Posts Tagged ‘Queensland Conservatorium




Expressions Dance Company

With Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University

Conservatorium Theatre, South Bank

March 10 – 17 2018


Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway



Programs such as Converge are essential—a choreographer not only has to have talent, they need to practise their art; it is through these experiences that they can learn their craft and develop distinct choreographic voices for now and into the future.

Natalie Weir

Artistic Director, Expressions Dance Company


In its Converge program, Expressions Dance Company gives four choreographers a chance to create new works, as well as to collaborate with emerging composers and an ensemble of 16 musicians performing live on stage. This is the Queensland Conservatorium’s first such opportunity to work with a contemporary dance company, and a rewarding experience for performers and audience alike.


The first piece on the program is by Melbourne-based Stephanie Lake, who is now an established choreographer with her own company. Her high-energy Ceremony, originally conceived as an abstract expression of the music (by György Ligeti, Chinary Ung, Javier Alvarez and Steve Reich), evokes the intricacies of fast-moving machinery, its pace and varying rhythms sweeping the audience along with it.



Ceremony is an exhilarating experience, particularly the sequence for the dancers alone, using body percussion and breath, followed by the hypnotic energy of Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. Together, the six dancers and the musicians create complex rhythms, intertwining movement and patterns of coalescing and unfolding with magnetic precision and energy. The green and white costumes designed by company member Alana Sargent — tunics, shorts, kilts and Tshirts or singlets — have a sporty style that suits the energetic movement.


Of the four works in Converge, Lake’s is the most polished and tightly connected to the music.


Second and third on the program are works by two of Expressions’ own dancers: Richard Causer and Jake McLarnon. Causer worked with composers Isabella Gerometta, Padraig Parkhurst and Michal Rosiak, and McLarnon with Tanya Jones and Jarvis Miller.



Causer’s Imposters is about layers of identity, and how we show different layers in different circumstances. Sargent’s costume design contributes to the visually intriguing expression of this idea: pale orange lampshade-shaped skirts with a reinforced hoop in the hemline can be inverted to conceal the dancers’ upper body and heads.


A pile of lemons was another symbol of layered identity, the lemon’s enticing colour and smell concealing its sourness and bitterness. The dancers bite into the fruit and spit out chunks onto the floor. (Was this inspired by Will Holt’s 1960s song Lemon Tree with its refrain Lemon tree very pretty …?)



Elise May is a powerful figure in this work, crouching amongst the lemons, shielding her face, and showing a fear of the other five cast members, which is reciprocated. At times, the dancers appeared to be performing a surreal ritual, twirling like dervishes in their long skirts.


Jake McLarnon’s Isochronism is a promising choreographic debut. This duo expresses the theme of performing movements at the same time, or, like a pendulum, performing the same movement within the same time irrespective of how big the movement is – like dancers of different sizes when dancing in time to music. McLarnon also refers to the work of artist Jasper Hills as an inspiration for his piece.



The movement is athletic and close knit, and on first night was danced by Scott Ewen and McLarnon with a masculine power and energy. It would be interesting to see how the duo differs when danced by a male and a female dancer, as originally cast.


Xu Yiming’s Aftermath completes the program, his involvement in Converge being part of EDC’s Chinese Australian Dance Exchange Project. Aftermath brings a complete change of mood and style, although it has a surreal quality in common with Causer’s earlier piece.


It shows four people struggling with what life throws at them — a perplexing mix of demands and responses, introduced by the dancers laughing wildly, yelling orders and responding with actions. In keeping with these random challenges and the sometimes clumsy way we meet them, the movement is often hunched and awkward or grotesque, interspersed with moments of fluidity.


In contrast, the music (Georgi Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann) is serene and meditative, with its plangent chords and echoes of religious ritual. The feeling is of an underlying harmony behind all the struggle, which is worth it in the end.


As always, the Expressions’ dancers give a powerful performance. The dancers are a strong ensemble, with Elise May’s dramatic force, Alana Sargent’s razor-sharp energy, and Jake McLarnon’s expansive strength particularly standing out.


With the musicians upstage centre, and the rest of the stage bare, the lighting by Ben Hughes is crucial in creating the different moods and environments for the four pieces.  The musicians are softly lit, but still clearly visible, enabling the audience to experience both the way they convert movement into sound, and the way the dancers respond to the sound with movement. Feeling this interaction adds another dimension to the performance.



Converge is a program of great variety, with many intriguing and exhilarating moments.





