By Rebecca Fraser
TWO Casey councillors have set their sights on building a major performing arts centre in Casey after attending the star studded opening of Dandenong’s Drum Theatre and Town Hall last week.
Mayor Kevin Bradford and River Gum Ward councillor Wayne Smith, along with Casey CEO Mike Tyler attended the gala opening of the $13.9 million theatre complex on Saturday night and said they were blown away by the new facility.
Cr Bradford and Cr Smith congratulated Greater Dandenong on its latest project and said they were looking forward to seeing a similar facility built in Casey as part of the proposed Casey Activity Centre in Narre Warren.
The councillors enjoyed a superb night’s entertainment that was kicked-off with both a symbolic and funky tribute to the theatre’s — a mixture of bongos, drum kits and even industrial barrels — were beaten to welcome the arrival of the Drum Theatre to the City of Greater Dandenong.
They also enjoyed performances from Silvie Paladino, a replacement for Julie Anthony who was a late withdrawal, and iconic Australian entertainer Charles ’Bud’ Tingwell hosted the official opening and welcomed the evening’s dignitaries, including Premier Steve Bracks, to the complex.
Greater Dandenong cultural facilities director Paul Streefkerk said the first of the Drum Theatre’s Encore Morning Music Series performances — Denis Walter — had already sold out the 530-capacity theatre and that more than 200 bookings had been made for 2006.
Many of these bookings are from performance groups and dance schools in Casey and Cr Smith said he was looking forward to the day when the city had their own major theatre.
Cr Smith said the Dandenong facility had been long called for and noted the sensational bookings the theatre had already attracted.
“This is a great quality venue and it will attract a lot of people to Dandenong and help lift Dandenong’s image.
“I am looking forward to the time when Casey has their own facility.
“We would target different markets but our theatre would be bigger,” he said.
Cr Bradford said the new theatre was a credit to Greater Dandenong Council but said Casey was also experiencing some exciting times.
“I congratulate them on managing the transformation of the Ol’ Lady, as they call it, into a modern performing arts venue.
“This facility also highlights the need for a similar or larger venue within Casey.
“We can look at their theatre and improve upon it and try to make ours even better.
“It is such a wonderful facility,” he said.
By Rebecca Fraser