When walking the plank is the springboard to success

from first-time participants, Kookaburra Showboat Cruises and Brisbane Immersive Ensemble


Venues, bringing the arts to where you live, require courage to sign an unknown artist – and Kookaburra Showboat Cruises has first-hand experience.

“It really has to be a hand-in-hand partnership,” says sales and event manager Katrina Lee. “It’s really both of you walking out onto a plank, and hoping neither one falls off. That can be really hard for a venue; and it can also be really rewarding.”

For the first time this May, Anywhere Theatre Festival audiences are ‘all aboard!’ iconic paddle-wheeler, the Kookaburra Queen, for pop-up shows by singer-songwriter Pepper Jane, and for interactive murder-mystery ‘Cluedo!’.

“It certainly is an ongoing relationship,”  says Ms Lee, who’s keen to book Pepper Jane for future general dining cruises; and Brisbane Immersive Ensemble for more ‘Cluedo!’ mysteries – or their next inspired concept.

A surprise hit, ‘Cluedo!’ sold out the boat in one week for its first cruise, and promptly sold out again for its second. The cast and accompanying live jazz band are now preparing for their third Festival show – the recently added Sunday night dinner cruise on May 21.

Siobhan Batt, of Brisbane Immersive Ensemble, says the show’s runaway success and portable format could be a turning point for the newly formed company.

“We do hope to develop it in the future – almost as a learning tool,” says Ms Batt, adding ‘Cluedo!’ is deliberately set in 1936, the year the Story Bridge was completed.

“The audiences hear a lot of world history and local history from the characters, which make it quite interesting. People can come and learn things they’ve never heard before – about these fascinating buildings you walk past every day.”

And to explore those heritage-listed buildings, Ms Batt says they may adapt the show to different eras.

She’s also thrilled with the ongoing interest from Kookaburra Showboat Cruises, saying it’s been a delight to work with Ms Lee – whose background includes staging a murder-mystery at heritage house, Woodlands of Marburg, for the 2015 Anywhere Theatre Festival.

“The show is very much a proof of concept at the moment. We realise how much more we can do with it – and Katrina’s realised there’s a lot of scope for this show as well.”

Ms Batt says they’re working towards more on-board shows of ‘Cluedo!’ this year – giving hope to those intrigued by the buzz, and to fans who’d like to experience the show again. Shows based on other interactive play-based games are in development – and are, tantalisingly, under wraps.

The other certainty is that Brisbane Immersive Ensemble believes their future is in Brisbane, and they’re deeply grateful for Anywhere Festival’s contribution to their beloved city.

“I think the more shows you put on with local businesses, and they’re successful – the more businesses are going to join in, in partnership. It can only be a good thing, if people are brave enough to step in and go: ‘OK, we’ll jump on board with you’. It keeps building up the (arts) scene – it’s just great.”

Kookaburra Showboat Cruises intend to grow their partnership with Anywhere Theatre Festival next year – and Ms Lee offers this as a tip to other businesses.

“If you have the ability to offer even the smallest space – such as a loading bay – do. If it’s not a space that is needed during certain hours and you’re not losing any money from offering it to performers, then I completely encourage that. There’s nothing wrong with allowing someone to do a performance in a space that will obviously bring foot traffic to your door.”

Although this year’s Festival makes its final bow on May 21, co-founders Paul Osuch and Alexandra McTavish promise a fresh Queensland cast and encore performances between May 10 and 27, 2018.

A few words from Festival Founders Paul Osuch and Alexandra McTavish

“Theatre is one of the most accessible art forms, so it naturally encourages broader social and community engagement,” Festival Founders Paul Osuch and Alexandra McTavish say.

“2017 figures are not yet final, but in 2016, 95,000 people attended 473 performances in 63 locations. In context, that’s more locations and more performances than Brisbane Festival from 2012 to 2015!”

Anywhere Partners can benefit from a range of tailored opportunities from principal sponsor of our annual festivals to in-kind sponsors of our local performances and workshops. All partnerships will support business and marketing priorities, enable opportunities for staff involvement or client events.