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Founded in 2014 Illawarra On Pointe Productions (IOP) is an orchestral ballet and theatrical production company that provides a platform for aspiring musicians, ballet dancers, actors and those who work in all other facets of theatre on the South Coast of NSW, Australia. IOP strives to support emerging composers to produce original Australian symphonic works as well as encourage the next generation of performers through the company's mentorship program, allowing regional musicians and performers to increase their knowledge and involvement in the performing arts.


IOP stages a major production annually; helping to fill a cultural gap that the entire community can benefit from. Thus far, the company has staged The Nutcracker: Ballet (IPAC 2016), South Pacific: In Concert (SEC 2017) and Peter Pan: The Ballet (IPAC, 2018). The Nutcracker was the first Illawarra produced ballet to feature a large ensemble of local dancers and live orchestra. Peter Pan was commissioned by IOP and Artistic Director Ryley Gillen and featured over eighty dancers from the Illawarra region, forty orchestral musicians and a forty piece choir. It was choreographed by local Tori Van Opstal with music composed by Will Yaxley


The Illawarra On Pointe concert orchestra tours to schools in NSW including Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Southern Highlands and Sydney to better inspire young people about the performing arts and orchestral music. Most recently the concert orchestra toured a revised and immersive production of Peter and the Wolf with narration written by Ryley Gillen and performed by Darren Lester.


IOP holds community concerts to support young and emerging musicians and composers. In 2018 it ran an experimental community orchestra in Wollongong called the Young On Pointe Orchestra for the young and young at heart. IOP ran a Star Wars Day tribute concert with the community orchestra at the forefront on May the 4th 2018. It also staged Sleeping Beauty: A Choose Your Own Adventure Orchestra Concert (Nowra School of Arts 2018) with its concert orchestra. The interactive script was read by actor Scott Bowcher and allowed the audience to choose the direction of the story. From IOP's research it was the first orchestra choose your own adventure concert of its kind.


Additional credits include providing musical direction and orchestra for Chess: In Concert (in conjunction with Roo Theatre 2017),  orchestra for Witches of Eastwick (Roo Theatre 2018), Classical Horror (Phoenix Theatre 2015), The Cinema Experience (Phoenix Theatre 2014).

Peter and the Wolf.jpg
Peter and the Wolf NSW Regional School Tour 2017
Peter Pan: Ballet (Orchestra Session 2018)
video courtesy Adele Masters

Ryley Gillen

Artistic Director, Chief Conductor

Co-founder of Illawarra On Pointe Productions (IOP) in 2014, Ryley Gillen is currently Artistic Director and Chief Conductor. Ryley's career in creative arts began when he started learning the trumpet, playing for the cows on the family farm in Nowra Hill at the age of seven. Many years later and Ryley is now a vocal advocate for regional access to the arts, working with a number of organisations providing critical support to emerging performers.

For his involvement in the creative arts in regional areas Ryley was recognised as a finalist in the 2018 NSW Creative Achievement Awards: Young Creative. In 2019 Ryley was appointed to the Classical Music Advisory Board for Create NSW. Ryley has previously worked as a brass tutor and conductor at the Wollongong Conservatorium and Hume Conservatorium and was resident conductor of the Wollongong Orchestra between 2015-2017. Most recently in the community Ryley conducted Albatross Musical Company's Addams Family (SEC November 2019, nominated for best Musial Direction CAT Awards) Mary Poppins (SEC July 2018) and Roo Theatre's Witches of Eastwood (February 2018). Outside of the Illawarra Ryley works as a freelance conductor and trumpeter. Ryley holds the positions of principal trumpet for the NSW Corrective Services Band. Ryley has played lead trumpet on the NSW release of Dreamgirls the Musical (Rockdale, 2017) and Ned the Musical (New Theatre, 2018) was deputy trumpet for Hair (2019 Australia Tour) and for Carols in the Domain (2018).

As Artistic Director of IOP Ryley began the mentorship initiative. This mentorship allows aspiring young musicians to perform in the company's various productions. The mentorship provides these musicians with the opportunity to play in a skilled symphony orchestra and work with high caliber performers and at professional venues. For regional areas like the Shoalhaven and Illawwarra this is an invaluable opportunity. Ryley works with the Concert Orchestra members, who are educators and performers, to source out young aspiring musicians to provide them with these experiences. Illawarra On Pointe welcomes these musicians to make contact with the company via our Mentor Opportunities tab.

For IOP Ryley has produced and conducted their 2016-2018 productions including their forty-piece orchestral classical concert series Classical Horror, the company's inaugural ballet production The Nutcracker: Ballet (2016), South Pacific: In Concert (2017), Peter and the Wolf Regional NSW School Tour early 2017 which toured Nowra, Wollongong and the Southern Highlands, Classical Music From The Screen (2017) and most recently their commissioned ballet Peter Pan (2018) and Sleeping Beauty: A Choose Your Own Adventure Orchestra Story (2018).

Outside of IOP Ryley has been Manager of the Shoalhaven Youth Orchestra since 2019 and appointed Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Sutherland Shire Symphony Orchestra in 2020, becoming the organisations 4th conductor in their 51 year history, the first and founder being former SSO conductor Cedric Ashton.

Suzi Villeneuve-Smith

Executive Producer

Suzi has been extensively involved in local theatre as an actor, director and producer. Since 2017 she has been a key figure at IOP helping to develop the mentor program and oversee the company’s diverse program of professional and community inclusive productions. Suzi’s experience from her time in the theatre realm has been an invaluable asset ensuring IOP productions run smoothly and efficiently.

Acting credits include Six Degrees of Separation (Ouisa Kittridge), Enrico IV (Lady Matilday Spina, Dead White Males, Sarah), Trivia (Sonya, Cassie, Jemma and Nicole), The Killing of Sister George (June Buckridge), Arcadia (Lady Croom), The Crucible (Elizabeth Proctor), Medea (Medea), and Speaking in Tongues (Valerie).

Suzi’s musical theatre credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Back to the 80s (Sheila Brannigan), The Wedding Singer (Linda), Shout! (Thelma), Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar (Ensemble Captain), Chess: In Concert (The Arbiter), South Pacific: In Concert and We Will Rock You.

Directing credits include Once a Catholic, The Boys, Les Miserables and co-directing Screen to Stage and Stretch of the Imagination. As a producer, Suzi co-formed Lazy Suzann Productions to stage Jurassic! That is One Big Pile of Musical which went on to win the Audience Choice Award at the Sydney Fringe in September 2015.

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