ANNA Kerrigan, the artistic director of Aspire, the performing arts training program of Catholic schools in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, is an avid buyer of books, but many of
them have remained unread for years.
She stores the books, hoping that one day she’ll get time to read them. And the piles keep growing.
Her book-collecting habit led to this year’s Aspire production, The Hoarders Next Door, which will be staged at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre from August 2 to 5.
The show has 130 actors, singers and dancers drawn from Years 5 to 11 at 29 Catholic schools in a broad area that extends to Taree.
The accompanying 16 band members are working as members of a group for the first time.
And a design crew of six young people has painted the very different quartet of homes in a suburban street that is the setting for most of the story.
The title characters in the tale written by Kerrigan are a couple in their 80s who have held onto belongings that they regard as having had a special place in their lives.
The story frequently flashes back to the times and situations which saw them obtain the objects.
Rose Lancaster and Ned Keogh, both 16 and students at St Francis Xavier’s College in Hamilton, play the pair, Mavis and George Smith.
Mavis is largely bed-ridden, but, as Keogh notes, she tries to make out she is still very capable.
They both wear head-covering aged masks, which they briskly remove when they return to their younger days.
And their interactions with neighbours are shown, including a self-proclaimed “perfect family” of a couple with two teenage daughters, one of whom is going through a rebellious phase, and a single mother with three children who is attracted to the postman.
The story has a bright collection of Australian songs, among them Love is in the Air and Shout.