The Canberra theatre scene has a new addition coming from the Yass Valley, which is a result of the effort put in by Rachel Pengilly.
The Murrumbateman local is one of the founding members and co-directors of the youth theatre group, Ribix (pronounced rye-bix) Productions, which is currently preparing its first full-length show.
Ms Pengilly, who wrote the ‘book’ – the industry term for dialogue in a musical – is only 19, and her writing partner and co-director Shannon Parnell, is 18.
“It’s a musical that my friend and I have written together,” Ms Pengilly said.
“She [Parnell] does all the music stuff, I’m not very good at music things. And I’ve done the book … so everything that’s not music.”
The show is called “Foxes: The Musical” and features a cast ranging in age from nine to 38 years old, however the majority of the 30 strong cast sit between 16 and 20.
The musical combines a Disney-esque theme with a darker tone, wherein a princess is forced to choose between loyalty to her father and family, or some local ruffians who have been causing havoc throughout the kingdom.
Ms Pengilly described the prospect of directing a production which features some extremely talented actors as both “surprising” and “terrifying”, however she is also extremely excited to see her dream coming to life.
“This musical is a dream come true and I am in shock,” she said.
To start her own company is a big leap for someone fresh out of high school and in her second year of university, but Ms Pengilly explained that her decision was based around creating opportunities for herself and others like her.
”In Canberra you have to be either very, very good, or in a school production [to get on stage],” Ms Pengilly said.
“It’s [a] non-for-profit theatre organisation focusing on making sure that no other kids in Canberra and surrounding areas as well … making sure that there’s not a lack of theatre.
“Because a lot of the time you have to be really, really good, or in school and there are so many people who are just missing out.
“They need experience and they just need practice.”
Although this is the first major production that Ms Pengilly has put on with her production group, her first experience producing a play actually came several years ago as she was finishing Year 11.
She and Ms Parnell decided, in the absence of any school shows, to write and act in a play they wrote themselves.
The show was put together in two weeks, and performed in front of over 130 people.
The success of their initial production instilled in the young pair a love of producing, which then spurred them to create Ribix Productions.
Foxes has already been touted by some as having the potential for success.
“One of my mentors came out, she’s worked in theatre all over Australia,” Ms Pengilly said.
“[She pointed out] one guy in particular, this is his first acting role, and she said it was an Oscar, Tony Award-winning performance.”
Foxes: The Musical opens on January 31 and will put on one show per day until February 3.
For more information about the show or tickets, visit http://stagecenta.com/showid/4310/ShowdetailsC.aspx.