In September of 2019 I was asked by Jade Naidu of the Naidu Performing Arts Company(NPAC) if I would be interested in performing in a musical showcase for the company that featured the blending of students from both the NPAC and Woolgoolga Dance Studio(WDS). The musical was brought to life by the children in the show and it exists because of them. “It Takes a Village” focuses on the central theme that it takes an entire community of people interacting with each other for us all to grow and develop. It touches on issues like Anti-Arts and Immigration stances and deals with issues like racisim and homophobia. Pointing out the face that Children do not have many of the predjudices that we have as adults and that they only develop them through interaction and observation from those teaching them.
The show itself is a musical powerhouse featuring songs from Dear Evan Hansen, Spring Awakening, Wicked and More. See the below review from David Tune who came and saw us perform on Opening night.
Just home from Naidu Productions first show on the stage of the Jetty Memorial Theatre, ‘It Takes a Village’. This is probably not the first Pro/Am production to hit this stage, but it is a fantastic fusion of talent and ability across the spectrum of age and ability.
So, where to start? How to describe this joyous and endlessly creative original musical?
In some ways it reminds me of my formative years in large variety style shows with items for juniors, intermediates and seniors, and then all combining in massive ensemble numbers.
But this show has more than that, giving licence to multiple small groups of actors of similar ages to deliver in acting, song and dance in different ways, with at least two Greek chorus groups, flashback ensembles and some incredibly cute and amazingly young mini movers (as young as four!).
A simple set, with a very versatile and somewhat cantankerous clothesline, some boxes and tables, signs and bits and pieces make for a minimalist and very engaging staging.
Oh, and I must mention the amazing uber backstage Ninja (Jackson Gray), who leapt across the stage with elan taming said clothesline!
With a huge cast there was always energy arriving on stage throughout, with gorgeously crisp and vibrant choreography delivered by talented dancers, with lovely cameos by Teo Ross and some upcoming ballerinas, and even a tap section!
The story line flowed with flashbacks and chorus commentary, and was given massive emotional impact by the lead performers.
Featuring a who’s who of my personal favorites, the likes of Billie-jo Dukes, Lewis Hackfath, Courtney Maree Campbell, Kacie Jones-McLean, Joshua Vucicevic and Emma Hindmarsh giving their all in fabulous performances. And being joined by the likes of Marius Odiachi, Chantel Louise Thorn, Andrew Read, Josh Lovett and Matthew Dorahy who all shone under the guidance of the very talented directorial team.
There is a mix of songs from other musicals and some original numbers that stand up beautifully, I particularly loved the vocal harmonies, and there is a trio sung by Emma, Billie-Jo and Kacie that bought tears to my eyes, just stunningly good.
But the real genius in this production was the melding of young and old, experienced and learners in a rollicking original tale that has ethical explorations that we can all relate to.
Jade Naidu has bought a breath of fresh air to the Jetty Theatre stage, with a depth of understanding of theatre garnered from her NIDA training and extensive dance background, and bolstered by the musical chops of Joshua Vucicevic, Maureen Burgess and Brandon Swain.
I laughed, I cried, and I was mightily entertained, and I didn’t fall asleep once….
This is an eye opening show folks, that demonstrates what can be done by a talented professional production team directing willing and hardworking performers. Only one more performance on this Friday, I really recommend that you go and see it, this is ground changing theatre.
It deserved the standing ovation that it elicited at bows. One final note, as many of you who read this will know, Coffs Harbour theatre family lost one of its shining souls last weekend when Cate Walsh succumbed to cancer, and it was so heart-warming to see her daughter Ebony on stage and giving her all in this show.
The tribute to Cate in the finale bought a lot of us undone, and was a beautiful and poignant finish to a genius production. Well done and Bravo to all!
My Experience working with NPAC:
I was quite torn about joining the cast initially, I had just turned down a commitment to another show due to my work load throughout the course of the rehearsal period.I spoke with Jade about commitments and eventually made the decision to join the show and I’m glad I did. I have very much enjoyed my entire experience working with Jade from rehearsals right through to Opening Night and Beyond and I very much hope to work with her again.
Not only has the show been a delight to work on, but it has helped me to develop my own skills, both Jade as Director and Josh Vucicevic as Musical Director have really helped me improve my vocal quality and acting ability and I cannot thank them both enough.
In the show I play the character of Pierre an unhappily married middle aged man with some confusing feelings about his childhood friend Bolkonsky. Pierre is a struggling musician in a village that doesn’t believe it is a valid lifestyle and are in discussion about passing a legislation banning the arts. He finds himself frequently on the opposing end of Mary the Mayor of the village and wife to Bolkonsky.