ExitLeft Productions was founded in 1995 by theatre identities Ian Williams, Betty Davidson and Alan Bacon to produce new works, revivals and classics that would entertain the general public. The company’s aim was to develop higher level professional techniques from local practitioners, encourage and utilise new theatrical talent, and present a quality live theatre experience to the Tasmanian community at affordable prices. The first production was a Flanders and Swann revue at the Playhouse Theatre, before they launched into a full-scale production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Wrest Point Casino.
The company celebrated its incorporation in 2000 with the most ambitious project to date, the first ever locally produced arena spectacular at the Derwent Entertainment Centre – a fully staged retelling of the iconic musical Les Misérables that was seen by over 12,000 patrons.
In 2002 ExitLeft launched its training arm, offering performance classes for children and teenagers. With Ian Williams and Suzen Parnell at the helm, the quality of the performance program has resulted in a regular stream of students receiving offers into the leading performing arts courses (VCA, WAAPA, NIDA and the Arts Academy). In addition, the Academy has seen thousands of children come through its doors, contributing to an improvement in the standard of singing, acting and performance throughout southern Tasmania, as well as providing a community that fosters the development of confident youngsters who are fantastic, creative communicators.
In a theatrical coup, ExitLeft secured the rights to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats in 2007. Utilising a mix of up-and-coming stars and some of the state’s best performers, they succeeded in luring Australian icon Debra Byrne to reprise her role as Grizabella. More than 20,000 patrons filled the Derwent Entertainment Centre to see the show.
Recognising the quality of ExitLeft’s work, the City of Hobart asked the company to produce its Carols by the Bay event in 2011. ExitLeft negotiated agreements with the University of Tasmania, Southern Cross and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to bring some of Australia’s best known performers down to make a show comparable to the Melbourne and Sydney Carols. With Marina Prior and Rob Mills singing, Sandown Park was, for the first time ever, at capacity.
Heading into 2016 they announced the appointment of a new General Manager, Telstra Young Businesswoman of the Year (2013) Melita Griffin. Part of a growth strategy for the ExitLeft group as it engages and expands further into the Tasmanian community through music, voice, drama and movement. The Performance Academy is now operating in multiple locations, with more to open soon, and the Production House has several exciting projects to be announced in the near future.