Archive for November, 2011


storm the stage results 2011

Rotary and IGA Supermarkets are keeping the arts alive!

When the major sponsors and supporters of a national young performers’ competition are Rotary and an independent supermarket, you have to wonder at the state of performing arts in this country. It’s the question I most often ask. What IS the current state of theatre in this country? Apparently, if you go back and read my recent interviews with Australian working musical theatre performers, IT’S ALL GOOD. Phew. That’s a relief. Personally, I have no qualms about where the money comes from, not really, however; where was any level of government on this one? Perhaps they weren’t asked to contribute but with the previous sponsor (an offshore philanthropist) devastated by the natural disasters in his own country, unable to continue with his financial support this year, only Rotary and IGA stepped in to ensure the event continued. I’m glad they did because this event gives young performers (16 – 19 years of age) a platform to present their best impression of themselves…before anybody else tells them who they should be.

Without the grooming along the way by prominent industry personalities, this competition is like a kinder, smaller, live version of The X-Factor. And like The X-Factor, the trick is to find those finalists with that elusive special something that will set them apart. What IS it that sets a performer apart? What makes them a winner in the subjective world of The Arts? What makes “good” art? “Good” theatre? What does good theatre look like anyway? Does anybody know anymore? If you’ve got a blog you’re a critic (hell, if you’ve got a Facebook or a Twitter profile you’re a critic)! BUT “Does anybody know what we are looking for?” Maybe not until we see it and then, once we’ve seen it, experienced it, we want to see it, experience it again. Does it really matter anyway? The show must go on! Most of our high profile performing arts awards are the same popularity contests we see on our screens, decided on by votes from friends and fans of those involved, who login, click to vote and go about their day. One particular Storm the Stage award intrigued me greatly: the Briggs and Gibbs Award for Audience Appeal…decided on by the judges. Because just like the TV audiences who listen to the propaganda created by the publicity departments and executives of the commercial television stations (and recording companies) in this country, we need somebody to tell us what will appeal to us, what’s good… I’m not saying I disagree with the judges’ decision – Queenslander, Mitchell Page was, without appearing on any promotional material, the obvious pin-up boy of this year’s competition…or perhaps, of next year’s competition. Just saying.

Some of the Storm the Stage talent was impressive. Musical Theatre performer, Madeline Crofts, certainly had the voice but lost the story as she focused on switching between the different vocal styles in the challenging number, The Girl in 14G (from the musical of the same name) and Romy Vuksan showed us she is a wonderful dancer in Show Off from The Drowsy Chaperone (that number is up there with Ulla’s in The Producers, in terms of the “deceptively easy to sell” stakes)! Lachlan Graeme and Matty Johnstondemonstrated their comic capabilities in I Really, Really Love You (Sorta Love Songs) and The Ballad of Farquaad (Shrek – The Musical) respectively. Taylah Jarrett – the judges’ choice in the Musical Theatre category – sang beautifully but in neglecting to don a blonde wig, looked nothing like her character, Audrey or Donna Reed, of whom she sings, making Somewhere That’s Greena strange choice for this one-off performance in the finals of a national musical theatre competition. What does good theatre look like? Sound like? Song choice. Attention to detail. Let us into the world of your character and imagine their world is yours.

But art is not a science! Take a bit of the technique and precision out of it. As vocal coach and musical director, Todd Schroeder teaches, “First, serve the lyric.” Tell the story. Special guest performer from NASDA (National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art) in New Zealand, Ashleigh Stove, delivered a superb monologue from Skintight, demonstrating her natural ability to feel the rhythm of the language, the discipline of her training and the confidence she possesses at this point in her career, to let it all go and simply be Elizabeth, who shares her story with us. This was, in my opinion, the best performance of the evening but as a special guest performer, of course Ashleigh was ineligible for an award. I’m sure we’ll see her on the professional stage or on our screens sometime soon.

There is immense value in a competition that awards competitors with honest, constructive feedback, giving them the opportunity to hone their craft a little, which allow them to rehearse and perform in a commercial venue with a professional technical team, in front of a supportive audience. As our Emcee,Drew Jarvis and National Producer, James Gauci, pointed out, young performers in Storm the Stage are undoubtedly gaining confidence and building a valuable network of like-minded creative people. So, like the eisteddfods and in preparation for the awards systems already in place in our Performing Arts Industry, I maintain that this competition is invaluable. It must continue. I will say though, that alternate drama & musical theatre – mostly comedy – is certainly an interesting mix and doesn’t make the most entertaining evening for an audience. If this competition is to grow – and, as I’ve stated, despite my misgivings about the subjective parameters of performing arts awards – it should be allowed to grow, perhaps the drama and musical theatre components can be kept apart.

