Rights to popular musicals a coup for Encore

Encore Theatre Company co-presidents Jamie Hillard and Belinda King will bring Mary Poppins and Evita productions to Launceston. Picture: JAMES BRADY

Encore Theatre Company co-presidents Jamie Hillard and Belinda King will bring Mary Poppins and Evita productions to Launceston. Picture: JAMES BRADY

"SUPERCALIFRAGILIST- ICEXPIALIDOCIOUS!"

This was what the co- directors of Encore Theatre Company were singing on Thursday when they received confirmation of the rights to stage two of the world's most popular musicals - Evita and Mary Poppins - in Launceston.

Admitting to being "a little bit ecstatic", Encore's directors Belinda King and Jamie Hillard believe these two musicals complete a perfect trifecta for Encore, having enjoyed a blockbuster season of another musical phenomenon Phantom of the Opera at the Princess Theatre in March this year.

In recent years Encore has staked its claim for presenting high quality productions, and has been buoyed by sellout audience response.

The $330,000 production of Phantom drew more than 10,000 people over two weeks to the Princess Theatre.

It has been 18 years since anyone has seen Evita anywhere in Australia, as the performing rights have been unavailable.

"It is an absolute thrill to be able to bring this spectacular musical gem back to life," King and Hillard said almost in unison.

"Equally, to have been recognised by the Australian rights holders of Mary Poppins as being capable of delivering the required high-end production values is a huge vote of confidence in the team we have been able to build here in recent years," Hillard added.

Evita, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical about Eva Peron, the ambitious wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, will open at the Princess on March 6 next year.

The magical musical adventure of Mary Poppins, as devised by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh and having amassed more than 40 awards worldwide, will open on March 10, 2016.

It has been a big few weeks for Encore, having completed negotiations with British actress Sue Hodge to come to Launceston to star as Reverend Geraldine Granger in its October production of The Vicar of Dibley.

All roles for The Vicar of Dibley were finalised last week with Danny Gibson cast as Hugo, Fran Suitor as Alice, Ross Marsden as David Horton, Graeme Pain, of Old Nick fame, as Jim Trott, and Kerri Gay as Letitia Cropley.

Bookings are now open for The Vicar of Dibley at 63233666 or at the Princess Theatre box office, or visit www.theatrenorth.com.au

Earlybirds keen to secure tickets to Evita or Mary Poppins can contact the theatre to be placed on a priority waitlist.

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