Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Stitt

05
Mar
11

John Bucchino, Georgia Stitt & Friends in Concert

Lazy post disclaimer: in case you didn’t catch it over there, this is my Briz Tix review over here…


Featuring Marika Aubrey, Tod Strike, Andy Conaghan,

Angela Harding, Luke Kennedy and Madeline Cain

QLD Conservatorium Wednesday March 3rd

Your Management International and Harvest Rain Theatre Company

It’s shaping up to be a big year for Brisbane’s musical theatre scene, especially for those ambitious (some might say crazy) souls whose only desire is to join the industry as a “triple-threat” performer. Finally, I can see that there are real opportunities beginning to be presented, for aspiring artists to train and acquire work (in their preferred industry) in Queensland. Finally – dare I say it – we seem to be approaching a phase of development and commitment from some of the major stakeholders, which means our talent can choose to stay here, make their base here, find work here and then choose to play here, there and everywhere! Now, I didn’t say it’s happened yet. But now I see that it will.

For example, by the end of their third busy day, Griffith’s Queensland Conservatorium’s first ever intake of Musical Theatre students, thanks to the enigmatic Paul Sabey, had worked with Lucy Durack, John Bucchino and Georgia Stitt. Next week, they have Jason Robert Brown and Rachael Beck in their midst. Before the end of their second week of tertiary study, these students will have rubbed shoulders with some of the very best in the industry, within the re-vamped Con. The once dowdy foyer space has been completely transformed and now looks the part, providing a world-class venue, befitting of acclaimed artists such as Stitt, Bucchino and Brown. Incredible! How lucky these students are!

And how lucky we are, to have been given a taste of the best in the business already, with Harvest Rain’s Broadway to Brisvegas series last year bringing to The Powerhouse, Scott Alan, James Sampliner and Shoshana Bean. This year, in association with the dynamic Jeremy Youett, of Your Management International, we are truly blessed to have, again, a little bit of Broadway magic come to Brisbane.

Having attended the master class on Tuesday night, I was looking forward to hearing some of the songs performed again, this time by seasoned performers, accompanied by the composers themselves, in a recital setting. Most were familiar faces and voices: Luke Kennedy, Angela Harding, Tod Strike, Madeline Cain, Andy Conaghan and Marika Aubrey.

The format of the evening was very simply a stand and deliver concert, with John Bucchino’s work showcased in the first half and Georgia Stitt’s in the second.

John Bucchino casts an imposing presence and reveals a gentle soul. He plays (and composes) by ear. Knowing this makes his talent all the more extraordinary. His music is complex, multi-layered; it is beautiful and joyous and delicious…and fierce and cheeky and fun! It is real and it reminds us that life is supposed to be fun. And challenging. And confusing. And in life, we will have happiness and hurt and forgiveness and love and laughter and therapy and tears and hope. It is sophisticated stuff. Bucchino’s songs are about such simple things but they demand the deep emotional reservoirs and excellent technique of singers who are comfortable enough in their own skins to make sense of the context, make the personal connections and then tell the stories simply, confidently and above all, truthfully.

Georgia Stitt is gorgeous, vibrant, exuding infectious energy and offering the warmth of her generous heart in every smile. There’s also something cheeky and lovely and relaxed about her performance style, opting to sing a couple of her own songs – these are obviously closest to her heart at the moment – and it was endearing to hear from her, “Susan (Egan) sings it better than me but I enjoy it!” Stitt is an amazing talent, comfortable and confident, exactly as she sings in The Me of the Moment. Is it any wonder that she found her bashert in the witty, crazy-talented Jason Robert Brown?! Talk about a Power Couple!

Stitt’s music, like Bucchino’s, offers many unexpected gifts to singers, leading them through the whole gamut of emotions (and quite often back again), allowing plenty of opportunity to play. How lucky these singers are, to have been given the opportunity to play with two amazing artists of this caliber!

Testament to this was Marika Aubrey’s gorgeous rendition of I Get to Show You the Ocean, which Stitt wrote for her eldest daughter and which, by the end of the first chorus, had me in tears because, clearly, really, she wrote this song for my daughter and I! And so says every mother after every show, I’m sure. In Stitt’s Big Wings, Aubrey let loose her big ol’ country belt voice that further demonstrated her ability to sell a strong character.

Madeline Cain treated us to two contrasting numbers from Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle and The Song with the Violins (Bucchino) but my favourite was This Moment (Bucchino). Cain nailed it.

Brisbane has a true songbird in Angela Harding. Her interpretations seem genuine, she is present in every moment and her voice soars. Her comical ability comes through in the lighter numbers. I enjoyed a more mature interpretation of My Lifelong Love (Stitt) but for me, It Feels Like Home (Bucchino) was perfect.