Converge Masterclass with Jake McLarnon –


Saturday 17 March, 2pm-3:30pm at Expressions Dance Company Studio, Fortitude Valley


An insightful 90-minute workshop with Expressions Dance Company (EDC) ensemble member and choreographer, Jake McLarnon. The workshop will explore the creative process behind Jake’s new contemporary dance work for Converge, EDC’s thrilling first season for 2018.

Foundational contemporary dance training required.

Tickets are $30
A $10 discount is available to the masterclass for patrons who have purchased tickets to the performance.




QPAC Choir 2015 Showcase – 30 Years of Musicals


QPAC Choir 30 Years of Musicals


QPAC Concert Hall

June 23 2015


Reviewed by Katy Cotter


QPAC is turning 30 this year and to celebrate, the QPAC Choir presented a magnificent showcase of musical theatre hits.




In 1985 on the 7th of February, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance was the first of many glorious productions to entertain Brisbane audiences. There have been over 100 musicals performed at QPAC, with some of those being return seasons.


The Choir was led by the veracious and accomplished Tim Sherlock and accompanied by the talented Tina Liu.


It is easy at times to look beyond the choirmaster, although my eye was continually drawn back to Sherlock, who was extremely attentive to each and every member of the Choir, guiding them through memorable musical tunes.


The concert began with the dramatic overture from The Phantom of the Opera, performed with skill and proficiency by Brendan Murtagh on the Klias Grand Organ. The lighting was dim and Murtagh was lost from view as he no doubt sat on high behind an illustrious wooden console. The audience looked up at the pipes reaching towards the high-ceiling, our ears filled with glorious sound. And then silence. The overture came to an abrupt end with the audience unsure whether to applaud, symbolising the grandeur of Lloyd Webber’s score.


Feet started tapping and fingers started clicking as the familiar riff of All That Jazz from Chicago began. The lights came up on the members of the QPAC Choir (over 100 of them) and an immediate feeling of warmth and joy radiated from the group. The Choir consists of people of various ages and performance backgrounds that share a common passion – music. There was something cathartic about listening to a large group of people singing together. It reminded me of how powerful music is in connecting human beings. The Choir gave it their all, with Sherlock showing off his best dance moves, welcoming the audience to join them in the celebration. This energy was sustained throughout the night.




A superb Rodgers and Hammerstein medley followed, featuring songs from The King and I, South Pacific, Carousel and one of my all-time favourites, The Sound of Music. A projection screen hung above the Choir providing a visual aid for the audience, displayed famous posters and stills from both theatre and movie productions. There was Julie Andrews as Maria, sitting on a hill of green grass with a guitar perched on her knee and the Von Trapp children gathered around. The Choir’s angelic voices enticed me back into fond memories of childhood.




The night showcased some truly outstanding performances from the 3rd Year Music Theatre students at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. These young artists proved that they are the future of musical theatre. Emily Monsma emanated charm and charisma as she sung Popular from Wicked. Tim Carroll had everyone holding their breath as he performed Tonight from West Side Story. Then came the lovers’ duet, All I Ask of You from The Phantom of the Opera.


Hayley Maybury and Oliver Samson have outstanding voices, with technical prowess and stage presence beyond their years. Samson felt like an old soul to me and no doubt will have a successful career.


The showstopper from the students was definitely Lloyd Webber’s trio of love songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, Song and Dance and Aspects of Love. Sarah Murr is captivating to watch, connecting with each word and hitting those high notes with such power and control. Jacqui McLaren appears delicate and composed but there is an unrelenting rawness to her voice that demands to be heard.


Not only is Hayley Maybury’s high range exquisite, she is beautiful and commands the stage. I can see her playing many leading ladies in the future.


The students were accompanied, and are being guided through their education at QCGU by the incredible Paul Sabey.


The moment that brought a tear to my eye was when Choir soloist, Charlie Tutt, sang Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Words seem somewhat obsolete but there was a mesmerising quality to his voice that filled every heart in the room.




The energy soon lifted and the lights glowed red as the Choir sang their tribute to Jersey Boys. The guest musicians never missed a beat, remaining poised but also bopping along, losing themselves in the music. People were getting restless in their seats, itching to get up and dance. It was Dancing Queen from Mamma Mia that saw a few audience members jump to their feet and swing their hips. A disco ball lowered from the ceiling and everyone joined in singing.


The night was a true celebration. Happy Birthday, QPAC!




Into the Woods


Into the Woods

Queensland Conservatorium

Griffith University

August 22 – 30 2014

Conservatorium Theatre


Reviewed by Jackson Kellaway




On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing the talent that the Queensland Conservatorium is pumping out. Their graduating students presented Soundheim and Lapine’s Into The Woods and it was a magical masterpiece.


