19-year-old Mitchell Old chats to the Sentinel about the debut production from his exciting new company. Youth Editor Corin Shearston grabbed a front row seat.
In the midst of the pandemic pressures of 2020, an entrepreneurial young man named Mitchell Old decided to start his own theatre company, after earning some success in live performance and management.
In the hopes of maintaining professional opportunities for fellow creatives, whose career prospects were jeopardised by Covid-19, the Mitchell Old Company was born in Sydney’s Hills District in September.
Less than five months later, this 19-year-old theatre director, musical director and producer is preparing to stage the company’s debut show. From the 11 to 14 February, the Mitchell Old Company will be presenting an adaptation of The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, an Off-Broadway hit musical which first premiered in 2001 and achieved major motion picture adaptation in 2015. The chosen venue for the production is the Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill.
While peaking to the Sentinel on Saturday, Mitchell discussed the evolution of the production in thorough and insightful detail. Explaining the choice of work and the birth of the company, we discovered that the two-person cast of the production was largely borne out of the hygienic necessity of wanting a cast of fewer than five people. Thus, international couple Andrew Scwhimmer (US) and Hannah Alexander (Australia) star as the characters of Jamie and Cathy, in a deeply personal depiction of a couple’s romantic relationship over five years.
Before this concept became reality, Mitchell discussed his plans with Hannah at Dural Music, where both musicians currently work as tutors – Mitchell teaching saxophone and clarinet; Hannah teaching singing, piano and brass. Upon learning that Hannah had an American actor partner, whom she had met overseas while touring with The Young Americans musical theatre ensemble, Mitchell caught a sacred spark of inspiration which led him to enlist the couple as the cast of two for The Last Five Years.
After an early acting experiment, it was decided that dialogue would be delivered in American accents. Andrew and Hannah currently share a household in Sydney, which further enhances the overall realism of the show.
“The Last Five Years is an absolutely fantastic text,” Mitchell enthuses. “It’s brilliantly funny.”
Praising the writing and musical compositions of Jason Robert Brown, he declares: “It doesn’t get much better.”
Relating to the strong community-minded ethos of his company, and their core principles of excellence, innovation and opportunity, Mitchell reveals that four Castle Hill High School students will be fulfilling front of house and stage management duties for the whole of production week.
“We’re grateful to give them this opportunity,” he says.
Mitchell also praises the Hills Shire Council for their support in contributing to the promotion and venue arrangements for the show. Additionally, main show sponsors are Dural Music, Element ICT, Belle Property Castle Hill and Norwest Recruiting.
“I’m very keen to give back to the community that produced [our participating] artists, and really showcase what we have to offer in Sydney, and more specifically in the Hills,” Mitchell states.
At the forefront of recent trends in the theatre industry, the production will also be presented via an online live stream to international audiences in the US, UK and Japan.
Many future show ideas have now been formulated by the Mitchell Old Company and its young CEO, who also works as a music tutor and a function DJ with Uptown Events (his second company), while studying a Bachelor in Education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
No rest for the wickedly talented!
The Last Five Years plays the Pioneer Theatre, 14 Pennant Street, Castle Hill, for five performances only from Thursday, 11 February to Sunday 14 February. For tickets and further info, visit www.pioneertheatre.com.au/Events-directory/The-Last-Five-Years.
For more info on the Mitchell Old Company, visit www.mitchellold.com.au.