Todd Strike took on the unenviable task of singing These Two, the song Stitt wrote as a wedding gift for her husband, giving it due respect and letting us in for half a moment, to catch the tiniest glimpse of the real, raw artist that likes to take refuge under that star quality exterior of his. I’m certain Strike has more to give.

Luke Kennedy is a bit of a darling on our Brisbane stages and I’m happy to say he did nothing to dent his reputation. Kennedy has an impressive vocal range and Bucchino’s Unexpressed was the perfect opening number. Stitt’s One Day More, no doubt won Kennedy a few new fans; these songs make it easy to fall in love with the singer and Kennedy plays the audience beautifully. Even as the married man of somewhat questionable behaviour (or perhaps because of it) in Platonic Affair (Stitt), he is irresistible.

Andy Conaghan is the consummate performer and in my opinion, brought to the stage a level of professionalism and self-confidence that put the final polish on the evening. His voice is superb and his easy manner completely charming. Bucchino’s Taking the Wheel and Grateful showed us two sides to Conaghan, while Stitt’s Air, if we were not already convinced, proved his technical ability and roguish, earnest appeal. I don’t mind making a big call and predicting that Andy Conaghan is going to be the Next Big Thing.

Until recently, it would have been unimaginable for Brisbane to be up to delivering anything like the Australian Concert and Master Class Series. The fact that it’s happening here, now, is testament to Brisbane’s determination to become a leading arts city in this country and indeed, its capacity to do so. What an exciting time to be a part of the performing arts industry here, when we are graced by the presence of the likes of Georgia Stitt and John Bucchino.

I can’t wait until next week. Bring on Jason Robert Brown and Rachael Beck!

02
Mar
11

Georgia Stitt and John Bucchino: Master Class

Hello, I’m Xanthe and it’s been a month since my last post. This is not because I have had nothing to say. I have, in fact, had a lot to say and I’ve said it via the social media channels or to people in actual conversations (remember those? You get more than 140 characters to explain what you mean) as well as within the pages of a little journal that Typo has pre-named for me, as per its pretty design: Pretty Birds. Now, don’t get me started on Typo. Or their Pretty Birds range. I will photograph and post the entire Pretty Birds range, which I actually do have, and by doing so, I will make my obsession real, and in acknowledging it, be on the road to recovery. Maybe. Or maybe it is a necessary obsession, feeding my soul and filling the well…

The real road to recovery this year is about the creative. And if, by mentioning the Morning Pages, you are prompted to smile or cringe or cry, then you are surely an artist and you know what I’ve been up to. I’ve been writing upon waking for about 30 mins every day, about whatever, in long-hand (YES! Using a PEN! On PAPER!) before The Editor in me wakes up, turns on and chips in about every little thing imaginable. And by every little thing, I mean YOU ARE NOT A WRITER. And all the rest of it, berating me for trying anything at all, including getting Poppy to school on time. You know that voice. Well, I’ve always known that it needs to say those things. It certainly needs an outlet. But I certainly don’t have to listen to it. I just have to let it go. In what Julia Cameron calls “blurts”. I invariably write about good stuff too. It’s just harder to come by, harder to recall. Isn’t it? See what’s happening? Rhetorical questions, stream of consciousness and because I’m allowing the flow, it might take a few additional thoughts to get to where we’re going. Brevity has never been my strong point. It’s okay, it’s all connected; John Bucchino even has his own version of the Morning Pages. It’s true! We’ll meander back to what I started out with in just a minute. Patience, Grasshopper.

The writing of the Morning Pages has been easy, committing the time to do them has not been; just like when I wrote all those journals right through high school. I would write pages and pages if I’d made the time to do them. I still have them somewhere. The English teachers had it right (Thank you, Jane Jensen, Rita Rainnie, et al)! But I’m so busy now! This intriguing, frustrating, liberating, creative daily task is an integral part of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a journey of discovery and recovery of self, which my dear friend, a fabulous artist by the name of Denise Daffara (I’ve mentioned her before because when she’s painted you, you know you’ve made it), decided to embark upon. And upon which I decided to join her. I wasn’t feeling like I was doing anything else, despite how “busy” my life was…is! If you’re a creative type and you’re feeling like you’re not creating, I highly recommend it. Well, maybe not all of it; the God bit doesn’t do it for me and instead I think The Universe. Think whatever works.

