Theatre Velvet wonderlandKen Longworth

MARCIA Hines was enthusiastic when her music manager, Peter Rix, suggested that they put together a musical set in the disco era of the 1970s and early 1980s, with the setting based on famous New York night club Studio 54.

Hines, who began her singing training at an early age in homeland the United States, so impressed n theatre producer Harry M. Miller when he was auditioning African-American singers for a production of the musical Hair in 1970 that he asked her to come to to be in the show.

So she moved to Sydney at age 16 and has since been an n resident and subsequently citizen.

In the 1970s, however, she went to Studio 54 while visiting New York and was amazed by the people she saw there, performing and in the audience.

“It was a crazy time,” she said, “with the venue filled by people you’d heard about.”

Velvet, the show that developed from the discussions between Hines and Rix, has been a sell-out since it premiered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in early 2015, and is currently on a 40-week tour of and New Zealand that will include first-time stagings in cities including Newcastle and return visits to Sydney and other capitals. The show was also a hit at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Velvet is playing at most venues in the historic Aurora Spiegeltent, which in Newcastle will be erected in Civic Park. The tent will enable performers to move around the audience, bringing them into the action. The season is from May 17 to June 4, with performances from Tuesday to Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday at 5pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm and 6pm.

The show runs an unbroken 80 minutes, with the story being told through the songs and actions and reactions of the performers. Tickets, $49 to $79, can be bought through Civic Ticketek, 4929 1977.

Velvet, the name of the story’s nightclub, includes an amazing range of circus, cabaret, burlesque and dance acts put together by the show’s director, Craig Ilott, and built around a young man, played by Tom Oliver, who is searching for opportunities to improve his life. Marcia Hines is a singer who helps him decide what he wants to do.

The story also includes a dreamy muscle man (Stephen Williams), a hula hoop performer (Craig Reid) with mouth-widening skills, an acrobatic wunderkind (Mirko Kockenberger), an amazing aerialist (Emma Goh), and two sassy sirens (Kaylah Attard, Rechelle Mansour).

The show’s songs include many disco hits, among them I Never Knew Love Like This Before, If You Could Read My Mind, Stayin’ Alive, No More Tears, It’s Raining Men and Boogie Wonderland.

GLITZY CLUB: The Velvet cast, including Marcia Hines, will perform in the Aurora Spiegeltent in Civic Park.

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