Jeanne Pratt AC, the founder and Chairman of The Production Company in Melbourne, announced today that the company will present its final musical in May 2020.

Jeanne Pratt AC (Chairman of The Production Company) with Ken Mackenzie-Forbes AM (Artistic Director) and Rachel D Taylor (Executive Director). Photograph supplied

Founded in 1999, The Production Company was established to present musicals in semi-staged productions. Over the years it has presented popular fare such as Gypsy, Hello, Dolly!, Mame, Funny Girl, Guys and Dolls, and The Boy From Oz, as well as less familiar shows like Music Man, Call Me Madam, Little Me and David Bowie’s Lazarus in May this year. The productions gradually became increasingly sophisticated, though they were turned around on a dime with just two weeks rehearsal and one work of technical rehearsal before opening.

In its 21 years, the company has staged 65 musicals including the Australian premieres of Grey Gardens, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Curtains, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Sugar, She Loves Me, Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Lazarus and Ragtime, which opens this November.

“I started the company in 1999 to stimulate the industry, create opportunities for local talent and produce quality entertainment at affordable prices. It has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and as we plan our final curtain call, we’re doing so with pride, pleasure and wonderfully happy memories. We’ve so much to be grateful for – our loyal audiences, generous sponsors and patrons,” said Pratt.

Mitchell Butel and cast members of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder in 2018. Photograph © Jeff Busby

The Pratt Foundation has donated more than $12 million to musicals in Melbourne and although the May 2020 show will be The Production Company’s final season, Pratt said she wanted to find further ways to support the industry and encourage Australian composers and writers. “The Pratt Prize for Musical Theatre, which we awarded during the company’s first decade, introduced some promising new Australian works and talents. I look forward to unearthing more,” she said.

The Production Company’s announcement coincides with the refurbishment of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Theatres Building venues. This upgrade, which is the most significant redevelopment of Arts Centre Melbourne since its opening, will see the State Theatre – home of The Production Company – closed from September 2020 to April 2021.

The Production Company’s penultimate production, Ragtime, will play at the State Theatre from November 2 – 10. Details of the final musical, to be presented in association with Arts Centre Melbourne in May 2020, will be announced in November.