“It just sort of happened,” says Foreman, on how the show came together. He’d made a video of his Aussie Pops Orchestra (and guest stars) playing What a Wonderful World in isolation, the Arts Centre loved it, they had a chat, and the idea of a variety show seemed the perfect project.
“They had quite a number of people saying they wanted to do stuff online, and the idea of an old-fashioned variety show – which is in essence a format that lends itself to a broad variety of musical styles and artists – seemed to be a logical fit.
“And it was a reasonably easy way to give a large number of performers access to the online platform.”
There’s a fantastic proliferation of online content at the moment, Foreman says, but it’s largely free of charge in the hope of generating goodwill rather than income.
His show is a bit different – the content is still free but the performers will get paid, thanks to some of the Arts Centre’s generous patrons including Jeanne Pratt, Andrew Myer, Claire and Andrew Spencer and Linda Herd.
“We all thought it was important for the performers and musicians to have an opportunity to be paid,” Foreman says. “In this situation a lot of people are relying on benefactors and people helping out.”
In the first episode he catches up with singer Casey Donovan and musical theatre superstar Josh Piterman, who will dial in from London where he was supposed to be starring in Phantom of the Opera. Foreman and Piterman will perform “together” – though the performances have to be pre-recorded and edited together or digital lag will ruin the timing.
“We’re still working a lot of that out, finding out what is achievable live and what is not,” Foreman says. “But I feel this is a very good substitute for the real thing, like the musical equivalent of a Zoom meeting or catchup with friends.”
Episodes will also feature cameos from TV, stage and screen stars, “some satirical political commentary”, and a form of audience participation.
“It’s not the same as being in the same room at the same time. But this is in a way keeping the seat warm. Keeping the appetite whetted for when we all get back to live events – and that’s going to be a fantastic moment.”
You can watch Big Night Live here.