One usually associates the Sunshine Coast with white sandy beach holidays. Thanks to Noosa-born artist turned entrepreneur Madison Thew-Keyworth it is quickly becoming a hub for performers and theatre-goers alike.
Thew-Keyworth produced a sold-out preview season of Dennis T. Giacino’s hit musical, Disenchanted at NOOSA alive! Australia’s premiere regional performing arts and culture festival, which celebrated its 17th anniversary in July. This hilarious musical will make its Australian premiere in September at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne.
“Needless to say this is a massive step for our company. It’s a huge deal to take something out of your own region, let alone out of your home state. I have such admiration and respect for the theatre scene here in Melbourne. It’s an incredible hub of stunning theatre and arts; therefore it seemed the fitting place for a National Premiere!” Thew-Keyworth exclaimed.
“I think the arts is an invaluable part of our society.”
~ Madison Thew-Keyworth
Her experience as a singer, actress, and choreographer has given her the necessary skills to operate a professional theatre company and nurture performers of all ages. She helped to establish Sunshine Coast Youth Theatre (SCYT) in 2010 and continues to tutor young performers in the arts whilst running her company Mad About Theatre.
“How excited I would have been as a young performer to have somewhere like SCYT to grow and learn. To be able to facilitate this for the next wave of creatives is an absolute joy for me,” Thew-Keyworth said. “Imagine a world without theatre, poetry, art, or music! I believe one of the greatest things you can do in life is to help others achieve their success. Being able to create a space for the next generation to learn and grow, to develop their craft, and find their voice as performers is vital,” Thew-Keyworth remarked.
“Along the way I’ve learnt that change always takes time, a whole lot of courage, and support from a lot of people. It has been such an enriching experience and the journey has been worth every step!” Thew-Keyworth reminisced.
Many artists travel away from regional centres to establish themselves in the performing arts industry. She set out to change this for her successors at the age of 26 by establishing her company and she is living up to her mission to provide work opportunities for creatives and create high quality professional theatre for her community.
“I live in Noosa, Queensland which (and maybe I’m biased) is a pretty special part of the world. I knew from a young age I wanted to work in the arts, and am happy to travel to do it. But I also thought, well why do I have to move to work? Why not try and create an industry in the place I love?” she pondered.
“In my personal experience, working overseas is much the same as working here in Australia,” Thew-Keyworth reflected on her professional career which spans between Australia and New Zealand. Having recently worked as choreographer on the New Zealand production of Mamma Mia she maintained, “It doesn’t seem to matter where you are, at the end of the day we’re all creatives working for the same mission: to provide great opportunities to both performers and patrons of theatre by creating quality, exciting entertainment.”
“Be prepared to be flexible, work hard, and always do it with a smile on your face!”
– Madison Thew-Keyworth
In an industry where artists are sometimes asked to perform in exchange for “exposure”, Thew-Keyworth values her artists’ contributions and pays her performers for their work.
“Working for exposure, rather than traditional payment, seems to be a model fairly unique to the arts industry. I think that in itself is an interesting thing to ponder. I wouldn’t want to pass judgement on how anyone else chooses to run their company, but personally, I believe our work in the arts is as valuable as any other job; therefore deserves the same payment and respect as a job in any other industry,” They-Keyworth asserted.
2018 marks the third year for Mad About Theatre and in this year alone it will have produced three musicals, namely A Chorus Line, Disenchanted, and Annie. Thew-Keyworth plans to have a similar output in years to follow.
“We have many plans laid out for the years ahead for the company and will keep doing all we can to continue to create exciting, innovative theatre, both as opportunities for performers and as high quality entertainment for our patrons,” She said.
When queried about future seasons for Disenchanted, she responded, “We’re excited to announce that a tour is on the cards in 2019 for the show! Stay tuned to find out more shortly!
Where: Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
When: Thursday 6 September @ 7.30pm
Friday 7 September @ 7.30pm
Saturday 8 September @ 2.00pm
Saturday 8 September @ 7.30pm
Suitable: 15 years+
Tickets: From $65