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A visionary gift

Longtime supporters of Melbourne Theatre company Andrew McAliece and Richard Simmie on why they have chosen to leave a bequest.

For Andrew McAliece and Richard Simmie, the magic of theatre isn't a fleeting experience, it's a lifelong love affair that began with childhood encounters and blossomed into a commitment to ensure its enduring presence for future generations.

The decision to support Melbourne Theatre Company in their Wills was a natural progression of their enduring passion for the arts.

When asked about his first experience of theatre, Andrew McAliece recalls being blown away on a school excursion to see Fiddler on the Roof: ‘I was about seven and I remember having a sense of awe.’ Richard Simmie had a similarly eye-opening experience watching The Mikado: ‘I remember the costumes, the singing – I’d never seen anything like it having grown up on a sheep farm. It sowed the seed of wanting to explore and try new things, leading to my love of classical music, opera and other forms of theatre.’ These early experiences laid the groundwork for their shared appreciation of live performances and the profound impact theatre can have on individuals and communities.

Their connection with Melbourne Theatre Company started in the early 1980s and continues today, with the couple being dedicated members of our Donor community. Andrew reflects: ‘Over the years, there’s been so many plays that have touched me, including The Drowsy Chaperone for its excellent storyline, staging and hilarious performances.’  Richard echoes this sentiment, sharing his profound experiences with plays like The Heartbreak Choir and Jacky, which explored themes of tragedy and cultural divide. ‘The plays that have resonated most with me over the years are the ones that have heart and emotion.’

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Christie Whelan Browne (front) with the cast of The Drowsy Chaperone (2010). Photo: Jeff Busby

Andrew loves the immediacy of the theatre, ‘I’m drawn to humour, pathos, and the wonder of seeing a play – because it’s real and live right in front of you. I never get sick of it.’ Richard recognises the critical role of the arts in our lives: ‘Without the arts, life would be very boring. It’s such a critical part of who we are and it deserves our support.’

Like so many of our audience members, the two find enjoyment in the conversations that are sparked by our productions. Richard remarks, ‘It’s always great when you go home and talk about the performance, and even when you wake up the next morning and the feeling is still present. That’s when I realise it’s made an impact. Even if it’s a polarising play or one I didn’t like, being able to discuss it with someone who may feel differently opens your mind.’

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Guy Simon in Jacky (2023). Photo: Pia Johnson

Their commitment goes beyond being audience members, it extends to active involvement with Melbourne Theatre Company, particularly as supporters of the NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program.  As Richard explains, ‘In 2015 I wanted to get more involved with the Company, so I met with [then Head of New Work] Chris Mead to discuss NEXT STAGE. I was blown away by the idea and was keen to become a part of it. We’ve had some amazing success stories from it so far.’

Encouraging others to follow suit, Andrew and Richard champion the idea that including Melbourne Theatre Company in their Will is not just a financial contribution but a timeless investment in the preservation of culture, creativity and the enduring magic of live theatre. Their decision becomes an invitation for others to contribute to the future of Melbourne Theatre Company and ensure that the transformative power of theatre continues to inspire generations to come.

If Melbourne Theatre Company has played an important role in your life, we invite you to play a role in its future. To learn more about leaving a gift to Melbourne Theatre Company in your Will, click here or call Meaghan Donaldson, Annual Giving Manager, on 03 8688 0938 for a confidential chat.

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Published on 26 April 2024

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