ON WITH THE SHOW: Sunraysia Gang Show members Jack Hoyle, 14, Gretel Loughhead, 16, and Olivia Hopfner, 16, ahead of tonight’s opener. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

THE Sunraysia Gang Show will grace the Mildura Arts Centre stage for the first time in nearly 10 years, with the annual showpiece’s return to the region’s major performing arts centre promising to be a must-see event according to organisers.

Kicking off today and running until Saturday, July 13, this year marks the 43rd installment of the Sunraysia Gang Show, with a cast and crew in the hundreds set to bring the show to life.

Sunraysia Gang Show cast member Zach Stanborough said this year’s theme, ‘One Day I Wish’ , encourages audiences to use their imagination.

“It basically represents anything you want to do,” he said. “We’re going back to Robin Hood and Adam and Eve, and it’s all about going on adventures to these places and seeing what we can find out.

“The show will be split in two acts, and feature 20-odd skits over a two to three-hour period.”

This year’s Sunraysia Gang Show features 40 on-stage performers, with dozens more to be involved behind the scenes.

For those unfamiliar with the Sunraysia Gang Show and its origins, the concept started 45 years ago.

“While the Sunraysia Gang Show has been running now for 43 years, for the first two years it ran as just the Sunraysia Show,” Zach explained.

“It’s been the Scouts and Guides of Sunraysia who bring the show together each and very year they come up with the themes, plan the show – which is usually a 12-month exercise – design all the costumes, and perform it.

“The aim is to allow Scout and Guide members to showcase their talent, and we have an amazing amount of talent around.

“It encourages people to get out and have a crack.”

Zach said that everyone involved was looking forward to the Sunraysia Gang Show’s return to the Mildura Arts Centre.

“It’s actually my first time there, while a couple of cast members have done a few shows there in the past,” he said. “It’s exciting to be back.”

Zach said the return to the Mildura Arts Centre would prove beneficial in a number of areas, including how props and set pieces are used.

“It means we don’t have to make flats up on wheels all the time, as you can drop stuff in,” he said. “The lighting and the sound is all one program, so there’s no real manual handling.”

Zach himself is a 13-year Sunraysia Gang Show veteran, with his family also heavily involved in the production year after year.

“Mum’s been doing costumes for a long time, and we used to go along and watch it all the time, and it always looked like a lot of fun,” he said.

Tickets and the show times for the 43rd annual Sunraysia Gang Show are available at the Mildura Arts Centre, or visit www.milduraartscentre.com.au.

Cost is $25, $20 concession, $15 for children aged up to $15 of $16.25 per person for groups of four or more.