The Honourable Jeff Kennett is chirpy and for good reason. It was announced on Monday that the world-wide musical hit Wicked has named Beyondblue as the official charity for its return Melbourne season in May.
As founding Chairman of Beyondblue Mr Kennett is thrilled at the nature of the partnership. “There is a connection between the themes of Wicked and the work we do. The Producers of Wicked have offered to partner with us and will be donating the proceeds from the final dress rehearsal to Beyondblue”.
Wicked Producer John Frost AO echoed this sentiment saying, “Wicked’s messages of good, the importance of acceptance and anti-bullying ideals, really aligned us with the Beyond Blue foundation. The partnership [is] a natural marriage.”
Formed in the year 2000 Beyondblue has worked throughout Australia with every sector of the community. As Kennett explains, “We work with young, old, and everyone in between. A lot of [our work] is aimed at removing the stigma associated with the illness.”
Celebrating its 10 Anniversary Wicked continues to send a strong message about friendship, accepting differences and the consequence of choices. It looks at the affects of all types of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, making it an excellent tool for spiritual, social and moral understanding. Along with donating the proceeds of the sale of all tickets to its Final Dress Rehearsal Performance, the partnership involves Beyondblue information being distributed in the Wicked Education Program’ an initiative that, over the last 10 years, has seen hundreds of thousands of school children learn about the messages of Wicked.
Mr Kennett says, “The money is important, but more important to me is our ability to connect and not only reinforce our work with the arts community, but through them to their audiences. That gives us the opportunity of refreshing our message.”
Although Beyondblue has a long association with personalities in the arts, actor Garry McDonald was an original board member. the organisation has never had an official arts partner. Mr Kennett is optimistic saying, “I think a lot of good is going to come from this partnership. It might be the start of an even bigger connect with the arts community. We’re grateful to the people at Wicked for identifying us as a sponsor and we hope our brand will help them do productive work as well.”
Mr Kennett’s own association with politics, health and sports is widely known, but what is his personal experience with the performing arts? “Well, I consider my life to be one big performance. I used to perform in school plays and musicals – Gilbert and Sullivan and so on. I’m what you call a thespian of no note!”
Better leave this show to the professionals then.
The return season of the Broadway blockbuster Wicked will star original Australian cast members Lucy Durack as Glinda and Jemma Rix as Elphaba. Maggie Kirkpatrick will return as Madame Morrible and theatre legend Reg Livermore has been announced as The Wizard. Wicked returns to the Regent Theatre Melbourne on May 7 for a strictly limited season prior to touring to Sydney and Brisbane.
The Wicked Beyondblue Dress Rehearsal
6.30pm, Sunday 4 May
Regent Theatre, Melbourne
ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 111 011