The Port Macquarie Performing Arts' production of Coppélia has been dealt a major blow at the last minute, with male lead Sam Packer having to exit stage right following the Queensland border closure announcement on Thursday, July 22.
But, the show must go on.
Principal of Port Macquarie Performing Arts Stacey Morgan said it was a mad dash on Thursday afternoon to find a male lead for the part.
"On Thursday afternoon, three hours before the dress rehearsal, I had to call one of our teachers to take Sam's place as the male lead," she said.
"We had been rehearsing for the past 18 months and Sam had been here rehearsing with us for the past month."
Sam is a former Port Macquarie local and has been with the Queensland Ballet since 2014 when he joined the company as part of their Pre-Professional Program. Because of his commitments to the company, he had to return to Brisbane before 1am on Friday, July 23.
We're hoping that locals will come out and support us this weekend.Stacey Morgan
"He would have been able to return to Queensland after the border closed, but he would have then had to quarantine for two weeks and he wasn't able to do that because of his commitments to the Queensland Ballet," Ms Morgan said.
"He was upset because he was looking forward to performing here in Port Macquarie."
Ms Morgan was able to count on Port Macquarie Performing Arts faculty manager Peter Gill who spent Thursday afternoon madly learning the steps for the lead role.
"Peter had a small part in act one and now he's had to learn a whole three-hour ballet in a few hours.
"He's wonderful and I'm so blessed that I could call him and ask him to do this."
This isn't the first time one of the leads has had to leave the production because of COVID restrictions, with the first male lead, Jarryd Madden from the Australian Ballet, having to return to Melbourne earlier this year.
Ms Morgan said this has been a challenge for her female lead, 15-year-old Melesse Mallyon.
"This is her first lead role and it is difficult for Malesse because each partner you have, you have to learn the lifts and how to shift your weight properly which does take some time to get right."
The theatre world is no stranger to drama and overcoming challenges at the last minute, but this is the first time Ms Morgan has had to turn a show around in the time frame of a few hours.
"We did a production of Bring it On last year and with restrictions changing all the time, the kids became very resilient. However, this is the first time we've had one of our main leads have to pull out so close to opening night," she said.
"It's important that we push on with the show. I did have the option to call off the performance, but everyone has put so much effort into the production that I just couldn't do that."
The Port Macquarie Performing Arts production of Coppélia features all local dancers ranging in age from five to 18.
"We have some incredible dancers in the show and the ballet is family friendly with something for everyone to enjoy.
"We're hoping that locals will come out and support us this weekend."
Coppélia is a story of love, mistaken identity and redemption and features delightful music, magic and mayhem that is fun for the whole family.
Coppélia will open at the Glasshouse at 7pm on Friday, July 23 and will be followed by two performances on Saturday, July 24, at 2pm and 7pm.
All current NSW COVID restrictions will be followed on stage and off.
To purchase tickets to the show, visit the Glasshouse website.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: