So I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that Covid19 has gotten me down.Its restricted so many things and has forced the cancellation of a few trips and events I was very excited about. Luckily the amazing theatre community in Coffs Harbour has banded together recently with Naidu Performing Arts Company to create couch concerts. A little way to keep everyone involved in the arts and have some sort of Creative Outlet.
I am lucky to have some extremely talented friends, a video camera, a green screen and some video editing skills. Together we entered two of the three couch concerts that have been performed thus far.
Couch Concert #2 our first one was Disney themed…. but instead of sticking to classic Disney, we went with parody Disney. Specifically the “Starkid” Musical “Twisted the Untold Story of a Royal Vizier” the story of Aladdin but told from Jafar’s perspective. We sang the song “Happy Ending” check it out below:
Couch Concert #3 was “Opposites Attract” sing something normally sung by the opposite gender. We chose the Broadway Musical “Wicked – For Good”.
Both of these performances have been a blast and have been an awesome creative outlet.
I encourage everyone interested in the arts to find something like this to keep you sane during these uncertain times.
In January of 2020 I was part of the Naidu Performing Arts Companies Production – A Very Evil Cabaret. I auditioned for this production in December 2019 and was cast in the lead role of “Ursula” and doubling as one of “The Ugly Step Sisters” as well as part of the main ensemble.
What an awesome experience it was! In just 14 days we learnt monologues, choreography, harmonies and our movement and transition on the stage. With a cast of only 15 we pulled off an amazing and awe-inspiring show.
I won’t lie and say it wasn’t a stressful experience at times, learning some difficult harmonies whilst working full time, running a business and trying to maintain a somewhat healthy social life did take its toll. However I would like to think that we all did Jade (Director) & Josh (Musical Director/Assistant Director) proud.
I know I am proud of what I achieved personally & of everyone in the cast I feel so grateful to have been a part of the show and cannot thank Jade and Josh enough for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing and incredible production.
As part of the show I sang in the ensemble as a tenor for “Step into the Bad Side”, “The Whole being dead thing!” & “Light”. I also had solos in “Stepsisters Lament” & “Diamond in the Rough!” I also finally got the chance to perform “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from the Broadway Musical “The Little Mermaid”.
I cannot tell you the joy and excitement I felt when I was told I would get to play “Ursula”, for many years I have longed for the opportunity to play this role and have even considered putting the show on just for the opportunity. So when Jade sent out the email confirming that I was Ursula I was overjoyed to say the least. I cannot thank Jenny Touzel enough for the load of her Ursula Tentacles, Flotsam & Jetsom Puppets and Shell Necklace. I felt these costume pieces really brought my performance to life and allowed me to truly get into the character…. On a side note those tentacles really did have a mind of their own, knocking things over, getting caught on barstools, poking people in inconvenient places.
Now onto some little thank you’s…
Tegan, Yasmin and Keeleigh, watching you girls dance and perform was inspiring, the way each and everyone of you can move and control what you are doing is amazing. I am so glad to have gotten the opportunity to work with you in this production and I look forward to doing so again in the future.
John, its been a while since we last tread the boards together, thank you for the laughs, but don’t try and steal our cook any more!
Tracy & Elise, So great to have worked with you! Elise your frozen monologue was hilarious, and Trace! Who ever knew you could sing and dance at the same time! Thanks for all the fun!
Jess and Matt, it was great to perform alongside you both! Matt you better stop yelling about me screwing king triton or you might run into a tentacle 8 times more! Jess! What can I say it was great to watch you grow and develop throughout the rehearsals and at each show! I look forward to working with you both again!
Dee and Di, what can I say that I haven’t already to each of you! I love performing alongside you both and to do so again has been a pleasure and its all been mine! I look forward to the next time we walk the stage together and hope its soon!
Tahlia and Rebecca, the evil bitches! Its been a blast! thanks for all our mini rehearsals and the laughs! I look forward to our next show together! <3 you both!
Lincoln and Josh, its been a blast! Lincoln, it was awesome to be onstage with you again its been for too long! Thanks for all the laughs and for not letting us run out of Zebra, even though it cost you your wife and pride rock! Josh you big ol’ bitch! I can honestly say that there isn’t a dull moment with you around, from our backstage hilarity to our quoting of Norbit to Esther and Georgina. I have a great deal of respect for you and am in awe of your talent.
Jade! I don’t know how I can express into words the adoration and respect I have for you! Thank you so much for your amazingly talented self, your swift and decisive direction and your constant coaching! Most of all thank you for the opportunities you have provided me!
