Launceston's Encore Theatre Company celebrates anniversary

Encore Theatre Company emerged from an idea which nearly didn’t come to fruition.

It was about 18 years ago when two of the founders discussed setting up their own theatre company in Launceston.

They both moved away, and it was only when they both returned in 2008 that they realised it was now or never.

Founder Belinda King said the five founders decided to take the plunge and invested $2000 each in a no interest loan for their first show.

The Sound of Music was their inaugural production in 2008.

“It was a huge risk for the first show,” King said.

Starting with $10,000 no interest loan from the founding members, the company was faced with the prospect of paying $93,000 in bills after the 2008 show season finished.

While it was a daunting target to start with, the show was a success, she said.

Since then, there has been 26 production attracting more than 105,000 people to the theatre.

The company will celebrate its 10th anniversary by performing The Sound of Music in November.

Already the budget was set to top $300,000, she said.

This theatre season will also see the return of Les Misérables to the stage for the second time since the company started.

The 2010 performance featured a revolving stage, which would be gone in the new take on the iconic show.

“The show resonates so strongly with audiences,” King said.

Les Misérables showed people were willing to give everything for a greater good, she said.

The production has been performed in London featured in the London arts scene for about 33 years, continuing to evolve and change, she said.

When the company first put on its performance, the biggest challenge was attracting men to perform, King said.

But the fighting themes and gun use did encourage plenty to apply.

There was a mix of replica and real guns used, which either fired blanks or did not have a firing pin, she said.

An armourer was on the set to reload and maintain the guns. The fresh take would involve more fighting scenes and physicality.

Several actors will reprise their 2008 roles, including Dean Cocker and Matthew Garwood.

Auditions were held at the same time as the company’s 2017 Blood Brothers auditions. That meant the actors started rehearsing the day after the 2017 production’s final night, King said.

The cast of 48 would be under the direction of King for the 2018 production, while Liz Bennett directed the 2010 show.

King estimated that approximately 20 per cent of the Princess Theatre’s annual audience would be from two 2018 shows.

  • The Les Misérables season will start on March 15 and finish on March 31.