The students had the opportunity to have Kate Wilson direct this production. Her extensive career as a director and academic was obviously very beneficial for the graduates. This shared knowledge is something the students will forever remember and be able to apply in their very bright futures.


The performance level of these students is nothing less than what you would expect from Queensland’s premier musical theatre training institution. The talent shone through the smoke effect on stage as the company took us into an imaginative world based on our favourite fairy-tales. The cast had fantastic concentration and focus throughout the performance and the comic timing was perfect. Rehearsing since May this year, the production team pulled together a clean-cut musical for anyone who is a fan of the Grimm stories.


The Dead Puppet Society oversaw the design elements of this production; an amazing learning opportunity for these students. It was visible from the mixture of old and new school techniques used in the production that the students had embraced the puppetry elements that were taught.


Anyone who knows the musical will agree that the music and lyrics are quite intense and wordy. In some songs the words are being sung so fast you can barely keep up and in others the timing must be so precise between the singers. With this in mind it is no wonder the production team included Soundheim expert Stuart Pedler who shared his knowledge on the talented lyricist.




After a bit of confusion as to whether our happily ever after had been cut short or not, we realised it was just interval. Unfortunately a few people weren’t aware of this and didn’t make it back for Act 2. With the vacant seats throughout the audience the lights dimmed and the show went on.




I almost turned as red as Jack’s hair when I suddenly heard the familiar Nokia ringtone emitting nearby. After what felt like hours the audience member finally turned it off. Then another audience member decided that the orchestra could be improved by her opening what sounded like every bag of chips from a 20-pack variety box. I was secretly wishing the witch would fly off the stage and turn them into an ugly stepsister or even Milky-white, Jack’s beloved cow.


All in all my first Queensland Conservatorium experience was incredible! The connection between the cast members and the powerful vocal work presented could not be described as anything but phenomenal. They have definitely gained a fan.


Putting the spotlight firmly on the graduating class of 2014, this is pure talent – exposed!

Through blood, sweat, tears and a considerable amount of laughter, this talented group of young performers have worked incredibly hard over the past three years to develop their skills as musical theatre performers. OUR TURN! showcases these students through a delicious taste of the world’s most entertaining and often moving repertoire in vignettes of song, dance and scene in a talent-packed one hour show. Let Queensland Conservatorium’s stars of tomorrow entertain you today!

at QPAC begins the showcase tour. Other cities include Sydney and Melbourne.


This is a wonderful opportunity to share in the enthusiasm and excitement that has surrounded the Musical Theatre program at the Queensland Conservatorium. Catch a glimpse of Australia’s next Musical Theatre stars!





Sunshine Coast Arts January 11 2014


SCD Arts Saturday January 11 2014

Xanthe Coward 


Success for West Side Story Star


Hayden Rodgers


Talented local performer, Hayden Rodgers, from Palmwoods, has secured a coveted spot in Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University’s Musical Theatre course.


Hayden was Noosa Arts Theatre’s leading man last year, in their acclaimed production of West Side Story, directed by Sam Coward. “It’s vital that our local talent gets a chance to learn from the best in our industry and Sabey’s course offers some of Australia’s top teachers of musical theatre,” notes Coward. Paul Sabey, famed for establishing the musical theatre foundation course at London’s Mountview Academy, created the Bachelor of Musical Theatre, the first of its kind to be offered in Queensland. Rodgers said the offer of a place in the course was unexpected. “I was so resigned to next year being nothing like I hoped but now it can be everything I dreamed,” he said.


International Cabaret Contest

Tonight at Brisbane Powerhouse, Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest will see Sam Coward on stage to co-host with Brisbane’s Angela Harding, and local performers competing for a place in the Grand Final, in which one performer will take out a prize package that includes the opportunity to appear at The NY Musical Theatre Festival and cabaret festivals across Australia. Judges include Ian MacKellar, Artistic Director of the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, and competitors include the Sunshine Coast’s Toni Zaffa, Louise Kennedy and (Riff from Noosa Arts Theatre’s West Side Story) Adam Flower. Support our local talent at Brisbane Powerhouse tonight at 7:30pm. Bookings online


Adam Flower & Danjal Roi Olsen

Adam Flower & Danjal Roi Olsen sizzled in West Side Story


NT Live Screenings

Thanks to Noosa Arts Theatre and Free Air Entertainment, we can catch up with acclaimed productions from Great Britain’s National Theatre this month, including Macbeth on Friday January 17 at 1pm & 7:30pm and The Habit of Art on Friday 1pm & 7:30pm. Bookings online or call 5449 9343


Season Launch Soiree

Join Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance President, Sam Coward, and member theatre companies for the Season Launch Soiree on Saturday February 8 at Noosa Arts Theatre, for an evening of fine company, fun, drinks and canapés, all for just $35. Enjoy a preview of each company’s 2014 season, with each company offering a sneak peak of their upcoming productions. Catch up with old friends and if you’re new to the scene, meet new friends and put names to those familiar faces from our local stages. Limited capacity. Bookings online or call 5449 9343


See Cinderella Before She Disappears Like the Fine Morning Mist!

