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Star Struck 2024: Young talent continues to amaze Casey Smith

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After three decades of production, it’s a massive statement to say Star Struck 2024 will be the biggest and best yet.

But, that’s the promise from operations manager Casey Smith.

In fact, she’s confident the audience and performers will Love it, the theme for this year’s event, which is taking place at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 June.

Thousands of students from throughout the Hunter and Central Coast – representing Adamstown Public, Ashtonfield Public, Barnsley Public, Belair Public, Belmont High, Belmont North PS, Belmont Public, Biraban Public, Blacksmiths, Bolwarra PS, Bonnells Bay Public, Booragul Public, Brisbania PS, Broke Public, Brooke Avenue Public, Budgewoi Public, Callaghan College Jesmond Campus, Callaghan College Wallsend Campus, Callaghan College Waratah Campus, Cardiff High, Cardiff North Public, Cardiff South Public, Carrington Public, Caves Beach Public, Cessnock East Public, Cessnock High, Cessnock West Public, Charlestown East PS, Charlestown Public, Charlestown South Public, Clarence Town Public, Coal Point Public, Denman Public, Dora Creek Public, Dudley Public, Dungog High, East Maitland Public, Edgeworth Public, Elermore Vale Public, Ellalong Public, Erina High, Fassifern Public, Fern Bay Public, Francis Greenway High, Garden Suburb Public, Gillieston Public, Glendale East Public, Glendale Technology High, Gorokan High, Gorokan Public, Grahamstown Public, Greta Public, Hamilton North Public, Hamilton Public, Hamilton South Public, Hinton Public, Hunter River Community, Hunter River High, Hunter School of Performing Arts, Hunter Trebles, Irrawang High, Islington Public, Jewells Primary, Kariong Mountains High, King Street Public, Kitchener Public, Kotara South Public, Kurri Kurri Public, Lake Macquarie High, Lake Munmorah High, Lambton High, Lambton Public, Lisarow High, Maitland Public, Mannering Park Public, Marks Point Public, Mayfield West Demonstration, Medowie Public, Merewether Heights Public, Merewether Public, Merriwa Central, Millfield Public, Minmi Public, Morisset High, Morpeth Public, Mount View High, Muswellbrook South PS, New Lambton Public, New Lambton South, Newcastle East Public, Newcastle High, Nords Wharf Public, Northlakes High, Nulkaba Public, Pelican Flat Public, Rathmines Public, Rutherford Technology High, Salt Ash Public, Scone Public, Shortland Public, Singleton Heights Public, Singleton High, Soldiers Point Public, Speers Point Public, Swansea High, Tanilba Bay Public, Telarah PS, Tenambit Public, Teralba Public, Terrigal High, Terrigal Public, The Junction Public, Thornton Public School, Tomaree High, Tomaree Public, Toronto High, Vacy Public, Wadalba Community, Wallsend Public, Wallsend South Public, Wangi Wangi PS, Waratah West Public, Warners Bay High, Warners Bay Public, West Wallsend High, Whitebridge High, Windale Public, Wirreanda Public, Woodberry Public and Wyee Public – are set to perform the soundtrack for the latest extravaganza.

Star Struck operations manager Casey Smith with some of the leads for Love it in 2024. Photo: Peter Stoop

“It’s only a couple of weeks away now, however it’s going really well,” Casey said.

“It is always a huge logistical challenge to put it together and get it into show week, especially with about 130 schools involved, but we’re almost there.

“That’s the most [schools] we’ve ever had involved.

“We even have Merriwa Central travelling all the way down from the Upper Hunter with eight little dancers, which is fantastic.

“All up, 3,500 pupils will take to the stage, across our mass dance and drama items, mass choir and featured artists.

“That’s why we’ve maintained the double cast format.

“We have done that since COVID… and it’s just worked amazingly.

“Cast A will appear at 11am on Friday (14 June) and 7pm on Saturday (15 June), while Cast B performs 7pm on Friday and 1pm on Saturday.

“We’re able to give more kids opportunity that way.

“You can see them better on the floor and it allows us make it work logistically.”

With a twinkle in her eye, Casey admitted there might be a few surprises in store, too.

“I can give a little hint, our mass choir won’t necessarily stay in the seating,” she said.

“We might see them elsewhere in 2024, which we did a few years ago.

“It’s definitely important to try and do different things.

“Although you can’t change the format too much, just with the nature of what it is and what the end product is, but certainly there’s a lot of great music.

“Our creative director (Kirsten Dickason) likes to say all the songs are banging… it’s a banger.

“However, I personally think they are the best ones we’ve had, in terms of the broadness of genres and the journey they go on.

“So, we’ll have old and new songs, classics and, of course, love ballads, a little bit of everything.

“Plus, there will be some drama items that’ll be very heartwarming; I feel like that’s going to be a pivotal moment at Star Struck 2024.

“And, I’m not sure if I should say this, but we’ve even thrown some Christmas in there this year.

“I know that’s a little unusual for a show in June, however, when it’s about everything you adore, why not?”

Famous composer Burt Bacharach once claimed What the World Needs Now Is Love.

And, that will be offered in spades at Star Struck.

“Really, it’s about the things we love,” Casey told the Newcastle Weekly.

“It’s about friendships, it’s about connections, It’s about love and loss.

“The things we love, songs and stories, and, of course, Taylor Swift.

“We’re actually doing something really fun with the show this year.

“To jump on the Taylor Swift bandwagon, we’re making bracelets – all the different schools are – and they’re going to write their item on it.

“It might be Love Story, for instance, which is one of the songs.

“The idea is that they’ll be able to interact with other schools and kids, and swap and get other people’s items.

“So, we’re really excited about that.

“Even our featured artists will do it.

“They’ll write one of their items that they’re in and they can swap among themselves as well.

“I know the staff is getting on board with it, too, and making some bracelets.

“It’s added something to the excitement level.

“But, I’m very optimistic Star Struck 2024 will tick all the boxes for the audience, especially the casts’ family members… a lot of effort has gone into the show.

“I am sure everyone will Love it.”

For tickets, go to https://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=STARSTRU24

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