This autumn’s hottest beach party coming to Wagga Wagga

12 MAY 2021

This autumn’s hottest beach party coming to Wagga Wagga

University Theatre Ensemble students in Wagga Wagga are breaking out the Hawaiian shirts to head back in time for this original performance.

  • Tickets for Charles Sturt production now on sale

Students from Charles Sturt University’s University Theatre Ensemble will transform the Riverina Playhouse into a 1960s beachside wonderland of bikinis, board shorts and surfboards to stage their original musical production.

A satire of the beloved Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon Beach Party comedies of the 1960s, Party Beach! is an all-singing, all-dancing slapstick comedy which pokes fun at the stereotypes of teen movies, then and now.

Writer Ms Van Badham began work on Party Beach! with Charles Sturt students in 2019, while she was a writer-in-residence at the Booranga Writers’ Centre.

“Over my time in Wagga Wagga, I watched the Charles Sturt University students grow into their talents and realised we could be a lot more ambitious with the ‘little play’ we were originally staging and could turn it into a musical,” she said.

She contacted her long-time musical collaborator, London-based musician and composer Mr Jonny Berliner, and asked him to compose an original score.

Mr Berliner was in recovery from COVID-19 at the time and both were in lockdown on opposite sides of the world.

“Jonny leapt at the chance to make something that was funny and sunny,” Ms Badham said.

“With all those months in lockdown, the two of us really appreciated the chance to work alongside students who always had so much energy and creativity.”

They developed Party Beach! over Zoom and Mr Berliner has worked with Charles Sturt students in Wagga Wagga via the internet while he’s remained in London.

For students like Ms Zajkel Zaia, who plays the role of wise-cracking Maryanne, the experience has been a rewarding challenge.

“We’ve all been studying, working and rehearsing as well as learning lines, songs and dance moves at the same time,” she said.

“Doing a new musical is a lot to juggle, but we know that this is the best preparation we could get for professional life as performers.”

Party Beach! runs at the CSU Riverina Playhouse from Wednesday 19 to Saturday 22 May at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Friday 21 May at 1pm.

Tickets are $25 or $12.50 concession and available at the door or can be booked online.

Media Note:

Photo caption: (From left) James Weir, Natalie Scott, Jacob Taylor-Tighe, Ciara Briggs and Liam Chester.

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Wagga Wagga Arts and Culture Charles Sturt University