In the meantime, young (and old) performers still need to see more theatre! That’s key. I hope most of it’s good but some of it might be bad. And that’s okay. If you’re not seeing and experiencing any of it, how can you expect to work out what “good” is? So see more theatre. Seek new teachers. Take a master class. Engage a vocal coach. Engage an acting coach. Appreciate your training and then be prepared to let it go. Prepare. Compete if that’s your thing (and even if it’s not, remember every audition is a competition) and know that winning doesn’t mean you’ll make it. A lot of hard work, great mentors, good networks, self-belief and a little bit of luck means you might make it.

Congratulations to all the finalists and CHOOKAS!


Paul SabeyJohn Peek and Simone de Haas


Best Performance – Drama Category: Camilla Best (Tasmania) – Rose – The Seed by Kate Mulvany

Runner-up: May Grehan (QLD) – Rae – Rae’s Story by Don Zolidis

Best Performance – Musical Theatre Category: Tayla Jarrett (NSW) – Audrey – Somewhere That’s Green, Little Shop of Horrors, Music by Alan Menken, Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman

Runner Up:  Lachlan Graham (Vic) – I Really, Really Love You – (Sorta) Love Songs, Music by Paul Loesel, Book and Lyrics by Scott Burkell

Briggs and Gibbs Award: Mitchell Page (QLD) (Drama) – The Writer – Oh! You’re a Writer, They Say! (compilation of excerpts), by Neil Simon, William Shakespeare and Anonymous

This review published originally on


a midsummer night’s dream – usq alumni theatre

Colourful, highly physical and mostly funny, the USQ Theatre Alumni’s inaugural production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is bringing Roma Street Parkland to life for another week.

Shakespeare in the Park Festival, Toowoomba

My little family needed no encouragement to prepare a picnic and set up on the grass steps of the amphitheatre, a venue that begs greater use by Brisbane theatre companies. The last production we enjoyed there was Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s Twelfth Night, when Poppy was still in a pram. That’s not to say the place has stood unused since then, it’s just that when one drives from the Sunshine Coast for an outdoor performance, one must consider the weather forecast. As it happened, I had arranged to see the show Thursday night. The day was windy and rainy and the night sky was looking ominous. We decided to see the show on Friday night, under clearer skies, consequently missing Zen Zen Zo’s show in Montville (much closer to home)!

Scott Alderdice has in parts, cleverly directed this Dream. Terrific, fun physical comedy supports the text between the lovers particularly and the use of scaffold and some of the pop music (some of it was repetitive or just too much) allows for vibrant energy and pure joy, most noticeable in the energetic, well rehearsed dance routines (choreography by Christine Strahan with Fight Choreography by Nigel Poulton).

Fairies and lovers are clad in tattered, layered costumes, boasting rich colour and texture, in contrast to the set, which is a simple matter of three scaffold towers on castors and two enormous white flowers in lieu of a cyc (DesignerCarolyn Taylor-Smith). There are two lighting credits in the program, Ben Andrews (Lighting Designer) and Keith Clark (Lighting Realiser) and whilst we enjoy some pretty effects, what is not realised is the need for more light on actors’ faces.

Kate Murphy & Matthew Walsh. Photography by Damian Herd

Within this company there are, as in any newly formed group, some standouts and some bad habits displayed very well by other members. The bad habits surprise me. A leading institution known (among other things) for its vocal work, is letting its Alumni mutter and then shout their lines? I think not. I think inexperience is evident in a few delivery issues and I hope these will be remedied when performers remember that volume does not equate to energy levels. In short, I expect to clearly hear The Bard’s words next time!

On that – and I’m ready to duck for cover – are we really still needing every word? Is it time we put Shakespeare under the knife? A good Dramaturg could certainly give it a go (and then there’s Short + Sweet Shakespeare but more of that later)! It might be that, like David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Rabbit Hole, adapted for the screen by the playwright, there is simply an alternative way to get the story across. It’s just an example – it came immediately to mind, having talked about it with someone recently – because structurally, the story probably works better as it unfolds in the film. But rather than major structural change, A Midsummer Night’s Dream might just need a few clever cuts. It’s just a thought remember…purists; you may throw at me whatever is nearest!