Brett, Greg and Jacks! You guys rock Greg the way you play that mixer like its an instrument and keep us all sounding so great is an art! Brett, thanks for keeping us in the light! After such a dark show we definitely needed some light. Jacks thanks for all your work, running around like crazy putting everything together and making sure everything was done.
I love you all and I look forward to working with you all again soon!
I leave you with a few of my favourite pics from the show and a video of my Performance as Ursula!
I decided to purchase some new headphones to replace my old and worn out ones. And I thought to break them in I’d record a little song! So here me singing Proud of Your Boy from the Broadway Musical Aladdin.
Over the weekend I attended Hub Productions Supernatural Fan Convention “All Hell Breaks Loose Xmas 5 (One Last Time) with Supernatural actors, Richard Speight Jr., Emily Swallow, Adam Fergus, David Haydn-Jones and Erica Cerra in Sydney Australia.
The weekend kicked off as most hub conventions do with a VIP Meet and Greet followed by the Supernatural Sing Along (Karaoke with the Actors). This year I got to partake in the Karaoke with a number of songs including: Believe – Cher, Holding out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler, Somebody to Love – Queen, Nutbush City Limits – Tina Turner. One a Side note, the nutbush which is an Australian traditional dance is something completely foreign to our American actor friends, they are still astounded by this display of energy and sweat, and we have made plans to bring it to the American Convention I will be attending in Las Vegas, in March 2020.
Saturday the main event began nice and early with photo ops and boy did Hub fly through them, I think this is one of the first conventions I’ve been to where we were running earlier than expected, though in saying that the Christmas conventions always seem to run much more smoothly due to the decreased numbers and the lack of people with unrealistic expectations of what the event will bring.
Overall I had a great weekend and it was great to see my convention family again! I look forward to the next one in August of 2020.
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.
Getting ready for a friends 30th birthday party.
Decided to record myself putting on make-up for some reason!
Featured image provided by @AmyinSydney
Friday Night started on a high getting to catch up with some wonderful members of my Con Family to share a bottle of “Padabubbles” or Venatore, a wine that was curated by Jared Padalecki a few years ago. It was great to catch up with everyone again.
The con started on Friday night with the Platinum Meet and Greet Function with, Jason Manns, Rachel Miner, Rob Benedict, Richard Speight Jr., Matt Cohen, Julian Richings and Ruth Connell. The platinum meet and greet is only included with the Platinum and Ultimate tickets and offers the attendees a chance to have a semi intimate chat with the attending guests as they rotate throughout the tables in the room. Each table consists of approx. 10 attendees plus a single guest.
It was great to see everyone again; Vegas has not long passed but still you can’t help but miss these amazing and inspiring humans. A highlight for myself was having Matt Cohen tell me James Cordon reminds him of me. Apparently, we have very similar ticks and personalities, needless to say having Matt tell me this immediately resulted in me looking like a sunburnt lobster and more than likely giggling like a schoolgirl.
The slumber party was a new addition to this convention hosted by the Hilllywood Show.
The night consisted of some games, and costume contests for various categories “Best Robe, Best Slipper, Best Onsie & Least Effort”
All in all Friday Night was a pretty good start to the Con Weekend.
The Saturday night Louden Swain concert was as always a treat, with special performances from Matt Cohen, Jason Manns, Jensen Ackles, Ruth Connell and Richard Speight Jr. It was a great way to end a long day of photos and panels. While I’ve not listened to a great deal of Swain outside of the cons, I always enjoy their music and find myself bopping along to it and singing where I can in the concerts. They have a way of really bringing the whole crowd together and it is a phenomenal thing to experience. Check out these great shots below by @AmyinSydney
Karaoke is and always has been one of my favourite parts of the cons. I love singing and getting up on a stage surrounded by the supernatural fandom, is like stepping onto the most welcoming stage imaginable. Everyone is so supportive of each other and you can really feel the love in the room. This years Karaoke was cut a little short due to an unfortunate situation when an attendee had to be taken to hospital, but the supernatural family stood together and performed an amazing accapella rendition of “Carry on Wayward Son” it was very emotional but it truly shows how loving and supporting the fandom is!
The most emotional version of Carry On Wayward Sons I have ever heard. @JulianRichings @jasonmanns @mattcohen4real @RuthieConnell @RobBenedict @dicksp8jr @JensenAckles @jarpad @LoudenSwain1 pic.twitter.com/pljdfgooiz
— Vashti — MET JENSEN AND JARED (@Mash2104) May 26, 2019
Earlier in 2019 I had the opportunity to perform in a CHATS Inc. Production titled Jaq and the Green Pork. Written and Directed by Coffs Harbour Local Maureen Burgess. I was initially asked to step in and fill in for a cast member who had dropped out of the show. I had four weeks to catch up on all the rehearsals I had missed.
