Reviewing Arts Centre Melbourne’s Backstage Tour is fraught with complexity.
The reason is – as our guide Geoff explained – the tour changes continually depending on what’s on at the centre. Furthermore guides have their own stories and experiences to share.
My tour coincided with a performance of The 78-Storey Treehouse at the Centre’s Playhouse Theatre, along with Opera Australia (OA) preparing The State Theatre for its autumn season.
However we still managed to get `behind the scenes’, the main selling point of the tour, as the smaller Fairfax Studio wasn’t occupied.
Thus we could stand on the stage, learn about the different types of theatre set-up, and then explore backstage.
We saw the area from where the stage manager directs the action and inspected one of the dressing rooms. We then spent around 20 minutes exploring the underground passages (best described as a maze) below the centre’s three theatres. There was also a quick stop at one of the rehearsal rooms, before we passed the area where orchestra members assemble.
Along the way we learnt about some of the tricks of the theatre, including the use of trapdoors.
Thanks to Geoff’s 25 year history with the Arts Centre and his acting career, these stories were presented with great flourish and enthusiasm.
While the State Theatre and Playhouse Theatre stages were inaccessible, we did visit the seating area. The Playhouse Theatre was rocking thanks to hundreds of kids attending the Treehouse performance, however I most enjoyed watching OA staff set up their props on the State Theatre stage. From our vantage point we could see how big the stage is and learn how OA swaps the props for different operas.
Like the Arts Centre Guided Tour, which operates from Monday to Saturday, our tour also included the centre’s public areas. We learnt about the history of the building, the architecture – including the spire – and some of the art work on show.
However it was the chance to see what happens behind the scenes together with Geoff’s colourful presentation which was the highlight of the tour.
Arts Centre Melbourne’s Backstage Tour operates every Sunday from 11am. The tour lasts 90 minutes and costs $25. For more information and to book visit the Arts Centre Melbourne website.
Jenny Burns was hosted on the tour by Arts Centre Melbourne on Sunday April 8 2018.
*All images supplied by Arts Centre Melbourne.
- arts centre melbourne, behind the scenes, review, tour
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