Hannah Ellis & Lucy Reed. Photography by Damian Herd

Most impressive is Matthew Walsh, as Lysander, full of spritely energy that could just as easily transfer to the role of Puck or to that of a Mechanical. But Lysander he is and as the young lover, he gives us fresh-faced determined and cheeky love that knows no bounds. The running fight that occurs with Demetrius (Ben Rigby/Christopher Hunter) is hilarious – it always reminds me of the fight scenes in Bridget Jones and so I don’t mind telling you that I actually expected, in this semi-contemporary version, to hear, stopping and starting, The Darkness screeching I Believe in a Thing Called Love or Gerri Halliwell belting out It’s Raining Men!

Demetrius and the girls – Helena (Emily Curtain) and Hermia (Kate Murphy) – take a little while to warm up but when they do, Act 2 belongs to The Lovers. Helena, suitably tall and gangly, and Hermia, appropriately puppet-like in her costume and makeup, eventually establish together, a wonderful BFF relationship. Curtain’s comedic talent particularly, is showcased in this role.

Shannon Haegler, Kate Murphy, Matthew Walsh, Sasha Janowicz. Photography by Damian Herd

Titania (Lauren O’Rourke) is absolutely beautiful in her faery gowns, moving gracefully and singing strongly at first but leaning towards the pitchy end of the spectrum as she grows tired by the end of a particularly big musical number early in the show – too big – and it seems a shame to show us so much, rather than just a taste, like getting to know somebody too well or getting an honest response to the daily query, “How ARE you?” Certainly, when we see a show, we want to see “show fit” performers (and, as performers, we aspire to it; in fact, there is a performing arts school currently auditioning down south that has built itself upon the whole “show fit” triple-threat premise). Perhaps, in this case, the demands were a little too high. Having said that, O’Rourke is an absolute treat to watch (I love her spoken work and her mannerisms, as self-assured in the role of Hippolyta as she is in that of the Faery Queen). She is well matched with her Oberon (Sasha Janowicz). Janowicz has the most commanding presence on stage and as Theseus, his vocal skill and posture give us clear indication of the proud, authoritarian Athenian. But in the forest, I always feel Oberon must be omnipresent and when he is not, I wonder what he is up to! This is no criticism of Janowicz’s work, which is by far the most competent, but an observation of the choices made by the director and an ever-present thought about how much of the original work do we honour in a production? Again, is it a question of staying faithful to the text (and, in this case, what we can only guess might be the intent of the playwright) or do we imagine those moments in between and simply make up a little more of it?!

Lauren O'Rourke & Sasha Janowicz. Photography by Damian Herd

Puck should be a little monkey-friend/pet/servant, loyal and attentive to the point of annoyance but more often than not, there is no physical or emotional bond between he/she and his/her master. Or not enough. To me, they are the puppeteers and too often are dealt with as separate entities, despite having wonderful dialogue together and, as is the case in this production, some very clever and well punctuated, physical comedy; Oberon gesturing to lasso and draw Puck (Hannah Ellis) to him, Puck choking and spluttering as the imaginary rope tightens around her neck. The relationship on stage could benefit from even more play, as master and chief mischief-maker. A bit like Shrek and Donkey. Seriously!

Hannah Ellis & Sasha Janowicz. Photography by Damian Herd

This is mostly a really lovely production and there is potential for this company to make its mark on Queensland theatre and on our slight obsession with Outdoor Shakespeare. But the next collective need to narrow their focus and decide what it is they want the company (or at least, the next production) to be. What “sort” of Shakespeare is it? I don’t mind if it’s a different mode and style of delivery every time – I love it all – but it needs to be clear, and confident enough in its own skin so that we feel comfortable too, for two or three hours in the world created by these Athenians and magical creatures.

This review published originally on


todd schroeder: one night only







Dale Pengelly


Listen to songs from the new album at


 “His shows are master classes in the art of performance”

Cabaret West


Nambour Civic Centre Theatre 

Tuesday December 13th


Tickets available at the door. Doors open 7:00pm for 7:30pm


Tickets: $10 concession, BYTE & Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance members

($15 non-members)


Contact XS Entertainment for more details or 0411 015 918


storm the stage 2011

Storm the Stage 2011 – National Grand Final Eighteen talented young Australian performers and two guest New Zealand performers to Storm the Powerhouse.

Eighteen young performers from around Australia aged between 16 and 19 have successfully achieved selection for the eighth annual Storm the Stage National Grand Final, where they will perform exceptional solo pieces in their chosen category of drama or musical theatre at the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre on Sunday November 27. A total of $11,000 will be awarded to the best performances as judged by some of Australia’s leading performing arts professionals.

Storm the Stage is a non‐profit nationwide opportunity for Australia’s most talented up and coming performing artists. After auditions and regional finals held around Australia by Rotary and volunteer industry professionals, this year’s National Grand Final is being held for the first time in Brisbane with the theme ‘For Youth, By Youth’.

While Storm the Stage is a national Rotary project, since its inception the National Grand Final has always proudly been held in Western Australia. Due to the tragic circumstances in Japan earlier this year, Storm’s major sponsor since 2004 IFAC (International Foundation for Arts and Culture) and Dr Handa could not support the national competition this year.

Chairperson, Carolyn Fennelle said “It is important Rotary came together to maintain IFAC’s support for Australian youth in the performing arts”.

This year Storm the Stage welcomes two young guest performers from New Zealand’s NASDA (National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art) who will shine on ‘Storms’ stage thanks to an anonymous benefactor.

Fennelle said “It is an honour to welcome Ashleigh Stove and Layna Hunt as our International guests from across the Tasman to perform by invitation solo acts in drama and musical theatre. In light of the devastating earthquakes in Christchurch and floods in South‐East Queensland and Victoria, youth in the arts can make a valuable contribution towards rebuilding the spirit for recovery. We value this opportunity and to bring youth together in this way to build fellowship and good will.”

Past ‘Stormer’ and this year’s National Producer, James Gauci is excited by the event and the camaraderie it will build between these effected regions.

“Theatre provides us with unlimited possibilities to express perspectives on the human experience. Storm gives young people the valuable opportunity to explore and portray these experiences in a supportive, educational, and above all engaging environment”, he said.

Prepare yourself for a kaleidoscope of solo performances as they portray characters that will take your emotions on a journey of joy, sadness, anger, despair, laughter, courage, bewilderment, inspiration, confrontation and much more. It is what makes Storm the Stage a special event.

Storm the Stage is a national Rotary project, supported by IGA Brisbane and an opportunity for young people to gain valuable experience through monologue and musical performances, as well as connect and network with peers. Storm the Stage supporter is Hugh Jackman and patron Jill Perryman, both Western Australian internationally‐acclaimed performing artists.

The eighteen 2011 finalists are:

Musical Theatre: Bonnie Page, Matty Johnston, Romy Vuksan, Natasha Walker – QLD; Lachlan Graham – VIC; Tayla Jarrett – NSW; Rebecca Riley – TAS; Adam Lebransky, Madeline Crofts – WA. Dram: Hayden Maher, May Grehan, Xanthe Eppelstun, Mitchell Page – QLD; Jasmine Jehn – VIC; Camilla Best, Terri Ryan – TAS; Jacob Dibb, Simon Thuijs ‐ WA


Introductory Directing Workshop with Sam Coward

XS Entertainment, The Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance and Lind Lane Theatre Present:

An Introductory Director’s Workshop
with Prominent Sunshine Coast Theatre Director Sam Coward

Sam Coward, Director and Actor

Have you ever wanted to direct a show?

Have you ever wondered what makes this director tick?

Would you like to talk with other Sunshine Coast directors in a relaxed, friendly environment about your upcoming projects, dreams, frustrations and challenges?

Would you like to hear the basics from somebody who has a successful track record and invites fellow directors of all ages, experience and backgrounds to “have a go”?

Do you want to know about upcoming directing opportunities on the Sunshine Coast?

Work with one of the Sunshine Coast’s most prominent theatre directors on what it takes to conceive, create and stage a theatrical production.

– choosing or devising a theatrical work
– selecting a cast
– securing a venue
– sharing the vision
– creative development phases and flexibility
– rehearsal processes and expectations
– communicating with your cast and creative team
– attracting attention and getting the publicity machine working

+ Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance benefits and Sunshine Coast Performing Arts Industry Insider Tips, support and more!

When: Sunday December 18th 10am – 4pm

Where: Lind Lane Theatre 16 Mitchell st, Nambour

Cost: $10 (morning tea provided)

To secure your place in the workshop, email or call 0411 015 918

As a producer, director or performer, Sam Coward has worked for the past fifteen years in the business. On both stage and screen, Sam has experienced all facets of stage production and has worked in more than a dozen Queensland venues.

In 1999 Sam produced a modern interpretation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, Jesus Christ Superstar, in a Warehouse in Warana, which at the time broke all records for attendance at a Sunshine Coast production.

