Actors, producers, partners and FM Productions founders Marika Fenech and Edward Mercieca first met at the birthday party of a common friend at what was then Paul’s Punch Bowl in November 1984. As Edward recalls, Marika typically arrived late and was forced to sit next to him.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Marika was, at the time playing Principal Girl in the MADC panto Mother Goose; and invited Edward to watch a rehearsal. He kind of caught the theatre bug there and then; and he next took part in the MADC Annual One Act Play Festival where he won Best Actor, and he and Marika’s careers took off in tandem.
The couple have been married 30 years and have three children Edward, Luke, and Sarah. They confess to being a pretty crazy theatre family, they work from home and have recently voted Buttons Mercieca, the dog, as chairperson of the board!
FM Productions was set up in 1998. The couple started to produce shows when they set up the Malta franchise of Stagecoach Theatre Arts Schools, so their first productions were for the students, but before long they evolved into a full-blown production company.
Over the last 20 years FM has produced several shows. “Throughout our 20 years of existence we have gained a reputation of quality, excellence and professionalism,” says Edward. “We want to work with the best to produce the best. Our main priority is to create the best quality productions for our audiences.”
The company consists of five full-time staff members, including Luke, who serves as Executive Producer; while Sarah teaches at Stagecoach. “The staff works endlessly to make sure we are constantly supporting all the creatives involved in the making of our shows. We love what we do, so our office is very much a crazy, happy place where we are constantly bouncing off ideas for the future, which is looking very exciting as we continue to grow,” he adds.
The company’s repertoire includes some of the world’s biggest and well-known shows. “One of our first big musicals we produced was Chicago at the Manoel Theatre, which was a huge challenge,” recalls Marika. “That was a big learning curve for us, we were a much smaller staff and so the work load and pressure were huge.”. Yet it paid off, and since then, FM has produced several beloved classics; a mix of musicals, dramas, and comedies such as Fiddler on The Roof, Are You Being Served, ‘Allo’Allo, Red, Shooting Star, Hairspray, High School Musical, Butterflies Are Free, and recently My Fair Lady.
Their acclaimed production of My Fair Lady was the first musical this year the company produced to celebrate FM’s 20th anniversary; the second being Mamma Mia! which will be performed at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in April. What was the rationale behind the choices?
“Being active theatre producers in Malta for 20 years is a big achievement for us, we wanted to celebrate,” says Edward. “We wanted to produce two musicals, because we love musicals, and we know the Maltese audience loves a good musical.”
“We wanted to have two different musicals,” interjects Marika. “We wanted a classic, and a more feel-good modern musical. So we went for My Fair Lady and Mamma Mia!; two musicals that everybody knows, everybody loves and two enormous challenges that we were eager to take. We wanted to raise the bar in Malta and really give audiences two incredible shows. To pull this off we had to make sure we worked with an amazing team and we were lucky that so many people wanted to work on these two projects that we managed to secure a first-class cast and crew for both shows, which is proven in the quality of our work.”
So, what can we expect from Mamma Mia? “An amazing show!” they say almost in unison. “It is such a feel-good show that everybody is guaranteed to have a wonderful time,” concludes Edward. “We’re lucky enough to have a West End leading lady in the cast. Charlotte Gorton played the role of Donna in the West End so it’s an absolute treat to have her play Donna for us. A lot of hard work has been put in to create a wonderful evening at the theatre for everyone. I guarantee everyone will be on their feet dancing by the end of it.”
Mamma Mia will be produced at the Mediterranean Conference Centre from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th April. To book tickets visit www.mcc.com.mt