Schools Spectacular

Mary Lopez created the concept of the Schools Spectacular in 1984 and directed the annual production for 25 years until she retired from the Director’s position in 2008. She continued as Artistic Consultant for a further 5 years and was appointed in 2010, to the role of Emeritus Director.

For thirty years, under Mary’s guidance, the Spectacular showcased the finest talent in the New South Wales Public School system in a two-and-a-half hour themed variety spectacular, staged at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Over the years, the School Spectacular has proven itself to be more than just a showcase that highlights a huge cast of performers and the extraordinary talents of solo singers, dancers and instrumentalists. It is an iconic cultural event incorporating students from diverse backgrounds and communities from all over NSW. The Schools’ Spectacular is a world-class arena production and one of the largest annual events of its calibre anywhere in Australia – and arguably the world. The Schools Spectacular has produced national and international stars whilst promoting inclusiveness and reconciliation.

The genesis for the birth of the School Spectacular was the desire of the then Director General of Education, Doug Swan, to create a flagship for Public Education. He had witnessed Mary’s outstanding music and performance programs as a HS Music Teacher in 1983 and chose her to lead the way.  She was introduced to Entrepreneur, Jack Neary, Businessman, Bruce Harris and Department of Education Public Relations Manager, Frank Meany. Mary came up with the name and between them the Schools Spectacular was created in 1984.

Mary’s passion to level the playing field for young Australians from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds sent her on a crusade spanning a fifty-year career.

Now featuring 5000 performers, and under new leadership, the SS continues to flourish. Its features continue to include an 80-piece symphony orchestra, dancers, bands, and outstanding soloists, but also now includes a 3000-voice choir. The show is staged at the Qudos Bank Arena at Olympic Park and is broadcast nationally on Channel 7.

For more information on this event please visit Out There Productions or the NSW Department of Education’s Schools Spectacular.

  • Dawn Fraser AO

    "Mary's given more young Australian performers a chance to shine than any other Australian I know"

  • Paula Duncan

    “I consider Mary Lopez one of the true talent discoverers. She has found and established some of the great talents of Australia, including Human Nature"


    "Mary Lopez is a wonderful Australian and a generous giver"
  • John Williamson, Country Singer

    "Mary loves Australia and this love shines through in everything she does"

  • Father Chris Riley

    "In the words of Batchelor Girl – Mary encourages and gives our kids ‘permission to shine’"

  • Human Nature

    “Mary believed in us … she nurtured us, developed our talent. She’s always there for us and we’ll always be there for her.”

  • Contact Details

    Mary Lopez AM

    Entertainment and Talent Director
    TDP Artistic Director and CEO
    Emeritus Director Schools Spectacular

    p: +61 (0)2 9954 5540



    "Mary Lopez is one of the most professional, dynamic, dedicated and enthusiastic people I have ever met"
  • Bound For Broadway Documentary

  • 2011 TDP Graduation Screening on Aurora TV

    2011 Talent Development Project Graduation Spectacular

    Premiere Screening 6pm on September 24th

    Aurora TV, Channel 183 on Foxtel and Austar

    Aurora TV is the proud Broadcast Partner of the TDP