YOU’D like to say it wasn’t all about the ‘Money, Money, Money’ for the Wonthaggi Theatrical Group as they line up for their last few performances, in a COVID-19 ravaged season, of the smash-hit musical Mamma Mia.
And it’s not. But when you’ve literally been robbed of more than $160,000 in ticket sales, it’s hard not to acknowledge that’s ‘The Name of the Game’.
“We’ve got an absolutely fabulous show here and the audiences have been fantastic, trying to make up for the lack of numbers with a big response,” said Wonthaggi Theatrical Group President David Wall.
“But it’s been tough. This is the second year we’ve tried to get this show on and to get cut down in the days leading up to our opening weekend was a real disappointment.
“We got back on with audiences of 50 and then 75 but in a theatre that can seat 377, it’s not quite the same.”
Thanks to the further easing of restrictions in regional areas on Thursday night, the theatre group has been able to sell 208 tickets for each of the remaining three performances on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.
It gave Friday night’s performance last night the feel of a real opening night.
“It’s been great getting that extra week to put on the show, after losing the whole first week, and everyone has been extremely supportive, the Council adjusting the hiring fee and the team at the theatre for working through all the ticket changes. And the suppliers of all the equipment, the sound and lights, have allowed us to keep going at no extra cost.
“The company which licenses the production has also reduced the amount we have to pay, so that’s been great, but the losses will be in the tens of 1000s of dollars.”
In fact, before the latest COVID-19 outbreak, 95 per cent of the tickets had already been sold, ahead of the first performance, with the 4500 tickets on offer almost certainly oversubscribed for such a popular show.
“In the end, only about 1000 people have been able to see it,” said David.
Do the math, as they say, 3500 tickets at an average of $47, that’s a whopping $164,500 out of pocket.
“We didn’t have any income at all in 2020, and we still have all the usual costs of running the group, the insurance and all the rest, but this year we’ve had the cost of doing a show as well and making a loss on it.
“But the Wonthaggi Theatrical Group isn’t going anywhere.
“We’ve got an exciting production of Dimboola coming up which should be fun and we’re going to need to generate more revenue from the shed, which we will do with the “Shed Sessions” and hosting Lyric’s Boggs Shows later in the year.
“But it’s going to be tight.”
Wonthaggi Theatrical Group is sending out an ‘SOS’ for support.
“The State Government announced some grants for theatre groups who’ve been hard hit by the latest lockdown, and we’ll try for that but my reading of it is it’s mainly for the professional companies, but we’ll give it a try (‘Take a Chance’).”
“The main thing is, it was such a great show and so many people didn’t get to see it, but we’ll be back bigger and better next year. We’re already looking at a couple of terrific shows, so watch out for that.”
So, it’s a case of ‘So Long’ and ‘Thank You for the Music’ from WTG and the bitter-sweet production Mamma Mia, a great show that very few got to enjoy because of the damned pandemic!