An off-hand suggestion has become the catalyst for one of Little Town Production’s biggest shows to date – one which will see St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Loxton lit up in spectacular style, as part of Christmas celebrations later this year. The display, known as Shine, will form part of the Loxton Lights Festival – which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – and will be the first large-scale illumination of its type ever staged in the Riverland.
“This has been a crazy, crazy journey,” says John Gladigau, Little Town’s producer and playwright.
While planning for an upcoming local theatre production focussing on the farming community, Kick Off Ya Boots, John found himself standing outside the Hentschke Transports grain shed – the location that the play was originally going to be held at – with Hentschke family member, Sam.
“What about we light up the silos to promote Kick Off Ya Boots?” mused Sam.
It was to be the comment that sparked the beginning of a whole new production – but at the time it didn’t seem so significant.
Inspired by the idea, John spoke to a Little Town colleague who put him in touch with a company that created light displays. It wasn’t until later that John realised the contact was the owner of illuminart, widely known as the leading large-scale projection company in Australia. After this fortuitous meeting an idea began to grow in John’s mind for a new, stand-alone production – one that went far beyond the original Kick Off Ya Boots concept – but it was one he wasn’t sure was achievable.
“After meeting for coffee, the embryonic idea of doing a much larger event as a Little Town production at Christmas came into being – but with an $80,000 price tag for the illumination alone, this seemed completely unattainable.”
But somehow opportunity came knocking, in ways that John can only describe as ‘amazing’.
“God opened door after door – one immediately after the other, and in the order they needed to be. From the people who heard of it, to those who approached us, and those prepared to help finance it.”
In the course of a week Little Town was unexpectedly inundated with offers to assist in financing the project. A $25,000 LLL Mission Outreach Grant came first and was gratefully accepted, followed by a pledge of $10,000 from St Peter’s Loxton church, and shortly after that $40,000 was underwritten from Loxton Waikerie District Council.
“And everything just snowballed from there,” says John. “What started as an off-the-cuff remark has led to a major tourism project for Loxton, involving all the community, including the local high school, commercial businesses, churches and the entire arts community. It’s a mission opportunity we could only dream of, and a responsibility we take very seriously.”
The show itself is set to be a spectacle that will delight and entertain and will feature the message of Jesus through the nativity.
“Much like attending a Little Town production, it will be an experience from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave,” says John.
“There will be choirs, singers, a marketplace, food stalls and possibly an art exhibition in Peace Hall, and a floral art display in St Peter’s church to whet the appetite and have people in the mood for the main event.
“The actual illumination on St Peter’s church will feature an 8-10 minute animated lights extravaganza, which will focus on what it means to live in Loxton and the Riverland, including the river, fruit growing, farming, being a local tourist site – and celebrating the 30 years of Loxton Lights Up. Integrated into this will be the nativity story, told using music and performers from within our Little Town community.
“Local artists and musicians, including students from Loxton High School, are working with illuminart to ensure this a truly local project focussed on developing and celebrating local talent.”
Loxton Lights Festival will be held over eight days from December 17-24. See Shine at the grounds of St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Loxton with free entry from 8pm each evening. For more information visit www.littletown.com.au