Shout! The Legend of the Wild One in 2008, clearly marked Sam as a director with the potential to produce exciting creative works. In close collaboration with The Events Centre, Caloundra, Sam re-cast, re-structured and re-directed this successful major musical production in just 8 weeks. In 2010, Sam co-produced and directed his original take on Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde and re-developed it further, as Erotique, for inclusion in the Sydney Fringe Festival. Sam is about to venture into the third creative development phase for Erotique, in preparation for its 2012 season. In 2011 Sam directed David Williamson’s Influence and conceptualised an original play So? Where Is It? written by Simon Denver, which has been seen this year at the Sunshine Coast Drama Festival and at the Queensland Short + Sweet Festival, where it won the overall Short + sweet Award for Best Play. So? Where Is It? will be seen next in Sydney in 2012.

Sam is the President of the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance, which is “Raising Standards” and Co-Director of XS Entertainment, which aims to establish a functional network of Sunshine Coast artists and produce original theatrical productions in unconventional spaces, utilising new media and local resources.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream – USQ Alumni

Direct from the University of Southern Queensland’s Shakespeare in the Park Festival!


Directed by Scott Alderdice and designed by Carolyn Taylor-Smith, USQ Theatre Alumni Inc presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream from TONIGHT until December 4th, at Roma Street Parkland Ampitheatre.

Hannah Hellis & Sasha Janowicz

Season Details:

Fri 18 + Sat 19 Nov $20 preview

Thu 24 – Sun 27 Nov and Thu 1 – Sun 4 Dec

$30 Adult $20 Conc $15 Groups 10+ / Child under 12

7.00pm gates open at 5.30pm

Hannah Hellis & Lucy Reed

Tickets on sale NOW!

Visit (group bookings available only via phone booking 1300 438 849)

If you’re expecting to turn up and secure tix at the gate GOOD LUCK! And bring cash.


Oberon/Theseus – Sasha Janowicz
Titania/Hippolyta – Lauren O’Rourke
Demetrius – Christopher Hunter
Helena – Emily Curtin
Hermia – Kate Murphy
Lysander – Matthew A Walsh
Puck – Hannah Ellis
Cupid/Philostrate – Shannon Haegler
Moth/Snout – Kate Hillocks
The Burning Arrow – Samantha Raaen
Egeus/Peasblossom/Snug- Lucy Fox
Votress/Quince – Laura Trenerry
Starveling/Mustarseed – Jemima Strambini
Bottom – Toby Warburton
Cobweb/Flute -Jordana Widt

So have you booked yet?

Hear more from Lysander. Then book your tix and get your picnic packed (no glass)!


Todd Schroeder: The Master Class (auditioning and working in today’s musical theatre)

For those of you who don’t know him, Todd Schroeder is a master at his game. Musical Director to the stars, Casting Director for Universal Studios and Disney and an enigmatic performer himself, Todd is based in LA and travels all over the world in search of new talent. He must like Australia and Australian talent because he keeps coming back! This next trip will be Todd’s fifth visit and word about his master classes and coaching sessions is starting to spread. Quite simply, if you’re a singer or a singing teacher, you can’t afford to miss this opportunity.

Next month, Todd will visit Melbourne, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, in a generous bid to share his musical theatre expertise with aspiring vocalists. With the emphasis placed firmly on facing fear and serving the lyric of each song, singers will feel immediately at ease, getting the most benefit from classes, as we do, when made to feel comfortable and confident to take risks in a safe, supportive and intimate learning environment. Artists need to be allowed to make mistakes – we’re human after all – and Todd succeeds in balancing a gentle, persuasive approach with more vibrant energy and drive, which commands a newly confident singer to “JUST DO IT! GO FOR IT! TAKE THE RISK!” What a freeing feeling that is for artists!

Not all well-intentioned teachers allow the space and time for performers to go to that place, let alone face their fears, break down those barriers and succeed at such a personal level.

Todd Schroeder: The Master Class

Todd Schroeder has fifteen years experience as a Los Angeles based casting consultant and audition pianist for Broadway shows including Wicked, Rent, Lion King, Aida and many more. He serves as the musical director for Universal Studios Japan as well as Disney’s Aladdin, a Musical Spectacular. In addition, Todd coaches and arranges for Broadway stars such as Jason Alexander, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Sam Harris, David Burnham, Katie Finneran and many others.

This 2-Day Master Class will cover all the elements needed to work in

Today’s Musical Theatre including:

*Selecting an Appropriate Audition Piece


*Arranging your Best 16 Bars in the Right Key


*Building your Repertoire of Songs


*Audition Etiquette & Technique


+ Find out what casting directors are looking for!


December 2011:


Melbourne 7th-9th Sunshine Coast 12th-13th Brisbane 14th


Check out the Facebook event page and contact XS Entertainment to secure your spot

(numbers strictly limited) or 0411 015 918

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow on Bloglovin

Follow us on Twitter