He’s the longtime Gold Coast lad doing big things in the world of performance arts and he’s about to bring one of the most fun musicals around to The Star Gold Coast. Yes it’s Mamma Mia! Gold Coasters, and you can watch it on stage right here this July.
We sat down for a chat with Matt about his company Matt Ward Entertainment and all the exciting work he’s doing to bring the arts to the people.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born and bred here on the Gold Coast. I had to move away to pursue my career after high school and have lived overseas for a long period of time, but now I’m back and loving it!
What do you love most about living here?
I love that all my family are here still. There’s something very comforting and grounding knowing you have that amazing support around you and the fact that I can be living on the Gold Coast and able to pursue my passion. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the growth of the arts sector on the Coast and I’m looking forward to contributing to that continued growth as the Gold Coat becomes known as a destination for top tier arts and culture.
Tell us about your upcoming production of Mamma Mia! at The Star Gold Coast, what can we expect?
I am so excited to be bringing this iconic musical to the Gold Coast. We (Gold Coast) are often overlooked when they tour these shows in Queensland. Mamma Mia! Is the ultimate feel-good musical. Jammed packed with all the iconic ABBA songs, what’s not to love about it? You can expect a great night out and dancing in the aisles!
What does it take to put a show like this together?
Many sleepless nights! A great team working towards the same goal. A cast that are equally passionate as they are talented and a community that comes together to support theatre.
What else does your company, Matt Ward Entertainment do?
We mentor and provide education and performance opportunities for our local emerging artists. This is really important to me and why I created Matt Ward Entertainment. I had to leave the Gold Coast to study and pursue my career as the opportunities weren’t here. In many of our youth development programs students have gone on to be accepted into reputable performing arts degrees and sustain careers as working professionals. Matt Ward Vocal Studios is another big piece of what we do. Students have gone on to successful recording careers, The Voice, Australia’s Got Talent and leads in some of the biggest musicals all around the world! And we have just established a new creative space in Bundall.
Talk us through some career highlights thus far…
One of the highlights was creating The Greenroom Project which is a platform that develops new talent and provides a showcase opportunity. It was such a huge success and we look forward to relaunching that again soon. Another highlight was my first musical production RENT. It’s such a harrowing experience not knowing if people would come to the show and risking a tonne of money on a passion project but having it sell out weeks before we opened was definitely a relief and now a career highlight.
How did all of this begin for you?
High School was the catalyst definitely. I was always in the school musicals. From 15, I was in every Arts Centre Gold Coast production and had lessons every day. Then I was accepted into NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) and I was lucky enough to have a career from there.
What else do you have happening in 2020?
Beside Mamma Mia!, I am looking at producing some new Australian and local artists, as well as workshopping and developing new shows here at home!
Favourites on the Coast:
Cafe for breakfast: Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! You will find me most weekday mornings at Manola Bro’s and on a weekend, we usually head to a dog friendly cafe in Mermaid!
Coffee spot: I loooove my coffee! Rafiki and Papercup Coffee are a couple of favs.
Restaurant for dinner: I love all the restaurants on the Gold Coast. From cheap eat Thai to steak Glenelg Public House to the incredible chicken at Social Eating House! We are spoilt for choice these days.
How does your weekend usually look: I love the weekends! During the week my partner and I live busy lives so weekends are about catching up with each other, hanging out with friends and spending time with our golden retriever – Gatsby! 🙂
There’s never been a more important time to support our local hospitality business’ and musicians for a dose of live music in South East Queensland. Whether you’re the mid-week beer sipping and knee-slapping type or the seltzer slurping weekend warrior: live music is here for us all. Across the Gold Coast, there are abundant options for you to get involved in live music, with a breadth of venues all with their unique personalities and offerings.
So tell mum not to wait up, and head out to these live music venues across our lively city (listed north to south)!
The largest AFL club in Queensland, Southport Sharks has been up and running since 1961. Every weekend they showcase local musical talent, including tribute bands and good old rock and roll (or maybe a spot of karaoke is more up your alley?). There are endless food options, but we suggest starting your night at one of the Gold Coast’s most northern rooftop bars Aviary and fuel up to power through those dance sessions.
Where: Cnr Musgrave and Olsen Avenues, Southport
Not ones to hang around, this Southport rockin’ bar has hosted over 700 live music events in their short lifespan, and on any given night of the week, there is always something going down. Vinnies is in every inch of the word a dive bar, and inside you’ll find walls decked out with album covers, and an overall moody, low-lit vibe where revellers dance up a storm.
Where: Shops A & B, 44A Nerang Street, Southport
When it comes to finding live acts and having yourself a good time in the central Gold Coast, you’ll be hard pushed to look past The Avenue in Surfers Paradise. If you don’t believe us, check it out for yourself; there is literally something on every night of the week. Feeling the work week getting the better of you? Then we suggest you hit up their Tunes Tuesdays or House Music Thursdays, but if you can survive till the weekend, you’ll be spoilt with a variety of live music and the best partygoing atmosphere.
Where: 3-15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Should you arrive by jet ski or by Uber, it doesn’t matter. Surfers Pavilion is your one-stop venue in the heart of Surfers Paradise for drinks, eats and catching a live DJ set or two. And not just any disc jockeys either; The Stafford Brothers and Peking Duk have both played to jubilant crowds here in recent times. Currently, the wheels of steel are spinning Thursday and Friday evenings and all through the weekend: perfect long weekend territory.
