WAAPA Backstage Stars

Footloose the Musical, proudly presented by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University, was a sold-out success at His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth in June 2023. 

Featuring a cast of 40 triple-threat performers and a live band, the musical extravaganza was WAAPA’s biggest production of the year.

“In a production worthy of the big stage, WAAPA’s cast and crew make all the right moves,” announced Seesaw Magazine in its review, and Stage Whispers singled out “the teamwork and joy of performing is very evident in this production”.

While audiences applauded the music theatre students on-stage and music students in the orchestra pit, there was also an army of WAAPA production and design students working hard behind the scenes. 

From costume, props and scenery, to sound, lighting, production design and stage management, WAAPA’s Production and Design students were involved in every aspect of Footloose the Musical.

Set Designer Bryan Woltjen’s highly industrial set design, which used the full height of His Majesty’s Theatre’s stage over multiple levels, was made by WAAPA’s Production and Design students. Morphing from church to living room, school locker room to highway, and burger joint to railway line with ease, this was a clever, intricate set that needed skill to create. 

“This production was the largest set electrics build the WAAPA lighting crew have ever undertaken, with over 100m of LED neon flex used and 444 programmed individual lighting states,” said Jason Glenwright, WAAPA’s Coordinator of Lighting.

Megan Parker, Lecturer in Costume at WAAPA, described how the team of 15 costume students displayed creativity, discipline and resourcefulness in realising the costume designs. 

“The costume supervisor, Olivia Adamow, spent many hours scouring the WAAPA stock to find the perfect 2000s vintage pieces for each cast member. Head cutter McKenna Marshal displayed both ingenuity and thriftiness to maximise the potential of each denim garment repurposed to create the finale outfits. 

“Remnant fabrics and trims from the wardrobe were used to create an authentic and sustainable realisation of early 2000s fashion. Offcuts were supplied to the Props and Scenery Department to create the denim bunting for the finale. Dressing Supervisor Phoebe Mitchell communicated closely with cast members to ensure the costumes met the physical requirements of the energetic choreography.”

Working on shows such as Footloose the Musical provides WAAPA’s students with invaluable hands-on theatrical experiences. It is just one of over 300 performances and concerts that make up WAAPA’s annual program of theatre, music theatre, opera, dance and music offerings, providing exciting opportunities for its Production and Design students.

This ‘on-the-job’ training gives WAAPA graduates the winning edge in preparation for a seamless transition into a wide range of careers within the creative and technical industries, both nationally and overseas.

“There is so much opportunity for creative practitioners internationally right now, across the arts entertainment and live events industries,” said Anton Maz, WAAPA’s Marketing Manager. 

No ATAR is required to enrol in the CUA50420 - Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services. This entry level year of study offers two distinct streams to choose from: 

Production Arts - Structured to appeal to the creative designer/maker, developing skills across the areas of Scenic Art, Costume Construction, Prop Making and Scenic Construction. 

Technical and Live Performance - Includes Lighting, Sound, Stage Management, and Technical Drawing, similarly to Production Arts, the expected destination of the graduate with this award is as an assistant.

To find out more about WAAPA’s Production and Design course, check out the WAAPA website at waapa.ecu.edu.au

Footloose the Musical was directed by Jason Langley and choreographed by Jodie Bickle.


Photographer: Stephen Heath