STARS: Max Gillies (right) and Samuel Johnson appeared in The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell.
STARS: Max Gillies (right) and Samuel Johnson appeared in The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell.

NORPA wraps up its 2013 season with a thriller

STARS: Max Gillies (right) and Samuel Johnson appeared in The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell.
STARS: Max Gillies (right) and Samuel Johnson appeared in The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell.

THE CURTAIN came down on the final show of the NORPA 2013 season on Saturday night, and what a show it was.

Starring Max Gillies, Samuel Johnson and a show-stealing Michala Banas, The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell was a very creepy, thrilling and quality finale to what artistic director Julian Louis says has been an important season for the regional theatre company, now in its 20th year.

"This year has been a turning point for us," Mr Louis said before Saturday night's performance.

"We are welcoming a lot more people to our shows now, which is fantastic.

"I think audiences rely on us, they know the quality of the performances is assured, and we have such a diverse range of shows; we have performance, dance, circus… so we are always bringing something new and exciting, and I think audiences respond to that."

Mr Louis said that NORPA has become an integral part of the Northern Rivers community.

"We want to tell stories that are relevant to our community, and we do that," he said.

Mr Louis said Northern Rivers audiences were gaining a reputation as some of the most engaged in the country.

"It's amazing how many performers say that here was the best show they had of their tour. Our audiences are just so engaged, so open, and it makes a real difference.

The newly renovated City Hall had also been a highlight of the 2013 season, Mr Louis said.

"It's fantastic. It's so lovely to bring high quality shows to a high quality audience in a high quality venue.

"It's what our audiences deserve."

Mr Louis said while some shows had been more successful, or popular, than others, the entire season had been well received.

"Something like Knee Deep (the enthralling circus performance which played last month) was a big hit.

"It was pretty unanimous. Then something like The Wizard of Oz was far more controversial. That one divided people, and look, the production took a risk and maybe it was a spectacular failure, but that's what art does, it challenges people. Theatre should take risks; it's not always going to work, but it's always going to be worth it."

While Mr Louis wouldn't give too much away about the 2014 season yet, he did drop a few hints.

"We have a major, iconic Australian theatre company as part of the 2014 season.

"I won't say who it is but people will be flocking to that.

"And we have four productions as part of Generator (NORPA's program for making new local theatre)."



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