Where: 30/34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Hard Rock Café
Climb the stairway to heaven and enjoy handcrafted cocktails, impossible to ignore thick shakes, and a freshly prepared Americana menu over an impressive local rock music guest list. Since the first live music performance (Sir Paul McCartney no less) in 1973, the Hard Rock Cafe chains have been the home of live music and this Surfers Paradise institution is no different. Not just a great way to start off your weekend, there’s also mid-week events like musical bingo to cure any hump day melancholy.
Where: Corner Cavill Avenue and Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
The Home of the Arts is certainly doing the heavy lifting to finally elevate the arts and culture scene here in our section of Queensland. From headline acts performing on one of Australia’s best outdoor stage to intimate gigs indoors, variety is certainly what comes to mind when visiting a HOTA show. They’ve now decided your afternoons deserve an injection of outdoor live music too, now presenting Fridays on the Lawn. With a host of local talent scheduled to celebrate the end of the working week, we suggest you grab a blanket, acquire a drink from their lawn bar, and relax in their sophisticated sun-kissed setting as you plot your moves for the weekend.
Where: HOTA, 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise
Open Tuesday to Sunday for your listening pleasure, Den Devine feature jazz and blues artists from a talent pool right here in our city. This intimate hidden venue is well-known amongst live muisc fans, so we definitely recommend booking in advance to nab a seat. Grab a bev from their serious selection of whisky (the perfect accompaniment to some moody blues), a Mediterranean dish from their menu (it might sound like an odd fit, but trust us, the food is delish!) and make yourself comfortable as you’re treated to a fine selection of the best performers on the Gold Coast.
Where: 15 Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach
Garden Kitchen & Bar at The Star Gold Coast
When it comes to star-studded acts and internationally recognised music performances, The Star Gold Coast is the place to grab a seat in a full-blown theatre and experience music as it was intended. On the regular, though, you will find Garden Kitchen & Bar’s Live on the Lawn sessions a worthy alternative between headline acts. Each week they kick things off on a Friday evening and don’t let up until late Sunday night, with different music for every taste. Local band, McKenzie invite you to bop along to their Sunday residency with their energetic mix of feel-good pop-rock — a classic way to see the week out. Once you settle in, you’ll also be looked after with their dedicated lawn bar, and container kitchen, meaning leaving is one of the hardest things to do.
Where: 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
Having duly stamped its authority on the Nobby Beach bar scene as the place to go for frolic fuelled nights, these guys will have you rocking out until the wee hours with a live band or DJ every night of the week. The venue also offers new bands the chance to get themselves out there, so keep an eye out for fresh talent!
Where: 2245 Gold Coast Highway, Nobbys Beach
The Cambus Wallace
Jump aboard and set sail to a nautical-infused destination full of food, rum, and live music. The Cambus Wallace awaits you for a night filled with charismatic blues, raw acoustic sets, and finger flicking vinyl delights. Depending on your taste, take your pick and be sure you try at least one of their cocktails!
Where: 2237 Gold Coast Highway, Nobbys Beach
Open from 5pm every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Miami comes alive with foods from all around the world mixed with local blues, jazz and independent artists. And this isn’t all — the venue is one of the prime places to catch amazing national and international acts as they tour the country and drop by. Be sure to keep an eye on their gig calendar; tickets always sell out fast!
Where: 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami
Burleigh’s original back alley after-hours haunt is always an epic time. Nightjar is known for late-night revelry and an often stellar line-up of weekly live music. With drink specials aplenty, come and enjoy local acts as they take to the floor and keep the swinging yet sultry atmosphere going long into the night.
Where: Justin Lane, Burleigh Heads
Mo’s Desert Clubhouse
Combining events, gigs, workshops, yoga classes, and collaborative office spaces, Mo’s Desert Clubhouse is a melting pot of goings-on and a principal meeting place for the Gold Coast’s coolest movers and shakers. The industrial-style venue is outfitted with a bar and has a plethora of gigs lined up for the rest of the year. Make sure you pencil in a date with Mo’s Desert Clubhouse ASAP.
Where: 6/36 Central Drive, Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Brewing Co.
Beer and music is an ensemble that will never die. Burleigh Brewery approaches their live music offering just the same way as they make their beer: balance, character and soul. Local acts are regularly paired with food trucks and your favourite brews from Friday through to Sunday. There’s also the occasional art show, movies under the stars and theatre performance for good measure. Oh and did we mention exceptional beer?
Where: 2 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads
It’s one of the Gold Coast’s favourite live music venues, having hosted local, national and international acts — but also remains one of our best-kept secrets. Find your way down to Currumbin RSL, where Soundlounge hosts acts from folk soloists and DJs to rock and roll bands. Listening to fantastic live music can be a hungry business, but this venue has you covered with food options, including pizza, an a la carte restaurant and bar snacks.
Where: 165 Duringan Street, Currumbin
The Coolangatta Hotel
Whether you’ve been catching world-class waves or lounging in the afternoon sun, Coolangatta — and specifically the Coolangatta Hotel — is the place to round out a perfect afternoon with live music. Being one of the Gold Coast’s largest live music venues, this venue features both national and international touring bands and DJs on any given weekend. The vast space has long been famous for all types of weekend warriors to dance the night away — just don’t forget that Monday morning meeting.
Where: Cnr Warner Street and Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Words by Alex Mitcheson.