This week, for TW Talks Tuesday, we chat to Vito Midolo from VTM Productions, producer of Jungle Bungle by Craig Christie.
Meet Vito Midolo the producer at VTM Productions.
I guess my journey started when I graduated with a BA in music theatre in 2013 from the university of Ballarat, now known as federation university. And from there I guess I was feeling a little bit lost, I didn’t know where to go from there. I always maintained that I wanted to stay in the performing arts industry but I didn’t necessarily want to be a performer.
So in 2014 I went to do my masters at RMIT in Arts Entertainment and Media Managing. And during my time at my masters I worked with quite a few people, mainly David Read and Neville Sice from the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. I helped them out with a bit of their scheduling and their programming. And from them I learned some very invaluable things. I got some really really good experience not just in producing shows but also producing festivals. A lot of that stuff that I learned from them I still use in practise today.
From there I had a lot of people and a lot of friends who come from uni who were doing fringe shows and doing new Australian Works and wanted some help with the producing side of it. They didn’t necessarily know how to do budgeting or dealing with venues so they came to me and that’s pretty much how I fell into it. Started doing it and helping friends out.
What drew you to Jungle Bungle as a project?
Well I was actually working with Craig on another one of his shows Crusade and we were at a post-rehearsal dinner and drinks and he said to me that he just got some tracks from his new theatre and education show Treasure Hunt and asked me if I wanted to listen to it. I said “oh yeah, alright”. He put it on and I loved it! It was just catchy. I loved the music, the rhythm, the lyrics and also the fact that this show was for kids and was aimed at kids but it didn’t pander to them and didn’t talk down to them. I really liked that.
Then it was a couple of months later and we were working together in London on Eurobeat and he came to me and said that he had a show that had been on the back burners for a few years and it was mine if i wanted to produce. That show was Jungle Bungle. The first time I listened to the soundtrack I instantly fell in love. It was catchy, it had drive and jungle beats, it was immersive and the vocal lines were just to die for.
Also the themes of the fear of the unknown and friendship and how these characters have to navigate through this jungle, was just incredible. Again it didn’t pander to kids because these themes can get quite dark and it doesn’t shy away from that. I feel thats really important in a show for kids, that it doesn’t shy away from things that do get difficult.
I really wish that I’d seen a show like this when I was younger. A kid who was a little bit different, I really feel that I would have found my place in the world a lot sooner. I guess this is for every kid or every one because every one is a little bit different.
And there’s also one more thing at the end of the show there’s probably my favourite Craig Christie song called The Compass. Whenever I’m having a bad day I put that song on and it just actually feels like Craig is willing you on and getting you up and going, just to get on with whatever you need to get on with. I really like that.
Tell us about collaborating with Craig Christie
I’ve actually been very lucky to work with Craig on quite a few occasions, actually all around the world. I must say he is one of the most genuine, warm-hearted generous people I have ever met. For me personally he has given me a lot of support, a lot of knowledge, a lot of guidance and a lot of encouragement as I started this career in producing. In a sense this career can be quite lonely so having someone like Craig on your team is quite valuable. He also has a way with people when he works with them, he creates such a family environment that you just wanna work with him and for him. I really feel he brings out the best in people and thats why I jump at any opportunity now to work with Craig. It’s just always a lot of fun.
What can families expect from a trip to see Jungle Bungle?
I didn’t want Jungle Bungle to just be a show that people would come and see and come to the theatre and just leave. I wanted it to be much more than that. I wanted it to be immersive, creating an experience that would then create a lasting impression. I also want to give guardians as much of a break as possible as I know that school holidays can be quite tiresome. Finding things for kids to do can be quite hard.
So I want to get audiences involved from the get-go once they step in to the foyer. So we transform the Theatre Works foyer into a safari adventure with jungle snacks and drinks. We have arts and crafts where audiences could actually make their own favourite animal which they could then use to start interacting and come into the theatre and adding to the soundscapes that were already happening on stage.
We also have plans to have a real-life snake pit in the Theatre Works foyer. Partnering with Reptile Encounters we’ll get everyone into the jungle mood from the get-go. Where people could pet, hold and take photos of real life snakes and other reptiles.
What are you most excited to audiences to see?
I’m really excited for audiences to experience the music. As I’ve mentioned before the music is the driving force behind this show that will bring the audience along with it. This show is an adventure, it’s a challenge with a payoff. You really ride the highs and lows with the characters as they experience some of these feelings of dread, guilt and then pure jubilation. Some feelings that they may have never felt before. I’m also really excited for the audiences to get involved and immerse themselves in the pre-show activities, be that be making your favourite animal and bringing it into the show or holding a snake for the first time.
Any final messages?
I just wanna say thank you very much for all your support in this really challenging time. I know everyone is in the same boat so please reach out and share the love with everyone around you. Please when everything starts to ramp back up, go see some theatre, please go see some art because we are gonna need your support.