3 Days out of opening night, due to an unfortunate illness with one of the leads I was asked to step in and complete the role of “The Witch” a lead role with multiple songs and a large chunk of dialogue.
I had an absolute blast being back on-stage again.
For my work in the show I received the below reference from the director. I cannot thank you enough Maureen!
To Whom It May Concern,
I first worked with Lewis in a local (CHMCC- Coffs Harbour Musical Comedy Company) production of “Hairspray”, in which I was Musical Director, and Lewis played the roles of Mr Pinky and Matron to great acclaim. I was so impressed with both his performance and his wonderful positive attitude, that I asked him to be my Assistant Director in a CHMCC production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” the following year, a role in which he excelled whilst also being an inspiring and integral part of the ensemble.
In 2016 we worked together again, but this time both on stage, in the ensemble of “Pirates of Penzance”, and it was during this production that the true extent of Lewis’s talent and versatility came to light. Due to a sudden illness, and with only hours of notice, Lewis (in his early 20’s) took over the role of Ruth, the plain, middle aged nursemaid to Frederic. Lewis rose unflinchingly to the challenge, and played the role with all the energy and comic timing required.
Our most recent collaboration was in July/August 2019, when I had a casting problem whilst directing my self-penned Pantomime “Jaq and the Green Pork”. Once again Lewis came to the rescue, firstly filling a small singing and dancing role and then due to another severe illness (no, I’m certain there was no poison or plotting involved, just a lot of bad luck), Lewis took on a Principal role as well as the original smaller role. I can honestly say, I don’t know of anyone else who could have capably taken this on.
Lewis is an incredibly fast learner, has an amazing, inspiring and uplifting energy, is a great mentor to younger and less experienced performers and is an absolute dream to Direct. He sings, dances, listens, takes advice on board, is unafraid of straying well out of his comfort zone, and is not too proud to ask for help or guidance. I would work with him any time and anywhere, and if he has the success I believe he deserves, I would drop everything to see him perform. He is a remarkable talent, and a beautiful human being, and I am absolutely certain that given the chance, his star will shine brightly.
At the end of March 2019 I have the privilege of attending the Creation Entertainment – Official Supernatural Convention in Las Vegas Nevada. This is Creation Entertainments only 4 day convention held at the Rio All Suites and Casino.
The Convention was filled with a great weekend of Panels, Photo Ops, Autographs, Karaoke, Celebrities and Food in the Entertainment Capital and I had an absolute blast of a time.
The Creation Entertainment Staff and Volunteers were super friendly and had the answers to every question you could ask. They were amazingly helpful all weekend and they have my highest regards as an incident arose during one of the panels and they handled it in the most professional manner possible and I cannot give them enough praise for this.
The entire convention ran smoothly like a well oiled machine the guests all looked like they were at complete ease all weekend and it was evident in their mood and their enthusiasm all 4 days.
As with every convention I attend the Karaoke is one of if not my favorite part of the entire experience, being able to perform on stage in front of a group of people who you don’t know but treat you like family is the most welcoming feeling in the world and it makes for an incredibly enjoyable evening. Also who doesn’t want to sing on stage with the cast of supernatural. The Karaoke King “Matt Cohen” is one hell of a host and its always a pleasure to be on stage with him.
The Saturday night special is another amazing part of these conventions it shows the remarkable talents of this stellar cast as they showcase their vocal abilities in a wonderful concert in a room of adoring fans. The love in the room is apparent from the minute you step in the doors. This year featured performances from Louden Swain, Jason Manns, Ruth Connell, Briana Buckmaster, Kim Rhodes, Matt Cohen, Jensen Ackles and Richard Speight Jr. and was an absolute treat.
It was an incredible night and it would be a dream come true to be able to sing on stage at one of these concerts!
Photos by the amazing and Talented Chris Schmelke
All in all it was amazing 4 Day weekend and I cannot wait to see most of these amazing people again at the end of May in Melbourne Australia!
This year I looked at myself in the mirror and really hated what I saw, I felt constantly bloated and wanted to do something about it. (I’ve said it every year!) This year I wanted to get serious, I invested some money in getting an apple watch to track my fitness goals and more accurately measure my caloric burn, I started using myfitnesspal to track my food intake and invested in a decent pair of runners.
I started walking each afternoon doing a short walk with a high intensity hill (Muttonbird Island) before transitioning onto flat ground where I now aim to do a 5km walk/jog each day. I don’t aim to run the whole way, rather I just do short stints and try to improve my time with each walk. I’ve gotten friends and family involved to keep me motivated and I am starting to see results and I can’t tell you how much better I feel.
I am proud of what I have achieved in the last two months and can’t wait to see what March will bring!