Thousands of Novocastrians have entered the Spiegeltent with a child-like sense of wonder and awe.
They exit in much the same way. Wide-eyed and excited at having witnessed something special. Something unique.
Dutch for “mirror tent”, the Spiegeltent originated in Belgium in the late 19th century as a travelling entertainment venue. The Fortuna Spiegeltent is decorated with mirrors, stained glass, velvet and brocade and has a glamorous old-world feel.
The man behind the Spiegeltent in Australia is Scott Maidment. He is founding director of Strut & Fret Production House and has been bringing the tents to our shores for the past 16 years.
Maidment is also the creative mind behind Blanc de Blanc, a show that combines the world’s finest cabaret and acrobatic talent with vintage glamour and titillating acts. He is looking forward to bringing the Spiegeltent back to Newcastle after a successful season with Velvet last year.
“The first few minutes of the show are all in French so you kind of feel like you’re in Le Lido or the Moulin Rouge. Then it takes a twist where we are introduced to another character, then another, and by the end of the show it becomes a crazy nightclub with bubbles flying everywhere,” he tells Weekender.
“I like to say the show is just like drinking a glass of champagne – it starts out smooth and sophisticated but it gets a bit crazy once you’ve had a bottle or two.”
Working closely with Madonna on her Rebel Heart tour in 2015, Maidment met many world-class performers. Some have gone on to star in Blanc de Blanc.
“I went to New York and worked with Madonna for a few months on that tour,” he says. “It was there I met choreographer Kevin Maher and he introduced me to some of her cast and they have been touring with me ever since.”
Assembling a Spiegeltent is part of the challenge of touring a show like Blanc de Blanc. This is not your typical tent.
“We bring them in from Europe and fly in two or three tent builders to work with the locals and put it up. They return to Europe and fly back to Australia a month later when we pull it down. It’s an expensive exercise so once it’s up we want to use it as much as possible.
“Blanc de Blanc is the headline show and then there’s a line-up including Kate Miller-Heidke, The Black Sorrows and comedians Tom Gleeson and Luke McGregor. The tent is such a great environment that performers want to play in it. It’s going to be like a mini festival.”
Maidment has been referred to as a “maestro” by critics. He laughs at the description.
“Oh I don’t know about that. I think I’m just a curator of interesting people.”