READY TO ROCK: Queensland Music Festival creative director James Morrison (second from left) with Boomtown’s Athol Gilson, Chelsea Rohde, Grace Hocking, Natalie Heinemann, and Skye Robertson Hughes.
READY TO ROCK: Queensland Music Festival creative director James Morrison (second from left) with Boomtown’s Athol Gilson, Chelsea Rohde, Grace Hocking, Natalie Heinemann, and Skye Robertson Hughes. Brenda Strong GLABOOM

Region's depth of talent impresses creative director

MUSICAL royalty came to Gladstone this week - and they were blown away by the depth of local talent they found.

Queensland Music Festival (QMF) artistic director and renowned trumpeter James Morrison was here to launch Boomtown, the $500,000 musical extravaganza that combines Gladstone performers with a crack creative team from around the country.

Boomtown is the QMF's biggest-ever production, and since last year the producers have been building a storyline about our industrial history, a cache of songs, and a 300-strong cast, all from the Gladstone region talent base.

"We came to Gladstone and held a "musical audit", and we were astounded!" Mr Morrison said.

"I really think Gladstone's next commodity boom could be musical talent!"

While the curtain won't rise on Boomtown until next month, this week marks the arrival of the creative team in town, with preparations hitting overdrive.

In the next four weeks, producers must begin building the massive industrial set, harvested from the QAL scrapyard.

Rehearsals will begin in earnest, and will include choreography for a flotilla of local tugboats, that will "dance" on the harbour.

Boomtown will be held at the Gladstone Marina Park Foreshore from Thursday, July 18, to Sunday, July 21.

Boomtown farms our home-grown talent

WHILE George Cartwright, 13, and Elizabeth Osborn, 12, are the home-grown stars of Boomtown - they are among hundreds of locals who will also feature in the huge musical.

Recruited from the region's schools, nearly half the cast is made up of "hi-vis zombies".

YOUNG STARS: George Cartwright, 13, and Elizabeth Osborn, 12, perform at the Boomtown launch.
YOUNG STARS: George Cartwright, 13, and Elizabeth Osborn, 12, perform at the Boomtown launch. Brenda Strong GLABOOM

That is, students from Tannum Sands, Toolooa, Chanel and Gladstone high schools, all donning the cast-offs of local industry to haunt the stage.

At the launch, QMF creative director James Morrison paid tribute to other local groups that would be involved.

"We could have chosen Gladstone just for the cast!" he said.

"Of course you expect to find a brass band in any town this size - but a Taiko drumming band? A German bell-ringing band? We don't even have that in Brisbane!"

"If you don't have people on the ground, events like Boomtown simply can't happen."

Local guitarist Athol Gibson will walk the boards as "The Balladeer", and the whole Boomtown house band has been found locally.

While Boomtown tells a fictional story of Gladstone's history, it also pays tribute to a real life resident.

The musical is dedicated to the memory of Cyril Golding, also known as Mr Gladstone, for his extraordinary contribution to the community of Gladstone.

Gladstone Regional Council mayor Gail Sellers said the late Mr Golding "did more for arts in Gladstone than any other."



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