“There’s been so many things cancelled this year and yet people wouldn’t accept that their Christmas windows would be cancelled – and created quite a kerfuffle,” said Kerr, the vision behind the windows since 1994.
“That’s amazing to think that Melburnians love these windows so much, and that they need them as part of coming out of lockdown. It’s 27 years of doing this and I always think ‘what a privilege’.”
In normal times, Kerr and his team at Stage ONE may spend a year plotting storylines for the Bourke Street store’s seven windows. The intricacies of fabricating and automating new characters can be a seven-month process in itself. This year they had just weeks.
The unprecedented turnaround time left no alternative but to dust off characters from previous years’ displays and re-purpose them for a heroic and nostalgic return.
“We just laid all the characters out in the studio and basically did a casting – I’ll have you, you and you – and blocked out a story line,” Kerr said.
“A lot of them still have animation in them, so we’ve been able to reanimate the characters, which is great. A bit of a spit and polish, some fresh make-up, and Bob’s your uncle.”
More than 30 production staff worked to bring 107 characters from 14 past seasons back to life.
Among the characters from yesteryear are the Flinders Street Station Set from Little Dog and The Christmas Wish (2015), Russell’s Christmas Magic (2012) and the The Nutcracker (2010).
“The problem with our old characters is that we used to cast them in latex, and latex actually perishes over time,” Kerr said.
“The oldest character we’ve got is [Ratty, window four] from Wind in the Willows – that was early 2000s – and the latex is really starting to go brittle.”
The Myer Christmas windows have been drawing families, shoppers and tourists to the Melbourne CBD since 1956.
The 2020 instalment was unveiled in small ceremony outside the store on Saturday morning and quickly drew excited onlookers, including little Hamish and Camilla McCombe.
Myer chief customer officer Geoff Ikin said: “Now more than ever Victorians need something to celebrate, and we know the Myer Christmas windows brings excitement and joy to so many.”
Zach is a reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at email@example.com