See Cinderella, a traditional pantomime presented by BATS and directed by Mary Newton, today at 10am & 4pm. Season continues tomorrow and January 18 & 19 at Buderim Memorial Hall. Bookings online or call 5445 2515



The Making of the Great Lover

Written by local identity, Jo Denver, and directed by Denver and Michelle Connelly, The Making of the Great Lover is a deliciously decadent tale of exotic desire…from the pen of the wife of an English Pig Breeder. As fate would have it, there is just the young Italian to play the sensual title role in the screenplay she comes up with, and it’s a hit! Book early for The Making of the Great Lover, a fantastic comedy to see with the other half or a bunch of good friends, opening at the Lind in time for Valentine’s Day. February 14, 15, 19, 21 & 22 at 8pm. Matinees February 15, 16 & 22 at 2pm. Bookings online or call 5441 1814


Images: West Side Story. Images by Andrew Seymour.


Our Turn! Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium’s first Musical Theatre Showcase



Final Year Musical Theatre Showcase 2013

Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium

QPAC Cremorne

22 – 26 October 2013


Attended by Xanthe Coward



Through blood, sweat, tears and a considerable amount of laughter, this talented group of young performers have worked incredibly hard over the past three years to develop their skills as musical theatre performers. OUR TURN! showcases these students through a delicious taste of the world’s most entertaining and often moving repertoire in vignettes of song, dance and scene.


The first graduates of the Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium Musical Theatre course are:


Rex J Ablett

Jason Bentley

Kristyn Bilson

Ben Chambers

Stephanie Dean

Zachary Denman

Vivien Emsworth

Marybeth Harvey

Kimberley Hodgson

Luke Hodgson

Henry Kafoa

Vanessa Krummenacher

Kathryn McIntyre

Edward J Mead

Belinda Hanne Reid

Becky Rhodes

Marcus Skeggs

Chloe-Rose Taylor

Chris White

Lisa Woodbrook

Natasha York


These 21 performers are off to Sydney’s Slide, and Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel next so you’ll need to be quick if you want to catch the next wave of Queensland’s musical theatre stars at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre (until Saturday).

Featuring extracts from works including Antigone, Ferret Envy, The Notebook, The Dreamer Examines His Pillow and The Intricate art of Actually Caring, and songs by Jonathan Reid Gealt, Scott Alan, Frank Wildhorn, Marc Shaiman, Marvin Hamlisch, Pasek & Paul, and Trey Parker, Robert Lopez & Matt Stone, the pianist in Brisbane deserves mention. This is Daniel Grindrod; the production is as much a showcase for him as it is for the graduates!

Guest directors include Wesley Enoch, Michael Futcher, Helen Howard, Lewis Jones, Michelle Miall, Andrea Moor and Kate Wilson…in other words, anyone who is anyone in Brisvegas!

Choreographers, whose work we saw briefly on screen, included Shannon Atkins, John Clarke and Helena Moore. I have to say that I was disappointed most of the dance was pre-filmed – it is far more thrilling to watch it happening live on stage – and Sam was underwhelmed by the filmed aspects generally (Griffith Film School). An extract from The Notebook, directed by Kate Wilson and featuring Stephanie Dean and Jason Bentley was beautifully executed, but suffered from sound issues and a couple of questionable shots, and I had to agree with Sam, despite enjoying the performances as they were captured for the screen, I might have enjoyed that performance more if it were live.

We spoke to Kate after the show about the challenges of putting together a showcase. What a tricky job it is, to put together a true “showcase”, to shine a light on real versatility, and the ability to work equally as impressively as an individual performer and as part of an ensemble.

It will be up to the agents and casting directors to hone in on the talent they know they can employ and (kindly, we hope) put them through the wringer of the audition process in order to confirm their first impressions. CONGRATS & CHOOKAS!


See the second year students in HAIR at Brisbane Powerhouse next week!


HAIR Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium



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!


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:


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


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


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.


NEXT WEEK: Jason Robert Brown comes to town!

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