After months of auditions, Director Baz Luhrmann and Producer Carmen Pavlovic today announced that the exhaustive search for the actress to play the role of ‘Fran’ in STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL is over.
The triple threat ‘role of a lifetime’ has been given to Newtown School of Performing Arts graduate Phoebe Panaretos who topped the state in Drama when she graduated in 2008. Phoebe will be joined on stage by 20 year old Thomas Lacey, whom Baz Luhrmann announced three weeks ago, to play the pivotal role of Scott Hastings.
On casting Phoebe Panaretos Baz Luhrmann said “The role of Fran requires an actor to transform from within, expressing that transformation in terms of character, voice, and dance. Any wonder why the search for Fran went so far and wide. Phoebe weathered so many tests and hurdles, as Fran the character has to in the story of Strictly Ballroom, to reveal the true star that she is. So I am thrilled to be announcing her in this role, celebrating how resilient and strong she was through the grueling process of proving she had all that it takes, which she certainly does.”
An outstanding cast of Australian actors has been assembled to play the iconic roles in this much loved story, including Bob Baines as Les Kendall, Drew Forsythe as Doug Hastings, Natalie Gamsu as Ya Ya, Robert Grubb as Barry Fife, Fernando Mira as Rico, Heather Mitchell as Shirley Hastings and Mark Owen-Taylor as JJ Silvers.
STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL is the inspiring story of a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. This uplifting and courageous tale will tango, sashay and bogo pogo its way onto the Sydney Lyric Theatre from 25 March 2014. It will be brought to the stage by the original creative team behind the classic 1992 film, including director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann, set and costume designer Catherine Martin, choreographer John “Cha Cha” O’Connell and co-writer Craig Pearce.
Carmen Pavlovic, CEO of Global Creatures and Producer said “We are thrilled to make the much anticipated announcement of the cast for the new musical production of STRICTLY BALLROOM. The film introduced iconic characters into the cultural landscape of Australia and we now have an amazing home grown cast to bring these very characters to life again. A delightful mixture of veteran performers and newcomers will helm Baz’s all-singing, all-dancing production.
The audition process was extensive and at the same time a privileged chance for performers around the country to work with Baz and learn from his unique method. Baz has such respect and affection for actors that he invested heavily in the audition process and the performances we saw him draw out of the candidates was inspiring. The wonderful company of actors that resulted will make STRICTLY BALLROOM THE MUSICAL one of next year’s most eagerly-awaited events.”
PHOEBE PANARETOS – Biography
Phoebe grew up in Sydney and went to Newtown School of Performing Arts and graduated topping the State in drama. She moved to Melbourne and was an inaugural 2011 Musical Theatre graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts where she was awarded the Encouragement Award from the Friends of the VCA. In her final year she played the role of Anita in West Side Story directed by Martin Croft.
Phoebe made her professional debut in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver when she was 11 years old playing the role of Rose. Other credits include touring Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide with the Simpsons Tour and singing at the Premier’s Concert in Sydney at the Entertainment Centre.
Since graduating Phoebe was cast in a role in the television series Mr and Mrs Murder. In 2012 she toured to both Singapore and Hong Kong with Smile Live Entertainment production of Thomas and the Hidden Treasure. Earlier this year Phoebe was part of The Production Company’s 2013 season of Singing in the Rain.
THOMAS LACEY – Biography
Thomas commenced dancing at the age of 2 at the May Downs School of Dance, where he continues to train in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Contemporary Dance and Acrobatics as well as teaching the younger students. He also trains at Danceworx in Ballroom, Latin and New Vogue and has undertaken further training in voice at the David Butler Studios alongside acting classes with some of Melbourne’s top drama coaches. His
other screen work includes ‘Blue Heelers’ and a recurring role in ‘Winners and Losers’ (Seven Network).
Thomas’ professional work began at the age of 7 on the stage in ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’. Other stage credits include ‘Singing in the Rain’, the Melbourne and Singapore seasons of ‘Oliver!’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and several other performances including ‘Music Man’, ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and ‘Oklahoma!’ A career highlight was performing in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. He has also undertaken training in voice and drama and his screen work includes ‘Blue Heelers’ and a recurring role in ‘Winners and Losers’.
Thomas was most recently seen as Ben Tickle in the ABC’s hit teen series ‘Dance Academy’, his first ongoing television role.
Venue: Sydney Lyric Theatre
Dates: Previews from Tuesday 25 March, 2014
Opening Night Saturday 12 April, 2014
Performance Times: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 1pm & 8pm
Thursday at 8pm; Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 2pm & 8pm; Sunday at 3pm
Prices: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday Evenings, tickets $60 – $135
Wednesday Matinee, tickets $55 – $125
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, tickets $70 – $145
Bookings: Ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 795 267
Groups 20+ and School Groups 20+ call 02 8240 2290
Premium Tickets, VIP and Hotel Packages – call 1300 4 SHOWS or showbiz.com.au/strictlyballroom