This summer, residents and holidaymakers on the Mornington Peninsula have the opportunity to be immersed and inspired by the spectacle of Sorrento’s very own Spiegeltent. The magnificent structure is one of only a hand-full left in the world today, originally built in Belgium in 1919. Dutch for mirror-tent, the unique theatre resembles an elaborate circus tent, made by hand and adorned with velvet, brocade, stained glass and mirrors. While the almost century-old structure has traveled the world as a theatre, dance hall and entertainment salon, the summer of 2014 will see The Three Palms restaurant on Ocean Beach road play host to the grand pavilion.

The Peninsula’s own Jason Coleman is set to breath life into the circus top, with two purpose-built shows on the agenda to delight children and adults alike. Chatting to Jason Coleman ahead of the extravaganza, the seasoned choreographer and director is clearly elated by the prospect of premiering two new creations in his own backyard.

“Special doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’ve been so fortunate in my career; I’ve performed in 27 different countries around the world for nearly 30 years and to come back and produce a show that I’ve written and directed in my own backyard is quite a rewarding thing. I was born in the Rosebud hospital; I went a local Primary School down there, my family still lives there, and I’ve just bought a house on the beach down there. Energetically, it feels really good.”

The road to this point has indeed been a long and success filled one for Coleman, whose music industry credits are as numerous as they are diverse. From choreographing for the likes of Chistine Anu, Tina Arena and Human Nature, to being engaged as choreographer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, to working as a choreographer and judge on TV shows Pop stars and So You Think You Can Dance – Coleman has spread his wings through the realms of show biz around the world.

Coming full-cycle to his birthplace, Coleman describes his approach to creating venue-specific productions as toeing the line between understanding the space’s physical parameters and allowing the space to speak for itself.

“Here we have to put on a show that’s specific to a tent, to an audience that fits the size of that tent, and that’s going to sustain the box office that’s created from that tent. So the venue creates a small challenge in itself, but I just love intimate performance…I believe that rather than just watching the show, you actually feel the show. That’s the show that we’re putting together for the Spiegeltent in Sorrento.”

Beyond the physical requirements of the tent, Coleman speaks of the ghosts that travel with her, and the role they play in shaping his production.

“I actually think that every theatre I have been to in the world – and there’s many of them – has a feeling. Everywhere I go, I like to wait until everybody has been sent home so that I can walk onto the stage by myself and feel the presence of that theatre…every theatre in the world has it. It’s like they absorb the energy or feeling of what goes on; this actual tent has had Marlene Dietrich sing Falling in Love Again in it, and we’re going to re-create that moment in this tent once again. I can’t wait for that moment and I can’t wait to see what the ghosts of the Spiegeltent think of what we’re doing with the space.”

Coleman’s vision for the space has culminated in a clever children’s show, Animalicious, which he guarantees is “a fun, entertainment filled journey with lots of Australian wit, cynicism and laughter along the way.”

A far cry from the washed-out, wave-your-hands kid’s shows that many parents are forced to endure, Animalicious delivers a visual punch for kids and wow-factor for parents too.

The evening show Spiegelicious is a different creature, Coleman describing his brainchild as a “feast”. A hybrid of circus, dance and cabaret, the show is set to tantalize, titillate and amaze.

“It’s sensual, but it’s not sexual in any way. It’s definitely a 15+ show in that it’s edgy and modern and now.

With 65,000 people visiting or holidaying in Sorrento over the four weeks of January alone, The Sorrento Spiegeltent is sure to be an alluring addition to the holiday agenda. Tickets and more info at http://spiegel.threepalms.com.au/

MATILDA HEGGIE

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