This year, the Opening Night Gala of Auburn Frenchfest (South Australia) will feature the world premiere of an exciting new theatre production, ‘DREAM’.
From masterminds Andrew Cooper and Karen King, the story behind ‘DREAM’ is about one woman’s dream to perform at the world-renowned Moulin Rouge.
“The Moulin Rouge comes into play in a couple of scenes,” Karen explains. “The storyline weaves its way around the songs; we had to write the story to fit the songs.”
Both Andrew and Karen started out as production managers for Frenchfest, when they got word of buzz around town that the event was looking to feature a Moulin Rouge-style theatre show. The committee of Frenchfest approached the pair to co-write, co-direct, and co-produce.
Naturally, with their previous experience with Frenchfest, Andrew and Karen were familiar with Paris’ Moulin Rouge, though they never anticipated they’d be working on a project such as this. A whirlwind trip to Paris saw the pair’s brief visit to the actual Moulin Rouge afford a good deal of fun and inspiration. “We had so many people that wanted to help us,” Andrew says.
The 'DREAM' team in rehearsal
The venue itself, exceeded Andrew and Karen’s expectations. “It was a spectacular show,” Andrew recounts. “It kept you not knowing which way to look!” And of course, the show at the Moulin Rouge gave ‘DREAM’ a good deal of material. “There’s the can-can!” teases Karen of what to expect in ‘DREAM’.
As for the casting, Shaleena Bain in the lead role of Danielle, has trained people in Moulin Rouge dance and acting thanks to her background, Andrew calling her “an uplifting source of inspiration” for the rest of the cast. The electric choreography of Australia’s own Bellarouge Dancers have received an injection of creativity and fire from choreographer Carmel Margaritis.
“Our Bellarouge Dancers have certainly put a different slant on the can-can,” Karen teases. “It’s very high energy but doesn’t lose its iconic style.”
‘DREAM’ features 15 original songs by music collective Dream KAJAH, a group that Andrew and Karen are also a part of. The name formed of its members initials, KAJAH wrote 18 songs and whittled it down to 15 to feature in the main score of the production. Attendees to ‘DREAM’ will be able to enjoy an exciting soundscape.
“It’s a real roller-coaster ride following Danielle’s life,” Andrew describes. “It goes from heartfelt ballads through to celebration songs. Anthony, who’s done most of the composing, he’s got a good dance background, but he loves a good story in a song.”
“A lot of the ballads are about the type of turmoil Danielle goes through just to get to a point to be able to be considered for the Moulin Rouge.”
Frenchfest is the world premiere of ‘DREAM’, and it’s Andrew and Karen’s hope it will serve as a stepping stone toward even bigger things.
“Our cast is very primed up to [perform] somewhere. Our narrator [Virginie Forest], who is French, she sees this as being a phenomenal start, in her words, to a really big thing, because of the human side of it as much as anything.
“People can relate to some of the things Danielle goes through.”
'DREAM' plays Auburn Institute (Auburn Frenchfest, South Australia) 8-9 September.