Entertainment Hive 2017

Craig Ilott creates a sizzling disco inferno

By Honey B

Director Craig Ilott has disco fever running through his veins. It's no surprise with the highly successful director's latest show Velvet, a hedonistic 70s nightclub extravaganza, set to premiere at the Adelaide Fringe on Wednesday, February 18. As we speak, Ilott is shining up the mirror ball and putting the final touches on the eagerly anticipated production. "Rehearsals have been going great and it's been wonderful to have the entire cast on the floor and working on the final stages of the production,'' Ilott enthuses. "I have been working on this show for about a year now, or what feels like a year, and it's very exciting. "It's an amazing cast and I never like to big note about a show, but I am quietly confident that we have an amazing show that will debut in Adelaide in less than a week!'' Ilott says he doesn't like to count the days until opening night and quite aptly quotes former Labor PM Paul Keating: "A lot can happen in politics in a week,'' he laughs. "It's incredible how much you get done in the last few days and you just have to have the confidence and believe that what needs to be done will be done. "I'm not too nervous at the moment - the butterflies are flying in formation.'' With the nerves at bay - for now - Ilott says Velvet is a "nightclub and a state of mind''. "It's a fantasy in effect. On one level it's an amalgam of variety that just delivers entertainment to a pumping disco soundtrack. "On another level there is a narrative as we chart the progression of a young man's journey to self discovery. A young man arrives in this space and he needs to find the skills to be able to transform, which he does throughout the night. "There is nothing too heavy about the show - it's disco after-all - but we have a number of different levels working together throughout the performance.'' Playing the transformative young man is star of The Great Gatsby and popular singer-songwriter Brendan Maclean who performs alongside an eclectic and super talented cast. Ilott knows how hard it is to bring together the right mix of artists and he believes he has the best- of-the best from disco divas to burlesque queens and everything in-between. "We have an amazing aerialist in Stephen Williams and a New Orleans burlesque powerhouse in Perle Noire as well as extreme hula hoop artist Craig Reid, another amazing aerialist in Emma Goh, German handstand artist Mirko and Joey Accaria who is our MD and live percussionist - just to name a few. "Then we also have Brendan, who is such a talent, and Marcia Hines who is disco and she is such a mentor and she's so generous to everyone.'' Ilott says he is enjoying watching the cast inspire each other with Hines also recently tweeting her "awe'' of the other performers. "It's a really infectious feel here at the moment with performers spurring each other on, challenging each other and inspiring each other to new heights.'' Ilott, who is very much a visionary director still on the rise, has a formidable CV having won a Green Room Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and his previous theatrical spectacular, Smoke & Mirrors is still a highly sought-after production around the world. "I wish there was a formula to these shows, but it's really emotional for me when a show works and really hums with an audience screaming out for that sort of entertainment. "I do find it very moving and I am extremely proud. I get very proud of the performers for putting themselves out there as they hope for a great response.'' Of Ilott's own disco days, the easygoing director admits that he was a bit too young to remember the height of the disco era. "I was in the mid-80s era of music and I remember a lot of Pseudo Echo, but we did have school discos and Bluelight discos. "There was a bit of Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross' Chain Reaction played at those and Young Hearts Run Free had another life thanks to Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet. "Disco is just so infectious and it feels like there has been another surge in it again and that people are dancing to it again. "Hopefully we will get a new, young audience in as well as those who love the disco era and those who love a spectacular show. "One thing I do know, is that Adelaide is a fantastic place to open the show and hopefully it is the first of many festivals and many cities for Velvet.'' Velvet, Adelaide Fringe, Garden of Unearthly Delights, The Vagabond, Garden of Unearthly Delights, February 13 to March 15, 9.45pm plus 5.15pm Saturdays & Sundays. Bookings: 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au
Home Music Film Theatre Comedy Reviews Art Social Win Contact