The same applies to singing, songwriting, whatever. I’m starting at the end of the night. To finish up their incredible master class at the con last night (3 hours flew by), Georgia Stitt and John Bucchino welcomed questions from the floor and spoke about:

Auditions:

“We are SO rooting for you! We want you to be good! Then our job is done”

Interpretation:

Casting directors want to see that you have the skills and the colour palette to play the role. “Just make a choice”

Composition:

Every songwriter embraces a different process. Having been trained in classical music (she was going to be a concert pianist), Georgia’s approach is very mathematical and structured, literally; quite often starting with the actual structure of the song or, probably just as often, a lyrical idea and the music seems to come at the same time (and quite often, this will happen after 3 days of Facebook procrastination)! John, on the other hand, will take out a big sketch book and start to draw, write, scribble, doodle… anything! And, approaching a semblance of an idea in a round-a-bout way, invariably something takes form. His song structure is realised via the same, organic process; it just…kinda…happens. Such is the magic of musical theatre songwriting (and of the Morning Pages concept. Keep the Editor locked away so you can allow the work to happen).

Being a master class, the singers came prepared to work, not necessarily to perform. We knew we were present as observers as opposed to audience and as such, the notebooks and pens and iPhones were out, on laps, from the outset, none of us wanting to miss a tip or a trick!

Our local singers presented openly, earnestly and completely committed to the coaching process, which was gentle and direct. We heard even greater commitment – to each story, to the telling of each – after the first sing. Now, I love coaching but I also love watching great coaches do their thing, their way, in order to coax better, stronger, more focused and more authentic performances from singers and actors who are willing to take big, brave leaps and learn and apply as much as they can.

The process fascinates me.

We heard from:

Josh, who learned from John that it’s usually best to opt for doing less: “Less is really more. If you’re buying it, they’ll get it” It was important to John that Josh – and we, the listeners – know the more personal post script to this song’s sad story; that John had written it in 1992 while his brother was dying from AIDS. This new information informed the way Josh approached the song a second time, giving us less gesture and greater ownership and intent. (Not a Cloud in the Sky)

Emma, who discovered with Georgia the need to distinguish between the little girl and the grown up in the telling of the story. To remember how brave we are at 10 years of age and to realise that we might never be that bold again gave Emma a stronger, more personal connection to the lyric. (My Lifelong Love)

Naomi, who learned to look for the patterns, sing the arc of the song and to earn the belt. Start out at 3 so you’ve got somewhere to go before reaching 10. Know where 10 is (know the arrival). When you get there, “I don’t care if you belt it or you don’t belt it…but sometimes I do.” One well-known performer, when asked at an audition for a Broadway show, “Can you belt an F?” replied, “Have you got anything worth belting an F for?” Georgia says, “Earn the belt.” (I Lay My Armor Down)

Zac, who really started Taking the Wheel once he became specific about what he was singing. Because it’s repetitive, John asked, “How do you keep it interesting? Who are you singing it to?” Zac sang it to himself, about the different stages of his journey to get to where he is right now and it worked. “Doing less but feeling more resonates more.” (Taking the Wheel)

Henry, who worked out how to use the physicality of the song (breathe) to imbue meaning in Georgia’s song, Air (rather than do the “Jekyll and Hyde thing” with the duet, She); “The stakes have to be so high. Strip away the vague. Simplify. Clarify.” Specify. (Air)

Eloise, who also found the arc and the superb simplicity in John’s This Moment, which was cut from John’s Urban Myths because the director didn’t feel that a seventeen year old girl would sing such poetic, poignant words (John wrote another song in its place)! Again, for Eloise; simplify and strip away all of the gesture and just “Make the visceral connection. Show it in your eyes.” (This Moment)

Brad, who gleaned style and interpretation from Georgia: “What are you using the song to do?” Understand the style (does it have a groove)? Know the arrival. In good theatre writing, the music is speaking to the action. Brad had a lot of nervous energy and he didn’t mind jumping around a bit before and after he sang. Nor did we mind him jumping around; it was an endearing thing, keeping it real and reminding us at the end of the night that it is TERRIFYING singing and working on stuff with the people who wrote that stuff! Props to the singers and I hope we see them all again somewhere soon. Some of them were on Day 2 of the new Musical Theatre program so while they’re busy there, they might be a bit quiet outside of the walls but keep an eye out for this first class of graduates in a couple of years…

And to finish? “Know when to stop. Know when it’s good.” And keep doing it.

Tonight, more magic; with Georgia Stitt, John Bucchino and Friends, most of whom will be familiar faces for a Brisbane audience, as well as a special guest; the gorgeous Marika Aubrey. It’s for one night only, tonight at 7:30pm at The Con. Last minute tickets are still available.

 

 

Thanks to Your Management International and Harvest Rain Theatre Company, we can enjoy a little bit of Broadway, here, in Brisvegas.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

NEXT WEEK: Jason Robert Brown comes to town!

Master Class and concert tickets still available. Don’t miss out!