We were a little apprehensive when we headed out to the Whitehorse Centre at Nunawading for a "non-professional" production of Hello Dolly. But our fears were totally unfounded. The production by Babirra Music Theatre (see http://www.babirra.org.au/html/home.htm) was excellent in every respect: the costumes, the standard of the singing and especially the choreography. While of course some performances were a little stronger than others, there was no-one in the large cast who wasn't up to the task. Perhaps we were too absorbed in the witty dialogue, catchy melodies and vibrant colours, but we didn't notice a single mis-step (and some of the dancing seemed very challenging) or anything even resembling a wrong note.
Although this company describes itself as "non-professional", it's clear from the CVs in the program that some of the actors have trained and/or worked professionally. But obviously, others of them are just talented. It really was great to see so many dedicated people (including the orchestra) who clearly enjoy the challenges of the theatre getting together to present such a great production .
I was of course aware that there are a number of non-professional theatre companies around Melbourne. We regularly attend productions by the Malvern Theatre Company (mostly straight drama) but I was not aware of the extent of the musical theatre scene in Melbourne. I knew about the Gilbert & Sullivan Society (see http://www.gilbertandsullivan.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=498) because I attended quite a few of their performances when younger. But in the musical drama space, besides Babirra, I now see that the Whitehorse Centre is also used by NOVA (see http://www.novamusictheatre.com.au/). In addition, there's CLOC (http://www.cloc.org.au/) who use the National Theatre at St Kilda and Whitehorse Musical Theatre (http://www.whitehorsemusicaltheatre.websyte.com.au/) who perform in Burwood [EDIT - but see comment below]. It's apparent from the profiles in the program that the actors cross over between these various groups. We're certainly planning on getting out and seeing a few more productions.