It was announced this morning by Baz Luhrmann in conjunction with Global Creatures that the search for an actress to play the coveted role of Fran in Strictly Ballroom the musical is over.
Victorian College of the Arts graduate Phoebe Panaretos has been hand picked by director Baz Luhrmann for the female lead of Fran in the new mega musical. Phoebe, 23, will join previously cast Thomas Lacy who is to play the role of Scott Hastings.
The full cast of the show was also announced this morning with a talented list of Australian performers assembled to bring to life the iconic roles known from the beloved Australian movie on the stage in Sydney next year when it makes its debut.
Joining Panaretos and Lacy on stage will be Bob Baines (Water Rats) in the role of Les Kendall, Drew Forsythe (The Wharf Revue) as Doug Hastings, Natalie Gamsu (Mary Poppins) as Ya Ya, Robert Grubb (We Will Rock You) as Barry Fife, Fernando Mira as Rico, Heather Mitchell (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) as Shirley Hastings and Mark Owen-Taylor (Yes Prime Minister) as JJ Silvers.
With previews set to commence on March 25, Strictly Ballroom is Australian music theatres first major homegrown screen to stage adaptation. Joining Luhrmann backstage will be Oscar winning costume designer Catherine Martin, internationally renowned choreographer John ‘Cha Cha’ O’Connell and co-writer Craig Pearce.
Casting for the famous role of Fran has been described by the creative minds behind the show as ‘exhaustive’ with performers being auditioned from all over Australia and internationally. On the casting of the role Phoebe Panaretos is to play, Baz Luhrmann had the following to say:
“The role of Fran requires an actor to transform from within, expressing that transformation in terms of character, voice, and dance. Any wonder why the search for Fran went so far and so wide.”
Phoebe is Sydney born and bred. She made her professional debut in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver at age 11 opposite Tamsin Carroll and then went on to study at the Newtown School of Performing Arts, topped the state in Drama upon graduation. She then attended the Victorian College of the Arts where she was an inaugural 2011 graduate of the Music Theatre program and was also awarded the Encouragement Award from the Friends of the VCA.
“Phoebe weathered so many tests and hurdles, as Fran the character has to in the story of Strictly Ballroom, to reveal the true star that she is,” said Luhrmann of his young leading lady.
“So I am thrilled to be announcing her in this role, celebrating how resilient and strong she was through the gruelling process of providing she had all that it takes, which she certainly does.”
The newest young star of the Australian music theatre, Panateros spoke about meeting her director for the first time.
“I was very nervous to meet him face to face. I was so excited to be there with such incredible people and when Baz arrived and started talking with me – he put me at ease inside 10 minutes. He just has this way about him that makes you feel so comfortable and relaxed and he gets your best work out of you. I can’t wait for rehearsals to start and I’m so thrilled to be a part of this incredible show.”
Phoebe Panaretos and Thomas Lacey will commences performances in the roles of Fran and Scott Hastings when Strictly Ballroom officially raises its curtain on opening night, Saturday, April 12 in 2014 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney.
More information about the show and its spectacular Australian cast and creative team are available at its official website here.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com.au.