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CREATIVES

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Aleksandar Vass – Producer

Aleksandar Vass studied drama at The National Theatre in St Kilda in the late 1970s. He was bitten by the theatre bug from a very early age, performing in a number of musicals, plays and television series in the early ‘80s before becoming Australia’s youngest agent representing over 300 artists. He was Victorian president of the Theatrical Agents Association for several years.

In the mid ‘80s, Alex moved into producing with shows including Fiddler on the roof with Topol, It’s A Dad Thing, All My Sons, Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Burn this, Amadeus, Hair, Barnum, Noises Off, Chase Me Comrade, Hamlet, Evita, Copacabana, A Street Car Named Desire, The Blue Room and the Play 8 to name a few.

He partnered Kate Whitbread and Spencer McLaren to form MOMO Films to produce and distribute films throughout Australia. Their films include Surviving Georgia, which starred Shane Jacobson, Pia Miranda and Holly Valance and Cloudburst with Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker.

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Helen Ellis – Executive Producer

In addition to Bad Jews, Helen was the General Manager and Company Manager for the World Premiere and first ever performance held at Alex Theatre, St Kilda – Sexercise – The Musical. Helen produced and directed the current National Tour of Flak – Stories from the Men who flew in World War Two, written and performed by Michael Veitch. In 2014 Helen was the associate General Manager and Company Manager for the World Premiere of Mother and Son starring Noeline Brown and was the tour co-ordinator for Paul Hogan’s recent National tour An Evening with Hoges.  Helen co-produced the 2013 National tour of The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell with Straightjacket Productions starring Samuel Johnson, Max Gillies and Michala Banas as wells as producing the east cost tours of The Housekeeper with Evelyn Krape and Peter Moon, Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls with Fiona Harris and she produced and directed the 2014 Australian Premiere of Standing on Ceremony – The Gay Marriage Plays featuring Spencer McLaren, Pia Miranda and Michael Veitch.  Helen also co-produced Bud Tingwell’s last National tour An Audience with Bud Tingwell and directed and produced the National tour of Dirty Dusting with Joan Sydney, Anne Phelan and Maggie King. Upcoming projects include Rachel Berger’s Hold The Pickle,  Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days – the stage play and the revival of the Broadway smash hit LUV by Murray Schisgal.

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Richard Fitzgerald

General Manager and Artistic Director – Vass Theatre Group

Richard has spent 35 years in the entertainment industry in a varied career as a performer, writer, journalist, television presenter, publicist, marketer, director, producer and arts manager. During the last decade, as General Manager, he instigated significant, successful reforms at both Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne and the Arts Centre in Darwin. He has twice been elected to the Executive Council of Live Performance Australia and spent 10 years on the Musical Theatre judging panel for The Helpmann Awards. He was also a judge for The Churchill Fellowship and has consulted on several government arts policy committees.

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Gary Abrahams – Director

Since graduating from The Victorian College of The Arts in 2009 (Masters of Theatre Practice) Gary has worked extensively as a director, writer, dramaturge and actor. He is a recipient of THE GRACE WILSON TRUST AWARD for writing, THE JIM MARKS SCHOLARSHIP for Artistic Practice. and THE MIKE WALSH FELLOWSHIP for directing. Recent directing credits include ROAM, The Pride, Day One. A Hotel. Evening, Laramie. 10 Years On and Oh Well Never Mind Bye all for Red Stitch Actors Theatre. He also directed the recent play The Flock and The Nest, a collaboration between Red Stitch and St Michaels Grammar.

For his own company Dirty Pretty Theatre he has directed and written the plays Acts Of Deceit (Between Strangers In A Room), Something Natural but Very Childish , The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant and Therese Raquin. He received a Green Room Award for Best Director in Independent Theatre in 2010, and was nominated in the same category for his work in 2014.

