For lots of families spending time together means having a chat around the dinner table. But for one Albion Park family their quality time comes in the form of creating theatre productions to “bridge the gap” between amateur and professional theatre.
Mal Copeland never really had a musical bone in his body and conceded he and his wife Donna’s involvement in entertainment began purely as proud parents in the audience. Now their children have grown up it has evolved into a “passion” for the troupe.
“The kids got involved first with their love of music and musical theatre and we just followed suit as a way to spend time with them,” said Mal Copeland. “They’re all grown up and more friends than kids these days.”
Son Peter, now 32, created the production company So Popera whilst at university with mum, dad and sister Amy eventually jumping on board to help with responsibilities.
Previously So Popera has produced Avenue Q with an encore season as well as The Little Shop of Horrors. Together the four-some take on the bulk of the behind the scenes duties like choreography, casting, directing, creating the sets amidst their usual day jobs.
Amy Copeland is a digital marketing expert and has worked with The X Factor and Sony Music. Peter Copeland is a teacher at Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts, and is also the musical director of the Southern Stars showcase. Mal Copeland works in Sydney in health and safety, while wife Donna has been running a physiotherapy office.
Mal Copeland admitted it was a little overwhelming taking on so much with the current production. It includes a 48-piece orchestra, 28 in the chorus-line and six principal actors.
They’ve been creating sets and sourcing materials for seven months and brought on a former Opera Australia costume designer to help make around 310 costumes. Amy Copeland said many of the items were custom designed, with 30,000 pearls needing to be hand-sewn.
The cast is a mix of amateurs and leaders in their field such as Scott Radburn of The Four Kinsmen and Daniel Downing who’s been traveling the world with Wicked. The family said they wanted to be able to use the production as a way to mentor up and coming stars, on stage or behind it.
“There’s certainly no money in this, we do it for the enjoyment,” said Mal Copeland.
The Copeland’s next production will be Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in 2017.