When the Manning Entertainment Centre opened in 1988, the primary aim was to find a quality home for the local arts council and eistedfodd society.
If the building had lain vacant until last weekend’s launch by Taree Arts Council of Les Miserables, it would have been worth the 15 year campaign from 1973.
Take a bow director Gayle Cameron and musical director Don Secomb. You have produced the best show - amateur or professional - we have ever had on the MEC stage. And that is saying something.
Each of the leads were fabulous.
The vocal range of Tim Gibbs as Jean Valjean has to be heard to be believed. Rod Illidge as Javert makes Russel Crowe in the movie look like an amateur.
Mary Camphius as Fantine, Stacey Evans as Eponine, David Stephens and Patricia Williams as the comic leads, Alex Blenkin as Marius, Caitlyn Cameron as Cosette and Ian Castle as Enjolras produced truly spell binding performances.
The strongest chorus we have ever seen on that stage - plus those children!
The quality of the orchestra is just amazing. My sister Joy, an accomplished violinist from Coffs Harbour, was blown away. The extraordinary creativity in the locally made sets, the locally made costumes - a truly professional show as good as any on the West End of London, produced by hundreds of volunteers.
Eight more shows from Wednesday, November 7 to Sunday, November 18. Bookings are strong (the show I attended was booked out) but if there is a single unoccupied seat it will be a tragedy - $55 for a seat which would cost hundreds of US dollars plus airfares to see on Broadway.
What a bargain. Google MEC Taree today!