsal period at the ABC studios in Ultimo.
The official gala opening night will be held on February 19.
Producer John Frost knows that Doctor Zhivago a risk, and is under no false impressions about the huge task ahead to make it work.
“The music is fantastic, the book is great… the question is, is the show right for now?” Frost told AussieTheatre.com.
“My feeling is that it is, as I think the world is looking for the next epic musical. We’ve had Phantom and Les Mis, but as wonderful as they are, we are still searching for the next big epic. I wouldn’t dare say it is Zhivago… that is up to the public at the end of the day.”
Frost has assembled a strong cast for the production, including Anthony Warlow and rising star Lucy Maunder.
“I am thrilled with the cast,” he said.
“The thought was always that we had Anthony, and I was prepared to go with a cast that was unknown, but what we ended up having is the crem de le crème of this style of musical.”
For Frost, working on a world premiere, original project is somewhat new ground.
“I have looked at doing original stuff before and they either don’t happen or they get to workshop stage and they fall apart,” Frost said.
“A sense of danger goes with those things when they are brand new. I think America and England are looking to Australia to do it… if we were to do Doctor Zhivago in New York it would cost $12 million, here it is going to cost $5.5 million.”
Frost said he always wanted to open the show in Sydney but understands why Melbourne has been given the unofficial tag of Australian theatre’s capital.
“The good thing about Melbourne is that they have more theatres, and the media are much friendlier… where you would get three stories in The Herald Sun and one in The Age you may get one in the Telegraph and one in the Herald in Sydney. But that is work that we as producers need to do,” Frost said.
“There are far more distractions in Sydney. In Melbourne you can, in a way, own the city… where in Sydney it is much harder to do that, you can ‘greenify’ Melbourne a lot easier than in Sydney.”
Doctor Zhivago bookings: www.showbiz.com.au.