BLOC’s production of Mary Poppins is outstanding in every department and a must-see for all ages.
You will captivated by the magic of this exceptional production and extremely proud of the dedication, skill and talent of all. Director Debbie Fraser brilliantly brought to life this much-loved musical.

The 14-strong production team has achieved a masterpiece of wonderful entertainment. A well prepared orchestra under the baton of Mark Witham, beautifully designed costumes by Melanie Buckingham, Nathan Weyer‘s amazing sets, detailed props and fantastic lighting and sound from Mystic Entertainments combine to form an exciting framework for Gareth Grainger’s choral direction and Kat Armati’s breathtaking choreography.
Every character is wonderfully realised and the smaller cameo roles played by Jodi Toering, Jane Gaylor, JeanDanielle Evans and Tim Gay are so believable, well defined and fun. Of the 14 children who alternate each performance, four share the roles of Jane and Michael Banks, Isolde Kieni-Judd and Alex Mulcahy, Joe Appleton and Zenaye McKee.
Simone Warnock, as Mrs Banks fitted the role beautifully and was a genuine foil for her inflexible husband, strongly portrayed by Gareth Grainger. As Bert the chimney sweep, Laurence Heenan encompassed his character with energy, splendid singing and movement. Emily Jacker was the perfect Mary Poppins. She had a strong stage presence, brought great warmth to her 
character and her exceptional singing and movement were a delight.

- Barb Dunlop 


Music by Claude-Michel Schӧnberg
Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil
Directed by Stephen O’Neil
BLOC Music Theatre
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat, Victoria to May 17, 2015

Review by Len Power 9 May 2015

The annual Ballarat Heritage Festival weekend chose a war commemoration theme this year and local theatre company, BLOC Theatre, presented the Vietnam War musical, ‘Miss Saigon’ as their contribution.  It proved to be an excellent choice as well as an excellent production.

Staged in the beautiful 140 years old Her Majesty’s Theatre, the show is a challenge for any company, requiring very strong singers, a fine orchestra able to tackle the difficult score, realistic acting and a director able to pull it all together.  If that’s not enough to deal with, there’s also the audience expectation of a spectacular helicopter landing on stage in the second act.  Luckily, director Stephen O’Neil showed that he is more than equal to the task.

Musical and Choral Director, Gareth Grainger, achieved very high quality with both singers and orchestra.  Everyone in the large cast gave realistic characterisations and the principles had no problems with the vocal demands of the score.  As Kim, Vanessa Belsar sang beautifully and was heart breaking and believable in the role of the ill-fated Vietnamese girl.  Andrew McCalman as her American lover, Chris, was outstanding in a vocally assured, heart-felt performance.  Jodie Toering shone in the smaller role of Gigi and Brendan Smart gave a warm performance as Chris’s friend, John, as well as a show-stopping rendition of ‘Bui Doi’ at the start of the second act.

Emma Rix, as Ellen, sang well but lacked warmth in her characterisation.  It’s important not to lose audience sympathy in this role by displaying too much angry determination to keep her husband.  Keith McNamara in the difficult role of Thuy was strongly militaristic but needed more variation in his performance to show the human side of the man.  Steve Armati gave a winning and very physical performance as the wily Engineer.  His singing of ‘The American Dream’ was superb.

The set, designed by Nathan Weyers, was spectacular in its detail and, with the excellent lighting of Scott Snowden, gave the show a realistic atmosphere.  The helicopter landing sequence was the most exciting one of all of the productions of this show that I’ve seen.  It looked frighteningly real and the sound design of that moment by Greg Ginger was very well done.  Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat is renowned for its good acoustics but I was not expecting a sound as clear and balanced as this.  Sound operator, Peter Thwaites, deserves special mention for his work during the performance.  Costumes designed by Melanie Buckingham were correctly in period and added to the overall realism of this show.

Director, Stephen O’Neil, has done excellent work with this production.  Some productions of this show confuse audiences with the three-year time changes but this was not a problem here.  In addition, there were many welcome original touches by the director.  This was an emotionally draining but highly enjoyable show that the whole company can be proud of.


Melissa was privileged to be part of the Pit Orchestra for the recent Bloc Music Theatre  Production of ' The Sound of Music' held at Her Majesty's Theatre in Ballarat.

Ballarat Proms September 2010 under the direction of Deirdre Foyster the 'Proms Orchestra' 
and the 'Sing Australia Choir' put on a most enjoyable performance.

Melissa was part of the Orchestra for the Ballarat Show 'Hot August Night'
Produced by Ballarat's Lyric Theatre Company in August 2010

Review of the 'Hot August Night' Show                                         
(Feedback for the Orchestra)
"The feedback confirmed that this was great entertainment.
The audiences raved about what they saw and heard and there is no doubt that it really was a great show...
Anyway, quirky as the concept was, people loved your work.
Thanks again for making it an awesome spectacle! ''
Mike Whitehead & Committee of Ballarat Lyric Theatre