Saturday, February 25th, 2012
WHAT happens when you take the famed story of a 15th century French peasant girl and mix it up with the smooth grooves of the ’80s?

The answer is the Australian premiere of rock opera Virgin Warrior at Phoenix Theatre this March, written by Zig Byfield and Peter Perchard.

Directed by Jane Sherwood, it follows the story of 14-year-old Joan of Arc through song as she leaves home and demands an army from a nobleman, repeatedly defeating the English enemy.

But at age 20 she is found guilty of heresy by the French church and burned alive.

First staged in 1986, Virgin Warrior uses a mix of strong dramatic songs ranging from haunting ballads to striking rock and choral anthems.

Sherwood said she was excited to be directing an Australian premiere.

“It’s a challenge to direct a show that hasn’t really been done before,” she said.

“The music of the ’80s is bringing back many memories for me and I am sure it will for many of the audience.

“It’s a rock opera and, like all operas, the story is told through the songs.”

Sherwood has a wealth of experience behind her, both on and off the stage, in London, Melbourne and Perth, working with the Belvedere Intimate, Phoenix, Stirling, Rag and Bone and Kwinana Theatres, Arena Arts and Entertainment and A lad in sane productions (note to subs: lower case is correct).

In 2009, she directed The Last Waltz which was named best overall production at Dramafest, the annual state drama festival, and scored a similar award at the 2011 South West Drama Festival for The Leftovers.

Last year, she also won the Susan Hayward Award for best director of a play at the annual Finley Awards for The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

“With Virgin Warrior, there is little to draw on because it hasn’t really been staged before,” Sherwood said.

“But, on the plus side, that gives us a blank canvas to work with.

“The opportunity for an outdoor performance at Supreme Court Gardens is also very exciting.”

Virgin Warrior plays at 8pm, March 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 with a 2pm matinee on March 11. A one-off special show will be held in Perth’s Supreme Court Gardens on March 17 from 5.30pm.

Tickets are $20 adults, $15 concession – book on 0450 158 851 or at

Phoenix Theatre is located on the corner of Rockingham Road and Carrington Street, Hamilton Hill, within the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall.

vw1: Melissa Kiiveri (note to subs: “ii” is correct) is Joan of Arc in the Australian premiere of the rock opera Virgin Warrior.

ww2: James Hynson, Ryan McNally, Tim Viljoen, Christopher Doney, Angus Howell are in Virgin Warrior this March with Melissa Kiiveri (note to subs: “ii” is correct), in foreground, as Joan of Arc.

vw3: Amy Tyers and Adam Salathiel are Joan of Arc’s parents in Virgin Warrior with Melissa Kiiveri (note to subs: “ii” is correct) as Joan.

vw4: Jayde Clark, Gilbert Hewett, Danni Close, Crystal Suche, Gary Ienco and Anthony Dillon are appearing in the Australian premiere of Virgin Warrior with Melissa Kiiveri (note to subs: “ii” is correct), third from right, as Joan of Arc.

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Phoenix Theatre

For many people within the Cockburn area and beyond, Phoenix Theatre provides one of the few chances to experience live theatre. We also provide an opportunity for people to learn the acting craft, as well as other aspects of the theatre world.

Phoenix Theatre’s actors, directors, committee members and technical crew receive no payment for the many hours of work they put in and are driven simply by their passion for theatre – and sharing it with the community.

Our location at Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall could not be more fitting, given it has been a focal point for community activities since it was originally built in 1925. As home to concert parties, singing, dancing and socials, Phoenix Theatre is proud to continue the tradition of entertaining people across the City of Cockburn.
Jane Sherwood
P: 0421 974 286


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