He has worked as an assistant director at the Melbourne Theatre Company on the plays All About My Mother (2010), Songs for Nobodies (2010), The Gift (2011), Australia Day (2012) and the Melbourne Theatre Company and Chunky Move Melbourne Festival collaboration Complexity of Belonging (2014). In late 2015 he will direct the American smash hit Buyer and Cellar for The Melbourne Theatre Company.

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Set Designer – Jacob Battista

Jacob is a Melbourne based theatre designer and practitioner. He has completed a Bachelor of Production at the VCA. His design credits include, Carrie The Musical (Set and Costumes)– Ghost Light; Therese Raquin (Set) – Dirty Pretty Theatre; Jumpers for Goalposts (Set and Costumes), Belleville (Set and Costumes) and Out Of The Water (Set) – Red Stitch; Love Letters (Set and Costumes), The 39 Steps (Set) and They’re Playing Our Song (Associate Designer) – Hit Productions. Jacob’s production management credits include: Wet House, The Flick and The Mesh – Red Stitch. Jacob also has worked in a variety of positions with some of the countries leading performing arts companies, including MTC, The Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and The Production Company. Jacob’s upcoming work includes The Lonely Wolf (Set) – Dirty Pretty Theatre and MTC NEON, and Love, Love Love (Set) Red Stitch.

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Lighting Designer – Rob Sowinski

Rob is lighting and set designer based in Melbourne. He is resident designer for Melbourne Lyric Opera and Arts Events Australia and collaborates with a range of companies on national and international projects. Recent work includes Ned for City of Bendigo/Groaning Dam Productions, The Trouble with Harry for MKA/Melbourne Festival, Passion for Life Like Touring, Pacific Overtures and Assassins for Watch This Productions, MKA’s Dogmeat, Iphigenie en Tauride for Lyric and Palace of the End for Dan Clarke/Theatreworks.  His Green Room award nominations include best lighting on MKA’s Triangle, Watch This’ Pacific Overtures and MKA’s The Trouble with Harry.  He has also received a Music Theatre Guild Award for Excellence (set and puppetry design) on Into the Woods.  Other work includes Production and tour management for Marina Prior, Macy Gray, Chita Rivera, Melanie Safka, Helen Reddy and Ben Vereen. He teaches at National Theatre Drama School and mentors design students for Monash University. His lighting design work has been seen in Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, New York, New Zealand and Jerusalem.

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Sound Designer – Dave Ellis

Musical Director, guitarist, songwriter, producer, sound design. Music theatre: played guitar in Queen’s We Will Rock You (Regent Theatre), Jersey Boys (Princess Theatre) and Cirque Du Soleil, Rock of Ages, Moonshadow and most recently Grease The Musical at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne. David has composed & recorded with original artists: Gemma Bishop, Anthony Callea, Duncan James, Lorena Novoa, James Kempster, Andrew Williams, Culture Shock, Ultraviolet, Tall Order. Theatre credits for sound design & composition include: The Haunting of Daniel Gartrell, Dirty Dusting, The Housekeeper, Me & Jezebel and The Peppercorn Tree all for Ellis Productions, Home For Lunch (Shy Tiger Productions), Almost Maine, Small Poppies, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice directed by Vicki Smith. Musical direction for the Australian premiere of Standing on Ceremony – The Gay Marriage Plays at Chapel off Chapel in 2014, In 2015 on the road as Tour Manager and Technician for the National Tour of FLAK – true stories from the men who flew in World War Two written and performed by Michael Veitch.

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Costume Designer – Kelsey Henderson

Having completed her Bachelor of Production at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2013, Kelsey has put a mark on Victorian theatre and film. Since leaving studies, she has worked with companies such as The State Theatre Company of South Australia, Windmill and MTC. Working repeatedly with Tooth and Claw, Kelsey has also styled video shoots for bands such as Montgomery and promotions such as Mini Cooper Cars ‘Best Dance Floor Ever’. Most happy when working creatively, she plans to continue to work as a freelance artist across the two fields.