Frosty banks on original tale of love

Producer John Frost knows what he’s doing.

Producer John Frost knows what he’s doing.

After all, he has been involved in some of the most successful musical productions in Australian history, including Wicked, and whilst he has ridden the roller coaster of being a theatre producer more than once, his eye for something special is strong.

That eye has discovered Doctor Zhivago, which will open in Sydney early next year.

Frost knows it’s a risk, and is under no false impressions about the huge task ahead to make it work.

“The music is fantastic, the book is great… the question is, is the show right for now?” Frost told

“My feeling is that it is, as I think the world is looking for the next epic musical. We’ve had Phantom and Les Mis, but as wonderful as they are, we are still searching for the next big epic. I wouldn’t dare say it is Zhivago… that is up to the public at the end of the day.”

Frost has assembled a strong cast for the production, including Anthony Warlow and rising star Lucy Maunder.

“I am thrilled with the cast,” he said. 

“The thought was always that we had Anthony, and I was prepared to go with a cast that was unknown, but what we ended up having is the crem de le crème of this style of musical.”

Rehearsals for the love story have already begun and Frost said the show is looking superb.

“It sounds great and it’s reading off the page really easy and well,” Frost said. 

“I think the exciting thing about this project is that it will be a work in progress. What song is opening the first act as I read it now may not make the show.”

For Frost, working on a world premiere, original project is somewhat new ground.

“I have looked at doing original stuff before and they either don’t happen or they get to workshop stage and they fall apart,” Frost said.

“A sense of danger goes with those things when they are brand new. I think America and England are looking to Australia to do it… if we were to do Doctor Zhivago in New York it would cost $12 million, here it is going to cost $5.5 million.”

Frost said he always wanted to open the show in Sydney but understands why Melbourne has been given the unofficial tag of Australian theatre’s capital.

“The good thing about Melbourne is that they have more theatres, and the media are much more friendlier… where you would get three stories in The Herald Sun  and one in The Age you may get one in the Telegraph and one in the Herald in Sydney. But that is work that we as producers need to do,” Frost said.

“There are far more distractions in Sydney. In Melbourne you can, in a way, own the city… where in Sydney it is much harder to do that, you can ‘greenify’ Melbourne a lot easier than in Sydney.”

Frost, who has an involvement with the upcoming Legally Blonde, has a busy year ahead in 2011.

“We will do a workshop mid next year for Dream Lover… we will decide from there if it will move forward,” he said.

Officer and a Gentleman is being re-written and changed… we don’t have an opening date or city at the moment.”

Whichever way you look at it, Frost appears to be in a golden period.

However, he would never be caught counting his chickens.

“Nothing has hit the dust for me yet… but one will happen, the law of averages of being a producer means they can’t all be winners,” he said.

“But the industry overall is in a pretty good position.”

Doctor Zhivago opens at the Lyric Theatre in February.

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