Series Executive/Producer Sarah Dabro takes us behind the scenes of Justine Clarke's Ta Da!
Justine Clarkes Ta Da! is a children’s music television series that celebrates all of the backstage drama, excitement and collaboration of putting on a show. We spoke to Sarah Dabro who is the Executive/Series Producer of Ta Da to hear about how this series came about and what it was like to work on.
The concept of Justine Clarke’s Ta Da is quite unique – how did the concept come about?
Justine Clarke and her business partner Sonia Le had the original concept many years ago. They approached us and we loved it straight away, and saw enormous potential in the idea and how it could evolve.
Ta Da is a scripted and live action/ children’s music television series; why did you decide to make the show in this format?
We felt a scripted narrative was the best way to capture the excitement, drama and comedy of the backstage journey culminating in a live stage performance. By setting the show five minutes before show time, the audience is invited along for the ride in a real time setting. Each episode features a different element of the theatre, as well as a different musical genre, so to see all of this come together at the end of the show both reinforces the themes and give our audience real insight into a theatre going experience. We also filmed the theatre concerts in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic children, which added another layer of atmosphere and energy. The use of puppetry with Justine’s theatre manager (and friend) Dash the dog adds another element of imagination and make believe to the series. We also loved the element of humour both through word play and physical slap stick moments that play out so beautifully in a live action environment.
The show aims to give pre-school children insights into the making of theatre, music, improvisation, set building and costume design – basically all of the important elements of putting on a show. Why did you want to focus on these particular aspects?
‘Putting on a show’ is such fertile ground for stories and themes. From writing a musical to finding a electric guitar, each episode captures a sense of make believe, creation and play which is at the heart of the series.
The subject matter also gave us great room for drama – what happens if we only have one dancing shoe? Will the set be finished in time? What if the instruments don’t show up? Creative thinking and resilience is often required with a key ‘Show Must Go On’ moment before an (often unexpected) solution.
By making these concepts accessible to children with the hope it inspires confidence and expression. We would love to see home made Ta Da! Theatres popping up in living rooms everywhere as children dress up, start singing and put on their own show at home!
In each episode Justine and her friend Dash are joined by special guests including Tim Rogers, Denise Scott, Paul Mercurio, Hau Latukefu, and the songs have been co-written by Justine and the likes of Peter Dasent, Arthur Baysting and Josh Pyke. How did you come to work with such eclectic artists and performers? Do you think this will help broaden the series’ target audience?
By featuring real musicians and performance across the series, it felt like we were creating an authentic experience for our audience. It was wonderful to have such a wide range of accomplished artists involved in the series from actors, comedians and musicians. Each one brought their own bit of Ta Da magic. We hope that parents will also enjoy watching these fine performers as much as their children do.
Are there plans to develop this series into other forms, or a second season – or maybe take this on tour?
We would love to see the series evolve, as a celebration of theatre performance and music, it has so many potential applications. We can’t wait to see how the audience responds to our creation. There is an album of music from the series which will be released on Friday 10th November.
You have so much experience in this genre – why do you like working in Kids TV?
Children are so inspiring! They have such a natural ability to imagine, dream and create. It’s highly rewarding (and a big responsibility) to create and produce programs that engage and entertain these young minds at such a formative time. I grew up watching quality Australian programs like Play School and Round the Twist and I’m passionate about continuing to reflect a sense of local identity in our storytelling. A strong sense of play and humour is often what drives the idea, and as adults it’s wonderful to work in that space.
Justine Clarke’s Ta Da! has been supported by Create NSW, Screen Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and aired Monday 6th November at 5.50pm. Don’t miss it.