On The Town and Choreography at the Open Air Theatre
By Open Air Theatre
After his work on Jesus Christ Superstar, Drew McOnie returns to the Open Air Theatre to choreograph and direct On The Town. As we continue to add to our Digital Archive, we take a choreographic look at some of our past productions, including the work of Stephen Mear, Bill Deamer, Liam Steel, Alastair David, Lisa Kent, Gillian Gregory and Kenn Oldfield.
“I admire how classic theatre shows are reimagined for new audiences with such skill and artistic integrity at the Open Air Theatre” says Drew McOnie. “Now, being given the opportunity to create a new production of On The Town – one of my favourite musicals – is just too exciting for words.”
Drew started his career as a dancer, training from the age of 11.
“As a performer, I worked on big dance musicals like Chicago, A Chorus Line and for Matthew Bourne’s dance company, New Ventures, where I was part of a lot of new productions. Every career choice I made as a performer was always about working with a new set of creatives to be able to learn and hone my skills as a dance maker.”
As a Creative, Drew initially choreographed shows in London Fringe venues, followed by an off-West End production of the musical In The Heights which went on to win three Olivier Awards, including Best Theatre Choreography.
“The success of In The Heights catapulted me into a bigger spotlight, and I started to work on larger productions.”
One such production was Jesus Christ Superstar “…a real landmark moment for me, career-wise. What was really brilliant was that Tim [Sheader] made me feel confident; I would make suggestions and Tim would encourage me to go further and really push it. I was able to create much bolder choreography than I think I would have done without his support.”
Drew went on to direct and choreograph Strictly Ballroom (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and The Wild Party (which plays at The Other Palace until April), with Jesus Christ Superstar returning to the Open Air Theatre in August.
“The collaborative process for Jesus Christ Superstar was really intimate and (the whole team) worked very closely together, which is why I think it resonated so well with people. We really pushed ourselves, and questioned the material and the work to bring the best out of it. I really want to take some of that ambition and creative freedom into On The Town.”
On The Town opens on 19 May.
Take a look at our Digital Archive
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