Master Storyteller, actor and writer, Jimi Bani will lead a large cast in Queensland Theatre’s production of ‘Our Town’.
In an announcement made yesterday, the state theatre company revealed the actors who will bring Thornton Wilder’s story to life and become the largest cast ever to grace the Bille Brown Theatre stage.
Among the line-up includes Jimi Bani, Colin Smith, Libby Munro, Hugh Parker, Roxanne McDonald, Andrew Buchanan and Anthony Standish. They will be joined by four artists making their first Queensland Theatre appearance – Amy Lehpamer, Lucy Heathcote, Egan Sun-Bin and Silvan Rus. In addition, Jayden Popik will return after wowing audiences in his Queensland Theatre debut last month in ‘Mouthpiece’.
Artistic Director, Lee Lewis, spoke about the story behind ‘Our Town’ and how it will be a beautiful play to start the new year with.
“Our Town is a huge story told very simply, about a group of people who live in a small country town, and it’s an extraordinary reminder that it’s the small things in life that matter in the face of big tragedy,” Lewis said.
“This is a big, classic play, bringing with it career-highlight roles with all the challenges that actors revel in performing. Casting acting greats alongside upcoming new talent has been a thrill, and we can’t wait to see the energy and learnings that emerge when rehearsals start in two weeks.”
The pivotal role of Stage Manager will be played by Jimi Bani (‘Hedda’, ‘My Name is Jimi’, ‘MABO’), who is also the ninth Chief of the Wagadagam tribe from the Torres Strait. Recognised as one of the country’s greatest performers, Bani will bring a role to life a role previously made famous by Paul Newman.
“Jimi Bani is one of this country’s greatest actors, so it’s incredibly exciting to see him play one of theatre’s greatest roles,” said Lewis.
“Paul Newman famously performed it on Broadway 2002, marking his final ever stage appearance, following a near 40-year break. Such is the appeal of this role, in this play.”
The roles of Dr Gibbs and Mrs Gibbs will be played by stage stars Colin Smith (‘Nearer the Gods’, ‘An Octoroon’, ‘Black Diggers’) and Libby Munro (‘Grounded’, ‘Noises Off’, ‘Venus in Fur’), while Mr Webb and Mrs Webb will be played by Hugh Parker (‘Hydra’, ‘Nearer the Gods’, ‘The 39 Steps’) and Amy Lehpamer (‘Beautiful, the Carol King Musical’, ‘School of Rock’, ‘Sound of Music’).
The role of George Gibbs will be performed by breakout star Jayden Popik with Lucy Heathcote playing opposite him as Emily Webb. Rounding out the cast is Roxanne McDonald as Mrs Soames/Jo Crowell, Andrew Buchanan as Professor Willard, Anthony Standish as Simon Simson, Egan Sun-Bin as Howie Newsome, Silvan Rus as Constable Warren.
‘Our Town’ opens 30 January and runs until 27 February 2021, at the Bille Brown Theatre. Lewis highlighted how it’s the perfect choice for their 2021 season and how it resonates with our current climate – especially after the effects of a tumultuous year caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The story focuses on two families living next door to each other, the Gibbs and the Webbs,” said Lewis. “The young son, George Gibbs, and the young daughter, Emily Webb, fall in love and marry. We follow the town over the course of about 10 years and experience all the changes and the sadness that happens. The end of the play is magic. Thornton Wilder was an incredible form breaker in his time.”
“I think ‘Our Town’ is a play written for difficult times, to remind us about what matters. And that’s why my heart went straight there when I thought about the possibility of a 2021 Season… We need to see great big stories that fill us with inspiration. We need to have our artists back at work, breathing life into the imagination. We need to talk to friends about the play we all saw last night and disagree with them about what it really meant. We need the buzz of a foyer. We need our culture to come back to life, and we are making this happen.”
For show information and tickets, visit Queensland Theatre’s website.