The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular, which was based on Banjo Paterson's poem The Man From Snowy River, was a very popular musical theatre production which toured Australian capital cities twice during 2002. The production was filmed at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, during its second run in Brisbane during October, 2002.
The creative team for the show were David Atkins (who was the co-creator, co-writer, director and executive producer), Ignatius Jones (who was co-writer and director), and Kevin Jacobsen (who was the executive producer). Extra dialogue was written for the show by Jonathan Biggins and Phillip Scott.
Bruce Rowland composed the soundtrack for the live show, as well as using some of the music which he had already written for the 1982 The Man From Snowy River film.
Country music songwriters for the live show were Lee Kernaghan and Garth Porter.
The "The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular" was so popular and successful that CD, DVD and Videotape recordings have been released of the production. The CD won the 2002 Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA Music Award) for Best Original Cast / Show Album.
Steve Jefferys and his Stock Horse Ammo also reprised their entrance at the beginning of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony during The Man From Snowy River: Arena Spectacular
Also, Australia's internationally renowned whipcracking expert John Brady demonstrated his expertise with both stockwhips and ropes within the show.
For his horse riding role as "Jim Ryan" in the Australian musical theatre production of The Man From Snowy River: Arena Spectacular, Martin Crewes, who could already ride, was given intensive riding lessons by expert riding teacher Steve Jefferys, so that Crewes would not require a body double for the difficult riding feats he had to accomplish in the show.
Jefferys also taught Crewes the difficult art of being a horse whisperer for his role as "Jim Ryan". Horse whispering usually takes years to learn, but Crewes was able to master this difficult skill in only two weeks.
There was also superb riding, including intricate equestrian drill movements, and all of the animal actors ('Jana' the Border Collie, and the horses in the show) were magnificent.
Horse riding stunts in the show was performed by stunt riders, including Zelie Thompson and Deborah Brennan.
On John Conroy's property, the 2-year-old colts and fillies are mustered and brought to the homestead for Horse breaking. Two of the colts are of very good stock, especially the beautiful and spirited colt from former racehorse "Old Regret" (John Conroy says that the colt is worth a lot of money and that he wants the colt to eventually be the stud horse for the property).
Jim Ryan arrives at John Conroy's property following the death of his father. When he and Conroy's daughter, Kate, see each other, it is love at first sight for them both.
Jim, however, finds resentment at his presence at the station, both from John Conroy, the owner of the property, and the station's stockmen, with Dan Mulligan disdainfully commenting "We don't want any swagmen here". John Conroy also comments that they have enough men working on the property already.
Kate pleads with her father to give Jim a job at the property, and he finally relents, saying that Jim can help break the horses. John Conroy resents it when Jim Ryan says that he knows of a better way to break horses than the horse-breaking method being used at the property. However, John Conroy says that Jim could prove his expertise in horse breaking by breaking the colt from "Old Regret".
During the night, the Brumby herd gallops close to the homestead, and the colt from "Old Regret" breaks free from his tethers and joins them. John Conroy is furious at the loss of his prized colt, and unfairly blames Jim for what has occurred. He decides to get all the crack riders (expert horse riders) from the stations near and far to come to the property and hunt for the Brumbies — and angrily orders Jim to leave the property first thing in the morning.
The crack riders gather at the homestead the following morning, including "Harrison" (who won his fortune when "Pardon" won the Cup), and "Clancy of the Overflow" (who was a friend of Jim). Jim shyly turns up to join in the ride to hunt for the colt and Brumbies, but finds that, apart from his friend, Clancy, he is not wanted by anyone on the ride. Clancy convinces the others that Jim, as a mountain-reared man, would be of great help in the ride.
The Brumbies are too quick for the riders and, when it becomes too steep and dangerous (with Wombat holes (burrows) where a horse could break a leg, all riders stop short of the dangerous descent — apart from Jim, who continues to chase the Brumby herd - finally bringing the herd (including the colt) back to John Conroy's property.
John Conroy is delighted to have his colt back again, and gives his approval to Jim marrying Kate. A concert and country dance are then held in celebration and recognition of Jim's deed, as well as a superb equestrian pagent, and all ends happily.
Songs and narration